Minimalism has really helped me prioritize my life and identify the things (and people, and activities) that are truly important to me, and which are not.
Business-wise, I assumed for a long time that I would do better work if I had better equipment. I spent a LOT of money on fancy new computers, bigger monitors, better printers, and every new gadget I could get my hands on, justifying the expense and obsession with ‘it’s business.’
Well, limitations actually have a way of spurring creativity, and now I’ve found that if I don’t have everything I need with me at all times, I actually come up with better solutions and more novel concepts than when I had all the tech in my corner.
This has allowed me to be more nimble when things go wrong, but also has given me free rein when it comes to building something new: if there are no easy answers, the people with the most experience at rolling with the punches and building something from nothing have a huge advantage. My whole life is supported by ventures that are built from nothing, and I continue to innovate using this tactic.
Also, on a much more basic level, I now know that a business doesn’t require office space, a big fancy desk or a bunch of white boards. The WORLD is my office, and the people in it are all the inspiration I need.
You give your readers the chance to decide upon your next location every 4 months. When you re-locate you like to live like the locals and do what they do. What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt by living like the locals and how have you applied it to your life?
This is going to sound cheesy, but I think what’s stuck with me most over the course of my travels so far is that we all have similar ambitions, at least at the most basic level. We’re all looking to improve our situations on earth while also striving to achieve whatever moral or philosophical goals we happen to have tucked away for later.
The only difference is how we pursue these goals, and what they happen to be in detail. That’s it.
Recognizing this has allowed me to pare down a lot of the innate prejudices that come with being a citizen of any nation today and realize that they’re mostly propaganda or other people’s’ ignorance, and most can be ignored.
You run 5 businesses and have set them up so that you can run them anywhere you like. What advice would you give for someone looking to do the same?
I would say that first you should make sure that running a business is what you want to do. It’s hard work, and you should expect to fail often.
If that’s cool with you, then I would recommend starting as small as possible and scaling up. Reducing the risk to a super-low level makes it much easier to puck yourself back up after those inevitable failures, and even allows for the possibility of turning a failure into a success.
Do something that you love, because you’re going to be spending a LOT of your time on it (the concept of free time kind of goes out the door, and your life becomes a sort of ‘always working but never working’ mentality, so that you can work when you want, but you’ll ALWAYS be doing something related to work).
Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people wanted to build social networks after Facebook became big. When a social network is dominating the online scene, you should be creating the next frozen yogurt chain or curing cancer instead.
Always be innovating, especially with the business model. A burger joint is boring. A burger joint where the food is free but the tables are rented is interesting.
Cut an idea down to the essentials and figure out what’s necessary and what just SEEMS necessary. This is a great way to save money up front (so you can start in the black, rather than the red), but is also a great way to improve upon existing formats.
How does your lifestyle enhance your businesses?
Well, it does help me build my platform, which gives me an audience that I can talk to, learn from and have help me test things out.
But really my lifestyle keeps me sane and provides constant inspiration.
A business should help you achieve your ideal lifestyle, your lifestyle shouldn’t help you achieve your ideal business. My businesses are things that I like to do while living, and they allow me to travel, meet interesting people and take girls I like out on dates, so they’re really just a part of my lifestyle.
Can you tell us about your interest in Stoicism?
Stoicism is deeply ingrained in my personal philosophy in part because I’ve seen over and over again how failure and pain improves me as a person.
This isn’t to say that I go out seeking failure and pain, but when something bad happens to me, I’m just as likely to laugh or just shrug it off and move on, because I know that after that kind of low, all of my highs will seem higher, and even the mediocre moments will suddenly be worth writing home about. That’s valuable.
Beyond that, I don’t have a huge interest in Stoicism, anymore than any other philosophy at least. It’s just something that aligns really well with my beliefs and because of that I’ve done a good deal of reading about it. It helped put words to what I already believed, you might say.
What inspires you?
Learning about other cultures or new fields of study. Trying new things. Taking risks. Beauty. Practical elegance. Co-conspirators. People who live interesting lives.
All photos are owned by Colin Wright who kindly gave me permission to use for this post.