Ecuador Part 2: My Peeps 4 Keeps

You know you’re reading high journalism when the title of the article resenbles a text from a 13-year-old girl. Stay with me folks, it will all make sense. Or maybe it won’t.

I wrote an overview of the Ecuador chautauqua experience last November. Today, I continue with Part 2.

I love Peeps. Who doesn’t? Life doesn’t get much better than a piece of processed sugar (marshmallow) that’s covered in more sugar and then made into the shape of a deformed animal or symbol of love:

What is more romantic than a lump of corn syrup and gelatin in heart form?

Nothing says romance like a clump of processed sugar and gelatin.

Short of eating a deep fried ball of lard wrapped in bacon, there aren’t many things more unhealthy than a Peep. I limit myself to one package a year which I devour in about fifteen seconds. Like a starving savage, I bite the head off before I stuff the rest in my mouth.


Wait a second, what on earth am I talking about? This post is supposed to be about the other kind of peeps; people:


Thanks Urban Dictionary.

Specifically, this post is about the folks I met at the chautauqua in Ecuador. The attendees were what made this event special. Sure, it was cool to fart around the Andes Mountains. And the presentations by the four main speakers were very good. However, the greatest part of the event was the company, even if they sometimes saluted me with vulgar hand gestures:

Some attendees give me the universal FU money salute.

Some attendees give me the universal FU money salute.

Tim and Arnold

Have you ever listened to the Tim Ferriss podcast? I love it. Tim interviews some of the brightest people on the planet. He learns about their routines, habits, diets, workouts and how they accomplished greatness. You learn all kinds of fun things from the podcast. For example, did you know Arnold Schwarzenegger was a self-made millionaire before he was a movie star?

  • Tim: I knew you were very successful in real estate and you were already a millionaire before your career took off, right?
  • Arnold: I did not want to rely on my movie career to make a living. I saw, over the years that actors were very vulnerable because they didn’t have any money and had to take anything that was offered to them. I didn’t want to get into that situation.

Arnold is a wise man. Here are some other good quotes from The Terminator:

The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.

For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.

And this one was relevant to Ecuador:

Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.

Good People

The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends. –Warren Buffett

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to surround yourself with the best people who will have you. If you hang around with lazy, unmotivated folks, they’ll bring you down. You may have a problem if folks in your crowd:

  • Drink more than eight cans of Lite beer per day
  • Think monster trucks events are high culture
  • Enjoy blowing things up
  • Write blog posts about Peeps
  • Attach rubber genitals to their pickup trucks:
Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 4.57.58 PM

What does it transform into?

I seek out the best people that will have me. I love to be around folks who I can learn from and that challenge me. The chautauqua fit the bill. There was an ex-Googler, a dentist, a veterinarian, software developers, a mechanical engineer, multiple entrepreneurs, an accomplished corporate lawyer, an actuary, and a data scientist. And that doesn’t include any of the four speakers who are all accomplished folks. And no one was a prick.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 10.22.32 AM

Secret Mission

My secret mission on the trip was to learn. My favorite thing to do around interesting people is to shut my mouth (except for questions) and open my ears. And then I absorb. Here are some of the things I noted from the  group:

  • Resilient: Everyone gets knocked down; it’s just a part of life. What really counts is how you react. Some of these folks had a lot of adversity in their lives, but managed to turn it into something better. One person came to the United States as an electrical engineer. Because engineers weren’t in demand, he went back to school for nursing so he could stay in the United States.
  • Boundless optimism and above average happiness: No one beats MMM on having a good outlook on life. If Pete found out he had terminal cancer*, I’m sure he’d have something positive to say about it. Most of the others were optimistic and happy as well. If I had to pick a catch-phrase for the event, it would have been from the Mad Fientist who routinely uttered:


  • Different diets: One couple avoided sugar and alcohol. There were others who also avoided alcohol. Note to self: Remember to not offer them my home-brewed IPPA (India Peep Pale Ale).
  • Beer: So, some didn’t drink. Others, including myself, more than made up for it. FI people know how to have a good time.
  • They talk openly about money: In a world where talking about money is shunned, these folks eagerly opened their spreadsheets to show the world their nest eggs. I think money is taboo because we place it on such a high pedestal. People worship Warren Buffett for his fortune. However, the folks that are open about money realize that it’s just a tool to facilitate a better life. There is no reason to idolize money.
  • They exercise: Overall, the group was in stellar shape. I’m a fairly active person in above-average health, but I found myself huffing and puffing to keep up on a couple hikes.
  • They listen: Have you ever had the displeasure of spending time with folks who just wait to talk? You know the type; they only ask a question so that they can bring the conversation back to themselves. I hate that. The folks in this group were a thoughtful bunch who were fun to talk to.
  • They are resourceful: One day, tragedy struck when the group ran out of beer. A couple folks, despite their rudimentary Spanish skills, bravely trekked to town to secure more supplies. Another time, Jim Collins found himself stuck in the rain without proper gear. Instead of letting the rain ruin his hair, he repurposed his lunch bag and saved the day:


  • They swear: There was no shortage of profanity. At times, naughty words flew through the air like mosquitos on a Minnesota evening in July. This is a good thing.

My favorite part was talking to folks about various business ideas. One attendee was in the process of selling a business he had started years ago. Another attendee was in the process of launching an online store. A couple ideas were even hatched at the event that will see the light of day this year. I’m sure that you’ll all hear about one of them. It is that big. I’m working on another idea that I’m very excited about.

Besides all of that, I consider these people to be my friends. I’ve already seen five of them since Ecuador and I look forward to more visits in 2017. These folks are my peeps 4 keeps.


Changes Baby, Changes

Most importantly, the trip made me realize a lot of things about myself. In more than one way, it was the bookend to my 1500 Days journey.

Every end is another beginning and I can’t wait to tell you more about my future plans. I’m going to change more things up in my life in the first half of 2017 than I’ve changed in the past ten years. It feels incredibly satisfying to have finally made peace with plans I’ve been thinking about for years.

And if none of my plans work out, I can always comfort myself with my India Peep Pale Ale. You know you want to try it.

Stay tuned for Part 3 later this month. And if you’re interested in attending a chautauqua, there are still open spots for the UK edition.


*In a sad bit of coincidence, Pete announced today that his father recently passed away from cancer. I had no idea. Life will fly by if you let it folks, make it count

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38 Responses to Ecuador Part 2: My Peeps 4 Keeps

  1. I’m so glad you found it worth your while to go! I feel like we attended the same event even though I went a whole year. I can’t recommend going enough. They will literally change your life in the best way possible! I had this strange feeling I should go back so… I’m going back for the first session this year! I can’t wait to explore the mountains and stay in the Hacienda with so many amazing people!

    • Wow, going back? I hope the second time lives up to your memories from the first.

    • MrsWoW says:

      My husband and I will be at the first week too and we are super excited. Ecuador is an absolutely amazing place and we can’t wait to be a part of Chautauqua this year. Look forward to meeting you and the rest of the Chautakie peeps!

  2. This is definitely on my list. I’ve decided somewhat regretfully not to go this year. We just have competing priorities, but I hope they keep offering it and I hope to make it out some day. Everyone who has been has such stellar things to say about the experience.

    If you are the average of the top 5 people you hang out with, I’m pretty sure I’d want it to be this crowd.

  3. Definitely sounds like an awesome event. I’m certainly hoping to be able to make it at some point. Looking forward to what changes are in store – sounds like something big!
    Freedom 40 Plan recently posted…Planning for the Unexpected – The Rainy Day FundMy Profile

  4. You had me hooked when you started talking about peeps!!!

    Sounds like a terrific and entertaining trip. I have to admit that I am a bit jealous that you got to go to some place like Ecuador and then follow it up by hanging out with a ton of awesome people.

    Can’t wait to hear your future plans.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…The Importance of Salary NegotiationsMy Profile

  5. Wow, sound like an awesome event. These things really are all about the people that you meet and the kindred spirits you find. Looking forward to hearing about your plans for 2017!
    Jon @ Be Net Worthy recently posted…Are You Giving Wisely?My Profile

  6. This event really sounds like something I would enjoy. I think I will look into the UK event, as my wife and I were already planning to go to Scottland and Ireland this summer, why not do all 3?

    Thanks for sharing your expierences, looking forward to hearing more about your future plans.
    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…$1,000 Bonus for Chase Sapphire Reserve CardMy Profile

  7. Hahaha, I’m glad another grown adult has an affinity for peeps, too. I love how crunchy and fluffy they are. 🙂

    I do have a weird obsession with monster trucks, but I know it’s not classy. 😉 I do think you’re as good as the people you surround yourself with–after all, you all influence each other’s lives and actions.

    Okay, okay, you’ve piqued my interest with the IPPA… did you actually brew this? I would think it would be hoppy and sweet all at once. 😉 Anyhoo, I’m glad you had a great chataqua! I’ve always wanted to go on one; maybe after we pay off our debt it’ll be more realistic.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Decorating on a $0 BudgetMy Profile

  8. What if I attach rubber genitals to my midsize sedan?

    Seriously though, sounds like an epic trip. Someday…
    TheHappyPhilosopher recently posted…How Not to Train for a Half-MarathonMy Profile

    • They probably wouldn’t look good on a Camry, but who am I to judge?

      PS: Did you consider holding out for a Model 3? After driving a couple electrics, I’ll never go back to burning hydrocarbons.

      • I didn’t. My 16 year old car was getting to a point I wanted to replace sooner rather than later. If I was just driving around town I may have kept it, but occasionally I had longer drives where I wanted the added marginal increase in safety and reliability. Also I thought the range would be limiting at times based on my expected driving patterns over the next several years. I think the next generation of electrics will be where I consider, and if history is any guide I should be replacing our other vehicle in about 5 years.

        PS: When are you going to start selling Mad Fientist shirts and undergarments on the blog?
        TheHappyPhilosopher recently posted…How Not to Train for a Half-MarathonMy Profile

        • Hey Philosopher-

          I dropped a MF thong in the mail for you to test. As soon as you give the thumbs up, will launch.

          Along with the thong, I’ve also sent you a modeling contract. You’re gonna look great on the new site. Plus, you’ll get a share of the profits.

          Please send pictures ASAP. Start with the My FI is Bigger than Yours thong please. After that, do Stop looking at my FI! Then, She likes my FIence.

          • Frankly I don’t know what to say. I’m humbled and honored. #gratitude. I guess those kettle bell swings and push-ups wont go to waste. This is a win-win-win for you, me and MadFI…The only losers I see here are the poor people that would be forced to see pictures of me in a thong, but f%$k ’em, they are only our customers.

            As a token of my appreciation I will send back some framed (and autographed) pictures for you and the family to hang up. What size would be best?

            Thanks again!

            Oh, one last question. Bikini wax, yea or nay?
            TheHappyPhilosopher recently posted…How Not to Train for a Half-MarathonMy Profile

          • “As a token of my appreciation I will send back some framed (and autographed) pictures for you and the family to hang up. What size would be best?”

            Thanks. There are sure to be collectors items after you score a modeling contract with a big agency.

            “Oh, one last question. Bikini wax, yea or nay?”

            Full Brazilian.

  9. Mrs. BITA says:

    You found FIRE minded, cussing like pirates, beer drinking like minds to hang out with in Ecuador? I hate you just a little bit right now.

    *Takes deep breath. Summons better self from deep down in the soul where better self was sulking and hiding*

    You are very right about the company we keep. Too easily do we sink to the lowest common denominator. Surrounding yourself with people who make you be the best version of yourself is the nicest thing you can ever do for yourself.

    I look forward with bated breath to hear about your new project.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The BackStory of Mrs. BITA: Part 2My Profile

    • “Surrounding yourself with people who make you be the best version of yourself is the nicest thing you can ever do for yourself.”

      Yep. I’ve even left some people behind. They may have been fun to hang out with, but they weren’t good people.

  10. Brian says:

    Sounds like some good times with some good peeps. Its great to feel at home with like minded people.

    With all these life changing cliff hangers around here 1500 days is turning into The Guiding Light. 🙂
    Brian recently posted…Why I Speak about Debt and BudgetsMy Profile

  11. Sounds like you had a great time in Ecuador! It feels awesome when you hang out with people who have the same mindset. Hopefully, I’ll be able to join in 2018!

    Can’t wait to hear about you future plans, Mr. 1500!
    Smart Provisions recently posted…The Simple What to Do with Your Money GuideMy Profile

  12. Divnomics says:

    Never heard of these events before, but sounds pretty awesome! Amazing how a group with such diversity also brings along so much unity when like-minded.

  13. Amy says:

    That’s a lot of swearing ;). I hope to make it some year, can’t wait.

  14. MrWoW says:

    So, we’re going this year to the first week. Are you going to be there this year? If not, you’ll be missed. Any words of wisdom?

    • I won’t be going, but I may be in the area. If I am, I’ll stop by and say “Hi!”

      Bring a notebook and take lots of notes. I wrote down everyone’s name and studied it the first evening so I’d remember them. Take loads of pictures.

  15. “Life will fly by if you let it”

    So true. The Mrs. and I were just talking about this last night. The last twenty years passed really quickly for us…possibly because we spent much of that time in an office.

    Hopefully the next 20 will go a little slower.

  16. It was so sad to read about Pete’s dad today. His post was an incredible tribute and a reminder to focus on each day we have – and to make the best of it. Your memories/descriptions of your experience in Ecuador is a great example of what is important in life.
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…How $704,000 Bought Us 16 Toilets (And A Lot More…)My Profile

  17. Jason says:

    I do hope to attend someday. I haven’t back to Ecuador in over 15 years and this would be just the thing to get me back there. Plus, hanging out with that crew would be a lot of fun. Someday.

  18. MrsWow says:

    Have you done peep-jousting before? If not, you really should.

  19. FIRECracker says:

    But if I can’t blow shit up and attach rubber genitals to things, then what’s the point of living?

    Oh well, I guess I’ll have to rely on my love of profanity to fit in at Chautauqua. FUCK YEAH!

    This is an awesome AWESOME write up. One of the funniest write ups I’ve read. You’ve also given me a new idea for my Chautauqua Ecuador announcement. Tee hee. Stealing is fun…

  20. Amber tree says:

    Part 1 and part 2 give great insights on what my next steps should be to be better. I look forward to what you will reveal in part 3

  21. The Roamer says:

    These summaries are great reads. Specially now that I have to live vicariously through you. I was so pumped to attend this year. But since it was moved to Oct this year it’s a no go. I am so bummed.

    I really want to attend for the same reason you stated here I would really like to make some peeps for keeps.

    So I guess I will have to keep it on my to do list to attend.

    I will have to say you kind of lost me with the Arnold and Tim section… I didn’t quite get how it tied in. But either way I agree Tim has a really informative podcast!

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