Is it possible to become invisible without breaking the law? (Photo: gravitywave)
LOS ANGELES, MID-JUNE 2008
Sitting on a plush couch in the neon-infused nightclub, I asked again:
“What’s it about?”
Neil Strauss glanced around and looked nervous, which I found strange. After all, we’d known each other for close to two years now. In fact, he was – as New York Times bestselling author of The Game and others – one of the first people to see the proposal for The 4-Hour Workweek and offer me encouragement.
“C’mon, dude, give me a break. Don’t you trust me?”
“Guilt. That’s good. Use guilt,” Neil said. But the Woody Allen approach wasn’t working.
“I can’t let the meme out early” he said, “I trust you—I’m just paranoid,” he offered to no one in particular as he downed another RedBull. So I fired a shot in the dark.
“What, are you writing about the 5 Flags or something?”
Neil’s heart skipped a beat and he stared at me for several long seconds. He was stunned.
“What do you know about the 5 Flags?”
I was in.
The 5 Flags
Neil’s new book, Emergency, teaches you how to become Jason Bourne.
Multiple passports, moving assets, lock-picking, escape and evasion, foraging, even how to cross borders without detection (one preferred location: McAllen, Texas, page 390)–it’s a veritable encyclopedia of for those who want to disappear or become lawsuit-proof global citizens… Read More
Can you outsource your dating? I did.
Can you outsource your worrying? AJ Jacobs did.
Reading to your children or bickering with your spouse? No problem. Send it all to Bangalore or Bosnia. Even mainstream media like the Wall Street Journal is starting to explore the basic options, but we’ve been there and done that. The mundane is simple if you can cover the ridiculous. So the more interesting question becomes:
What are the limits — and the most entertaining uses — of personal outsourcing?
One friend of mine insisted last April that there were serious limitations to what could be effectively “outsourced.” What about face time? Not in work, mind you, but in the harshest competition of all: mating. In Silicon Valley, where Santa Clara is called “Manta” Clara and San Jose is called “Man” Jose, the odds are against heterosexual men.
Bets were placed over a few glasses of wine, and so it began: I would outsource all of my dating for four weeks.
Even if you would never consider doing something this outrageous, the results were beyond belief, and the process used to pull it off can be used for almost all personal outsourcing. If hacking matchmaking isn’t of interest, no worries. How about a personal chef for $5 a meal? Just keep reading… Read More
I spend a good amount of time at the offices of Podtech, usually stealing their Diet Dr. Pepper and hanging out on their bean bags. A few weeks ago, however, I managed to do something resembling “work”: an interview with uberblogger Robert Scoble. This time, I was the interviewee! The camera work is much better than my Blair Witch Project attempts in previous posts.
The first interview below is 50 minutes in length and my favorite version by far — lots of goodies from both me and Robert, including everything from e-mail and personal outsourcing to the book launch and how to combine 4HWW with Getting Things Done (GTD). It’s a very fun conversation. The second version is just an 8-minute appetizer but still a fun diversion. Here are both options, the longer version first, and you might need to turn up your computer volume, as we had no lavalier mics:
Work only four hours a week with Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss wrote a New York Times best seller. Why is it so hot? Because it lays out how you can work less and enjoy life more. Here, I sit down with Tim and talk about some of the ideas he discusses in his book.
Editor’s Choice: Some insightful highlights of Tim Ferriss’ interview
If you’re really following Tim’s plan, you’ll just watch the highlights of the interview I did with this New York Times’ best selling author. He wrote the book on the 4-hour Workweek, and here you get the highlights of an interview I did with him recently.
The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.
Tao Te Ching
Is it possible to outsource your life to other countries? By now, you know that I believe it is. But is it necessary to outsource overseas? Can you outsource in languages other than English? What is geoarbitrage really about?
These were some of the topics I covered in “Die 4-Stunden Arbeitswoche” (The 4-Hour Workweek) with Patrick Price for his Swiss-German podcast, NetzNews. The first 30 seconds are in Swiss German, a very cool dialect that sounds nothing like Berlin German, and the rest is in English.
If you thought washing your hands 32 times a day was fun, just try this! (Chicago O’Hare Airport)
By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.
-Robert Frost, American Poet
I’ve long sought a measurement for lifestyle, something better than bank accounts or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). I was able to take the leap and redesign my own life only once I started asking myself difficult and uncommon questions such as:
How many hours do I work for each day of vacation?
What percentage of my life do I really spend working vs. doing something I want to be doing?
What is your LQ?
What do you guesstimate your boss’s LQ to be?
What about your father or mother’s LQ compared to your own?
If you know someone who is a workaholic in denial, or who thinks an 80-hour workweek is a good way to spend their limited time on this planet, go for a lifestyle intervention and send them the LQ calculator. It might just wake them up faster than a triple-espresso frapuccino.
Other news and goodies:
Think you can’t outsource your love life? Well, I did it — I had groups around the world compete to set me dates. This just made it into the news, and you’ll be hearing much more about it soon!
SXSW presentation attendees! I found out what happened! The mailing house for the publisher (not the publisher themselves) screwed up and held onto your addresses for 10 DAYS before mailing them this past Monday. Your copies of the book should arrive any day, if they haven’t already, and I cannot apologize enough for the confusion. I had no idea this had happened and — had I known — would have put in my mouthpiece and gone to town breaking heads. Sorry about that!
Presenting “Mastering the Low-Information Diet” at the Web 2.0 Exposition in SF (Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon… Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google… Tim Ferriss?! Too surreal.
I presented last Sunday at the Ignite portion of the huge Web 2.0 Expo, where two groups of speakers each gave 5-minute presentations of 20 slides. Each slide was set to auto-advance after 15 seconds. There was free beer, it was fun, and — unbenownst to me — attendees voted on their favorite presentation in each group via cell phone using Mozes. I won the first heat and was informed that I would be speaking at the keynote today in front of 3,000 people! Other keynote presenters included Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt.
I’ll be covering “Mastering the Low-Information Diet” in great depth on May 9th, when my manifesto on the same topic will be published through Seth Godin’s ChangeThis. In the meantime, here is part of the Sunday video, which covers: batching e-mail, applying the 80/20 principle to time-consuming customers, outsourcing your life to overseas assistants, and scheduling life to prevent work from filling evenings and weekends.
I just learned that most bookstores in the CA bay area have understocked my book (which launches next Tues.), planning to have only 1 or 2 copies in stock! This is a disaster, as there is already demand and people will need to wait up a week for reorders to arrive, killing the book’s first week of sales.
This first week is CRITICAL for bestseller lists, both local and national. Pre-orders online are equally important, as all pre-orders count for the first week’s national sales.
If you are thinking of getting the book and are not in the CA bay area, please preorder on Amazon. If you are in the bay area, please call one of the below stores to preorder ASAP this week!
The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss (ISBN number 0307353133)
Stacey’s, 581 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 421-4687
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. (415) 927-0960
Cody’s Books, 1730 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. (510) 559-9500
Kepler’s, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. (650) 324-4321
One of the most common questions I’m asked is: what is your favorite place you’ve visited? While I love dozens of cities and just as many countries, I have four that immediately jump to mind: San Francisco, Tokyo, Berlin, and Buenos Aires. I’ve listed them in descending order of expense, and this is where I’ll tie it back to an oddly common question I get:
How do I become a tango expert?
I’m the first American to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, which was done on a lark while I was living in BsAs (that’s Buenos Aires) in 2005 and competed in the world championships. Fortunately for you, dear reader, becoming a tango expert and living like a rock star can go hand-in-hand if you hack BsAs properly.
First, why BsAs? Four reasons off the top of my head:
1. Created by immigrants from Spain, Italy, and Germany, you get the best food, architecture, and culture from all three. This mix of genetics also produces some incredible physical specimens. In fact, I rank Argentines right up there with Norwegians as the most beautiful people in the world.
2. In my experience, it’s the safest city in South America. It looks like Paris in many places, and I have never felt threatened on the street, even after 2am. Try that in SF or NYC.
3. Argentina is the New Zealand of the western hemisphere. From tropical rain forests in the north to world-class skiing in Patagonia, it has it all. Check out rare tropical birds or watch penguins get eaten by killer whales — it’s your choice. Argentina is the most beautifully diverse country I have ever visited.
4. It is possible to live like a millionaire on $30,000 a year. I’ve been there four times and can tell you this: dollars get you a quality of life that is all but impossible in the US. Even with the getting-there costs, I saved more than $10,000 on my last trip when compared to just sitting on my ass in Silicon Valley, and I was living like a rock star the whole time in BsAs: 5-star meals, VIP tables, you name it.
So, should you take the jump and move to Argentina? I have friends who have done it, but I recommend you take a 1-3-month “mini-retirement” first to take it for a test drive. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
Airfare will run between $500-850 roundtrip, so ensure that you’re staying for a while. Remember that it’s summer and hot as hell in BsAs in December-January. November or March-April are gorgeous, and summer time in the US is perfect for skiing in Bariloche or Las Lenas.
I generally fly Continental/Copa through Panama, as I like to spend 1-4 weeks snorkeling in Coiba in Panama (why not get two trips for the price of one?). If not, Aerolineas Argentina often offers good prices, and you can sometimes get deals by flying into Rio or Sao Paulo, Brazil and then to BsAs on Gol or TAM. check airfares immediately after 1am on Saturday nights (Sunday mornings), when many airlines lower prices based on “flight load” (ratio of sold-to-empty seats).
One negative to Argentina, especially BsAs — people will attempt to overcharge you. This will happen in any country with weak currency. I’ve rented rooms with families, used Argentine brokers to get shared apartments, rented posh penthouses from expats, and found hidden gems through Germans. My conclusion? It’s not worth the headache to deal with most Argentines and attempt to save a few hundred dollars. I had a huge pain in the ass with a dishonest Argentine landlord who refused to return my deposit — and I speak fluent Argentine Spanish — so now I deal exclusively with non-Argentines. There are some great Argies, to be sure, but they have the reputation among South Americans for being unreliable (!). Use www.craigslist.org or my favorite outfit: http://www.ba4uapartments.com.ar I’m not gay, but I do like how gay-friendly agencies keep their apartments: impeccably clean.
You’ll pay 3x more than an Argentine. A decent room in a good location can be found for $300 USD, a great single bedroom apartment can be found for $700-800 USD, but here’s one tip: if you can get a friend to come with you (or if you have a family), a two-bedroom or three-bedroom can be had for $1,200-1,300, and it will be 10x more luxurious than the one-bedroom. My favorite areas to live are, in descending order of preference: Recoleta (I like near Plaza Francia), Palermo, Barrio Norte, and San Telmo. Puerto Madero is the most expensive area and people fight for it, but it’s quite boring unless it’s a weekend evening.
4. Clubs, VIP treatment, and Food:
Spend an evening walking around one of the best hotels in BsAs, such as The Four Seasons, Sheraton, or Hotel Alvear, and make friends with one of the managers on call. They get VIP tables at all of the top clubs — Asia de Cuba, Opera Bay, Mint, Amerika, etc. — and can get you on the lists, so invite them for drinks and ask them for suggestions of where to meet. If not, just visit the clubs around 10pm on a Thursday or Friday and ask to meet the director of special events, or the manager (“gerente”). Tell him you’d like to bring some friends to the club and ask how to get on the list. Keep his card in your wallet to flash at bouncers. Worst case scenario, just spend $50 USD with a few friends and you can get a 6-person VIP table with unlimited champagne for the night
For wining and dining, my faves are Gran Bar Danzon and La Bistecca, but more than both combined, I love all of the hole-in-the-wall parrillada (Argentine BBQ) restaurants. Just wander down Lavalle off of Avenida Florida and take your pick: the beef sandwiches for $3 USD (use plenty of chimichurri) will blow your mind.
I had no interest in tango before visiting Argentina. I thought it was effeminate and ridiculous, something out of Shall We Dance? (the Japanese original is not to be missed) The truth is that social tango is completely improvised (much like my first love, breakdancing). Chest to chest, strangers will embrace and get to know each other more in three minutes than 10 dates would otherwise accomplish. Every night of the week, tango rules the night, only really getting started around 1am. Here are some of my favorite milongas (tango dance halls):
“New wave” (nueva onda) tango and 20-30-something crowd:
“La Viruta” at Armenia and Cordoba, inside the Armenian Cultural Center (odd, I know). 1am+ on Wed, Sat, and Sunday are awesome. I took a kiwi friend of mine there the day before he flew back to NZ, and he said to me: “Thanks for ruining my life.” He had been in BsAs for three months and had never seen such wildlife.
Traditional and older crowd: “Sunderland” or “La Baldosa” — find “El Tangauta” magazine in any tango shop, or at La Viruta, for addresses and all the tango info you can handle. Also use Ctrl-F to find any of the milongas I mention here.
If it is your first time in BsAs, I would recommend having an Argentine friend call the teachers and ask for pricing for an unnamed “friend,” not mentioning that you’re a foreigner. Otherwise, I promise that you will be overcharged. Smelling dollars, someone who should cost 50 pesos/hour will ask for 80 dollars. You should be able to get excellent private lessons for 50 pesos/hour. Good group lessons can be found at the Carlos Coppelo school in front of Shopping Abasto. My favorite private teacher is the young prodigy Gabriel Misse, but he’s going to be more expensive than most. He trained me for the world championships and is amazing. Here is a clip of Gabriel and his partner Alejandra Martinan. It starts off slow, but watch the amazing footwork as they progress. Most amazing? It is ALL improvised on the spot.
If you want to live like a king, it’s just a few thousand miles south. Viva la Argentina!