Trust Is Overrated

by Frost on February 16, 2012

What is Trust? Dr. Phil tells us it’s the most important part of a healthy relationship, but I’m not so sure.

Is Trust the belief that your partner is honest and faithful? Most would say yes. But then, what if I were to install a GPS tracking device on my wife which relayed her coordinates to me 24/7? Or interview her with a lie detector every night when she got home? In either situation, I would know with 100% certainty that she was being honest and faithful. But I don’t think Dr. Phil would approve.

So we can see that trust only counts if it is irrational. Seeking to confirm or refute a partner’s honesty with evidence – say, by going through their phone, email, stalking them, etc, is actually a sign of mistrust.  Real trust is when you catch your girlfriend out for dinner with an ex, or your husband starts getting calls late at night from that tart secretary of his, and you believe the innocent explanation hastily offered up.

Traditional societies don’t have this romantic idea of trust. They send Chaperones on dates, they don’t allow their wives and daughters to go somewhere alone with a strange man, and they have social conventions in place demanding that women avoid even the appearance of potential infidelity or promiscuity. They don’t trust – they verify.

Now, it’s generally a good idea to be suspicious of any ideas that came out of the western world post-WW2, and I think our romantic, Dr. Phil-esque idea of the all-importance of trust fits this criteria. let’s evaluate the idea of trust from that most useful of perspectives: Cui Bono?

The answer is, the same people who bono from the myriad other social and cultural innovations introduced during the sexual revolution: Alpha males and promiscuous women:

– It’s girls night out! We’re just going to dance! Come on, don’t you trust me?

– It’s grad trip, me and the girls are going to Cancun! Come on, don’t you trust me?

– Honey, that girl is crazy! I don’t know why she keeps calling me. Don’t you trust me?

– Baby, you know I just go out and flirt a bit, nothing more than that. Don’t you…

And so on.

According to our culture, if you’re a regular dude with a regular girlfriend, and you understandably don’t want her going out and getting hit on by guys who are more desirable than you – you have trust issues. You are the one in the wrong. Most people in most eras would consider it a no-brainer that you are not OK with your girl going out with her girlfriends, traveling alone, or otherwise putting herself in a position where she can easily and covertly cheat on you. But in 21st-century America, anything less than complete, unfounded faith in a person’s fidelity is socially unacceptable.

Similarly, if you’re a girl dating a man with options, you would be a fool to trust him unconditionally. And yet, you’ve been primed you to go on the defensive if a man accuses you of not trusting him, regardless of how valid your mistrust might be.

Some observations on this from my personal experience:

1) If a girl is traveling alone or with girlfriends, she will almost certainly cheat on her boyfriend without a second thought.

2) If a girl is in a club with her girlfriends, she will probably cheat on her boyfriend if your game is tight.

3) If a girl is anything less than 100% satisfied with her relationship, there are men who she would have sex with behind your back, if the stars align and the chance is there.

And keep in mind, I am not some one-in-a-million guy who can seduce any woman you put in front of me: I am just a decent-looking guy with sloppy game. I’m not the coolest or the smoothest guy in the room. Still, I’ve banged quite a few cute girls with boyfriends or husbands in my life.

And men, we’re even worse. Chris Rock is a wise man:

So now we see the idea of Trust, stripped of its pretensions and laid bare in front of us: Just one more piece of social conditioning to ease the transition from the outdated western ideal of monogamy, to our natural, tribal state of polygamy and soft harems. The sword of Trust can be used to shame the beta men who wish to protect their wives, and the alpha females who wish to monopolize one desirable man.

*

So what to do, now that trust is seen for what it is? Abandon it? Abandon love?

Not necessarily.

We can still love, without trust. We can choose mates who seem ‘trustworthy’ in the sense that they don’t give off the tell-tale signs of the slut/player. We can structure our lives to minimize the chance that our partners will violate our (rational) trust – don’t feel obligated to let your significant other to go on their weekly girls/boys night out, get those kids paternity tested, and so on.

We could also just inject ourselves with GPS trackers, and have a central database make all of our sexual activity publicly available. I’m partially kidding, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see traditional communities – say, Mormons and Muslims – doing something like this in a decade or two.

I take my relationships one day at a time. I refuse to have expectations for the behaviour of girls I date, and I encourage them not to develop any expectations for me. My eventual children will be paternity tested, and I’ll do my best to protect my rights to them and my assets in the event that their mother(s) go off the deep end.

Trust? I’ll save mine for my lawyer, my Swiss bank manager, and a DNA testing lab.

{ 8 comments }

‘Twas The Night Before Valentine’s Day

by Frost on February 14, 2012

‘Twas the day before Valentine’s and all through the house,

Not a creature was thinking about his girlfriend or spouse.

Playstation controllers hung in chargers with care,

In hopes that new high scores soon would be there.

 

One man-child slept, with his eyes tightly shut,

Having booted out a chick, after busting a nut.

She put up a fuss, begging him to stay,

But he’d kicked her out still, fearing how she’d look in the day.

 

Then out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter,

He sprang from his race-car bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he flew like a flash,

Tripping over his action figures, weed and porn stash.

 

The moon on the breasts of his freshly-banged ho,

Gave the lustre of beer goggles to the creature below.

She plodded in the frost, and stumbled up near

Like a clumsy, retarded, overweight rein-deer.

 

Now she wasn’t the prettiest, and she wasn’t too quick,

But that night she’d been worthy of some man-child dick.

They’d met at a bar, on Tuesday Cheap Night

Her looks were the sort best kept out of the light.

 

But with alcohol and darkness working on her side,

She’d found a willing man, with too little pride.

He’d overlooked her muffin top, and total lack of grace

But dude, you gotta admit – at least she’s got a cute face!

 

He opened his window and she called out his name,

And pleaded for him to stop being so lame.

“I just don’t understand, I thought we had a good night!

Can we just start over? Can we try and set this right?”

 

The man-child giggled and pulled down his shades,

This girl was insane, like most that he’d laid.

Why would he ever want to settle down now?

With so many women a-waiting to be plowed?

 

The girls that he banged, expected nothing from him

And so nothing they got, while they lived at his whim.

Though thirty years old, and with money to spare,

He swore not to marry ’till he’d lost all his hair.

 

So the man-child yawned, and returned to his bed,

With visions of pizza pops dancing in his head.

His Valentine trudged all the way back to her place,

With disappointment and confusion still etched in her face.

 

The twenty-first century! The Age Of The Man-Child!

The callous, carefree cad with whom women are beguiled.

But they ask: What has become of men we could respect?

The men with better lines, than “Hello – are you wet? ”

 

The answer is, that man is dead. The Man-child is his heir.

Commitment and monogamy? Not while they have their hair.

Now ladies, you may think this world to be a bit macabre,

But happy Valentine’s anyways! Now how ’bout a blowjob?

{ 9 comments }

The Rise And Fall Of Tucker Max: Part 3

by Frost on February 10, 2012

Addendum: Check out my Review of Hilarity Ensues

This is a guest post I wrote for In Mala Fide. Please read and comment on it here.

(Part 1 and Part 2)

It’s never fun to watch your heroes fall. I have zero shame in admitting that, for many years, Tucker Max was a hero to me.

At the age of 20, when I first came across Max’s website, I was already a hard-drinking, skirt-chasing asshole. I didn’t need someone to teach me that those choices were OK.

But at that point in my life, I had stopped reading, stopped writing, and in a lot of ways, stopped thinking. I was living an unexamined life, largely because that’s just what a cool guy does in college. Life was fun, but I was incomplete.

At a first glance, Tucker Max had some funny stories. As I read more though, I noticed that they were peppered with references to literature, history and science. Slipped in behind all the stories, was a reading list that kept me busy for the better part of a semester, and reawakened a habit – compulsive reading – that has benefited my life more than any other.

I had already figured out that I didn’t need to apologize to anyone for being an asshole. But I hadn’t realized that I didn’t need to be ashamed of having intellectual interests. Ironically, Tucker Max didn’t teach me that it was OK to get drunk and hook up. He taught me it was OK to read books that weren’t in my course syllabi and write for my school paper. For that influence, I will always be grateful, regardless of what the man has become, or will become.

But let’s take a step back, and consider the recent twist that Tucker Max’s career and outlook appears to be taking.

From 2002 until 2008 or so, Tucker Max was a cult hero to millions of college-aged American men. He achieved this status by writing stories about his adventures as an asshole completely unconcerned with the feelings and expectations of those around him. Who are the interesting characters in this story?

Tucker Max’s answer is that he is. Hence, psychotherapy, introspection, and ruminations on how his alcoholic mother and absentee father lead him to lead the life he did.

But explanations that centre around the experiences and characteristics of Tucker Max ignore the real story: The legions of young men who followed him. Did they all have absentee fathers, etc, as well? No? Then perhaps the Tucker Max phenomenon is better explained in broader terms – what is it about our culture that made Tucker Max a star?

– Why are Millennial men so eager to jettison society’s expectations of them?

– Why are they spending their early twenties in a haze of boozing, partying, chasing slutty girls, becoming pick-up artists, and playing video games? 

– How would Tucker Max have been received in virtually any culture outside of early 21st-century America? What is it about the present that makes us uniquely receptive to an ethos of nihilistic hedonism?

These are big questions. Tucker Max 2.0 doesn’t seem to be interested in them. And that’s fine, I suppose. I wish him all the best, with his yoga and psychotherapy. It’s just disappointing to see that one of the first distinct voices to truly speak to the young men of the 21st century is putting down his pen.

{ 11 comments }

The Rise and Fall of Tucker Max (Part 2)

by Frost on February 9, 2012

Addendum: Check out my Review of Hilarity Ensues

(This is a guest post I wrote for In Mala Fide. Please read and comment on it here.)

This is the boilerplate on TuckerMax.com. It hasn’t changed since I found the site, sometime in 2005:

” I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world. They are known as…The Tucker Max Stories.”

At the start of his writing career, Tucker Max – or at least the slice of his personality that he portrayed in his writing – was the ultimate embodiment of raw, unfiltered id. He completely rejected the social and moral constraints that society tried to impose on him – on all of us – and lived his life according to no laws other than those which the natural world imposed on him

As I explained in Part 1, this was the core of his appeal to my generation. Young Millennial men had been offered a bum deal of a social contract, and it’s no mystery that the first man who gave us permission to leave it on the table sold two million books.

So what does a man who has completely rejected society’s expectations look like?

Well, that really is the question of the hour. Possibly of the decade. Tucker’s answer was to get obscenely drunk, mock idiots and posers, etc. Was such a lifestyle immature, pointless, and self-destructive? Sure. But it was preferable to the emasculation prescribed to my generation by mainstream culture. Tucker Max’s fundamental message is that there are alternatives to obedience. You don’t need to spend your life tip-toeing around the self-serving expectations of others.

That was the message that resonated with millions of young men (and women) during the height of Max’s fame. It was a message many of us desperately needed to hear.

But now Max has retracted that message, and replaced it with an ethos of apology, submission, and approval-seeking. He is sorry for what he’s done! It’s not his fault, his family was mildly dysfunctional! He’s undergoing psychoanalysis to address his issues!

More generally, he is done with giving the middle finger to mainstream society. He is ready to tuck his chin down, avoid the hard questions about the culture that made him a celebrity, and live out his twilight years chasing wheat grass shots with hot yoga classes and blurry-eyed, quivery-lipped talk therapy sessions. He is returning to the mainstream media, hat in hand, begging for forgiveness in the most fashionable way – striking the pose of victimhood. Switch out a few details in his Forbes interview, and he could be mistaken for a repentant Lindsay Lohan.

Why the switch?

I’m no psychoanalyst, but here’s the theory I’m working with until something better comes along:

At some point over the past five years, Tucker Max gave up his faith in himself. His first book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, sold 1.6 million copies. For a relatively unknown internet writer, this was ridiculously impressive.

After that:

1) He started Rudius Media. It folded.

2) The IHTSBIH film bombed, losing six million dollars

3) Assholes Finish First sold a quarter as many copies as IHTSBIH: “…around 1.6 million for the first one, and around 400,000 for the second

Other than that, I don’t really know what Tucker Max has been working on over the past decade. Maybe he has ongoing projects that he keeps to himself, but he has been poison to pretty much everything he’s (publicly) touched since IHTSBIH. I don’t know how he’s doing financially, but G Manifesto makes a pretty convincing case that his bankroll might be getting thin.

Whatever the details – Tucker Max followed up the initial success of his first book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, with a string of cataclysmic failures that shook him to his core.

IHTSBIH was supposed to be the humble beginning of Tucker Max’s career. Instead, it was his peak. The unstoppable force of Max’s ambition ran up against an immovable object – the cold reality of the anticlimactic follow-up to his initial success. He didn’t survive the ensuing collision.

Stay tuned for part 3.

{ 3 comments }

The Rise And Fall Of Tucker Max (Part 1)

by Frost on February 7, 2012

Addendum: Check out my Review of Hilarity Ensues

(This is a guest post I submitted to In Mala Fide. Please read and comment on it here.)

Tucker Max had the opportunity to be a spokesman for a generation.

He had the opportunity to lend his voice to the revolt against the effeminization of North American Men, and maybe even lead a 21st-century revival of classical masculinity. Instead, he is pissing that opportunity away, in the hopes that he’ll earn a morsel of approval from the gatekeepers of mainstream culture and literature.

The sad part is, he’s not even selling out. He’s trading principles, honesty and consistency for nothing. He will not reap money, power, or fame from his transformation into an emasculated poof. Tucker Max is ignoring his opportunity to be a part of history, and his only reward will be a well-deserved slide into obscurity.

The Rise

You probably already know Tucker Max. If you’re a North American male born in the 1980s, you almost certainly know Tucker Max. But just in case, here’s an abridged CV:

Tucker Max is the author of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Assholes Finish First, and the upcoming Hilarity Ensues. Each is a collection of stories from Max’s debaucherous young adulthood. He’s a smart guy, his life has been pretty hilarious, and he’s a good writer.

But funny stories about debauchery alone could not explain the massive, cult-like following that sprung up around Tucker Max. At the peak of his popularity, he was a household name on American college campuses, and his first book tour filled up auditoriums across the country.

The lasting appeal of his writing was the underlying philosophy woven into it: An ethos of complete and total rejection of society’s expectations. This, not cheap frathouse humour, is what explained Max’s fame.

His success raises an interesting question: Why were young men in the late 20th century uniquely primed to be drawn to a personal philosophy of unbridled nihilistic hedonism? Why did they need a role model to give them permission to live, as Max suggested, unconcerned with the expectations of others?

The short answer is that late-20th century western culture is extremely hostile towards the values of classical masculinity. Male role models in pop culture are either effeminate prigs or clueless buffoons. Schools are replacing the competitive environments men thrive in with quiet, heavily-structured self-esteem factories that cajole little boys into acting like little girls, while drugging those who can’t be so easily tamed. The American economy is shedding jobs in manufacturing, mining and the trades, prodding men into white-collar docility. College curriculas demean men as oppressors, potential rapists, abusers, and generally the source of all the world’s problems. The men of the Millennial generation are surrounded by people, publications and media that belittle and insult them at every available opportunity. And still, there are no shortages of parents, teachers, employers, pastors,  girlfriends, writers, and TV producers, who insist that the postmodern man fulfills his manly obligations to this same society.

A fair contract confers both rights and duties to each party. But the social contract that western society offers the men of my generation is so one-sided, it should come as no surprise that the smarter and more self-aware among us are choosing to abrogate it. It should also come as no surprise that Tucker Max – one of the first men of our age to publicly toss off the shackles of society’s expectations, and write competently about it – achieved the fame and influence he did.

Tucker Max was the right man, with the right message, at the right time. Perhaps even more importantly, he was the first to leverage the internet to bypass the politically correct gatekeepers of the traditional publishing industry.

The Fall 

So what became of Tucker Max?

What became of his message, that our society fails to offer smart young men an option in life that beats getting wasted and chasing tail?

What became of the man who was going to shake up the literary world, smash the rotten publishing industry, and lead a 21st-century intellectual movement to rehabilitate and redefine masculinity?

If you haven’t already seen it, read this ten-page interview of Tucker Max in Forbes.

For starters, he’s retiring from writing about sex, drugs and rock and roll:

 “I publicly, explicitly retire. I want to be free to move on with my life, and I think the way I have to do that is to set a public end to this.”

OK, cool. Tucker does not want to continue getting blackout drunk and chasing slutty teenage girls into his forties and fifties. No surprises. I’m twenty-six, and even I’m ready to slow it down a notch.

But what direction will Max take his writing in, now that he is past debauchery?

Might he be tempted to reflect on why his writing attracted the attention of so many young men? Will he try to offer an alternative to booze and sluts? Better yet, will he devote his attention to understanding the problems with our society that have resulted in a majority of men pissing away their early 20s drinking, partying, getting high, and playing video games? Will he ask why young men are eager to take a pass on marriage and monogamy, instead choosing to live lives of one-night stands and pickup artistry?

In a word, No.

Rather than mature and evolve into an effective adult male role model, Tucker Max has chosen to have an Oprah moment:

“I know some of the stuff I did is, um, beyond the pale or f***-up sometimes, or mean to other people or destructive to myself. But I still did it anyway.”

“I understood intellectually in my twenties that this had something to do with unresolved parental, emotional issues. But I didn’t process it.  I could look at other people and see these kinds of issues playing out in them, but I didn’t apply it to myself, because that’s the hardest thing to do for anybody. I couldn’t do that then.”

“I was a ridiculous narcissist in my twenties. It’s not even that I didn’t care about other people. It’s way beyond that. I just didn’t even understand that other people even existed or mattered. I do not believe I was a true NPD [narcissistic personality disorder] in the clinical sense. But, dude, I was close.”

 “I ended up hurting a lot of people and not even realizing it. Because of that narcissism, I didn’t connect well to other people. I used a lot of people a lot of times, in ways I didn’t understand.”

“Listen I’m 35 now, I can look back on my writing and I can say this. This is something I’ve never really said before in public or admitted on the record, and I’ll admit it now: I didn’t realize this when I was writing it, but I think if you read between the lines a little bit, in between all the bravado, you can see a lot of self-loathing.

“I knew it was inevitable that I would have to look into this stuff eventually. In some vague sense, I understood the whole time that a lot of my extreme acting out came from unresolved emotional issues. And I knew deep down at some point I was going to have to face them.

“So many people describe my book as just pure id. What I’m trying to do now is to connect my ego and my superego to my id. I’m trying to understand, why was I doing all this stuff? Why was I acting this way? Through understanding all of that, you start to resolve the underlying problems that you’re acting out, in a healthier, more productive way.

“And I’ve found that, what I now want the most in a woman is—I want a partner. I want someone who is my partner in life. Who supports me, and I support her. I can share all my experiences in life with her, and she can share hers back with me. Not only do we love each other, but we accept, embrace, nurture, and care for each other.”

Break out the violins. Tucker Max was a jerk because his f-f-family was m-m-m-mean to him. He’s sorry for what he’s done, and perhaps now that he’s in therapy to talk about his feelings, the world will realize that his life up until now has just been a great big misunderstanding, and maybe Simon and Shuster will offer him a six-figure advance to write about the joys of his simple life of health shakes and yoga.

Not likely, though. Stay tuned for part 2.

{ 39 comments }

Over the past six months, I’ve quit my job, moved to Chiang Mai, backpacked around Southeast Asia, and now I’m back in my Thai hometown to spend another month writing, working, and practicing MMA. In retrospect, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But it’s not for everyone.

If you have a location independent job or project that you can work on, if you have a sport or hobby that you can practice, and if you have the self-discipline to stay focused without supervision – then yes, a one-way ticket might be a good idea.

In my case: I spent 3-5 hours a day training Muay Thai, and I’m a professional blogger (my parents are so proud). I probably worked harder during my vacation than I have for any one-month stretch of my life.

I’ve also met quite a few guys out here with similar lifestyles. They’re managing SEO companies, scouting factories, building information products, affiliate marketing, making porn (true story), and writing software. They are, in short, on the grind. They are working, training, and building.

If this is the kind of lifestyle you can realistically envision for yourself while living abroad, hop on a plane.

However…

The hustlers described above are a slim minority.

If you are fresh out of college, have no idea what you want to do in life, and want to spend the last 10k of your student loan money on a year-long trip around the world to “find yourself” – don’t. You’ll wind up on a path to being forty years old, without a dollar or a marketable skill to your name. Southeast Asia is full of these types, and you don’t want to be one of them.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cafe, eavesdropping on a woman who is making my point perfectly. She’s 34, Australian, and has spent the past ten years teaching English and working for NGOs. She is single, twenty pounds overweight, with short frizzy hair that looks like it was styled with a chainsaw. Her wardrobe is straight out of Wal-mart’s Winter 2012 ‘Frumpy’ collection. She took a train into Chiang Mai this morning, and has invited the middle-aged Thai woman who shared her sleeper car to breakfast, no doubt in search of a truly authentic experience.

Let’s play a game called annoying Hippie Traveler Stereotype Bingo with Ms. Frumpy McFrumpleton:

1) Physically unattractive and unkempt – Check!

2) New balance hiking shoes and Columbia track pants rolled up to her knees – Check!

3) Satchel – Check!

4) Describes herself as a “foodie” – Check!

5) Uses the phrase, ‘Oh, you need to go to Laos!’ – Check!

6) Laments the increasing tourist presence, and declining authenticity of Thailand – Check!

7) Insincere perma-smile plastered across her face at all time – Check!

8) Feels great shame for not speaking Thai and apologizes for this repeatedly – Check!

9) Hairy legs – Check!

10) Cannot hold a conversation about anything except a) places she’s traveled to, or b) places she wants to travel to.

Congratulations Frumpy Hippie Traveler. Today, and today alone, you score a perfect 10/10.

The male of the Hippie Traveler species (Hippidae Nomadicus) is similar in many respects, but with more drugs, less volunteer work, more tattoos, and less subconscious terror of dying childless and alone. Also, one hopes, more angst at the prospect of having nothing to show for his life beyond photo albums, acid flashbacks, and a thick passport.

In case I’m being overly circumspect about my feelings: I do my best to avoid these people. They are boring, uninspiring, and since they have nothing in their lives beyond travel for the sake of itself, they have very little to teach me. Their problem is that they’ve fallen for the great myth of Traveling.

According to this myth, the mere act of living somewhere that is not your permanent home is somehow educational, productive, and ennobling. Sure, they haven’t learned anything in the past decade that I couldn’t find on trip adviser. Sure, they are penniless and alone. Sure, the only people who can stand their company are others like them. Whatever man!

Their path is an easy one to take. If you aren’t doing anything with your life, the easiest way to distract yourself from that fact is to start living out of a backpack. Your days will be full of activity – finding food, finding hostels, catching buses, going out, keeping an eye out for pickpockets. Much like white-collar workers who distract themselves with busywork, aimless travel is a way of filling your time, so you don’t have to ask hard questions about how you’re spending your 25,000 days.

So please, don’t become that guy. Don’t pack a bag and fly away from home without a plan. Don’t go abroad until you have a project you want to work on, a skill you want to develop – anything more than just a list of countries you want to see.

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Chiang Mai, Part Deux: Three Revelations

by Frost on February 3, 2012

The best vacations always require a vacation to recover from.

After one month of booze, drugs, women, temples, scams, beaches, hostels and rock and roll – I need a vacation more than I ever have in my life. Hence, my triumphant return to Chiang Mai for a month of writing, working, and training Ju Jitsu.

I will have much more to write about the debauchery of the 2012 End Of The World Tour, consisting of a hazy 40-day journey through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, but for now suffice it to say that you’ll have to excuse me…

The world looks a bit different to me now, and I think the acid flashbacks are only a small part of that. Asia generally, and Chiang Mai in particular, feels much more like home. Making my way through new cities seems much easier. My friends, family and hometown feel farther away.

As good of a time as I had pillaging my way across the subcontinent with 3 of my best friends, it’s also thrown a few things into focus:

1) I’ve wasted a huge chunk of my early twenties

From a conventional perspective, I spent that time getting marketable degrees and holding down a good job. But a hard look in the mirror forces me to admit that I learned very little of value.

It really is hard to overstate how big a waste of time modern University educations are, and how sad it is that the bulk of my generation (and the right side of the bell curve especially) is frittering away what should be their formative years in what is basically an adult kindergarten with sex and liquor.

2) The next year is my last chance to do something worthwhile with my life

In a ridiculously short time, I’m going to be twenty-seven years old. I’m going to be an adult. The clock is ticking.

I consider myself a smart guy. I have complete faith in my ability to eke out an above-average living with a modicum of effort and good decision-making. By any normal standard, my old career was a pretty good gig, and I can easily get right back on that track.

But if I want a bigger life than that, it’s now or never. It’s not an issue of age, but mindset. At this point in my life, I know what kind of lifestyle I want to have. I know what I have to do to get it.

I’m not saying I have to ‘make it’ this year. But I’m at a point where it’s time to decide whether to walk down the hustle path, or the coast path. If not now, when?

3) Whatever I do, I’m going to write about it

Taking a month off of blogging was nice, but more than anything, it made me realize how much I enjoy having this outlet. More detailed announcements are coming, but for now: There will be a book about the SEA Trip, and it will drop right after the second edition of the Freedom Twenty-Five Book.

I will also be getting back to regular updates on this blog, although I will be moving to a new URL eventually.

Subscribers and twitter followers, thanks for sticking around! It’s good to be back.

{ 4 comments }

Choose Entrepreneurship

by Frost on February 2, 2012

*I’m on a two-month blogging vacation while I backpack around Southeast Asia. Until I return, I’m posting excerpts from my book, Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life. If you like this post, you should buy a copy for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met in your life.*   

Let’s assume you’ve decided to opt out of the traditional career paths. Or perhaps, like me one year ago, you have a job and you want out. This section will give you a foolproof, 100% guaranteed program to create insanely profitable businesses that take up a bare minimum of your time, in just four easy steps.

OK, obviously that’s a blatant lie.

There is no such thing as an easy path to easy money, and if there was I would charge a lot more for sharing it. Contrary to conventional wisdom however, there are many difficult paths to easy money that smart and hard-working people can take advantage of. The world is full of entrepreneurs paying themselves absurd hourly salaries, but most of them have paid their dues many times over again, through thousands of hours of learning, experimenting and failing in spectacular ways.

The life of an aspiring entrepreneur is not an easy one. You will be 100% responsible for your own life and livelihood, and with that comes a lot of stress. You will sink or swim based on how smart you are, how hard you work, and how well you execute. This is not usually the case when you work for a large organization, where only the most epic of failures will result in worse than a delayed promotion.

But the financial and psychological upside that comes with a life of hustling is worth the cost.

As an entrepreneur, your income will have unlimited upside potential. I’ll always be content to make reasonably good money, if I can do so with only a small time investment, but it’s nice to know that you have a small chance of becoming a billionaire. As Donald Trump said, “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score.”

From an emotional and psychological perspective, working on businesses that you own is infinitely more rewarding than working as a cog in a machine. Since I quit my job and started focusing exclusively on my own projects, I’ve felt much more alive than I did before. I’m excited to wake up every day. I have ten times as much energy to work and grind than I used to. I’m more confident in my interactions with people and feel better about myself and what I’m doing with my life.

I am no longer an obedient worker bee. I am a wolf on the hunt, and it feels fucking awesome. I think back to my cubicle days, and realize that I felt like somebody had been slipping ambien in my coffee. I don’t care what your salary is, how much you think girls want to fuck you because of your business card, or how nice of a condo you just put a down payment on – the feeling and mindset of working for your own hustle, and not some massive faceless entity, is worth any amount of money. I would rather eat cat food and live.

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Get Off the Treadmill

by Frost on January 31, 2012

*I’m on a two-month blogging vacation while I backpack around Southeast Asia. Until I return, I’m posting excerpts from my book, Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life. If you like this post, you should buy a copy for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met in your life.*   

The bare necessities of life are extraordinarily cheap. $15,000 is more than enough to comfortably feed, clothe and shelter a man for a year, with more than enough left over for entertainment.

But recent graduates will usually feel deprived on a salary three times that amount. Suddenly, it’s no longer acceptable to spend $300 a month on rent, wear ripped jeans and threadbare sweaters, not own a car, and furnish your living room by driving around in a friend’s truck on garbage day. As a student, frugality is tolerated, even celebrated. But with a diploma comes the maladaptive desire to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on the requisite status symbols of yuppiedom.

The young men and women caught in this mindset are on track to spend the rest of their lives mired in what they perceive as poverty. Their tastes for nicer apartments, cars, clothes and other material goods will increase in lockstep with their salaries. There is no finish line in this race, although the mirage of one always seems to loom just out of reach. If only we ran a bit faster…

But running faster isn’t the solution. Stepping off the treadmill is.

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This Is Not Who We Want To Be

by Frost on January 26, 2012

*I’m on a two-month blogging vacation while I backpack around Southeast Asia. Until I return, I’m posting excerpts from my book, Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life. If you like this post, you should buy a copy for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met in your life.*   

Here’s a story about a friend of mine. He’s a successful guy, a few years older than me. Good job, MBA from a top school. Works hard and does quite well for himself. By any conventional measure of late-20s career success, he is in the top 1% of his peers.

Last week, I told him about how I had just quit my job to travel the world. His response, like many others, was: “Wow, I wish I could do that!”

I replied (as I always do) “You can. It’s a lot easier than most people think.”

But then he explained to me why, in fact, he couldn’t:

– He just put 20% down on a really nice condo. Selling it would cost him 5-10% of the list price in realtor fees and moving expenses.

– He’s locked into a lease on his new BMW, with major penalties for getting out early.

– He’s spent a ton on nice furniture, from which he could recover maybe half of what he paid.

– His company financed his MBA, and he’s obligated to keep working there for another two years, or he’ll have to repay the tuition and a generous signing bonus.

– He’s still paying off his undergraduate student loans.

If you were to look at his paycheck, the clothes he wears, and the lifestyle he leads, you might be deceived into thinking: “This guy is rich!

But from another perspective, he is extremely poor. He is a slave. He does not have the freedom (in the short term) to do anything except exactly what he’s doing right now. He can’t quit. He can’t travel. He can’t make any major purchases. He is trapped by his own success, pinned down in a life that – from what I can see – isn’t really making him that happy.

The problem he and so many others have, is that they are trying to fill the spiritual hole in their lives with material goods. When you’re young, lost, and wondering if this is all there is to life, it’s easy to turn toward reckless consumerism as a way to fill the void. And that’s how you wind up a 20-something guy with a 6-figure income who can’t afford to go out for a beer after work with his friends unless it’s one of those special months where he gets three paychecks.

This is not who we want to be.

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