Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Re-patriation Chronicles, Part 5: Robert K

While I was in Peru last fall, I had lunch with Robert K, author of the 30 Days to X blog, entrepreneur and nice young feller. Here's his take on expat-ing and re-pating.

ETX: When and why did you get interested in the "self-help" movement?

RK: I got into the self-help movement after two events that happened in rapid succession. I almost got hit by a semi-truck during an icy storm, and I discovered James Altucher's blog. Basically, I decided that there was a bunch of stuff that I wanted to try as soon as possible, lest I get killed in a freak accident.

What were your first experiences when you quit your job to support yourself with internet income?

My first experience quitting my job and working for myself, that's a fun one.

The first business I had consisted of writing fake Amazon reviews for five bucks a pop. I ended up selling more of these than anyone else and I got to read a ton of crummy eBooks about organic pie and stuff like that. I probably made more off that venture than most of the authors who had me reviewing their books.

(But Amazon eventually put a stop to that - Ed.)

Why did you decide to go to Lima? What were your experiences there like?

Basically I moved to Peru on a whim. I wanted to go there after watching some National Geographic special. There wasn't really any serious reason for me to move there other than fun.

Personally, I had a blast. Lima, Peru was pretty inexpensive and had a lot of cool stuff. Great food, cool parks, and Latinas. You can't go wrong with a combination like that.

I also visited the Nazca lines and saw some touristy stuff that anyone could have seen online for free. Sightseeing is a little overrated in my opinion.

Plaza of Love in Lima

Why did you decide to go to Vietnam? What happened to that?

Okay, funny story. I actually bought my ticket and got my Visa (picture included for blog use. I've also sent an uncensored one to verify) to visit Vietnam at the end of January. However, two major events changed my mind.

The first was a Christmas break party I attended. This guy who was about one year older than me had gotten one of those dreaded 9-to-5 jobs that all the Tim Ferriss-types hate. His job was super easy and required virtually no actual work (it was a lame government position where he reviewed paperwork). Yet he made more money every year than most of these "lifehacker" Internet entrepreneur guys. If you've ever read one of those passive income blogs you'll know that $100,000 is the big benchmark for success (or at least according to the people who run those sites). This guy and his girlfriend had a combined income that was pretty close to that.

That was a huge wake up call to me. Once I heard that I realized that most of the passive income guys aren't actually that successful.

Secondly, and I hate to kick a guy when he's down, I discovered that a certain "Make money in Asia" guy was 35 and flat broke. Like struggling to survive in one of the poorest neighborhoods in one of the poorest countries broke. While I'm sure the guy is perfectly nice and stuff, his advice was B.S. After I learned that I decided to cancel my trip and focus on learning actual business skills (as opposed to making bush-league passive income blogs or whatever).

Why did you decide to return to America?

Instead of spending a year in Vietnam working on passive income stuff, I ended up sticking around America to learn how to make actual money. My dad has a few different businesses that are all fairly successful (although, admittedly, none of them are as cool as a PUA/Paleo/Weightlifting blog run by a man with a silly pen name).

So I'm spending the summer in the U.S. learning a ton of stuff about marketing and getting people to buy things they don't actually need. It's like Mad Men, but set in Iowa. And way less exciting.

What things do you notice liking and disliking about America in comparison to the countries you visited?

I've lived in four different countries since I was 18. And honestly, I think that most of them are pretty equal to America when it comes to pros and cons. In fact, I'd even say that America is a little better (in terms of culture and infrastructure) than a lot of places. For example, you some times see guys complaining about cultural decline in America, but then they advise young men to move to the Ukraine or Mexico. Two places that aren't exactly known for their stable governments and law abiding citizens.

With that said, there are some things that I really like about living abroad. Outside of a few places, the United States isn't exactly known for great weather or fantastic beaches. When I lived in Belize I'd go swimming every day. And in Peru I went on some massive walks along the coast. Although I'm usually more of a fields and meadows type of guy, hiking along the beach is pretty fun. And food, foreign food is way better than anything in the states.

Blatant plug for a book

What are you plans for the future? 

After the summer I plan on taking a trip to Tokyo and a few other places in Asia. I bought a really cool travel guide from 1969 and ended up reading all about Japanese culture. I'm also working more on direct marketing and trying to get a few additional corporate writing jobs (which pay pretty well).


Anonymous said...

Come on, man. Are you talking about Victor Pride? If that dude is broke I would be shocked.

englishteacherx said...

I don't really know exactly who he's talking about, the interview is presented exactly as he wrote the answers, nothing was "redacted"

D said...

30 days to X is one of the blogs I regularly visit. Nice to know you've met up with him. Btw I'm not exactly your regular visitor but i've known you for quite sometime now. Also i've just finished reading your first book To Travel Hopelessly. Actually I've bought them through smash words, I think that was 2 years ago. Great book btw. I'd be reading Vodkaberg soon. Hope to read more memoirs from you. I'll be checking out some of your fiction works too.

Anyways nice blog and looking forward for more of your works.

Ken said...

It's strange... in that most longer ESOL types I've met have some form of passive income.

My sister owns a small bit of land with a bill board on it. Ash a bud of mine owns a tiny section of land an electricity pylon is situated on.

My passive income is pretty terrible though. I get about £60 ($90) USD royalties for the novels a week. The books I've ghost written I get the princely sum of £10 a month. Curiously in my youth I wrote a lot of video game guides for classic games. Whenever these games get re-made I sometimes get asked if I would be nice enough to let them put my guide along with their games. I say yes... for a price. I get 2 cents for every 10 copies sold... rolling in riches.

I reckon ETX could easily sell out and start selling ETX branded tat.

englishteacherx said...

You know, I have long wanted to sell ETX coffee mugs and t-shirts, but the logistics of such business are far beyond my intense but short-lived attention span. I found websites that would make and sell me the shit, but they wouldn't deliver directly to customers. Anybody got a place that will do that, let me know.