From Singapore, to the Birth of “On Trade and Travel”

Most adventures start ordinarily enough, and this one was no different. It was a bright and sunny day in my adopted home of Singapore, and I was just walking out of the gleaming Marina Bay Financial Centre, one of the city-state’s most prominent monuments to open capitalism. I hopped on the pristinely clean MRT, and began the half-hour journey home. I was planning on going for a nice run along the beach, before meeting friends for dinner later that evening.

But then, it began. Pings. Chimes. Chirps.

My phone began to pulsate with urgent dispatches from the office. A high-priority project was in flight, and even though we were ahead of schedule, many of us continued to work late into the night. My phone stopped ringing around 1am, and that dinner with friends never materialized.

My life in Singapore has been nothing short of fantastic – idyllic, even.

With a tropical climate, delicious cuisine, and a high quality of life, this sunny island is a great place to live. Combine that with a job at one of the greatest tech companies in the world, an excellent salary, and a favorable tax climate, and I just might have found my 21st century techno-utopia.

Or so it would seem.

In reality, I was living in a bubble, left listless by a lack of purpose.

At a macro level, my professional life was driven my a consistent mission. At LinkedIn, we were driven by our mission to connect the world’s professionals with economic opportunity. And with half a billion members (and counting), we were doing it at planetary scale.

Singapore, my paradise for now.

Somewhere along the line, however, my career morphed into that of a business specialist, and instead of going on my own quest to positively impact others’ lives on a personal level, I was enticed into a maelstrom of Excel spreadsheets, repetitive PowerPoint decks, and conference calls at all hours of the night. 

All of this would have been fine, were I convinced I was making a difference. Instead, I was many degrees removed from the actual act of connecting the world’s professionals, and my passion for working in a large corporation waned as a result.

After a couple of years in my role, I realised that although I was sold out on our vision, I missed being involved and positively impacting lives at a human level. I yearned to connect with others in a more personalway, and help others like me that were passionate about travel, and wanted to make it a big part of their lives.

These were the forces converged on that bright spring day, and planted the seed that has now bloomed into this website.

A beautiful day for changing the course of one’s life.

On that sunny spring day, I resolved to change course, and start pursuing my life’s biggest dreams. But to do that, I first had to give up the security blanket of my job in IT. This was hard to commit to, for the reasons stated above. But after I put my plan together and set the wheels in motion, there was no looking back. Just two months later, I quit my job, and set about building this website.

“But surely that can’t be all there is to this story?”, you might wonder. “Surely you’re not going to simply quit your job, become a digital nomad, and start a website, right?”

Right (kind of). My medium-term goal is to get a Master’s degree in International Affairs, likely at a university here in Asia. I’ve already made a short list of schools I’d like to apply to here in the region. IR has long been one of my greatest passions, and I look forward to pursuing it in the academic realm in 2018.

This gives me at least 12 months of runway to make serious progress on the following goals I’ve had brewing in my head recently:

    • This website. Expect much, much more from this space in the coming months. I will be working hard to push new content out here on a regular basis, and want to make this a resource for all of you that are both globally-minded and passionate about living a purpose-filled, location-independent life.
    • eBooks(!) I’ll keep the details of these under wraps for now, but be on the lookout for more details in the coming weeks. At a high level, the subject matter will cover some of my favorite topics: travel, international affairs, and technology. Expect lots of stories from the road, insights on our changing world, strategies for achieving location-independence and much more.
    • Learning Chinese. I’ve been learning Mandarin off and on for a couple of years now, but only recently began making a seriously concerted effort to learn the language. As I will likely be doing my Master’s in a primarily Mandarin-speaking country, knowing the language will be immensely helpful, even if only at a conversational level. Singapore is my home base for now, and it’s easy enough to get around here without knowing Mandarin, but the next city I move to will likely not be so forgiving. Watch this space for more tips, tricks and language hacking!
    • More travel! I have several longer trips planned throughout the back half of this year, and can’t wait to share what I learn along the way with you all soon. If all goes according to plan, during the last half of 2017 I’ll be making an extended trip through North Africa, continental Europe, and Scandinavia. I’ll also be visiting a few new countries in Asia on a research trip for my upcoming book, and will be back in the US for a short while attending to some family matter as well. Should be an exciting rest of the year.

I’m super passionate about making my long-term travel sustainable through a location independent lifestyle, and I hope that you’ll join me on this journey too. The next year and beyond should be a significant learning experience with me, and I look forward to sharing with you all what I learn along the way.

Are you ready to join me? Let’s get started!