The 5 Types of Lifestyle Designers

Have you read Simon Black’s post about the 7 Types of Expats? I thought of it yesterday as my friend was buzzing me through the mountains near Chaing Mai, Thailand (beautfiul!). We got to talking about the lifestyle design “scene.”

Make no mistake— it’s a scene for sure. Here in Chaing Mai there are easily 100’s of nomadic internet types. One well-placed tweet will land you at a cafe where the conversations will hover loosely around topics like Singapore vs. Hong Kong, Galaxy S3’s vs. iPhone 5’s, Pandas, Penguins, Paypal policies, and link building strategies.

One thing unites us all— love it or hate it— nearly all of us have read the 4 Hour Work Week and have a lot of varying opinions about the book and “lifestyle design” in general. In the book, Ferriss doesn’t offer a concise definition for the term he introduced, so I’ll take stab(ish) at one:

Lifestyle design – n – the state of affairs created when basic living wages can be earned with an increasingly tenuous connection to time-input or physical location. This ‘modularity’ of personal income calls into question those lifestyle elements which traditionally correlated more closely with earning— namely— time, mobility, purpose, passion, and autonomy, among others.

The criticism that “lifestyle design has always been around” is fair enough then, but it’s only really been available to rich people– people with property, companies, or other assets that generate cash without their assistance. What used to take a company, employees, start-up capital, can now get done with a website and a Paypal account. It’s easier than ever to try and strike it rich, and I guess in a way that’s what lifestyle designers are after. But unlike previous generations of business owners, they aren’t just counting cash.

Here’s some of the types of lifesytle designers I’ve met in my travels. What type are you?

The Gamer. Gamers are very often poker players, affiliate marketers, SEOers, or paid traffic guys. Gamers are often very bright, and are attracted to the opportunity to “hack” everything. They often find it difficult to build a business that scales. They tend move on to new money-making challenges fast.

What do Gamers think the 4 Hour Work Week all about? Using data driven strategies to put up effective offers on the web. Launch, test, optmize, and repeat.

The Passionate Practitioner. Much like many of my blogging co-horts, I thought the biggest promise of the 4 Hour Work Week was the opportunity to trade income and mobility in order to win back time. PP’s are excited about the opportunity to make money from work that they’d want to be doing anyway. Copywriters, bloggers, product designers, public speakers, fans of parkour, juicing, or practically anything under the sun can now dream of monetizing their passions without signing any leases.

What do Practitioners think 4 Hour Work Week all about? Earning back your time so you can do what you are truly passionate about.

The Entrepreneur. Probably the most natural audience for the book, the 4HWW movement caught legs and extended much further beyond the over-worked business owner in the bay area. That said, I can’t tell you how many multi-million dollar business owners I’ve seen putting up e-book landing pages (some to great success!) after having been exposed to lifestyle design concepts.

Entrepreneurs are business people first, so they enjoy freeing time to do more business oriented side projects, or to spend time with family and friends. Given their history growing organizations and cash-flows, entrepreneurs don’t struggle as much with “filling the void.” In my experience, it’s entrepreneurs who have taken the impact of 4HWW most in stride. “Yeah, I put up a blog and backpacked through Europe— now what?”

What do Entrepreneurs think the 4 Hour Work Week all about? Asking yourself what your business can do for you and not the other way around. Your business should empower you to find the things you want to do, not dictate a list of things you should do.

The Natural. Naturals, either by extraordinary personal experience, luck, special DNA, or necessity, are compelled to live outside of inhereted cultural scripts for making a living, educating themselves, and identifying projects to take on. The natural was doing it since day 1.

What do Naturals think the 4 Hour Work Week all about? “Me!”

The Tourist. The tourist is drawn into the community by the most immediate and compelling promise of lifesytle design— the prospect of unlimited world travel. The tourist often cashes in assets or takes a step back in their career in order to test out life on the road. The tourist isn’t yet sure about owning their own means of production, or what that might mean exactly. But screw it, let’s travel!

What do Tourists think the 4 Hour Work Week all about? Working your whole life away is a waste, we should go after our true passions– like travel– while we are young and still able to enjoy it. We’ll figure out the income thing later. And anyway, those jobs aren’t going anywhere. Are they?

Got any more?