Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Category: Maverick Mindset (page 1 of 4)

Odessa, Ukraine: A Local’s Guide To Eastern Europe’s Best Beach Destination

Dateline: Southern Ukraine

Ah Odessa, out of all the countries and cities I’ve visited and written about, I can’t believe I still haven’t written about my own hometown.

Actually, the reason I haven’t written much about Odessa is that I left my hometown in my early teens for a new life in New York. But just because you leave Odessa, doesn’t mean Odessa leaves you.

In the past seven years, I have returned to my former hometown no less than five times.

Here’s a local’s unique perspective to one of the most special and picturesque cities in the world.

Introduction

Odessa is Ukraine’s 4th largest city by population, behind Kiev, Kharkov, and Dnipro with a population of around 1M inhabitants.

While Ukraine has a fairly large coastline of the Black Sea, Odessa is the premier city for getting sun and tan. That has become more so after Crimean peninsula switched over to the Russian side.

That event made Odessa as one of the only viable options for escaping the country’s oppressive summer’s heat. (There’s also Mariupol on Azov Sea to the east, but it’s yet another mediocre Ukrainian 3rd-tier city and can’t compare to Odessa.)

The locals

The entire former Soviet Union not only knows where Odessa is located, but they also have heard stories about the locals, Odessits (Одесситы).

Depending on who you ask in Ukraine (or other ex-Soviet Union countries), that person will have something to say about the locals, whether it’s positive or negative.

Generally speaking, Odessits share a particular humor, have their own colorful way of speaking Russian and even have a very specific accent that only exists in Odessa (I don’t have it, but my mom definitely does.)

Like most ex-Soviet Union cities, Odessa has greatly changed over the years. Many people immigrated to Odessa from nearby towns and cities and from other countries. So, it’s definitely not the same city as it once was.

Where to stay

Odessa is a relatively big city (over 1M), but, as a tourist, there are really two places to base yourself in the summer months. The first option is the beautiful center. The second option is closer to the action near the beach.

Out of all the Ukrainian cities, Odessa’s center is definitely the most picturesque and memorable. Kiev with its charming old town comes close, but there’s something that makes Odessa’s center truly special that visitors and locals alike can’t really put their finger and describe.

The second option is right near the beach and, thus, closer to the action. Although Odessa has several beaches along its generous coastline, most of the action takes place near two nightclubs Ithaca and Ibiza, located near a beach called Arcadia.

Back when I was a young kid growing up in the Soviet Union, Arcadia was a quiet area that was frequented mostly by families; there weren’t many fancy shops or noisy nightclubs.

That’s a far cry from today as the main strip leading from the city to the beach is filled with restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. There’s even a small amusement park for your enjoyment.

Both options are viable so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

How to rent accommodation

Odessa is a seasonal city so it’s pretty easy to rent apartments in the offseason, but that can be very challenging during the peak summer months.

There are several ways of renting apartments. The first is through Airbnb.com. Because Airbnb is typically targeted to foreigners instead of locals, the prices are typically higher than similar apartments that are rented to locals.

It’s not uncommon to find a decent apartment in the center for something like $1,000/mo, while the same type of apartment may be offered for like $600-700 on a rental site targeted at locals.

Nevertheless, negotiating on Airbnb is always an option. If you’re staying for at least a month, ask for a discount. It’s not uncommon to get anywhere from 10-30% off simply by asking.

Another good site for apartment rentals is doba.ua. This site lists apartment that is rented out by night and is aimed mostly at locals.

Most of the people advertising apartments don’t speak English, so it’s a good idea to have a local friend help you make reservations. This is the site I mostly use for booking accommodation.

Finally, there’s the king of all sites: OLX.com. This is sort of a Ukrainian craigslist where you can buy/rent/sell pretty much anything from used kitchenware to luxury apartments. This is the main site that Ukrainians use for pretty much anything. It’s a site where I found my last three Kiev apartments.

While you probably wouldn’t be using the site to find a long-term accommodation in Odessa (you could do that), the site also lists apartments that can be rented for short term, which is typically anywhere from 1-3 months. That’s super ideal for spending an entire summer in Odessa.

Although all three are solid options for finding an apartment in the city, if you’re not on a true shoestring budget, Airbnb is a great choice for securing a great pad in a great location. Assuming, of course, you book well in advance, especially if you’re looking for longer periods of at least a month.

How to get around

There are two ways to get around in Odessa: public transportation and taxis. Fortunately, with the arrival of Uber in 2016, it has gotten much easier to efficiently get from one place to another.

When I spent the summer in Odessa last year, I stayed in the center but enjoyed the sun and sand on one of the less populated beaches at the southern end of the city.

I generally took the public transportation (marshrutka, $0.25) which took about 25 minutes to get from downtown to the beach. I also took Uber a couple of times; the ride was about 7-10 minutes and cost around $3-4.

The best beaches

Odessa is graced with a generous coastline stretching from the northern area all the way to the south where it meets another city, Chernomorsk (Черноморск, formerly called Ильячевск).

Just as you’ve probably guessed, not all beaches are the same. There are three types of beaches in Odessa: public beaches, paid beaches (where you pay a fee for a beach chair or a tent, you can even order food and drinks which they’ll bring right to where you’re seated), and, finally, private beaches that are only accessible to the owners of the private land (and their friends).

When it comes to paid beaches, they vary from those without frills mostly frequented by families all the way to party beaches that rival to party destinations such as Ibiza or Miami.

The closest beach to the city is Langeron (Ланжерон). It’s a beach that everyone knows and, thus, one of the most popular beaches in the city. All you have to do is walk towards the sea from the center and you’ll end up on this beach.

The problem with this beach is that it gets overly crowded in the summer months (even worse on weekends) when the entire city descends on it. The result is that people end up being packed like sardines—lying right next to each other. That’s probably not an idea of a vacation that you had in mind.

A much better idea is to go to one of the paid beaches. It’s something that I resisted when I first visited—why do I have to pay to access a free resource?—but after trying it once, I became a convert and now exclusively go to paid beaches.

Paid beaches range from expensive to completely affordable. The more expensive paid “beach clubs” attract the typical “seen and be seen” clientele, while there are also plenty of “chill” beaches where, for a small fee, you can have a true piece of mind.

The great thing about paid beaches is that you rent a beach chair, an umbrella or even a huge tent for two or more people. You can also order all kinds of food and drinks which are brought directly to you. There are also restrooms and showers.

Thus, you can spend the entire an entire day at the beach instead of breaking up your day when you get hungry or thirsty.

One of my favorite beach clubs was called “Agarti.” It was a chill beach that’s more reminiscent of Goa, India than Ukraine. It was super affordable, had a chill music, and attracted a chill crowd. It was about a 25-minute bus ride from the center, so it was never packed. Thinking back, spending time at that beach club was probably the best part of my vacation.

In the famed Arcadia beach, you have two popular nightclubs that everyone in Odessa knows: Ithaca and Ibiza. These are party nightclubs that are frequented by the “seen and be seen” crowd.

The best time to come

Odessa’s summer season begins around the end of June when the water temperature gradually starts to rise; the water becomes truly warm by the end of July. This lasts up until around the middle of September. Towards the end of September and beginning of October, temperatures drop substantially and it becomes chilly so you need a jacket or sweater.

This is unlike coastal cities on the Mediterranean like Barcelona or Rome which are still very warm and pleasant that time of the year.

Actually, the best time to come to Odessa isn’t in July or August, but in the first half of September. By that time, most tourists have left (because it’s cold), few families are on the beaches (school season started), and prices for accommodation drop back down to normal levels after being in the stratosphere in the three months previously.

Visiting in the offseason

For such a beautiful city in the summer, Odessa is a completely different city in the offseason. Once the summer finally ends in the second or third week in September, temperatures drop quickly and the gorgeous blue sunny skies give way to rain and clouds (although the sun does make frequent appearances from time to time).

In the winter, while the city’s proximity to the sea guarantees that it doesn’t experience super cold -25 C (-5 F) temperatures like the rest of Ukraine, Odessa still gets its fair share of snow. Coupled with short days and not a particularly “cozy” center due to the city’s sizable blocks and few pedestrians, and what you get isn’t the most pleasant to spend the winter in.

In the last few years, I spent a couple of winters in Odessa (even celebrated the New Year there), and it’s definitely not my first choice of a city to spend the winter. Cities like Lviv with their cozy squares and narrow streets are much more suitable for cold, Ukrainian winters.

What language to speak

For a city located in Ukraine, Odessa is a predominantly Russian-speaking. It’s probably one of the more Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine.

My native language is Russian. Everyone in my family uses Russian as their native language. In fact, an easy way to tell that a person is not from Odessa is if they have a Ukrainian accent when speaking Russian.

While everyone understands and speaks Ukrainian, the only language you need to know in Odessa is Russian.

Safety and security

While Odessa, just like Ukraine, is fairly safe and secure, you still should watch out for petty scams. In Ukraine, Odessa has always been known as the city of swindlers (аферисты). While there’s a low chance you’ll experience any kind of serious harm, you should still keep your eyes open for minor stuff.

These include pickpocketing in tourist areas, short-changing you by taxi drivers and restaurant waiters. Some of the more serious issues that tourists have experienced were when apartment owners didn’t return the deposit back (partially or all of it).

Final thoughts

Ever since returning to Ukraine back in 2011, I spent many summers in Odessa. Most of them were quick trips from Kiev, lasting around a week or two. Gradually, my sojourns in Odessa became longer; a year ago, I spent several months in Odessa.

Odessa has always been a special city in Ukraine (and the entire former Soviet Union). It was always a great summer destination for having fun and enjoying the sun.

Ever since Crimea became under Russian control, Odessa became the prime destination for summer tourists for the entire country. This resulted in extreme crowds, jacked up prices from restaurants to accommodation, and, generally, lots of hassle that comes with all of that. I solved this problem by visiting Odessa in September when the majority of the crowds are gone.

Still, have no illusions about it: Black Sea beaches aren’t exactly the Mediterranean, and definitely aren’t the Caribbean beaches I’m used when I was living in America and Latin America. The sand isn’t silky white and often times the Black Sea isn’t exactly clear enough to swim in.

Nevertheless, while there are plenty of cities around the world with better weather, beaches, food and even people, there’s only one Odessa.

Dnipro, Ukraine: What’s It Like Living In A Ukrainian 2nd Tier City

Dateline: Southern Ukraine

Introduction

Dnipro (or Dnepr/Днепр/Днипро/Днепропетровск) is a 2nd tier city in Southeastern Ukraine. Having traveled around Ukraine and decided that Kiev is the best city in Ukraine, I would’ve never visited this city had it not been for my friend’s constant nagging to visit him and check it out.

Finally, another friend of mine who had lived here before couldn’t stop praising this city and asked me to meet her there on the weekend that she would be there. I figured this would be a great opportunity to get to know a new city with a someone who’d lived there before. I accepted her offer and bought a ticket on a fast express train from Kiev.

For the first week, I rented an apartment in a very commercial (and expensive) part of the city that was supposed to be the center of everything (Мост Сити, “Bridge City”). Indeed, it was in the center of everything; there was a huge shopping center right in the same complex complete with a huge supermarket and  Western brands such as Zara, Diesel and Massimo Dutti.

Beyond the expensive department stores, everything about this “commercial center” screamed cheap and underdeveloped. There was nothing “exclusive” or “luxurious” about it, and it was a far cry from anything like Kiev’s “Maidan” (Independence Square) or even some of the more charming squares in other Eastern European cities. Its lack of tasteful architecture was also rather hard on my eyes. The only thing I noticed was lots of concrete.

Thinking that this “commercial center” was all there was to this city, I immediately regretted making this trip and started planning my return back to the capital.

Fortunately, the situation improved dramatically when I switched apartments and moved to a different area. Not only was the apartment itself newly remodeled and one of the most spacious I’ve ever stayed in Ukraine, but the neighborhood was awesome; it was very green and bohemian with plenty of great restaurants and a few cool bars. I enjoyed the area so much that instead of spending only a week, as I originally planned, I ended spending almost the entire summer here.

Awesome restaurants and coffee shops

For an Eastern European 2nd-tier city, there are surprisingly great food choices when it comes to restaurants and coffee shops. There are at least a dozen restaurants that I would easily call “world class” where I wouldn’t hesitate to invite a good friend or even my lovely Mom—my trusted litmus test for a place’s excellence—should she happened to visit me.

As a burger lover, I’ve had one of the best burgers and meat as long as I can remember. I’ve also had excellent Italian food and even pretty decent Mexican enchiladas.

While there are plenty of great restaurants, the coffee shop scene (mainly for getting lots of work done) isn’t terrible but could definitely be improved. After living here for a few months, I still didn’t have my “ideal” coffee shop, one that would be my default choice when I was tired of working at home and needed a change of scenery.

On the other hand, this is where a city like Kiev shines. I can easily name five coffee shops that I can go to and get some serious work done. As a location-independent entrepreneur, this is important.

Compact center

The center: where all the action happens

One of my favorite things about Dnipro is the fact that the center is very compact. One can cover this part of the city in about ten to fifteen minutes. Since the center is where all the desirable attractions are, this makes it super easy to have dinner with a friend (who also happens to live in the center) without being stuck in traffic while taking a taxi or public transportation.

It’s not some tiny center either. There are plenty of great restaurants, coffee shops and bars bunched all pretty next to each other. There are also lots of great clothing stores, whether it’s from a local designer or from some famous Western brand.

I cannot overemphasize how convenient this is. Even in Kiev, which isn’t a huge city by any means, everything is so spread out and there isn’t a “true” center. That means meeting a friend in the “center” easily means either a 30-45-minute walk or a 15-30-minute ride by car (assuming both of you live at least close to center). Here, no such issues exist because you simply leave your apartment and ten minutes later you are outside your friend’s apartment or inside the restaurant.

Just to give you an idea, imagine New York City with only the Prince St. in Greenwich village or LA with a small chunk of Melrose Ave. That’s a hell of a lot more convenient than making the trek from South Brooklyn or Bushwick in NYC.

Western Conveniences

For a seemingly sleepy Eastern European city in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of Western-style conveniences. There are tons of Western-style supermarkets where you can buy all kinds of products that your heart desires. There are the familiar Western clothing brands such as Diesel, Nike and Levi’s. There’s also Uber for easy trips within the city or even to some nearby destination.

One may argue that these Western-style companies and influences are making Eastern European cities such as this one more “Westernized,” but I’m all for it if it makes the city more convenient and pleasant to be in.

“A city in the valley”

Unlike Odessa, Ukraine, Dnipro doesn’t have access to beautiful beaches of the Black Sea, but it mostly makes up for it with access to a beautiful river, Dnipro, which runs along the middle of the country. The city’s main attraction is the wide riverfront area called набережная. In the summer, that’s where you’ll find all kinds of people walking, sitting and overall enjoying life. There are also tons of great restaurants overlooking the beautiful river.

In some strange way, Dnipro—unlike Kiev and other Ukrainian cities—even has an eery Latin American feel. My neighborhood reminds me of Mexico City’s Condesa or Colombia’s Cali. The fact that it has a Latin American feel was definitely one of the main things that drew me to this city and got me to stay longer.

But unlike Latin America, with its crime and unpredictability, Dnipro, like the rest of Eastern Europe, is fairly safe and predictable.

Dnipro is a “hard” city

It didn’t take me long to realize that it’s a rather “hard” city. When I say, “hard,” I’m referring to the people and their behavior. Unlike Kiev or St. Petersburg, two cities infused with great culture and friendly people, in Dnipro, people almost never say “Hello” when greeting you—unless you say it first—everyone is mostly just going about their business.

I’ve had plenty of situations where I interacted with someone and then shook my head in response to their behavior. Things like opening and holding doors for random strangers were rarely (or never) met with a “thank you.” Ask for something in a supermarket, and the person behind the register would simply ask, “What do you want” point blank without greeting you of any kind.

Generally speaking, Eastern Europe as a region is fairly “hard.” It’s not a region where people typically go out of their way to make sure you’re satisfied with anything. This is something I experienced first hand when I spent a few months living in Russia several years ago.

Nevertheless, over the past few years, the region has been undergoing great gentrification that cities like Kiev are actually becoming more or less pleasant cities to spent lots of time in, even for picky foreigners who’re used to Western handholding.

Dnipro is a bit behind in this regard. It’s quintessentially Eastern European in a sense that nobody really cares about whether you enjoyed the pasta dish in a restaurant or the fact that you don’t understand something in a supermarket. Customer service simply doesn’t exist.

Meeting people is surprisingly difficult here because, unlike in Kiev, where people are more cosmopolitan and are at least somewhat curious of people from other cities or countries, people here are more reserved and guarded.

Of course, it wasn’t like this with every person I met, there are plenty of friendly people who at least went out of their way to help you (mostly in department stores), but for the most part this city was decidedly unfriendlier than other Eastern European cities such as Kiev, St. Petersburg or even Bucharest.

Livable city?

The entire time I lived in the city, I spent a lot of time thinking about whether it’s a city I can make peace with and learn to love. And, indeed, if someone put a gun to my head and told me to live here or else, I would certainly find ways to adjust. It’s a city that has everything one would need for a comfortable life. There are great restaurants and coffee shops allowing you to have a great lifestyle for a fraction of the price elsewhere.

But, yet, even as I was writing the above paragraph, and even if I had a great job and a nice apartment, this city still would never be my first choice.

As someone who was born in Ukraine and speaks the language, I’ve had my share of challenges in the city but for the most part, I’m used to the Eastern European mindset and life, so the lack of “humanity” didn’t affect me all that much; it’s something I fully expect. However, I would never recommend this city to a foreigner. I can already see them complaining about how no one “gives a fuck” about their concerns.

Even the fact that this city is “hard,” can also be flipped on its head and become an advantage. I know many people who actually prefer Dnipro over the more cosmopolitan Kiev. It’s smaller, more navigable and the “hardness” of the city can be an advantage because people always keep their word and don’t flake on you in the last moment like they do in bigger cities.

Speaking of Latin America, here’s what I wrote about Medellin back in 2011:

In many ways, it’s a city without a soul, a city without charm.  A city where everything works but nothing is special that motivates you to return or convince others to come and visit.

As I wrote recently, 2nd and 3rd tier cities are generally boring and nondescript and don’t have the excitement or the cachet of their 1st-tier counterparts.

Ultimately, I realized that regardless of what I thought and how much positive spin I can create around this city, I was still in a 2nd -tier city in Eastern Europe. And, in Eastern Europe, as my experience has proven again and again, the only livable places are really the 1st tier cities; everything else is too broken (both literally and metaphorically) to provide a decent quality of life.

Why live in a 2nd-tier city when I could just as easily be living in Kiev—a truly awesome city—where people and the architecture are much more friendlier and welcoming?

Thus, it seems that no matter where in Ukraine I travel to and live, all roads always lead back to Kiev.

Building A Digital Marketing And Copywriting Empire From Mexico City

In this special podcast, I brought on a special guest: Dennis Demori, who escaped life in America for location-independent lifestyle. He’s currently based in Mexico City.

Here’s what we discuss in this nearly 2-hour mega podcast.

  • Why Dennis has embraced the digital nomad lifestyle and has no plans to live in America
  • What’s life like in Mexico City?
  • The pros and cos of Central American countries
  • What Dennis does for a living
  • Dennis’ typical work day – and how to stay productive while living all over the world
  • Why Dennis works seven days a week
  • Dennis’ future projects that he plans to launch
  • Biggest failures and epiphanies
  • His advice to anyone who’s starting from scratch
  • And much, much more in this 2 hour mega podcast!

To learn more about Dennis, visit his website: http://dennisdemori.com

or checkout his instagram here: https://instagram.com/dennisdemori

Enjoy!

Why I’m Only Sticking To Large, 1-tier Cities

Dateline: Southeastern Ukraine

One of the biggest discussions around digital nomad or location-independent communities is whether it’s better to live in a large and well-known 1st tier city (such as the capital) or a smaller and less known 2nd or 3rd tier city.

The argument goes something along the lines that smaller cities are friendlier, less expensive and don’t have the hectic craziness of their bigger and badder counterparts.

After living all over the world in large and small cities, I believe, with a few exceptions, big cities offer much more value to any digital nomad or permanent traveler than smaller, 2nd or 3rd tier cities.

As a permanent traveler, I have the liberty to live in any country I want and in any city within that country that I desire. Generally, it’s easy to pick a country: you may love Brazil but hate Sweden, you may love Ukraine but not be too crazy about Kazakhstan or Egypt.

On the other hand, picking a city is a bit more complicated. For instance, let’s say you’ve always wanted to live in Colombia. Do you live in the big capital of Bogota, a smaller city like Medellin or settle down in the provincial Cali? What about Kiev or Odessa in Ukraine? Or what’s better: Bangkok or Chiang Mai in Thailand?

This is definitely something that I struggled with during my permanent traveler lifestyle. When I lived in Latin America, I mostly setup camp in large, well-known cities like Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, but have also experimented with living in smaller cities and where I didn’t even once hear an English word spoken.

That was the case in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

Even as I currently write this, I’ve been living in a smaller, 2nd-3rd  tier city in Southeastern Ukraine. There are no tourists here. That’s probably because there are no tourist attractions (that I know off and could recommend). It’s much more laid back than the capital. Needless to say, it’s been a completely different experience than living in a bigger city like Kiev or, obviously, New York.

First of all, I’ve always been a big city guy. I was born in a relatively big city (~1M people) and spent most of my life in relatively big and affluent cities (New York, San Francisco, etc), so it’s no wonder that when I set out to live abroad, I always aimed for huge cities not little towns in the middle of nowhere.

When I began traveling to Mexico more than a decade ago, the only city I really wanted to visit was Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, and for sure it didn’t disappoint. Many years later, I still describe this megapolis as a city where anything and everything is possible.

Here in Ukraine, I spent about three years living in Kiev, before experimenting with living in other cities. Kiev quickly became one my favorite cities in the entire world.

Big cities have amazing hustle and energy

First off, there’s nothing like living in a big city. Regardless if you’re based in New York City, Mexico City, São Paolo or Tokyo, there’s a certain energy and hustle that simply can’t (and doesn’t) exist in some nearby town of fewer than 1M people.

That’s especially important if you’re someone like a freelancer who works for other companies or a digital entrepreneur like myself who carves his own piece of the pie and works out of coffee shops or co-working spaces. I feel like I can build an empire and takeover the world whenever I’m in a place like NYC or São Paolo, but would never dream of anything big if I was based in some Sleepytown, West Virginia.

It’s easier to meet people in big cities

In my experience, it has also been much easier to meet people in large cities. Initially, this seemed like the opposite of common logic; I always imagined small towns to be super friendly because everyone knows everyone else and nobody looks doors at night and all that. And, while that may be true to some extent, I’ve discovered that it’s actually harder to meet people in smaller cities than their bigger counterparts.

One of the reasons for this is because big cities aren’t only composed of natives but also of people who moved there for more opportunities. For instance, in New York City it’s fairly easy to meet people from all over the world, never mind the entire United States.

In Rio de Janeiro, it’s common to meet people from all over Brazil; in Kiev, you’ll meet people from all over Ukraine.

And, since people move to larger cities because of more opportunities, they’re already more primed for meeting new people—whether they’re co-workers, business contacts or romantic connections. 

Big cities are also magnets for other foreigners, which are always open to meeting other expatriates. Even if, one day, I come to grips that I don’t really click with locals, I can always count on foreigners—regardless where they’re from—to meet up in some bar and have a beer.

The “small city” complex

Another thing I noticed after living in smaller but still relatively affluent cities is that people tend to have something that I call the “small city” complex. I recall living in Medellin, Colombia and meeting all kinds of people who weren’t shy about proclaiming how their city is the best in the country and even the world. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d ever met a single person from the capital, Bogota, who claimed that Bogota was the best even though the latter has many more opportunities than the former.

I also noticed this trend in Ukraine, a country where I’m now. Kiev is an awesome city, but people from the capital typically don’t go out of their way to remind you of that. Go to a smaller city like Odessa (where I was born) and you’ll have locals saying that their city is the best in the country (and even the world).

The problem with this complex is that it quickly crosses over into arrogance. When you’re in a city full of people who believe their city is the center of the universe, there’s little desire for them to expend energy and learning about other cities or cultures.

This also makes it much harder to integrate yourself into smaller cities as an outsider.

Big cities have more culture

Generally speaking, big cities are more “cultured” than smaller cities. New York City has more “culture” than Albany or Buffalo; Kiev, Ukraine has more culture than Chernigov (Чернигов); São Paolo, Brazil has more culture than Goiás; Moscow, Russia has more culture than Surgut (Сургут).

I never really considered myself as a “culture-seeking” guy, but I must admit that it’s a lot more pleasant living in a place like St. Petersburg, Russia, which is an epitome of a cultured-city with its world-class museums and restaurants, than a smaller town just outside Moscow (in fact, there’s absolutely nothing in the world that would convince me to live in the latter).

The cultural aspect also extends beyond monuments of dead people and museum exhibits; the people are also much more pleasant in more culture cities than in some backwater in the middle of nowhere.

This is especially true in Eastern Europe where the only livable cities in each country are the capitals or perhaps one other city: in Russia, that’s Moscow and St. Petersburg; in Ukraine, that’s Kiev and Odessa; in Lithuania, that’s just Vilnius; in Latvia, that’s just Riga. In this region, 2nd and 3rd tier cities are typically too poor, rundown or outright broken to provide a decent quality of life.

The exceptions

There are some notable exceptions. The main one is if the smaller city has somehow been “vetted” and delivers massive value above and beyond the big capital or another big city. 

Chiang Mai in Thailand is the perfect example. Yes, it’s a small provincial city, but it’s pleasant enough to provide a good quality of life and robust enough to have the infrastructure and the community to get some serious work done.

Another notable exception is the quintessential beach city. This would be something like Odessa in Ukraine; Split or Dubrovnik in Croatia; or Marbella in Spain. What all of these smaller cities have in common is the fact that they’re located near the beach with its relaxing vibe. Beyond the beach, the city may not offer much and can’t compete with the bigger capital in non-summer months.

Bigger is better

Ultimately, a big city should be your top pick whenever you’re planning a new chapter in a new country. There’s enough buzz and hustle to keep you busy as you’re looking to explore and get to know your new surrounding.

Smaller cities are great for a quick getaway for a weekend or few days. I can certainly see myself living in Bogota, Colombia and making a quick trip to some neighboring town or village, but living in the latter for an extended amount of time would be another story.

From Bangkok to Bogota, from Kiev to Singapore, big cities are the default choice for quality long-term living and everything else you may desire. They just make more sense.

Life Is Easier And Simpler Outside The West

When it comes to a decision to alive abroad, it all comes down to whether you want to live in the West or live outside the West. It isn’t really about a certain country or city, it’s more about a particular lifestyle.

That has been my philosophy in a nutshell. And, for me, my whole living abroad experience has been about the “rawness” of living outside the West, away from its hyper-organized rules and regulations.

It all started in Brazil around ten years ago. I had just finished toiling away the best years of my life for a string of companies in Silicon Valley. I knew I needed a change. I knew I needed to do something. And I knew it had to be a drastic change, and not one where I would merely move to another city in the great US of A.

Brazil did the trick. While the country somewhat resembles a Western country: it’s populated by mostly European descedents who use iPhones and shop in huge shopping malls, Brazil is light years away from the tightly organized and boring feel you mostly find in places like the US and Western Europe.

After Brazil, I spent a bit of time in more organized—and boring—countries such as Spain and Denmark, before heading east to Lithuania and ultimately to Ukraine, a country where I was born and where I’ve been living on and off for the last four years.

I have a love and hate relationship with my former homeland. As an entitled Westerner who’s used to things like smiles and handholding—with a bit of humanity thrown in—it’s a place that at times frustrates me. But as someone who hates all the fakeness and bullshit that comes with the former, living in some ex-Soviet shithole of Ukraine has been somewhat refreshing.

Hit the ground running

One of the biggest differences between a comfortable Western country like US and a non-Western country like Ukraine is that it’s a lot easier to get settled in the latter than the former. 

Everything is simple without the run around. Once I landed and passed passport control, it took me all but ten minutes to secure a 4G sim card. No long term contracts or hidden fees.

Another ten minutes to rent an apartment in the center, in my favorite neighborhood. Again, no long-term contracts or hidden fees.

After settling into my new pad, I walked five minutes into my favorite gym. I had two choices for membership: pay for a visit or signup for a month. Knowing that I will be staying in this city for a while, I paid the monthly fee ($10) and walked into the lock room.

This applies to everything, all kinds of services, whether you’re looking to secure some sort of accommodation or join a great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy.

No long term commitments, no hidden fees, no exorbitant cancellation charges that American companies (and other Western countries) have gotten so good at extracting out of you.

Landed at JFK and need a cellular plan? That would be $75/mo from AT&T Wireless in Terminal 7, thank you very much. Fuck that.

Tired of paying $100/mo for cable you never watch and want to cancel it and just have wifi service from the same provider? Good luck with that, because your friendly cable company won’t just let you take the $100, so you can pay $10 for wifi; you’ll have to pay a bit more for wifi instead.

Want to join a gym? That would be at least $25/mo and good luck cancelling it because they’ll make your life a living hell once you decide to stop giving them money.

Same goes for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, a sport I’ve been practicing for around ten years all over the world. There’s an unspoken custom of the free visit to be free that’s honored by every academy I’ve been too. But only in America will you be “reminded” to signup for weeks on end a week after checking out a new school.

My family lives in New York, but I can’t picture myself living there even if someone put a gun to my head. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Big Apple. But I’d rather swallow nails then rent a long-term apartment there. Like, paying 3x monthly rent as a deposit, making sure the contract doesn’t have any hidden clauses that would wipe out my savings when I decide to move out and other nuisances. 

I can keep going, but you get the point. America is a business. Its religion is money. Great for making money, not so great when you’re the one others are hellbent making money from.

Now, of course, this isn’t applicable to every city in USA and heck, it isn’t even applicable to every country in the West, but it has been my unambiguous experience that no matter where you are, from Bali to Thailand, from Mexico City to Ukraine, from Rio de Janeiro to Lithuania, things are just simple and easy compared to its Western counterparts.

I remembered how difficult it was to rent an apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark. I couldn’t just rent any apartment; I had to sign a brand new lease in order to be “registered” there. (If you’re not registered with the city, you don’t exist.), but then I went to Lithuania and rented a beautiful apartment right in the middle of the old town within a week. No fuss. No muss. No problems.

Few places are easier to live than Lithuania. During my sojourn there, I enjoyed one of the fastest wifi connections in the world—a whopping 50MBit. The cost? $10/month. (That was three years ago, I think you can get 100mbit for like $15/mo now).

Once again, no hidden fees, no contracts, nothing at all to make your life even more miserable.

What makes the West “The West”? For one, it’s the standard of living. You get paid more cash in Las Vegas than in Chiang Mai and you get access to more shit.

Second, the government is stronger and more present. You’ll have a higher chance of getting a speeding ticket in northern California than in northern Thailand.

When the government is stronger, things are more organized. Taxes are collected. Roads are paved. Trains run on time. And more money is taken out of your pocket should you break some silly contract with your telco or your landlord. Lawyers gotta eat, too.

Have your cake and eat it, too

Now, of course, it’s not all peaches and cream in Brazil or Ukraine. When our refrigerator broke in Rio de Janeiro, my roommates and I waited four days for a repairman to fix it. When you have a disagreement with your landlord in Odessa, Ukraine, it’s you against your landlord; there’s no “small claims” court to hear your case.

Piss someone off in New York City and they may send you a “cease and desist” letter. Piss someone off in Kiev, Ukraine and they may send a burly man to your apartment or office.

In the West, everything is official. Everything needs to be done “by the book.” But outside the West, everything is personal. Relationships are established between people, not corporations. It’s not some nameless court who’ll hear your case; it’s Ivan, your next door neighbor.

In many ways, living in Ukraine still has this “rawness” to it that America had during the first part of the 20th century. Granted, I’m not in the capital—which is rapidly becoming more and more “developed”—but where I am, a man can simply live and be free, and if he doesn’t bother anyone, no one is going to bother him.

I experienced something similar in rural areas in places like Thailand, Indonesia and Colombia.

When I was living in Chiang Mai few years ago, I rented a car and spent a week driving around Northern Thailand. I didn’t break any speed limits, but I throughout the entire week, I didn’t see a single patrol car anywhere.

As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, it was refreshing not seeing a single police car for miles and miles, something that you will never see in New York City. I liked it. After all, I’m an adult, and I’ll take full responsibility for my driving.

But that’s not to say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Cities like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Tbilisi, Georgia are rapidly becoming go-to cities for all kinds of expats, especially those who’re tired of the West, with all of its rules and regulations, but also those who still seek the comfort and predictability of their former homelands.

To Succeed At Anything, You Must Treat It As A Job

Entrepreneurship is inherently tough. It’s full of ups and downs. It will tax every little ounce of your mind and body. One day you’re making a killing and planning to buy that Ferrari (or that Villa). The next day, you’re questioning the meaning of life and searching for your resume to send out to recruiters. I’ve been in this game for well over a decade and even with all my experience, knowledge and wisdom, I still have sleepless nights when a product launch doesn’t go as expected.

The last few months have been especially challenging. It all started out with a simple idea: create a new product and sell more for it. That jumpstarted the process of building a new business in an entirely different market with an entirely new business model, very different than the business models that I’m used to. The biggest difference is that, unlike my previous businesses where I sold or promoted digital products or helped others build their online brands, this is an actual physical product that gets manufactured in China and exported worldwide.

Fortunately, one thing that made it easier was joining a private mastermind. Actually, “mastermind” is a fancy word for what is essentially a group of guys who I’ve known for many years. Like myself, they’ve been hustling online for more than a decade and bring massive value and experience in different areas.

There’s the e-commerce guy who’s been selling products online since 2000 and knows what works and what doesn’t. There’s the copyrighting guy who’s an expert at choosing just the right words to emotionally connect with you and get you to buy the product. There’s also the fulfillment guy who knows how to find amazing and trustworthy suppliers for just about any product.

But my favorite guy is probably Mark, the marketing guru. Mark has been building and running marketing campaigns for well over ten years on all kinds of networks for all kinds of products and services, targeting all kinds of people from all over the world. Marketing is his life. There’s nothing else he’d rather do than launch and test campaigns all day long.

Mark’s mindset

Mark seems to care about marketing and only marketing. In our private slack channel, we like to shoot the shit and talk about all kinds of topics such as current events, politics and best countries to visit. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but the only person who doesn’t contribute is Mark. The only time you see his words appear in the chat window is when the topics turn back on things like campaign targeting, split testing and performance.

As someone who’s been marketing for many years, I’m certainly not a rookie. I know how to quickly and efficiently find customers for a product or service. I know how to connect and reach people, the exact people that are desperate to be reached.

Nevertheless, marketing is inherently tough and unpredictable. It’s one of those disciplines where success is contingent on constant testing. It requires you to be comfortable with uncertainty. In a way, it’s the complete opposite of sanity and comfort. Imagine living your life where you’re not sure what tomorrow will bring. That’s marketing in a nutshell. When it comes to marketing new products, the only thing that’s predictable is unpredictability. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Mark has a very different approach. He approaches marketing in a very calm and collected, even a methodical way. He views himself as an expert and marketing as his job. He doesn’t experience emotional rollercoasters when campaigns flop and thousands of dollars go down the drain. He simply follows a system that he has built over the years. And his system just works.

Mark has turned something that I consider as very unpredictable and erratic into something that’s very stable and predictable. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an incredible feat. And the reason he was able to do is that is because he views this particular discipline (marketing) as his job. Marketing is his profession. He’s a professional.

Seeing Mark work his magic allowed me to notice something interesting. Most people approach a new challenge like building a business, marketing or anything else from a very casual perspective. Almost like a hobby. They will “try it.” They will “give it a shot.” And, if it doesn’t work out, that’s not a problem because they have their day job to fall back to. You know, a real job.

The problem with this approach is that it lacks seriousness. Nobody is taking responsibility and putting a stake in the ground and treating it as a profession. Naturally, when things get tough — and they always will — people simply bail and quit. And why shouldn’t they? They never viewed their work as serious anyway. It was only a “hobby” after all.

I’ll talk about a profession I’m intimately familiar with: software development. Unlike marketing, software development is a science. The zeroes and ones that represent the instructions to the computer will always appear in the exact same way that you want. There’s no randomness and no need to test multiple things until you get something that’s working. Learn it once and you know it forever.

In my previous life, I was a software engineer. I worked for all kinds of companies in Silicon Valley, big and small, doing nothing but making computers do amazing things and making lots of people very rich in the process.

The way of the professional

I was a professional software engineer. It wasn’t my hobby. People hired me and I performed work in exchange. The work that I needed to perform needed to be solid or I wouldn’t get paid. It needed to work. Fortunately, I was fairly good at my job. I had no choice; it was my job.

But even something that I view as a very predictable science that can be learned, implemented and put into practice is viewed as something that’s very confusing to many others.

Every year, countless people try to learn programming. They enroll in all kinds of bootcamps, take all kinds of classes and courses but ultimately drop out of this journey more confused than when they started. To them, programming and software development is a dark art, kind of like marketing was to me when I was starting out. They’re not professionals. They’re just hobbyists that are ready to quit at the first sign of trouble.

The biggest difference between professionals and everyone else (e.g., hobbyists and amateurs) is that a professional doesn’t feel fantastic when things are going good and questions the meaning of life when things are shitty. A professional doesn’t experience emotional highs and lows (at least wild swings). They don’t question the meaning of life when shit doesn’t work out. They simply build something and put it out there.

As a professional software engineer, I don’t start thinking of an exit plan as soon as I realize my code has massive bugs and it’s not working the way it should. I don’t give up the moment I realize I need to write a new app using API (application programming interfaces) that I haven’t used before.

As a professional, I always make it work. I’m confident that it will work. There’s simply no other way.

On the other hand, if you’re a hobbyist who’s “dabbling” in a skill in your spare time, you don’t have the luxury of having this mindset. After all, it’s just a hobby that you do because you enjoy it—as long as it doesn’t give you any problems or trouble. And it ceases to be a hobby as soon as things get tough and you’re forced to work a bit harder out of your comfort zone.

When you get a job at a company, they’re hiring you because you’re a professional with varying levels of experience. They’re hiring you because you know what you’re doing and when you’re given a task, you will complete that task in the allotted time. They’re not hiring you because you can sorta, kinda, do that work on a good day if all the stars are aligned.

In fact, any successful entrepreneur is highly skilled in different areas that he or she can easily hold senior positions in a large company. For instance, someone who’s a marketing wiz and making a killing selling eCommerce products can easily be a “head of marketing” at a startup or a bigger company.

A professional will have the same high-quality output whether they’re living in Chiang Mai and building their business from a coffee shop or working in Silicon Valley for a promising startup.

That’s precisely why guys like Mark succeed in an area where so many fail. He succeeds because he views what he’s doing as a job above else. He views it as his profession. He knows that as a marketing guy, he needs to continue to endlessly test different variables. He knows that everything is a numbers game and that he’ll eventually find the audience he’s looking for. And he definitely wouldn’t quit if one or two campaigns ended up failing. That’s all part of his job. This is what he does. There’s no “plan B” for him if he fails.

Professionals view the world and their place in it differently. A professional programmer doesn’t quit when he realizes his code has massive bugs and nothing works. A professional marketer doesn’t quit when his campaigns flop, costing him tons of money. A professional salesman doesn’t quit when he can’t close a few deals with prospective customers. A professional videographer doesn’t quit when he realizes the footage he shot doesn’t fit the script and needs to be reshot again.

To be successful, you must treat whatever you’re doing as a profession. It has to feel like a job. It has to be a job. Because if you treat something that’s so crucial to your success as a mere hobby, then that’s exactly what you’ll get: hobby-like, inconsistent results.

The Perfect City For Digital Nomads

Early on, I realized that the quality of life is a function of the environment. If I don’t like my surroundings, everything else suffers. That includes my work, my relationships and my general sense of self. If I’m not satisfied in the present, I stop living in the present altogether: my point of reference shifts to the future, the future where I will have a comfortable life exactly how I wanted.

That’s a suboptimal situation. What you really want is to make your environment the foundation for everything else. A comfortable environment serves as an enabler for all your pursuits and goals. This has been my experience from being in great and growth-inducing environments as well as being in sub-par environments where I only experienced stagnation and degradation.

Last year, I spent three months living in Thailand, with the first two months in the northern city of Chiang Mai. I had a fantastic time in Chiang Mai, chiefly as a result of having an ideal setup. Before that, I lived in Bali, where, after a few false starts, I finally moved into an area where everything clicked. Last but not least, earlier this year, after bouncing around living in neighborhoods all over Kiev, I finally found a great apartment in a truly fantastic neighborhood. It’s an ideal setup I’ve had to date, or maybe in my entire life.

After experimenting with many different setups in many different locations over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two ideal environments depending on the location: large city lifestyle and small city/town lifestyle.

Let’s talk about the ideal large city setup. I’m a city guy, so I naturally love the hustle and bustle of a medium to large-sized city. The great part of living in a city is that you have access to a variety of interesting things: different cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs, as well as cultural attractions such as museums, theaters, and shows. Not to mention the ability to meet all kinds of different people from diverse backgrounds.

Here’s what my ideal large city setup looks like:

  • Nice apartment in the center, preferably near a nice square or plaza
  • View of the city (not the back garden, etc)
  • Picturesque neighborhood (not decaying Soviet buildings)
  • Located on a smaller street off the busy thoroughfare (less noise, etc)
  • Walking distance to small and big grocery stores (without dealing with buses and taxis all the time)
  • Walking distance to trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars
  • Walking distance to a nice gym and/or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training
  • Easy access to public transportation (bonus points if there’s a close metro station for quickly getting to other parts of the city)

Essentially, this is a template for designing the perfect city life. The actual city matters less than what the city has to offer. So, if the city ticks all the checkboxes above, it’s pretty much a guarantee for a quality and comfortable life.

In fact, the above perfectly describes my setup in Kiev, Ukraine. Nice and comfortable apartment in an excellent location in one of the most desirable areas of the city. Check. Historic neighborhood with beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets. Check. Surrounded by nice cafes, delicious restaurants, and chic bars. Check. A mere block away, and there’s a picturesque square with a metro station. Check. Although Kiev is filled with a few pleasant neighborhoods, as far as I’m concerned, my search is over.

When it comes to smaller cities with a small and/or unimportant center, it may make more sense to follow a different strategy.

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, I didn’t live in the center. That’s because Chiang Mai isn’t a big city and doesn’t really have a center filled with hustle and bustle. The city is made of different neighborhoods that are very similar to each other. So, I rented a huge, furnished studio in an apartment complex on the Western part of the city. The apartment complex had everything I needed, including a beautiful rooftop pool which came very handy for decompressing after a long day.

Bali is similar to Chiang Mai. The city where I initially stayed (Ubud) had a small center with a few nice streets filled with trendy cafes and restaurants. Most, if not all, of the accommodations in the center, are guesthouses that are rented nightly or weekly so there aren’t many apartments you can rent. The real treat is outside the center. That’s where you can rent a beautiful house or an entire villa with a pool surrounded by lush green rice fields. That’s exactly where I based myself.

In the last two cities, the benefits of basing yourself just slightly outside the “center” made complete sense: you enjoy a more peaceful and quieter scene and—the best part of all—getting to the center or just about anywhere else usually took less than fifteen minutes by scooter. In fact, what’s so great in those two locales is how easy it is to get around by scooter anywhere.

The eight-minute commute

A meaningful life can be roughly defined as productive work and pleasant leisure. When I lived in SF Bay Area, my one-way commute to work lasted anywhere from one to two hours. The traffic jams were legendary. Just remembering that I used to waste 44–88 hours per month sitting still is truly mind-boggling. Not to mention wear and tear on my car (and an occasional speeding ticket).

In Chiang Mai, my commute was a whopping eight minutes from the amazing co-working spot to the front door of my apartment complex. While there are many ways to measure your life’s progress, witnessing my commute shrink for an unbearable hell to something that I actually looked forward to each morning and evening was a benchmark in my book. At that point, I realized I could see myself doing this commute for the rest of my life and probably never get tired of it. I was living a dream.

Kiev, where I’ve been living on and off for about two years is completely different. First of all, I would never live outside the center. Venturing outside certain radius and you’re in depressive-villa with old and decaying Soviet-era buildings, broken roads and questionable characters drinking beer and vodka. This probably applies to most of Eastern and Central European cities.

That’s also the case in North America. For instance in New York City, if you venture outside Manhattan and Northern Brooklyn (e.g., the trendy neighborhoods of Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg), you’ll either find yourself deep in the so-called “sleeping boroughs” with unending apartment buildings that all look the same or outright suburbia with houses and white picket fences that you’ve seen in movies (but not as nice). I’ve lived in Southern Brooklyn long enough to know that it’s certainly not an ideal setup for great, quality living.

If you’re in a medium to a large-sized city like Riga, Vilnius, Kiev, Budapest, Prague, New York City, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Odessa and others, you must do everything in your power to base yourself in the city center. Living in the center puts you squarely within walking distance to anything interesting; messing around with buses or taxis on a daily basis by living somewhere in a less desirable location wears you down quick and negates the entire experience of living abroad in the first place (more on that later). Although, it’s totally fine to grab a taxi or bus every now and then.

On the other hand, if you find yourself in a place like Bali, Chiang Mai, Cali, Phuket, Playa del Carmen, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and others, where the center is small and mostly irrelevant (maybe it has a government building or two and nothing else), and getting around is quick and hassle-free, you’re free to settle anywhere you choose, whether it’s right next to a beautiful white sand beach or in the middle of lush rice paddies.

In Rio de Janeiro, I lived near the beach. Living in the center was pointless because the city isn’t very compact and, furthermore, everything about the city is optimized for the beach. Besides, since Rio de Janeiro is a big city, I still needed to cover large distances no matter where I lived, so I still took buses and taxis to get around my own neighborhood.

In Odessa, a southern Ukrainian city by the Black Sea, the only viable option for quality living in the center. For an ex-Soviet city, the center is actually postcard-worthy and relatively compact (you can cross it in about 30 minutes). Speaking as someone who’s from there, I can tell you that beyond the center, things get depressing real quick, so if, for whatever reason, you can’t live in the center, there’s little point to living there at all. Another option is to live near the sea, but in those areas, infrastructure is woefully lacking and, besides the sea, there isn’t much to do there anyway.

In a megapolis like Mexico City, living in the center is an option, but there are tons of other more enjoyable neighborhoods like Condesa, Roma, and Polanco. I lived in Condesa and loved every minute of it.

Never compromise on location

I try to never compromise on location. The type of apartment matters a lot, sure, but if it comes down to a choice between a small but still nice apartment in the center or a much bigger apartment that’s half an hour from the center, I would always pick the first option.

When I first moved to Kiev, I lived all over the city, with some neighborhoods being anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes away from the center. I figured that given Kiev’s excellent transportation, I could always hop on a bus or taxi and get to the center. Plus, I’ll save myself some money on rent. Well, I can tell you that “commuting” to the center gets tiring real quick and that means most of the time you’re stuck in some neighborhood that you don’t like and don’t want to be in.

Remember, the objective is to lower your cost of living without lowering your quality of life. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t make much sense to embrace the location-independent lifestyle by moving to a city with a much lower cost-of-living, only to start living in some far away neighborhood like a local who’s earning almost nothing (in hard-currency terms). If your goal is to save yourself few hundred bucks per month by suffering in a less desirable neighborhood, then stay at home, save some money and then move so that you can enjoy your life.

This is what lifestyle design is all about. Thanks to geo-arbitrage, you can leverage the best things the world has to offer for only a fraction of the cost in some super expensive city. Essentially, you have your cake and to get to eat it, too. It’s the fact that you can work in a chic neighborhood, enjoy fantastic food and then either walk home or enjoy an eight-minute commute to your apartment door. I bet that’s a hell of a lot more fun than what you’re doing now.

Many argue that happiness is driven from within. That it doesn’t matter where you live; it’s really up to you to make it work and be happy. There’s truth to that, but a big part of happiness is also assuming responsibility for making the important changes in your life. That’s the source of unhappiness for many: the inability to assume ownership and implement the proper changes, whether it’s starting a new business or redesigning their life altogether by moving to a new place where a higher quality of life can be had for a fraction of the cost back home.

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

I recently read an article in The New Yorker that discussed the business dealings of Carl Icahn, a multi-billionaire dollar Wall Street investor.

The article focused on Icahn’s relationship with Donald Trump and the former’s influence in the latter’s presidential administration. While reading the article, I found the following passage interesting (emphasis added):

Plenty of titans who are not as old and not as rich as Icahn have opted to devote their remaining years to spending their money, or to giving it away.

Not Icahn. A tall man with a shambling manner, he recently grew a white beard, which softens his round face, giving him the cuddly appearance of an elderly Muppet. But he has not lost his taste for the kill. A few years ago, he sold his mega-yacht, because cruising on it bored him. He has engaged in philanthropy, building charter schools and a stadium on Randall’s Island that bears his name.

But the charity circuit is a snooze. What Icahn loves beyond all else is to rise late each morning, and then to spend the rest of the day and much of the night working the phone, making deals.

The last sentence says it all. Here’s a man who loves what he does. He’s not doing it for the money. He’s not doing it for fame. He’s doing it because it’s part of who he is at the core. Never mind that he’s 85 years old. Never mind that he’s wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. He does what he does because it’s a fundamental part of who he is.

Entrepreneurship has become a philosophy. People endlessly debate how you must fail quickly and fail often. But when you’re trying to make a living, this is what you do, day in and day out. The word “failure” stops being some abstract buzzword that you learn in some business book or blog and becomes something that you’re intimately familiar with like the menu in your favorite steakhouse. Failure becomes an integrated part of your life because the process requires it; you can never find what works until you first throw out what doesn’t. Being an entrepreneur is all about continuously finding what works by throwing out what doesn’t. I’ve failed more times than I can count and look forward to failing even more in the future. That’s my barometer for living an authentic life.

When I lived in the beautiful neighborhood of Condesa in Mexico City, one of my good friends was an Italian guy who moved to Mexico from Sicily. He met a great woman, got married and was busy raising a couple of kids. For some odd reason, we’ve hit it off right away. What I loved about him was the fact that he was always experimenting with different things. He was a driven man. At any point in time, he was working on at least ten different projects. Buying up domains, building up landing pages, designing and creating products. He was always moving, always hustling, always trying new things. And, if something wasn’t working, he immediately abandoned the idea and began doing something else.

“This is the life I’ve chosen,” he liked to say. “If you want stability and predictability, get a regular job.”

I remember those words because for a long time I used the same line of thinking to categorize the world. My world was composed of two types of people: those who seek stability and comfort, and those who eschew both in favor of risk.

I was always firmly in the latter camp. True, I’ve had various jobs throughout my life, but I’ve also ran various businesses on the side as well. Having a stable salary deposited into my bank account was great, but there was an inexplicable rush of adrenaline in building out a little website, putting some products on it, negotiating with the suppliers and running a marketing campaign. Although I was a productive 9–5 employee, the latter was always much more rewarding and satisfying.

When you’re driven, interruptions are the enemy. When you’re not driven, your life is a series of interruptions. I spent the entire month of August feverishly working on a new project. Today, I realized that one of my favorite shows, Narcos, has a new season out. I loaded Netflix and pulled up the first episode. I watched it halfway through, closed the Netflix window, and returned back to my project. It’s 11:45 pm on a Friday night, and I’m just itching to keep working on the project.

Being driven is addictive. The more I work on it, the sooner I finish. The sooner I finish, the sooner I launch. The sooner I launch, the sooner I’ll know whether I’ll fail or not. There’s a certain low-level pressure to finish. The entire process is extremely addicting. (Update: I finished watching the entire season of Narcos after finishing the project.)

The majority of people aren’t driven. The majority of people come home after work tired and dejected. They need something that will reset their brains before they pass out to repeat the process the next day. The last thing they want to do is to build out some website and sell some products. They also aren’t going to be running any marketing campaigns anytime soon. They just want to watch an episode of their favorite sitcom and then go to sleep.

When I lived in Colombia, my roommate was a young American guy who was working for a local NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). One night, while we were hanging out in one of Medellin’s bars, he asked me what kind of work I was doing. I told him. He was interested and immediately asked if I can mentor him. I wanted to test his commitment first, so I pointed him to some quality books and blogs to get started.

He looked over the material and then asked me a couple of questions. A few days later, he told me in a dejected tone that it’s not something he wanted to do. When pressed for an explanation, he explained that he realized the chance of failing was just too high and that he’d rather continue working his regular job.

The proxy for everything

It was at that point that I realized something profound: it was never about business or entrepreneurship. It was never about making money. It was never about having some passive income and traveling around the world. It never about any of that. Building your own business and/or becoming an entrepreneur is really a proxy for how you choose to live your life. It’s just a state of being. And it’s the result of the choices you make.

My roommate declined because the life he was living was perfectly suitable for him. Period. He didn’t want to deviate from a familiar routine and embark on some risky voyage to some unknown destination. And if that meant he wouldn’t make money on his own terms, then that was cool with him. He was perfectly fine with being told what to do by someone else.

Not everyone is cut out to build their own business just like not everyone is cut out to approach a woman in the wild they find attractive. Fear, uncertainty, and insecurity stop people dead in their tracks from reaching for the ultimate prize and realizing their true potential. Even though the rewards for carving your own path — both from the business or personal standpoint — can be unlimited.

The mind inherently knows this. There is a certain feeling one experiences when one is living a life that deviates from how they want to be living. This feeling never lies. It’s like a tiny rocket in your shoe: you know it’s there, but you don’t know what you can do about it. This feeling doesn’t just disappear; it remains, affecting everything in your life: your inner state, your relationships with others, and your experiences with the world. Unfortunately, instead of fixing the root cause of the problem, most people spend their entire lives rationalizing away this feeling.

I’m not trying to motivate you to do anything. I don’t even believe in motivation. Motivation is horribly unreliable because it’s fleeting; it comes and goes as it pleases. I experience this all the time. Some days I feel super excited and optimistic. Other days, I feel as though the sky is falling. It could be dependent on a lot of factors: the weather, amount of time I slept, what I ate the day before, or something else.

But the outcome is always the same: the feeling dissipates, and I sit down and start working. I’ll never let something as important as my work be hijacked by some “feelings.” If I viewed motivation as a prerequisite to working, then most days I’d probably never get out of bed. And there’s really nothing else I’d love to be doing than what I’m doing right now.

The scariest people are those who would drop everything they’re doing and start working on a project after getting a rough idea. They don’t wait for the “right time.” They don’t want for a “stroke of inspiration.” They might not succeed the first time (they probably won’t), but because creating something is really a conversation with the market, they’ll succeed on the second, third or fourth time. They only way they’ll fail is by giving up.

I’ve known guys like that. I’ve worked with them. I’ve worked for them. After initially failing numerous times, many of them are successful beyond their wildest dreams. And, you know what? They’re still working because they enjoy it so much. They scare me because they’re so dangerous.

The process is king

The process is the secret sauce. If you want to build a successful blog, you must love to write. If you want to create a huge audience, you must love to market. If you want to make a lot of sales, you must love to sell. If you want to build a successful company (after a lot of prerequisite failures), you must love to hustle. If you want to learn a foreign language, you must love memorizing new words and making a fool of yourself while pronouncing them to the locals. Just like if you want to be a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion, you must love to spend hours and hours training on the mats.

I enjoy writing. I view writing as a fundamental skill that facilitates the crystallization of ideas. It’s like a workout in the gym but for your mind. Am I successful? With several thousand visitors per day and over eight thousand followers across social media accounts, I’m still not sure. It doesn’t even matter either way.

My affinity for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a testament to being in love with the process and little else: I could spend hours training on the mat, every single day. Am I good? I’ve been training for more ten years, so I guess I can hold my own at my belt level. It doesn’t really matter. I really couldn’t care less about competing or championships.

I know for a fact that if a million dollars landed in my bank account tomorrow, I’d still be writing about travel, culture, business, economics and training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In other words, I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing right this minute, and what I’ve been doing for the past ten years.

Doing something regularly, something that you enjoy matters much more than whatever happens afterward. I’ll go even further: doing something — anything — is much more important than worrying what to work on. Writing a 3,000-word article about the first thought that pops in your mind is better than wondering what to write about. Doing 50 pushups in the morning is better wondering whether to do sit-ups, push ups or take a bus to the gym.

The title of this article is actually a quote by Charles Bukowski, a writer who didn’t much achieve success until later in life. He was kinda of a mess his entire life, being drunk and vulgar most of his waking hours. He naturally didn’t care what others thought of him. He was also as authentic as they came.

The motivational gurus were wrong all along. It was never about building a business. It was never about making money. It was never about some fancy word called “entrepreneurship.” It was never about building a startup. It was never about having passive income while traveling around the world. It was never about learning affiliate marketing or day-trading cryptocurrencies.

All these fancy terms were actually proxies for something else: drive. It was always about the drive. The fire in the belly. The desire to make a dent in the universe. The will to persevere, day in and day out, working on something that matters. Believing in something. Caring about something. Getting others to care and believe in it also.

Drive is why an 81-year-old man, Carl Icahn, who’s worth more than $16B, still wakes up every single day, goes to his office, and makes business deals. Most people his age are long retired, spending the rest of their days in some nursing home in Arizona or South Florida.

A person who refuses to learn a new skill that’s outside their existing realm of knowledge and/or comfort isn’t just refusing to learn that specific skill, they’re refusing to change their way of life; they’re refusing to take the lead instead of being lead; they’re refusing to believe in something that’s greater than themselves. And, yeah, it’s not a stretch to assume that being an entrepreneur is most likely not their cup of tea.

The richness of life can be reduced to a binary component. You’re either all-in or you’re all-out. You either have something that you’re crazy passionate about or you’re perennially on the sidelines waiting for some miracle to drop on your lap. That’s the foundation upon which everything else is duly built.

Bitcoin Is The Future Of A New World Order

Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in cryptocurrencies coinciding with record gains in the original one—Bitcoin:

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I first stumbled on cryptocurrencies back in 2013. That’s when I bought few bitcoins after a conversation with a friend in Copenhagen, Denmark. We had just finished a heavy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training session and were driving back to the city. He was visibly excited about the technology. Not only he couldn’t stop talking about, but he was very intent on convincing me to buy it as well. I eventually relented and bought some bitcoins later that week.

At the time, I didn’t understand cryptocurrencies and had zero interest in them. I discounted them as “nerd money” that had no chance of mainstream adoption.

Fast forward four years, and my interest in this technology has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, earlier this year, I sat down and learned everything I could about this technology by reading everything I could get my hands on. My humble conclusion is that it’s absolutely the best innovation since the Internet.

I came to that conclusion when I realized that bitcoin’s underlying technology—Blockchain—elegantly solves a lot of problems that were plaguing early forms of “digital currency.”

The first problem it solves is the problem of “double spending.” Anything digital is by its very nature is easy to duplicate. If I have a photograph, I can give it to you and, I unless I delete the original, I still have the same thing. Because it isn’t possible to give a piece of digital information to someone without the original owner relinquishing its control means that I can “pay” you for something and then with the same money pay someone else.

Bitcoin solves this problem nicely with the concept of value that’s either marked “unspent” or “spent.” Once I spend something, that transaction is no longer “spendable.” I receive the change (if any) and that’s about it. It’s now spendable to the person who receives it until they also spend it. If two transactions happened almost at the same time, the newer transaction is invalidated through a network-wide consensus (see below).

The second major problem that blockchains solve is doing all that without a central clearinghouse. Many things in our society revolve around a central authority that validates transactions between multiple parties. Banks currently serve this role. When I write you a check for $5, the bank first checks that balance is in my account before transferring the money to your account. The bank then withdraws the money from my account and credits your account.

Since bitcoin is based on a distributed network called blockchains, there’s no central clearinghouse. Instead, different nodes (computers) on the network take turns validating transactions and adding them to the blockchain (a permanent record of all transactions). The trick is that each specific computer isn’t chosen by anyone; they’re chosen at random based on which computer solves a difficult mathematical problem (called “mining” in bitcoin terminology).

This allows different computers on the worldwide network the chance to verify new transactions without a monopoly that certain computers or a group of computers are controlled by a specific authority.

Enormous apartment building

The best way to think about the blockchain technology (that bitcoin is based on) is to imagine a big apartment building with lots and lots of apartments. Each apartment is essentially a place where you can store money. When money is sent from one person to another, it’s not moved anywhere; only the keys are switched between the locks for each apartment.

For example, let’s say you currently have 5 bitcoins that are stored in apartment #113. When you send them to me, the system verifies that a) you control that money by proving you own the lock and b) you have 5 or more bitcoins. Following that, the system switches “locks” so that now my keys control those 5 bitcoins and not you.

The way you manage your transactions such as paying, receiving or viewing your balance is via something called a “wallet.” There are many different wallets for any platforms: mobile, desktop, hardware and even paper wallets (called “cold storage” because their keys aren’t exposed on the Internet). The purpose of a wallet is to securely store the private keys (i.e., the keys to the apartments) and determine which of the “apartments” out there are secured by those keys. Once a wallet knows the apartments where these coins are “stored,” they sum up the values and display your total balance.

The keys to the “apartments” are called “private keys.” Private keys should never be exposed to the public because whoever has the private keys controls the money. On the other hand, a public key is converted to a “bitcoin address.” These addresses can be shared with anyone because they serve as destinations for payments from others.

Here’s my address: 1MKHTkZhJGxSCaRw9N8W3oChHbTzUS5igu (In case you were wondering where to send a small donation.)

It’s crucial to understand that if you don’t control your private keys, you don’t control the money. This happened when people kept their bitcoins on some exchange without controlling the private keys. The exchange had their private keys and controlled their money. So, when the exchange stopped went down (for technical or criminal reasons), all the money disappeared with it.

Another key point that can’t be emphasized enough is that if, for any reason, you lose your private keys, you can kiss your bitcoins goodbye. They’re gone forever. Actually, they’ll still be floating out there recorded on the blockchain, but they won’t accessible to you or anyone else for that matter. In the short history of bitcoin, there have been several highly publicized cases where individuals lost many bitcoins (worth a lot of money today) through utter carelessness as a result of misplacing or destroying their private keys. A lot of those bitcoins are now worth a lot of money. That money is gone forever.

The power of the sovereign

I’m extremely optimistic about the technology for many reasons. The biggest reason: it’s your money and no one can take it away from you. You may think that your money is safe because it’s stored at a bank, but that’s far from the truth. Banks can easily limit access to your money for a number of reasons.

When I visited Ukraine a few years ago, my US bank blocked my complete account access because US imposed financial sanctions on Crimea. Even though I wasn’t anywhere near Crimea and had no intention of ever going there (I was in the capital, Kiev), my bank simply didn’t care and wasn’t willing to allow me access to my own money. Thankfully, I had access to other funds that I could use for my duration of my stay in the country.

If I had bitcoins, I could’ve easily exchanged them for the local currency. I have the private key, which means I have complete control to my money. No governments or corporations can tell me whether I can access the money or not. As long as bitcoin network is available (and it will be), I have access to my funds.

Another cool thing about the technology is that sending money to someone is easy and fast. I can send you any amount of money and you will receive it almost instantly. (Although, with the congestion on the network, you may have to pay a bit more in transaction fees for speed, the fees are still very affordable.)

Bitcoins can be exchanged into national currencies (dollars, euros, yen, etc) called “fiat” through exchanges. As of the time of this writing, 1 bitcoin is worth approximately $4,300. This is done via online or offline exchanges around the world.

The pillar of stability

When I tell people about bitcoin, their first reaction is usually indifference. They wonder the point of having another currency or get paid in another currency when it’s not backed by anything or sanctioned by the state. And, additionally, when you must always trade your bitcoins into government-issued fiat anyway.

First of all, contrary to what many people think, the dollar is not backed by anything either. It was taken off the gold standard back in 1971 after the spending and the printing of the dollar as a result of the Vietnam War made the fixed exchange unattainable.

As more dollars were printed and flooded the economy, and no additional gold was mined, each quantity of gold automatically commanded more dollars, more than the US government was willing to exchange them for. So, to solve the problem, the central bank broke the dollar/gold peg, which resulted in the dollar being worth whatever people thought it was worth in terms of gold or other currencies. Naturally, other currencies and gold gained value in terms of dollars.

Dollars aren’t printed by the US government. They’re printed by a quasi-government part-public/part-private central bank (The Federal Reserve) whose interests are closely aligned with private banks. Entire national economies expand and contract depending on how much money is printed and the central bank’s lending rate. Furthermore, during the height of the European debt crisis, most of the bailouts to foreign countries were actually governments bailing out failed banks so that those are able to pay back what they owe to the banks in the countries that they were bailing them out.

Because bitcoins aren’t controlled by a central authority, they can’t be printed at whim and used for bailing out failing institutions. Bitcoins enter the economy in a predicted fashion as a reward to “miners” who’ve solved difficult mathematical problems. In this way, Bitcoin represents a hedge against the inflationary risks of the dollar.

As Yuval Harari explains in the Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, currencies are no more than belief systems. Why is everyone willing to accept dollars for their goods and services? It’s because everyone in the world believes the dollar is worth something now and will be worth something tomorrow thanks to the economic might and political stability of the US—and, most importantly, because a dollar is truly a worldwide currency: a shoe repairer in Tajikistan or wine cellar in Argentina will still accept it in lieu of their national currencies.

In countries where the governments continuously abuse their currencies such as Argentina, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others, the belief in the currency has all but eroded. For large ticket items, people choose to only transact in dollars (or euros). The existence of the currency black market in the country means the official rate set by the government is completely out of touch with reality that it should be ignored.

But even hard currencies such as dollars aren’t without their faults. They’re inextricably tied to politics and the elites. They’re used as weapons in currency wars (by being devalued to strengthen the country’s exports on the world markets). They’re also inherently inflationary in order to benefit the spenders/investors at the expense of the savers. They shape entire national economies and even influence international economies by controlling their demand and supply by setting the interest rates that stipulate the cost of money.

In the same way that dollars keep corrupt currencies honest, bitcoin is keeping the dollar honest. Similarly to gold, which cannot be mined at whim or easily transportable from one place to another, bitcoin represents a safer and more secure way to store value. Assuming the network’s technical implementation continues to support increased transactions, the rising value of bitcoin vis-a-vis to the dollar represents the stronger belief in the cryptocurrency.

Markets keep governments honest. The collapse of the Soviet Union was in many ways the triumph of decentralized capitalistic markets over centralized government planning. When a country’s currency is being heavily debased by corrupt officials resulting in a decreased purchasing power and culminating in the complete loss of confidence (e.g., Venezuela), the demand for dollars goes up and exchange rate adjusts to reflect that. If the government tries to intervene with the inflow of dollars (capital controls) or outright abolishing of local exchanges, the exchange doesn’t simply disappear into thin air—it goes underground.

In the end, it comes down to having a choice. Let the people decide. Let the markets decide. This is why I’m super bullish on cryptocurrencies and their potential to completely disrupt traditional systems that exist today. If people lose faith in the dollar because they feel the central banks are manipulating it to serve their narrow needs, they’ll store their funds elsewhere and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will go up in value. On the other hand, If people lose faith in cryptocurrencies and prefer the security and stability of the dollar, they’ll sell bitcoins and buy the dollars. The freedom to choose.

Ultimately, there’s simply no feeling out there like knowing that you have a wallet of funds that only you can access and spend as you wish, anywhere and anytime without banks or governments getting in the way.

Let’s try a small experiment. If you enjoyed this article, send me a small donation to 1MKHTkZhJGxSCaRw9N8W3oChHbTzUS5igu. In exchange, I’ll send you a rough table of contents of a new book that I’m working on plus I’ll get your personal input about future topic ideas for the site. (After sending bitcoins, send me an email, specifying the exact bitcoin amount that you sent so I know it was you.)

Advice To My 21-Year-Old Self

Hello Little Maverick,

Today is your birthday. You turn the big “two one.” That means you’re old enough to drink. Congratulations! But there are more important issues at hand that I want to discuss with you today.

First of all, you can say that your life begins now. Anything that happened before, like your teenage years don’t really count because you were busy wasting time hanging out with your friends and doing stupid shit. In a year, you’ll graduate from college and your real life begins. That’s when you have to join the real world and, you know, get a job and, you know, make a living.

Now, look, Little Maverick, the job market is tricky. Depending on your skills and luck, you may find a job quickly or you may not find one for a couple of years and would need to switch jobs into a more lucrative field.

Most of your classmates and peers will follow a traditional path. They will graduate university, get a job, meet a woman, buy an expensive wedding ring, get married and have kids. Years later, many will divorce, but many will also stay together.

All of that is the standard path, and that’s available to you. But I want you to think differently. You see, because you’re so young, you’re in a unique position to carve a different path—your own path.

But that’s not the point. The point is that you don’t necessarily need to take this path and do what everyone else is doing. You can do something completely different. Think of it as a canvas with nothing on it. A blank canvas. Take a brush and draw on it anyway you want.

So, what should you do? That’s a great question. Actually, anything you want. First things first: let’s talk location. You may have been born and raised in the richest country on the planet (USA), but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should remain there. This may or may not surprise you, but there are countries around the world where you can live for a fraction of the price and enjoy the same (or even better) amenities. They also have much nicer weather and very friendly people.

For instance, let’s talk about Thailand. You can fly to Chiang Mai, rent a spacious studio apartment for only $250 per month. Then rent your own motorbike for only $50 per month. Co-working is like $50-100 per month. Food is super cheap. That’s it. Compare that to a place like San Francisco, where for $2,000/month, the only thing you’d be able to rent would be a small closet.

Thailand is just one example; pretty much anywhere outside the West you can have a very nice lifestyle while figuring out what you should do.

The beauty of living abroad is that you’ll get to experience a world that few people do—a world outside America and learn how the rest of the world works. Again, this may or may not surprise you, but many developing countries are growing like mushrooms and China will eclipse US soon. Even the countries with smaller economies are rapidly expanding and growing. While America will always be your home, it doesn’t mean you should always stay there.

Live in a new country, learn the local language and expand your horizons. This will only help you out.

Now that we covered the geographical aspects of this (geoarbitrage), let’s talk about what you should do in Thailand, Bali, Argentina, Lithuania or some other low cost country. The answer is simple: anything. Whatever you want. This is your chance to network, learn everything about making money, how businesses work (e.g., figuring out your niche, unique value proposition, marketing, sales, monetization).

Now, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news. The bad news is that this takes time. Building a business is like learning how to ride a bike (or that 125cc scooter you just rented), and you’ll definitely fall of the thing and fail many times. The good news is that there’s no rush: you have plenty of time to test stuff out, so it’s only a matter of time before things “click” and you succeed.

Remember, you’re only 21-years-old. And there’s really no difference between a 21-year-old who failed a bunch of businesses, a 24-year-old and a 29-year-old. It doesn’t really matter if you need to start completely over, at say, 30-years-old or even 33 years old. None of that matters.

You may not understand this now, but later in life things will get tougher. Perhaps you’ll have other commitments, a family of your own, aging parents, health issues, or other things. As you get older, you’ll realize that you’ll lose some of that edge you have when you’re young and fearless. Pulling all nighters would be out of question. You’ll also become less tolerant to risk. Even something that’s as mundane as a startup would seem foreign to you as you get older.

That means now is the time to start, to learn, to fuck up, fuck up some more, and then rinse and repeat. Banish words like stability and security from your lexicon. They shouldn’t mean anything to you. If you take my advice and live abroad, then saving something like $2,000-$3,000 should last you at least six months while you’re trying to figure things out and testing different business ideas.

Maybe you’ll end up building something great, or maybe you’ll decide that this whole location-independent lifestyle isn’t for you and you’d rather build a traditional career in a large company. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the latter, it’s just you need to know what you want and what you’re good at.

There’s a couple of other things to keep in mind. First of all, no one knows what they’re doing. Business is not a science. It’s more of an art. That means there’s no “certain” and “right” way of doing things. It’s all about experimenting and iterating. You must become comfortable with uncertainty.

Fortunately, it’ll get easier over time. After some experience, you’ll discover a certain pattern that’s applicable to all businesses whether you’re selling mattresses or SaaS (software as a service) products. That’s why it’s true what they say, “The first dollar is the hardest.” Making the first buck is hard, but going from $100 to $1000 and $10,000 is much, much easier.

Secondly, and most importantly, stop caring what others think. It doesn’t matter. Everyone has their personal opinion on pretty much anything and everything, and there’s not enough bandwidth and energy in the world to be concerned what everyone thinks about a particular topic. Like I said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you think and whether it’ll help the bottom line.

So, there you have it. Embrace risk. Embrace a more unconventional path. Experiment. If it works, iterate. If it doesn’t, do something else. Fail. Get up and try again. Do it now before you’re too old and less risk-averse.

Now, you have all the advice you need. If you need anything else from me, you know where to find me.

Best of luck to you,

Big “Bro” Maverick

After traveling around the world for the past ten years, I’ve gotten pretty good at picking up foreign languages very quickly. This Friday, I’m releasing my complete video course on language hacking. The goal isn’t fluency, but accelerated learning so that you can become conversational very quickly. Stay tuned for more information.

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