One Month with No Phone — How to Go Phoneless in a Major US City

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Lane Wood’s last photo with his iPhone 5.

Preface by Tim/Editor

This guest post is by Lane Wood, societal entrepreneur, CMO of Humin, and alum of Warby Parker and charity:water.

I recently went four weeks without phone, computer, or calendar, while in Indonesia. But what if you’re in a major US city? Can you go phoneless? Lane shares his experience doing exactly that…

Enter Lane

Just over a month ago, I was in a precarious situation. You see, I’m new to the freelance game and through a series of novice moves, I found myself without a big client and no work lined up for July. It was a rough month.

I had already planned a mini personal retreat with some friends and decided to just go for it— and try to find some solace in the beautiful mountains surrounding Lake Shasta. Early one morning, I was in paradise as I breathed in the mountain air, looked for miles over the mountains and I snapped the photo above. Little did I know it’d be the last picture my poor iPhone would take.

Our crew decided to rent a boat, and we headed out with a tube and a wakeboard. When we were about 300 yards from the marina, the boat engine started having trouble and we thought there was a rope caught in the propeller. I decided to be a hero and dove into the water. With my iPhone 5.

Given my freelancer cash flow issues, a newly signed contract with Verizon and no insurance, I chose not to spend $700 on a new device. I powered up my iPad mini (with 4G) and spent the next month in San Francisco without a phone.

When I mention this to people, heads tilt to the side, eyes bulge and mouths are left gaping open.

“Wait, what? How… I mean… Really? No Phone?”

Yep.

Now with intense curiosity, they lean in.

“What’s it like?”

They sound as if I’ve just told them I’m on ecstasy.

But I get it. Not a lot of people have had this experience. So I’d like to share what I’ve learned… Read More

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How to Create a $4,000 Per Month Muse in 5 Days (Plus: How to Get Me As Your Mentor)

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Photo: Stuck in Customs

Preface by Tim

This post is a follow-up to “How to Create a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend (Examples: AppSumo, Mint, Chihuahuas).”

The purpose of this guest post — written by Noah Kagan — is to show you exactly how a postal worker created a $4,000 per month muse. Included are all the tests, e-mail templates, and details you’d need to replicate his success.

Noah was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, had previously worked for Intel (where he frequently took naps under his desk), and had turned down a six-figure offer from Yahoo. Since we first met, Noah’s helped create several multi-million dollar businesses, including AppSumo, loved by entrepreneurs everywhere.

For those interested in mentorship, don’t miss the end of this post.

There’s a time-sensitive chance to visit San Francisco for a week… to be mentored in-person by Noah and yours truly. Read More

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Case Study: What Does a Real 4-Hour Workweek Look Like…With a Family?

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Now that’s a happy kid. (Photos: Brandon Pearce)

One common challenge for readers of The 4-Hour Workweek is the creation a “muse”: a low-maintenance business that generates significant income. Such a muse is leveraged to finance your ideal lifestyle, which we calculate precisely based on Target Monthly Income (TMI).

Despite the dozens of case studies I’ve put on this blog, and the hundreds elsewhere, one knee-jerk objection always crops up: “That might work for a single 30-something guy, but what about families? I have a mortgage, kids, and…”

The following is a guest post by Brandon Pearce. Brandon has three kids and first appeared on this blog as a muse case study for his business, Music Teacher’s Helper, which generated more than $25,000 a month at the time.

Things are even better now.

He and his family have now been leisurely traveling the world for 1,128 days. They are currently living like royalty and surrounded by palm trees.

This post explains exactly how Brandon spends his time over one week… Read More

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How to Travel Through 20+ Countries with Free Room and Board

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Casey Fenton founded Couchsurfing.org, which connects millions of travelers with free accommodation around the world. (Photo by Alexandra Liss)

I met Alexandra Liss on a rainy day last September, outside of one of my favorite Thai restaurants in San Francisco.

Alex had just returned from six months abroad, traveling through 21 countries for free while shooting her full-length documentary, One Couch at a Time. She was wrapping up the film and had requested an interview with me.

Our topic of discussion? The Sharing Economy.

Startups that are part of this “sharing economy” — like TaskRabbit, AirBNB, Uber, and Sidecar — have given us unprecedented access to incredible experiences and resources, allowing many people to completely upgrade their lifestyles. By capitalizing on underused resources and new technology, people can live many strata above their income. In Alex’s case, she was able to raise $8,000 through Kickstarter to crowdfund her travel and the making of her film. She also lived rent-free during those six months, staying with more than 80 different strangers she’d met through Couchsurfing.org.

In this post, Alex shares exactly how she’s managed to become a couchsurfing guru, and the steps you can take to travel the world on next to no budget… Read More

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Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.)

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Hack Kickstarter
Mike Del Ponte co-founded Soma, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter using virtual assistants and free apps.

I first met Mike Del Ponte two years ago when he was running marketing at BranchOut, a startup I advise.

Before joining BranchOut, Mike had explored a variety of career paths, including preparing for the priesthood at Yale Divinity School and serving as a peacemaker in the West Bank.

Earlier this year, Mike came to me with a new product idea called Soma. Soma is, in its simplest form, a high-end competitor to Brita water filters. It combines Apple-inspired design (e.g. sleek glass carafe) with a subscription service that delivers the world’s first compostable water filter to your door. From form to function, from funding model to revenue model, Mike was eager to disrupt a sleepy but enormous market: water. I became an advisor.

To launch Soma on Kickstarter (and raise $100,000+ in just nine days), Mike and his team used some of the techniques that helped BranchOut grow to 25 million users in just 16 months.

You can replicate what he did.

This post includes all of their email templates, spreadsheets, open-source code to build landing pages, and even a custom dashboard Soma’s hacker Zach Allia built to monitor their Kickstarter data, social media, and press.

This post is as close to copy-and-paste Kickstarter success as you will find. And even if you have no interest in Kickstarter, Mike’s approach is a blueprint for launching nearly any product online for maximal impact and minimal cost.

Enjoy! Read More

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How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?

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Chad Mureta runs his seven-figure app business from his iPhone. (Photo: Jorge Quinteros).

I first met Chad Mureta in Napa Valley in 2011.

Two years prior, he had been in a horrible car accident. He’d lost control of his truck in at attempt to avoid a deer, hit a median, and flipped four times, nearly destroying his dominant arm in the wreckage.

While in the hospital for a lengthy recovery, a friend gave him an article about the app market. Shortly thereafter, Chad began designing and developing apps. His results?

“In just over two years, I’ve created and sold three app companies that have generated millions in revenue. Two months after launching my first company, one of my apps averaged $30,000 a month in profit. In December of 2010, the company’s monthly income had reached $120,000. In all, I’ve developed more than 40 apps and have had more than 35 million app downloads across the globe. Over 90 percent of my apps were successful and made money.”

After finishing rehab, Chad was able to leave his real estate company, where he’d been working 70 hours a week, to run his app business from his iPhone… in less than 5 hours per week.

“Apps” are the new, new thing, thanks to major successes like Draw Something (bought by Zynga for $210 million) and Instagram (bought by Facebook for $1 billion), among others. But for all the hype and promise, few people actually know how to create something that gets traction.

In this post, Chad will discuss his step-by-step formula for rapid app development and sales optimization. It covers real-world case studies and the details you usually don’t see: early prototype sketches, screenshots, how to code if you don’t know how to code, and much more.

Last but not least, don’t miss the competition at the end. If you’ve ever thought “I should make an app that…,” this one is for you… Read More

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"The Start-up's Secret Weapon: Contests" or "How to Turn $100K into $12,000,000"

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Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify. How did they turn a $100,000 prize into $12,000,000 in transactions?

In the world of magazine articles, one of my all-time favorite headlines is “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta” from the MIT Technology Review, a feature about billionaire programmer, Charles Simonyi. Charles designed Microsoft Office and is outstanding at looking at programming as different layers of abstraction.

How can we raise our perspective from 5,000 feet to 30,000 feet to learn a few things? This post will do that with competitions.

Today, Shopify, a start-up I have advised since 2009, announced the winners of their Build-a-Business Competition, featuring a grand prize of $100,000 cash. Winners were determined by combining their two highest-revenue months in an 8-month competition window.

I want this post to show two things, and the second is where meta comes in:

1) How the competition winners won and key lessons learned in taking their products from ideas to profitability. This includes manufacturing, marketing, PR, and just about everything in between. I’ve looked at these types of lessons before.

2) How Shopify has used these competitions to build their own business several-fold and cross the chasm from early-adopter to mainstream. This is something I’ve never written about… Read More

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