According to my wife I don’t think outside of the box. She says I have no box at all! So I drive her crazy with my unusual approaches to everything. I love solving problems. I am happiest when I’m going 100 miles an hour on a snowboard, surfboard, mountain bike, guitar, or in the chaos of a new business adventure. On the other hand I get depressed, and am not much fun to be around when I feel like I’m not doing something new and exciting.
I was raised in Georgia where I jumped bikes and skateboarded in backyard half-pipes until I turned 16. After that I spent my time slam dancing to punk rock bands in Atlanta and learning about true sustainable living from an old man in the North Georgia mountains. “Pa” Jones plowed his own fields into his 90s!
I went to college in Sewanee, Tennessee where I studied Industrial Psychology and Religion, but mostly I mountain biked and played in bands. My very first gig was opening for The Flaming Lips.
After college I helped IBM market their main-frame computers. Corporate America was a strange environment for me. Being competitive by nature I figured that the goal was to get paid well, have the biggest office, and to do the least amount of work. So I systemized my work, devised reasons why I should have the largest corner office in the building, and generally worked the corporate system. Accomplishing this left me literally hung over, sleeping in my high back chair with my hands on the keyboard, bored out of my skull, and 35 pounds overweight. And the worst part was that I was embarrassed to tell people what I did for a living.
So I quit. I moved to Key West, lived on a boat, and became a SCUBA instructor. Now I had no problem telling people what I did. I brought joy to people’s lives and introduced them to a new world. I also learned a ton about people in general. I learned about how they learn and deal with very unusual environments. I taught rich Atlanta real estate developers, tough Chicago police officers, shy Korean women, joyous newlyweds from Bahrain, British factory workers, suburban American housewives, Japanese teenagers- you name it! It was a great time, but it couldn’t last forever.
I have worn a lot of hats since then. I’ll skip all the failed businesses and stupid harebrained ideas I’ve had and stick to the good stuff. I’ve traveled to 27 countries and have rental properties in three. I have a pine tree farm and a burrito restaurant. I speak Spanish. I’ve designed and engineered neighborhoods, managed commercial and residential construction projects, and created a beautiful resort-style property in Panama. I have a truly diversified portfolio with investments in 12 different currencies. I have even met Donald Trump at his house.
Most importantly I’ve gotten out of the rat race! At 30 I set a goal to get out of the rat race and on my 40th birthday I was in the house that I designed in Panama, drinking rum with a bunch of new friends. I learned to surf and enjoyed “doing nothing” for as long as I could. Now I’m diving in again.
My intention for this website is to get back to the days in Key West. I want to bring joy to people’s lives. The best kind of joy I can think of is to have a family that is not a slave to the consumption-based lifestyle that is sold to us in the US. There are lots of resources out there for changing your life in this regard, but very few that focus on families with kids. Having children creates unique challenges that need to be addressed.
With that in mind I have partnered with my friend, Coley (who uses words like mercurial, what the hell does that mean? I had to look it up), who I met in Panama and who is crazy enough to be raising small children there. Together we hope we can make a difference in your life.
I can be mercurial (that’s “unpredictable” for my hippie friend above), impatient, temperamental and often moody. On the other hand, I’m passionate about stuff I like, creative, non-traditional and love taking risks. I will jump feet first into things I know absolutely nothing about and will either sink (often) or swim (occasionally). In other words, I’m pretty non-linear, with several failures and a few big successes under my belt.
My day job consists of running a small consulting business while traveling hither and yon building my personal investment portfolio with completely non-traditional investments that drive my wife bananas and cause great spasms of eye rolling.
At the moment, I’m really jazzed about organic farming, homesteading, sustainable living, investment opps in resilient communities and learning to be radically self-reliant. I also think the best investment opportunities right now are completely outside of the United States and in the developing world and consequently have moved almost all of my investments and net worth offshore.
Most of what I learned in college has been long since forgotten or proven false by experience, although the lessons I’ve learned in my personal and professional life have left deep and lasting impacts to this day. For this reason, I tend towards the view that higher education is often a waste of time and that “learning by doing” often pays higher dividends. I believe that by the time my kids are college aged, the world will likely have changed so radically, that a traditional U.S. college education may not be the best option anymore.
I lived and worked in Sierra Leone in the ’90s in the middle of a civil war where I ran a commodities business exporting coffee and cocoa to Europe. I lost a lot of money. I once ran a roadblock in Liberia manned by drunk, well-armed and belligerent soldiers, traded cigarettes at the end of a barrel of a stoned teenager’s gun for safe passage to a coffee farm, and was once arrested and threatened with a severe beating by a Nigerian solider for taking photographs at a military landing strip. The $100 bill I kept in my sock for just such an occasion saved the day.
I used to be a partner at a public affairs firm but chafed under the authority and routine. The daily grind of wearing a monkey suit and witnessing the griminess of the political scene didn’t help, existential crisis ensued, and I sold the house, car and most of the family’s possessions and moved to Panama with wife and two young children.
I enjoy surfing, mountain biking, running and playing guitar and can often be found on a Friday evening in the hammock on my patio writing the blog posts you are reading here.
We started this little venture to share our experiences living, working, and investing outside of what most would consider the mainstream. The goal is to hopefully instill in others the excitement, confidence, and ultimately peace-of-mind that comes from radical self-reliance.
Most importantly, I’m a father of
two (soon to be three) three and a husband who wants to prepare my children and family to be absolutely resilient and confident facing the big challenges (and opportunities) of what I believe is going to be a radically different world than the one in which I grew up.