restless peasant: life, changing :


Asset building is an activity that every self respecting freedom seeker should be engaged in, but few actually get round to thinking about it or learning the process.

Assets are the secret weapons of the super rich even though they tend not to build them from scratch, usually inheriting them from their ancestors. In many cases those ancestors stole the aforementioned assets from someone else or simply assumed ownership of things like land and natural resources that actually belonged to nobody and in the process disregarded the needs and wishes of others who lived on or used the land or resources in question…totally uncool. However, in copying the concept of asset building, we can copy the formula that defines an asset whilst avoiding all of the stealing and greed of our capitalist cousins.

An asset is simply something that generates income even though you retain ownership of it. In this way, the asset can actually grow in value over time and provide you with a regular and potentially infinite income stream. Due to this intrinsic value, the ratio of income to effort increases over time. In short, you do something once and receive income many times. A book, for example, is an example of such an asset, but with technology being as useful and as accessible as it is, you can get as creative as you want to in creating your own assets.

In the past, some of my favourite authors of practical, instructional or niche books have detailed how they struggled with achieving true freedom due to the pressure placed on them to get money in order to live. This has a much bigger impact than the simple reduction in writing time wasted trying to find and do menial work to earn a wage. The process of doing this can also have a negative effect on their mindset, potentially reducing access to inspiration and life energy. The trouble they had in the pre-digital age was that their assets (mainly books) were subject to a lot of upfront and ongoing costs for publishing, marketing and production and by necessity needed a whole entourage of people to support that. This meant that even hugely successful books didn’t quite become the long term assets they could have been for their authors. Spin off assets, such as instructional videos or training courses were also subject to all of the same limitations as the original asset…substantial and therefore limiting cost burdens.

Today, we are lucky that we can build assets much more easily, quickly and cheaply and then bolt on further related assets with the same amount of ease.

Of course, this comparison is subject to a series of algebraic problems. If you remember algebra from school (I don’t remember much of it so no emails please if I get this wrong) it was necessary to balance every equation.

Staying with the book example for a moment; you can write, edit, format, design, publish, promote and sell your book without ever leaving your kitchen table. This will of course depend on your skills, but most of this can be learned and/or the bits you can’t do can sub-contracted cheaply. In any case the costs of taking your book to market are greatly reduced. However, this is where the algebra comes in. This lowering of the barrier to entry to publishing has resulted in lots more people jumping that barrier and becoming self publishers. It has also resulted in a lot of work being published that is sub standard…and the activity that is going on to promote these books has created a whole lot of noise. Due to the bombardment of digital stuff we are all subjected to, we tend to switch off and that has led to the most valuable commodity today being attention. Yes, getting the attention of enough people to make your newly built asset a success will almost certainly be the most difficult part of your quest for a steady income to support your freedom lifestyle; and this is where the extra effort has to be done in order to balance the equation.

Many people are disappointed at the very start of their attempt to promote a money making asset they have spent many of the previous months creating. To launch an asset to deafening silence is truly soul destroying.

What can we do to avoid this?

Well, the answer is to build a tribe. This term was coined by Seth Godin and he has written extensively about it; but simply put, it means building a network of fans who, in addition to consuming your work, also promote it to their networks of contacts. This, if managed well, can cause your reach to grow exponentially and quickly.

Starting today, how can you get 10 people interested in your ideas? Make a big enough impression on 10 people to turn them into fans of what you do, so that they will talk about you and your work unsolicited. If you can do that and each of them talk to 10 others; as Seth recently pointed out, you only have to make that go through two more cycles of growth to reach 1million people. Powerful isn’t it.

Now, can you think of a handful of strategies you could use to start to build that Tribe?

I described my approach to one of my projects here.

Seth’s book “Tribes” is here.

Chris Guillebeau has created a monster of a tribe here.

Be part of the Restless Peasant tribe here.

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kitchen table

When you want to get started on something new, something radically different; your self usually butts in with some excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. In meditation we try to sit quietly and just watch the behaviour of this self or the thinker as you’ll sometimes hear it referred to. If this is your first visit to the site, please don’t leave yet, I’m not mad, no really…come back! The self or the thinker is a common reference point in Buddhist teachings and is referred to in meditation practice frequently. I’ll explain another time but for now, just humour me ;-).

The thinker turns up most frequently as an inner voice telling you not to do weird stuff. That’s stuff you don’t usually do. Buddhists call it the self, Steven Pressfield calls it the resistance, some people call it the monkey mind,  some say the lizard brain or simply…procrastination; but whatever you call it, you should be aware that it will turn up in a different disguise every time you set out to change something in your life. If you recognised it, then you wouldn’t fall for it…so it will turn up dressed differently every time.

When it comes to doing new activities, for me, the self most frequently turns up as tools I can’t do without. In this way it hits me with a double whammy of negativity. First, I can’t get started because I don’t have all of the resources I need and then I get hit in the pocket as I have to buy special equipment, tools or resources of some kind to get started.

Other times it will convince me I need to do something else first and this can turn into a sequence of events that can delay getting started on the new, interesting thing indefinitely.

The Answer?

When you want to try something new, just Kitchen table it.


A few years ago, I started attending a book-binding class. Now, if you Google “book-binding supplies”. you will see that it could be very easy to not do any book binding, because there is a plethora of stuff to know and stuff to buy and stuff to do before you ever bind a book. Fortunately my teacher is a real expert and is highly skilled in just getting jobs done. To that end he taught me to do book binding the kitchen table way. He showed me the basic foundation techniques and taught me how to get good at them just using every day tools that most people have at home. In other words he showed me a way to make beautiful hand made books…at the kitchen table. He also showed me the various techniques and skills needed to restore old books, again, at the kitchen table.

So, if you want to become a writer for example, just find a moment to sit down and scribble out your first ideas using the first pen and piece of paper that comes to hand in the location you’re in right now. The thinker in you will tell you that you need to learn to write in a particular way, maybe take a lengthy and expensive creative writing course, save up for a Macbook Air, spend £3 on a coffee every time you want to write so you can sit in Starbucks with your Mac proudly displayed and of course get yourself down there before anything can start. Maybe you need a writing den or a new office built in your garden. Maybe you’re inspired by Hemingway and need to get yourself some Palomino pencils and a Moleskine notebook and sit in a cafe in the Latin Quarter in Paris before you get going. All of these thoughts are procrastination dressed up as real issues by your thinker self. The self is just a collection of thoughts, experiences, traits, prejudices and negative self talk that you’ve created subconsciously over the years to stop you trying stuff you might fail at…and guess what…every time you give in to it…you fail anyway. So, get your arse planked at the kitchen table (that’s Scottish for “sit down in the food preparation area”) and just start doing what you want to do today, using whatever you have to hand.

Good BBC Radio program here that discusses the creation of the self. It seems it’s all created in our younger days!

Photo Credit: Marcus Metropolis via Compfight cc

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Are you ready to start yet?

Are you just about ready to start with your new home based money making idea?

How’s the blog set up coming along, is it ready to go next Monday?, have you decided the hosting, the blogging platform, the theme design, or could you use a few more days to get it together?

How about just a little more time to get some logo designs ready?

You could just get going but it will be better to get some professional business cards to hand out first.

Why don’t you just wait another couple of weeks and get some professional photography in place?

Do you have a diverse enough range of stock?

Is that a fantastic new range of raw materials that would look great turned into new products; they would sell like hot cakes, wouldn’t they?

What if your boss finds out you’re running a new online business? Is that allowed?

Have you got the picture yet? I am being slightly sarcastic here, but this is the pattern of forever getting ready that I see holding back would be micro business owners all of the time. They never seem to get ready to start, because they are just too busy getting ready!

Take my blogging example for example: if you’ve got something to say that you feel will help you start to make more money (dig a tunnel), have a better life in the future or just get something started that you’ve always wanted to do, something that wasn’t wasn’t there yesterday, you can have that fixed inside 30 minutes starting now! You can head over to, sign up for an account if you don’t already have one or you can go to and do the same.

Either way you can have a new blog up and running inside 30 minutes with your first post about how you’re going to change the world live, viewable by millions and off you go.

Imagine, every night, switching off the TV for 30 minutes while you write just one
short, original blog post about your subject, or something you found out today that you think your readers would like or find helpful. This time next year you would
have 365 blog posts under your belt and with that kind of activity you can virtually guarantee 2 things:

  1. You would know a hell of a lot more about your subject than you do today, as the process of writing it down helps you greatly to focus on what it is you want to say and be.
  2. You would have a following, a readership; maybe not a huge following but a loyal one, made up of people who are interested in your stuff, even if you don’t know what that stuff is yourself yet!

And here is the alternative: you can spend another night in front of the TV or “getting ready” to launch your blog. Here’s what “would be bloggers” worry about;

Anyway, this post is not just about blogging, its about making sure that whatever your idea for changing your life and enjoying more freedom is, take a half hour out of your normal routine; you could even do this by getting up 30 minutes early or staying up 30 minutes late, but get something done today about your new life; and guess what? Do something else tomorrow, even if it’s just 30 minutes worth.

You have 2 choices:

  1. Look back in a year and complain that nothing has changed or…
  2. Look back in a year and see a year’s worth of achievements all because you took simple small actions all the way through the year. You will be enjoying a better lifestyle, you’ll be wealthier in time and money and you will be enjoying multiple pay-days per month instead of playing catch up all the time, best of all you will be in charge of your own destiny and you’ll heading for a life of freedom.

So please stop getting ready and just take the first small step TODAY!

If you are genuinely having trouble getting organised, there are things you can do to improve this including adopting a system like David Allen’s GTD. However, in my experience procrastination can come dressed up as a filing system, a goal setting procedure or yet another spreadsheet I’ve invented to track the life out of my …erm life!

Taking time away from the creative job in hand to set more goals, divide up the week better, set milestones etc, can for a few people lead to results, but I think for the majority these are just further excuses to not do anything again today!

Come on…stop getting ready!

Photo thanks to: Ben via Compfight

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I have 3 daughters, the middle of whom came home from school and asked “what’s your job Dad?”

This was when she was in primary 3, around 7 years old. They were doing a project in class that involved finding out what people did for jobs. It was an interesting project; one day they went out in the bus to visit a local farmer who showed them all around his farm and explained what he did for a living. On other days some of the kids parents would come in to tell the class about their jobs.

Back to the question in hand: “What’s your job Dad?”

I think she felt a little embarrassed in class that she couldn’t immediately put her finger on what it was her Dad did for a living exactly. She said that she knew I went off to China from time to time and she thought it might have something to do with teaching and maybe something to do with golf courses and/or colleges. Eventually I think the teacher must have suggested that she ask me, just for clarification.

The trouble with this scenario is that I couldn’t really give her a straight answer. Of course I could tell her some of the things I did, like blogging, writing books, making sites for others, buying and selling old fishing rods, teaching people in China how to build and maintain golf courses, visiting auctions, tinkering with old Volvos, grooming donkeys and on and on.

These kind of answers confuse people as they expect everyone to have followed a pre determined path to a life of doing the same thing every day; working for a living at some thing they set out to get qualified to do when they were teenagers. The trouble with that model is that it completely overlooks that in 10, 20 or 50 years from your college days, you will be a different person, maybe several different people at different points along the way and instead of allowing for that, it forces a square peg to continually fit different shaped holes, leading to an unfulfilled life, depression and all sorts of other trouble. It forces people to live shackled lives…and here it is being slipped surreptitiously into the little impressionable heads of 7 years olds; in other circumstances it might be called indoctrination or even brain washing!

This is training for the hamster wheel and is fully sanctioned and ingrained in law by the governments of all western, consumerist societies. It’s like some weird futuristic movie where the many are shackled to some great machine to produce wealth for the few superior beings that are free to do as they please…sound familiar?

Qualifications are like mis-sold insurance policies, you don’t need them. The longer kids stay at school the more indoctrinated they get and even when they cash in their education chips for a good career, where’s the happiness for most of them? Where’s the freedom in these lands of the free? Have you ever met a happy Accountant or Lawyer?

For a while I worked as a freelance business adviser and got hooked up with some really clever guys who had created what can be thought of as a toolbox and a robust support and training network for people who wanted to be business advisers; helping business owners to grow and make their businesses more profitable. Now to sell the service they offered, they had to find people who ticked two very distinct boxes.

As I was looking for just what they had to offer to help me build a strong client list in the work I wanted to do with golf and tourism businesses their service was just what I needed at the time. This led to me writing a series of books about business development including The 10 Minute MBA.

  1. They had to have access to a lot of business owners and…
  2. They had to have a strong motivation to want out of their current situation and into one where they could experience some freedom and excitement…

where do think they looked?

That’s right, they tapped straight into the Chartered Accountant network in every English speaking country in the world and have already branched out into other territories.

Part of the offer was an unbeatable education program that included one and two day training camps. The first time I went along to one of these, I had to travel to the English Midlands and got to the venue about 30 minutes late.

The CEO and main trainer for the day, stopped talking when I sneaked in at the back and asked me to come up to the front so he could introduce me to the network. There was maybe 150 people in the room at round tables. I felt embarrassed, but I was soon at ease as he gave me a glowing introduction and I was invited to join a table right at the front.

At the morning coffee break I was inundated with people coming up to ask me questions about my niche and how I got into such interesting stuff. One of the points in my introduction that seems to strike a cord was that I sometimes helped people to build golf courses. Every other person in that room was from a Chartered Accountant’s practice.

Then a tall and apparently self assured guy came up and asked me what I thought when I walked into the room at first. I said, that in their jeans and open necked shirts, I wasn’t sure I was in the right room as none of them look particularly like Accountants! The reply came fast:

“That’s because we’re all trying desperately not to be Accountants!!”




Here was the clever tip at the top of the Accountant iceberg, the few who had realised in time that they could do something better, more exciting and introduce freedom to their beleaguered lives. They were in the process of breaking the link with their years of indoctrination, breaking away from their hard won and therefore tightly bonded qualifications. Only some of them will make it, but they will find the effort well worth it.

Recently during yet another clear out of my garage, I burned a whole folder of certificates and diplomas I hadn’t realised were still there, including all of the ones I got from the network mentioned above for becoming one of their accredited facilitators. I don’t need paper permission to do anything I want to do and if anyone ever asks for it, I don’t want to work with them.

If you’ve got the inclination to override what school and your career to date have put in your head, the best and only thing you can do is to just get started, just do what you want to do.

Specialisation started with the Puritans, the Protestant reformers, Calvinists; party poopers to you and me. They introduced compulsory membership of Trade Guilds so that people would have to specialise in one trade and wouldn’t be recognised or paid for any other work. Furthermore they would have to buy those other goods and services because all of their time was taken up working for the man in order to continue to be recognised as a Guild member. This was the early stages of the introduction of the consumerism that blights our world today.

Big picture, broad brush and generalist are all terms despised by the detail obsessed bean counters.

Eschew your diplomas and burn your degrees. You are already qualified to do whatever you feel like!
Photo Credit: Aston University via Compfight cc

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I like one word post titles, but sometimes I find I’ve already used the one that would be most suited to the post I am writing. A couple or three years ago I wrote a longish post on getting things done called implement, so this one’s called “Implemento “…awesome creativity…no? It’s an homage to an experience I had in Cadiz a dozen or so years ago. I was trying to order food and wine in a harbour side bar, when I kept getting interrupted by a bunch of Neanderthal English sailors who were haranguing the waiter I was talking to for “cigarettos”, thinking that they just had to add “o” to English words or shout to be understood by Spaniards. There’s nothing more annoying for a Scot than an arsehole Englishman abroad…I was smiling on the inside.

I’m going to wrap this New Year series today so we can move onto something else; even my countrymen have stopped celebrating New Year by now so we should take that as a sign ;-).

Yesterday, I posted a Mindmap® that drilled down a bit on the previous day’s. I did this to illustrate that your past career can be a rich seam of ideas that can be mined to get you off and running in your bid for freedom. Getting off and running is usually constrained by worries about money. Getting started on making some money for yourself can be made easier and less scary if you start up by tapping into your past experience and skills to generate a little freedom income. Remember, you are an expert in this field.

Here’s yesterday’s Mindmap® again:


And here’s what I started doing during what I like to call my tunnel digging phase:

  1. Singled out a sector within my industry that needed advice and that I was particularly knowledgeable about. In my case this was helping lawn bowls clubs to have better greens.
  2. I started a blog called Bowls-Central
  3. I wrote my arse off and produced over 200 articles that were aimed at helping bowling clubs to improve their greens.
  4. I promoted a method of bowling green improvement that I had previously worked on and showed how this worked despite flying in the face of the commonly promoted wisdom in the industry.
  5. I answered hundreds of emails and gave honest to goodness advice completely free of charge and still do. This generated a lot of goodwill among my readers.
  6. I wrote an eBook called Performance Bowling Greens, which distilled my thoughts down into a program clubs could follow to achieve performance improvements. A side shoot of this is that they also saved money.
  7. I continued to look for other ways to help these people and they responded by supporting and encouraging me in my work.
  8. KEY POINT: I truly and respectfully engage in this industry; making money from it came as a welcome bonus; you’ve got to believe in it and give it 100%.

Today, I still run that blog and my biggest project for January 2015 is to re-write my best selling eBook, before re-designing and rebuilding the website in February, including an on-line education program for my customers at Bowls-Central.

Remember also that all of the above is generated from one entry in my Mindmap®. In addition to the Bowls-Central blog and it’s constantly expanding reach, I’ve carried out similar work for golf clubs, I’ve carried out consulting work and I’ve been engaged as a freelance teacher and consultant all over the world, almost without trying.

Please think about this approach as your initial step off the hamster wheel. It’s fulfilling, it’s helpful to others and it can generate decent income for you and a whole new world of experiences. It can also help you to see that all of those years in chains weren’t wasted…you can create a real asset or even a whole portfolio of assets from your previous career, skills and experience.

Please feel free to ask me questions on this.

I hope my New Year series looking at getting started on freedom has been helpful and that you find something that clicks with you on

Tomorrow, we’ll move onto something a little different.

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The term comfort zone for me doesn’t speak of a set of circumstances that are necessarily comfortable. No, being in your comfort zone just means being in familiar territory. However, in this case I’m prepared to make an exception and I think it’s a good idea to start your life of freedom by tackling something you are familiar (comfortable) with.

In this little series of New Year posts about making the change over to living the way you want, I’ve been considering that annoying human invention, money, and how to best deal with it in order to live a free life.

So far I’ve discussed my favoured route to freedom which is to make a living from my life and avoid having a job that eats up my time and gives me little reward for my efforts, otherwise known as the Hamster Wheel of Doom.

I’ve tackled the issue of just getting started and how that means you need to step out of your comfort zone and be unprepared…and excited!

Yesterday we got down to the practicalities of planning this (because even a restless-peasant plans sometimes) and I proffered my Mindmap® (which took all of 5 minutes to create).

By the way, I love the distinction Leo Babauta makes between Resolutions/Planning/Goals and Habit changing; this is in essence all about changing your behavioural habits after all is said and done.


We now have to take some practical steps and choose one item from that Mindmap® to tackle head on to forge our first income generating project from. If I cast my mind back to when I started in earnest, I found it hard to overlook my existing skills and previous work experience…and if you are also finding this hard…don’t fight it.

How can you use your existing skills, previous training and previous work experience to your financial benefit without getting a job? This could be time for another Mindmap®!

Here’s mine:


For a long time, I was a Greenkeeper, which led on to me following a career progression through managing, planning, project managing and building golf courses and all sorts of other stuff.  When I started digging my tunnel to freedom, this is where I started. You can consider this low hanging fruit in your own quest.

However, you will notice that none of the items on this more focussed Mindmap® mention simply just keeping on as a worker in that industry. All of the options I’ve come up with are based on me feeding into (and feeding from) that industry as a freelancer…not an employee, please don’t fall at the first hurdle. However, tempting it seems, don’t take another job as an employee.

Your Turn

Now, from the Mindmap® I suggested you make yesterday, can you pull out one item that seems doable and make a new Mindmap® in order to explore all of the opportunities you could make happen for that one subject area? Of course you could. Get to it, share it if you want.

Tomorrow, I’ll take this on one more level to make sure you understand the full power of this and then we’ll move on to something else.

Photo Credit: Visit Anchorage PR via Compfight cc

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