Maverick Traveler

Location Independence, Geo Arbitrage, Individual Freedom

Category: Maverick Mindset (page 1 of 8)

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.

Life Is What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans

Dateline: Eastern Ukraine

I’ve been on a bit of an unofficial hiatus lately. While I’ve been judiciously making premium content (there are now 33 podcast episodes spanning a diverse range of topics such as travel, location-independence, ecommerce, marketing and mindset and new ones are added weekly; you must be a member to see the play widget), I haven’t really had the time to write long articles.

Most likely that’s because many of my thoughts and ideas are a natural fit for a podcast episode. But also because it’s summer here in Eastern Europe and, along with my other business obligations that are growing day by day, working through one of my typical long-form posts is proving harder than it seems.

I should have some new content up soon, but in the meantime you should follow me over on: Instagram (most active), Twitter and Facebook where I share various ideas and/or travel photos.

An Update From Sunny And Warm Eastern Europe

I recently arrived in Eastern Europe after a long layover in Qatar (a smaller version of Dubai) and now writing this from Kiev, Ukraine.

Kiev, Ukraine is one my favorite cities in the world — especially in the summer and not during the winter when it’s -20C out.

I expect to be in or about Eastern Europe for the rest of the summer. Once the fall rolls around, it’s anyone’s guess.

Moreover, it’s been an interesting year so far. Earlier this year, I began working on a new project, one that I see real potential in the months and years ahead.

In any case, I wanted to use this opportunity to give you a quick update as to what I’m working on right now.

Daily Email Newsletter

I started a daily newsletter where I discuss business, hustle, travel, location-independence, mindset and similar topics.

For the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve been sending an email almost every day.

So far, the response has been really great, so I will continue to do this in the foreseeable future.

There are several themes encompassing these emails: business, hustle, travel, location-independence. The unifying theme is freedom. The objective is to help you become a free man.

Here are some recent emails:

  • The happiest man in Thailand
  • Is college worth it?
  • $2K or $2 Billion?
  • Sell 1, Sell 10,000

Whereas I consider a blog as a more formal style of communication, and a typical blog post usually takes me 2-3 days (if not weeks) to craft, an email lets me share my thoughts much quicker and easier in a more informal fashion (but still in a way that gets my point across). I view it as a friendly conversation with my readers.

Each email is relatively short (500-800 words), but is packed with value. It references my experience and drives a point that you hopefully can apply to your own life as well.

If you’re a frequent reader and love this blog, but still somehow haven’t subscribed, you can do so here:

The Maverick Insider’s Club

A few weeks ago, I launched The Maverick Insider’s Club (IC). Some have coined it Maverick Traveler on steroids. Essentially, it’s for those who want more.

It comes with lots of perks including a 2-3X  weekly podcast, special content, regular Q&A’s and AMA’s. It will also include a mini-course that I’m finishing up right now.

In the weekly podcast, I discuss lots of things that only get a passing mention elsewhere. For instance, in one of the episodes I discussed exactly what I’ve been working on since January (ie, that I was too busy to blog), my lessons and experience as well as my successes and failures. It’s an episode where I shared everything and held back nothing.

In another episode, I explained how to validate an idea and take it to market.

In yet another episode, I talked about my earlier business failures and reflected on the lessons learned.

Unlike my previous (free) podcasts that were produced on a random schedule (or not at all), this one will be produced every single week with exciting, interesting and actionable content.

I won’t try to sell the membership too hard, but let’s just say that if you enjoy Maverick Traveler, you’re going to love The Maverick Insider’s Club. Join here.

Blog

I have always viewed the blog as my main outlet for deep thinking and reflection.  I take my writing seriously and have typically spent anywhere from few days to few weeks crafting a blog post. Nowadays, most of these ideas are sent to my readers in an email form.

Nevertheless, I will still write about interesting and thought-provoking topics. So, definitely expect to see more amazing content in the future.

Or maybe I will make my blog articles less “formal” so that I can write more often.

I’m open to suggestions. So, if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments below.

Next steps

For the time being, you should subscribe to my daily newsletter here:

If you’re ready to go to the next level, you can also join the Maverick Insider’s Club and get even more amazing content including my coveted “Boots on the ground” Maverick Radio podcast.

The Maverick Insider’s Club: Supercharge And Take Your Life To The Next Level

At the beginning of this year, I was at a serious crossroads. I had just started a new business in a very different area as compared to my previous experience. The business model looked very promising, and, so, as often is the case with all my projects, I jumped into it 100%.

Since I suck at multitasking, this meant that most of my time was devoted to the new business venture. That left me with little time for this blog; I simply had no bandwidth to create several high-quality articles per week that you’re used to and expect of me.

About a month into the new venture, I realized that something was missing. It was as though a part of my soul was ripped out. I was itching to return back to writing and sharing my thoughts. In many ways, Maverick Traveler is my life and will continue to be so.

At that point, I realized that if I wanted to do something right, I would need to do it 100% or not do it all.

So, I sent out a survey and asked you, my readers, what you wanted out of the site. After hundreds of responses, the message was clear: make more content and do it more consistently. More articles, more podcasts, more videos. And do it more consistently.

But it wasn’t the survey that made this abundantly clear. Many of you have been telling me this for ages. You wanted to me write more content, to do it consistently, to keep you in the loop as to what I’m thinking and what I’m working on.

Challenge accepted.

Today, I’m super excited to announce The Maverick Insider’s Club. The Maverick Insider’s Club will be a special area of Maverick Traveler filled with amazing content for those who’re ready to go to the next level.

Whether it’s specific and actionable steps to building a business from scratch, living abroad, learning a foreign language or anything else, you will find it at the Maverick Insider’s Club. Think of it as Maverick Traveler on steroids.

The Maverick Insider’s Club will have tons of perks. It will have a 2-3X weekly podcast on the topics you care about, special member-only newsletter, various guides and how-to’s, AMA’s, meetups around the world, and lots of other perks. Essentially, it will be a treasure-trove of great content and information that’s much deeper and actionable than I’ve ever done before.

The Maverick Insider’s Club is something I wanted to do for a long time (I started thinking about the concept back in 2014-5). It represents absolutely the best in terms of what this site stands for. After all, your time is valuable and you deserve nothing less.

Click here to learn more and join the Maverick Insider’s Club

Hope to see you inside!

How To Build Your Own Tribe

Regardless if you want to build a business, start a blog, create a video channel or even build a popular podcast, your goal is one and the same: build a tribe. Anything that’s successful, whether it’s a small ecommerce store or a huge multi-billion dollar brand is successful because of an army of passionate fans that support it.

In this new podcast episode, I discuss how I built a tribe around this very site and how you can apply these lessons when building a tribe in whatever area you choose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark’s mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The way of the professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Surround Yourself With Winners and Hustlers

I believe it’s important to know your strengths as well as weaknesses; in fact, the latter is probably more important than the former. 

While I have many strengths, one of my major weaknesses is that I’m just a terrible multitasker. I can’t work on more than two projects simultaneously. I would start one project, work on it for a bit, then, once I found something else, I would start working on a new project and abandon the previous one.

There are tons of projects I started, worked on, but, unfortunately, never fully built on because of something else that came along.

Case in point: for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on several important projects. And because I’m super obsessed with seeing results and instantly develop tunnel vision, I don’t have the bandwidth to write long, well thought-out posts that you’re used to.

But this site is my life and you—the reader—is like family to me. So, to fix the problem, I decided to create a community. It’s going to be a place where you can connect with one another and, hopefully, exchange lots of value.

In fact, I went further and created two communities instead of just one.

The first is called “Maverick Mindset.” It’s going to be open to everyone. The discussion will be centered on just about anything that’s on your mind: location-independence, hustle, life, dating, whatever else.

Click here to join the new Maverick Mindset community.

The second community has already been launched. It’s focused on one thing and one thing only: hustle and business. In many ways, it’s our mastermind where we strategize about different approaches and strategies to building different businesses. It’s composed of various entrepreneurs with various business experience under their belt.

It’s nice to connect with readers and tackle various problems associated with the confusing world of entrepreneurship. Always a pleasure to be surrounded with other hustlers and go-getters.

Unlike the first community, the second community is open only to students of my programs and courses (e.g., Maverick Bootcamp, Blueprint or Mentorship). If that’s you, you should have received an invitation already. If not, shoot me an email to james at [this site] and I’ll set you up. (I will also be soon launching a new, more advanced and comprehensive course that will include the best material and concepts from all courses plus mentorship).

I plan to actively participate in both communities. It will be a way to connect with all of you while I’m busy slaying various off-site commitments and taking a temporary break from posting.

Hope to see you inside!

Finding Your Meaning And Purpose In The Chaotic And Confusing World

In today’s Wisdom for Men podcast, I review two of my favorite books that have helped me find meaning and purpose in this world full of chaos. The first book I had read years ago and it has influenced a lot of my thinking going forward. The second book I had read recently, and it has also been influential in helping me find my mission.

So, if you’re someone who’s confused about your life’s purpose and meaning, are wondering why you’re not getting anywhere else, or are just tired of the endless politics, fake news and culture wars, this podcast will help you find a purpose.

Enjoy the episode and I will talk to you next week.

The Biggest Transformation Of Your Life

A healthy life is a life of endless changes and transitions. Moving to a different place, changing your social circle, or even having something else for breakfast are all examples of healthy changes. But there’s one transformation to rule them all, one that encompasses all your skills, dreams and aspirations and makes you one with the world. In this article, I want to talk about how I underwent such a change and how you can do the same.

As many of you know, my background is in software engineering. I was very fortunate that getting computers to do fun things just happened to be a skill that was in high demand. That allowed me to easily land a lucrative job with all kinds of nice perks and benefits.

Nevertheless, there was always something missing. A certain unfulfilled void persisted in my life. Although I didn’t mind being told what to do if it included being compensated by a nice salary, I always dreamed of being in charge. I wanted to be the guy making deals and deciding what products will get built instead of the guy who translated people’s wishes into zero’s and ones. Sure, I was introverted, but I was willing to overcome it if it meant doing something that had actual meaning. Instead of working at a software company, I wanted to have my own software company.

My first software venture was a complete flop. At that time, I was living in tropical Miami Beach, but instead of enjoying the sun and partying, I locked myself in a local Starbucks and spent my days (and some nights) coding a new app.

It didn’t take me long to realize an important thing: even though I was really good at something, it represented a tiny portion of the overall toolbox of skills that I needed to succeed. I had a talent for building apps quickly—even rapidly picking up a new language, if needed—but I sucked at everything else, things like marketing, sales, and, most importantly, the knowledge of integrating these things together.

The problem wasn’t that I sucked at other things; everyone sucks at everything initially, the problem was that I didn’t even know they were precisely the things I needed to be good at. Essentially, I was surrounded by many “unknowns” that I had to first turn into “knowns” and then master them.

As expected, when I launched my new product, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Even though I could build a decent product, I couldn’t educate others about the product’s benefits and generate demand for it to save my life. Nobody cared about me or my product. It was a complete disaster, a disaster that left me depressed for a week.

My core skills—the skills that I had honed over many, many years—suddenly proved to be woefully inadequate.

Not being someone who’s easily deterred, I immediately jumped on Amazon and ordered every book on marketing and advertising I could find. I read a bunch of them in a weekend and began putting some of the ideas into practice.

Of course, I still sucked, but as time went on, I sucked less and less. Subsequent product launches were gradually getting better and better.

Later on, I began to understand not only how to build a great product but also how to connect with the people whose needs were being solved by the product I had built. There was more interest. Sales picked up. Profit began to slowly trickle in. It was the beginning of what would be a long process of endless trial and error.

Treading water in an open ocean

What I didn’t know while I was gainfully employed as a code monkey is that I was completely insulated from other functions of the company, functions that were actually responsible for putting bread on my table and making sure I could buy the latest gadgets on the weekends. It was almost like discovering that I was an adult who had spent all his life living in his parent’s basement without ever venturing on my own.

Most jobs are like this. Actually, not only jobs. The entire human race is like this. You’re given a very specific role that you’re expected to do, day in and day out. Naturally, over time, you get very proficient in that role.

The problem is that your expertise and skillset are only valid in the context of that structure. If the structure breaks down or disappears altogether, so do your skills and all the time spent building them. It’s like suddenly finding yourself in an open ocean, frantically trying to swim to shore, something that I felt after launching my first product in Miami’s Starbucks.

Generally, that’s not a bad thing. Our world is organized along “super structures,” things like private corporations and public bureaucracies that absorb people and, in exchange for their time and labor, furnish them with an artificial meaning of life.

These “super structures” enable you to live your entire life, from cradle to grave doing one thing and doing very well. I have a friend who’s finishing up a Ph.D. in some very abstract and theoretical area. Another friend is really good at quality assurance (QA) at a decently-sized software firm. The predictability and stability of knowing that every day will start and end the exact same way gives people a certain comfort. It shields them from the inherent chaos and instability of the world. They know that they can be at work at 8 am and then get home at 7 pm, right in time for their favorite Netflix sitcom.

But all of that is just a mirage. Risk and instability exist even if you’re shielded from them. If the structures that have absorbed them (i.e., companies they work for or universities where they do research) would collapse or drastically change, they would be left on the street with a shaken view of the world. It’s as though the world would go from orderly and predictable and disorderly and confusing in an instant. But this is the real world.

The real world is indeed disorderly and confusing. It’s erratic, random, disorienting, even more so with the rapid proliferation of the Internet. Our entire planet is quickly becoming a small village. This is fostering rapid change. Revolutions can be started with a simple Facebook campaign or a Twitter hashtag. Corporations can lose billions of dollars and lay off thousands of employees because of bad PR triggered by some random guy in Iowa, Cairo or Kuala Lumpur.

Although risk and instability will always be a fact of life, there are ways of mitigating it. The first is by admitting that they exist and understanding that words like “job security” is just a nice word and nothing more than that. The second is realizing that you and only you are able to furnish and guarantee your own stability and security. You are responsible for your well-being.

Most people think that by excelling in one skill and putting that skill to use in a company or bureaucracy, they’re more stable than someone who builds their own company. That’s another very common illusion. Work is simply a transaction of time for money and nothing else. Stability is never exchanged because it remains with the person who organizes this exchange—not you.

When I worked as a software engineer, I was rewarded with money, but I had zero overall security. When I left my job and decided to carve my own path and live in amazing countries all over the world, I realized that my extensive knowledge was useless now that I was on my own. I needed to fortify myself with new knowledge and experience.

This is the greatest transformation a human being can achieve. The path from dependency to independence. The path from slavery to sovereignty. The path from trading your valuable time for artificial meaning and the illusion of stability to real control and capital that prints money on demand. This trumps everything else out there. This is the only self-improvement that counts.

It’s the only transformation that matters because it furnishes you with real, tangible meaning that makes all other facets of your life come together in beautiful harmony.

Of course, your transformation will differ from mine. After all, we’re all different. But regardless if you’re a software engineer like me, or a biologist, a designer, a photographer, videographer or something else, you must find a way to encapsulate that skill into something that’s greater than yourself. One skill is not enough. You must find a way to become self-sufficient and independent—even if it means starting over with a clean slate and forgetting everything you thought mattered.

The Maverick Manifesto

Miami Beach, FL

When I started blogging back in 2008, I wrote about anything that popped into my head. I wrote about travel, dating, relationships, language hacking, the best nightlife in Rio de Janeiro and, occasionally, what I had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.

I never had a clear strategy or purpose. I didn’t sit down and think long and hard about my message and how I wanted to present it. The blog was really a blog—a daily log for my thoughts and ideas, as well as a tool for meeting like-minded people who happened to be around me.

I achieved both objectives. What was once a very modest blog, quickly gained traction and mushroomed in popularity over the years. It has also allowed me to meet lots of different people around the world that I otherwise would have never met.

I don’t say this lightly, but starting this blog has singlehandedly been one of the best things that I have done in my life.

Over the years, as I grew up and matured, I started to develop a certain outlook on life, a certain way of thinking, a certain philosophy. All of these thoughts crystalized into a manifesto that I’m about to share with you.

The future is unlimited

The world is made up of two types of people: those who think that everything is going to shit and that our best times are behind us and those who think that the future is replete with amazing opportunities. I’m firmly in the second camp.

It’s really difficult to be a pessimist. We’re living in the most peaceful and prosperous time in our history. We’re healthier, stronger and more capable than at any point in our history. There was a time when people needed to hunt for food, but today we’re more likely to die from obesity than from hunger. There was a time entire villages and cities were erased off the map because of things like famine or plague. None of this is a threat today.

Of course, things aren’t perfect and they never will be. We still have our share of problems, challenges and things that need fixing or outright overhauling. I’m not going to sugarcoat and tell we’re living in some kind of utopia. That’s far from the case. But think about this: just the fact that you’re reading this right now means that you’re probably doing ok.

We are all entrepreneurs

The Internet and technologies built on top of it have revolutionized the way we think, create and connect with others. They have revolutionized the way we create value and wealth.

Becoming an entrepreneur is laughably easy: if you’re connected to the Internet, you’re already an entrepreneur. If you’re reading this, you’re already an entrepreneur. If you have a blog with zero visitors, you’re already an entrepreneur. You just don’t know it yet.

The skills you need to be successful are very easy and straightforward to acquire. First of all, there’s a multitude of free information on just about everything at your fingertips. Great courses are available for those who need stronger guidance and a more organized curriculum. For those who need more, one can hire experts in any subject area and upload their knowledge into your brain in a fraction of the time it took for them to learn it.

Infrastructure can be set up in a matter of clicks and for almost nothing. Few more clicks and you have a storefront. Another click and you have a payment gateway. Managing this storefront, site or a brand is done with clicks. You can sell any products, whether they’re tangible or not, with, you guessed it, a few clicks.

In fact, sometimes I hate using the word “entrepreneur” because it evokes images of someone working 24-7-365 while trying to build million dollar businesses. This is definitely not the case. Many of the guys I know opted for a more low-key approach. They work a little and bring in several thousand per months. While this isn’t enough to live in a place like New York, it’s more than enough elsewhere (see below).

This brings me to my next point…

Traditional jobs are finished

From Amazon opening up a store with no cashiers to driverless cars to automation to outsourcing to endless discussions about “basic income,” (i.e., what to do with people who will be unemployable) the jobs the way we understand them now are becoming a thing of the past.

This is happening because the economies of scale ushered by the Internet typically favor those who’re comfortable creating their own value by mixing and matching the newly available tools of production: new capital, new labor (outsourcing), new technology, and so on. The industrial revolution commoditized labor and pitted workers against capitalists, but the new revolution we’re experiencing is making traditional workers obsolete.

Why would I work for someone as a programmer when I can build a boutique software company and hire developers in Russia or India?

Why would I work for someone as a copyrighter when I can launch my own store, write a sales page and sell products to 7 billion people in less than one hour?

Why would I work for someone as a marketer when I can launch a niche product and begin marketing it by creating laser-targeted campaigns to reach my target audience?

Why would I work for someone as a designer when I can put my work on designer portals and find new clients for my work in hours?

Why would I work for someone as a photographer when I can build a brand around my work and find customers without the middleman?

There’s little reason to give away your surplus value as a 9-5 employee when you can capture it all—and grow exponentially—as a solopreneur.

It’s outright dumb to trade time for money when you can create value and get much higher returns for your sweat and blood.

A generation from now the idea that someone needs to “work” from 9 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock in the evening would be a strange thought.

Even from my own vantage point, I have a hard time understanding why people choose to voluntarily enslave themselves for a meager wage when they can make much more by exposing their value to the world.

Own the platform

Okay, so you’re ready to become an entrepreneur. Now what?

There are two ways to do it: build your own platform or build products and services on someone else’s platform.

I’m a huge proponent of the first approach. It’s about ownership. Do you respect yourself? If so, take ownership of it. Build your own platform and make content that resides there. That means building your site or a blog on a server that you control. It means thinking hard about the things you stand for and the value you can offer to others.

There’s also another approach: “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.” This approach is employed by people who love to work for free by creating content and distributing it on platforms they don’t own. They accelerate the other platform’s growth and enrich its founders while getting next to nothing in return.

Whether it’s making videos and uploading them on YouTube, putting up lots of photos on Instagram, or just tweeting random stuff without first thinking what they stand for, they hope that enough subscribers will somehow translate into decent revenue.

This is a poor strategy because there’s no strategy.

Do the opposite of the masses

One of my favorite sayings is, “If you want to be different from the rest, you must be willing to do different things than the rest.” When I first read that, I understood and never thought about it again.

Recently, I’ve seen that phrase again, but this time I realized that I didn’t really understand it the first time around. It’s actually very difficult to do things differently than others.

Think about it. What do most people do? They work 9-5, go to the gym every now and then, come home, put on Netflix, watch a few shows and then go to bed.

Although I work relatively hard, I have a bad tendency to slack off every now and then. (Instead of watching Netflix, I watch vlogs on YouTube). This meant that how I spend my time is eerily similar to how the masses spend their time.

This is a poor recipe for success. You don’t succeed by watching YouTube (unless it’s my stuff) or Netflix or hanging out with your 9-5 friends who have zero ambition. You don’t succeed by consuming crap. You succeed by being so determined that nothing else matters except the success of your business. You succeed by focusing on the business 100%. You succeed by having a tunnel vision.

Most people don’t focus on anything that hard and that’s why they live mediocre lives; after all, it’s hard to do hard things. So, if you truly want to be different, you know what you gotta do.

Hustle

So, what do you do with your newly free time? You acquire knowledge and try different things. That’s called hustling. Hustling is the process where you endlessly experiment with different approaches in order to figure out which one is going to work. Think of it as “brute forcing” success.

Many people want to take the easy road. So, they spend their days, months and even years discussing various ideas and philosophizing instead of taking action and trying something—anything. The problem is that no one knows what will work or not. Nobody knows what’s good for my business except me. Nobody knows what’s good for your business except yourself. Nobody has the answer unless you test it out.

In my work, I wear many hats. But if there’s one verb that best describes my work, it would be experimenting. I experiment with different ideas, campaigns, models and plans on a daily basis. That’s the mindset you want to adopt. Instead of asking a question, try it. See if it works. The nice thing is that if you discover something that works, it will be something that only you know.

Location-independence is real

The world is getting increasingly interconnected. You can book a flight ticket, AirBnB, and catch an Uber to and from the airports almost anywhere in the world. There’s no place on earth that you can’t learn about right now. That certainly wasn’t the case even twenty years ago.

Once upon a time, the whole location-independence was like a mythical term that some people achieved and others strived towards for. “Oh, yeah you’re location-independent? How do I become one? What do I need to do?” Becoming location-independent was considered by many as reaching a higher level enlightenment or seeing God.

No longer. Now, it seems like it’s a choice people make, like, the type of burrito to order or deciding which socks to wear. All of my close friends are location-independent. All of my entrepreneur contacts are location-independent (one of them has been living in Thailand for two years, so I don’t know if that counts or not.) There’s really nothing sacred or interesting about becoming location-independent and living in various countries. It has become so mundane that even I barely talk about it even though it’s something what I do and what others I know do without even thinking about it.

One of the nice things about having a sustainable online income is that you can design your life however you want. This means there’s really little reason to be in a place that doesn’t match your values. Don’t like America, but want to live in Brazil? Move to Brazil. Want to spend six months in Russia? Move to Russia. Always wanted to live Bali? Move to Bali. Go where you’re respected. Go where you feel good. Go where you find more enjoyable. Just pick up and go.

Trade New York City for Bangkok

Although picking one country or city over another is a personal choice, there are some things that just make more sense from an economic/financial perspective. An example is living in expensive Western cities when you’re not actively creating wealth there.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s little reason to live in places like New York City or London unless you absolutely have to. There’s no doubt these are excellent cities. I won’t argue that the energy and variety that these great cities offer are truly second to none. Chances are, however, you can find the same kind of amenities in other cities around the world for a fraction of the price.

For instance, for the last few years I’ve been living in Kiev, Ukraine. While Kiev is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of New York, it’s certainly a great city in its own right (3.5M people), so if you’re a big city guy like I am, you’ll feel right at home. I have also lived in places like Chiang Mai and Bali. These were much smaller places with an amazing quality of life—and about 10-20% of the cost of living in NYC or London.

As far as I’m concerned, rich Western cities exist for two types of people: those who made it (e.g., $10M+ net worth) or those who are slaving way to make ends meet. If you’re making even as little as few measly grand from online sources, these types of cities offer you zero benefit.

The Internet and its accompanying technologies are busy upheaving the old order and rapidly changing the way we live, work and enjoy life. What remains is the right battle plan and the willingness to see it through.

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