The Plastic In Our Lives: An Issue Easily Ignored

Photo: Image of Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia. February 27th, 2020.

It is in your body right now

Each week, you are walking around with a credit card. This credit card is not in your pocket, safely stored in your wallet or a purse. This credit card is in your stomach, in the form of plastic granules. Every week you could be consuming 1,769 particles of plastic every week from water alone. You could also be consuming this plastic from that salmon steak you had at your favorite restaurant or from the fruit you buy at your favorite grocery store.


We all know of the negative effects that plastic is having on the environment and even if we are aware of the negative effects it has on our bodies, we still continue to use it.


Straws are being banned in most restaurants but, that hasn’t halted straw manufacturing. Even if you know that turtles are dying from plastic, that won’t curtail your use of it. Even if you know that you’re swallowing thousands of plastic particles a week, you won’t be able to detect the source of those particles.


There are benefits to plastic

There are many benefits that we get from using plastic. Plastic containers allow for more distribution of food across societies. Without plastic, it would be harder to get food from major supermarket chains.


Plastic also helps to ensure that we don’t get sick from the food and drinks we consume. It prevents harmful bacteria from getting into our bodies.


The global plastic industry is also extremely lucrative. If you work in distribution or manufacturing you could have a share of a $16.7 billion pie by 2023. Plastic is used in the food, packaging, construction, electrical, and transportation industries.


Plastic is used in almost every facet of our lives, this is why there is a lot of friction when it comes to asking society to stop using it. Until it becomes more lucrative to create a biodegradable replacement to plastic, things won’t change. After all, change happens faster when there is a big financial incentive involved.


How removal is handled in Indonesia

An immediate example of how plastic removal isn’t effective in many countries is to look at the island of Bali, Indonesia. In beaches of Kuta and Uluwatu, what were once beautiful and clean surfing scenes, are now covered in trash.


One would assume that there would be a big financial incentive to the restaurants, surfing schools, and bars along the shore to invest in cleaning these beaches. Islands like these prosper from tourism, but it’s hard to make money from tourists if your beaches are dirty. However, whoever is in charge of cleaning has decided to simply drive trucks along the shore to bury the waste under the sand.


This method of “cleaning” certainly solves any cosmetic issues but, it doesn’t remove the plastic — which is what really has to happen. This highlights another underlying issue: there is a lack of global awareness when it comes to the effects of plastic.


Western countries, for the most part, seem to be more proactive when it comes to removing plastic from the oceans. I am confident that other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, will begin to direct their resources to removal but not any time soon.


I don’t know what I can do to help fix this problem. However, I also didn’t know how bad this problem was until I saw it firsthand. If the beaches in Indonesia are as bad as they are currently, I wouldn’t be surprised that there are other countries with the same problem — handling it the same way.


Budgeting For Travel: Prioritizing Your Spending To Maximize Your Fun

Spending your money without a plan will keep your adventures short

When budgeting for travel expenses, especially when your trip is more than a month-long, requires a detailed plan. If you allocate too much money to the wrong categories, you will end up returning home faster than you wanted to.


Your travel budget should be organized with the following categories, listed from the highest priority to the lowest:

  1. Transportation
  2. Accommodation
  3. Traveler’s Insurance
  4. Food
  5. Personal Hygiene
  6. Laundry
  7. Data & VPN
  8. Recreation
  9. Alcohol
  10. Clothing
  11. Souvenirs


Your transportation costs should always be your first priority because, without money for a train or flight, you aren’t going anywhere. You could decide to go on a long trek into the wilderness by foot but, even then you should invest in the proper hiking gear ahead of time.


The bag you travel with is also included in this spending category because how much you bring will determine how smooth your trip is. The more space you have in your bag, the more stuff you will bring along with you. Too much stuff can lead to traveling with a heavy bag and that is the last thing you want when on a long-term trip. Travel light and with only a few essentials.


I travel with a week’s worth of clothes, my laptop for work (you won’t need this if you aren’t working while traveling), and a few books. The heaviest part of my load is my book collection and I could still save space by buying a kindle.


Budgeting for the right accommodation helps to prevent you from staying up all night because your bed is as hard as a brick. If you buy cheap, you get cheap and the effects tend to ruin the entire trip overall.


You don’t need to book four to five-star hotel rooms to get comfort, there are many great and affordable hostels. Just always make sure you read as many reviews as possible and go price-shopping on more than one platform before booking your room.

Traveler’s insurance provides peace of mind

It goes without saying that if you aren’t prepared for the worst-case scenario, you will always be at risk of not returning after your trip. There are a ton of travelers insurance companies that provide very affordable plans. I don’t recommend purchasing a plan unless you’re traveling abroad for more than a month.


It is better to have spent money on insurance and not need it, than to need it and not have it. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hospital bed in the middle of Thailand and you’re stuck with an $800 bill that you can’t get reimbursed.


Having a food budget is essential for, without food, you won’t be traveling for long periods of time. Fasting can help you save money while traveling, and help you to avoid traveler’s diarrhea, but you will need to eat eventually. The best way to save money is to avoid fast-food chains and stick to the local cuisine. After all, what better way is there to learn about another culture than by eating their food?


Personal hygiene and your laundry are next in this list because there are certain liberties you can take here while traveling. So long as you have the essentials covered — toothpaste, deodorant, body soap, lotion, and feminine products — you should be fine.


Don’t pack these items when traveling. Buy them in the country that you’re traveling to. They will be cheaper and you don’t run the risk of having a bottle open accidentally in your bag and spilling onto your clothes.


Laundry services tend to be cheap but, if you’re really trying to save money pack a sink plug and a climbing rope. These two tools can cost you less than $40 and you can use them to wash your clothes by hand and then air-dry them outside of your room (I discovered this hack through author Rolf Potts).

You can survive without wifi, it’s possible

Having a secure and constant stream of connectivity to the internet is important, but only if you’re working while traveling. You shouldn’t need to have constant access to social media or your email while on a trip, stay in the moment and enjoy the details of where you are.


Most coffee shops and hostels have free wifi and unless you frequently need to check your bank accounts, you won’t need to buy a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs are only useful in countries such as China that censor the internet.

Do you need that extra drink?

Your budget for recreation is mainly for any kind of tourist activities that you want to do, such as snorkeling or guided tours around a city. There are ways to have fun in a country without a tour guide or travel agency but, this usually requires that you meet and hang out with the locals.


Alcohol should be separated from your recreation budget as it can often eat up your budget faster than you think. If you enjoy nights out and having a couple of cocktails, keep to once per week.


Lastly, if you ever need to buy clothes because one of your pants ripper or if you want to buy little trinkets to bring back home, I usually allocate at the most, 5% of my total budget for these types of expenses.


I personally don’t like to buy new clothes unless I absolutely need to and prefer taking my clothes to a dry cleaner or tailor for repairs. And I never buy souvenirs because they take up space in your bag.


Your budget may not reflect these categories and how they are organized but, you should know which ones are most important to you. Proper preparation prevents poor performance, and even though you cannot prepare yourself for every surprise that will happen during your trip, you should try to mitigate any stress over finances. Budgeting for travel should be one of the first steps you take before leaving home — second only to picking which country you want to go to.


If We Only Had 4 Hours A Day To Work, How Would We Spend It?

How We Work Is Changing Because Of Technology & We Will Have More Time On Our Hands

There will come a day when we will only work four hours daily. We may already be in that situation, only pretending to work for eight hours a day to appease our boss needs to see us do so. In most jobs that require us to do work online, our work is usually completed by the middle of the day.


Bureaucracy, endless meetings, time checking our email inbox, and office banter during lunch tend to take up the rest of the workday. The average American worker spends more time pretending to work and appearing productive than they do actually working. Most of us get paid to be bored.


There are restrictions on how we work. We have to be productive members of our teams, not because they impose total concentration and attention during work hours, but because the system of work right now is all about appearances.


In most situations, we can’t leave the office and go home once all of our tasks are complete. This could come at the cost of losing our pay for the day or worse. We are working in jobs that haven’t fully adapted to the acceleration of change that is happening. We are also not preparing ourselves for a time when our jobs do shift and we only have four hours of work per day.


How would your day look if you only had half of the time each day to work? How would you spend your time?

Shifting priorities, experiencing more fulfillment, and maximizing time

When we experience restrictions and constraints, our creativity increases. We use our attention with more purpose. Distractions become more noticeable. Meetings don’t become as frequent because our communication becomes clear and faster.


As a result of this change, the work we are doing becomes more purposeful and enjoyable. Questions begin to come into focus, such as, “How can I get this task done with half the time I usually take?” Things that seem urgent at first are deferred until a later date. Most tasks that are communicated as urgent are tested more, we take our time more seriously.


All high priority items would be tackled first. This would lead to more impact and increase our overall usefulness to our team and clients. we would delegate more. we would drop projects that aren’t fruitful and fulfilling. We would be more selective in the projects that we choose to take on in the future. And we would consider the requirements more and think about the price for taking on tasks assigned.


We will enjoy work more but, we won’t obsess over it during our off-hours. We’ll experience life more. For we are not mechanisms but, people. And when we aren’t working we will have to find time for fun and for experiencing the nuances of life. Work for work’s sake will be obsolete and completely unnecessary.


If we don’t begin to consider our daily workdays looking like this, the transition will be a painful one. Instead, when the transition takes place, we should enjoy it for the opportunities it will bring.


Jobs aren’t being replaced, they are changing and evolving. As our idea of work is redefined and new skills are required of us, we also need to start adopting a new paradigm of thought. The sooner, the better.


4 Reasons Why You Are Not Traveling

Knowing Your Barriers For Acting Is Half Of The Battle

There are many reasons that can stop you from traveling the world. Once you know what they are, you can convince yourself that it is possible.


You’re dependent on getting your vacation days approved

If you don’t want to dream about traveling anymore, you have to start removing the limitations in your life. The first one to start removing is your employer. I’m not advocating that you submit your letter of resignation tomorrow, but you should start by setting up an automated deposit to your savings account. If you have a financial plan that you’re committed to, that will decrease the dependency you have on your employer.


Long-term travel doesn’t necessitate that you quit your job but, in most cases that is what you will need to do. Some employers will allow you to take a six-month break or sabbatical, but that tends to only happen with mid-level to senior-level managers. There is a risk involved in leaving your job to go travel the world but, if they truly see your value they will keep an open spot for you in the future. If they don’t want to hire you when you come back, they are losing out on a better version of who you are.


You’re scared of not being with your friends and family

When you travel for a long time, you will also sacrifice time spent with friends and family. You won’t be there for the birthdays, barbecues, and weekend Netflix binging sessions at your cousin’s house. Yet, what you will gain from your experience traveling will match, and sometimes transcend moments spent with your loved ones.


You’ll be able to come back with a bunch of cool stories to share with your friends and family. Even better, you may even inspire some of them to start their own adventures.


You’re worried that taking a pause on your career will set you back

You don’t need to put a pause on your career while traveling. Becoming a digital nomad can be an option you can explore if you prepare in advance by finding remote work. There are a ton of digital nomads in the world who find their jobs by researching Youtube to discover what’s available and then using LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, AngelList, and other job platforms to find work. It will take time but, if a hypothetical hiring manager’s opinion of your resume gap is your biggest concern, don’t worry.


You can also use your travels to augment your resume. Highlighting what skills you learned during your experiences — negotiating, time management, and budgeting — can help you stand out during your next interview.


You’re afraid of traveling because it seems dangerous

The most dangerous places in the world tend to only be dangerous because the news needs to grab your attention. Most scams in any country can be researched prior to your trip (Youtubers love doing “Top 10 Scams” videos).


Traveling helps you gain a better sense of awareness for your surroundings, the point is to leave home even if you’re scared. Locals in other countries treat travelers kindly for the most part, but it is also imperative that you research local customs and etiquette before arriving at your destination.


Finding all the reasons for not traveling can be a somewhat insurmountable task. There are definitely more reasons that you can use to convince yourself not to leave. However, traveling is accessible to all of us if we are only willing to take the first step. The first step is usually just saying, “it’s possible.” Then simply use the internet to start researching and preparing. This is when you begin making the dream practical and achievable.


What Are You Reading: The Value Of A Book

Taking The Time To Digest An Idea

Most of us spend our time watching videos rather than reading a book. Videos are easy to consume, simply press play. You can watch a video passively while using a separate device to scroll through social media (I do this often).


Listening to a podcast is also more accessible than reading a book. You can’t run on a treadmill while reading an 800-pager (you can try but, I wouldn’t recommend it).


Reading takes focus and deliberate attention. You have to set aside time to effectively digest what you’re reading. While reading, distractions can easily enter your mind because the letters on the page aren’t providing captivating visuals or audio. Yet, a book’s true value will always be the access it provides.


Why You Should Read Regularly

Even if it is one page a day, reading should be an essential part of your daily schedule. Regardless of whether you are reading fiction or non-fiction, a mystery or a memoir, or even a blog for that matter—reading gives your mind a chance to grow. Your imagination is ignited when you read. There is a reason that most successful people read regularly. Reading gives you exposure to new ideas.


The internet can provide you with new ideas too but, reading will give those ideas a chance to actually be adopted into your life. It is one thing to watch three to five Youtube videos on marketing basics but, reading a book about marketing will help you see nuances that may be overlooked in a short video.

Additionally, you will think about the ideas you are discovering even after you put the book down. Ideas you get while reading become important to you. And books make for the best type of present, especially when gifted to someone who wants to improve themselves.


When is the last time you sent a Youtube video to someone as “a gift?” Did they thank you for it? Did it change their lives?


What Is The Lazy Way?

If a task comes naturally to you, if you can complete it with ease, that is a great thing! If a task is difficult and takes a lot of time, the complexity may be a symptom of a weak process. Meaning, the process hasn’t become second nature to you. A good sign that you haven’t completely mastered something is if you can’t produce results while being lazy.


Laziness is not a bad thing. Despite how most people use the adjective, a lazy person is often highly intelligent. They tend to be great negotiators, as they have practiced negotiating with reality to get what they want. Lazy people also tend to be great delegators. They know how to get other people to do tasks they don’t want to do or that they aren’t good at, with the least amount of friction possible.


The desired pinnacle of laziness is someone who can achieve almost anything by simply creating and teaching other people faster ways of completing tasks.


When hiring anyone for a project, give them a typical task that they would have to perform on a daily basis. After explaining what that task is, ask them, “How would you do this if you wanted to be lazy?” The word “lazy” can also mean, “pressed for time.” Their answer will highlight how they approach tasks under pressure. You will be able to see if they make tasks more complicated than they need to be.


When approaching any type of work, we should always seek to maximize our time. “How can I get the best results with the least amount of effort?” This question may seem self-serving and that is the point!


If you are able to get any type of work done with maximum ease, especially work you don’t want to do, you will find ways to be a better worker. The point of cultivating laziness is to become more useful. Lazy people tend to be the most useful on a team because they help others to simplify the way they approach their tasks.


Adopt laziness in the work that you do. It will prevent you from overthinking and it will help you make work more fun as well. If a task is complicated, you may want to ask yourself how are you the cause of the complexity. There is always a lazier way.


Creating Content Every Day, Don’t Overthink It

Here Is A Challenge For Call Creators

Quality is large in part an end product of creating. If you are judging the work before or mid-process, you are setting yourself up for failure. Judging your work should only begin after your audience has judged it. Then you can insert your ego.


Some of your best work will also be the work you hesitated the most to publish. You will surprise yourself more often if you give your content a chance to see the light of day. Yes, your work should be edited to achieve maximum results. However, there comes a time when you need to pull the trigger.


Finding a reason to start creating content is easy, learning how to create content consistently is hard. I recently decided to take up a challenge that author Seth Godin proposes to all aspiring writers: we should write every single day. I propose that this practice is important to adopt for any kind of creator, whether your photographer, painter, graphic designer, or filmmaker.


Even if you don’t publish your work, the simple act of creating something every day will create a foundational process. This process can then be refined over time, helping you to create better work. Incremental improvements are often unnoticeable yet, if you trust that they will happen you will see results. These results may reveal themselves within a year’s time or in ten years. Your audience will let you know when the results are visible.


Creating content on a daily basis will also let you see if you like doing it! It will also reveal whether or not you need working with the best format. Maybe you would be a better podcaster rather than a filmmaker, or perhaps writing is a better option for your voice. If you create something every day, you will certainly learn more about what works best.


Don’t overthink the process. Don’t overthink your content. Trust that you can create something special and useful and it will eventually happen. Even if you have a gift, without a practice of creating that is built upon hard work you will give up when the going gets tough. Talent is only a part of the equation.


Make it so that all excuses are non-existent, that all barriers to entry are gone, and you will see that you can create. It can be done, every single day. Stop getting in your own way and your audience will thank you.


The Best Credit Card You Could Ever Own

Focus on creating a financial commitment to yourself first

The day I started to actually commit to saving my money was when I learned how debt works. I was shown a Youtube video called, How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio. In the video, Ray describes debt as a means of increasing spending in the present and decreasing it in the future. Once I realized that that is how debt works, I wanted to only create debt between my “current self” and my “future self.”


Instead of owing money to a bank, why can’t we just owe money to ourselves? Savings in its simplest form is postponed spending. You are giving money to your future self. If you think of your savings as your “most important credit card bill” that you have, the obligation to pay your future self becomes easier.


“Seeing your monthly savings account deposits the same way you see your monthly credit card bills may help you prioritize them more.”


We often prioritize the wrong financial obligations. The most important bill that you should pay first, before paying any other bills, is your monthly savings deposit. If you reframe that deposit as a bill, you will prioritize that commitment to yourself even more.  We tend to spend within our means, so we might as well spend on our future first.


Are you another statistic?

Even if you decide never to own assets, doing the bare minimum of saving 10-20% of your after-tax income every month will put you ahead of so many other people. After all, the average American doesn’t have $400 in emergency savings. Although this statistic is regularly debated, trying to get $400 in savings is an attainable goal to start with. If you can achieve this, next try to maintain a consistent monthly contribution that can only be used by your future self. Even better, open an account that will penalize you for early withdrawals, like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).


Don’t be a statistic. Saving your money can help you do so many things, like setting yourself up for a mini-retirement, preparing for future debt payments like a mortgage, or it can just provide simple peace of mind (this is why I have a savings account).

Focus-On-Owning-The Category-A Not-So-New Approach-To-Building-Your-Personal-Brand

Focus On Owning The Category: A Not-So-New Approach To Building Your Personal Brand

Promote A Category, Not Your Name

The purpose of a slogan is to promote a brand that your prospective customer can identify with. You want the slogan and eventually your brand’s name to become so synonymous with the product or service that you’re selling, that you become generic.


Band-Aid is a company that sells bandages. Scotch Tape is a company that sells tape. When you hear the phrase, “Just Do It,” Nike is the first thing that comes to mind. When you hear these brands’ names, they appear to be the most generic in their categories: bandages, tape, and shoes. They own these categories.


These companies don’t only focus on promoting their logos, they focus on promoting the utility of their product categories. That’s what we all need to do if we are seeking to expand the reach of our personal brands. Thinking of ourselves as large corporations, it is better for us to promote the category of services rather than our brands themselves.


To give an explicit example, Tim Ferriss explains in  Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, that he focused on selling the category of Lifestyle Design. He did this so successfully that after the launch of his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, many other copycats came out of the woodwork. Now there are thousands of people who promote themselves as lifestyle designers on Youtube and Instagram.


Now we may not be as lucky as Tim in both owning and creating a phrase that ends up becoming a whole category of service providers, but we can learn something from his approach. Your prospective customer is being sold to every minute of every day. They aren’t only being sold to by your direct competitors, hundreds of other brands outside of your industry are also trying to get their attention.


Instead of doing what everyone else does and promoting your services as, “Look what I can do for you,” the better approach is, “Look what this type of service can do for you.” You come off as more educational, rather than promotional.


How To Implement This Idea For Yourself

I’m currently trying to own the category of copywriter. I am not the first nor will I be the last copywriter. My main challenge right now is that I am working uphill, competing with every single copywriter in the world.


Even if I were to hone in on a niche, that currently being product review writing, I am still in fierce competition with other copywriters who write the same type of content. The only way to distinguish my personal brand to stand out more is by modifying the title of copywriter, promoting content on why businesses need copywriters, and showcasing my expertise — what I know.


People only remember the top three to seven brands in a given category. We have to aim for becoming, at the bare minimum, the number three person in our field if we are going to even have a chance at having a client consider hiring us.


Creating content for your personal brand is only the first step in this process. While you create your online footprint, you have to constantly keep in mind, “How am I creating or owning this category?” The older and bigger the category, the more difficult it will be to do this.


If you’re trying to build your personal brand as a newcomer in your industry, the most accessible option will be to promote the category you are in. For the more seasoned professional, Tim Ferriss approach might be the better option. Try creating a new category and have others copy you so that you become the leader in that category by default. This is certainly harder to do but, it beats trying to stand out in a sea of other professionals who have the exact same title as you do.



I just recently finished reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout. Taking the ideas proposed by the authors, I wanted to know how I could actually retain the information more. I want to make the book more useful. They cover a wide history of how several companies gained prominence (or lost it) within their industries.


I’m taking what I’ve learned from the book and applying it to my personal brand. If you’re interested in learning more about marketing in general, I highly recommend buying this book. It’s a fast read and it is certainly an enjoyable way to spend a weekend at home.


How To Charge A Client: Time, Creation, Or Results

Unclear Pricing Doesn’t Get You Clients

A freelancer’s hardest task is getting clients. You can be the best vendor or consultant in the world, yet if you cannot attract and retain a clientele, your work doesn’t matter. Part of gathering clients is determining how much you will charge them. You can only calculate how much to charge a client by using three methods of measurement:

  • Through time spent working
  • By what you’ve created for them
  • Or by using measurable results.


You may use a mix of all three of these methods but, there will always be an anchor. The anchor will be the main method by which all negotiation revolves around. In my field of copywriting, I charge by what I create. Instead of charging for my services by hourly rate, I charge by article or word count. I could charge by the time it takes to write an article or by the number of page views an article generates, but I personally don’t like those pricing models. The exact method you use is large in part, determined by the type of services you are providing.


Always Keep Your Pricing Flexible

When pricing your services, consider the exact dollar amount you will use as a starting point in your negotiations. You always want to be open to negotiating the price, as clients often provide you with more than just money in exchange for your work. A client’s value also comes from their network, as referrals are often the best way to grow your business and your reputation. A client’s value can also come from the project they are inviting you to contribute to, as certain projects are better for your portfolio than others.


Regardless of which of the three methods you decide to use, it is important to experiment with all three of them. Certain clients will only hire you if they can clock your hours, while others will only care about results and charge you a commission from actual revenue made. If your services necessitate it, you may want to include a retainer fee in your contract.


The retainer fee is a percentage of your services that you will charge before working for your client, which is used as proof that the client is committed to working with you. The price is usually between 5-10% of the total service fee but, you can charge more if your reputation allows for it. Some clients don’t accept retainer fees and you should use your best judgment when deciding to work with them. I would only work for a client without a retainer fee if they have a big network that I could leverage in the future.


Having a clear pricing model and a way of showing this to your clients before starting your work for them will always save you time in future discussions. You always want to make sure that your clients understand what it is you are doing for them and why they are being charged the price you are setting. If either of these are vague, you are doing your client a disservice. If you are shy about this topic of conversation when sending project proposals and setting initial client calls, there is a way to tackle that fear.


Questions Are The Best Starting Point When Explaining Your Pricing Structure

The best way to become more confident in talking about your fees is by showcasing your ability to understand your client. Instead of selling before naming the price of your fees, ask as many questions as possible. This will provide you with information necessary to tie your fees to their needs. When describing why you are pricing your services using your time, output, or results — bring the topic of conversation back to what the client needs from you.


If a client truly needs your services and if you are able to demonstrate how your services will clearly solve their problems, the conversation of setting your price will be easier to navigate. Hopefully, you will be able to communicate that you are charging not only for your services but, for an ongoing relationship with the client. You are charging to solve their current and future problems.


Lastly, finding the right price for your clients comes with experience. Additionally, you don’t need to leverage your own experience. Researching the advice of expert freelancers in your field can give you a ballpark figure to start working with. At the end of the day, play with the numbers.


If you find that prospective clients aren’t receptive to the current prices you are setting, perhaps you are charging too much or you need better clients. Experimentation will be the only way to determine which of these two scenarios is the real one.

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