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There Are Two Different Economies

I remember going to the shopping mall with my mom when I was younger. At the time there was a recession and all you heard on TV was that the economy was crashing, unemployment was on the rise, and people were struggling.

But when we got to the mall, the parking lot was full of new BMWs and Mercedes. You couldn’t even find a place to park. Inside, the mall was packed. It wasn’t just teenagers hanging out after school. People were shopping — buying designer clothes, jewelry, and expensive consumer electronics.

As we watched people pass with more shopping bags than they could carry, my mom said to me, “No recession in here.”

She was right.

It’s like there were two completely different economies. The one we heard about on TV, and the one we saw that day at the mall.

The same thing is happening again right now.

Economists are warning that we are headed for another recession or even a second great depression.

Even the fancy stores aren’t safe this time. Neiman Marcus could declare bankruptcy this week. They are not alone. Analysts predict that 100,000 more stores will go out of business soon too.

But not all businesses are hurting.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has gotten 24 billion dollars richer since the start of the coronavirus lockdowns.

This “two different economies” phenomenon isn’t limited to retail shopping.

Online meeting software Zoom has seen usage skyrocket from 10 million users per day a few months ago to more than 200 million users per day now.

Meanwhile TechCrunch reports that WeWork, the co-working and office space rental company, has stopped paying rent and that “Commercial real estate could be in trouble, even after COVID-19 is over.”

​“Remote work is something we’re thinking a lot about right now,” says Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis at the commercial real estate services giant CBRE. “People are right now being forced to do it,” but “I think some will inevitably stick” to working remotely, he says.

​​None of us can predict the future, but one thing is pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention:

The companies that are able to take advantage of technology and make money online are the ones that will survive.

But what has all this got to do with you?

Well, the same rule applies to people…

Over the past few weeks, more than 22 million people in America have filed for unemployment (the previous record high for a single week was about 670,000 people)!

Yet those of us who work online are mostly unaffected. Even if offices are closed, we can work from home just about anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

You might think that these are all just short-term effects of the coronavirus crisis, but they are actually part of a much bigger trend that’s been going on for years.

In his 2013 book, Average is Over, Tyler Cowen wrote the following:

​Lacking the right training means being shut out of opportunities like never before…workers will come to be classified into two categories… The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you?

​If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery. If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch. Ever more people are starting to fall on one side of the divide or the other. That’s why average is over.​

The bottom line is this: If you’re not taking advantage of technology and the internet to earn your living, sooner or later you’re going to get left behind.

What if you never had to go to work again?

Office Escape Plan is my program for people who want to break free from the daily grind of commuting to a cubicle and start living life on their terms instead. Join me and I will walk you through a step-by-step process for creating your very own Office Escape Plan. In this course, we will cover:

  • The most important thing you must do to escape
  • What a successful Office Escape Plan looks like
  • The best careers for digital nomads and remote workers
  • How to convert a “stuck-at-the-office job” into a remote job
  • How to find a new remote job that you can do from home… anywhere in the world
  • How to quit your job and triple your hourly pay
  • Turning your plan into reality: How to take action and make it happen

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5 Ways the Coronavirus Crisis is Changing the World and Creating New Business Opportunities

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’

One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity.

In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.

― John F. Kennedy

This week marks the end of the lockdown in Wuhan, China, nearly three months after it began. Here in Spain, and across the Mediterranean in Italy, the worst-hit countries in Europe, we appear to be passing the peak. There are signs of hope in parts of Asia and in America too.

But this crisis is still far from over. Of the more than 1.6 million known, confirmed cases in the world, only about 365,000 are listed as recovered. And experts warn that if the lockdowns are lifted now, the virus will surge again. So as the crisis rages on outside, most of us are stuck inside doing our part to stop the spread.

We are left to wonder what the world will look like when we finally re-emerge back into it. What will be the “new normal”? Which businesses and industries will be forever changed? And which new habits and behaviors that we have adopted during the crisis will stick with us long after it’s over?

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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.

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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?