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My Coronavirus Hopes, Fears, and Predictions

(a tweet storm turned blogpost)

My hope is that we figure out how to contain the spread before it gets much worse. Maybe look to SE Asia for answers. Singapore has had cases since December, but the spread has been relatively slow, especially given the population density. Is it humidity? Containment measures?

My fear: We have collectively squandered months of lead time since outbreak began. Our governments spent that time pretending this is “just the flu” and trying to calm the markets instead of building hospitals and more ventilators, or buying and distributing masks and supplies.

The only real response has been to limit travel from some countries, but it’s too late. The virus is already everywhere. In a few weeks the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed. Hospitals fill up and patients are turned away.

Highly contagious virus combined with shortages of PPE mean that many heroic doctors and nurses sacrifice everything. At the same time, most of us are not willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of society. “It’s not going to affect me… Why should I have to quarantine”

This is due to our highly individualistic nature and also because most of us in the West don’t have experience with outbreaks (like SARS) so we don’t take them very seriously. Outside of Asia, I’ve never had my temperature taken in public or seen locals wearing masks when sick.

Containment measures will be challenged legally due to NIMBYism (“you can’t quarantine those people here”) and politics (“Trump is trying to stop us from voting”) as well as practically due to confusion between city, county, state, and federal agencies. Leaving it up to…

…Private companies and individuals. Office workers will work from home (Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, Google have already done this). Schools and universities go remote (Stanford has cancelled in-person classes). Concerts, sporting events, and conferences will be cancelled.

Businesses will suffer, starting with travel industry. Cruise ship operators go bankrupt, then airlines and hotels. Sadly many local businesses (restaurants, salons, spas) close too. They have tight cashflow in good times and no cushion to survive even a few weeks of no business

Each of these will have ripple effects that take down other businesses and industries. Like 2008, the banks and insurance companies holding the policies and loans will be businesses hit hardest of all. But what happens to hourly and gig workers and uninsured people?

Trump will do everything in his power and more to prop up the economy for as long as possible (fed will print money/several rounds of QE). But you can only do so much to stimulate demand if people are locked inside. “If only the economy can hold on until after the election…”

Speaking of election, aren’t all the candidates men over 70 (highest risk group) traveling around the country shaking hands and kissing babies? Seems like only a matter of time until a politician or someone famous contracts the virus. Maybe then we will start taking it seriously.

My hope, part 2: I could be 100% totally wrong. I pray that I am. After all, God only knows what the future holds. But assuming that I am wrong, it seems sensible to prepare and defend against #BlackSwan #LongTail threats that have a non-zero chance of killing millions of people.

If my fears do come to pass, hopefully there will still be a few bright spots in all of this (every crisis brings an opportunity). #CoronaVirus Winners:

  • eSports
  • Twitch
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • Streaming (Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Spotify, Amazon Music + Prime Video)
  • Amazon Kindle / eBooks
  • Apple and Google’s app stores and digital content (but will they still be able to release new devices?)
  • Software as a Service (like SalesForce.com)
  • Remote work and related tools (Slack, Zoom, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, DropBox, etc)
  • Telemedicine
  • Online therapists
  • Meditation and relaxation apps like Calm and Headspace
    Online education
  • Peloton (although it might be hard to sell new bikes and hold in-person classes)
  • Online yoga videos
  • Grocery delivery services (but for how long?)
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What I learned about the Future of Work by spending three days with 300 remote workers and digital nomads

I just wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Nomad City conference in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

I had the honor of sharing the stage here with other digital nomads and remote work advocates, including representatives from companies like Microsoft and Automattic (the people behind WordPress.com).

After three days of workshops, keynotes, and a BarCamp-style “unconference”, I left filled with even more energy and excitement about this movement.

Now is the perfect time to become a remote worker or digital nomad

Let me tell you why…

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Eating My Way Across Uzbekistan – Part 1

My first morning in Uzbekistan, and I’m exhausted. The journey here has taken days. I only fell asleep a few hours ago, but the morning sun is already burning through our hotel room windows.  Unable to sleep any longer, I decided to go for a walk.

Most of the city is still asleep, save for a few birds and the odd policeman. I wandered through the old covered bazaars and caravanserai, past the mosques and medressas that will be packed with tourists in a few hours, and started down one of Bukhara’s dusty back streets.

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Can you earn $105,900 tax-free traveling the world as a digital nomad?

This article explores how you may be able to take advantage of being a digital nomad to significantly reduce or even eliminate your U.S. personal income taxes.

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The World According to Instagram

Instagram now has over one billion users. That’s roughly three times the population of the entire United States, sharing and liking photos and videos. Not exactly a well-kept secret, but I think most people underestimate just how massive the “Instagram effect” can be. Especially when it comes to discovering new trends. Instagram influences the way we dress, the things we buy, and the food we eat. But what about travel? How has Instagram changed the way we travel?

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What’s my favorite place in the world? Why do I love to travel?

Check out this short video of a talk I gave at a conference in Nevada earlier this year.

Side note: I planned to speak about my predictions for the future of work, but a day or so before my talk, I changed topics. I was sitting at the table with a well-known motivational speaker / mentor who earns a living on the paid speaking circuit. When he heard about my lifestyle, he said I’ve got to talk about travel, so that’s what I did.

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Oh the places I (still) want to go…

When I tell people that I have lived for years as a nomad, traveling all the time, they often say to me, “You must have been everywhere by now!”

No way!

I am very fortunate, having traveled to many countries, but there are so many more that I have not yet visited. I am missing two whole continents (I have never been to Australia or Antarctica) and I’ve only just scratched the surface of Africa.

Even in Europe, where I’ve done the most exploring, I still have a handful of countries left to visit… like Scotland, Sweden, and Norway in the North; Cyprus and Malta in the South; also Belarus, and a few of the Balkans. Closer to home, I’ve never even been to Mexico, Central America, or anywhere in the Caribbean!

I don’t travel for the sake of “checking countries off my list.”  Instead, I go to the places that interest me the most. I also revisit my favorite places as often as I can. As for the rest, I figure I’ll get there eventually.

But there are plenty of new places that I am very eager to visit. Here are a few of the ones that excite me the most at the moment:

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Bourdain

Very few people have touched my life the way Anthony Bourdain has. I’ve read and re-read his books. Watched his shows. Listened to him lecture. Read other books because he liked them. Reading Kitchen Confidential convinced me not to pursue a career in restaurants. I was born into the industry, and as much as I love it, I’ve kept a safe distance as an adult (thanks, Tony!).

But it was reading A Cook’s Tour that changed everything for me.

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Journey to Patagonia: Part 1

April 13, 2018

Arrival in Buenos Aires.

I just traveled for an entire day to get here. Uber from Cascais to Lisbon, three hour flight from Lisbon to Frankfurt, and a 14 hour non-stop flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires. Then the taxi ride from the airport to my Airbnb in Palermo took so long that I had to ask the driver to stop for a bathroom break. There was an accident on the main road, so we took a detour. So did everyone else. A few more detours later and we were on a road that was only partially paved, and surrounded by trash heaps.

Even after all that, I’m a little surprised to actually be here. I almost cancelled this entire trip to South America. It sounded fun, but too disruptive. There’s too much going on in my life. Work is busy! I need to get back to DC. All the usual excuses. Plus, this was supposed to be the year to slow down a bit, travel a little less, and spend more time in one place. Instead, I’ve been to five continents in five months.

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Billion Dollar Business Idea

I have a billion dollar business idea that I’m going to share with you. I’m sure that sounds like an exaggeration or a trick. Nope. I honestly believe this idea could generate a billion dollars of revenue for whoever implements it. And I’m going to share the idea with the world, for free, here in this post.

Why?