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Everybody knows if you want to be in pictures, move to Hollywood. Want to work in finance? New York, or London. Dreaming of starting the next big tech company? Better move to Silicon Valley—that’s where the money is. And if country music’s your jam, head out to Nashville.
Is that really true? Is it only possible to succeed in a handful of cities around the world?
Well, of course not. But your location does shape who you are. The things you see and hear every day, the way the people around you behave and what they talk about, the ease of access to what inspires you… it all plays a part in achieving your goals.
Today we discuss how your location affects your motivation—the impact where you live has on the opportunities presented to you and your ability to capitalize on them.
We’re not here to tell you where to live, but if you’ve been struggling with whether to move or stay where you are, this show will provide some clarity.
Links and Resources Mentioned
- Podcast: Neil Gaiman — The Interview I've Waited 20 Years to Do (#366) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
- Website: Vacation Rentals, Homes, Experiences & Places – Airbnb
- Website: We are what we do | Meetup
Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.
Ben: [00:00:00] I feel like if there is a one size fits all solution, that’s it. Living in the suburbs. I’m just kidding. Don’t listen to me.
Dan: [00:00:08] I’m going to edit that part out, Ben?
Ben: [00:00:10] Oh, come on.
Dan: [00:00:10] No, I’m not. I’m not really, I never edit anything out. Have you ever heard this show.
Ben: [00:00:15] Yeah, I’ve, I’ve listened a couple of times.
Good morning, Dan.
Dan: [00:00:36] Good morning, Ben. How’s it going?
Ben: [00:00:39] It’s going really well. I’m having a good morning so far. How’s your morning going?
Dan: [00:00:44] Yeah, it’s, I’m also having a good morning. We had an interesting little conversation in the pre show about whether you should buy a sports car or not, and, it’s charged me up for the, for the podcast.
Ben: [00:00:54] Nice. Yeah. And, and, and to be specific, it’s not about whether I, Ben should buy a sports car, but whether you like the general were there, anybody should buy a sports car.
Dan: [00:01:06] Well that that is nominally what we were talking about. But I get this, I get this feeling that the reason you brought up the whole topic was to try to convince yourself to buy a sports car
Ben: [00:01:14] You know, I’m the proud owner of not one not one, but two Honda Odysseys yeah, the ad I, in my opinion, the best minivan on the market for your money. So.
Dan: [00:01:27] see you. So you’ve got, you’ve got your day van and your night van.
Ben: [00:01:31] That’s right. That’s, that’s why, that’s why I have to,
Dan: [00:01:38] I can’t think of any other reason to have too many vans, so I, that must be it.
Ben: [00:01:42] a story for another time.
Dan: [00:01:44] Now it seems to me that if you’re going to own two minivans, where you live is going to have an impact on how easy that is. Right? Cause if you live in the middle of Manhattan. Good luck parking to minivans somewhere.
Ben: [00:01:54] yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s hard enough to own, just like a moped in Manhattan, let alone a vehicle that really takes up two parking spaces. When it comes down to it. I mean, I have what they, I’m going to, I’m doing air quotes here. I have a two car garage. My driveway is wide enough for two cars. I can’t fit both of those minivans in the, there’s no way.
Dan: [00:02:22] Well, no, they’re not cars after all, they’re there. Cause, I mean, there are many vans, but nonetheless, minivans are mega cars.
Ben: [00:02:29] Correct. They are.
Dan: [00:02:30] But if they advertise them as mega cars, I mean, some people would think that was cool.
Ben: [00:02:34] Actually, I mean, I think a rebranding might be an order, Christopher, in the chat, as we were talking about this earlier, said, minivans are not cool and that ha, that actually really started the whole conversation about like, should you buy cool cars? Because the whole, one of the whole reason I bought the first minivan was not because it’s, it’s cool.
I bought it because it’s practical. I’ve hold wood in that thing. I’ve, I mean it’s, it just makes sense. Does it, do I feel cool and, and excited like when I get in the van, maybe not. The newer one is kinda nice cause it’s got some neat technology, but even still, it’s like I’m, I can’t pretend I’m driving a sports car.
Like I’m in a minivan.
Dan: [00:03:23] Yeah, I mean, there’s cool and there’s cool though, Ben. I imagine you feel pretty good when you load all your kids in there and you’re about to go do something fun and everybody’s excited.
Ben: [00:03:32] excited. We all fit in the same vehicle and we can, like, we can all go together. There’s, we’re a big family. If, you know, if we throw a couple of kids out the window, some, some of the friends can come along.
Dan: [00:03:45] W well, I just, but hold on. I want to paint a picture. You know, you’re talking about throwing kids out the window and I want people to understand you’re not, you’re not ejecting them entirely from the vehicle. What happens is they hang carefully onto the window sale. Right. So they, they’re being carried along on the outside of the van and so other kids can fit inside the van.
Christopher asks, is this the show, and I want to reassure him that yes, yes, it is.
Ben: [00:04:10] This is the show. So what I’m saying is for my needs and four, the my goals and the things I want to accomplish. A minivan is right for me. And a sports car may be right for someone else. And really, I think this gets to the heart of the topic that we’re talking about today, which is does your location where you live affect your motivation.
I think he can be the same thing. I think some places are like the cool car, you know, and some places are more like the minivan. I live out in the suburbs. That’s, I mean, that’s minivan central.
Dan: [00:04:55] The suburbs is not only where minivans belong, but it is . Also the minivan of living situations. It’s true. It’s, it’s big and it’s comfortable and it’s not cool, but you know, you, you can walk your kids to school and that makes a big difference.
Ben: [00:05:10] does. It does. So you ready to get into this topic.
Dan: [00:05:16] I’m, I’m ready to jump on it. I think that was actually a surprisingly good segue and I, I don’t know how you do it, but, but, but thank
Ben: [00:05:23] Well, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.
Dan: [00:05:27] So what we’re talking about, you know, where you live, and the topic sort of spun out of this idea that there are, you know, there’s cool cities and now it’s my turn to make air quotes.
Ben: [00:05:37] Okay.
Dan: [00:05:38] You know, you, you hear about places like in the States, San Francisco, New York, it’s always places on the coast, right up in Canada.
It’s like Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. Cause those are the only three really large cities in the country. You know, there’s London in England, there’s Sydney in Australia. There’s, my mind is going blank for places that, that aren’t, you know, British or American. I apologize. But
Ben: [00:06:03] Dubai.
Dan: [00:06:04] you know, these are Dubai’s.
Yes, Dubai is very cool. well actually it’s, it’s really hot there, but it seems like, it seems like a, like a hip, a hip place to live. Singapore, you know that there are these cities that you tend to hear things about, especially when it comes to stuff like, you know, entrepreneurship, digital nomads, people that are starting businesses, they tend to congregate in various places.
I, I would argue with due respect to Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, that there, there’s, are not a ton of people talking about how cool Boise, Idaho is.
Ben: [00:06:40] Yeah. And you know, there’s been, I think, some talk about there being a growing scene there for creativity and, and tech and startups. and I think, you know, like that is, that’s also kind of. A fun identity. So like some, some cities have what you would think of as like established industry scenes. And then there are some cities that are kind of up and coming and some people like that kind of energy versus, you know, like being in Silicon Valley where that stuff’s been going on for decades and it really does, it kind of, I think creates this perception that.
If you want to take what you do seriously, you probably should go to one of these places where things are worth, quote unquote, things are happening.
Dan: [00:07:38] Yeah. There’s a, I guess the thing we want to dig into a little bit on this show is how necessary is that? What are the ups and downs and what are you to make of this? If you’re a person who. Maybe wants to move to a new place, a person who doesn’t want to move. What if you’re a person who’s attracted to the big cities, which seem to be the things that always get all this attention.
But what if you’re a person who’s attracted to, you know, smaller towns, small town living? Like I think we can find answers for everyone about how to, how to think about this.
Ben: [00:08:16] Yeah. And really the question that we’re trying to answer is ultimately is where will you be the most motivated? where will you be the most productive? Where will you. Feel the most inspired? Where will you have the most energy? You know, like these when it, especially when it comes to making and building things, it takes a tremendous amount of focus and energy and motivation, which, you know, we, we do talk a lot on this show about how motivation shouldn’t be external.
But there are things that are external that can help spark motivation, that can kind of be like, when, you know, when I’m going for a run and the wind starts kind of blowing against my back, I’m still making my muscles move, but now I’ve got this, I’ve got just a little bit of a push that makes it that much easier.
Mmm. So, so I think it’s really an important question, especially. If you are a person who has a choice. Now, if you are in a situation where you’re kind of just stuck where you are, I think that’s a whole other set of problems to solve. But I think it’s also helpful to know when you’re stuck, why you might be feeling a lack of motivation.
Mmm. Because then you can find other ways to address those things that you, that you just can’t get from the place where you live.
Dan: [00:10:06] So let’s, I mean, let’s touch on some of the, some of the reasons that these sort of cool cities might be. Places, places that, that I’m thinking of, you know, they amp you up, they charge you up, they make you excited to get out there and do your thing. Perhaps in a way that another place doesn’t. But, and that’s all that’s all very much about how you feel.
But from a very real sense, there are more opportunities and more connections to be made in bigger cities and in places where the thing that you want to do is common. Right. Like we’ve talked about. In the, in the sort of intro on the website for this show, I mentioned, you know, the sort of cliches where if you want to be an actor, you go to Hollywood.
If you want to be a country musician, you go to Nashville. If you want to start a a technology startup, traditionally you’d go to Silicon Valley in California. But I think increasingly as you, as you said, Ben, there are sort of growing places like Austin, Texas as an example, where now a lot of. Lot of that stuff is happening and the advantage to actually going to those places is the opportunity to meet people face to face.
And you and Shawn have talked about this on previous episodes about things that like the, the importance of attending conferences that as much as it’s possible to get done online, there’s sort of no substitute for in-person connections.
Ben: [00:11:35] Yeah. I, there’s, there’s just something that happens. With face to face interactions that is extremely difficult to replicate even over long periods of time of communication online. and, and what is also more, rare in online interactions is the kind of that serendipity of, Oh, I, you know, I was, I went to this conference and.
They had this after hours party kind of thing, and I was hanging out at the bar and then you’ll never guess who just like walked up to the bar and, or did the exact same drink I had. And, and we were like, Oh, Hey, cool. And then we got to talking and like, now he’s going to interview me or she’s going to interview me for some, you know, like, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen as frequently online.
and. That was, that was a very, like, you know, kind of Cinderella story, kind of a example. But even, even to smaller degrees, like that kind of serendipity is, happens all the time with in-person interactions through conferences and Mmm. Meetups and. Other other kind of like tech gatherings and stuff like that, just and, and in the places where those things tend to happen the most.
even even, you know, someone going out to lunch and you happen to be in the same restaurant as them and you have an opportunity to introduce yourself. Like that’s the kind of stuff that can happen when you’re in the same physical space. That is much harder to make happen online.
Dan: [00:13:37] And even on the smaller scale, direct opportunities are one thing for sure. And they’re excellent. You know, you might meet a business partner, you might meet someone who will give you a job, but even on the smaller scale, just the opportunity to make friends with somebody. And then. You’re both interested in the same thing, whatever that is.
Maybe you just start going to the same copy, copy shop, going to the same coffee shop is probably a more pleasant place to work than a coffee shop. Coffee shops tend to be noisy and not a lot of places to sit, but you know, you meet someone, you go to a coffee shop a few times a week, and you work on your thing.
That’s, that’s great for accountability, you know? And it can be a little more difficult to get that. Online, certainly not impossible, but it can be more difficult to have something like that, a relationship like that. If you are sort of the only person in the place where you live, that is into starting a business or what have you.
Ben: [00:14:36] Now, some of this hinges on, I think that the type of personality you have, and so I’m kind of listing off all of these different opportunities for social interaction. And some people are like, Oh yeah, I would, I would love to just like meet strangers and introduce myself to people and, and rub shoulders and like have those kinds of opportunities all the time.
And other people are like. That sounds horrible. And I really just, it makes me want to sit down at my computer and never go out. Mmm. And there’s, there’s nothing wrong with that either. I think, you know, like nobody is lacking in desire for connection. We all understand the need for building relationships.
And collaborating so that we can accomplish the things we want to accomplish. You know, no one is an Island. And yet there, there are, you know, there are folks who would thrive in a situation where they’re constantly meeting with strangers and, and having those kinds of interactions. And there are others who thrive when they’re able to connect in ways that aren’t quite as.
Loud and energetic and where you can get a little bit. Mmm. You know, past the surface level stuff in a, in a way that’s kind of, well, I won’t say it’s more difficult, but, but less common maybe in face to face interactions, like just casual face to face interactions. So, so I definitely, I definitely see that there’s more than one way to go about.
Developing those kinds of relationships and opportunities.
Dan: [00:16:31] Yeah. Whenever we’re talking about this sort of advice about, you know, creative, the creative process and inspiration and motivation and things like that. There is, there’s never a one size fits all answer, you know, so, so here’s an example that, you know, my, my thing is writing and writing requires a lot of time spent alone with your brain.
and not a lot of distractions, but, you know, I can, I can see both sides of. Some writers say, Neil Gaiman said this in an excellent interview he did on the Tim Ferriss podcast, which I highly recommend, if you’re into into writers talking about nerdy things. Also, Neil Gaiman has an extremely pleasant voice.
he was talking about how he had this when he was writing one of his books. He was somewhere out in the country and he’d like go to the same. Coffee shop every morning and sit there with a notebook and go for a run and then do that the next day. And he was saying that he found the scent, the degree to which he could just have that same day over and over and over and over again, like bill Murray in the movie Groundhog day.
He found that was very productive for him. Now, on the other hand, though. There are also writers who gain a lot of inspiration from being in the middle of a busy city and always seeing different people and always experiencing slightly different things as they make their daily round. And that’s an important source of fuel for the creative process.
And indeed the same person could want, but either of those things at different points, right? Like you need to see lots of different people to fuel up your creative. Juices, but then you need like a strict routine for a while to produce. So this is very much going to be a case where everyone has to figure out what works for them.
And so something that I want to touch on with this show is if you, if you live in the city, and it is for you, if you live in the city, and it isn’t, if you don’t live in a big city. And you wish you did, or you don’t live in a big city and you don’t want to, you know, we can draw kind of a matrix of this.
What do we have to say to people in each of those positions? How can they best make use either make use of where they are or consider going somewhere else in order to maximize their motivation and their creative inspiration?
Ben: [00:18:55] I think that the happy medium is something that I’ve found, which is living in the suburbs, you got one foot in the city and you’ve got one foot in the country. Each of those are about a 20 minute drive away. And yet, you know, you, you’ve got the kind of safety and stability, the space. I mean, it’s like the best of both worlds out here.
So I mean, I F I feel like if there is one answer, a one size fits all solution, that’s it. I’m just kidding. Don’t listen to me.
Dan: [00:19:31] Okay.
Ben: [00:19:34] Yeah, I’m,
Dan: [00:19:35] going to, I’m going to edit. I’m going to edit that part
Ben: [00:19:37] Oh, come on. So I’m, I am.
Dan: [00:19:39] No, I’m not. I’m not really, I never edit anything out. Have you ever heard this show.
Ben: [00:19:43] Yeah. I, this, this is kind of an aside. yeah. I’ve, I’ve listened a couple of times, a kind of an aside, I’m interested in this idea that there’s not really, and correct me if I’m wrong, but there doesn’t seem to be. What would be considered like a hub or a hotspot city for writers?
Is that like, am I, am I a little bit of a out of touch with that or is that accurate? Like not in the same way that, you know, Nashville has music and Hollywood has film and that kind of thing.
Dan: [00:20:25] As far as I know you’re correct. At least not. I’ve, I’ve never been aware of such a thing in my lifetime. I, you know, there, there have been periods where, for example, like Hemingway and a bunch of people used to congregate in Paris famously or various other places. But even then, that was like. Little little subgroups.
It wasn’t like if you want to be an author, you have to move to Paris. It was more like there’s these little cliques that exist in different places, so that this is, this is part of it for sure, is that depending on what you want to do, there may or may not be a specific hub for it, but it feels like there is still a draw to the places that are considered to be happening.
You know? So.
Ben: [00:21:10] Well. Okay. And, and taking, writing, writing, for example, because you started talking about this, this thing with Neil Gaiman where he’s, I’m, I’m assuming he’s like. In a small town or something like that where he’s just doing the same routine. Like
most of the people there probably have no idea who he is kind of thing.
And so there is kind of like, I’ve seen, I’ve seen that or, or kind of, you know, like the. The author goes to a cabin in the woods or something like that. Like I’ve seen that kind of thing portrayed in the movie, in the movies. So much like I’m thinking of the movie love actually where the writer goes to, is he in Portugal or something like that?
And, and he’s, and he’s in a little like, you know, house on the Lake kind of thing. And. There’s this other movie with Johnny Depp where he’s out in the woods, but he’s a murderer. but anyways, that kind of like romanticizes the, that scenario of like, I’m going to, I’m going to seek an escape and I’m going to, I’m going to retreat.
And I wonder, and I wonder if it becomes. Sometimes, and, and I think other things can be this way too. whether it’s music or photography or whatever, that not being in the ideal location becomes an excuse.
Just just something that even subconsciously you can point to and be like. Yeah, I’d probably like, I’d be, I’d be writing more if I was in a more secluded area or if I could have that kind of like, you know, Groundhog day, sort of daily routine that Neil Gaiman does, or I would, I would write more songs if I was living in Nashville, you know, like, like that kind of thing.
Dan: [00:23:27] There’s a, there’s a cart before the horse problem there, right? Where it’s, it’s easy to use anything as an excuse if only I lived in this cool city. If only I. You know, was a more outgoing person. If only I had the Glengarry leads right, then I’d finally be able to, to get things done. So I mean, you, you want to, you want to make the point that like if you’re going to move to Nashville, you should write the songs first.
Ben: [00:23:55] Well, something like that. But, but I think it’s, I think it’s more than just that. Like maybe, maybe you have been writing songs or maybe you have been writing a book, but you’re, you’re feeling dissatisfied with the kind of work that you’ve been doing. Maybe like you, maybe you haven’t been as productive or energetic as you want to be.
And because. Your life doesn’t look like the life of an author in the movies. You know, like that, that picture of it. On some level it’s like, well, maybe, maybe like, maybe that’s the secret to unlocking that. What I think is the next level, you know, maybe, and. And absolutely like, like what you just said about writing the song before you moved to Nashville.
Mmm. Don’t, don’t move to Nashville to be a songwriter, and you’ve never written a single song in your life that, that I think goes to this idealism of like, yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go out to LA and I’m gonna audition. And like, you’ve never been in a local theatrical production or, you know, done any kind of acting whatsoever.
You know, there’s, there’s definitely like, you’ve got to combat that idealism and you really have to put in the legitimate work.
But I also, I also wonder if sometimes we don’t think of our work the way that we should because we think we’re in the wrong place.
Dan: [00:25:48] I think so. I’m extremely hesitant to give any sort of prescriptive advice around a topic that’s as big as whether you should or should not move. To a different, go live in a different place, right? Like, I’m happy to tell people what notebook they should try and like, you know. How to, how to build a habit, and here’s a video on YouTube to watch.
But like, it’s not for me to tell anybody in the world that they should or should not throw everything away and, and hitchhike to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. I mean, maybe, maybe that’s a terrible idea. Sounds like a terrible idea to me. But on the other hand, maybe that’s what they need. Right? And.
The circumstances, of course, are different for everybody. If you’ve already built a fair amount of a life for yourself, especially, you know, if you have dependence, if you have a family, if you have a, if you just have people other than your own, whose opinion about where you go matters. Then it’s going to be a lot more difficult to, it’s, it’s a much bigger decision, a more impactful decision to move.
So one thing I think you know, to put in perspective is consider if you’re thinking about this topic, consider where you are in your life. I would say for example, that like if you’re young and you don’t have a lot of.
Connections. yeah. If you don’t have a lot of connections, but also you don’t have a ton of responsibilities yet.
You know, you, you don’t, you don’t own a house. You don’t have a family. That’s a pretty good time in your life to at least try moving around. And this is why travel is such a big, such a popular thing among people, especially young people, because traveling is, is if you do it. In a in the right way can be like a miniature version of moving to different cities.
I mean this is how I like to travel. Personally, I’m less about sightseeing and I’m more about let me go somewhere and like rent an Airbnb or its equivalent in a cool city for a couple of weeks and just like pretend I live there and go around and do stuff. That’s a nice way to get like a preview of what it might be like.
Which is, you know, again, especially if it’s like I’m going to move to Nashville and become a music superstar. I’m going to go to Hollywood and become, it might be at least worth visiting those places for a little while and seeing, can I imagine myself living here? Do I think that’s something I might actually like.
Ben: [00:28:17] And, and I would say too, even even for people who are not quite as young and do have more responsibilities, I mean, it’s not, it wouldn’t be impossible for Rachel and I with our six kids, two to work it out financially two or three times a year to go. And. Spend a week or two in a new place and experience it that way, it would be incredibly stressful.
until we really got the hang of it, we’d have to do a ton of preparation. Mmm. But it’s, but it’s not impossible. If we found ourselves feeling like, yeah, what we, what we’re trying to do here isn’t working. Or, you know, like. we don’t have the, the kind of motivation we need now, we have a lot of other things to consider because the, the kids have established relationships and stuff like that.
So certainly it’s, it’s harder, but it’s not impossible now
saying all that, if you, if you’re a young person with, with few responsibilities, that’s. And, but you feel settled where you are and you don’t feel like you need to move. Like there’s, there’s no impetus on you to like go and have this exploratory phase, but your ability to do so.
like the Airbnbs and just the, the new methods available for travel and lodging and all of that. Have made it so much easier. I mean, the way that, the ways that you can connect with people online, it’s made it so much easier to do that kind of thing now than it ever has before. And so, you know, if, if I believe I could do it, and I like if I was in a different situation, I might demonstrate that.
but there, there are certainly examples of people who have even more responsibilities than I do who. Travel regularly and are able to visit different places so you can do that too, and it’s absolutely worth it, especially if you don’t have very many connections and you feel like you’re not quite in the right place yet.
I love, I love what you said, Dan, about not going in and like sight seeing and visiting for a couple of days, but like really just being there for a couple of weeks as if you live there. As a way of getting a real sense of what it would be like. I think that’s a fantastic idea.
Dan: [00:31:06] I want to cover a couple of those. A couple of of things. If a person is thinking about moving to to somewhere else to, you know, say it like the big city to a cool city or whatever, what have you, you know, how if, if, if it feels really impossible. So, so the first part is, you know, travel to places temporarily and check them out.
But I want to go over a couple of the. Like how this might actually look if you decided to move. So if you move to a new city, you probably have to find, you have to find a place to live. You probably have to find a job or some way of making money unless you already have a remote job or a business that you run a that will pay your bills and you have to make connections with people.
So Ben, you pointed out how there are more resources than ever. For travel, and there’s also more resources than ever for making connections. So I think it’s super, it’s, it’s, it’s just incredibly good that you can you have the financial resources saved up and this is, you know, moving to a new place is definitely the kind of thing that you want to plan.
You want to do some planning and ideally you want to save up at least a few months worth of expenses plus potentially moving costs if you really want to. Be able to move without falling into a lot of stress and a mindset of scarcity of like, well, I got to find a place to live tomorrow and I have to grab whatever the first job I get is right.
If, if you’re able to, you can, for example, you could put yourself up in temporary housing, like an Airbnb where you can potentially just go month to month. And that gives you time to figure out where in the city do I want to live. It gives you time to look for, for example, an apartment to rent, because most apartments, at least in, you know, our, our part of the world, requote wants you to sign a lease for say a year.
Ben: [00:33:06] Yeah.
Dan: [00:33:07] And if, if you’re, if you just walk into the first rental you find on your first day in town. And you and you commit to staying there for a year, that’s fine. And it’s certainly how people did things up until fairly recently. But if you can get away with it, I think it’s really cool to be able to just, you know, roll into town, stay somewhere for a little while, and start figuring out where you’d like to commit to living.
And then in terms of creating connections, there’s apps like meetup and. And other things. I haven’t used a ton of them, but I’m sure you can find them out there. I have used meetup.com to just find groups of people that are interested in what I am interested in. A few years back, I wanted to broaden my circle of people who were into software development outside of my coworkers, and I started going to developer meetups and I, I met a bunch of people, some of whom I’m friends with, to this day.
So. Things like that are a great way to start to meet people, that, that live in this new place. And, you know, just another point that I, I wrote down about, ah. Not, not being tied down when you can avoid it. You know, one reason to rent versus owning housing in general, especially when you’re younger, is it sorta helps keep these options open.
You know, like, look at what what Sean and Lacey are doing right now. They didn’t have to sell or rent out a house so that they could pay a mortgage. They were renting there, the house that they lived in, so they were able to just at the end of their lease. You know, put all their stuff in storage or sell it, hand their keys to the landlord and drive away.
That’s a, I’m not saying that that’s the right or the wrong decision for anybody, but it is one thing to think about when you consider what you might want to do.
Ben: [00:35:07] Yeah, absolutely. As, as someone who does have a mortgage, I will say moving out of this house, whether we are renting it out or selling it . It’s a big enough, it’s a big enough task because of all the things that, you know, like I own the place. So that means I’m responsible for all the repairs, which means that there’s a lot of stuff that’s not repaired around the house.
it’s, it’s a big enough task that we’ve just considered keeping it for, you know, the duration of our kids’ schooling until such a time that. We don’t have as many responsibilities on our, or as many, things that we have to do with our time. We have more free time and can fix some of the stuff up or whatever.
But it’s not impossible. But like with, with renting, you can, if you’re, even if you’re not finished with your lease. You can negotiate out of it or it might be worth paying whatever the penalty is to move somewhere earlier, depending on what your situation is. So there’s, there’s certainly a lot more freedom of mobility and, and so, yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s an important consideration.
I like, I like the idea of when trying out a new place. Not feeling like you need to take all of your belongings with you necessarily. just because it kind of, it forces you to examine, okay, what’s, what’s really necessary and not, not going into trying to be a minimalist or anything. Although, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But, but really just saying like, what’s really necessary, and it kind of, it gives you an opportunity to, to be pickier about what you allow into your life. Mmm. You know? the more stuff you have, the more things you have to keep track of and, and, and so that can kind of then kind of weigh you down also.
Dan: [00:37:29] Yeah. I mean, it constrained some of your freedom, right? If he, if you, well, just simple logistics. If you have enough furniture to furnish a two bedroom apartment and you move to a city where two bedrooms are unreasonably expensive. It would suit you better to get, say, a one bedroom or a studio. But if you’re thinking, well, I can’t fit all my stuff in anything except a two bedroom apartment, now you’re cutting off options, right?
You, the, the thing we’re talking about is all about keeping whatever options you can open and the less stuff you have, the easier it is to do that. There is an element to, to this whole topic of your identity being shaped. By your environment. And so it’s shaped in a big way by the city in which you live, but it’s also shaped in small ways by what you surround yourself with.
So another argument for occasionally getting rid of a lot of your stuff and moving is an excellent excuse to do that, is that in a way it lets you explore who you are in the absence of that stuff and decide. You know what? What do you want? What do you want to have back? Like do you, do you still want to have a television?
Do you still want to own hard copy books? Maybe you decide, yeah, I do because having a wall full of books is really fulfilling for me. Or maybe you decide I do want to television because I love watching movies. On on a big screen, right in the comfort of my own home? Or you decide? No, actually I, you know, I rearranged my living room and now I just have a couch and I bought an old record player and bought some old records and now when people come over, we sit around and put on records and it’s really cool.
All of these little adjustments you can make. It’s surprising the degree to which they can shake up how you feel and how you think about yourself. And all of that feeds into your motivation and creative inspiration. So this is just another, another thing that you can get out of moving to a new place is it’s really an excuse to shake, shake, shake things up in your life.
Ben: [00:39:43] Now I’m kind of arguing the other side it’s absolutely possible to make connections with people to get. people to collaborate with you on whatever you’re making or creating to build a network, and, and really to build a meaningful supportive network that, that helps you succeed. It’s possible to do all of those things without being in a physical location where all of those things might be a little bit easier.
But it does take some intentionality and it takes a little bit more work. And you have to understand the tools that make doing those things possible. Sean built an online community where people from all over the world who are trying to grow a business are connecting with with each other. We’ve now had meetups.
We’ve had a couple of conferences. anytime, every once in a while I’ll see that someone’s traveling and they meet up with one of the community members. And so, but, but Sean will tell you, like, building this community was not easy and it was not cheap. And at the very least, if you’re, if you’re not, you know, coding your own online community.
Really cultivating those kinds of relationships and building that kind of community. just just from a person to person standpoint, it just takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of time. And so it’s important. It’s important to realize that, like if you’ve built connections before in person and you know how those interactions work, it can be frustrating to try to do the same thing online.
And not see the same results as quickly. And so you just have to know going into it, it’s going to take quite a bit more work and quite a bit more time. But it is possible.
Dan: [00:41:50] So is that an argument for staying in, in your small town, Ben, not moving to a cool city.
Ben: [00:41:57] I would say that if you like where you are and. You feel like your able to accomplish your goals and it fits your personality. It fits the circumstances that you’re in. I don’t want you to feel like, Oh, I this, this part that’s really necessary for my business. The, you know, the network that I need to build.
The connections, the people that I might need to work with is going to be missing unless I move somewhere else. And, and I don’t think that’s true. Mmm. Some people need that. Some people need to go to a location, some people PR for some people that really fits their personality and, and what they need to be able to succeed.
But if that doesn’t fit you, it’s perfectly fine for you to stay where you are and build those things online.
Dan: [00:43:02] I’ll, I’ll take that and, and run a little further with it. Let’s talk about, if you, if you know, if you’re hearing what we’re saying and thinking, but I don’t want to move to San Francisco. There are, there are upsides to living in a smaller, a less popular place, and one of the big ones is a much lower cost of living.
Right? I mean, people have been there. We’ve had great conversation in the community chat during this episode, and, and folks like, ah, Christopher lives in the Bay area has been pointing out, you know, it can be difficult to justify living in such an expensive area. The city I live in is also very, very expensive.
It always shows up in top, you know, the top 10 lists of the least affordable cities on the planet. And. The, you know, a big advantage to living in a more affordable place is actually avoiding a degree of that scarcity mindset that comes from how am I going to pay rent? Like how, how am I going to afford to live here?
If I, you know, let’s say I have a job in a, in an expensive city and it pays a certain amount. It can be very easy to feel like, you know, you’ve got those golden handcuffs on, so called, where while my job pays really well, and if I did something else and took a pay cut, I don’t know if I could still afford to live in this.
A very expensive city. So a big advantage to living in a more affordable area is that you have more, you have more freedom in the sense that you. Aren’t as tied down by just the, the needs of affording to live there, you know? And then we, we talked about things like travel. Well, something you can afford more easily if it does, if it’s not very expensive merely to live where you are, you can go visit cool and inspiring places because you can afford to travel.
Ben: [00:44:55] A lot of this, I think comes back to some, some things that we were saying earlier about how. So you might have this idea in your head of what it would be like if you were somewhere else and how that might influence your, your motivation or your focus or your productivity. And, and I think it’s, it’s really dangerous because it can create a sense of dissatisfaction where you are or, you know, like even worse, it can.
It can be strong enough that you end up doing something rash and, and just like selling everything you own and going only to find out once you’re there that no, that wasn’t, that wasn’t really the problem. And so I like, I like this idea of going and trying something out and not, not feeling like you have to commit right away.
And you know that. That’s kind of like conventional wisdom. I don’t, I don’t think many people are in danger of just selling everything they own and going to a new location. But I think what a lot of us might experience from time to time is that feeling that our life doesn’t look like what some other successful.
Writer or photographer or videographer, his life looks like, and because I’m not in the city that they’re in, because I’m not in the same kind of environment and you know, like environment, not just in the sense of and Shawn. Shawn actually brought in some great points that we might get to hear, but, but talking about where you work.
In terms of like the physical space that you work in your office or you know, maybe you do your work in a coffee shop or maybe you do your work in a shared workspace or something like that. Mmm. The, the surroundings. So like what, what’s going on outside of just like, you’re, you’re very central location, so maybe.
If you’re in a coffee shop that’s on a busy street and there’s a lot of foot traffic and you know, like that’s a different vibe from a coffee shop that might be on, in a quiet neighborhood. And then even even further out is this, you know, like the city or the town that you’re in and the kind of energy and, activities and those kinds of things.
When you look at someone else and you see. What they’re doing and you see where they are and you can kind of see different elements of all of those different zoom levels. I think some of us struggle with feeling like if only I had that in my environment, I would be more productive and it starts to make us think that maybe where we are isn’t working.
Dan: [00:48:02] I think it’s fine too. Feel like occasionally feel like, I don’t know if this is the right place for me, but I think, you know, you said before, it’s not, it’s not like people are in danger of throwing everything away and moving across the country. I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s the people will never even allow themselves to countenance the idea of a change.
And that’s why I think what I want to leave people with from this show is. Just a desire and an understanding that it’s possible to go and try some stuff and to do that in limited and inexpensive ways, you know, you can go if you found yourself fantasizing about a different lifestyle, go find a way to try it for a little, a little while.
You know, personally, I do live in a cool city and I like living in the middle of a city, but I occasionally. Have a desire to maybe simplify things and like move out into the country somewhere. But I also have a really hard time imagining giving up all of the things that are around me. Well, I could always, you know, again, we’re talking about Airbnb similar services.
I could go find a place to rent for a few weeks and just get a feeling for what it might be like to live in this other place. And then if you do that and you decide this other thing might be a big fit or a good fit. No, I’m good. I’m just going to encourage people to like make a plan and think it all the way, you know, that think all the way through because it’s very easy to stop yourself and say, Oh, I couldn’t possibly move to another city.
That’s crazy. But it’s worth thinking about. What would it actually take? And if you’re, you know, in a position like yours, Ben, where you, you have a family, I mean, really put down all the variables you would have to. You know, find new places for your kids to go to school and your kids would have to make new friends and this would happen and that would happen and you’d have to sell your house, but it’s worth at least, instead of letting the idea of a big scary change, like moving to a new city remain this vague, paralyzing fog.
It’s worth taking things like this and really breaking them down, and you might look at that and decide, well, we’re not, we’re not going to do that now. Maybe when the kids are out of school or something, but then at least you can sort of have some peace around that decision instead of maybe always feeling like you’re living in the wrong place.
Ben: [00:50:39] Yeah. And, and I guess. You know what I was saying I think kind of seemed like don’t let yourself be dissatisfied. There is, there is something about dissatisfaction. Like there’s something too, recognizing that and then asking the question why and, and it’s that is it’s absolutely worth exploring. You know?
I, we, we live, like I’ve said in the suburbs, but we’re close enough to the city that we probably have friends who live in the city that we could maybe house swap with. It would take a little bit of convincing and, you know, salesmanship, but, but I think it’s, I think it’s something we could do as an experiment to see if that’s something that would work better for us.
at, at the very least, if, if I’m feeling like, you know, out in the suburbs, I’ve got my home office studio kind of thing, but man, it would be cool just to be able to like hop on the bus and take a 10 minute ride downtown to one of the coworking spaces where there are other people to collaborate with. And like, I could set up a little.
Semi-permanent studio there, and I could do all the work there uninterrupted and not worry about the kids and not have like equipment set up in the offshoot of my room there. There are things that like if I, you know, and I’m not saying I’m dissatisfied, but if, if I was dissatisfied about some of these things and that was affecting my ability to stay focused and to do the work that I need to do, it’s, it’s absolutely worth asking the question why?
And. And being open to the possibility of experimenting with some other setup, at least one that’s, you know, accessible. That’s within reach. We’re not gonna, we’re not going to pack everybody up and, and take a two week trip to New York city, but that would, that would be fun. Would that be fun? Would that be fun with six kids?
Dan: [00:52:55] Six kids in Manhattan. I mean, it’s, you’re filming like a situation comedy at that point. But, I mean, Newton, New York is a fun place. I have no idea what it would be like to, To try to go there with six kids, maybe when they’re mostly or old enough to sort of organize themselves. Right. Because what you don’t want to be doing is like chasing them around the sidewalks and stuff like that.
Ben: [00:53:17] No, I just, I’m thinking back to when we visited and. The chaos of like, I mean, people, people cross the street like they’re stealing bases, and I know that’s not just a New York city thing. Like I know that happens in a lot of big cities, but it was just crazy. It’s like people are inching out. Like they’re, they’re all the way off the plate by several feet waiting for that last car to pass.
And then it’s just, it doesn’t matter. You know what the hand says? Yeah. Like having kids walking around on the street. That would be, that would be stressful. Anyways, my, my point is there ways that we could experiment if, if I explored my dissatisfaction and found that that would be necessary in order in order for me to find my most focused, my most productive and motivated environment.
I like, I like this idea that Shawn brought in to the chat with the different zoom levels because you don’t even necessarily need to look outside of where you work every day. Like, are there things just, you know, like look around the room. If you’re, if you’re in your workspace right now, look around the room and you know, ask yourself, is the place where I’m working.
Like, is that where I can be my most focused and productive? It could be something as simple as like changing the corner that your desk is facing or redecorating some things or removing. I’m actually like looking down at this stack of papers that I have sitting in the corner of my office. So, and that’s, and that’s not to say that these bigger scale things don’t also, might, might not also need to change, but I mean, you can, you can look at it all the way down.
Maybe, maybe you don’t go to the busy coffee shop and you go to the quiet one instead. You know there’s there, there are other levels that you can look at for ways to, to change and find the place where you can be the most motivated and focused.
Dan: [00:55:30] Yeah. That’s a great summary that that whether you, whether you do something as simple as cleaning up your desk or whether you do something as big as moving to a new city, there are lots of ways in which your location, your physical space, how it feels, affects your motivation and your ability to do your best work.
So give, give at least one of these things a try and see, see how it feels. I think that’s. That’s pretty much, what we want you to take away from this show. So, Ben, you, you want to wrap this up?
Ben: [00:56:01] Dan, where can people go to find us online?
Dan: [00:56:05] You can go to Shawn west.com and you can join Shawn West membership. We were talking about the importance of having some community of likeminded individuals, and if you’ve got that in your city, that’s great, but whether you do or not. The Shawn West community is a great place to meet other people that are into pursuing their creative passions into creating businesses.
The conversation in the community chat for this episode in particular was enormous. I could barely keep up with it. Well. While also doing the show. So I just really want to encourage people and we’ll, we’ll, I think I’m going to bring in some of the stuff that Sean put in here in the after show in a minute, but I want to encourage people to go to Shawn west.com and check out what membership has to offer.
There’s the courses, there’s the community, and the whole experience is really just pretty incredible hanging out with people from all over the world that are interested in doing, doing these sorts of creative things.
Ben: [00:57:02] Absolutely.
Dan: [00:57:03] Ben, where can people find you online?
Ben: [00:57:05] You can find me at dot com and I’m also at Ben Tolson on all of the things. I just, I just set up a tick tock account, Dan and preparation for a show that we might be doing in the future about promoting your business on ticktock or something like that, going from zero to tick tock.
Dan: [00:57:25] Xero to tech talk. I see. I see. That’s a good open loop. I’m going to look forward to that show.
Ben: [00:57:31] Dan, where can people find you online?
Dan: [00:57:34] You can check me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m at DJ Jacobson. Author on Instagram.
Ben: [00:57:41] Good show, sir.
Dan: [00:57:42] Yeah. Good show, sir.
So the thing has been, I think Sean’s trying . It’d be on the show. Again,
Ben: [00:58:30] I think he is too. And at the very bottom he said it’s a lot, but you might consider reading it on air if you think it might add to the discussion. Intent. Now. He didn’t say him. Hint.
Dan: [00:58:42] he didn’t say hint, hint, but you could feel they hint, hint. There was there. I, I, well, so I, I thought that we could bring this in because Sean, he posted genuinely a very interesting. Sort of miniature essay in the chat here about, about zoom
Ben: [00:58:58] Yeah, I love, I love it. And some of the examples that he brought up were great as well, so we should definitely.
Dan: [00:59:05] why don’t, why don’t we, let’s do him the solid, since he’s, he’s away on sabbatical and, and couldn’t be live on the show today. why don’t we, why don’t we add this? So, Ben, do you want to, you want to take it away?
Ben: [00:59:18] I feel there are three zoom levels to this topic.
Dan: [00:59:21] Is that Sean McCabe voice?
Ben: [00:59:23] It’s hard as, okay. Zoom level one I won’t do that.
Dan: [00:59:28] Can you really do it for the whole thing though? That’s what I want to know.
Ben: [00:59:32] I mean, I could. Is that what the people want though?
Dan: [00:59:35] I don’t think, I think they want, they want the rich tones of Ben Tulson.
Ben: [00:59:40] All right. I feel there are three zoom levels to this topic. Zoom level one, where do you work? This could be your desk, your cubicle, your home office, your computer monitors, or your iPad and Apple pencil, zoom level to your surroundings. This is the environment sights, sounds, smells, et cetera. It’s the coffee shop.
The coworking. Space, the view outside your window, zoom level three, the greater area. This is the city. What is accessible to you? Activities. Locations. People. Being able to get together in person with a large selection of talented, creative, and inspiring people as amazing zoom level one I like my home office and I stay at home for the most part.
Not anymore. I don’t, I don’t need to commute anywhere. No. I don’t know if this is,
Dan: [01:00:33] Hello. He liked his home office.
Ben: [01:00:35] yeah, he really did. Y’all. This is, I mean, it’s a big deal for him to be out on sabbatical. I remember when I set out to write my first book, I had a romantic idea of writing the book while sitting on the porch of a cabin in the Pacific Northwest.
As the leaves turned to colors, James clear asked me, where do you do your best writing? At my home office. I replied without skipping a beat. Then it hit me. Oh, I should write where I write best and I don’t need a fancy or romantic location to do great work. I just need a device for writing and a quiet focused environment and my bean bag, I added that last part in for me.
I do my best work when I’m in a room alone.
Dan: [01:01:21] The beanbag part is true. So.
Ben: [01:01:23] Yeah. I mean, you could bring your bean bag out to the cabin. Same zoom level too. If I can do my best work with a device for writing and acquired environment, what does it matter what’s outside the window? But somehow it does matter what’s outside the window. I had a nice view from my office window. It was a big reason why we chose the house we did.
Not long after we moved in the natural landscape. Next door was cleared by bulldozers. After a long and noisy two year process, a big building was put in place, completely obstructing my view, and it’s seriously messed with my energy. It really bothered me. There’s something to be said about the view you have out your window.
Zoom level three beyond your window is your general location to consider. I feel a little like I’m betraying. The city I lived in for 23 years, but I’m not creatively inspired by San Antonio. Lots of people are, and that’s great, but I don’t feel at home here. I’m just going to be sad for a second.
Dan: [01:02:31] Hello?
Ben: [01:02:32] The energy I get in other cities is incredibly different when I’m in places like Seattle, San Francisco, New York city, or even Austin, blows me away to experience a world where life is possible without owning a car, for instance.
Yeah, it’s, it’s still kinda hard to do that in San Antonio, especially out in the suburbs. The concentration of brilliant people is also extremely appealing. You can host a meetup and actually have a bunch of people show up. The energy is just intoxicating. Yes. There’s something to be said about making the best of the location in which you find yourself.
There’s also something to be said about going where you feel you vibe with the energy of that location. I think I’m just really ready for this sabbatical journey, and if you want to follow that, you can go to sabbatical dot block.
Dan: [01:03:21] That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. I think, thanks for reading that in your inimitable Ben Tulsan style, because it’s a, it’s a great addition. If we could somehow drop Sean into the show and he could lay a, a monologue like that on us at some point, that would be, that would be amazing. And who, who knows.
Stay tuned in 20, 20. Maybe we’ll manage to pull that off.
Ben: [01:03:43] The thing is it’s, it’s absolutely possible. I’ve got a soundboard here. He could just send me a sound clip of himself reading something that he prepared and we could just, you know, stay tuned for a message from Sean.
Dan: [01:03:56] And maybe I feel like that tortures the purpose of a soundboard a little bit.
Ben: [01:04:01] It can, it can handle it.
Dan: [01:04:04] It’s interesting to hear his perspective. It’s especially interesting to hear that, you know, he, Sean got a lot of work done in that room with the bulldozers outside in that city that he didn’t find particularly inspiring. Right. And so it’s, it’s really interesting to hear from someone in that position that nonetheless, they might be very excited about visiting new places.
Ben: [01:04:28] Yeah. And at the same time.
and you know, Sean said, some people are, are totally cool with and, and get creative energy from San Antonio. I love, I love San Antonio. And some of that is sentimental, you know, I’ll be honest. Mmm. But I do feel, I feel a great sense of potential here. And. There’s something that really excites me about that and wants me, like makes me want to stick around and see what happens and add whatever I can to that.
And that’s just as a city, I won’t say the suburbs are energizing per se, but I love being close to, well, I mean, within walking distance of. Friends and the friends of my kids, I love the feeling of my kids, friends, just being able to run over from their houses and hang out here, you know? So like they’re, they’re, they’re things that are very different in my experience.
but, but that’s my experience. And that’s, that’s, those are the things that energize and motivate me, you know? And so it’s important for me to know that about myself.
Dan: [01:05:51] Yeah. It’s fascinating how individual individualistic this, this all is right. Cause clearly you and Sean feel different ways about the city, where you both live or up until recently you both lived and. Similarly, like I moved away from the city in which I grew up, and I really like it out here. And whenever I go back there to visit, it’s fine.
And it’s even come a long way in the last decade, but I’m, I still just feel like, man, I like it out here on the coast, you know? But then you look up my brother and my brother loves that city. He bought a house there and he, he’s just so, he’s like part of the community. There and he, he doesn’t really, it doesn’t seem like he really contemplates leaving.
And I have other friends who, who feel the same way. So it really is the kind of thing where, you know, you just have to figure out what works for you, which, which I think is what we were getting to in the show. Right. Is that just, what are some ways you can try to figure out what works for you to answer this question?
Ben: [01:06:51] Yup.
Dan: [01:06:53] I mean, if you can pull off going on sabbatical for a whole year, I’d definitely recommend it.
Ben: [01:06:58] Yeah. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig.