Posts categorized "Money"

The conflict-free family budget

According to a 2009 article by Ron Lieber, 45% of divorces are due to differences over finances. This is no surprise, considering that the majority of families don't even have a budget. According to Gallup, only 1 in 3 Americans prepare a detailed budget. Without a budget, how can you tell which partner is spending more on frivolous purchases? How can you prioritize between the husband's desire for new golf clubs and the wife's designer handbag? Without a budget, how do you know how much to save and how much to spend?

Running a family without a budget is like running a business without looking at profit and loss. Yet coming up with a budgeting system that actually works for you can be challenging. You need a realistic budget that allows you to live and isn't too much of a burden to track. You also need incentives to stick to the budget. In short, you need for life with a budget to be better than life without a budget. I have the solution.

For most of our marriage, my wife and I actually operated the business of running a family without a budget. "Just be reasonable" was the mantra, but it didn't work. Operating without a budget was a failing strategy for us for the following reasons:

  • We were spending too much. Many months we were losing money.
  • It wasn't clear who was being responsible and who was splurging (according to my wife, it I me who was splurging).
  • We were fighting about money. Worse yet, we were worrying about money.

So we came up with an ideal approach to family budgeting that has served us well for the past 6 months. I will show you exactly how to prepare a family budget you can stick to, but first I want to share the benefits we have seen with this particular budget:

  • We no longer feel any guilt or anxiety about purchases we have budgeted for (regardless of monthly income)
  • When we are profitable, we both have some amount of personal money to spend however we want without the need to explain anything (i.e. more freedom)
  • We have been able to travel to Italy, Croatia, and Florida on trips that were paid for upfront
  • We dramatically increased our income because we were more motivated
  • We saved, even as both of us have splurged like never before (guilt free)

 The results have been amazing. Now I will explain how we did it.

Budget

Figure out your basic monthly expenses

Step 1:

Go through all of your financial statements from an "average" month. Choose a month when you were not shopping for Christmas and were not taking a vacation. How much did you actually spend? You don't need to analyze every detail or every category of expense, just get that number for reference.

Step 2:

List all of the expenses that you think are vital to your way of life. How much do you realistically think you should spend on groceries even during a month when your income isn't great? How much wine will you realistically drink? Do you go to the gym? How much gas to you use in a month (you can get this from your statement if needed)? What is the basic amount of entertainment you need? What is the minimum you will spend on restaurants? How much do you need to spend on cloths per month? Break all of this out on a spreadsheet.

The key to this step is that both of you have to agree. If one of you doesn't agree on a basic expense, then it doesn't make the budget. These are minimums that you both agree on. Keep in mind that, the more "profit" you can show in a month beyond this basic level, the more you will personally have to spend on yourself. I'll get to that later, but the point is that you have a personal incentive to cut this "minimum monthly budget" down to an actual minimum.

Step 3:

Compare the total amount you plan to spend in your monthly budget to the amount you actually spent in your example month (your step 1 amount). Your budget should be less than your example month, or you'll need to go back and take some things out.

Step 4:

Compare the monthly budget with your total family monthly income after tax. Do you earn enough to cover these expenses and more? If not, your first priority is to earn more money. You need to face reality. For the time being, you should decide whether to decrease the budget so that it is in-line with your actual income, or whether you want to spend in a deficit over the short term as you focus on earning more money in the coming months. Any deficit spending (i.e. monthly loss) has to be tallied. You can't get to a profit for you to split unless you first cover any past losses.

Step 5:

When you have prepared your budget for the month, move the money to where it needs to be for the coming month. Withdraw all of the cash you need for the month, and place enough money in your shared, family debit account to cover what you have budgeted for plus $1,000 in case you go over. Now you can't change any of this throughout the month. You'll have to stick with it.

Keep in mind that part of your budgeting should include a minimum amount of cash that you each need to have in your wallet for the month. This is your personal money. There can also be a "family cash" amount for miscellaneous purchases (restaurants, cleaning services). Put this in a separate wallet and take it with when you go out with your child for ice cream. Plan all of this ahead. Be realistic about how much money you actually need to make life livable.

Now enjoy your month. Stick to the plan and spend budgeted amounts without any guilt.

Track results on the 1st of next month

At the end of each month, you'll have to go through the statements to figure out what you actually spent. Put the actual amounts in a column on the monthly spreadsheet next to the budgeted amounts.

Figure out how much you actually spent and how much money you have actually earned (after taxes). If you run your own business, you will have to budget quarterly tax payments in your expenses.

Your actual amounts should become the projected numbers for next month's budget.

Step 3: Divvy up the thirds

Now you are left with a total profit (or loss) for the month.

If you end up with a profit, you should split it 3-ways: 1/3 of the profit goes directly to you as spending money, 1/3 goes to your partner, and 1/3 goes to savings. The higher your profit each month, the more money you will have to spend on yourself. Your partner has nothing to say about the way you spend this money. Withdraw it as cash, put it in your Paypal account, do whatever you want to with it and answer to nobody. You have earned it.

While the initial process of coming up with a budget can be difficult, once it is done you should be able to move forward in your relationship without ever having to fight about money. You will each learn to stick to a budget. You will not purchase anything extra for yourself until you have earned your portion at the end of the month. If your partner ever comes to you with a request to buy something, the answer is, "Use your own money if you have any left." Otherwise, if it isn't on the budget, it isn't allowed.

With this approach to budgeting, both of you will be free to spend money guilt free...after it is earned! If you decide, instead, to use the profit on a family vacation, you both have to agree. If both of you agree on a purchase, it comes from the family money. If both of you do not agree on a purchase, then it has to come from your personal money.

It is extremely important to be honest and trustworthy. If one partner cheats the budget, it is an extremely serious offense. In that case, everything falls apart and you are in serious trouble. You have to commit to honesty and transparency.

Also, note that before you split any profit as personal money, you have to cover any past losses. You are only counting profit and loss from the first month you are following this program. Each month thereafter, you will track "total to savings to-date" since starting this program. That is your key metric. If there is any loss in any month, it has to be made up with future profit before anybody splits anything.

I hope you find, as we have, that this approach to family budgeting leads to less arguing, more successful results, and more personal autonomy.

Posted by Abscondo

Why are you doing what you are doing?

In this fascinating presentation called Uncommon Sense, Derek Sivers asks, "Why are you doing what you are doing? Most people don't know. They just tend to go with the flow." Most of us choose what to do with our time based on social norms. We try to convince ourselves that we want what someone else says that we should want (not what we truly want). What do you like? Do you really want to make a lot of money? Or do you want to be famous? Do you want to leave a legacy? Do you want to stay home and raise children? Or do you want freedom? What makes you most excited and happiest?

If you want to actually achieve what you want in life, you have to focus on one area and let the other stuff go. You have to know your real goal and hold yourself accountable to that standard. It isn't going to work to optimize your life for success in all areas, though sometimes success in one area can spill over to others.

What I really want in life is freedom. This is my measure of success and this is what I have optimized for. Sometimes I look at someone else's life and feel like a bit of a failure. One person has the status of a title or position, another person has fame, and so many people who seem to be no more gifted than I am have enormous wealth. But then if I dig a little deeper and think about it a bit further, I don't really want their lives. They don't have the freedom that I do.

Whichever path you choose, people are going to tell you that you are wrong. When I left my corporate job in Seattle to move to Slovakia 10 years ago, people thought I was making a terrible mistake. But I was pulled in this direction because I wanted freedom. Since then, I have directed so much of my time and energy into projects that I choose. I do what excites me. If that means writing a song, I write. If that means spending a month traveling, I travel. If I spend time with my wife and family, I want this to be a choice that was freely made out of the love that I freely give. If I feel like spending time with another beautiful woman who is new in my life, then I also want to be free to do this. None of this means that I am disloyal, unloving, irresponsible, or unsuccessful in other areas. But, whatever success I am able to achieve in other areas tends to flow from my loyalty to that desire to be free. 

My desire for freedom doesn't mean that I don't value money. I do care about money, but only to the extent that it supports greater freedom. My desire not to become dependent upon a sole source of income (i.e. a job) has inspired a successful business. I used to work in business development and sales. I sold enterprise software to large corporations. Over the years, I became rather good at what I do. However, I didn't like having a job because it felt like too much of my behavior was driven by fear. I depended upon a sole employer for all of my income, so even when I was working from home I was worried that my boss would catch me away from my computer. I was worried that I wasn't working hard enough or getting enough results. It was all fear-based and I didn't know how to balance that very rational fear with my desire to record an album, book concerts, travel, or even read a book. Instead, I found myself sitting by my computer even though that is the last thing in the world I wanted to do.

In the summer of 2013, I was spending a week on the beach in Croatia with my family. I didn't have enough vacation time, so I was traveling covertly. With my iPhone nearby, logged onto Skype, checking email, I would run to the hotel room to deal with anything that came up at work. Soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves, I was certainly more free than my colleagues in the office...but still I wasn't free enough because I was scared. On that same beach, my wife and I were both reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This is a must-read book for anyone who desires freedom. It provides all of the practical advice you need to make more money and achieve more freedom with less work. I remember the exact moment when the idea came to me that would change my life. We were standing in the water and my wife turns to me and says, "Why do you have just one job? You could get 5 or 10 jobs doing what you do and outsource all of the work to India." In less than a second, I turned to her and said, "That's what I will do". The day after returning from the vacation, I put up a website and started an outbound prospecting / lead generation business. In some amazing stroke of coincidence and fate, my boss called that same week to let me know that they were letting me go.

My new venture wasn't easy at first, but I loved the feeling of working for the right reasons. My incentives were pure. At least my fears were based on reality not on the perceptions of a boss. It took a few months to sign the first customer. A few more customers followed a few months later. But there were still problems. I failed to deliver enough results to my first few customers, but I stayed at it. It took about 18 months to start generating a comfortable income. Now, over the past 6 months, I am earning profits of $15,000 to $20,000 per month with 2-3 hours of work per day running successful campaigns for 8 - 10 customers. I have more than doubled my income and achieved greater financial stability while working far less. How exactly did I do it?

Over the years, I have become an expert in how to sell expensive, complex software to executive-level buyers. More specifically, I have become an expert at how to pitch solutions in order to setup introductory calls. I understand the tone and the metrics required to generate a consistent flow of high-quality introductions. So rather than doing all of the work myself, I turned this knowledge into a process that anyone can do. I then outsourced the process to a company in India. I provide all of the instructions to make the campaigns successful. I ask my clients for what I need from them, I write the email messaging, build target account lists, etc. I do only what I need to do and I outsource all of the pieces that are not critical for me to do. This has given me the time and income I needed for greater freedom. I could work 3x harder, bring in 3x more customers, and make 3x more income, but that would mean less freedom. I am happy with how things are because I am running this business to optimize for freedom, not to maximize for profit.

If this is something you would like to do, then ask yourself what expertise do you have? How can you scale your knowledge and wisdom? How can you outsource all of the pieces that can be done by others to free yourself up? How can you further scale the areas where you are uniquely competent or skilled? How can your skills and expertise be an asset that supports your true goal? Why are you not doing this now?  

This year, I have also identified another area of life that has been working against me as a person who wants greater freedom. I have been married to the love of my life since age 18. When I was young, I didn't understand myself the way that I do now. She and I fell in love and so we just naturally entered into a monogamous relationship and eventually got married. Our relationship has been wonderful, healthy, and positive in so many ways. We grew up together, faced all of life's challenges together, and all the while have managed to stay in love and attracted to each other. But in recent years it has become obvious to me that it isn't possible to value freedom and maintain a traditional monogamous relationship. So with great pain and struggle, I have opened things up with her.

I love in a way that doesn't require rules. I know what I feel for my wife and my young daughter. My love is never-ending and unconditional. Wanting them to be happy and comfortable is the same as wanting myself to be happy and comfortable. At the same time, monogamy is not freedom and it doesn't work for me. I have come to discover that I am polyamorous. I value complete honesty and openness. I am capable of loving more than one person. Feelings for one person do not affect feelings for another. I want to be free and I want anybody who I love to also be free. I can deal with jealousy and I want to help my partners do the same. Transitioning my marriage from monogamous to non-monogamous has been a slow, painful, seemingly impossible journey but we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom does not have to mean being alone. Quite the opposite, love can come from multiple people just as income can come from multiple clients.

I have also come to believe that one cannot be free if you do not have a space to call your own. I recently found a small apartment a few minutes walk from my family home. This is where I work, write, make music, and I spend time with anyone who I choose. As the true minimalist I am, it took me just a few hours to get the place setup. I have only the dishes that I need and no more. I have no TV and no decorations. The place is very small and I have only the stuff I absolutely need to support the things that I want to do here. Here's a picture of me in my personal space:

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During stretches of uninterrupted and focused time here, I have become more productive with my work. I have been reading more. I have been working on a book. In just two months have written enough songs for a new album. Yesterday I even setup a basic recording studio so that I can begin recording.

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As part of the sound-proofing, I covered foam panels with my daughter's drawings. In true minimalist style, I also dry laundry in the same room!

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I would recommend to anyone like me, who is primarily driven by a desire for freedom, to find your own space. You don't need to live alone full-time. Sometimes I sleep in my space, sometimes I sleep at my family home. On days that I do sleep in my space, I still wake up early and walk to my family home to make them breakfast. I then take my daughter to school and come back to my personal space to do my stuff. Then, in the afternoon, I spend another few hours with my family, playing with my daughter and talking with my wife. Some nights I stay there, some nights I do something else, some nights I walk to my personal space and sleep there. When my wife is traveling, I spend those days in my family home with my daughter.

I'm not going to pretend that these drastic changes have been easy for my wife, they haven't. But, in many ways, our relationship has improved now that we have become less dependent. We are learning to treat each other with greater respect and to allow each other more freedom. She has begun traveling a lot and spending more time with friends. No matter what happens with us romantically, we are both committed to maintaining the happy, loving family we have created. I have also found that I have been spending far more quality time with my daughter. Now, when I am with my family, I am with my family (not on my computer because my computer stays in my space). My daughter is handling these changes really well and my wife and I are arguing far less than we used to. I recognize that this is a bold, very unconventional move. What I have done doesn't mean that I love my wife any less than I used to. Quite the opposite, for the first time I am loving her openly as the person I truly am. I am setting her free to define how she wants to live her life and to decide how she wants me in her life (or not). She is an amazing woman and I am fully-committed to her and my daughter just as I am optimizing my life for greater freedom. I believe this can work long-term if we approach every day with love and sensitivity.

My life may look strange or chaotic to anyone who values stability, wealth, status, or fame above freedom. To me, all of it makes perfect sense and I wouldn't change a thing. What do you value most and why are you doing what you are doing?

Posted by Abscondo

Your job isn't real. Money isn't real. It is a game.

Business is a game. Your job is a game. More to the point: money is a game. None of it is real.

It is a mistake to define your identity, your self-worth in economic terms. You are not your job or career; it is just a game you play. This game of acquiring money should be played like any other game. Just try to have fun, do your best to win, but make sure everyone else you're playing with is also having a good time.

Those who see the economic world as reality are those who lose. The true believers end up becoming the truly-exploited by losing sight of what truly matters. Play the game well, but don't take it so seriously.

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Posted by Abscondo

If there was a Revolution, who would lead it?

Who is going to lead the Revolution? Yes, I mean a real Revolution. Do we want a better society with a new economic system? Do we want a system that lets us govern our lives by something other than today's corporate, governmental, and organizational systems of corrupt domination and power? If so, who would we look to as leaders of that kind of Revolution?

Would it be the anti-capitalist, hippie, intellectual protesters? I doubt it. They understand the world's problems well indeed, but their clever words and provocation are not the solution. For the most part, they get stuck on the problems and don't seem to do anything to solve them.

Who else is going to do it? Politicians? Come on. They serve the status quo to an extent that no real change is possible. Forget about it.

We need a group of creative people whose function is not to serve the established institutions of power; yet who possess the skills and the capabilities to get something done. If anybody is going to change the world, it will be this guy: the self-motivated, problem-solving, action-driven entrepreneur with a brilliant idea.   

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With all of the technology available to us, we are a new breed of entrepreneur who is capable of achieving anything. We are the change agents in the modern world and it is up to us to create something better. We are inventors who can build an alternate system to make everyone better off, happier, and more free.

We need to go further than merely on carving out some small niche market where we, individually, can thrive. Let's think bigger because the world needs us. Today's economic system is slowly destroying the world, just as it fails to serve human nature. Human potential remains dramatically under-developed. Our interests, skills, passions, and abilities are ignored just as our free time and life experiences are unnecessarily limited...and for what purpose? Anything is better than what we are doing today. A new future must be invented, built, and intelligently implemented. Let's do it for the greater good and on our own benevolent terms.

The concept of "invention" is not something that should be limited to conventional products and services. Let's broaden the concept in order to realize that everything about our daily lives is an invention. Our present form of money was once an invention. Corporate law was also invented by way of a legal system led by individuals who represent a specific set of values. Likewise, our generally-accepted doctrine of blind economic growth and profit at all costs...the whole concept was once a new idea, an invention. Even beyond the economic realm, we allow outdated ideas about relationships to dictate the way we love and connect with others. There is no reason to believe that there is anything inevitable about the status quo. Radical change and Revolution is the inevitability.

We entrepreneurs (who also happen to be radical thinkers, content producers, entertainers, inventors, and leaders)....we are the answer. Launching another niche, luxury business to fulfill a profitable customer need is great. But it would be much more profitable and worthwhile if we were to, instead, launch another economic system. We can create a new way to structure economic and social relationships between people. We can create and use our own currency. Nothing stops us from offering a tangible, user-friendly way for people to gradually, peacefully shift to another paradigm by simply ignoring today's systems of power, corruption, and control.

We are far from perfect, but it is time for us to realize that we are better than today's world leaders. We are the people who have what it takes to launch a Revolution. We need to think bigger and commit to creating a better world...and we need to do it in a peaceful way.

The Revolution will be an excellent customer experience! 

Posted by Abscondo

Free Work

Charlie Hoehn has come up with a great idea called "free work". This is a radical new approach to start anyone down the path of building the career they want, and the life they want, while doing what they want to do.  

I wish I had thought of this at the start of my career. Instead, I followed the conventional path and wasted years of my life in corporate misery. I finally found the courage to break free, but it just wasn't necessary to wait.  

In his TEDx session, Charlie talks about how frustrating the traditional job search actually is. Searching for a "normal job" is the first step down a path toward creating a life you absolutely do not want. 10 years later, you find yourself in an industry you did not choose, surrounded by people you did not choose to be with, doing a job that does not tap into any of your true interests or talents. This is the conventional path that we are told to accept, but there are other ways.

What I find most interesting about Charlie is how he struggled with, and then ultimately found himself overcome by, his gut-feelings and intuition. His decision seems to have come from a place of feeling backed into a corner. Oftentimes, extraordinary accomplishments come not from our exceptional talents or capabilities, but from panic and desperation. 

Faced with options that makes us feel sick inside, too many of us try to cope. We turn to anti-depressants and we lie to ourselves because we can see no other options. But thee are options. There are endless options in life and infinite solutions to every problem.  Free work is one.  Enjoy the video.

Posted by Abscondo

Am I a manic depressive, bi-polar freak?

These past few weeks spent traveling and on the beach have given me time to think (probably too much time to think).  I've made some very difficult, painful discoveries about myself and I think that what I have to say might be interesting to others like me.

Some days I find myself in an absolutely exuberant state of inspiration and brilliance.  On those days, everything works -- relationships, creativity, work, and everything else I engage in.  I am full of energy and, when I let that energy shine into the world, life is beautiful.  I hold onto this version of me as my self-identity.  This is the identity that I attempt to project to the world.  But it isn't the full truth about who I am.

The problem is that I am never able to sustain the inspired state of being beyond a few days.  After some time, I find myself burning-out or maybe just becoming too influenced by the depressing state of things in my life or in the world.  I start worrying about money.  I start to feel the burden of my inability to achieve everything I set out to achieve.  I withdraw from relationships, keeping everything inside.  On my worst days, I go through life with a negative attitude and offer those who love me very little emotionally.  I get depressed.

This is my normal cycle.  The only question is how extreme these extremes can become.  Maybe there's something wrong with me, or maybe this is how any creative, experiential person goes through life.  That is what I'm trying to figure out.  Is this simply normal and inevitable for a person like me?  If so, why do we pretend otherwise?

Is it possible for anyone to maintain an inspired, bliss-filled, exuberant state indefinitely?  I don't think so.  If you allow yourself to enter into a state of feeling fully-alive, it is absolutely inevitable that at some point you will come-down.  That feeling of coming-down, when compared with the feeling of being fully-alive, will always feel like depression.

People like me accept the world not as it is; rather, we see it the way we want to see it.  We try to find beauty where we can, we chase moments of bliss where they can be found, and we take risks to achieve our dreams.  To live freely and openly is to inevitably live somewhat recklessly.  We end up facing more judgment, negative consequences, painful failures, and disappointments than most people.  The natural consequence of bringing a flash of inspiration into the world is that "reality" hits back like a cold shower.

The great ideas we chase are often completely rejected or they fail miserably.  The inspired works of art we create are often criticized or, worse yet, ignored.  The relationships in which we invest our energies often fail to meet our needs in return.  On top of that, we all face financial / economic realities, we get older, people around us pass away...life happens.  And, when life does happen, we feel it more severely than most because oftentimes we are coming-down from a state of being that is really fucking great.  We know how great life can be because we touch it, feel it, experience it all the time.  But nothing lasts forever.  It goes in cycles.

My conclusion: all of this is natural and completely unavoidable.  Nobody who attempts to be or do anything extraordinary can experience life any other way.  To avoid these ups and downs is to live in a way that isn't worth living at all.  

Still, there are things we can do to make it better.  I find that, when I am taking care of my health (eating well on the slow-carb diet, exercising, not drinking too much, and getting enough sleep), then my low-points are not as low.  Also, my wife and daughter bring a great deal of stability and contentedness into my life and keep me sane.  My highs and lows simply aren't as extreme because they are put into the context of this amazing, loving relationship and the responsibilities that come with it.  Finally, I find that it is really important to be a generalist; to pursue many different passions and interests at once.  You can't invest all of your hope, dreams, and expectations into one thing or you could crash in a really big way.

In the end, I don't regret how I live or how I am.  I think back on the overwhelming number of experiences I've had and wouldn't change anything.  My somewhat ridiculously high hopes for the future get me out of bed each day.  That said; I also know that it isn't easy to love me, to live with me, or to understand me.  I don't mean to hurt or disappoint anyone.  This is just how I am and, like all of us, I'm doing the best I can.

Posted by Abscondo

The great revolution

The great revolution will come when people simply decide to do exactly what they want to do.

We are told that we are free.  Yet, from the youngest age, we are forced into educational institutions that are designed only to produce obedient behaviors and conformist thinking.  It isn't that we aren't hungry to learn by nature, but true learning isn't something that flows from being locked-up in some institution from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day of our precious, young lives.  This educational system takes away our passions and our individuality in order to prepare us for an adult life that is even worse.  But alternate educational models are emerging.  I will be exploring everything as my daughter starts school in a few years.

When we finally survive our school years, we stare into the abyss of a job market that should terrify anyone.  If young people do find a job, it certainly pays too little.  What today's jobs ask of us is nothing short of everything.  We waste all of our days doing everything but what we would choose to do if we were free.  We work because we are scared.  In return, we are paid just enough (maybe) to find a place to live, buy food, and transportation.  Oh, and then we can try to enjoy some leisure activities with whatever energy we are left with after a work week that leaves us depleted physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  All the while, we worry about debt, health care, our children's education, and so much more.  It would be silly for me to argue any further about how shitty the job market is.  In Europe, in particular, massive numbers of young people are choosing not to work normal jobs because they are refusing to accept it.

For those of us who do accept it, this is how we live.  Days drag on like years while the years somehow fly by.  We desperately find ways to cope with an entire reality that is, by any measure, unacceptable.  We are screaming inside as our hopes and dreams are lost.  When we walk the path we were told to aspire to, we are stripped of all that is good and beautiful as the true potential within each of us fades away and ultimately dies.  This is the path we are directed toward.  This is what the corporate-controlled world wants for us because it is good business for them.  I want you to know that all of it is entirely unnecessary.  There is a different way.

For most of my life, I walked this conventional path as well as anyone.  At age 30, I left it forever.  I won the battle with my inner-voices of fear.  I started doing what I wanted to do.  I want everyone to know that you, yourself, can start a revolution by doing nothing other than by doing what you want to do.  This revolution doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen if you shift your thinking and change the path you're on.

I know that you have interests and you have some sort of skills and talents.  So you have value.  When you find a way to get paid for what you are good at, you will earn a better living than by doing only what you are told to do.  Ultimately, you will end up making more income than you do today by working only a few hours a day.  Anyone can do this.  I highly recommend reading the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  I began living this way years before the book came out, but his entire approach and philosophy puts all of this into focus.  It will change your life.

As you begin to free-up more time and grow your income, you start to rediscover the person you are.  The goal isn't leisure.  The purpose is not to sit on some beach forever (only until you are bored).  As you discover your freedom, you do more of what excites you.  What do you so badly want to to do or to become?  It will haunt you until you do it...so just get it over with.   Turn your dreams and fantasies into realities.  If you like the reality, hold onto it.  Otherwise move on.  But if you don't experience something you badly want, you will never grow beyond that dream.  Experience is the process of becoming more than you are today.

Why do we keep waiting for a revolution when it is right there within our reach?   We have the power.  We have laptops, we have smart phones, and we have infinite imagination.  While your personal revolution can start tomorrow (as it did for me at age 30), the real break-through will happen when we collectively realize our power to live as we want to.  We don't need to drive to work at some corporation to earn a living.  I have spent the past 10 years inventing a system that will revolutionize the way we live and work.  I am starting the process of raising funding and bringing-in the right partners to build what will become an alternate economy on-line.  Opposite of today's corporate economy, this will be a people economy -- where we are everything we need.  

This system will connect people based what we want.  It is a more efficient form of capitalism whereby we quickly and easily meet all the right people to exchange with and work with just as we also meet all the right people to help us fulfill our hopes, dreams, and fantasies.  I know it will work and I know it is the ultimate purpose of my life to launch this revolution.  

Who am I to attempt this?  I am a musician, writer, entrepreneur, an expert in sales, and so much more.  All of these aspects of my being will continue as I also move in the direction of making this idea a reality.  I want everyone to live as I have over these past years, but even better.  This system will revolutionize the world because, finally, we can be everything we need.  We don't need to fight anyone to win this revolution, we just need to do what we want to do.  Anything worth doing also involves connecting with others.  So we need a better system to connect us with the right people.

So this is my big, revolutionary idea that I will move forward with as fast as possible.  But, in truth, there's no reason to wait for the revolution.  Work hard doing what you are good at (or want to become good at) and find people who will pay you for it.  Do it on your terms.  Work the hours you want to.  Or find a job and work from home (3 hours a day not 9).  Or travel the world and find odd jobs along the way.  There are options.

All of us are free, so why do we continue listening to the echos of teachers, parents, friends, bosses, or the pundits on TV.  Why watch films that steal our imagination by presenting a false picture of normalcy?  Reality is, indeed, what we make of it.  We are free to do what we want with our time, our relationships, our thoughts, our words, our art, and our experiences.  Hard work is necessary and good, but we have to direct that hard work toward something we want.  This is the great revolution.  It will change everything as today's institutions begin crumbling.  

I am surrounded by youth.  In my 4-year-old daughter, I see the potential of life before it gets muted by self-serving institutional agendas.  What if this unique happiness, passion, and desire to learn...what if it could be nurtured and developed properly?  What could she become after the revolution?

  Ella

Also, as I spend time with the guys in my band and many other 20-somethings, I clearly see their value and potential.  Yet I see many young people working in jobs that require none of their best skills or talents.  Worse yet, many young people are choosing a life of dependency or poverty.  It doesn't have to be this way.  

We can believe in ourselves, take our freedom, and with everything we are...just do what we want.  Imagine.

Posted by Abscondo

All popular ideas are wrong

Popular ideas are only useful if you want only to be normal.  If you want only to live an average life, conventional wisdom is all you need.  If you want an exceptional life, you need to innovate and think differently.

Back when I graduated from Business School and went to work in the corporate world, I was young enough, foolish enough, and brainwashed enough to live according to all of the popular ideas.  I hated the 9 to 5 but thought it was inevitable.  I watched TV at night.  I had no real hobbies.  As painful and unnatural as it was for me, I tried so hard to fit-in.  I tried to believe what I was told and any deviation of thought or action only went so far as being still appropriate.  I failed on that path.

Somehow radical ideas never leave me alone.  The problem I've always had is that, when an idea makes sense, when it is true, or when it works to achieve a desired result; I would always toss out what was popular in order to embrace what was better.    

 I'm not just talking about political ideas or opinions.  I'm talking about ideas for life.  I know that it is supposed to be cool not to care about money, but I think that's foolish.  Everybody knows that life is hard when you're worried about money.  Furthermore, lack of resources is the most common obstacle that intelligent, brilliant people have in reaching their fullest potential.

I've done Sales for a living for my whole career.  I sell very expensive software solutions to large corporations.  But I don't sell in the way that everybody else sells.  Over the years, I came up with a specific process that allows me to get 10X the result of my colleagues in something like 2 hours per day.  In the early days, I even told my colleagues about it.  But they didn't do it because my approach wasn't normal.  So I just shut up about it and did it my way.  Then, during the other 6 hours of the workday, I would sit in my corporate prison and browse the web.

In 2005 I decided that I could no longer tolerate wasting my days in the cube.  I told my boss I would be working remotely and that, if he didn't agree, we could part ways.  Oh, and by "working remotely" I mean moving from Seattle to Slovakia.  My boss agreed because they needed to continue getting the results I was getting.  Huge life lesson: deliver value to people and they will pay you even as you get what you want out of the situation.

It isn't unusual to dream of traveling the world or living abroad.  To do it, most people teach languages, work in bars or restaurants, and do whatever it takes to scrape by because it is normal to believe that this is the trade-off one must make.  That's one way to do it and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.  But there are others ways.  Other people believe that they have to first have a million dollars in the savings account before they can take such a risk (in other words, they never do it at all).  What I figured out is that all I needed was a modest amount in savings (a year's income) and, more importantly, cash-flow.  

Cash-flow is what made it possible for me to live for a month in Cannes, Barcelona, and Paris.  I've travelled to dozens of European countries, and gone back to the US at least once a year.  More importantly; rather than wasting my time in the cube and in the commute, I've spent 8 years with enough free time to chase my passions.  When I moved to Europe, I had never written a song, had never performed live...actually I wasn't a musician.  What made all of it possible was the unconventional, highly-effective approach I took to my career.

Aside from traveling, writing, and recording and performing music, I've met so many amazing people.  I get to spend each day with my wife, we own a home in Europe, and now we are proud parents of a 3-year-old daughter.

But actually there's nothing special or unique about me.  Anything you want can be done.  But you have to let go of popular ideas.  Popular ideas about health will make you sick.  Popular ideas about nutrition will make you fat.  Popular ideas about marriage will bore you to the point of divorce.  Popular ideas about art will make you boring.  Popular ideas about work will make you a miserable slave.  

Anybody can have or do whatever they want in life.  But you're not going to do it with popular ideas.  There are other ideas -- better ideas that are more effective and more true -- which I want to start to start sharing with you in an honest, open way.   Whenever I find the time, I will get very specific and post ideas that I know will help you.

Posted by Abscondo