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Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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Simple Haiku


Ah, the simple life

Where survival is complex

Not simple at all

It’s Much Easier Than You Think to Live the Life You Want


Maybe not "easy", but entirely possible.

I recently listened to an episode of The World Wanderers Podcast where the host discussed working at a Cafe in a great city that a lot of people would love to live in.  She mentioned how, had she not moved to this cool, exciting city, the job she had would have made her feel like a loser.  In your hometown working retail after getting an expensive degree seems pretty lame.  Up and moving to a destination city and working retail to support the lifestyle seems kind of adventurous.

Back home, she would have dreaded seeing an old friend come in.  "Oh, so you're working here?"  In the new city when someone she knew came in the question was more like, "Wow, so you're living here?"

Just a few days ago I talked to a guy who's biking across the country and loving it.  He spent several months in beautiful Missoula, Montana waiting for the weather to improve so he could continue his journey.  He worked at a grocery store while there and it provided everything he needed to live the lifestyle he wanted and get back on the road in time.  What would his resume look like when, several years out of college, he had "Grocery bagger" listed?  Not great, except when put in the context of, "Spent two years biking across the U.S., paying my way through with odd jobs and blogging about the adventure."

I thought about this phenomenon more in Mompiche, Ecuador a few weeks ago.  We found a little place with a sign for American-style pancakes.  A welcome breakfast after days of fruit and cereal.  The breakfast nook was run by a twentysomething woman from the Ukraine.  She fried up pancakes on a small griddle and served them with coffee for breakfast and lunch in the tiny Bohemian surfing village.  She lived in a neat little house right above the pancake joint and spent the rest of the day as she pleased.

Imagine this ambitious young woman back home responding to the common, "So, what do you do?" with, "I make pancakes for a living."  Likely her friends and family would be a little worried and ashamed and think something wrong with her.

Contrast that with the same answer to the same question but with a change in geography.  "I moved across the world to a tropical surfing village in Ecuador where I opened my own business."  Wow.  What an enviable life, right?

There's something weird about staying in your hometown.  It severely limits the definitions you accept for what makes you successful.  Oddly, most of the hometown definitions of success have nothing to do with happiness.  They have to do with becoming what everyone in your past expects or desires given who you used to be.  It's a sort of tether to a past self that no longer exists.

When the expectations of back home no longer apply you can ask better questions and make clearer connections.  What kind of person do you want to be (vs. what job title do you want)?  What kind of people and surroundings do you want to be immersed in (vs. where do you want to work or live)?

Many people would probably love to be the master of their own schedule, be in a beautiful outdoor setting with interesting people from around the world, seriously pursue a hobby with lots of their time, and be challenged in new ways daily.  Yet most of those same people would be horrified at the idea of playing guitar on the street for money, flipping pancakes, or doing freelance odd-jobs online, any of which might be the very means to achieve the life described.

Most people have this idea that you have to work a boring job in a boring house in a boring city for a few decades, and then if you play your cards right and all kinds of things totally out of your control (like the stock market or real estate prices) do the right thing, you can have some kind of two week vacation cruise or retire in a place where you enjoy good weather and leisure.  The weird thing is, all those "someday" goals are available right now with relatively little difficulty.  You can afford to live in a cool bamboo house in a beach town just by making pancakes for lunch and breakfast.  You can (as was one guy I met) travel the length of South America living entirely off the cash you make playing guitar outside of restaurants.

I'm not claiming this kind of life is for everyone.  Not at all.  There is nothing wrong with a 9-5 job and life in the suburbs if that's what really resonates with you.  There's nothing inherently noble about traveling or working some low wage odd job.  The point is that it's too easy to choose things based on an artificially limited option set.  It's too easy to define your life by stupid things like college majors or giant industry labels or titles that will make Aunt Bessie proud at the family reunion or salary levels.

The last one is especially dangerous.

It's a weird habit to measure your success in life only by the revenue side of the equation.  Who cares if you bring in $100k a year if it only buys you a crappy apartment that you hate in a city that stresses you out with friends that don't inspire you and a daily existence you mostly daydream about escaping from?  Your costs exceed your revenues and you're actually going backward.  You very well could get twice the lifestyle you desire at half the annual income.  Like any business, the health of your personal life should be measured using both revenues and costs.  On the personal level, neither are not just monetary.

Only you can know what kind of life you want.  But getting off the conveyor belt of the education system, getting out of the home town expectations trap, and opening your mind to measures of progress beyond salary will give you a much better chance of crafting a life you love.

Here are a few articles to chew on:

Why You Should Move Away from Your Home Town

Why You Should Get Off the Conveyor Belt

Why "Escapism" Isn't a Bad Thing

Why It's So Hard to Exit a Bad Situation

Do You Need to Do Work You Love to Be Happy?

Stop Doing Stuff You Hate

Focus on What You Don't Want

Do What You Love, or Have it Easy?

 

Ecuador Trip By the Numbers


  • 5 weeks (one more remaining)
  • 3 complete changes in plan
  • 2.3 times over budget
  • 3 languages (kind of) spoken
  • 8 exotic fruits we've never heard of ingested
  • 7 colds
  • 3 sinus infections
  • 3 foodborne illnesses
  • 1 sprained ankle
  • 1 (probably) broken nose
  • 1 ear infection
  • 1 visit to the doctor
  • 4 cities stayed in
  • 9 cities visited
  • 3 climate zones experienced
  • 9 power outages
  • 14 books read (between my wife and I)
  • 2 visitors from back home
  • 1,000,000 (rough estimate) hours swimming
  • 28 hours spent driving
  • 30 or more videos streamed on Amazon/Netflix
  • 2 houses lived in
  • 4 flights (by the time we're done)
  • 3 dollars spent on the best lunch ever experienced
  • 2,374 miles from home
  • 1 hell of a good time!

Episode 58: Beyond the Business


This episode is an interview that I gave to a local radio station on their weekly show, Beyond the Business. The show is about entrepreneurs in Charleston, their story, and what influenced them to do what they do today.

The hosts asked some good questions and we talked about growing up in Michigan, my education, and the work experience that I had prior to starting Praxis.  We also discussed how Praxis came about, some things I would change if I were launching Praxis today, and the Willing-To-Fail test for whether you are ready to dive into entrepreneurial waters.

This and all episodes are also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

What You Can Learn from NFL Coaching Trees


If you look into the origin of head coaches in the NFL you'll find something pretty amazing.  There are only a handful of head coaches past from whom all current head coaches come.  If you want to get really crazy complex, check out this WSJ article and visualization.

The NFL isn't unique among sports in this respect.  You'll find a similar phenomenon in college and pro basketball and other sports as well.

This is not the result of rigid rules or imposed design.  It's the spontaneous order that emerges from the demand for certain very hard to identify and cultivate skills.  Coaching is incredibly nuanced and you can't tell who will be good at it from a resume or a few interviews.  Those who come up under great coaches and absorb the lessons, gain the trust of players and other coaches, and build a reputation through continued tests of greater and great responsibility end up with head coaching jobs themselves.  Then those that coach under them end up with HC jobs, and on and on.

Not all of them succeed of course, but that's not surprising.  What's suprising is how powerful the network and legacy of a single great coach can be.  Today's NFL is made up of 32 head coaches who are the understudies of just three or four retired HC's.  It's pretty crazy when you ponder it.

I think there's something to be learned from this on a personal level.  I've never seen a great coach in sports who does not spawn many apprentices.  I don't think it's possible to lead at that level in such a complex organization if you don't have a cadre of trusted up and comers, many of whom will go on to leadership roles themselves.  If you are trying to build something or be truly great at something you'll need other people.

Look around you.  Probe your close personal network.  Are the people in it likely to go on to greatness?  Will a family tree of leadership spring from your associates?

If not, you might need to do a gut check and ask why.  Are you too obsessed with controlling or micromanaging everything?  Do you surround yourself with low caliber people?  Do you only follow and never lead?  Do you demand to take credit for everything, swallowing up all the opportunities for those you work with to grow and possibly surpass you?

I can't think of a more fulfilling legacy in sports that to not only be a champion at the highest level, but to be the progenitor of generations of champions.  I think the same is true outside of sports.  It's a kind of immortality.

You don't need to live vicariously or obsess over the success or failure of those in your network.  It's got to be a loose, spontaneous thing.  But if you're doing leadership right, you should see other leaders emerge from your circle of influence, and then other leaders emerge from under them.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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