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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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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