I own very few things, and have been starting and running businesses since I was 19. I’ve been interviewed a lot and on TV a few times.
Everything that I do is guided by a set of philosophies that I’ve developed over the years and continue to develop as I travel and learn more about the world and the people living in it. I find it difficult to use too many labels for what I believe because none are quite right and come with unintended baggage, but here are some concepts that I associate closely with, if not perfectly.
Humanism. I believe that we’re all human first, and anything on top of that (nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, whatever) are all just icing. That is to say, those are all good things in that they add flavor to life, but they’re not the most important thing about a person. The most important thing about a person is that they are a person in the first place. That’s the cake.
Minimalism. At its core, Minimalism means removing from your life the stuff and relationships and activities that don’t add value so that you have more time, energy, and resources to spend on things, people, and activities that do.
For me, this means getting rid of most physical possessions so that the ones I have left are ideal for my lifestyle. This allows me to focus entirely on traveling, learning, living, loving, seeking out new experiences, and really enjoying the hell out of the time I’ve got to work with.
As a result of this philosophy, I own about 70 things in the whole world and have never been happier (though the number of things you own is irrelevant; a more thorough explanation of Minimalism can be found here).
Entrepreneurship. I believe in creating value and exchanging it for the value other people create. Simple concept, and most people would call it ‘capitalism,’ but unfortunately that label has been more than a little sullied, and I think ‘entrepreneurship’ does a better job of encompassing both value exchange and the idea that we’re all makers, and therefore should solve the world’s problems by making.
Sustainability. This has multiple meanings, and so do I when I use it.
The first is that I believe in creating closed processes that use as few non-renewable resources as possible. To me this is smart business, but also a smart way to not trash the planet; no reason those two things should be at odds.
The second is that I believe in sustainable practices, in business and in life. You don’t start a business that can’t sustain itself, otherwise that business is a burden, not a value-provider. Similarly, you don’t burn yourself out to achieve a goal because you won’t be able to enjoy your success (and pursue future goals) if you’re a shell of a person. Likewise, those around you won’t benefit from your efforts if you become dependent on others as a result of your endeavors.
Open-Mindedness. In order to be a well-rounded person, one with a healthy understanding of the world and all that goes on within it, one must be open to foreign ideas. We all grow up with predispositions and biases, and being willing to view the world through other lenses — from other perspectives that may not seem quite right to you at first — is the sign of a person willing to set their own ego aside in order to understand something bigger than the sum of their own experiences.
Self-Improvement. Always be bettering yourself and always be moving toward a better lifestyle. In order to do that, you also need to be constantly reevaluating who you are, what you care about, and what your goals should be.
Living.You’d think this would be a part of everyone’s philosophy, but amazingly it’s not.
This idea can be summed up simply: You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. Act accordingly.
On Travel. When it comes to travel, I prefer to take it slow and do my best to integrate into a society. This means renting a flat, going to the grocery store, and doing all the other things locals do. It means doing my best to be a local, at least as much as is possible for the area.
The value in this to me is in better understanding where different ideas come from. Grokking why other cultures see things differently than I do, and trying to see the world from their angle for a while. Ideally, I learn enough while living in a given country to have my own worldview shaken up a bit, which allows me to adjust my personal perspective accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get hundreds of emails a day from readers, and some questions pop up more than others. Here are some of the most common Q&A’s.
Will you come visit me in (name of country here)?
I would love to! The best way to make that happen is to head on over to the voting page and select your country from the list. You can write me a message there, too, if you have a particular reason for recommending I visit a given place.
Do you give talks? Would you talk at my event?
I do give talks on a variety of subjects — particularly entrepreneurship, non-traditional lifestyles, full-time travel, and publishing — though I can’t guarantee being able to make your event. If transportation, lodging, and board are paid for, I have a much higher chance of making it work. If the gig is paid, even more so. If nothing is paid for, there’s still a chance I can do it if I’m living in the same city as the event, but otherwise it’s far less likely. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to find out for sure.
Who’s paying for your travels?
I make money by writing and selling my books, subscriptions to my travelogue, consulting with businesses and individuals about their brand, and selling t-shirts that I’ve designed. I sometimes teach classes, and I also co-founded a publishing company called Asymmetrical Press.
How do you decide where to live next?
My readers vote on the country, then I decide on a city. Usually I make that decision based on recommendations I get in the comment section of the votes, though sometimes I choose a larger or smaller city to contrast with places I’ve lived in the past.
Will you publish my guest post on Exile Lifestyle?
I’m not accepting guest posts at the moment. Sorry!
If you own so few things, what do you use for silverware/pots/pans/furniture in these other countries?
I own very few things, but generally when I rent a flat it comes furnished. That usually means it also comes with pots, pans, flatware, etc. Sometimes I’ll buy some towels or forks if they aren’t included with the apartment, but those kinds of things are all transient possessions: I rent them when possible, and I give away the things I end up purchasing before leaving.
There have been times where I’ve rented a place that was unfurnished, and in those cases I’ll pick up a second-hand desk and mattress — you’d be surprised how little you need to live and be productive, and how cheap it can be when you know you’ll be giving it all away when you leave in a few months anyway.
How do I find out more about you and what you do?
You can take a look-see at my author landing page, which has a list of all my books and other projects. You can also follow or contact me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest.
You can also give my More About page a look-see if you want to know my life story, you crazy stalker.