Essays Never Normal Newsletter

Let’s Meme the World a Better Place

The world has changed, and we have a choice to make:

Should we focus on the bits or the atoms?

I’ll do my best to explain what that means and how it ties together my nomadic lifestyle, the metaverse, crypto, cows, and a radical plan to buy the constitution.

Essays Never Normal Newsletter

What’s worth owning?

My dad has a golden rule, he says: The man with the gold makes the rules.

When I was a little kid, he used to take me for walks along the perimeter of our yard.  We’d walk along all four sides and corners, as if we were inspecting the fence. And occasionally we would pause to put a fence post back in place or pick up a piece of trash, but that was never the point.

My dad wanted us to experience, viscerally, what the Montgomery County Land Records Department must’ve had documented in a dusty old book of deeds and plats somewhere — that everything within this boundary was our property and, for reasons I didn’t fully understand as a six-year old, that was important.


Normal is Broken

Society pushes us to follow a certain normal path in life. Do it and you will be rewarded, we’re told.

Study hard and work hard. Then you can buy a house, a couple of cars, and a gigantic TV. Maybe get married and have a few kids somewhere along the way. That’s supposed to be the dream, right?

Maybe it used to work that way. Or was it always just a fairytale?

These days if you follow what’s normal, you don’t end up healthy, wealthy, and happy. 

Instead, you end up sick, miserable, and under a mountain of debt.


Escape. Explore. Experience.

This is a mini-manifesto I wrote in 2014, before this website existed in it’s current form.

The default path is not for everyone. You don’t need to borrow a bunch of money and go to a university just to learn something. Don’t waste your life stuck in traffic. Being successful doesn’t have to mean spending the next 30 years sitting in a cubicle at some corporate job you hate. You don’t need a bigger house or a new car. Owning more stuff won’t make you happy.


Does a Cloud Country Need Land?

I wrote recently, It’s time to start a new country. A digital country.

I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Balaji Srinivasan discussed the topic on an epic episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast (episode 506) an in a recent post on, How to Start a New Country.

Balaji proposes that a “network state” would form online first, and then eventually acquire land. I think land is a bug, not a feature, for a cloud country. Land is an attack vector. It can be seized and invaded by other countries. Land is zero sum.

Of course, you could argue that the solution to that is to have an army. Build strong defenses. But pretty soon you’re back to being a regular country.

Instead, my vision for cloud countries is to create a complementary system of citizenship that exists alongside the current model (the same way that cryptocurrencies have emerged and coexist with traditional currencies). People could then “opt-in” to digital citizenship(s).

We could end up with one dominant cloud country, or many competing cloud countries serving their own niches.

These cloud countries could eventually provide their citizens with many of the services that local governments do now. Things like:

  • social security and health insurance (SafetyWing is working on this already)
  • currency (cryptos have already “unbundled” this from government),
  • online school systems
  • vital records, like birth and marriage certificates

A cloud country could even have it’s own court system. People and businesses could simply choose a specific cloud court jurisdiction when making a contract, like an arbitrator (also similar to the way corporations incorporate in Delaware, even if they have no real physical presence there).

Once you think about it, there are plenty of things that we rely on governments to do now, but there’s no reason that any of these services need to be tied to or administered by local governments.

In this model, land-based governments would still retain sovereignty over, continue to administer, and make laws regarding their own territories. Things like building and maintaining roads, zoning laws, and police would remain under the control of local governments.


A Digital Country

It’s time to start a new country. A digital country.

We live in a world that no longer colors neatly within the lines of traditional nation states. A world connected by a global internet and dominated by multinational corporations. And yet as individuals, our freedoms and opportunities — our destinies — are still restricted and shaped by whichever plot of land we happened to be born upon.

Let’s change that.

Growing up in America, I was taught (and still believe) that America is more than just a place. America is an ideal. A way of looking at the world and how it ought to be. To be an American is to belong to a special club with a shared set of common values and beliefs.

Critics and cynics can point out all of America’s flaws and injustices (there are many), but the point still stands. For the last few centuries, freedom and opportunity seeking people from all over the world have come to join our great American experiment. 

But why should they need to move? In a more perfect world, freedom and opportunity would be available to all, regardless of where they happen to live.

That’s not to say that America should run the world (although we’ve certainly tried), or that the rest of the world should adopt America’s values, or even that American values are the “correct” values. Nor is this a call to create some terrifying “one world” umbrella government. And the goal is not to build a community online for the purpose of purchasing and taking over some piece of land to form a new country. 

Instead, the goal is to create a complementary system of citizenship that exists alongside the current model (the same way that cryptocurrencies have emerged and coexist with traditional currencies). People could then “opt-in” to digital citizenship(s) based on shared values, desired privileges, or any other criteria they choose.

It starts with creating one digital country.

To be continued…


Quality Questions

I’m excited to announce a little project that I’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while now (and I would love to have your feedback on).

For more than 10 years now I’ve been immersed in the world of self improvement — books, lectures, seminars, coaches, a private mastermind group in Switzerland, and more…

Here’s what I’ve learned:


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

Enter your email address below and I will notify you as soon as a spot opens up for you to join.

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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?


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.


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

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…


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.