EFP 49: The Traveling Lifestyle Business Entrepreneur
Building a business and travelling the world – can you really do both?
Introducing Cody McKibben of Thrilling Heroics
In episode 49, Joe and I sit down with Cody McKibben from ThrillingHeroics.com to get down and dirty behind the scenes with lifestyle businesses. We dig into some of the pros and cons when it comes to setting up a home base, slow travel, and the living the tech nomad lifestyle.
Cody’s been doing this longer than we have, so we thought it might be interesting to hear his insights on whether travel has helped or hurt his business.
Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:
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“There are some real benefits to planting your roots in SEAsia” – Joe – Click To Tweet!
“You don’t want to miss out on the ‘lifestyle’ with your lifestyle business” – Justin – Click To Tweet!
“Slow travel expands your adaptability and makes you more resourceful” – Cody – Click To Tweet!
Topics Discussed This Week Include:
- Laying down roots and setting up a home base outside your comfort zone
- The “slow travel” approach
- Nomadic travel as an entrepreneur
- Expanding your circle and making connections
- iTunes Reviews – Our niche site giveaway ends this month!
- Empire Keyword Research – The same domains and keyword research we’ve used for Niche Site Gold.
- Cody McKibben @ ThrillingHeroics.com – Our guest and well-known travelling entrepreneur.
- Digital Nomad Academy – Cody’s membership group for aspiring digital nomads.
- ChrisDucker.com – Justin’s interview with Chris on the New Business Podcast regarding masterminds.
- Rajesh Setty – The mentor Cody mentioned on the episode.
- CommentCast – The easy way to review international iTunes reviews (Mac only)
Which method of travel/work do you prefer? Do you like to dig in roots or do you never seem to settle down? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!
Announcer: Welcome to the Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that e-book you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone! Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits, without the bull shit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.
Justin Cooke: Welcome to episode 49 of the Empire Flippers Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Cooke, and I’m here with Joe “hot money” Magnotti. What is going on, my man?
Joe Magnotti: Hey everybody!
Justin Cooke: We’ve got a fantastic episode lined up. We sit down for a round table chat with Cody McKibben of thrillingheroics.com. This is a guy that, I think, before we even came to the Philippines, I had read his blog a bit; checked out some of the stuff he was doing, it’s pretty interesting. So, we wanted to talk to him a little bit about living life as a traveling entrepreneur, and the three different types, and we’re going to get into that in a bit.
Before we do that, let’s do some updates, news, and info, Joe. We’ve got three brand new, five star iTunes reviewers, buddy.
Joe Magnotti: Who is coming at ya?
Justin Cooke: So we’ve got lundquick, he says this is the best internet marketing podcast that I’ve listened to. Justin and Joe are both knowledgeable and entertaining. They openly share their knowledge on internet marketing, niche site building and business in general, can’t wait for their next podcast.
We’ve got bobdat, who says it’s all about the quality info you get, I’ve been listening for about a year now. I’ve been able to save myself about four hours a week. I’ve cut out two other podcasts completely.
Joe Magnotti: Where do people get these names? Predie, bobdat, and lundquick. Wow that is some interesting names. You are really original people.
Justin Cooke: Predie says solid stuff: I’ve been listening to you guys for the past few months. I got through all of your episodes in the first month. These guys need to be one of your top three podcasts if you are in this space.
Well thanks guys, we really appreciate it. Again, up until the end of May, you can get entered for the drawing, or whatever, for the niche site. So, you got, from publishing this, maybe one day, two days left? So, get in there, get on iTunes reviewing, and you’ll have a shot at a free niche site.
So our next point, we want to talk, we’ve got a question actually. It comes from kenito.
Justin Cooke: And we could put a link to our template in the show notes so you can download that if you need it. Kevin Smith was asking about Niche Site Gold, wanted to know kind of what the deal is with Niche Site Gold, what’s going on with that newsletter.
Joe Magnotti: Where did it go, Justin?
Justin Cooke: Where did it go? Well it basically got swallowed up by Empire Flippers. So, if you’re looking for Empire Keyword Research you can check out Empire Keyword Research packs. We now sell keywords that meet all the criteria, that are either fours or fives that we would normally pick up ourselves. I think in the future, I will go back to the newsletter. I think that was helpful for people, to kind of see why we would select a particular keyword and why we wouldn’t [crosstalk 00:03:40] select another.
Joe Magnotti: I think that was probably part of Kevin’s question, was really, the fact that he was missing out on getting this keyword advice from us. Why or why we didn’t select certain keywords. [crosstalk 00:03:52]
Justin Cooke: I think we will go back to that, but right now we’re trying to fix some internal stuff, and get our newsletters into office autopilot before we’re going to be able to even tackle that.
Another point we wanted to make, was we had a customer service issue recently where we had a customer that was having a problem with intellatheme, sawing it on their site, and it was probably because of their, we don’t know for sure, but we think it was because of their hosting account, but, Joe and I were kind of out of the picture and it was being handled by one of our staff, and it, like they were, I don’t know, a little short [crosstalk 00:04:21], a little short.
Joe Magnotti: I mean I’ll take the blame for this one, you know, I was on Skype and I didn’t really have a lot of time and I just said, I don’t see how this could be a problem. If it works for 3,000 other sites, how could it not work for your site? And they basically just copy and pasted my answer, and sent that to the customer.
Justin Cooke: You were trying to tell them it should work, or whatever. But then they put kind of like a snarky remark to a customer. So anyway, I mean the bigger point, we handled that, we talked to that customer and I think we made everything right, and everything’s cool there, but, I actually appreciate it, because it brought up a bigger point that we haven’t really handled customer service in our organization. Because really, we generally deal with outsourcing clients, and we haven’t had a whole bunch of individual clients, and we’re starting to get more of those, so that’s something we’re going to be revisiting here in the very near future. And setting out policies and procedures for dealing with customer service and to treat our customers.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, we’re always looking for ways to improve, I think its something that we do generally okay, but we definitely need to put it down on paper now that we’re getting more customers, smaller customers, ones that don’t require our direct attention. So that our people really know how to follow a philosophy.
Justin Cooke: I guess the point though, the take away here, is that its really good to look at these kind of mistakes as great learning experiences, you can take action on that, based on those complaints. So first off, deal with the client and appease the customer and their issue, but then look at it overall and see if it’s a problem that’s deeper than that; are there other customers that didn’t speak up or contact you? We were lucky enough that, she, I think it was a she right? [crosstalk 00:05:51] She contacted us directly via email and saying, hey guys, I love you guys, but what’s going on here? So, anyway, just wanted to thank her for that.
The last point I want to mention is you just got back from a trip to Manila and Subic, and you were doing the work, travel, entertainment thing a bit. You’re staying you got a little overburdened with emails, but you’re still trying to keep up with everything, and that kind of leads into what we’re going to be talking about in the show, but tell me about how you got some stuff done.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, you know what the biggest pain in the ass is, Justin? You go to these hotels that have WiFi, that claim to have good internet, and the internet is good, and it’s good for like the first couple hours you’re there, and you’re like, oh I can do this, I can work here. I can work here, enjoy the beach, and have a cocktail, everything’s going to be okay; and then all of a sudden, the internet just slows to a crawl, and everything takes you five times as long as it normally would, and no one has an explanation. You go to the front desk and they’re like, I don’t know sir, wait a while.
And it’s just so mind mindbogglingly frustrating, because everything else is great except for this one little internet issue. I was trying to log into the bank account so I could pay some bills or something like that and I just couldn’t do it.
Justin Cooke: I hate when like on particular thing wouldn’t work, like the other day, the last couple of days actually for me, Google Apps hasn’t been working very well. It’s just miserable. One of the things I hate about traveling is when you go to a really nice or swanky hotel, and they make you pay all this extra money for internet. I mean, come on, you’re an asshole, in today’s day and age, you’re an asshole if you’re charging crazy amounts of money for internet.
Joe Magnotti: Especially when they have the per hour, so now you’re trying to like.
Justin Cooke: That’s so ridiculous.
Joe Magnotti: You’re trying to express everything into that one hour window that you have in the internet, and you’re like, oh I only have, you keep checking that little tab that you have open that tells you what the countdown is. You’re like, five minutes left, I have to get this email out!
Justin Cooke: Anyway, I don’t know, poor me, right? I have to travel and work, oh, anyway man, let’s get into the interview. Let’s talk to Cody.
Announcer: This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.
Justin Cooke: Alright, as we mentioned at the top of the show, we’re going to be discussing the traveling lifestyle business entrepreneur experience. This will be more of a round table, so we originally thought we were going to do a debate, but, I don’t know, we’ve got some similar views here. Anyway, we’ve got Cody McKibben from thrillingheroics.com and digitalnomadacademy.com with us today. I’ve been a fan of his for years now. We’ve been friends for a couple of years, so we’ve met up a few times as we were traveling around. What’s going on Cody, how yeah doing, man?
Cody McKibben: I’m doing great, guys, thanks for having me.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, buddy, good to have you on the show. And Joe’s pretty fired up, Joe just met up with him in Sabu, you’re in Sabu right now working with Chris Tucker, a little bit, from christucker.com. How’s that going, man?
Cody McKibben: Yeah, it’s going really well, yeah, as you say, I’m here in Sabu, you guys are down in Devout. But it’s good to see Joe recently, just been here for a month in a half, I’m here for another two weeks doing some consulting. I’m helping Chris out with some product creation, and marketing stagey. It’s going really well.
Joe Magnotti: Cool, well the first time we met up, I think was in Bali, at Potato Head, which was a great, great travel.
Cody McKibben: Yeah!
Justin Cooke: Oh that was boss, dude. We were all hanging out in the pool, we had the infinity pool, the waves coming up, dude. That was pretty baller. And I remember, years ago, before I moved to the Philippines, Cody, I was reading Thrilling Heroics a bit and I saw some of your pictures and stuff. In fact, I reached out to you, and I was like, I said something about something and you, reached back to me and you said, hey your Twitter management sucks, I think it was our old outsourcing company where we were spamming tweets or whatever. He was like yeah, it kind of sucks, and I was like, oh, what a jerk.
Looking back, you were totally right, it probably wasn’t the best approach, and we do it a little differently now but. Let’s get into the show a bit. So we want to talk about a lifestyle business entrepreneur, and the travel aspects that come with it. And really we kind of broke this into three areas. So, the first being have a home base, right, and you can kind of branch out from there; the second being, slow travel; and the third being, the vagabond.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah I guess we don’t have a fourth, which should be no travel at all, but.
Justin Cooke: I guess that’s another option. But let’s define this a little bit before we move forward. So, home base is where you go somewhere that’s outside your comfort zone and really kind of plant roots, right, you kind of settle down, and say okay from here, and you branch out from there. You take short hops and trips.
Joe Magnotti: Always coming back to your home base.
Justin Cooke: And then slow trave is where you go for a couple of months, three months, six months, you’re spending in a different place and you move on to a new place every time. Vagabond is two weeks here, four weeks there, one week here, and just kinda living out of a suitcase.
Joe Magnotti: It’s sleeping on someones couch.
Justin Cooke: So let’s talk a little about having a home base. First lets talk about the benefits of being home base. What do you think Joe?
Joe Magnotti: Well, I mean for me, this one really appeals to me the best, because I like having a home, I like having comfort, I like having a schedule, a routine. It really helps me get a lot more work done, stay healthy, stay energized. I feel like hotels and airplanes and stuff, it’s fun, but if you’re constantly doing that, man, it just throws your cycle for a loop. So yeah, home based can be a little boring, but hey, if you’re plant out roots in Southeast Asia, there is some real advantages to that.
Justin Cooke: What do you think, Cody? What are the benefits of being home based, why do you like the home base travel scenario?
Cody McKibben: Well, yeah I agree with you there Joe, I think the primary thing is setting down roots. One of the biggest difficulties for me when I am traveling all the time, or even if I’m somewhere for a short while, but say I don’t have very easy access to stuff like a gym, you know, like it’s hard to stay on top of my health. I haven’t really done my workouts for the last three years, to be honest with you guys, and I’m just now really trying to get back into it.
So being in one place where we’ve got a gym in the apartment where we’re at, it’s a huge, huge, thing. I can go to the gym three items a week and, whereas before, it’s like, just exercise I get is, well, not in the gym but, that’s a huge one for me, staying on top of fitness has been really difficult when I travel regularly.
Beyond that though, my style is very slow travel, which you know is another thing that we’ll be talking about, but for me, that does kind of mean having a home base but just for a shorter period of time. So as long as you’re able to find a decent place to live, I tend to like to have that home base, but move around every six months to a year.
Justin Cooke: Well we, you have to remember to that, none of these three things are set in stone. So you can definitely bounce from one the other. But what I’d say, one of the benefits of being home based, from where I’m sitting is, is that it’s cheaper. I mean, traveling around hotel to hotel can be kind of expensive.
Cody McKibben: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: But I’m not talking about just actual spend, I mean, your time as well, when you move to a new place, even if you’re moving every three to six months, it can be, finding the right internet cafes, that have good WiFi. Getting your WiFi, set up in your place, making sure that, do you like to sit at the table, in your office or on the couch, trying to figure that out.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, you don’t have a microwave, and[crosstalk 00:13:02]
Justin Cooke: It takes time, and getting services set up, [crosstalk 00:13:06], TV and whatever, it can be kind of a pain. So yeah I think maybe for me, having a home base, those are some of the benefits. What are some of the downsides Joe, what do you think are the downsides of being home based?
Joe Magnotti: I think its easy to fall into the routine trap, right? Where you just do the same thing for months, and months, and months on end. You start looking at it, and saying, oh I don’t need to take a trip. I’m just going to save that money and spend it on a new laptop, or it’s easy to not push yourself, meet new people, get new experiences, and fall into kind of a rut, and the other parts of your life will fall into a rut too. So, that’s something you have to be very aware of when you’re home based. Especially when you’re working at home, like we do Justin, and you don’t have that interaction every day with people. You got to make a conservative, you know, conservative effort to get out of your pajamas and to go meet people every day.
Justin Cooke: What do you think, Cody? What are some downsides of being home based?
Cody McKibben: Yeah, absolutely, I mean to tie in with the benefits, the routine is a good thing, and like you guys were saying, really, the longer you are somewhere, you get to know your surroundings, you can get to the point where you can have reliable infrastructure and stuff which is all awesome, but, for me, it starts to get stale after a while. And that’s why I like to do that for short term, but I get bored.
Yeah, if I get in that rut that Joe’s talking about, I’m always doing the same things, I tend to do that. Like already here in Sabu, I’ve got two places that I go when I’m out, and that’s great, but that gets boring after a while. And like you say, if you want to keep learning, meeting new people, expanding your circle, and like seeking out new experiences, new opportunities, you need to mix that up. So I find it, when you’re based in one spot for too long, its difficult to mix up your situation, your surroundings, the people around you.
Justin Cooke: I love the reasons that people move abroad, especially to start their business, aside from being able to save costs and build up runway, is to kind of experience a more interesting life than the surroundings their used to. And you’re right, if your home based, you kind of miss out on part of the lifestyle, that’s the lifestyle business, right, and it’s easy to do that. It’s easy to fall into the same kind of routines that you had back home, and then some ways, as you mentioned Cody, that’s a good thing, but it can also be bad for your business. Because as an entrepreneur you constantly have to be looking for new ideas, new profit streams, and if you don’t have some of those engagements and you’re not kind of living a more interesting life, I think that you’re business ideas and profit streams can get boring and tired too.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah. Travel forces you to adapt to new situations, new circumstances, new cultures, right?
Cody McKibben: Yeah.
Joe Magnotti: And as an entrepreneur, being a quick adopter is important.
Justin Cooke: That’s what I like to tell myself when I take short trips to Bali at least, I don’t know if its true, but yeah, that’s my excuse. Anyway, those are some of the benefits and downsides of having a home base. Let’s talk about slow travel a bit, because this is kind of a hybrid option, and we know quite a few people that are doing this as well, but slow travel, you go somewhere, live there for six months, kind of get to experience the place and then move to the next. What do you think are some of the benefits of slow travel, Joe?
Joe Magnotti: I think the best one about slow travel is that you really get to know the culture in the place well. If you go someplace for a week or two weeks, I mean, you’re just not going to get to know it, yeah know? I look at my time in Brazil, I did this kind of, in Brazil a little bit, did a little bit in Italy, I lived in Rome for two months.
Justin Cooke: Tell me a little about your Brazil trip, Joe. You were there for a year, nine months or something?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, something like nine months, and I lived outside of Sao Paulo for a little while, and then a couple of other places as well, so I really got to know the culture well, I got to know the language, I had to take language classes. I really felt immersed in the culture.
Justin Cooke: What did that do for you, how did it feel, aside from the two week or three week trip, how did it feel differently? What was your day to day, how did that change?
Joe Magnotti: The biggest thing about living in a culture that doesn’t speak english as the primary language, and once you get outside the big cities, there’s no english whatsoever, is you start to feel a little stupid. You realize that you have to learn the country’s primary language in order to communicate, and to move on, and to just, not have the internal dialog in your head all day. So I had to dedicate myself to doing that. And learning a new language kind of really expanded the way that I thought about stuff, because you can’t think about stuff from their culture unless you understand how they think, and the first thing to do is to learn their language.
Justin Cooke: Well that was years, many years ago, now. Do you feel more connected to Brazilians a little bit from that experience? Like when you meet other Brazilians abroad?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, definitely. Every time I see somebody with a little Brazil shirt on, a soccer shirt, something like that I’m always like hey, I try to talk to them about where they live in Brazil, or what their exposure was to Brazil, something like that. So yeah, definitely, and I think that slow travel can give you that advantage. You spent enough time in one particular place, in a county, to really know about it.
Justin Cooke: What do you think, Cody? What are some of the benefits of slow travel for you?
Cody McKibben: Well, yeah, man. This is what I love. I started out four and a half years ago. I bought a one way ticket to Thailand, and at the time I had no idea, I didn’t really have a plan. It was just like I want to go somewhere as crazy different as I can imagine and I wanted to stay in asia for at least a year and so that’s turned into four and a half.
But in that time, I’ve lived in Bangkok for a year and a half, Ko Pha-ngan for a couple months, Krabi for two years, Chiang Mai for six or seven months in all. I’ve lived for a while in Kail in Malaysia, and a little bit in Saigon in Vietnam, as well and obviously now here in the Philippines for a short stint. But sometimes it’s just two months or something, which isn’t a real extended stay, but still, that’s such a better opportunity to, as you say, to really, to understand how things work in a new place.
When you’re just a tourist, you’re like staying in hotels, you’re doing tours, you’re doing touristy stuff; you’re going to see the tourist sights, the destinations that they put on the map, the things that are in the lonely planet. Which is great, but you’re getting a packaged, sort of a fake experience. There’s definitely a lot to see, there’s great experiences to be had doing that, but you see a totally different thing when you actually live there you see what is really going on. You learn so much more, you actually have the time to develop new friendships. Its much [crosstalk 00:19:50]
Joe Magnotti: Yeah the time thing, right is really the big problem, Cody. Is that you have to take time to go to the internet café, to sit down, to really get to meet people, know people, you’re not going to be able to do that in a couple of weeks stay.
Cody McKibben: Yeah, I know so many people who come through on backpacker trips or flash packer trips or whatever, and a lot of times people are staying for like two, three nights tops, and they’re hitting every major city in Thailand, or whatever; going through Asia, or even Europe. And that’s all great, but you’ve got this experience where the people around you in hotels, they’re catering it to you, so if you want to get your boots on the ground and actually live there, it is more challenging, obviously to figure things out. And like you say, when you don’t know the language, but it’s such a great opportunity, I think, because it really, it expands your adaptability and it makes you much more resourceful, The more you constantly challenge yourself that way.
Justin Cooke: One of the things I love about slow travel is, obviously, you can get a bit emersed, but you can take the time, not only to meet people, but to grow your business, right? With the flash packer mentality you were talking about, when you get there, you want to do all of the touristy stuff, and you’re rushed, right? And you want to go out and see everything that’s in the country, or in the area, but you don’t feel that way with slow travel. You can actually take some time and get comfortable and fall into a routine, but you’re breaking those routines every six months or so. So you’re constantly reinventing yourself.
I think the slow travel way is a pretty good mix for someone who wants the excitement of lifestyle travel, but they’re kind of forced sit down and get the work done for their business. That’s probably, as far as I would go, if you’re serious about your businesses that’s probably about as far as you can go, I think.
What are some of the downsides with slow travel, Joe? What do you think?
Joe Magnotti: Like we talked about in home base, the advantages could also be disadvantages, right? But the one that jumps to mind is, once you get set up in a place, and you get kind of cozy, and you get into that routine, breaking that routine just so you can experience another culture for a significant length of time, it may not be great for your business. So yeah, if you have the kind of business that doesn’t have employees or maybe is a little more virtual, it might be easier for you. But if you’re the kind of person that has an office and employees, and stuff like that, that’s something that you might need to think about.
Justin Cooke: I’ve mentioned to, another downside of slow travel, and bringing it back to lifestyle piece, but you don’t make long lasting connections if its a four month trip, right? I mean you make connections, and you meet with a lot of people, but they’re not as long and meaningful, I think, as they could be in a longer period of time. If you’re 22, 23, you generally make connections much easier, so those probably will be longer lasting, but the older you get, a four month friendship, or whatever, it’s cool. You’ll still stay in contact but you don’t get like the deeper, meaningful relationships with slower travel. What do you think, Cody? What are some of the downsides?
Cody McKibben: That’s true, I was just going to say, that is true, the more you nurture any relationship the stronger it’s going to get. But I’ve found that, it’s actually surprising, it depends how much time you spend with people, it depends how real you get with people. And that can be done in a really short period of time sometimes, its just surprisingly so. I’ve met people that I consider, that I’ve got pretty strong friends in most of the places I’ve been. And some of the time I was only spending two months, getting to know those folks, but I’ve made really close friends in a short period of time, living this lifestyle.
But other things, downsides, honestly guys, I’ve got nothing. I love it. For now, I love it. You’re absolutely right. On the one hand it is a challenge to relocate anywhere, say you live back home in the states or whatever, and you just move cities. And it’s always a challenge to find the things you need to learn how stuff works in a new place. And even more so, obviously, when it’s in a foreign country. Because we’ve got the whole language thing and much bigger cultural difference, but that’s a challenge anytime.
if you move form new york to LA, that’s a challenge. But the only alternative, in my head, is if you don’t ever want to face down that challenge is to just stay in one place forever, which is fine, if that’s what people want. To me, for my preferences, I don’t think that there is a real big downside to the slow travel. I mean, you get to stay as long as you want. Couple months, a year.
Justin Cooke: The pricing isn’t nearly as good, I think, as sometimes as a home base. But it can get pretty close, actually. Because you’re talking longer term stay, now.
Cody McKibben: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: You can even do shorter term leases and get some deals so.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah.
Cody McKibben: Yeah it is tough, yeah that is true. It is tough in certain countries. Like sometimes it’s no big deal at all. Some places are fairly well set up to rent out condos to expats.
Joe Magnotti: What counties do you think?
Cody McKibben: Thailand is pretty good for that. And I think here is pretty good, here in the Philippines, I think. That’s the impression I get, but it was a little bit of a hunt to find something.
But like Bali, for example, is a very difficult place to go for two or three months. There are a lot of places, where if you want to stay there, it’s difficult to find a place or it’s very expensive to rent short term. And you’ll get a much better deal, financially, if you stay for a year, if you sign a lease for a year. So that’s true, Justin, that’s a good point.
Justin Cooke: Alright, so that’s slow travel, now let’s talk about the third one. I think, I’m getting the sense that all three of us are going to rail on this, but let’s try to avoid that. It’s not, to mention, for the vagabond travel, we’re not talking about backpackers. We’re talking about business people that do go one week, two weeks here, and then shoot of to the next place.
Now, I’ll mention the benefits first from my perspective. I mean obviously, it’s just really exciting. So you can live a fairly exciting lifestyle on a regular basis. Because you’re always experiencing new things, meeting new people, and I’d say, if you have been stuck for a long period of time, and you have the means, it’s a great way to kind of immerse yourself in different places and different cultures and just get a feel for things to start.
that’s one of the benefits, now I can’t think of a lot of benefits to your business, that gets difficult.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah I think I have one. If you have the type of company that has far flung employees, all over the place. If you have programmers in Poland, and customer support in the Philippines, and I don’t know, manufacturing in Thailand, lets just say. This give you the ability to get on the ground and meet with them, and every couple weeks, come back through and say hello, face to face. [crosstalk 00:26:38]
Justin Cooke: That’s a pretty interesting point, Joe, I didn’t think about that. So yeah, if you do have people all over the place, going and meeting with them, there’s a ton of value in that. What do you think, Cody?
Cody McKibben: Well, and clients to. Depending on the nature of your business, a lot of us, we sort of aim to never have to be face to face with clients, but some people run a bit more of a face to face business; more on the phone, more in person. And so if your business is like that, if you’re cultivating clients, if you’re doing some sort of sales, or if you’re doing some type of consulting, where you need to be on the ground for a bit of time. You cross paths with a lot more people.
And like we’ve said before, you’re not going to build real deep bonds with people when you’re moving around all the time, but not to make it sound cheap, but if the business you’re in is sort of a numbers game, you cross paths with a lot more people. You’re going to find a lot more opportunities, that’s a plus. That’s one of the things that’s happened for me, traveling so much, is just meeting such a wide array of people from hugely different backgrounds, that I would never find sitting at home, you know?
Justin Cooke: Yeah, for sure. But getting back to cost, I think that’s a pretty big downside of the vagabond lifestyle, is it gets pretty expensive. Because, you’re going to a new place, you’re not familiar with it, you don’t know where to go, what to do, so you tend to spend more money when you don’t know how to get around the city even, do you know what I mean? [crosstalk 00:28:02]
Joe Magnotti: And then the time factor, right? You get there and the internet doesn’t work at the hotel, so then you go to the internet café, and it kind of works there, and then you say, you know what, screw it, I’m just going to go to the bar and have some drinks, you know? And then you wind up not working that day. And then the next day [crosstalk 00:28:19]
Justin Cooke: You meet someone and you feel the need to go check out the city. You need to sit down and write that blog post or call a few clients, but, ah, I can do it tomorrow, the palace is waiting for me, I got to go check it out, do you know what I mean? And that can be a little difficult, I think.
The other thing to, I talked about this before, but connections, I think you make a ton of connections, but they’re not going to be that meaningful unless you follow up with them. So if you are the type that wants to vagabond travel, as a business person, you’ll make the connections, but then you have to make a conservative effort after you leave to further or deepen those connections with people you’ve met.
Joe Magnotti: So Cody, you’re the kind of traveler that just shows up and figures it out, or do you kind of do a lot of research before you go there, and then try to line up some places and have some costs kind of figured out?
Cody McKibben: Well when I first started out, when I’d never done this before, and I got the crazy idea in my head that I wanted to move to Thailand for a year, at first, yeah it was a pretty immense sort of a challenge in my head. It was a much bigger deal in my head then when I actually arrived on the ground, though, is what I found. But yeah, I was like in planning mode for a year, working from home, building up my business, and like trying to find everyone that had ever been to Thailand that was a part of my network, and picking peoples brains.
But then I got there, and yeah, it was challenging, like we’ve said, but it was not as huge of an obstacle to find my way, to lay down some roots there. So, these day, I’ve never been a big lonely planet tour book guy, I don’t carry a tour book around, and more and more, the more I do this, I tend to tap my network more. If I know people that have been there, lived there, then I’d like to get good recommendations from people I trust. But I’ve gotten much more comfortable with basically showing up, asking peoples advice, but just figure it out. It’s not that difficult, actually, most of the time.
Justin Cooke: What I think is pretty interesting, is Joe and I are both kind of planners, if we’re going somewhere, either one of us are going somewhere, we kind of like to have, okay, I’ve got my hotel, I know where things are, I have a good kind of sense of it. And it’s funny to see how that’s changed over the years of being abroad. Now I nearly shit myself with Joe says something like, hey, I’m going over here, well do you have everything planned out? Nah, I’m just going to go there and see what happens. Its amazing coming from you. Because I know that [crosstalk 00:30:50]
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, because I’m going to Manila tomorrow and you know, I don’t even have a flight back. So I’m just going to come back sometime. But it’s so easy in Southeast Asia to jump on a flight, and the flights here are just like a [crosstalk 00:31:01] like a bus.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, yeah.
Joe Magnotti: It’s so, it really becomes, you don’t have to plan it out that well.
Cody McKibben: Yeah, it might not be as feasible elsewhere, like Europe say, because stuff is not as cheap, obviously, but you’re right. I think it’s not difficult anywhere to live life by the seat of your pants like that, that’s how I do everything. I always make my plans last minute. But the cost might be more elsewhere, just like everything is. But Asia’s pretty good for that. I do tend to, I’ll book a hotel in advance. I like to know that I have a place to sleep at night when I hit the ground, but beyond that, it’s just a question of maybe having a couple contacts or friends there and then just figure it out.
Justin Cooke: So, Cody, let me ask you, because you’re more in this space than we are, kind of the traveling entrepreneur stuff, and we do it, but it definitely more your space, but I really get bummed out when I hear from people, or they make a comment that, I really want to do this, I’ve been dreaming about doing this, and someday as soon as the kid’s born, or as soon as I have enough money saved up to quit my job, or I’m just waiting on this; and I cringe a little bit when I hear that because I know, or I think at least that 90% of those people are never going to do it. And I’m only talking about people that want to do it. I know a lot of people that don’t want to do it. They want to stay stable where they’re at. But for the people that want to, its depressing when I hear that.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, but it’s just like internet marketing, right? They’re going to download the guides, they’re going to read the guides, while I’m reviewing my options, I’m studying, I’m going to build a site, one day, when I figure out the right niche, and I do my keyword research, and I buy the next shiny new object kind of thing. I think the same thing could happen with travel, right, is that?
Justin Cooke: People build it up in their head and they make it this huge deal and they don’t understand that you could actually go and do it. There’s not much holding you back.
Cody McKibben: Yeah, I mean that’s exactly what I did for a year before I actually getting on the plane. So I kind of know.
Justin Cooke: But let me ask you, because I think some people hear that story from you or other people, and they go, that’s bull shit. I mean, Cody, Cody really planned it out. He was doing it, or whatever, he had everything, he probably had a ton of money in the bank or whatever. So what’s the real deal, I know you [crosstalk 00:33:09]
Cody McKibben: Oh, shit loads, man. Sorry, can I curse on here?
Justin Cooke: Yeah, no, its fine, but you didn’t have a ton of money saved up, you didn’t have it all.
Cody McKibben: No dude I had like, I think I had less than two grand in the bank and I was like, I’m just going to move to another continent and just figure it out.
Justin Cooke: That’s so cool. Let me ask you, were you that kind of guy before, Cody, or did you become even more that way after having lived abroad? Were you the kind of guy that would just move to a new state, you know, people you didn’t know, and just try to figure it out? Or was this a first for you?
Cody McKibben: No, I don’t know. Something kicked my ass at some point. I wish I had been like that. But to be honest with you, no. Growing up and in school and college, I was not like that. I mean I went to college in my hometown. I never moved out of my home town until I moved abroad.
Justin Cooke: Wow, man, that’s really interesting. So Joe and I, we kind of, we put ourselves in the position where we could do it a little more safely, because we’re not as adventurous either. I mean its crazy that you went to college in the same town, that’s pretty wild, but we traveled a bit, but we never actually, we’d never built a business and lived more than a year abroad. so, we kind of put ourselves in a situation where we had some security to doing it, and that made it a lot easier for us, but, I mean you’re a great example of someone who just did it. You just jumped and, it’s obviously worked out for you, you’ve been killing it.
I know, let me ask you Cody, because this is something that we didn’t actually plan for this episode. We wanted to talk more about traveling and lifestyle businesses, but one thing I’m really impressed with you is you’re able to make connections with a ton of a-listers. But more than that, actually people are doing interesting stuff, and you’re really good at that. What’s you approach for making those connections. Do they find you, do you find them? How do you go about doing that?
Cody McKibben: I don’t know, everyone says that, and I think, honestly, that somewhere along the line, that became sort of a natural thing for me. I don’t have any process, that’s something I should talk about more because I’ve heard that compliment from many people. But to me, I was lucky early on.
The first client I had actually became a real mentor to me. He actually was a mentor, sort of in a mentor roll to me, when I started my business. And its largely because of him that I kicked it off. But, he taught me that, he was just someone that I found really interesting, I was working at the business school; that was my first job was from my college to, so it was like, that’s how adventurous I was at that time.
But I ended up working for the college business at my university, and that meant I was in the dean’s office and basically, holding down the fort in the office, and doing his scheduling and stuff like that. Nothing glorious, by any means, but I did get to rub shoulders with the dean every day with a lot of the professors and the occasional expert guest that would come in, a lot of business guys. So that wet my apatite for business and entrepreneurship.
So I found someone that I really looked up to, Rajesh Sudhi is his name, I’ll share a link with you if you want later, but he’s an author, and he’s involved in eight start ups in Silicon Valley at any one time. So somehow, I reached out to him, and developed a friendship over several months, just kind of going back and forth over email and eventually met in person. But he taught me, by example at first and then, and then directly, he taught me just that it’s hugely important to focus on relationships in everything, but especially in business.
And I think growing up, networking, people talk about networking, which is important, but it has, it sounds like a dirty word, you go to conferences and there’s tons of people that they’re just there to shake everyone’s hand and hand everyone a business card. I don’t even have business cards anymore, I haven’t had them for I don’t know how long. But I just look at, I’m just like wondering around, trying to make friends. There are people that don’t interest me, and I won’t probably talk to them, unless they come up and initiate a conversation. It’s just like, you shouldn’t even have to try, but just keep in mind, it’s just like, be interested in people.
That’s the biggest thing that I could say. Is just be interested, and that enables connecting with them. If you go up to someone, and you sincerely have an interest in what they do, what they’re about and you have questions, you just adopt a student mind set, I seek to always just learn stuff from cool people. Almost everyone is smarter than me, so I’ve got a lot of things to learn from everyone around me. I just enjoy hanging out with people, becoming friends with people, learning from them, and seeking out, constantly seeking out new people to learn things from.
Justin Cooke: I love the student mindset. I think that’s pretty key. And I’ll tell you, Cody, the first time I actually met you in real life, what I was struck by was how easy it was to be your friend, or at least to feel like your friend. You’re very open and kind of welcoming. You love people. But, having that kind of attitude, I bet that’s developed over years, especially being abroad meeting so many people. But I think the real value in that is, is that by having all these introductions and having make connections with so many people, you’re able to provide value because you’re able to connect them, right?
So you’ve able to take one person over here that you know is doing this and it’s interesting, and someone else on the other side that’s doing something that may be compatible, and putting those two people together to build awesome shit. And basically just having those connections and having them know, like, and trust you, makes you a great connector, to bring those people together.
Cody McKibben: Well I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind for everyone as well. One of you had mentioned before, if you’re out traveling a lot, making single touch relationships, you need to follow up on those. And same thing, no matter what sort of lifestyle you live, especially in business, but you should be doing this with all of your relationships. I hate people who are out to just get stuff from the people around them. They just take, and I mean, everyone takes sometimes, but you know those people that are just takers. And they just want stuff for free, they don’t offer any sort of value in exchange.
And I think that’s hugely important to always keep in mind, for all relationships. You might not be able to provide something of value to someone like Derek Sivers for example, when I first met him, he was similar to how you’re saying, he was very approachable, and he shared his time with me, and I appreciated that a lot. And I felt like whoa, this guys like a millionaire, you know, like multimillionaire, and what can I do for him?
But if you keep in the back of your head that you should always seek to help people out, introduce them to others, as you say, keep an eye out for opportunities that they might like to take advantage of. When you meet someone that just make you drool, you might not think like you have anything to offer them, but if you pay attention, eventually you’ll have something to offer them.
And yeah, that’s so hugely important, I think. It’s just always, always look out for the people around you, the people you consider your friends, the people you consider your collogues, and connect them and help them out in whatever way you can.
Justin Cooke: Well the people that are best at that, and you mentioned Derek Sivers, and we felt the same way when we met him; he was so warm, friendly, and like willing to bring you in. But the funny thing is, is that he’s made connections for us, right? He has no reason to do that. He’s wildly successful, he’s killed it, and he’s gone out of his way to help connect us with other people, and that is just awesome. Those types of people will do that up and down the chain.
Cody McKibben: Yeah, he’s a closet people person. He definitely likes his space. They went off to New Zealand to be far away from big cities and stuff, but he is definitely a people person.
Justin Cooke: Alright, well let me ask you this, because I know you run Digital Nomad Academy, so if someone wants to do this and they’ve bene kind of considering doing a lifestyle business travel thing, what kind of value do they get out of Digital Nomad Academy? What’d you set it up for?
Cody McKibben: I’ve been doing my business since 2006, like mid ’06, helping people build their businesses online, mostly with coaching and web development services and occasionally I do some consulting with some cool people like Chris Tucker here and Simon Black. Mostly helping people with marketing and product launch and stuff. As I said I’ve lived all over the place for the last four and a half years and I just had a load of people constantly, you know I was just writing for fun. I don’t write enough. I hardly write on Thrilling Heroics these days, which needs to change, but I was just writing for fun sharing the lifestyle side.
Justin Cooke: It does buddy, I loved your last post, man. You definitely need to put more out there.
Cody McKibben: Thank you, yeah. Well hopefully that’ll be changing soon. But yeah, I was just writing about the travel and the lifestyle and every week I still have people emailing me, asking me questions, saying, oh, that’s so cool, I wish I could have a business I could run from anywhere. So, in February 2011, we launched DNA, the Digital Nomad Academy, and it’s basically an online course designed to help people create their own sustainable location, independent businesses. It’s not like a blueprint, exactly. It’s not step by step, one, two, three; follow this recipe, and you’ll have this kind of business.
It is open ended because, there’s over 200 people in there now, and everyone has their own unique interests and abilities and knowledge set. So it’s a bit open ended and it’s designed to help people get a basic business education, independently on their own, and to help give them a peer community and to connect them to people like we’ve been talking about, which I think is hugely key to business. I love that, I don’t know where [crosstalk 00:43:28]
Justin Cooke: I think you bring up a good point Cody, to be able to connect with other people that are doing similar things. Like if you’re stuck at home and you’re wanting to be a part of this community, but you don’t know anyone in this community, all you talk to are high school buddies, or college friends or whatever, it makes it really difficult to, you don’t have the peer structure to do it. So, as far as like, kind of a Digital Nomad support group, I can totally see the value there. And I know, you had us on a couple of times, and I know you introduce a lot of different business ideas to your community, so I think that’s really cool. Cody, if people want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Cody McKibben: The best way is to go to thrillingheroics.com, and you can see my writing there, you can sign up for my list, you can send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on twitter: JustCodyMcKibb.
Justin Cooke: Cool boss, well hey, man, we really appreciate having you on the show. Any parting words?
Cody McKibben: I was just going to say, one of my favorite things, I don’t know who to attribute it to originally, because it’s been all over the place, but people say, you are the combination of your five closest friends. That’s kind of why I decided to start DNA because I was thinking back to when I first got on this path and decided I wanted to move abroad, I didn’t have any friends who had done that. And so, I wanted to create a place where I could help connect people to people who had, to experts that have that experience already. But you are the combination of your five closest friends, I think that whatever business you’re in, whatever endeavors you’ve got, whatever your goals are, that’s hugely important.
Like your peers matter, people you surround yourself with are key to achieving whatever you want in life. I think there’s a lot of people that are just kind of stuck with whoever they grew up with, and I think it’s important to, its great to have life long friends, but it’s really important to surround yourself with people that inspire you, and that you want to be like. If you’ve got, your five closest friends are millionaires, you’re much more likely to become a millionaire. If your five closest friends are really fit and athletic, you’re much more likely to go to the gym with them and become that way too. So that’s the biggest thing that’s kind of always in the back of my head, and it’s why I love these mastermind groups, and I love connecting people, and just building relationships with new folks.
Justin Cooke: Cool, Cody. Well I can tell you we’re looking forward to stealing you down here away from Chris, down to Devout, to hang out with us a bit, man.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, man. You gotta come down here, stay with us, we’ll keep it real cheap for your slow travel needs. We treat our guests right as anyone will tell you.
Justin Cooke: Alright man, thanks so much for being on the program, appreciate it, Cody.
Cody McKibben: Cool guys, hey, thanks very much.
Announcer: The Empire Flippers Podcast
Justin Cooke: It was great talking to Cody, I’m really glad we had him on the podcast. Interesting dude, I mean, he’s been doing this a pretty long time. He kind of backed off the blogging a bit; I really wish he would go back to that, if you check that out on Thrilling Heroics, check out his last post, it was quite a while ago. He did kind of like a review of the year, but it’s really interesting to see someone who’s been traveling and working a very long period of time.
Joe Magnotti: And a really, genuinely, nice guy. I mean, he deserves all the success that he gets, and I wish him the best with Chris Tucker’s relationship there, and the future of the Digital Nomad Academy and Thrilling Heroics, like you said, he should get back to blogging.
Justin Cooke: I’m really excited to actually meet up with him again. I don’t think he will, because we’re going to Sabu end of June, right?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, and he’s going back to the United States, so [crosstalk 00:47:09]
Justin Cooke: Well at least we get to hang out with Chris again, that’s fun. If you guys are interested, Chris just published a interview on his podcast, a link to that in the show notes as well. Anyway, lets get right into our tips, tricks, and our plans for the future.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe.
Justin Cooke: Alright, so our tip for you this week, comes from Comment Cast, and this is @mardi.ca. Basically I don’t know if you guys remember this or not, we talked about a niche business idea quite a while back where how cool it would be if you could like, kind of organize all the different iTunes reviews from all the different countries, and put it into once place. And this actually does that for you. Unfortunately, it’s Mac only, but I would definitely check it out. Joe’s going to be downloading it shortly. We heard about it on the lifestyle business podcast recently, and thought that was pretty cool that someone ran with it and whirled it out.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I mean, good name, Comment Cast, but really weird that it’s at mardi.ca, I don’t know what that’s all about.
Justin Cooke: Probably some old domain he had sitting around, either way, it’s pretty cool, man. Because it’s a real pain in the butt to have to go down and change the flag all the time, and chase down reviews. And you wanna, you know, give a shout out or say thanks to anyone who gave you a shout or gave you a review, right? So.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, anyway, good job there, but love to see a PC version as well.
Justin Cooke: Anyway, that’s it for episode 49 of Empire Flippers, we will be back next week with episode 50, big five-oh, man, we’ll be back next week and we look forward to talking to you then.
Joe Magnotti: Look for something exciting!
Announcer: You’ve been listening the Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up empireflippers.com for more. That’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.