Today’s Speaking of Wealth Show features the ultimate in the world of travel, Chris Guillebeau, who has visited every one of the world’s countries. Together, he and Jason Hartman discuss many of the issues facing those looking at finding alternative sources of income, as well as providing general life tips to achieve the most success and satisfaction from what you do. He also describes some of the personal, real-life stories included in his latest book The Happiness of Pursuit.
Key Takeaways
02.36 – Chris Guillebeau is one of the rare few who can say they’ve visited every country in the world, but it’s not just about bragging rights.
04.47 – Having just a $100 start-up gives you the chance to branch out, become empowered and find meaningful freedom.
10.20 – Once you’ve figured out what you want to get from life, you can work your projects around that.
12.16 – There are certain questions you need to ask yourself to be sure you’re really getting everything you can out of life.
16.12 – Try not to regret late starts – it’s almost never the first movers who end up most successful.
18.55 – Chris Guillebeau’s book, The Happiness Pursuit, deals with the undertaking of various challenges, how real people have dealt with them and the effects they’ve had on them.
21.21 – People like having some kind of marker that shows how far they’ve come and how far they’ve got to go. It can help to make the challenge feel even more real.
22.39 – For more information and to read Chris’s blog, head to www.ChrisGuillebeau.com
23.21 – Whatever it is you want to do, start it. No-one’s going to do it for you and you have to start somewhere.
Mentioned in this episode
The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau
The Happiness Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
www.TheMilesGuy.com
The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries

 

 

Tweetables
Put things into perspective – one door closing could open up such an incredible opportunity for you.
Find something you’re good at and you enjoy, then make a business out of it.
Ultimately, adventure is good for you. Do difficult things and make it a key value in your life.

Transcript

Introduction:
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company. For more information and links to all our great podcasts, visit www.HartmanMedia.com
Speakers, publishers, consultants, coaches and info-marketers, unite. The Speaking of Wealth Show is your road-map to success and significance. Learn the latest tools, technologies and tactics to get more bookings, sell more products and attract more clients. If you’re looking to increase your direct response sales, create a big-time personal brand and become the go-to guru, the Speaking of Wealth Show is for you. Here’s your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman:
Welcome to the Speaking of Wealth Show, this is your host Jason Hartman, where we discuss profit strategies for speakers, publishers, authors, consultants, coaches, info-marketers and we just go over a whole bunch of exciting things that you can use to increase your business, to make your business more successful and more and more passive, more and more automated, and more and more scalable. We will be back with a great interview. Be sure to visit us at www.SpeakingOfWealth.com, you can take advantage of our blog, subscribe to the RSS feed and find many other resources for free. That’s www.SpeakingOfWealth.com, and we will be back with a great interview for you in less than 60 seconds.

Announcer:
What’s great about the shows you’ll find on www.JasonHartman.com is that if you want to learn how to finance your next big real estate deal, there’s a show for that. If you want to learn more about food storage and the best way to keep those onions from smelling up everything else, there’s a show for that. If you honestly want to know more about business ethics, there’s a show for that. And if you just want to get away from it all and need to know something about world travel, there’s even a show for that. Yup, there’s a show for just about anything. Only from www.JasonHartman.com, or type in ‘Jason Hartman’ in the iTunes store.

Jason Hartman:
It’s my pleasure to welcome Chris Guillebeau to the show, he is author of three great books. I recently saw him speak at Awesomeness Fest in Puerto Vallarta on the Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life, but he’s also author of the $100 Start-up and a great book on non-conformity. Chris, welcome, how are you?

Chris Guillebeau:
I’m great, Jason, thanks so much for having me.

Jason:
Good good, and you’re coming to us, I assume, from Portland, Oregon today?

Chris:
I am indeed; my home base. I travel quite a bit but I’m home in Portland this week.

Jason:
Well we know you travel quite a bit because you’re one of the few people, Chris, who’s actually got me beat. I’ve been to 74 countries now, and you’ve been to all of them more than once on many occasions, right?

Chris:
I have, but that’s pretty good; 74 is great. I had a 10-year quest of going to every country in the world, so that’s 193, and it just wrapped up last year.

Jason:
Wow, and then you’ve been back to some for multiple visits, I guess?

Chris:
Yeah, definitely. I didn’t pursue the quest just for the sake of the quest. Like yourself, I loved travel and I just love being out in the world. I have a great community all over the world now so, yeah, many of those places I’ve been to more than once, as I’m sure you have too.

Jason:
Where should we start with your work? It’s pretty broad and you’ve got lots of different kinds of work. I’d love to talk about the $100 Start-Up as the start, if that’s okay with you?

Chris:
That’s great. As you briefly mentioned, I had a book before that called The Art of Non-Conformity. During that process, I went on a 50-states book tour, and I also entered every province in Canada. I kept meeting all these really interesting people and I connected with a lot of different entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs and people who didn’t even necessarily consider themselves an entrepreneur with a capital ‘E’. They had created a freedom project for themselves, they’d created a lifestyle business, usually focused on something that they were skillful in or some kind of passion they had that they were able to turn into a small business. With $100 Start-Up, the goal is to share these stories and just share these collective stories of how people have done it – not just my story. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life, but also about people who didn’t go to business school, who didn’t write an 80-page business plan, who didn’t do the traditional start-up of age-old investing, going into a bank or two. They just kind of found a way to succeed on it. I wanted to show people exactly how that was done.

Jason:
So it is really amazing to me how the cost of starting a business has just plummeted in recent years. This has really democratized the playing field. Everybody should have, regardless of what they do, but I’m especially speaking to employees out here – they should have a $100 start-up on the side. If nothing else, then for tax benefits!

Chris:
Yeah, well I think also for the benefit of empowerment and of earning your money from different sources. I think it’s very freedom-orientated, it’s very empowering to say ‘Okay, I have this thing that I do and maybe I still have a paycheck, maybe I still have that because I need these benefits or whatever’, and that’s fine, but it’s great to have this other thing that you also do. Maybe you only spend a couple of hours a week on it or something, but it’s really just a fun process to begin signing your first client or making your first sale or putting up your first website – even if it’s very basic and it just has a PayPal button on it. I’m certainly an advocate for helping people create something for themselves that’s meaningful and that brings greater freedom to their lives.

Jason:
No question – income diversification is a nice thing to have and there are many stories and I’m sure you’ve tracked some of them. Some of them have their paycheck from a corporate job and then wouldn’t you know, the Grim Reaper comes along and they get a lay-off, and then they think ‘You know, I’ve got this little passionate thing on the side that I tinker with – I’m going to turn it into something big. That happens all the time.’

Chris:
And you know what some of these people say some of the time that’s really interesting: there’s a lot of common language that they use, and when those people are laid off, they talk about how it’s a shock and they initially perceived as negative, but then they kind of realize that this was actually the greatest thing that ever happened to them because it led them into something totally different, as you said. It leads them to pursue that passion project, maybe full-time or at least more part-time and led them to really go off. Often, these bad things that happen to us can be a catalyst for a whole transformation.

Jason:
Let’s drill down and get at the core of the $100 start-up. What is it all about? What’s the core philosophy? Talk about the roaming entrepreneur – Tim Ferriss has certainly talked a lot about this and about being geographically independent. There’s a revolution going on out there of people who live this life. It provides them with a lot of freedom, but I’m sure there’s a lot more to it.

Chris:
Well, I think being geographically independent is a wonderful thing, and it also doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to travel all the time, because some people aren’t into that. I’ve been a traveler for much of my life, and I know you have as well. Not everyone wants to be in a different country every week or something, but for me the greatest part about it is the freedom. It’s the ability. It’s like ‘Okay, maybe I’m not leaving home next week, but I could if I wanted’. $100 Start-Up is essentially about helping people to transform their skills. It’s about helping people understand ‘Okay, here are all your skills. Maybe you didn’t realize that there was this one thing that you were good at, and if you’re good at something, you’re probably good at something else, and there’s probably some connection between those things that can be turned into a viable business. What we tried to do with $100 Start-Up was to provide all these different case studies in showing how people had found convergence between what they love to do or what they’re skilled at, the questions that people ask all the time, and helping other people. That is the key distinction.

There’s this guy in Virginia that I like to talk about. He did have a full-time job and he was always passionate about travel, just like you and I are. He was really passionate about frequent flyer miles and he always helped people to travel in First Class and Business Class using their miles, and he did that for free. Finally, people said why don’t you do this as a service? He thought ‘Well, no-one’s ever going to pay for this, this is something you could do on your own for free’, but people did pay for it. He set up a very basic website and just had a little PayPal button there. Within a year, he was making a six-figure income from this side project. He had found convergence between a thing that he loved to do that was totally normal and natural to him, but was kind of confusing to other people. Other people didn’t know how to use their miles, so he helped them do that. It totally took off. He actually stayed in the job for a long period of time, he talked about how he liked going to work, it was a different kind of environment, he liked his colleagues, but on the side he was building this business that, again, was very empowering. It was great for him to have that different source of revenue and great to have that saving.

Basically, it’s about helping people say ‘Here are all the things I’m into and here’s how I can transform that into something that’s not just my hobby or my passion, but something that’s valuable and interesting to other people that they will then pay for.

Jason:
Absolutely, okay, good. That is an amazing story because as you’re traveling, you’re just going to figure out the system – hopefully – and then the example you gave is someone who shares it and they created their own business out of it. We’ve heard of the websites like www.themilesguy.com and all of that, so good stuff.

Okay, what other core things should people know about The $100 Start-Up?

Chris:
You know, a big part of it was – you mentioned Lean Start-Up when we were just chatting before the show, and Lean Start-Up is a wonderful book; I like Eric a lot. That book is much more focused on organizations, and $100 Start-Up is much more focused on individuals. It’s not that one or worse, I think they complement each other well, but I guess I’m more interested in publishing on helping people who are not trying to start this huge business, necessarily. They’re not trying to create this organization or they’re not trying to make the next iPhone. They’re trying to do what they love, and they’re trying to do something that supports their other goals, whether it’s world travel, whether it’s just more time with their family. There’s lots of stories of people who have families and their project allowed them to spend more time either traveling together with their family or pursuing something that was meaningful to them. I guess I’m much more interested in looking at people’s whole lives and saying ‘Okay, what are we working toward? And what are the best goals or the best means of achieving that?’

Jason:
Absolutely. So, really, it’s about freedom and choice and passion, and that’s a great thing. Okay, good. Non-conformity – that’s an interesting topic. Why did you write that book? What was the thing about it? Were you in the position where you were told like so many people, go get a regular day-job and do this thing and just have this traditional life? You definitely broke that mold.

Chris:
Well, Jason, I was never good at having a traditional job. I was a terrible employee and that was some of the initial motivation for being an entrepreneur. I just did not want to work for someone else. I wanted to create something of my own, and maybe it’s not even that great at first, but even if it’s not that great, I’m going to value that more than I am trying to succeed according to someone else’s life and someone else’s rules and expectations. The central theme of The Art of Non-Conformity, both the book and my blog, is that you don’t have to live your life the way that other people expect. You can do good things for yourself and for others at the same time; it’s not a false choice, it’s not a dichotomy, it’s not like you’re totally selfish and self-serving if you pursue a dream. I think if you have a dream and something that’s meaningful to you, then you should go after it.

It’s like my green dream of going to every country in the world. I also think that as part of that, I think because we have so much freedom, because we have so many opportunities, I think that each of us yearns to answer this question about contribution, this question of how can we serve others, how can we best connect with others? We all have a limited time on earth, how can we do something that we really enjoy that also makes the world a better place? When I started the blog, my goal was to kind of highlight some of these ideas and these ideals. I wanted to say ‘Here’s how different people, all over the world from different backgrounds are all answering these questions.’ They’re all answering this question of ‘How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?’ As you said, these days, the cost of starting a business is so much lower, and we know a lot of people who are working in a freelancing economy. They’re kind of doing their own thing. This was not super common 15 years ago. When I started working on mine, there were other people doing it, but I didn’t know a lot of them. It wasn’t just like in my community, there were all kinds of people working in the copy shop on their own projects. We didn’t have global commerce of the Internet, because that was still developing.

Now it’s like this great age. It’s this great opportunity and possibility. So much is out there and I just wanted to be an amplifier for that. I don’t see myself as a catalyst, it’s not like I’m saying ‘Oh, I started this thing’. No, I think that this thing had already started. It was a revolution, to use your word, but I wanted to come along and say ‘Let’s amplify this, let’s share this.’ There’s a lot of people who live in small towns, or maybe they live in places that aren’t necessarily seen as creative hubs. Lots of them are conformists, and I wanted to reach them and I wanted to say ‘Hey, it doesn’t really matter where you’re living – there are other people who see the world in the same way, come be a part of this. Come be a part of this revolution, this social movement, this great change in society.’

Jason:
And it really is an amazing revolution. How do you compare grad school to the blogosphere?

Chris:
I wrote a chapter in my book a few years ago about my experience in graduate school. I spent two years doing a Masters’ Degree in International Studies, and it wasn’t a terrible experience. I don’t really regret it, but I guess I also saw it as somewhat marginal value compared to the value that I experienced and gained as I began sharing my work online. I did this whole comparison chart of the Masters’ thesis that I wrote, and so I spent, I don’t know, 6 months writing this Masters thesis about governments in Liberia, and at the end of the day, probably 3 people read it. My committee, my thesis committee – presumably they read it, maybe they just skimmed it, who knows? Then around the same time, I was starting my blog and I wrote this manifesto called A Brief Guide to World Domination. That was just about world view and ideas and how people can change the world by publishing for free. Within about six months, 100,000 people had downloaded it. I get all these nice emails and I hear people’s stories of how they’re applying these concepts in their own way and how it helped them in some fashion. I’m like: Wow, 3 people – and they were good people; I enjoyed studying governance in Liberia, but the impact is so, so small compared to being able to share something online and to have people download it and engage with it. That’s why I was like ‘I’m going to go full in to this blogosphere thing, I’m going to fully invest in building my community and doing whatever I can to serve them because there’s so much more potential here.

Jason:
When you were doing this and you were doing your travels and modeling your own business, did you have any regrets? You must have been fearful?

Chris:
I regret that I didn’t start sooner.

Jason:
Okay, well fair enough!

Chris:
Because I actually kind of sat on the side-lines for a few years and saw all these people starting these blogs that were getting super popular, or podcasts, or video series, or whatever. I felt like I was too late. I was like ‘Man, if only I’d started like 3 years before I’d have been on the forefront.’ I feel like it’s really important to highlight this, because a lot of people feel like they have to have this first advantage, they have to be an early adopter of some kind of technology or platform or whatever the latest social network is. I really feel that’s irrelevant. It’s not critical to your success. What’s critical to your success is creating something that matters and creating something that’s meaningful and that’s going to help people’s lives.

The second part is connecting with those people. If you focus on those two things, I really feel like everything else is fine. I regret not starting sooner because I always wanted to be a writer, but for whatever reason I didn’t really start sharing anything online ’til I was 30. Maybe it was better in some ways because you can be more refined or something, but I don’t know, I think that’s probably an excuse.
Anybody who’s listening should not hesitate to start their project or to make progress on their project.

Jason:
Yeah, well interestingly, too, when you talk about the first mover advantage, there are countless stories of how number 1: people are attracted to that like the shiny object, but in the bigger corporate world, there are lots of examples of how the first movers never usually become the dominators. It’s always like the second movers, and there’s an old saying – how do you know who the pioneers are? Well, they’re the people with the Euros in their back.

Look at the difference between MySpace and Facebook for example, right? That first mover really does a lot of the heavy lifting. People will always wonder why they didn’t start sooner, and now they’re behind, or the space is really crowded now. Just start something and give it some differentiation. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll be fine. Thoughts on that?

Chris:
Well, I like the quote that the best time to start was last year, but in failing that, today will do.

Jason:
Yeah, the second best time is now. Great quote. Really good. I cannot believe that no-one has exploited the great title of your most recent book, which I was fortunate enough to get autographed by you when we met, and that’s The Happiness of Pursuit. Awesome play on words. Tell us something about that. Is it really the concept of being in the moment and how the pursuit – the Cervantes quote that the journey is better than the end. Tell us more.

Chris:
It’s not so much about being in the moment, it’s more about building towards something in the long-term. A quest is not something that happened in a moment. A quest, by its nature, is challenging and difficult and it can’t be too easy. In fact, that’s what we like the best about it. We like the challenge. We like working towards something every time. The whole concept of happiness of pursuit is the collective story of all kinds of people who’ve undertaken quests. It has my story of going to every country in the world, but then it has lots of other stories. There’s this guy from Canada who took on a 4-year MIT Computer Science curriculum in a single year. He was like ‘I’m going to just totally accelerate this and I’m going to post my exams online in a fully transparent process.’ That was his quest.

There was another guy who walked across America. There was a young woman who’s a mother and she decided to cook a meal from every country in the world, so she had a culinary quest. There’s a family that cycled from Alaska to Argentina, so there’s a lot of different stories of how these people did it. They’re all real-life stories, it’s not mythology. It’s things that real people have done  and what the lessons are from that. It’s about what we can learn from that, how can we apply this to our own lives? In my life, I found that having the quest brought a lot of happiness and purpose. It even connected a lot to my entrepreneurial work, which is something I didn’t really realize in the beginning because it was just a personal dream and it was something that I did because I like to travel. Once I had this crazy idea of going to every country, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew I had to say yes.

You mentioned regret earlier. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do it. I wanted to just kind of crystallize all of these lessons and put forward this agenda to the reader. The agenda is that adventure is good for us and we should do hard things. We should pursue a quest, we should adopt adventure as a value on our lives and here’s how we can do it.

Jason:
So how can we do it? How can we make that a value? If you want to share, just before we wrap up here, one or two of those lessons that some of those very interesting people that you profiled learned. It’s quite fascinating. What came out of it? You cook a meal from every country in the world. That’s quite fascinating. 193 different meals.

Chris:
Right, you pick a meal from every country in the world. You could just say ‘I’m going to make a bunch of different foreign food, like I’m going to make Indian food this week’. The different is you have the quest, you have this something specific, you have these parameters and this packaging. There’s a challenge and there’s milestones along the way that you can see as you’re going. You can say ‘Here’s how far we’ve come and here’s how far we have to go.’ There’s a lot of value on that, and a lot of people that I talk to, when they began their quest, they were kind of discontented. They were a little bit unsettled. I don’t mean that they were all miserable, but they all this kind of yearning for something more, and they found that through responding to the call of adventure. If you don’t know what that is, you start experimenting and you start doing something different. You start disrupting your routine. You ask yourself ‘What am I excited about?’ ‘What am I bothered by?’ ‘What troubles me about the world and how am I going to do something about that?’ It’s a great question to ask if you’re trying to start a business, and it’s also a great question to ask if you’re trying to figure out your life.

As you explore those things and go down those roads, I think your vision tends to expand as you do that. Maybe even in the beginning if you didn’t have this crazy idea of doing something that seems really big, but maybe you had something that was big for you at the time. Then as you do it, the vision will grow and your confidence will increase as well.

Jason:
Very good advice, and that is a great question to ask when starting a business, a movement or an adventure. Awesome. Good stuff there. Chris, give out your website and tell people where they can read your blog and so forth.

Chris:
Awesome, well my website is www.ChrisGuillebeau.com, which no-one can ever spell, but if you type in ArtofNon-Conformity.com, that will also bring it to you.

Jason:
OKay, good stuff. Just a final question for you – we alluded to it before a little bit about just starting and the second best time to start is today, obviously. If someone hasn’t started doing what they want or writing or traveling or whatever it might be, but what advice would you give to any aspiring authors? Maybe they’re just starting or they’ve got a small following already – maybe they’ve got a little blog or a little social media following. What advice would you give to them?

Chris:
My advice would be to start where you are and to start with an idea and start with something to say. I feel like that’s by far the most important thing. There is no blog fairy that descends and all of a sudden you have this readership. Everyone starts at the same level, but if you really focus on making something meaningful and building this connection with your readers, and then as part of that, issue a challenge. Issue an invitation. People like to be challenged, they like to think that this is not just a blog about life and travel, but it’s actually like a person and his agenda, and here’s what it is. Here’s the mission statement. If you’re reading this and you like this, then join us because we need you. I think that goes a long way, and everything else is just a process of continuing to develop and coming up with an idea and building a platform everyday. That’s what most of us do in different ways, so just stick with it.

Jason:
Yeah, good points. Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining us. All three books are on Amazon with fantastic and many, many reviews. Keep up the good work, and what’s next for you?

Chris:
Well, I’m still traveling, still writing books. We produce different events and things. I feel very fortunate to be able to what I do every day, so I try to be grateful.

Jason:
Good stuff. Well, keep up the good work. Chris Guillebeau, thank you for joining us.

Chris:
Thanks Jason.