Ben Lakoff has spent the last 8 years on the road traveling across Asia and South America. He shares stories of his entrepreneurial, nomadic and biohacking journey towards becoming a better human.

I met Ben shortly before the Nomad Cruise at the Restation coliving space in Gran Canaria island. Ben was a pillar of the Nomad Cruise 8 community and has subsequently become a good friend via a weekly mastermind group he organized. In this interview I got a chance to sit down with him after the cruise and ask him questions about his entrepreneurial endeavors, nomadic stories from his 8 years on the road, lessons from biohacking his way to the title of fittest man in Thailand and the usual queries of gear, hacks, book recommendations and more. If you’re looking for advice on how to do long-term, sustainable nomadic travel, look no further than this episode.

Show Notes

Time   Topic
0:02:14   Welcome and context
0:03:14   How did your nomadic journey start?
0:06:16   What was the impetus for your travels?
0:07:32   Can you talk about your 4 years in Bangkok?
0:12:44   Can you talk about your first startup, the Digital Asset Exchange?
0:15:02   What was the transition to the next startup like?
0:16:45   Can you talk about the Bhub incubator in Prague?
0:18:18   Charity Makeover shameless plug
0:19:49   What have you tried on the biohacking front?
0:21:59   Zero app for Intermittent Fasting
0:23:17   What benefits can you directly attribute to IF?
0:24:54   Wim Hof breathing
0:25:44   What do you get from the ZMA (magnesium zinc) supplement?
0:27:26   Talk about your practice of doing periodic personal retrospectives?
0:30:32   What did you think of Nomad Cruise?
0:31:54   The “hugs per capita per day” metric of the Cruise
0:32:24   Can you talk travel stories about Borneo and Malaysia?
0:34:04   Your Lao motorcycle road trip?
0:36:44   What are your strategies for meeting people on the road when solo traveling?
0:39:51   Have you ever at any point doubted whether the nomadic lifestyle was a good decision?
0:41:58   How did you select Czech Republic for your residency?
0:43:31   One travel hack that you recommend?
0:45:42   One book that has sculpted you the most?
0:46:22   One game-changing tool you rely upon?
0:49:44   Burning Man
0:51:56   One bit of advice for your 20-year-old self?


Zero app for fasting
ZMA by Optimum Nutrition
Nomad Cruise
Casio F91W watch
great TEDx Talk on the benefits of intermittent fasting
Ben’s Mastermind Group



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Sean Tierney: 01:22 All right. Hey everybody, this is Sean with the nomad podcast and I’m sitting next to Ben Lakoff Ben is an American living abroad eight of the past 10 years. I met him in Gran Canaria two weeks ago. He is ex finance now full time entrepreneur for the past two years, fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese and Ex Division One Golfer, one the fittest man in Thailand in 2016. I can’t wait to talk about what was involved in that. You developed strong global finance experience through international assignments in the US, Brazil, Panama, Afghanistan. I’m not going to read all these countries. Man, you traveled a lot of places. Uh, but it is so good to have you on the show. We’ve gotten to know each other over the last however many days this has been on the nomad cruise and a welcome to the show. Awesome. Thanks for having me. Yeah, man. So let’s dig right into it. Eight out of the last 10 years, it’s flown by [inaudible]. Okay. Where take take, take me back. Where did it start?

Ben Lakoff: 03:18 Yeah, sure. So I, uh, went to university in Indiana and studied finance. So I graduated in 2009, which was a terrible time to graduate with a degree in finance, global financial recession. So I decided I’d had the travel bug from a previous trip and decided to take a year off and travel through South America. So I had minored in Spanish, spoke pretty decent Spanish, but really wanted to practice the language skills and see a little bit of the world at the time. So traveled around for a year, then ended up coming back, uh, jumping right into corporate America and then got my first expat assignment with my first job. So like six months, less than six months into the first job, they said, hey, you speak Spanish, do you want to go to Brazil? I said, they don’t speak Spanish, but yes, I’ll go to prison. So I ended up going down there and ended up staying for a year. Uh, and then ever since, uh, just the idea was to live as an ex pat live abroad and see as much of this wonderful world that we have here. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 04:23 Do they speak Brazilian in Brazil or was it [inaudible] yeah,

Ben Lakoff: 04:27 well that’s, that’s funny, right? We’re in Portugal right now in Portuguese. Portuguese is so different. So I’m very fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and here I struggle. I mean they understand me, but me understanding them, it takes some time. Take some getting used to

Sean Tierney: 04:44 for sure. We, so I actually, the way I learned about the nomad cruise is I had flown to receive and met the nomad cruise. Nice. Talked to there and that was my first time in Brazil and the first contact with the folks from the nomad cruise and agreed. They’re Portuguese is very, yeah.

Ben Lakoff: 05:02 Oh, it’s so much slower and nicer. I mean love, love Portugal. Love the past days did not and everything about this country, but the Portuguese is in my opinion, a little bit more beautiful from Brazil, that’s for sure. Yeah. Nice.

Sean Tierney: 05:15 Cool. All right, well, so you were in and where, where were you that time that the first time abroad you are living in a,

Ben Lakoff: 05:22 I was full on backpacking, so just started to, previously my sophomore year I backpacked through Central America, uh, with my sister for a few months. Uh, so when I started my year abroad, I actually did the rest of Central America with my brother. So it’s quite, quite unique that I had traveled through all of all the countries of Central America with my sister in the northern part and my brother in the southern part and then went off through South America and just bounced around there for, I mean, basically nine months, which was really, really interesting in new and, and to be honest, I didn’t, I didn’t have a long, the plan wasn’t to travel for a year. I, there wasn’t a hard stop or minimum time. It was just, yeah, I’ll keep traveling until I kind of get a little tired of this. And was very much traveling on a shoestring budget.

Ben Lakoff: 06:12 So became very possible to travel for extended periods of time. Had you read anything like vagabonding or any of those books that like, yeah, listen to that or what was the yeah, when I was on it, I mean I, it was, I am not getting the job that I think that I should be spending my time on back in the u s uh, travel. Something that’s important to me is something that I’d want to do. What better opportunity to do it now before I start my working career. I didn’t want him to practice his Spanish language skills anyways. So, no, I mean it was just let’s go spend some time abroad, practice language, see some new things, learn some new things. And, and then yeah, once you get on the road, you start meeting people. You’ve been traveling for two years, spending, you know, very low amounts of money.

Ben Lakoff: 07:00 It’s actually kind of feasible to do this for a longer period of time that I read vagabonding and started thinking, you know, a little bit longer term travel plans. And how were you funded at that point? I was, so it was d one college golfer, so I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship. So didn’t have any student debt, which really helped. And then my senior year I was waiting tables, saving up some money on the side, but I was big time shoes. Stringer. Yeah. Yeah. Nice, Nice. Cool. So at what point, I know you were in living in Bangkok for a while. Yeah. Got that. Yeah. So after South America, went back to the u s was working primarily in Latin America, so doing a lot of travel between, uh, north and South America, but wasn’t getting the opportunity to go live there. So spending a lot of time there.

Ben Lakoff: 07:52 Um, so at that point and spoke Portuguese as well, but the plan was to be an Expat, not just, you know, go down for a week or two at a time. Uh, so I actually took a job in the Middle East, worked there for a year and then transitioned to Bangkok for almost four years there. I’m still working for American companies abroad. What was, if you’re able to share, like what were you doing or what was the company? Yeah, uh, the company was RMA group. It’s a privately owned conglomerate. So a holding company of 95 legal entities kind of spread all over. Um, so my job was in Middle East. I was a controller essentially. And then, um, in Bangkok I was head of planning, controlling. So, um, strategy, budgets, forecasts, acquisitions, all of that sort of stuff. Cool. Yeah, it was, it was fun. It was really interesting because of the [inaudible] 95 legal entities, all, we’re very different businesses, so I got a very good broad exposure to, you know, what kind of operating margins these things work on and how to, how to look at balance sheets in a more detailed manner. It was, it was a really good way of cutting my teeth and all of these different financial statement analysis of different types of

Sean Tierney: 09:10 businesses. Yeah. And so then do you have like an Mba or what’s the degree that you have?

Ben Lakoff: 09:15 Yeah, just no bachelor’s degree, bachelor of arts in finance, which is a rare one, sick. Uh, I did my CFA certification afterwards, so had the whole MBA versus stay in the workforce Lake discussion, which I think many people do. Um, and opted to stay working, didn’t want to give up the salary. Uh, so then at that point was deciding between, you know, a nighttime executive MBA sort of thing, but ended up doing the CPA.

Sean Tierney: 09:46 Yeah. And we talked to this on the bus to the tenor reef actually. Yeah. Um, just this idea that those paths are very different and you think you have to kind of decide for yourself, where do you want to end up at? What do you want to be? Because as you know, we talked about with the company that I was involved with, there’s no way that, I don’t think I could have ever gotten the learnings that I did having done an Mba. Right. We just went and started a company and ran it for eight years. Exactly.

Ben Lakoff: 10:13 Good Way to learn a lot of people out of things. Hard lessons. Yeah. Learning from a textbook and learning by doing are very, very different. And you know, they’re, the argument from lots of people is, oh, it’s about the network, et cetera. That’s like a good reason to do an MBA. But my opinion clearly biased. I haven’t done an MBA. You can, you can get an good network of likeminded people, um, from other ways than spending a couple hundred thousand dollars and taking two years off work

Sean Tierney: 10:42 for sure. Okay. So at what point did Bangkok and you’re,

Ben Lakoff: 10:48 yeah, so Bangkok, I mean I still have stuff there, so it’s debatable that fit in did I guess? Um, I moved away from being Clark last April, moved out on my place. So, um, so I plan to go back this year and visit a number of friends. It was, it was the place I called home for more time than any other place other than like, you know, growing up in university. It was, it’s, it’s the closest thing I had to a, a real homebase after university. So it’s still very much a part of my life. But um, you know, I’m spending more time in Europe these days.

Sean Tierney: 11:29 It’s very Bangkok. I’ve, I guess there’s two types of people. Like, I hear people that are like, oh, I went to Bangkok and then immediately, two days later I wanted to go to, you can get out of the city and when, but then you know, like yourself, I’ve heard other people are like, no, there’s so much going on there. It’s so fascinating. It

Ben Lakoff: 11:46 is. I mean, like I, I went to Bangkok, uh, as a backpacker, you know, on from work at some point. Um, and then when I found out I was moving there and like this route would take me there. You know, it was like Bangkok, what Cal San road, tank tops and like buckets of alcohol. Like what, what the heck is this? But there’s, there’s a whole nother side of Bangkok and the ties are quite entrepreneurial. You meet a lot of entrepreneurial minded people there. Um, it’s really, really nice. I actually, I hated it for the first six months or so. Just really wasn’t, wasn’t meeting like good friends, wasn’t, was traveling a lot from my work, so it wasn’t really present there much. Um, so it took some time to warm up to it. But, uh, yeah, really enjoyed my time there.

Sean Tierney: 12:34 That’s awesome. And it’s definitely, uh, it’s a hole in my travel schedule, right? Yeah. I’ve been all over, but I have never even been to Asia, any part of Asian man. So Thailand is the place that speaks to me. I will definitely, yeah, definitely.

Ben Lakoff: 12:47 Yeah. Cool.

Sean Tierney: 12:48 All right. Tell me about the startup number one that you started the digital asset exchange.

Ben Lakoff: 12:53 Yeah, so I was working in Bangkok for three and a half years and really decided that, um, you know, corporate ladder wasn’t what I wanted to experiment with some other methods. So I actually went crazy one year and, um, really started expanding into it and started 10 different businesses. I mean, just trying things, spinning the nat testing things like business is a very rough term, right. But you know, what does it look like to run a drop shipping store in a digital marketing agency and really, really trying all of these different things. So, um, during that same year, uh, ended up on the starting team of digital asset exchange of cryptocurrency exchange in Thailand. Uh, which was great learning experience, growing a very technical product. Um, and it’s, it’s right up my wheelhouse with trading, investing, all of these sorts of things. So really, really enjoyed it.

Sean Tierney: 13:56 W and was that your first exposure to crypto then or were you

Ben Lakoff: 14:00 no, I had dabbled around in it. Um, so my sister emailed me ages ago about Crypto, asking about it, you know, when I was working at JP Morgan and said, you know, put your money in an ETF and stop playing around with this funny Internet money. Uh, but then started to get a little bit more interested in it later in late 2016, started paying attention to it more. So it’s one of those things. Soon as you start reading something about it, you started reading more about it and you kind of go down the rabbit hole before you know, you’re, you’re looking at things that you didn’t even draw any parallels with before.

Sean Tierney: 14:36 Yeah. It’s a fascinating space. I think we can maybe carve out some time at the end to go through the [inaudible]. It’s definitely fascinating. And Jp Morgan and Crypto, don’t get me started. Yeah, Jamie diamond, f that guy, sorry. Have

Ben Lakoff: 14:50 a JP coin or JPM going, yeah, public publicly bash it and then go buy up a bunch in the background and make your own coin, which is so whatever. Okay. So that was a digital asset exchange. What was the transition to the next thing? The intelligent treating foundation? Yeah, so intelligent trading foundation as the company currently still working on. So we, it started as training cryptos trying to figure out a better, more efficient way of trading these things. So, um, me and my partner, he’s more technical, I’m more finance side, so we kind of hacked together a proof of concept and put these things out. Um, and then we ended up, we ended up raising funding for that startup that allowed us to scale it, scale it up, build out the products a little bit better, grow out the team and grow it into what it is today.

Ben Lakoff: 15:41 So it’s still still struggling startup. I mean by all measures, we’re still struggling to find product market fit, but we now have a team of eight months working on it. Um, and really, yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting. We’re trying to train to get more people more intelligently invested in, in crypto and taking a more, an approach that, yeah. That, you know, it’s not all about just chasing a hundred x returns. It’s about crypto as an asset class, like putting crypto alongside your other assets within your total asset allocation. It’s uncorrelated to other asset classes. Uh, it might make sense to add a little bit into your portfolio. So it sounds a lot like, basically you’re, you’re, you’re seeking to be almost like a wealth front of crypto. Yeah, that’s, that would be the goal. I mean, really just ease, ease of access, getting people in, allocated to a number of different crypto assets, uh, rebalancing it, managing their portfolios for them, and really giving them a good tool to stay invested.

Ben Lakoff: 16:44 Cool. And so this is the one that was through the check incubator? This is a, yeah. So once, once we started that, um, my partner actually was moving to Prague for, for his other job, uh, which, you know, we both quit our jobs at that point and went fulltime on ITF. But, uh, we needed a home for ITF. Uh, and since I had quit my job in Bangkok, I wasn’t really tied there anymore. So the idea was to set up an office in Prague, a joined up with another startup in, created a bit of a shared office incubator. So be hub Prague. Um, so this is a shared office. The idea is for it to, to provide incubation services to other early stage startups. Right. So, so you were, this was your office space, but you opened up a portion to incubate. Yeah, basically. Yeah. That’s the plan, to be honest, where we’re really busy with ITF and all the other things, but you know, we’re slowly starting to play around with other ideas, experimenting with different things and try to find something that works. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 17:51 What would the model for that be like? Would you guys be taking equity in the companies that you incubate? Basically? Yeah. Cool. Cool. You got a lot going on. Yeah. Likewise man. Every time I talked to you, you’ve got a different project and I threw a curve ball on the nomad cruise. Like he’s not pitching nomad prep. No, it’s something completely embraced petition, which is a great idea. I love the idea. Thank you. You know, may go over by they just shameless plug for the people listening. This is something I pitch on the nomad cruise. I’ll link to that pitch if you want to see it. Uh, it is a kind of a passion project that I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. Um, although it’s been on ice for a bit. Um, but basically it’s almost like a startup weekend. Uh, if you know what that event is like in the sense that we bring people together, they’re strangers, they come together, they work on a project, but it’s for a local charity instead of startup weekend, which is where you kind of invent some new concept and try to develop it in the course of a weekend.

Sean Tierney: 18:51 Um, we are instead working with the local charity and figuring out what they need and executing that in a weekend, doing game changing stuff for them. It’s really been pretty cool. We’ve done four of them so far and you can read about the latest one on there, but it’s just charity. Make and thank you for the opportunity to make that plan pan coming in for the next one. If I can do it remotely. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Well let’s shift gears here. Uh, I think we had that long bus ride to a tenor reef to a very Martian landscape. That was an interesting and yeah, no, that was unplanned Lanzarote day. Oh No, I didn’t go to it wasn’t the marsh the hell. Yeah, Yep. The reef was Martian. Oh yeah, that, that one part. Yeah, it was beautiful on the one side and then we rotate and literally was marsh in the entire time we had forests.

Sean Tierney: 19:37 We just ended up at the top of the volcano. [inaudible] heard that. That one was just pretty much bare. Like, yeah, you pick the better one. So if you’re listening, don’t go to [inaudible]. No, no. But we on that long ride, we had a good chance to talk about a lot of stuff, but I think what would be interesting for the listeners here is the biohacking stuff. Yeah. I’m just fascinated by it. So maybe what is, I mean there’s stuff that I want to talk about, but what is been your general experience with biohacking? Like what have you tried?

Ben Lakoff: 20:06 So I was always drawn to biohacking. Just, you know, you watch the movie limit limitless and you’re like, yeah, I wanted to see crazy. Yeah, I want this crazy energy, I want to be super smart and all of these things. But basically my key takeaways from all of this is all of these supplements and everything or just the final little detail. And in reality it’s you focus on the big ones. Try to get eight hours of sleep every night, try to eat more veggies, try to eat less carbs, processed foods and, and try to stay active like consistent, uh, exercise or at least activity. So those are the big ones. And then the rest are, are, are kind of rounding errors I guess. So with, with those rounding errors, I tried to do the ones that are the easiest to implement and, and won’t impact my lifestyle I guess. So, you know, I’ve always wanted to try like a ketogenic diet or anything like that, but it’s like, yeah, I still like beer. I still like burgers. So they kind of impacts it a little bit. So, um,

Sean Tierney: 21:14 maybe you’ve been alcohol free this all year, which is crazy here. Yeah. Know all you can drink it. Correct. We can make it through the nomad cruise, alcohol free. I think that is the crucible that yeah, even last night.

Ben Lakoff: 21:28 Yeah. How you’re out dancing at 4:00 AM like you haven’t been drinking, right? It’s like, yeah. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 21:36 That’s great. Um,

Ben Lakoff: 21:38 yeah, so I mean, alcohol, living in Bangkok for that long, it’s a, it’s a nighttime cities. So I was probably drinking too much alcohol, which was slowly weaning off it and realizing, you know, it actually makes me tired and not feel that good. So try, try this year going without it, see how it goes. Try not to impact my social life too much, I guess. Um, one thing I do enjoy doing is intermittent fasting. So, um, there’s a nice app, zero, um, free, easy. I have no affiliation with it. I just think it’s a great product. Um, and it’s just essentially a timer that like, okay, I’m going to stop eating now. And it’s, it adds, okay, you want to do a 16 hour fast? Okay. You can eat at this time, which is 16 hours from now. Um, so that’s a nice, nice little tool to use. So we’re doing intermittent fasting a few times a week. Um, I take fish oil, I take vitamin B 12, I take um, uh, zinc. Um, sometimes I’ll take like Zma at night from working out a lot. What is Zoma? So zinc, magnesium something. Hey, aspartame.

Sean Tierney: 22:53 Yeah. And uh, is there any particular brand of supplements? Yeah,

Ben Lakoff: 22:58 optimum nutrition. They’d seem to make decent ones to be honest. I mean, I haven’t done like a deep dive of who’s got the pure substance, whatever. Sure. Um, yeah, I try to buy the branded ones that you’ve heard of, but I’m sure there’s a better brand out there. I enjoyed those ones. Cool.

Sean Tierney: 23:17 In the, the benefits you’ve seen from intermittent fasting. I interviewed the founder of Wifi tribe or the cofounder of white drive if I drive I think as guests seven and he brought this up and it’s something that I’ve loosely known about through Tim Ferriss and always been interested, but like always like eating too much and never like actually pull the trigger and doing it. But you’ve got me interested. Yeah. What benefits, like can you directly attribute to intermittent fasting? Maybe decrease body fat perhaps? Um, for me it’s just,

Ben Lakoff: 23:46 it’s such a, it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s even easier now that I’m not drinking by the way. Sure. I mean, if you’re consuming any calories, essentially you’re not fasting. So if you eat your last meal and then drink a bunch of beer or Jen and tonics, like it’s not fasting. Right. Yeah. Um, so for me it’s just, it’s rather easy and doesn’t impact my life negatively too much. So the potential benefits of it, all of these research, there’s overwhelming amount of research saying it could be good for you. So, yeah. Um, yeah. I don’t know. I do like it. I was always the person that within waking up, you know, I felt like I had to eat right away or I would die. And you’re like, actually you can go like three weeks without eating. Like you’re not, you’re not going to die. Um, so, so just getting over the mental hurdle of like, actually I’m okay, I can just have a cup of coffee and I can go about my day, go through my conference calls in the morning and then, you know, eat a big lunch afterwards sort of thing.

Sean Tierney: 24:48 I think that theme of you are capable of much more than you realize that really interesting. I personally just yesterday hit my all time high. I do the Wim Hoff breathing stuff and nice and I held my breath for three minutes and five seconds or something up. You were two and a half minutes just like I know less than a week ago. It’s insane. So I’ve been, yeah, I’ve been doing this pretty regularly and it’s, it’s incrementally stepping up as are the pushups and you do this like three stage thing where you hold your breath like four times, count your retention times and you do these pushups and then you do like a meditation for minute administration. And it’s just fascinating watching the results like track up and you’re like, if you would’ve asked me how long I could hold my breath before I started this, I guess like, I don’t know, 30 seconds. And it probably was around that. Right? Yeah. I mean I’ve never really tried, but uh, yeah, it’s really, it’s a bunch of, a bunch of little 1% improvements add up over time. Right. For sure. Yeah, for sure. Well, cool. In the magnesium zinc stuff, talk to me about what does that do? What it was,

Ben Lakoff: 25:51 yeah, put that, it’s been a long time since I looked into this. Uh, for me, I mean, zinc helps your immune system, helps you fight colds. Uh, and it’s a bit of placebo perhaps, but supposedly it helps you sleep more soundly if you take it at night. Helps with, uh, human growth hormone, some of that, some of these things as well. Natural Testosterone. I think so. Um, yeah, I’m probably butchering the benefits somewhere, you know, four or five of those 10, 10 benefits I mentioned.

Sean Tierney: 26:20 So I don’t know if it’s over there. You can see I have the natural calm magnesium supplement. I got that for sleep because I wrestle with sleep issues now and then. Um, but it sounds like the zinc addition maybe does something different with it.

Ben Lakoff: 26:35 Yeah, I think that that, um, concoction and again, like all of these things, it’s probably a bit of placebo, right? But if you, if you take a magic pill that like makes you sleep or makes you be a smarter, it’s, and I’m doing air quotes, then suddenly somehow you are right.

Sean Tierney: 26:52 The result, it’s the result. Yeah, totally.

Ben Lakoff: 26:56 The thing about magnesium, there’s actually quite a few different kinds. And what, what they benefit, you know, some are better for memories, some are better for sleeping, some are better for going bathroom. Uh, yeah. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 27:09 Don’t, don’t mix a lot. [inaudible] you could be in trouble. Cause I have some really intelligent dreams. That’s what you meant. Right. Okay. I want to talk about on this topic of like biohacking and this is very Tim Ferriss. He but like routines you have what I thought was a really cool thing that I noticed the other night. You have like this Evernote or apple note of like a retrospective than it seems you do periodically. Tell me what that’s all.

Ben Lakoff: 27:39 Yeah. So happened man, probably for four or five years ago now. Um, was in, in my office doing annual reviews for my team and uh, started reviewing their year and they’re doing a review for themselves, et Cetera, and started thinking, this is so weird. I’ve been in the corporate world now six or seven years doing this each and every year for my team, for myself, reviewing with my supervisor. It’s how we’re paid with our bonus or whatever, and realized that I never did this for my personal life. So I started going through the process of reviewing different aspects of my life, have rating myself how I think I did. Um, and really going through in excruciating detail. And these things are massive at times, but it’s, there’s a, there’s a whole process I do. So I start by reviewing the year just from a memory standpoint. So I, I, during the year I kind of write the, the top memories each month. I do a monthly review where I put all of that. And then, so I started by looking at all of that. Then I do a highlights, low lights for the year. Um, I do a quote that sums up the year and just a number of different things. Then I do the annual review where I’m rating each different area of my life. Then I do goals for the next year sort of thing.

Sean Tierney: 29:17 Yeah. And do you ever reconcile, do you go back, like if you make goals now for let’s say 2020 are you then at the end of 2020 doing a retrospective and matching those up?

Ben Lakoff: 29:27 I do, yeah. And it’s, that’s why I, I do use Evernote and I’ve just created a whole notebook just for these reviews and goals. And it’s really interesting to pop back a couple of years, check it out. You know, where, where did I think I wanted to go? Where am I am now, and really be able to look at those differences. Has it, has it been like wide divergences from what? Yeah. In, in a, in a way I think. Um, so what I’m trying to do now is think more super longterm. So where did I want to be in 30 years? Where do I want to be in 50 years? Because the one, the one year it’s Kinda like, you know, 30 years, big strategic plan, what do you want out of life? And then the one years can kind of ping pong around as long as they’re in the right channel up toward that longer term goal.

Ben Lakoff: 30:15 Right. Yeah. Cool. Well I think that’s fascinating that you were able to at least, I mean, it’s very good on you too, have realized and seeing that and be like, wait a minute, why am I not uploaded this in personal, like we’re doing this and it works. Mine big explosion. Right? Yeah. No, that’s very, that’s very cool. Cool. Let’s talk about, um, community. I mean, let’s talk about the cruise actually. So we just got off this nomad. Yeah. What’d you think? Awesome. Awesome. I mean, I, uh, I told the, the founder just the other night, you know, it’s like I came in with zero expectations and I was telling friends that I have no idea what this thing is, but like, it’s not just nomads on the cruise. So worst case scenario, I can hang out with the other people on the cruise, but if they’re all Weirdos or whatever, and it’s, it’s rare to come across a group of 250 people trapped on a cruise ship, which is kind of weird for people of our age, uh, and be able to connect so deeply with so many different people.

Ben Lakoff: 31:16 I mean, it’s, it’s really, really nice what they’ve done with this community, this organization, this event. Uh, yeah, it’s really, really fantastic. I mean, I, I told them I’m happy to volunteer on the next one. I’m going to pay the deposit as soon as they open it. Yeah, they’ve got me. I’m in. Which one are you doing? That’s the key question. It’s a secret. We can’t talk about that by the, by the time we publish this, it’ll be pulled knowledge. Well, I dunno. Probably the second, the longer one there. Oh, you do the longer one. Yeah. Interesting. More time on the boat, man. All that. All right. I love that we have to keep this secret, but um, yeah, no, I agree. Hundred percent. Um, I feel like there needs to be a metric like hugs per capita per day or something. Yeah, that’s an interesting, you can see how close people became and how quickly people felt really close to each and super comfortable.

Ben Lakoff: 32:08 I, yeah, definitely. I mean it was, it was really, uh, a great surprise. Yeah. Yeah. Same here. Totally blown away. We’ll definitely do it again. A nomad, is what we are talking about. Their uh, it’ll be in the show notes. Let’s talk travel stories. Sure. Um, I want to hear about Borneo. Is it burr Borneo are born in Borneo. Yeah. Okay. And Malaysia. Yeah. So, uh, that particular one is first vacation from the Middle East. You work three months on the ground and then get one month of vacation. So I was really excited and you know, the whole month off coming from corporate America in the U s two weeks is your standard vacation. So this was like devil, right? Yeah. Um, so it was really excited. So I met one friend in Borneo, which is an island in Malaysia where we went scuba diving at Sipa. Diane, which is one of the top scuba diving places in the world.

Ben Lakoff: 33:09 Saw a bunch of orangutans, had a really good jungle beach adventure for two weeks. And then I met some of my best friends in Norway for two week camping, hiking road trip. So this was my month. Which packing for that is, is real, really difficult. But uh, yeah, I mean it made it special is especially special. The Norway trip, uh, two of the four friends had to get their passports for it from it, you know, their, their buddies back from Indiana where I’m from and didn’t do a lot of traveling. So it was kind of their first, first go at international travel and seeing beautiful place like Norway during the summer.

Sean Tierney: 33:50 Yeah, that one’s on my list too. I’ve not been to any part of Scandinavia. Yeah, definitely. It’s beautiful. That was really expensive. Yeah. Well I think you’re paying for their healthcare. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Tell me about, I mean, that’s dope. Tell me about the Lao motorcycle.

Ben Lakoff: 34:08 Yeah. Travels. So I got really into motorcycling, one of those in Bangkok, Bangkok, not like scooter, I’m like proper motorcycle and had a group of friends there that we started doing cross country motorcycle trips. So we ended up doing Lau like six times in it must have been 2015, I guess. Um, so kept going back different part of the different part of the country, different loop, new new area each time increasing in, you know, how far we wanted to go, what kind of routes we wanted to do. You know, this one’s not on the map. I’m sure there’s a road there sort of thing was how we ended up. But yeah, really, really cool experience. Love Lau, beautiful. The countryside there is just, just amazing. These dramatic stone karst are, are, are just really, really beautiful.

Sean Tierney: 35:05 And so I think the way that this originally came up where on that road to tenor reef and they’re just hauling ass on a motor sound like this would be an amazing road from motorcycle. But I’m terrified of motorcycle.

Ben Lakoff: 35:18 It’s, it’s not just you, it’s the other people driving around. And that’s the thing. Like in Thailand, there’s a very famous uh, motorcycle loop up in the north May Hong Tong loop. So it goes from Chiang Mai, uh, up to Pi. And uh, I don’t know if it goes, there’s this big loop. Um, but there’s like 2000 turns on it, but it’s really well marked. You know, there’s, there’s lines and, and signs and everything because it’s super popular and people go up there and you see, um, ties in their full, full riding gear. Like everybody, big bikes renting. It’s really, really cool. But then you go to Lao and do like an equivalent road. There’s no signs anywhere. There’s gravel on the turn.

Sean Tierney: 36:04 She know. It’s just a really fun, scary, I’m envisioning a group of us, five of us did a road trip from Phoenix, my hometown to Cabo San Lucas. So we drove down the block and nice. Yeah. In a bronco and these roads, I don’t know if I’m hoping they’ve improved the road since then, but it’s like this one lane road down the coast and they’re guardrails must be about, I dunno, four inches tall. They’re just little rants for skateboarders. [inaudible] make sure you get a little [inaudible] but it sounds like that. Yeah. Cool. All right. So as you and your solo traveling this whole time, this is, yeah. Oh well

Ben Lakoff: 36:47 the motorcycle trips were always with buddies from Bangkok. Yeah. With buddies core. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 36:52 What about, cause this is something that we talked about is you’ve done a lot of sellers. Yes. Yeah. What are your strategies? I’ve done solo travel and I’m not particularly extroverted. Like in terms of cracking into a new group. I can talk to people once I know them, but like I’m terrible at just like opening up, just saying hi to people. Yeah. Um, do you have strategies or just naturally that way or like what? Cause you seem to be very social and very able to just talk with anyone. Like what, tell me about that.

Ben Lakoff: 37:19 Um, for me now, nowadays, I mean, if, if I’m going someplace, rel relatively short term, I’m normally with a friend or meeting friends or something like or family, um, or something like that. So I’m not really that concerned with meeting people, but I do a bit of slow madding now where I’ll go to a place for a month or two and kind of set up a home base. It’s the best way for me to get some work done on the road if you’re bouncing around so much. So when I do that, so this is the town that I’m going to call home for the next couple months. It’s really important to have a sort of community, especially for me. I am quite extroverted, so, you know, I need people to talk to and people to be around. So some strategies that I like would be working from a coworking place, you know, they have a events or, or after a Friday drinks or things like that.

Ben Lakoff: 38:14 So that’s a good way to meet people. I use So meetup has an APP, uh, tons and tons of meetups. Uh, fitness talks, all sorts of different things. Yeah. Um, which are very helpful. Um, I normally like to do like a crossfit gym or some sort of gym, gym, like a normal gym. You put in your headphones, you don’t want anybody to talk to you and nobody wants to you to talk to them, you know, but crossfit or functional training, these sorts of things seem to have a bit of community around it, like minded sort of people. So that’s a good way of meeting people. Um, and then, uh, I’ll also do dance classes, uh, got into that and being CAC, which, which was great fun.

Sean Tierney: 39:01 Oh, and it showed you had the performance. Yeah. Let, let, let me just paint the picture here. Oh Man. Ben was part of a, I got tricked. Sure, sure, sure. Uh, it’s six or seven person. It was like seven years, seven years, seven person stage performance. That was Chippendales. I don’t know. How would you just go like Magic Mike Chippendale’s. Yeah. Nonsense. Yeah, there’s not my idea. It was hilarious. And, uh, and fittest man in Thailand. So you’re no, no slouch there. So that was years ago. Now I don’t really work too much and travel and you wear size, women’s extra small shirts also also happen. Fun Cruise probably those pictures never, never surface too much. We will try to bear those pictures, put them in the show notes. Don’t have you ever at any point doubted whether this was the right decision to go nomadic? Yeah,

Ben Lakoff: 39:57 definitely. Um, you always kind of ask those questions. What if, uh, tow especially, um, you know, mid twenties, you, especially being from Indiana, a lot of my friends start getting married, start having kids start buying houses, getting dogs, you know, really settling down. Um, and then at the same time, you know, you’re thinking about moving to Cambodia for a year because that’s the next position you’ve been offered and you’re like, man, like this, this, this, have I done something, something wrong. And it always, always looks like we’re on vacation. Hashtag blessed, you know?

Sean Tierney: 40:36 Yeah. But I hashtag wanderlust Hashtag yeah. Hashtag Hashtag yeah. So, um,

Ben Lakoff: 40:45 yeah, you always ask those things. But no, I, I, I’m pretty pleased with the way that it’s panned out and continue span out. Cool. So yeah, you like to have your cake and eat it too, right? I mean in like it’d be cool to do a parallel life and like settle down real early and another one where you just keep, keep no manning around.

Sean Tierney: 41:03 I think at some point there will be a service like remote year for people that want to actually raise a family while doing what you’re doing. Definitely. So someone build that, whoever’s listening build it,

Ben Lakoff: 41:19 I think you can find some sort of hybrid model for a lot of us. You know, you and many other people start to have more of a home base, spend a couple more months in one place as opposed to always bouncing around every month, different place. That’s exhausting. It’s really fun. It’s really cool to see a lot of things but to really have deep meaningful relationships. Yes, these communities help and these digitally native people bouncing all over you can develop with them. But really laying down some sense of roots in one place allows you to go a little bit deeper with those individuals that you meet there. Hundred percent. Yeah. Course that I’m speaking of

Sean Tierney: 42:00 planting roots in residency. So you have residency in Czech Republic right now. How did you select Czech Republic?

Ben Lakoff: 42:07 Yeah, so Czech Republic when, when my partner was moving there for his other other job business partner, not like, you know, romantic. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 42:15 Yeah. Which they attack. Uh,

Ben Lakoff: 42:17 and so we needed a, an office product has a good low cost of living. It’s in Shingon, the EU, a good developer talent. Uh, so the idea was, you know, this is a good way to get an office in Europe. You’re not in London where you’re paying 5,000 bucks a month for office rental. You know, you can do it a little bit more cheaply. Um, extend out our runway a little bit more. Cool.

Sean Tierney: 42:43 Did you by chance see the news? I think it was maybe even last week regrow the Saudi beer garden is being shut down. No. Yeah. And that was actually fun fact. That is actually where our remote, your group first met each other. I lost the first day of the first month of our remote year ago. Wow. In the regression was the first stop. First there was cheapest beer in the world. Cheaper in the water. Yeah. Seriously. It actually is. We’re not joking. It’s actually like 75 cents in a water is like a dollar. That’s where I had my last beer, uh, for this year. You know, it’s like literally having a beer and I was like, I don’t think I want to have another beer. That’s a good place to end on. I feel like that was good one. Yeah. All right, well I think we’ll wrap it up on my, I have a like a last couple set of questions that are consistent that I tried to ask people and just kind of more tactical stuff. What is one travel hack that you recommend? And

Ben Lakoff: 43:34 so recently I have a number of travel hacks. I also have a number of travel blenders, but the recent travel hack that I’ve been doing is smoothies. So I loved movies and I’ve always loved smoothie smoothies. When I’m staying in one place. I have a home. Um, it’s a super easy way to get all the fruits and veggies that you, you know, you need each day and protein, all of this stuff. So, um, key ingredients I guess would be, um, proteins. So just like whey protein, creating MCT oil to getting a fatty acids and then a ton of fruits and veggies. And then if you start off your day like that, you just know that like, okay, I got a lot of these macro nutrients. I don’t, I don’t mind like eating a pizza or a cheeseburger later and it’s like a front loaded all the goodies.

Ben Lakoff: 44:25 But when I’ve been traveling, you know, it’s been an issue because you can’t really, I, I carry on my bag as you do. So, you know, I can’t carry on a blender with a bunch of blades onto the airline. So what I’ve been doing is if I’m going to stay at a place for more than a month, I’m just buying a blender on Amazon and then gifting it to the place that I’m staying if they don’t have one. So I’ve been actually emailing them like the one in, uh, the one in a, in areas like they had one, right? So I didn’t have to buy one there. Um, so if they don’t have one, I’ll just buy one off Amazon. It’s like 25 euros, send it there. So then you have that 25 year old costs. But you know, there’s a place here in Lisbon right down the road, it’s six euros each smoothie.

Ben Lakoff: 45:13 Well, I can make a smoothie. The raw input costs maybe one, two, three euros Max. And then you amortize the cost of that 25 euro blender over it. It’s still, you’re paying for your own Max, like Super Max. That’s what like a cow and all sorts of fun, exotic fruits, sie, um, so it’s still cheaper. And then you can, you can have a wonderful smoothing and make sure that you’re getting some nutrients early on in your day. Love it. Yeah. What is one book that has like profoundly sculpted you or influenced the way you think? Hmm. I’m a voracious reader. I read a lot. Um, the one that I ended up gifting the most would be Tim Ferriss tools of titans. So he’s written a number of books. I like a lot of them all, you know, nearly all of us. We had four hour workweek can impact us in some way, but tools of titans I really like. Yeah, great. And that is just like a compilation basically of all his podcasts interviews, which I literally as well. Yeah, exactly. It’s one of those books that, you know, I have it only kindle and I can pop back to it and reference it so it’s still really helpful. Good choice. What about one tool that you use and it can be a software tool, it could be a piece of gear or anything that you rely on that really changes the game for you. Like productivity wise or just a good tool, cell phone,

Speaker 3: 46:37 cell phone. I mean that’s kind of cheating but really like, and I, iPhone is amazing, right? It got rid of my deal sale hired as all of Google maps. I’m never lost all these helpful apps to the ocean. All right. Cut Caches that made it actually, yeah. What happens when the tool fails and there’s a time zone change. Let’s talk about that. Snap that stories. Yeah. Traveled snafoos happen. Right? So, uh,

Ben Lakoff: 47:03 yeah, I was meeting our mutual friend Matt to do podcast, podcast prep. So I put it in my calendar at 3:00 PM so then we change time zones. So it shows up at four but I’d written that I was at three and I was, I was with Sean actually and I was like, man, I could’ve sworn I was meeting, I’ve met at three but it’s now in my calendar at four. I’m pretty, it’s as a result of this time change. So it’s at three and you are looking at your client calendar and you’re like, well I was gonna meet him at four, which you know, now it’s five. So that’s the issue. It’s the time change. But I have all of Matt’s podcast here, so you can’t be meeting him at three or four because he wouldn’t have his gear. And I was like, oh, okay.

Ben Lakoff: 47:49 Yeah. So you and I were just sitting outside like eating and shooting the shit out on the deck. And of course, you know, we find fine Matt an hour later and he’s been waiting for me for an entire entire hour. That’s what happens when you can’t text somebody. So the oldest need like a boat timers, some kind of clock time that’s independent of where exactly on, you know, well, I had that to the watch. I was just ignored it. Yeah. Yeah. By the way, the watch, oh yeah. Talk about the watch. This is a pretty good trick. So my tool would be audible. That’s changed, changed my world. I love listening to books. I would’ve never thought that I could retain, uh, what is read or listened to, uh, as well as I do actually through audible. So that’s probably be my tool. But the tool around my width wrist is a Casio f 91 w for the catchy names.

Ben Lakoff: 48:42 Beautiful. Very easy to remember. So this thing is less than $8 and I bought it. I bought it because I only had a few watches, a nicer ones, and I was going to burning man actually. And you know, you don’t really use your phone out there. I didn’t want to destroy it in the desert. So I wanted a watch with a, an alarm. So I just bought this thing off Amazon. Uh, and now I wear it every single day. Sleep in a shower in it, swim in it. It’s amazing. Best $8 Casio F 91 W it’s literally like the First Watch your parents buy you when you’re like 12 and feel awesome. It’s got a really nice light too. I had one that look very similar, but I had like all the little [inaudible] the calculator one. Did you have your actually use the calculator function? I feel like I did just to justify large.

Ben Lakoff: 49:35 Let me just calculate this tip. 10% of $10 Oh my God. It’s $1. It works. Um, so you got that at burning man. Can you tell the story you told me at burning man until about the 10th. Yeah. So burning man, it was my first, first year doing it. Uh, it’s been on my list for a long time. I was really excited. Um, I got the ticket right before when I was in Europe, so it was really expensive to get there, but it was totally worth it. So he get there, have to buy a tent, sleeping bag, everything because they didn’t have anything. Of course I had left on my camp care in Thailand, so we get to burning man, set up our tents, it’s getting late in the day, um, and get really excited, run out, see everything, come back, getting ready to go out for the night.

Ben Lakoff: 50:21 And during the day I had noticed that everybody was taking a ton of time and taping up the seams on their tent and really like making sure to batten down there their tent to like weather proof it. And I’m looking up at the sky, I’m like, it’s a clear night. Like what could go wrong? This is fine. I didn’t do it. I just had some cheap 10 from Walmart actually. So I’m like, oh, whatever. Like we’re in the desert, this’ll be great. So we go out and have a great time. Burning man’s huge. There’s 80,000 people there, I don’t know how many miles it is, kilometers, but it’s like probably like five miles away. So a massive sandstorm comes in in the middle that are dust storm in the middle of the night while we’re still out. Super Fun. You have goggles, face mask, everything out there like having a good time out in the desert.

Ben Lakoff: 51:06 You know about halfway through that good time I realized like, Oh shit, this is probably why everybody was like taping up the seams of their tent and everything. I’m like, yeah, well I can’t make it all the way back and whatever the sandstorms like halfway done. So we get back really late first night at burning man, come back, ends up my tent and there’s like two inches of dust all over everything in my 10 so I started out, you know, and it’s super late. So I just like flip over the mattress pad and like crawling to the sleeping bag and pass out, wake up super dusty, day two, now I’m going to show her the rest of the time all my stuff is destroyed with dust, you know, can, it makes the experience right? Yeah. That’s a, we say bad decisions. Make good stories.

Speaker 3: 51:50 Yeah. [inaudible] all right, last one,

Sean Tierney: 51:55 one uh, one bit of advice. If you had a time machine to go back to your 20 year old

Ben Lakoff: 52:01 self, what would you tell yourself? What would you tell yourself? 20 year old self? Um, if I had a time machine, so that would be 12 years ago. I mean, the easy answer is like,

Speaker 3: 52:21 I know where you’re going with this already, which stocks to invest in Bitcoin in 2009, like whisper that you should tell all your real estate holdings at 2006 or seven. No financial advice. Um,

Ben Lakoff: 52:37 the, I mean listening, so I don’t know if your listeners know, but John is a fantastic guitar player and performed on stage. Like really, really good. So I would probably tell my 20 year olds help to pick up the guitar. So I was playing drums at that point, which is pretty worthless. You can’t travel

Speaker 3: 52:57 around what the big drum roll. Certainly not minimalist. Yeah. I would tell myself

Ben Lakoff: 53:03 to just spend 30 minutes a day practicing the guitar learning a little bit. I think that’d be a useful skill. Cool man. Yeah. Love it.

Sean Tierney: 53:12 All right. I think we’ll wrap. There had been how, what’s the best way for people if they want to connect with you? Where’s it’s like where do they see your startup?

Ben Lakoff: 53:18 Yeah, sure. Easiest way is to follow me on any social media. So Twitter, Facebook, um, it’s my handles, Ben Lake off, B e n l a, k o, f, F on all of the social media. So pretty easy to find. Cool, man. Awesome. All right. Thanks for being on the show. Thank you. Cheers.

Contact Details

Personal Site
Current Company
Current Title
United States of America
Where in the world are you now?
Where were you living when you decided to start a nomadic life?
Bangkok, Thailand
In which (if any) of these travel programs have you participated?
  • WiFi Tribe
  • Nomad Cruise
  • Outsite
Was there something specifically you were looking to gain or escape from that you’re willing/able to share?
Did that situation change at all during the course of your travels?
Are you still doing the same work today as when you went nomadic?
Did you find it challenging to do your work from abroad?
Was there ever a point at which you gave serious consideration to quitting the nomadic journey?
What made you stick it out?
Still debating. It will evolve, not quit.
Was it hard to re-integrate back into society after your travels?
I’m still traveling!
Is there a piece of gear you could you not live without at this point?
Please provide a link to this product
Any ideas for a product or service to solve a pain point for nomadic travelers you believe should exist?
Details your willing to share on this envisioned product or service:
dating app
Are you open to answering listener-submitted video questions here if someone has a question?


Sean is host of Nomad Podcast, author of the Nomad Prep eCourse to help others successfully transition to the nomadic lifestyle. Sean is also founder of Problemattic, a global movement to mobilize knowledge workers for good. Read more from Sean on his personal blog or his business blog.

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Nomad Podcast is a series of conversations with nomads, founders and domain experts to help get more people unstuck through transitioning to a nomadic lifestyle. Add your email to get special access to private AMA sessions, pre-release products and other VIP shiz.