March 4, 2011
While Mexican President Felipe Calderon debates strategy over transnational crime and narcotrafficking with Barack Obama in Washington, waves of North American college students are beginning to descend upon the Yucatan peninsula for Spring Break ’11.
They must have missed the memo from their home governments warning them that heinous death and destruction will await south of the border… or perhaps, intrepid young minds exercised a bit of common sense and figured their biggest risks are sun burns, gonorrhea, or a beer pong tournament gone bad.
It goes to show what little credibility the political establishment has, particularly over anyone with an independent streak.
As much as I admire independent thinking, though, crowded beaches full of drunk college kids are not my thing, and I’ve moved on to Merida, one of Mexico’s 16th century colonial towns.
Since Merida is not a hub of tourism like Tulum or Cancun, there is a much more authentic feel to the town, not to mention it’s much more reasonably priced.
Merida also has a thriving expat scene, and as I’ve discussed before, this is one of the great pleasures of traveling constantly: meeting unique, interesting people who have broken free of the standard rat race and chosen to live life by their own rules.
For people who haven’t taken this step, but dream of doing so, I know it can be difficult to imagine– what do you do when you’re overseas? How do you earn money? How do you spend your time and fit in with locals?
I come across really fascinating examples all the time. Just here in Mexico I’ve met an Austrian who runs a gourmet restaurant, a woman from Singapore who manages property rentals, a delightful young French girl who sings at nightclubs, some Australians who opened a dive shop, etc.
Each made a very simple, yet bold choice: “I’m not happy with where I am and what I’m doing, so I’m going to change something.”
For people who dream of making the move, it’s easy to fill oneself full of doubt and excuses to not take action. These examples serve as inspiring proof that it not only can be done, it is being done… by people just like you.
At Sovereign Man, we think these are important stories to tell, and we’ve recently decided to fund a series of videos on the notion of ‘breaking free’ with our friends over at the Matador Network.
You can see the demo video here, and even nominate someone with a great story to be featured in the series.
Moving on to this week’s questions, James asks, “Simon, regarding your article about reporting Gold Money accounts, can you give a link to the appropriate web site for the information? I had looked on the IRS web site just a week ago and could not find anything regarding just exactly this requirement.”
Sure. James is asking about the recent ruling by the US government that is meant to shed light on foreign bank account reporting requirements. For years, there has been a debate– do firms like GoldMoney.com count as ‘foreign financial institutions’ that must be reported each year on TDF 90-22.1?
Uncle Sam has spoken: Yes. You won’t find this ruling on the IRS website because it’s yet another organization that has taken the lead on the issue– the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). You can read more about the ruling here.
Next, John L asks, “Simon, I know you think very highly of Singapore as a business/banking destination. What do you think of South Korea? The economy has been doing very well and with a potentially united Korea in the next few years it could become quite a substantial market.”
South Korea is an amazing place. I remember being jet-lagged in Seoul one night flipping through late night television hoping to fall asleep. If you were to do this in North America, you’d get a slew of infomercials. In Europe, most likely soft-core porn. In South Korea? Advanced mathematics.
Yep. At 3am, the airwaves in South Korea are filled with Mandelbrot sets, Fourier series, and LaPlace transformations. It gives you an idea of what they value as a society.
Bottom line, South Korea is a place where creativity and entrepreneurship are like religions, math and science are typical dinner conversations, and hard work is inculcated from birth. This is a lethal combination that leads to plenty of opportunity.
Last, Vanessa asks, “Simon, it was really great to see you in person in Panama finally, and what a great experience. I was really inspired by Craig Ballantyne’s speeches on starting an Internet-based business. I’m wondering if you could shed some light on planting flags for this type of enterprise?”
Great question. Craig (a fellow Atlas 400 member) is one of the most successful online entrepreneurs I know, and his standing-room only sessions got top marks at the event.
Any business can benefit from planting flags, but Internet businesses in particular lend themselves to planting many flags quite easily.
It’s possible, for example, to incorporate your company in one jurisdiction, bank in another, host the website in another, host email in another, register the domain in another, set up credit card processing in another, etc.
I recently provided Craig with more information on this topic at his website along with a handful of listings for specific offshore service providers; you can read about them here, as well as sign up for Craig’s free newsletter. I think it’s the best one out there about Internet entrepreneurship.