How To Save Time and Money On Airport Taxis

After walking out of the airport you have just one more leg on the journey to your final destination. You’re either getting picked up by a family/friend, taking a bus, or catching a cab. If you’re catching a cab the most common way of doing so is simply to wait in line. However, like most things in life, the most popular way of doing something isn’t necessarily the best.

The problem with waiting in the taxi lines is that you’ll have to wait for all the people ahead of you to get a taxi first. This can often take longer than if you simply tried flagging down a cab on the street. Another problem is that many airports have airport departure fees that get tacked on the final fee your driver charges you.

A quick solution that’ll save you time and money is to skip the airport taxis and walk 3-4 minutes outside the terminal. From there you can catch a taxi on the street. This often saves you time because you’re not waiting behind a long line of other people to get a taxi. You’ll also save money because you can walk in the general direction of your destination and won’t have any airport departure fee to pay.

Another side benefit to this method is that it may help you avoid the scam taxi companies that solicit passengers at the airport. Though scam taxi companies are on the streets as well, they’re often a lower percentage of the total taxis on the street than than in the airport terminal. Of course, you’ll want to be educated on the reputable taxi companies in any case.
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Just a quick little idea I had the idea to share after my last minute trip to Da Nang, Vietnam in March 2016. Finally got around to editing the video, and writing this blog post today.



5 Ways to Make Friends in Any City While Traveling

Traveling with family and friends is an excellent way to develop a deeper relationship with them. Unfortunately, they’re not always up to it. Certain people are in fixed mindsets and aren’t open to having the new experiences traveling inevitably brings.

Others are focused on work projects or have other commitments that make joining you at this time impractical. Of course, there’s also the possibility that you’re simply taking trips your families and friends aren’t interested in.

Regardless, traveling alone doesn’t have to be lonely. However, it can be. I’ve taken trips where I’ve gone multiple days without any conversation beyond ordering food. I’ve also taken trips where I’ve spent an entire day eating at restaurants, taking motorbikes around the city, and living it up at the beach for an entire day with locals.

I’m sure you can guess which type of trip is more refreshing and culturally insightful. The people you meet often have a greater impact on you than the things you see. That’s why we’re going deep today on a number of ways you can meet new friends on your travels.

Utilize Existing Connections
I’ve never been to France. I don’t know French. Yet, one of the long-time readers of this blog is from France. In the past he’s offered to show me around his city, and expose me to the most interesting parts of French culture should I ever visit.

Similarly, I’ve never been to Germany. I don’t know German. Fortunately, if I want to visit Germany I won’t need German to make friends. When I was in high school I befriended several foreign exchange students from Germany. I even planned a US road trip with one of them (though it fell through).

After showing them around my town in the US a couple years ago, I’d bet there’s a pretty good chance they’d be happy to reconnect and show me their life in Germany.

You probably have more friends (or at least acquaintances) living in other cities and abroad than you think. The kid from Argentina you used to play soccer with, your best friend that moved across the country for work, the girl from high school that moved back to China after finishing university.

Take some time to think about people from your past you’ve lost contact with. There’s a good chance things went cold with many of them not because of a lack of compatibility, but simply because of the increased distance between the two of you. A trip to their city ensures you’ll have a fun friend to show you around the city, and can be a great way to rekindle a forgotten relationship.

Meet Bloggers/Online Personalities
Before I came to Asia last year I lacked even a single real life friend. However, another digital nomad my age had a blog that happened to mention he was living here. I decided to contact him. A few months later we met in Saigon, Vietnam and became friends. He also plugged me into the freelancer and entrepreneur scene here which introduced me to even more people.

In almost any city you’d like to travel to there’s likely an interesting blogger that lives there. Get in touch with them. Most online personalities are more accessible than you’d think. If you make the effort to visit their city, most will at least make time to share a cup of coffee with you.
(As of April 2016, and for the foreseeable future I’ll be living in Saigon, Vietnam. If you’re ever nearby, get in touch)

Social Media
Instagram allows you to search for photos near your current location. This can be a great way to meet people that are near you. Like a few of their pictures, and then leave them a comment or private message saying you’re in their city (I do both. The reason is that some people are too shy to reply to strangers using the public comments while others don’t check their private messages and won’t even know you tried to contact them.)

Using this technique in Da Nang, Vietnam last month I befriended several locals my age. We ate at several restaurants together, took a motorbike day-trip to another city, played soccer, and relaxed around the fire at a late night beach party.

This technique may not work on every trip you’ll take, but it’s a good trick to have. Other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter likely have similar features that would make it easy to meet people near you.

However, I only have Instagram. I’m  not maintaining an active account on other sites so you’ll have to explore their available features yourself.

Online Dating
Although a complete disaster in the US, online dating can actually be incredibly effective abroad. Virtually every girl I’ve dated and the majority of local friends I’ve made the past year have been through an app like Tinder, Badoo, etc.

Online dating is also a godsend when you don’t speak the local language. You can use it to quickly filter for people that speak English, or one of the other languages you’re fluent in. Of course, it’d be manipulative to take advantage of your date as an unpaid tour guide.

However, they won’t feel this way assuming you’re a reasonably socially calibrated person. Just focus on amplifying and sharing positive emotions between the two of you. When you come from this frame your date will enjoy herself and enthusiastically share her culture with you. You may even get some extra culturing at the end of the date!

Real Life Interactions
If you enjoy playing soccer, go to the park and play soccer. If you like to drink, head to the bouncing bar of the night. Doing the things you like to do is a great way to meet those with similar interests. Of course, while doing these things puts you in a position to meet new friends it isn’t enough.

Kicking a soccer ball alone with your headphones in or sitting in the corner of the bar slouched with a frown isn’t going to make you any friends. You have to be proactive and initiate conversations with others to have any consistent success with this method.

Conclusion
We didn’t exhaust every method of meeting others while traveling. There’s other options such as Couchsurfing, staying in hostels, using MeetUp, etc. These are just a few of the strategies I’ve used to make friends while bouncing between different countries and cities this past year. Hopefully you’ll be able to get some use out of these ideas during your travels as well.

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Two blog posts in two weeks for the first time since August. Whoooop!



Why You Should Take Last Minute Trips

A few weeks ago I was getting burnt out by life in Ho Chi Minh City. It had been about a month since my family had been in town and since then I’d gotten stuck in the same routine. Do work, eat five chicken legs from the same restaurant for lunch, and then go on a date or do more hustling. I love the cafe work culture and liveliness of this city, but things can get old after a while.

This happens to almost everybody after some period of time. You can delay this feeling by making changes to your daily routine, but eventually you long for something different.

When you live in the small town you grew up in you may crave action. Why is everybody here so boring? Does nobody have aspirations beyond making 60k a year and getting married?  Isn’t there things to do with my friends beyond going to the movies or bowling?

Yet, when you live in a chaotic city like Ho Chi Minh you eventually crave peace. At what point did I decide living in a city with horrendous air pollution was a good idea? Why can’t I walk on the sidewalk without an endless steam of motorbikes beeping and attempting to drive past me? Have I really chosen to live in a city where I’m pleasantly surprised when I’m able to walk thirty- seconds without seeing garbage in the street?

Almost everyone can relate to one of the previous two scenarios. However, not everyone has the flexibility to continually rotate a month of life in the big city with a month of life in a small town. For this reason, short trips have an enormous benefit. They allow you to maximize the upsides of life in your city while minimizing the downsides.

Live in a big city? Excellent. Hustle, make connections, have a great dating life, and enjoy all the other perks living in the city brings. Take a short weekend holiday to a more laid back town once a month to refresh and enjoy the nature and serenity your city may not be able to provide you.

Live in a small town? Enjoy the low stress lifestyle, nature, and relaxed vibe. Take short trips into economic city centers near you on occasion to network, attend interesting events, or simply enjoy the abundant energy the streets of these cities provide.

A short trip once a month is a great way to keep yourself stimulated and breakup the monotony of the daily grind. Planning these trips can provide a pleasurable anticipation that helps you get through difficult moments at work or rough patches in your personal life.

However, as great as planned short trips can be, I’ve found that last minute trips can often be an even better value for hustlers. Here’s why…

Last Minute Trips Give You The Ultimate Flexibility

When you decide to take a trip at the last minute you don’t ever have to worry about canceling flights or hotels due to unforeseen circumstances. You also have the ability to take the trip when it’s most convenient for you.

Some weeks you’ve got lots on your plate and need to work six or seven days. Other weeks are quieter and may only require three days of your attention. Taking a last minute trip allows you to capitalize on this. You won’t have stress about taking a holiday when you’re too busy with work, or spend a long weekend alone at home bored because things are quiet.

You Can Get Out Of Your Routine Exactly When You Need To

Sometimes we’re genuinely happy with where we are in life. Sometimes we’re completely content with staying in the same place and have no need or desire to travel. Taking last minute trips helps you avoid traveling and/or wasting money when you’re perfectly fine with life where you’re at.

On the other hand, taking last minute trips can also help you escape burnout. When you’re feeling grinded down by your daily life you can change things up when doing so will have the greatest possible positive impact for you.

You Can Save Money

Typically booking transportation and accommodation in advance will get you the cheapest prices. This is especially true if you have your heart set on traveling to a certain city or staying in a particular hotel.

However, occasionally booking a flight or hotel a few days or even a few hours in advance will get you a cheaper price. Why? Because sometimes airlines or hotels believe that by lowering their prices they may end up getting a last minute traveler to give them something rather than allowing their seats or rooms to stay empty.

If you’re flexible with your destination, you can usually find a good deal on transportation. Please note this isn’t always the case, however.

Often airlines and hotels will jack up their prices for last minute travelers. This is because most people plan travel weeks or months in advance. Often airlines believe that a last minute traveler booking flights is traveling either for business or an emergency. In either case, the airline knows they can charge almost any price and the traveler will be forced to pay it.

You Can Sometimes Save Time

Sometimes when we plan a trip we forget that our time has value. It’s easy to spend endless hours searching for a slightly better deal. However, is it worth spending an hour per week for the next month searching for a cheaper flight? If you manage to get a good deal you may pay $240 for your flight instead of $300. In this case, your research “saved” you $15/hour. That may or may not be worth it to you.

It’s common, however, to spend a month looking at ticket prices only to see little change. Maybe instead of getting your ticket for $300 you instead pay $284. In this case, your research only delivered a payout of $4/hour!

When planning travel it’s important to remember the value of your time. Last minute trips are great because you don’t have excess time to worry about “Will this be the best ticket price I can get?” or “Should I go on this say or that day?” You just take the best deal available and your entire trip can be planned in a few short minutes.

Conclusion

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from planning your trips. I’ll probably still me taking more planned trips than spontaneous ones (especially when flying over other forms of transportation).

However, I do hope this post opened your eyes to the possibility of adding some excitement into your life by taking a last minute adventure. Everyone should wake up one day without plans, and find themselves in a faraway city that night at least once.

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Two more videos from the Da Nang trip already recorded and coming along with new blog posts soon! Just gotta do some video editing and write up the blog posts this week.



Introspection: A Smart Cut To Success

I recently finished reading Smart Cuts by Shane Snow. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you check it out as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. Reading Smart Cuts has the potential to greatly reduce the time it’ll takes you to attain success in whatever endeavor you’re pursuing.

It’ll be worth your time to read the entire book, but here are some key insights to hold you over until you have the opportunity to do so. In italics are quotes from the book followed by my thoughts in bold.

“When interpreting their own failures, individuals tend to make external attributions pointing to factors that are outside their direct control such as luck. As a result, their motivation to exert effort on the same task in the future is reduced.”

By failing to take responsibility for your failures, you’re inhibiting your ability to adopt behaviors and habits more conductive to your success. Simply put, if the circumstances of your life are the result of luck, why bother trying?

“When doctors failed due to what they perceived as bad luck they didn’t tend to work any smarter the next time.”

If you don’t identify your approach as the problem, you have no inclination to change it. Human beings are machines of habit. Furthermore, we don’t tend to tweak our habits unless we see reason to do so.

“Banging your head against the wall,” and stagnating is what happens when you fail to realize failures (or limitations) can be overcome by changing your approach.

“People explain their successes and failures by attributing them to factors what will allow them to feel as good as possible about themselves.”

You have to be disciplined when you examine your life. Rationalizing your failures and overblowing your successes is the lesser man’s consolation.

Those who reach their full potential do so because they’re willing to endure the pain of full honesty with themselves. This is the path for the growth-oriented individual, and also the one that leads to the most long-term prosperity.

“Even though an individual failure experience may contain valuable knowledge, without subsequent effort to reflect on that experience the potential learning remains untapped.”

We have the potential to learn from everything. Yet, we rarely take advantage of this. One of the quickest ways to accelerate your growth is to give yourself time to reflect on your experiences. However, while doing this you must enter an egoless state.

It’s important to reflect on and analyze experiences, not through the lens of past beliefs or in a way that’ll allow you to feel good about yourself.

Rather, you have to dissect your experiences as if you’re observing another entity. The aim of your dissections then isn’t to judge yourself, but to optimize this separate entity’s performance.

Here’s a simple analogy Shane offers in the book, criticism isn’t negative feedback on the jokester. It’s feedback on the joke.

“While logging hours of practice helps us see patterns subconsciously, we can often do just as well by deliberately looking for them.”

Attaining mastery inevitably requires a significant investment of your time. However, this time can be signficantly cut by consciously searching for ways to adjust your behaviors and actions.

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This is a relatively short post today, but I’m hoping you got some value out of it. I recorded the video in Penang, Malaysia in January 2016, but just got around to writing this post today.

Things have been crazy this past month with different projects, a trip to Mui Ne in Vietnam, as well as hosting some family that came to visit me in Vietnam. Let’s hope for more videos from exotic locations coming soon!



Everything You Need To Know About Breakups

I’d been dating a girl for the past ten months. I had a few crushes in middle school and high school, but this was my first serious relationship. This was the second girl I’d ever kissed.

This was the girl I lost my virginity to. This was the girl I almost married and had a child with (not a logical decision, but the result of inexperience and elated emotions).

There were times during our relationship that I experienced tremendously powerful feelings for her. I frequently thought about how I could spend the rest of my life in Vietnam with her.

Or even better, how I could create a life where I could continue traveling and she could come with me.

After the first three months of our relationship I was down to my last $1,000 and had to head back to the United States. Once there I worked my ass off for 2.5 months to save over $3,000.

I debated giving up the digital nomad lifestyle to head back to college. I didn’t want to, but it was so much more practical to do so. I just didn’t know how to make money online.

Well, I knew the theory of it, but I wasn’t executing properly. I got caught in the trap of trying to make passive income while I slept, rather than establishing a base level of cash flow first. Yet, in my heart I knew what the right thing to do was.

I had to take what Elliott Hulse refers to as the “Call to adventure.” I knew that there was a very real chance I’d fail and be unable to sustain myself in Vietnam.

Yet, I also knew I had to give things at least one more effort before leaving the love of my life and heading to a mediocre state school like the rest of my peers.

My girlfriend at the time was the biggest motivator to do so. The thought of her moving on was what ultimately pushed me over the edge in returning to Asia rather than going to college (or at least spending several more months working in the U.S, before traveling again).

I knew a girl can’t hold on forever, so I had to be quick. I knew that every moment I was away, it became more and more difficult for her to hold on and another man had an opportunity to sneak in.

That’s what gave me the blind courage to head back to Vietnam with a few thousand dollars and no idea how I was going live after it ran out. After 2.5 months in the U.S, I got cheap flight to visit Tokyo for a few days before heading back to Saigon, Vietnam.

I can still remember walking out the doors of the airport in Vietnam. I heard her call my name. I saw the tremendous joy on her face. Her eyes shined, almost in disbelief that the man she fell in love with had finally made it back to her.

I was just as happy. It was a scene from a movie. After all the adversities and nights spent thinking about each other; we were finally back together.

It was time for the lights to fade into the darkness. The curtains would close, the credits would play, and we’d live happily ever after.

At least that’s what I thought. Of course, the universe doesn’t always give you what you want; It gives you what you need.

At first our relationship resumed as if I’d never left. For the first month or two, we were both tremendously happy. Yet, things slowly degraded from there. I grew more distant over time. I was frustrated by what I perceived to be her relative inability to grow alongside me.

This was one of several factors that led me to the realization she was not the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also craved freedom and didn’t want to commit to a girl long-term yet.

It seemed important to date other girls first to gain a clearer perspective on what was most important to me.

I tried to repress these thoughts at times, but they stayed lingering in my head. Of course, things continued to grow worse. How could they not?

Any relationship is doomed when a partner has one foot in the relationship and the other foot out. Yet, I kept trying to believe that somehow things would change.

I wanted to believe that perhaps through osmosis my drive and determination to improve myself would rub off onto her.

I wanted to believe that the first girl was special, and that spending my entire life with one woman was better than any alternative. Driving every rationalization, however, was my underlying fear of change.

This was the only girl I’d ever had sex with. This was the only girl I’d ever been in a loving relationship with. I did not know life abroad without her.

I kept putting off the breakup. What finally spurred me to take action was a conversation with my uncle.

I told him I knew on an intellectual level that I should break up with her, but that I just hadn’t done it. I explained to him that I had one foot in the relationship and one foot out.

He said, “Well it seems to me you’re not being very honest with her, and you know… Whenever you’re not being honest with someone, you’re really not being honest with yourself.”

That was it. A few days later I saw her and broke her heart. I cried too because it was difficult to let go, but I knew it’s what had to be done.

I tried to be gentle, but I was a bit too soft in breaking up with her. This resulted in additional pain for her because it left her with the impression that our relationship could somehow be salvaged.

I’ve now given you more than enough information on my relationship and breakup. What I think would be much more valuable for you, however, is the knowledge I’ve acquired from this.

I’m clearly no relationship expert. I’m not a guru talking down to you right now. Simply consider this a letter to my past self. Pieces of wisdom and advice I would give to a younger Cameron.

In The Beginning
Many of the problems that will occur during your relationship are the result of not setting boundaries or expectations at the beginning of the relationship. This is to be mostly expected in your first relationship as you don’t know exactly what you want.

In your first relationship you’re likely to be illogical and run with your emotions most of the time. This is not a character flaw. It’s the result of you having a lack of relationship experiences you can reference.

With that being said, do your best to avoid this to the extent you can. Also, try to resist making grandiose plans for the future with your partner. Making these plans can be lots of fun.

If you’re in the honeymoon phase, they are likely to be just as lovestruck as you are (especially if your partner lacks relationship experience).

Yet, making these plans can create unrealistic expectations for the relationship before you truly know whether you’ll be able to commit to it.

Before The Breakup
This phase begins once you have serious thoughts about ending a relationship. Not everyone has this phase in their relationships. You won’t have this phase if your relationship lasts forever and you never question whether you’d be happier without your partner.

This isn’t likely, especially from your first relationship, but theoretically it’s possible.

It’s also possible to never have this phase if you’re content for the duration of your relationship, but your partner chooses to end things.

The biggest piece of advice, especially for someone in their first relationship is that you’re going to doubt your decision. The longer the relationship, the more you’ll doubt things as well.

You’ll ask, “Will I be able to find someone else? (If you have more confidence in yourself it may be, will I be able to find someone else as good?)”

When a relationship has problems it’s easy for you to rationalize that things will somehow get better. This is because you’re afraid of the unknown. You’ve grown accustomed to the stability your relationship brings.

It’s natural you want to preserve that stability even if it guarantees you’ll remain in a mediocre or toxic relationship. Realize, however, that the ending of your relationship is almost a foregone conclusion if it’s something you continually revisit.

This is because there’s at least one fundamental incompatibility between the two of you that is causing you to repeatedly consider breaking up.

The Breakup
Don’t be wish-washy. Don’t sugercoat things. Breaking up gently and leaving the other person with hope is the easy thing to do. It seems like you’re trying to protect the other person’s emotions, but you’re actually being selfish.

You’ll rationalize the reason you are leaving the other person with hope is because you don’t want to hurt them. Yet, the truth is you’re doing a gentle breakup because you want to avoid the discomfort of telling your partner the cold truth.

Any uncertainty you have around your decision will also manifests itself in sugarcoating things because you want to leave yourself the possibility of coming back to your partner if things don’t work out.

Be noble. Tell the truth. Tell it exactly how you see it. You don’t have to be mean, but it is your duty to be honest. This is what you’d do if your partner’s feelings were truly your first priority.

After The Breakup
Cut contact from your ex. Get rid of anything they’ve given you that has sentimental value. Block their phone number. Block them on social media. Delete old text messages. Delete old pictures. If you think you’ll regret deleting things, at least archive them somewhere you won’t see them.

Get out there. Socialize. Maybe you need some time off from the opposite sex. That’s fine. Catch up with your friends and family. Don’t mistake taking off time from the opposite sex as being self-indulgent and taking time off of life.

Being self-indulgent after a breakup leaves you highly susceptible to depression. Self-indulgence drains your self-esteem and is unattractive. Even if you’re not ready to be hitting up the opposite sex, take care of yourself.

Hit the gym. Eat clean foods. Read new books. Make time for your hobbies. Meditate. Consider diving deeper into your professional life (while being careful of falling into workaholism if you have the type of personality that could lead to it).

Different people take different time to be ready to be intimate with the opposite sex. For some it’s therapeutic to get out there right away, for others it makes them sick.

Be self-introspective. Consider consulting with someone close to you whose advice you value. When you’re ready, get back out there.

Once you get out there, treat the new people in your life with a clean slate. Don’t compare them to your ex. You’ll want to do this. You WILL do this. But, try to minimize it to the extent you can.

When you compare someone to your ex, you’re prolonging your recovery. You’re reinforcing the reality that he/she isn’t here anymore, rather than moving on to a new reality.

You’re also being unfair to the new people you meet. Just because your ex didn’t live up to your expectations does not mean you have to be jaded with other members of the opposite sex.

If you go out there jaded your interactions will align with your attitude. You’ll reinforce your jaded reality.

You can’t generalize. All members of the opposite sex are not the same. But, if you go out there making generalizations you’ll find that people often live up to the expectations you set for them.

Summary

  • Set boundaries and expectations from the beginning of your relationship.
  • Realize you will follow your emotions and act illogically in your first relationship. Be aware of this, and use your awareness to minimize illogical behaviors to the extent you can.
  • The stability a relationship brings is seductive even if the relationship isn’t what is best for you.
  • If you repeatedly consider breaking up with your partner, the ending of the relationship is all but a foregone conclusion.
  • Don’t sugarcoat things when you break up with your partner. You’re not protecting their feelings. You’re being selfish. Be noble and tell the truth exactly how you see it.
  • Cut contact from your ex and get rid of everything that reminds you of them.
  • After your breakup focus on the fundamentals: Diet, exercise, meditation, socializing, work, etc
  • Get out there when your ready, but don’t make comparisons to your ex. Doing so only prolongs your recovery. Also avoid making generalizations about the opposite sex as these tend to be self-reinforcing.

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Maybe this post is a bit different than the stuff you’ve read from me in the past, but I think there’s some real gems in here. I’ve learned a ton from this breakup. Hopefully reading this has helped you if you’re young and going through something similar.



Cam Goes Back to Class! (3 Insights For More Effective Lessons and Conversations)

Hey guys what’s up??? Sorry for going silent on you this past month. I just finished my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course here in Vietnam.

I wanted to develop a greater understanding of how we learn languages and indeed I did. Even more than that, however, I learned a lot about the psychology of students in general.

The concepts I’m going to share with you are useful far beyond teaching English in the classroom. If you apply them in your own life you’ll become a far better teacher and conversationalist.

1) Cater Your Speech to Your Audience’s Interest
This concept here is key. While it’s true that passion is contagious, it’s only true to a certain extent. If you’re super passionate about wine you can draw me into your reality for a while with talk about the slight differences you can perceive in exotic wines, but even in IDEAL scenarios you’re still going to lose me (a non-drinker) before too long. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about wine with me, however.

It just means you need to make a slight adjustment to make the subject relatable. If instead of talking about the flavor of different wines you instead talked about how your passion for wine developed and how you believe others can find or develop hobbies they’re passionate about you’re much more likely to keep me engaged. Why? Because I see that the conversation is relevant to me, you’re able to relate with me, and because there may be some practical value I can extract from the conversation.

The same goes with even this blog post. Why am I talking to you in general concepts and relating them to improving your conversational skills rather than focusing on teaching English? Because you’ve probably never taught English and thus are unlikely able to relate or be in a position to find that information to have much practical value.

Catering your speech to the interest of your audience will make it much more likely they’ll take something away from their conversation with you. It also makes them more likely to engage and insert their input into the conversation, which makes things more interesting for both of you!

2) Warming
Are you the kind of person that thinks small talk is pointless and just wants to get to the point? I don’t blame you. I was like that growing up too. Especially in business conversations I never understood why they’d ask me about the town I grew up in or what sports I enjoyed playing in high school? I always thought it was totally inauthentic. Shut the fuck up. We both know why we’re here. Let’s put together a deal and make some fucking money.

What I’ve since come to learn, however, is that even in business or educational settings people need time to get comfortable with you. When you jump straight into your speech without addressing and acknowledging the other person without some level of small talk beforehand it has the potential to cause more difficulty for you for one BIG reason.

It doesn’t give the other person time to feel comfortable and open up to you. Remember when you were a kid and your dad would yell at you to swing the bat differently or your mom would scream at you to clean your room? You likely closed yourself off to them emotionally because you felt they didn’t understand you, and even if their advice was valid you didn’t heed it to the extent you would’ve if they’d asked nicely.

The reality is that just not being mean doesn’t prevent a conversation from dying. Showing the other person that you care about them, and value them as a human being and not just a business or social commodity is HUGE.

When you make someone feel that you care about them they begin to care about you as a person as well AND they become infinitely more receptive to any material you may be attempting to convey to them. Apply this concept in your life alone and you’ll drastically increase the interest others take in you even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly interesting person. Being interested in others is one of the best ways to be seen as interesting yourself.

3) Explain New Concepts Based On Existing Points of Reference
Imagine you’re learning English. Someone tells you to meet them on their front porch. You ask, “What does front porch mean?”

They reply, “Well you know, it’s just like the back porch, but it’s in the front of my house.”

Would that help you? Not really, you’d know a front porch wasn’t in the back of the house, but you still wouldn’t know what the word porch meant. Why was your friend’s explanation unhelpful? Because they tried to explain a concept to you using a point of reality you’d never established.

Language is a great example of this concept because we intuitively understand that if someone doesn’t understand a word that we shouldn’t use that word in a definition for itself. Instead, we’re more likely to offer that person examples, show them pictures, or simply give them a definition using other words that they already know.

The same applies to all teaching. You can only expand others’ realities by building upon points of reference they’ve already established. Understanding this concept is perhaps THE biggest differentiator between poor teachers and great ones.

Poor teachers lose their students by answering questions with tangents that exist outside the student’s knowledge base while great teachers relate new information to old information that the student already understands. The great teacher and poor teacher can both have the same level of knowledge themselves, but only the great teacher leverages their knowledge in a way that allows students to absorb it.

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Hey, hope you enjoyed the post! It’s something that’s really boiled inside of me over these past few weeks as I dove deep into the psychology of the teacher-student dynamic. I’ve got some SEO work for a client that I gotta hit hard so I’m gonna shoot out now. Subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss out on KICKASS posts in the future, and feel free to check out my books on Amazon until next time. Peace!

The Journey Does Not Exist Without The Destination

I’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts lately. I find they’re a great way to listen in on interesting conversations during my commutes around Saigon, Vietnam (where I’m currently living).

One podcast that was particularly impactful to me, however, was Dan Millman’s interview on the Art of Charm podcast. He said something that completely blew my mind.

If you’re at all well-versed in self-development you’ve no doubt heard things like; It’s about the journey not the destination, or it’s all about enjoying the process. I’ve always agreed with these statements and did my best to live by them. Dan Millman made a nuanced point during his interview, however, that was an absolute paradigm shifter for me.

These aren’t exact quotes, but to paraphrase Dan he said something like this, “Sure, the journey is important. It’s important to enjoy the journey, however, recognize that the journey does not exist without a destination!”

Again, he put things much more elegantly in comparison to my botched quote from memory, but you get the point.

Having a destination in mind doesn’t detract from your journey and ability to enjoy the processes of your daily life. Having goals and a direction you’re attempting to move toward actually creates the journey.

Without goals, or a destination in mind you’re completely susceptible to blowing aimlessly like a leaf in the wind.

Without goals what would incentivize you to go on your journey? Without a destination what would you use as leverage to persevere through the difficult moments of the journey?

When you’re working a shitty job, or having to take boring classes to further your future how are you supposed to enjoy yourself?

My suggestion is focusing on whatever small elements of the task you do enjoy doing (stereotypical advice on enjoying the process), but also recognizing and appreciating that the tasks are bringing you closer towards your goals and the destination you desire.

Having goals is what’ll allow you to maintain an upbeat attitude despite the various encounters you’ll have with adversity during your life.

Having goals is often the difference between someone that sees a shitty job or difficult period of their life optimistically as a stepping stone and challenge to overcome rather than someone who is negative and exists only to complain about their existence.

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You can listen to Dan’s full interview here.

Unhappiness and Insecurity in Your Teens and Twenties

Something that isn’t frequently discussed but has been on my mind a lot recently is the fact that seriously pursuing self-development from a young age has a significant chance of causing you to feel extremely insecure and unhappy at times for a period of several years. You could actually argue that self-development temporarily decreases the quality of your life at the beginning of your journey.

University

For example, if you opt to skip college and immediately enter the work force or go into business you’re likely to feel insecure about your circumstances for some period of time simply because the trajectory of your life is completely uncertain for several years until you’ve finally gotten yourself somewhat established.

Conversely, it’s extremely easy to feel comfortable in university simply because you’re doing almost the exact same thing as the previous twelve years of your life.

That’s not to say that going to university is an unintelligent or irresponsible decision. It may be for some people, but attending university can be a good choice for many people as well.

However, it’s undeniable that one of the reasons university is so appealing is that having the responsibility of figuring our your role as a contributing member to society temporarily deferred helps significantly in maintaining peace of mind, at least for the time being.

Of course, going to university with the self-development mindset and building for the future can cause significant stress as well. While others are majoring in fun but unmarketable degrees like sociology because it’s their “passion,” you’re grinding it out in a difficult major that’ll actually land you a solid career after school.

You’re hitting the books hard in your business classes while trying to get internships so that you can get a decent gig on Wall Street after school.

Otherwise maybe you’re building crazy things in your computer science classes while also getting paid absolute shite (or even nothing) to code for a start-up on the side that’s providing you with an awesome educational opportunity and connections.

Regardless of whether you find Wall Street or computer science rewarding it’s undeniable that there’s aspects of every career that suck.

You may enjoy 80% of your work if you picked an appropriate major for yourself, but that still leaves 20% of your work as shit you’re going to have to sling your way through even if you want to rip your eyes out in the process.

Part of being a young man that wants to establish himself quickly also means that you’re going to be working LONG hours, and this phase of your life with a poor work-life balance will likely last many years. This is a prime example of deferred gratification and at least in part sacrificing the present for a better future.

Work

Whether you’ve chosen to go to university or not you’re again playing for deferred gains. I’m sure you’ve heard the Napoleon Hill quote, “The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does.”

This is great; when you’re the guy being paid for more than he does. For now, however, you’re going to be the little guy in the dirt that society does not yet value. In addition to lacking professional status you’re also working harder than your superiors (who you may even be more intelligent than), but your income is only a fraction of theirs.

Quick advancements up the corporate ladder, or the success of your independent endeavors usually require that at least initially you work a TON of hours and take on lots of shitty projects nobody else wants to touch.

Long hours, demanding work conditions, and poor compensation that results in shitty living conditions. Sounds like fun!

Women

Japanese Women Magazine

Your value as a man on the dating market isn’t going to hit its prime until your mid-30’s. Although it’s obviously possible to date attractive women while you’re young it’s significantly more difficult to do so.

You’ve likely only had a couple experiences with women (if you’re really young or had social anxiety growing up perhaps none) in your young life thus far. Therefore, you likely lack the charisma and social skills necessary to get with the most desirable women. In addition women simply don’t like to date younger men.

Let’s not forget that you’re working extremely hard which is likely to result in you being more stressed than the guys who just chill, plus the fact that you don’t have access to significantly more resources than the guys who have taken the path of least-resistance and refused to put themselves in environments that stress and challenge them.

You’ll certainly have more value than these men in the dating market in a decade, but very few women have a wide enough perspective to see that (nor should they as it’s not their duty to take themselves off the market when they’re most valuable to date a guy that is years away from having comparable value).

As a result the guys who have less cortisol running through their body (from not putting themselves through the fire at work), and that have a greater ability to be chill with women because they’ve spent their whole lives doing so get the best girls over you. Shucky darn darn!

Friends

By seriously pursuing self-development and being the type of person who would read this blog you’re likely weeeeeird. I’m not saying that you lack basic social skills and are afraid to talk to the cashier when you go to the grocery store (though that could certainly be possible as difficulty socializing and the pain of social rejection drives a lot of men looking for a solution into self-development).

Rather what I’m saying is that by taking the “red-pill” so to speak you likely lack compatibility with most people. If you don’t watch sports, you don’t play beer-pong, and you don’t gossip at work, well god man what do you do? That’s the perspective of the masses.

However, let’s say you’re not shouting your non-conformity to the world. Let’s say that most people just see you as a hard-worker and aren’t aware of your bizarre “red-pill” world-view and the extent of your aspirations. Let’s even say that most people like you because you’re a generally positive person who is actively trying to give more to them than you take.

The reality is that it’s still lonely at times. Sure, you’ve got your dreams and goals and they’re coming more into focus with every passing month, every passing year. You love that.

The discouraging reality, however, is that there’s still a huge gap that needs to be closed before you achieve them and in the meantime you’re stuck trying to interact with people you have difficult relating with on anything but the most superficial of levels.

It’s not nice to say, but the truth is it’s difficult to have meaningful conversations with most people because you’re forced to parrot their own beliefs back to them.

If you say anything that threatens their current beliefs they become defensive and if you expose the various inaccurate assumptions in their belief-system you’re more likely to lose a friend because you were “being mean,” than to help them form an improved set of beliefs that better serve them.

It’s also difficult for you to find other driven people you can connect with. Why? First because driven people capable of having intellectually stimulating conversations and willing to go on crazy adventures with you are extremely rare.

I left my comfortable home in the small town of Racine, Wisconsin and skipped the well-trodden path of a four-year degree to move to Vietnam and join the digital nomad scene here at age 18. Do you know how impossible of a task it would’ve been to find someone from my high school to come with me?

So Steve I know you’re going to college to become an electrician, but I got an idea. Why don’t you save every penny you earn working at the bowling alley for the next year, tell your girlfriend you’re skipping junior prom to save money, and graduate high school a semester early with me to go and have an uncertain chance of building a location-independent business in Vietnam together? 

Even just writing this caused me to literally laugh out loud. You could actually try saying that, and it’d be an awesome joke for your self-amusement because it would be so far out of the average teenager’s reality that they wouldn’t even know how to respond.

The chance of stumbling upon people you can form legitimate connections with and not have to dumb yourself down is essentially nonexistent. Especially in your teenage years; you’re basically crossing your fingers and praying you’ll meet someone that has a brain… and you’re unlikely to if you’re not proactive in your search.

The only realistic paths to meeting other driven people are to:

Go to prestigious universities or join high level athletic teams (The discipline it takes to attend Yale or become a college athlete means the average person you’re surrounded by is far above average.

There’s likely many book-smart people that are useless outside the classroom or meatheads useless off the court, but at least being in these environments gives you a better ratio of future-successful peers and attracts some of the other truly intelligent people our age.

Become highly successful in business (which is unlikely to occur for a number of years until you develop the skill-sets and knowledge for success).

Pay for mentorship, do grunt work for a mentor, or otherwise provide value or luck into a relationship with a driven person that’s achieved success.

Move to Chiang Mai, Saigon, or some other city where other nonconventional thinkers and freelancers/business owners congregate.

Perhaps I’ve overlooked something but the point is this; until you get into a position where you’re bringing lots of value to society and your peer group organically improves you’re going to have difficultly and have to be extremely proactive if you want to find people you can relate with.

The reality is that most young people on our path simply don’t make enough of an effort to find others to relate with and are as a result are at least somewhat lonely. Perhaps something that could help you if you’re in this camp is getting a girlfriend (which is ironic because we just discussed why doing so can be somewhat difficult).

She almost certainly won’t be able to relate with you on an intellectual level (of course like we just said most guys can’t either). However, At least you’ll be  relate and share pleasurable energy by being romantic and sweet with each other as well as connecting on a sexual level.

Final Thoughts

Tokyo Dome

I’ve done a lot of diagnosing of problems in this post, but have done little in the form of offering solutions. The reason is that I’m just another guy like you trying to figure things out. Maybe in a decade I’ll be able to authoritatively say do this, this, and this.

For the time being, however, I’m working more on solving these problems in my life before I become the guru for others. With that being said there are a few insights I have had that you may find useful.

The first is that it’s normal to feel insecure and unhappy for much of your teenage years and early twenties. This is in part because you’re working hard, and deferring your gratification to the future.

Unfortunately you haven’t yet spent enough time working hard that you have high-quality life circumstances and past deferred gratification to rely on. Because of that you’re forced to go through a painful period of time when you’re working harder than your peers but experiencing the same or even fewer rewards than them.

Another cause for insecurity and unhappiness is that there’s a large gap between the person you want to be and who you are today. Feeling hungry and motivated by this fact is good.

Beating yourself up over it is unintelligent because you can’t change your past actions nor is being too harsh with yourself going to be productive for your ability to create a better future.

For that reason, you should acknowledge where you’ve come short in the past and where you can do better in the future, but then let go and not feel the need to kill your self-esteem in the process.

Of course this is easier said than done. It’s difficult to change the way you feel about this contrast. Do your best though.

In our discussion about women we said that you’re probably at least a decade away from reaching your prime as a man on the dating market. What’s important to realize, however, is that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t date.

I don’t advocate chasing endless tail and throwing every night of your life at women like most partying guys our age are doing, but I do believe there’s a lot of self-growth that can occur from interacting with women.

Dating women is also nice because it’s the exact opposite of working. After being in your head in a logical mood all day you can joke around with girls, stimulate and connect with your emotional side, let go and refresh from work, and manage your natural need as a man to release without porn fucking up your brain.

The women also benefits from your relationship as well because you’re likely a far better influence on her life than most guys your age would’ve been.

Let’s not forget that women can also provide significant motivation for you to excel in life as well. When a girl you really like doesn’t want to be in a relationship or sleep with you it’s possible to use that as leverage to hit the gym, or work on your social skills.

Of course, women can also be destructive if you date the wrong ones or don’t properly channel motivation from them. This is something you’ll improve at with time.

Ultimately, even though you’re likely going through some insecurity and unhappiness at this stage of your life that doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.

This doesn’t mean everyday should be a painful struggle and hellish nightmare you debate whether it’s worth crawling through. There’s a balance, but you’re smart enough to know that.

It’s also important to acknowledge that there is a long-term payoff for going through this period and that even though you’re on the grind there’s still a lot of great things going on in your life.

There’s many reasons for you to still be happy most of the time, and if you’re managing your life real intelligently you can even be happier than the masses despite being in the midst of the most painful and emotionally challenging period of your life.

Take pleasure in the little things each day; the high off of endorphins you get after hitting the gym, the abundant energy you have as a result of being in your youth and eating a healthy diet, intellectual growth you experience through reading self-development and other educational material, seeing your dreams come closer and the circumstances of your life improving everyday.

When you’re feeling insecure about your future don’t hope for a better tomorrow. Take massive action to create it and realize there’s so much to be grateful for and your position is so much more enviable than someone who’s just coasting and is going to spend the rest of their life paying for their refusal to build a solid foundation in their early years.

Going on this path of serious self-development and deferring much of your gratification to the future can be extremely difficult at times, but both the person you’ll become as a result of this challenge and the circumstances you’ll eventually find yourself in will ultimately have made your efforts worth it ten times over.

One day you’ll look back fondly on this period of your life, the struggles you overcame, the adventures you went on, and you’ll be forever grateful you made the decision to keep pushing forward.

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My just released book How to Get Your First Girlfriend is currently free. If you’re looking to improve your dating life or learn how to create a romantic relationship for yourself check it out!

(First picture is a magazine stand in Tokyo. Second picture is the Tokyo Dome. Both pictures taken in Japan last month.)

How to Create AMAZING Memories & Always Have THE BEST Stories

My flight from Dallas to Tokyo went great. Well, as great as one could ask a 13 hour flight to go. I touched down at Narita airport in Japan around 4:30 P.M. After getting through immigrations an hour later I was unsure of where I was going to go.

I’m comfortable enough with traveling at this point that I don’t care to do excessive research and planning beforehand. I prefer to simply show up and explore once I’m there. There were dozens of potential destinations I could visit from the train in Narita, but as I had booked a hotel in Asakusa I decided I’d head there and explore the rest of Tokyo the following days.

I got to Asakusa just over an hour later. It’s perhaps 7:30 P.M. I’ve dealt with severely rationed airline food for the last 24 hours so I decide I’ll get dinner. I walk around Asakusa looking for a place to eat. I see Denny’s. No thank you. I see a few other westerners eating inside, however, and I’m amused that they’d go to the effort of traveling to the other side of the world only to eat the same food we have back home. It’s something I’ve never understood.

I walk down the street, however, taking a couple turns as I explore. I eventually stumble to an inexpensive, yet authentic looking Japanese restaurant. I sit down, and being conscious of the fact I’m no longer accustomed to Asian foods, I order a simple cashew chicken dish.

Asakusa Cashew Chicken Dish

I sit back in my chair, relaxing. Feeling grateful to finally have the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the nomad lifestyle again after working a lot and living a fast-paced lifestyle this summer. My food arrives and it’s delicious. Yum. I’ve missed you Asian food.

I pay the bill, head out and decide I’ll start looking for my hotel. It’s just after 8 P.M. I head back the way I came, remembering that the Denny’s I passed was in the background of the picture I’d seen online of my hotel. I get back to Denny’s and begin my search. I cross the street, because it appeared from the picture online that the hotel was on the other side of the street.

I look around, however, and am unable to find my hotel. I pull up the Maps app on my phone, but without internet access I’m unable to find anything. I continue to search, looking for a pretty slummy place as my hotel was only $16 for the night. After walking through several alleys and being unable to find my hotel I conclude that perhaps I’m just looking on the wrong side of the street.

I explore the other side of the street and find a nice hotel with Asakusa in it’s name. That’s too luxurious to be mine I think, but it’s been an hour of searching already so I silently pray. I walk through the doors of the hotel and ask the front desk if I’m at the right hotel. I’m not. Damn it.

Fortunately, the Japanese are known for being among the most helpful people on Earth and I can say that they without exception lived up to their reputation. The receptionist at the front desk not only points me in the general direction of my hotel, but she also prints out a map for me, marks where I am and where I need to go, and she even finds a picture of my hotel online for me.

I’m grateful for all of this, but I can’t help but nervously laugh as she shows me a picture of my hotel in a new light. Hehehe. I’d expected my hotel to have shitty beds or lack modern toilets. I thought non-private rooms and poor amenities was a fair compromise in exchange for $16/night in a good location. Maybe not. My hotel was a ghetto brick building with graffiti sprayed over the front of the building. Maybe my brother was right. Maybe I am staying at a prostitution house.

As formal and polite as the Japanese are I can’t help but sense the sweet receptionist wants to unleash a laugh of pity at my accommodation for the night. I don’t blame her.

“Ummm thank you.”

I head out and go back to the other side of the street again searching the various alleys for hours. I asked countless people if they knew where my hotel was. Everyone tried to help. They’d all look at my map and point me into a different neighborhood, but my hotel was elusive.

By about 1:00 A.M. I all but gave up finding my hotel. I thought about walking into another hotel and getting a room, but decided against it. For one doing so is expensive, but I also thought I was in the midst of a cool adventure and I thought that if I kept going I’d at least have a cool story to tell.

I needed a break though. Five hours of walking while carrying a backpack with your entire life in it gets tiring. I walk down several streets looking for a suitable rest place; eventually finding a closed restaurant or perhaps it was a coffee shop. I’m unsure. Regardless it has tables outside so I take a seat. I use wi-fi from the hotel connected to the restaurant as they’ve left it unprotected.

I begin texting my girlfriend. She lives in Vietnam (where I’d lived for 2.5 months earlier this year) and it’s difficult to describe how excited we are. We still have several days before we see each other, and we’re still two time zones apart, but just knowing that we’re no longer on opposite sides of the world is comforting.

Being as transparent as I am, I admit to her that I’ve been unable to find my hotel and am wandering the streets. Maybe it would’ve been better not to tell her that, but I just have this urge to tell people the truth regardless.

She panics and to comfort her I say, “Hey, why don’t you video chat me? That way you know I’m ok.”

She does and I’m incredibly excited to see her face again. While we’re talking I notice two men who appear to be homeless walking past. One continues walking down the street and I don’t see him again. The other homeless man decides to camp out and lays down on the bench 30 feet in front of me.

I continue talking to my girlfriend thinking nothing of him. After a few minutes, however, he stands up and begins walking towards me. He stops perhaps 10 feet from me with only the short metal fence of the restaurant separating us. He stares at me, seemingly annoyed and my girlfriend notices a change in my facial expression.

“What’s wrong baby?”

“Nothing.”

She turns her head and squints her eyes. I know this look. The game is over. She knows there’s more to the story.

“Umm… there’s a homeless man by me. I think he’s mad because we were talking too loud and woke him up.”

I can’t remember her response, because I was focused on trying to read this man to see if there was any real danger. I couldn’t sense any, but I identified the whereabouts of my backpack on the chair next to me, and grabbed my computer in case I needed to run.

As I predicted, however, after continuing to ignore him while keeping my girlfriend calm he walked away and left me alone with the entire street to myself.

My girlfriend and I continued to chat for another 30 minutes; continually having to reconnect as the wi-fi I was grabbing from the hotel was quite spotty. We eventually finished talking and being the caring, protective girlfriend she is said,

“Cam be careful.”

I decide to rest for a few more minutes. I take advantage of the wi-fi and read several self-development articles on my phone.

Asakusa

It’s past 3 A.M. by this point. I’m supposed to check out of my hotel by 10 A.M. Any chance of a full night’s sleep is dead by this point, but I decide to head back across the street and search the neighborhood my hotel is supposed to be in one last time.

I search for 30 minutes unsuccessfully. I’m not surprised that I’m unable to find it. I’ve already been down most of the streets and alleys in this neighborhood a half-dozen times. However, when walking down one the narrow streets I notice something I hadn’t seen before. It’s a hotel with Asakusa in it’s name!

To be fair, the part of Tokyo I’m in is called Asakusa so many of the hotels have Asakusa in their name. Since arriving I’d already been to 3-4 hotels that I thought could’ve been mine but weren’t. Therefore, I’m not sure if this is my hotel. It’s in the same general area but I can’t seem to spot the sketchy graffiti it’s supposed to have. I don’t think it’s my hotel.

Regardless I try to enter through the front doors. Damn it they’re locked. I read some instructions, however, and they say if you arrive past 2 A.M. you can still enter through the back doors. I walk around the block and climb some stairs to get to the back doors. They’re unlocked. I’m in.

I find it incredibly bizarre that I’ve somehow made it to the second floor of the hotel without checking in and without anyone aware of my presence. I find some stairs and walk down to the first floor hoping to find someone to check me in. Instead I’m greeted by a few slightly drunk backpackers getting ready to get in the elevator.

“Hey mate what’re ya doing?”

“Looking for the front desk to check-in.”

“I don’t think anyone’s around anymore. But hey, there’s a nice chair in the lobby. It’s got some nice cushions. You can probably grab a good nap there.”

I take their advice. I lay in the cushioned chair. It’s 3:45 A.M. I don’t think this is my hotel and I’m made slightly nervous by the 10,000 yen trespassing fee sign they’ve hung on the wall. I decide that I’ve got a map and a good alibi though if worst comes to worst. To be on the safe side I’ll just take a quick nap as well so that I’m able to get out of here before the morning staff is up.

I set an alarm for 4:30. For the next 45 minutes I enter a blur of semi-consciousness. I’m awake enough to know I’m not asleep, but I’m asleep enough to not perceive much of anything around me.

My alarm wakes me through my headphones and I’m surprised that I’m not feeling tired. I am slightly delirious; at least I think I am. Maybe I’m too delirious to tell. I can’t find a place to leave on the first floor so I head back to where I’d entered on the second floor. Upon preparing to open the door I notice another sign, however.

If opened this door will sound an emergency alarm.

Shitttt. I debate whether I should just give up and go back to sleep on the cushy chair downstairs, but I decide against it. As I get ready to open the door I mentally prepare myself for the events I’m anticipating. I vividly imagine a thunderous alarm sounding and having to run out of the building Hollywood style as I seek to make my escape into one of the nearby dark alleys.

I reach out, bracing myself as I turn the door handle. I clench my teeth as I bend my arm pulling the door towards me. I’m pleasantly surprised. No alarm is perceptible to me. I’ve not noticed any change. I still head out quickly as I feel I’ve overstayed my visit.

I walk briskly through the various alleys; taking several turns and attempting to put as much distance between me and the hotel as possible. I escape back to the main street through a side alley. I cross the street heading back to the neighborhood where I’d poached wi-fi from the hotel and met the homeless man.

I head back to the table I was sitting at, collapse onto the chair, and stare blankly into the sky as the sun preps itself to rise. I’m in disbelief at the strange sequence of events my homeless night in Tokyo entailed, but I’m amazed by the adventure it brought and I can’t wait to tell others my story. For that reason, and not knowing what else to do I decide to record a video (the one at the top of this blog post) on a very jet lagged 45 minutes of sleep.

My night made me realize something. You can improve at story-telling by developing your public speaking skills or by learning the technical elements of how to tell a story. I don’t deny that and I don’t think anyone would. If you care to tell better stories you certainly should do those things.

There’s another thing you can do as well, however, that I think less people cover. You can say YES. When you try to talk to a girl and she’s mean to you at first don’t stop there. See if you can flip things around. When you’re a writer and you only have two days before vacation don’t use that as an excuse not to write. Finish an ENTIRE ebook in those two days so you’ll know you EARNED your vacation. When you can’t find your hotel don’t give up looking. Take the opportunity to experience being homeless.

Be smart about things (A big reason I was willing to go homeless for the night is that I was in one of the safest countries in the world) but say YES. Put yourself in circumstances where you’ll experience CRAZY things, experience things that will ignite TREMENDOUS personal growth, and I guarantee you’ll make AMAZING memories for yourself, and always have THE BEST stories.

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After a few more days in Tokyo I moved back to Saigon, Vietnam at the beginning of August. I’ve finished a few writing projects during that time, one of them being a new ebook on how to get your first girlfriend.

I’ve also got a novella under a pen name as well as the book I wrote last month about how ANYONE can sustain an enjoyable life of travel for themselves.

(Pictures taken July 2015 in Asakusa, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan)

Why You Should Attend Self-Development Seminars (Plus Life Changing Insights From Tony Robbins’ UPW)

I just got back from the Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within event in Chicago.  Although it’d be impossible to give you every life enhancing  lesson I learned at the seminar I thought it’d be beneficial for you if we quickly covered a few of the most important things I learned.

The first insight I’d offer you is that reading blog posts and watching free videos online isn’t enough for you to develop yourself at the fastest rate possible.

I say that not because I’m trying to sell you something, but because if you’re financially minimalistic as I am it’s incredibly easy to think that attending live events isn’t worth it. After all, most of the information you’ll get at the events could be found online for free if you were willing to search long enough for it.

However, with that being, you’ll likely save a significant amount of time by attending a live event because most of the crud has already been filtered out and you’l be learning only the most powerful methods of changing your life.

Beyond that, realize that the acquisition of new information often isn’t the most important reason for you to attend an event.  If you’ve been an avid reader of my blog the past few years you’d have already “known” more than 90% of the material covered at the Tony Robbins seminar I attended.

If you’re reading this blog post you probably already understand that the internet’s greatest strength is that it allows you to quickly gain an overview of a broad set of ideas. However, this is also the internet’s greatest weakness.

Because it’s so easy for you to read blog posts or watch free videos online it’s incredibly easy to take the information you learn for granted.  If you’ve been consuming works of self-development for a few years you probably already understand almost every key concept on an intellectual level.  You could probably explain the 80/20 rule, the pain vs pleasure principle, etc, to someone else fairly easily.

Yet, why are so many people able to learn about these things while continuing to stagnate in their life?  It’s very simple.  If you know what you should be doing in life, but you’re not putting it into action you don’t actually “know” what you are supposed to be doing.

I’m not saying that you lack the knowledge to intellectually understand what needs to be done.  Rather, the reason you’re failing to change your behavior is because you lack the emotional anchors necessary to do so.

This is why attending seminars can be extremely beneficial.  When you listen to a speaker live you’re going to experience a greater emotional response and thus have the potential to develop a greater emotional anchor to the concepts they’re offering to you vs when you read a blog post they’ve written.

This is partially because you’ve paid for the privilege of attending the event and thus your brain emotionally rationalizes to itself that the information must be worth more than a free blog post.

However, it’s also because you’re in an immersive environment where hundreds or thousands of other people are focused intently on the person speaking on stage.  This social proof again reinforces for your brain that the information is extremely important and thus you’re more likely to develop an emotional anchor to the concept and actually apply and embody it.

Of course, the ultimate emotional anchors come from real life experiences.  The most powerful learning and behavioral change occurs when you recognize that doing something brought you pleasure or failing to do something brought you pain.

Key Insights From Tony Robbins’ UPW Event

Of course, although simply discussing the value of attending live events could have been a blog post in itself I also think you’d benefit from reading about some of the important concepts I learned this weekend.

Chicago Unleash The Power Within Tony Robbins

Your Beliefs Have Ripple Effects

Whether you think you’re too young to travel, you believe that you’re unable to start a business because you lack an MBA, or you feel that money is evil, everyone has limiting beliefs.  Regardless of what limiting beliefs you hold it’s important to make a very important distinction.

Understand that your limiting beliefs don’t hold you back from success only in a specific area of your life.  A limiting belief actually causes you to have more difficulty attaining success in every area of your life.

Feeling that money is evil is a rationalization often formed as an excuse not to continually grow and face the larger challenges in life that inevitably accompany generating a larger income.  Thus, feeling money is evil not only damages your finances, but it also can limit your ability to pursue personal growth.

In addition, having tight finances can also limit your ability to support your family, friends, charity, etc, and thus reduce your ability to feel as if you’re contributing to the world.  This can make you feel less significant.  Lacking disposable income can also limit you from purchasing healthy foods which damages your health.

We could go on and on, but the point is that a limiting belief causes damage far beyond what you may expect.  You could be upset by this because it means even one significant limiting belief could greatly reduce the quality of your life, but I’d actually encourage you to feel the opposite.

You should feel grateful because now that you’re aware of this concept you’ll have even more leverage to remove your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering beliefs that can cause an upward spiral in your quality of life.

Physiology & Emotions State Shifts

You probably already aware that your physiology affects your psychology.  The way you walk, talk, and move matters because doing these things in different ways causes different brain chemicals to be released.  These brain chemicals change how you think and feel and thus change the actions you take and eventually shape the life you create for yourself.

If you sit with poor posture you’re going to feel worse, have less energy, and struggle to produce optimal results.  You already know that changing the way you sit would improve your results.  What you may not know is just how quickly and dramatically changing your physiology can change the way you feel.

If you’re slouched over watching television, jump up, scream yes five times, bang your chest, and let out the loudest battle cry of your life for 15 seconds.

If you make a genuine attempt at this there’s no way you won’t dramatically improve your emotional state and thus increase the likelihood you’ll feel more able to take positive actions.

Even better is that as you practice changing your physiology to shift your emotional state you’ll become more adept at changing the way you feel.

Changing your physiology isn’t a magic pill solution that’ll allow you to effortlessly coast through life while still attaining massive success, but you’d be surprised at how able you are to instantly change the way you feel.

At first you’ll feel strange beating your chest, and screaming.  You may even feel inauthentic and as if you’re trying to be something that you are not.

This is simply your body’s resistance to you changing your physiology because it is so familiar and comfortable with whatever emotional states you currently experience most frequently.

Keep practicing, and changing your physiology soon won’t be so uncomfortable for you and your default emotional state will be of a much higher quality.

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Picture is from the Tony Robbins July 2015 Chicago Unleash the Power Within event.