Never Normal Newsletter

Your Alternate Reality, What I’m Building, and 0% Tax

Most of what I write in this newsletter is about how to break free from the default plan and create a life you love. And on the Never Normal podcast, I share examples and stories of people who have done just that.

But the truth is, as much as I love thinking and writing about bending the rules and changing the world, the most important changes are always in our own minds.

That’s why the first line of my journal every single day — before I get to the goals and to do lists and notes about what I’m learning — is gratitude.

“Creating a life you love” requires taking the time and making the effort to love your life.

And it’s in that spirit that I want to share this…

Never Normal Newsletter

Startup Cities and Loving Where You Live

Hola from sunny Valencia 🌞

Last week I wrote about home-as-a-service and living in Airbnbs full-time.

This week I’ve got a new episode of my Never Normal podcast with guest Jonathan Hillis, founder of Creator Cabins and the Cabin DAO.

Prior to founding Creator Cabins, Jon was Director of Product, Shoppers, and Marketplace at Instacart, where during the pandemic, he grew their workforce of shoppers 500%. 🤯

All of this gives Jon some unique insights into both the creator and gig economies, crypto, and where are all of this is heading.

He also recently published an excellent essay on the history of centralization and decentralization cycles in Western Civilization that we discuss in detail in the episode.

You can find this episode of Never Normal, plus show notes, links to everything we discussed, and a transcript here.

After we recorded, Jon and the Cabin DAO were featured in a New Yorker article about DAO’s:

The group created a token, which it sold to crowdfund a budget, and allowed the token holders to vote on who would be granted residencies. One attendee, Julian Weisser, later helped create ConstitutionDAO while staying at the cabin.

There are now around two hundred and eighty token holders able to vote on Cabin’s future. Hillis described the organization as a “decentralized city,” aiming to build spaces around the world and connect them through digital tools.

Jon and the Cabin DAO are not the only ones building a new city…

Startup Cities

I’ve mentioned startup cities like Telosa before. Now it looks like tech entrepreneurs building new cities is becoming a trend:

Silicon Valley is now in the business of building cities. Everywhere you look, founders are launching efforts to build new communities and entirely new cities.

Culdesac, a company building a1,000 resident walkable community in Tempe, Arizona, co-founded by Y Combinator alumnus Ryan Johnson, just announced a $30 million Series A raise. founder and Walmart eCommerce executive Marc Lore is planning to build Telosa, a 5 million resident city of the future somewhere in the American West.

Before he builds a city on Mars, Elon Musk is building a city in Texas around the SpaceX launch site. Silicon Valley is enthralled with Próspera, a new city focused partly on the remote work economy, located on the Honduran island of Roatán.

I find all of this exciting and inspiring, but realistically, building a new city is a huge, ambitious project and it’s going to take a long time. Fortunately, if you don’t like the place you live, you don’t have to build a new city…

Just Find a Place You Love

Spending time in a place that you love — a place the gives you energy instead of draining it —has to be one of the most underrated “life hacks”.

I just got off the phone with a friend and fellow digital nomad who is based in Phuket, Thailand at the moment. He was telling me that his company is thriving and he’s in the process of raising capital for a new venture.

“It’s all happening at once” and he’s “working non-stop”, but he said he doesn’t feel stressed.

“Why not?”, I asked.

“Because I’m staring at the ocean while I work. And whenever I want I can take break and go for a walk on the beach for 20 minutes with my girlfriend” (also helps that he’s doing work he loves and finds meaningful).

Want to Become a Digital Nomad Too?

I’m planning to offer a live, online course on becoming a digital nomad soon. I’ll be teaching how to take your life on the road and experience the best the world has to offer.

What questions do you have about becoming a digital nomad? I want to make sure I address them all in the course.

Take a moment now and send me any questions you have and I’ll send you a private discount when the course goes live as a special ‘thank you’.

Lightning Round ⚡

A few quick posts from social media that I want to share with you.

I love this post from Visualize Value on Instagram – clever and concise as always:

And a related thought from me on Twitter:

That’s all for this week. More soon!

Not a subscriber?

I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

Want to learn along with me? Join my Never Normal Newsletter:

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Home-as-a-Service? Living in Airbnb vs Buying a House for 1 Euro

Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, tweeted: “Starting today, I’m living on Airbnb. I’ll be staying in a different town or city every couple weeks.”

As longtime readers know, this is something that I started doing in 2012. Since then, I’ve lived in Airbnbs (as well as other short-term rental apartments and the occasional hotel room) in hundreds of cities across 50 countries.

Never Normal Newsletter

Creator Cabins, Charisma, and Carving Your Own Path 🪓

Last week I shared my latest Never Normal podcast episode, How to Take a Year Off and Balance Your Life with Vikram Seth.

We got some great feedback and questions (“how do you afford to take an unpaid sabbatical?”, “what happened after the one year ended?”), so Vikram and I just recorded a follow-up episode.

A decentralized city built by creators, for creators

I also recorded a new episode with Jonathan Hillis. Jon is at the forefront of so many interesting areas in technology right now.

He’s the founder of Creator Cabins, which started as a single cabin in the Texas Hill Country, a place to gather face-to-face with friends from the internet. But it’s morphing into something much bigger…

Never Normal Newsletter

Taking a Year Off, 10 Days of Silence, and a Very Long Walk

This week I’ve got a new Never Normal podcast episode to share!

How to Take a Year Off and Balance Your Life with Vikram Seth

By day, Vikram Seth is a Senior Economist working on renewable energy at Shell. By night, he is the co-founder of Bounce Bhangra, an award winning combination of high energy cardio and Indian dance.

At heart, Vikram is a philosopher. Someone who spends much of his time thinking deeply about life and the meaning of it all.

In this episode we talk about how Vikram has cultivated balance between a demanding career, his personal passions, and his spiritual side.

In this episode we discuss:

Never Normal Newsletter

New Year’s Resolutions and Annual Reviews

Happy New Year! 🎉

Last week I shared 21 Super Interesting Things I Learned in 2021.

Thanks for all of the feedback, shares, and replies. It looks like I’m going to have to do another list like that again soon, but not just yet…

For the past week I’ve been busy reflecting on the last year and thinking a lot about goals and plans for the year ahead.

My New Year’s Resolution

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s too hard to pick just one thing for a whole year.

But this past weekend, I was taking a break from all the thinking and planning. I was in the park, being silly and climbing trees, playing with my daughter, and dancing with my wife.

Suddenly, it hit me. This is it!

Never Normal Newsletter

21 Super Interesting Things I Learned in 2021

1. Let’s Start with Hello 👋

The word “Hello” dates back to around 1820, and it only came into common usage in English after the invention of the telephone. Before that, people greeted each other with phrases like “Good Day”.

It was Thomas Edison who suggested “Hello” as the word to say when you answer a phone. Alexander Graham Bell (and Mr. Burns) preferred “Ahoy!”

That’s not the only common word that’s pretty new…

Never Normal Newsletter

Climbing Hills, Setting Goals, and Learning to Read

Last week I wrote about finding yourself and whether it’s a “success killer” to travel in your youth (instead of going all-in on career early on).

Reader Lukas replied to say:

This is great! Thanks for writing it!

I also enjoyed the McAskill quote about “spending 5% of your time deciding how to spend the 95%”.

I’m now wondering about the different ways on where to place those 5% … most of it at the beginning of your career (= the travel and finding yourself) or sprinkled throughout your life (= short sabbaticals)? I assume the latter is better because plans and goals keep changing.

Here’s my take:

Never Normal Newsletter

Should you spend time finding yourself? Is travel a “success killer”?

Last week I wrote about what it’s like to become a digital nomad these days and shared a few recent podcast interviews.

This week I planned to write about Web3 and some of the interesting projects I’ve come across recently, but then my little corner of the internet blew up a few days ago, thanks to this tweet:

Needless to say, I couldn’t disagree more (I finally understand what the phrase “triggered” means). I feel so strongly, that I decided to make this the topic of this week’s Never Normal newsletter instead.

Never Normal Newsletter

Become a Digital Nomad, Pursue your Dreams, and Connect with More People

Last week I wrote about the self-tenured class, the pursuit of wealth, and working on what you love.

This week I’ve got a three new podcast interviews related to becoming a digital nomad and launching new ventures to share with you (plus a crazy love story).

What’s it like becoming a digital nomad these days?

In the past, one of the biggest challenges of becoming a digital nomad was finding a way to make money without being tied to a single location.

Now, since the pandemic hit and remote work has become much more common, there are new challenges and opportunities for those who want to go nomadic.

But at least one thing remains the same…

Never Normal Newsletter

Moderate Hedonism, Peter’s Mystery Box, and the Self-Tenured Class

How I got wealthy without working too hard

This “here’s how I did it” guide written by a pseudonymous Italian software developer advocates “a sort of Moderate Hedonism”:

If you are a Software developer, it’s easier than ever to become a millionaire. What most haven’t figured out yet, is how to become wealthy without working too hard.

It’s full of life, career, and investment advice, plus little gems like this:

Money is literally defined as exponential so, don’t sit on your linear ass.

But the idea that stuck out to me the most is this:

When making life decisions, going in the direction of more money can be wise. However, we must keep in mind that when we choose money, we don’t choose much. We just decide to decide later.

That’s a really good way to frame it. Reminds me of the “deferred life plan” Tim Ferriss wrote about in the Four-Hour Work Week.

That kind of logic also reminds me of this bit from Family Guy. It’s silly, but: How often do we make ‘mystery box’ decisions in our own lives?

Rise of The ‘Self-Tenured’ Class

Sam Lessin tweeted a mini-essay highlighting The Power and Scale of The Crypto ‘Self-Tenured’ Class.

In academia, tenured is shorthand for “unfireable.” In this case, Sam is pointing out that there is now a big group of young and very smart people who have made enough money in the last few years (thanks to building or betting on crypto) that never need to work again.

That gives them the freedom to work on whatever they want to, without worrying about pleasing a boss, hitting quarterly numbers, or needing to make a profit ever.

When I read the phrase self-tenured, the first person who comes to mind is Elon Musk. The story goes that after Elon netted $180 million from selling PayPal to eBay, he invested $100 million in SpaceX, $70 million in Tesla, $10 million in SolarCity, and had to borrow money to pay his rent.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, you might say that those were obvious/easy investments to make, but at the time, they were anything but.

I wonder what interesting things will the new self-tenured generation will build?

Which Should You Choose? Advice from a Billionaire…

You could read the two sections above as somewhat conflicting advice about work and wealth.

One is saying, “don’t waste your life working too hard, just earn enough to live well” and the other is saying, “if you make enough money early on, you can spend the rest of your life doing whatever you want.”

So which should you choose?

Enter Ray Dalio (billionaire and head of the world’s largest hedge fund).

In his best-selling book, Principles, Ray encourages us to, “figure out how you can have as much of both as possible”:

How can we apply that logic here? In this case, choosing both means:

  • Working on whatever you want to work on
  • Earning enough money to live well, and
  • Having enough time outside of work to enjoy life

Doesn’t that sound like the ideal work/life plan?

(see also: my chat with Paul Millerd and post on time millionaires)

Think it’s too good to be true?

These People Chose “Both”

Ryan Hoover, founder of ProductHunt, recently asked on Twitter:If money was no object, what would you do with your life…

It’s fascinating to read the responses. Especially the number of people who said something along the lines of, “the same thing I’m doing now.”

What would you do?

If money was no object, what would you do?

If your answer is something other than what you’re doing right now, then:

a) Good for you for being honest
b) Good for you for having some ambition, and
c) You should ask yourself: Is there some way I can do that thing now?

Even if you can’t magically flip a switch, closing the gap between how you spend your days now and whatever you’d like to do instead should be at the top of your to do list.

Is there something holding you back?

Send me a DM and let me know. I’d love to hear from you. Maybe there’s some way I can help…

That’s all for this week. More soon!

Featured images courtesy of SpaceX

Not a subscriber?

I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

Want to learn along with me? Join my Never Normal Newsletter:

Never Normal Newsletter

Mozart’s Farts, Becoming a Better Dad, Tensegrity, and American Anarchy

Last week I wrote let’s meme the world a better place. This week I’ve got a new podcast episode and an assortment of related things I’ve been learning, listening to, and thinking about.

It all starts with a tiny push

Even though you know exactly what’s going to happen, it’s still pretty amazing to watch this short video (dripping with high school science class vibes), and see that it actually works.

Beyond the physics, there’s an important lesson here about the power of taking action — even a very small action — that kicks off a chain reaction.

Can you apply this to your life or business? What’s the first domino that you need to knock down on the path to achieving your goal? 🤔

BTW – If you like thought experiments like this, check out Quality Questions. Speaking of asking lots of questions…