I am SO excited to be here today to share a different twist on adventure. Remember adventure is trying something new, stepping outside your comfort zone. I have “known” Brad for a long time and as I share in this episode he’s had quite an influence on me. Adventures don’t always follow linear paths based on our plans. We had a number of our travel plans this summer go awry which contributed to me taking a break from the podcast in August. We also talk about building a network and community. I find it ironic that we recorded this podcast in early June when I was parked in Jillian Johnsrud’s driveway. Turns out both Jillian and Brad are very Ordinary people who value the ability to design your life and both happen to be doing it with kids.
Worth noting, I have found that I really enjoy podcasting and having conversation without all the ads and interruptions many podcasters use. If you enjoy the ideas, find joy or inspiration from my work, you can buy me a coffee to say thanks and support the show. If you want to go deeper with the content and/or get more engaged you can find additional ways to support the show through the links below.
After years in public accounting as a CPA, Brad reached financial independence at the age of 35 through diligent savings and investing. Brad Is passionate about everything from saving money, to living a more healthy lifestyle, to ‘boring’ things like tracking your finances and cutting down on your tax bill. But his favorite topic is leveraging credit card rewards to save more money, and take trips you never would have dreamed possible for pennies on the dollar.Co-Founders and Co-Hosts Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa, ChooseFI has become home to the largest Financial Independence community in the world. Every podcast episode, video, and blog article is packed with relatable, real-life content crowdsourced from the FI community. Each week they share the best life hacks, strategies, stories, tools, and resources to help you take control of your money and get 1% better each day on your journey to FI.
- Sometimes when we are doing interesting things it just feels like regular life, putting one foot in front of another. Take the time to actually and reflect on the past 10 years can be an eye opener on how far you have come. Hundreds of 1% action items you really stack up to remarkable growth.
- Entrepreneurship, starting with the book 4-hour work week, was like a lightning bolt. “I just realized there is something else out there for me rather than a corporate tax return accountant.” The example of the drop-shopping business model really lit him up and he reached out to a friend in his network who was an early internet entrepreneur that he somehow convinced to start a drop shipping business.
- Brad and his friend bought a dropshipping business from flippa.com (use affiliate link?). By bootstrapping SEO in the 2010 version they would get a few orders for firewood racks. Brad laughed that his website url: firewood-rack.net would attain any traffic. Essentially they’d get $100 for forwarding an email to the manufacturer to fulfill the order. While it may seem like that was the golden days of online businesses there weren’t the systems and processes in place there are today.
- Doing the wrong thing catches up to you. If you are doing nefarious things, whether it’s common practice or not, you know right from wrong. To Google’s credit they were able to identify those that were doctoring search rankings and took care of that practice. Some of the skills developed in “unsuccessful adventures” built a foundation that propelled other businesses and adventures later in life. A key skill set was to be authentic and sincere.
- Finding someone ahead of you on the journey is a key factor in your ability to take action and experience growth. Want to start a podcast? Want to get paid to create travel content? Want to design your life in a way that works for you? Perhaps I am that person for you and can help you take the next first step forward. Finding someone ahead of you allows you to jump the line.
- Snippets of experience, even in unprofitable adventures can be key indicators of what brings you joy and allow you to test what you are good at. Brad likes to point out the intersection of luck and preparedness as being a factor in success. The story of how he and his co-host of Choose FI, Jonathan Mendonsa met was a series of luck.
- Many people have ideas, how many of those people follow through? A couple months after meeting Jonathon he sent him an email to see if he got started on the website. That question and reaching out to him was the indicator that someone cared and was the impetus to him buying the domain (choosefi.com) and writing a few articles. The story of Choose FI was born.
- As Brad calls it, there are ways to increase the surface area of luck. One of Brad’s greatest assets is the world class network of friends that he has built over the years. It comes back to being authentic and a genuinely nice human being. These are the type of people that others are rooting for. It aligns well with the sherpa philosophy of reaching back to help others AND boosting others from behind as I discuss in my book (Affiliate link). No one is on the top in all areas of life.
- Travel Rewards holds a throughline throughout all of his businesses. Brad’s intent as a content creator is to shortcut the learning curve for people like him. He knew if he was able to do it, then it’s replicable. Things can seem complex and daunting, offering a defined path allows others to try it, win and build confidence.
- Simplicity is the operating principle of Brad’s life. His theory is that any complexity that is sold to you is only to enrich the person selling it. Travel Rewards can often be seen as complex, but through one of Brad’s tasks to use travel rewards to take his family to Disney World over 10 years ago he was able to make a simple process to guide other families.
- Travel Rewards are like an asset in the bank. Through a combination of Southwest Airlines, and Hyatt Hotels (both Chase Ultimate Rewards Partners) he now keeps a pretty simple profile allowing his family to easily take one or two family vacations per year saving their family thousands of dollars. He has earned 2.5 Million points over the past 10 years which is roughly a $50,000 lever to pull.
- Hotel Award charts are not impacted by the latest and greatest, jacking up the market rate of hotel rooms. When there is an award chart, that hotel requires XX number of points per night. As Brad described the Taylor Swift concert in Pittsburgh – there were 50,000 people descending on Pittsburgh, all hotels and AIrbnbs were $800 a night. But because that hotel had an award chart, what would cost other $800+ would be something like 5,000 to 8,000 hotel points.
- With regards to the Choose FI Podcast and brand, people are looking for community and stories they see themselves in. They quickly realized that their personal experiments in Financial Independence would be limiting so they quickly pivoted to the ultimate crowdsourced personal finance show. The real magic has been not having world-class experts on the show, rather everyday people from the community that have taken action and we can celebrate their wins with them. Everything stems from YOU taking action.
Resources Referenced in this episode
4 Hour Work Week
Flippa.com site to purchase ecommerce sites
Beyond Normal: a field guide to embrace adventure, explore the wilderness and design an extraordinary life with kids (my book)
buy me a coffee and reach out regarding your questions on how I might help you on your journey