As part of the inspiring force to help you ‘take the leap of faith’, we will be conducting mini interviews featuring global entrepreneurs who have become “Business Backpackers”. Because we are all busy traveling, working, and having loads of fun, it is a short list of questions that will hopefully give you a quick glimpse of others “Living the Life”.
Our second mini-view comes from John Bardos, author of the blog and websites Jet Set Citizen & YouCanTeachEnglish.com. John and his wife are currently living in Japan and running their own English school, however, they have a one year plan to free themselves from their small business and move to a new country. Check out the following interview to see how John follows his own set of rules and encourages other lifestyle designers to ‘Stop consuming things and start experiencing life’.
How did you know you didn’t fit in to conventional society?
There is no reason why we should drive on the right side of the road or the left. The idea of getting a job and working at one company until retirement is only about three generations old and it is already dead. The concept of retiring at age 65 was created in 1935 with the Social Security Act in the U.S. Even that has to change because of the increase in average lifespans. Everything around us is just an idea. If you realize that, then it is easier to see that there is no set plan for life and we are free to do whatever we want.
I had many small jobs and little businesses since I was a child. Most of my friends didn’t work, but I always did. I never thought of it as being unconventional, I just made my own choices that perhaps were not common. I wasn’t the only one. Many people had jobs as children. My grandmother had to quit school in grade three to work on the farm.
In high school and university, many of my friends would go out drinking and partying every weekend. While that is fun on occasion, I didn’t want to spend every weekend like that. I wanted to focus on more productive tasks. I spent my time on pursuits I thought were more productive. I turned down many invitations to go out, and perhaps people thought I was strange, but I don’t think that following what everyone else is doing is “conventional.”
I attempted to start several businesses while I was in university and all failed. I graduated university at a terrible time, demographically . It was still at the end of the generation X boom so good job opportunities were scarce. Everybody started at the bottom with low salary jobs and slowly worked up the ladder. If I had graduated in the last decade, when jobs were plentiful, with many 20 somethings becoming executives of cutting edge companies, I probably would have worked at big firms and taken a more conventional job path. Those opportunities didn’t exist when I was graduating so I had to make different choices. I doubt I would have moved to Japan if I was making decent money in a job or from one of the businesses I started. In that sense, I also am a product of my environment. We all are. I don’t think I am doing anything strange, I think the rest of the world is crazy.
What do you currently do & please describe a brief road map of the haphazard leaps of faith that got you here today…
I knew I wasn’t going to work in a cubicle for some big company, so leaving to Japan was really the only choice I could make. I was in debt and had little chance of self-funding a business so I had to leave. It was the only way to restart. Basically, I took on a short-term consulting project and when it was nearing completion I bought a ticket to Japan for one week later. I finished up the project on a Thursday and arrived on a Friday. I didn’t have a visa, job or much money but I just went anyway because I needed the change.
I expected to be in Japan for only 6 months, so I didn’t really want to commit to starting a new business. However, after two years of teaching and no plans to leave, I told my self that if I am teaching anyway, I should start my own school. So many people are afraid to commit to anything just because they imagine some better opportunity will be coming soon. I believe we make our own opportunities and more often then not, they come from focusing all of our energies on one single job or business now. That is what I did. I managed to save some money and get some new Internet projects developed so that will fuel the next part of my life, when my wife and I leave Japan.
We have built a decent stable life here now, and that means it is time to change. Life gets boring quickly if you are not challenging yourself and taking risks.
Your most life changing travel place & why?
My wife and I go to Europe, Asia and North America regularly and all are different. Traveling as a child with my family, made me realize that not everyone in the world lives the way we do. That diversity is great. Perhaps seeing communist Hungary as a child helped me to see how rich and spoiled Canadians were and helped me to choose my own path in the world.
Encouraging words you would pass on to readers: If you could have had someone there when you took the leap of faith, what would you have needed to hear the most?
The only real risk in life is dying or getting sick before you have a chance to do the things you want. When you start getting older and more and more of your friends and family get sick or die and you lose energy and motivation, you really start to understand how short life is. I don’t want to sound like a parent telling his children how tough life was in the past, but it is all true.
We live in a time of great affluence and opportunity. It is easy and cheap to travel around the world, start new businesses and even become famous if we are willing to put in the work and are able to commit our energies to a single focus. The greatest times in my life have been when I didn’t have much money, didn’t have many possessions and was working insane hours to accomplish something. The “good life” is not an easy life. Easy makes us fat and lazy. Even if you completely fail, there are unlimited opportunities to start again. Our parents never had these opportunities. Our grandparents couldn’t even imagine this level of wealth and choice. There is no excuse for not attempting great things in life. The only barrier is our own fears, which are generally unfounded, and our unwillingness to do the work required.
So… Take The Leap, and Thanks for Reading!!
Get in touch with John:
Jet Set Citizen Lifestyle Design at the Intersection of Work, Play and Travel.
YouCanTeachEnglish.com Information and English Teaching Jobs around the World
Check out his interview with Viralogy!