August is traditionally the holiday season, but this is probably the strangest one we’ve had in a while. So, we’ve decided to take a look at several interesting topics that have come across our desk throughout the month.
One came in the form of an article by entrepreneur and author James Altucher, who discussed why he thinks ‘NYC is dead forever’.
He argues that COVID-19’s effects on the business and social dynamics of New York are so far-reaching that the city will never recover. But we see it a bit differently – less as a terminal decline and more as an opportunity for reinvention.
We’ll also be discussing some fundamental issues that we are seeing remote job seekers face now many ‘digital nomads’ have had their wings clipped, and returned to cities with higher expenses than they’ve been used to.
See the full transcript below
Listen to this week’s show and learn:
- How people moving out of major cities could end up being beneficial to digital nomads. (3:53)
- Some of the recent trends we’ve noticed in the remote workforce. (16:34)
- What companies hiring remote workers are really looking for. (26:32)
- Why the “new normal” might not be all that new for entrepreneurs. (32:02)
- Our thoughts about addressing social and political issues on this podcast. (41:34)
Mentioned in the episode:
Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Tropical MBA on YouTube
NYC is Dead Forever by James Altucher
Armpit Futures – Ribbonfarm
Antifragile by Nassim Taleb
Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:
This week’s sponsor:
Today’s podcast is sponsored by Smash Digital.
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An agency with so much link juice, you’ll need a mop and a bucket to clean it all up.
A group with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients.
If you want to have Smash Digital in your back pocket, check them out over at SmashDigital.com and a big thanks to Smash Digital for sponsoring the show.
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Dan & Ian
Dan: Welcome back. It’s the TMBA podcast, a little Thursday morning reaction pod. We’re going to talk about some news, some mailbag, a bunch of random topics we’ll put under the category of ‘Armpit August’. How’s your August been going Bossman?
Ian: You love saying that? I guess I believe it. It’s kind of a corporate thing, though. You know? Like the idea is basically like nobody gets things done in August. Is it corporate? America and a European thing? Me over here? I’m getting stuff done.
Dan: Let’s talk about it. Because I do think this is the vibe. I mean, look, we were both on vacation last week. ‘Armpit August’ is a term from one of my favourite writers and former guests on this show. Venkat Rao, he wrote, back in 2018, that ‘I’ve long been on the record as an August hater. My greatest fear for the future is that it will be an eternal August’.
The idea is – look, August, we kind of cobble it together with some vacations, but it’s not even the best month to take a vacation. It’s just sort of the one that we’ve been assigned to take. August is the month that a lot of our dreams for the year go to die. And we sort of tool backup after vacation, fire up the goal spreadsheets and try to push on through the end of the year. And I thought today would be a good time to look back at some of the issues that are more generally affecting our community. And for us to reflect on what the end of this year might look like.
Ian: What a crazy year it’s been.
Dan: I mean, not even crazy. This is, generally speaking, has been the most remarkable year of our lives. And I guess the question we’re posing on this show is: how does that affect us as entrepreneurs, and the opportunities that sit in front of us?
The first topic is ‘Are cities dead’, which is inspired by an article from James Altucher proclaiming that ‘New York is dead forever and it’s not coming back’. The second topic, the expectations of remote workers and remote work in this COVID culture, we’ll touch on issues like digital nomad returnees and the commoditization of a lot of brick and mortar skill sets. And we’ll get into a little bit what we mean by that.
Our third topic, Ian, will be – this idea of the ‘New Normal’. What is it? When’s it gonna happen? And how might we adjust to it as entrepreneurs? We’re gonna be a little bit more general than usual today. Hopefully, we’ll have some takes that’ll inspire you to take your business to that next level.
Dan: Alright Ian, the first topic I want to touch on is this idea of ‘Are cities dead?’, how are cities being affected and responding to the pandemic. It’s been a topic that’s being discussed quite a bit right now in our forum, online in various formats. And I thought I’d just pull up an article by James Altucher. It’s an interesting read, a very spectacular title, so to speak. ‘NYC is dead forever. Here’s why’. In the article, James outlines the argument that even though traditionally NYC has always bounced back from struggles, he claims that this time it will not.
And the reason he says is because we are in an AB or ‘after bandwidth’ society, meaning that in the last downturn, in 2008, Commercial Workers essentially didn’t have enough bandwidth to execute their business on platforms like Zoom. Well, nowadays we can so you know, no one’s coming back to NYC and that’s that.
This article was littered with many personal anecdotes of friends that are seeing bad things go down in the city, and decided to move to more pleasant smaller mid tier cities. Also with some stats from platforms like Redfin, which tracks real estate in the US, which suggests that there is quite the exit.
It’s something we’ve seen on the ground in Austin, Texas. Early in the pandemic, I thought that a lot of these really wealthy neighbourhoods around Austin, Texas, were putting for sale signs up in their yards because, ‘Oh my gosh, they can’t afford their mortgage anymore’. It turns out I was totally wrong. They were putting for sale signs up in their yards, because even more wealthy people from New York City wanted to buy their homes. So what’s your take on this Bossman? How have cities been affected? Is New York City dead and cities like it? And where are we gonna go forward from here?
Ian: What a big topic. We talk about cities a lot though because as location as location independent as we are, we are location relevant, meaning that we like to spend time in places that are relevant to us and our business and our friends.
I just got back from Colorado, go there a couple times a year, riding dirt, bikes, family, friends, things like that. So location really does matter. And we’re talking about New York never coming back. I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Maybe now’s the time we get a little piece of real estate in New York, always wanted one and never could afford one. Everybody’s leaving. Hmm’. And when I’m thinking that, obviously I’m half joking, but who else is thinking that right? Like you mentioned in offices, all these people are supposedly leaving Austin, you know, well, a couple people are leaving Austin, you know, there’s even more coming from California because of tax rates in New York, supposedly.
So I think this idea that New York City is dead, I think that maybe a less click baity title of an article like that. And I’ve seen a lot of articles like this ‘New York City is changing’. And then the next article should say, ‘New York City has been changing and will always change for the next hundreds of years’.
These cities are living, breathing organisms, and I think they adapt a lot better than we give them credit for. When you say ‘New York City’s dead’, like what aspect of it is dead? Like the social scene in Manhattan? Well, yeah, maybe it’s moved to Brooklyn. That’s kind of the happening place now. Commercial real estate is too expensive or residential real estate is too expensive. Well, yeah, it’ll probably turn into a yoga studio with a bunch of Zoom cameras in it. So I just think that it is changing. A lot of these places are changing now.
Are we seeing upticks in secondary cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Austin? Yeah, absolutely. Because it’s become very expensive and it always has been very expensive to live in New York City. I’ve always said this Dan and it may or may not be true, but either you’re young and broke in New York or you’re rich and old. It’s like two polar opposites. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of that, you know, 45 and have a couple hundred dollars in your pocket. Not the right city to be in, but there are a lot of cities where you could thrive in that situation. New York City is harsh.
Dan: We talk about, just a fun game to play out, you know, ‘cities to make it and cities to spend it’, right. And certain places like Colorado or spending places you wouldn’t maybe come to Colorado to build a career in tech necessarily, although that’s changing a little bit, but you certainly would come to Colorado to you know, get a cabin on the mountain and go down the slopes for a month or something like that.
Ian: As you have seen in Colorado, there are a bunch of lifestyle designers, like 90% of the people are lifestyle designers, which I think is cool, very much depending on who you’re hanging out with. But you don’t see a bunch of high earners and people sitting in cubicles for 14 hours a day because you have these beautiful mountains, and you have these things that you can do there.
Dan: Alright, so let me recap here to just at the very top, I mean, we’re talking about ‘Are cities dead?’. And the perspective of our show is, cities are ridiculously important for nomadic entrepreneurs, for location independent entrepreneurs, for people running tech businesses on the web, which is actually pretty remarkable, right? And that’s why we speak about cities and travel all the time on the show. I mean, I look at the last 25 business text messages I received. They’re all from people that I met in a city that’s important to entrepreneurship in one way or another in that people from all around the world gather there, share ideas, build relationships, and ultimately do projects together become each other’s customers, lifelong friends, all that cities are absolutely critical for that okay? First point.
Second point. Producer Jane brings up a wonderful point about – look at what happened with London and all the warehouses. How about all those cool restaurants you hang out in London? I mean, that used to be warehouse space, a lot of it.
Ian: Yeah, so ever changing.
Dan: Who’s super excited about the state of Midtown Manhattan right now, anyhow? Why is it so exciting that a bunch of people in suits that manage telephone companies or whatever, or financial companies hang out there, is that something that the future of that city needs to be?
I know I’m painting with a broad paint brush here. But let me just give a vignette from a comment on the post, which I thought was insightful and I think sort of relevant to our perspective on cities, which is like, ‘Hey, this sounds like the perspective of somebody who’s a little bit older. Well, I’m 25. And I’m hanging out in Brooklyn right now. And you know what happened now all the sort of wealthy people with kids in school and dogs and all this kind of stuff are bailing, well, this is more affordable now. And now, people are starting to come back to the city and we’re hanging out on the streets and there’s live music outside. And it’s pretty cool’. Well, that’s really been the aspect of cities that’s so critical to connection, creativity, meeting people on the come up, building alliances.
The point I’m trying to make is that if one of the outcomes here is that these premier cities do provide a more affordable foothold for bootstrappers and entrepreneurs, that could ultimately be a really positive thing for our community and maybe for the city as a whole.
One of the things I thought of Ian when I’m taking a look at these, these kind of proclamations of ‘this city happening, that city, what’s happening here and there’ is that I know digital nomads And people who have a great deal of flexibility in terms of their location, our listeners, essentially, part of us, you know, this has been a tough year for people that are supposed to be on aeroplanes quite a bit, right?
But there’s another part of me that says, ‘We’re likely to be beneficiaries of all this’. You know, part of what this show has always been about is like playing a win-win economic game. And it strikes me that the fact that corporations are getting flushed out and maybe wealthy classes are getting flushed out, the fact that more flexible location independent people can move to these premier locations and generate opportunities could ultimately be a positive thing for entrepreneurs.
Ian: This remote movement that’s happening, all these corporations and maybe a reason why a lot of people are not going back to their Midtown Manhattan job is because you know, COVID-19 came in and said, ‘Hey, you guys can’t can’t be so close to each other anymore’. Right? What’s gonna happen my prediction, at least is what’s gonna happen is they’re gonna, you know my prediction anyway, let people work remotely more often. People will enjoy this and then these corporations because they don’t necessarily have people in mind first, they have profit in mind first, they will go find lower cost ways of doing business. ‘Wait, oh, all of a sudden we don’t need this office. Okay, cool. Wait, all of a sudden, we don’t need this person because we found another person’ and we’re gonna go into this point later on in the show, ‘That does the same thing for less money somewhere else. Oh, and wait, we don’t even have to pay the same kind of taxes because they’re not Americans. Oh, that’s kind of cool’. This might not be headed in a positive direction for everybody. But I think at first it will seem that way Dan, because everybody’s able to work remote and everyone’s gonna enjoy that for a while.
COVID-19 has made us realize that we don’t all have to work in the same location, something that we figured out like 10 plus years ago, right. And so this has kind of accelerated that paradigm shift, right of like, we don’t all have to be in the office to be productive. And that’s part of the reason why I think it’s so interesting is because it’s accelerated history in a lot of ways.
Dan: We talk about all the time, ‘Oh, 10 years ago, we were thinking about this stuff and whatever’. And part of me believes Look, it’s been a tough beat for digital nomads, right, getting locked down in countries that aren’t their homes, getting their passport wings clipped, but on the other part on the other side of the fence, a lot of this stuff has just landed in our lap. You know, our perspective on traditional investing vehicles, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the success of e commerce, the reevaluation of rents and city prices. The strong existential perspective on location and how locations provide real value versus perceived value.
These are questions that we’ve been dealing with since day one. And really, it feels like in some ways, the mainstream is sort of arrived at our doorstep in a way. So on the one hand, it’s like tempting to get all caught up in this and start thinking full time about the fate of New York City or whatever. But really, the other side of it is just to say, ‘This is sort of how we’ve been evaluating these things, since day one, and maybe we’re already well ahead of the curve here’, and continue to double down on the perspectives that have worked, which is – building a small asset for a small group of customers that’s highly profitable and not necessarily contingent on enormous global trends. Living in places that connects you, or multiple places, that connects you with people that can help accelerate that project. And finally, distributing that organisation around the globe in jurisdictions and with staff members who can best contribute to that aim.
‘Are cities dead?’ I’ll say personally, I think they’ll continue to be enormously important. And just because whoever’s paying the commercial real estate bills like those people are going to change, I don’t think will ultimately change how people value cities.
Ian: But again, then ‘Are cities changing?’ what a boring title for an article.
Dan: The second point I want to talk about is … With all this talk of ‘remote is the future’, let’s talk about how the expectations of remote workers are changing quickly. We’re seeing a lot of people on our hiring platform ‘Dynamite Jobs’ that are sort of getting pushed into this idea of remote work and they’re now all of a sudden applying to work for companies like our listeners own and it’s been just interesting to see the different micro trends happening in there. I wanted to bring a few to light here and talk about how they might affect our businesses going forward.
There’s a micro trend of digital nomad returners, folks basically facing the harsh realities of rent, health insurance, the high expenses of living in their home country if they did manage to get back to their home country, and that’s affected their salary expectations a little bit. There’s also a micro trend of competition. Now all of a sudden, we’re truly competing in a global marketplace. And we’re seeing, just one example places like Eastern European workers who have typically a very high level of education coming in in spaces such as writing and technology, and really giving Westerners from, you know, expensive countries that essentially had geographically siloed salary protection, giving them a run for their money all of a sudden. That all of a sudden, when your job was in Ohio or California, and now your employer is starting to think about, ‘Well, I could really just as easily hire someone on zoom from Europe. You could be looking at an enormous salary cut’.
Ian: Let’s talk about the first one, Dan. Remote is the future. These digital nomads returnees, you know, to their home countries, and actually, you’re one of them. So I’m going to be interested to get your perspective on that. Essentially, just to give a little bit of context, for those that maybe don’t follow the show so closely, a lot of people that listen to the show and participate in our community have been living abroad, and a lot of them are Americans and have been living abroad for years and years and years. And that’s just a privilege I would say that Americans have been granted in a lot of ways, you know, we have this passport that’s, I’d say, one of the best in the world until recently.
And so, you know, a lot of Americans are forced into the situation now where they either had to come home, or they had to stay, and now maybe they have to leave. And, and they’re basically faced with the reality that, ‘Well, I was making some money. And it was, it was a great living wherever I was living, maybe it was Thailand, something like that. And now I’m making that same living, but I’m back in Boston, and oh, my gosh, things are really expensive. I can’t afford my overseas health insurance. I can’t afford rent. I can’t afford all these things that I could afford’.
Some might say that they didn’t plan well. Some might say that, ‘Well, you weren’t really doing something sustainable. You were just kind of, you know, living in a place where you’re a visitor, how could you expect to, you know, not have to come home at some point?’ But, you know, really, a lot of people I don’t think did expect to have to come home at one point or another, you know. If you asked me 12 months ago, like, ‘Tell me something that’s gonna affect the whole world on this kind of scale’. I think my only answer would have been a nuclear bomb in three different places in the world, like I couldn’t have even imagined it, you know? So, to plan for that type of scenario. I think, maybe if you didn’t plan you’re naive. But on the other hand, like nothing like this is kind of ever happened except for a World War.
Dan: Well, there’s part of every plan that’s the vulnerable part, Bossman and a lot of people, they make the decision to go to places like Malaysia or Portugal, because there are a lot of entrepreneurs on the come up in those locations and you can meet people and you can spend less and earn more of your time back and build something for the long term. Now, that plan in sort of a three to five year window can be very vulnerable to things like high expenses and the need to travel places or to sustain what some would call ‘the standard American lifestyle’. And so yeah, a lot of those plans have been interrupted.
And meanwhile, maybe your earning potential hasn’t been improved because you haven’t spent that time pushing yourself up the value chain. So I think the broader question and one we’ve always tried to ask on the show is – if you’re just leveraging the lifestyle arbitrage not up levelling your skill set, then you are vulnerable to the sort of situation where you do have to, quote, come home, and then sustain a higher expense burden.
You know, we’ve talked about the ‘digital nomad lie’, we have a whole episode about this concept of you leveraging your location, independence. And that’s what remote workers do. That’s why remote workers in Eastern Europe can get these world class educations where they’re not taking on a great deal of debt. And they can work for a great deal less than people who have taken on debt to get a lesser educations.
And now these are situations that, as entrepreneurs, we’re used to competing in a somewhat global situation. Now almost every knowledge worker is faced to consider this idea that you’re competing, potentially globally for every job you’re applying for.
Ian: Yeah. And so now we’re starting to get into this idea of competition. But before we do that, I kind of want to equate it to what we describe as the ‘early stages of entrepreneurship’, which is getting out of debt, and then finding yourself where you can basically live very cheaply and the idea here is to afford your self runway, to give yourself enough time to lift off and hopefully succeed in your business. And so what a lot of people do, is they go somewhere that has a lower cost structure, and one of those places might be your mom’s couch, for eg,
Dan: Or I might be in New York City here in a few months. And what an amazing situation that would be if you could, indeed go to New York City and get a decent apartment for 2000 bucks a month or 1500 bucks a month. Now all of a sudden, you know, the digital nomad calculus is changing. Now, you might say, ‘Well, why would I take the risk to fly to Asia or to Europe’, because again, you’re doing it to be around people who are doing similar kinds of things.
The people we all met 10 years ago when we started on this journey. We all know them today. And that’s because we lived in the same places as them, because we went to the same events. And so the same thing is gonna happen in the next decade. And I think that’s why this is a very active question like, what are the expenses? Who is going there? What is the scene in that city?
Ian : And so, Dan, I think the idea, though, is you keep your cost structure low, and one of the ways to do that is to be abroad. Right. But the idea is, if you like Thailand, which a lot of people do, so they go there, and they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this place is amazing. And I can keep my costs low’. I think the point is, a lot of people don’t try to accelerate out of that, right. So they’re in a situation where it’s like, ‘Wow, I love this place, but I haven’t figured out how to actually make it sustainable’. And that can be problematic.
Dan: The thing you wrote down here was like, ‘Look, it’s very hard to commoditize entrepreneurship’. And if what you’re going to do is move somewhere affordable and sort of leverage in a relatively automatable skill set, a skill set that people all around the world can do. You know, maybe five years down the line what a lot of people, and I’m seeing specifically people that are applying to jobs, what they’re seeing is that a skill set that was traditionally somewhat valuable to them, they were making good money, that skill set is no longer as valuable. And that’s got to be a terrible feeling, something that you’ve spent 10 years working on, and now all of a sudden, ‘Man everybody knows about this stuff. And now there’s software that does this stuff that I used to get paid handsomely to do’, and that’s been a wake up call I guess, or a big fat bummer for a lot of people that are looking and excited about this remote revolution, so to speak.
And the message to that is – I guess entrepreneurship is basically, by definition, stating yourself at the top of the value chain. And so if you’re somebody who can synthesise ideas, understand how all these concepts and systems work together and not pigeonhole yourself in one specific thing that can ultimately be outsourced one day, that’s the way to continue to adapt, and to ultimately make the most out of this new landscape.
Ian: That’s right, this is kind of the second part of this problem, which is why this issue is compounding for people. First is you have to return or you didn’t build a skill set. And then it’s like, well, you didn’t build a business that was very defensible, right? Like you said, it’s hard to commoditize entrepreneurship. I just saw a snippet of an article today. It was like 7/11 or one of these convenience stores is like, they’re working on robots stocking the shelves that are powered by people that are overseas, essentially. Just when you think your job safe is like, ‘Well, who could stock these shelves?’ Somebody in Nebraska for a quarter of the price of you can stock the shelves in New York City.
Dan: And let me be a bit of a jerk about if anybody you know is a business owner listening to this, they have friends, they have family that are interested in remote work. Let me talk to you from the inside of a company that helps people hire remote workers. The reality is a lot of jobs in our economy, our warm body/cold seek jobs, right? Yeah, you got skills – you’re charismatic, you speak well with people. Therefore you can convince people to hire you, you get the job you get paid. That’s how it works right.
Now, I talked with you know, one of our account managers, Alex, and I even make fun of him. There’s two words he always says, ‘Hard skills, hard skills. That’s what I’m looking for on all these applications, I need more than somebody who’s just going to show up to a job on time. I need somebody with hard skills that make a company’s money’.
And like you mentioned, those skills are rapidly changing. So if you can write code, if you can create landing pages that convert, if you can write blog posts that people actually want to read, these are all hard skills. But what we’re talking about here is entrepreneurship can also be considered a hard skill, which is, ‘Hey, what have you done? You know, what sort of organisations, what sort of projects have you gotten off the ground? You’re very likely to be able to do that again in the future.
Ian: Speaking of Alex, he told me a funny word, which I didn’t know but I’m probably Pretty guilty of it. It’s called ‘voluntold’. I was voluntold to do something, like that a lot. Seems like a manager thing to say. But, you know, speaking about Dynamic Jobs. We’ve been recruiting for a company that’s hiring developers in Eastern Europe like crazy. This is a trend that’s just, it’s been going on for a while, but it’s really up ticking right now, finding smart people in Eastern Europe because they have really good, a lot of times state education there and they speak English a lot of times very well. And you can imagine that the cost structure is a lot lower.
I just want to bring this up because this is a trend and this is the way things are going and a lot of people are vulnerable to situations like that. I think this is why on the show, like you said, we propose a path of entrepreneurship, because it’s kind of at the top of the value chain of these things, right? Even if you do have hard skills, your hard skills might be bowled over by some woman working as a developer in Ukraine for a quarter of the price. And that’s undeniable. You look at the two resumes, you look at the hard skills, you look at the work and you say, ‘This is a no brainer’. And that’s the kind of environment that you’re going to be competing in.
I think the reason we’re beating this drum so hard is because it’s all kind of related. Right? It’s like it’s not good enough actually, Dan, to have, you know, the hard skills, you got to be better than a lot of people, you got to be doing you You got to be willing to do a lot more. And you sometimes got to be willing to do a lot more for a lot less. The company, the environment, it doesn’t care if you have that mortgage in California. It really doesn’t.
Dan: So, yeah, no conclusions here. Just often the expectations of people are, you know, set by the past and that past gets repeated. And the whole point of entrepreneurship and learning it, even if you’re an entrepreneurial employee, which is what we do around here, you know, everybody on our team is a synthesiser, they are people that can go out and run their own organisations or they have or they’re going to in the future, you count on change. You don’t try to insulate yourself from it, you count on it. And that’s really the difference we’re talking about. And that’s why we’re talking about these trends because we want to take advantage of them. We don’t want to be a victim of them.
Dan: Our final topic here is the reality is like, since February I know a lot of us that are big travellers have been waiting for a ‘new normal’ to set in. Of course, it’s not everybody’s business that’s going up ours, Ian has gone down. We run an events business. It’s not only been bad for the events business, it’s been catastrophic. And the question is: when do you adjust? When do you say you know, ‘this is the new normal’, and the reason I want to bring this up is, ‘Look, this has been terrible for so many of us and for so many of our countries and our societies and our neighbours and our friends and family and everything’.
But we got to reserve a little space on this podcast and in this community to be excited about the opportunity to adapt, the opportunity to solve a new set of problems. This is what we signed up for. And the reality is, the next set of great businesses and great lifestyles and all this kind of stuff is going to come out of all of this.
And the question is – are going to be one of the folks taking advantage of it or you can be one of the folks reading the news constantly watching the ship go down. The cool part about entrepreneurship is you don’t need to be on the ship. And I know a lot of people say, ‘You know, it’s important to be educated about this issue or that issue or you need to understand like where Midtown Manhattan is gonna go’ or you need ..That’s not true. You need to understand one thing and you need to understand it really well. And you need to understand it for a couple hundred, maybe even 10, maybe one or two if it’s your employer or a couple thousand if you run a business like Dynamite Jobs, you need to understand those issues and if you can serve those people, then you’re gonna have a successful business. And that’s kind of the relief because I mean, I guess there’s a lot of talk in the community it’s like, ‘Man, though, the world so bad, I mean, feel a little bit bad about talking about my friends that are having an all time year this year because they are smartly positioned in an e commerce niche’, or because they’re smartly positioned in Bitcoin or because etc, etc, etc, that people that listen to this podcast do.
I guess it’s kind of just a little bit of a rallying cry like ‘this is normal, change is normal’. It was happening before. Our path diverted quite a bit from a lot of the communities that we exist in on day to day life’ because we do travel to unique cities and we do run unique businesses. And the whole point is that our outcomes are many, many times different than the outcomes of those around us. That’s the point of entrepreneurship.
And so the whole idea is you know, be careful who you hook your intellectual waggon to, be careful who you hook your financial waggon to. That’s part of the reason we talk about this kind of global mindset and global cost structure if you think you deserve you know, x kind of house in x kind of city that’s all great and maybe you do deserve that. But if you’re just pulling it out of the societal hat, you know, so to speak, and then trying to pay for it on the back end without first delivering the value. You know, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Ian: Dan, when this pandemic first hit. Again, for those who don’t know, you were living in my backyard. In the trailer.
Dan: Thanks, thanks for bringing that up again.
Ian: Winter is coming. And, and we did a little thing called ‘The Pod Shop’, it was several episodes. And I think some people watching that show, if I remember that time, might remember us as being kind of excited in this weird way, right? Because like our business is going down. A lot of other people’s businesses are going down, people are getting sick and somewhat in yet somewhat we’re still a little bit excited. And I think the reason is just because we thrive on change. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs thrive on change. They expect it to happen and they see opportunities in it
Dan: By the way, thrive doesn’t mean we’re sitting around all day giggling, happy about the world situation.
Ian: That’s not true at all
Dan: Thrive means, you know, once you wake up and get ready for work that you decide you’re going to be part of a solution for your family, for your team, for your customers, and you got to get motivated, you got to get excited about it. And like we said, this is what you signed up for, you know, so.
Ian: I remember talking a lot on some of those episodes about people being relieved too, ‘Wow, now I don’t have to run this business anymore. Like it was always kind of on the edge. Now it’s pushed it over. Now I get to do the things that I really wanted to do’. So it’s like you’re almost given permission. And I still think a lot of that’s going on. And a lot of that’s gonna continue to go on, you know, this new normal. Your question is like, how long do you sit around and like, wait for things to return back to normal? I think you don’t sit around at all. I think you operate as if things aren’t going back to normal. I think you figure out how to make your life better. If it isn’t good right now.
I keep thinking of this idea then of, of like owning a restaurant, kind of before the pandemic, and like during the pandemic, and then the person that wants to open a restaurant but hasn’t yet, but like has all the ideas, like the menu mapped out, maybe it has a location and like the the food options and all this stuff. It’s really a hard time to be the person that owns a restaurant because you’re paying rent on the building, maybe you let go a bunch of people, maybe you’re still paying them. And you’re thinking, when am I ever gonna come back to my business? When can I ever open my restaurant again? Meanwhile, you’re just burning thousands and thousands of dollars. And a lot of those businesses, a lot of those restaurants have gone out of business because they couldn’t sustain it. But the person that hasn’t spent $1 yet, and they’re waiting and they’re ready to go as soon as they’re able to open that restaurant again. That’s an exciting time for them. And that’s also going to be an opportunity.
Dan: This was a theme that we spoke about quite a bit when all of the loans were coming out and it was clear that a lot of governments were turning trying to sell this idea of, ‘Hey, everything’s gonna be like it was before, everything’s gonna come back’. And certainly things have come back in the past and they might very well do that this time. It might be years, it might be one year, it might be five, who knows. But if your business is designed to require everything to be normal all the time, so to speak, that was a great opportunity to take a second look at that.
Now, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a business that is not particularly adaptable and depends on a lot of different factors that all add up to a kind of normalcy we enjoyed there for a while. But it’s really worth looking at the idea, and I think a lot of people in our community explore the idea of businesses or having elements in your portfolio that benefit from disruption. And I don’t know what timestamp is right now, but I haven’t brought up Nassim Taleb yet. But this is something we’ve talked about for years on this pod and it’s been really interesting to see it go down in real life.
Which is when things get disrupted? How do you run a business that could benefit from the disruption? And the cool thing about that, like you said, with the person who’s thinking about starting a restaurant ,who’s thinking about getting into e commerce, or who’s thinking about starting a podcast, or whatever it is: now’s your time. You read these articles about Manhattan, right? And it’s like billions of dollars and 10s of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people are involved in all these big mega trends, right? But you listen to this podcast and you hear, there’s 25 people talking about email marketing. Why isn’t there a space for you in email marketing, and isn’t email marketing, something that would potentially benefit from some disruption, something that is going to be around in five years, whatever.
Use your example, whether it’s ecommerce, whether it’s doing marketing on the web. Whatever these things are, these little nuggets that we put out on the show. I think a lot of people like it’s like, you can look at it one of two ways. On the one hand, you can say, ‘Oh, these are successful people that, you know, they’re great for them, good story’. But also, you know, these are little indications of cash flows, of opportunities, of things that are working in the world.
And so, I think that the core message of this is that even if the meta trend is a bummer, the personal trend that you develop for yourself can be highly adaptable. It can benefit in disruptive times. This idea of ‘holding on for normalcy’ is the kind of a mindset that is more of a career mindset, right? ‘I need everything to sort of line up to get my paycheck’. Whereas I think the entrepreneurial mindset says, ‘For now, this is normal, and normal is change, and I’m ready for it’.
So that doesn’t make it any easier in a lot of ways. But I’ll tell you what, for a lot of people, it’s been easier in the sense that, you know, we talked about in the early days of COVID, that this was going to be the opportunity of a generation, maybe it’s the opportunity to get a five year lease in New York City, maybe it’s the opportunity to start that new ecommerce shop or podcasts or whatever. A lot of people are gonna take that opportunity. And a lot of people are already doing it.
Ian: You mentioned, you know, being anti fragile, you know, and we just kind of explained on this podcast is pretty obvious that events have gone away. And so, you know, a lot of our business has gone away. If you’re thinking, you know, pragmatically about a lot of these things like, maybe we were like, it’s like, ‘Well, how would events ever go away?’ Even guys, like us who act like we know what we’re talking about, you can’t always predict these things. And you can’t always build the most robust business and you can’t always, you know, have everything be anti fragile, right? But you can adapt, you can change. You can say, ‘This is a new normal and now we have to adapt and change’.
Dan: The point here is that, you know, the whole reason we talked about anti fragility over the years is that you can count on change. You can count on it. People underestimate its power all the time. They underestimate it in the stock market, they underestimate it in real estate, they underestimate it in their careers. And if you’re one of the brave and crazy people that is willing to bet on change, and bet on it smartly, then you can really benefit and that’s really what this period has shown. The other thing is, I think that COVID has been pretty friendly to bootstrapping entrepreneurship principles, has been pretty friendly to TMBA listeners, relatively speaking. These principles can endure in times of change and in times of challenge.
So I think that, you know, this change is the normal. If it didn’t look like that before maybe it’s more apparent to us now. And it’s worth building with that in mind going forward.
Dan: All right. So Bossman, we’re going to wrap it up with that. Just a few little news items. We know we were all over the map on this one. We get ideas from you guys, you email us. We would love to invite some of your COVID stories. We’re painting with a super broad brush here: Has it gone great, has it gone bad? Are you marooned somewhere, did you make the decision to return quote home early, and now regret being stuck? Etc. Just pull out your iPhone, or your Android phone, and send me a voicemail? Send me a voice file of your COVID experience. I’d love to hear from you. My email is Dan at tropical MBA dot com. That can be anonymous or you can leave a name, we might even play some on the show.
Finally, I want to address something that has been brought up to us by a listener who said they were disappointed that we had not addressed the issues of racism, of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in America. And it wasn’t super specific about one issue, whether being police brutality or systemic racism. But the overall message of the feedback was – they were disappointed that, you know, we hadn’t made it a point to use this platform as an opportunity to engage people in that issue, or to at least, you know, let people know where we stand.
Ian: So Dan, I’m going to take a stab at this. Because I think it’s a fair critique. A lot of podcasts did comment on current events. And we chose not to. And part of the reason I think is because of this idea of singleness of purpose, and that’s borrowed from AA, which is Alcoholics Anonymous. And basically what that means is – our mission here as far as I’m concerned, is to further the careers of entrepreneurs. That is individual of race, that is individual of sex. My hope for this show is to push people forward as entrepreneurs and then they can do as they wish and as they see, beneficial to their family, their loved ones, their community, their businesses. And I think that’s what we offer on this show. You know, we have a lot of opinions about these things Dan. And if you come to my house, I will be happy to share them with you. Yeah, but this platform, I feel is best suited to push people forward as entrepreneurs, and then they can go out and push forward, whatever their mission is. But the mission of this show is entrepreneurship. That’s the reason why we stayed away from it.
Dan: Also, the listener asked for a little bit of behind the scenes and the reality is – we took a couple stabs at it, saying a few things. Obviously we’re emotionally affected by things happening around us. And, you know, a lot of it came off a little bit patronising, or some of our team members weren’t aware of the issue because, you know, we have six different nationalities out of seven of us and, you know, everybody has different things going on at different areas in the world.
And what we were doing over the weeks in not commenting is cutting out some of that stuff and saying, you know, ‘Look like there’s a lot of places to go for quality political information, and mindsets and thoughts and stuff. And why don’t we embody that singleness of purpose here where every week, our listeners can expect to come and help get a little bit of insight into how one might do this very difficult thing, which is grow location independent business’.
Ian: And the truth is, Dan, that our entire team has pretty strong ideas about some of the different things that are going on in the world. And some of us, I wouldn’t say us, but some of our team members actually have probably more education, perspective and experience in these things. And it’s discussed the company, it’s discussed between me and you as discussed between us and them. So these conversations are happening, they’re just not happening online. They’re not happening on air.
Dan And like you said, like, they’re gonna It’ll be different for everybody. And they’re very complex. Maybe that’s not satisfactory to everybody. But, you know, that’s just where we stand at the moment.
All right. As always, though, you know, we respond to you This episode was based on questions, queries, voicemails, you know, again, we’re really particularly interested in how COVID has affected your business or your travel lifestyle. You know, we made some speculation here, told some broad stories, but we’d love to hear you guys pull out that telephone and share your story.
That’s one way if you want to turn the conversation in a particular direction, pull out that phone, give us a voicemail. We will listen and a lot of them will get played on this show. That’s it. If you have any comments, questions, hit up the voicemail. That’s it Bossman thanks for joining me and thanks to Smash Digital for sponsoring the show.