My Past Month

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Exactly one month ago I was waking up in the sleepy Vietnam beach town of Nha Trang in an $8 per night hotel room, I spent the last 27 hours broken down on the side of a highway in Wyoming in a Semi-Truck. I could not have predicted this change of events. I spent most of my time in Vietnam recovering from a cold. From Vietnam I traveled to Manila, Philippines for 2 weeks. During that time in Manila I became incredibly bored and somewhat homesick. I decided to get back into trucking because I realized during the three months I was away that I really loved to drive around the USA. I initially treated trucking as a side job on the way to bigger and better things but the trade grew on me to the point I would rather be on the open road then on some tropical beach. I was preparing to start an import-export business but did not get the paperwork finished before I left on the trip so to curb some boredom I took on investing as a side job. I made some money investing on short term gains in the stock market but realized it was better to have a passive income source then to depend on gains that may or may not happen. I then realized trucking might be a pathway to a passive income stream. Own at least a few trucks, hire drivers to fill them, and have logistic companies and carriers manage the freight. All you have to do is pay the bills, manage the drivers, and file the paperwork. If you get bored you can always drive one of your trucks for awhile. So that is the path I am going to take for at least the next few years.  Our modern economy is heavily reliant on transportation so there is diversity in customers no matter where the market swings. I say travel endlessly til you figure out what you want to do. Well the three month trip in SE Asia served that purpose.

After about a week in Manila I called up a carrier named Western Express and they offered me a job doing flatbed work. Sounded great so I traveled to Las Vegas for an adjustment period and when I called back the company they said they won’t have trucks for two weeks and they don’t even hire flatbed drivers for my area and I would have to stick to regular van loads. What? I’m not dealing with this company again. So I called up a company named Werner Enterprises and got things set up with them instead. After the initial onboarding process in Southern California I am assigned my first load to Eastern Oregon. After navigating myself away from the LA area traffic I find myself on an empty highway in the Mojave Desert. Yes, it only took a month but I finally feel I am home again. After a day and half roaming through the less visited but very beautiful parts of California, Nevada, and Oregon I make an easy drop at a Wal-Mart distribution center. In over the road trucking most often all you have do in a delivery and pickup is uncouple a trailer, pick up another trailer and then you’re on your way. No loading involved. It’s an easy job once you get the hang of things. After the Oregon load I pick up my next load going to St. Louis. Everything was normal until shortly after I passed Rock Springs, WY. My speed started to drop so I pulled over to a parking area for trucks off the side of the highway. Once stopped I can’t get past 2nd gear. I have no cell phone coverage in the area so I have to rely on the trucks computer to communicate with dispatchers. That sure slowed things down, it took 15 hours to even get someone to look at my truck, and a total of 27 hours to be hooked on a tow truck. I was only 20 miles from Rock Springs. Things probably would have been faster if I had cell coverage because dispatchers respond faster when you are bugging them constantly via calls vs emails. I had not made a shopping run yet in my new truck so I had to survive with just a large cup of iced tea I had purchased earlier in the day for 27 hours. It was boring, I read every manual in the truck and discovered my onboard computer had solitaire games on it but I survived. From some sleepy beach town in SE asia to a highway in Wyoming is just a normal month for me and I would not trade this lifestyle for anything.

Rush hour in Manila.

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I firmly believe only cowards take taxi’s. Manila is the most densely populated city on earth and I tackle it during rush hour. My journey was only a mile yet it took over an hour to get there via Malina’s MRT. I could have walked faster. In fact I could have twisted my ankle and hopped on one foot faster than the congestion of this mass transit system allowed.  After waiting in a 20 minute long security queue it took 8 trains before I finally manage to squeeze a spot in. Here’s a play by play analysis.

Round 1-3

I politely hover on the side of the mob hoping to get into the train. Absolutely no way. People can’t even get out of the train and are forced to continue on to the next station.

Round 4

New strategy, join another mob near the center of the station away from the exits. Don’t even get close to the door.

Round 5

Using some skills I haven’t used since offensive line practice in high school football I manage to get in front of the door behind 4 rows of people of course. I’m squeezed like a sardine trying to nough myself into the door. At this rate only 4 people are getting in per train.

Round 6

Being the only westerner in the station I look out of place especially since I am the tallest person, sporting long blonde hair and a ginger beard. This round I push with all my might and manage to move a half a foot and nearly lose a shoe in the process. Someday it will happen. Someday I will acquire some real estate in this hell hole of a transit system but until that day I just hope I don’t get pushed on to the tracks from the momentum of the mob behind me.

Round 7

I manage to force a nudge in the middle and get my hand inside the door before I am squeezed to the corner of the door. The door closes with it sliding across my rib-cage. I am way too involved to come this far and quit like a sane person. I am not going to give up and let Manila get the best of me.

Round 8

Finally success, I pushed and pushed, prevented another soul from exiting the train but at least I manage to squeeze a spot in with my shorts falling down in the process. But I don’t care, what is a normal commute for everybody else is a triumph for me at this point.

Just two stations being trapped against an army of Filipinos and I arrive at my stop safe and sound. I wasn’t even in the busy part of Manila.

Buses in Thailand

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Train vs Bus. In Thailand you commonly have two options for cheap regional travel and I for one prefer the bus. By all means you should take a Thai train at least once for the experience but when you have been there and done that you will learn the bus gives you more value for your money. Thai trains are slow, often late, and offer few perks other than being the cheapest mode. For just a little more money you can take a VIP Thai bus which are almost like flying in a premium cabin. Buses in Thailand also have better schedules and more frequency than the train.  I recently took a Nong Khai Air bus from Udon Thani to Bangkok. The nine hour bus ride was comfortable. The seats were bucket style, reclined about 160 degrees, plenty of leg room, and even had a message feature. There was even on-demand video with recent hollywood movies (only in Thai of course). The bus had an attendant dressed like a airline stewardess who provided blankets, two snacks, and a meal over the 9 hour journey.

Why can’t busses be like that in America? Instead of buses for regional travel, people fly regional airlines or drive which is not very economical. The bus system in America primary provided by Greyhound is an absolute disgrace, buses are rarely on time and there are no perks to speak of. If someone could provide a luxury bus service in America it could outcompete regional airlines for the price. I worked for a regional airline and did not understand why someone would pay an extra $300 to take a 30 minute flight to save two hours of time. For even $30 per person a bus could provide the same service. I paid $17 for that nine hour bus ride in Thailand where gas is more expensive than the U.S. . I predict the regional airline industry in the U.S. will collapse eventually but there is not a replacement industry in place yet. I don’t think trains are realistic in America not because of the infrastructure but mostly because the labor union that controls the government run Amtrak would not allow privatization.   So until Greyhound or some newcomer gets their act together people will continue to pay exorbitant prices for their regional travel needs.

Investing in the 80/20 Principle

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I’ve put my entrepreneurial projects on hold for now and have started focusing on investing as a job. Entrepreneurship is great but it requires other people who are willing to risk their time on an unproven idea. I have not found anybody willing to work for an equity stake and do not have the capital to guarantee a years worth of salary so I might as well take up investing full time. When I started investing in the stock market I was surprised by the above market returns I was gaining and decided that by simply investing for short term gains I can fund my travels. I use the 80/20 principle as a foundation for my investment decisions. 80/20 is rooted in power distribution theory and the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it basically states 80% of the output is generated by 20% of the input. 80% of investment returns are generated by 20% of your investments. By just focusing on the 20% of the market the is producing the most you can realize the most gains. The 80/20 principle has applications across the societal spectrum from simple processes in nature to worldwide trends. Here are some tips I have learned while investing on the 80/20 principle.

 

1) Pick the right time of day.

The New York markets open at 09:30 EST and the first three hours of trading represent the majority of gains so I really just focus on making gains in the first three hours. The first 15 minutes of trading is essentially a gamble so I wait and see where the market is going. If there are too many surprises I just decide not to invest that day.

 

2) Pick the right time of year.

Historically the markets generally gain from October to December. When December rolls around it is wise to either put your money in less volatile stocks or keep it in the money market entirely and wait for the next upswing.

 

3) Pick the right industries

Over history companies that are spending resources developing new technology have realized the most gains. Cloud computing, 3D printing, and Biotech is the most rapidly developing technology today. It takes it bit more research to determine the value of an unproven technology but just think about the biggest problems in the world today and what technology has the potential to solve those problems then find the companies working on that technology. Many industries have become saturated and there is no room for growth. Find the companies with the most potential for growth.

4) Find the momentum

If you are only in an investment for the short term find a volatile stock based on your screening and buy right after a huge loss. Other traders most likely undervalued the stock and that is when you see the most gains on the upswing. Buy low, sell high.

5) Don’t be greedy

The moment you are surprised by a return, sell it, and lock in the gains. Most people hold on longer than they should just out of pure greed and end up not locking up gains.

6) Reinvest gains

I have a goal of building wealth rather than building income. The majority of the world only cares about income and do not understand that by building wealth you have more resources to grow. I only transfer 30% of my profits into my checking account. The rest goes into the principle so my wealth can gain. There will be a point where I can live off of 20% or even 10% of my gains. If you have a model of reinvesting gains then your wealth will grow on an exponential level to support whatever income you want at the end.

Investing in volatile stocks backed by unproven technology is the opposite of what mainstream analysts advice. But you have to consider those mainstream analysts operate on a different scale as they primarily advise institutional investors and not someone with a small portfolio. If I was running a multi-million dollar fund I would not risk the volatility that is present in tech in small cap companies, but at my scale, what do I have to lose? Consider the worst case scenario that you lose everything. You don’t have much to begin with, and if you should fail you can regain what you lost rather fast by simply working. Consider the best case scenario, which there is no limit to. I see the best case scenario rewards outweigh the worst case scenario consequences. So what if I have to go back to trucking for 6 months, but if everything works out I can continue to travel on my own terms for as long as I want. Nothing bad about that.

 

My take on Pai, Thailand

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Pai, Thailand is an excellent place for those who just like to sit back, relax and watch the world go by while sipping your beverage of choice. My routine for the past week has consisted of getting up in the early morning to hike in the fog. Once the fog lifts I return for a breakfast and I just veg out all day reading and occasionally napping. Once the sun goes down I partake in some fun with the other travelers, then I work on my computer making some money til I fall asleep. The hustle and bustle of Bangkok can make anybody tired but here in Pai you seem to gain more energy as the days go by. I wouldn’t mind retiring in a small town surrounded by a tropical mountainous jungle. I say it beats the beach any day of the week. There is more adventure in the mountains anyway. The mountains tend to attract the right mix of people too, save for the douchebag Canadians I met who were dumb enough to buy some coke in a country where you can get a life sentence for mere possession. I don’t know but I might just stay here til my visa runs out in December.

How to fake proof of onward travel

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I like to book one-way tickets overseas when I do not know my return date. For the most part you can save money vs having to pay for an itinerary change somewhere down the road. But, recently when I was checking in at the LAX Malaysia Airlines ticket counter I was asked to show proof of onward travel or I would be denied boarding. It was no big deal as I have 3 plans in the event of this happening.

 

Plan A

Act dumb and say you don’t have your itinerary and just say what “flight” you will be on. This works most of the time if you are confident and act surprised from the question.

 

Plan B

Produce a fake itinerary that looks real. The best way to do this is to actually book a flight with an airline without paying. Most people do not realize a reservation is separate from a ticket. You pay for the ticket but you do not pay for the reservation. I go to a site called https://ifc.id90.com/. It is a booking service for airline employees to list for flights on other carriers. I just say American is my employing carrier. The user name is the two digit airline IATA code followed by emp so for American the username would be AAEMP. The password is the IATA accounting code for the airline which for American would be 001. From this site make a booking on United and you are emailed a confirmation number that could be used to look up a legitimate looking itinerary on United.com. The only thing it is missing is the ticket number so it can not actually be used but could suffice to convince the agent you have a return ticket. You can also call any airline reservations number and have this done but you would need to know the jargon to avoid any red flags.

 

Plan C

If you get an agent that is savvy and realizes there is no ticket number on the itinerary, first act dumb, than realize the gig is up and book the cheapest ticket you can out of the country. For most airlines you can get a full refund if the ticket is cancelled within 24 hours.

I had to use Plan B for Malaysian Airlines at LAX. Most people would have been denied boarding or actually would have bought a return ticket. But what’s the fun in that?

Information is Power

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What would you do if you had the opportunity for unlimited free airline travel? The only catch is that it is standby, meaning if the flight is full you do not get a seat. During college, I worked in the airline industry and was awarded this privilege. I took full advantage of it, flying on average 125,000 miles a year and visiting 25 countries and virtually every major city of the United States. The odd thing is that many of my coworkers never participated in this opportunity or did so only seldom. The reason was fear. People thought it was too great of risk to fly somewhere and not have a flight back to work. I was successful in my risky jet setting by simply acquiring as much information as I could. With any risky pursuit the more information you know the less risky it becomes. I became an absolute expert on the global distribution systems used to book flights and knew how to find information that others did not. Furthermore, I learned the route networks of every major airline. I looked at flight loads continually to almost every imaginable destination. I knew what cities were risky and what ones weren’t. I studied the last minute booking behavior and the effects of irregular operations. Of the nearly half million miles I flew for basically nothing and I never arrived at work late. I came close many times, but since I knew my back up options, everything turned out ok, albeit much more stressful. I was once stuck in Vegas on a day trip, to get back to Denver the next day I flew to San Francisco than New York and then back to Denver. To get to Houston one time for a flight to Honduras I flew to Salt Lake City than to San Francisco than to Los Angeles and then to Houston. Even when flights filled up I had no problem going to alternate places, like that one time I wanted to go to Hong Kong or London and I ended up in Concord, New Hampshire of all places. I even went to places based on random chance, like that time I threw a dart on the map and ended up in Kiev, Ukraine. There was always a way since I was an expert at the system. I was easily at the top 1% of employees who utilized their flight benefits. I was so successful at traveling standby I realized I could put my skills to better use so I can travel even more and that is a major reason why I left. At the airline, everybody came to me for information regarding standby travel since I knew the system better than almost anyone else. You see information is power and the more information you know about a risky system the more potential rewards you can acquire.

The same is true with business and investing. I akin options and day trading to gambling as the participants are put at a disadvantage because they often invest with hunches and not information. It is possible to become a millionaire within a year with only $1000 to start with thru options or day trading but if you are not prepared to lose that $1000 than do not participate, (it’s still smarter to invest $1000 in options than in lottery tickets). A better idea for that $1000 would be to start a business that one day you can sale. With a business, you have the information advantage over anyone else. There is only so much information you can analyze with stocks but with a business you have access to 100% of the information on the assets. Plus, when you start with nothing, a well executed business plan can yield much more than taking safe bets on the stock market. It is possible to sale a business started with only $1000 for $200,000 or more in three to five years. That is the goal. Reinvest the $200,000 for a business type that requires more capital, and is more scalable, than you will never have to worry about money again as long as you can hire the right people that will enable growth.

The stock market is one of the best investment vehicles around but do not make an investment unless you know a thing or two about the company, always read the 10-k and the most recent 8-k. Just reading the SEC disclosures will often put you at an information advantage over the day traders who do not even take the time to do so. I recommend creating a list of no more than 100 companies that you have the time to track and only invest in those companies. Have a good mix of industries as well as large and small cap companies. I would suggest including current or past employers as well as places you are a regular consumer because that will put you at an advantage on information over the investor who just reads the 10-k or worst the investor who only looks at the chart. I would also suggest doing some options and day trading but only on money, you are willing to lose and never more than 10% of your assets.

The less the rate of return the less risky the investment and the less time you need to manage that investment. A business has the potential to have a high rate of return as an investment but it will also require much more time. If you are under 30 you have all the time in the world to manage your own business. Once you get to a certain level in wealth you can live off the interest of investments that do not take much time to manage, but 99% of the population is not in that ballpark. You have to spend time managing your assets at the beginning if you want to get to a level where you do not have to.

Why 99% of people will quit

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People do not see value in small opportunities. Small, seemingly insignificant opportunities are the ones that lead to the great once in a lifetime opportunities. People are always thinking 100 steps ahead instead of just one-step ahead. People care more about the destination then the journey itself.  Personally, I like to use wealth of assets to measure how I am doing in life. I do not think how I am going to make a million dollars; I live in the moment and at this point, I focus how I am going to make the next thousand and only the next thousand. I live well below my means. I do not care about the next iphone or the next video game as those assets are very unlikely to earn me my next thousand dollars unless I own Apple of course. In fact assets like those will likely slow my progress to earn the next thousand.

People get comfortable. People stop growing as individuals because they get comfortable. Once an income can pay for a certain degree of comforts people slow down their work ethic and start buying material items that they do not really need.

Do not get comfortable. When you have $100k in assets do not get comfortable. When you have a million in assets don’t get comfortable. Never settle down or retire until your body is physically not capable of work. I am not saying not to have fun, just learn how to have fun in experiences rather than material purchases.

Do not think you have no opportunities to start with. If you live in a first world country, you already have more opportunities available to you than six billion other people do.  Those opportunities are often disguised as hard work. Life is though, get used to it. It takes hard work to get to the easy work. It takes an unglamorous lifestyle to get to an ideal lifestyle. It takes thick skin and patience to get to where you want to go. People can only put up with hard work for only so long and that is when they give up and settle for a mediocre lifestyle, a mediocre lifestyle full of passivity and regret.  Don’t Quit and Don’t Get Comfortable.

How to retire young in four steps

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Want to retire early? Just follow these steps.

1) Get a skilled job that involves travel

Our world is getting more complex by the day and there are plenty of opportunities for those who can fix things or operate anything that moves. If you are not getting anywhere with a formal education, than go to a trade school for up to a few months and learn a trade. Preferably, a trade that is in high demand, and can serve as a backup in case you encounter bad luck down the road. Pick a trade that can involve travel, because if you travel for a living you can cut many day-to-day expenses in order to save money.

2) Go independent and focus on sales

By the time, you have saved around $10-20K you are fully capable of acting as a independent sales broker. Sales is the core of any business and by linking together manufacturers of products and distributors you can earn a living by solving problems and delivering solutions to various businesses throughout the economy. You can earn anywhere from 5% to 30% in commission of a sale by just taking advantage of existing opportunities. From your experience working on a skilled trade you probably encountered many problems that can be fixed with new technology or processes you can introduce to your particular niche as an independent sales broker.

3) Start a business that can be saleable

You probably need around $100k in assets to build a business that has a distinct product and can easily attract investors in any field. I would suggest buying an existing business with employees and expanding that business via an affiliate and/or franchise model Your ultimate goal should be to sale the business to a competitor, or go public by selling equity in the stock market

4) Start investing your assets for growth on a full time basis.

Once you have $1 million in assets you can be an accredited investor, which opens doors to high yielding financial opportunities that the rest of the world does not have access to. The more your wealth grows the freer you become. Live well below your means and you will never have to work another day in your life when you reach this phase. Just keep an eye on your money and shoot for benchmarks. Never spend any of the principal except to buy more assets and live off the interest payments.

You cannot get rich quick. From the time you get into a skilled trade to the time you are an accredited investor can take anywhere from five years to twenty depending on your ability to live below your means and market conditions. However, this is the easiest process to grow wealth from nothing. Do not get comfortable. Do not aim for jobs that have a salary cap. It’s simple get a skilled job, than move into independent sales, than into entrepreneurship, and then into investing as a trade.

The Life of a Rebel

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To be a rebel is a risky life, but with great risk comes great reward. If you spent a great deal of your childhood in the principal’s office or grounded at home for days on end than congratulations you were probably born a rebel. At some point along the way most people change, they start following the status quo, and the safe bet at a mediocre life. I say fuck that.

 

Make no mistake you will experience the highest of highs but be forewarned, you will also experience the lowest of lows and it takes very thick skin to be able to walk away from the ashes of your failures and rebuild. You will fail, get over it, in fact failure at least once is almost a guarantee in the life of a rebel. Failure is a rite of passage into the brotherhood of those who dare to be different.  I have failed at least 1000 times at ventures I’ve tried because I see every attempt at a new experience as a venture. The lowest of my lows I will probably take to my grave, but I have had my car towed twice, been in two accidents, had the shit knocked out of me, been broke ($100 to my name), had serious thoughts of suicide, lost a case in small claims court (dismissed), and had a report card with straight F’s. But I have also experienced the highest of highs which include calling into work sick with the Himalayas in sight, being in first class on multiple long haul flights, winning a student government election, making the honor roll, seeing the look on my managers face when she was fired after numerous unsuccessful attempts at trying to get me fired, winning a case in traffic court, and being a part of a football team that made it to the state championships (but lost).

My secret at not being afraid of taking risk probably revolves around my worst fear. For most people their worst fear is death. That is not the case with me; although it is a good idea to avoid death, my worst fear is living some 80 years and feeling unfulfilled after all that time and opportunity to live a fulfilled life. I would much rather die on my feet than live on my knees. I would much rather die an early death doing something I love, than die being safe and square on a bed when I am 80.  Realizing your worst fear is the first step towards liberalization, it is the first step to freedom, it the first step to being a rebel.

How do you start being a rebel? Question everything and everyone. Never be afraid to live beyond your comfort zone. I am not saying to jump off a bridge, at least not right away. I would suggest start small by trying food you would not normally try, work your way up by reading about ideas you would not normally read about, take sick days and go on day trips, travel to a country you have never heard of.  Then move up to some of the riskier moves like quitting your job and taking a trip to India on the idea you can always get another job when you get back. Trust me every risk will usually work out in one way or another but no matter what, every risk will always lead to personal development.

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