Location: Anywhere

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Location Anywhere Liveworkanywhere.com

Location Anywhere  Liveworkanywhere.com

I have always wanted to go to Chile.

Location independence and seamless entrepreneurship were calling. I needed to be out of the country again to feed my soul. Sure, I’d been traveling, but primarily in the US. I’ve always wanted to go to Chile.

Years ago I looked on a map, I wondered: “Hmmm, what city has weather like San Francisco but is outside of the US?” That’s when I first came across Santiago. A map also took me to Seattle, also. But that’s another journey.

The flight to get there was expensive. So I saved up my miles for years with Chile in mind. I’d researched Patagonia and penguins and fantasized about the time when I’d be able to actually make the trek.

As the miles sat, the value in them was starting to go down. I was getting nervous, but I tried to keep the faith.

As my new contract with Elance went into negotiation, I decided to take the leap. But then my uncle died on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, I was with family and was able to attend his funeral.

It make me think: What if something else tragic happened soon? My miles would still be sitting there, decreasing in value. My time to visit Chile was running out.

So I finally did it. I arrived in Santiago. Days after I landed, the contract was negotiated and finalized. My dreams were coming true and I was feeling whole again. I’m so glad I took the leap. As I am every time I do!

Guts Not Grades

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Guts Not Grades | Live Work Anywhere

Having a startup is about conviction. The most appropriate synonym that comes to mind when I think of entrepreneurs and startups is resilience. I compete with Ivy League grads for business who, disturbingly, many people look at in awe. Book knowledge and street knowledge are very different things. But, beyond knowledge are instincts and guts. Two things that can’t be taught.

I believe there is such a thing as “Startup DNA.” A startup is like a newborn baby. It needs nurturing.

People tend to get hung up on titles and labels. They mean very little, especially in the beginning when building a product. The product matters, your early customers matter. Not quitting matters.

It’s difficult to see the view from the top of the mountain when you’re climbing uphill and the top is hidden in the clouds. But, entrepreneurs know deep down inside that if they keep at it, keep climbing, eventually they’ll see the clouds clear (and return, and clear, and return, etc etc until they reach the top).

People have said entrepreneurs are special in the sense that they are illogical, unreasonable, or downright insane! It’s true that an entrepreneur is unique. Most people aren’t interested in extreme sacrifice. They would prefer to be comfortably led like sheep. The job of the entrepreneur is to convince the sheep that he/she isn’t crazy for thinking differently. There’s a process that takes place to get to that point that involves many sacrifices, overcoming doubts and challenges, and infinite bouts of courage.

As with dealing with a sick baby or trudging uphill when you’re exhausted, it’s not about running when things get tough.

Some people are cut out for startups; many are not. There is an excitement, even a cool factor, that people get caught up in. But when the hard work kicks in, 50% drop out. When there are tough days or funding is running low, the strong are separated from the weak, and the last one standing are the ones with conviction.

The true test comes when things are difficult.

Giving yourself a pseudo0title to get attention or to get into certain events or companies doesn’t actually change your DNA into that of a startup person. Skipping a night out with friends or a family function, even with all the pressure and guilt, to hit a deadline, is true dedication.

This is what I mean by necessary sacrifice:

“The workload of a start-up is ridiculous. It’s really not healthy. For eight years of my life, there were very few waking moments that Tripod did not completely consume. I rarely returned the phone calls of good friends. I routinely missed important family gatherings. I couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend. To put it plainly, I didn’t have enough time to maintain the sort of normal relationships typically associated with the human race.”

Bo Peabody, Greycroft Partners, in his book Lucky or Smart

I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you ever wonder if the daily grueling grind, the ups and downs, the mental anguish, the ramen noodles, the amazing days followed by crushing defeats, if all of it is worth it… take a look at Bo’s story. Are most people willing to stick around for EIGHT years, with few friend or family interactions? It’s up to you. I won’t lie, it wears on you. You question things—a lot. Sounds borderline insane, but it takes guts.

There has to be a balance, don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge believer in “sharpening your saw” as Stephen Covey says. Too much for too long causes productivity to diminish relative to time output. But what I am saying is that you have to have the chops to handle it.

A final great quote from Chris Dixon, CEO of Hunch, and active angel investor:

“It’s a cliche, but early-stage startups are really all about the people. Had you taken any company I’ve been involved with and drawn a straight line extrapolating forward, I don’t think you would’ve seen why it was an interesting company… what ends up happening is that the environment changes, you discover flaws in your original concept, and good entrepreneurs adapt and change. The only way you would’ve seen it is if you’d understood the passion and the guts of the people involved”.

– Chris Dixon, quoted on Founder Collective

Passion and guts.

I’ve had business partners, developers, salespeople, interns, clients, deals, and so on, come and go. Recognizing that this ebbs and flows, that startups are in a constant state of flux, is the key to overcoming the bad days and learning resiliency. Behind every cloud is a silver lining, after every crushing defeat is a rewarding accomplishment. You have to have the guts to keep going.

What do you think it takes to run a successful startup?

Everyone Has A Story

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Everyone Has A Story Live Work Anywhere

Everyone Has a Story … It’s your story, you write it. These words echo often in my thoughts.

Similar words were once said by internet entrepreneur Chris Michel when talking to a Harvard Business School class about entrepreneurship. It’s a story that continues to inspire me.

As it was told to me, there was a student, from Brazil who said he planned to copy a business idea from the US and bring it to Brazil. Chris’s response was this: “Well, you can make a lot of money doing that, but at the end of the day when it’s no longer about money. And you have enough, you will have to have a story to tell. Everyone has a story”. This is paraphrased but the lesson was strong.

There are three famous brothers, Germans who created Rocket Internet, an incubator company built to clone popular startup ideas. These included Groupon, EBay, Facebook, VeriSign.

The Samwer brothers weren’t embraced for their strategy. They have been called unethical parasites. A startup exists to make money, yes. Bbut that’s not the basis upon which it was created.

Startups are temporary companies that solve a larger problem.” -Steven Blank

Startups are created by innovative problem solvers who see something they don’t like, something they wish to change, or something they could improve. They then come up with a solution. Entrepreneurs work nearly 24/7 (even in their sleep!) and take great risks and sacrifices to solve these problems effectively. They are artists, scientists, creators, persistent optimists, and childishly naive. They are dreamers and world changers.

Copying someone’s idea has nothing to do with innovation. It’s just a cheap way to get rich.

Look at your life from the end to present. What do you want people to say about you, alive or dead? Is your life filled with happiness or emptiness? Write a book about your life that you would want to read. About YOUR life, not someone else’s life. It’s not that hard to think about it, because you really do know what you can live with. I would think it’d be hard to live with yourself for blatantly stealing from someone else and calling it your very own. Harder than it would be to try something and fail.

Giving credit where credit is due and true innovation is what inspires more innovation, more entrepreneurship, and progression. Better to write a book that ends in originality. Even if it doesn’t get you rich per se, it will be a much better story to tell.

What chapter are you on in your book and how does it end?

Scrubbing Toilets in Malaga

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Scrubbing Toilets in Malaga Live Work Anywhere

I once said I would do whatever it took to go overseas and earn income, even if I had to scrub toilets with a toothbrush in Malaga, Spain.

Thankfully for the Internet, I can go to Malaga to brush my teeth and not the toilet. It’s not that easy to uproot, to find a job, to pay for travel expenses, home expenses and loans, to learn a new language, adjust to cultural differences, or to scrub toilets. But it is doable.

I used to spend hours (at work, sorry Inger Reilly! And it was “hours” because the Internet was dial-up!) researching ways to live and work abroad. I read about getting visas, personal stories, and dozens of tips and how-to’s.  Not much existed when the Internet first started. Today, so much has changed and transformed. The Internet and technology evolve rapidly but humans are much slower to make shifts.

After getting a first taste of life in Spain, I was hooked and needed to find a way to get back to exploring new cultures, languages, and places. But after finding a serious boyfriend, moving to Seattle, and getting a job at Adobe, “Life” eventually hit me. I got caught in the rat race and started caring about what was around me, not within me.

There are a few ways to travel as a professional, and by that I don’t mean busking on the street and eating out of trash cans (though I’ve seen former corporate slaves do this).  You can be a writer or journalist, or even a photographer. You can become a roadie with a band, be sent overseas by your job, or work for a while as acontractor.  For me, I tried many of these things (except for the roadie bit).  My options now are contract work, self employment, and earning revenues either residually from business or from the sales of my company.

I’ve tried, or am trying, everything I’ve heard abour.  I have taught English in Spain, sold artisan crafts with gypsies on dirt streets, built websites in Hungary and Nicaragua, helped translate and sell tours in Oaxaca, sold tickets for a disco in Costa Rica, helped a musician friend panhandle in Argentina, and even once sold an octopus to a restaurant in Mexico. But for the record, I ‘m still willing to scrub the toilet.  I have some great stories, and thankfully there are better ways to earn a living. But it’s all about keeping that willingness!

What job would you be willing to take to live the lifestyle you want?

What Not To Do on Your Death Bed

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….  realize that you let your dreams go unfulfilled.  

Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

That’s from Bonnie Ware’s blog Inspiration and Chai. I was very inspired after reading that original article.

My passion is to travel and live in other countries. For me, I can’t work in an office for 30 years and be free only to spend a week or two on vacation.  I prefer to focus on vocation, not my occupation.

Working every day means that you miss seeing your family and friends due to your work schedule. You also can’t see much of the world…until you retire, that is.  But by then, you’ll be wanting to spend all of your hard-earned savings on health care and an RV because that’s a “safer” way to travel.

travel

Retire now!  When you’re in the grave will it matter how much you worked or how much you accumulated?  Stuff is stuff.  We are so lucky to be able to experience life. We are willingly imprisoned by our ‘shoulds’: We “should” have one uniform job forever, we “should” travel only when we’re just out of college, or after we retire.

The phrase I often hear along with the “shoulds” is: “It’s not that easy to just take off.” And to that I say, yes, it is.  It’s scary to take off, but it’s much more rewarding to be laying on your death bed, muttering “I can’t believe I did it” versus, “I wanted to, but…”

We have two choices when it comes to our dreams: Do or Don’t.

The reason there is so much pressure not to follow our wants is because most people aren’t, and we are living in the proverbial crab pot. Slowly letting the stress and unfulfillment build up around us, never resolving.

I heard a great quote once that basically said that people shrink their dreams to match their income, compared to pursuing their dreams and reaching for the income needed to attain them.

Your dreams don’t have to be income-related, but the point is that you shouldn’t shrink your dreams just because you think there are limitations. The only limitations are the ones you put in place.

Sure, there are challenges. You do have to make extreme sacrifices. But are you willing to make those sacrifices so you’re not lying there, on your death bed, tubes up your nose and a pocket full of regrets?

I made a decision  a long time ago to change my life. At that time I was unable to afford constant traveling as a lifestyle, so I decided that I would work as I traveled.  While still in good health and being able to experience things like learning new languages and try new foods, I decided that I would travel and work simultaneously. I would follow my dreams while working toward my dreams of traveling.

Instead of going to dinner in Seattle every night, I could be working from a cafe in Buenos Aires, enjoying a tango show. I would be speaking Spanish, and having steak and wine for dinner—all while getting my work done that day. I could visit my family—not for a weekend but 2 weeks—and not skip a beat.

My goal is to travel the world and learn about other cultures/ places/ foods/ histories/ people/ languages, etc.  I’ve been told by others that that means a lot of vacation time and a lot of money.

But I’m doing it. And I’m blogging about my journey and how it can be done because I want to show how you too can live out your dreams. It’s not always doable in the way you expect. But with enough desire and guts, anything is possible. And your dreams are just too important.

How are you working to follow your dreams? Do you think you’ll have any regrets on your deathbed?