As I write this I’m about one week out from my 32nd birthday. I’m celebrating by taking a golf trip down to Atlanta and attending the Masters with some close friends.
I first launched Location Rebel Academy from this desk back in April of 2011.
I shot some of my first videos I’d ever created here.
And the peaceful setting overlooking the river, just begs you to take a second to pause and reflect on the craziness of life.
So that’s what I’m doing today. Reflecting, pondering, and thinking about how on earth it’s possible that I’ve been around for 32 years.
What’s even harder for me to believe is that May will mark the eight year anniversary of starting this blog.
I never in my wildest dreams thought when I wrote that first post, it would lead to anything close to the business and lifestyle I have now.
I never imagined that thousands of people would go through Location Rebel Academy and have their lives changed because of the content on this site.
And I certainly never thought I’d be able to do even a fraction of the cool things I’ve been fortunate enough to do during this adventure.
But here we are, and I’m so unbelievably grateful for every second of it.
During this time, I’ve learned a lot about the realities of life versus what so many people believe to be true.
Beliefs and reality are not necessarily one in the same – I know that has certainly been the case in my life.
With each passing year, I learn more about what it takes to not only run a successful lifestyle business – but what it takes to have a successful lifestyle as well.
You can have all of the time and money in the world, but if you don’t know what to do with it – it can be a dangerous thing.
To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I wanted to impart some of the things I’ve learned from living a relatively unique life since leaving my day job in 2009.
On each birthday, I tend to do a similar post – but I didn’t go back and review old ones before writing this. So the things that may be repeated, are probably the ones that I feel are most important.
You can find the past birthday posts here:
- 2016: How to Get Everything You Want in Life
- 2015: 30 Things I’ve Learned About Life in Each of My 30 Years
- 2014: A House, an Engagement, and a Huge Kick in the Ass
- 2013: What Would It Look Like If….
- 2012: 27 Things I’ve Learned About Business in 27 Years
1) Remember: Preparation + Luck + ??? = Opportunity
They say luck plus preparation equals opportunity.
I’d add one more part to that equation: luck + preparation + readiness = opportunity
I think that we all get half a dozen or so big chances, big breaks, and big opportunities in life that can be life altering.
I prepared myself to be in that situation. I got a little bit lucky. And the opportunity presented myself.
But it wouldn’t have meant anything if I wasn’t ready and willing to take a leap.
Always be on the lookout for those rare golden opportunities, and then be willing to take a little bit of a leap, and act.
Because those are the things that can truly facilitate great positive change.
2) A morning routine can work wonders…but only if you have a plan
I’ve never had much of a problem with waking up early.
My problem is knowing what to do with my time.
Waking up early doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a plan. I can easily spend an hour in bed on social media, watch some You Tube videos, and before I know it, it’s 10 am and I’ve got nothing to show for it.
But if you know exactly what you’re going to do the night before, and you have a plan – you’ve discovered one of the secrets to a productive and happy life.
My current morning routine consists of:
- Glass of water
- 5-10 minutes of stretch
- Another glass of water
- Read 20-30 minutes
Sometimes breakfast or exercise is thrown in there, but knowing that as soon as I get up, those are the things I’m going to do has helped both my productivity levels and my happiness levels sky rocket.
If you struggle with this, check out 31 Things You Can Add to Your Morning Routine to Increase Productivity.
3) A key secret to business success is “play”
At least once a week I’ll take an entire afternoon off to go golf. And my business is better for it.
Doing things I enjoy on a regular basis gets me away from my computer, allows me to remember why this lifestyle is so beneficial in the first place, and gets me refocused and more excited to go back to work when I’m done.
4) It doesn’t have to be difficult to be worthwhile
Recently I was listening to a podcast with Robert Hirsch and John Lee Dumas, and this quote came up:
“It doesn’t have to be difficult to be worthwhile” and man did that strike a chord with me.
None of the businesses I’ve created have been difficult or elaborate.
I’m not solving extremely complex problems with crazy technical solutions.
I simply solved a basic problem or fulfilled a need, and consistently put in the effort every single week over a long period of time.
Consistency is the key to success, and you don’t need to try and save the world with your business idea. Just solve one small problem, for one small group of people, and do it consistently, and you can have a massively profitable business.
5) Everyone should have a blog
Starting a blog changed my life. Plain and simple.
It’s the single most valuable thing I’ve done, as if I hadn’t of started Location 180 (what this blog was called at the time), I never would have met the people or followed the path I’ve gone down.
And read chapter 3 in this book, for more insight on how I was able to leverage the blog in the early days.
6) It’s important to have a quest.
I’ve found this to be true for so many reasons. Having long term goals and something to work towards can give you purpose, fulfillment, and it can make travel so much more beneficial and rewarding.
Right now I have three quests:
- My Bucket List
- To play the top 100 golf courses in the world (32/100)
- To visit the top 50 bars in the world (20/50)
So often tourists who don’t have much of agenda visit cities and just go see the postcard sights – without really being invested or caring much about them.
As I’ve experienced more golf courses, I’ve been able to study and educate myself about various aspects of golf and course architecture.
I’ve experienced some of the best cocktails in the world, and with every city I visit I seek out bars on this list, or other highly rated cocktail bars.
It adds structure to my travel, while also boosting my IQ in each of those fields with which I have a passion.
Having a quest adds purpose and an extra sense of accomplishment to everything you do.
7) Experiences trump things.
Simple and true.
I spent 20 pounds on this Martini at Connaught Bar (the 4th best bar in the world).
They brought it out on a trolley and gave me my choice of 7 different “tinctures” that added a unique flavor to the drink.
I lived on a tropical island, and road tripped halfway across the US.
All of these things cost money, but made memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.
8) Don’t be afraid to spend money on things that bring you joy.
Echoing the point above, don’t be afraid to spend money on things that bring you joy.
I’ve learned that everyone has their thing.
A lot of people think I’m insane for spending $500 to play a round of golf at Pebble Beach.
But I loved every second of it.
Regardless of whether or not it’s an experience or a material item, if it truly brings you joy, buy it – and don’t feel guilty about it. Life is too short for that.
9) There’s usually a way to get 90% of the value for 10% of the cost
So often we fall into a trap of saying “when I do this, then I can do this.” Or in more specific terms, you might say something like “When I make a million dollars, I can drive a Ferrari.”
Or “when I get that big promotion, then I’ll take that truly exotic vacation I’d always wanted.”
There are a lot of lessons we can glean from statements such as those, but for the purposes of this point, I just want to say, you don’t have to be rich to do most of those things.
I’d always wanted to drive a Ferrari. For hundred bucks I got a few laps in a 360 Modena.
90% of the value (much less than) 10% of the price.
My Suites class flight. Retail value: $10,455.
Cost me about $300 in fees and a bunch of miles that I was able to get from a single credit card sign up.
In that case, it was 100% of the value, 3% of the price.
My golf quest is another great example. Recently I played a course that has an initiation well into six figures. Monthly dues are well over $1k.
How much did it cost me to play?
$100 for the caddie, my greens fees were comped due to my golf blog.
I was treated like a member for a day, got to have the same incredible experience that their members did, but I did it for next to nothing.
So remember, if you have a hobby or something you love to do, but don’t think you can do it until you’ve “made it” – start getting more creative.
10) Focus on the micro, not the macro
These days with our political climate and well over a years worth of hearing nothing but politics on the news – it can be all too easy to let the “macro” run your life, your mood, and your happiness.
Aside from my Facebook feed, do you know much the election has effected my day to day life at this point?
Pretty much zero.
Sure later on my health care costs might change, and our planet’s environment may go to hell – but on a day to day basis all of those politics have zero effect on my life right now- and most likely yours.
So focus on the micro. Build your business. Spend time with your loved ones. Focus on you, and tune out the rest.
11) You can have anything, but not everything
I knew I’d written a post on this topic relatively recently, but after going back and checking, it was actually in last year’s birthday blog post.
So rather than reiterate, just go read that post.
12) You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to be a relative expert.
Do you think most guitar teachers are as good as Jimi Hendrix?
Does your tennis pro beat Roger Federer on a regular basis?
Of course not.
It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that before you can provide a service or teach someone, you have to be an expert.
You don’t. You just have to be an expert relative to the person your teaching.
Am I the world’s greatest guitar player? Not even close. But could I teach someone how to play a few basic chords? Absolutely.
13) There’s no such thing as too many hobbies
If there’s one piece of advice I’d give to kids right now, it’s this:
Do more things.
I’ve always had a lot of hobbies: tennis, skiing, guitar, rock climbing, golf, travel – the list goes on.
I like to do a lot of things, and while I’m not amazing at any of those – I’m pretty good at them all. Good enough that I can enjoy them or hang with people much better than me.
Not only can they help in social and business situations, but many help keeps me in shape, provide stress relief, and allow me not to get bored with life.
So if there’s something you’ve wanted to try – go out and do it! You never know, it may turn into the passion you never know you had.
14) I owe a lot of my best traits to tennis
I grew up playing competitive tennis. I played most days after school, tournaments on the weekends, and with a lot of the adult members at the tennis club I played at.
Doing this, taught me so many life skills.
Sportsmanship, composure under pressure, manners, how to talk to adults or people more successful than me – the list goes on.
I’m not exactly sure what the lesson for you is with this one, but as I’ve made the transition to playing golf and talked with younger golfers, I see them learning the same skills I learned as a kid – and I think they’re incredibly valuable.
15) Don’t grow for growth’s sake
As an entrepreneur, the rhetoric is almost always the same:
GO BIG OR GO HOME!
And I think that kind of motivation is great; you should always be trying to make yourself and your business better.
But, it’s also important not to grow for growth’s sake.
For instance, over the last three years, my business has been about the same size.
You could call it a plateau:
Or you could call it recognizing my priorities.
My life is great. I have everything I need, and all the free time to enjoy those hobbies I mentioned above.
So here’s a question:
Would you rather have a $300,000/year business with two part-time employees, relatively little stress, and lots of free time?
Or would you rather have a $3 million/year business with ten employees, 60 hour work weeks, much more stress, and an extra $100k a year profit for you personally?
For me, I’d choose the former. Sure, it’d be nice to have a little extra money, and the ego boost of saying I have a seven figure business – but my lifestyle is much more important than that.
Don’t be afraid to not actively be trying to scale your business if you have it in a place you’re happy with.
Not enough people talk about that.
16) …But also don’t be complacent
I think there’s truth in the saying “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
So if you’re not actively trying to scale your business, make sure you are growing in other ways.
Updating your content and services, focusing on your personal goals or health, creating experiences that enrich your life.
Whatever it may be, try to be as aware as you can of what you want, why you want it, and how to get there without being complacent.
17) You can’t do it alone. But more importantly, you wouldn’t want to.
It’s easy to think that being a “solopreneur” means doing everything by yourself.
The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth.
We all need help. Whether it helps with work, help with accountability, help with mentorship – whatever it is, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can or should do everything on your own.
Plus, it’s way more fun when you get to create things with other people.
18) In a digital world, analog wins
These days the art of the personal touch has all but disappeared.
In a digital world where our day to day lives revolve around smart phones and computers – we rarely see the personal attention to things that have the power to truly surprise and delight someone.
Write a hand written letter, and mail it.
Make a phone call rather than sending an email or a text.
In a digital world, it’s often the people who go analog that win.
19) Learn to recognize when a decision is ego based
Recently I found myself debating whether or not to go to a conference.
It was expensive, ten times more than I’d ever spent to go to an event.
I certainly would have gotten some value out of it. Who knows, maybe a ton of value of out of that would have far exceeded the cost.
A handful of my most successful friends were going as well.
As I debated attending, I came to a realization.
My main motivation for wanting to go, wasn’t because I thought it would truly help the business.
It was so that I could be included in that group of successful friends, and receive a big ego boost.
That’s the wrong reason to do anything.
Anytime you’re considering buying or investing something, try to be real with yourself, is it because it truly brings you joy (#8) or is it simply a way to boost your ego?
20) There’s a very significant difference between can’t and won’t
Everyone has excuses. Way too many of them.
I wish more people would take ownership of their life, and stop blaming their own faults or inactions on outside circumstances.
I wish I were better about it, as well.
It’s not that you “can’t” go to the gym after work because of _______.
It’s that you “won’t” find a way to go to the gym despite _______.
There is always a solution. If you truly want to do something you’ll find a way.
And one of the best ways to start making progress in this regard is, to be honest with yourself and change your language.
Instead of saying I “can’t” do this, say I “won’t” do this.
My guess is once you start phrasing things that way, the I “won’t” will quickly transfer to I “wills.”
21) Music makes everything better
Seriously. Happy, sad, angry, motivated, lazy – you name it, music is a powerful thing for any emotion.
Get Spotify and listen to your weekly discover playlist or any number of the daily playlists it creates for you.
I’ve discovered so much new music lately.
22) Write everyday
If you want to grow as a person and grow your business, write every day.
Simple, yet true.
Struggle with getting going, start with this post.
23) Read everyday
Same thing as above. The most successful people I know write every day and read at least 20 minutes every day.
I could include a cliche quote about the benefits of reading, but you already know it’s good for you.
If you’re not excited to read, it’s probably because the book isn’t good enough. Move onto something else until you find something that grabs you.
24) If there’s one habit you build, it’s the “default action.”
How many times do you find yourself finishing, and then running into a death spiral of social media and You Tube videos?
It used to happen to me all the time.
This is why it’s so important to have a “default task.”
The one task you always default to when you don’t know what to do.
It could be something like answering emails. Or it could be something to get you refocused, like doing 20 pushups or jumping jacks.
But it’s important to have a productive default task to keep you from those spirals of unproductively.
This is especially important during these 20 minutes.
25) Treat life as a privilege, not an entitlement
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been living a pretty flexible lifestyle for the last 7.5 years. But I try to remind myself every day that I’m the exception – not the rule.
This lifestyle is a privilege, and it can disappear at any time if I take it for granted, become complacent, or don’t keep moving forward (#16).
So never treat it as thought you’re entitled to it. You’re not. Work hard, be humble, and good things will happen.
26) I can see why so many writers become alcoholics
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about being a solopreneur…
And no, it’s no that I’m an alcoholic.
But the secret is that as a solopreneur, you can end up with a lot of time.
You’re by yourself with no one to look over your shoulder or hold you accountable (why #17 is so important).
So if you finish work by 1 or 2 every day, and don’t have hobbies (#13) or a plan – then quite frankly, you can find yourself getting, well…bored.
Which is why I can see how so many authors or writers have become alcoholics or turned to other negative behaviors over the course of history.
So the moral of the story here, is use your free time wisely. Have a plan for what to do with all of that time you’ve made for yourself and use it for productive things, rather than destructive things.
27) “Why Not” can be a powerful phrase
In relation to that point above about having a plan and doing more, remember that “why not” can be a powerful phrase.
“Want to travel all over the state and film a cool video about Location Rebel?”
Sure! Why not?!
“Oh, and want to blow up a desk at the end of it?”
Sure! Why Not.
“Want to come to Hong Kong to make your daily vlog more interesting?”
Sure! Why not?
See where I’m going with this?
28) Happiness wins
What’s the point to life?
To be happy. That’s it. As long as it doesn’t harm someone else, you should seek out the things that make you happy.
Working on your happiness is the single best thing you can do for every other aspect of your life.
Plain and simple. More so than just about any thing in my life, my experiences traveling the world have been some of the most fulfilling, memorable, and worthwhile.
Do it more. Even if it’s just exploring some place in your home state.
Here are some more of my travel posts.
30) Be Nice.
Here’s an embarrassing little fact about me. My senior year of high school I was voted “nicest guy” by my graduating class.
How’s that for the kiss of death? Or at least I thought it was at the time…
Now, I’ve been amazed at how powerful simply being nice is.
When I can have a positive interaction with someone, simply because I was nice, it makes me happier.
People who are nice, generally get more of the things they want. And while it may often be the assholes that become billionaires, I think one of the best ways to become successful on a smaller scale, is simply to be a nice person to be around and do nice things for others.
Will this be true for everyone? Maybe not, but it certainly has been for me.
31) Heredity can be overcome, but you’ll need to try harder.
I get it; you’re not a morning person.
You’re not organized, or you have total ADD, or procrastination always gets the best of you.
We all have natural tendencies and traits that we wish we didn’t.
The good news?
All of these can be overcome, you just have to try harder – and most importantly, be willing to make that effort, because it is never easy.
32) The person who wins, in the end, is the one with the most stories
Everyone is going to have a different definition of success.
But at the end of my life, I think the person who wins is the one who has the most stories, memories, and experiences.
What are you doing today that is going to create a story worth telling tomorrow?
Hopefully at least one of these resonated
This turned into a long post, but it was worth it if at least one of these things that I’ve learned has been beneficial to you and sparked you to take action.
Thank you again for continuing to read this site and these sometimes rambling accounts from me.
Also, I can’t finish a post like this without saying a big thank you to my wife, Tate. It’s because of your support and patience that I’m able to continue doing all of these things that I love!