Kim & Kyle: Lawyers No More!

2 Years ago Kim and Kyle were 2 lawyers. They had graduated with top grades from a top college and were ready to make their way in the world. The entire world was laid out before them. There was one problem; they were miserable. Here’s how they made the change and turned their life around 180 degrees and are now happier than ever.

I met Kim and Kyle through my wife. She had gone to college with Kim and when I threw a party in Virginia Beach with a couple of other friends for a long Labor Day weekend. Kim and Kyle had recently started dating and they looked happy enough. The next thing I heard about them was that they were giving up being lawyers and leaving on the next plane to teach English in Korea. No, not / Anthony Bourdain travel-channel big-city Seoul but about an hour out by train into the mountains in a smaller city (30,000 people) Hongcheon.

Updates came every so often – they were getting married, in Bali. They were vacation here, there, everywhere (jealous – I want to chill in Bali!). They lost a LOT of weight; Kim: ~ 35lbs, Kyle~ 85lbs by taking up activities like hiking in their new neighborhoods, adventuring and relaxing pursuits like Mixed Martial Arts (jealous-er – I want to have more adventures!)

Kim had an Amazon Kindle – like device (BeBook), on which she was reading more fiction than ever. When Jen and I got married they sent us wooden Korean wedding ducks – now proudly displayed on our mantle – and an explanation of their role in culture. Which they were now becoming part of. (Supremely freaking jealous – I want a shiny new toy and to read more while being culturally immersed!!)

Then, this past week, I caught their blog on Facebook. It was a post about soup. Simple but delicious-looking. I wanted that soup. The internet, while roughly 4 times faster in Korea than here in the States couldn’t deliver it so I did the next best thing; I read their website. There, flickering on my monitor, was an account of people they were teaching while taking the adventure of a life time.

Let’s Recap:

  • Quit soul-killing lawyer jobs in Virginia.
  • Move to and teach ESL in Korea.
  • Dramatically improve their physical and mental health.
  • Got married in Bali.
  • Adventure after adventure after adventure.
  • Helping real people achieve their dreams while helping themselves.

That my friends is jealousy checkmate.

I had to get an interview. Since they were 13 hours ahead of me, the best time for me to get a hold of them was on a Saturday night. We had a great session – me from my desktop in my house and they from a local coffee shop on South Korea’s blazingly fast internet.

Sadly, while they were up for the interview, my video recording software was not. So, while I get that sorted out, check out their YouTube videos talking about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it! A great, great story. They also have a website Teach English Abroad where you can see more of what they do everyday.

Why Kim Decided to Give it All Up and Teach in Korea

Korea’s Hiring

I am not sure if Kyle has a ‘before’ video but this one could to serve as an ‘after’ shot illustrating the benefits he’s realized from making such a dramatic life change.

The thing I like the most about Kim & Kyle’s story is that it’s a great example of ‘doing well by doing good.’ They are helping teach life skills to a new generation of children while simultaneously deriving enormous financial, psychological, and personal benefit from it.

What about you? Have you ever contemplated giving it all up and moving on to do something completely different? If you did, how did it work out and what did you learn?

Why You Should Go on a Nontraditional Vacation

When most people think about vacations they envision relaxing, lazing about, and generally baking in the sun until the cubicle comes calling again. Here is my entire argument why you should skip that (at least once) and go do a more active, helpful, nontraditional vacation.

Nontraditional Vacation Background

Historical

In 2008 I joined up with an archaeological dig excavating Mt Zion in Jerusalem, Israel. Mt Zion is better known as the neighborhood in which Jesus was brought before going before Pontius Pilate. it was a life-changing experience.

Helpful

A former coworker of mine and her husband flew down to New Orleans a year after Katrina to help Habitat for Humanity rebuild. Navigating a city not even close to being rebuilt they sum the experience up this way; ‘it was like being in a 3rd world country, but worse.’

They grew up in a 3rd world country.

Another coworker of mine does mission trips. In recent memory he’s been out to Mozambique and Recife in Brazil. Recife is renown for its violence. I can tell you from personal experience in Rio, that’s saying something. Apparently all he packs is his faith and a giant set of brass balls.

Informative

Another friend of mine got stressed out with the cubicle / road warrior lifestyle and dropped off the grid for a month to learn Spanish in a live-in school for adults in Spain. I’ve been to Spain. My week there rocked. He can now tell me how much fun he had on his trip in 2 languages.

The Real Reason to take a Nontraditional Vacation

You Might One Day Get a Letter Like This

Dear Team Member of the Mount Zion Dig,

As you now know the summer 2010 season of digging at Mt Zion has had to be canceled owing to various reasons which are not within our control. However, here in Jerusalem we will continue working hard to sort through the finds from last summer. Work proceeds on the publication as well, especially in regard to the amazing first-century stone cup with a ten-line inscription with the words “Lord, I have returned…”

But this does not mean that Shimon Gibson will not be digging this summer. Together with Yehiel Zelinger from the IAA he will be conducting a dig at the Cave of Zedekiah in Jerusalem, and we hope to see many of you there.

This excavation will take place between June 27 to July 9 in an unusual and exciting setting. Some of you may already have visited the cave with Shimon, but the work will be in a part that is not accessible to the public.

As was the case with the Mt Zion dig, we will be working Sundays through Thursdays from 6 am to 3 pm, with a one-hour lunch break. There will be two lectures per week…….

I cut off the rest as it’s not pertinent but how awesome is this? I kind of feel like they put out the call for a superhero team… .”Avengers! Assemble!! Jerusalem needs you!”

Have you ever been on a nontraditional vacation? Share below.

How to Quit Your Job and Work From Anywhere in the World

Last Oktoberfest, Joel and I left early for a castle tour in the Alps. My brother, who had been laid off and subsequently started 3 software development companies (yes, 3 !@#$ing companies!) decided to sleep in and hang out around Munich. He had programming to do.

Once we returned I met up with him at a bier hall. I asked how his day went. ‘Very well,’ he replied. ‘I spent 4 hours programming an iPhone app on my Mac in a biergarten. That paid for this entire trip.

Considering we flew from the states to Germany for at the world’s largest (and damn expensive) drinking fest staying well over a week in an over-priced hotel room, that was quite a feat. It got myself and a few of my other friends thinking.

One friend wants to move to Europe for family reasons but wants to duplicate my brother’s feat ahead of time so he has some reliable job prospects. He asked me how he should go about getting started.

I began with the math.

(Note; he didn’t provide me with the numbers so I just made them up as I went along. Feel free to change as yu see fit.)

Step 1: Calculate Your Desired Annual Income

For examples sake, let’s say it’s $50,000 USD.

After a factor of saftey, we’ll round this to = ~$5k per month.

Step 2: Calculate the monthly need

There are 2 ways to do this:

The passive earning approach

Def. Making $ while you sleep and do nothing but sit in biergartens

Assume 30 days / month

=
$166.66 / day
______
30 / 5000
30
200

Biergarten Work-a-day approach

Assume 20 working days per month so you can have weekends off.

=
$250 / day
______
20 / 5000
40
100

Step 3: Figure out how to Make $250 / day

Well, you’re kind of on your own here! I do not have an example for you. But I do have a plan of attack. The model looks similar. See if you can guess the pattern:

  1. Figure out how to earn and extra $250 / month.
  2. Figure out how to earn $250 4 times each month.
  3. Figure out how to do that 5 more times.

What can you do to maker your dreams come true? What are you doing today?

What’s Better than a Free Flight to Europe?

Last September (2009) I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany for my bachelor party. It was an awesome time made great by friends, food, crazy events, and Oktoberfest shenannigans! More to come on that in a future post. What made that trip even better is that I flew for free by redeeming frequent flier miles.

Two (More) Free Trips to Europe!!!

I’ve already written about how I qualified for that free trip collecting USAir miles. Today I found another way to get not only one free flight to Europe, but likely 2.

Here’s a link for a chase card via British Airways. I just applied. It gives you 50k miles for signing up and 50k miles for $2k in the first 3 months. If we both my fiancee and I do apply, we’d have enough miles for (2) round trip tickets to Europe! Each!!

British Airways flies out of many different places Charlotte – I took them to London and loved their service.

I think it’s worth doing.

Think free trip to Dublin, Ireland to see Notre Dame vs Navy! Or Scotland in search of Harry Potter! Or maybe an encore to Oktoberfest or Pamplona for the running of the bulls. Also, I think they transfer with other airline rewards programs because of alliances.

If you can, sign up now to get the bonus! (Note: I get nothing for you to sign up – no affiliate link or kickback here. Just spreading the word. Take every financial caution you normally do!)

Four Hour Work Week Video

Painless really did me a favor when he lent me this book (even though he still hasn’t read it himself.) While I find Tim’s writing a bit annoying, the lessons are spectacular.

Here’s an outline:
1) Elimination via the 80-20 Rule (Pareto’s Law)
2) Cultivate Selective Ignorance
3) Outsource Your Life

“Outside the rules of science, the only rules we follow are those we set ourselves.”

What silly rules are you following that do you no good?

Even More Ways I Got Airplane Miles

Should have told you all about these a while ago. Sorry about that.

Mother’s Day

Nearly every major carrier offered 20 points for every dollar you spent sending flowers plus an additional couple of thousand for good measure.

Website Renewal

This is a great example of shit I was going to do anyway. Network Solutions and Delta have a partnership where you get 1000 miles if you do this that or the other thing. For my part, I renewed this website and a half dozen more.

Large, Reimbursable Purchases

I had a few larger sized purchases that I knew I was going to make, things i had cash set aside for. So I used my Delta AmEx, got the points, paid off the card, and everyone’s happy.

What have you been doing?

Using Your Cubicle Job for Fun and Profit

Between endlessly pointless meetings and soul-sapping assignments, seeing the downside of the cubicle farm is easy. You want out. You want out now. Understandingly so. But don’t be hasty and leave without taking advantage of everything that is available to you before you jump ship.

In the right light, study becomes insight
But the system that dissed us
Teaches us to read and right
-Rage Against The Machine

  • On-the job training.
  • Conflict resolution skills.
  • Technical training
  • Education / Certifications
  • Matching charitable contributions
  • Contacts
  • Office Supplies
  • Thousands of Air miles and hotel points
  • Partners
  • Prospects
  • Drinking buddies
  • Extracurricular teammates
  • Workout buddies
  • Hobby SMEs
  • Fitness classes / gyms
  • Corporate Discounts
  • Networking
  • On-site benefits
  • sub-contractors

What other free benefits, essential skills, or related perks can you take advantage of before leaving the company? Can any of those get you closer to you Magic Number?

What are some of the free things that you are enjoying now courtesy of the cube?

How to Get Your US Passport Over Lunch

This article is a list of steps for US natural born citizens who are looking to make getting their passport for the first time from you local, friendly Cubicle Warrior. Why post a list of steps to make it easier? Because this is the US Federal Government at work. And they are next to freaking useless. Spend as little time with them as possible. In fact, follow these steps and you’ll be back before lunch break is over, cubicle slave!

  1. Print and completely fill out the US Passport application found here
  2. Gather necessary documentation. In this case, your real, original birth certificate or registered copy. It’s a good idea to bring your driver’s license and your SSN card if you have them, too. Don’t worry about getting the photo ahead of time, they can do that there.
  3. Fill out the paper work!
  4. Find an approved office that can handle the A-to-Z processing in-house. Call them and cross-check your document.
  5. Double check their operating hours. Make sure to get there at least an hour before any time they close. You do NOT want to be there waiting in line only to have them close with you at bat.
  6. Show them everything. Pay them to take a photo on site. Pay the necessary fees.
  7. Wait for passport to arrive! Dream of awesome new trip!

If you are a resident alien, have renewed a green card, married, landowning or not – call a Congressman.

Earn Thousands of Mileage Points

When I wrote the How to Earn Free Flights article I mentioned that I started this year with 100,000 USAir Divend Miles and 50,000 Delta Skymiles.  Not surprisingly, people want to know how I did it.

There were 3 components.

1. I got a credit card for both, after joining the program on-line  (ex Delta Skymiles.) Plus they gave me a huge (25,000 or so) point bonus for joining.

2. I spent $ I was going to spend anyway.

For each $1 spent, they gave me a point. My company reimburses me $9000 for grad school. I put all of my tuition on my card each semester and paid it off when the company paid me. Several years of this lead to several thousand points (and a graduate degree) at no cost to myself.

3. I would fly these airlines to different destinations when the opportunity (re: sale or once-in-a-lifetime event occurred.) Ex. Rome to watch my father speak at a university, Jerusalem to Dig Mount Zion. If I used my card to book these flights, I would get double miles. It’s a long way to Tel Aviv and back. Multiply by 2 and you get some serious miles!!!

It is important to note that debt is slavery. You cannot be a cubicle warrior if you are amassing massive amounts of debt. That debt will imprison you. Cubicle Warrior is about finding the freedom to follow your passion. Only use this technique for things you were only going to buy and have the cash on hand to spend (or somebody else’s cash to spend!)

How to Earn Free Flights

I love to travel. Sometimes I think I work just to support my traveling habit. It occurs to me that if I had a way of subsidizing my travel, I could work less….. and that would lead to more traveling. Brilliant. Here’s my strategy. It’s simple, and it has been used before by many others very effectively.

Frequent Flier Miles = Free Flights.

I told you it was simple.

I have been non-aggressively accumulating frequent flier points for years now. I have never redeemed them but with several overseas trips planned for the next year AND the economy tanking, I think now is a good time.

I started the year with some 50,000 Delta SkyMiles points and 100,000 USAir points. My friends and travel partners have started with 0. I need them to earn some free flights, too. Sounds like a great time to apply the Cubicle Warrior Method.

Thesis: Earn free travel for my friends and me to Germany for Oktoberfest 2009 by participating in frequent flier programs.

Actions: I will be researching several frequent flier bonus programs and promotions and entering them.

Accountability: By posting my results on this site and encouraging others to do the same.

Reward: A few Cubicle Warriors and I will be going to Oktoberfest for free!