Corbett Barr on How to Pay Your Fans to Support You

August 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way that we distribute media.

Imagine for a moment that you really liked a band or an author, say Radiohead or Seth Godin, in 1998. The only way you could support the band would be to to buy the album and tell your friends that the band is awesome.

Fast-forward to the present day, August 10th 2010. –> Distribution of media is free, you can automate the sales and distribution of a product to almost anyone in the world, and you can do it all from anywhere in the world.

This is the fundamental reason that living and working from anywhere is possible.

Now, you can pay your fans to support you. There’s no reason not to.

What’s the key ingredient of paying your fans?

Well, you can be paid to support the work you love.

One of the happiest days of my life is the 1st of every month, because I get to send affiliate commission money to all of the amazing people who market my work. This wouldn’t have worked in 1998, because printing my book would have devoured all of the costs, but now it does.

A good number of the people who read The Art of Being Minimalist or Minimalist Business make back the purchase price my recommending it on their blogs. High-performers make anywhere from $100-$500 a month spreading the word about how much they enjoyed it (you can even make money from spreading how much you hate it, but I honestly don’t recommend that.)

Larger bloggers, of course, end up giving much more. As you might remember, one day I made $2,300 selling one person’s amazing work.

Now, you might not be able to get paid much to support the work of Radiohead or Seth Godin, because they’re not giving 50% commissions. However, a small group of amazing people are starting to adapting to the changing nature of digital media, and well, it’s changing everything.

Anyway, enough fawning over digital media, this is an interview with Corbett Barr.

Do you know Corbett? You should. He lives in San Francisco and runs two blogs: Think Traffic (which is literally blowing up right now) about building blog traffic and Free Pursuits about living a freedom lifestyle.

Since I moved to SF Bay, Corbett has become one of my trusted advisors on making my digital media distribution happen on a broader scale. We’ve met up on multiple occasions, and full discloser: he took Alix and I sailing on the bay once.

Just last week Corbett was teaching me, over a beer in The Mission, exactly how to set up a powerful e-mail list that will hopefully bring my business to a higher level –with minimal effort.

Today Corbett is releasing an epic product to teach beginners about how to start affiliate marketing successfully. I’ve looked over the work, and it’s excellent. He even interviewed me for a special add-on pack. We discussed at length the strategies that I use to pay my fans to support me.

Anyway, you can check out Affiliate Marketing for Beginners over here –but read the interview first for some free introductory tips.

Before you buy Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: This product isn’t for everyone. If you’re already making $100-500 a month supporting my work, you might learn a trick or two, but the product honestly isn’t aimed at you. This is for absolute beginners, and Corbett promises me that by the time you finish the course you should be able to break into the affiliate marketing space and begin to bolster your income (or your money back.)

Onward to the Interview!

We spoke about why affiliate marketing isn’t sketchy, part-time location independence, and the #1 best opportunity out there right now:

Everett Bogue: As our readers know, both you and I make a significant portion of our incomes from affiliate marketing — I like to refer to it as “paying your fans to support you.” How can it help make more of our readers income?

Corbett Barr: Yes, I love the way you call it “paying your fans to support you.” That’s a great way to look at it.

The way our readers can make income from affiliate marketing depends on if they already have a site/audience or not. If they do, they can start telling their existing audience about great products and services. The key is to talk about products you have really used and love. It’s not really different from how you might recommend a great restaurant or reliable accountant to your friends. In this case, you get compensated for that recommendation.

When done correctly, everyone wins. Your friends or readers get an awesome product or service recommendation, the business gets a new customer, and you earn a commission (and reputation points).

For people who don’t already have a site or audience, you’ll have to build one in some way to profit from affiliate marketing. You can build and reach an audience with a website, blog, in social media, through videos or in email. The course I’m releasing on affiliate marketing teaches you how to build a new site from the ground-up.

Everett: Affiliate marketing sometimes gets a bad rap — we start to think about mid-level-marketing pyramid schemes and scammy websites trying to get us to buy stuff that we don’t need. How do you get involved in legitimate affiliate marketing offers, and avoid the garbage that’s out there?

Corbett: The affiliate model is just a model. It’s a referral system, and there are no pyramids or scammy websites required. But, like anything on the internet, lots of get-rich-quick, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-my-customers types have influenced how we think about affiliate marketing.

And that’s too bad because there are lots of really awesome products and services that have affiliate offers. Things that you have already purchased or used probably have affiliate programs. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a big source of sales for businesses, so smart companies encourage that with affiliate programs.

It’s really pretty easy to avoid the garbage that’s out there. Start by looking for affiliate programs for the things you already use. They don’t have to be digital products either, although those tend to pay higher commissions.

Everett: What steps can we take to un-sketchify the reputation of affiliate marketing?

Corbett: Funny you ask, because I just wrote a post about this recently. James Chartrand of Men with Pens suggested that we rename “marketing” to “beer.” If we called it beer, everyone would love it, right? But then people might start not liking beer, and I care too much about beer to do that to it.

Instead, I think the best thing is for legitimate affiliate marketers to start being more vocal. We need to spread the word about how fantastic affiliate marketing can be for your business when it’s done right. We need to share what we’ve learned about doing affiliate marketing while also caring about our customers and the products we recommend.

If enough of us talk openly about it maybe we can change the reputation of affiliate marketing, at least within our little corner of the world.

Everett: You live a part-time location independent life. Can you share a little bit about how that works?

Corbett: Yeah, sure. My wife and I have lived in Mexico for 9 months over the past two years. We also spent about two months up in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.).

We’re not completely location independent though. We maintain a “home base” in San Francisco. When we’re gone for extended periods of time, we sublet our apartment. We really like having the fixed residence to return to, and consider it the best of both worlds for us.

We’re able to live the “location flexible” lifestyle because we’ve built businesses that let us take extended time off or work from anywhere.

Everett: Many affiliate programs offer 50%+ commissions, it almost seems like we’re giving free money away just for a link. Why do you think affiliate commissions are so large in the digital world?

Corbett: And I’ve seen commission rates of up to 95% in some cases. That means you get paid $95 for referring every $100 in sales. It’s pretty amazing considering you don’t have to do any of the product development or support.

I think they’re so high for a few reasons. First, because these are digital products we’re talking about (physical products have much lower commission rates), and digital products have nearly a 100% profit margin when you set them up like you have in Minimalist Business.

Second, the sellers of those products think, “I wouldn’t get this customer otherwise, so earning 50% is better than nothing.” Third, with all the products available for affiliates to represent, you have to compete with a compelling commission rate (and great product).

Everett: How can affiliate marketing allow you to live anywhere and achieve more freedom?

Corbett: As I mentioned, as an affiliate you don’t have to develop the products or support them. It’s an amazingly hands-off business model. And it’s highly scalable.

If you’re trying to live a minimalist lifestyle and support yourself by working online, I can’t imagine a much better opportunity than affiliate marketing.

Everett: What’s the #1 best affiliate opportunity out there right now?

Corbett: The affiliate program that comes to mind that most of your readers (and mine) are probably familiar with is Chris Gullebeau’s Unconventional Guides. Chris writes about how to live unconventionally, do extraordinary things and start a successful small business. The guides are really great and have been a big help to me and a lot of people I talk to.

Chris runs an affiliate program for people who have purchased at least one of his guides. He pays a 51% commission, which is awesome, and the guides sell like hotcakes on a cold Minnesota morning. I’ve sold thousands of dollars of his stuff, and it tends to convert better than most other programs for my readers. I personally know a few other bloggers who have also had really good luck selling the Unconventional Guides.

Another great option for your readers would obviously be your own premium guides to minimalism. The key with affiliate offers is relevance. Offer things to your audience that is relevant to them (and high-quality) and they’ll be happy you recommended the products.

[Editor’s note: If you are interested in joining the affiliate program of my e-books, it is here.]

Everett: Say I want to figure out how to make a small sum like $100 by the end of the day, how would I doing this using affiliate marketing?

Corbett: If you already have an audience to reach, that’s easy. Find a product you already use and love that has an affiliate program. It could be an eBook (like the ones you’ve written, Everett) or a piece of software or a WordPress theme or a financial service or something else. Then, write a blog post or an email or create a video recommending the product to your audience. The key is to pre-sell the product, don’t over sell it. Just tell people why you love it, and share a link where your readers can find out more. If it’s a good fit, some of them will purchase it.

If you don’t have an audience, you’ll have to decide how you’ll reach people. A simple website that attracts visitors from search traffic is an easy approach. My course covers how to do that in detail.


You can check out Affiliate Marketing for Beginners here. Don’t forget: it’s just for beginners. No affiliate marketing rockstars need apply. If you’re new to this and looking for more solid education, this is the place to start.

P.S. I’m taking a digital sabbatical, camping in Wisconsin with my grandparents until August 23rd. This is why comments are off. I’ll do my best to get back to any questions or emails when I return. Thank you for your patience.

Joshua Becker on Controversial Values, Minimalism with Children, and Inside-Out Simplicity

July 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

If you’ve been reading about minimalism for long, you know Joshua Becker and his family. Joshua started blogging about minimalism two years ago, and quietly gathered a large following on his blog Becoming Minimalist.

There are a lot of ‘being minimalist’ books coming out these days –these things tend to happen when a topic becomes so incredibly popular so quickly,– so I’ve started to become incredibly selective about which books I recommend to my readers.

The reason I’m recommending Joshua Becker’s new book is because it’s challenging, it’s engaging, and it really asks some tough questions about why you’re pursuing this lifestyle, and how to maintain your decisions in the long run.

Joshua Becker didn’t just write a book about simplicity because it’s a good business decision –in fact, he was scared to write this book, see below. He wrote it because he and his family actually live a minimalist life, and have for a number of years now.

So without any delay, here is my interview with Joshua Becker on controversial values, minimalism with children, and why Joshua believes that we will never have a simple utopian society:

Everett Bogue: You say in the opening pages that Inside-Out Simplicity was the book you were terrified to write. Why is that?

Joshua Becker: The short answer is that I was afraid of controversy.

Although, the book is not particularly controversial, the book is weighty. It deals with some very deep, heart issues – such as contentment, gratitude, and forgiveness – not to mention chapters on sexuality and spirituality. And I think that whenever you start to talk about such things, you never know for sure how people are going to respond.

It can be pretty difficult for people to deal with some of those issues in their own heart. But I still wanted to write about those topics and inspire them to pursue some of those key life-changing principles and find simplicity in life because of it.

In the end, I decided that I look forward to the disagreements. After all, if you agree with everything that’s written in a book, what’s the point in reading it?

Everett: You mention continually throughout the book that simplicity comes from inside you, which I think is totally true. I think it could really help our readers if you explain how you came to this conclusion and how it effects how we think about simplicity.

Joshua: Early on in our journey towards minimalism is when I came to that realization. I was surprised at the emotional response I was feeling to the practice of minimalism. It caught me completely off-guard.

As we went from room to room removing things, I kept asking myself the question, “How did I get all this stuff? Why did I buy it in the first place?” Luckily, I kept pursuing those questions until I found some answers in my heart and soul.

We will always live out our heart’s true desires. We can mask over them and change our lifestyle for a time, but our true motivations will eventually win out. That’s why we’ve got to develop those life-changing principles in our lives… because a life of simplicity is not possible in the long run without them.

Everett: You know what really blows my mind about this book? This line:

“…many people go through life having no clear sense of their true values. Instead, their desires are molded by the culture and the advertisements that bombard upon them each day. As a result, they find no consistency in life. No unity. Their desires change as fast as the culture and they are quickly swept off their feet by the newest fashion, the most recent technology, or the latest diet fad.”

I guess that says it all, but here’s my question: how did you come to the above conclusion, and how did this knowledge improve your life?

Joshua: Super-early in the blog when we were still just telling our story, a reader posted a comment that went something like this, “I think that minimalism forces you to recognize your values. It helps bring clarity to them.”

I hadn’t thought about our minimalist journey in quite that way prior, but he was absolutely right and helped me identify some of the emotions that were going through my mind. Minimalism is ultimately about values. And if your values are changing, it is very difficult to find simplicity in life. For me, the realization of that truth caused me to sit down one day and actually write out my values on paper.

I still vividly remember the morning and where I was sitting. It was freeing to define them and intentionally choose to pursue them about everything else.

Everett: One of the main differences between our blogs, lifestyles, etc. is that you have two children –whereas I don’t have any. This is one of the main reasons that I’m always saying ‘if you have kids, go read Joshua’s blog and stop emailing me saying you can’t have a simple life because you have kids.’ How has having kids influenced how you apply minimalism?

Joshua: It certainly makes it a bit tougher. Kids need stuff. And they are constantly changing (size, maturity, interests), so their material needs keep changing too. You can’t just settle in on a set of possessions.

You are always making adjustments. It forces you to think a little bit more. But more importantly, my kids have become my great motivation for minimalism. One of the greatest benefits of paring down is that I have so much more time with them.

My desire to spend time with them and invest into their lives is one of the reasons I continue to embrace the lifestyle.

Everett: Finally, one last hard question. Imagine for a second a world in which more people adopted the simple values that you describe in your book. What would this world look like?

Joshua: I once wrote a post on The Utopian Impact of Desiring Less. As I was writing the post, I came to the conclusion that a world where people desired less rather than more is not possible.

It will never happen on a global scale. But, it can happen on an individual scale! It can be true of my life and there are countless benefits to my own life and soul by choosing to desire less. In the same way, a world where everyone adopted the principles in this book is not going to happen.

Instead, I’d encourage people to ask the simpler question, “How would my life look different if I adopted these principles? How would my days look different if I was more generous, more committed in my relationships, and more forgiving?”

Because that is something that can actually happen. And one good reason you should pick up a copy of the book.


You can find out more information on Joshua Becker’s new e-book Inside-Out Simplicity here.

To learn more about Joshua Becker read his review of Minimalist Business, and check out my interview with him earlier this year about the power of rational minimalism.

Interview with Karol Gajda: How to Live Anywhere

June 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why you can build a freedom business in order to work from anywhere in the world

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Karol Gajda is a globe-trotting minimalist rockstar –he even brings his hand-made guitar with them anywhere. He lives a simple life, has traveled through India, Thailand, and is currently in Poland. He’s dedicated to helping 100 people establish “ridiculously extraordinary” freedom at his blog by the same name.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Karol on a very special day — the release of his new product How to Live Anywhere. I’ve just read the e-book thoroughly, and I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed by the work he’s done. I won’t say more, I’d rather let the interview do the talking. I’m sure the e-book isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in pursuing a location independent life, How to Live Anywhere can help you.

Anyway, onward to the Interview. We spoke about Karol’s globe-trotting exploits, his changed attitude toward consumerism, and how to live anywhere in the world.

Everett Bogue: Karol, I’m fascinated by your ability to live and work from anywhere — many of your techniques I’ve been able to apply to my own business. As I understand your goals have morphed significantly over the last few years. How has your perspective on making a living shifted?

Karol Gajda: Thanks Everett! My living has always been based online, but I didn’t really start taking advantage of that until a couple years ago. Instead of embracing the opportunity to live and work anywhere I bought a big house, an expensive car, and useless toys. As you know I wrote more about that (and about how I got rid of everything) in the Minimalist Quick Start Guide here on Far Beyond The Stars.

Karol: My perspective has shifted from a blatant buy-buy-buy consumer to a careful consumer. I still buy things, but I live out of a 32 Liter backpack so I’ve given myself limits. For example, instead of buying a bunch of physical books I have an Amazon Kindle, which I can now use in almost any country I’m visiting. I’ve bought books while in India, Thailand, and Poland (which is where I am currently.)

Everett: I first interviewed you last year. I understand you’ve had quite a journey since. Can you give us an update on where you are now in your travels, where you’ve been, where you’re going?

Karol: Yeah, during that time I was in a small break between New Zealand and India, getting some vaccinations and catching up with friends/family for the holidays. Shortly after that interview I left for India to learn how to build guitars by hand. Technically I don’t call myself an ultralight packer anymore because I have a guitar in tow. But hey, I built it and it rules. The sacrifice of this piece of baggage is worth it. After 2 months in India I went to Thailand for 40 days. I was in Bangkok during the early parts of the protests, which unfortunately got violent and deadly about a week after I left Thailand for Poland. And I’m currently in Poland until October. I was born here, but my family left when I was a baby so I’m back to learn the language better and get to know some of my family. After Poland I’m going back to the US for about a month and likely Panama for 3-4 months after that. :)

Everett: How do you support yourself in order to live anywhere?

Karol: The easiest way to put it is Internet Marketing, but that’s such a general term. Over the past few years I’ve focused more on niche Web sites, doing affiliate marketing and niche info products. 80% of my income over the past 10 years has been through affiliate marketing. One of my favorite approaches is to use an infoproduct as a lead generator and then promoting infoproducts/memberships through affiliate marketing on the back end. For example, selling (or giving away) a small eBook about unique date ideas, and then promoting a dating site (or other dating products) on the backend.

And now, as of today, I’m launching my first product from my blog teaching people how to do what I do. The philosophy, logistics, and specific making money aspects of living anywhere.

Everett: What is your number one priority in releasing How to Live Anywhere?

Karol: When I started my blog in 2009 the goal was to help 100 people achieve Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom, which is not defined by me, but by you. To me it’s the ability to live anywhere. To somebody else it might be to have a home base for most of the year, but move to Mexico or Japan or France for 3 months every year. It boils down to being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whoever you want. How To Live Anywhere is essentially my life’s work, and can teach people how to make those kinds of awesome things happen.

Everett: In your mind, what is the single most important people should be doing with their work online if their goal is to live anywhere?

Karol: The quick answer is simple: provide value. But those words can come across as a bit empty sometimes. How exactly do we provide value? All of us have something unique we can teach people. For example, you started this blog and business by teaching people how to pare down their possessions and become minimalist. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Maybe you’re an amazing singer. You can teach that online. Maybe you rock at gardening. You can teach people your gardening secrets online. What I would say is don’t be like everybody else who is in your niche. Without showcasing your unique voice (we all have a unique voice) you’ll just get lost in the online crowd. If you’re truly giving people good content and giving us your personality, you will be heard through all the noise.

Everett: I imagine you’ve had to make some interesting lifestyle choices in order to live anywhere. Can you think of an unconventional strategy that you’ve had to employ to move anywhere?

Karol: Because of the way I travel I don’t need to be a minimalist. I’m visiting places for more than one month so I can chill out. Checking big baggage wouldn’t be a problem because I wouldn’t be lugging it around much. I’m not constantly on the move. That said, I live out of a 32 Liter backpack because minimalism makes life, whether you’re traveling or not, easier. Those of us in the minimalist community don’t think of it as unconventional at all. But this is a very small community. In general, whenever somebody sees my bag of possessions the first thing they always ask is, “Where is all your other stuff?” My answer: “This is it!” Minimalism is still quite an unconventional strategy even though it is becoming more mainstream.

Everett: Have you had to sacrifice anything?

Karol: Obviously I don’t get to see a lot of my friends back in the US. But then, a lot of my friends are constantly traveling as well. I do try to make it back to Michigan every New Year’s Eve because we throw a big party and reconnect. As far as things like technology, I’ve had to make no sacrifices. We live in an amazing time because so much can be done online, and a laptop is all you need. I haven’t even used a cell phone for 4 months. It has been fantastic!

Everett: Finally, what do you think the single most powerful benefit of living anywhere is?

Karol: Experiencing new people and new places teaches us to respect others and ourselves more. I used to sit at home all day, watching TV, going out with friends drinking, and stuff like that. The only lesson I learned from that is I wasn’t living life, life was living (and killing) me. By getting out into the world and living in new places I connect with new people (I used to be a big introvert and traveling has forced me to change that) and reconnect with myself. What I want out of life is awesome experiences. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but the money I make is only important in that it allows me to seek out new people and experiences.


Be sure to check out Karol Gajda’s How to Live Anywhere, available today.

Colin Wright on Minimalist Business Networking

April 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How minimalism can help you focus on networking

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Colin Wright is one of my favorite minimalists. He’s built a sustainable design studio with a 6-figure income, while moving to a new continent every 4 months. He blogs at Exile Lifestyle about lifestyle design, minimalism, and working from anywhere.

Since leaving the United States last year, he’s been through dozens of countries: Buenos Aires, Peru, Australia and now New Zealand. Meanwhile, he reduced his physical possessions to just 51 things.

I interviewed Colin for the first time last year, when he was still in South America.

An interview on minimalism, networking, and building awesome relationships.

When you’re building a location independent business, it’s incredibly important to develop good networking skills.

Colin is one of the networking masters — using his skills to get himself onto TV in New Zealand, build strong relationships with clients, and build network of remarkable bloggers to support his business.

Today, Colin released his first premium e-book, Networking Awesomely. This is a follow up to his two other two free e-books available on his site.

While Colin’s e-book isn’t exactly minimalist focused, I can’t stress how important it is to build strong relationships when building your location independent business. I learned a number of important networking strategies while reading my preview copy of Networking Awesomely.

I imagine that this e-book isn’t for everyone! That’s okay. I enjoyed learning how to network better, and if you’re into making human business connections, this can teach you more than you need to know.

Included in the e-book is 26 short essays by other rockstar networkers, including myself! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to contribute to this project.

How to Network Awesomely with Colin Wright.

Anyway, here’s the interview. We spoke about building relationships in unexpected places, helping people, and how minimalism can lead you to focus on making strong connections.

Everett Bogue: You relocate to a new continent every few months. What is one strategy that you have for meeting people in new places?

Colin Wright: A big part of meeting people in a completely unfamiliar place where you don’t know anyone is to figure out a way to get yourself on the right people’s radar and position yourself from the get-go as someone worth knowing.

This can mean many things, but for me this usually means getting in contact with people of influence who live where I’ve moved and then meeting more people through that group.

In Argentina I made a lot of fantastic connections through a social network called A Small World, and in particular through one connector named Justo, who was also a member. Justo and his wife love to introduce people around and have visitors over for tea and conversation, and they are also entrepreneurs, so they run with the kind of people I want to meet.

In New Zealand I made an appearance on a widely-watched morning TV show, which led to hundreds of emails, invitations and new opportunities. Being on TV gave me an immediate advantage in networking in that people knew something about me and what I did, and could even recognize me in public. Boom, instant network.

Doing a quick search on Twitter to see who is active in your area is a great way to meet people, too, as generally folks who are active on social networks are more likely to want to make new connections.

Everett: What is one way our readers can break the ice with a new contact in a
strange place?

Colin: Do something nice for them.

Invite them out to an event you’re going to, share a meal, offer your services, whatever. If you pay it forward a bit, the other person will know right away that you aren’t a threat, and in fact can be an asset to them. This gives them incentive to help you out where they can, as well.

Everett: Can being minimalist help you focus on meeting people and developing quality relationships?

Colin: Absolutely. If you are focused on accumulating possessions, generally you spend more time trying to earn earn earn and the dollar becomes the main priority.

If you are focused on meeting new people and having novel experiences, on the other hand, money ceases to be quite so important, making it easier not to be such a penny-pincher and to take opportunities as they come along.

As a minimalist, I find I’m also a lot less stressed out, which is great for my mood when dealing with other people.

Everett: Are there any common networking practices that you’ve learned to avoid?

Colin: Yes! The hard sell drives me crazy.

You’ve seen this before, I’m sure; somebody with a big personality comes on very strong, hamfistedly dominates the conversation and then immediately focuses on making a sale, be it a product, service or idea.

What’s worse, you’re at a wedding. Or a funeral. Or the aquarium. You couldn’t care less about what he’s talking about, but he’s been told to be persistent and to guide the conversation and to use certain marketing tactics that more or less guilt or shame you into buying.

Does this seem like a good way to build a network? Even if this guy sells you something, you won’t want to ever hang out with him again, much less be a long-term customer.

Screw that.

Everett: The Internet has changed how we network on a fundamental level. In
your view, how has networking changed since the good old days?

Colin: I think we have a much wider array of tools to choose from, and therefore a wider array of tools that can be abused and used incorrectly.

That’s not to say that social media and new technologies shouldn’t be used for networking – on the contrary, they are amazingly powerful and I make use of them every day! – but to focus completely on metrics and numbers and ‘Followers’ over valuable connections and real, legitimate relationships is a BIG mistake that far too many people make.

Like the Buddhists say, everything in moderation.

Everett: What’s the one most effective way that you apply your energy to build relationships online?

Colin: I create content that people get value from.

Blog posts, videos, ebooks, Tweets about interesting things that I read…all of these things allow me to show my expertise on various subjects while at the same time helping other people gain more expertise in those fields. To put this kind of information out into the ether really builds up one’s visibility and networking prestige.

Everett: Ultimately, what do you think is the most awesome way to spend your energy when networking?

Colin: Out having fun, of course! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, anyway.

If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.


Thanks so much for the interview Colin.

If you’re interested in the cutting edge of networking from anywhere in the world, you can learn more about Networking Awesomely at Exile Lifestyle.

The Power of Unautomating Your Finances: Interview with Adam Baker

March 9th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How adopting a minimalist approach of unautomating your finances can get you out of debt.

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Adam Baker and his daughter Milligan

If anyone can teach you the skills to get yourself out of debt, it’s Adam Baker of the blog Man Vs. Debt.

Over the last year, Baker, his wife Courtney, and their daughter Milligan, paid off all of their consumer debt, sold all of their ‘crap’, and traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. Now they’re back in Indiana, and Baker has written an amazing and simple e-book on taking control of your financial situation.

I don’t talk much about finances her on my blog, usually my advice is quite simple: stop buying stupid stuff, start living your life.

Luckily, Baker goes into a great deal more depth in his new e-book Unautomate Your Finances: A Simple, Passionate Approach to Money.

I’ve been a huge fan of Baker’s, before I even started writing Far Beyond The Stars. His writing on Man Vs. Debt and as a contributing writer on Get Rich Slowly helped inspire me during my own journey towards minimalism.

My favorite part of the Unautomate Your Finances is Baker’s signature 2-page minimalist budgeting system, which is the simplest method I’ve seen to force yourself to acknowledge the money you’re actually spending during every transaction.

Today, I’m honored to present this interview I did with Baker over the weekend. We discussed the benefits of Unautomation, the danger of subscriptions, and how Baker sold all his ‘crap’ and traveled the world with his family.

Everett Bogue: Your e-book is called Unautomate Your Finances, and your theory of Unautomation is heavily discussed throughout the e-book. How can Unautomation help get you out of debt?

Adam Baker: Unautomation is simply any time you are willing to trade convenience in for increased consciousness (basically the opposite of what we do when we automate). It can help people get out debt in many ways!

First, it raises awareness of our situations. This is often the first obstacles in coming to grips with just how destructive debt can be in our lives. Unautomation also encourages us to focus on one goal at a time. Often, we never pay off our debt, because we are juggling so many of our “expected” responsibilities. We may be expected to live a certain life, save a certain amount, or do a certain set of things.

By ramping up and honing in our focus, we can start to really chew away at our debt.

Everett: What is one powerful way to Unautomate your finances?

Baker: In the guide I cover at least 27 “core action steps”. However, one of my favorites is adopting a simple budget.

Courtney and I primarily budget by hand, using two sheets of paper and a very straight forward system. It’s worked wonders for us and budgeting this way is not only easy, but it raises our awareness more than any other method!

Everett: I love your approach to stuff (sell your crap) in UYS. How can a healthy relationship with stuff help you get out of debt?

Baker: Excess stuff creates all sorts of burdens. Clutter begets more clutter. And excess stuff takes space to store and money to maintain. It trains us to want more and more. Look, there’s nothing wrong with having possessions, but like you pointed out we’ve crossed the healthy point as a society.

As a bonus, most of us can generate up several hundred dollars (or even more) when we go to actually purge our possessions. This can be used to aggressively attack our other goals!

Everett: What are some of the things that you got rid of when you were downsizing?

Baker: Oh gosh… Well, we really got rid of everything! We started with big obvious things… excess furniture, electronics, a television, and even one of our cars. But we kept going! Eventually we took what was an apartment full of crap and turned it into two backpacks to start our travels.

We’ve accumulated some more stuff since coming back home, but we’re desperately trying to fend off our urges to consume. :-)

Everett: You talk in your e-book about how subscriptions can take an unnoticed toll on our finances. What are some of the unnecessary subscriptions that we sign up for?

Baker: Cell phone contracts, cable services, rental leases, magazines, newspapers, online apps, widgets, bells, whistles, monitoring services, etc…

Let me be very clear, though. There are plenty of cases where subscriptions are necessary and/or desirable! My suggestion is to mentally purge your subscriptions and start from scratch. Examine them all and figure out which ones you really want/need.

Also, be sure to look for creative solutions and/or alternatives to avoid them (this is sometimes not hard at all). Be careful of signing long-term contracts on anything. 2-3 months from now your “necessary” expense could quickly become not so important!

Everett: Leo Babauta discusses in the forward of Unautomate Your Finances about how he used many Unautomation techniques to get himself out of debt, but now he’s back to automation. At what point do you think it’s acceptable, or even advantageous, to go back to automating your finances?

Baker: I think automation is extremely powerful when applied to healthy, sustainable finances habits and when it is reevaluated on a regular basis. But we have to be careful of looking at automation as a solution to our problems or financial issues. It’s not a solution. It can be a powerful tool, but it only magnifies the existing habits we have!

Installing the empowering habits in the first place often takes the opposite of automation!

Everett: Thanks so much for this opportunity Baker. Good luck with your e-book launch!


Adam Baker’s new e-book Unautomate Your Finances: A Simple, Passionate Approach to Money is available now for only $17.

Because I’m a huge supporter of Adam Baker’s work, I’ve decided to become an affiliate for his work. 50% of the sale price goes to support my work here at Far Beyond The Stars.

If this interview helped you, I’d love if you could share it with anyone you know who’s having trouble with their finances.

Thank you.

Special Launch-day Bonus (March 9th ONLY!): I’ve just been informed that the first 100 people to purchase the e-book get access to UStream with Baker himself, where he will discuss any questions you have about the e-book and finances in general. Don’t miss out!

Joshua Becker on the Power of Rational Minimalism

February 26th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Simplify makes it clear that that minimalism isn’t just for the crazies.

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the most common comments I receive on my work is very simple:

“I wish I could be a minimalist, but I have kids and I don’t live in a city.”

Until Monday of this week, I didn’t have a good answer to that question. My idea of minimalism is extremely specific: I don’t want a house, a car, or things. My idea of being minimalist is having the freedom to get on a plane and go anywhere. But the reality is, not everyone has the same goals as me.

To be honest, sometimes I wonder if I will have the same goals as me. When I get older do I want to keep living out of a bag? Probably not!

Then, along came Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist with his brilliant book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. My mind was promptly blown. I didn’t realize that there were so many different ways to approach being minimalist. It’s true though, minimalism is for everyone.

Joshua and I might be on other side of the minimalist spectrum from me, but our ideas could not be more similar. His e-book makes it extremely clear that anyone can pursue a minimalist life.

How to make minimalism fit your ideal world: Joshua Becker on the power of rational minimalism.

Everett Bogue: Joshua, you’re a huge advocate of ‘rational minimalism’. This is awesome, because I’m definitely the opposite of rational (throwing away all of my stuff, jumping on planes). Can you take a moment and explain to our readers what the difference is between a rational minimalist, and someone like me?

Joshua Becker: Since deciding to become minimalist two years ago, I have talked to a lot of people. During these conversations, I began to see a trend: many people were sure they would never become a “minimalist,” yet they loved the simplistic principles of minimalism. This intrigued me.

So I began to further probe their objections to “minimalism.” As I did, I found that they had a very bleak view of minimalism. They pictured rooms with little furniture or closets with only 7 shirts. They found the principles attractive, but not the practice. They quickly concluded that minimalism (as they defined it in their minds) was not consistent with their lifestyle or values. Ironically, I agreed… I didn’t want their description of minimalism either.

I began to address their concerns in my conversations and on my blog contending that minimalism does not have to look the way that they described. Instead, minimalism needs to fit your values, I would tell them. I began to define minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things you most value and the removal of anything that distracts you from it.” It became less about removing possessions just to remove possessions… and became more about finding a lifestyle of simplicity that works for you and your family. People began to rally around that definition.

One day, a website linked to my blog with his phrase, “I like this guy’s idea of minimalism. It seems so rational.” And the name stuck: rational minimalism.

Everett, to be honest, I’m not all that sure “rational minimalism” is all that different from what you practice. To me, the term “rational” gives freedom to individuals “to use reason” in determining what possessions they keep and what they remove. You value the mobility and freedom that comes from fitting everything into one backpack… and have found a practice of minimalism that is rational for your lifestyle. It fits you perfectly. For me, I needed to find a practice of minimalism that valued my family, my faith, and my relationships… and it was always going to look different than yours. That doesn’t make one rational and one irrational – it makes both of them rational, even though they look very different.

Everett: So, wait a minute. There are minimalists out there who don’t want to throw out all of their stuff, hop on a plane and live and work from anywhere?!

Joshua: I guess that’s a good way to put it. Everybody has different personalities and different lifestyle preferences. That’s no surprise. Some love nature, others love the city. Some like to travel, others like to stay home. Some like digital photography, others like scrapbooking. Some enjoy the mobility of having no family, others want the stability of a large family.

Because there are so many different personalities and value structures, there is no one-size-fits-all description of minimalism. The actual practice of minimalism will always change from one individual to another based on their values. But the principles will always remain the same: remove the nonessential material clutter from your life so that the things that are most important to you can truly shine!

Everett: What is one way that rational minimalists are using minimalism?

Joshua: It seems the easiest place for people to start is in the removal of unnecessary physical belongings from the home and/or office. Starting with the physical, visible clutter is always the easiest step for people to see. Many of the stories that are shared on our blog begin with the realization that the “stuff” in their life is crowding out the important things in their life. Therefore, most people begin there.

However, what they don’t realize is that the process of beginning minimalist forces you to identify your values. You can’t remove the nonessentials until you begin to identify the essentials. Naturally, this process of identifying what is most important to you starts to spill over into other areas of your life. For example, it starts to change the way you spend your time, set your priorities, and how you spend your money.

Everett: How can our readers put that technique into play?

Joshua: In my e-book, I present 7 guiding principles to help anyone take this step of simplifying their life and experiencing the freedom that comes with it. Each of these principles is a direct result of specific lessons that we have learned. Those 7 principles will more adequately answer your question in detail.

But in the meantime, I would challenge anybody to begin this process by further pursuing the benefits of minimalism. Read what others have written about their experiences with minimalism and see if the results ring true in your own heart. As they discuss the freedom in life that they now enjoy… does that sound consistent? As they share about newfound freedom from stress… does that sound attractive? There are a number of blogs that represent the experiences of people who have chosen a minimalist lifestyle. And in a matter of minutes, you could begin reading them. See if your heart starts to warm to the idea.

Everett: What’s the biggest challenge that you faced on your journey towards being minimalist, how did you overcome it?

Joshua: The biggest challenge in our journey came immediately following the Christmas holiday six months after starting our adventure. We had just finished systematically minimalizing each room in our house and our home was finally clear of clutter… just in time for the Christmas presents to start arriving. It began with our gifts to each other. But then came more gifts from parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our house became a cluttered mess, almost overnight. I was absolutely ready to throw in the towel saying, “What’s the use? We can’t win. This lifestyle is too difficult – especially with small children.”

Actually, if you were to read through our blog, you’ll notice almost two months of absence following December, 2008. Then in early March, I received a surprise comment via the blog from a reader that simply said, “Come back, Josh.” It turned out to be all the encouragement that I needed. With those three simple words, I was reminded why I chose the lifestyle, why I began blogging in the first place, and why it was not just possible, it was essential.

Let’s face it. Small children produce a lot of “stuff.” They outgrow their toys and their clothes. They color pages that they want to display on the refrigerator. They bring home artwork from school and homework that says “Excellent!” They receive gifts from friends and relatives on almost every holiday. It is truly a never-ending challenge… but the rewards of sticking to a simple, minimalist lifestyle are so worth it… for them and us.

Everett: What do you hope your e-book will help people accomplish?

Joshua: My hope for this e-book is that it will help make the principles of simplicity and minimalism attractive to the masses. I hope that the principles in the book will give people a freedom to find a “rational minimalism” that fits their unique lifestyle. And that it will give them the practical tips that they need to get started.

After reading the e-book, one woman put it this way, “I suppose I thought differently about minimalism in the past. I thought it was something that was unattainable for me as a mom of 3. After all a family of 5 generates a lot of stuff! But the more I thought about it, Minimalist really does describe the lifestyle I am after.”

That is my hope for this e-book – that people and families would begin to embrace a simple, rational, minimalist lifestyle and experience the freedom that comes with it. We have never regretted our decision and have desired to present this lifestyle as attractive to others.

Everett: Thanks so much for this opportunity Joshua, it was great speaking with you!


You can visit Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist.

You can preview the first chapter of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life here.

Take a moment to share this post, if you enjoyed it. Thank you for your help

Chris Guillebeau: How to Run A Very Small Business

February 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Location independence, passive income, healthy profit margins. Chris Guillebeau can teach you how to succeed in a very small way.

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Chris Guillebeau is one of the more remarkable people on earth. He’s risen to ‘overnight’ blogging fame, inked a book deal, visited over 125 countries, and he wants to teach you how to achieve world domination.

It’s not hard to see why so many people are part of his unconventional community; his ideas actually work. I was a skeptic, and then I tried it myself. You can start a Very Small Business and start producing passive income in a very short time.

Today I’m excited to present you with the interview I did with Chris as he was flying out of Manila airport to Papua New Guinea last week.

We spoke about strategies for success, and some of the common mistakes people make when launching a Very Small Business.


Everett Bogue: Chris, you and I are both running Very Small Businesses, but can you take a moment to define what a Very Small business is for our readers?

Chris Guillebeau: I think of it as a for-profit project that exists to a) create value for happy customers and b) provide a steady income for the business owner without becoming like a job for him or her. Very Small Businesses tend to have no employees other than the other, or perhaps one or two additional employees. In other words, it’s a lifestyle business instead of a business focused primarily on growth.

I also think of the following characteristics as being part of a successful Very Small Business:

  • Location Independent (can be operated from anywhere)
  • Some Degree of Passive Income (don’t trade time for money)
  • Healthy profit margins (don’t compete on price!)

These characteristics are optional and don’t apply to everyone, but it will be easier to get a new venture going if they are met. Another optional characteristic (but important for many of us) is connecting the business to a cause greater than itself. In my case I am working with Charity: Water on a project to raise funds for water wells in Ethiopia.

Everett: How can starting a Very Small Business help you leave your day job?

Chris: The most important thing in starting a business is reducing your dependency on the day job, whether or not you leave it. But naturally, if you can replace at least 50% of your income through a side project, you might want to think seriously about taking the leap.

Have you seen any Very Small Business ideas (other than your own) take off lately?

Chris: There are so many! I recently asked for case studies for an upcoming ‘Empire Building Kit’ project, and I heard about 300 examples in a couple of days.  Among others, I like what these people are doing:

Everett: Does the Internet make all of this possible?

It certainly helps! I’ve made my living through the internet for 10+ years now. One of the best features of internet-based businesses is that you can get instant feedback on the feasibility of your business for a very small cost (sometimes even free). It also helps to keep expenses low, which is especially important when you’re starting without much capital.

Everett: What are some of the big mistakes that most people make when they launch a Very Small Business?

Chris: Here’s a short list of big mistakes — I think they’re all important:

  1. Failure to consider why other people should care about what they’re offering
  2. Failure to think carefully about how they’ll actually get paid
  3. Failure to develop a strategy to market to existing customers (it’s much easier to sell to someone who’s already purchased something)
  4. Poor follow-through or simply giving up too early

If you can avoid those four mistakes, especially #1, you’ll be off to a much better start than a lot of people.

Everett: Is there anyone in particular who inspires you right now?

Chris: There are so many people! These days I am mostly encouraged by my readers, who regularly write in from all over the world. A few other people:

I read Richard Branson’s autobiography on this trip. I’m not sure why I’ve never followed him much before — he’s really quite amazing, and definitely a major role model for unconventional entrepreneurs.

Paul Farmer is the ultimate social entrepreneur. My friend Scott Harrison is doing a great job at creating a social movement around addressing the global water crisis.

And last but not least, I always mention my personal heroes, Dr. Gary and Susan Parker, who have lived in West Africa for more than 20 years now. Nothing I do in business or anything else compares with their great work, but I hope to eventually have at least 10% as much impact on the world as they do.

You’ve spoken about the pressure to hire more people for your business, why did you decide not to?

Chris: Because I’m not good at managing people. I like leadership but not management. I want to create new things instead of manage existing things — that’s where I derive my energy from. Also, I chose not to hire people simply because it’s unnecessary. I can make all the money I need without expanding. I travel to 25 countries a year and work from everywhere I go. I’m writing these answers to you while sitting on the floor in Manila airport, waiting to fly to Papua New Guinea. I’d rather be doing this than managing employees, virtual or otherwise.

Everett: Which of your unconventional products has had the most success? Why do you think that is?

Chris: Good question. I was surprised to see that Frequent Flyer Master quickly became the #1 seller. (Credit where credit is due to Jonathan Fields, who predicted this.) In retrospect I think it was because the benefit was extremely clear — buy this product for $49, get at least 25k miles or enough for a free flight. Easy to understand and compelling for the right audience.

The $100 Business Forum, which is more of a community group than a product, also did very well in selling out in 90 minutes after the launch. We’re setting up more groups for later in the year, but I want to be careful we don’t do too much too fast with that.

Everett: What goals do you have for your business in 2010?

Chris: I want to double revenue, double the active client base, and increase the total product line to about $1,000 in offerings. The biggest product launch will be the upcoming Empire Building Kit, where I’m planning to reverse-engineer the entire process of creating a lifestyle business at the $50k-150k / year level. Right now I’m collecting case studies for that and outlining screen-capture videos as I travel.

After those things are done, the second half of the year will focus much more on my other goals. My first book is coming out in September, and I’m going on an Unconventional Book Tour to every state and province in the U.S. and Canada. Then of course I also have to visit 20+ new countries to continue making progress on my journey to every country in the world. All of these projects are fairly intensive, but they’re also a lot of fun. Without the business, of course, all of the other things would be much more difficult.

Everett: Chris, thanks so much for the opportunity to speak to with you.


Working for Yourself Guide

If you’re interested in starting your own very small business, I highly suggest Chris’s excellent Unconventional Guide to Working For Yourself.

You can visit Chris Guillebeau at his blog The Art of Non-Conformity, and also follow him on Twitter.

Help spread the word about this post, give it a retweet before you go!

An Interview with Karol Gajda: Incredible Lightness of Traveling

January 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every once in awhile I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist. A couple of prominent minimalists I’ve interviewed in the post: Leo Babauta on the liberation of being minimalist, and Colin Wright about working from anywhere in sexy shoes.

This week I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Karol Gajda, the blogger behind Ridiculously Extraordinary. Karol is a perpetual traveler, living out of a bag and working from everywhere. He leaves for India in a few days. He hopes to help 100 people begin to live extraordinary lives through his blog.

We discussed tips for traveling lighter and supporting yourself while you’re on the road.

Everett Bogue: What made you decide to live a ridiculously extraordinary life?

Karol Gajda: It was either that or continue being normal.

But seriously, initially my only goal was to not have to get a job out of college by working for myself full time. That was almost 10 years ago. I didn’t really take advantage of the Ridiculously Extraordinary freedom I had by traveling extensively until recently.

Everett: You’re headed to India in a few weeks, according to your travel itinerary on your blog. Can you give us a short rundown of your travel plans?

Karol: I have a one way ticket and very general plans. I don’t even have my accommodations set yet.

My first month will be in Goa. A guy from the UK set up a little guitar building school there and I’m going to build my own guitar. If I love Goa I’ll stay there for a while after that.

Otherwise I’m not sure. I may visit Thailand after India, but again, it’s all up in the air. I am definitely visiting Poland when it starts warming up. I was born in Poland, but haven’t spent an extensive amount of time there. I do speak the language, but I’m looking forward to learning to speak much better.

Everett: I recently watched your interview with Baker, where you discussed traveling with three quick-dry shirts. Can you explain more about your approach to clothing while you’re traveling?

Karol: My approach is simple: take the absolute bare minimum and hand wash everything.

Having less makes my life easy. My single pair of convertible pants may look funny, but I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow.

Everett: What other essentials do you travel with?

Karol: My laptop so I can get work done. I do enjoy seeing the sights, of course, but I also love working in new places. To some that defeats the purpose of travel. But that’s the beauty of being free. I can do what I want.

If I want to work on the road perpetually I can. If I want to come back “home” (which is nowhere at the moment) I can. I’m not bound by the limits of savings. That said, I’m a pretty budget conscious traveler.

Everett: Can you recommend one way that we can all travel lighter?

Karol: Yes, my best tip if you want to travel light is to get a smaller carry on. Preferably a backpack. Mine is 32L. Then force yourself to fit everything you need in there.

Everett: One of the hardest aspects of traveling is being able to support yourself financially on the road, how do you accomplish this?

Karol: I’ve been working online for myself for almost 10 years now. It’s a little bit more difficult while traveling because of sometimes spotty Internet and because there are a lot of cool things to see and people to hang out with. I’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult if I’m constantly on the move so I’ve reassessed my travel goals. From now on I’m staying in each new place for at least a month. (Unless, of course, I just don’t like it.)

Everett: Can you suggest one method we can employ to support themselves financially while we’re traveling abroad?

Karol: That’s a great question, and one that’s at the forefront of a lot of prospective traveler’s minds. A lot of travelers I met in Australia saved up enough to travel for a few months and then found jobs along the way to extend the travel.

If you don’t already have an online business and want to get started traveling right away, I think that’s the easiest way.

Everett: When you first started traveling, did you bring anything with you that you thought was a necessity, but it turned out not to be?

Karol: Well, a couple of years ago I went on a 3 week US tour with my friend’s band, and I took a full suitcase. Not a small one either. I think I packed a full 2 weeks of clothes. 14 shirts, 14 underwear, 14 socks! Plus an extra pair of pants and 2 hoodies.

I’ve always been fairly minimalistic in other aspects of my life so I don’t think I ever had any other extras to take besides too many clothes.

Everett: And finally, can you think of one aspect of our lives that many of us can change, which can help us lead to life that is more free?

Karol: It’s difficult to state something that everybody needs to change. And my goals aren’t really aligned with telling people what to do. The most important advice I can offer someone is to take action. If you want to start a business, start it. If you want to write a book, write it.

If you want to travel the world, buy a ticket and go.

Karol Gajda writes the blog Ridiculously Extraordinary, a must read resource for anyone who wants to get unstuck and begin living to the fullest.

An Interview with Chris Baskind on The Minimalist Century

December 9th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Every week on Far Beyond The Stars I interview an important person on Being Minimalist. Last week I interviewed the author and minimalist legend Leo Babauta. Do you want to be interviewed? Drop me a tweet.

This week I spoke with Chris Baskind. Chris is the director of web operations at Vida Verde Media and writes the blogs More Minimal and Lighter Footstep. We spoke about the advantages of going car free and the dawn of the new minimalist century.

On to the interview!


Everett Bogue: You’ve been blogging about being minimal for a number of years now, how has your approach to being a minimalist changed over that time?

Chris Baskind: I started writing More Minimal back in 2006. To be honest, its take on minimalism was a little scattershot, but it lead me to building Lighter Footstep, a green website with a strong “use less, do-it-yourself” emphasis. If my approach has changed, it’s that minimalism — or simplicity, if you prefer the term — is now fundamental to how I look at everything. I still write about green and environmental topics, but these flow from my conviction that a more minimal lifestyle isn’t just necessary to restore balance to society: It’s a healthy and fulfilling way to live on its own merits.

Everett: Do you have any current minimalist goals?

Chris: I still set goals for the same reason I look for street signs: they help you know where you are, and which way to go next. But I agree with people such as Leo Babauta that they can be a trap, too. Minimalism is an ongoing process, not a series of achievements. That being said: I still have too much stuff, and plan to further reduce my personal clutter. I’ll be exploring minimalist cooking. Most of all, I want to spend more time talking to people who are also in the process of radical simplification. I learn more things from my readers than I have time to write down.

Everett: Do you have any areas of being minimalist that you struggle with, or wish you were better at?

Chris: Productivity. I think we all struggle with this to some degree. I’m a naturally curious person, and am happy to chase every rabbit that happens past. The richness of my online life isn’t always helpful in this area. Focus is crucial.

Everett: You’re a big advocate for a car free culture, but you live in Pensacola Florida. I imagine that Pensacola isn’t a huge biker town, like Portland or New York. What sort of challenges do you face getting around on a bike in Florida?

Chris: Let me start by saying every town can be a good cycling town. It’s just a matter of getting out there and riding. Not everyone has access to multimode transportation — I can’t ride my bike to a train station here in Pensacola — but the vast majority of things anyone needs is with a few miles of the front door. Perhaps you can’t commute to work, but you can run errands in the evening or on weekends. Here, I’ve had to learn which businesses are bike-friendly. It’s tougher to find suitable places to lock a bike in a small city. There are fewer bike lanes, and people still see my cargo bike and my riding gear as an oddity. At least these tend to start some interesting conversations.

Everett: Can you recommend one way that readers can begin to transition to a car-free lifestyle in car dominated cities?

Chris: The big mind-shift is the first few times you use the bike to do something that would normally be car errands. There’s a real satisfaction when you realize your bike isn’t just a toy: it can get work done. You can do this on pretty much any bike that rolls, but I’m a big believer in being properly geared. Your bike should be safe and comfortable in any weather. That means going out and buying rain gear, proper lights so you’re not chained to daylight, racks and panniers so you can carry groceries, and tools, so you feel confident relying on your equipment. None of this stuff is cheap, but a full cycling kit only costs the equivalent of a couple car payments. Make the investment, and you’re more likely to ride.

Everett: In a recent post on More Minimal you wrote that we are entering a minimalist century. Can you describe how you came to that realization?

Chris: Every century brings change. The 20th century was all about BIG, particularly in the consumption of energy. Practically everything we think of as “progress” is predicated on the ready availability of cheap energy, which has so far meant fossil fuels. Our demand for energy and raw materials is beginning to exceed a very finite supply, and things simply cannot continue as they have. Sustainability isn’t a goal: it’s the law of nature.

People say, “Well, we’ll invent new technologies before things run out.” Our technology is amazing, but it has its limits. We let the energy crisis of the 1970s pass without really changing much, and the tools we’ll need to sustain what we all consider an acceptable standard of living require huge lead times in development and testing. It’s too late to expect innovation to be the sole answer. We’ll have to learn to use less — period. This is the heart of minimalism. Whether we like it or not, we’ll all be minimalists in the 21st century.

Everett: What changes do you think the average person needs to make in their lives to bring themselves into this new minimal century?

Chris: The first and most important change is to decouple the consumerist tendency to equate “lots” with happiness, and “less’ with want. Minimalism isn’t mere austerity — it’s being open to new ways of thinking about things and letting go of the non-essential. This leaves us more time and resources to enjoy the rest. What makes sense will be different for each person or household. For me, part of the answer was getting out of my car. So now I have the resources I’d otherwise pump into insurance, car repairs, and gasoline left to save or apply to other things. I can buy better quality clothes and food. I can pay down debt. Find something that equates to meaningful change and do it now, while the choice is still optional.

Everett: Can you recommend one simple habit that our readers can adopt as a first step in moving into a minimalist century?

Chris: Learn to move under your own power. Walk or start riding a bicycle for something other than recreation, even if it’s just short-range errands. Equip yourself. Learn the safest routes. Remind your body of the beauty of human motion, and it will quickly become habit. We needn’t be slaves to our cars and all the trappings of an automobile-based society. You’ll be healthier for it, your life will become simpler, and you’ll be creating personal equity in the Minimalist Century.


Thanks Chris for the interview! Don’t forget to check out More Minimal and Lighter Footstep.

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An Interview with Leo Babauta, Being Minimalist: “It’s truly liberating.”

December 2nd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Every week on Far Beyond The Stars I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist. Last week I spoke to Colin Wright about what you take with you when you work from anywhere. Next week I’ll be speaking with Chris Baskind of More Minimal.

I spoke with the minimalist legend Leo Babauta. For those who don’t know him, Leo writes the top-100 blog Zen Habits and has another smaller blog called Mnmlist. He’s the author of a slew of books on living a simple minimalist existence, including his e-book A Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life, and his print book The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life.

We spoke about doing less of the unimportant, the illusion of control over life, and a few ways you can be more minimalist today.

I’ve decided to release this interview under an uncopyright license. This interview is copyright free, which means that you can distribute, republish, source from, even profit from this article without any permission from me. If you enjoyed this interview, please share it with as many people as you can. There’s no need to link back, but I’d love it if you could.

On to the interview!


Everett Bogue: When you first started on your journey towards becoming minimalist what was the most profound change that you made in your life?

Leo Babauta: It was the realization that all the crap in my life that I’d been buying and building up and treasuring … just wasn’t worth it. It’s the stuff that’s advertised and hyped, that we think makes us happy, but that really doesn’t. I’ve learned that I don’t need any of that — all I need are a few essentials, and the time to do things that I love doing, to spend with the people I love most.

Everett: Do you have any current goals that you’ve set for yourself in regards to living a more minimalist life?

Leo: No. I no longer focus on goals — I think people are too focused on destinations and not on the journey itself. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to do anything important — it just means I’m focused on doing something important right now, something I love doing and that excites me.

That will lead to something amazing, I’m sure, but what it leads to, I have no idea. There’s actually no way to know … the idea that we can control the outcome is an illusion. We cannot predict or control the future, so I’ve given up trying.

However … to answer the question fully … minimalism for me is a learning process, and I’m continually realizing that I don’t need things I thought I needed. For example, when I move to San Francisco in June 2010, I plan to go carless, because I really don’t think a car is necessary or desirable. (Note: I now live on Guam, where I walk and bike to most places but it’s much harder to go places with kids without good public transit, which Guam lacks.)

I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning about minimalism, or get to the point where I’ve perfected it.

Everett: Occasionally I’ll tell someone that I’m striving to be minimalist and they’ll say something like “Isn’t that boring? How do you stay busy and entertain yourself?” Assuming you’re talking to a stranger, how would you answer that question?

Leo: Minimalism isn’t about having or doing nothing — it’s about making room in your life for the things you love doing the most. In this way, by getting rid of all the clutter in our lives — physical clutter and commitments — we are freeing ourselves, so that we can focus on what truly matters, and not all the extra crap that people tend to do and have for no good reason.

Everett: I believe one of the fundamental aspects of being a minimalist is working less, and on more important projects. I know that you’ve had some experience pursuing this goal for yourself. What choices and changes have you made in your life towards this goal?

Leo: It hasn’t exactly been a goal, but more something that I’ve learned to do better with time. I try to focus on one (or two at the most) projects at a time, so that I can really pour myself into it. I’ve changed my life and my work so that I can do things I really love doing, and not a bunch of other work that I hate. When I find myself being distracted or consumed by unimportant stuff, I stop and question this and change my routine so that I can focus on what’s important.

I’m getting better at all of this but am by no means perfect. Again, I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning.

Everett: Can you recommend one simple way that our readers can start to cultivate a minimalist work schedule?

Leo: Start each day by asking yourself: what’s the most important thing I can do today, that will have the biggest impact on my life? Do this first, before you do email or meetings or read stuff online or Twitter or anything else. Only when you’re done should you consider other things.

Slowly reduce the number of things you do each day, but make each one count more.

Everett: You have a post on Mnmlist titled “On Owning Nothing” which imagines a minimalist society which revolves around shared resources and starts to move away from the idea of private property. If you could recommend one simple step that our reader’s could take to start making this world happen, what would it be?

Leo: There are millions of things, but a good start would be to participate in some kind of shared service — car sharing is available in many places, for example, as are ways to lend and borrow things like books or bicycles or CDs or what have you. is a good way to give away stuff you don’t need and find free stuff you do.

Over the longer term, I think we should start getting together, informally, to talk about and organize associations that allow us to share things as a group rather than horde them individually. This could apply to housing, food, computers, clothing, work, and more. And these associations should be free (as in not restrictive), democratic (with no authoritarian control). Cooperatives are a good example.

Everett: In your explorations of being minimalist, have you encountered any unexpected benefits that you didn’t initially imagine?

Leo: It’s truly liberating. I can’t even begin to describe how freeing it is to finally get rid of stuff, to break free from the dependence on stuff, to get away from having to do everything and be everything and buy everything. It’s an exhilarating feeling, really, and I never would have imagined it to be so until I gave it a try. I hope anyone reading this experiences some of that liberation.


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