Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Category: Maverick Mindset (page 1 of 3)

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!

Building A Digital Marketing And Copywriting Empire From Mexico City

 
 
00:00 / 1:58:49
 
1X

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.

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.

Life Is A Series Of Experiments

I’m a planner by nature. I love planning long term. I can’t help it. As in months and years. For instance, this month I’ll work on this. Next month I’ll work on that. November is for a specific project. December is for another project. The first six months of next year will be spent working on a particular project.

Since I work for myself and don’t adhere to a particular structure, planning gives me a certain sense of sanity and predictability in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world. It let’s me know that if I just stick to my plans, that things will turn out alright, that things will work out. It gives me comfort in knowing that all this uncertainty will fall into place.

However, one thing I recently learned—accidentally—is that incredible breakthroughs usually occur as a result of something completely unplanned and random. They occur as a result of an experiment of some sort that has nothing to do with the things you were working on.

Last year, I was working on a software project with a partner. We had everything planned out, the business plan, the development cycle, the launch, etc. Everything to the minute detail. Everything was done according to plans but the results were lackluster. Although the business model was well planned, there was still something wrong.

So, we decided to switch gears and try something else. We decided to do something that we’d never planned. We decided to add a new random feature. It was an experiment. If it didn’t work, then no harm done, we’d just roll things back and go back to how things were.

Amazingly, the experiment turned out successful. The customers loved the feature. After more deliberation, we decided to implement this feature on a more permanent basis. Something that was purely ad-hoc and just an idea at that time became the centerpiece of our business model.

Experiments aren’t just useful in business endeavors; they should be implemented in life in general. The problem is that people are generally afraid of experimenting and deviating from their plans or status-quo. Why is that? The main reasons is because people tie their work to their ego and identity.

The power of identity

When we tie what we do to our identity, our actions become rigid and uncompromising, just like our identity. We refuse to experiment and try new things because we don’t easily change. We are who we are and since our actions are tied to us, they’re also pretty fixed.

It’s like being a shy, nerdy kid all your life and then one day decide to start going out to clubs and posting pictures of yourself on Facebook. Suddenly, you changed your identity and your friends noticed. There will be comments and feedback, both positive and negative.

But you’re not your experiments. You are still you, while your experiments are something else. They don’t represent you. They’re temporary and fleeting in nature. They may last a couple of days, or a couple of months. And if they deliver the results you need, then you integrate them into whatever you’re doing. If they don’t work out as planned, you discard them. They’re never tied to your identity because they don’t represent who you are.

The problem with planning is that you’re essentially having blind faith that things will work out in some distant (or not so distant) future. Experiments help you break out of this. They provide an important spark of imagination and freedom from an otherwise monotonous lifestyle. They’re the anti-thesis of monotone long term planning of things that may never materialize.

If you want to build a business, don’t aim for the sky and try to build a Fortune 500 company from the get-go. Think small. Open up shop (physical or online) and begin selling stuff. If people like what you offer—if what you’re selling solves their problems—they’ll gladly give you their money and you’ll become successful. Later on, depending on what your customers want, you can begin offering new products and services. In fact, that’s actually how most successful brands and companies grew from their humble beginnings. They do it step by step, via experiments.

If you want to change your life, don’t plan the next five of years; take baby steps. Plan a trip to Brazil for a couple of months. When I flew to Brazil on a one-way ticket, I never anticipated that I will stay there for two and a half years. I didn’t know anyone there. I had no business in the country. All I said to myself was that I will go to a new country for a month or so and see what happens. Two and a half years later I left the country, where I credit spending one of the best times of my life.

While I certainly loved Brazil, it’s completely possible that Brazil might not be for you.

Taking risks is important. Life without risks is a conventional, boring, stagnant life. When you don’t deviate from a defined path, you’re simply doing what others have done before you; and there can be no fortune when you follow a well-defined path.

But taking too many unnecessary risks is also not prudent. The solution is to take small, calculated risks. Follow along a well-defined path, but also deviate with a mixture of experiments. Try that idea that you’ve been putting off for months or years. If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, then no harm done.

Any successful life is constructed via a series of small, calculated experiments. Tolerable risk gives life meaning and moves things forward. Believe me, you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

The objective is to do things organically, to grow and move forward as a result of natural demand for your skills and services, not because of some one-sided planning that may never materialize because nobody cares what you do and whether you exist or not. That’s how you grow, that’s how you move forward.

Experimenting has been a huge game changer for me. It has changed the way I think, act and behave. It has given me a true sense of freedom that I simply didn’t have before when I lived a more “structured” life.

Experiments don’t need to be complex; that’ll simply defeat their purpose. Keep it simple and playful. Remember when you were a kid and did things because you felt like it? When you didn’t care what others thought of your actions? When you never questioned your actions from the point of view of others?

Whenever I feel I’m stuck with something, I know that it’s time to experiment. I know that I need to try something new, something that goes against my pre-existing beliefs and thoughts. If I feel doing something makes me uncomfortable because it threatens who I am as a person, then I know I must do it.

Start by disconnecting your identity from your actions. Experiment with the things you always wanted to do but were afraid to because how you felt you might be perceived by others. To succeed, you must break out of the straightjacket of predictability. Experiments show you the way.

This Friday, I will be releasing my long-awaited video course on building your own location-independent business in an area you’re passionate in from scratch. It’s a course that I’ve been working on for almost a year and represents my best work yet. Stay tuned for a special weekend promotion that includes great bonuses, content and support.

The Rise Of The Parallel Nomadic Entrepreneur Economy

When choosing a city to live, an important criteria is the ability to work and create capital. This means the city needs to have fast Internet, have a nice coffee shop culture and be relatively safe so that I’m not worried someone will come and take my laptop while I’m building my next business. Additionally, a nice warm sunny weather doesn’t hurt as well.

One such city that ticks most boxes is San Francisco, a city where I spent a decade living while working for all kinds of different tech companies, big, small and all in between. San Francisco is a great city to live thanks to its rolling hills, cozy coffee shops and a wide variety of restaurants. The presence of tech means that SF is a fantastic place to start an online business. The city is also blessed with great weather, so it’s never too cold or too hot.

Except for one thing: San Francisco is expensive. Unbelievably, bank-crushing, out-of-this-world, call-your-banker-to-get-a-second-mortgage expensive. When I lived there, I rented a nice apartment for $1,500 per month. That was around eight years ago.

Today, renting a decently-sized 1-bedroom in an average neighborhood would set you back anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500 per month. That’s a lot of money. Even if you’re a senior code monkey for a high-flying tech company that’s paying you a shitload, you’d still most likely need a roommate to afford rent (many people are moving back to their parents). Of course, I’m assuming you’ll find an apartment in the first place—and San Francisco won’t have a popular revolt soon.

I find this absolutely mind-boggling. There should be no reason why a knowledgeable and well-qualified member of society shouldn’t be able to afford to rent his own apartment. There should be no reason why someone with a decent job should struggle while trying to maintain a sane way of living. No reason whatsoever. While SF is a decent city, it doesn’t warrant such sky-high rents and cost of living.

San Francisco for the masses

Instead, I want you to imagine a city that’s very similar to San Francisco, but where your money—the money you’re making with your labor and ingenuity—goes much further. Much, much further. Where you don’t need to share an apartment with some random stranger when you’re well in your 30s or 40s. Where you don’t need to move back with your parents just so that you have money left over for food. Where you can work hard and honestly and be rewarded with a very comfortable standard of living.

Imagine a city where everything is easy. A city replete with amazing restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping centers and night markets. A city where there’s ultra fast Internet and a service industry built around helping you with everything and then gets out of your way so you can work. Most importantly, a city where you can fly in, get settled in, and start working right away.

When I say work, I’m not referring to working at some soulless 9-5 job; what I’m talking about is building something for yourself, something that will still be around in a couple of years, something that may outlive you. Something real and tangible. I’m talking about building real capital.

Many years ago, the city that I’ve just described could only be available in the rich and developed West. Coming to some “third world” place like Indonesia, Thailand or Latin America was completely unfathomable. Thailand always had a reputation as a place to come for cheap street food and sunbathing in its pristine beaches, and perhaps train some Muay Thai. For anything serious, like building your own business and making lots of money in the process, choosing Thailand was just stupid and silly.

That’s no longer the case. One of those cities that ticks all those boxes—and ticks them really well—is Chiang Mai, a small city in Northern Thailand, where I’ve been living for the past two months.

In fact, as I currently write this article from a very comfortable coworking space that has absolutely everything I need, I can’t think of a single place in the world where I’d rather be. Sure, Chiang Mai lacks the beach and some nice scenery, but for what I’m doing now, I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. And, as I’ve found out after talking to lots of people here, I’m certainly not alone.

The mystery of Chiang Mai

My first impression of this city was underwhelming. Following a long flight from Bali, Indonesia with an overnight layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I grabbed a taxi at the airport and started heading towards my hotel. As I peeked outside the taxi window, the city I witnessed was decidedly bland and nondescript. There weren’t any tall and glorious buildings that you see in New York. It also didn’t have the “the open air museum” feel of Barcelona or Rome.

But then something strange and inexplicable happened. As I began living here, the mystery of the city began to gradually unravel. And I began to like this city. A lot. I still don’t know why. I really have no idea what it is; what specifically about this city that made me change my mind. It could be an array of things, and as hard as I think about it, I can’t come up with a concrete reason.

Although I’m now preparing to move to Southern Thailand and enjoy much needed R&R by some secluded beach in the middle of the sea, leaving Chiang Mai wouldn’t be easy.

While Chiang Mai doesn’t have the postcard beauty of Rio de Janeiro, the historic feel of Barcelona, or the romantic feel of Paris, it has something else going for it. Specifically, it’s one of the best cities in the world for getting work done. Bar none. Not just any kind of work. The kind of work that I’ve been doing for over a decade, the kind of work where you can do from anywhere in the globe. Not freelancing or work where you’re whoring your precious time for pieces of paper (aka money). Real work. Building capital. The only work that really counts.

The new nomadic entrepreneur economy

During the time of the spice trade, there existed various “hub” cities along important trade routes. These cities had strategic importance because one needed to pass through them on your way to some final destination (where spices were sold on the market). While we’re no longer trading spices with each other, we’re always finding new and innovative ways to build capital.

There’s a new economy being assembled as we speak. It’s being created by nomadic entrepreneurs, who, thanks to a wonderful gift called Globalization, are able to mint capital and make money just about anywhere in the world. These people hold no allegiance to a particular place, nation or continent. They’re not nationalists or globalists. They’re nomadic entrepreneurs.

Instead of believing in the American dream, they’re building their own dreams. Instead of moving to San Francisco that has its share of startups, they’re moving to places that offer them 10-100x the value. The actual passport they carry in their carry-on bag is just a formality.

They’re taking their newly minted capital and moving it away from the Western “old capital” cities and onto these newly nomadic hubs, something that I’m doing and now and will continue to do in the future.

Chiang Mai is far from the only city that’s attracting this nomadic capital. Ubud in the center of the tropical island of Bali — where I’ve spent two months earlier this year — is an upcoming digital entrepreneur hub. It’s being modernized at break-neck speed with new of coworking spaces under construction. There’s also a co-living space that’s being built and should be launched soon.

Malaysia, a country with its liberal visa policies and hunger for nomadic capital is busy building its own share of nomadic hub cities. A city that everyone is talking about now is Kuching located on the island of Borneo. It’s a city with rapidly growing infrastructure and blistering fast Internet. In a couple of years it will rival Chiang Mai.

I’ve also heard great things about Dali, China, a small city in Eastern China, to the north of Thailand. Hopefully, I’ll make it up there soon and get a “boots on the ground” perspective.

Existing cities will be transforming to meet the need of this new economy. New cities will be sprouting up like mushrooms. These cities will gradually replace traditional centers of power and capital such as San Francisco, New York and London.

This is inevitably leading to a transfer of wealth from the West to the East. As more people realize the immense value being offered in the East, that’s where they’ll go. Money and capital always chase the highest returns. And right now, when money is super cheap in the West—thanks to our friendly Central Bank printing money like it’s going out of fashion— everyone is heading East, where hard currency is scarcer and, as a result, in much greater demand.

For builders of digital capital only

That’s precisely why I didn’t “get” Chiang Mai initially—I wasn’t supposed to get it. It wasn’t the right time. A nomadic hub like Chiang Mai is a puzzle which gradually opens up to you the more time you spend in the city. It’s not a typical tourist destination like Cancun that you fly in, sunbathe, get drunk,  and then go fly home. It’s also not Rio de Janeiro or Barcelona whose beauty is immediately apparent without needing to search for it.

It’s a city that can’t be understood in as little as two weeks. Forget treating it as a vacation destination. That’s like trying to have a one-night stand with a quality woman. While you can sleep with easy women very quickly, quality women know their value and wouldn’t just open their legs to anyone, especially someone who wants to pull a “hit and run.” Cancun is an easy woman; Chiang Mai is a quality woman.

In order to understand this place, you have roll your sleeves and begin to build your own capital. You understand it when you start working on something big. When you start networking with other like-minded people. That’s when things slowly begin to take shape and make sense. That’s when you realize the beauty and brilliance of the place.

Unless you’ve figured out how the whole thing works and unchain yourself from the tyranny of the 9-5 (which is nothing more than modern slavery), you can’t take advantage of this new economy its frontier cities. If you take a two-week vacation and visit a place like Chiang Mai, you’ll see a completely different city that I’m experiencing as someone who’s been actually living here.

The best way to describe a nomadic hub like Chiang Mai is that it’s AirBnB for people. Instead of seamlessly booking an apartment like you would through AirBnB, you book an entire city for your personal and business use. Everything just works. Seamlessly and effortlessly.

It takes a nomadic entrepreneur to appreciate a nomadic hub city. As they say, it takes one to know one.

The two parallel economies

Of course, you don’t have to embrace the nomadic entrepreneur economy. There’s an alternative. The alternative is to sit exactly where you are and do nothing; a life dedicated to enriching someone else. The alternative is to continue being a slave, while living in some “middle class” illusion, a mirage backed by cheap credit that’ll come crashing down as soon as there’s another financial crisis.

When you choose the “do nothing” route, you can’t enjoy the perks of living in some of these up-and-coming digital entrepreneur hotspots. You can’t pack up and move to Chiang Mai, Ubud, Dali, Kushing or many other frontier cities. You can’t engage in geo-arbitrage by earning hard currency and spending soft currency (something that elites have been doing since beginning of time). There’re lots of things you just can’t do.

Ten or fifteen years ago the above was pretty much your only option. It wasn’t possible to do anything besides the “status quo.” The third world wasn’t as developed; most of the wealth was still concentrated in the first world.

The economic winds are shifting. There’s now an alternative to the established order. There’s an alternative to the status quo. There’s an alternative to sitting and toiling just to earn enough to merely stay alive.

There’s a new economy being build by nomadic entrepreneurs, an economy that knows no bounds and no borders. It’s a parallel economy running along the more traditional one. Ignore this new economy at your peril. It’s not too farfetched to think that one day this economy might just triumph over the old order.

Which economy do you want to integrate into? Which economy fits more into your lifestyle? Which economy will reward your hard work, knowledge and skills better? Which economy would make you happier and fulfilled?

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one option. But I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

Driving The Scooter In Bali and Learning The Meaning of Life

While I’ve driven cars for many years (with both automatic and manual transmissions), the first time I drove a scooter-or any two-wheeled motorized vehicle—was many years ago when I was living in San Francisco. A friend who drove one around the city offered to teach me how to drive it. I got on and few seconds later I almost crashed it into my own car. All I remember was the beige scooter lying on the ground on its left side. It was purely a miracle that I was still standing and my own car’s left door was still intact.

Fast forward thirteen years, and I’ve found myself on the tropical paradise called Bali, Indonesia. I’m staying in a town of approximately 300,000 people. The town (Ubud) has an uncanny resemblance to San Francisco; it’s filled with nice tree-lined streets, organic cafes and lots of hippies and as well as some hipsters. And I’m exploring this beautiful town and island not by walking or driving, but by riding my very own Honda scooter.

Bali, Indonesia, a tropical island in the middle of Indian Ocean, lacks any kind of public transportation of any kind. While there are taxis (in many towns, your only choice is to negotiate a rate and hire a private car), they’re impractical for daily exploration and only make sense when you’re moving from one area to another-especially if you’re carrying luggage. Another option is to use your two feet for getting around, but then you’d be confined to a small radius around your hostel or hotel (it also gets very hot during the day).

Enter the scooter: for as little as $1/day, you can rent your own two-wheeled motorized transport and get around anywhere you need to. It’s easy to drive it. Easy to park it. Filling it up with gas costs almost nothing. Here on Bali, it seems every single person—and their mother and grandmother drives their own scooter. I’ve seen entire families consisting of mother, father and a couple of kids riding on one scooter. Everyone rides one. Renting one is really a no brainer.

Driving a scooter comes with its own challenges. First of all, you need to actually know how to ride one. If you’ve never ridden a motorbike  before, there will be a bit of a learning curve. You’ll have to learn how to properly balance it. You’ll also feel overwhelmed in heavy traffic when you’re surrounded by a sea of scooters buzzing and whizzing by you from all sides. It’s also difficult to navigate Bali’s many super narrow streets where a scooter can barely fit itself.

You know all those nice traffic rules—and people that actually follow them—in your comfortable Western country? Well, forget all that: the locals drive with absolutely no regard for any rules of the road.

After arriving to Bali, I hesitated renting one. I’ve never driven a two-wheeled vehicle, and I didn’t want to learn how to do it in chaotic environment; it would’ve been better learn in a controlled environment, not in the crazy Bali traffic that’s no place for a rookie.

However, it quickly dawned on me that I really had no choice. I rented a house about 10km outside the town (most affordable accommodation exists outside the main city), so some kind of transport became all but a necessity. I needed to rent a scooter.

I rented one. After crashing one almost thirteen years ago on a quiet in street in San Francisco on my first attempt, driving a scooter this time around has been easier. The most challenging part has been balancing it at low speeds, although over the past several weeks, I’ve made lots of progress that it feels much more comfortable now.

If you had asked me even two months ago if I would ever ride a scooter or a motorcycle, my answer would’ve been a definite no. I was living in a beautiful European capital (Kiev, Ukraine), and had absolutely no reason to drive a scooter or a motorcycle. There was easy public transportation and very cheap taxis, should I need one. Driving a two-wheeled vehicle wasn’t a necessity; it wasn’t even something I wanted to do. It was probably more than a hassle than anything.

But here in Bali it suddenly became a necessity. Any other kind of transportation was just impractical. Therefore, I had no choice but to rent one and learn how to drive it.

And what can I say after putting over 1000 km on it in the past several weeks? It has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I can remember. I absolutely love riding it. I enjoy its nimble handling and the ease of parking. I constantly make excuses to ride it around the town (to get fresh juice from a nearby local shop or buy some fresh fruits).

I’ve also discovered some amazing beaches on the island thanks to it: a beautiful white sand beach secluded in the eastern part of the island and nice black sand (volcanic) beaches on the northern side. Not too mention visiting and eating at a bunch of night markets located around 30 minutes from the city has been a fantastic experience.

It’s amazing that something that was so terrifying not long ago is now not only second nature, but it’s actually a super fun activity – an activity that I enjoy thoroughly and had no idea how I lived without it for so long. This is usually how things work.

I’ve been enjoying riding one so much, that I now have dreams of riding one around other Southeast Asian countries like Philippines or Thailand. Heck, I want to drive in every country that I visit from now on. (I’ve also been even researching whether I can drive it in Latin America or Europe. I believe they’re pretty popular in Italy and Spain).

The question of cultivating skill

When I lived in Kiev, I met people who’ve never driven cars in their lives. At first that puzzled me; I couldn’t believe there are actually people on this planet who’ve never driven a car and don’t have a driving license—and I’m saying this as a New Yorker who owned several cars in the city.

But yeah, apparently such people do exist. Mainly because for them driving a car was never a necessary. Either their family didn’t have a car when they were growing up, or they simply got around using the city’s extensive public transportation. They didn’t learn to drive because there wasn’t any need to drive a vehicle.

At the core, self improvement is all about learning new skills. That skill can be picking up women, mastering a new language or learning how to drive a motorbike. The objective is to go beyond what you know-go beyond your comfort zone-and tax yourself by learning how to do something new.

Learning a new skill and going beyond your comfort zone is never easy. It’s not easy to learn how to pick up and seduce women because the byproduct is always lots and lots of rejection. It’s not easy to learn a new language because you’ll make a fool of yourself repeatedly before you’ll be able correctly pronounce words and make coherent sentences.

And it’s certainly not easy to ride a motorbike because it can be hazardous to your life; not only will you’ll need to learn how to balance the vehicle, understand how to switch gears and avoid crashing it into various objects (and quickly react so others don’t crash into you).

Nevertheless, each one of these skills enhances your life by allowing you to experience something brand new. All of them make your life more interesting and more rewarding.

My mother once told me a story that back in Soviet Union she was required to pass a swimming test in order to graduate from school. There was one problem: she didn’t know how to swim. She has never swam before. So, on the day of the test, the instructor called her name and requested that she swim across the length of the swimming pool. She jumped in the water and, in order to avoid drowning, began to tread water and stay afloat. Few moments later she was “swimming,” (I’m using the word in its most liberal sense). She eventually “swam” the full length of the swimming pool and passed the test. It was the first time she “swam” in her life.

The subtle art of rationalizing away and not confronting your deepest fears

When I was researching about riding scooters in this part of the world, I stumbled on a few articles where some backpacker was warning foreigners against renting and driving scooters in some Southeast Asian country (I believe it was Thailand). His justification was driving one is dangerous and unpredictable: there’s a much higher risk of a serious injury because, unlike when driving a car, you’re not protected by an outer shell. There’s the fact that you’re not familiar with how locals are driving, etc.

In a sense, he’s right: driving a motorbike is certainly more dangerous than driving a car, but where he’s wrong is in the overall thinking and intent.

But here’s the thing: the problem that’s preventing you from moving forward is not a specific concrete reason like your inability to ride a motorbike or the foreign country’s laws and regulations. These are all nothing but rationalizations for a root cause: your overriding fear of taking a risk and doing something new. You’re afraid to do it and you rationalize your fears using some existing excuses.

What people like him are doing are rationalizing not confronting their (usually massive) fears. Here in Bali, everyone rides a scooter, so every single driver-whether he’s driving a scooter, a car or a large truck, is completely used to scooters buzzing all around him at all times. Thus, riding a scooter is actually safer here than in a city where no one rides these mini motorcycles such as Kiev or Moscow. (It’s for the same reasons that driving a bicycle is almost suicidal in New York City and completely safe in Copenhagen, Denmark where 30% of the population commutes to work in bicycles.)

People who rationalize not confronting their fears tend to live very closed and mundane lives. They’re afraid of letting go and surrendering and just experiencing things. They’re afraid of experiencing life. They’re not living — but merely existing.

They’re also handicapping themselves. They’re given a choice to do something new, learn a new skill and become a stronger man, but instead of taking a plunge and just “going with the flow,” they rationalize away confronting the fears and choose not to do it.

(One could ask a different question: if you’re so scared of living your life, why travel anyway? Traveling is far from bulletproof. Lots of bad things can happen and often do. You can be robbed, assaulted, mugged, killed, raped, etc. Or you can have the most amazing experience of your life.)

Invariably most of you who’re reading this will fall into two camps: those who will jump at the opportunity to grow by learning a new skill and those who’ll make every single excuse in the book to rationalize not confronting their deathly fear of doing anything that involves any risk.

This is the wrong approach. Rationalizing anything is always a bad idea because it shows that it’s not something that you wanted to do-but needed to somehow explain this poor decision.

It’s easy to let fear dominate your decision making in almost any kind of situation. Pick any decision that requires you take a risk and move forward, or not do anything and stay where you are, and it’s always easy to talk yourself out of pretty much anything that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way. For instance, guys who don’t approach the girl they’re attracted to know exactly what I’m talking about.

But the trick with fear is that you can actually train yourself to feel it and still do something anyway. Over time, as a result of the positive feedback of doing something new and risky and not experiencing catastrophic failure—such as an embarrassing rejection or crazy crash—you’ll automatically build a healthy relationship with fear. The fear will still be there, but what will happen is that you’ll develop organic confidence that will counterbalance the fear, making it all but irrelevant. And this is exactly what you want.

Learning while doing it

While, over time, things do become second nature, the hardest part is to take the risk and do something whenever you’re presented with an opportunity. When given the option to grow: you must choose to go forward (“go with the flow”) instead of making a sudden and erratic u-turn.

Because the best way to learn a new skill is precisely while doing it, not while planning to do it. You learn to swim while helplessly struggling to stay afloat in the deep end of the pool, not standing in the shallow end where your feet can easily touch the water. You learn to ride a motorbike in heavy Indonesian traffic while surrounded by tons of other motorbikes instead of practicing in some empty park lot.

You learn a new language when you can’t communicate properly in English with the locals (here in Bali, English sort of works, but if I was exploring other areas of this huge country, I would learn Bahasa Indonesia. That’s why I became fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese: I was living in countries where speaking English would only get one so far, and I wanted to go much further and actually connect with the people). I had no choice but to learn their language.

You learn to pickup and seduce women when you reach a breaking point: you want to be with quality women, but you don’t know how. Maybe you’re in a sucky relationship where you don’t love your current girlfriend. Or maybe you want to learn to become more social and meet women anytime and anywhere instead of remaining a shy and fearful hermit who plays video games and watches online porn instead of interacting with actual, live women. Ultimately, you learn that being able to approach and meet women directly translates into becoming a much better and capable man in all areas of life.

You learn how to make money when you realize you want to live in Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Kiev or Bali because you like it better there than your crappy life back in New York, Los Angeles or Brussels and need a way to support yourself. Or because you met a nice girl there and want to live with her, but getting a job there or having the girl move to your home country isn’t an option.

You learn to ride a motorbike when you realize there’s just no other practical means of transportation around a beautiful tropical island, and you want to explore it and not be chained within a small radius around your hotel.

The clearest sign that you must do something is when there’s an element of risk; when there’s an element of imminent failure. Moreover, if you’re scared of doing something, it’s a pretty clear sign that you must do it. It’s a sign that you must overcome your fear. 

Can you imagine not driving a scooter in a place like Bali because some fear is holding you hostage? It’s absolutely ludicrous. But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you refuse to take the leap. For, fear knows no bounds; it’s wholly irrational. That’s why you must tame it.

That’s how you improve. You do it when you have no other choice. You do it when the alternative to not learning a new skill is so painful, inconvenient, or it’s a plain requirement (e.g., you must pass a test in order to graduate the class). You don’t learn when it seems like a “cool” thing to do. You learn when you must. And you become an infinitely better and more capable man for it.

The Complete Guide To Becoming A Miserable Loser

Misery is everywhere. Everywhere you look. That’s a fact. I see lots of it around here in Eastern Europe where I’m living now. Eastern Europe is a dreary, unhappy, miserable place. I also saw it in New York when I was there last year. Lots of unhappy people. New York is an unhappy place, especially in the winter. The subway cars get overcrowded. Everyone is grumpy. Then the snow falls and there are all kinds of delays. Millions of grumpy people can’t make it to work on time. Then the snow melts and you have this ugly black slush everywhere. Nasty. There’s no other word to describe it. It’s really nasty.

But most of all, I see this misery right here on the Internet. Like right on my own blog. I write a random post, hit publish and moments later an angry swarm of criticism from people I don’t even know fills up the comments area. People are bickering and complaining and arguing either with me or amongst themselves. Hate is everywhere. People are unhappy. Even the most trivial and inconsequential thing can set someone off these days. I can look at the blue sky, write that the sky is indeed blue and someone will criticize me and say that it’s really grey or black.

A fashionable excuse these days is Westernization. No, it’s a real threat—I get it. Says a good friend of mine who’s living in Lithuania. He hates Lithuania. Thinks the women have become “Westernized.” He says they’re like Germans or Danes. Thinks there are too many “feminists” there.

Or the guy who went to Brazil and thinks Brazilian women are too “Westernized” compared to even—get this—two years ago. Says he met friendlier Brazilian women on the streets of New York than in the whole month in Rio de Janeiro. Yep, that’s believable. Why wouldn’t it be? There’s also a bridge in Arizona I’d love to sell you for a low introductory price of…

Or the guy who went to Russia and thinks the women are “too calculated” because he couldn’t get easy sex and actually needed to treat a woman like a woman for the first time in his life by paying for dinner and/or drinks, and, then—get this—actually seducing her. Then he comes back here and starts dumping all kinds of Russian and Ukrainian divorce statistics (i.e., that “prove” that Eastern European are not marriage material because many couples end up divorcing, an argument that violates all common sense and logic in the world, including the obvious “Post hoc ergo” fallacy). Why does he do it? Because these “statistics” rationalize his utter failure to seduce the most feminine women in the world.

Or the guy who went to… well, you get it. It doesn’t matter where he went or what he did. He’s angry. He’s complaining and bitching like a little kid. Why is the guy who went to Brazil so angry? I don’t know. Maybe because he didn’t get a blowjob as soon as he landed in the country? After all, that’s the first thing that should happen to every gringo who goes to Brazil, right? He feels he’s “entitled” to a… actually, I have no fucking clue what he thinks he’s entitled to. Maybe he just wants to bitch and complain. Because the cold truth is that he is not entitled to a single goddamn thing.

Provide Order And Build Empires

Sometimes I think I’m the world’s worst son. At least according to my mom. You see, she worries a lot. All the time actually. About everything. She worries when I travel to distant and “dangerous” lands. I like to joke that my mom worries for a living, kind of like men who love to bitch and complain for a living.

But I’m talking about my mom here. A woman. A lovely and feminine Eastern European woman. A woman who worries about her only son. As much as I wished she didn’t worry as much, I understand her point of view. And I love her very much for it.

But you’re not a mother. And, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not even a woman. You’re a man. A man with balls. With testosterone running through your veins. With muscles. And your job is to make others secure. To provide stability. To provide order. To make money. To build empires. To make things happen. To make moves. To be a leader. To take the world by its horns. To fuck—yes to fuck like the world is ending tomorrow and not make some fucking love that you saw in some fake Hollywood movie—that cute barista you’ve been meaning to approach for two months.

You were not put on this earth to sit at home and bitch and complain all day. You were not put on this earth to look for excuses and avoid action. You were not put on this earth to rationalize your incompetence and failure. You’re a man, right? So, act like one. Or have I been wrong all along?

Enter The Rich World

The world is beautiful. The world is rich. The rich world. That’s my new mindset. Every fucking day I get up, I’m amazed at all the opportunities around me. I’m healthy. I’m breathing. I have two legs. I have two arms. I have a head on my shoulders. I’m living in an abundance mentality. 

We have all the information about all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. You can do absolutely anything. You have a laptop with an Internet connection. You can start a business selling whatever the fuck you want. You can build a website and take credit card payments to be deposited directly into your bank account—in 5 minutes. (Can you even imagine doing that 10 or 15 years ago? I was running my first business when I was 16 and back then you needed something called a merchant account, which wasn’t easy to obtain—there was no Stripe back then.)

You can write books, draw illustrations or make movies. Or do a billion other things if you’re creative. People are hungry for new ways to consume information. People are hungry for knowledge. People are hungry for entertainment. People are hungry for solutions to their pressing problems. And they’re eager to give you money if you can do any of the above.

I’m also eager to give you money. I’ll help too. You can count on that. And I will do everything so that you’ll succeed. I will personally buy what you’re selling. I will also send you eager customers to buy what you’re selling. But you fucking have to build it first. You have to channel your misery into something constructive and productive. Just stop complaining and do something. Something. Anything. Be a fucking a man.

The fact that I view the world as rich and abundant means it’s difficult for me to relate to those who do not. I can’t help it. That’s just how it is. I’m talking about people who focus on some small inconsequential trivialities. People who always look at the negative side of any situation. People who always find subtle excuses why something won’t work out. Like some guy who was quick to tell me that “9/10 of businesses fail” because my first business didn’t crack $1,000 per month, and I decided to do something else. Fuck you. That’s not failure. Even if you made “only” $500/mo or $100/mo. That’s not failure. That’s knowledge and experience. Next time you’ll make more and more and more.

The list of men who’ve given up on life is endless. The 30-year-old dude who lives in his mom’s basement. The 35-year-old dude who “longs for the past” because his “best days” are “obviously” behind him. The 45-year-old dude who thinks he’s “too old” to start a new life in a foreign country. It ain’t right. Actually, it’s more than that: it’s sickening and disgusting. Because if it’s you who I’m describing—and you know this—then you’re not a man. You’re not someone who’s making moves. That’s not you. You’re just looking for excuses to rationalize your sorry existence. And what else? You’re a fucking coward. And you know what else? Fuck you. I don’t need you in my life. Get off my damn lawn.

Here in Eastern Europe, guys like you wouldn’t even survive. I don’t mean emotionally or psychologically: I mean physically. If you don’t hustle, you don’t eat. Guys like you also wouldn’t reproduce; amazingly feminine women wouldn’t want anything to do with you (femininity isn’t free, remember?). Attractive and feminine women want masculine men who provide order and stability. They want MEN. Actually, it’s a curious coincidence that complaining and bitching has a lot in common with feminism—a luxury that 90% of the planet (outside America and a select few rich countries) just cannot afford. That should you give some perspective.

The rich world. That’s where it’s at. Once you begin viewing the world as replete with possibilities, you can’t go back. You just can’t. You can’t complain. You can’t bitch. It will change absolutely everything and in all spheres of life.

Few months ago I began dating a new girl. She was beautiful. She had a nice personality. Things were going really well. But then she started telling me how I should live my life. She became irrationally demanding. She was also very jealous. Jealous of things that she didn’t really need to be jealous of. Lots of things were responsible for her behavior, but the bottom line was that she wasn’t seeing the world as replete with possibilities. She wasn’t on the same page as me. She projected her misery and insecurities onto me. I didn’t want to deal with that. When she refused to change, I wished her all the best and promptly found a new woman. I’m living in a rich world.

Why do people get hung up on such stupid trivialities? Why do people get jealous when they should be worried about something that’s much more important? Why are they so easily offended at the most inconsequential things? I have no fucking clue. Actually I do: it’s because they have nothing more important to concern themselves with, so they always “find” drama where there isn’t any.

It’s a rich world. As rich as you want it to be. As poor as you want it to be. You can make as much money as you want. Work more. Work less. Make $100/mo. Make $10,000/mo. It’s up to you and no one else. Last month, I launched a new project. While it’s a bit early to tell, so far, it has exceeded all my expectations. Why? Because I worked like a dog—lots of 16 hour days—on it for the past several months. I worked harder than I’ve worked for a very long time. I’m hungrier than I ever was before. I’m more ambitious than I ever was before. I want greatness. I’m living in a rich world. I don’t care about silly and inconsequential shit.

I grew up in the Soviet Union, a totalitarian country where people couldn’t exercise any freedoms like starting their own business. It wasn’t allowed by law. Everything was owned by the government. In the Russian language, we don’t even have a word for “privacy.” Everyone was the same. We all lived in the same ugly 5-story buildings that are now decaying all over the Eastern Europe. The term “individual” was all but a foreign concept. I know how bad things can be.

Make Your Own Luck

That’s no longer the case. Today, the limit is really your mindset and imagination. You can become a better man. You can go out of your house and meet a new woman without silly gimmicks, stupid tricks or some other embarrassing tactics—right now. You can build your own business. You can use that money to structure your life the way you want like moving to a country where you’re respected and liked. It takes, what, one or two days to form a company or a limited partnership? How much money do you need for an airline ticket? An apartment or room? What’s your other excuse?

When I lived in California and had a shitty cubicle job in a programmer sweatshop known as Silicon Valley—my friends and I used to call Silicon Valley’s location the armpit of America—I was unhappy. I was miserable. I complained. I hated every single day. Everyone around me knew this. It affected everything. It affected my health. It affected my ability to build relationships. It affected my moods. I wasn’t living the life I deserved. I still don’t know whose life I was living because it certainly wasn’t mine.

But I changed. I said enough is enough. ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. I assumed responsibility for my own actions. No one else did it for me. No one was waiting for me when I flew to Brazil on a one-way ticket. No one was waiting for me when I flew to Ukraine on a one-way ticket. And no one will be waiting for me when I go somewhere new.

What I eventually learned is that being miserable is an option. Misery is a choice you make. Nothing more, nothing less. Everyone can be miserable. I can be miserable—even starting right now. And, believe me, it’s very tempting at times. Last few months were far from easy. But I’m stronger than that. I resist the urge. We each make our own luck.

Because It’s Always Something Else

But, of course, with you it’s different. As opposed to the other 7,399,999,999 people on this planet, you’re a special snowflake. It’s never you. Never. It’s always something else or someone else that’s responsible for your unhappiness, bad luck and misery. You refuse to believe that you’re the captain of your own destiny. You refuse to take responsibility for your own self. You don’t want to do that. Why? Because it’s fucking hard. Because it requires you to look at yourself straight in the eye and start making important decisions—decisions that you’ve been putting off doing for many years. It requires you to actually start (or finish) that project you’ve been putting off many months or even years.

After all, it’s much easier to project your inability and incompetence on some abstract ideology (usually ending in “ism”) that no one even knows what the fuck they even mean anyway (I bet you don’t even know what Communism really means, but I do). It’s much easier to say that an entire non-Western country, replete with gorgeous and feminine women has been “Westernized”—in two years no less, a truly incredible feat—than to get on the plane, travel to that country and fuck the country’s women. It’s much easier to say that a girl’s sexual history makes her “undatable” and, thus, let’s you rationalize her as a threat to your manhood (a subtle but potent form of pedestalization) instead of viewing such women for who they really are: healthy animalistic human beings who love sex as much as you do, and who can infuse your life with incredible passion and happiness (who gives a flying fuck about her past if she’s into you and genuinely cares about you?)

It’s much easier to be so indirect and convoluted (call it indirect, aloof or whatever else) with your desires that no woman will ever figure out what you really want than it is to be direct and upfront by putting yourself on the line—risking rejection, of course—but also making it clear that you’re here to fuck her brains out and not “chat” or “be friends” or other nonsense that neither she or you really want. It’s much easier to surround yourself with men who complain and bitch while accomplishing absolutely nothing their entire lives than to surround yourself with winners who fuck like rockstars and build business empires that go on to make millions of dollars (God forbid some of their winning mentality and mastery will rub off on you and make you a better man).

There’s enough misery and hate in the world. More than enough. It’s easy to find it if you know where to look. It’s easy to create it from virtually nothing. Personally, I’m not in the business of generating more misery and hate. I’m in the business of inspiration and self-improvement. So, if what you’re looking for are more excuses and rationalizations for your failure as a man instead of actionable advice on reaching your pinnacle and really changing your life, then you definitely came to the wrong place.

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