6 minutes | Aug 11, 2021
Extra: For Train - Begging Adventures in Vienna
8 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
Extra: Eternal Past, Permanent Present - Growing Up in the Ruins of Post-Communist Romania
A short piece I wrote about the material culture of post-Eastern Bloc, pre-EU Romania that I grew up in. Photo credit: evz.ro, Bianca Zaharescu - It's Bucharest in 1996, I was there too. The text and some pictures: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Rmy_kTZDiThV0G6msDEufoyX_-05M65tJVM_fCsG2TY/edit?usp=sharing
52 minutes | Jan 2, 2018
0055 - Season Finale: I Guess I’m Not a Swashbuckling Entrepreneur
One year and one month ago I’ve set out to become a full-time entrepreneur. I have not succeeded. Can you learn from my mistakes? This is the final episode of Valiant Growth, season 1.Photo credit: daivinandleah via Flickr
147 minutes | Dec 18, 2017
Interview on Yakkin With Nick: Moving to England, Non-Violent Relationships with Nick Hazelton
I've been thinking about talking more about my story with breaking contact with everyone I knew three years ago and completely resetting my life while coming to England. I especially wanted to talk about the painful mistakes I have made in talking to my family and friends following my understanding of the Freedomain Radio relationship strategy. I just couldn't figure out the personal development garb to dress those in to make them fit into the Valiant Growth format. They might make it into an episode eventually, but until then, my friend Nick Hazelton solved that problem for me with 2+ hour long interview/talk on Yakkin with Nick.
87 minutes | Dec 11, 2017
0054 - Why You Want to Exercise and Live Healthy (with Chris Stefanick)
I’ve been an ultra-sedentary person for most of my life and had zero interest in anything to do with physical health. But I am doing more now than I did before. And my friend Chris Stefanick can claim some credit for that. He showed me a vision of health that’s focused on living a better and longer life, having more fun, having fewer limitations, of joy in movement and nutrition and self-care not because the end result impresses someone but because it’s a path of self-mastery, of learning something new for its own sake. This is a talk with Chris. My aim is to nurture your intrinsic motivation to live a healthier life and show you some potential paths you can go down on. In the manner with which you might have gotten accustomed to on this podcast (and then gotten unaccustomed to over the past few months), we’re going to focus on the why and on strategy, and also on how to do it without a lot of (or any) financial expense or extra stuff. Take the next action by listening to one of the following episodes of Choice Conversations: Walking and Strength Training Losing Weight and Mindful Eating Sleep Relaxation Posture What’s holding you back from a healthier life?
43 minutes | Aug 23, 2017
0053 - Put Your Self-Study on Steroids: The Interview Learning System (with Shane Radliff)
It’s amazing to live in an age where all knowledge is at our fingerprints! You don’t have to transcribe ancient texts at candlelight in a monastery or do questionable menial tasks for a guru anymore to gain access to some knowledge. I had a two-hour round trip commute to the university - I quit midway when I figured out I could learn more than what a whole day in higher education had to offer by simply reading a business book in the same time. That said though, self-study has its fair share of challenges. Some of the reasons we’re not all already Internet-fed renaissance man geniuses are as follows: It can get lonely… Reading books, listening to podcasts, taking online courses - neither of these is a particularly social endeavour. Other than the most extreme introvert, most of us can benefit a lot from the synergy of group learning. ...As well as hard to demonstrate While degrees are dime a dozen these days, they still prove that some level of effort was put into their achievement and that something similar can be expected in an employment situation. “Trust me, here’s a list of books that I’ve read” is not an easy sell (it did work for a few people, however). It lacks guidance For a beginner, staring any complex field of study in the eyes for the first time is a very scary experience. Where do you begin? What’s good material and what is rubbish? What a good level to aim towards? These are often questions that are hard to answer without the aid of someone already knowledgeable in the field. The speed of learning is unpredictable Take any course, and you have a very clear finish date. You’re going to go and show up x days of the week for y hours, and you’re going to go through z material - because you “have” to. I’ve been consciously focusing on my own productivity, routines, procedures, goal-setting, and motivation for 2 years now, and still, it feels like the stars must align just the right way sometimes for things to be finished in their planned time. It’s too easy to abandon There’s a lot of inertia when embarking on getting a degree or a specialization: once you’re on that raft, you’re probably going to float down all the way, detours or not. Quitting university is hell for a number of reasons. Quitting self-study often costs nothing and involves just you. Wake up, delete a folder, boot a game or Facebook and you’re out. From 21 to 23, I’ve picked up and dropped at least five different lines of study. Now that these flaws are spelled out, we can probably come up with a number of solutions for each individual problem. But how about fixing all of them in one go? The Study of Direct Action My friend Shane Radliff had an ambitious goal, and self-study just didn’t seem to cut it. He was aiming to create a comprehensive database of direct action - alternatives to politics, ways to create personal freedom without asking for permission, or being dependent on the choices of large groups of people.The problem? There are at least 25 different approaches, and many of them are not particularly well-documented. He couldn’t just sign up for the course, or buy the encyclopedia of actionable freedom. Collecting all of this information and studying it on his own would’ve put Shane on a long and unpredictable timeline. It would’ve been a lonely endeavour, hard to demonstrate (if that was ever needed), it lacked guidance, and it would’ve taken a great deal of willpower over a long time period - jeopardizing the project’s completion. In short, it would’ve had all of the five drawbacks of self-study. So how did Shane proceed? The Interview Learning System Instead of trying to figure out everything on his own, Shane chose to contact experts and ask them for an interview on their specific direct action strategy. In his place, I would probably have been concerned that nobody would answer - but it turns out that he had a response rate of 85%! (more on that in the accompanying podcast episode above the article) It seems that people like to talk about their field of expertise. :) And since Shane intended to create a public resource from the get go, he recorded and edited these interviews and released them weekly or bi-weekly on his podcast feed (you can find the whole series on the Liberty Under Attack website). I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you - this was quite a monumental task. From January 3rd to July 14th, 2016, a significant portion of Shane’s time (and those of his co hosts) was invested in releasing 27 episodes of the Direct Action Series. We were in a mastermind together at the time, and every week, for months on end, the goal he would set at the end of our talks would invariably revolve around recording or editing an episode of his series. My own experience is that it takes more than five hours to produce one hour of an interview, including research, scheduling, the interview itself, editing and releasing the content. At 44+ hours of length, we’re looking at a minimum of 220 hours of brain-intensive active work - very different from sitting in a lecture or just reading books. But the results are quite monumental too. Imagine reaching out and having an intelligent conversation with many of the people you most admire - well, Shane did that on a regular basis for months on end. And in my opinion, he reached out from a great position: not as a fan, but someone equal in his pursuits to that of his guests, creating great material that people can learn from in addition to making the world more aligned with his needs. Not to mention that he gained in-depth knowledge about personal strategies for freedom, practiced the skill of confidently reaching out to and interviewing busy people in general, and went on to adopt many of the strategies he learned in his personal life. As a shorthand, I’ve decided to call this the Interview Learning System. I’m very excited by its potential to be used as a general approach - I think that there’s no reason why similar results couldn’t be accomplished in any field. So if you can handle the work, and like interacting with cool people, here’s what to do. ILS Action Plan Choose a field of study, something that excites and engages you. You probably already know this. Decide on your format. If you’ve been thinking of launching a podcast, writing a blog, authoring a book, creating a video channel etc. this structure has many benefits for a new starter. Create an initial list of experts you’d like to talk to. Don’t worry about it quantity though - you will get recommendations from guests and your audience. The list can even become too abundant, as Shane has experienced it. Create an honest pitch. What will your content be about, what are you trying to accomplish, what is the format - in short, what can someone working with you expect? Feel free to be imperfect. Reach out and start scheduling interviews! Referrals and recommendations will be useful here, but even cold emailing can be very effective. Very few people turn down opportunities to be interviewed. (I recommend doing this before even touching steps 6 and 7. Start when you have an appointment already set - that should help you focus on the essentials and not get lost in technical and research details) Prepare the equipment that you need and a place where you can share your work. There’s no need to be fancy with this part. It can be intimidating to start using editing software, or setting up a blog but if you maintain a minimalist mindset of “What’s the least that does the job?” you’ll find that you can get in action in an afternoon. (My minimal podcast setup would involve a mailing list, a shortened link to the mailing list’s sign-up URL, and Google Drive for hosting the files) Research the author and write your interview questions as the appointment approaches. Feel free to be imperfect. Hold the interview. This can be over Skype with a mic or an email exchange or a walk in the park with a notepad. Ask for recommendations and referrals to other interesting people in the field. Edit and publish. If you are working with audio or video and this intimidates/bores you, skip the step entirely. Polish is not key to the ILS. Feel free to be imperfect. Repeat 7 to 9, and use new leads to keep lining up interviews until you are satisfied with what you’ve accomplished in this project. Good luck!
18 minutes | May 4, 2017
Valiant Feedback 001 - Staying Frugal When Going Out, Looking For Better Governments
How do you stay frugal when friends want to go out? And can you actually find better groups and collectives instead of building independence? I answer these two questions in this extra show. 1: "What do you do when someone suggest for instance grabbing a lunch when you have no desire to spend even on drinks but find it hard to say "well, I do not wanna spend money on food or drinks"?" 2: "I find myself really valuing from the attention paid to underlying needs in this discussion. It makes me wonder: How much libertarianism develops as a result of experiencing authority figures / collectives that are uninterested in or antagonistic towards your needs, where the same authorities / collectives wouldn’t be considered a problem if they were effective at meeting needs? If authorities and collectives are antagonistic and harmful, you just want them to back off so you can get on with your life – which is the essence of being a libertarian. And certainly many of us have had experiences that fit into that category. Within an environment full of dysfunctional powerful people, libertarianism and anarchism are very coherent and life-supportive psychological defences. Yet if powerful people in your environment are functional and benevolent, you can live very well despite their presence – and in fact gain from nurturing, support and resources that they can provide. We become more dependent upon independent judgement and extensive individual boundaries when we cannot trust others to use their power benevolently. So perhaps another alternative, which is also actionable, is to move to a part of the world which has a collective and authorities that you can trust to reliably support your and other peoples’ needs being met. An additional actionable step is to work on your skills of self-expression, developing the ability to approach and communicate with powerful people in a way which is most likely to result in increased connection and better needsmeeting. People who are good at this are often the people who are actually making the world we live in a better place in tangible ways – including moving it in a more socially and economically free direction. And after successfully acting upon these, the otherwise very important libertarianism psychological defence of simply wanting segregation from powerful people (which is what vonu sounds like to me) may no longer be so necessary. To give an example drawing on what was mentioned in the podcast: I’d be much less interested in homeschooling and unschooling if I could reliably expect schools to be highly functional, needsmeeting, human-friendly places – and in the right part of the world, surrounded by the right people, that may well be possible."
80 minutes | Apr 25, 2017
0052 - How to Stop Worrying About the World Without Giving Up On It - Interview with Shane Radliff
In 1974, a man disappeared somewhere in the Siskiyou Mountains, never to be heard of again. He wasn’t a tourist lost in the forests - he’s been living in the region for years. He wasn’t a rookie camper overwhelmed by wilderness - he had written several articles on camping and survivalism, based on his own experience of practising these skills. So what happened to Tom Marshall? Letting Go Isn't Free A basic and well-known tenet of stoicism is to stop trying to act on (and worrying about) things that aren't really in your control, or that can't at least be significantly influenced by you. Some of this is obvious and easy: the weather, traffic, the economy, chance. A lot of it is much harder: what other people think of you, bad things happening in other places, the ideas of your friends, politics. I think everybody wants to worry less - it's a massive energy drain, and it really crushes quality of life. Following this thinking does indeed deliver a lot of tranquillity - the actual reward promised by the Stoics. But it sure seems like you have to sacrifice a lot in the process! Depending on what your core needs are, one or both of these concerns quickly arise even when just thinking about stoicism: What about my impact on the world? I don't want to curl up in my bed and die in Stoic tranquillity, oblivious to what I've left behind. How can I provide safety to myself and my family if I choose to spend less in time on the news, withdraw from politics, stop studying the economy, and stop worrying about what others think of me? How will I know if there's some larger problem, and how will I make sure I'm not harmed in the process? It was the first question that Shane Radliff set out to answer, but in the process, he discovered the solution to the second one. Become Invulnerable Shane was fed up with the political means - the Sisyphusian task of betting the fulfilment of your personal needs on the whims of millions of other people. He wanted to find ways of direct action instead: creating freedom in his own life, without the permission of others. It was in this search that he found an obscure, out of print book collecting the works of an obscure man from the late sixties. To say that this book has had an impact on him is an understatement - he has since not only seen to it that it is transcribed and narrated but has even created a whole standalone podcast about it. The book was Tom Marshall's work, the man who was to completely disappear in the Siskiyou Mountains in a few years, written under his better-known pen name: Rayo. Though a few decades apart, Shane and Rayo have pretty similar perspectives: both are concerned with personal freedom and autonomy and prefer private solutions to government action. Similar to Shane's Direct Action Series, Rayo's strategies were developed after disappointment with mass action - he tried to establish a libertarian island nation before moving on to van nomadism and later wilderness camping. As the few written accounts that exist about him show, he was a very safety-conscious man, and his quest to dissociate with most of a society he didn't like, he encountered the same problem that we did at the beginning of this article: How do you stay safe without being plugged in all the time? As an engineer, he wasn't interested in half-measures, so he developed a radical concept that turned the idea of safety on its head: invulnerability to coercion. He called his strategy Vonu (voluntary, not vulnerable). This approach is worth considering even if coercion (a favourite libertarian word) is not one's main concern - there are very few of us in personal development who aren't dissatisfied with some aspects of society and wouldn't like to be able to avoid that influence. Vonu Tactics A vonuan seeks to meet her need for safety not by changing what others do, but by becoming as resistant as possible herself. Rather than convince others to create social structures that would reduce crime (under which he included many government actions) Rayo decided to become immune to crime instead. He practised what he preached - which in his case meant living a very private life in the mountains with his "free mate". Most of his communication with the outside world was secretive, he had a van for mobility and lived in polyethene tents he designed, he stored a considerable amount of food - according to an account, he would even duck when aeroplanes flew above him to maintain his location a secret. Not only that, but he created a number of alternative strategies that may not have appealed to him directly, but were regardless valid means of achieving invulnerability to coercion: sailboating, financial independence, country shopping, intentional communities, free ports etc. Shane and I discussed these strategies in the podcast episode in more detail (which has a longer, more thorough version on his Vonu website). Safety AND Impact? How about impact - do you have to give up on the world if you stop worrying about it? Did Rayo stop trying in favour of complete isolationism? Not quite. He did have a typewriter with him, and up until 1974, when all correspondence stopped, he kept publishing newsletters and contributing articles, promoting the Vonu way and comparing it with other libertarian strategies of the time. He also stayed in touch with a number of carefully selected people, whom he would educate in his tactics by organising Vonu weeks. Did he actually manage to have an impact? He wasn't particularly popular even in the libertarian circles at the time, and though I few people remembered him, most people haven't heard of him. That said, his works had a circulation at the time and he did manage to create a book that still exists today, five decades later. And now that Shane and his associates were inspired by him, he has a people once again discussing his ideas on the Internet and even has an entire podcast dedicated to exploring and building on his thoughts. That's no small achievement for a man who, based on the information available about him, wasn't all that interested in impact (when it came at the detriment of his safety). How many of us will have our work alive and well decades after our (presumed) death? As a side note, there were mistakes that probably limited Rayo's reach that we can learn from. In his books and articles, he often used terms that likely alienated not only people with different political views but libertarians alike - for instance, calling them "controlled schizophrenics". He didn't seem (to me) particularly interested in understanding other viewpoints or creating a bridge of understanding at least towards ideologically close perspectives. A Viable Alternative to the Non-Actionable Above everything else, what impresses me most about Rayo and the reason I've decided to interview Shane about him is that he had a strong focus on the actionable in an environment that was much more interested in philosophising. He went out, learned new skills and changed himself rather than waiting for others to give him freedom. I believe this is a powerful lesson whether you agree with Rayo's particular political outlook or not. As I've said in my previous article, my particular non-actionable addiction was politics and economics too. It may be something else in your case: anything that you pay attention to that fills you with anger and/or fear and which you can do very little about falls under this category. Can you stay safe without following the news? Yes, if rather than trying to dodge bullets or plead with the shooter, you instead focus on becoming as invulnerable and independent as possible. Do you have to become a hermit, sacrifice your impact on the world, on making it a better place? I don't think so - not only will your personal change inspire others, but you will be able to have a voice from a much safer position. Focus on the actionable.
14 minutes | Apr 4, 2017
0051- Politics Don't Matter (When Compared)
It was a little past midnight on Wednesday and I was sitting in the bathtub. It was the 9th of November, and I was feeling terrible. I had no idea who the Prime Minister of Romania, the country where I grew up, was. I had no idea which party was in power in the UK, where I had been living for the past year and a half. But I had just spent 12 months following the ups and downs of of the 2016 US elections, a country that I couldn’t vote in, had no real way of living in in the short and medium-term, and hadn’t even visited. A 5 point swing in the betting odds (on average more accurate than polls) could make me feel happy, sad, angry, afraid or confident. Something was very, very wrong. Outside of this, my general political ignorance was carefully cultivated. I had increasingly been focusing on the actionable, on what I can do in my own life, where I had the most control. You see, I knew that… Voting Doesn’t Matter If you are an anarcho-capitalist, you’ve (not) convinced many, many people of this basic tenet. It’s old news. It’s passé. It’s the uncool half-brother of “Taxation is theft”. There are some cool arguments for this. I don’t think you should check them out though, and I’ll tell you why in a second. Back to 2016: The belief didn’t save me though, nor did it save many others from getting caught in the hype. This is more popular outside of election years to begin with, and 2016 seems to have been a particularly bad one too. I should’ve focused instead on… Political Action Doesn’t Matter As in getting involved in politics is a waste of time. This one is a little bit more niche, a little bit more contentious. It’s the closet of the libertarian house, or the attic. It’s where you retire to when you have had enough of the party downstairs, and want quietly scroll the Facebook feed on your phone. I knew this one too. I had no intention of going to protests, writing to my local politician or donating to her. I cared little of party politics (I did furtively check the election results of a few libertarian parties in some countries) And yet this perspective gave me no protection from the non-actionable, because… I Was Still Up To The Neck In It I’ve been using a light tone so far, but I don’t want to trivialize this: I really, really wanted the government the go away. I was angry about money being collected at (an implicit) gunpoint. I felt sad about the waste of resources and of human lives in war, in the countless failed projects and initiatives. I was stunned at how many programs that were supposed to do good had had the opposite effect. I still feel these emotions. Though I was apolitical in some ways, politics still very much pervaded my thoughts, my conversations and my decisions. My learning, however, was chipping away at my enthusiasm. Stoicism made me focus more on what was and wasn’t within my sphere of control. Nonviolent Communication helped me connect with people of different views, and I suddenly could see the evil enemy no more. And Then It Clicked In the bath tub that night I realized how much the past 12 months sucked. I had ran around in circles and achieved nothing. I’ve missed great opportunities to connect with, be taught and teach with all the people I’ve talked politics with. I’ve alienated those who had different views and built a false sense of belonging with those who had the same. I’ve wasted their time. I’ve wasted my time. I hadn’t released a Valiant Growth episode in three months and yet my concern was what some guy on a different continent thought about the value of political action. (My lull of productivity wasn’t because of this, but I sure could’ve used that focus and emotional awareness to see what was going on instead!) I had no plan of action of moving on from my job, something which I really wanted to do, but was losing sleep over how another guy thousands of miles away had changed his public views on the election of a country neither of us lived in. I had mislived. The Things That Matter I made a mental list in the bathtub that Wednesday night. I asked myself “When I wake up tomorrow, what would I rather see have happened?” Never mind what I can do. Just what would be the biggest gift the Universe could give me. Guess what. The government ending wasn’t even in the top 20. Sure, it may take half my income, if I’m really not careful. Well, some people increase their incomes tenfold in a year (and then make YouTube ads about it). It’s definitely not unusual to do it over a decade. The government (according to some) stifles innovation and the progress of the human race, and thus my future. Well, the people who are getting shit done are regularly circumventing it, like any other obstacle. The future of some places is (maybe) in question. Well, so far throughout history, there have continuously been good areas to be in – some places are getting worse, some places are getting better. Most of the planet is empty. What About The World? I care about my friends and allies. I wish suffering on no one, even if I don’t know them. I care about our future as a species. But I’ve got work at home to do. The people who are having the greatest positive impact on the world, in my judgement, are the entrepreneurs who are building the future of technology (once man can live in space, most major risks disappear on a personal and collective level, I think). Helping build the personal development tools for these people is not a bad place to be in either. We may not agree on the most impactful people – it’s quite a personal question. Did your guys and gals start in politics though? Are they in it now? As for my tribe, we can mutually waste our time with politics, or we can learn to live more fulfilled lives, and be more prepared for the risks of the world. The pursuits may not be mutually exclusive, but the mindset is so different that one struggles to exist next to the other. Could you and I have real global impact? I think so. But I know I’ve got some homework to do before I get there though. Ask Yourself Not everybody reading this has my political ex-views. I don’t think it matters very much. Where does your version of utopia rank on your list of what you want to wake up to tomorrow? Work on whatever number one is instead, and you’ll likely get closer to it in your own life anyway. Moving Forward: Disconnect I had to take a hard exit with everything non-actionable, everything outside me sphere of control. I used politics as an example because it’s top on the list of how I wasted my productive time, but there are other things. It’s quite personal, and it’s an ongoing journey of discovery. I’ve stopped all inflow. I don’t consume the news (alternative of otherwise), I try not to get into debates, I’ve gotten quite good at selectively blocking what the Internet throws me at me. If something “major” happens, sometimes people tell me, sometimes they don’t. I’ve done quite well so far without it. That’s the end of my story. And yeah, I hope to never learn who wins the 2020 US elections. No spoilers, please.
8 minutes | Mar 28, 2017
Valiant Growth Now a Blogcast
I've become quite fed up with a show notes that had very little value to the listener. So I've decided to turn them into full-blown, stand-alone blog posts! Hence, until this experiment lasts, I am now running a blogcast instead of just a podcast. Are you as excited about this as I am?
45 minutes | Mar 24, 2017
0050 - How To Make Your Productivity System Easy To Run - with Jake Desyllas
So you’ve followed the advice my previous talk with Jake Desyllas and set up your own basic productivity system. You know that a system like that is not a pedantic badge of honour, but is in fact the best way to add actions to your ideals – to LIVE your values. You also know the three components of any successful productivity system: Capture: Get things out of your head Review: Check everything regularly Organize: Put things in their right place You probably are in a happy place - so allow me to flame some dissatisfaction. At this phase, your system can be quite clumsy. That means more effort. More effort is more fragility - will you be able to keep things going when you a hit a lower motivation cycle? I've invited Jake Desyllas of The Voluntary Life podcast once again to help us sharpen the edges of this new set of tools we are building together. Make Your Reviews Easier How do you make sure everything's covered in your weekly review? And how do you make sure you actually do it? A Handy Checklist Going through these steps will give you the confidence that you aren't missing anything: 1. Clear the decks Get all the emails, text messages (known as Inbox 0) and social media that slipped through. Everything relevant must be in your capture system (notebook, index cards, Evernote etc.) before you start. Remove old notes from the system itself if needed. 2. Look at your projects list A project is anything composed of more than one step. It's really helpful to keep a list of these so you know everything's moving forward. Looking through it weekly will generate most of your next week's tasks/to-do list. 3. Review your ideas Now that the past and present is under control, look towards the future. It's well-worth keeping lists of someday/maybe projects, to-read lists, ideas lists - this where things will go when the inspiration strikes for things you'd like to do in the future. Check on these as part of your weekly review - maybe the time is now for something and exciting! Jake likes to do step one and then step two and three separately, since they require a different mindset - one is a more administrative kind, the other a more strategic and visionary one. Making Sure You Actually Do It As with everything else, habituation is very powerful (maybe necessary) to get this done week by week. Pick the time and day that makes sense in your life. This could be a great time to put some great work music on, or even go to a nice cafe (just don't tell me about it). I like pleasant company, so I've got a running weekly appointment with my buddy Nick Hazelton the Anarcho-Yakitalist where we do a large part of this process together. This has been by far the most successful approach that I took and it made not missing weeks really easy. You can get some inspiration on how different people do this by looking up the early episode of the Getting Things Done Virtual Study Group podcast. Not Just Weekly Weekly reviews aren't meant to cover everything. Different intervals make sense for different parts of your life. Consider including a quick morning recap into your start of the day where you overview what you can accomplish today (if you are going to the city, check to see everything you need to get done there etc.) and pick out the most important tasks of the day (three is a popular number). Jake's and I both do financial reviews on a monthly basis - might as well have that in your system too! I also have month plans, prepared near the end of the month for the next one. Yearly reviews are also a very powerful tool for big picture overview. Even the dreaded New Year's resolutions are a form of recurring review. Better Tools There's always a risk when adopting something more complicated. In Jake's own words: “when you feel you can trust them" (19s) That said, there comes a time when you want something more organized and efficient than a simple notebook or note capturing software. In some cases, it's about learning to use what you have better, other times it's about learning about something entirely new. Paper-based I'm not a big fan of paper (my handwriting comes out pre-encrypted) but many prefer the simplicity, ease of use, and even elegance that comes with a physical, paper-based system. Probably the biggest downside of simple using a notebook is that is very hard to quickly and easily overview what's going on. Notebooks are designed to be used in a linear way, start to finish, where a good productivity system is more like Lego. Inbox 0 Index Cards ...to the rescue! They have been and are used to great effect - they're easy to add in or discard, they are sturdy enough to written on almost anywhere. If you don't mind a little bulk, consider transitioning your capture system to them. Hipster PDA Bullet Journal On the other hand, bullet journals solve the problem of notes being lost in a notebook by implementing a very clever system of transfer and review and push the medium beyond what I though was possible: Digital Digital has some strong arguments for it too. Most people will have a smartphone on them at all times, whereas carrying paper has to be habituated. Your data in cloud is very unlikely to get lost, get wet or burned down. The truly powerful benefits get unlocked with more learning though (and that's a rabbit hole engineer-minded know all too well ;) ) #call #Nick about the #yaks when I'm #sad People who try contextual lists rarely go back. It's really, really convenient to be able to look with one click at everything you want to do: At a certain time (eg. everything I want to get done tomorrow) At a certain place ( eg. when in Rome, ask for their to-do lists) With a certain tool (eg. list of annoying neighbours when I'm driving my monster truck) With a certain person (eg. everything I need to talk about with a coaching client) In a certain mood (eg. things I can still make happen when low on energy after work) etc. The problem is, I don't want to copy and paste my yak consolation call idea on 5 different lists, digitally or otherwise. That's where something like Evernote's tagging system comes into play. I can take a single note, and add any number of contextual tags to it. Feeling better already! I got this idea from The Secret Weapon website. Brett Veinotte at School Sucks has also talked about his Evernote system. And Finally: All Singing, All Dancing If you are ready to take the leap, you could go all out and just purchase and learn to use a tool such as Omnifocus (Mac/iOS) or alternatives, such as MyLifeOrganized (Win/Mac/Android/iOS). These tools can be quite overwhelming, but have a very wide range of features, which you can see in their sales copy on their websites. If you are into systems building, you will probably really enjoy these apps. I've not yet tried these out, but Jake swears by Omnifocus. Continue With If you want a review of the basics of productivity as a laid out in conversation with Jake, you can choose to listen to p, or the audio-enhanced article based on it. David Allen is the creator of Getting Things Done, and also of Ready For Anything and Making It All Work. Jake recommends all three of these for further reading. Another book recommended by Jake is Manage Your Day to Day, as well as the Power of Less as a counterpoint to Getting Things Done. And of course, if you haven't already, see Jake's own The Voluntary Life podcast for concise, high value productivity. He'll teach you more in 20 minutes than others will in hours. It's All In Your Hands If you've been hitting roadblocks with running a consistent productivity system, this is your opportunity to make it better. Cycles in life are natural, but having a system see you through them makes the downturns a lot more manageable - even enjoyable? I've found that the hardest times are not when I'm not creating as much as I'd like to, but when I lose my sense of being in control of my life. A productivity system that sticks with you even in the difficult times will help you take advantage of lulls, and turn them into great opportunities to relax and recreate without panic. If you take Jake's advice, you can improve what you are doing out of a desire for more efficiency and impact and also give a loving, caring gift to the future you that might need a little bit more help when the going gets rough.
28 minutes | Mar 10, 2017
0049 - Frugality is Questioning the Normal - Interview with Nicolas Berube Part 2
Sometimes people tell me: “Philip, it’s all fine for you, but you can’t do this stuff with a family and car based culture”. That makes a lot of sense to me: in many ways, being a single, young person is the easiest way to keep costs on the low end.That is why I was very happy to ask Nicola, a listener who called in about his story on how he biked and lived in his tent in backyards to travel Europe to tell me more on how he, as a married man with a child, living in the sometimes less than hospitable of Montreal, Canada, find ways to work towards financial independence. Housing and transport are the two biggest expenses in a US household, and that is what came up in our discussion too. Transport Nicola has chosen to live within walking distance of his job, grocery store and daycare. He estimates that he walks about 10 km (6.2 miles) each day, which he finds a pleasurable range. Even in Montreal’s -20 °C (-2 °F) winter days, all it takes is a good jacket. In the summer, he uses a local bike share, costing him 55 USD/season - this way he doesn’t have to worry about maintenance and security. When he needs some extra range, he’ll use public transport or an occasional car share in the late evenings - a more efficient system than individual car ownership, which sometimes means cars stay idle for 95% of their lifetime. With these strategies, he manages to meet his transport needs without owning a car, for a fraction of the cost. Housing Nicola spends about a third of his income on housing, while staying in a central location. His philosophy: he sticks to the old way of looking at space, and thus has a much smaller place than is the standard. Many houses built at the turn of the century that were meant for families with five children or more are now occupied by couples with no children, or one child. He also rents - he’s seen many renovation costs go out of control, with expensive upgrades in our one area making spilling over into other rooms just to maintain a uniform look. So far, he’s gotten no comments about his house. :) More Nicola Nicola Berube is a French language journalist for La Presse in Canada, and is working towards bridging the English and French personal finance worlds, for instance with his interview of Mr. Money Moustache. Please consider supporting the show at valiantgrowth.com/support
47 minutes | Mar 5, 2017
0048 - Cycling Through Europe - Interview with Nicolas Berube
Imagine that you have a magic marker. It looks like the usual whiteboard companion, but it has secret that only you know about. You see, with this marker, you can go into any store, pick any item off the shelf, and write your own price on it. And when you go to the checkout, they accept your price, no matter what it is, and everybody walks away happy. Where can you get this magic marker? You already own it! It’s called creativity. It’s also called adventurousness. Or flexibility. With those tools, you can name your own price for almost anything, especially travel. In this episode we are talking about a great strategy for frugal travel for the bold and time-rich. Travel is a prominent goal for most people in the personal development community. And while travel in itself isn’t personal development, many people have found the change in surroundings to be a powerful stimulant of creativity, finding new angles on old problems, inspiration and introspection. That is why it’s an important topic for Valiant Growth - especially how do it in a way that is light on your finances. Burning through your savings can take the fun out of a lot of things, travel included. I’ve talked previously about my own story of hitchhiking through Europe, both as part of an interview on Radical Personal Finance (which went into a lot more strategies, and has been released just before this episode on the feed) and also in episode 32 of Valiant Growth. At the end of that episode, I invited listeners to get in touch if the have an interesting and informative travel story to tell. That’s the offer that Nicolas, a listener and supporter of the show has taken on and he’s got a strategy that I’m convinced many of you will find quite appealing. Nicola has taken upon himself to travel in South-Western Europe with nothing but a (well-equipped) bike, his tent and good fortune on his side. His story has left me with a lot to think about. That it’s not unreasonable to say that adventure is truly a matter of creativity and daring and not of money. That we often underestimate the kindness of strangers, and thus miss out on opportunities that could really positively influence our outlook on the species in general. That for the cost of a fancier gym membership, you could do what Nicola did, and make getting in shape and staying active an organic part of your life rather than a jarring interruption of the day in a sterile, artificial environment.You may think that this kind of stuff is not something you can do, that there’s no way you could take the brake, or convince your family, or bike the distance. To that I say - it’s up to you. If this sounds like an adventure worth remembering, you can make it happen. If you have any questions on the subject, please post them in the comments section of this episode at valiantgrowth.com/48 - Nicola assured me that he’d be very happy to give you some pointers to get you on the road! I was also interested to hear Nicola’s tactics for staying frugal given his different life station and circumstances - that will be the subject of our next episode.
68 minutes | Jan 18, 2017
Out and About - Radical Personal Finance - Tips to Hitchhike Europe (or Anywhere Else) on $40 a Week (with a Food Budget of $2 Per Day!) Interview with Philip Frey from Valiant Growth
I've started releasing guest appearances I've made on other podcasts. The first one is an interview with Joshua Sheats on Radical Personal Finance about hitchhiking and budget travel in general. I share my experiences and we both go in depth on tactics around hitchhiking, housing, transport and ultralight backpacking. Here are Joshua's show notes: Do you wish to set out and travel but feel like you lack the money? Well, what if you did it anyway and just adjusted your style of travel to fit a more modest budget? My guest today is long-time listener of the show, Philip Frey. A few years ago he did exactly that. He set out across Europe with a schoolmate and they managed to cobble together a very fun trip on a very modest budget! In today’s show we discuss Philip’s experiences and advice for how to replicate a trip like his. I also share some of my tips and ideas for how I would approach a trip like this for myself. Enjoy the show! Joshua Philip’s website: http://www.valiantgrowth.com/ A stand-alone episode that Philip did on his podcast “Extreme Travel: My Story of Hitchhiking Through Europe on Under $40 a Week” http://www.valiantgrowth.com/e32/ Also, “How to Spend $2/day on Food” http://www.valiantgrowth.com/e14/ Steven Harris’s website on “How to Keep Your Phone Charged All the Time Anywhere in the World That You Go” http://www.cellphone1234.com/ Hitchwiki: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hitchhiking the World http://hitchwiki.org Support RPF on Patreon! www.radicalpersonalfinance.com/patron
16 minutes | Jan 1, 2017
0047 - Is Early Retirement Extreme About Financial Independence?
Early Retirement Extreme may be one of the four ways to quit the rat race on the surface. I think, however, that underlying ERE is a much deeper philosophy. In fact, I’d say that saving a lot of money, investing it and living of the income is a completely optional part of ERE. What this approach has taught me is the value of resilience, independence and living a well-rounded life. Through looking at our needs (and the strategies handed to us by the mainstream to meet them) critically, we can continously uncover new, more optimal ways of life - irrespective of what of what is in our bank account/investment portfolio. A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support
8 minutes | Dec 31, 2016
0046 - Day 21 of the Early Retirement Extreme 21 Day Makeover - Investing for Early Retirement Part 2
On the final day of the 21 day ERE makeover (but only penultimate of the series), Jacob addresses a simplified approach to investing, called Dogs of the Dow. Original article at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-21-investing-for-early-retirement.html A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support On the final day of the 21 day ERE makeover (but only penultimate of the series), Jacob addresses a simplified approach to investing, called Dogs of the Dow.
9 minutes | Dec 30, 2016
0046 - Day 20 of the Early Retirement Extreme 21 Day Makeover - Own Classics
Frugality and high-quality products are not antithetical - you just have to own classics. Join http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com for ERE specific advice, and http://valiantgrowth.com/community to meet fellow Valiant Growth listeners. Original article at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-20-own-classics.html A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support
12 minutes | Dec 29, 2016
0046 - Day 19 of the Early Retirement Extreme 21 Day Makeover - Getting Rid of Your TV (Addiction)
A TV (or insert other entertainment technology here) will cost you some money, but it will cost a lot more than that for your growth - if you aren’t aware of what you are doing. But entertainment is not the greatest threat - in fact, for many of you, it may not even be all that significant. The allure of narrow technical skills over broad life skills (personal development) can just as well cost you in terms of your long-term happiness. Presentation on personal development (skip intro): https://youtu.be/-k8TQ5oXSUc?t=17m50s Original article at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-19-getting-rid-of-your-tv-addiction.html A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support
16 minutes | Dec 28, 2016
0046 - Day 18 of the Early Retirement Extreme 21 Day Makeover - Join a Challenge
Self-imposed constraints (a.k.a challenges) can be a great tool for accelerating your frugality, building your self-esteem, and having fun at the same time. Original article at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-18-join-a-challeng.html A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support
8 minutes | Dec 27, 2016
0046 - Day 17 of the Early Retirement Extreme 21 Day Makeover - Maintaining and Repairing Things
We throw things out too easily sometimes. The good news is that you can become a handyman perhaps more easily than you’d think. And perhaps one day you can start building your own things! Original article at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-17-maintaining-andrepairing-things.html A more detailed discussion of the ERE philosophy at http://valiantgrowth.com/e30 Get Early Retirement Extreme The Book at http://valiantgrowth.com/ere Donate to the podcast at http://valiantgrowth.com/support