1) Start one and learn the hard way.
2) Listen to Andrew Warner’s interviews on Mixergy.com and follow their advice.
I was fortunate enough to spend 45 minutes on a call with Andrew Warner, the Founder of Mixergy.com.
Mixergy has been something I take along with me on my iPod, in my car, on the subway, at the gym, and at my desk. Truly great business building advice.
Now I have Andrew in the interview seat and I get to go in depth asking him about his experiences living and working from anywhere.
Find out what Andrew’s number 1 criteria is for living/working from anywhere.
Click the video to listen to the interview.
You can read this interview, too:
Andrew Warner: Just in case, you’re probably not going to need this.
Libby Tucker: Okay.
Andrew Warner: Alright, take it away.
Libby Tucker: Here we go. Hi everybody. This is my very first interview with Live Work Anywhere, and I’m super excited because I have the best guest on the show today, Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com where, if you don’t already know, Mixergy is a site where proven entrepreneurs teach others how they did it, and Andrew’s been running Mixergy for several years. I’ve been a premium fan and huge fan, and not only while running Mixergy, Andrew’s been running it from Washington DC, from Argentina, LA, Austin, Lake Tahoe, and all over the world, and I’m really excited to have Andrew here to tell you what he’s learned, what he’s doing, what not to do, and some tips that you can take away.
I think, Andrew you said you that you’re in San Francisco now?
Andrew Warner: I am, yeah.
Libby Tucker: You are. Okay. Wow, you do bounce around. I love this. A second ago we talked about the mobility criteria, so I like to think about when you want to be mobile, you have to have a system in place. You have to have a set of mobility criteria. What would you consider as your list of mobility criteria?
Andrew Warner: I have one thing that no one ever talks about that I might be the only wacko who does this, but it’s really important to me; every time I see someone say, “I work from anywhere,” the vision that they have, the photo shoot that they do is them sitting on the beach with a laptop. I go the exact opposite. The first thing I did when I landed in Argentina was I had a list of offices that I was going to go check out, and I checked them out, and I rented an office within four days.
That’s the top, most important criterion for me. Top of my list is an office space, and the reason for that is I find that I really like my work. I want to focus on my work. I don’t want my work to be something that gets distracted by some guy in a coffee shop. I don’t my work to get distracted by poor wifi at home, or the food that I have at home, or friends that want to come hang out.
I like a place where I can sit and work, and what I found is it’s not that expensive to rent office space. I’ve rented spaces from lots of different places from a company called Regus, but they’re tons of others. There’s Coloft in LA. In Argentina there was a place called Area Tres. There’s also office space that you can rent on Craig’s List for very little, from someone who just has extra space and is willing to do it month to month. To me, it’s really critical to have a place where I can sit and focus, where I can sit and do my work, and then when I’m done I go home where I go out with my friends.
I like that, and one of the nice things about offices is they tend to have better internet. One of the nice things about offices is they tend to have a different group of people where, when you’re traveling you get exposed to people. You get to meet them. I was in DC. I didn’t really know anyone in DC; in fact, I knew no one in DC when I moved there, and in my office space I met a really good guy, a guy named Michael who had an office just a couple of offices away from me. He used to go to the Ritz hotel after work for their happy hour.
I didn’t know about the Ritz hotel for after work. After work for like $2 at the Ritz you get the really cool environment there. For $2 you get a drink and a great conversation because the bartenders are really interesting people. I got to meet him and other people there. I wouldn’t have had that if I was just at home. I’m a really big believer in the office space when you’re traveling and living in foreign cities.
Libby Tucker: That’s awesome Andrew. You brought up so many good points. Community, office space, strong internet, [inaudible 00:03:41] when you said, also one of my questions was going to be did you use Regus, I definitely want to jot some of these places down. You even went on Craig’s List. I don’t think that that’s… can you tell us, as we transition into co-working spaces or Regus, what’s the average price that you paid and can you dive into one of those?
Andrew Warner: I go very expensive, unfortunately. I like a really good, inspiring environment and, for me, an inspiring environment is in a creative space that looks like people are just hanging out on couches. I remember when I first walked into Regus in Argentina, the professional atmosphere behind the desk made me feel like, “These guys are going to have my back and they’re not going to screw around. They’re going to get things done for me,” and they did, frankly. There was one day where the internet just went down. We’re talking about Argentina. Stuff just happens; frankly it happens even in the US. Internet went down. They didn’t say, “Hey you know what? You should get by without the internet for the day.” They didn’t say, “Hey you know what? Aren’t we so dependent on the internet? Ha ha, don’t worry it will be on tomorrow.”
They said, “I’m sorry Mr. Warner, the internet is down but here is the list of another Regus location, we called them up ahead of time to tell them you were coming over. They have a desk and an office ready for you and, we know you’re new here, here’s a post it note with what to tell the taxi driver to make sure that he gets you to the exact location.” I like that. To me, that’s inspiring.
The first time I went into that Regus and I looked out at the view, the view alone out of their window in their conference room was inspiring. I love that, so to me that’s the thing that I care about and that’s why I pay a little bit more. Even in Argentina, I paid, I think it was about $1000 a month. Having said that, you go on Craig’s List and you see that there are people who have spare offices in their law firms or spare offices in their start up firms. You can get it for a couple hundred bucks. You don’t have to spend $1000 like me, or there’s a guy Satyajit Gupta who is a friend of mine who has worked at Mixergy.
I walked into this Regus office and one of the first days that I was here in San Francisco I see him, and I go, “Hey Satyajit, what are you doing?” And he goes, “Oh, Regus has this gold card that you can get for free.” I don’t even know how he got it for free. It costs a couple hundred bucks or a little less than that if you want to pay for it, but he got it for free, and it gives him access to the work area, the communal work area of any Regus in the world. So, he is in here, sometimes he’s in other places.
You can do it on the cheap, but I do believe in having a dedicated work environment. That’s just me. I’m not saying everyone should do it, but for me, it helps with my focus.
Libby Tucker: Are you in a Regus right now? You said in here?
Andrew Warner: I am, yeah.
Libby Tucker: Okay, you are. I think there’s a lot to be said for redundancy, a lot to be said for, people say, “Haha this goes out.” In one experience I had in Argentina, someone started jackhammering through the side of the building, and this is after I’d learned from experiences in Costa Rica and in Hungary that I needed this sort of… I learned the hard way that I needed access to strong wifi, strong power, but there was no redundancy, and it was this “Oh well, it’s out until it’s out.” It was in my own apartment. So, there’s a lot to be said for having that redundancy and consistency, and so that’s a great, great tip.
You said, do you look for office space before you leave? Do you know where you’re going to go and you look for office space ahead of time, or do you do it as soon as you land?
Andrew Warner: In Argentina, I had a list of places that I found online and that I also found by just asking friends, and I walked around and looked at all of them in person. I don’t do that anymore. In Washington DC I immediately went to the Regus salesperson, and I said, “Show me the spaces, here’s what I need.” Here in San Francisco, I rented it sight unseen. I just was in a Regus in DC, I said, “Look, I need office space in San Francisco, and it needs to be,” and I gave them my criteria. Because I shoot video a lot for my interviews and courses, I couldn’t have windows, which is kind of a sad thing. I used to have windows, but it changes the lighting too much and it creates a weird recording environment.
It’s not the worst thing but as I want to take it up a notch, I’m now wearing a pocket square. I’m wearing a jacket. I need to take it up a notch, and so I need the proper lighting. I asked for office space that was no windows, that was internal so there wouldn’t be any noise. I couldn’t be close to reception because I didn’t want people to be walking around and telling jokes outside my office, because those jokes might end up on mic.
There were a couple of things that were important to me. I told the Regus people what I wanted, they set me up with an office. I came in on, I think it was a Saturday. That Monday, all my stuff was shipped into the office and I was ready to record an interview.
Libby Tucker: That’s fantastic. We talk a lot about in order to live and work from anywhere, you have to have a system and you have to be seamless. You need to have no downtime and just get going right away, and that’s very helpful to have that. When you go to a place, what type of places do you stay in? Let’s talk about the living part of Live Work Anywhere.
Andrew Warner: It depends, and there’s one other thing in my mobility criteria we can come back to that I really think is important, but for living, what I do is I try to do Airbnb or VRBO for a few weeks, just to get a place where I can get a sense of the environment before I move into a place longer term, or just stay in one of those places. We did short term stays in Argentina. Short term stays here. In DC, I had a list of places that I was going to take a look at. I think we landed Saturday morning. We left the pets in the hotel, and then we rented a car and we started driving around and taking a look at as many places as possible. I think within three days, we settled on a place, and we were going to live there for a while.
Libby Tucker: A few questions come up there. When you said [inaudible 00:09:14] short term stay, how long are you going to these places? How long were you in Argentina?
Andrew Warner: I really like living in a place for a while and going through the rhythms of the day with it, you know? I love that when we were in Argentina I had my coffee ritual in Argentina, that I had the commute on train. I had a guy who used to work for us at my previous company who left and he said he wanted to just go live in foreign countries, which seemed strange to me at the time. I met him in Hungary and I said, “Brandon, how do you do it? I’m backpacking. Is that what you’re doing?”
He said, “No, what I like is to just live in a place where I’m not visiting it like a tourist. After a few weeks, you start to get into a groove and you want to get that groove. You want to see how, not tourists commute to work, but how real people get into work. You want to see what real people do on the weekends, where real people go when the touristy places just get boring,” so that’s what I try to do.
Libby Tucker: There’s no set time, it’s just when you get… I like how you called it, “Coffee ritual.” To get into your coffee ritual, it depends, it could be a few weeks, but it’s not like two days?
Andrew Warner: No, and frankly, Argentina, it wasn’t coffee. I was doing coffee for a while and then I discovered Yerba Mate, and then you have a whole Yerba Mate ritual, which it took me a while to learn, and I wasn’t doing it in the first month. We were in Lake Tahoe living there for a month. We gave up our place here in San Fransisco and our new place wasn’t going to be available for a while, and we wanted to just take a break, so we rented a place for about a month in Lake Tahoe, and there again you get into kind of a ritual over there that you wouldn’t if you were just spending a weekend there or even a week.
I like getting into that. I like trying to figure out the rhythms of an environment there. You said something that took me a while to learn that I want to make sure to emphasize.
Libby Tucker: Yeah, please.
Andrew Warner: You have to accept certain things. Lake Tahoe, there was no way I was going to get strong internet and also be in the environment. I actually, frankly, was looking at a Regus over there and I was going to work out of a Regus, but it would have been too jarring to the experience. If I’m living in Lake Tahoe in a nice place, and then I go and commute an hour to get to a Regus, it wouldn’t have been the same experience. I’m not willing to commute an hour to get somewhere and an hour to get back.
I gave up on recording interviews. I gave up on doing video Skype because the internet just wasn’t strong enough, and I did a bunch of work before I left, and then I caught up on work after, but when I was in Lake Tahoe, I found things to work on that made sense in that environment.
Libby Tucker: And what was that like? That was a good question. If you dont’ have a Regus, what do you do? Do you feel that that break in your routine, do you feel that was a positive experience to you?
Andrew Warner: It was very helpful.
Libby Tucker: I’m sorry…
Andrew Warner: It was so helpful to have a break from my routine. For about a month, I wasn’t recording any interviews. I recorded them before I left. When I got there, I got to focus on projects that I couldn’t get into when I was in my office because of standard distractions, things like somebody wanted an explanation for how to do things, and can I do a screenshare and explain it to them? Things like, someone’s new in town, can I talk to them? And I like to do that. I want to get to know people, but all those things are distractions from new projects, and so I got to be in Lake Tahoe for a few weeks just working on a brand new project and it was really helpful.
Libby Tucker: You brought up something earlier: the pets issue. We can come back to, definitely I want to hear more about what makes a good environment and what doesn’t, but you had pets. Did you bring those pets with you to Argentina or what did you do?
Andrew Warner: Yeah, we brought them over to all these places, even Lake Tahoe, if we were going to stay there for a while. The only places we didn’t, I was working out of Austin, Texas for a while there because I was there on a conference and wanted to make that experience last longer, so I was working out of Regus there and the pets didn’t come along, but otherwise, yeah, I bring them along.
I intentionally picked Argentina because there wasn’t a quarantine period for pets so we could just fly them down there.
Libby Tucker: Yeah, that’s great. I think a lot of people get stuck on, “I can’t go there because I have X, Y, and Z,” and one of things tends to be pets, and then you start looking around and there’s quarantines like you said, and you don’t want to put your animal through quarantine, so it’s definitely an issue. I think that if we can figure out how to get through some of those obstacles, then we can make ourselves more mobile. There’s not a quarantine period for Argentina. What were your criteria, I guess, going to Argentina? Was it Regus, non quarantine period? What were the criteria that made that place most attractive?
Andrew Warner: I wasn’t sure what I needed at the time. What I was willing to do was… I had to get away, I feel like, from where I was at the time, which was Santa Monica. Santa Monica’s beautiful but I was getting in a rut, and I didn’t even notice the things that were bad about my rut. I didn’t notice all the places where my time was disappearing. I just would look back at the end of a week and saying, “I worked hard but nothing happened. I did a lot but I got nothing out of it.” I wanted to go and bunker down somewhere but not really be bunkered. I wanted to enjoy life, so initially I was looking at different parts of California that were a little more isolated, that would make me question the different things that I was doing everyday instead of just doing them by habit.
We ended up picking Argentina, and one of the things that I said to myself was, even though I rely very heavily on video Skype. Even though I rely heavily on heavy bandwidth, I said, “You know what? I’ll go down there and if there’s not great internet, if I can’t find the perfect office with the perfect internet, I’ll just find a way to make it work,” and it worked. Frankly, I found good internet but I would have been okay. I said, “You know what? If I can’t do my interviews via video, I’ll just do audio only.”
Libby Tucker: Do you find that, you mentioned the timing, for the time slipping away, you get into a rut, how did that change, then, when you went down there? Did that support? Were you more conscious of where you were spending your time?
Andrew Warner: Yes.
Libby Tucker: Did your routine change, or …?
Andrew Warner: Yeah, I had to really think about, “Alright, breakfast. What does breakfast mean?” Does breakfast mean the bagel and cream cheese that I might get from the local place or does it mean skipping it? Or does it mean something else? I had to say, right down to the cup of coffee. I had the same cup of coffee every morning. At some point, it doesn’t really perk me up. I get to Argentina; they introduce me to Yerba Mate. It’s more of an experience every morning and it gave me more energy in the morning. At night I would go out and I would explore a brand new part of town and I would have to try to figure out how to communicate to someone. That newness and that challenge of communicating made me feel more alive and then that made its way into my work.
I also didn’t have the standard distractions: the pop ins, the things that you do. Last night, I was in our garage and I spent about an hour putting cardboard boxes together and tying them up so that I can throw them out properly; we got a whole bunch of stuff delivered from Amazon. That’s a distraction that you don’t have when you’re in Argentina. You don’t have that hour of doing the garbage because you’re not buying as much; you’re living more simply.
Same thing, frankly, any place you live. When you move it just changes things.
Libby Tucker: That’s an interesting point that you bring up, is living minimally. When you go somewhere, what kind of things did you find that you absolutely had to have with you when you travel, and the things that you could leave behind?
Andrew Warner: For absolutely have to, I actually had to really think about it, because I scheduled work for a few days, less than a week after I landed in Argentina, and I do that all the time, even here in San Fransisco. I scheduled an interview with Tim Ferriss less than a week after I landed here, and so I needed to have everything ready to go for when I got here, and I couldn’t even trust baggage claim on the plane.
It forced me to say, “Okay, if baggage gets lost, if my bags get lost, if FedEx and UPS don’t deliver my stuff in the office, what do I absolutely need?” I realized it’s a laptop and a mic, so in my carry on I had my laptop and I had a mic, and I feel like everything else, it’s nice to have but it’s not important. It forces you to do that. Oh, and a cell phone.
Libby Tucker: And a cell phone. When you go down, that brings up a whole other topic, but do you get a sim card when you’re down there? Do you have an unlocked phone?
Andrew Warner: That’s the other thing I wanted to say; I’m very minimalist, but when I leave the country I unlock my phone and then I get the local sim card so that I can use the internet wherever I am. I know that makes me into one of those people who’s always on his phone or who cares more about his phone than taking in the sights, but you know what? When I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation. When I’m working remotely, I need that. I need the internet on my phone. I need to be connected so that I can get work done.
Libby Tucker: I agree with you. I’m guessing, like you said, it’s about working, but do you find that you … do you take space from your phone? Do you find that it’s important to take a break, like when you’re out exploring new sights? Are you constantly on your phone?
Andrew Warner: I don’t work when I’m away. I mean when I’m away from work, but when I am at work, even if I happen to take a long lunch or a long break somewhere and I consider it a working lunch or a working brunch on my own, I’ll do that sometimes instead of coming into the office here, I’ll take my phone and I’ll use the mailbox app on my iPhone and just have a nice brunch somewhere in the sun here in San Fransisco and clear out my inbox. I need internet for that, but when I’m away in the evenings, especially when I’m in a new place, I don’t want to be on my phone.
I’m really curious about what’s going on there. I do make an effort to not get too carried away with it, but I still need it. I still need it and it’s important for me to unlock the phone before I get there. It’s important to me to figure out how to get a sim card whatever country I am in. It’s so much easier in Europe than it is in the US. It’s so much harder in South American than it is in the US. You just have to be prepared, so I go online and I google it. I google it like mad.
Libby Tucker: Great. I was going to ask you, you google it like mad. I like that. Do you, in your sense and in your routine, what does your day look like? You’re in the office, you’re working, you’re using that phone, you’re using that data… what does your routine look like? I’m curious, and does it stay consistent no matter where you go, more or less?
Andrew Warner: No, that’s the cool thing. It changes up so much. It changes up so much. Washington DC, I never would have expected that Washington would be a place that I got excited about, but I fell in love with that city and I’m so lucky that I got to stay there. My wife and I were going to stay there six months. We stayed there two years. I would have stayed there for the rest of my life. I loved it.
One of the things that I loved about it is I got to commute to the office through a park, running through the park. We lived right by the Capitol Building, so I got to run down the National Mall, which is this beautiful park, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Then I got to take a right and I got to the bottom of Rock Creek Park, on my run, and then, because I was in a new place and I had to think about where am I going to go shower, it turns out the Fairmont, for about $100 a month, had a gym membership. One of the best hotels in the city, beautiful experience, so beautiful that you can sit and have coffee there in a nice environment at the hotel after the gym or before the gym.
Anyway, I do my beautiful run through the park. Then I’d go to the Fairmont showers, into the gym and shower over there, and then I’d get out there and I’d just hang out in the Fairmont for a bit and journal. I never journaled in Argentina. I don’t journal here in San Fransisco the way that I’d do there, but it was a brand new run through the park, sit in this beautiful hotel… why would I want to leave? I’d journal and think about what do I want my life to be about? Where do I want to go?
When I say that there are little things that change when you travel and when you work overseas, that’s one of those things. I try to tell my brother, you should not go, I wish you wouldn’t go directly from LA to New York and work again in New York where we grew up, but try a different country or a different city, and it’s hard for me to explain to him what he’ll get if he does it, because I can tell him, “Look, when I went to DC, I got this beautiful run,” but he doesn’t want to run. I could tell him when I went to Argentina, I discovered that I could work late but still be involved in a community of people who would give me great ideas, but I don’t think that’s it. I think you just find your own thing when you do it.
Libby Tucker: That’s key. That’s really great Andrew, and I think a lot of people are listening to your stories and it makes me want to get up and go again already, right now. A lot of people are either stuck in a routine, or working the 9-5 and they’re afraid to take that first step. Help people get over that fear, which I think, through your stories, they are but what’s the first step if you’re like, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to go to [inaudible 00:22:14]?” What’s the first step?
Andrew Warner: I think you just have to commit to doing it and then trust yourself that things will work out. It’s kind of like if I were going to go kiss my wife, I wouldn’t know everything that my lips and tongue were going to do, or my hands, or any of it, but I would just trust if I lean over, I would get it right. If I over think and go, “Well how do I do it? Do I do this kind of kiss or that kind of kiss?” It’s going to be an awful kiss; same thing when you’re traveling. You have to just lean into it and trust that it’ll work itself out, because things are just going to come up that you don’t expect and some of them will be great, and some of them will be challenging. The great stuff, you’ll be so excited by; the challenging things, you’ll figure out.
I couldn’t find a sim card. It was so hard. You know what I did? I wanted to get more than a sim card in Argentina. I wanted unlimited internet, and they would only sell me sim cards that gave me phone access, nothing else. I went to the ATM and I pulled out a stack of cash, and then I went back the next day and pulled out another stack of cash. I sat down in front of the guy who told me the previous day that I couldn’t get a sim card, and I said, “Look, I want to bribe you. Here’s the money. I hear you guys take bribes here. What does it take to get unlimited internet on my phone?” He goes, “Alright, let me go see what I can do.” I love that.
He couldn’t do anything.
Libby Tucker: He couldn’t? Even with that stack of cash?
Andrew Warner: Strangely, he didn’t want the stack of pesos. He said, “Look, you’re an American, right?” I go, “yeah.” He goes, “your friends come down to visit you from time to time?” I said, “Yeah, I guess.” He goes, “I need a Dell computer. Can you help me get a Dell computer,” because the taxes there are so high he couldn’t afford to get a Dell computer. I go, “All right, yeah, I could do it,” but the system there wouldn’t allow him to get me unlimited internet. It was such a pain in the butt. So I just dealt with it.
Libby Tucker: What did you do? You didn’t get the unlimited internet for your phone?
Andrew Warner: I think what I ended up having to do for a long time was just have phone only on my phone, no internet when I was away, and rely on wifi which thankfully was available at every single coffee shop, it felt like. I think I was okay with that. You figure it out. It stinks but you figure it out.
Libby Tucker: Yeah, you’re right. You figure it out as you go and that’s the beauty of it, overcoming the challenges, and you said before, it makes you feel alive. It’s not just about traveling, it’s about the experiences of learning some thing new everyday, all the time, and learning about yourself.
Andrew Warner: Yeah.
Libby Tucker: I’m curious. You’ve been to all these different places. You, of course, I’m sure have a dream list or a goal list. If you had a ticket in your hand right now, where would you go? Where would you be?
Andrew Warner: The place I’d want to go is Paris for at least a month and I want to fully live there. I want to commute to an office there. I want to fully take my lunches there. I’ve spent a lot of time there working, but it was all like thought work, journaling type work, where I would sit and think, “What do I want for the next stage of my life?” Now I’d like to do work-work there, and so I think that’s the next place.
Libby Tucker: The first thing you would do is say, “Okay, this is where I want to go. I want to go to Paris,” and then you would look up office space there, and find office space. Then you would look up a place to stay while you’re there, at least for the first two or three weeks while you oriented yourself, unless you want to stay longer, unless a month is your total stay. That might be your entire VRBO or Airbnb that you’ll find, for a month. Then you want to make sure that you can unlock your phone and get a sim card when you get there, and you bring your microphone, and you bring your laptop.
Andrew Warner: Yep. I may not even bring the mic and the laptop. I might, well, no. I would. It’s too helpful to have a mic and a laptop. Yeah, that’s exactly it, but today what I would do is, I have virtual assistant. I would say, “Look I need internet unlimited on the sim card. Find a way to get it done,” and it’s not that hard. They could get it done. I would ask the Regus office over here if they could set me up with a Regus office over there, or I would ask my assistant to do it. What else? My wife would have to pick the place where we’d live because she cares about it more than I do. Here’s the big thing, someone would have to stay at my place here because San Fransisco is very expensive and we have a big place; I would feel horrible paying for it and not living in the place for a month. The expense would just be a pain in the butt, so that would be the biggest barrier, frankly, just having someone in the place.
Libby Tucker: How would you overcome that barrier? How would you, would you Airbnb your place?
Andrew Warner: I think we might Airbnb it, but I would want my landlord’s permission. I don’t want to… he’s a good landlord and I don’t want to screw around with him.
Libby Tucker: Gotcha, so you would have to figure out what you were going to do with your place first.
Andrew Warner: Yes, That’s the only thing.
Libby Tucker: You’re in a lucky position because that’s another obstacle people have is, my spouse doesn’t want to go with me, or they’re not on board, so how is it you said your wife will actually pick the place? She’ll come with you? What does that look like?
Andrew Warner: My wife is the one who would drive it. She wants to travel more than I do.
Libby Tucker: That’s fantastic.
Andrew Warner: Yeah, we’ve traveled a whole lot because she just can’t stay still.
Libby Tucker: She can’t stay still?
Andrew Warner: Yeah.
Libby Tucker: I know the feeling. Dang it, I just lost my other question for you. This is such great stuff, though. Oh, do you speak any other languages? What do you recommend to communicate when you do get on the ground?
Andrew Warner: You know what? I learn a little bit, just enough to get by, and I’m the jerk who doesn’t know enough of the local language, and to me, I hate to admit it, people are going to think that this is rude, but I like not knowing the local language; I don’t want to know it. One of the reasons why I leave is, I’m so social here, I want to sometimes just have my own quiet space to just do nothing but work. I remember a guy who I interviewed, I can’t think of his name right now, whose company was really struggling, and as he was talking about how it really just was near going under, he smiled.
I thought, “Why are you so happy about that?” He goes, “We finally had to reduce ourselves. I was living and working in a basement, and I loved that because my expenses got really small and my focus got really high.” That’s one of the things that I like about it. When I travel, I think of myself as living in his basement where he was just doing nothing but working. He ended up building his company up again and selling it to a rack space, and that’s the thing that happens when you sometimes just slim down to what’s most important and avoid all the distractions. Traveling helps me do that, and I know that’s a jerky thing to do. Frankly, it’s not that I’m only working; I do go out after work and I enjoy looking at a new country, but I don’t need to know the language in order to do that.
Libby Tucker: That’s great. I love how you say you slim down and it’s different for everyone. You’re in your spot, clearing some of the noise and clutter. I can definitely relate with that as well. A lot of people ask me about budget, and you alluded to it when you said you slim down your expenses and going into a basement, you were able to control some of those costs, and San Fransisco rent is crazy expensive. To parts: Do you find it costs you more or less in your expenses when you’re traveling? Do you have a budget in particular that you like to try and stick to when you’re traveling?
Andrew Warner: I don’t have a budget. It does tend to cost me less because of the places where I stay, except for the flight. The flight can still be expensive, especially if you’re taking pets with you. But no, when we went to Lake Tahoe from San Fransisco, it cost us less money than living here in San Fransisco because San Fransisco happens to be expensive.
There’s one other thing that I want to say. I was in Guatemala, and I rented a Regus conference room because I didn’t realize that you could rent an office by the day. As I was finally leaving, and my bill was paid, I said, “Hey that office is empty. How much would it have cost me if I would have upgraded to that office?” I think the conference room cost something like $400 a day and the office cost something like $27 a day. I was shocked. I said, “$27? Why didn’t you guys tell me I could have just rented an office?” They go, “Well, you didn’t ask.” Now I have to learn I can’t assume that what works in the US works there. I have to just always ask, “Is there something cheaper? What are my other options?”
In the US, this office would cost much, much less than the conference room a few offices away from here. I just assume that’s the way it works every where. I’ve learned you can’t make those assumptions. You have to ask, “Is there anything cheaper? What else is out there?”
Libby Tucker: That’s a very painful way to learn, but great, great advice.
Andrew Warner: Yeah, it still bothers me to this day. It still bothers me, because there was a situation where I wasn’t recording. I was just meeting with my editor, the guy who edits all my interviews, and it would have been nice for us to not have been in this bunker type office space with no windows, conference room with no windows, and have the office that had a beautiful view of the city, especially since I was only going to be there for a week or so. I don’t know. The options, the options, and I have to now keep wondering what else is out there.
Libby Tucker: Do you have a favorite place that you’ve been? I didn’t even have Guatemala on the list. Is there a place that, the place that worked the best? The place that worked the worst? And maybe you have a tip for us?
Andrew Warner: The best, the best, the best, was Paris. The coffee culture there is wonderful, but I wasn’t working with the laptop. I don’t know if I feel comfortable just sitting there with a laptop and having someone steal it from me potentially. Other than that, a place for longer, no one else is going to think that this is great, but Washington DC. It’s so underrated. It’s underrated because it’s full of these beautiful parks, just tons of them. I got to do so many different runs there because there are parks everywhere, and the park doesn’t end with a water fountain. The park will end with some beautiful monument or a beautiful presidential house, or something. It’s wonderful, really underrated, and it’s a small city that has all the things you expect from a city but it’s still fairly small. I loved living there.
Libby Tucker: You just alluded to exercise when you go somewhere. I think, in order to continue, a lot of people are like, “Well, I have my gym. I have my specific diet.” Do you find those to be challenges and what do you do about diet and exercise when you’re traveling?
Andrew Warner: I like to run outside. When I run, I get a really good view of the city. Also, a lot of cities now have bike shares. Washington DC had it. I’ll take a bike and go explore. I try to commute by bike if possible. But, I don’t want to be inside a gym. Frankly, a lot of countries have crappy gyms, not like the US, so I like to be outside as much as possible.
Libby Tucker: That’s great. One other question related to, you said somebody might steal your laptop, so that kind of brings me to, because that can happen, that does happen, that’s happened to me. What do you do in terms of backing … [cross talk 00:33:45] I’m sorry
Andrew Warner: What happened to you?
Libby Tucker: I’m sorry. I’ve had iPhones [inaudible 00:33:52]. I bought a netbook and I used an iPad with a blue tooth keyboard, so I bought things to try and prevent theft, so I didn’t have a laptop stolen. I want to be clear about that. I have had two iPhones stolen, which I connect to wifi using those so I can work. Do you have a back up plan in case, for you data, what do you do with your data if it does get stolen?
Andrew Warner: Yeah, everything is completely backed up. I try to keep as little on my device that’s important as possible. Yeah, theft is an issue and I think you want to talk to someone local about it as much as possible. I’m involved in a few online communities and before I travel somewhere I’ll often ask people, “Where do I go? What do I need to do?” And I’ll try to get together with people in person. There are lots of different places to do it, whether it’s a house event like there is in… like my friend Morgan Freidman. In Argentina, he did a weekly get together that I would go to, or in lots of cities have something called Hash House Harriers, where you get together and run and then drink. There are other meet ups.
I think it’s important to get together with people in person and then ask about stuff like that, because you don’t know what the theft situation is like. A lot of countries, not only will they steal your iPhone or your computer where you could be prepared for it, but they’ll do weird things like counterfeit money is an issue in many countries. So you don’t want to do that. Walking around in Guatemala can be an issue. We were in Guatemala City, the guy who I was working with said, “Let me walk you from your hotel to where we’re going to dinner tonight, and then back, because there’s some crime here that I think you might not be ready for if you’re only going to be here for a few days.”
I don’t know what this is, but when I was in Paris, I was walking down the street and this guy just grabbed a ring off the floor and was like, “Is this yours?” He was asking. I don’t know what that was but it was some kind of scam, and if I was there long enough, I would ask someone, “What are the scams that I need to be aware of?” You have to be aware of what’s going on in every city.
Libby Tucker: How do you find those local communities? And, by the way, I think I know Morgan Friedman. I just met him in Chile if it’s the same guy.
Andrew Warner: I bet it is.
Libby Tucker: He was living there in Santiago, and who else is named Morgan Friedman?
Andrew Warner: Yep.
Libby Tucker: Anyway, how do you connect to those communities?
Andrew Warner: What I did was I’m part of a site called Hacker News, so I just did a post on there saying, “Does anyone want to do a Hacker News meet up?” Those meet ups already exist, so if you look on Hacker News you’ll see when the next meet up is in DC. I’m really into tech and start up culture, so there’s always a lean start up event, and if there isn’t you can create a lean start up get together. Meet up has big ones. I think when I first got to LA, and I didn’t know anyone, I did the new in town Meet Up there. It was so-so.
Libby Tucker: Okay. Those sites like MeetUp.com, maybe EventBright, like searching for lean start up, being part of tech… Being part of tech circles before you go there, or whatever your interest is, join the communities before you go and see what’s going on locally.
Andrew Warner: I dated a girl back before I traveled and I was just in New York, and I felt like that was the only way to live… I dated this girl who did travel a lot, and I said, “How do you get to know all these people when you move into a new city?” She said, “I email all my friends and I say, ‘I’m going to this new city. If they know anyone or have any suggestions for what I should do, they should reply,’ and when people know of something to do in a city, they can’t wait to tell you.” So that’s a big thing to do too.
Libby Tucker: That’s a great idea. Great take-aways. I’ve gotten so much great information from you and this is awesome stuff that I could pick your brain forever. This being the first interview, I’m learning what to ask, what not to ask. I love that we get some travel tips here and we also get some tips on how to live and work from anywhere. Is there anything that you’d want to leave us with, and also is there anybody that you can recommend to speak with? Let’s start with, is there anything you want to leave the audience with on the very first inaugural interview?
Andrew Warner: That you’re going to get a lot of preparation from Libby. You got a lot of preparation from me. You’re going to keep wanting to go and get as much prep as possible. You don’t need it. You don’t need too much preparation. You can get what you need here from this interview and from others out there, but don’t try to be overprepared. This stuff will, this is… I’m trying to say so much easier than people think. It’s so much easier than you think. I used to do tons of interviews and tons of research and think, “What if I traveled? What would I need?” It was fun, and it gave me some ideas, but I didn’t need to be overly prepared. It’s so much easier than you think. There’s a community of people out there who are doing it, too, that you can tap into for other stuff.
Libby Tucker: Who would you tap into? Who would be the next person to tap into or who would you go to for more advice?
Andrew Warner: You know what was really good for me was there was a guy, Kareem Mayan, who when he first was traveling and working I thought he was nuts and I thought he was giving up on life. I didn’t get to this point but it was almost like I thought, is he becoming a bum and not caring about work? Then I interviewed him and I found out how easy it could be. Some of the ideas that he put in my head were just seeds that eventually took growth and i ended up using what he taught me. Kareem Mayan is great. He was traveling for a long time building companies and exploring the world, and frankly, I don’t think he travels so much now but he seems to live in different cities every time I him. So he’s someone.
Libby Tucker: That’s great. A person after my own heart. I can’t wait to look him up after this.
Andrew Warner: Yeah, check him out. He’s a guy who also introduced me to Eric Reese before anyone heard of a lean start up. He said, “Look, this is a guy who is going to take off.” Yep.
Libby Tucker: A guy I respect. Again, Mixergy.com everybody. So excited to have Andrew Warner on here. I’ve been a big fan for a long time and I’m so excited that I got to learn a lot more. You weren’t just in DC. You were in DC, Argentina, Guatemala, LA, now San Fransisco, Austin, Lake Tahoe, all over the place, and Paris. Thanks for sharing your Live Work Anywhere story. Thanks for giving some incredibly valuable tips that I know will help this new and up and coming audience.
Andrew Warner: You bet, thanks for having me on here. If anyone has any questions, they can ask me, or better yet, just ask Libby about it because Libby is putting together more content, hopefully more interviews; I don’t want to be the last person. I think she’s a good person to reach out to. I’m glad you and I got to connect.
Libby Tucker: I’m incredibly grateful and glad. Thank you Andrew.