Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Resilient Entrepreneur: How to Win in a Hostile Economy

The Resilient Entrepreneur: How to Win in a Hostile Economy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with Chris Guillebeau 

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Chris Guillebeau, an entrepreneur, writer, travel enthusiast, speaker, and podcaster. He has visited almost every country in the world, works independently, and motivates people to do the same, encouraging them to live a rewarding life by following their passion. His blog, The Art of Not Conforming, receives more than 300,000 views per month.

Chris is also a longtime fan of Duct Tape Marketing. Recently, he published his latest book, “Gonzo Capitalism: How to Make Money in an Economy That Hates You.”

Key Takeaway:

During this podcast episode, we delve into the changing landscape of the economy, the rise of unconventional careers, and the power of decentralization. Chris shares fascinating stories of individuals who have found success in unique ways, from naming Chinese babies to teaching outdoor survival skills. Throughout our discussion, he reminded us why, in this rapidly evolving world, individuals and businesses should adapt, embrace novelty, and explore alternative paths to thrive in this changing economic landscape.

Questions I ask Chris:

  • [00:55] Does the economy really hate you?
  • [03:29] Does this happen only in America, or does it happen everywhere?
  • [04:53] Does this mean that we should not be sending our kids to college?
  • [06:36] Why did you call it gonzo capitalism?
  • [08:53] What can people learn from your book?
  • [13:43] What is the message, and what kind of clarity can you offer?
  • [14:23] Where do you recommend people go to learn more about creativity?
  • [15:44] How would businesses adapt to what you talk about in your book?

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John (00:03): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Chris Gillebeau. He is an entrepreneur, writer, travel enthusiast, speaker, and podcaster. He has visited almost every country in the world, works independently and, motivates people to do the same and live a rewarding life by following their passion. His blog, the Art of Non-Conforming, has more than 300 views per month, and he's also a super, super longtime fan of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and Duct Tape Marketing. He wrote that, I'm just reading what he wrote. Okay. And more recently published his latest book, Gonzo Capitalism, how to Make Money in An Economy That Hates You. So Chris, welcome back to the show.

Chris (00:48): Thank you. It's been too long. Thanks for having me back. I am a longtime fan of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and the Duct Tape Marketing Empire, in fact.

John (00:55): Well, I want to start with the fact that I was feeling pretty good today, but then I learned that the economy hates me, and so I'm kind of tell me, I

Chris (01:04): Dunno that it hates you, John. I dunno that it hates you because you work for yourself and you have always been kind of on the forefront of helping people navigate self-employment and entrepreneurship and such. I think the subtitle of the book, how the Economy Hates You or How to Make Money in That Environment, I think it relates to how a lot of people are feeling resentful and critical of a system that they believe has a small number of winners and a large number of losers. A lot of young people obviously are graduating college or university with a tremendous amount of debt and not necessarily something on the other end to help pay that off. And it's not just young people, it's like young people of all ages we could say, who aren't able to afford a mortgage who've been priced out of this economy. So there's a lot of resentment and at the same time, there are a lot of opportunities for people to do something for themselves. So I don't know that the economy hates you, but it does hate a lot of people, or at least a lot of people perceive that.

John (02:05): Yeah. And so you, I mean, I suppose the bear you are poking is a traditional, go get a job, work for a company, get a salary, hopefully climb the corporate ladder or whatever that means. I mean, is that the economy or that model I guess that you're suggesting is at fault or at least that people are still pursuing that model?

Chris (02:26): Well, I feel like I've been poking that bear for a while. I feel like what's different or what's new in the past few years, I feel that everything about power and money, the dynamics of power, the perception of money, that is what has shifted for so many people. And so there's a whole renegotiation of the employer-employee contracts, both formally in some ways with all this increased interest in unions, but also informally just with people embracing the great resignation and quiet quitting. There's a whole chapter in the book about people who are doing this over employed thing where they're working multiple full-time jobs remotely without either employer knowing about it. So they are kind of taking matters into their own hands. And these are not low paid workers, just to be clear, these are professionals who are earning six figure incomes often more than once, not

John (03:17): Punching a clock for anybody. So that

Chris (03:20): Exactly.

John (03:21): Yeah.

Chris (03:21): Right. So I think there's a lot of changes that I'm just kind of pointing to. I think the bear has been poked, whether by me or anybody else.

John (03:29): Would you say that this is a American issue? I know you spend a lot of time in places outside of America or I mean, is that sort of a part of what's informing you in this and that you've seen it happen or you've seen it operating better in other places?

Chris (03:45): That's a great question. I was just in Canada all last week and a lot of these issues resonate there as well. I've done lots of travel as mentioned. I feel like it's a global issue. We're so connected these days. Social movements might start in one place, but then kind of quickly extrapolate elsewhere and such. So I don't know that I would say it's particularly American. Maybe in some ways it's magnified here just by population size and the number of people who are leaving in droves to do something different and such. But I think all over the world people have interest in these kinds of things.

John (04:16): Maybe a level of entitlement that exists here probably adds to the anxiety perhaps

Chris (04:21): Maybe. But I mean, you could kind of pick at that a little bit and say, okay, it's entitlement, but is it really entitlement or is it more just a general expectation of investment? If I invest tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars in my education, is it reasonable to expect that I'm going to be able to use that in a way that's going to hopefully pay that back at some point? And if I shouldn't, maybe I should just adjust my expectations then. But if I adjust my expectations, then I should do something different.

John (04:53): I wasn't really going to go down this path, but you've mentioned it a couple of times now, so I want to delve into that a little bit. Should we not be going to college? I mean, should we not be sending our kids to college?

Chris (05:02): Oh, I mean, I think it depends on what you want to study, what you want to do in life. It's not should or shouldn't. I think it's like should you blindly go to college without any other goal or path? Maybe if that's your situation, maybe do something different. Take a gap year. That's a wonderful thing for people traveling and doing different stuff or volunteering. There's all kinds of opportunities.

John (05:22): Yeah. Well, I still don't know what I want to do in life, so I can't imagine that having that answer. Of course. So all good business books, you quote Nicki Minaj, I think, and you're specifically, I think pointing to this novelty as currency. I wonder if you could unpack that one for us.

Chris (05:41): I think the quote from Nick Minaj is, if I'm fake, I ain't noticed because my money, and I think during the pandemic in particular, we saw, we've talked about power a little bit, but in the money side there was more than a trillion dollars of stimulus money. And there are all these digital currencies that we're launching all the time and people asking questions about what actually is money, John, if you and I create our own currency and then one other person comes along and buys it, have we then created a market of millions and millions of dollars worth of value, or is that all just completely made up and at what point does it become not made up if five people buy it, if 10 people buy it, and so on? So I think a lot of people are thinking differently about that. So that's like if I'm fake, well, I don't know. My money is not fake, or at least it's as fake as anybody else's money. It's as real as anybody else's money. So that's some of what I'm trying to look at.

John (06:36): So in some ways, when I read, especially the examples that you cite in the book of people doing some really out of the box things, I mean, it feels like just an amplified continuation of your art, of nonconforming. I mean, you've really been talking about alternative ways to make a living for a long time, and a lot of them a hundred dollars startup, I mean, that was all about like, Hey, you don't have to go this path. You can go this path. So has something changed particularly in the last three or four years that really gives it the Gonzo label?

Chris (07:09): I think there are two things. I think number one, the pace or the scale of it has changed. Things happen quicker. Now, I think you and I, for what, 15 years or so, we're building up our email lists and hopefully we got a decent number of people on them, but now they're lots of 15 year olds who have millions of followers on TikTok. And it just happens. It just happens so quickly. I told the story in the book about Miss Excel. You probably know her name's Katt Norton. She's selling these Microsoft Excel training courses and she's making multiple millions of dollars from these courses. And this has been built up in a very, very quick period of time. So pace and scale I think is quite different. And the second thing is the decentralized nature of it, or at least the ability for some things to be decentralized.

(07:57): So like I say in the book, I've been doing e-commerce stuff for 25 years, or at least I used to do e-commerce, and when I started I was like 19 years old and I thought, oh, everything is for sale now. And this is so easy. This is free market for the whole world and such. But in a lot of ways it was still very centralized. You still had to have a merchant account from your bank. You had to go through various approvals and gatekeepers and such. It'd be able to take credit cards. And so I used to say on the internet, nobody cares if you're a teenager, but you really had to have your parents or somebody helping you gain access to things. Whereas now there's lots of networks with blockchain and other things where people can just do whatever they want and nobody, there isn't somebody that's giving approval or disapproval to certain things. And that's true across venture capital and lots of other, it's true across social movements. I look at some of that in the book as well. So decentralization is the second point.

John (08:53): So I think the cutting edge of folks that you talk about in this book and that I think are going to really take this book and go, yeah, I can go do something different, I think are a lot of individuals in many cases that are just, I don't know, is exploiting the right word, exploiting the TikTok algorithm or universe that's out there. Can, and maybe I'm jumping ahead of myself, but what would you advise what I would call more traditional businesses or even heaven forbid, enterprises could learn from essentially these new ways?

Chris (09:25): Yeah. Well, I mean on that exploiting point, I mean I think the algorithm exploits us. Mostly the exploitation is going the other way around. So if somebody's able to figure out a tip or a trick or a hack or something that works, I think good for them. As for enterprises, I think the best enterprises are open to new ideas. They have their mission and their vision. I think that's very important. I think it's good to not just pursue every trend or tangent, but at the same time you want to recognize when the world changes. We have to change. And throughout history, there've been various shifts that have endured. There's things that happened that are kind of small change, but then there's the agrarian revolution and the industrial revolution and such. And so I think this is kind of the money revolution in the sense that there is a little bit of a before and after and you can choose to remain blind to it.

(10:17): And people do that in times of change and that's fine. But I think people who really want to thrive, and again, people can be leaders of an enterprise organization or a company, then they are kind of saying, okay, what are the skills I need to build for this new economy? I mean, AI is changing everything and we don't want to drop everything in our business to focus on the latest thing. It could end up just being like the metaverse, but I don't know, I think five years from now, things are going to be quite different than they are now. And so you want to adapt to that. You want to be open.

John (10:49): I do have some NFTs I'd like to sell you.

Chris (10:51): Do you really? Are they 95% off now?

John (10:54): So that does beg the question because a lot of people jump in, I don't know if we're going to call 'em early movers or whatever they are, but N F T five years ago, three years ago, you couldn't talk to somebody without that being then it was crypto, you already dropped ai the conversation. So do you run the risk or does it matter of, I already mentioned novelty as currency. A lot of these ideas are novelty that will go away. So do we run the risk of chasing after the next thing instead of building something that maybe has some measure of legacy?

Chris (11:27): Sure. Yeah, no, it's great. I think a couple of things. So most of my work is for individuals. It's not for companies. I'm always thinking about that person out there, and if you know your life mission, first of all, I have great clarity on what I'm supposed to do and build, then I think you shouldn't listen to anybody or pay attention to anything, just go and do that thing. But a lot of people are not in that place, and it takes a long time to come to that place. And so I think it's perfectly reasonable to experiment and do different stuff. I also think with some of the stories in the book, there's a story of the guy who's a sleep flu and he gets paid to sleep or actually not sleep because people are waking him up throughout the night. This is being streamed on Twitch and he's got this bedroom that he's hooked up with all these digital distractions.

(12:12): He's making $50,000 a month doing this, so is he going to be doing it for the rest of his life? Probably not. But number one, it's $50,000 a month. He's this young guy from Australia. That's pretty cool. Number two, it's a crazy story. He's going to have the story for the rest of his life if he stops doing it tomorrow. He's got this story. He's built these skills. He's learned about streaming. He's learned how to build this whole thing where lights and sirens are attached to talk transactions and things. The skills that you acquire now, the foundation you build is going to be relevant. It is going to be relevant for whatever happens next.

John (12:43): Yeah, that's a really great point. I mean, there's learning in everything that we do, isn't there?

Chris (12:48): Absolutely. Absolutely. I think the learning process is just as valuable as whatever the outcome is.

John (12:53): Chris, in many ways, your Gonzo capitalism play kind of started with your blog and with writing I think, and content has still today, obviously books or a big part of it, content today is still a big part of yours. Do you think content is one of those plays that really does have a very, very long life, that it's certainly not over, it's not done, it's still something someone could jump into today?

Chris (13:15): Man, I hope so, John. I mean, because that's my world. That's our world. I mean, I'm kind of biased there because that's what want to write books and make the podcast. And I mean, that to me is I still think that valuable messages are worth sharing and can reach an audience for sure.

John (13:32): If somebody were going to jump into it. I mean, a lot of times people will say, well, you got in when it was hot thing and you built your audience. But if I wanted to start the day, what would I have to do?

Chris (13:43): Yeah. I mean, I guess I feel like on that point, everything I've started, I always felt like I was late when I started blogging. I thought I was really late because I saw a bunch of people that had been doing it before me. And when I started the podcasts or the podcast, it's just one of them. I started six years ago and I was like, man, I'm really, really late for the podcast world guys. You had been doing it for a long time. So I'm not too convinced by the too late kind of argument. But as we're starting now, I guess I'm not sure if it's any different. It's not so much capitalizing on being early with something. What do you hope to do that's hopefully a little bit different than somebody else? And at least who do you hope to help with it? What is the message and what kind of clarity can you offer?

John (14:23): You're write about gamers earning digital currency, the whole virtual reality world. If I'm looking for ideas that are going to be the next whatever, big thing, where do you recommend people go or how do they get exposure to some creative ideas like that?

Chris (14:41): Yeah, so they start with their own skills. Start with your own skills, your own set of knowledge. Make a list of not just things that you're excited about or passionate about, but things that you're good at, things that you have knowledge in. Try to look for some things that are a little bit lesser known. Don't just think about your formal education, your traditional career path. Think about whatever else it could be. And so for video games, there's a whole chapter in the book about blockchain video games. I kind of got immersed into this world and spent a lot of time like buying different gaming assets. There's this whole world now where there are video games that are also financial marketplaces. So it's a game in the sense that you're competing against other players, but you're also investing real money. And so once you have your skills and your talents, then it's like, what is out there? What is out there that I could find? Reddit is a great source of that. Look at Reddit, look at other networks.

John (15:31): One of the categories you write about in this book that I found kind of fascinating is something you call prediction markets.

Chris (15:37): Talk

John (15:38): About that one. But then also maybe how would, again, I can't call 'em traditional businesses, I'm not sure what else

Chris (15:44): You

John (15:44): Call, but how would businesses take a little bit of a cue from the folks that are playing in that market?

Chris (15:50): So I experimented a lot for this book. Each chapter of the book is kind of an experiment and what happened, how much money was involved and what the outcome was and such. I won some, I lost some. And one of the things I did was this world of prediction market where people can bet on anything. So everybody knows about the stock market. They know you can bet on sports, but you can also bet on Drake's next album on how many streams it's going to get. I bet on the T Ss a checkpoint line, how many people are going to go through security tomorrow or whatever day? I bet on Brittany Spear's conservatorship case, I made $200 off that. So all kinds of things. If you want to get into it, there's a lot of platforms. One is called Predict It, predict Another one's called Calci, K A L S H I K A L, SS H I, poly Market. There's a few different ones you can kind of go and experiment. As for traditional businesses, I don't know. I think this is just something to be aware of that in the future, the very near future, anyone anywhere will be able to bet on anything. And that is different than it's ever been before. There's always been a lot of regulation about that. And so that could affect all sorts of different events

John (16:53): Growing up in the age when Pete Rose got thrown out of baseball for betting on James now, and that's Bangs is now the number one sponsor of every sport. Isn't that crazy?

Chris (17:02): That's right. That's right.

John (17:04): So I know you have a ton of stories in here, and this is always an unfair question, but do you have a favorite that you illustrate in the book?

Chris (17:11): Oh, that's good. That's good. Favorite cloud story? Well, I always like these wild and wacky ones. There's a story of a British teenager who made $400,000 naming Chinese babies. She was giving English names to Chinese parents, and her goal was to pay for university. Obviously she covered that in a little bit more. So there's a lot of stories that are kind of like one-offs, but I guess there's also a chapter about online education of just maybe more normal people who are just like, they had an idea, they kind of got good at something. But there's a woman named Whitney who taught outdoor education survival skills, and she got famous from being on a reality TV show, but then she got a little bit of famous, but then she really built a sustainable business around teaching women and others, but particularly women, these outdoor survival skills. And so I thought that was really interesting.

John (18:03): Well, Chris, it was great having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to tell people where they can connect with you if they like, or obviously find a copy of Gonzo Capitalism.

Chris (18:12): Yeah, John, thank you so much. It's been too long and I'm really glad to come back. So it's Chris Gibo, chris, 1 93 countries on Instagram, or the podcast is called Side Hustle School.

John (18:23): Yeah, and don't worry about spelling Gibo. We will.

Chris (18:26): Thank you. Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.

John (18:28): Awesome. Well, again, it was great catching up with you, and hopefully we'll run it to you one of these days soon out there on the road.

Chris (18:33): Okay. I look forward to it. Thanks, man. I appreciate you.



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