Listen To Your Mentors ESPECIALLY When You Feel Emotional Resistance

You’re going to have a lot of difficult decisions in your life. Should you break up with your girlfriend? Should you approach that cute girl? Should you move to a different city? These are all very difficult decisions.

When making a tough decision, it’s often wise to consider what out mentors would do. Would my mentor go to the gym if he was tired after work? If the answer is yes, you’d better put your shoes on. Would my role model approach and introduce himself to a girl he found attractive? Probably, so I better do it too.

Of course, sometimes you’ll know on an intellectual level what your mentor would do. You’ll say, I know if my mentor was in this situation he would do CHOICE A. However, you may feel emotional resistance because you know this is something that’s very difficult to do. CHOICE A isn’t always the easy choice.

For example, I once knew that I should break up with a girl, but I procrastinated doing so for over a month. I knew my mentor would’ve broken up with the girl if he was in the same situation, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to face.

After more than a month of procrastinating I finally did it. It was a difficult night, but almost immediately afterwards I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The month after I made that choice I was happier than I’d been in a long time.

Another example was the first time I flew to Asia. There was a large part of me that was excited, but I was also suuuuper scared. I considered intentionally missing my flight. However, I knew on an intellectual level that getting on that plane and coming to Asia was the thing I needed at that point in my soul’s development.

For that reason I got on the plane. Fast forward two years later, and I’m grateful I made that decision almost everyday of my life. Do you understand the lesson?

Sometimes you’re going to feel emotional resistance when being forced to make difficult decisions. When you know something is the right choice on an intellectual level, you’ll often feel resistance and try to make rationalizations to avoid making the right choice. It’s up to you to ignore those rationalizations.

Understand that when you make the right choice for those difficult decisions, your life will improve in an amount proportional to the amount of resistance you felt.

It’s that resistance that was intended to keep you in the same place, doing the same thing. Transcend that resistance, and you’ll transcend your current limits. Of course, you’ll have to continually repeat this process, but that’s life 🙂

2016 Review: What Did and Didn’t Work

While 2016 wasn’t as personally dramatic as 2015 was, 2016 was still a busy year. Before we go into a deeper analysis of what did and didn’t work, let’s take a quick look at each month of the year.

January — Committed to making 2016 the year I gained enough experience with women to have either:
A: a rotation of reasonably attractive girls.
B: A physically attractive girlfriend that had a good personality, and would also be compatible with my lifestyle.
In addition, I visited Penang, Malaysia for the first time this month. I believe it was this trip that created a year-long obsession with Indian food amongst both me, and my girl.

beach in penang

February — Visited with my parents, aunt, and brother in Vietnam. Also took a trip to Mui Ne, Vietnam with the girl that would eventually become my girlfriend.

pho with parents in Vietnam

March — Traveled to Da Nang (pictured below) and Hoi An, Vietnam.

Da Nang

April — Traveled to Can Tho, and Cao Lanh, Vietnam for the first time. Had the opportunity to go on a boat in Can Tho and see a floating market for the first time. Also began using Baselang to revive my Spanish which had been neglected for nearly two years.

floating market can tho

May — Visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the first time. Unfortunately, I had quite a traumatic trip, but can be grateful that things didn’t end up even worse. Continued using Baselang until I reached a comfortable conversational level of Spanish at the end of the month. Also created an unsuccessful men’s health niche site this month (this project was later terminated) in an attempt to learn more about affiliate marketing. Traveled internationally with my primary girl to Penang, Malaysia. Finally, I learned how to drive a motorbike.

my motorbike

(The motorbike I spent a month learning to drive with.)

June — Had a fairly serious health crisis. I also attempted to learn to program and improve my Vietnamese. Both projects I quit shortly after beginning them. The project I didn’t quit this month, however, was learning to write sales copy. Going on the advice of copywriting legend Gary Halbert, I spent one month spending a minimum of 1 hour per day copying famous sales letters by hand. This greatly improved my ability to write in persuasive manner.

copying sales letters

July — Began working on a university degree, and visited my hometown in the U.S. for the first time in a year. I also had the opportunity to try rock climbing for the first time.

rock climbing

August — Had an uncle fly into Wisconsin from Texas for a surprise visit while I was in the US. We spent some time at a festival together (pictured below). Also came back to Vietnam from the US, and made MASSIVE progress with university. Began calling the primary girl I’d been seeing all year my girlfriend.

home in usa

September — Visited Da Nang again, (this time with my girlfriend) and went ice skating for the first time! Also went on a HUGE Ferris wheel and my first rollercoaster in years. Equally important, I spent a lot of time working this month, and had one of my most professionally productive months ever since I began living in Asia.

ice skating da nang

October — Spent about 45 minutes per day learning Esperanto — The most popular constructed language ever created. Reached a basic level (Able to say ‘I love you’, the ‘colors’ the names of various animals, simple sentences, etc). Continued making rapid progress with the university courses I’d been taking on Straighterline.

Learning Esperanto

November — Began a month-long juicing feast. I paid a few hundred dollars for the month, and in exchange I’d head to a smoothies/juice shop near my house to pick-up five healthy smoothies and juices each day. This was extremely useful in increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables here in Vietnam.

smoothies and juices

December — Probably the best month of the year. After earning 57 college credits in 5 months (basically half of a four year degree) using CLEP and Straighterline, I decided to put my degree on hold and begin learning computer programming. I also celebrated one year since the day I met my girlfriend last year by going to one of the most famous restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. We went to Noir, a fine dining in the dark restaurant. I also acted as Santa during a performance for around 700-800 children at an elementary school. Finally, I landed an exciting new position as a content creator at an innovative tech company.

Cameron as Santa

Review

Now that we’ve seen the major events of the year, let’s take a little time to diagnose what did and didn’t work. More importantly, lets identify why certain decisions led to the various successes and failures of the year.

What Worked in 2016

WIN #1 Women

I completely transformed my dating life this year. Just over a year ago I was unsure of what the dating market was going to hold for me after ending things with my ex-girlfriend. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Although I spent more time chasing tail the first half of the year than I’d like to admit, I did learn a lot.

I gained a lot of confidence in my social skills, and attractiveness as a man. I ended the year with a girl that’s physically attractive, sweet, and loving. More importantly, I developed a more masculine presence that allows girls to both have fun AND feel safe around me. I also gained the confidence to walk away from girls, as I’m now confident in my abilities to find another attractive woman to date fairly quickly.

As far as the girl I’m dating now, the great thing about her is that she appears to be quite compatible with my travel lifestyle. We’ve already taken several trips together. If all goes well, I’ll groom her from being just a girlfriend into a dynamic travel partner the latter half of 2017. After she graduates she has the potential to become my business assistant and partner on the road as I become more nomadic over the next year or so.

Why was this area of life a success this year? Because I spent the first half of the year going on lots of dates, pushing myself to try new things with girls, not accepting a dating situation I was anything less than overjoyed about, and voraciously examining my behaviors for what did and didn’t work in my interactions.

girlfriend made food (To respect her privacy, I’m simply uploading a meal my girlfriend has cooked for me, rather than a picture of her.)

WIN #2 Travel

I traveled to just one new country this year (Cambodia), but I also traveled to Penang (twice) and a number of new cities in Vietnam. I also had the opportunity to visit the US after living abroad for a year. It was quite interesting how little had changed back home, and how quickly I adjusted to being back in the US.

This year I learned a TON about Vietnam, and also gained a lot of experience in traveling with a partner. While I do enjoy solo travel, I enjoy traveling with someone I enjoy spending time with even more as it gives me someone to share the new experiences with.

Phnom Penh palace

WIN #3 University

I wasn’t sure whether I should call this a success or failure. Using CLEP exams, and the Straighterline website I managed to accumulate 57 college credits in just 5 months. If I’d have continued my studies I could’ve very realistically finished a bachelor’s degree in under a year of part-time studying. That’s cool, but where would that have led me? Most likely, teaching English abroad, which is something you can already do without a degree in much of Asia (albeit less officially).

I may still finish my degree at some point considering it’ll take just a few thousands dollars, and likely under 500 hours of studying. Yet, I just don’t know how useful a degree will prove to be for me. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have spent any money or time doing university courses this year. Yet, I’m still going to consider this 2016 university campaign a success considering I did something most people could only dream of doing.

Straighterline English Essay

WIN #4 Landing New Gigs

Although I haven’t been actively marketing my content creation and SEO services, I’ve landing some solid article and SEO client work this year. This has mostly been a result of past seeds I’ve planted. The majority of work I’ve received has come from referrals and clients that were impressed with blog posts that I’d written months or even years ago.

I’m happy to have been receiving this work passively, and not have had to do much outreach in order to obtain it. That has greatly increased my hourly rate when I have spent time doing online work.

Of course, I’ve still had to deliver outstanding work, but I’ve always been more successful at offering great services, rather than being a successful marketer.

I do suspect, however, that I’ll have to be much more proactive in pitching for new work once I leave Saigon and begin traveling full-time.

Although I had a great hourly rate, I made very very little money freelancing this year. Fortunately, this should change with my new position at the start-up.
indian food obsession (Nothing beats getting an email bringing more client work to you while enjoying Indian food.)

WIN #5 Coding

I’ve tried learning to program a few times before. In fact, I bought my first MacBook in 7th grade simply because I wanted to learn how to program iPhone apps. Of course, I always ended up giving up on programming after being unable to build anything more complicated than “Hello World”.

I also tried learning to program in June this year, but got frustrated. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to finish installing all the software I needed for a learning to code website call the The Odin Project.

However, at the beginning of December I decided that I didn’t want to get caught in the trap of being an entry-level English teacher abroad forever. For that reason I decided to put my degree on hold and focus on a skill that’s incredibly compatible with the nomadic lifestyle I intend to lead. That skill is of course, programming.

For that past month I’ve spent 15+ hours a week learning to program. In fact, I’ve kept a diary of everything I’ve been doing and learning about programming this month and this diary has exceeded 17,000 words! I’ve learned a lot, and am now capable of building very basic websites.

I’ll learn a lot more about coding, and more specifically web design in the coming months. They say that you can expect to be ready for a junior developer type position after 1,000 hours of coding. I intend to reach that and hopefully be able to support a “digital nomad” lifestyle creating websites within the next year or so.

Instead of chasing some obscure passion as I have in the past writing ebooks, or teaching a juggling course or yadadada, I’ve simply decided to follow the money. Considering that I can already produce great content, I know SEO, and I’ve got a solid grasp of internet marketing knowledge I know I can make good money in this field.

You know what’s ironic? As Cal Newport said in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, I started becoming a lot more passionate at web development as soon as I developed a basic competency in it. As I continue to get better at it, and earn solid money building websites, I know I’ll only grow to enjoy it more and more.

1990s style website I created

(A webpage I coded from scratch. It does have an outdated 1990s look, but I was still very proud to create a webpage from nothing in my first week of learning web design. I’ll have better projects being displayed on my codepen in the coming months.)

WIN #6 Trying New Things

This year I experimented with lots of new things. The list goes on and on. Learning to drive a motorbike in a HUGE city with crazy traffic, learning to have hour-long chats with Venezuelans using only Spanish, building a website that marketed and sold male contraceptives (*cough* condoms *cough*), traveling to countless new cities, learning to rock climb, trying new foods, learning to ice skate, dining in the dark for the first time, and learning Esperanto.

Wow! Even I didn’t know the list extended that far until I actually wrote everything out. It’s been a year where I tried lots of new things, and I suppose that’s appropriate given that I’m 19 years old and saying farewell to my teenage years in under a week.

beach hoi an

What Didn’t Work in 2016

Now, let’s look at what went wrong in 2016 and how I’m going to make sure I don’t face the same issues in 2017.

LESSON #1 Cover Your Ass

After the Cambodia crisis and health issues I faced in June, I realized I’ve got to be more careful. I have to remember which part of the world I’m in, and the unique risks someone in my position faces.

I’ve seen a good friend who had a seemingly awesome relationship with a great girl get married. Less than a year later he’s having lots of drama with her and it became so unbearable he had to leave the country to get away from it all.

I’ve also slept with a girl who was in the process of getting a spousal visa to go live in Hawaii. After we finished she even had a Skype call with her boyfriend so that they could talk about the next steps they had to take so that she could come live with him.

Although I’ve seen girls cheat before, I was shocked when the girl told me to sit quietly because her boyfriend was calling her on Skype to talk about the visa. She acted like nothing happened, and even sounded sweet when she told her boyfriend she loves him.

He’s oblivious that he’s got the type of girl that would actively lie to both of us to take whichever guy is closer and give the other sloppy seconds.

Of course this isn’t meant to be a rant about relationships going wrong. I’ve also had problems in Cambodia, seen my girlfriend struggle to get paid from her company, and countless other things this year. I’ve really learned this year that while it’s not necessary to get jaded, it is necessary to cover your ass and be very careful about who you trust.

Use condoms, keep your money close, watch your drink, and be careful about who you do business or go into private places with.

Penang

LESSON #2 Stick to it

I’ve succeeded at everything I’ve been persistent with this year. I satisfied clients and had them coming back to me for more and more articles for months at a time. I improved my Spanish. I learned more about Asia, and especially about Vietnam.

I learned to write better sales copy and persuasive text. I improved at driving a motorbike (though I choose to no longer drive). I improved my programming abilities. I improved my social skills. I made great progress towards a college degree.

Everything I stuck to, I made progress with. That leads to the most important lesson of 2016.

motorbike carrying chickens

LESSON #3 FOCUS

If there’s one thing I can’t afford to do it’s have another year like 2016. That’s not to say 2016 was a bad year. It wasn’t. I learned a lot, and got to spend a year of my youth experimenting with countless things. By all means 2016 was a SOLID year. Yet, I’ll be kicking myself if 2017 plays out similar to 2016.

Like I said before, I did manage to improve at everything I worked at this year. Yet, the problem was that this work was dispersed across such a wide range of activities that my life isn’t dramatically different than it was a year ago. The progress I made in my dating life and university was admirable, but that’s about it. I was all over the place in 2016.

If my life is going to dramatically change in 2017, it’s going to be the result of one thing. Focus. I’ve got to choose one thing to go all-in on. My life is going to change dramatically in 2017.

I’m cutting out all the excess noise and focusing on the one thing with the highest leverage to dramatically change my life. For 2017 that one thing is going to be my career as a web developer.

Mui Ne Sand Dunes

Slumming It Up VS Living The Baller Lifestyle

I’ve been on the road for over a year now. During this time I’ve had periods of extreme frugality. I’ve had times where I’d skip the bus and walk for an hour to save $0.30. I’ve had times where working at home was difficult due to slow internet speeds, yet I’d refuse to go to a cafe with faster internet because I wanted to save the $1.40 a drink would cost me. I’ve had times where I’ve stayed in hotels as cheap as $6/night.

I’ve also had times where I’d basically said fuck it to budgeting. I’ve had times where I’ve stayed in luxurious hotels with rooftop pools costing $400 a night. I’ve had times where I’d get a taxi to the mall when it was only a 5 minute walk away. I’ve had times where I’d take my dates to any restaurant in the city and pay for them without a second thought.

You can probably guess that one’s quality of life isn’t being maximized if they’re willing to spend an hour walking to save just $0.30. Yet contrary to what you expect, I also wasn’t happiest during the times I’d allowed myself to spend money without any concern for the future.

However, before I tell you the conclusion I’ve come to in regards to personal spending, let’s quickly compare some behavioral differences between the man that protects his pennies and the man that’s quick to throw his money at any perceived need or desire.

Penny Protector

*Is willing to spend signficant time researching how they can reduce their expenses
*Often inconvenience themselves to conserve money
*Often sacrifice or live repetitive social lives (spending less time with others, doing the same activities, and/or eating at the same restaurants)
*Willing to sacrifice personal comfort to save some money
*Sometimes passes on experiences or material goods they money could purchase even if spending that money would lead to a true increase in their quality of life
*May use the law of compounding interest to convince themselves their extreme frugality will be worth it one day

The Impulsive Purchaser

*Often willing to spend the majority, if not the entirety of his salary to get the most luxurious lifestyle his income will provide.
*May think spending money is a way of impressing others.
*May be using money as a way to avoid discomfort (taking taxis instead of walking short distances, leading with money in their dating lives because they feel lonely and desperately want someone to share their time with, etc.
*Usually fails to see how the money they spend obligates them to future work commitments (ex. If someone making $15/hour after tax spends $5 on ice cream they’ve effectively enslaved themselves to 20 minutes of work to pay for their ice cream.)

The Best Personal Spending Philosophy

You don’t have to be a genius to recognize that neither the penny protector, nor the impulsive purchaser are managing their money in the ideal way. There’s elements of both that you’ll want to incorporate in your personal spending philosophy. Your personal motivations and goals will determine just how far you’ll lean towards slumming it up or living a baller lifestyle.

In general however, the list below should give you a baseline for how to manage your finances. The intelligent spender understands that…

*Time is more valuable than money. If one can use money to buy back their time it’s often worth it. (Ex. taking a bus instead of walking, hiring a maid to do your cleaning and laundry, etc.)

*Spending a sufficient amount of money on your social life will help provide you with a healthy quantity and variety of social interactions.

*Using money isn’t an effective means of impressing or gaining the affection of women. At the same time, it can still be used to in a number of ways to make you a more attractive man with a better dating life. Money can purchase you a gym membership, quality food, the means to practice interesting hobbies (guitar, martial arts, travel, etc.) as well as an attractive and well-located apartment to bring your girl(s) back to.

*Purchases are contracts that bind you to the number of hours you’ll have to work to pay for them. (Ex. at $15/hour after tax a $450/month apartment requires 30 hours of work/month. However, a $750/month apartment will require 50 monthly hours of work at $15/hour after tax.)

*It’s worth spending extra money if doing so will lead to a marked improvement in quality of life. There’s no use saving $30/month on your apartment if it’s filled with bugs and gets you a toilet that doesn’t flush.

*Spending money on activities or tools likely to lead to a future increase in earnings is never a bad idea. Purchasing a faster computer that doesn’t spend an hour everyday loading while you work is an investment that’ll pay for itself and more over time.

*Managing one’s energy is hugely important. Spending  money on high-quality food, a gym membership, and a good bed will give you more energy to produce well paid work. Even hiring someone to do your taxes or visa papers is often a good use of your money as it saves you time and preserves your energy and focus for the activies you use to generate income.

*Sometimes living simply can inspire greater creativity. Without the internet or an abundance of recreational activities available to you, it’s often easier to focus on work and the other important fundamentals in your life.

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Was inspired to write this post while staying in a $6/night hotel room in Phnom Penh. I was amused at the contrast after staying at the internationally reknown Singapore Marina Bay ($300-$400+ per night) last year. Completing this post was made significantly easier as this simple guesthouse doesn’t even include free wi-fi.



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!

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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.

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