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I picked 5 books that impacted me as a man starting way back in 1979.
Many years ago, my good friend David, a very successful business owner, suggested I read a book with the crazy proposition that I could work four hours a week (rather than the forty I was expending) and be just as productive. The book was aptly titled “The 4 Hour Workweek.” I ordered the book on Amazon, read the book, and was intrigued by many of the concepts and ideas and “hacks” presented in the book. I immediately obtained a virtual assistant from India to handle many of my daily tasks. I began to think about how often I started and stopped a specific task, while being interrupted by emails and phone calls. My efficiency increased overnight. I learned to turn off my phone during the day to avoid interruption, and allocated 30 minutes at the end of the day to return important calls. The 80/20 rule took on a whole new meaning. If you have not read the book, do yourself a favor and buy the book now and read the book (Click on the image).
While I learned a great deal about my own efficiencies, I noticed something else, something even more profound. Tim’s book placed the seed of world travel in my mind and heart. For the first time, I saw world travel as a viable goal, affordable, and doable. I still remember my utter giddy joy as I read about how inexpensive it could be to travel to a city in South America. Although I had lived in England for one year, this book opened my eyes once again to the magic that lives on the road, and specifically on roads outside of the United States. What one man can do, another can do. Why not travel and see the world? Why not? The Four Hour Workweek was like a beacon in the night. It was a siren song. It was an invitation to live an amazing life. I am not being grandiose when I say that I was reborn during my initial reading of Tim’s epic first book.
Next, Tim Ferriss wrote and published “The Four Hour Body.” This substantial work of experimentation and research sparked my interest in foods, macros, weight loss, and muscle gain. I credit much of my 45 pound weight loss, and subsequent and ongoing self-testing I have undertaken to the fabulous material presented in “The Four Hour Body.” My life will last a bit longer, and my daily experience is much simpler, healthier, and life affirming, all a result of what I read in the second book. Tim wrote a third book, “The Four Hour Chef,” which I have not read. My interest in cooking is not that profound, although I understand the book is more about advanced learning techniques than how to cook a quick omelet. I will get to it.
Best of all for me now are Tim’s podcasts. Tim Ferriss’ well-deserved notoriety has given him access to some of the best and brightest amongst us. The podcasts are long form conversations, each one filled with powerful realizations, guidance, and seeds of greatness. I listened to Arnold Schwarzenegger and was filled with the power of possibility of what one man can do with a life. I listened to Pavel Tsatsouline (Olympic strength trainer) and transformed my time at the health club from workouts to practice. I stopped pushing myself to failure, and implemented four sets of five. Now I enjoy my time at the gym, rather than gutting it out every day.
Through the Tim Ferris Show (Click on the image), I have listened to some amazing lights in the world, people I had not heard of such as Maria Popova, Sam Harris, and Peter Diamandis. Maria writes a simply gorgeous blog called Brain Pickings that she shares with the world on a weekly basis. Sam Harris speaks and writes and debates about reality and consciousness and meditation. The greatest praise I can heap on Sam Harris is that he is Christopher Hitchens 2.0. Peter Diamandis, author of a fantastic book entitled Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World, shared the question during his podcast “Why not take your 10 year plan, and do it in the next 6 months?” That is a powerful way to see the world, and Peter has demonstrated the validity of this paradigm with his remarkable life. Each podcast of Tim Ferris is like an unopened Christmas gift. I don’t know what I am going to get, but I am sure I am going to learn and grow and be filled with challenging and potent ideas.
What is possible? So often during and after many of Tim’s podcasts, I have to check my ego at the door, and take a hard look at my life. My sense of accomplishment takes a beating. But in that humbling experience in which I say something like “Wow, _______________ (fill in the blank with virtually any of Tim’s guests), he/she has done so much and continues to do so much. What have I done? What have I been doing? How can I do more? How can I make a similar impact on the world?” I often feel small, and in that feeling lays a desire, a passion, a deep search for who I really am, and what I really will do in the world during this lifetime. I often don’t know what is possible until I see someone else doing it. Tim’s podcast are like a cold bucket of water poured over my head. It’s a wakeup call, a yelling in my ear of “Hey Jay, wake the fuck up!” I like it.
I seem to use the word powerful quite a bit as I write about Tim Ferriss and his body of work. Much of my bromantic feelings do come from a shared love of power. When I think of power, of course I can envision the hulking physique of an Arnold Schwarzenegger or the wealth of a billionaire investor like Peter Thiel. But in Tim’s world, we can also see the power of a Sam Harris, who has cut through the bullshit of religious dogma and duality like a surgeon. Power comes in a variety of forms, and while many of Tim’s guests are physical performance enthusiasts, there are a fair number of consciousness enthusiasts as well. This balanced ebb and flow of creativity and ideas keeps me engaged and insures my loyalty to all things Tim Ferriss.
“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost
Let’s talk about meditation. Tim often asks his guests, “What do the first 90 minutes of your day look like?” As we have discovered, nearly three quarters of Tim’s guest include meditation as a vital part of their daily routine. As an avid meditator for the past 20 years, I found this knowledge of other’s meditation habits to be an open invitation to join Tim’s Tribe. I am amongst my own. Success shows up in balance. Light and dark, Yin and Yang. Tim’s work is shattering the myth or illusion that success is exclusively about power and money. Success may just show up in a smile on your child’s face. Success may be found in a profound moment of stillness when you feel connected to every thing. Success may actually be about walking away from public adoration and taking a Thoreau like walk into solitude and family life.
I have heard some people say that vision boards are shit. When used as purely a visioning tool, I would agree. But a vision board used as an anchor for sustained action is a powerful tool. Above you can see my vision board from 2012. On the left side, you can see (it’s a bit dark) an image near the word Travel. This is a picture of Tim and a friend from somewhere in Vietnam. I can remember feeling, deep in my heart at the time I first viewed this image, “Why Not?” “Why can’t I travel the world, see exotic destinations, meet people from different cultures, and share it all for the growth and education of myself and anyone else who cares to read or watch what I put out into the world?”
In May of this year, I traveled to Vietnam, was guided by a beautiful woman through Saigon, and met many wonderful people. The practical application of bringing a vision to reality, of prioritizing our activities, the focus on the one thing, all emerge triumphantly in Tim’s work.
My greatest praise for Tim Ferriss comes in the form of my emulation of his life. I love Tim’s life (at least what I see of it). Now, over 5 years into my own Tim Ferriss style life experiment, I am experiencing a path similar in many ways, while still being quite a distance from where I am going. I have used my body as an experiment, now walking the earth at 190 pounds, rather than the 235 pounds I use to carry around. Now I work online, and am not bound to any one location. I live in Thailand for the time being, and who knows where I will go next. I have recorded 3 episodes of my own podcast, called The Men’s Room, and am excited to one day have Tim Ferriss himself as a guest. I created Indigo Yak, a course that will show anybody how to meditate. And I wrote my own book, Radical Freedom, which shares a variety of steps one may take on the road to spiritual freedom.
My life, now at 56, is filled with a hope for the future. I see the unprecedented exponential growth of knowledge, and feel the energy of an immense energetic movement like an 80-foot wave rumbling under my feet. I am finding my way. Aren’t we all? I read books and listen to podcasts and know others are feeling the same way. Gratitude fills my heart. I have seen much of the world and know we are all the same. There is coming a time when us versus them will seem silly and obsolete. One by one, we are waking up to myths that bind us and hold us down. Tim Ferriss’ work allows us to embrace powerful ideas that emancipate us.
I will conclude this homage to Tim Ferriss by sharing how much I appreciate the courage he continues to demonstrate by putting his words, images, sounds, and heart out into the world for all to experience in their own way. It is inspiring. Tim Ferriss is, in my life, a rock star. He shares my love of performance with my dedication to spiritual growth. He is a writer, a creator, and one who brings together amazing people for the benefit of all, truly a catalyst for change. Tim Ferriss’ gift to the culture cannot be over emphasized. Certainly, my life has been altered, and I trust the titanic shifts will resplendently continue. Long may Tim create! Long may he share his vision! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”
Upon arriving at the Ho Chi Minh International Airport, obtaining my highly valued and well earned “visa on demand”, passing through customs and finally walking out to breathe the Vietnamese air, I was immediately struck by the number of people waiting outside for loved ones or for potential customers. It felt like a full ocean of people. It was also raining hard, what I would call torrential rains, the kind of rain that hits your windshield as if someone had dropped a bucket from overhead. And then there was the music. My taxi driver was playing what I assume was a traditional Vietnamese tune; with a very simple sing song rhythm to it. The scooters also made a lasting impression for they were everywhere. They dodge and dart through this vibrant city like a cat swats at a toy placed above its head.
Now having landed, and as I walk the streets with the sidewalks largely rough and uneven, and the smell of grilled meats wafting here and there, I notice the remarkable human diversity here. There are not too many Americans, nor Europeans. Amongst the Vietnamese people, I saw the affluent in their big cars, the workers zipping around on their scooters, the tourists on foot learning how to negotiate through said scooters, the impoverished, who unabashedly hit me up for money time and again, and the physically deformed. I have never seen so many people with such physical challenges. There was the little girl with no arms, who approached me to buy a lottery ticket, which she held under her chin. There was the very old woman who had a body that looked like a reverse L, bent at a 90-degree angle. There was the older man missing both legs, who walked on his knees, in tennis shoes, with the help of two canes, and wearing a huge smile on his face. The human spirit is remarkable.
It is hot here. Let me say that again, it is hot and humid here. I like to walk. During my first day here, I put in 5 miles, going from restaurant to bar to restaurant and back to my hotel. My Saigon body is always wet. I don’t know if the body adjusts and sweats less over time, but as I felt the drip sliding down my back, or the chilling cold sensation of air conditioning pelting my sweat laden body, I remembered that sweating is an excellent form of purification. Each day out walking about is akin to an ongoing sweat lodge, uncomfortable at times but always worth the trouble.
The food is unique and varied and most often accompanied by some cigarette smoke. Last night, I ate barbeque. Each table had a small gas-burning platter in the center. We ordered some beef, and a variety of fish and shrimp, all brought raw to the table. The platter is then coated in oil, and then without any further adieu, let the barbequing begin. The flame is quite hot, so it does not take long for a piece of filet mignon wrapped in bacon to become an excellent accompaniment to a cold swig of Tiger beer. We also shared a salad and some white rice, and finished off with a nice crepe desert filled with bananas, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. I have had some of my most memorable soups here (Pho), and a pancake wrap filled with vegetables and duck, and don’t even get me started on the unbelievable fresh sushi and in particular the lightly grilled salmon underbelly special.
But all of this covers up what I most strongly observed. The Vietnamese are a very warm and loving people. They are much more of a social animal than my American brethren. As my local tour guide explained it, people are more interested in sharing coffee before work, and then having drinks after work, then what they do during work. I saw this from the window of my hotel room. I awoke my first night at 4AM. There across the street was a small group of people, sitting on chairs, drinking coffee, talking and preparing items for the coming day. Again in the late afternoon, small tables seemed to appear out of nowhere, and groups of men, families, and old women, all were drinking, laughing, sharing and relating. Interestingly, I did not see many smart phones amongst these socializers. Say what – old school conversation? You can still find it in some places in the world. Vietnam is a place I may soon call home.
Yesterday, I thought I had a stroke. I was walking down a street in Chiang Mai, Thailand, having just gone to my local AIS cell phone office. I will be heading off to Vietnam in a few weeks, and I had questions about maintaining phone service while away. On my way back from AIS, I noticed the gorgeous sunset. The sun looked so orange, and it was breaking through some clouds, on it’s way down past the horizon. I stopped, looked, took out my phone, lifted up my arms to take the picture, and then I felt like this might be my last moment on earth.
I immediately thought this must be a stroke. I lost all motor skills. My Iphone dropped out of my hand to the ground. I dropped to the road on all fours. I reached for my phone, picked it up, and then dropped it again. What was happening to me? It was sort of like an out of body experience, but I was still barely in my body.
I took a few deep breaths. I was scared and in a panic. Images of my demise were racing wantonly through my mind. Slowly, I began to feel more in control. I picked up my phone and gingerly got on to my feet. Still, I felt like it, whatever it was, could hit me again. I walked toward a woman on a bench and asked her, with a glazed look in my eyes, if I could sit down. She then said the obvious thing, “It is very hot today!” Yes, I remember looking at my weather app and seeing 100 degrees. I had not eaten in 6 hours, and drank several cups of coffee in my air-conditioned room during the afternoon hours. This lovely woman then pointed her fan directly at me, and served me a cup of ice cold water.
After a few minutes, I felt ready to amiably amble down the street. I determined that a massage was called for, in a cool room, with my eyes closed, where all this panic and fear of a stroke and an unexpected death in Thailand could be rubbed and caressed out of my body. At first, I was very uncomfortable lying there on the table, still rather shocked and startled by what had happened. By the end of the hour, and after drinking a bottle of water, I was very relaxed, and feeling right as rain.
As I travel this world, and now prepare for a trip to yet another new country, I realize there are just too many new and unfamiliar things happening for me to consider all possibilities. I am out of control. Life comes at me, and I walk in a specific direction, but how it all turns out, well, that I have to leave up to the universe. I enjoy, no, I thrive, on walking through life this way. Occasionally, like yesterday, I experienced something completely unexpected, and unpleasant, however, on balance, the wonder and awe I feel on a daily basis makes it all worthwhile. By God I am still alive and today is a new day.
Vietnam, I am coming to drink your beer and eat your sushi and….
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Traveling through Southeast Asia has completely shifted my thinking about retirement. My plan has always been to be in a position to retire at the age of 65. I have a plan to have so much money tucked away at that time so that if I wanted to stop working, I could. I don’t think I will ever want to stop doing what I am doing, but at 65, I will have the choice.
One thing I have noticed here in Thailand is a growing number of retired men hailing from other countries (Japan, China, Europe, Australia, not many Americans), who have chosen Thailand as the place where they want to spend their final days. During my last week in Phuket, while I was eating lunch, a man named Peter approached me and sat down at my table. Peter asked me if I played Backgammon. I told him No.
Well, Peter is 55 and had the good fortune to retire at the age of 38. Peter has traveled the world unlike anyone I have ever met. He was born in Germany, and has lived in France, Argentina, America, China, and about a dozen other places across the globe. And after all that traveling, he had determined that Phuket, Thailand was the place for him to settle down. Now 17 years later, he has a Thai wife, a 13-year-old son, and a relaxed lifestyle revolving around his family, backgammon, meals and napping.
After Peter was through asking me about my life, where had I traveled, how many kids, number of wives, Internet Marketing ( “you really make money doing that?”), and my diet, I had a few questions for him. First I asked, Why Phuket? He said there were many factors: weather, beaches, personal freedoms, beauty of the women, friendliness of the people, and the cost of living. I told him I agreed with him on all counts.
Peter went on to observe how many freedoms have been taken away in other cultures, and in particular, in America. As he lit a cigarette from his $2 USD pack, he exclaimed “You can’t even smoke there any more!” I told him that when I told people I was heading out for a long-term trip to Southeast Asia, most people thought it sounded pretty crazy. Who would leave America to live in Thailand? Well as it turns out, quite a few people from all over the globe do exactly that for the exact reasons expressed by Peter.
There are options. I suppose that is the lesson from my chat with Peter. In my role as an Internet marketing coach, I speak to many men and women who are reaching their retirement years and are not able to retire. Statistics show that only 4% of Americans can retire and maintain their current lifestyle. Those are alarming figures. So what do you do? You can find some line of work to pursue to make some extra money. Many people are investing in Internet marketing for this reason. You can also reduce your financial demands aka live on less. And we have all seen the elderly greeters at Walmart who serve as an example of retirement gone wrong. Then there is the Thailand option. If you do have some money coming in through an IRA and/or social security, why not live in another country where the cost of living is low and you can live like a king in the best year around climate on the globe?
I have done a little bit of research to get the lay of the land here in Thailand. The average person earns 13237.76 THB per month, which translates to $427 USD per month. I prepared a video showing how I have been able to live very comfortably on $1,500 per month. You don’t need much. Again, it is always good to have options.
I have only been here in Thailand for a few months. I will be venturing to Vietnam and Cambodia and then coming back to Thailand before returning to California in the spring. I need some time to let the newness wear off. My time here to date has been glorious. Running across guys like Peter, who have seen even more of the world than me, always opens my eyes a little bit further, and expands my horizons. Hopefully sharing these experiences on the blog opens your eyes a bit more too. Options. Not being stuck. The freedom to chose. It feels good, doesn’t it?
About the Author
Jay Cradeur is an author, blogger, internet marketer, world traveler, and coach. Jay has helped thousands to achieve their dreams of financial independence. As an internet marketing coach with a focus on personal development, Jay may be able to assist you in reaching your goals. You can work with Jay for a 100% refundable fee of $49 by clicking on this link and committing to your future. Work with Coach Jay.