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Site Update: May 2009

This overdue monthly update comes to you from the Dominican Republic – I’m actually not there now, but that’s where I wrote most of this update, so we’ll call it good. *** Each month I look back at what’s happened with ChrisGuillebeau.com in the previous month. If you’ve missed some articles, you can catch up…

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Site Update: April 2009

This morning I ran 14-15 miles through Mount Tabor Park here in Portland (see photo). It was my longest run of the year so far, and I was definitely helped by the fact that the weather was perfect. *** Each month I look back at what’s happened with ChrisGuillebeau.com in the previous month. If you’ve…

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Site Update: March 2009

This update comes to you live from Mahébourg, Mauritius. Where’s Mauritius? Well, it’s a small island in the Indian ocean, a few hours east of Southern Africa. No matter where you come from, it takes a long time to get here. I came in from London, and it took 12 hours of flying. Mauritius is…

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Site Update: January-February 2009

This site update comes to you live from Tokyo’s Narita airport, where I’m on my way home from two weeks in Asia. At the moment I’m in between Hong Kong and LAX, and just 18 hours away from getting back to Seattle. I’d like to begin this update with a big shout-out to the American…

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The 2:00 a.m. “Stuck in Portland” Redesign Launch Story

I mentioned in the comments about the redesign that there was a back story to this week’s launch, and I thought I’d share the whole story here for those who are interested. According to the new publication schedule (Mondays and Thursdays for main content), you can also check back tomorrow for a more typical article.

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Site Redesign and New Posting Schedule

Hi everyone. First, if you’re reading by RSS or email, please come over to the site so you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

As you can see, our new site design is now online. It’s been a long time in the making, and I'm really excited that it's here. For the concept and execution of the project, I’m grateful to the amazing Reese Spykerman who works on location in Michigan and Malaysia. As I’ve said before, if you need a good web designer or ebook layout expert, send her a note.

There are a few more tweaks that are coming in the next few weeks, notably in how we display the categories, but this is the first public display of the AONC 2.0 that I’ve been hoping to have for a while.

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Site Update: You, Me, and Your Group

Group Conversation
Group Conversation by Mr. Willie
In the nine months that people have been following along so far, I’ve met up with readers in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, New York, Tunisia, and Cairo – and many of you have sent other invitations that I haven’t been able to accept (yet) due to schedule conflicts. In the second half of 2009, I hope to get more organized with this and start doing a few meetups that are planned in advance so more people can come. Every week I hear from someone I’ve missed on a recent trip, and I want to get to know more of you. I also want to begin connecting with groups of people (especially small businesses and non-profits), and one way I’ll be doing that is through some limited teaching and speaking. Over the next few weeks I’ll be planning out the first part of my 2009 goals and schedule. I did this recently with travel planning, and next week I’ll do everything else. Naturally, I thought I’d let you know what I have I mind with the group work, in case you have an idea about an opportunity that might benefit both of us. I’ve worked with groups for about six years now, as a leader, director, board member, and outside agitator. After shying away from consulting for several years, I now do it twice a week for people seeking to solve specific problems. I want to do something like this next year on a limited basis for a couple of groups who are doing great work. What I Can (and Can’t) Do The short summary is that I challenge groups to be remarkable. I talk about combining personal goals and service to others, as well as finding a way to do what you want while helping other people at the same time. I like to honor people who are doing great work while encouraging them to go further. I’ll tell a few good travel stories in any talk I give, but there’s usually a hook – I want to help, not just entertain. I also like facilitating workshops on lifestyle design and being on roundtables with cool people. Collaboration is good. I feel at home with small businesses, non-profit organizations (especially groups working on international development), and churches that aren’t afraid of being challenged. Unfortunately, charities and non-profits are not immune from the lure of mediocrity, but thankfully there are a number of them that really want to change the world. Those are the ones I enjoy connecting with. Lastly, I am not a good person to do motivational speaking in the traditional sense. I’m not going to tell a car dealership to go out and sell, sell, sell. If I was going to talk to a car dealership, I’d probably tell them they were in the wrong business, and they’d probably tell me to leave. I’d like to avoid that, and besides, the market for salesmanship is well-covered. For group meetings or speaking opportunities, I’m looking mostly at starting here in the Pacific Northwest (from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon) because that makes the logistics easier, but of course I’m not one to restrict anything based on geography. Show Me the Money Charity Donation My speaking and teaching service is currently in beta mode, which doesn’t mean I’ll give it less of a 110% effort. All it means is that I don’t want to get paid for it yet. I do need to have my travel expenses covered, and if your group normally pays outside speakers, I’d like to donate the money to a charity that we both agree on. But otherwise, I’m willing to do this at no charge for the right group. If you’re changing the world somehow, the least I can do is help out where I can. If you represent a group that would be interested in connecting, please send me a note with details. ###

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16 Great Books to Change the World

bookshelf-change-the-world
Bookshelf Spectrum by Chotda

I did a book list for Flashlight Worthy recently, all about my choices for books related to Unconventional Living. You can see the original list here, but in this post I'll expand it a bit to feature books that can help you change the world.

If you've never read these books, I recommend you hop over to Amazon or to your local library. Barring that, you can always do what I do and spend two afternoons a week reading at Barnes & Noble. (I buy coffee and consider it "rent.")

Meaning of Life

It's hard to start with anything other than Man’s Search for Meaning. That pretty much has it covered. But after that, my favorite book in the world is probably Mountains Beyond Mountains, which tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and the organization he founded. And although it’s not a true autobiography (it’s compiled from various articles, sermons, and letters), The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is as good as you’d expect it to be.

its-not-how-good-you-arePersonal Development

Wishcraft is one of the best “lifestyle design” books, published years before the industry was popular and still providing some great food for thought. I also like Finding Your Own North Star. Of course, Getting Things Done is the productivity classic, and well worth owning a copy. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be is all about not letting the bad guys get you down, in advertising or in life.

Finally, if you want to create something (anything), check out The War of Art. Someone much wiser than me once said, “We are all artists, even if we don’t know how to draw.” This book will help you overcome the enemy of resistance and win the war of art – no matter which art form you work in.

ayn-rand-atlas-shruggedWhy Capitalism Is Good

I read three of Ayn Rand’s major books earlier this year, but I read them in backwards chronological order – Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem. Each contains similar ideas, but the writing was less polished in the beginning. If you can only read one, then Atlas Shrugged is the rightful masterpiece.

The book is 900+ pages, 60 pages of which is a single speech by one of the characters towards the end. In a nice application of abridgment, this guy has condensed it to 964 words.

endurance bookTravel

I don’t read a lot of travel books, but once in a while I find an especially good one that I really enjoy. I read Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu after getting back from many of the same places he visited.

If you’re ever stranded off the coast of Antarctica without a ship or means of communication, Endurance will help you see through the situation. Even if that’s not your exact situation, the lessons of Shackleton may help you anyway.

wind-up-bird-chronicleFiction

I find that reading literary fiction helps me relax. Whenever I go on a trip, I try to take two novels and two non-fiction books with me. On the last trip, I read Harbor and Then We Came to the End for the novels.

As mentioned before (a few times, probably), I love most of Haruki Murakami’s work. If you want to blend fantasy and reality and head off into the underworld of Japan, Murakami is the master. Someone asked a while back if I had read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is one of his longest books. At the time I hadn’t, but since then I’ve finished it. It is suitably great.

***

By the Way

I read a lot of books, but those have stood out to me more than many of the others. If you're looking for a good gift for someone this month, consider giving one of these books instead of a gift card.

Also, the last time we did this, I heard a lot of great recommendations from many of you. What books would you add now?

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Unconventional Guides:

Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom
Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

Did you enjoy this article? Please pass it on to others at StumbleUpon, or share your own thoughts in the comments section.

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Site Update: November-December 2008

fremont-seattle-thanksgiving
My Neighborhood on Thanksgiving Night

Friends and readers, welcome to December. The last thing I knew, it was still November 20th or so... but then, bam! December arrived early this morning. Was it like that for you too?

Each month I look back at what’s happened with ChrisGuillebeau.com in the previous month. If you’ve missed some articles, you can catch up here.

We're going to combine two updates into one this time, because I'll do a few extra things at the end of the year that will take the place of the next monthly update.

Writing

LIFE – I wrote about Lifestyle Design and Your Ideal World, What to Do When It's Not Working Out, and A Short Collection of Unconventional Ideas.

WORK – I opened a limited consulting service and wrote In Defense of Multitasking.

TRAVEL – I wrote about 7 Beautiful Places in the World, Your One Place, How to Get from Here to There, and Advanced Travel Planning.

Travel

For the second month in a row, I stayed at home in Seattle. I took friends to and from the airport twice, gazing longingly at the check-in desks each time, but that was the extent of my wandering. Not to worry, though -- I have my annual life-planning week set for the Western Caribbean in the middle of December, and then in January I'll head out to Northeast Africa for the first in a series of long trips.

Where Was the Product Launch?

Last month I mentioned that I was working on a new product, called How to Become a Travel Ninja or something to that effect. It will be an intermediate-to-advanced travel guide that deals with Round-the-World travel and creative itineraries. It's taking longer than I expected, but I don't want to rush it. I'm now aiming for the first week of January.

What’s Coming Next

Site Redesign (really) - I know I've said this before, but the new site design is well underway and should be uploaded shortly. No kidding. I mean it this time. Like the product, this is the kind of thing that is better to be done right than quickly. When it's done, of course, I'd love to know what you think of it.

Essays - The thrice-weekly essays will continue to be posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This month I’ll write about the following topics, among others:

  • What I Learned from 250 of You in 34 Countries

  • How to Plan an Entire Year of Projects

  • How Much Money do You Really Need?

  • The Return of Ass-Kicking
I hope you enjoy my writing, and I always welcome your feedback.

Audience Participation

You can participate in the development of this project in several ways:

Leave a comment at the bottom of any essay. Feel free to add to the discussion at any time, and include a link back to your own site if you have one.

Join my newsletter announcement list or add me to your RSS reader.

Follow my real-time updates on Twitter.

Send other feedback. Use my contact form here to tell me what you think so far.

Tell your friends, or tell the world by submitting my essays to StumbleUpon or other social networking sites.

I appreciate the time you spend here. Don’t forget to change the world the way you think it needs to be changed.

-CG

Catch up on Previous Updates Here:

October 2008 (Seattle)
September 2008 (Seattle)
August 2008 (Seattle)
July 2008 (Karachi)
June 2008 (Amsterdam)
May 2008 (Vancouver)
April 2008 (Syria)
March 2008 (Los Angeles)
February 2008 (Seattle)

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Unconventional Guides:

Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom
Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

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Now Open for Business (A Limited Consulting Service)

now-open-for-business
Image by Mag3737

By popular request, I’ve decided to begin a limited consulting service to help those who want help from me. The key phrase for this is limited, because I want to keep my focus on the free writing I do for everyone.

It will not be cheap, and I can only help with specific things – so if this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to skip it. On Friday we’ll do Travel Hacking part II, next week more on Doing What You Want, and so on. Stay tuned.

For those who are interested, here’s more info.

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RSS Feed | Email Updates | A Brief Guide To World Domination

Unconventional Guides:

Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom
Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

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Site Update: October 2008

Fremont, Seattle
Image of Fremont (Seattle) by SlightlyNorth

Greetings once again from Seattle, Washington. This past month saw the launch of a new product, the regular set of essays and posts, and a chance for me to catch up on a lot of things at home due to not traveling anywhere.

Each month I look back at what’s happened with ChrisGuillebeau.com in the previous month. If you’ve missed some articles, you can catch up here.

Writing

LIFE – I wrote about How to Fight Authority (and Win), The Link between Security and Complacency, The First Day of Your Life

WORK – I wrote about Working from Anywhere on the Planet, How to Create an Incredibly Convincing Satisfaction Guarantee, Trust and Authority, Affiliate Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

TRAVEL – I wrote about 9 Overrated Tourist Destinations (and 9 Great Alternatives), Travel Hacking in an Unfriendly Environment, 35 Hours from Kampala to Dar es Salaam

Travel

Wow – for the first time since February, I had no international travel this month! Instead, I stayed at home… but I was busy with a lot of writing and preparation for future projects.

The "Working for Yourself" Launch

On October 8, I launched my second information product, the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself. By all accounts, the launch was a success. I sold 100 copies in the first 24 hours, and dozens more in the days following.

I now have a low-key, high-value affiliate program that pays 51% commission for a few carefully-selected partners who wish to offer my products for sale to their readers or customers.

If you have a blog, other web site, or newsletter list and are interested in learning more, read this here and then contact me.

What’s Coming Next

Travel – Like September, I expect to stick to a 20-mile radius over the next month, and my passport is safely tucked away in the filing cabinet. Rest assured that I’ll be dusting it off for some good trips in early 2009. I recently booked a Lufthansa awards flight that flies into Addis Abbaba (Ethiopia) and out of Asmara (Eritrea). My goal is to travel throughout the region, including Djibouti and Somaliand - but for now, I'm home in Washington.

Essays - The thrice-weekly essays will continue to be posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This month I’ll write about the following topics, among others:

  • The Hidden Messages of Passport Stamps

  • Travel Hacking Part II

  • The Power of the Amateur

  • The first-ever AONC Writing Contest

I hope you enjoy my writing, and I always welcome your feedback.

The Next Unconventional Guide

My next Unconventional Guide will focus on advanced travel strategies, including Round-the-World travel and Awards tickets. I’ll detail exactly how I fly almost anywhere for an average of $300 per flight and go into

It will be a follow-up to the first product, the Unconventional Guide to Discount Airfare. Stay tuned for the preview in about two weeks’ time.

Audience Participation

You can participate in the development of this project in several ways:

Leave a comment at the bottom of any essay. Feel free to add to the discussion at any time, and include a link back to your own site if you have one.

Join my newsletter announcement list or add me to your RSS reader.

Follow my real-time updates on Twitter.

Send other feedback. Use my contact form here to tell me what you think so far.

Tell your friends, or tell the world by submitting my essays to StumbleUpon or other social networking sites.

I appreciate the time you spend here. Don’t forget to change the world the way you think it needs to be changed.

-CG

Catch up on Previous Updates Here:

September 2008 (Seattle)
August 2008 (Seattle)
July 2008 (Karachi)
June 2008 (Amsterdam)
May 2008 (Vancouver)
April 2008 (Syria)
March 2008 (Los Angeles)
February 2008 (Seattle)

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Unconventional Guides:

Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom
Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

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Introducing the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself


Image by Poagao

Coming to you from Seattle, Washington, but written during visits to at least seven countries, today I’m happy to bring you my second information product.

It’s called the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom through a (Very) Small Business.

In the short-term, it’s all about earning an extra $200 a month, potentially several times over.

In the long-term, it’s also about freedom and breaking away from the tyranny of a job.

The product is a 53-page online guide and three 25-minute audio teaching sessions. Of course, it’s professionally designed, contains all great content like you have come to expect, and all updates will be free for six months.

Read the details or order your own copy here. Thanks!

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Site Update: September 2008

guild-theatre-seattle
Image by Godzilla

Live from Seattle

I went to Egypt and Sri Lanka this month, but I’m now resettled back in my home city – and I expect to be here until mid-December. It’s nice to stay in one place every so often.

Each month I look back at what’s happened with ChrisGuillebeau.com in the previous month. If you’ve missed some articles, you can catch up here.

Writing

LIFE – I wrote about Swimming from Regrets, Developing Your Own Philosophy of Travel, and Beware of Potential.

WORK – I wrote about Insane Business Strategies (the Roundup), Your Questions on the Next Unconventional Guide, 15 Resumé Mistakes that Can Cost You a Job, and Time Is Money.

TRAVEL – I wrote about Productivity and Vacations, Five Days in the Valley of the Kings, and Midnight Notes from My 100th Country.

I also posted a Travel FAQ that provides more information about how and why I travel.

Travel

My final overseas trip of the year took me to Egypt and Sri Lanka, along with brief stays in Panama and Qatar. (I didn’t spend much time at all in Qatar, but since I have to go back there sometime next year, I decided to go ahead and put it on the list.)

I traveled on my OneWorld Round-the-World ticket for most of the trip, but between Doha (Qatar) and Colombo (Sri Lanka) I bought a one-way ticket for about $180 on Qatar Airways.

Sri Lanka was my 100th country, an important personal milestone. I came back home after a short visit in NYC and will now be in Seattle for at least three months. The whirlwind travel of the summer was fun but tiring, so I’m happy to be home for a while.

The Affiliate Program

Now that the Discount Airfare Guide has been out for a while and my second product is coming next week, I have created a low-key affiliate program that pays 51% commission for a few carefully-selected partners who wish to offer my products for sale to their readers or customers.

The program is still in beta mode, but several travel bloggers are using it to promote the first product with good results. If you have a blog, other web site, or newsletter list and are interested in learning more, read this here and then contact me.

What’s Coming Next

Travel – I expect to stick to a 20-mile radius over the next month, and my passport is safely tucked away in the filing cabinet. Rest assured that I’ll be dusting it off for some good trips in early 2009.

Essays - The thrice-weekly essays will continue to be posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This month I’ll write about the following topics, among others:

  • How to Do What You Really Want

  • The Hidden Messages of Passport Stamps

  • 880,000 Frequent Flyer Miles for a Few of My Closest Friends

  • Entrepreneurship for the Chronic Procrastinator

I hope you enjoy my writing, and I always welcome your feedback.

The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself

Thanks to everyone who sent in title suggestions, questions, or general feedback about the next information product. After much consideration, I decided that the title will be the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself with a subtitle of "Creating Freedom through a Very Small Business."

In addition to the written material (which is currently more than 50 pages), the guide will also include at least two 25-minute audio sessions I’ve recorded to help in a different way.

I’ll have a lot more to say about all of that over the next week and a half, and I expect to launch the guide next Wednesday, October 8. Before then I’ll be giving you several reasons why you might not want to get this product, and a special guarantee that will be included for those who do. As usual, I’ll also share more information with the newsletter list before the launch.

Audience Participation

You can participate in the development of this project in several ways:

Leave a comment at the bottom of any essay. Feel free to add to the discussion at any time, and include a link back to your own site if you have one.

Join my newsletter announcement list or add me to your RSS reader.

Follow my real-time updates on Twitter.

Send other feedback. Use my contact form here to tell me what you think so far.

Tell your friends, or tell the world by submitting my essays to StumbleUpon or other social networking sites.

I appreciate the time you spend here. Don’t forget to change the world the way you think it needs to be changed.

-CG

Catch up on Previous Updates Here:

August 2008 (Seattle)
July 2008 (Karachi)
June 2008 (Amsterdam)
May 2008 (Vancouver)
April 2008 (Syria)
March 2008 (Los Angeles)
February 2008 (Seattle)
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