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Reader Question Round-Up: Upwork, Scaling, and Taking a Big Margin

After my hiatus, I’m back with my fourth consecutive week of content.  This time, it’s another reader question round-up, video edition.

I’m going to continue with the theme from last time, which is to use round-up posts to do picks and the digests that I’d been doing historically.  I’d also like to encourage anyone to ask me questions because, as I’ve mentioned a few times now, I’m going to let your questions drive the majority of my content going forward.

They can be questions about anything you’d like, really.  But my main focus is going to be on topics related to software careers and helping you understand the business of automation.

You can fire questions at me in the comments on the blog, Twitter, comments on Youtube, or really wherever you want.  Though, if anyone’s interested in proposing sort of a more effective or efficient way for me to get questions, I’m interested to hear it.

Picks

  • If you’ve never had occasion to check it out, I’d give the Tropical MBA podcast a listen.  The name gives a different impression of it than what it really is, with a kind of “too good to be true vibe.”  It’s actually a lot of practical advice for digital entrepreneurs, with a bit of a location-independent flavoring.
  • My wife and I have been watching this series of Youtube videos called “Pitch Meeting.”  If you like snarky humor pointing out plot holes, you’ll like these.
  • We spent the weekend in Cincinnati, and one of the things we did there was pop in for a little casual axe throwing.  Yes, there’s a place called Urban Axes where you learn to throw axes at targets and then have a lot of fun doing that for an hour or two.  They have locations in various US cities, and it’s a LOT of fun, so check it out if there’s one near you.

The Digest

The Reader Question Round-Up

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DaedTech Digest: When Will You Stop Slow Traveling?

I’m going to keep the momentum going from last week and answer another slow travel question.  This time, it’s a little more philosophical.

When will you stop living the slow travel life?

In a sense, I don’t have a good answer to this question.  I honestly don’t know.

It’s kind of like someone asking me, “when will you stop reading sci-fi books” or “when will you stop attending baseball games?”  In both cases, as with slow travel, the answer is “I don’t have any specific plans to stop, but who knows what life holds?”

That said, I could see a few scenarios that call for an end.  So, while I can’t answer “when,” exactly, I might be able to answer “how/why.”

Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

Let’s get the obvious and the grim out of the way.  At some point, life comes to an end.  And when that happens, depending on your belief system, slow travel will either get awesome, horrifying, or simply cease to exist.  In any of those cases, I believe it’s fair to say that our current approach will come to an end.

But age and infirmity might beat the grim reaper to the punch as well.  It’s hard to imagine exploring unknown countries or wrangling cats in our Jeep when we’re pushing 90.

Getting Tired of Moving Around

I could also see a much less dramatic end to the slow travel.  We might simply get tired of all of the effort and logistics, deciding that the fun of novelty no loner outweighs, well, the exhausting nature of novelty.

We’re pretty used to slow traveling and have adapted to it.  But, even accounting for that, things can become a grind.  Stuff you take for granted, like mail, having a normal social life, and more can add up.

Amanda is probably a little more restless than I am, but I can imagine a world where the draw of kicking back in my own office or bedroom starts to look nicer than kicking back in someone else’s.  I haven’t lost my taste for it yet, by a long shot, but I could imagine it.

Finance/Career

Amanda and I can currently both work from anywhere.  And we take full advantage of that.  We also have no plans to mess with that in the slighest.

But, it’s hard to forecast what you might do in 5 years or 10.  10 years ago, I was a software engineer, and 5 years ago, I was a CIO.  If you’d asked either of those younger Eriks, “do you think in 5 or 10 years you’ll be running a marketing business from Ramrod Key, wearing sandals and a bathing suit,” I’d have responded by looking over my shoulder for the person you were actually talking to.

So if my life has already taken such unexpected turns, I certainly won’t rule out some more.

If I were going to wander back into the salaried world, I’d really only consider a high leadership position — somewhere in the C suite.  And there aren’t a whole ton of salaried C suite positions that call for working from remote keys in your bathing suit.

So getting out of slow travel life for the sake of career remains a possibility.

Family

The last reason I’ll list is in some senses the most unpredictable and also the most personal.  I can imagine all sorts of family reasons not to be in a constant state of transit.

It might be exciting family sorts of things, like additions to the family.  Or, on the flip side, it might be concerns such as elder care or helping in some other way.

I won’t go into such a personal concern any further, but suffice it to say that family is important and factors heavily into plans throughout most people’s lives.

But, until we do decide to call it, whenever that may be, we’ll keep doing our best to keep things weird.

Picks

  • As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been recording a lot of Youtube videos lately.  As part of this, I got my hands on a flexible tripod: the SquidGrip.  It’s been a big help in recording video with my phone.
  • Here’s a podcast that I enjoy: The Business of Authority.  It’s a podcast aimed at independent/solo consultant types, but oriented specifically around how to build authority, becoming a thought leader, influencer, expert, etc.
  • Finally, there’s no link, but a nice feature for Facebook consumption is muting people temporarily.  If Uncle Steve is getting a little too into politics lately, or you’re buried in picture of a baby belonging to someone you barely know, you can just snooze that a month and hope the situation improves, all without the social ramifications of de-friending someone.

The Digest

  • Here’s another live blog post I did for the Nexus User Conference.  TD Bank talked about its experience with DevOps, and I chronicled the talk.
  • On Hit Subscribe’s Youtube channel, I did a video showing you how to sign up for Amazon’s affiliate linking program, Amazon Associates.  Check it out if you want to earn a little extra income through your blog.
  • Here’s a Facebook Live we did, talking about what it’s like to run/own a remote business.  Check out the Sriracha shirt in that one too, matching the Youtube vide.  I recorded a lot of video that day!

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: How Does All of the Travel Affect Your Diet?

Another week, another slow travel question.  This one is pretty straightforward.

How does all of the slow travel affect your diet compared to leading a normal life?

First of all, let me say that you’ll probably get a slightly different answer to this question if you ask Amanda than if you ask me, even though we share a lifestyle.

The reason is that she puts a lot more effort into considering food from a number of angles, from more concern with macro nutrients to being a person prone to “hangriness.”  I, on the other hand, can forget to eat all day without really noticing hunger, and then wash down a giant steak with red wine and tortes or something.

I pay attention to calorie intake, but for the most part food isn’t a huge priority in my decision making about anything.  In a sense, I kind of grow where I’m planted.

It’s important to understand this in order to understand how travel, in general, affects my diet.  If I had to sum up the effect briefly, I’d say “not the best.”

I gained weight some years back when i went into 100% travel management consulting.  It’s hard not to.  You go from leading a normal life to eating all of your meals expensed, at places like Outback Steakhouse.

I eventually managed to shed some of those pounds, but then we left that life in favor of slow traveling.  Not all of the pounds returned, but some of them did.

When we slow travel, we do stock our AirBNB with groceries, the way anyone might.  But there are three healthy eating hitches with that:

  1. We’ll disproportionately stock up on local “can’t miss” things, and those usually aren’t healthy.  “What’s a King Cake?  Welp, when in New Orleans, do as the New Orleanans do.”
  2. When our time in an AirBNB is winding down, we don’t want to throw out a bunch of food, so the last week or so starts to involve a LOT of dining out.
  3. Even when we’re not winding down, there’s natural pressure to try all of the local restaurants and carry out places.

So, in the end, slow travel is sort of like a junior version of traveling consulting life when it comes to (poor) diet decisions.  You have an option other than dining out every night, but there’s a lot of pressure to go sample local stuff so you don’t miss out, like this shot from my birthday, where Amanda found us a gourmet gelato place in Atlanta. They made you gelato flowers, which, as you might imagine is hard for an experience collector to pass up.

Picks

  • With all of the Youtube videos I’ve been doing these days, I’ve looked for ways to add interesting features to the videos.  This includes little movie clips under fair use.  And I’ve found this service, Streamable, that’s free and lets you grab and download little snippets of Youtube videos.
  • I’m going to throw some love to Leanpub.  It’s a platform for self-publishing books in a lean fashion, letting you get beta readers and feedback as you write the book.  They also handle all of the eBook formatting concerns and do some marketing/promotion for you.  It’s great for self-publishers.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Do You Have Friends Anymore?

Alright, I’m picking back up with the theme I announced last week.  That is, I’m going to go back to answering questions about slow travel that people ask me since we are firmly ensconced in our lake house for the next several months.

I’ve got an interesting and kinda blunt topic this week.

Do Amanda and I really have friends anymore?

The short answer is, yes, of course we do.  We just don’t see them very much anymore.

But the more nuanced answer is that our friends tend to come in two (non-mutually exclusive) varieties:

  • Old friends
  • Internet friends

We’ve made a lot of friends throughout life: high school friends, college friends, work friends.  And the rise of the internet and social media in particular has made it amazingly easy to stay in touch with those friends.

So we do just that.

We keep in touch with close friends via text, email, social media, etc.  Although, truth be told, we don’t always do the best job of keeping in touch.  But, we do tend to make up for that as we travel, figuring out who we know that’s in a city and making it appoint to grab dinner or drinks.

And then we do a good bit of socializing online.  Our business, Hit Subscribe, has a lot of folks, a vibrant Slack community, and weekly, digital hangouts.  This provides a nice supplement to the aforementioned media interaction.

But, in spite of keeping in touch with old friends and virtually hanging out with new friends, I’d be lying if I said we had the social lives that many of you probably do.  There’s no neighborhood crew, mutual children in school, drinks at the bar after work, etc.  Our lives are solitary, relative to most people’s, as we wander around.

So, we have to opportunistically make new friends wherever we can, with whomever we can, regardless of concerns like mutual interests, similar backgrounds, or even species.

Picks

  • Last year, we sold our primary residence, put all that stuff in storage, and promptly hit the road.  Now that we’re back at our house by the lake, we find ourselves with two houses’ worth of stuff for a single house, which includes a bunch of extra beds.  I recently learned that Goodwill and a number of other places won’t, for sanitary reasons, accept mattresses.  But, the Salvation Army will.  So if you want to donate something like a mattress (in good shape), give them a call or a visit.
  • I recommended this recently on the Freelancers Show, so I’ll give it a nod here.  If you’re an aspiring or new free agent, I’d give Million Dollar Consulting a read.
  • And, finally, this is kinda weird, but I can’t recommend my new dentist enough.  If you’re in the South Bend/Mishawaka area, give them a call.  The dental aspect of the practice is great, but so too are the bedside manner and patient experience, which includes a TV on the ceiling to watch during cleanings and massing chairs for patients.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: What Destinations Are on Your Wishlist?

After my retrospective on vagabonding for the cold season, we’re in Michigan for the summer.  And, because we’re done traveling, I guess I have two options:

  1. Write about our house in Michigan as if it were a slow travel destination (which I might actually do at some point, because this is totally a place I’d slow travel)
  2. Go back to answering questions people ask me about slow travel.

I’m going with (2) for now.  Let’s start with a fun one.

What Destinations Are on Your Wishlist?

There’s nothing quite like pining for the future, eh?

Historically, Amanda and I have limited our expeditions to roaming all over the US (with the exception of occasional forays into Mexico and Canada).  Mostly, this is because we’re traveling with two cats.  Throwing them in the Jeep is a lot easier than maneuvering them through customs and quarantines.

That said, we might bite the bullet next winter or in subsequent winters.  We might, in fact, do all of the micro-chipping, certification and whatever else required to fly them to international destinations for six months or whatever.

So, with nothing off of the table due to logistics, here are some of the options that have interested me the most.  (And I’m speaking only for myself here — not Amanda).  Also please note that the pros and cons are based on my limited understanding and preconceived notions, and not all that much actual research.

Thailand

First up, I’d love to go spend some time in Thailand.  I’ve done quite a bit of international traveling over the years, but Southeast Asia is an area of the world I have yet to explore.

As I understand it, not only is this a warm, scenic, culturally vibrant place, but there’s also a large expat/digital nomad community there, making it a relatively gentle landing spot for a first overseas slow travel situation.

Pros: The slow travel community, easy visa situation, the digital nomad community, low cost of living, a chance to really range out in a new part of the world for me, the food (I can only assume).

Cons: I don’t deal well with sweltering weather, apparently reserving the right to euthanize pets in customs if we don’t get everything right with their paperwork.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a destination I’ve long pined for.  I think from the first time I became interested in slow travel, that was a place that I wanted to head.

It seems to be just the right mix of interesting culture, cosmopolitan living, mountains, sea, scenery, and temperate places to make me extremely happy.  Unlike Thailand, I do have some sense of the area, having once spent a week or ten days or something in Panama, which I loved.

Pros: Climate, variety in a relatively small space, idyllic beaches, mountains, cool wildlife.

Cons: I’m not sure what we’d do about a car (and we’d want one, because we’d want to spend part of our time on the beach).

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is another place I’ve never been and would love to check out.  I’ve been to a fair number of countries in the Caribbean, but always for a vacation week or on a cruise stop.  I’d love to spend a season or two, because slow travel is a lot different than normal travel.

Just as I learned what it was like to live in the Keys, I’d like to learn that about a Caribbean island.  Plus, Puerto Rico has some amazing tax incentives to entice business owners to establish residency (as in, you pay like 3% income tax total or something), so that’s probably worth scoping out.

Pros: Idyllic beaches, ease of access as a US citizen, I can only assume food is great.

Cons: Rumors of spotty internet, not sure what things are like since the hurricane.

Hawaii

Last up, Hawaii.  This has a few things going for it in my book.  First of all, it’s far, far away, but still the US, so this makes basic logistics like the mail easier.  Secondly, I’ve been to 49 of 50 US states, and Hawaii would appease the set collector in me.

But, beyond those purely superficial concerns, it would be a slice of Pacific Island living, which I’d enjoy.  The scenery/landscape is also fascinating, with volcanoes and impressive land and sea scapes and whatnot.

Pros: Climate, outdoor activities, access to US logistics stuff, living for a while in a place everyone goes for their honeymoon.

Cons: High cost of living, surprising difficulty bringing the cats, a timezone that would put us out of sync with everyone we work with.

Wherever life takes me, “resort casual” is as nice as I ever want to dress.

Picks

  • I talked about this on the latest recording of the Freelancers Show, but if you ever have to send money overseas or receive it from overseas, check out Xoom or Transferwise to avoid high fees.
  • I just installed Visual Studio 2019.  (I’d been dragging my feet because of them relegating all of the plugins to a single menu.)  I must say, I find its splash screen beautiful.

The Digest