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Reflections on The World Domination Summit 2014 #WDS2014

business, life, travel

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in Portland for the World Domination Summit 2014. This was my second year (I wrote about last year here) attending the conference, and I was really grateful to get a chance to meet a lot of people in person who I’ve only known in an online capacity. If you’ve never heard of The World Domination Summit (when you’re at the border, just tell the border guards that you’re going to a conference for “entrepreneurs”– it’s easier…) it was founded and led by Chris Guillebeau in the spirit of this question: How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world? It was founded on the principles of Community, Service and Adventure. Never will you find such an energetic, open, and inspirational group of people in one place. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s an absurd amount of value for a conference ($500), and it’s in the fabulous city of Portland. The connections I made last year do not even compare to the ticket cost… Anyway, the roadtrip began from Vancouver, BC, with friends Amanda Farough and Margaret Reffell. With a number of stops along the way, it was pretty amazing to be able to spend a full day in a car with these ladies without going crazy 😉 We discussed everything from relationships to clients, to feminism and beyond. The best question of the trip: “How old were you when you realized that sexism was a ‘thing’?”   I had no idea when I took this photo of the Tiny House Hotel that there would be a speaker session by Dee Williams who spoke about her own process of creating a Tiny House! Every time I visit Portland, I fall in love and want to live here. It’s like the grungier, weirder, cheaper version of Vancouver! Of course I had to try the infamous Salt & Straw ice cream (which was incredible of course). Next door was an...

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Settling into Ubud, the arts & culture centre of Bali

life, travel

Well, my first month of exploring a work-travel lifestyle has already flown by! It’s been a really interesting ride so far. I spent my first couple of weeks exploring Bali, decompressing, and getting adjusted to everything from the bug bites, to the food and everything in between. Life is slower here, and I will admit, it is difficult to feel “stressed.” I am currently living in a little bungalow in the Rice Fields not far from the center of Ubud, a small town in the center of Bali, well known for its arts and culture (as well as its spectacular postcard-worthy rice field views). There are dingy bungalows and 5 star resorts, backpackers and wealthy travellers alike. It is a sleepy artist town with a lot of magic tucked away just beyond what you see at first glance. It is not near the beaches, and the nightlife is minimal, so it is a far cry from the drunken touristy scene you’ll find in Kuta. I chose Ubud for several reasons, mostly though because it continued to come up in conversation with anyone who I talked to about Bali. It seemed to me like it might be a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy cities, and provide a good atmosphere for me to be able to focus on work, but also be able to relax and enjoy my stay here. I can’t exactly say that I have a routine mastered by any means, but a typical “work” day looks something like this: I wake up sometime between 8:30am-10am. I get dressed and bring my Macbook Air out onto my patio area which has a few chairs, a coffee table, and a working desk that I brought out onto the patio from my room. I make myself a Bali Kopi (Bali style coffee). Every morning there is a fresh thermos of hot water, a jar...

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The many offices of Ubud, Bali

life, productivity, travel

I have had the pleasure of working in some very interesting offices during my time here in Bali. I made it my mission to find some of the best workable cafes/bars/restaurants/guesthouses. My main requirements were 1. Fast internet access 2. Comfortable/ergonomic seating & tables 3. Good food Below are some of my favourite spots I’ve worked at during my time in Bali, in order of preference Tutmak Tutmak is definitely one of the best places in Ubud to sit down and focus. I have spent many work days here (I’m on a first name basis with most of the waitresses). Food and drinks are excellent (try the wheatgrass shot, or the apple/carrot/beet juice), the wifi is by far the fastest and most reliable I’ve experienced, and the tables are upstairs, away from most of the other patrons. Tutmak seems like a bit of a hidden gem. Not a lot of people seem to know about it, so more often than not, I have the entire upstairs area to myself, which makes it easier to be productive. Clear Cafe Clear Cafe is definitely my favourite restaurant in all of Bali. The food is outstanding (though a bit pricier than most restaurants, but well worth it), their wifi is fast and reliable, and they recently renovated to include a very comfortable and quiet upstairs area that is perfect for getting a few hours of work done. I highly recommend the Magestic Mushrooms and the Vanilla Bean Latte (with cashew milk). For mains, you pretty much can’t go wrong… try the Hint of India, or the Chicano Burrito. Seniman A recent discovery, Seniman is an artisanal coffee shop. You can tell that they put a lot of time into their process/methods, and have very much perfected the art of coffee. Work tables are ideal, the wifi is very fast, and the food/coffee are fantastic (try the brie/cashew panini). The music is also...

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The magic of Gili Air, Lombok

life, travel

After spending my first week in Ubud, I made arrangements to meet up with some Couchsurfers on Gili Air in Lombok to get our diving certification. The Gili Islands are reputable for their snorkeling, surfing, and partying (depending on which of the 3 Gili Islands you go to). Never in a million years did I ever think I would be getting my diving certification! I should probably explain that up until a few years ago I was… ahem… “very reluctant” to get into open natural water. I avoided it at all costs, and to be perfectly honest, it was even difficult to get me into a swimming pool (you’d have to trick me or throw me in). I’d had a number of negative experiences growing up with murky Ontario waters, that I stopped trusting water and the creatures living in it! Beaver lice larva one year, leaches, seaweed… I began to associate water with creepy crawlies, and it just generally gave me the shivers. My fear of water was finally eased when I went to Hawaii in 2008. The water was as warm as bathwater, and it was crystal clear. I could see where I was stepping, and it wasn’t so scary after all. I rented some snorkel gear, and I think that’s when everything changed for me. I saw all of the beautiful (and hideous) creatures that live under the water, and got real close and personal with them! I saw sea turtles, eels, and fish every colour of the rainbow. I literally felt like I was in Finding Nemo – I had to remind myself to breathe, I was in such AWE! Fish have always been a little “freaky” to me, so I will admit that a few times I found my breath racing as some of the fish got very very close… and we stared at each other with equal curiosity. Sometimes they would take little...

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A last minute visa run in Cambodia

life, travel

You can only stay in Indonesia for 60 days at a time with a Visa on Arrival, and then you need to leave the country if you want to return again. I was thinking about maybe doing a small side trip to Thailand (rock climbing in Railay? visit Cody McKibben…), and then a university friend (Steve) informed me that he would be heading to Cambodia at the end of March. This aligned perfectly with my schedule, so with about 5 days notice, I booked tickets to Cambodia with a stopover in Malaysia! I didn’t have time to do any research on Cambodia… All i knew were the rave reviews that I had heard from many other travellers in Bali. I had no idea what to expect, and I will say that Cambodia truly blew my mind. The plan was to meet up with Steve at Monkey Republic Bar in Sihanoukville, in the south of Cambodia on March 27th. I had no way to reach Steve other than via occasional facebook messages. Neither of us would have a phone that we could use, so my fingers were crossed that everything would pan out as planned. If he wasn’t at Monkey Republic, I was to look for him at the Blue Mean Leap guest house. I get to the Airport in Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, and take a tuk tuk to the bus station where I’ll need to catch a 4 hr bus ride to Sihanoukville. Well, it just so happens the last bus of the day has already left. My options are to stay a night in Phnomh Penh, and catch a bus in the morning, or pay $45US to take a 3hr taxi ride there. I foolishly opted for the taxi ride, thinking it would be way too difficult to coordinate with Steve if I had to come the next day. At the time, I felt very intimated about being...

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Welcome to Bali!

life, travel

Well, I landed safely in Denpasar, Bali at midnight on February 8th. I had nothing but an iphone with cellular data turned off to avoid roaming charges, and instructions to take a taxi to the Pepito Supermarket to meet my Airbnb host. I exited the airport with my fingers crossed, as I was not provided a specific address. Am I mad? I am going to meet a stranger named Marco late at night in a parking lot in a city I’ve never been, and get on his motorbike with my backpack and laptop bag. This is irresponsible, right? I exit the doors, and within minutes I hear my name. Marco decided to come right to the airport because he thought it might be too tricky to coordinate at the supermarket. Fantastic! Marco has a thick Italian accent, and is covered in tattoos. I hop on the back of his motorbike, and within 20 minutes or so I am at my new accommodations just south of Kuta Beach. Marco offers to take me into town in the morning and make sure that I know where I am going and how to get there. I stayed at my accommodations for 2 nights while I got used to Kuta, and found my way around. I decided to get a place closer to the town/beach for the next few days/nights. I met some locals on the beach, did some surfing, and danced the night away with the locals and some Swedes at Surfer Bar. I will say that I think being open to meeting and talking to the locals really shaped my experience in Kuta. Once you get to know the locals, they no longer, ahem, “harass” you to get massages, buy beer, or get surf lessons. Once they see you a few times, and see you talking to the other locals, they treat you like a local, and welcome you into their...

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It begins in Seoul, South Korea

life, travel

Well, I began my journey with a 3 day visit to Seoul, South Korea, before heading to Bali on the 11th of February. To recap… I’ve been spending the last 2 months living on a friend’s couch. I sold all my worldly possessions, and bought a ticket to Bali for 3 months. Because, hey, why not. It’s cheaper than living in Vancouver to say the least, and since my work allows me to work from anywhere… enough said. So it starts in Seoul. Lucky for me, friends put me in touch with someone who is currently living there and was more than happy to show me around! So I arrived in Seoul and Brent came to meet me, for which I was eternally grateful. The public transportation is really well organized, but I will admit that I would have been a bit intimidated to figure it out on my own right away! I arrived around dinner time after an 11hr flight. At that point I’d had maybe 3 hours sleep in the previous 48 hrs, so I was exhausted, and running on pure excitement and adrenaline. The best part about my Korean experience was that my friend likes to travel like me (doing as the locals do), so we started off with some tasty traditional Korean food and sake. Brent did most of the ordering, as most of the menus had no English. The food surprised me, I must admit. As a vegetarian, I was expecting to eat mostly rice and kimchi, but there were a surprising amount of tasty options for me. Though my first meal was far spicier than anything I’ve ever consumed before! I think I put on a brave face (and went through an entire box of kleenex). Sidenote… the advantage of living in Vancouver is that no matter WHERE you go, EVERYTHING is always so much cheaper. After our delicious meal and drinks, Brent...

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Let’s try this again

life, travel

I have been trying to write this post for a few weeks now, but I get a bit overwhelmed and am unsure where to begin. As those closest to me know, I went through a lot of big changes in 2011, and crossed some very big items off my life list. Some of the things I am most excited about that I accomplished in 2011: Worked with with some people on my “must work for” list (including Marie Forleo and Danielle Laporte) Paid off my student loan Went to 2 web conferences on my own dime, including An Event Apart and Interlink Conference (Vancouver) Travelled to Seattle, Toronto, Ottawa, New York, San Francisco, Thailand, and Hong Kong Reached my first 5 figure month Experienced my highest earning year ever as self employed Yes, it was an exciting year. I met up with Twitter followers in almost every city I visited, and really started to come out of my “shell.” As a previously self-professed introvert, making small talk with new people always made me very nervous. So to force myself to get more comfortable with new people I started organizing monthly nerdy meetups in Vancouver. They’ve been such a success; I have met some of my very close friends in the city via Twitter! At the end of September I took my first holiday in 3 years with a 1 month trip to Thailand, with 3 days in Hong Kong. This experience was life changing for me, but that’s another story… Shortly after returning from Asia, I went through a very big break-up. The life altering kind, where you begin to question everything about the way your life has operated until now, and everything about how you want your life to be moving forward. Traveling was something that has long been on the backburner while I was paying down my student loans, and my trip to Asia really rekindled my...

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Reflections on Marie Forleo’s RHH Live!

business, travel

At the end of October I had the pleasure of attending Marie Forleo‘s Rich Happy & Hot Live in New York. (I designed and built the WordPress website back in August.) The conference delivered a plethora of smart and sexy business advice from a knock-out line-up of speakers, including Danielle Laporte, Julie Cottineau, Laura Roeder, Josh Pais, Regena Thomashauer, Russel Simmons, Kris Carr, Simon Sinek, Derek Halpern, and Ramit Sethi! (that’s me on the right, after a much needed new haircut What surprised me most about the conference was the amount of content devoted to personal development. This was actually quite a pleasant surprise, and I found this type of content to be almost more relevant than the specific business tools provided. It all comes down to: if you are a business owner and you don’t have your own shit together (aka emotionally strength and stability), how can you expect your business to stand a chance? Marie provided tons of practical business advice, along with a ton of super sexy dance moves (there was a Wheel of Dance). Each speaker was outstanding and brought something completely different to the table. Danielle Laporte gave an inspiring talk on finding your creative edge. It was fantastic to see her energy on stage, as I have followed her website, whitehottruth.com for a while now, but I have never had the pleasure of seeing her in person before. Her no-BS approach is really down to earth and inspiring. I highly recommend her Spark Kit if you need an entrepreneurial kick in the ass. Simon Sinek was one of the crowd highlights, clearly! An optimist at heart, he discussed the importance of knowing the “WHY” behind yourself, and your business. It’s not about WHAT you do, or HOW you do it, it’s about WHY you do it. People don’t buy the WHAT, they buy the WHY. Check out his inspiring Ted Talk. Ramit Sethi...

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Seattle and An Event Apart

business, travel

In March I attended my first An Event Apart Conference in Seattle. I had a great time, and met tons of interesting people. I think I learned more about typography in one hour with Jason Santa Maria than I did in 4 yrs of design school… The highlights for me were: Idea to Interface by Aarron Walter Everything the Network Touches by Tom Coates Design Principles by Jeremy Keith A Content Strategy Roadmap by Kristina Halvorson On the train from Vancouver to Seattle There just HAPPENED to be a Battlestar Galactica exhibit that weekend?? How did they KNOW?? I am in heaven. Sweet, nerdy heaven. We met up with a super talented couple, Ben and Bridget of Typeoneerror at the Typekit party. An event apart is about to begin… Andy Clarke’s presentation on CSS3 animations. This was the first time I’d ever heard Andy Speak, and it was fantastic! I’d never heard of Tom Coates before, but he nailed the final session. He was an absolute riot, and a joy to listen to. I felt excited and inspired; I don’t think they could have had a better speaker to end off the conference. On the bridge near the Harbour Centre, on Day 2 of the conference. Me, Eli, and...

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