Passive Income

Tim and Cris working

Building a Brand – Hobby Blogging Versus Profit Blogging

Posted by | Blogging, Entrepreneur, Passive Income, Social Media | 10 Comments

These days, blogs are a dime a dozen. Anyone, anywhere, can pick up a Blogger or a Tumblr or a WordPress account and start jotting down words, posting photos and creating content. Or pay 15 bucks and purchase a domain and install WordPress or Magento and go. But content alone does not = a business. And for those of you who are interested in building an actual for-profit blog, you need to understand that there is a difference between hobby blogging and profit blogging. A very big, livable-income difference.  Read More

teaching blogging classes

The Business Side of Travel Blogging

Posted by | Blogging, Entrepreneur, Passive Income, Social Media | 16 Comments

If you are one of the armchair readers of the world, you may think travel blogging is some sort of lucrative party gig, lounging beach-side with cocktails and bikini (or speedo)-clad deviants while you sip mojitos and your articles rack up thousands of hits while your social media platforms receive thousands of clicks and likes and shares and companies around the world pay you tens of thousands of dollars to travel the world on the company dime and your books sell tens of thousands of copies while you simply lay there, writing a few words here and there and taking a few photos.

The reality is that while you can certainly have all of those things, and there’s absolutely a lot of perks that come with the job, it takes a lot of hard work to get to the point where you start receiving comped trips, sponsorships and perks, and until you get to that point (and even after) travel blogging is a job just like any other, which means there’s a lot of hard work, long hours and strategizing involved, not simply lounging around and watching the views come in. Read More

Budget Travel

Hotels, Hostels and Apartments – Tips for Full-Time Travel

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Passive Income, Quality of Life, Social Media, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

Lodging is a fairly emotive topic in the travel industry. It’s one of the primary wars waged between bloggers who continually battle each other with blog posts and books aimed at selling “the cheapest way to travel”. Whether it’s “How to Travel on $50 Per Day” or “How To Live on $40 Per Day” or “How to Travel Around The World on $25 Per Day”, there’s a continual stream of same/same information pouring down the pipelines. And while some of this information is good, a lot of it is basic, common sense knowledge that anyone with half a brain can figure out.

The funny thing is that you don’t need a budget to travel. You simply need to know how to prioritize, live frugally, and most importantly, have a passive income coming in from your blog, an online venture or some other source. But before we cover those topics, let’s talk a little bit about the most controversial and expensive aspect of traveling: accommodations.

The Face-Off

Hotels, hostels or apartments: which ones are the best for your travels? It’s a tricky question to answer, one that is more tied to frugal living and personal comfort levels than anything else. And contrary to popular belief it doesn’t revolve around spending X dollars per day.

Getting the best deal on accommodations relies more upon simple survival techniques than budgeting. Fluency in the local language is step one. Step two is simply learning how to live frugally and get the most out of your money. Step three is all about comfort levels and style of travel.

Hotels are best if you are traveling without a budget, spending just a few days per destination and you cherish your privacy as well as constant hot water, a stable Internet connection and Western amenities. Most hotels also have a generator in case the power goes down, as well as air conditioning, gym, breakfasts and often pools/a Jacuzzi.

Passive income travelers can afford hotels, as can those travel bloggers who are traveling on the sponsored dime. Backpackers, not so much.

Which leads to the second style of accommodation. Hostels. Some of them are nice, most of them aren’t. Hot water is a maybe. Stable Internet is a maybe. Private accommodations are a maybe. Having your reservation forgotten or simply not in the book when you show up is quite possibly a given. Bed bugs, questionable sheets, parties late at night, neighbors having drunken hostel sex at four a.m., a constant buzz of activity and people coming and going at all hours is probably a given. The prices are usually half of what a hotel charges, but the discount comes at a price in the sense that you don’t really have the stability and comfort of hotels.

Hostels are great for backpackers and budget travelers who are trying to get the most out of a limited time frame with a limited amount of money.

Then we have apartments and long-term accommodations. These are my favorite. Constant hot water, steady Internet, cable TV, your own private bed, private bathroom, lock on the door, space for storage, a home away from home, and prices that blow hostels and hotels both out of the water. While you might spend $50 a day living out of hotel rooms and $30 a day living out of hostels, once you make the transition to immersion travel (aka slow travel) and discover long-term apartment/condo/house rentals, you’ll never go back.

For the sake of transparency, and to jump on the wagon of “spending X per day”, I spend, on average, around $21 per day for my life of full-time travel. I’ve gone lower, and I’ve gone higher. This is my average. I rarely use hostels or hotels: instead, I am a long-term apartment renter. Note: this $21 a day covers my entire cost of living, not just the accommodations.

If we are talking purely the rental fees, I usually pay around $400 USD per month for fully-furnished, fully-kitted out accommodations, with all utilities included. That’s around $13 USD per day in terms of how much I spend for accommodations, Internet and amenities/creature comforts. Food and entertainment are the extras that push me up to $21 a day. 

Cristina, Marginal Boundaries

Which One Is Best?

That depends entirely upon the individual. I’ve used them all in various situations. For example, on an overnight stay in London with a connecting flight from Denver, Colorado to Sofia, Bulgaria, I stayed at the airport hotel because I needed something close to the airport with stable Internet and comfort so I could get a good night’s sleep and plenty of work done.

When I stayed in Veliko Tarnovo for five days I went with a bed-and-breakfast hotel, and then when I was in Varna I stayed at a large house with the group I was with. When I took a weekend trip to Villa de Leyva while living in Bogota, Colombia I stayed at the Colombian Highlands Hostel, one of the best hostels I’ve ever clocked in at in my travels around the world, and just about the only one I’d actually recommend after all these years on the road.

Before I left Cancun, Mexico for Bogota, I stayed at a local hostel for the night before, since I had moved out of my apartment the day prior and only needed a place to crash for about five hours before my flight. And when I arrived in Bogota I stayed at a hostel for three days while I went and looked at apartments before choosing one for my time there. When I got back to Cancun I stayed at the Xbalamque Hotel in Centro for a week while looking for a new apartment. It just depends on what I need at any given time.

As a general rule, if I’m not in “work mode” and I’m either traveling as a backpacker without my laptop or I’m in mid-transition mode upon arrival or leaving a country, I’ll kick it at a hostel, as long as I can ensure it’s a good hostel. Nothing pisses me off more than cold water showers and shitty Internet.

Sorry, but I make a living online, and if a place can’t provide me with a solid, stable and fast Internet when I need it, then it’s a place I won’t recommend, nor will I stick around. As far as the water goes…well, we all have our little things that we “need”, and for me that’s one of them.

Then again, there are times when I’ve been on the road without my laptop or the need to stay connected or worry about creature comforts (camping, weekend trekking), and for those trips I’m fine if the Internet connection is crap or nonexistent. But funky sheets and constant noise/bustle/strangers are a huge turn-off to me, so I tend not to do hostels if I’m going to be focusing on getting work done, or if I need to ensure a solid night’s rest.

On the flip side, hostels are a great place to meet fellow travelers, which makes them ideal if you are looking to network with others and meet some of the groovy people of the world. You don’t get that in hotels or apartments since it’s more private accommodations. So there’s that sacrifice to consider.

Pros and Cons


Pros: Free, solid WiFi, breakfast usually included, gym and pool, room service, TV, fluffy towels, soft pillows and concierge are all a great luxury when it comes to staying in hotels. There’s usually not a per-person charge, and you have peace and tranquility due to the fact that it’s private accommodations.

Cons: Most hotels lack a kitchen for you to prepare your own food, as well as other living space to move around, which means things can feel a bit claustrophobic. If the hotel does offer food or a restaurant, it’s usually on the pricier side. Hotels are also the most expensive in terms of accommodations  but the level of privacy and luxury is unparalleled.


Pros: Hostels are typically central with friendly staff who are bi-lingual and generally helpful and you’re more likely to mix and mingle with other travelers because hostels provide that social setting that some people crave. You can also hang out with the bohemian crowd if you are into pot smoking and general revelry. Some provide kitchens, which means you can cook your own food while staying, and others have simple breakfasts or dinners included, usually served in a social setting so you are once again rubbing shoulders with your traveling companions of the world. Hostels are more affordable than hotels, and most people who are traveling on a budget find hostels to be the best fit.

Cons: Sometimes you really do get what you pay for and trying to save a few dollars comes back to bite you in the ass. All the horror stories that you’ve ever heard about regarding staying in hostels, I’ve come across. Coed bathrooms with shit-stained walls and clogged toilets. Lack of privacy. Hostel-mates who don’t clean up after themselves in the kitchen. Dorm rooms where people snore or copulate all through the night, even though it’s in a public setting. Loud, drunken, singles looking for a good time. Unreliable WiFi. Cold water showers. Or worse yet, lack of water completely.


Pros: Home away from home. You have regular neighbors, you can live like a local, shop at the local markets, cook your own food rather than spend money on eating out, and best of all you have your own place that is completely private in a secure setting where you can store your gear. Set up a base of operations in a local environment and then explore from there for a few months, allowing you to fully uncover every hidden nook and cranny of a destination.

Or as I put it, read the whole novel as opposed to only skim-reading as a backpacker. Many apartments come with 24/7 security as well as maid service. Fully furnished, and fully kitted out, with all utilities included. Cheaper than hostels, and more cozy than hotels.

Cons: Some of the best rates are often apartments on the outskirts of town, not necessarily in centro. You don’t tend to have access to a gym or a pool unless you get lucky. Finding a furnished apartment in the centro/downtown sections of cities can be expensive. You generally have to sign a contract/lease, which means staying in one place for a set amount of time. Security deposit + first month’s rent required, which sometimes means forking over up to $1,000 USD to move in, a problem for many poverty-stricken backpackers.

How I Roll

I am about 95% long-term apartment/condo rentals, and have been for the entire time I’ve been full-time traveling (since January of 2008). I tend to stay in one location for a minimum of three months before I move on, which means I sign leases, pay deposits and have a local base of operations to explore the areas where I live.

If you’ve been following along for a long time, you’ve seen the escapades; if you are new, I’m currently based out of Cancun, Mexico and you can see some of the places we’ve been exploring in March and April of 2013, including Chichen Itza and the Cenote Ik Kil, the ruins of Palenque as well as the famous El Panchan eco-hotel, the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, the waterfall of Misol Ha and the cascades at Agua Azul, the quiet coastal town of Campeche, the beaches of Akumal, the beaches and coast of Isla Mujeres, and just last weekend the hidden Maya ruins and off-the-beaten-path Cascadas Reformas in Tabasco, Mexico.

I don’t always travel by hostel and hotel…but when I do, I’m very picky about my accommodations, not merely from a price standpoint, but mostly because I’ve got gear to worry about, and I’m a stickler for a good night’s sleep as well as privacy.

Destination Freedom Group

While cold water showers and bad Internet can put me off, I find drunken, classless hostel travelers far more off-putting, and I would rather spend money on a hotel than deal with rabble-rousers at 3 a.m. when I’m trying to get a good night’s sleep so I can go ruin-hiking or city-exploring the following day.

As far as exploring a destination goes, I don’t travel short-term as a backpacker. While I do travel light, I prefer to have a base of operations where I can stash my laptop + gear and then go from there on weekend or week-long treks into the surrounding country, fully immersing myself in the environment. If I enjoy a country enough to stick around beyond the 3-month passport stay, I get a residency visa and continue exploring.

I also don’t have a travel budget because I travel on a mixture of passive and active income streams, which means even if I’m out and about in the jungle for a week, I still have income coming in from my various websites and online projects. While Marginal Boundaries is my primary source of income, I prefer to follow the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” route, and thus rely on multiple income streams. Free Agent Which is also the main determining factor when you are traveling. While budget travelers are those who have a job back home in an office working under someone else’s thumb, and thus a limited time frame and a limited amount of money to travel with, thus limiting them to hostels and budget travel, passive income allows you to pursue a life of full-time immersion travel, going where the wind takes you and staying for as long as it takes for you to explore a destination to its fullest.

Sponsored travel is also another way to roll. I personally haven’t to-date, but I’m considering it for some upcoming plans we have for Spring of 2014. The limitation there is that you don’t always have the flexibility to see the sights you want to see because the businesses who are sponsoring you want you to cover specific elements, which means you are writing on their dime, and thus spending your time as they decide. Granted, you can negotiate this on a per-case basis, and while you can get some nice digs out of sponsored travel, it does restrict you in some forms.

You can also look into house-sitting if you don’t mind being restricted to specific locals, but the problem I find with most house-sitting gigs is that the vast majority (and by vast majority I mean 90% or more) of house-sitting gigs require you to also mind a pet…or two, or three, or four…along with the garden, the house and all its possessions, which means you are limited in how often  you can get out of the house. But if you don’t mind being strapped down to a single location, house sitting is a great gig for blogging/working and saving money while living for basically free.

At the end of the day, I still choose to use long-term apartment rentals as I travel. I have enhanced flexibility, it perfectly suits my location independent lifestyle, it’s the most affordable way to roll, and I can sleep easy every night knowing that I don’t have to deal with drunken idiots, semen-stained sheets, tourist-oriented tariffs, shit-stained walls and clogged toilets, bad Internet and issues with hot water.

In short…I get to travel in comfort and affordability, all at the same time.

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With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

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Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

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Social Media

Travel blogging is about more than numbers

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Passive Income, Quality of Life, Social Media, Traveling Tips | 22 Comments

The following post was written in mid-2012. It was meant to be posted around October, but I held off because I felt it would push too many buttons, offend too many of my peers…many of whose blogs I no longer follow because of the issues laid out below. I shared it with a few friends, such as Ryan from Jets Like Taxis, and I broke it down into a much longer chapter for Beyond Borders – The Social Revolution discussing the importance of “being everywhere” and how numbers don’t mean squat, but it wasn’t until I came across a recent post by Nora from The Professional Hobo discussing the evolution of travel blogging that I felt inspired to go ahead and push this live to the blog.

So. You want to be a travel blogger. You have aspirations of traveling the world, taking pictures of your travels, writing stories about them, and making money from your time invested.

In the old days, you would have had to jump through hoops and find your way past the gatekeepers of the publishing industry to make it into the print market to find readers. But in the modern era the availability of global technology, crowdfunding, social media, passive income, video chat and live streaming, the old way of doing things have thankfully gone the way of the dodo. Now, anyone with access to the Internet and a story to tell can find an audience for their adventures, without needing to prostrate themselves before someone.

That’s an important element in the evolution of the species. Equality. Sharing. Freedom of information and access to an equal level of opportunities. Working together to achieve common goals without superiority  We are moving closer and closer to a global consciousness and as technology advances we are only becoming more and more powerful at making personal connections across great distances, without the need for someone standing in the way giving us permission or denying us.

In other words, it’s incredibly easy to make a living writing about traveling. It is not a difficult job, especially if you love traveling, exploring and having adventures. I was long an Indiana Jones fan as a child, and I always wanted to be an archaeologist, and I think everyone has their own version of inspiration. Now, with the ability to travel around the world and see the sights of old and document them for others’ enjoyment…well, it’s pretty darn close to what I always wanted to do growing up.

One of the first steps to blogging for a living and using social media as a platform for passive income generation is creating an engaging environment for your blog, with depth of information that goes above and beyond and an atmosphere of equality that benefits everyone equally, as opposed to The Greedy Bastard Syndrome.The karmic principles of sharing equally with everyone builds trust, which eventually leads to profit. It’s also important, as far as travel blogging is concerned, to talk about the culture, the people and the places, and portray them from a realistic viewpoint…not merely from the consumption-based adventure travel point of view.

Unfortunately, too often in the modern era of travel blogging there is a penchant by many “travel bloggers” to pride themselves on one thing more than anything else: numbers.

The Lie of Numbers

In browsing many travel blogger websites over the past few years as I’ve developed my own brand and following of fellow expats and digital nomads, one trend has begun to emerge which in my mind completely detracts from what travel blogging is about in the first place: an obsession with Google Analytics and “top blog” contests.

While it’s certainly important from a marketing standpoint when you are looking to organize a press trip to another country while traveling on someone else’s dime to promote a hotel, airline, country, or when lining up advertising and negotiating publicity deals, do your readers really need to know how many views per month your website gets, how many followers you have, what your page rank in Google is or how many times you’ve been featured in X, Y or Z publication?

Bragging rights are all well and good, and we all want to be proud of our achievements as travelers and writers, but I sometimes feel as though there is an obsession with chest-beating that completely detracts from what travel blogs are really about: showcasing the various elements of a country, its people, the culture and the adventure of travel itself. Unfortunately, these days it seems that the majority of travel bloggers are more interested in promoting their page rank, Analytics numbers and number of followers, ranking on Klout, current press trip and how successful their Kickstarter campaign is rather than actually providing any real, valuable information to their readers. The same readers who, by the way, got them to the point where they could land press trips in the first place.

Travel blogging is about more than chest-thumping. It’s our responsibility as writers, photographers and journalists to provide an insiders’ view on what it means to travel, live and explore another country, city or culture. The primary focus of our writing should be about the stories of the people and the culture of a region and how to integrate with and experience that culture…not an advertising billboard for a hotel chain or a restaurant catering to the tourist crowd.

Often when you go to a travel blogger’s website you are spammed with a pop-up from the moment you get to the website talking about “look at how many followers I have on Facebook” or “We get 50,000 visitors per month; why aren’t you one of them?” or “Check us out, because we are a PR5 website and that means we are important!” The actual information is left by the wayside in favor of promoting the numbers as a way to achieve funding, sponsors, selling advertising space and driving sales of products related to the press trips the bloggers in question are taking.

What average readers don’t know is that these numbers don’t actually mean anything. First of all, you can buy views on places like Fiverr, which means while a person might have 20,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter…you have no idea of knowing how many of those followers are actually active, real, live people, and how many are just purchased accounts to beef up a person’s profile to make it appear as though they are actually super important. They might actually only have 500 followers who are actively engaged in their content on a regular basis while the rest are just fluff for appearance’s sake. In short, numbers are never the best nor are they the only way to judge a blog.

With that being said, a certain amount of numbers for visibility can be helpful in establishing credibility and helping to build trust. It’s the domino effect: people are more likely to read along and listen to what you have to say if they know that others are doing the same. And there’s nothing wrong with a little subtle promotion of it, such as a counter on your website or even a separate page (not a popup) or section in your About page which details your personal statistics, away from the front page and the actual content and instead in the background, where it deserves to be.

Not to mention, bloggers with smaller, more loyal audiences can trump the bigger blogs every day of the week, at least in terms of interaction. Traffic is not the only determining factor in whether or not your blog is reaching your targeted demographic; it’s also important to look at the level of interaction, sales percentages, click-throughs and beyond. A perfect example of what I’m talking about can be found at the official TBEX Blog, with a guest post written by William Bakker of Think! Social Media, talking about the 9 Criteria for Getting Invited on a Travel Blog Trip.

Specifically, there are three things in this particular article which are of vital importance to you as a blogger, even if you have nothing to do with the travel industry: your actual “reach” compared to the size of your audience, your actual authority within your niche, and your connection to other movers and shakers of your industry/niche.

While reach is an important metric, it is not as important as you might think – at least, not in terms of your power to influence readers. A blogger who has a smaller audience might very well have a higher influence than someone who has ten times the followers. For example, a blogger with only 2,000 Twitter followers may be of more value than one with 50,000 if those 2,000 people are passionate, engaged and more likely to be influenced by the person they follow.

Tools like Compete.comQuantcast and Alexa allow a far more realistic view of a blogger’s reach (as well as for analyzing your own data) than merely using Analytics alone, because remember, since people can buy Facebook likes, Twitter followers and beyond, raw numbers on a page don’t necessarily mean squat.

The other thing to think about is the fact that the blog itself is only one small aspect of your overall social media outreach. Consider this: while Marginal Boundaries the website has X views per day, I’m replicating that over numerous different places (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+, etc.), which means overall traffic is far larger than what Google Analytics alone is providing me with data on…and overall interactivity must be taken into account.

The website is only 1/6th of my overall traffic…and many of my Facebook readers don’t visit the website, or my YouTube, or the G+ page, and so forth, but only ever interact with my videos or buy products on Amazon…which means Analytics is a finite tool that only tracks a very small portion of my overall reach with the brand. I have users on social media outlets who only ever interact with me there and only ever buy products through the social media platforms…they never reach the actual website itself.

The Bottom Line

I personally feel that as a writer and travel blogger I have a responsibility to provide information about culture and travel, not a life of consumption and certainly not about how many hits per month my website gets or how many followers I have or the breakfast I’m eating from the balcony of X hotel or the bedroom with the Egyptian cotton sheets and the Jacuzzi in the bathroom. It almost seems to me that the generation of income bloggers are more interested in getting the next free press trip to X destination rather than providing actual, useful and pertinent information regarding a culture.

Instead of seeing stories about the people or the regions of a place, many travel blogs are full of sponsored blog posts on restaurants and hotels. Instead of learning about a culture or its people or the destination itself, we are forced to read yet another review of a hotel balcony view, the poolside bar, the restaurant, or one of the tourist hotspots promoted by the government/agency who paid for the trip.

Or worst…a blog post that is nothing more than an Instagram collage of food pictures or shots of adventure activities, such as zip-lining, cave tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, skiing, kayaking and beyond. There’s nothing of actual value to the article/post other than visual appeal. Sure, it’s fun to look at, and the photos certainly convey a sense of adventure and excitement, but where is the cultural appreciation? Where is the actual story about the people, the culture, the country and its ins and outs? 

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding myself reading fewer and fewer blogs these days because it seems that as the industry of travel blogging matures the real stories of travel are being left behind in favor of “whatever someone is paying me to write about”. And while it’s true that we all need to earn a nut to keep food on our table and fund our travels, it seems to me that some bloggers are less about actually exploring, writing about and sharing a destination or helping others with actionable advise on how to travel full time, and more about simply scoring a free trip. And as a result the real stories of culture and people and adventure and excitement are left behind in favor of virtual bragging and leveraging big-name brands who are cutting bloggers a paycheck.

I don’t want to read about your page rank. I don’t care if you have 50 followers or 50,000 followers. I could give two shits about the view from your balcony or the pool or the free mojitos or the suite with its king-sized bed. What matters to me is if you are providing me with valuable, usable content.

I want to know about traveling, not about your press kits and your Analytics numbers. I want to hear your stories about what it’s like to eat fried caterpillars in some African backwater, I want to know about the kid from Indonesia who went from being a gutter rat to a full-time traveler by learning how to design websites and make a living online. I want to read about adventures in the hidden caverns and canyons and cities and villages of a country, not about a sponsored trip to Stonehenge or the pyramids in Egypt where all you talk about is how X company or government flew you in while you promote the hotels and restaurants where you’ve racked up free meals as a result of your trip.

Tell me a story about culture. Show me the living conditions of the local people. I want to learn about the off-the-beaten path places. I want to know what it means to go to a country and live there. I want to read about immersion in a culture, how to live there and be part of the people, make local connections and do more than simply talk about numbers.

While I understand that for some travel bloggers their gig is scoring as much free stuff as possible, it has soured my view of the travel blogging industry as a whole. Perhaps it’s a personal thing, but I am much more interested in people who are actually exploring cultures and people and helping make the world a better place through exploration and sharing the Human Experience rather than read about yet another travel blogger beating their chest regarding how many free trips they took this year or who is sponsoring their next hotel stay.

When advertising trumps your content, you are no longer a travel writer; you are a puppet on a string. 

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

Beyond Borders - The Social RevolutionGet Your Copy Today!

Human Potential

When Economic Crises Hit, Expats and Entrepreneurs Thrive

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Passive Income, Quality of Life, Social Media, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

When Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist, describes his job today, he says he’s “a translator between two hostile tribes” — the education world and the business world, the people who teach our kids and the people who give them jobs. Wagner’s argument in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” is that our K-12 and college tracks are not consistently “adding the value and teaching the skills that matter most in the marketplace.

This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job — the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is being buried — made obsolete — faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education today, argues Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” — ready to add value to whatever they do.

EducationToday,” Wagner said via e-mail, “because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge.”

Read the full article over at The New York Times, courtesy of Thomas L. Friedman. 

One of my personal favorite moments from the article was when the author, Friedman, discussed the current state of affairs. “My generation had it easy. We got to “find” a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to ‘invent’ a job. (Fortunately, in today’s world, that’s easier and cheaper than ever before.) Sure, the lucky ones will find their first job, but, given the pace of change today, they will have to reinvent, re-engineer and reimagine that job much more often than their parents if they want to advance in it.”

In the age of free information, ignorance is a choice. The ability to innovate, to adapt, to evolve with the times, is crucial to your continued success on a global scale. While there are still a handful of brick-and-mortar examples that continue to hold steady (albeit in very specific, tight niches), the vast majority of jobs have moved into the digital era, which means they are available to anyone on a global basis. The above photo is accurate beyond a shadow of a doubt: information that you previously had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have access to is now available freely on the Internet, which means higher education is largely irrelevant in the modern era.

That’s not to say that there aren’t jobs which still require specialized knowledge. Dentistry, for example. Quantum physics. Neuroscience. But these are nothing more than a handful of degrees that require the use of a dedicated education system. The vast majority of other degrees (such as the world’s most over-marketed and least useful, the Masters of Business Administration) are available completely for free online.

Not only that, but there are jobs today which did not exist even as few as five years ago. Social media managers, for example. To this day, the vast majority of universities do not have a degree program for social media, nor do they have a university program for self-publishing books or blogging for a living or creating a YouTube channel and building up a brand. These are jobs which have been created out of the ether that is Virtual Reality, the digital era that we are now living in.

Automobiles. Airplanes. Telephone. Computers. Internet. WiFi. Crowd funding. Faster and faster. Onward and upward. Human ingenuity knows no bounds, for we are the children of the universe: infinite in our potential for expansion and growth.

Our understanding and growth have exponentially increased at every turn. Leaps and bounds are happening within a matter of months now, rather than decades apart. Just as the Mayans predicted with their endless cycles of compounded and sped-up cycles as things progressively begin to vibrate faster and faster and faster until we reached the end of the last era and entered into the endless possibility stage and moved into the great beyond, the infinite universe.

With the power of free information on a global scale, with global communication, comes the ability to advance the entire race forward at the same time. No more “my country versus your country”. No more nationalist beliefs holding people back from working side by side over a misguided notion that because someone was born somewhere else they are inferior. No more 99% versus 1%. No more reliance on a system of control telling you how to think, how to work, how to live. There is only the Human Experience as the entire planet works together to achieve the same goals.

We have the ability to create infinite realities merely through thought and will. To create something in a digital space and have that extend outwards into the physical realm. Blogs. Websites. YouTube videos. Digital eBooks and other products. We understand, finally, the symbiotic nature of it all, and the planet is moving away from capitalist and selfish systems of personal gratification and into a global community of sharing, networking and outward expansion and understanding.

IlliterateIn the words of Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

In short, those who cannot adapt to the times, those who refuse to evolve with the digital era, those who cannot comprehend the vastness of the universe and their own infinite potential, will be left behind.

Evolution does not wait for the weak, the slow, the ignorant. It is survival of the fittest, and only those who have the desire to educate themselves, to unplug from The Matrix, who will mature into the next stage of The Human Experience.

The only people suffering from the so-called “global crisis” are those who have put their faith in credit systems, in governments, in the so-called “higher education” system and their so-called “required” degrees. The only ones currently sitting around without any work and living third-world lives, even in first-world countries, are those who choose to be ignorant, such as this poor sap who went from a $75,000 a year job as an architect to making less than poverty-level income (according to U.S. standards) with the snap of a finger.

He has submitted more than 3,000 resumes in a period of three years, which have only generated a half-dozen interviews…and a mere $10,000 per year for his efforts, and yet despite all of this, despite thousands of hours of wasted time and energy, despite three years of watching his life savings drain away, despite the the fact that the jobs he once thrived on no longer exist, he still prefers to stay plugged into The Matrix and live within the illusion.

He cannot comprehend the changes the world is going through because he refuses to unplug, to wake up, to enlighten himself. He is, as Alvin Toffler described, one of the illiterate of the 21st century. A man living in the dark, choosing to remain ignorant when there is a world of free information at his fingertips, freely available and freely accessible to anyone, anywhere, regardless of language, birthplace, religion or color of skin.

We are living in a time of infinite possibilities. That is what the new era represents. A time of change. A time of growth. With our understanding of the universal truths, we realize that we don’t have to do things the way they have been done before. The credit system or the banking system or the so-called global crisis are nothing more than peripheral. Our focus is on the future, on the new way of doing things, on the global consciousness of the entire planet working towards common goals and expanding our knowledge of science and technology to unlock the rest of the mysteries of the universe.

The journey is far from over, my friends. The best is certainly yet to come.

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