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.
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.