Insights From a Mobile Entreprenuer – An Interview With Colin of Exile Lifestyle

by Ryan

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a globetrotting internet entrepreneur? Well you’re about to meet one first hand. Colin from Exilelifestyle.com owns a boutique branding studio called Colin Is My Name. His business allows him to work anywhere in the world, which he’s currently doing. Keep reading to learn about Colin’s thoughts on financial freedom, mobile living, and to find a link to his free e-book “Be Remarkable.”

What was your earliest inspiration for becoming a digital nomad? Did you read about it somewhere, or travel prior?
Until I left the country for Exile Lifestyle, I had actually never left the US before. This as much as anything was why I wanted to travel long-term; I felt like I was way behind and was incredibly ignorant about the world as a whole.

I actually had no idea there was a location independent, digital nomad or lifestyle designer movement when I decided to start traveling. As soon as I made that decision, though, I went online and start researching. Fortunately I was able to find a thriving community right away, and that community gets bigger and bigger every day.

When you think of financial freedom, what comes to mind?
Having enough money in the bank to not have to worry, to be able to go out and have fun when I want and to be able to influence things that are important to me.

If I gave you $1 million dollars right now, what would you do with it?
I would put it in the bank and create a scholarship based around the interest it accrued. I don’t think I would get much joy out of spending money that I didn’t earn, but I don’t see any reason why it should go to waste. Plus, there are a whole lot of people out there who have great ideas and could really use a leg-up financially.

What’s your favorite marketing technique for promoting your sites?
Meeting people. I’m networking CONSTANTLY. Every time I go out to a bar or a party or a restaurant, I’m talking to people and not making a single marketing pitch. This second part is very important, because if you start marketing to people directly, you put their guard up and everyone’s in business mode when they really just want to have a good time.

If you take the time to make friends, however, you have the dual benefit of having wonderful people to surround yourself with, plus if they have a job come up that requires your services, who do you think they’ll come to? The friend they can trust, of course.

What’s your best piece of advice for high school and/or college grads?
Have your own projects going on outside of class and work. I had a double-handful of great job offers waiting for me when I left college not because I finished 2 majors in 4 years, not because I worked 5 jobs related to my profession, but because I started up a magazine that turned into a business and gave me all kinds of crazy real-world experience..the kind that can’t be taught and that you will never get being a cog in a larger machine.

The magazine also gave me a chance to experiment in a relatively consequence-free environment. This is the fastest and most effective way to learn, and I wouldn’t take back all the mistakes I made for anything.

What country do you dream of visiting and why? What has been your favorite place to visit?
I would love to visit Thailand (I have a lot of friends who are living there, I love Thai food and I would love to be able to afford a massage every day).

So far my favorite place in the States in New York; my favorite place outside of the US is Buenos Aires.

What attracts you most to the mobile living lifestyle?
I love the freedom. I can pack up everything I own in less than 10 minutes and be out the door to the airport, ready to hop a plane to anywhere in the world. That’s an amazing feeling.

It also gives me the opportunity to meet new people constantly, while at the same time experiencing novel situations and locations. It’s a huge challenge to connect with people from all over the world and run a business in unfamiliar territory (where everyone speaks an unfamiliar language), but it’s invigorating, and has been great for me personally and for my business.

When visiting other countries how do you manage your money? Which banks do you use?
I manage my money online. I have a Bank of America account that I use for my business account and a checking account I keep open to pay for bills (which are automatically deducted).

I have a Charles Schwab high-yield checking account that I use as my main account. The debit card for this account is amazing for travelers: you can use any ATM in the world and they pay for the charges. The interest is also top-of-the-line.

I also have an ING high-yield savings account that grows each month through an automated transfer from my Charles Schwab account. I do no touch this account under any circumstances, and the interest rate is excellent.

I have a credit card through Bank of America that I use to buy everything when I’m in the States (making use of the additional warranty on electronics and automatic tracking of my spending for tax season) and online (I pay for my plane tickets with this card, because it has a free cancellation insurance policy, up to $1500, just in case I need to change my plans at the last second).

I also make use of PayPal to get payments from clients, to pay for online services, etc.

I’ve noticed you have several incredible people in your life. How did you meet and seek out these mentors?
I am fortunate to have an amazing number of inspirational people in my life, and the reason for this is that I actively seek them out and don’t let go once I find them! It’s a rare pleasure to find someone who shares similar values, and fortunately because of modern technology it’s becoming easier and easier to find such people.

Some I’ve met through projects we’ve worked on together, others at networking events or through Twitter. Sometimes I read their blog for a while and write them an email, sometimes it’s the other way around. There are as many ways to meet people as there are people to meet; the important thing is being open and giving when you meet someone so that they stick around and want to be the same way back.

For someone at the very beginning of the road to becoming a digital nomad what would you recommend and how would you start over?
I would recommend making sure you know where you money is coming from when you start. I’ve met a ridiculous number of people on the road who started out doing something similar to what I was doing, except they ran out of money prematurely and were sulking their way back home. Build that infrastructure FIRST, then take it on the road. Everything becomes much more complicated when you’re in another country, so don’t make things any harder on yourself when you’re just starting out!

I don’t know that I would start over..I’ve spent a lot of money I didn’t need to spend, but each time I lost money unnecessarily, I learn a whole lot (and that lesson stuck), so I figure it was money well-spent.

In your “Be Remarkable” e-book you mention that you don’t want to be pigeonholded like Billy Idol, what are some of the other things you’d like to accomplish in your life and how are you making that happen?
For a living I’m a branding-focused designer, and I’d love to expand my business further by taking on even larger and even more interesting clients. I also enjoy leading movements and groups and organizing people around a common cause, which is a trait I’ll leverage when I feel like it’s time to shake up the education system (well, it’s time now, but I’M not ready yet to offer a better solution…stay tuned). I’m a fine artist who enjoys drawing and painting, and I’d like to have another gallery show someday (it’s been a while). I’m a voracious reader and would love to write a book that goes mainstream.

To achieve each of these things I’m moving both slowly and with short bursts of energy. At the moment I’m focusing on growing Exile Lifestyle as a brand in order to get some kind of book deal or alternate expressive media outlet, but I’ll likely put more oomph into my studio for a while after that happens, and then maybe focus on getting enough pieces for a gallery show done. I’m always creating art, writing, exploring alternate revenue streams and expanding my business, though, even if slowly.

If you could pick the one most important page from your “Be Remarkable” e-book, what one would it be?
Hmm, that’s a toughie. I’d say that #59, Be Open-Minded, is pretty damn vital to the rest of them. If you’re not open-minded, you probably won’t even LISTEN to the other advice, so as a way to approach life, I’d say that’s the best one to focus on.

What motivates you to be your best everyday?
The thrill of past successes (and knowing how good they make me feel). The knowledge that I have other people depending on me. Feeling like I can really make a difference and that because I do, I have a responsibility to do so. The rewards (tangible and intangible) that come with even the most minor victories. The desire to do things better because then we all benefit.

Thanks again to Colin for taking the time to share his experiences. Please visit his website at exilelifestyle.com.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Moon Hussain March 5, 2010 at 5:43 am

Fun interview. I already visit Colin’s blog and love his craft of story telling.
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Check-Off Friday (2): Where I Am With My Goals (And Where The Hell Are You With Yours?!) =-.

Financial Samurai March 5, 2010 at 9:13 am

Good stuff Ryan. Any idea how much Colin makes, to help us location dependent folks make a better informed decision?

Ryan, care to share a band… and your progression?

Thnx!
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Sometimes Saving Money Is About Principle =-.

MyFinancialObjectives March 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Good interview. I liked the networking bit, as well as the “Interest from $1 million for Scholarship”.

I too promptly visited his site…. What a lifestyle!! I’m predicting many books to come from Colin…
.-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..Chile Earthquake =-.

FinEngr March 9, 2010 at 8:17 am

Ryan –

So what’s your take on Colin: potential mentor?
As for your own endeavours, it seems like creating a strong foundation prior to leaving is key. Sound advice.

Enjoyed the interview UP until I read about BoA >:O

I re-read the last few sentences under the motivation section several times…good stuff.
.-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Financial Lessons From Engineering =-.

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