Lessons Learned From Traveling The World at 18

Hey guys, sorry for going silent on you this past month!  You wouldn’t even believe the sequence of events that recently occurred…  But we’ll get to that another day.  My long-term goal on this blog is to be as transparent as humanly possible, but for professional reasons and to respect the privacy of those close to me I’ll save those stories until enough time has passed.

Regardless, after graduating high school early to travel Asia I’m back in the U.S. now.  Prior to this journey I’d never been to another city by myself let alone another country.  I remember experiencing a modest amount of anxiety leading up to this three month journey, but as all the travelers I consulted prior to leaving said, “You’ll be fine.  Everything will fall into place once you arrive.  You just have to get on the plane.”

At the time I remember wanting to believe them, but still feeling uncomfortable with the uncertainty I knew lay on the horizon.  Of course, they were right.  Everything did turn out just fine and that’s why I’m bringing you today’s blog post.  I want to share with you the lessons I’ve learned from traveling these past three months to help give you perspective on how you yourself may benefit from traveling.

The reasons you should consider traveling (even, and especially if you’re young) are:

(1.) You’re constantly being exposed to novelty.  When you travel, simply taking a walk though the city can keep you off the autopilot you likely find yourself falling into at home.  Learning to use public transportation, trying new foods, and laughing at yourself as you attempt to use chopsticks all help refresh you from the repetitiveness and daily grind that’s so easy to succumb to when you’re at home.  In short, the novel situations you find yourself in each day abroad help stimulate your mind and keep you mentally fresh and engaged.

(2.) Traveling helps you learn about what you do and do not like.  Part of this is because being abroad tends to help bring your adventurous side to the surface.  You’re more likely to try new things while traveling even if many of them are things you could’ve tried in your home country (though there are obviously more new/unfamiliar options available to you when in a foreign culture).  Traveling also helps you learn more about yourself in general.  I never considered nature particularly important to me, however, once I’d lived in Saigon for a couple months (where there is almost no nature) I realized how much I took nature for granted and how much I actually cared being around it.  Even if you don’t intend to travel on a permanent basis, the self-knowledge you acquire from traveling temporarily can be used going forward to structure your life back home in a way that allows you to be more effective and enjoy yourself more in the process.

(3.)  Travel shows you there’s no one right way of doing things.  You may notice that in the country you’re visiting they don’t talk much while eating.  Being from the U.S. you may consider this to be strange, but you have to be open-minded and accept that there are pros and cons to this approach.  Not talking while eating may result in less information being exchanged, but you’re more likely to sufficiently chew your food and thus digest it better.  This could actually result in more energy for you to be social the rest of the day!

(4.)  Traveling forces you to develop emotional resilience.  Although travel will give you some of the greatest experiences of your life it will also expose you to copious amounts of bullshit.  People will charge you more because you’re not a local.  People will try to steal things from you. You’ll get lost.  You’ll fall in love and then have to leave.  But as painful as some of these experiences may be, the adversity you experience will contribute to your personal evolution and the development of your character.  (Seriously, look at all the characteristics you most like about yourself.  There’s a very good chance you developed those character traits during difficult times.)  Working your way through the challenges you’re forced to face allows you to enjoy the most profound reward of all; a higher level of consciousness and being the person you want to be.

(5.)  Travel helps you see the world as it is rather than as the fantasy it’s comfortable for you to imagine it being.  Seeing the problems the world has doesn’t make you a pessimist.  It makes you a realist — someone that’s in touch with reality.  If seeing how the world works is painful enough for someone to the point they have to delude themselves, who really thinks the world is a bad place?  In other words, yes, I’m saying realists ie. people who accept the world as it is are those with the most profound appreciation of life.

(6.) You’ll see that the world isn’t such a scary place.  To be fair, I’ve only gone to six countries (Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia) so I can’t speak for the entire world, but from what I’ve experienced the overwhelming majority of fear most people have regarding travel is simply fear of the unknown amplified by the media’s sensationalism of the dangers abroad.  Never having taken the time to explore a foriegn culture leaves you susceptible to this. It’s not hard to give someone false expectations of a place (ie. mainstream media foreign crime and danger sensationalism) if they’ve never been there.  This is especially true if someone doesn’t even care enough to read books and educate themselves on the country nor is it inconceivable why mainstream media would take advantage of this (the ease of grabbing the average person’s attention and the potential monetary value of that attention).

(7.)  The people that you meet while traveling are incredible!  Especially if you visit a digital nomad hub such as Saigon, Vietnam or Chiang Mai, Thailand you’ll be amazed at the quality of conversations you’ll be able to hold.  When was the last time you met your friends back home for lunch and were able to discuss with them how to become an effective copywriter, the health effects of msg, and what it’s actually like to date a crazy Columbian girl?  Not every traveler you meet will be someone who lives in alignment with your values nor will every traveler be someone you aspire to be like.  With that being said, however, it takes guts and mental exertion to leave your life back home and sustain yourself abroad so you can bet you’ll meet some damn interesting people.  Of course, the locals are amazing as well.  As long as you make reasonable efforts to respect the local culture you’ll be amazed at how friendly and welcoming people can be.  Even with a language barrier, positive interactions are possible and it’s relatively easy to meet friends that speak English as well (if I found them in Vietnam, you’ve got a good shot at finding them wherever you go).  Whether it’s motorbiking across town with a friend you met an hour ago, treating your new Vietnamese girlfriend to her first Mexican burrito, or cracking jokes with your girlfriend’s gay friend you’d be amazed at how quickly you can integrate into a different society.  Sexual orientation, culture, or even language barriers needn’t be things that keep you from making friends.

(8.)  Perhaps most importantly, traveling gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself!  This is in part because you’ll learn to be more self-reliant (especially if you’re giving this a go at a young age).  The other aspect of this is that you’ll no longer have a role others will expect you to conform to.  If in your hometown you’re known at the quiet guy others may react negatively when you attempt to speak up or talk to girls.  However, when you’re across the world nobody has a role which they’re trying to force you to play.  You can’t be told to stay in your box when others have never had the chance to categorize you.  When you travel you have the ability to choose who you want to be in each moment.  There exists perhaps no better accelerator for your personal growth.

Thoughts On Charisma

I went to bed at midnight. It’s currently 6:20 A.M. I’ve already meditated, recorded a video, walked to my favorite restaurant in Vietnam and am currently waiting for my order as I type this.

Anyway, I’m writing this post for you not because I wanted to skip sleep, but because I just couldn’t. I didn’t check the time when I woke up, but I estimate it was probably about 4:30 A.M. As strange as this sounds, while I was laying there alone in bed I gave enthused speeches on what it takes to be successful.

I delivered speech after speech as I imagined myself standing before an audience of other young hustlers clinging on to every word I offered. Now this may seem somewhat strange, but I didn’t have any resistance to it. I really enjoyed the strange rush of passion I experienced this morning, and being that it’s been so long since I gave you guys a new video I thought I’d record a quick one for you this morning.

In today’s video, being that I felt charismatic and passionate I thought I’d share a few quick tips and observations I’ve had on becoming more charismatic. This isn’t to say that I am the epitome of charisma. No, no, no. Very far from it. I am, however, significantly more charismatic than I was a few years ago, and you could easily observe that if you watch some of the first videos I ever recorded. These are just some thoughts from someone that’s going through the process alongside you.

If these ideas resonate with you then use them. If not, don’t. That’s part of being an educated consumer. Never blindly accept the things I, or anyone else tells you. Sure, it’s probably better to blindly follow what I say rather than to listen to the narrative mainstream media feeds you. At the end of the day, however, if you do that you’re still going to be a sheep incapable of making your own decisions.

Anyway, enough of my rant. Here’s a quick summary of the ideas in the video:

First, how should we define charisma? To do that, I believe we first must define charisma’s opposite which I believe to be monotone. What is monotone? Failing to vary your vocal tonality. Why do people fail to vary their vocal tonality? They’re lazy and unconsciously recognize that doing so would require an extra exertion of effort.

I challenge you to do the opposite. Actively seek to exert more energy in your interactions. Of course, that’s not enough. We’ve all tried that before and come off as “try-hard” in the past. Why did we come off as try-hard? For exactly that reason. We tried too hard. We weren’t being natural about it.

See, aside from the exertion of energy the other element to charisma is congruence. You have your highest potential for charisma when you have an abundance of energy. But, at the same time we’ve all observed someone that was tired or in an unideal emotional state, but still been captivated by them. Why? Because they were at least congruent.

Just look at your social interactions. Ideally you’re in a great mood dishing out positive energy to all the people you interact with. That’s the highest value social behavior you can have. But, at the same time it’s unrealistic to expect you’re always going to be in an upbeat emotional state. Sure, optimize your lifestyle and emotions the best you can, but at times you’re just not going to feel that great. In those times, just be comfortable with who you are and most often people will still respond to you well.

Of course, these things are mostly theory. We’re just philosophizing here. It’s cool to ponder these thoughts, but how should you actually go about becoming charismatic?

My biggest suggestion to you is to face your fears. Do the things that scare you. As Elliott Hulse would say, “Live dangerously.”

You’ll find that two things happen when you face your fears. The first is that you’ll become energized. This happens regardless of whether or not you succeed in the face of fear. Even if the girl you find intimidating rejects you, you’ll still feel energized for having had to summon up the courage to talk to her.

The second thing you’ll find is that by leaning into your fears you’re naturally able to be more congruent. This happens as a result of you becoming more confident and comfortable with who you are as a person. As you begin to live in closer alignment with your values it’s easier to be congruent because you don’t feel as much of a need to filter yourself or present something that you’re not. When you like the person who you are it’s relatively easy to be authentic with others.

Finally, why you should you want to be charismatic? You’ll be a more interesting and dynamic person in your relationships, and charisma will also give you a greater ability to influence others and initiate positive change. Few people are actively trying to make the world a better place. You can never put people into a role they don’t want to play, but being charismatic can help you show them exactly why they should want to play that role.

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Below is the Elliott Hulse video I referenced earlier on living dangerously. Some great thoughts here and things I’ve personally observed as well. Definitely make the time to check it out!

Life in Vietnam, Meeting Connor Grooms, & How To Juggle

Hope you’re doing well on this mighty fine day! :) Have you ever wondered what it’s actually like to travel alone to a foreign country? I recently wrote a guest post on my first week in Saigon and adjusting to life here, meeting Connor Grooms (a digital nomad and awesome blogger in his own right), and how to learn to juggle within an hour (as well as improve more quickly at any skill). You can read the post on Connor’s blog.

Also, if my post has gotten you interested in juggling you NEED to check out the new course I’ve recently launched on juggling. It has more than 30 videos on how to go from being unable to juggle, to stringing together the 25 tricks you’ve learned in an exciting fashion to entertain any audience. Want more reasons you should learn to juggle and why I’ve invested an estimated 2,500 hours of my life into juggling? Check out my most recent blog post answering your questions here.

In short, juggling can help you:

  • Improve your physical fitness.
  • Impress people at parties.
  • Alleviate stress and clear your mind.

Are you ready to start juggling yet? As a thank you for reading my blog you can pick up the course 50% off (and help cover the blog’s monthly maintenance cost) using the coupon code “BLOGLOVE.” Get your discounted course now and be juggling before you know it. :)

Why I Juggle & Why You Should Too

I can’t remember how it all started. It may have began a few years back after Thanksgiving lunch. I remember everyone else was sluggish because they’d had a huge meal, but I was filled with energy because I was vegan at the time and had eaten fruit salad for lunch. Actually I don’t think that’s when it all began.

I really don’t remember a specific moment when I began learning, but I do remember where a surprising amount of my skill development began. The classroom was my inspiration to practice, but I’m not talking about reviewing multiplication tables. I’m referring to juggling.

I’ve always found school extremely boring so during my freshmen year of high school I began practicing to juggle in a particularly boring English class. I’d had enough of listening to my reacher rant about Zeus and Odysseus so whenever she’d turn her back to write on the chalkboard I’d grab my tennis balls and make a few throws. At first I’d often drop and I couldn’t tell you how many times I got my balls confiscated by her 😉

Juggling had finally given me a little excitement in school. Soon I was practicing during class, between my classes, and even during lunch. Juggling definitely didn’t make me popular, but man did I get good at it.

Within a month I was already learning four balls and I loved juggling so much that I’d often practice 4-6 hours per day! After about a year or so my wrists could no longer take the repetitive stress from 6 hours of throwing per day so in late 2012 I had to cut back to “only” two hours of practice per day. I’ve maintained that practice routine since and I estimate that over the years I’ve invested almost 3,000 hours into juggling.

Why Juggle?

That’s probably the question you’re wondering now. Why would anyone ever invest thousands of hours of their life into such a strange hobby? I sometimes ask myself the same question 😉

In the beginning I juggled simply because I found it fun. There was nothing else to it. I wasn’t making money from it, or trying to impress people with my new skills (ok maybe I was at first, but I quickly learned juggling doesn’t work on girls). I juggled primarily because I enjoyed the learning process practicing allowed me to engage in.

That’s why I continue to juggle today. Although juggling is not as stimulating to me as it once was it’s still something I thoroughly enjoy because it helps me fulfill one of my fundamental needs as a human being. Juggling allows me to realize the need to grow.

Regardless of how you’re attempting to grow and develop yourself there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing yourself slowly progress each day. That’s what juggling represents to me. It’s a path to mastery and by consistently showing up to strive for improvement everyday I’ve built up a considerable amount of discipline and resilience in the process.

Of course, there’s other benefits of learning to juggle as well. It’s a light form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s a “cool” party trick, many people find the repetitiveness of juggling meditative and good for alleviating stress, and it’s fun enough that you’ll actually do it and be able to reap these benefits!

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to drop what they’re doing and start juggling (hmmm… that was pretty witty though). All I’m saying is that if you haven’t found a path to mastery for yourself why not give juggling a shot? Or, alternatively if you already have a passion project you’re working on juggling could be a fun little diversion for you to recover from the seriousness and exhausting energy exertion that often accompanies pursuing your goals.

With the thousands of hours I’ve invested into juggling the past few years of my life it’s been difficult for me not to write a post about it, but I’ve tried to avoid talking about juggling here because the focus of this blog has always been self-improvement. However, like I’ve said, juggling had played a huge role in my personal development and it’s not inconceivable that it could contribute to yours as well. If juggling doesn’t change your life it’ll at least be a silly hobby to help you recover from the daily grind.

That’s why I’ve recently gone through the effort of creating an online course teaching others how to juggle. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about juggling over the years, and created a package of 30+ videos that guides you from being a complete beginner learning how to juggle 3 balls, to stringing together the two dozen tricks you learned throughout the course in an engaging routine to entertain an audience.

I get that you don’t often get sold products on juggling, but that’s exactly why I made my course. I think juggling represents a fun activity that teaches you how to learn and I want you to be able to enjoy some of the same benefits I’ve gained in learning how to juggle (regardless of if you ever decide to perform).

Anyway, if I’ve gotten you interested in learning how to juggle and you’d like to support me (and help cover the blog’s hosting costs) you can find my new juggling course here. I’m selling it for $39, but as a thank you for reading my blog you can get it 50% off using the coupon code “BLOGLOVE.”

P.S. If you’d like to see me take someone else through the process of learning to juggle (and use the same steps to be juggling within an hour!) check out my recent guest post on Connor Grooms’ blog.

True Happiness Comes From Being The Person You Want To Be

For years now I’ve had a dream of traveling the world. Two years ago I wanted to be a foreign exchange student, but I gave up on that dream because I was vegan at the time and I was told that it would be almost impossible to find a host family that could accommodate my diet in any of the countries I wanted to go to.

Last year I’d again decided that I wanted to be a foreign exchange student and that I would be willing to temporarily set aside my vegan diet to explore the world. I thought that’s all it would take to find myself a foreign exchange student. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about money.

When I’d brought up the idea of becoming a foreign exchange student to my parents it was almost immediately discounted. Sure, they said they’d love for me to be able to go, but with most programs’ tuition at over $10,000 they were unwilling to send me off unless I found a way to come up with the vast majority of the money. This discouraged me, and I again gave up on my dream to travel.

This year, however, I’d decided that I was going to travel the world at any cost. As my buddy Connor Grooms would say, giving travel a shot became a non-negotiable for me. I realized that I now didn’t qualify for many foreign exchange programs because I was going to be 18 years old. Again I was discouraged, but I didn’t give up. I researched gigs on cruise ships, being a flight attendant, Helpx, WWOOF, Peace Corps, the military, everything. If it could get me onto the other side of the world you can bet I read a few dozen blog posts about it.

Eventually I came across something called a digital nomad. I’d never heard the term before, but apparently there’s a HUGE community of people worldwide that make their living online while having the freedom to work from virtually anywhere. These people are freelance writers, translators, programmers, designers, internet marketers, etc.

After several months of researching the digital nomad community I decided that even if I wasn’t going to become one for the rest of my life I wanted to at least give their lifestyle a shot. So, I bought a ticket to Asia. For months I told myself that even though my life was moving along relatively well, everything was going to change when I got to Asia. I was going to be permanently happy once I got off that plane because I’d be, “Living The Dream.”

Well, after many months of excitement building up I left the U.S. and have spent the last week in Hong Kong, and Singapore. I’ve spent the past week with my brother (whom I’ve always been close with) and despite going on lots of adventures with him, having laughs, seeing beautiful things, and staying at arguably the most luxurious hotel in Singapore I found myself very apathetic to life at times.

I found the state of my emotions horrifying. How could I be, “Living The Dream,” doing what I always wanted, trying great foods, seeing amazing things, staying at luxurious hotels and still not be happy? If I couldn’t be happy in these circumstances, how the hell would I ever be able to find happiness?

I was extremely frustrated with myself and thought I had a problem not being as happy now as I was when I was on the grind. I thought I had a problem because I wasn’t as happy now as when I was juggling, lifting weights, and writing blog posts everyday.

That’s when I realized something. I wasn’t feeling apathetic despite the fact I was avoiding the daily grind, I was feeling apathetic exactly because I had gotten off the grind!

I’d always known this to be true on an intellectual level, but never until this week did I fully realize that happiness comes not from your external circumstances, but whether you feel as if you’re being and becoming the type of person you’d like to be.

Sure, this past week I’d had the best external circumstances I’d ever had in my life, but the reason I was still generally apathetic was because I wasn’t spending my time in accordance with my values. I was spending too much time socializing, and relaxing. Everyone obviously needs some amount of rest and rejuvenation in their life, but based on who I want to be and where I want to go I’d completely misweighted the amount of time I’d invested into just chilling and going with the flow.

Once I got back to juggling, and recording videos, doing editing work, and writing I quickly began to experience more positive emotions again. It’s incredible how just these past couple days of grinding have changed the way I felt. Two days ago I was feeling meeehh, but now I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in months.

My challenge to you is to make the same adjustment in your life. Don’t wait for something to come along that’s going to make you happy. It’s unlikely to come, and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t make you happy anyway. Trust me, I’m telling you this from firsthand experience.

You don’t want things handed to you on a silver platter because you’re not going to appreciate them. People think it’s the destination that’s going to make them happy, but today I’m asking you to at least consider a contrary view.

Just consider, that maybe it’s not the million dollars that’s going to make you happy. Maybe it’s not getting in bed with the beautiful girl that’s going to make you happy. It’s not staying at the five star hotel that’s going to make you happy. Sure, those things are stimulating. It’s fun to go on vacations, try new foods, and meet girls because they provide novelty and are the spices of life. But remember, they’re just the spices!

You’d never want a whole plate of just spices. You need the steak too! There’s nothing wrong with spices contributing to the steak’s flavor, but try a dish of just spices and you’ll choke!

The best part of life, the part that brings you the majority of sustained and lasting happiness is finding a path to mastery, finding something, anything, that you can strive each day to become a little bit better at. You need to find something where you’re not just looking to the final destination because that’s not what’s going to make you happy.

What will make you happy is finding something, even if it’s just self-improvement in your everyday life, where you can enjoy the small moments each day as you attempt to grow and make incremental progress. That’s what you need. Even if the milestone you’re striving towards is never realized, It’s the everyday grind and appreciating the small steps of the journey each day as you work to develop as a human being that will bring you happiness far more consistent and real than the fleeting happiness reaching the occasional peak in life brings.

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Picture is of me indulging in the luxury of the rooftop pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

You can view the rest of my travel photos on my Instagram.

Finally, today’s video was one of the best I’ve ever recorded, so even if you normally prefer reading my blog posts I’d recommend checking out the video anyway!

Life Update January 2015

I can’t remember the last time I’ve dedicated a post to updating you on the status of my life. I try not to do this type of post too often because I don’t want you to feel as if I’m more interested in hearing myself talk than providing you with material that you can use to improve your life. Regardless, I felt compelled to write a life update for you today simply because so much has been happening in my life over the past month or so. Here’s the list of things that have gone down.

I Quit My Job At Dairy Queen

After a run of 5.5 months at Dairy Queen I knew it was time for a change. Like my mentor Steve Pavlina once said, “The problem with getting experience from a job is that you usually just repeat the same limited experience over and over. You learn a lot in the beginning and then stagnate.” I quit my job at Dairy Queen because I could feel myself stagnating.

Although I’d learned some interesting things about customer-service, and the fast food industry in the early days I’d learned very little in the later months of my employment.

Beyond that, however, I quit simply because I don’t agree with what Dairy Queen stands for. I always felt guilty carrying out customers orders because I knew I was just taking them one step closer to obesity. Maybe you could justify that I shouldn’t have felt guilty because I was just giving the customers “what they wanted.” I knew, however, that I wanted out of the system. I just couldn’t take anymore of giving customers what I felt were poorly sourced animal derived products, that would support the industrial food chain as well as erode the lives of those who consumed them.

The last thing I’ll note is that as a fast food restaurant Dairy Queen is almost the definition of a dead-end job. What’s wrong with that you ask? It leads to dead-end people working there. Although I certainly liked some of my coworkers, there was very little ambition around me. I didn’t see much striving beyond mediocrity (at best) while I was there.

All of these reasons considered, it made perfect sense to me to walk away.

I turned 18

Hmm… I’m not sure what to write here beyond the fact I’m considered legally an adult. One thing that felt strange about this was that it was an impetus for me to reflect nostalgically on my childhood. It feels strange that I can be considered so young, but that I can also remember memories from ten years ago. Some of these memories are vague and feel as if they happened long ago, while others can be remembered so clearly as if they occurred yesterday and I was there reliving them. Overall, however, I don’t quite know what to think about my age.

I Left The U.S. For The First Time

This month was the first time I’d ever been outside the United States. I went to the Dominican Republic with several other family members and my Uncle was kind enough to rent out a villa for all of us. Although we stuck primarily to touristy areas I still found the trip to be an interesting cultural experience. I greatly enjoyed trying new foods, seeing the ocean for the first time, and trying to keep up with the locals’ Spanish. I posted a bunch of pictures of the trip on my new Instagram account so if you haven’t been following me check them out!

4 Year of Self-Development

4 years ago I began my journey of self-improvement because I’d just had my heart broken. I began “dating” what I labeled “the girl of my dreams” and less than 24 hours after our “relationship” had begun she told me that she thought it would be better if we were just friends. I emphasized the quotes in the last sentence because in retrospect I find it hilarious that I’d gotten so upset over something so trivial. Haha.

However, I am extremely grateful for that girl having rejected me. It was extremely painful at the time, but who knows where I’d be if things hadn’t played out that way. I’m very happy to be where I am now, but it’s highly unlikely I’d be here if I’d never had that dramatic event knock me off the trajectory of mediocrity. I doubt the girl understands what she was the catalyst for, but I’m so grateful to have fallen and been destroyed by her all those years ago…

I Graduated High School

Graduating high school more so than turning 18 made me feel like an adult. When I walked through the parking lot for the last time I realized that I’m on my own now. I’m no longer going to be given gold stars for simply doing what the teacher says. I have no choice but to hustle now because the circumstances of my life will be from this point forward determined by my ability to produce results and provide value to society.

It is nerve-wracking to have all this responsibility placed on my shoulders, but at the same time I feel it’s been given to me in a very timely fashion. Sure, I’m going out on my own a bit earlier than my peers, but at the same time given how I’ve lived my life this feels very appropriate.

I’m Officially Headed To Asia

In early February I’ll embark on a three month adventure through Asia. Although I’d initially planned to travel alone I’ll now be accompanied by my brother and uncle for much of the first month. I’ll admit to being nervous for the trip, but I’m extremely excited for it as well. I believe it will serve as my rite of passage in transitioning from adolescence into adulthood.

Although I don’t have too many concrete plans for the trip I do intend to spend much of my time meeting up with and becoming active in the digital nomad communities in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Saigon, Vietnam. Regardless of how everything plays out I’m sure the journey will be transformational and fundamentally change the way I view the world.

Concluding Thoughts…

We need to wrap up as the flight into Dallas I’m aboard will be landing soon. I guess I’d say that 2015 has already brought tremendous change and it looks to be the most promising year I’ve ever had. I’m excited what new adventures life will bring to me this year, and of course I’m also excited to take the things I’ve learned and share them with you!

I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride and make 2015 the best year of your life! :)

Let’s make 2015 the year of facing all the things you fear!

Use Your Finances Aggressively When You’re Young

Just got back a couple days ago from a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic. I would’ve updated you sooner, but I’ve had World War III occurring in my stomach since eating some bad airport food 😉 I’m finally starting to feel better so I thought I’d shoot you a blog post.

Being that I just got back from the Dominican Republic and am on the road again to Dallas in a few days I thought I’d share with you today one of my favorite philosophies. I call it living on thin margins and aggressively investing your resources.

The inspiration for this blog post came from people constantly asking me how I’m affording all my travel this year. My parents don’t pay for my travel expenses and I just turned 18 years old. How the hell does a teenager get the money to graduate school early, and leave for a three month trip to Asia?

The secret? Cutting out all the nonessentials out of your life and aggressively investing your resources. For several years this has been a cornerstone in the way I live my life. The thing you’ve got to understand is that if you want to get ahead of the pack, doing it while you’re young is hands down the best time to do so.

You (presumably) have low recurring bills, because your parents are covering the majority of your expenses. Unfortunately, the problem with most teenagers is that they’re too dumb to realize this isn’t going to last forever.

You can’t be like most teenagers though. Remember, everybody wants the good life, but not everybody gets it. If you want a life that’s extraordinary you can’t take an ordinary approach.

What’s the ordinary approach most people take? Frivolously spending their money on shoes, fancy electronics, and other things they don’t really need.

The thing you’ve got to realize, however, is that material possessions don’t amount to increased levels of happiness. Well, at least sustained levels of happiness. The minute an expensive toy stops being a novelty you’re back to square one, only with $200 less in your pocket.

So what should you do? Invest in experiences. The reason I’m spending my money on a half-dozen trips this year is science has shown that experiences and memories are the things that produce lasting happiness in your life.

In a year when you’re expensive jeans are torn and unwearable they’re no longer going to contribute to your happiness, but in a year when I think about the memories I shared with the people I met in the Dominican Republic you can bet a smile will still come to my face.

OK, fair enough. Material possessions typically stop making you happy once their novelty wears off, while experiences tend to lead to more sustained happiness. You’re saying I should avoid consumerism. I can agree with that. But what I don’t agree with is you saying I should spend the majority of my money on experiences. Wouldn’t the best choice be to simply save all my money?

No, and I say no for a few reasons. The first is that life is short. You never know when you’re going to die. There’s too many people who have been tricked into saving all their money for retirement only to pass before they made it, or to reach retirement and realize that they were too old to do the things they’d always wanted to do.

You don’t have to be like Lil Wayne and live completely YOLO. A lot of lives have gotten destroyed that way as well, but like most things a balanced approach tends to lead to the most fruitful life.

The second reason I recommend against investing significant amounts of your money in the market is that while you’re young there’s a far better place for you to invest the majority of your money. It’s called your brain.

Although cutting expenses, and saving your change is an admirable approach to creating a secure financial future there’s an even better way. Increasing your income!

Like Bill Gates says, “The more you learn, the more you earn.” Investing in your education (which could mean college, but doesn’t necessarily) will greatly increase your ability to create generous streams of income for yourself.

Can you conceive of a reality in which reading books, spending money to attend conferences in your field, and traveling to meet your mentors wouldn’t pay off? If you’re an active thinker and are willing to take massive action the resources you invest into your education will pay off one-hundred-fold.

Perhaps the biggest reason I recommend you aggressively use your finances while you’re young is that doing so will allow you to attract better people into your life. Sure, you can work at your mediocre job scrounging together a dollar here and a dollar there, but do you think that’s going to attract great people into your life?

The person you want going to war with you probably isn’t your coworker at Wendy’s. You want the people who are going to hustle their asses off and push you to do the same. Unfortunately, these people may not be in your city or even your country. I’ve found two great people I want to work with, but one is currently traveling the world as a digital nomad while the other is in France.

It’d be great if they’d come to Wisconsin sometime, but the reality is that if I want them in my life I’m probably going to have inconvenience myself and fly overseas to meet them.

You’re probably going to have to inconvenience yourself in some way to meet the people you’d like to as well. Whether that means traveling to another country, paying for someone’s time to coach you, or doing bitch work to get someone to mentor and invest in you. Whatever the cost, DO IT. As the saying goes, the quality of your life is proportional to the five people you spend the most time with.

While you’re young you can expend significant energy and resources meeting these people that’ll push you to be the best you can be and show you ways to increase your income. This is the active thinker and hustler approach to life. If you’re willing to take massive action this is probably the path for you.

Otherwise, you can cut costs, and skip your morning latte hoping to scrounge together a dollar here and a dollar there to one day have enough money to be financially secure. This is the passive thinker approach for one that is uncomfortable with any uncertainty in life. Unfortunately, for the majority of people in life this is their best option (It still beats throwing money away at useless material possessions).

What I’d recommend you do is identify what type of person you are. Are you willing to hustle? Are you able to think creatively? If so there’s a good chance you’ll want to invest your money going to conferences, and traveling to meet the people you want to go to war with.

If you’re not willing to hustle and live aggressively then fuck off. Get used to associating with mediocre people, and living a mediocre life. The world is crazy, but it’s not a crazy enough place to give you something you don’t deserve.

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If you enjoyed this post consider picking up a copy of Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity. It’s a great book that is centered around the same line of thought.

(Pictures from January 2015 in the Dominican Republic.)

To Be Interesting Be Interested

You’ve backpacked through Europe, ran five marathons, and know Pi to the 100th digit. You are a one of a kind special snowflake and you’ve tried to share your unique experiences with others. The only problem? Nobody cares! Well Cameron does 😉 but that’s only because I’ve had the same experience as you.

I would tell people what I thought were EPIC stories. Sometimes people would politely laugh or compliment me on my stories, but more often I’d see their eyes wander in boredom, looking for something else to divert their attention to.

I knew that I didn’t suck at telling stories, however, because I could tell stories during speech classes and oral presentations and have my audience completely engaged. Try as I may, however, my conversations quickly died out whenever I’d talk to someone in an informal setting.

I never understood why until I had an epiphany last week while reading How To Win Friends & Influence People. I came across a chapter titled, “How To Interest People.” I didn’t think anything of it before reading the chapter, but after I finished I’d had an epiphany.

The reason I struggled to maintain conversations, and a problem you likely have as well is that you talk about yourself too much! The reason you’re not interesting to other people is that you’re robbing them the opportunity to talk about their favorite subject, themselves!

I shook my head when I realized there was such a simple solution. This past week I’ve made a consistent effort to allow others to talk about themselves. I’ve asked questions I thought they would like to answer and sure enough, people have been more interested in me than ever before!

An equally positive effect was that I’d become more interested in other people than ever before! When you’re working to better yourself and having all the crazy experiences that often accompany the journey of self-improvement it’s easy to think that other people are boring.

It’s easy to think that you need to anchor the conversation because you’re more, “Enlightened,” and have had a more diverse set of life experiences. However, the reality is that when you give other people the opportunity to share things about themselves they immediately become more interesting.

When you get others talking about what they’re passionate about that passion becomes infectious to both you and the conversation at large! You also open yourself up to the knowledge of the other person as well. Everyone is superior to you in some way, and everyone loves talking about the things they’re good at! If you’re willing to listen, the other person will almost always be happy to discuss with you that which they have experience in.

This eventually leads to an upward spiral as well. The more you learn, the more topics you’re able to intelligently converse with others in. The more knowledge you have about a diverse set of topics the deeper you can dive into conversations that others find interesting, and when you allow yourself to be interested by others, they almost always become interested in you.

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Was this post a bit too much common sense? Sometimes I have to research things many of you guys just intuitively get. If that’s the case here I apologize. Hopefully this post helps someone though.

Also, I highly recommend you grab a copy of How To Win Friends & Influence People. It’s an awesome book, especially if you are less naturally adept in your interactions with others.

Unbroken: Louis Zamperini & Why You Should Never Complain Again

Something almost all of us struggles with is an addiction to complaining. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was the occasional rumbling of something truly horrendous like a hurricane killing hundreds of people. Perhaps in that kind of circumstance complaining about the unfairness of life would even be justified.

What I’m talking about right now is the complaining you and I do on a daily basis. Oh my god, it’s 12 degrees and it’s only December. I can’t take school anymore, it’s just too hard! Why do bad things always happen to me?

We complain constantly, and for what purpose? I don’t even know, but what I can tell you is that we’d be a lot better off if we didn’t wallow in our self-labeled “misery.” Now I’m not into that woo-woo positive thinking stuff. I don’t think that by merely believing you can float with the butterflies that you’ll magically manifest a garden you can live in for the rest of your life in which everything is perfect.

What I will say, however, is that there’s certain universal principles among those that have attained significant levels of success, and you’d better believe complaining isn’t one of them. Almost every person who has made it to the top has had to climb through a lot of muddy obstacles and bullshit. There’s no getting around it. Like one of my old girlfriends used to say, “Suck it up buttercup.”

However, at the same time it’s important to realize that although you’re likely to experience significant emotional challenges in the pursuit of your goals it’s unlikely you’ll experience anything on even the cusp of those that have come before you.

I recently read a book called Unbroken and it was about a guy named Louie Zamperini. This guy was a badass. He was a hilarious prankster, not to mention the fact he was an Olympic runner. He ran such a tremendous race at the 1936 Berlin Olympics that Hitler took notice and personally complimented him.

However, he was later drafted for World War II. In the midst of World War II he was sent on a rescue mission to search for a plane in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately, his crew was given a dysfunctional aircraft and as a result they crashed as well. Only 3 out of the 11 men onboard survived the crash.

So then there’s three guys on a couple of inflatable rafts in the middle of the ocean. Louis, Phil, and Mac. Their only food is a handful of chocolate bars. If crashing without anyone in the outside world being aware of it wasn’t enough Louis also woke up the next day to find that Mac had eaten all the chocolate!

He didn’t let that get to him though. He said he was disappointed in Mac, but that he forgave him and they were going to find a way to be rescued. Shortly after that it appeared as if Louis may’ve been right. A plane flew by them and they shot their flare in the air, but the plane didn’t notice…

Around this time the whole crew was getting nervous because the sharks had found them. Louis, Mac, and Phil were standing on the raft having to fight off sharks for all hours of the day, but it was ok because they were going to be rescued. They saw another plane, and it was the one from their base sent to rescue them! Unfortunately, despite another shot flare this plane too sped past them. Ouch.

It was all good though. Countless days later they saw another plane. Third time is the lucky charm right? They shot their last flare and the plane turned around and began flying towards them. They were going to be rescued! Well, that’s what they thought. It turned out, however, that the plane happened to belong to the Japanese and despite International Law against it, the plane shot at them.

So there Louis was. Diving underneath the raft to take cover from the bullets while simultaneously having to fight off numerous sharks. This continued for some time until the Japanese pilot eventually tired and an exhausted Louis was eventually able to pull himself back aboard the raft.

At this point Louis was only about halfway done with his “sail.” When all was said and done only him and Phil would survive (Mac died after 33 days at sea), but after a long 47 days at sea they eventually made it to an island. They had won. Well, they’d won the battle. The war was still far from over and they’d landed in Japanese territory.

Louis and Phil would go on to suffer as prisoners of war for about two-and-a-half years until the war finally concluded. During this time they were heavily starved with prisoners often losing more than half their original bodyweight. Those that survived that is. Louis and Phil did survive though.

Louis went through untold torture including starvation, dysentery and other diseases, clubbings/whippings, and hard labor. He was also once punished by a guard named Watanabe who forced every other prisoner in his camp to punch him as hard as they could in the face (Someone in the camp estimated this amounted to 320 solid blows).

Although Louis’ circumstances were almost too horrible to even conceive, he made it through them. He made the choice that he would not let Watanabe or anyone else steal his dignity. Another of Watanabe’s punishments for Louis was forcing him to hold a thick, six-foot long, heavy wooden beam above his head.

This doesn’t sound particularly bad, but if you try raising your hand straight above your head you’ll notice that alone quickly becomes tiring. So how long did Louis hold the pole up? 1 minute? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Try 37, and he only dropped it because Watanabe was so frustrated at his inability to break Louis that he punched him in the stomach.

What’s the point of me telling you all this? The point is that all the time you and I spend complaining is completely unwarranted. Now you don’t have to be a hippie about this. Like Tony Robbins says, positive thinking isn’t magical in the sense that all your problems will solve themselves if you run into your garden screaming, “There are no weeds! There are no weeds!”

However, it is important to gain perspective on the circumstances we find ourselves in. If you look at Louis Zamperini or other great human beings from history you’ll quickly realize that your problems are probably nowhere near as significant as you believe them to be. You don’t like your car? That’s nearly as bad as Nelson Mandela, one of the kindest men to ever walk this planet, serving 27 years in prison in his pursuit to conquer the Apartheid government. To say your circumstances are almost as trying… Get real.

You and I don’t even have a concept of what bad is. Deal with the slight annoyances of daily life, shut the fuck up, and put aside your petty bullshit so you can do something that will contribute to those who have something worth complaining about.

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Pick up a copy of Unbroken the first chance you get! It’s a true perspective changer.

If you’ve had trouble accessing the site in the last 24-48 hours it’s because I made a few mistakes transitioning to SETT’s new servers. Everything should be good now though! Sorry for any inconvenience.

(Picture is of my trip to Dallas in April 2014. I’m headed back there for a week after I graduate high school next month!)

A Quick Rant On Sam Walton & Humility

There’s some things we never fail to mention when talking about success: hard work, working intelligently, discipline, and consistency. You’ll hear those things brought up in every conversation you’ll ever have about success. All of them are vitally important in building the life of your dreams. No doubt about it.

Something that deserves far more attention than it’s given, however, is humility. It’s an almost universal trait among those who’ve both gotten to the top and maintained their position for any significant period of time. Let’s look at two examples.

Silvia

There was a girl named Silvia in my Spanish class last year. She was a foreign exchange student from Italy that already knew five languages. She was the best nonnative Spanish speaker in the class. Why? Because she recognized she had more to learn and was always asking detailed questions.

The rest of us were satisfied when we spoke mostly correct sentences that a native speaker could’ve understood. “¿You get the gist of what we’re saying right señorita? ¿Our conversation was good enough for an A right?

Silvia was playing on a different level though. She was looking to be understood as if she was a native speaker. She was hungry, we weren’t. She focused on the nuances of language such as subject-verb agreement, subjunctive vs. indicative, and changing her accent while the rest of us were content to be speaking somewhat understandable Spanish with heavy American accents.

Sam Walton

There was once a group of Brazilian businessmen who sent letters to the heads of the top 10 U.S. retailers asking to come visit and learn how they did business. Most of the U.S. companies ignored the letters, and the few that had acknowledged the Brazilians said, “No.” However, Sam Walton said, “Yes.”

Sam Walton invited them to his hometown in Bentonville, Arkansas and when the Brazilian businessmen came he ended up asking them far more questions then they’d asked him. It turns out that despite being far more successful Walton had invited these men to the U.S. because he wanted to see what he could learn from them!

The story gets even better. Sam Walton later went to Brazil to visit the businessmen and got arrested in the process. The cops thought he was a danger to society because they’d found him on his hands and knees measuring the amount of space a store had left in-between the aisles.

Even though he was the richest man in the United States, Sam Walton was humble enough to get on his hands and knees measuring things because he understood that there was always more he could learn. If Sam Walton, the founder of the largest retailer in the world was willing to go to that length to learn from others then what’s your excuse?

Don’t be so ignorant as to think that you have specialized knowledge in all aspects of the world unparalleled to the knowledge of the other 7 billion people on this planet. Even the smartest people in the world recognize that this world is simply too vast for them to have a complete understanding of it.

There’s a reason both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet both said that if they could choose any super power they’d choose the ability to read faster than anyone else in the world. They see that there’s still so much they have to learn, and if that’s the case for them it definitely holds true for me and you as well.

So get to it. Find some mentors, find some books, and get learning.

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Pick up Sam Walton’s autobiography here. It’s a great book with tons of key insights.