Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Damn Good Book

Tim Ferriss has written an amazing book-- basically a how-to guide to living an abundant Hobopoet life. Its called "The 4-Hour Workweek" and its great.

You can get it on Amazon at:
The 4-Hour Workweek

Here's a nice quote from the book:
"Life doesn't have to be so damn hard. It really doesn't. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation. The truth, at least the truth I live and will share in this book, is quite different."

That quote echoes the Thoreau quote that heads this blog:
"In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do."

Not a hardship... but a pastime. That, in a nutshell, is the Hobopoet credo. Our mission is to create a life of abundance. A life of freedom. A life of options and choices and opportunties.

Both Thoreau and Ferris are right-- its not hard. Its not necessary to live by the sweat of your brow. Its not necessary to work 40 hours a week.

The obstacles to freedom and abundance are mostly mental and emotional. It took me many years to figure it out. In many ways, this blog is a chronicle of the series of experiments that have brought me to that point. I started with a deep and abiding disgust for employment. That led me to Thoreau and several years of radically simplifying my life. I lived in a car. I lived in a van. I cut back to part-time employment. I lived in Thailand. Little by little groping for pieces of the puzzle.

What I didn't do, until 6 and a half months ago, was start my own micro-business. Why not? It turns out I was able to start the business (a website for English students) for only $150.

It wasn't money I lacked-- it was imagination and willingness to risk. I'm not talking about financial risks. Those were negligible because I bootstrapped on the tiniest budget and refused to borrow any amount of money.

The risks were emotional. What would I do if I failed? Did I have 'what it takes'? As an anti-corporate hobopoet, could I even manage a micro-business? Would I embarrass myself? Would everyone realize I didn't know what I was doing?

My deepest fear was that I'd never get the first customer. I had this irrational fear that I would not get even one-- a total rejection and failure.

Sounds stupid, I know... but those fears were the true obstacles.

Since actually starting, I'm amazed at how easy it is. I kept working, so there was never any pressure to make a lot of money. I never borrowed or spent much, so there was never much financial risk.

In the beginning it was slow, to be sure.. but the first customers came very quickly.

From there, it has been a constant process of testing, improving, testing, improving, testing, improving. For 6 months, I just tried shit. Much of it bombed... some of it proved popular with the members of my site. I kept the good stuff and got rid of the failures. Then I tried more stuff.

I also read every damn book I could find on e-commerce, internet marketing, website design, etc. I read most of them for free... in Borders coffee shop.

That's been my "secret recipe" for every aspect of this project. And it has worked. Each month was better than the last. Then suddenly, this month-- a breakthrough. A 400% increase. Suddenly its making more than my job salary.

Once Im sure this will hold (and indeed, I'll keep working that "secret recipe" to improve things)-- I'll quit my job and become a full time Hobopoet.

What's my main point? My main point is-- you can do the same thing. Realize that the obstacles are mostly mental.

Will you start a micro-business and be instantly rich? Probably not. The secret is to bootstrap, live simply, and keep working whatever job you must work... while you test, improve, test, improve, test, improve. You do this as cheaply as possible. You don't borrow any money. Mostly, you invest your time.

The key, the secret, the only thing you really must do is: Start.

Just start, trust the process, and in 6-12 months you will have your own independent income. You will liberate yourself from wage slavery.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Breath Held

by Skald

I got my first job at age 16. Arby's Fast Food Restaurant. After the first day, I knew. Work sucks. I knew. I knew that employment was inherently demeaning.

The past 23 years have only confirmed and strengthened that insight. I've had crap jobs, I've had "decent" jobs. I've had one cool boss. I've had loads of shitty ones.

But always the institution itself was a prison. Always the inherent hierarchy. Always the "never left high school" feeling. Maybe I'm more sensitive than most. But employment has always meant dread and misery for me.

That is the root source of my rage-- the rage I felt upon returning to America. Once again, I was in the American economic system-- a system of wage slavery... of just getting by... a society whose sole focus is money, money, money. Money & work dominate America like nowhere else in the world, save, perhaps, Japan.

I'd spent 2 wonderful years in Thailand. 2 years without money being the central worry of my life. 2 years to live. And then I came back.

Since returning, the need for money has dominated my life. During my first few months in San Francisco, I was dangerously close to INVOLUNTARY homelessness. For the next year, it was always a struggle to have enough... enough to cover rent, food, basic living... but not much left over for anything resembling fun.

I finally saw the light and started my own micro-business. In the beginning, it brought in a little, but not enough to live off. Meanwhile, I had to work both my job AND my little micro-business. Work consumed my life.


This is why I have barely blogged during the past year and a half. What could I write? I was certainly not living the free Hobopoet life. Though teaching part time.. it was not a life of abundance and freedom.

But now.... a 23 year marathon nears its end. The goal-- freedom from wage slavery. Independent income. Financial freedom.

The micro-business is now making plenty for me to live off. It has surpassed my job income. Its generating enough to fund year-round travel.


For the moment, I'm holding my breath. I want to shout and celebrate and dance like a maniac. But I'm waiting... waiting to be sure this will continue.

I plan to work my job through the end of this summer... to be sure the micro-business stays steady.

Meanwhile, I'll be saving the extra money. Saving..... waiting just a few more months...

For Independence Day. My Independence Day. The end of wage slavery. My declaration of independence from employment. The day I quit my LAST job.

And then, there will be shouting. And dancing. And a big fucking party.

..... After that, I'm hitting the road. Not sure where, when, or how. But I'd like to see some of California and the Western US first-- do some camping and hiking. And Im thinking of a short teaser trip to Mexico. And then a BIG tour of South and Central America-- learn Spanish, learn salsa, SCUBA dive,... wander.

....And when my Independence Day comes at last, I plan to revive this blog and share the experiences and strategies that led me to it.... and the adventures that follow.

Stay tuned. And for the dedicated few readers who have stuck with this blog-- Thanks!