I was a guest on the Life Done Differently podcast with Neil Witten. I know him because he acquired Sheet2Site from my friend Andrey. I really enjoyed being on their podcast as it went way beyond the standard startup questions and delved more into life and philosophy of why we do what we do. I hope you enjoy it!
Here's the transcript:
Neil Witten (00:00:08):
Hello, welcome to The Life Done Differently podcast with me, Neil Witten and my co-host Ray Richards. Join us on our journey to find out what separates the doers from the thinkers.
Ray Richards (00:00:20):
Hello, and welcome to our conversation with Pieter Levels. Pieter is the man behind nomadlist.com, remoteok.com, inflationchart.com, rebase.co, and much more. Pieter, is hard to describe if you're after an old world description. He's most certainly a business guy and a software developer guy, but he works remotely. Sometimes he charges for his creations, sometimes he doesn't. He does his best to, in his own words, practice radical honesty with himself and others. He's unafraid to experiment, to play and learn as a student that doing something different can have unexpected and very rewarding consequences. He works with a few trusted friends, but creatively he's the man. Neil has been telling me for six months that a conversation with Pieter will be fun and interesting. He was right. Pieter is in charge of himself. He's not going with the flow unless it serves him. He's not short of money, but he doesn't own a home and his laptop seems to be as extravagant as it gets.
Ray Richards (00:01:29):
He keeps things simple. For someone so successfully immersed in the world of digital, he has a level of self-awareness that ensures he spends time IRLing. For the uninitiated, as I was before this conversation, IRL stands for In Real Life. That means no screens just doing stuff out there in the real world. Amen to that. Pieter seems to be on a quest to find the joy in life, but fully understand that what brings joy today may not be what brings joy tomorrow. It's all an adventure. Enjoy Pieter Levels thinking and doing for yourself.
Pieter Levels (00:02:16):
Okay, Perfect man.
Neil Witten (00:02:18):
Pieter Levels (00:02:19):
Nice to see you guys. Nice
Ray Richards (00:02:20):
Nice to see you.
Neil Witten (00:02:21):
How are you?
Pieter Levels (00:02:23):
Really good. I just woke up so I'm having my coffee, so if my brain doesn't work yet, that's why.
Neil Witten (00:02:30):
That's all right.
Ray Richards (00:02:30):
I've been awake for a couple of hours and my brain isn't working.
Pieter Levels (00:02:34):
Yeah, it happens. It happens.
Neil Witten (00:02:37):
Pieter, what time zone are you on?
Pieter Levels (00:02:41):
This is Thailand time, so I think it's called in indoor China time, but usually I wake up noon or something. Today's late because yesterday we were late drinking mock tills in the [inaudible 00:02:52] bar, no alcohol, but still. Usually I wake up around noon or 1:00 PM or 2:00 PM or something.
Neil Witten (00:02:59):
Let's start here because it's really intriguing. Because you travel a lot, do you move into time zones of different countries or do you try and stay in a Pieter time zone?
Pieter Levels (00:03:12):
Yes, so the myth is that I travel a lot. I don't travel a lot. I'm a very slowmad, so I-
Neil Witten (00:03:18):
Slowmad. Love that.
Pieter Levels (00:03:20):
When I started nomading 2014, I did travel a lot. I was, every, sorry, I put the microphone a little bit closer. When I started in 2014, I did travel a lot. I was, I think every few months, maybe in every month in a different place and before that I was backpacking. Backpacking, only have one month to see 12, well that's too much. It's five countries, so you're going really fast from city to city. I think that it burns you out after a while because essentially you do the same thing in every city anyway. You sleep, you wake up, you have coffee, you meet people, you work a little bit, you see the city a little bit, you do things, but it starts getting the same in every city after a few years.
Neil Witten (00:04:10):
I've noticed that for some reason you try and find tall things to climb up when you go to new cities. Why do we do that?
Pieter Levels (00:04:20):
What do you mean tall things? What do you mean?
Neil Witten (00:04:22):
So you find tall skyscrapers, tall churches, tall buildings, tall hills.
Ray Richards (00:04:29):
I think it's just you, Neil. That might be just you.
Neil Witten (00:04:31):
Me, maybe it's me.
Pieter Levels (00:04:32):
I think it's just Neil. It is awesome. This is fake news.
Ray Richards (00:04:36):
Well that's much actually big fair. In Brighton we have the i360, which is the tallest thing in Brighton and that is the tourist destination. So maybe you're right.
Neil Witten (00:04:44):
Yeah, I'm sure.
Pieter Levels (00:04:44):
Yeah, same in Amsterdam. Man, it's always funny if this is not rude against all the UK and Europeans, but if you look how tall everything is in Asia and then I go to Amsterdam and they're like... The main tourist attraction is a building. I think it's the Amsterdam Tower. Let's see the height. It's 80 meters, 80 meters.
Neil Witten (00:05:10):
That's massive or the Netherlands though. There's nothing too apart, apart from the people. The people are the tallest thing in the world.
Pieter Levels (00:05:17):
No, no. The people are taller in that building. That's the problem. You don't fit in. But things are really tall in Asia. Generally, I like ground level because I grew up in a ground level. We all do in UK and Holland. I think we grew up usually grew up in ground level houses and it feels nice, but I don't really care. I like ground level also, but in Asia, the higher, the more status is. It's really very metaphorical.
Ray Richards (00:05:45):
Oh, interesting. Yeah.
Pieter Levels (00:05:48):
I grew up where my parents were... They didn't like flats, we'd call them. Maybe UK same, flats. They said it's good to have your own house on the ground and I was like, "Okay", but in Asia they want the top floors and that's status and stuff and I'm like, "Whoa, but you're stuck in this building so high. How do you get out?" I don't know.
Neil Witten (00:06:11):
Sure. We're going to pick up on a few more of these kinds of things. I think as you experience and live amongst other cultures, you start to recognize those things that make a lot of sense because they're everything we've ever known. Suddenly you go to another culture and it makes no sense anymore because it's the opposite. I wonder how much that might, if you've traveled a lot, how much that starts to change your mind, your perspective on the world.
Pieter Levels (00:06:41):
Yeah, I think it's a really good question. It's so interesting. It's a really a psychological journey too if you're always abroad a lot and you're nomading and stuff and you're not in your home country, not even in the west. I was really depressed and really anxious. You go through these years of feeling lost and what are you doing with your life and where are you because you don't have a geographical tie to your home country anymore where you grew up and stuff. For me it was like I lived in Amsterdam a lot of my life and it was my last city in Holland. It's psychologically really wrecking and transformative and destructive in a way because you rebuild as a person. I read on Hacker News, back in the day a few years ago, there was a lot of nomads who go suicidal. A lot of them would go depressed. Removing the ties from your home to then just go anywhere is very dangerous and it can be very intense emotionally, psychologically. Now I feel good and I think the reason for that is that nowadays I always travel with friends. We're always in a group and I make sure I'm never alone anymore. You need friends, you need a girlfriend or boyfriend or something. You need a partner, you need stuff to. So your identity I think comes from contextualizing your environment and stuff from the context of how do you fit in an environment. If the environment is constantly influx, you don't know. You only talk to strangers. You don't really exist anymore as a person.
Ray Richards (00:08:31):
So that's something about home, isn't it? Redefining home, Home can be a place, but it can be people as well. Is that what you're saying?
Pieter Levels (00:08:42):
Yeah. I think so. I talked to a therapist about it and she said similar where she said it can be people, it can be... She's like, "Bring some object with you that you put in your room or something to make it home." And I'm like, "Yeah." It didn't really work but I know what she was trying to say. I think you're right. The home can be redefined. I think that the jealousy of always people at home with a regular life is not completely fair because having home tie is really important. It's a different life and the safety and the comfort and the psychological comfort of a home is... You don't necessarily, but I think it is important to have something like that. Anyway, it's psychologically really, really challenging in the first few years for sure.
Pieter Levels (00:09:33):
Slowing down has to do with it also, you slow down because you want to create more ties. It's nice to live, for example, in two places. That's my plan now, live in Portugal and live maybe in Bangkok or Bali or something for the winter because Europe gets called a new winter. But that creates more ties. You have proximity in repetition and friendship and relationships need proximity in repetition. You need to be near each other and you need to repeat interactions. That's how you become friends. If you go to the same coffee shop every day, you will in inevitably, even if you're socially maladapted, you'll inevitably make friends after three months because you go there every day. That's how it works.
Ray Richards (00:10:11):
Yeah, well I think routines, when you are so repetition is routines and it's just so important. It's so important. Neil and I know each other through doing something different. And we've always been promoting the idea of stepping into the unknown, stepping out of your comfort zone and all that. But it has to be balanced with those routines because if you constantly have two feet in the unknown, it's chaos.
Pieter Levels (00:10:41):
That's a great statement. Yeah. Two feet, because you fall down.
Ray Richards (00:10:45):
Yeah, that's right. If you've got feet in the known, that's a rut. And what this podcast is actually about, in many senses is how to work that balance between having one foot in the known and one foot and the unknown. I think it's really interesting to hear you say that people get depressed and anxious and just the whole mental health can go in the wrong direction because there's no stability.
Pieter Levels (00:11:19):
The environment is influx and it's so difficult to explain to people who are new because a lot of people now want go nomad because of remote work and stuff. Obviously my websites are about it and I'm promoter of it but I've always tried to promote it in a realistic way, not this, because before Nomad List and stuff website, there was all these shady websites like Live Your Dream Lifestyle on the beach, all this bullshit and it's obviously not a dream lifestyle. It's obviously very challenging. Then when you get everything together, your friends are near, you have a relationship, you go to the gym, you eat well, you make enough money to afford a nice place, then you're like, "Okay now it works," and that takes years. It's so weird that it's painted as this Instagram dream lifestyle.
Ray Richards (00:12:09):
Do you think if you'd have had a conversation with someone who'd have shared what you've just shared with you back then, you would've understood that and taken the advice? Or do you think you just have to learn it for yourself?
Pieter Levels (00:12:26):
The funny thing is, I didn't know anything when I started. The only thing was, my friend told me because I graduated with master's degree in Rotterdam business entrepreneurship and my friend was like, "You know, you can work on your laptop because I had a YouTube channel for music and I was making $2,000 a month." And he's like, "Why don't you just buy a laptop and then go travel a little bit?" And I'm like, "Okay." I didn't know about diginomics, I didn't know about.
Pieter Levels (00:12:53):
I remember moving out of my house and my neighbor, this I think 50 year old guy was like, "Do you know Tim Ferriss?" I'm like, "No, I've no idea." He wrote this book about what you're going to do now. I'm like, "What? Really?" So I was like, "Okay." I didn't even read the book, just ignored it. I just flew somewhere. I flew to Bangkok actually and then I went to Chiang Mai in Thailand because I'd been backpacking here before and I didn't know anything. I didn't know even that there was any scene of people doing this. There was only 20 people in Chiang Mai back then and maybe there was 10,000 nomads in the world or something. It was very, very low. Anyway, I didn't prepare anything and it was the fun part about it. It was exciting because I have no idea what was happening. It was all new.
Neil Witten (00:13:44):
What were you searching for back then, Pieter, if you can remember. So let's go back to some of the stuff that was going on in your world and what led towards the YouTube channel.
Pieter Levels (00:13:55):
Well I think, so the channel was much earlier. It was 2008 because I had a music career. Actually I was in the UK a lot. I was doing drum and bass music. Drum and bass, maybe you guys know it.
Neil Witten (00:14:05):
We know it, yeah.
Pieter Levels (00:14:07):
Okay, yeah. So pendulum and stuff, [inaudible 00:14:11] famous classic. I was obsessed with drum and bass music and I would go to London to parties. I would also a DJ in London. I would DJ in Holland. I had my own club night and stuff. I produced genres. That was the point. I made my own music. So I stuck out from all the other DJs in Holland because they didn't know how to produce. I was good on computer so I could learn to make music on the computer and then I would play it in the club and stuff. And so I made my own album. I released it. People bought it, but it didn't become the world's famous super success I was planning to become so I was like, "Okay." What I did was I uploaded it to YouTube, my music and back then nobody uploaded music to YouTube. This was 2007, 2008.
Ray Richards (00:14:55):
Well why did you upload it to YouTube?
Pieter Levels (00:14:58):
For promotion because I needed to promote this album. I went to the factory and we got thousand copies pressed real CDs with the whole, I designed the whole artwork and everything and I needed to sell these CDs. I had some audience. I think I had a MailChimp newsletter or something, but I was like, "Okay, maybe I'll just upload it to YouTube." I knew Adobe After Effects, so I put it in Premier and I made a video. Back then it was really... Nobody understands this. Back then there was music files, MP3 or WAV files and it was video files and it didn't make any sense to put your music in a video file and put it on YouTube because YouTube was for home videos or viral videos and stuff and vloggers. Anyway, I did that and that was accidental success and it became the second biggest channel in Holland.
Pieter Levels (00:15:56):
It became this whole music empire of different genres, first drum and bass and dubstep, very important dubstep blew up at 2010. YouTube started paying me money first, a hundred dollars and thousand dollars, $2,000 at some point, $8,000 per month. I was a student at university. So I was like, "Yeah, this is great." I was studying business, so I was like, "Well this is a business now. It pivoted. It moved from artistic music to... Oh this is our music business on YouTube, making money to then graduating and then my friend saying, "Can you also make these videos on your laptop?" And I was like, "I tried to find a laptop that could render these videos." Yeah, that works.
Ray Richards (00:16:40):
Interesting, isn't it because what you did there was, you said it was accidental, but you were innovating, You were just thinking, "Well let's try this." Sometimes those innovations work and sometimes they don't.
Pieter Levels (00:16:59):
Yeah, but it's always for a different reason. You're doing it then what it turns out to be successful-
Ray Richards (00:17:04):
Yeah, that's right.
Pieter Levels (00:17:05):
The purpose was marketing myself, selling these CDs, these thousand CDs for $10 or something or $6 and it became something completely different. If I didn't make that CD myself, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you because all that stuff led to this.
Ray Richards (00:17:21):
You didn't know. You don't know. There might have been another route we'd have got you at some point.
Pieter Levels (00:17:29):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Neil Witten (00:17:31):
That's what I'm intrigued by. Ray's thinking in the same way that I'm thinking about this, that you described it as a happy coincidence because you put your stuff onto YouTube, but there was some reason why you decided to do that. It might have been because you had some skills that other people didn't have. But beyond that, you also imagine something about what that might lead to. And that could be a whole range of different things. There's some amount of creative mind that you're applying to something and then the other thing is that you noticed. You noticed a hundred dollars, then a thousand dollars, then $2,000 and you stayed the course long enough to see that to $8,000 where suddenly you then were able to recognize that there is a way of being able to earn money, create money that was less traditional.
Pieter Levels (00:18:23):
Well who would quit when you make more and more money every month? Who would delete this YouTube, right? Yeah.
Neil Witten (00:18:28):
Especially when you're student.
Pieter Levels (00:18:31):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it was loads of money. It's still loads of money. One thing you said, Neil, about skills. Interesting thing was I was doing graphic design also. I was always doing stuff on a computer. As a teenager, when I was even 9 years old or something and I learned Photoshop first to do graphic design stuff and arts and then I learned After Effects, which was pretty much Photoshop for video where you could also have layers and you could move all these layers and you could do motion graphics. I was obsessed with motion graphics. It would look so cool like a camera. I wanted to become a motion graphics designer when I was maybe 14 or something I think.
Pieter Levels (00:19:08):
Those skills of After Effects I used later on YouTube. Most people didn't know how After Effects worked or Premier back then. Now a lot more. Nobody knew how video works. I could use that to render my MP3 files as videos with my photo on it and upload on YouTube where the only other content that was on YouTube, like I said, came from camera, so you upload from your camera to YouTube maybe. Right? So that's a skill that I had before and then it became useful again.
Ray Richards (00:19:38):
And that was making you stand out from the crowd?
Pieter Levels (00:19:42):
Yeah because other people didn't know how After Effects worked or even design with Photoshop, especially 2008. People were much less skilled at computer stuff than now. Now everybody can... Software is also much easier now but back then After Effect would Crash, the Photoshop would crash. It was all quite difficult. It's interesting how it all happened.
Neil Witten (00:20:08):
So let's go back to that moment where you decided that you were going to book your flight and go off and start nomading, not knowing what nomading was then. Can you tell us more about it? The YouTube channel was away, you were making some money, but at that point you were probably knowing it or not knowing. You're searching for something. Take us back there and tell us more about what was going on in your head? What was going on in your life? What do you think you were looking for as a next step?
Pieter Levels (00:20:38):
Okay, so I think my brain is like... I don't believe in ADHD or ADD, but people always say, You're quite hyper." Could also be the coffee. I do think my brain goes quite fast because the comments on my YouTube... I do this startup presentation sometimes on YouTube and the comments are always like, "Okay, you need to play it on 0.75 speeds for it to be normal." So I realized I go fast. I think fast at 1.5 times probably. I realized my whole life that I didn't want to have a big corporate life, like a nine to five thing. I was already making graphic arts about intense, but corporate enslavement. You see a guy in his suit.
Ray Richards (00:21:27):
Oh really? Wow."
Pieter Levels (00:21:29):
All these posters I was making at 11. I don't know where they came from, but there was something there that I was against big corporate and this managers and this office and this vibe. I was alternative kid kind. I was skater, so skateboarder. And I like, "Fuck the system, fuck the man."
Neil Witten (00:21:51):
Let me just ask the obvious question so I don't miss it, Pieter, but why study business then?
Pieter Levels (00:21:57):
It's amazing. Great question. You're smart guy, Neil. Because-
Ray Richards (00:22:00):
Well that question, you wouldn't base it on that question.
Pieter Levels (00:22:06):
He said it now. He said it.
Pieter Levels (00:22:08):
I wanted to... Okay, I'm not a communist, but I wanted to hack the system from within. That was really the reason because I knew that if I didn't make money I'd have to get an office job. So I was like, if I learned this capitalism and economics and business from within as artist guy, musician and designer and graphics and stuff because I knew artists would never get rich because this hardly happens, especially back then there was not NFTs. I knew that I had to learn the system from within to escape it and I really wanted to escape it. That's really the truth. At 16, I already needed to escape this system of going to office. Nothing against it for other people, but for me, it's not my thing. I cannot do it. It's hard for me to even sit in school with teachers telling me what to do. I couldn't do it.
Pieter Levels (00:23:07):
I did elementary school which was Montessori. My parents put me in Montessori and in high school was regular school and I hated high school because you need to sit in this fucking structure. Montessori is really a creative school where you sit in groups, not in a class structure. I think there's teacher and there's sub teachers and stuff and they just tell you what you can do, whatever you want to do, just go play with blocks or play with letters or play with numbers. It's really free and it's always, you sit in groups with four other kids or something and you have your own plants your water, and it's all really cute and very chill school. I think that has been important in how I became, because they let you make mistakes. If you do something strange with your blocks or whatever, they're like, "Wow, that looks cool" instead of "That's wrong." There was never that's wrong, and I think that affected me.
Neil Witten (00:24:08):
Have you ever spoken to your parents about the decision to put you into Montessori, but also the decision then to put you into a traditional school after that?
Pieter Levels (00:24:18):
Well, the high school was my own choice because my brothers were there, but the high school... There was a Montessori high school but it wasn't a good school and this school was the best high school in my hometown.
Neil Witten (00:24:34):
Your parents' choice to put you into Montessori originally?
Pieter Levels (00:24:38):
Yeah because you're [inaudible 00:24:39] you already starts at five or something.
Neil Witten (00:24:41):
Were they doing that because they valued the likely outcome or do you think they were doing it because they recognized creativity in you and thought that would be a better place for you?
Pieter Levels (00:24:54):
Well, I have two older brothers. They also went to Montessori, so we all went to the same school and same high schools. I think they did it because, maybe it's because...
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:25:04]
Pieter Levels (00:25:00):
... I think they did it, because... I mean, maybe it's because they also come from the hippie time, the '60s and stuff, and they're also a little bit like, "Fuck the system," and they're like, "You should think for yourself." It's a lot about upbringing too. "You should think for yourself. Don't trust if everybody like a sheep group all jump into the river. Don't trust them. Don't do the same. Just think for yourself. You're probably right." And that's really good lesson, I think. And "Do what makes you happy. Don't lie. Don't cheat people. Don't scam people. Always do good," ethics, moral, just those basics. And that's already enough kind of to...
Ray Richards (00:25:42):
And I think it's probably quite useful, I would imagine, to get both sides, the Montessori and the mainstream schools. Because if you just have the Montessori, you don't necessarily understand other people's...
Pieter Levels (00:26:00):
Yeah. That's a bubble right. Montessori's a bubble of course. Montessori, I mean. I think it's a little bit upper middle class people anyway. So it's definitely a bubble. And there was more exposure of real worlds at the high school, for sure, and there was even more at university. And then moving out of my hometown to Amsterdam, you're like, "Oh, this is the real world. This is completely different," and this hometown with these schools and completely different world. And then you go travel and you're like, "Wow. It's even crazier." Every time it gets crazy.
Ray Richards (00:26:34):
Yeah, yeah. Well, a friend of mine, I think I said this to Neil the other day, he said to me, he said, "You can only see what you can see. Imagine what else is out there."
Pieter Levels (00:26:44):
Yeah. 100%. And to offend all the American listeners, I tweeted yesterday about I'm excited about the time that Americans realize there's 7.6 billion people outside the US and that's there's a world there, because they're a little bit insulated, not everybody, but some Americans. And that's the whole thing. If you go abroad, if you travel, even to your neighboring country, you learn so much. It's...
Ray Richards (00:27:12):
Do you know what-
Pieter Levels (00:27:13):
Especially if you live there for a few months. Yeah.
Ray Richards (00:27:15):
Do you know what I think if you just go to a different part of your own town, you suddenly start to see. I mean, it's incredible. I mean, I've lived in Brighton for 25 years. I'm now in a different part of town. It's like, "Oh, wow. Oh, wow."
Pieter Levels (00:27:31):
100%. Every town has east, west, south, north, and it's completely different and there's different people living there and you just got to talk to them. And I'm not great at that, because you're right. I should explore my hometown more, but I'm exploring 6,000 miles away. So...
Ray Richards (00:27:47):
Yeah. No. But I think there's a time and a place for exploring far afield [inaudible 00:27:51]. And I think COVID has helped us all in a way explore locally, whether that being the streets around you, further afield in the town around you or your own just spent... When I've been away, I've been away in the UK. And do you know what? It's been absolutely fantastic exploring those places.
Pieter Levels (00:28:14):
100%. 100%. Yeah. I did the same. During COVID, I was in Holland and I explored my parents' neighborhoods. You talk to your neighbors and stuff. We went traveling through Holland. I saw nature I've never seen within Holland. Something called the [foreign language 00:28:31] which is... It looked like a desert with pink, purple grass and it looked psychedelic as fuck. Crazy trees. Crazy wind. I didn't even know that existed. So, yeah, 100%.
Ray Richards (00:28:45):
And I think the people that are listening have probably got their own experiences of that. Certainly when I'm talking to people around me, they've done exactly that. My friend, Nick, he discovered this whole area of woodland that is literally 100 yards from his house that he never knew was there.
Pieter Levels (00:29:02):
Crazy. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Man, I think that's a really fun, cute kind of angle of travel also. You don't need to fly really, really far to have a completely different experience. You can find it really close by too. It's all about your own mind and... Yeah.
Neil Witten (00:29:23):
Yeah. I was going to make the point that when we're talking about travel, we're talking about travel in a physical sense, but we could go a bit maybe spiritual and go, "Well, what about the travel in your own head?" And I noticed that you said it almost looks psychedelic. And it made me think and I'm going to ask the question. Have you ventured into any psychedelic worlds, Pieter? And if so, when? And how has that affected your perspective?
Pieter Levels (00:29:55):
Well, I'm in Thailand now, so it's very legal. But no. So I've done mushrooms in Holland when I was 16 or 17, which is really fun. But I threw up over the entire wall of my friend's parents' house. And then-
Ray Richards (00:30:13):
I love the fact that you threw up over into the neighbor's garden or...
Pieter Levels (00:30:18):
No. Into the living room wall. We were sitting [inaudible 00:30:21] and then I threw up next to the TV on the wall, like bleurgh. And then I remember it was with four best friends and we had to clean it, because it's like these fucking parents, they might come home or something. So we were cleaning it with towels, wet towels, and it was everywhere. It was next to the TV. It was there. And then my friend was cleaning behind the TV and he's like, "Pieter it's even behind the TV." And then I was like, "We are doing mushrooms and mushrooms hallucinate. How can vomit be behind the TV when I vomited there and the TV's there?" And I was like, "What if we're just hallucinating vomit everywhere?" And he's like, "Ah, interesting." because it was everywhere. And then after the whole trip, there was no vomit anywhere.
Neil Witten (00:31:13):
So you don't know whether or not that was part of the experience or whether you actually just did a great job of cleaning it up?
Pieter Levels (00:31:18):
Exactly. Maybe I just hallucinated everything. And I told my friends and then they hallucinated it too. So anyway, it was really fun. I did that. I think I did ecstasy, [inaudible 00:31:36] and [inaudible 00:31:36] speed, I think. So it's very... I got really paranoid. [inaudible 00:31:42] made it feel really fake. All these people were fake happy and hugging you at the festivals, like, "Oh, my God." And I met old classmates who I was never friends with and they were like, "Oh, my God. Wow. So great." It felt so fake. I was like, "This is bullshit. We're all on drugs and this is not my thing." And it almost felt also satanic where I was looked left and I saw 10s of 1000s people dancing on techno. And I love techno, but it looked like The Matrix, inner Earth, kind of satanic ritual. And maybe this was not good drugs. But then I did [inaudible 00:32:20] later. It was really nice, was happy.
Pieter Levels (00:32:21):
But I think this is a problem with me. This sounds arrogant. My mind is already quite open and I'm already radically honest to you guys now. I'm not really keeping secrets here. I'm just throwing everything on the table. And I think a lot of people use psychedelics to open up. And I think I'm already quite open. So even if I drink alcohol, I'm not that different. I just become more happy and I... Yeah. So...
Neil Witten (00:32:48):
Let's go back. So I'm just going to do a bit of a summary of some of the stuff we've touched on. So Montessori and then to a more traditional school. So there's an interesting yin, yang there. And then this kind of, "Fuck corporate world. Want to fight the system," so you go to study business in order to understand how it works so that you can break it from within. There's also this interesting thing going on between kind of art and science, because you are kind of gravitating towards artistic skills or artistic qualities but you're applying them in quite scientific ways. And then we were zooming in on this moment in your life where you decided then to go away. Let's go back to that time. And you were how you know that you think fast and you were talking about the stuff that was probably going on your head at the time or some of the feedback that you were getting from the YouTube channel.
Pieter Levels (00:33:58):
Yeah. Yeah. So exactly. I drifted off. So what I meant was that in university, in college, life is really fun, because everybody has a few hours they need to go and you don't really need to go to these lectures anyway. So you can hang with your friends all day. Always we would hang at each other's houses. We'd do stuff. We'd party. We'd make music and stuff together. I had rapper friends. Anyway. That all stopped when we graduated, because everybody had to get a job. And I knew this was going to happen. So graduation was my biggest fear, for me and for everything, because I knew everyone was going to change.
Pieter Levels (00:34:41):
And honestly what happened was, because everybody graduates kind of different time this year, next year, it kind of just already immediately started happening where the only time we had was in the evening because you have to work all day, and then people move in with girlfriend or boyfriend. So that takes some time. And then you see each other once a week and you get drunk because that's what people do in UK and Holland. We get drunk in the weekends. And I was, I think, 26 or something. And you get very drunk because you don't have a lot of time. You have two days to party. So you get really drunk. And I would only drink maybe once a month or something or twice a month, because I didn't really like it so much. But the point is life became so much more boring. It was so much more interesting in college. It was so fun and creative in college and then it just became... Everybody kind of hated their job. And it became first alcohol and then drugs. Love drugs, like Amsterdam, London, same, but in a really bad way.
Pieter Levels (00:35:52):
A lot of cocaine. Not me. I never did it, but a lot of people in Amsterdam do it. And that became the party scene because people wanted to go extra hard. So they would do cocaine, other stuff, I don't even need to mention, but it was like we have two days and then, fuck, Monday to Friday went to work again. So we need to go extra hard on the weekends. And I just didn't agree with that whole concept because I was doing YouTube channel and I had fun and I could work anytime. And I did have days where I had to work, but I didn't feel this was a healthy fucking lifestyle. It just wasn't. Just absolutely wasn't.
Ray Richards (00:36:26):
I think this is interesting because I think it's the same thing with... I sort of see a parallel with holidays. If people are looking forward to their holidays so much, what's wrong with their life? And it's the same with alcohol and drugs. If you really, really you smash it, there's something wrong. There needs to be more balance.
Pieter Levels (00:36:52):
Yes. That's the reason why people in... I keep saying UK, Holland, because it's a similar culture. We go to extremely hot holiday resorts or places where it's 40 Celsius. It's way too hot. But it's because it's a counterbalance to cold [inaudible 00:37:07].
Ray Richards (00:37:06):
That's right. It's reaction. It's a reaction. Yeah.
Pieter Levels (00:37:09):
It's a reaction, but it's extreme. They're both extreme. They're not balanced at all. Shitty, cold, rainy weather in the office and then super hot Magaluf. That's where all UK go.
Ray Richards (00:37:22):
You've been there too?
Pieter Levels (00:37:24):
No. I went to Majorca, also UK, but anyway. It's extreme. And I don't like 40 Celsius. I like 25. I like 20. You know what I mean?
Ray Richards (00:37:32):
Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Nice temperature.
Pieter Levels (00:37:36):
So that's lukewarm. Anyway, I think that's it, the same weekends. And [inaudible 00:37:41]-
Neil Witten (00:37:41):
Were you questioning your friends? Because you've got this sort, "Fuck the system," attitude to the corporate world. And at that time, it sounds like you're really experiencing it, because what you loved about your life with your friends being around and the creativity of college has now been taken away and it's been taken away by the system that you knew was going to show up at some point.
Pieter Levels (00:38:10):
Neil Witten (00:38:11):
So were you challenging it at that time?
Pieter Levels (00:38:14):
Look, if the whole city at your age does the same thing, how do you... I was the weird one. They were not weird. I was weird. They were not wrong. They just did what everybody did. And...
Neil Witten (00:38:28):
But were you in any way trying to show people that there was another way at that time?
Pieter Levels (00:38:36):
Well, the problem was that I always got invited to parties every weekend or something and I didn't want to go. So I would go once a month or twice a month. And usually I would just be working in the weekend on my computer, making music or videos or whatever. And man, I would mix. It was really fun. I would be working on making a new video for YouTube and I work on it later. So I'm working at 1:00 AM. It's so funny. Working After Effects, Premiere, whatever, or I was making music. And then my door opens because my roommate brought these friends home for the after party because after is a whole thing. You go to the club, but then people want to keep partying. Or maybe it was 4:00 AM. Anyway, they come in. And this guy comes in and he's completely spaced out of his head on lots of drugs. He's like, "Yo. What's up? Can I just sit here? Because it's 4:00 AM and I need to go work at 7:00. It's too intense in the living room. Can I just sit next to you?" And I'm like, "Yeah."
Pieter Levels (00:39:43):
So I'm just working and there's this is guy on drugs sitting next to me. Normal guy, not a junkie, but just normal guy but on the drugs. And he's like, "What are you doing?" And I'm like, "I'm just making music." He's like, "Whoa. Wow. You're making music. So cool, man. Can I just listen?" And he takes the headphones and he's just like, "Whoa." And he just sits there for an hour, kind of cooling down and quite interested in what I'm doing. Yeah. And so these worlds kind of mixed even. So...
Ray Richards (00:40:13):
Yeah. I think what you're saying is that you... Well, maybe you're not. I don't know. You can correct me. You weren't doing it for anyone else. You're just doing it for yourself. You were not going with the flow because it didn't work for you. And you wanted to find what works for you. And that may have inspired a few people and maybe it does today. But you were doing it for you.
Pieter Levels (00:40:37):
Yeah. Well, I knew where it was going to lead. I knew where this lifestyle was going to lead. It was going to lead to fucking nowhere. Because where does this stuff lead? Incidental psychedelic uses is good, but if you do it every week, it's not going to lead to... You're self-medicating some fucked up part of your life and it's not going to lead to nowhere. So I had to escape this shit. And that's what I did. And yeah.
Ray Richards (00:41:00):
And I guess you've continued to do that.
Pieter Levels (00:41:04):
Well, it's funny. I mean, radical honesty, you see a lot of drug users here too. You get invited to parties again with ketamine and stuff. And I'm like, "Sorry. I'm just not fucking into it. I don't want to do it. It's not my style. I'm not going to go to your party." I'm not anti-drugs. This sounds like an anti-drug podcast. I'm not at all anti, but I'm against self-medicating a shitty life, which I think this podcast is about. It's about doing life differently. And I've never talked about drugs so much on podcast, but it's interesting, because all your questions, it has been kind of thing that I've been avoiding. [inaudible 00:41:44].
Ray Richards (00:41:46):
But it's not drugs you're avoiding. It's going with the flow you're avoiding for the sake of it. Going with the flow sometimes is absolutely fantastic, but if it's not working for you and you're just doing it because everybody else does it and you're not thinking about it, you're not understanding how it's affecting you personally, you're just doing it because everybody else does it, because you haven't got your own mind, then it's a problem.
Pieter Levels (00:42:15):
Yeah. And it's a much more friendly way also to say. You're right. There's much less judgemental ways. Just if it doesn't work for you, don't do it. Yeah. [inaudible 00:42:23].
Ray Richards (00:42:22):
And I think in life generally, forget drugs for the minute, but in life in general, we all to some extent or another go with the flow and don't question whether it's working for us. We go with the flow in the sense that we work for a company 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever and just do our job because everybody else, that's what everybody else does. I don't know. We go to watch the football every week because that's what everybody around me does, or I go to parties, or I go bird watching because everybody around me does that. And...
Pieter Levels (00:42:58):
Yeah. That's fine. Yeah.
Ray Richards (00:42:59):
And I think we just got to take... All of us. All of us need to every so often just sort of really question, "Is this actually working for me? Because I'm not the same necessarily as the people around me. Or in some instances I might be, because I like playing sport, but other instances, it just isn't working for me." And it's hard because when you take a step out of your own comfort zone, you're forcing other people to question things, because you're not there and they want you to be there. They want you to be there because that's what keeps it the same. And that's...
Pieter Levels (00:43:39):
100%. That's why lifestyle change is the hardest thing, because your environment dictates your lifestyle. And that's why I think [inaudible 00:43:46] is [inaudible 00:43:46], because when you move locations, when you move to the other side of the world, it's a great opportunity to... You can choose the people you want to be with. You can create your own kind of environment and you can completely change your lifestyle. And that's what I did. And funny thing is you can even test different personalities kind and you can be in different cities. If you're introvert, you can try being extrovert. Because who cares? You don't know anybody here, that kind of stuff.
Ray Richards (00:44:10):
Absolutely. So we talked about this with Steph a couple of weeks ago, Steph Smith, who... I think you... Do you know Steph?
Pieter Levels (00:44:17):
Yeah. She's really cool. Yeah, yeah. My friend. Yeah. She's my friend.
Ray Richards (00:44:18):
Yeah. So we talked to her about this and she was talking about going to Sweden and as a student, her first sort of trip abroad. And the way Neil and I think about it is an opportunity to change, the best way to do it is to either go to a new place, meet new people or experiment with your personality. But when you go to a new place, you're definitely... Well, first of all, you're in a new place. Secondly, you're going to meet new people and a different culture, but also it's just such a brilliant opportunity to, as you say, if you're normally introverted, experiment with being a bit extroverted, if you're normally extrovert, experiment with being a bit introverted and just see how it fits for you, because it may be that the way you were behaving was just the way you were behaving because of the people around you. And it's just-
Pieter Levels (00:45:09):
Ray Richards (00:45:11):
Such an opportunity.
Pieter Levels (00:45:14):
I have a friend who's gay and he came out as gay because he became a pilot and he was flying to different cities and he was always scared to explore himself and something in Holland, not because Holland is like Holland's [inaudible 00:45:27], just because it's his own kind of bubble. And he said because he could fly everywhere, he could explore this part of him and find out, "Okay. I'm gay." And we're like, "Okay. Cool. We don't care that you're gay. Nice." But you know what I mean? It gives you a way to test different personalities.
Ray Richards (00:45:50):
I think it's a license.
Pieter Levels (00:45:50):
Ray Richards (00:45:53):
It's a license to behave differently.
Pieter Levels (00:45:56):
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.
Ray Richards (00:45:58):
Because when you are back home in Amsterdam and you're, I don't know, just assumed to be straight, everybody expects you to be straight and it's more of a challenge because of those people around you and... Yeah.
Pieter Levels (00:46:12):
Yeah. It's also license to misbehave in Magaluf.
Neil Witten (00:46:18):
I feel like you're hiding something. You want to go to Magaluf, Pieter.
Ray Richards (00:46:22):
He doesn't. He doesn't. I'm sure he doesn't.
Pieter Levels (00:46:22):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. My best friend is Daniel [inaudible 00:46:27]. He's from... Where is he from? Somewhere in UK and he's my server guy. And we always joke about Magaluf. Yeah. We always joke about these Britishisms.
Neil Witten (00:46:38):
So let's go back to your YouTube channel, because it didn't start and stop there. So you went off, start exploring. Wasn't a plan, but you were looking for something else. Can you remember what you were looking for and then how it started to play out into the next evolution of you?
Pieter Levels (00:46:58):
Yeah. So I remember dating a Russian girl back then also. And I knew her from Twitter, from the drummer bass scene. She was a big drummer bass manager. And I was booking artists for this YouTube channel. And I would always talk to her. Really cool girl, Anna. And then really cute. So I flew to St. Petersburg. And I remember bringing my laptop also then. This was 2012, so before Nomad. And I was there for only a few weeks, I think. It was really fucking cold. It was minus 40 or something. And I was working back then on a YouTube... I was learning to code a little bit. I was working on a YouTube analytics platform. It was called Bear Stats, like a teddy bear and then stat. It was stupid. And I remember coding on that.
Pieter Levels (00:47:49):
And I was telling her, "If this works, I can make money with it and it's extra income next to YouTube." And it never worked. But that became one of my first products where I was coding something. And I was coding it because I needed it, because I had all these different YouTube channels and they all had a different login, username, password. And they all had a different analytics dashboard. And I had no idea how to sum all this data into one and see how much fuse I was getting and how much money I was making and stuff. And there was a lot of these YouTube networks back then. So I was like, "This could be useful thing." So I tried to solve a problem for myself and that became this analytics app that nobody... Well, nobody paid for it, but Vice Network used it even. Some big brands used it, but nobody paid for it, because I was not good at startups like that-
Neil Witten (00:48:40):
But you'd studied business and still in the back of your mind, you're going, "I want to break the system, but I want to hack the system." So you're looking for something that looks a bit like a business. So how were you thinking about that? Were you thinking about that as work? Were you thinking about that as...
Pieter Levels (00:49:00):
Yeah. So I think business is very different from entrepreneurship. Big business managers, suits, offices, corporate. When it reaches $1 billion, completely different. That's gets into the gray area, gray territory for me. Entrepreneurship feels like art. It feels the same as creativity, feels the same as Photoshop, After Effects, as painting, as skateboarding. It's fun. Entrepreneurship is just... It's so free and fun and not structured and do whatever. The bigger the company becomes, the more legal stuff, the more structured, the more organization, the more hiring, it becomes by definition rigid and boring. And there's exceptions. I think SpaceX is huge. They're going to Mars. Of course, that's not a boring company. And Tesla is also cool. But generally, big companies are... Everything needs four meetings and five-
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:50:04]
Pieter Levels (00:50:03):
Everything needs four meetings, and five lawyers, and legal sign off, and blah, blah, blah, and PO sheet, and bullshit. And I just write some code, and it's already there within five seconds.
Ray Richards (00:50:11):
I think it's the difference between building something and maintaining something, if you can break it down. And you are not, and I'm not, and Neil's probably not either, that interested in maintaining stuff. To a certain degree, maintaining things makes things less stressful. But if you're spending all your time, maintaining stuff and not creating anything new, it can become very dull for people like-
Neil Witten (00:50:39):
It's a really good point, Ray. Because I've heard Pieter, you talk about your robots before. And I've noticed that when you talk about them, you talk about them not just in a playful way, but it's more than symbolic, the way you describe your robots. And you talk about the robots that are working for you, because they're so efficient and they're so effective, and you love your robots. But on the whole, I think you don't have people working for you, but many people who are in your position or would have-
Pieter Levels (00:51:08):
Neil Witten (00:51:09):
But maybe you haven't shaped it up into a traditional company, in the way that a lot people might have done.
Pieter Levels (00:51:16):
Yeah. I still do everything myself. I code everything. I design everything. I have a chat moderator for the community. I have a server guy. Only if the server goes down, he gets on, it never goes down. And customer support person, because I can't do that.
Neil Witten (00:51:30):
So to raise point about maintaining, so anything that has value requires some amount of maintenance. And I guess the more value that it creates, it's possible that, the more maintenance it requires. And that maintenance pushes you into a mode that is, moving you further and further away from creativity. But it seems like what you've managed to do, certainly more recently. It'd be interesting to know whether you've done this consciously or unconsciously, is get to a position where the maintenance side of things is so automated, is so invisible to you, that it allows you to show up creatively.
Pieter Levels (00:52:05):
Pieter Levels (00:52:39):
Ray Richards (00:53:15):
Yeah. I'm imagining when you do and there is a bug, maybe one a week. That's the creative process, trying to fix that.
Pieter Levels (00:53:24):
But the bugs take like two minutes to fix now.
Ray Richards (00:53:28):
Oh, right. But in creating those maintenance systems, that's a creative process, right?
Pieter Levels (00:53:40):
There isn't really a maintenance system. It's more, if you write really clean codes, it generally keeps running. If it's not dependent on a lot of other frameworks or services, the more self-contained you create codes, the less moving parts. The less moving parts in a system, the less it will break.
Ray Richards (00:53:59):
So for you, what is creativity? What's the creative part of what of your life?
Pieter Levels (00:54:07):
Making new stuff. So I make new products. I made inflationcharts.com, to track inflation because the government data is inaccurate, I think. I'm creating Rebase now, which is the first immigration as a service startup. So I've helped now over 500 people immigrate to Portugal from anywhere, from UK, from Holland, from Venezuela, from Syria, everybody's moving to Portugal. So that's stuff that's interesting.
Ray Richards (00:54:35):
And let's just take that as an example. Why did you do that?
Pieter Levels (00:54:46):
Similar to slowmads, the trajectory of a nomad is fast travel in the beginning, go everywhere, go crazy, then slow down. And then I realize, "Oh, I do need a residency. I need to have a personal residency somewhere, a tax residency. I need to pay tax somewhere. And it's not going to be my home country, I'm not going to go back to my home country probably. So where should I live? Well, Portugal is 25 Celsius. It's nice, it's affordable. Nice people, very foreign friendly, they're trying to attract foreigners." So that became a thing. And I'm also Portuguese now, that's the introductory for a nomad.
Ray Richards (00:55:30):
Okay. You just did it because you saw a problem in the inefficiency of the existing system, or because you wanted to help nomads, or?
Pieter Levels (00:55:44):
It happened during COVID. I went to Portugal myself, and I saw it on nomad list on my website, that tracks all the cities for nomads. That it was really high ranking, it was a lot of people moving there. Because Asia was closed, so Europe was booming and Portugal was booming, because it's much more affordable than Spain, for example. So a lot of people were in Lisbon, and I started meeting people there and living there, and talking to people. And everybody was talking about... I'm like, "Oh, you're just visiting here for a few months." They're like, "No, I actually registered now. I became resident." A lot of people just before Brexits, they all registered in Portugal to become Portuguese, so they could get [inaudible 00:56:22] and stuff. So I was like, "Okay."
Pieter Levels (00:56:24):
And everybody was talking about that. And then I tried it, it was really easy. And then I kept getting friends asking me about, "Can you tell me who's your lawyer, your immigration advisor? I need one to do the same thing." It's like 20 people messaging me over a month or something. So I was like, "Okay, maybe this is a business." And I asked a referral fee, and I made a little landing page, and that became a business in this span of a year.
Neil Witten (00:56:52):
I'm going to push a bit harder, Pieter, because there's something more here I think. Lots of other people who are in your position and at this time in your life, you had several online businesses that are making more than enough money. You are still slowmading. You've got a great network of people. You can do anything or nothing next, is my perception. So I might be wrong, but tell me if I am. You saw a problem, but I'm guessing you see lots of problems, but you decided to turn it into a business, that's the bit that's interesting. So you could help all of these people, because you could say, "Here's the details of the immigration lawyer." Or you could just give them a bit of information, or you could stick a blog post up. But you turned it into a business, "Or something that starts to represent a business." Why? What was going on in your head? What were you tapping into with that?
Pieter Levels (00:57:57):
Yeah, good question.
Neil Witten (00:58:00):
And I only say it, because most other people in your position wouldn't have done. And it might be that on the surface, because they were too lazy to do it.
Ray Richards (00:58:09):
Or they might have had the idea. They may have thought this is a possible business, but they wouldn't have done it.
Pieter Levels (00:58:20):
Sasha, the German friend, who told me about all this stuff in the beginning, when I met him in Lisbon. And he was like, "I wanted to do this business too." And I was like, "Oh, really?" But he's like, "I never really did it." I'm like, "Okay." So, that's exactly what you said. Well, I tested a lot of stuff. I tried new things. Like this inflation chart for example, is not a business but it's fun. I tried different parts to see if they stick, and I still do that. Same time last year during COVID, I made QRmenucreator.com. Because I was in Portugal and I saw QR codes everywhere as a menu thing, and now it's really common, back then not so much. So I made a side where you can make your own QR code menu and stuff. And now thousands of restaurants use it, and hundreds of thousands of people use every day, but doesn't make money. But the question, why do I... Because otherwise I get bored, so I want to do something that's challenging.
Neil Witten (00:59:25):
So just again, trying to get under the surface a bit more here, and also filling in some of the gaps of the story. So part of your evolution, was you did the 12 startups in 12 months. And I'm guessing that at that time, that it was quite premeditated. But it would partly to find something, and partly to finish your skills, and partly to generate PR. So it's a creative play, but that has lots of positive outcomes. And knowing what I know of you, since that time, you've found a handful of things that have become very successful, and you continue to ship. So you use that language a lot. And again, just for our listeners, by ship you mean deliver new, enhance, develop, create.
Neil Witten (01:00:15):
And don't just make it, but make it and deliver it to people, make sure that people get values from it. But you do that consistently. And again, this is one of the things that lots of people talk to you about and you write about a lot, the importance of showing up and consistency. But do you think that, so ingrained now that, that's what you do when you see something that potentially could be a problem? That you're just there, you're just showing up and that's part of the consistency, and part of the ingrained behaviors now.
Pieter Levels (01:00:49):
Yeah, I think so. I think that's exactly it. If you do something so much... Like in the beginning, it was because you need to make money, otherwise you starve. So I was trying to find stuff that made money and became started. But now of course there's enough money, so it's not really about money anymore. It's still nice if the money increases, if your revenue increases. I look at the numbers, it's important that it increases, but-
Ray Richards (01:01:17):
Is that because it's a game, money is points?
Pieter Levels (01:01:23):
But this is so bad to say, because money it's also the reason why people struggle. Money is the reason I wanted to escape this system. I don't like that you're born in debt as a human. Which is not clear true, because if you're born as an animal, you might get eaten. So we have society where we don't eat each other and fight each other, and it means that you need to go to the job, and make money, and pay rent. That's the agreement we have. Although, you don't agree to on that when you're born, but okay. I lost my train of thought. I don't know.
Neil Witten (01:02:06):
Let's just come back to the question. So there's still a reason why you saw the problem with Rebase, and then took it on. And it's cool, I can see the creative part of you and the trained part of you, is going, "This is fun. I'm just going to enter into this, and it's going to create value for other people. And I get to deploy all the skills that I enjoy using, which are creative skills." But there comes a point with it, where it becomes annoying. Or for lots of other people, it could get to a point where it becomes annoying, because it's more stuff. There're more things going on, there're more questions to answer.
Pieter Levels (01:02:43):
Yeah. So I think that's to do with the automation, because now my main projects are running smoothly and I need some new stuff to do. Because what, I just sit in my room, or go to cafe and just drink coffee and sit. I can talk to my friend, I do that already. My dad always says, when we sit in the kitchen, we drink coffee after one hour of talking, he's like, "Okay. Now enough talking, let's go do something." He doesn't want to just sit, he wants to do something. And he's always working on renovating the house and doing construction and stuff, really fun dad. But yeah, I need something to do. And I think there's also this... Yeah?
Ray Richards (01:03:29):
Well, I was just about to say, I think as somebody that has been always doing stuff and has recently tried to chill more-
Pieter Levels (01:03:48):
Yeah, me too.
Ray Richards (01:03:49):
Because I think it's okay if you're always doing stuff, because you really enjoy what you're doing, then that's different. But if you're doing stuff because you want to get somewhere all the time-
Pieter Levels (01:04:05):
No, that's just drugs. It's the same as drugs.
Ray Richards (01:04:10):
Exactly what I was going to say.
Pieter Levels (01:04:13):
I agree. I don't think that's it for me anymore, because I do chill more, I work way less. But I'm not workaholic anymore, but I've definitely been in the past for sure, for years.
Ray Richards (01:04:25):
Yeah. And I think it's back to that conversation we had earlier about balance. If you're just chilling all the time, it's a problem. If you're on it all the time, and you're striving all the time, that's a problem. And as with anything in life, it's is about finding the balance and noticing, what it is that you are doing. You're just doing all the time, for the sake of it. You're going with the flow. You're going with your habit, just because that's what you do. And you're not ever questioning, what it is you're doing. It's good to look at the... If you're always an extrovert, have a play with being an introvert. If you're always taking risks, have a play with playing it safe. If you're always doing things spontaneously, maybe start looking at planning things.
Pieter Levels (01:05:15):
I figure you're right. And the irony of entrepreneurs is like, "Oh, I don't want to get a normal job, let's build a company." And then they end up in some rat race again, because they're nonstop working, is bullshit. The point of entrepreneurship was, we're going to do our own thing, do something cool. And we'll have a little bit more time for our own life, than going to office.
Ray Richards (01:05:34):
Yeah. And you forget why you did it in the first place.
Pieter Levels (01:05:38):
Yeah, 100%. I think you're never in balance, but relatively balanced now, I can focus on the new projects and it's quite chill now.
Neil Witten (01:05:57):
Is there a different approach to with Rebase? I noticed some time ago, I think that you turned off new applications, because there was so much interest that you turned it off for a period of time. I'm wondering that, have you just reached a level of how you apply yourself to a challenge, like Rebase? Where you're doing it for others, but you're also doing it for you. So maybe a version of you 10 years ago, where you'd stumbled across Rebase. Wouldn't have switched off the application process and instead, stayed up two nights in a row and worked really hard and taken on all that extra stress to get through it?
Pieter Levels (01:06:39):
Well, Neil the funny thing is, I don't do anything with the applications. It's not a law agency, it's a referral directory for lawyers.
Neil Witten (01:06:50):
So you didn't turn it off for yourself, it was because other people were getting.
Pieter Levels (01:06:55):
I have a giant capacity problem with the immigration advisors. So the immigration advisor helped me also move... Well, that's not true. It helped a lot of my friends move to Portugal. And then I did Rebase, and their clientele number went up from, I think 30 a month to 300 or 400 a month. So 10X, it's insane. And the immigration advisor is close to burnout, because he's doing calls all day. It's funny, but it's also sad, but they're making a lot of money now. They're making, I think close to million or something, or more from all these applications. I just make a hundred dollars per application, and then I pass them on to them, and then they do all the other stuff. So the a hundred dollar is like a commission. So I don't do anything. I'm slowly automating the steps of the immigration process, that's what I'm doing.
Pieter Levels (01:07:53):
So I'm trying to make them have less work, and I'm moving further into the immigration processes, like signing all these forms. I'm now learning how to pre-fill a PDF from the Portuguese government, with the data from my database, signing it, and then sending it to the Portuguese government. That's a step you can automate, that was before took weeks. So that kind of stuff is fun to automate. And that's what I do, and it's all asynchronous. So, I never need to do a meeting. I never did a call with these immigration advisors, it's always over telegram. Because I told them I don't want to do calls, it's just calls are always chit chat and nothing fucking happens. Text is, "Okay, there's a specific problem with this form, we need to fix." "Okay, I'll fix the form."
Ray Richards (01:08:46):
Can I ask you a question, going back to a conversation around what I call behavioral flexibility, this [inaudible 01:08:54]? What do you think is your challenge at the moment, in terms of... Where are you testing your comfort zone, or where do you think you should be testing your comfort zone? Where do you think you could benefit from exploring a different part of your personality?
Pieter Levels (01:09:19):
So this is funny, because me and my friends we've worked really hard. I work a lot with Andre, and Neil knows Andre, from Sheet2Site.
Neil Witten (01:09:26):
Pieter Levels (01:09:28):
Its public info, right? That you-
Neil Witten (01:09:30):
Yeah, he is. I love Andre, great guy.
Pieter Levels (01:09:33):
Yeah. Andre's amazing guy, he's my best friend. And meet him almost every day, we go to cafe and we drink coffee, and he works really hard. And he works in new projects now. And I've been trying to slowly work less, as Ray said, and do more IRL stuff. Like I went climbing this week. Bouldering was really fun. And that sounds really stupid, because why would real life be a challenge? Well, it's a challenge for a workaholic person, to go do stuff out of your comfort zone, where you could fall down four meters break your back. But you need to do those things, and I'm trying to do those things more. Sorry, it's not an interesting answer, but-
Neil Witten (01:10:23):
There might be more in the IRL.
Ray Richards (01:10:27):
You explain to me what IRL stands for, something real life.
Neil Witten (01:10:30):
In real life.
Pieter Levels (01:10:31):
In real life.
Ray Richards (01:10:31):
In real life. Okay.
Neil Witten (01:10:32):
Pieter Levels (01:10:33):
Especially we use it as a verb, like IRLing.
Ray Richards (01:10:36):
Neil Witten (01:10:38):
Because so much-
Pieter Levels (01:10:40):
[inaudible 01:10:40] generation is fucked.
Neil Witten (01:10:40):
Yeah. Because what's IRL going to be, what even is it going to mean? But what you mean by that is your-
Pieter Levels (01:10:49):
It means not on the phone.
Neil Witten (01:10:50):
Not on a screen.
Ray Richards (01:10:53):
Pieter Levels (01:10:53):
Because we're always on the phone, on a computer. So it's IRLing is out there.
Ray Richards (01:10:58):
And what does this count as? What does this conversation here, count as?
Pieter Levels (01:11:02):
This is a little in the middle, because it's social, but it's still in the computer. IRLing is like, we go to the cafe anyway, drink coffee. Tt's IRL, but you're still bring your laptop. So it's like, [inaudible 01:11:16]. But going to real activity, going to do some stuff, go hiking or whatever, activities.
Ray Richards (01:11:25):
Yeah. It's so crazy. Sorry, it's just so... We definitely need to do more of that.
Pieter Levels (01:11:34):
No, but I agree it's crazy. But I don't think it's a generation thing even, it's just like-
Ray Richards (01:11:40):
To some extent it is for sure, but-
Pieter Levels (01:11:44):
Yeah. I know my mom and dad, they're IRLing all day. They're gardening and working on the house, and then they check also the chats in the family group chat and stuff. But generally, and they read the news or something. But for sure, everybody's all day on their phone. Well, most are in the computer working, and then regular people, are mostly on their phone these days.
Neil Witten (01:12:11):
I'm just going to throw a few more pointed questions at you, if it's okay Pieter, just before we close out.
Pieter Levels (01:12:19):
Neil Witten (01:12:20):
I want to just acknowledge your dad for a second, actually, because you mentioned him earlier. And I heard you say somewhere that you got some advice from your dad where, if you ever feel down or depressed, then go to the garden and dig a big hole, and then fill the hole in and then dig a big hole again.
Neil Witten (01:12:35):
I just wanted to acknowledge that, and just give you a moment to talk to about him, and see if there's anything that he or your mom has given you that's... Because you mentioned it earlier, you said there's something about having your own mind. And I don't want us to miss that, in the importance of the way that you think, and how you've been able to apply you to the world.
Pieter Levels (01:12:59):
Yeah. Like I said, they've always taught us to think for ourselves, to not trust the group opinion because it's often wrong, but it's very hard to go against a group because there's so many people. But I do feel groups are usually delayed in their ideology, because in a group something has to spread. So you're usually an early adopter if you're an individual. Like now nomad stuff, remote work is mainstream, so now the group was like, "Yeah, remote work is great." But 10 years ago, they said remote work doesn't work. But individuals said, "Well, it works for me." I think I do have a skill like early lobster, I can see trends a little bit early, and I think it's because I think for myself. And I try practice radical honesty. So I try not lie, it's not perfect, but I do my best.
Pieter Levels (01:14:01):
And if you're honest to other people, you also start being honest to yourself. Because your brain is constantly bullshitting yourself, you're constantly trying to avoid stuff. And a lot of things that you think for yourself that are... And you think, "I'm weird, because I think this thought." But then actually, when you speak it out, often a lot of other people think the same thing. Especially now with internet, if you tweet something that's outrageous, there would be a hundred people all over the world like, "Yeah, I actually have the same thing." So it's a great time for early adopter kind of thinking because of internet, because if you would say in your hometown like, "Oh, I love remote work, it's so good." Hometown would be like, "Nah, this is bullshit." But because of internet, you could connect to a lot of other people in the world who might agree with you. And then in 10 years, the whole world agrees with you. So-
Ray Richards (01:14:57):
Well, because you could go back... Not that long ago, if you were the weirdo in your...
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:15:04]
Ray Richards (01:15:03):
... not that long ago, if you were the weirdo in your town, you could have really got really quite down on yourself because you were just thinking in a very different way to the people around you. You might have thought you are the only one and you might have actually thought you really were a weirdo in the worst sense. I always tell my kids to hang out with weirdos. But these days, as you say, the world is much flatter and you can find other weirdos.
Pieter Levels (01:15:26):
Well, back then you would be persecuted by the church or burnt.
Ray Richards (01:15:29):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Pieter Levels (01:15:30):
Right. Witches and stuff in medieval time. But this is interesting because it's ingrained in our biology that you don't want to feel like outcast. You don't want to feel like a weirdo, when being a weirdo and outcast, I mean, obviously not all the time, but it can be beneficial.
Ray Richards (01:15:47):
Yeah. I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking about how knowing what you want is a super skill. And I think that plays into what you're saying, because if most people don't know what they want, then they're going to just copy what everyone else is doing. If you know what you want, then people are more likely to follow. And there's more likely to be creativity applied to that. It's a different mode.
Pieter Levels (01:16:12):
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. And you see this on Twitter. If you tweet something that everybody else tweets, and you see this all the time, it doesn't take off. And if you tweet, what's radically honest in yourself and you're an interesting person, you're a unique person. Then it takes off first. First you need to become a unique person.
Ray Richards (01:16:30):
The same as CVs. Me and my son's been sending his CV around. He's looking for work, and he's being advised to do it this way, because this is the way you do a CV. Well, you're just going to look exactly the same as everybody else. Create your own version of a CV. And then you never know somebody who is a little bit innovative might look at an innovative CV and go hang on, this one's a bit more interesting.
Pieter Levels (01:16:56):
I literally did this. I went into Photoshop. I made my own visual graphic CV with charts and colors and everything. And I tried to make into a business too, but-
Ray Richards (01:17:11):
[inaudible 01:17:11], of course, you did.
Neil Witten (01:17:12):
We never touched on that actually. Did you ever actually have a proper job, Peter?
Pieter Levels (01:17:17):
Yeah. I worked in a call center for, ING for the Dutch banking company and oh my God, it was so funny. I had to call existing customers. I had to call the ING bank customers and try upsell them insurance by the sister company kind of. And I had to do the script and I got paid, I think five euros per hour or something. And I would sit in these islands, office islands, kind of with other people and had a headset and I had to do this whole script, like hello, this Peter blah, blah, blah. And the script didn't work, but you need to follow the script. But the script didn't really work. Nobody told anything. They're like, why are you not saying anything? So I started changing the script, and this is interesting because this shows it immediately starts getting low in ethics.
Pieter Levels (01:18:09):
So I started asking, do you like your ING bank accounts? Do you have any problems with it? Trying to make a relationship first. They're like, yeah, actually this is okay. Interesting. Well, we can get a financial advisor to come to your house. Talk about it and also talk about your personal insurance situation. And they're all like, yeah, great. And okay, let's do an appointment. And then bam. And I would go up in the charts of selling and I would be setting like 10 a day, and everybody's like, wow, what the fuck? And then they ask me like, what are you saying? Like I say this to them. And they're like, okay. So everybody started using my scripts, and then the manager found out because they listen in. They found out after a month-
Ray Richards (01:18:52):
I know what you're going to say. I know what you're going to say. Oh God, God.
Pieter Levels (01:18:56):
And then the manager was like, okay, boardroom need to all come into the meeting. And it's like three of these kids, 18 year old something. And he's like, okay, you've all been changing the script. And you've all been saying some random shit, and it's causing us problems. And he was really angry and who started this? But I didn't say. Nobody snitched me. But that was the thing. That was my main job, so.
Ray Richards (01:19:19):
But then I think-
Neil Witten (01:19:20):
But the outcome was you've got to get back to the script?
Pieter Levels (01:19:24):
Ray Richards (01:19:25):
Pieter Levels (01:19:27):
My script was a little bit dodgy though.
Ray Richards (01:19:29):
Yeah. But that could have been the fun.
Neil Witten (01:19:30):
But with some time, you would've found a good script.
Pieter Levels (01:19:32):
Neil Witten (01:19:33):
That was the whole point.
Ray Richards (01:19:35):
I mean, but this is the problem really? And this is not about ING. It's not about call centers. It's just about, this is the way we do things. I was on the committee at the local Baton club and it's the same. It's like, no, no, no, we need to stick to the rules. I know. But the rules don't work. That's not the point. We need to stick to the rules and it's just not going banging head against the brick wall. It's just, oh. Anyway, sorry.
Neil Witten (01:20:04):
Yeah. A couple of other quick ones. So I heard somewhere, when you were talking about automation making more time, I think there was a question around, so if you had no time and you didn't have anything on, what would you do? And I think your answer was I'd go back to art projects.
Pieter Levels (01:20:24):
Neil Witten (01:20:25):
How are you thinking about that now? How are you thinking about your time in art and what art means to you?
Pieter Levels (01:20:33):
Yeah. I mean, art is kind of potential for, I mean, I guess more creativity and stuff. I think the web now is in a way, you know like the word multimedia. There was like a big word in the nineties, and I think it's still accurate word. It's like the web is multimedia. It's visuals, sometimes audio, video, it's everything. It's interactive. And in a way, it's like the coolest art form, like inflationchart.com, maybe a little bit like art project because it challenges the existing status quo of the government and stuff. It's visual, and it doesn't make money, but it's a little bit of, yeah, it's creative product kind and you could make graphic art. Now, I guess you could sell as NFTs again. But graphic arts is so limited. So like static, and YouTubers are in a way artists, they're very creative. They're making all these cool videos and explaining videos and stuff. So-
Neil Witten (01:21:37):
We normally start this podcast with the question, how do you describe yourself to people? So when you meet somebody new and they ask that horrible question, what do you do? How do you answer it? How do you actually answer that question today?
Pieter Levels (01:21:51):
It's so funny because in the beginning, you talk to taxi drivers and they ask what you do, and this whole fucking story about [inaudible 01:22:01]. And it's like this website. So it's [inaudible 01:22:04] and there's community and then there's meetups and blah, blah. And it's too much. So now I just say, I make a travel website, and I make a job board for work from home because that works with regular people. They understand immediately and like work from home. It's like, yeah, but I guess I [inaudible 01:22:32].
Neil Witten (01:22:32):
Would you ever describe yourself or think of yourself as an artist?
Pieter Levels (01:22:37):
No. Because artists is not like, if you're a real artist, it's not about money, right. It's about costly, challenging everything, challenging yourself, challenging the society, [inaudible 01:22:49].
Ray Richards (01:22:49):
But yours is-
Neil Witten (01:22:50):
Isn't that where you're at?
Ray Richards (01:22:51):
Yours isn't about money from, I guess it seems it's not now anyway.
Pieter Levels (01:22:56):
Well I charge money, right. [inaudible 01:22:59]
Ray Richards (01:22:58):
Yeah, but artists charge money.
Pieter Levels (01:23:05):
Yeah. I would prefer creative. I think like banksies artists. Right. That's like always challenging and stuff. I think that's real art.
Ray Richards (01:23:17):
Yeah. Okay. But you're a creative business, though.
Pieter Levels (01:23:20):
It is definitely kind something artistic. It's creative. Yeah. It's artistic, creative. And I think that's what I like. And what's what makes it really fun. And yeah.
Neil Witten (01:23:33):
Are you still carrying your laptop around in a carrier bag, Peter.
Pieter Levels (01:23:38):
Actually, this changed because of Andre. Andre, he couldn't take it anymore that I-
Neil Witten (01:23:44):
Please tell me that he bought you a bag.
Pieter Levels (01:23:46):
He bought me a backpack. But I didn't like this backpack. This is some low and it was too hard. So I was like, Andre, I don't like your gift. He's like, thank you for being radically honest. I said, okay, then he got it. And then I just ordered a [inaudible 01:24:02] backpack. But yeah, grocery bags are great. I was considering also making data business, left up grocery bags because it's kind of cool. It's kind of like a fascist statement.
Ray Richards (01:24:17):
Well, I have to say, I have to admit that I have my grocery bags from Amsterdam that I use all the time. Because you can carry them over your shoulder. Not the plastic bags that you carry in your hand.
Pieter Levels (01:24:27):
What do you call them? Girls always have these bags.
Ray Richards (01:24:31):
Neil Witten (01:24:32):
Ray Richards (01:24:32):
Yeah. That's right.
Pieter Levels (01:24:33):
Ray Richards (01:24:34):
Yeah, but that's great. Because when you've emptied all your stuff out of your bag, you can put it in your pocket. You can't do that with a rucksack.
Neil Witten (01:24:39):
Yeah. But when-
Pieter Levels (01:24:41):
I think there's something. Yeah.
Neil Witten (01:24:42):
No, go ahead. Go ahead.
Pieter Levels (01:24:43):
There's something cool about a grocery bag because it force you also to be minimal. Backpack feels again a little bit like corporate, you're going to, like in London, you always have suits with backpacks and such going to the HSBC office and stuff and who the fuck goes with a grocery bag? It's kind of like a statement. Obviously having a MacBook in a grocery bag is just as much as a statement as a Louis Vuitton bag. It's just a different statement. It's like, look, I don't give a fuck. Yeah.
Neil Witten (01:25:14):
Yeah. I like that.
Ray Richards (01:25:16):
It's probably better than having a grocery laptop in Apple bag though, isn't it?
Pieter Levels (01:25:22):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. True. Yeah.
Neil Witten (01:25:24):
Okay. My last question I think, you talk about, so you don't intend to ever buy a house. You're trying to be-
Pieter Levels (01:25:35):
Well, you can never know the future, right?
Neil Witten (01:25:36):
Never say never.
Pieter Levels (01:25:37):
It's like, yeah. Yeah. It's like, yeah.
Neil Witten (01:25:39):
But your minimalist, you're trying not to make things about money particularly. And what I think about is what are your vices? What is it that you're going, I really do want that thing, but I'm not going to let myself have it. And I wondered whether the backpack might have fallen into that category instantly.
Pieter Levels (01:26:05):
I really want like two cats and a dog because my ex-girlfriend had two cats and they were really cute. And I want a dog, but then I have to walk the dog. So it's kind of like, I need to be settled down in Portugal or something. So maybe. I don't even like cars, maybe a Tesla. I don't even have a driver's license. So I can't even drive a Tesla. So I only buy MacBook. I buy a iPhone. I don't even like a DSLR camera because it's too much. Every device you buy, you have to charge it. I have a Kindle. I never use it. I always have to charge it.
Pieter Levels (01:26:47):
I really like spending on, for example, now I spend on a kind of hotel apartment kind of place here, which I mean the living room now, there's a bedroom. It's really nice, nice view. Like service kind of apartments. And it costs a little bit more than an Amsterdam apartment you would rent. It's quite expensive. It was like 3k a month. But you don't have a water pipe leaking and you don't have shit breaking. It's kind of like a service thing, kind of furnished, serviced. And it's really nice. That's stuff I like to spend money on. It's more like an experience to live somewhere nice. And [inaudible 01:27:33], yeah.
Ray Richards (01:27:33):
So it creates you time, it frees up time because you're not doing-
Pieter Levels (01:27:37):
Yeah. I think that's why it's worth it. And outside the air in [inaudible 01:27:41] is now quite bad. It's like 120 AQI, I think. And inside is filtered air. I have a sensor and it's like, AQI one. So the air is really good. That kind of stuff is how, oh yeah, actually steak, organic meats, organic vegetables. I like to cook and I like to buy good ingredients because I think it's important for health, like microplastics and stuff. And I don't like farm meat, like it's not nice for the animal, but that's definitely nice to spend money on. It's again, just spending money on experiences and not on stuff. Because stuff, you get used to it so fast, you buy a new thing. And within a week you're used to it. I bought this t-shirt four days ago and now I'm like, I'm still in the happy mode.
Pieter Levels (01:28:25):
This is a nice new t-shirt-
Neil Witten (01:28:27):
I was going to say, I really like your t-shirt.
Pieter Levels (01:28:30):
Thank you. But in a few days I'm like, yeah, who cares? So I've proven that things really don't make me happy and home ownership, a new house makes you happy. But then after six months, you're the same. Marriage, after 12 months, you feel the same. A car, three to six months feel the same. So I think this is absolutely proven now. And unless it's an object that you can use for an experience, if you are a good guitarist, you need a good guitar. If you're starting out, maybe buy a cheap guitar, but it's something you use that makes you happy and buy a nice pen to write with or something. But you see in Asia, especially because there's so many malls, you see how much stuff is produced in China and stuff and how much perfume and bags and all these Bluetooth speakers and this and that and all these stuff.
Pieter Levels (01:29:25):
It's absolutely we're in a consumerist addicted culture. That again, it's same with alcohol. People are bored, not happy with their life. And then you start buying shit to make you happy. You start filling up your house with stuff, you have all these people, these tech people, they always buy these lights, purple blue lights for their home. And I know these people and they always also have the special keyboards and they have the laptop stand and they're like, their work is not about their work. It's about, they're obsessed with making this room so perfect which is nice. But it's also not my thing. It's all about stuff. And then it never stops. You always need to buy more like, oh I need to collect my cables into a cable tube. Okay. But you know what I mean? Having just a MacBook forced you to and just a backpack force you to limit it and you cannot buy more because you have to carry everything. And let's, I think a really good benefit.
Neil Witten (01:30:27):
Create constraints. We talk about this a lot in our podcast. It comes up all the time actually. But the importance of having constraints, either you put the constraints in yourself or you just value the constraints rather than trying to push the constraints away.
Pieter Levels (01:30:41):
A hundred percent and constraints make you unique. And when I was making music, I had a really shitty computer to make music on and it was too slow. So I couldn't use all the channels. I had to use only one drum kit or something in the channel. And then my music became successful. I was on BBC radio one, I was on 1Xtra playlisted. And then I was like, let's use this money. I got royalties. I get registered at the British royalty agency. And then I used that money to buy a new computer. And it was the best spec out computer. And I could have infinite audio channels on it. And I think my music became worse from then. It was more real with the constraint of a shitty computer. And on this new one, I could do anything and it was not. So I think this is a real thing. And I think if you're honest with yourself, life is about experiences, about friends, about relationships, about meaningful work, about exercise, foods, being healthy and stuff. And if you prioritize those things, I think you care less about stuff because it doesn't make you happy and you don't need it because you don't need a drug or an addiction or an extrinsic thing to fill your dopamine. It's all about dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin and stuff, these hormones, and...
Neil Witten (01:32:20):
You need a good swim in some cold sea.
Pieter Levels (01:32:25):
Or a hot bath, it's also nice.
Neil Witten (01:32:27):
Or above. Yeah, exactly.
Pieter Levels (01:32:30):
I'm not into this whole [inaudible 01:32:33] Dutch guy method, but I take hot baths a lot and I love hot baths and sauna is nice. But yeah, I don't know. And home ownership is more interesting because I track the home prices and stuff and I know what's going on. And even with leverage of a mortgage, I think it could even be more beneficial to just put all your money in ETFs, in diverse market, index funds and [inaudible 01:33:04], and stuff.
Neil Witten (01:33:04):
For sure. I think academically or mathematically a hundred percent. But I think there's that other side, which is back to where we-
Pieter Levels (01:33:12):
Neil Witten (01:33:12):
... in the conversation. Yeah, exactly. It's back to, what do you need around you? What are our kind of instinctive needs and that sense of place there is whether that has to be manifested in a thing you own. I don't know, but a sense. [inaudible 01:33:28].
Pieter Levels (01:33:28):
Yeah. Yeah. I think that the market is going to move towards more of that being in a rental Airbnb apartment experience for upper middle class, if you can afford it for tech workers and stuff. But I do understand the romance of buying a piece of land in Portugal on the coast and putting the foundations in and building a house. And I see my dad do it every day. So if you don't see it as an investment thing, for sure. Yeah. But then it's also this nice feeling to have all your money on your iPhone, in your broker app and a backpack and it's all in the market and yeah, it's all virtual.
Pieter Levels (01:34:13):
There's something good and bad about it. Something cool and not cool. And obviously if you do this minimalist, you're dependent actually on society to function properly. If the apocalypse happens, you're fucked because your apps not going to, internet's not going to work. Electricity's not going to work. And if you have a house, you can defend the house, and that's absolutely valid counterargument, I think. And obviously minimalism is, it's like a rich man or woman's hobby. Right. If you don't have the resources, you cannot be minimalist, it's pretentious in a way, but I don't do it for pretentious reasons. I do it yeah, just because it fits me. I think
Neil Witten (01:34:57):
We would normally at this point say, where do you want people to find you? But I'm wondering whether you actually do want people to find you. So I'm going to ask you if you want me to ask the question.
Pieter Levels (01:35:07):
Yeah. Yeah. So I'm on Twitter a lot. Mostly twitter.com/levels. L-E-V-E-L-S, IO, levelsIO. And this is where I tweet a lot and my main websites are nomadlist, nomadlist.com, remoteok.com and my new immigration service. If you want to move to Portugal is rebase.co, so dot C-O. What else? Inflationchart.com where I track inflation, pretty much, but it's all my Twitter bio. So you can find it there.
Ray Richards (01:35:40):
So I'm hoping that we're all going to go off and do some IRLing.
Pieter Levels (01:35:46):
I'll [inaudible 01:35:48] Andre.
Ray Richards (01:35:49):
I'm off to do some IRLing and I never knew I was going to do that so.
Neil Witten (01:35:55):
I'm going to go do some IRLing as well. Yeah. Fantastic.
Pieter Levels (01:35:56):
Okay. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. This is life coach. Okay. I'll go IRL too.
Neil Witten (01:36:00):
Would you say hello to Andre for me please? And say-
Pieter Levels (01:36:05):
Yes. Yes. For sure.
Neil Witten (01:36:06):
... say about how he featured in our conversation, which he'll appreciate. I'm sure.
Ray Richards (01:36:09):
Yeah. And we'll see him in [inaudible 01:36:11].
Pieter Levels (01:36:10):
He always joke-
Neil Witten (01:36:11):
Yeah. Yeah. That right.
Pieter Levels (01:36:15):
Neil, we always joke because during the acquisition, I think once you went to Lego Land and we're always joking, like, oh, Neil's always in Lego Land. Like meme kind.
Neil Witten (01:36:27):
Yeah. That sounds about right. I should go to Lego Land.
Pieter Levels (01:36:31):
No, but you're really, I think IRL and family focused and is a really good trade to have. And Andre was like, oh, I need to, because Andre has so much stress. He was like, because he's Ukrainian. I think it's like, he never trusts anything to properly work because in Ukraine doesn't work properly. And he was like, this thing is going to fall through and blah, blah. And he wanted to get it done as fast as possible. And you were like, yeah, I'm in Lego Land now. And it was the two things, he's like stressing. He wants to get the money and he's in Lego Land, like chilling. And it's like, it was so beautiful meme.
Neil Witten (01:37:02):
I think I can even remember texting him from Lego Land, but feeding a little bit of his stress because I was thinking, oh man. But I also felt like I wanted to do the right thing by him as well. It's really, it's amazing.
Pieter Levels (01:37:15):
Yeah. Yeah. No, you did super proper. And it's just really funny. Funny meme.
Neil Witten (01:37:19):
Neil from Lego land. Ah, that's great. I'm going to make [inaudible 01:37:22]. Also you should, if you haven't done it already go and get slowmadlist.com.
Pieter Levels (01:37:29):
Yes. Good point.
Neil Witten (01:37:30):
Because that's clearly going to be your next thing or someone's going to make it.
Pieter Levels (01:37:33):
Yeah. I think Rebase is kind of like slowmadlist. Yeah.
Ray Richards (01:37:35):
Yeah. Well it's becoming it. Maybe that's what it gets rebranded to at.
Pieter Levels (01:37:39):
Yeah, maybe rebrand. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ray Richards (01:37:41):
Pieter Levels (01:37:42):
Thanks so much for having me it. It was [inaudible 01:37:44].
Neil Witten (01:37:44):
Oh man. It's been great. We've loved it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Thanks Peter. We got them in then. Well, I'll drop you a note on Telegram when we are ready to put it out. It'd probably be a couple of weeks or something.
Pieter Levels (01:37:54):
Sure man. Yeah. It was really, really, really new. It was really, really good questions. Really. You're really smart and yeah, it's really cool.
Neil Witten (01:38:02):
Ray Richards (01:38:03):
Neil Witten (01:38:03):
We loved it.
Speaker 1 (01:38:03):
That's it, folks. Show notes. Head over to the website at www.lifedonedifferent.ly where you'll find links, a quick summary and you can also explore other conversations. If you enjoying this podcast, then please tell your friends, give us a good rating and remember to subscribe. We're also really keen to hear your feedback. So please do let us know what you think and give us your ideas over on Twitter. You can tweet us at Lifedonediff, that's double F.
PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:39:00]
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