Some Things That Will Be Obsolete in 5 Years

Just 20 years ago, the world was a completely different place. And in 20 years, it’s going to be completely different than it is today. Everything’s gonna change. Lifestyles, standards of living. It’s already in progress. We just don’t always see it that way.

Think about it: can you imagine a time before YouTube? That’s just ONE service that’s changed the way we learn, share, entertain and, in some cases, make a living.

And there are several things which just haven’t had the time to change yet. Nowadays, a lot of these are things which most people see as “just the norm”. They’re absolutely ridiculous, but we’ve just come to accept them, frustrations and all. But advances in modern technology make many of these not only unnecessary, but antiquated and downright obsolete. Within 5 years, 10 at most, I think we’ll see all or most of these completely disrupted:

1. Services that require login/account creation

Like this:

chordify1

Nobody wants to sign up for your damn service. They just want the service. “Free” is an illusion, which people are catching on to. It’s so that you can have “users”, and have emails to spam so that you can promote some paid product. Plus, the smart people who sign up for your service will use a fake email address so they won’t get spammed. The less-resourceful will just get pissed off that you start spamming them (legal or not). It’s a no-win situation.

However, some people would gladly pay a few cents to use your service ONE TIME. Since most of these online services are digital, a single one-time use really doesn’t justify more than a few cents anyway. Put in some data, run it through a proprietary algorithm, spit out some different data. Charge a nominal fee each time.

With the traditional payment systems, paying a few cents would be a nightmare. You’d have to sign up, and hand over your credit card information for ONLY A FEW CENTS?! That’s nuts. Plus, credit card payments are a hassle online, since you have to fill out your personal information every time, and 1/2 the time they fail authorisation if you’re traveling or just because.

But now, with modern cryptography and micro-payments possible (e.g. using Bitcoin and Dash), this is entirely possible. Within a few years, this will be the norm for online payments.

2. Email/password to login

This is way overdue.

We’ll see at least one cryptographic global identity system (maybe a few) come to light. People shouldn’t have to manage a different identity with every service they use. They also want control over their own data, which a global ID system will allow. Of course, if it’s not completely decentralised and distributed, it’s not gonna work. It will also have to be lightly collateralised (to prevent spam/sybil attacks and discourage bad actors) and incentivised (ensure plenty of nodes for constant uptime).

Microsoft is trying to partner with companies on this, but I have a feeling that this effort will end up like all of Microsoft’s others. They’ll somehow manage to screw it up and it’ll fall flat on its face.

I look forward to the completely open-source alternative which is in no way affiliated with Microsoft.

3. Tons of BS paperwork

Hospital visits. Apartment applications. Work applications. DMV registration.

It’s all the same info anyway. Your name, birthdate, sex, physical address, phone number… most of that doesn’t change, and it can be updated on an ID blockchain if it ever does. And encrypted so that you can give that out to only entities that need to know (like the above).

Anyway, most of the time, the info on these papers are entered into a computer and the completed forms are then shredded. What a waste.

Goodbye, useless paperwork.

4. Movies which require you to watch 20 minutes of ads and trailers, as well as threats to throw you in jail.

How long did they actually think people would stand for that? By the way, here’s the pro-piracy argument summed up in one graphic:

GxzeV

Now, I’m not advocating piracy. I AM advocating that media companies begin to:

a. Charge much less for media
b. Distribute on some global decentralised filesystem, like IPFS or MaidSafe, but:
c. Make it somehow incentivised so that each purchase will send the media company the nominal fee (say, $2-3 for a movie), then get a link to the volume on the IPFS.

Yeah, $2 – $3 sounds about right. Ditto for an MP3 album. It’s that or nothing (b/c most people will just want to pirate it instead), so get ready to adjust.

5. Physical distribution of any digital media (DVDs, music)

See above. There’s literally no good reason to own physical media anymore*, as DVDs and CDs scratch and break. But a digital version can be kept without worry about destruction, and taken anywhere and watched/played at any time. Most people just digitise their CDs anyway, and DVDs if they’re savvy enough.

*except vinyl

The reason that most of these are on-track to becoming reality isn’t so much that there’s now a better way, but that… people are tired of the crap in general. It’s a trend. They’re tired of being lied to by politicians, government and media, and they’re tired of being screwed over by large corporations.

If for no other reason than that, things will change, because it’s now possible and we’re all tired of the status quo.

6. Credit Ratings Agencies

I’m talking about Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Also known as the “big three” consumer credit bureaus.

Credit scores themselves will always exist, as long as credit does (although FICO may not). People need a way to evaluate risk of lending to someone / an organisation.

By the way, this is one of the biggest shams in existence today.

In the current system, your credit can be totally destroyed by someone you’ve never met or seen, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.

If you want to refute an entry on “your” credit report, you have to nicely petition the agency (one of the big three listed above) and hope that they don’t flatly push the “reject” button as they scan through the list. But they probably will. Then you have to get a lawyer and prove in court that it was a false (mistaken or fraudulent) entry. THEN, only under a court order, will the consumer credit agency actually remove the item from your report.

The one big power that the big three have over the entire (at least in the US) population is that they control the data, and the algorithms. People have no control over their own data!

Of course there are some people that claim to be able to fix credit via certain “hacks” and knowledge of the system… but we shouldn’t have to deal with any of that in the first place.

So… how to fix it? Blockchain tech. Use a credit system with a nominal fee for entry/id creation, or the previously mentioned “ID blockchain”.

Then the consumer authorises a company to add entries on a set basis (e.g. monthly, weekly, daily, unlimited) and only for a fixed amount of time. (E.g. if an apartment lease is for 12 months, then I will authorise my apartment landlord only 12 credit entries, one per month, for a year.

If I renew the lease to stay for another year, I can also renew the landlord’s authorisation to write to my credit report. (That can even be put into the terms of the lease.)

Credit entries are stored on the blockchain in an encrypted format so that only lenders that are authorised (by the consumer) can see them. But, consumer can’t pick & choose which entries they get to see. That defeats the point. Consumer can either allow ALL or NONE.

Credit scores are calculated through the entries and credit information much as they are today. With one exception: the algorithms are open & available to all. Release the algorithms!

This enables lenders to choose which algorithm to use and what to optimise for.

Want to skew toward paying on time? Go for it. There’s an algo for that.

Don’t care about mortgage payments? Ignore them! Sky’s the limit.

By the way, the “big three” consumer credit bureaus that I mentioned above are scared to death of this.

If the system that I’ve just described actually sees the light of day and develops some traction, it’s game over for them. They just lost billions of dollars in bullshit fees and the ability to ruin others’ lives. BTW, it’s this current system which enables identity theft and fraud in the first place.

What I’ve described is a system which enables people (and companies) to take control of their own credit reports and data, and enables lenders to establish their own criteria instead of just accepting FICO and/or whatever random algorithm the big three decided to dream up.

And why shouldn’t businesses be able to use this system too? As long as the requisite identity fee is paid (prevent spam/sybil attacks), this could be used by any entity at all. The algorithms can be chosen differently based on if it’s a business or a consumer.

This is all accomplished not through declared “rules” of how the system “should” work, but through cryptography, and in particular, a cryptographic key/identity system.

Laws of man can be changed arbitrarily. The only laws that really matter are the ones that this universe is based on: The laws of physics, and of mathematics.

7. Unequal pay based on location, etc.

This is ridiculous, but still happens regularly today. Example: One of the best javascript programmers lives in Singapore, so she doesn’t get paid as much as her San Francisco peers. Her company cites SF’s “high cost of living” as a reason she doesn’t get paid as much. (Singapore has a high cost of living also, so that argument’s codswallop).

Since the advent of Bitcoin, payments to anyone, anywhere in the world are easier than… well, a lot of things. And since intellect workers (like computer programmers and designers) don’t need to be physically present to work, a lot of them live wherever they want these days. So why is a person’s salary still based on location in many instances?

Summary

We’re tired of having our email addresses and passwords stolen in data breaches. Tired of have our emails spammed and badgered by corporate marketing departments.

Tired of being forced to choose between paying exorbitant fees or not buying anything at all. Tired of fat cat media moguls getting rich off our DVD/MP3 purchases while the artists themselves receive very little. There’s too much imbalance, and technology is on-track to correct all that.

A decentralised and distributed global technological revolution can’t be stopped. It’s a natural progression which has all led up to this very point.

It’s about time.

Institute Policies to Avoid Breaking Hard Rules

Policies and Procedures?

Today I had a conversation that went something like this:

Girl: “Hey, can I borrow your laptop?”

Me: “Hell no!” (jokingly, but not really joking)

Girl: “I’m working on something now, so I’m gonna need to borrow your laptop. This font size is just too small for what I’m working on.”

Me: “…”

I personally have a hard rule about my laptop: no one uses my laptop. For any reason, ever. That rule is slightly bendable for one person – my wife. And even then, she has her own account on my Macbook, she doesn’t log on using mine. Why?

Well, it’s a tech thing, and most really really techy computer people are probably just like me, but basically there’s a lot of data thats… well, private. Like, really private. Like, $xx,xxx worth of private. For example, private keys. My ssh keys are stored on my laptop, un-encrypted because I ssh all the time and don’t want to type in a password every time I log in to a server. (Yes, I know about ssh-agent).

More importantly, private keys for things like FinTech (e.g. Bitcoin, Dash). Now, those are encrypted on my laptop because even I’m not that stupid.

Also, content. My own content. My disk could crash. Maybe I didn’t back up some articles I’ve written, or photographs that I’ve taken, or videos that I’m working on. Projects, plans. Whatever. Sure, I’m responsible for backing that sh* up, but I’m also responsible for not letting someone else possibly screw up my data on my computer.

Even if I enabled the guest account on here, I’m not familiar with how to set up a disk quota. So, I can either risk letting this person that I hardly know fill up my disk and risk breaking my machine, or I can take time out of my day to learn how to set up a disk quota, which may or may not work or be a viable option. Neither of those things are acceptable to me.

So, I can either:

a. Look like a jerk when I have to tell this girl, “No, you cannot use my laptop… “, or:
b. Let policy take care of it. “No, sorry, I have a policy not to let anyone use my laptop because …”.

This accomplishes 2 things for me:

1. It frees me up from making a decision about it. Once it’s policy, even I have to abide by it. So, it’s just, no, sorry, because policy.

2. I don’t have to deal with the consequences of breaking my own semi-rule because I decided to not look like a jerk, even though I have good reasons not to lend out my Macbook. Basically, it helps me to not look like a jerk. Even tho I’m not one — it would appear, in the moment, as tho I am being “mean” to this girl or something.

These things don’t happen with a policy. Sorry, it’s stated beforehand. Rules are rules, policy can’t be broken.

Another example:

Last night I went with a group to a local gourmet market. Our host had a birthday the next day (today), so a couple of the guests wanted to make her something a special cake. After we got back, the girl who haphazardly purchased a lot of ingredients (of her own volition), realized that it cost her so much. So then she asked me and our other roommate if we’d go in on it together — to help re-imburse her. She ended up spending around $100 US, so that would be about $30 each.

When she asked us, we were put on-the-spot and I made a quick decision without having much time to think about it, and trying not to look like a bad person/jerk. So I told her that I’d chip in. I was upset about this for a while, but I’ve decided to pay it out of respect for our host (who doesn’t charge us anything to stay here).

But originally, that’s not something that I’d planned or budgeted for, so I really didn’t feel good about doing so. But if I’d had a policy which states that I can only spend money if I budget for it at least 2 weeks in advance, then I could have told her, oh, sorry, I have a strict budget policy. Even something like “my wife and I” have a strict policy about budgeting funds. I would not have had to make a split-second decision because all things like that are already decided beforehand.

Just like when eating — I don’t (knowingly) eat anything that’s not plant-based or mushrooms/yeast. Living with that hard rule is actually easy, because it’s one less decision that I have to make several times a day over the course of my life.

In transit to Taiwan

The last 2 weeks of life have been a complete blur. I’ve been running around like crazy trying to get loose ends tied up in Arkansas, get assets moved around and re-allocated, and sell my big stuff (e.g. car) that I won’t need abroad.

Right now I’m in the Narita airport in Japan, about 80 or so km east of Tokyo.

And unlike my last short visit to Japan, this trip’s layover is only about 3 hours, so there’s really no time to get out and see any of Japan. So I’m staying in the international terminal, getting some food in my stomach and waiting for my evening flight to Taipei.

If I hadn’t already booked the flight all at once, I might have broken it up and stayed in Japan for a few days, then flown out. But then I’d want to spend quite a bit of time in Japan once I was here, see lots of sights and things. Maybe one day soon, before I leave Asia.

Oh yeah, I bought a one-way ticket to Taipei. I’ll be traveling around Asia, working on building my own living out values that I believe strongly in. Such as mobility, financial independence and freedom, and monetary freedom (achieved via FinTech such as Bitcoin and Dash). I also just freaking love east Asian culture, food, mindset, and the cities. Ah, … the city.

My wife is still in the US. For some, that causes heads to turn. Others seem to be a bit more understanding. For various reasons, she’s staying back in Arkansas, but mainly it boils down to:

a) the cat
b) her personal development

She loves her pet cat that she’s been with for about 16 years and doesn’t want to leave her. Precious (the cat) gets really depressed when my wife is gone for long amounts of time (over a week or two and gets really bad). Her health deteriorates. We’ve almost lost her a time or two, and we’re pretty sure it’s got a lot to do with Brittany’s presence.

She also feels the need to stay for reasons of helping certain individuals, and building her own sense of independence, which she’s never really had and is the next stage of personal growth for her. So that’s that. It’s been difficult not being able to communicate with her, but we texted briefly a bit ago. We plan to meet up in a few months once we’ve both accomplished what we need to.

I’ve got a bit of personal development to do as well, mindfulness being one of my primary goals for my own.

I just realized that I’ve gotta so see about changing my seat to an aisle seat, so I’m gonna leave off here. But since I’m trying to be prolific, just gonna go ahead and ship this one out the door.

Thanks for reading, and please drop me a note if our interests align, and you’re in Taiwan within the next few weeks or months and wanna meet up.

Crazy side note:

I met a couple (Jonathan and Rachel +1 cute baby boy) flying from XNA (in Arkansas) to Taipei, same exact route as me. Crazy. I never would have thought that I’d have the exact same itinerary as someone else originating in Arkansas and ending up on the other side of the world. Small world.

I get what they don’t have…

Typical Country Club Residence

My wife and I were invited over to a new mutual acquaintance’s house the other day. The house is in a nice subdivision… really nice. As in, 4 beds 4 baths 3518 sqft… $500k+ house. Just looked it up on Zillow.

Many of the houses are even bigger, with better views. Some of them are $1.5M+. There’s one that’s $4.8M, 8-bedroom and 15000 sqft.

That’s crazy. Anyway, that’s just to give a feel for where we were. As I drove through the subdivision, I got a little inspired. Motivated.

Then we got to the house and spent about 1.5 hours with our acquaintance. The entire time we were there, she was moving, running, hectic… so busy. She had other guests over too, and I got to observe her interactions with them.

It was crazy. For one, I noticed a definite scarcity mindset.

Like, as in,

“Sure, just pay me back whatever, I mean it cost around $100, a little over.”
“Oh, so I owe you $100, that’s all it cost you? Should I just pay you that then?”
“Well, I mean, it actually cost me about 140, 150, something like that. But you can just, ya know, pay me $100 and take me to lunch some time. We can call it even. Don’t worry about it.”

…but H *was* worried about it. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have made a big deal about it. Or she would have just gone with the $100 and been ok with it. The other guest was her friend, and H was obviously pretty well off. I mean, the cabinets were stocked, completely filled, with expensive ingredients, raw food ingredients especially, and exotic spices from Africa, all over the world. Yet she was worried about being reimbursed a few bucks here and there by a friend.

Another thing – probably the biggest – is how her sense of “fairness” came across.

We were there to juice carrots — the reason we got invited over. Ok, sure, it should be a fun afternoon, we’ll hang out, get to know each other and juice. We’re all into raw food and healthy living and eating. But it really felt like she definitely wanted to get her “money’s worth”, so to speak, for having us over.

Keep pushing us, “hey guys, let’s keep the juice rolling. Gotta get those carrots juiced.”

Almost like in her mind, our role was to juice the entire bag of carrots and in return she’d give us some juice and we’d be “good”. Even.

Really awkward time, seemed like an exchange-based relationship. But we had no idea going into it, that it would be that way. I mean, she was our yoga teacher, we were just chatting about health and raw foods after class, had some mutual friends and really thought that we could have a good time and maybe bounce some ideas off each other, share some knowledge, recipes, etc.

But, now that I know… I’ll obviously be avoiding such “exchanges” in the future.

I mean, she did used to be an attorney, and maybe that’s given her the kind of mindset that she has today. But it’s sad. Really sad that, with all her money, *I* have more freedom than she does.

Her husband’s tied to a job, and obviously their lifestyle requires it or he wouldn’t be working. Why would anyone? All that money and that big house. Lavish lifestyle. And she’s not free. And I don’t envy her. I’d much rather be carving my own path, making my own way now, than accustomed to a lavish lifestyle and reliant on an income that I don’t directly control.

And she seemed jealous. Maybe because she’s not free. Maybe because I get what she doesn’t have. Could I have a house like hers? Maybe. Eventually, if I took a $100k software job and saved up or started a successful business, of course I could. But I don’t get to have that right now, and that’s ok by me. I get something much more valuable. I get what they don’t have. My freedom.

On Being Prolific

Cut to the chase – I’ve decided to commit to being prolific. YOLO, and I’ve got so much stuff that I’ve worked 80% on, then just left it there. Articles that I’ve left it on my hard drive, never published. Ideas for amazing things, workshops, businesses, just left in my notebook.

A couple weeks ago, I had an idea for a non-profit. It just came to me in the shower, but it was so detailed, and the potential upside so big, that I had to write it out. It’s just sitting in Evernote now, but I’ll be publishing that publicly very soon.

(Note: Here it is. It’s tentatively called “Foundations”.)

Some of the things I’ve worked hours on. Some things, probably 20 – 40 hours at least. And yet, they’re just not good enough yet. I still don’t feel great about the end result, it’s not polished enough or whatever. So I let it sit for later. I intend to finish, but then never get around to it. Something else catches my attention, maybe a newer, better project. So the old one, it stagnates. Even though I’m 70% done.

Many of that will never see the light of day. Some of it could have helped a person or two. Instead it sits on some cloud server where it’ll eventually get deleted or the physical disk will crash (most likely disk hardware/firmware, but that’s being pedantic).

We’re all gonna die some day. It’s scary to think about, but it’s true. A lot of us, myself included, live like we have all the time in the world. The truth is that none of us know when it’s our time to leave this world, and we only get one shot at this thing called life.

This is your life. You get one of them.
— Sebastian Marshall

I haven’t been publishing much lately. That’s not to say that I’m not creating. I’m doing lots of things every day. Proactive, positive, productive things. Strategies. Ideas for things. Building good will, trying to help people out.

Developing a personal system of policies and ethics. Reading the Credo. Reading a lot of really good books. Learning to type using Colemak.

I’ve been scattered, but trying to consolidate.

I have lots of disparate interests. Trying to bring all those under one umbrella, into one place and have it all make sense, is hard. But I’m starting now, and I’m committed to getting things done, even if they’re not 100% perfect. That’s one of my problems – most of my life I’ve been a detail person. Now I’ve had to learn to be a “big-picture” thinker instead. I still sometimes fall back to being detail-oriented. At times I catch myself trying to fit into that role, instead of realizing that I’m growing beyond that, and can’t have everything. I can’t do everything. I used to think that I could. Over the past year I’ve been realizing that I can’t. So, in an effort to just “ship” as they say, I’ll be putting things out that may not be 100%. Some details might be overlooked. That’s ok. They can be changed later. Details can be corrected/fixed/added/subtracted. But something that’s not shipped can’t be used by anyone.

This also means that I’ll be more vulnerable, which I don’t like to show. A lot of people like me don’t like to show that side of themselves online.

If you’re reading this now, then I’ve already created & scheduled quite a few things to be produced, published, or otherwise released to the world. This might mean code, books, articles, plans/strategies, ideas, businesses. Most of it will probably be at my blog, but I’m branching out from there. That’s the entire point.

In fact, I almost just tabled this to be finished “later”. I have somewhere to go, a few little errands to start on now, and then… then I realized that I was doing it again. So, I apologize if this seems unfinished. If the closing paragraph isn’t as polished as I’d like. (It almost certainly isn’t.) But I have to get this out to the world, as well as many other things.

In closing, watch these spaces for changes and general awesomeness:

nathanmarley.com
ngmarley.com
blackcarrot.be

(This list will be updated as things happen/unfold/are created.)

Thanks for reading. Oh, and please get in touch if you have any inclination to do so.

How to Get Your Passport (for US citizens)

US Passport
US Passport

Note: I wrote this back in 2010. I think the fees might have increased, and I’m not sure if the links are all working now. Get the book, not the card. The card is useless. Oh yeah, now you have the option to get the 26-page or the 52-page version. I don’t think there’s a price difference, so just get the 52-page version. Trust me on this one.

I’ve been accused of writing too much before {by James}. If this page is too long, skip to the good stuff.

Ever wished you could just pack up and take a nice week or two in Europe, the Caribbean or even somewhere more exotic, like say… Tahiti? The good news is you can, because you live in a “free” country, in a modern society, and although you may not describe yourself this way, you truly are wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world. All you have to do is schedule your vacation, book a flight and you’re off!

Oh, no, wait, you can’t. You can’t leave the borders of this wonderful country because you’re too damn lazy to take a few extra steps and get a small document which allows access to virtually any place on earth.

Get your passport.

How to get a US passport for US citizens living in the US. Originally written for my friends in Northwest Arkansas.

Here’s the official web page that has all the details. I have meticulously combed through the details & pulled out the important stuff.
http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html

  • 2 passport photos
  • 1 copy, front & back, of Arkansas Driver’s license on standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper
  • Form DS-11, printed & filled out but DO NOT SIGN IT
  • certified birth certificate {with raised seal}

You can go to Walgreen’s to get your passport photos. Just walk in, say you need passport photos, and they will know what you’re talking about. They cost like 5 bucks or something.

You can get your driver’s license copied at Office Depot. There’s one by the Atlanta Bread in Rogers.
{You will also need to bring your driver’s license to the post office later.}

Oh yeah, print & fill out form DS-11 but DO NOT SIGN IT. you must sign it in front of the person at the post office that accepts your form. This is very important.

Oh, BTW, when filling out this form DO NOT SIGN IT YET. Just wanted to state that another time to make sure it got through.

How much will it cost?

There will be 2 fees:

  1. The first fee is the “application fee”, and is for your passport itself, and any check/money order should be made payable to “U.S. Department of State”.
  2. The second is the “execution fee”, it is for the acceptance facility, e.g. the post office.

Application Fee for adults: $110
Execution Fee: $25

These must be paid with 2 separate forms of payment. They don’t allow you to write one check for both fees.

I believe a money order will work as payment for both of these, you can go to the bank & purchase a money order for $110 and a separate one for $25.

It really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon or 2 to get all this stuff together & get to the post office. The hardest part would be getting the official birth certificate (with raised seal) if you don’t have one at home somewhere.

The Easy, Step-by-Step Version

  1. Find an official certified copy of your birth certificate with raised seal. Ask your parents if you don’t have one or don’t know.
  2. Go to Walgreen’s and get 2 passport photos.
  3. Go to Office Depot and get a front and back copy made of your Arkansas driver’s license {important that it is Arkansas}.
  4. Print and fill out this form, but DO NOT SIGN IT
  5. Purchase two money orders from your local bank. One should be for $110, and the other should be for $25.
  6. Take all these documents along with your Arkansas drivers license and money orders to the Bentonville post office. Rogers is just ghetto. Talk to the person at the front, tell them you want to apply for a passport, show them all your documents.

That’s it. You’re awesome.


Photo by bryansblog

Finally, some solid goals.

Sunset on a Highway in Alabama
Sunset on a Highway in Alabama

Feel like I’ve had a breakthrough tonight. Maybe it’s a combination of being alone for a few hours (INTJ – I charge up on being alone), or maybe it’s the slight lift that I got from the cup o’ tea that I had a little bit ago, but it’s starting to click.

For years, I’ve wanted to “travel the world” and be mobile, yet make an income at the same time. But it was so hard to envision without getting a time-consuming and draining customer support job.

Re-reading that last paragraph, makes it look like I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been to Europe 3 times, Asia twice, New Zealand twice, Canada 3x (spent a month in Quebec), Central/South America for 3 months… I’ve traveled a bit. But my bank account always goes down, and I’m not able to spend the time I want traveling, for as long as I’d like.

Since my eyestrain has gotten progressively worse over the past year, I’ve wanted less and less to spend any time in the computer, much less try my hand at getting a remote software development job. And reading over those job postings makes me want to vomit. Every time.

“Consulting” was the holy grail… the one thing I could do while traveling the world, keeping my eyesight and staying free. (Freedom is my highest value.)

I always wondered how they do it — I have a mentor who’s been traveling the world and consulting for near 10 years now — he can easily make $5-$10k in a month, no problem. Much more these days I’m sure.

Tonight I was reading over some of his old writing today, some articles from 5-6 years ago… then it clicked.

He talked about wanting to have a 10x return for his work… e.g. if he charged $75 per hour, then within a year, he wants that client to receive $750 worth of value for every hour they’ve paid him.

That’s it. That’s the secret to consulting — leaving people better off than if they’d never hired you to begin with. In his case, much better off. Another thing he mentioned — as he was calculating what he needed to meet his goals.

First, he calculated that he wanted to bring in $6000 per month. So he did some brief calculations:

$20 / hr for 300 hours. 75 hours per week. Too many hours.
$40 / hr for 150 hours. 37.5 hours per week. Still a lot of hours, esp. for consulting
$75 / hr for 80 hours… that’s 20 hours per week. That was plenty of time for him to work on other projects as well as meet his income goals.

That’s when it hit me – I don’t have to try and throw myself into building a business 100% of the time every single day. That’s why I’ve been burning out for a year. That’s also why I haven’t been able to stick with a goal. Jumping around, different goals, choosing what seems easiest at the time vs doing what I’m passionate about.

Building a business (which means I can leave and still get income) vs starting a service which requires me to work for continual income (consulting, coaching).

I can do both.

Finally, feel like I’m developing some solid goals… steps for reaching exactly what I want. Discovering that I can achieve what I want, because I’m finally starting to realize what that is.

At this point in my life, I want to be spending about 20 hours / week consulting, coaching, for income. Improving the lives of others and making sure that all my clients get at least a 2-4x return for their investment, if not much more. I’m shooting low now, as far as return goes. I will be satisfied if my current clients are getting 4x return, even a 2x. Because I know that as I improve, so will those results. A 10x return within a few months’ time isn’t out of the question — as long as I stay on a tight feedback loop with lots of iterations. And getting $150 in value for $75 is still a bargain.

I also want to be able to put another 10 – 15 hours per week into building a business, systems which run even without me there, or initially with minimal input from myself. I realize that it will take 100% input at first and that number will gradually decrease as the business improves.

I also want to invest time per week (another 10-15 hours) into developing myself. Learning languages, reading about history, business, negotiations, building skills.

This seems like a lot of time, but 2 hours a day is 14 hours per week. Between reading, learning language and cultural interaction, that would be a minimum number for me, for self-development.

So, official 1-year goals, to have achieved within 12 months from today:

* ~20 hours per week consulting
* 10-15 hours per week building a business
* 10-15 hours per week in self-development (includes language, skills, etc)
* $50k in the bank
* mobility (freedom to go wherever)
* started my business and have all business banking/credit set up

Nice-to-haves:

* Credit score above 780
* Semi-fluent in another language (which depends on where I’m at)
* Lamborghini parked in front of my mansion (well it would be nice to have)

How to Do Anything at All in Life

The Urban Ninja

Note: I originally wrote this in July 2010, 5 years ago, but never posted it. Five years! That’s crazy. Obviously a lot has changed since then, and I wish that I’d posted this waaay back then. But the point I was trying to make still holds true, even more now, since it’s like I was writing for myself. My future self. It’s like a time machine, but in reverse. Crazy, man.

Last weekend at American Rendezvous 2k10, I met another participant named Ozzi Quintero from Hawaii (originally from Venezuela). This guy was probably the most hardcore guy at the event, is responsible for Hawaii Parkour (aka HIpk), and has some videos on youtube. I was quite impressed with Ozzi’s abilities, (one of which includes a handstand initiated from a standing position without kicking himself up). He’s also got a well-built physique.

In short, Ozzi is awesome. But he wasn’t born awesome, he had to work for it. He had to work his ass off to develop the stability, balance, physique, etc. that makes him a great traceur. He has been in the proverbial trenches, spending time in the weight room, performing exercises to develop balance, quadrupedal movement, etc., and the awesomeness shows through as a result.

I’d like to be like Ozzi, but I wasn’t born with his genetics, so I can’t. It’s too bad.

Oh, wait — yes, I too can be awesome. And I will.

You Can Do It

One thing I hate is to hear someone say “man I wish I were… (thinner, richer, whatever..er)”, or “I want _____ more than anything in the world”, and then do nothing at all about it, nothing to improve his/her situation.

That person is lying to everyone, and probably most importantly, lying to (him|her)self. The fact is, if you really want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Want to be thinner? Change your damn diet and start exercising. For me, becoming a vegan, getting serious about lifting weights and starting Parkour all at about the same time have completely changed my life. I’m not saying anyone should follow any particular diet or lifestyle, but eating McDonald’s, Sonic and even Subway (gasp!) ain’t gonna cut it if you’re fat and want to lose weight. In fact, you’ll probably have to stop eating out. Also, if you consume a lot of beer on weekends, that will have to go as well. It may seem like a drastic change, and indeed it is, but…

“No one will ever change until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.”
— Jack Daniels

Want to be richer? Start researching how to be richer. Google it, click on some links. Follow links on those pages to other pages. Read the right books.

Wanna learn to play the guitar? Go to a music store, buy a basic guitar, and inquire about lessons. Even if the store doesn’t give lessons, they can point you to someone who can.

Or maybe you’d like to learn a new language? Take a look at Benny, he’s learned 7 and he’s still not finished. Go buy a book on your language of choice. Take classes at school/college/university. Ask a friend to help (nicely!). Check out the (free) resources on the net: check out livemocha.com or ielanguages.com.

But know that whatever it is you want to do, it’s not going to fall into your lap. Because…

“Nothing in this life that’s worth having comes easy.”
— Dr. Kelso

Make It Happen – Today

Much like Ozzi in the example above, you’ve got to put in the effort if you want to reach your goals. But if you really want to do it, you will. I promise. 😉

With the power of the internet, pretty much the entire knowledge of the world is at our fingertips. The old excuse “I don’t know how” is no longer valid.

So please, stop lying to me, everyone else, and above all, yourself. If you really want to do something, just go do it.

All the good things you want to do in your life have to be started in the next few hours, days or weeks. — Tom DeMarco

If you get nothing else out of this, please, take action on something today — whatever it is you want to do, no matter how big it is. Because if you don’t, you may never get around to it.

Stop merely living, start surviving. Go. Be. Do epic shit.

Photo by Tyson Cecka

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute

Living Light logo

I never thought I’d actually fulfill the dream of going to culinary school, especially after adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle. But fast-forward to now and… here I am! I’m currently attending the Associate Chef and Instructor Training program at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, California.

It’s only been two weeks, but it’s been an amazing ride thus far. I’ve learned far more than I even thought possible, and still have two weeks left to go (one of which is dedicated to desserts!).

I’m even considering staying on another month to obtain the Raw Gourmet Chef certification and learn even more about recipe development, ethnic flavours, raw fusion, catering and even more about raw pastry arts.

It’s a very fast-paced, intense program which has kept my colleagues and me very busy for most of our entire time here. Yesterday was our first day off in two weeks! But it’s been a good busy-ness, and it should let up a lot after next week. Our group is also getting to know each other pretty well, and new friendships are being formed, which is always a good thing.

But enough talk, let’s get to the pictures!

My team and I made this Living Lasagna this week. Delicious and has the texture of real lasagna!
My team and I made this Living Lasagna this week. Delicious and has the texture of real lasagna!
Lemon tartlet that we made in class. We learned to style them especially for photography.
Lemon tartlet that we made in class. We learned to style them especially for photography.
Raw Dolmas with Zucchini Rice
Raw Dolmas with Zucchini Rice
I made these raw collard wraps at home
I made these raw collard wraps at home

And this one’s not exactly related to Living Light, but it is a part of my time here… my first king boletes ever!

I found my first king boletes  yesterday with some native Fort Braggians!
I found my first king boletes yesterday with some native Fort Braggians!

So that’s a short summary of what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. It’s been difficult being without my wife, but it’s also the start of a time in my life which I’ll never forget. I’ll try and put up some pictures of my colleagues and I soon, if I can get around to it.

Sailing!

Sailboat & Sunset Eclipse

My wife and I are now registered for the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing class through Learn to Sail Texas in Corpus Christi.

We’re currently the only 2 members enrolled for the July 28-29th course, but that’s full enough that the captain won’t cancel the class (unless there is a hurricane).

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a little over 2 years now, so I’m pretty excited that I’m finally able to make this happen.

I eventually want to purchase a small keelboat or catamaran (preferably) and sail across the ocean/around the world.

There are actually several levels of ASA classes/certification, and this is only the first. But it’s a step in the right direction and by only taking this basic first course, we won’t be overwhelmed with material.

We had the option of taking a “fast-track” course which includes the ASA 101, 103 and 104 classes, but I feel like it would be too much at once since we have no sailing experience yet.

We are also excited to see my brother & his family, since my wife hasn’t met any of them yet. I want to make sure my wife gets to visit the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington while we are there.

Photo Credit: Edgar Barany