Blog, Project

All 72 Things I Own

My Rationale

As a minimalist, it’s important that my possessions do not own me and that what I do own serves multiple purposes, is high-quality, and as sustainable as possible.

That being said, I’m also somewhat style-conscious and want to make sure that I have what I need to successfully run my business from the road, live a fulfilling lifestyle, and enjoy a healthy social life.

So as part of my effort to further reduce and optimize my possessions, here is a list of everything I own.

Already many items on this list are on the chopping block, as I haven’t used them in the 2 months I’ve been in Buenos Aires and doubt I’ll use them for the rest of my stint in Argentina.

Note: I’ve packaged smaller things together into one item, so for example I’m counting all of my pens and pencils as one item, and the same holds true with the small items that I keep in my wallet.

Other note: I’m not counting transitory items that come and go quickly – things like currency, food and soap. These are technically possessions, but they don’t take up the same kind of ‘ownership space’ in my mind, and I’ll likely be getting rid of them as soon as I leave anyway.

My Stuff

  1. Green tshirt
  2. Dark blue v-neck tshirt
  3. Green/grey long sleeve tshirt
  4. Tan tshirt
  5. White v-neck tshirt (with Google Homepage drawn on it…ah, Halloween)
  6. Light blue polo
  7. Yellow polo
  8. Grey polo
  9. Light blue military-style shirt
  10. Light blue shirt
  11. Torn up jeans
  12. Rock star jeans
  13. Fashiony jeans
  14. Green casual jacket
  15. Dark blue fancier jacket
  16. 5 pairs of boxer briefs
  17. 6 pairs of socks (solid colors and argyle)
  18. Brown leather belt
  19. Brown leather watch
  20. Slim Slimmy Wallet, Passport, ID, Debit cards, Credit card, Pesos, Business card with notes scribbled all over it
  21. Cheap sunglasses
  22. Newsie-style hat
  23. Brown leather flip flops
  24. Brown leather sexy shoes
  25. Vibram Five Finger workout shoes
  26. Umbrella
  27. Nike+ workout watch and sensor
  28. Workout shorts
  29. 2 sleeveless workout shirts
  30. Travel journal
  31. Medium and small Moleskine notebooks
  32. Array of pens, pencils and markers
  33. iPod Touch and armband
  34. iPhone headphones
  35. Unlocked RAZR
  36. Brown leather satchel
  37. EEE PC 1005HA netbook with sleeve
  38. 15″ Macbook Pro
  39. 15″ Mabook Pro sleeve
  40. Wireless Mighty Mouse
  41. USB-splitter
  42. 3 USB-powered hard drives
  43. Mini DisplayPort to DVi adapter
  44. Mac Software install discs
  45. Lumix LX3 digital camera with case
  46. HF100 Digital HD camcorder with remote
  47. Gorillapod tripod
  48. Spare 512 MB SD card and microfiber screen-cleaning cloth
  49. Rechargeable batteries
  50. Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  51. Nose and facial hair trimmers
  52. Hair product
  53. Prescription glasses and case
  54. Spare contact lenses, case and solution
  55. Carry-on bag
  56. Wine aerator

Feedback

How many things do YOU own? Do you think it’s important to know? Sound off in the comment section below!

Update: November 25, 2016

I stopped posting photos of all the things I own several years ago when I discovered that it seemed to reinforce the idea that “minimalism” means owning as few things as possible.

That’s not the case. We’re not any better or more moral when we own less. The idea is to own exactly the right number of things for you and your priorities, and that will mean something different for everyone.

If you want to focus on travel and experiences like me, chances are you’ll want to own less, because everything you own is likely something you’ll have to carry (like I do) or store somewhere (which is wildly inconvenient and potentially expensive). If you need equipment or gadgetry to do your work, if your passion is collecting unicorn statuettes, if you’re truly fulfilled by owning all the books you’ve ever read, then you should; just don’t buy the big screen TV you feel you’re supposed to own. Save that money for more unicorn statuettes.

Which is to say that you should prioritize your time, energy, and resources for the stuff that really matters. That may be possession stuff, that may be relationship stuff, that may be personal hobbies and projects stuff. Most likely, it’ll be a uniquely shaped combination of all these things, and that’s worth embracing.

You needn’t own a few dozen possessions to be a minimalist, you just have to focus on the vital things and act accordingly.

Blog

It Was Drink or Swim

Cold and Numb

Cold. I’m really. Frickin’. Cold.

These are the only words that weave their way through my brain, shaken by the chattering of my teeth and the muted cacophony of small talk from the crowd behind me. AC/DC blares from the radio. I am so not in the mood.

I look over at my buddy Javier, his eyes wide and a little haunted. Very uncharacteristic. He’s just as tired and cold as I am.

The bowl of peanuts we scavenged from an empty table inside the bar helped a little bit — our hunger certainly wasn’t making the cold, wet rain any more tolerable — but the warmth from the last round of beers wore off before we even finished them.

“Crappy German imports and crappy weather,” I think. “What a country.”

Also: “I’ll probably get sick from those bar peanuts.” I tried to imagine that my stomach hurt so I’d have something other than the damp-numbness to worry about – but failed.

What a country indeed.

How We Got There

The night was looking promising when Javier and I arrived at the modest-sized live music room at Club 69. The bands were pretty good and there were plenty of people to sway and head-bob to the music with.

James Brown. Funk. Lots of soul. Love it.

A few rounds were purchased. Cheek-kisses exchanged.

After the show, Javi and I checked out the main dance hall of the club and weren’t really feeling it. We decided to go meet up with a friend who was at some kind of house party 7- or 8-blocks away instead of sticking around.

This proved to be a mistake.

Unbeknownst to us, and to our friend, a vital text message bearing word that she would be leaving said party and heading home to sleep (read: pass out) didn’t make it from her device to ours, and so upon arriving at the intersection we were directed to, we were unable to find the party or our friend.

Being nimble-minded chaps, we decided to head over to her place a handful of blocks away from our starting location.

Our Options

After a few minutes of ringing our friend’s doorbell, we accepted that she either wasn’t home or was in such a deep sleep that she may as well not have been there.

We went over our options quickly before deciding that we would have one more beer at the packed bar across the street and then snag a taxi home. It was only 4 am, and an early night (morning?) didn’t sound too bad.

Big mistake.

Our Prison

The moment we settled down at a table out in front of the bar it started to rain. The little droplets were immediately soaked up by the porous cement or bounced gaily from discarded styrofoam cups and plastic bags in the street.

So cute and unthreatening. Like a baby raptor.

A European couple ran out into the rain to hail a cab, which whizzed on by without stopping. The couple came back soaked, just as a trio of girls ran past them to flag down another oncoming cab, with identical results.

Traveling by taxi becomes very difficult in Buenos Aires as soon as it starts raining. All of the available cabs are taken, and many of the drivers simply don’t want to deal with the weather and drive home.

A few more sips of our cervezas and our predicament became clearer. There we were, safe under an overhang, but unable to leave. Our apartments in Recoleta were several miles away and the streets and sidewalks were beginning to flood.

The rain intensified, along with the wind. People were pulling further back from the edge of the overhang, their shoes getting soaked.

We were stuck.

The Problem

This wasn’t a life or death situation; the flood of water never came all the way up to the level of the bar, the crowd behind us was not going to stampede and trample us, and no laws of any kind (that I’m aware of) were being violated by the bar or taxis. Javier and I were in no danger at any point that night.

We were, however, incredibly annoyed and very uncomfortable. We waited three hours. Three hours before the rain let up just enough for us to run 4 or 5 blocks away from the crowd so that we could finally flag down a taxi without competing with everyone else at the bar.

We didn’t get back to our respective apartments until after 7 am, and the whole time we were thinking “What the hell is wrong with this place?”

We were stranded at a bar for 3 hours and each bought only one beer. Not great business. Not only that, but we walked away with bad feelings about that particular bar and the taxi services in Buenos Aires.

What a missed opportunity.

What Should Have Happened

Maybe I’m showing too much of my entrepreneurial geekdom here, but the whole time I was standing there, I was wondering how it was that some enterprising individual hadn’t yet come along and fixed (and profited from) this issue.

Just think of it: if no one in this immense city has yet to wrangle a deal with the taxi companies to guarantee service for their clientele, that’s an open opportunity for anyone ballsy enough (and with sufficient connections) to give it a go.

And any such effort would likely succeed spectacularly, because everyone involved would benefit.

The bars would be able to say they offered guaranteed taxi service within a half hour (perhaps a sign would be displayed, like “Wi-Fi Available” stickers, in the window), the taxis services would have a larger number of sure-fire passengers in the participating areas, and the consumers would be able to go out confident that whatever happens, they’ll have a ride home.

Then, of course, whomever starts the program would collect a fee from the business and the taxi service for organizing the effort, providing the window signs and making the connections. Everyone wins.

The Takeaway

Being a good entrepreneur is about more than just knowing how to set up an LLC or build a quick e-commerce website.

It’s about recognizing opportunities when you see them, having developed skill sets so that you can take advantage of them, and making sure that everyone walks away happy so that you can continue to do so in the future.

Leaving out any one of these components will leave you stranded with no way to reach your goals, and I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to be stuck in that kind of situation.

Update: November 25, 2016

Baby raptor! I don’t think I’ve laughed out loud at my own work like that before.

I used to be a lot more fixed within the entrepreneurial community back then than I am today. It was an audience I was happy to have for a long while, and I still have a large number of entrepreneurial folks reading my work these days, but it’s a different sort of person. Back then it was more of the five-flags crowd — those who fixated on the nuts-and-bolts and on dollars as main-metric of success. Today, it’s more of the creative sort, less likely to invest in an import-export business and more likely to be figuring out ways to make their passion project economically sustainable.

Neither is right or wrong, but they have very different focuses.

Also notable: remember life before Uber? Strange.

Blog

The Shortest Post I’ll Ever Write

Remember

The length of a blog post should be determined by how much you have to say, not how much you feel you have to say.

Update: November 25, 2016

Future Colin agrees.

And interestingly, these days it seems to be the opposite trend from back then: now most bloggers opt for brevity, not bloat.