Game Changers-Colin Wright
Colin Wright is an internet entrepreneur and and location independent professional who runs a number of different online businesses. I recently had the chance to chat with him about his unconventional nomadic lifestyle. My questions are in bold, followed by his responses. To follow Colin, you can find his website and links to his other works at ExileLifestyle.com.
You are someone who travels quite often. How do you manage balancing relationships with close friends and family while being away so often?
It's mostly a matter of figuring out what relationships require what kind of effort, and then prioritizing based on that.
There are great friends that require constant attention and others that you can see once every few years and still remain on great terms with. How much is too long to be away from your family? How much distance can a significant other take? These are all things to consider and then working into your travel plans, and things I think about constantly.
I'm also very good at de-prioritizing relationships that simply aren't valuable to me or the other person. I would hazard to say MOST relationships that people spend their time on are somewhat forced - you hang out because you have to see each other every day at work, or your friends are their friends, etc - and when you travel long-term, you don't have to deal with that. So who do you spend your time and energy staying in touch with? It's a really good way to figure out which relationships are the most important, that's for sure.
Was there a turning point when you realized that this was the lifestyle you wanted to lead and if so how long did it take you to take the leap?
I've known for a very long time that I wanted to make travel a big part of my life, but it wasn't until 2009 when I finally decided to take the leap. Once I decided this is what I was going to do, I gave myself 4 months to prepare and completely pull apart my old lifestyle before I flew to Argentina.
We are currently doing this interview series bringing to light what I call Game Changers. These are people who live unconventional lifestyles and embrace the idea of long term travel. Who are some people that inspired you to change course?
Ah, this is always a tough question, because there have been so many that there's no way I can name them all (and most probably have no idea they were inspiring anyone...they were just living their lives, and I was paying attention).
Some big names people would know I guess would include Ayn Rand, Seth Godin, Rolf Potts, and Tim Ferriss.
My parents have also always been supportive of everything I've ever done, which allowed me to bypass a big hurdle most people encounter when trying to make a major life-change like I did. Having them on my side really helped ease the transition.
You are a man of many ventures. For readers who may not be familiar can you give a brief overview of how it is that you make your living while living an international lifestyle?
I run a handful of businesses (though some are so small that they probably don't really warrant that name yet...projects?) and that's what allows me to do what I do.
Some are service-based - like
, through which I do brand consultation work for clients large and small - while others are platforms for others to sell their work, like
is a membership-paid community with a unique monetization strategy,
is where I sell some of my t-shirt designs (something I used to do for other companies), and
is a publication that's evolving into a premium newsletter/magazine of sorts.
I find that having many projects at the same time helps me focus (seems counter-intuitive, I know, but if I get sick of working on one, I can refocus on another for a while and come back to the first one fresh). Sometimes I find myself having to put a few of them on the back burner so I can focus on one in particular, but generally I can keep all the balls in the air at the same time without too much trouble. I've always had a lot going on, so I actually get crazy bored when I have too little going on, and not enough novelty and change in my life.
As an entrepreneur, failure is inevitable. Is there an experience that you remember in particular where you failed and if so what did you learn from this experience?
Oh man, I've failed so many time I don't even know where to start.
I usually tell the story about my first business, so let's go for another one here. A more recent project called Ebookling is doing really well now and getting all kinds of press and investment attention, but I actually started it about a year ago, and have gone through two launches previous to the most recent launch in February.
Frankly, the first two times there simply wasn't enough uniqueness to the project to make it really stand out. It did shockingly well for a brand that was so basic and that didn't work very well. I essentially reached the limits of my development skills, so I launched, then, thinking I had a better solution on the way, started talking about a relaunch, but the new solution ended up being TERRIBLE, so the second time around it was worse than the first time. Yeeeeeesh.
Thankfully I had built up enough goodwill in the blogging community that I didn't chase away everyone else with the efforts (and bloggers tend to be just as enthused about failing often and moving on as I am, so they get it), but god was I embarrassed.
What I learn from every failure is how to do it better (even if not the best way possible) next time, and that failing is a natural part of the path toward success. At this point I've had more successes than failures, so I'm in the black!
What has been your favorite destination so far in your travels as a place where you would consider returning for a considerable amount of time?
Honestly, I would go back to any place I've been. Even the places that I didn't care for the first time around (like Peru) would likely be much better the second time.
Plus, every new place I go gives me a different perspective. After living in Argentina for 4 months, Peru wasn't my favorite, but how about now that I've lived in Thailand? In Iceland? How would I see things differently? What would I get from the experience this time?
It's bound to be completely different.
In what place that you have visited do you see the most opportunity for young entrepreneurs and professionals?
New Zealand and Iceland have got vast pools of young, intelligent, talented people waiting in the wings. Both have a little trouble, culturally, being able to stand up and say they have a new, better idea, however, which makes it difficult for them to start businesses (compared to in the States, for example, where even people with bad ideas have no trouble standing up and saying they rule and are the best at everything).
There's so much untapped brilliance all over the world, though, and I'm hoping that as more walls drop and more connections are built internationally, more people will be able to connect with others beyond their country's borders and create something amazing.
To a young person who may be in the position you were before making the decision to take up roots and hit the road, what is the one vital piece of advice you would offer in taking this step?
Make sure you know where your money is coming from.
I can't even count how many people I've met during my travels who were themselves also traveling, but running out of cash and would have to make their way back home soon, broke and wishing they could keep going.
I took 4 full months, working almost full time to rearrange my life so that I could continue to make a good living while traveling. Put in your due diligence so that you have a solid foundation and it will be time well-spent. The worst thing would be to get out on the road, love the hell out of it and then have to head back to live with your parents because you spent your savings in a few months.