The Voluntary Life: 2013

26 December 2013

138 Open-Source Money Part 2

Part two of an in-depth discussion about Bitcoin with Stephanie Murphy, co-host of Let's Talk Bitcoin. Topics covered include:
  • The skewed ownership of Bitcoin: is it a problem?
  • Bitcoin and holding assets outside your own country
  • More on Bitcoin vs Gold
  • Bitcoin price volatility: experiences and techniques for planning around it
  • Bitshares and other advanced possibilities with Bitcoin
Show Notes:

20 December 2013

137 Open-Source Money: All About Bitcoin With Stephanie Murphy

Episode 137

An interview with Stephanie Murphy looking in-depth at Bitcoin. Stephanie is co-host of the Let's Talk Bitcoin podcast. Topics covered in the interview include:
  • An overview of what has happened to Bitcoin in 2013
  • Bitcoin as open-source money
  • Does it matter that Bitcoin is "not backed by anything"?
  • Deflationary currency: are people "hoarding" bitcoins, or simply "saving" with them?
If you would like to donate a bitcoin tip to The Voluntary Life, the address is 1HVwpbwsYsj7Tndsj6NTQ9BYPdEZATAePW

The Voluntary Life Bitcoin QR code is:

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 137

15 December 2013

136 Your Purpose In Life

This episode is about identifying your purpose in life. Topics covered include:

  • The concept of Horizons of Focus used in David Allen's "Getting Things Done"
  • How to manifest your life's purpose in every action that you do. 
  • Identifying and addressing gaps in your integrity
  • Identifying the level of integrity shown by other people in your life. 

Show Notes:

Listen to episode 136

26 November 2013

134 Employee Conditioning

The biggest challenge to becoming an entrepreneur is overcoming your conditioning. It's never been a better time to start your own business, yet we are all conditioned to think like worker drones. This episode is about how to break your employee conditioning.

Show Notes
Episode 111 on Risk in Entrepreneurship
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
The Peter Principle

Listen to Episode 134

14 November 2013

133 Going Minimalist

An update on my experience of going minimalist. Topics covered:
  • The benefits of minimalism
  • How it feels getting rid of stuff
  • The downside of minimalism?
  • Some suggestions for going minimalist
Show Notes

  • It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

  • Listen to Episode 133

    3 November 2013

    132 Perpetual Travellers Part 4: Interview With Andrew Henderson

    Andrew is the founder and host of the Nomad Capitalist website and radio show. In this interview he describes his life as an expat entrepreneur, including:
    • travels through South East Asia
    • Becoming a nomad capitalist
    • different opportunities for investment abroad
    • Diversification: do you need it?
    • Dealing with the practicalities of doing business on the road
    • perpetual travel: the good and the bad

    Show Notes
    "Passport to Freedom" Event In Las Vegas January 2014
    Nomad Capitalist Website

    Listen to episode 132

    25 October 2013

    131 Perpetual Travellers Part 3: Interview with David Kahn

    David is an entrepreneur and perpetual traveller. He is the founder of a successful technology consultancy and has been travelling around the world with his family for many years. In this episode he shares his experience of perpetual travel and entrepreneurship, including:
    • The idea that got David and his wife travelling.
    • The influence that The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber had on him
    • How David turned an IT consultancy into a passive income business
    • Experiences of living in Argentina, Spain and Thailand
    • The benefits of minimalism and travel
    • The psychological rewards of travel: learning to live more freely and operating without the rulebook you were given.
    • The challenges of travel and how they are part of the experience
    Show Notes:
    The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
    David's Company
    Family Kahn Blog
    Email David

    Listen To Episode 131

    20 October 2013

    130 Perpetual Travellers Part 2: Interview With Pete Sisco

    Pete Sisco is an entrepreneur, blogger and author of The Freedom App. In this interview, Pete talks about his life as a perpetual traveller including:

    • Long term travel with a family
    • Self-publishing
    • Passive income businesses
    • Working with people all over the world
    • Dealing with bureaucracies when travelling
    • Perpetual travel as the ultimate personal freedom
    Show Notes
    Pete's website and blog
    The Freedom App book

    Listen to Episode 130

    12 October 2013

    129 Perpetual Travellers Part 1: An Interview With Kevin Koskella

    An interview with Kevin Koskella, host of the Freedom Lovin' blog and podcast. Kevin talks about his life as a perpetual traveller. He explains his approach to funding a digital nomad lifestyle with online passive income businesses and shares some of the best and worst experiences of his permanent travel life!

    4 October 2013

    128 Be More Expansive Than Your Expertise: An Interview With Elliott Hulse

    This episode is an interview with strength trainer and youtube personality Elliott Hulse. In the interview Elliot talks about his approach to getting freedom by creating a non-job. Topics covered include:

    • Growing up rebellious
    • What it means to have a non job
    • Sharing your ideas, even though you suck at first
    • How to finance the early days of your non job
    • Perseverance
    • What to do if there is not much demand for what you are passionate about
    • Being more expansive than your expertise
    Show Notes
    Elliott's Youtube channel and Facebook Page
    Campaign For Non Jobs Website
    Previous TVL episodes on Unjobbing

    Listen to Episode 128

    26 September 2013

    127 Porc Therapy Interview: Quitting The Rat Race- In Depth!

    This episode is from a recent interview that I did for the Porc Therapy podcast. The interviewer is my friend Stephanie Murphy. We talk about different strategies to escape the rat race, including unjobbing, intensive saving, passive income businesses and selling a business. The discussion focusses on some questions about pursuing financial freedom, including:

    • What is financial freedom?
    • College- is it worth it?
    • Does having kids make financial freedom impossible?
    • How does becoming a stay-at-home parent fit into the idea of quitting the rat race?
    • Is "voluntary poverty" a viable strategy for financial freedom?
    • Do you have to be a sleaze to start a passive income business?
    • What's the role of Bitcoin in an investment strategy like the Permanent Portfolio?
    • Why doesn't the Permanent Portfolio contain silver?
    • How do intensive savers do it?

    Show Notes:
    Episode 124 (Original Talk on Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race)
    Harry Browne's book on the Permanent Portfolio
    Early Retirement Extreme blog and book
    Mr Money Moustache

    Podcast Episode 127

    21 September 2013

    126 School Sucks Interview: Tools For A Freed Mind and A Voluntary Life

    This episode is a recent interview about Getting Things Done that I did on the School Sucks Podcast. The discussion is with Brett Veinotte and here is his summary:

    "This is the sixth and final (for now) installment in a series of shows inspired by my experience with and successes after reading the book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. Jake Desyllas joins me to discuss his experience with GTD, and to share his Eight Tools For A Freed Mind."

    Listen to Episode 126

    14 September 2013

    125 Q&A on Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race

    The Question and Answer session from my talk about Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race. See Episode 124 for the main talk.

    Listen to Episode 125

    6 September 2013

    124 Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race

    Listen to Episode 124

    Audio from a presentation given at the 2013 Libertopia conference. The talk explains how I quit the rat race aged 38 and what I have learned about different ways that other people have found to do so. There are four basic ways to quit the rat race presented in the talk:
    • Unjobbing
    • Intensive Saving
    • Passive Income
    • Selling A Business

    Show Notes:
    Michael Fogler's book Un-Jobbing
    Linda Breen Pierce's book Choosing Simplicity
    Elliot Hulse
    Your Money or Your Life
    Amy Dacyczyn's book The Complete Tightwad Gazette
    Early Retirement Extreme blog and book
    Mr Money Moustache
    Introduction to the Permanent Portfolio
    Smart Passive Income
    Tim Ferriss' blog and book The 4-Hour Workweek
    Laura Roeder
    Derek Sivers' book Anything You Want

    Podcast Episode 124

    24 August 2013

    122 Conscious Entrepreneurship

    An episode about making conscious choices as an entrepreneur.

    Listen to episode 122

    16 August 2013

    121 The Big Decisions for Entrepreneurs

    Listen to Episode 121

    Entrepreneurs have to make hundreds of decisions about their businesses every day. It is easy to lose sight of which decisions are the really big ones- the ones that have huge repercussions. The big decisions are also an opportunity to express your individuality and creativity as an entrepreneur: to make a conscious choice about the purpose and design of your business. This podcast provides an overview of what the big decisions are:

    1. Choosing your own goals and motives

    Why am I an entrepreneur? What is my own motivation? What do I want? How do my motives for being an entrepreneur fit in with my vision for my life? I have found that being conscious about my own motivation is key to ensuring that I can gain fulfilment from being in business.

    2.  Choosing the purpose of the business

    Why does my business exist? What's the purpose of the business? Deciding on a clear purpose for your business gives coherence to all your actions and decision. For me, that comes down to identifying what this business is going to do to provide value to others and make other people's lives better.

    3 Choosing business partners

    Am I going into business with others, or alone. Why? This choice has huge ramifications and it is extremely useful to be very conscious of why you are making any choices with regard to cofounders.

    4. Choosing how to finance the venture

    Why do I want funding? What am I going to do with it? It's easy to assume you need as much money as possible to start, but you have many choices as to how to approach financing the venture.

    5. Choosing how to sell

    How am I going to make money? Why will customers give me money? There is an interplay in this decision, as we all learn from customers as we come to understand their reasons for buying.

    6. Choosing the design of your operation 

    How are we going to organise the work? Why are we working in this way? There is often a temptation to recreate the processes from your last job, however being a business owner gives you the opportunity to consciously design the workflow of your business.

    7. Choosing your approach to profit 

    How much profit do I aim to make? How am I going to do it?

    8. Choosing your approach to growth

    How big do I want this business to be, and why? It's easy to assume that you want growth, but bigger means more complex.

    9. Choosing how you will exit

    How do you plan to exit the business? Everyone has to exit someday. Many entrepreneurs want to sell, but even those who don't will have to plan for some kind of exit, either through a succession plan or simply ceasing to trade one day.

    I am currently writing a book about how to make these choices consciously as an entrepreneur.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback about this podcast and the subject as a whole!

    Podcast Episode 121

    7 August 2013

    120: Eight Tools That Will Free Your Mind

    Listen to Episode 120
    This episode provides an overview of eight tools that can free your mind and massively boost your productivity. One of the things that makes us human is our ability to extend the power of our minds with tools. The tools are only effective when combined with the right habits (repetitive behaviours). Be sure to look up and learn more about the productivity habits mentioned with each tool.

    1. A Concentration Timer

    Your mind is not free if you are distracted and interrupted all the time. A concentration timer is a simple tool that helps your mind focus for short bursts of concentration and then give your brain rest periods. A concentration timer is just a stopwatch with an alarm. Examples include a stopwatch app or a simple kitchen timer. The habit needed to make the most of this tool is to forgo multi-tasking, take regular breaks, and protect your concentration when working by managing interruptions. To learn more about the best practice habits for using a concentration timer read about The Pomodoro Technique.

    2. A Journal

    Writing is an amazing ability unique to humans. Getting your thoughts out of your head by writing them down gives your mind far more freedom to explore them and view them objectively. A journal can simply be a pen and paper, or a dedicated physical journal, a digital journalling app like Macjournal  or web based journalling service like 750 Words. Use a password protected journal app (or a lockable one if paper-based) to give your mind full freedom to express anything. The habit required to make the most of a journal is to maintain regular journalling every day. Read more about journalling in The Ultimate Guide to Journaling.

    3. A Ubiquitous Capture Tool

    A ubiquitous capture tool or mobile thought and information capture tool gives you the opportunity to have potentially useful ideas anywhere but still allows you to get on with your day (and not have to remember everything).  Examples of a capture tool can be a simple pen and paper, a Hipster PDA, a note taking app like Drafts or Evernote, even the voice memo or camera feature of your phone.  Read more about capture tools in Getting Things Done by David Allen.

    4. A "Stuff Funnel"

    A stuff funnel is a system of discrete inboxes to funnel new information into one location where it can be processed. All kinds of stuff shows up in your life (letters, emails, receipts, manuals, downloaded files etc) and clogs your mind. In order to mentally 'process' the stuff and identify what you want to do with it, you need a complete set of inboxes. Since most people have both a physical inbox and various digital inboxes (email inbox, download folder, task manager inbox  etc), you can think of the full set of your inboxes as a funnel for information coming into your life. The habit needed to make good use of this tool is to make sure you put all the stuff that comes into your life into a designated in-box that is part of your funnel and clear the funnel regularly (empty all the in-boxes). Read more about processing stuff in Getting Things Done by David Allen.

    5. A Task Management Tool

    A task management app is a tool to organise and work with all your "to-do" items, projects, goals and other task management information. If you don't use a tool for this, these to do items remain constantly on your mind, taking up mental effort. At the simplest level, a pen and some paper can serve as a task management tool. Various software apps can also be used, such as Things, Omnifocus and Evernote. These tools are only effective when combined with the habit of organising all your project and task information in the tool and working with it daily.

    6. A Reference Material Store

    A reference material store allows you to put information that  you might need in future in a safe place, freeing your mind to forget about it. A filing cabinet is a physical example and Evernote is a digital example. The habit needed to make use of this tool is ensuring that you put all the information you might need into your reference store.

     7. A Mind Mapping Tool 

    Mind maps free you to be conscious of all the intuitive connections that your mind can make. They are bubble and stick diagrams of your thoughts and their connections. A mind mapping tool can be as simple as a pen and paper, or a specific application like iThoughs HD. It can take some time to develop the habit of doing mind maps and allowing yourself to make those intuitive connections, but it is well worth it.

    8. A Media Queue System

    A media queue system is a set of tools to allow you to save media to consume later, so you can avoid being distracted when someone sends you a link. You might see an interesting article online and use a tool like instapaper to save it to read later. Similarly youtube has a watch later feature and Amazon allows you to make wish lists for things you may buy later.

    Show Notes

    The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo (downloadable pdf)
    The Ultimate Guide to Journaling by Hannah Braime
    Getting Things Done by David Allen
    The Getting Things Done Virtual Study Group Podcast

    Podcast Episode

    31 July 2013

    119 How To Develop Your Wealth Plan: An Interview With Todd Tressider

    Listen to Episode 119

    This episode is an interview with Todd Tressider, founder of Todd founded Financial Mentor to educate business owners and investors about the wealth building principles he learned from years as an entrepreneur in the investment management industry. In the interview, Todd outlines his definition of financial freedom and discusses the hurdles you need to overcome if you want to achieve it. He talks about the importance of developing your own wealth plan and identifies some of the key requirements necessary for your plan to be successful. As always regarding investment, do your own research. I am not a financial advisor.

    Podcast Episode

    26 July 2013

    118 Decluttering And Community Selling: Interview with Jorja Leavitt

    Listen to Episode 118

    This episode is an interview with Jorja Leavitt, founder of Jorja is an entrepreneur and mother of four, living in Las Vegas. In the interview, she shares her experiences of moving to a minimalist lifestyle. She talks about the freedom that she has found from decluttering and selling unnecessary stuff. She highlights the great opportunities to trade at a community level, using social media platforms such as Facebook.

    Show Notes:
    Sharetown Facebook App
    Article on selling all your stuff by Never Ending Voyage

    Podcast Episode

    17 July 2013

    117 Freedom Lovin' Interview: Living The Voluntary Life

    Listen to Episode

    This episode is an interview of me by Kevin at Freedom Lovin' Podcast. Here's Kevin's summary:
    "In this episode of the Freedom Lovin’ Podcast, I chat with Jake from The Voluntary Life about finding freedom in an unfree world. Here’s what we covered:

    • What does freedom mean?
    • Why entrepreneurship is important
    • Living in Mexico
    • Minimalism/going paperless
    • Tips on becoming more free in your life

    13 July 2013

    116 Why Your Gym Membership Is 300 Times More Expensive Than You Think

    This episode provides a mind blowing way of thinking about the true cost of your monthly expenses. If you are interested in achieving financial freedom, then it makes sense to look at each monthly recurring expense as really costing you 300 times more. For example, a gym membership that costs £80 per month really costs £24,000 (in dollars, a $120 monthly gym membership really costs $36,000). The episode explains this perspective in more detail. In summary:

    • You have financial freedom when you don't have to work to support yourself. Therefore, if you want to be financially free, you have to think of paying for things from the interest on your passive investments.
    • Although there is a lot of debate about the numbers, the most widely used assumption is that you can live from 4% of your portfolio (the so called 4% rule). This assumes that on average your portfolio will make enough to cover for both inflation and you drawing down 4% (I personally think it's better to use 3% to be on the safe side, but let's use the most commonly used assumption to illustrate the point).
    • The 4% rule implies that you need a net worth that is 25 times your annual expenses to be financially free. To apply that to monthly expenses, simply multiply the 25 by 12 (for 12 months) and you need investments that are 300 times your recurring monthly expenses. So any monthly expense really requires 300 times more in capital to pay for it when financially free.
    • This is why for the £80 per month gym membership, you need £24,000 in capital saved to pay that membership when financially free. That figure (£24,000) is more than the annul expenses of most people in the UK.
    • This is why frugality and saving is so powerful as a way to get more financial freedom. It is more powerful to save expenses than to keep increasing your income because more income won't make you more free unless you control expenses.
    • I'm not a financial advisor and as always, you need to do your own research. I think this perspective is useful and it has been very helpful to me.
    • That's why I won't be getting a gym membership again anytime soon. There are plenty of free ways of getting good exercise!

    5 July 2013

    115 How To Go Paperless

    This episode is about how to go paperless and what the benefits are. Topics covered include:
    • How accumulating paper limits your flexibility and freedom 
    • Simple steps to reduce the paper you accumulate such as using e-billing and e-books.
    • Ways to minimise the paper books you own, such as selling them as soon as you have read them
    • Key tools for digitizing your paper and going paperless: a multipage scanner (such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i), a shredder and Evernote
    • Keeping labelling and metadata simple: the three key attributes of date, location and person/organisation
    • Options about where to store digital data: secure encrypted drives vs services like Evernote
    • What to scan and what to simply delete.
    A good site for more tips about going paperless is DocumentSnap

    25 June 2013

    114 Nomad Capitalist Report Interview

    This episode is a recent interview I did on the Nomad Capitalist Report radio show. The interview is by Andrew Henderson and here's his summary:

    "Live from Mexico, Jake Desyllas of The Voluntary Life podcast talks entrepreneurship and freedom. He shares tips to building a location independent business, being a global entrepreneur, and prospering anywhere in the world. He shares suggestions from his jet-setting life, talks about the best countries in South America, and dispels myths about Mexico “they” don’t want you to know."

    Podcast Episode

    22 June 2013

    113 Freedom From Your Stuff

    An episode about freedom from stuff. Topics covered include:
    • What I learned living from a backpack for 7+ months
    • Why owning stuff is not wealth
    • The hidden financial and psychological costs of owning stuff
    • How your stuff can control you
    • The goal of purposeful ownership
    • Strategies for minimalism: paperless, zero data and selling all your crap


     Podcast Episode

    13 June 2013

    112 What Business Should I Start? Part 2: Finding Purpose

    An episode about finding and clarifying the purpose of your business. Why does your business exist? Topics covered include:

    • The limits of "Mission Statements"
    • The benefits of a really short elevator pitch for your business' purpose: encapsulating it all in just 3 words
    • It can often take a long time to move from intuitive to fully conscious business purpose. Don't worry, you can get going and discover it on the way
    • Three things to think about to clarify your purpose: What will inspire you? What will inspire others? What do you have the capability to deliver?

    Show Notes
    Episode 107 (Part 1 of What Kind of Business Should I Start?)
    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
    The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
    Making It All Work by David Allen

    Podcast Episode

    6 June 2013

    111 Money, Risk and Motivation in Entrepreneurship

    An episode about the financial risks and rewards of entrepreneurship and what they mean for your motivation in starting a business. Here's some harsh data about the financial risks and rewards:

    • More than half of startups cease trading within the first five years.
    • Entrepreneurs on average earn significantly less income over 10 years than they would have earned in paid employment. There are debates about the numbers but one study (Hamilton) suggests a 35% earnings differential.
    • Entrepreneurs on average don’t earn a better return on their investment by founding startups than they would have by investing in publicly traded stocks (in fact they earn less from a risk return perspective).
    • Nevertheless, the majority of affluent people are self-made entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs make-up less than 20% of the workforce in America, but account for 66% of the millionaires. Of the millionaire entrepreneurs, 80% of them are self-made: they are first generation wealth holders (Stanley).

    What are we to make of such statistics? I argue that the high financial risk (and potentially high reward) make it even more important to do entrepreneurship for intrinsic motivations:

    • Purpose: building a business because you want to make a dent on the universe and you believe that what you are doing will make peoples' lives better.
    • Autonomy: being an entrepreneur because it gives you freedom to live and work as you want to (not as someone else thinks you should)
    • Mastery: overcoming the challenges of learning how to build a business is rewarding in itself.

    The episode ends with a discussion of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations for making money itself. The intrinsic motivation to make money is for the freedom (financial freedom) that it gives you.

    Show Notes:

    Podcast Episode

    29 May 2013

    110 Who To Start A Business With

    This episode is about things to consider when choosing co-founders to go into business with. Topics covered include:

    • Do you need co-founders?
    • The advantages of choosing co-founders who are different to yourself (in background, skills, personality, and business networks)
    • The importance of shared core values and purpose for co-founders
    • Research by Noam Wasserman shows that teams made from former co-workers are the most stable. Teams made from former strangers are the second most stable of the three groups Wasserman analysed. Teams made from friends and family are the least stable.

    Show Notes:
    The Founder's Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman
    The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
    The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

    Podcast Episode

    24 May 2013

    109 Getting Started With Bitcoin

    An interview with Stephanie Murphy, co-host of the show Let's Talk Bitcoin, about getting started with using Bitcoin. Topics covered include:

    • What is Bitcoin?
    • How Stephanie first got involved with using Bitcoin
    • Exchanges and exchange services: changing fiat currency into and out of Bitcoin
    • Software, wallets and technical issues
    • Security issues
    • Buying things with Bitcoin
    • Selling your services and products for Bitcoin

    Show Notes:
    Let's Talk Bitcoin podcast
    Porc Therapy podcast
    Fr33 Aid charity
    We Use Coins (intro video about bitcoin)

    Podcast Episode

    15 May 2013

    108 Three Ways To Delegate

    This episode is about three approaches to delegating work within your business. No business can grow unless the founder is able to delegate work to a wider team of people. It's essential that tasks are properly delegated and that the business owner doesn't abdicate responsibility. However, there are three very different ways to delegate:

    • The Operations Manual Approach is where detailed standards and procedures are defined for how all tasks are to be undertaken. Work is typically undertaken by relatively inexperienced employees, who learn to follow detailed specifications.
    • The Results Only Work Environment is where employees are given clear targets or results to meet and it is up to them how they do so. They create their own work procedures and have maximum freedom on issues like whether to work at home.
    • The Outsourcing Approach is where work is delegated to independent contractors or virtual assistants. Fixed costs are kept low by avoiding hiring employees as much as possible. Work is typically outsourced on a specific fee-for-project basis.

    The episode explores the advantages and disadvantages of each of these approaches.

    Show Notes:
    Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
    The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
    Maverick by Ricardo Semler
    Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
    Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
    The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
    How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne

    Podcast Episode

    9 May 2013

    107 What Kind of Business Should I Start?

    If you want to become an entrepreneur but are not sure what kind of business you would like to start, what framework can you use to help you decide? There are two things to consider that will provide you with a strong advantage:

    1. Starting a business to create a solution that you will be a customer for

    This is sometimes called "eating your own dog-food". To be successful, all businesses have to deliver value to customers: they have to make something that people want. If you use the product or service that your company makes, it helps you understand whether it is providing value.

    2. Starting a business in an industry that you understand

    Industry experience provides valuable knowledge about the opportunities and constraints that your business will face. Some examples of industry knowledge are:

    • knowing where your potential customers shop
    • understanding why they buy
    • knowing how potential distributors or affiliates work
    • understanding what the major concerns of key contacts for your business are

    If you don't make something that you yourself would be a customer for and you don't have a good understanding of the industry, you are flying blind. Try to develop a business where you have at least one of these two advantages. Also, try to increase your awareness of the aspect that is missing.

    Podcast Episode

    3 May 2013

    106 Self-Employed Vs Business Owner

    This episode is about the pros and cons of being self-employed vs being a business owner. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but mixing the two does not work well.

    In the self-employed/freelancer model, you sell your time, cover your own expenses and keep all profit. This works best when you have a valuable skill and lots of industry contacts, as you are able to undercut bigger companies on price but keep your overheads low. If it works, you get the advantage of a lot of flexibility to work or take time off.  The disadvantage is that you are dependent on work for income, so there is much less financial freedom in the long term. You don't build up value in business itself (nobody wants to buy a job) and it can be hard to keep your overheads low for longer (as you may need to start investing in marketing, new equipment etc). So it's a vulnerable model over the long term.

    The business owner model is the idea to create a value generating machine. The focus here is on developing standards and procedures to make yourself (the founder) unnecessary to the running of the business as quickly as possible. The advantage of this model is that you create an income stream and a source of value (the business itself) that you can sell in the future, or live from as passive income. This has the potential for much greater financial freedom as well as the freedom to step away from the work in the longer term. The disadvantage is that you have more risk in the initial period, as businesses take more investment. You also get much less free time in the initial period, as the startup phase of a business is more stressful than freelance work.

    Either model can give you a lot of benefits, but be careful not to get stuck between these two models- you can end up with all the stress and none of the benefits. If that happens, it isn't creating a business, it's creating a job (and the worst kind of job, because you can't stop doing it). I hope this podcast will help you be conscious of which model you are adopting and to move more clearly to one or the other if you are currently stuck in-between.

    Show Notes:
    The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
    The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
    Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

    Podcast Episode

    28 April 2013

    105 Crowdfunding Your Startup: An Interview With Kristov from Robber Baron Swag

    This episode is about crowdfunding your startup. Kristov is one of the co-founders of Robber Baron Swag, an apparel startup that is using a kickstarter campaign to launch it's first t-shirt. In this interview, Kristov explains the origins of crowdfunding and talks about the benefits for entrepreneurs in financing their ventures using crowdfunding.

    Show Notes:
    Wiki page about Crowdfunding
    Robber Baron Swag's Kickstarter Page

    Podcast Episode

    19 April 2013

    104 How To Diversify Your Investments

    This episode is about how to diversify your investments for lower risk and higher return. The issues covered include:
    • The problems with a simple "buy and hold" approach, whereby you invest all your money in your one favorite asset (be that stocks, gold or anything else).
    • The problems with the "market timing" approach to investing and why it doesn't work.
    • The benefits of diversifying your portfolio
    • How to properly diversify your portfolio by using different asset classes, rather than just different securities.
    • How to use rebalancing bands to harvest volatility, increase your return and reduce risk.
    You can get more information about the concept of the permanent portfolio discussed in this episode in Harry Browne's book "Fail-Safe Investing" and in many of the previous Voluntary Life podcast episodes on investing.

    As always regarding investment, do your own research. I am not an advisor and this isn't advice of any kind, it's just my own opinions based on my experience.

    Podcast Episode

    10 April 2013

    103 Everything You Need To Make Long Term Travel Easy

    It has never been easier to live and work abroad. If you are self-employed and work online there is nothing to stop you. Why nor sublet your apartment for a few months and live abroad in a fascinating (and potentially cheap) destination? Here is a list of all the things that make long term travel super easy:

    • Have your home post rerouted to friend (or commercial service) who scans it into a Dropbox account for you. If a friend does it, buy them a multi-page scanner for this.
    • Get a professional agent to manage the sublet of your apartment back home
    • AirBnB for renting longer term accommodation (especially for whole apartments)
    • TripAdvisor for short term hotel stays
    • Cloud services for file storage (e.g. dropbox, google drive)
    • Clound services for backup (e.g. Crashplan or Backblaze)
    • A small scanner app on your smartphone for scanning any paper you need to keep (receipts etc) when abroad
    • Get your online banking set up for all the transaction types you will need to do
    • Get your Credit/Debit cards set for use abroad
    • A password manager (e.g. LastPass, 1Password) for your online passwords
    • An E reader (e.g. a kindle, iPad) to enable you to read as many books as you want while you are away
    • A lightweight laptop for your work
    • A Smartphone with a nice camera for taking pictures and getting online
    • An external encrypted drive for local storage/backup
    • International plugs for all your devices
    Please do post your own ideas for things that make long term travel easy in the comments.

    4 April 2013

    102 Five Years Abroad: An Interview With Phoenix Zerin

    Phoenix Zerin is the author of the blog Five Years Abroad. He left his country of origin (USA) in 2012 to experience living abroad for at least 5 years. In this interview he describes his experiences so far travelling in Colombia, Paraguay and Chile.

    30 March 2013

    101 How To Dream Big

    An episode about how to use goals and visions to move forward in creating the life you want.

    Show Notes:
    Previous Episode on GTD
    Getting Things Done by David Allen

    Podcast Episode

    20 March 2013

    100 Entrepreneurship Part 16: Limited Liability Is Not A Magic Shield

    This episode is about the concept of limited liability and it's role in entrepreneurship.
    • The purpose of the limited liability principle is not to protect the entrepreneur as director or manager of a business, it is for the protection of investors.
    • There is a big difference between this principle and how the actual law of limited liability works in practice. The law is messy and confusing, with strange concepts such as "corporate personhood" granted by the State. 
    • I argue that the principle of limited liability for investors could be implemented through contracts and that the whole messy legal implementation that we currently have is unnecessary to achieve investor protection.
    • I argue that it makes sense for entrepreneurs to use contractual limits of liability wherever possible and to use insurance whenever you need to reduce risk in that way.
    • The reality for small business entrepreneurs is that you will not be able to hide behind a shield of limited liability, for example you will be expected to personally underwrite loans.
    These are just my opinions. As always, you need to rely on your own due diligence and get your own legal advice.

    9 March 2013

    99 Taking Risks With Money And Business

    This episode discusses the question of risk in investment, speculation and entrepreneurship. When is it a good idea to take risk and when isn't it? I share my own personal opinion.

    25 February 2013

    98 Entrepreneurship Part 15: Scaling Your Business

    An episode on how to scale and optimise your business to make more profit and enhance your competitive advantage. The issues covered include:
    • Standardisation: making one version of what you do
    • Proceduralisation: making one version of how you do it
    • Optimisation: speeding up and automating your procedures
    • Knowledge Capture: maintaining and growing your operation within the context of staff coming and going
    • Optimising at the level of the whole business: only doing the things that it makes sense to do

    18 February 2013

    97 Entrepreneurship Part 14: Employing People

    This episode is about employing people as an entrepreneur. Topics covered include:

    • The destructive legacy of the reward and punishment paradigm from school
    • Why pay isn't as important as you think
    • The importance purpose, mastery and autonomy in motivation
    • The problem with relying on interviews for hiring and alternative ways of finding great people
    • The value of freelancers or independent contractors
    • What employing people teaches you about taking responsibility for your side of a relationship and how it deepens your respect for individuality

    Show Notes:
    Dan Pink Talk on Motivation
    Discipline Without Punishment by Dick Grote
    Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers

    Podcast Episode

    11 February 2013

    96 Entrepreneurship Part 13: IP Is Bad For Business

    An episode about the problems with Intellectual Property, from the perspective of an entrepreneur. I started off thinking that IP is an integral and necessary part of entrepreneurship. I thought that it would be very important for my business.  I have now come to see IP law as something that:

    • prevents innovation,
    • is immoral,
    • promotes conflict,
    • diverts resources to unproductive uses
    • and is ultimately unnecessary for making money from ideas.

    Show Notes:
    Against Intellectual Monopoly by Boldrin and Levine
    Article about the Shopping Cart case
    Against Intellectual Property by Kinsella

    Podcast Episode

    4 February 2013

    95 Judd Weiss on Business Relationships Part 2

    Part 2 of an interview with entrepreneur Judd Weiss, talking about business relationships. In this episode Judd talks about:
    • The pitfalls of employing people
    • The benefits of partnering or affiliate relationships
    • How to create awesome relationships with clients

    Podcast Episode

    1 February 2013

    94 Judd Weiss On Business Relationships Part 1

    Part 1 of an interview with entrepreneur Judd Weiss, talking about business relationships. In this episode Judd shares his thoughts and experiences about how he approaches working relationships in general and what he thinks about  the question of going into business with others.
    • Should friends go into business together?
    • What makes a good business partnership?
    • Why do so many business partnerships go so badly wrong?
    Find out in this episode.

    Podcast Episode

    23 January 2013

    93 About The Voluntary Life Part 2: Empowerment

    Part 2 in the short series of podcasts about The Voluntary Life. This episode is all about the podcast itself.

    • The podcast comes out once per week and is a mix of solo-casts and interviews. Some topics are covered in more detail as a series, like the entrepreneurship series.
    • The aim of the podcast is personal freedom empowerment: providing ideas for finding the maximum freedom in your own life, within an unfree world.
    • The podcast always takes a constructive approach: the angle on any topic is- what can you do to maximise your freedom in this area of life? 
    • All the topics are about things that are actionable and personally relevant at an individual level.
    • The podcast aims to explore the approach of living a free and voluntary life across all aspects of life (work, personal relationships, finances etc).
    • We showcase examples of voluntary living through interviews with people who have maximised their freedom in a particular aspects of life.
    • I'd love to hear your thoughts about what the opportunities are for expanding the show in the future. I'm interested in developing opportunities for listeners to connect with one another and create more of a community, perhaps online or perhaps with physical meet ups. I look forward to your thoughts!

    Podcast Episode

    18 January 2013

    92 About The Voluntary Life Part 1: More Free Is More Alive

    The first in a series of podcasts introducing The Voluntary Life, both as a concept and as a podcast. This episode explains the concept of living a 'voluntary life', which is a life lived according to the principle of free choice. The extent to which we have the freedom to make our own choices about our lives (and to respect the free choices of others) is the extent to which we are leading the voluntary life. This concept applies across aspects of life, as diverse as freedom at work, financial freedom, freedom in personal relationships and psychological freedom.
    The following principles underpin the concept of living a voluntary life:

    • Voluntary living is the highest expression of individuation possible. The deepest experience of being alive comes from our ability to express our personality and individuality in our free choices. The more free you are, the more alive you are.
    • Voluntary living is the only truly moral way to live. A voluntary life is one lived in accordance with the Non-Agression Principle, which is the fundamental moral framework from which all valid morality is derived.
    • Voluntary interaction is responsible for all the greatest achievements of humanity. Peaceful co-operation of individuals through trade and entrepreneurship has given us all the enlightenment, technological progress, economic development and civilisation (in the best sense of the word) that we now enjoy.
    • The voluntary life must start from the individual and his or her own choices. You have to be the change you want to see in the world. This is why the show is called "the voluntary life" and not "the voluntary society". 
    Podcast Episode

    10 January 2013

    91 Entrepreneurship Part 12: JFDI

    A podcast about how to overcome indecision, paralysis and procrastination about entrepreneurship and JFDI (Just Fucking Do It). There are some objective hinderances to creating and running a business, especially if you have other major commitments in your life that you need to focus on first. However, often the battle is really an internal psychological one. How do you get into the mindset of being able to JFDI? This episode contains some suggestions about giving yourself permission:

    • Permission to fail
    • Permission to be imperfect
    • Permission to piss people off
    • Permission to succeed

    Listen to the podcast to find out more.

    Podcast episode