I always mean to be clever and commemorate years of blogging on roughly the anniversary of me beginning blogging, but I never remember when it is, and then every year think, "Okay, Ill do it next year instead". But fifteen years is a long time, so rather than wait a year I'll just be a few months late.
I started blogging because I decided to do the polyphasic sleep schedule. I had tried twice before and failed, and all of that time was such a blur that I resolved on my third attempt to record it as it happened. I was successful, and the topic was rather trendy at the time, so about 100 people started following my blog.
After a while I gave up on polyphasic, but felt that I had an obligation to my readers. Luckily I had spent the first half of my twenties doing insane things like putting a swimming pool in my living room, climbing radio towers, breaking in to the tunnels under UT Austin, a exploring a cave, etc., so I had plenty of crazy stories.
The swimming pool post made it to the front of Digg, which was like reddit back then, and it remained one of the top ten stories on the site for a year or so. After that I had about a thousand people reading. I hate breaking streaks, and I never wanted to let readers down, so I just kept writing. I went through phases where I posted every day, two years where I wrote every single day (but posted once a week), and some phases where I didn't quite write every week. But I don't think in that time there's ever been a gap of more than two weeks, and for many years I haven't missed a single week.
Wow! Almost 300 people replied to the survey, most pretty thoroughly, and gave me tons to think about. I'll be digesting and acting on the feedback for a long time, but I wanted to share some of the biggest takeaways that I think readers will be most interested in.
First of all, I won't be taking a break from blogging. I was feeling a bit burnt out on it, but having read everything that you sent me totally reinvigorated my drive to blog. It reminded me of both who I'm writing for and why I'm writing. I have about ten posts ideas that I'm now very excited to write, and I'm excited about the people who will be reading them.
Maybe the biggest thing I learned was the importance of community. I built Sett from the ground up specifically because I wanted more connection with my audience, but over time the spammers became relentless and I just didn't want to spend my life fighting spammers, so I shut comments and the community section down. Many people said that they missed the community and comments, and many said that they wished they could connect more with other readers. At my live events people consistently rave about the other people they meet.
I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but I will create a subreddit, discord, slack, facebook group, or forum for everyone to meet in. It will either be free or very cheap and may be invite only. I'm going to think more about the best format and how to implement it, because my goal is for it to be a perpetual thing. If anyone has experience and strong suggestions, please get in touch.
One of the best compliments I ever received was when a friend told me that I was a leader of leaders. He was also a leader, so it meant a lot coming from him. I've had this topic on my "to write" list for years now, but every time I attempt to write it I'm worried that it will come off as conceited. So first, a disclaimer.
This post does not mean that I think I am THE leader of my friends. I think that most or all of my friends are leaders and that we all take turns leading or lead simultaneously in different ways. So this post is just as much from the perspective of leading friends as it is from the perspective of being led by friends.
When I talk about leading, I am mostly talking about serving. I've led my friends on many trips around the world, I've orchestrated a lot of group property purchases, and I've gotten many of my friends into things like tea, living in RVs, crypto, my style of personal finance, etc. I like to go off and figure something out that can benefit everyone, and then bring it back to the group and guide them through it. And, of course, my friends have also done the same for me countless times. My friend Nick got me into art, it was my friend Todd's idea to travel minimally (I wanted to get a huge backpack at first!), and my friend Jesse led me to love tea.
The biggest difference in leading leaders is that they don't need you. If you do a poor job leading or lead them astray, they'll just go off on their own and figure it out. For this reason, trust is the most important factor. A leader will not follow someone that they don't trust. For example, what's the point of friends following me on a 1 week trip around Japan if they think I might waste their time and they could have just gone and done their own trip? If I tell them that I've discovered a better way to manage finances, but they don't trust that I've actually done enough research, they'd be better off figuring out it out themselves.
Everyone always asks me for more posts about buying property with friends, but I never really knew what they wanted to know. Last week on my new YouTube Live show, Tea Time with Tynan, I asked people for their questions about buying property with friends. People asked some great questions, so I figured I'd collect the best of them and answer them here as well.
How do you choose where to buy a place?
The way we've chosen each place has been different. We chose the island because we desperately wanted to buy an island, and the Halifax, Canada area was the only place to buy a cheap island that looked good and was accessible. In retrospect I think we got really lucky here, because Halifax is great. Budapest was chosen because I went there a couple times and loved it. It was the first place in Europe that I really wanted to get to know on a deeper level. Its central location also made it an easy sell as a European home base. Hawaii came when we realized that all of our properties were better suited for the summer than the winter, so we started looking for tropical places. I originally chose San Juan, Puerto Rico, but after visiting it again I wasn't convinced it was a slam dunk. Japan has been on the list forever as it's the one place that all of my friends and I keep going back to year after year. The only reason it was the last one purchased was because it was so hard to find a good place.
Within each city (island excluded), we try to buy as centrally as possible. Budapest and Hilo (Hawaii) are right downtown. Tokyo is 4 minutes from a station that servers two major subway lines, and a 15 minute walk to Shinjuku.
I'm a white male who was born into a loving and smart middle class family with a big support network of extended family. My family prioritized good schools, even when it was a financial stretch to afford them, and as a result I had the opportunity to be around great teachers, all of whom I remember to this day, as well as peers with similar situations. I may not exactly be the poster boy of privilege, but I'm probably not that far off either.
Everything I write comes from this privileged background. There's absolutely nothing I can do about that, since it is my reality. Several people brought up privilege in my recent survey, though, so I wanted to address it and also share what I think are some productive ways to think about it.
First, I think that privilege is a great thing. My grandparents grew up dirt poor (and first generation immigrants on one side), and through two generations they were able to get where we are today. America (and the world) had MORE problems then, but even so, that sort of mobility was possible. (And yes, I understand that there are some key things that are worse today).
When thinking about privilege I think we should focus on how to get more privilege to people who don't have it rather than demonizing those who do. For example, billionaires are very unpopular these days, but I love them. My life has unambiguously become better due to many of the billionaires. Rather than pick at their faults, which they all certainly have, we should be focusing on how we can create an easier path for less privileged people to get to that same level.
When we moved from an apartment to a house recently, I saw it as an opportunity to explore energy efficiency. I knew that switching to more efficient alternatives usually doesn't pay off for a period of time, so I figured we should start immediately and reap the benefits for as long as possible.
I was very surprised to learn just how quickly some things pay for themselves and how much of a no-brainer certain things are. The government as well as local utilities also have a bunch of rebates, making things an ever better deal. Here is some of what I've learned
Solar in Las Vegas is a complete no-brainer as the city has more hours of sunshine per year than any other major city in the US. The payback period varies, but it's around 7 years. However, panels do add some value to your house for resale, so the payback period is shorter than that in reality.
I used to say that Vegas was the best place in the US to live (with a few caveats), as long as you didn't have to be here the whole year and could travel. And then 2020 came, I couldn't travel, and I was stuck here for the entire year. To my surprise, I love the city even more and am even more convinced it's the place to be.
When people ask why I like Vegas, the first thing that comes to my mind is that it has the highest quality of life and the lowest friction of any city I've been to. In other words, there is a huge range of great stuff to do and experience here, and all of it is very easily accessible, so you actually do it.
There is no traffic, you can park anywhere (usually for free), and almost everything that isn't on the strip is reasonably priced. Because of the city's unique geography and surplus of space, there are things you can do here that you just can't do in most cities this size.
In just about any way I can think of, I have an amazing life. But of all of the aspects of my life that bring me happiness, the most important one is the relationships I have with my friends and family. This is probably true for almost everyone, but it's odd to me how most people will manage their financial life meticulously but manage their social life haphazardly. Most people should invest more in friendships.
Just like financial investments, you want to choose your investments wisely. If you diligently save your money but invest it in random penny stocks, you won't get much of a return. If you invest your time and effort into the wrong people, you won't end up with the social group that you want.
It's easy to say yes to an invitation to a party or to hang out, but it's important to remember that you have limited time and limited focus. Even if you have nothing else going on today and you decide to spend time with someone you're not crazy about, you may be less motivated to seek out a friend the next day.
A good rule of thumb is to think about whether you are interested in deepening a friendship. If you are, you should spend time with that person. If you're not, you shouldn't. If you're not sure, you might as well hang out with them once or twice more to figure it out. The upside of a great friendship is high enough that it's worth taking the risk.
We're all looking for the next thing that we should be doing or paying attention to. Maybe that's even part of why you read this blog. This is a good pursuit of course, but it often seems to me that people don't spend enough time figuring out what they shouldn't be paying attention to. I find that most people actually know what they should be doing, but they cram their lives so full of so much other stuff that they bury the needle within the haystack.
It's important to create a very strong filter, one that catches 99% of the stuff that you're exposed to, especially the useless stuff that masquerades as important stuff.
You need to know what you want to come out of the end of the filter. It's not enough to think about what's "bad", but rather you must know what matters to you. For me it's quality time with friends and family and trying to do and learn about stuff that others don't (so that I can bring it to you and my friends in a usable way). You could pick apart my life and find some other stuff too, but the vast majority of what I do is aimed towards those goals.
When you encounter something vying for your attention, ask if it is aligned with what you want to come out of your filter and whether it is actionable or not. If it meets these two criteria, go for it. If not, ignore it and move on. If you find that you are frequently filtering something out that you wish you didn't have to filter out, that may mean that you need to change to a different filter, maybe because you're at a different place in your life.