You still control these things

My Godfather, Damo and I went to lunch at the LinkedIn New York City offices. He worked for LinkedIn two years ago and still had plenty of friends there.

I knew people loved him but I didn't realise how much.

'OMG Damien!'

'Damo, how are you!'

'Damien's back!!!'

These are the type of reactions we got walking through the offices.

It was like the second coming of Jesus. The whole floor was lit up.

Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

It was inspiring.

People forget specifics but they'll never forget how you make them feel.

Even if you work for someone else. You're still in charge of:

  • How much effort you put into your work

  • How you treat other people

  • How you treat yourself

  • Why you do what you do

When it comes to this list, you're your own boss.

PS if you've ever wondered what lunch at a global tech company is like, I shot some footage while we were there. And since the LinkedIn offices are in the Empire State Building, we checked out the view from the 86th floor too.

Staying Fit While Travelling | Whole Body Hostel Workout

The healthiest cultures in the world don't have gym memberships.

Instead, they embrace movement.

They get up and down often. Some eat their meals on the ground and therefore are constantly getting up and down. And others tend the gardens where they grow their own food.

They walk around. Transport is available but then so are their feet. And they use them often.

Instead of slowing down their movement patterns as they get older, they keep them going.

You'll often find them in groups hosting a yoga session or Tai Chi practice.

All forms of life move. If you don't move you die.

I wasn't close to dying but I knew I'd feel better if I got moving.

I'd just come off the back of a few days worth of travel with a lack of proper sleep or nutrition. And my system was feeling sluggish.

I didn't have access to a gym but that wasn't a problem. I had a body and I had gravity (I still have those).

Workouts don't need to be long and taxing all the time. There are times to lay it all on the line but for the most part, getting a sweat on and your heart rate up for a few minutes is enough.

The title of this article says how to stay fit whilst travelling but you can do this one anytime. Find some floor space and you’re set.

You could complete this in under 25-minutes if you wanted. I did it in closer to 30 with some filming in between.

Part 1 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 pushups

  2. 20 squats

  3. 45-seconds rest

  4. Repeat 5 times

Don't take any rest in between the pushups and squats. For a level up, you could shorten the rest time to 30-seconds.

Part 2 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 lunges (10 each leg)

  2. 20 knees to hands -- stick your hands out 90-degrees from your elbows and raise one leg at a time to meet your hand with your knee

  3. 10 tricep dips -- I used the edge of a car for these

  4. 45-seconds rest

  5. Repeat 5 times

Do the lunges, knees to hands and tricep dips back to back with no rest in between. This helps to keep the heart rate high.

Part 3 — Core

  1. 30-seconds hollow hold (back to the floor)

  2. 30-seconds reverse hollow hold (stomach to the floor)

  3. 10 side plank twists (5 each side)

  4. 20-seconds rest

  5. Repeat for a total of 6-minutes

No rest in between each of the different movements. 20-seconds rest after completing a round of each. Continue until 6-minutes is over.

The sweat started dripping after the 3rd or 4th set of Part 1 for me. It'll be hard until it happens.

Once your body starts to sweat, it'll start to help you move. That's what you're aiming for. 15-20-minutes of sweat and hard work for a whole day of feeling good.

PS Don't forget to stay hydrated when travelling (and like, all the rest of the time). Jet lag is made worse by a lack of hydration. Combat it fast by flooding your body with water and endorphins. This workout offers half the deal.

The journey is the goal

Check out was at 10 am. So I had breakfast at 9. $1 for an omelette and pancakes. What a deal. I ordered two lots.

When I arrived at the car rental place there was a line three rows deep. I joined the back and took my backpack off. It wasn't heavy but I couldn't be bothered carrying it, the line was moving slow.

'Next please.'

Someone would get seen and then I'd kick my bag along the ground. I was checking out the new iPhone online while I waited. A new gold colour. Sweet.

Then it was my turn.

'Did you want to upgrade for $25?'

Of course, I wanted to upgrade. I'd already paid $150 for the Mustang but the Camaro SS was the fastest car they had. Easy money.

'I'll take all the insurance you have please.'

I bought the biggest package. Everything was covered. My friends will tell you how good of a driver I am.

The car was incredible. Black and yellow. Someone had thought about every line. It oozed muscle and sex appeal at the same time. You couldn't pinpoint what it was but it was.

It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to put the roof down. There was some cover in the boot which needed to be put in place. The only flaw.

I connected my phone to the stereo and started blasting Eminem’s new album with the top down. I paused the music and the lady took my pass and pointed me out of the carpark. Freedom.

The highway was next. 455hp versus pavement. Ohh yeah.

When I put my foot to the floor there was a slight pause, like the car was asking 'are you really sure you want to do this?' I was sure. My whole body sunk back into the chair. I could feel all 455 horses galloping at once.

We hit the coastline, me and the car. I nicknamed it Bumblebee because it was the same colour as my favourite Transformer.

Us and the open road. Plenty of time to think. Plenty of time staring at the lines of paint coming towards me one after the other.

It was quiet. The engine noise sunk into the wind and I started to relax. Yawns were creeping up on me so I stopped at Starbucks and got coffee. Then I was back.

I keyed in Big Sur on the GPS and followed it along. All you could see to the right was water and to the left, mountains.

Having the top down and some clouds cooled things down. My party shirt and t-shirt combination weren't suffice. I pulled in the reigns and put the top back up.

The GPS said we were 13-minutes away. A couple hours down but it felt like just down the road.

30-minutes past. I passed a couple of signs which said, Big Sur. They were towards a big park. But I wasn't stopping. I was on the journey.

Then the sun started to go down. I was gearing up for an epic sunset over the Pacific Ocean. My phone had no signal. Good. But I still had no place to stay.

I watched the ocean for a bit then decided to head back. Big Sur was nowhere to be seen. Actually, I didn't really know what I was looking for.

The sunset was amazing. But I missed it. I timed it perfectly to take the one section of inroad whilst the orange dot was hitting the horizon.

'We're all booked out.'

'Are you sure?' I asked.

'I am,' he said, 'but there's a place down the road you might want to check out.'

I went to the other place and stopped out the front. I didn't like the look of it so I keyed San Francisco back into the GPS. 90-minutes away.

I put on the soundtrack from Drive and cruised back to the car rental place.

'Are you sure you haven't left anything in the car?'

'I'm sure.'

I left my headphones in there. Oh well.

It was midnight but I booked back into the hostel I checked out of. Then caught a Lyft there.

My driver was from Afghanistan. We talked about his favourite cricketer. A real young guy and had some great stats. I could see why he liked him.

'Good evening.'


I was half expecting the same guy to be on the front door of the hostel, then I remembered it was 14-hours later.

'You'll be in room 102, bed 1.'

'Ha, the same one as before.'


'Oh, don't worry.'

I went back up to the room and made my bed again. It was on the top bunk so moving the blankets around was a battle between them and my knees.

I took my pants off and hung them on the end of the bunk. That would be the last time I saw them.

It was bedtime. I peeled back the shower curtain and turned on the water. My toothbrush was sitting on the shelf in the tub. I left it there.

The whole journey had been to come back and find my toothbrush.

Sitting in bed I Googled 'Big Sur.' Turns out Big Sur isn't one single place rather a stretch of places. I drove right through them all.

Sometimes you don't find what you're looking for. Because it was right there in the first place.

I went to sleep knowing pancakes and eggs would be on the cards in the morning. A man always sleeps better knowing such things.

Sign up when you’re not 100% ready

I booked a ticket to the US earlier this year.

I was supposed to leave on July 6th. My return ticket was for six months later. It was meant to be one-way but I heard somewhere they wouldn’t let me into the US if I didn’t have a return ticket.

In my head it was a one-way trip.

Driving Uber wasn’t an option anymore. It was time to put what I had been studying about machine learning and artificial intelligence to the test.

My thought process was ‘I’ll go to the US and find a job at a tech company with the skills I’ve been learning.’

That was it.

The same reason you go to France to learn French, I was going to go to the US to learn more about technology.

At least that’s what I would tell people who asked.

‘What are your plans when you get over there?’

‘I’ll go to Meetups and meet people and then find a job somehow.’

‘Good on you.’

The real reason was because I didn’t think I could a role here. And really, I hadn’t done any research on what was going on in Brisbane nor did I think anywhere would hire me for skills I learned online.

All I thought was, ‘go to the US with the right mindset and everything will work out.’

That’s how I approach most of life.

Worst case scenario, Australia isn’t a bad place to have to come back home to. It’s a good place here.

So I booked the ticket. Then a couple weeks later Ashley reached out to me on LinkedIn. She said I should meet Mike. So I did. And Mike introduced to me Cam. Two weeks later, I was working at Max Kelsen as a Machine Learning Engineer.


Sometimes things happen faster than you expect.

Ashley reached out because I’d been posting some of what I’d been learning on LinkedIn. When I first started sharing my work, I was scared. ‘No one will appreciate this.’ But I kept doing it. And then it happened.

At the time, it seemed unexpected. Looking back, maybe my subconscious knew something would happen if I kept going. I’m glad I did. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.

A few weeks into working at Max Kelsen, Ryan, one of the co-founders, and I were running around a park with stomachs full of pizza.

‘How can I organise a leave request?’ I asked.

‘You can do it through Xero,’ he said.

I explained to him about my flight. It was two weeks away.

‘I’d like to keep the flight but push it back a couple of months.’

‘That’s cool, yeah definitely keep the flight, how about we sit down on Monday and work out some times.’

We decided on September. I’d be leaving Brisbane on September 12 except this time my return flight was 4 weeks later instead of 6 months.

My focus for the trip changed from looking for a job to exploring possibilities. Same same but different.

I went to Japan in 2016 alone for three weeks. Me, my backpack and curiosity as my tour guide. It was one of the best things I ever did.

The US would be no different. Same backpack, same camera bag, same tour guide.

The night before my flight I stayed up late. I wanted to try and combat jet lag. I always pack at the last minute. Mostly because I don’t take many things. Give me a laptop, a toothbrush and a few changes of underwear and I’m good.

My parents took me to airport, my best friend Dave showed up too. We had tea and said our goodbyes. It’s not really a goodbye anymore. Having the internet meant we’d be in contact a few hours later. Anyway.

15-hours later the plane hit the ground in LA. The optimist in me thought 2-hours would be enough to get a connecting flight to San Francisco. Despite running a kilometre in thongs from Terminal 3 to 7 at LAX, it wasn’t.

I knew something was up when the self check-in terminal gave me an error.

‘Excuse me, I can’t check into my flight.’

‘That’s because it’s in 15-minutes, would you like me to rebook one for you?’

15-minutes? ‘That’s enough time,’ I thought, ‘I can still make it.’

It wasn’t.

‘Yes please.’

‘The next one is in an hour, I’ll update your details.’

‘Thank you.’

I made it to San Francisco, bought a SIM card, plugged back into the matrix and brushed my teeth in a public bathroom. Very sleep deprived but I had clean teeth. I was good.

I got some coffee. They had cold brew on tap. Apparently it’s really high in caffeine. It almost got me back to baseline.

On the plane, I drafted out an email to send out for the month of September. It talked about the talk Athon and I did at UQ on AI a couple of weeks prior.

In between sips of cold brew I cut out all the unnecessary words from the brain dump on the flight.

When I got the email to do the talk, I was scared. ‘How could I do this?’

Who was I to give a talk on AI to a travelling group of Chinese Academics? I’d only been studying the stuff for a year.

My rule of having to do something if it scares me got me again. I said yes to the email. That was the on the Friday night, the talk was scheduled for Monday.

I treated signing up for the talk like buying a plan ticket for it US. I wasn’t 100% ready, but I did it anyway.

We spent the weekend researching the topic we were going to talk about. Most of the knowledge was there, it was about bringing it all together in a narrative we could present.

Then we did the talk. And the attendees rated it as ‘excellent’.

The same thing happened with travelling to the US. I’d been spending my whole life preparing to travel alone. Following my curiousity as much as possible and meeting cool people along the way. The only hard part was taking the leap to get there. The rest would take care of itself.

And when I got home and people asked how my trip was, I replied with, ‘excellent.’


1. Sign up when you’re not 100% ready

I held off posting on LinkedIn because I didn’t think my thoughts were worthy.

I was waiting for them to be perfect. A clean 100%.

But they never will be.

70% is a better number. A little over halfway but still in the realm of ‘I’m not sure if this will work.’ That’s the sweet spot.

Don’t let being 100% ready stop you from getting after something you’re interested in. Because there’s no such thing as being 100% ready.

2. Do your research

Instead of letting myself give in to the limiting belief of thinking I wasn’t good enough for a job in Australia, I should’ve done my research.

And then maybe I would’ve found the wealth of opportunities not only here but everywhere.

Sometimes to find what you’re after, all you have to do is look.

3. Trust your knowledge

Turns out I already kind of knew there were opportunities a plenty.

But I didn’t trust my knowledge enough to believe I could take them on.

You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. But you also probably know more than you think you do. It’s funny how it works.

If you’ve been putting in the work to build up your skills. Trust them. Admit when you don’t know something but for the rest of the time, let them do their thing.

Arriving in the US

Travelling alone is fun. Want to walk down that street?

You can.

Want to spend all day at an art museum and take a nap on the grass afterwards?

You can.

So I did.

Travelling Light

I arrived at LAX this morning. I’ve been in the US for the past 26 days. And it’s time to head home.

‘What bags do you need to check in?’ she asked.



‘Yeah, this is all I have.’

She pointed me to the gates.

My bag has about 12 things in it. A laptop, an iPad, a few shirts, pants, some underwear.

I left the pair of jeans I had in a hostel in San Francisco. So I bought another pair a week later. I’m wearing them now.

‘I brought way to much shit,’ my god father said, ‘I haven’t even worn half of this.’

Other people I’ve met have had the same reaction. Too much stuff.

The main perk of travelling light is less things to worry about.

I packed up and checked out of the hostel this morning in 10-minutes.

Only the things that matter are on me. If I see something I want to buy, I don’t get it. Because I can’t fit it in.

I pack light not only to get through the airport quicker but to remind myself. Less things. Better things. 

Less but better.

If you want to be great at something focus on less. Use your time to improve on what you’re pretty good at.

Treat your calendar like your carry-on. Essentials only.


The Child’s Mind

I sat next to Jake on the way from New York to LA.

He was 7 and had been on a jet plane before. But still very excited to fly. 

We had 6-hours together. I was on the window seat and he was in the middle.

Every hour or so he asked me to open the window so he could look out.

Each time he reacted the same. 


He was excited to see what was out there.

Then there was another plane close to us.

‘Check that out,’ I said, ‘can you see the other plane?’  

‘We’re in a race!’

 ’I bet we win.’

And we did.

The pilot pulled off one of the smoothest landings ever.

’We made it!’ Jake said. 

 ’We did.’

I smiled back and waited til everyone else got off the plane to get my stuff. That way it was a clear run down the aisle. 

I want to say ‘woah’ to more things like Jake did.

The child’s mind is a beautiful thing. Everything gets approached with a sense of awe. Everything treated as a new adventure. There’s always something to learn.

When things get a little boring or hard, it helps to remind yourself to look at it through the eyes of child. Woah.




When’s the second joke?

I went to a comedy show tonight.

A guy got up and started his set by saying ‘alright, joke one’.

He went on for a bit, told a bunch of jokes and got some good laughs.

‘I’m going to finish by taking questions,’ he said, ‘do I have any questions?’

The room was quiet.

‘When’s joke two?’ I broke the silence.

Everyone laughed.

He went through the entire set without announcing joke two.

The question was playful but obvious. The best things are.

Moral of the story? If you want to ask something, ask. Sometimes you’ll be greeted with a room full of laughs. And that’s always a good thing.

The Lantern Comedy Club, New York City

The Lantern Comedy Club, New York City

31,967 steps

That’s how far we walked today.

I’m in New York City with my god father Damien.

We didn’t have any goals, only to explore this beast of a city.

We finished up doing about 18km on foot and 10km on the Citibikes.

We finished the night by watching Notorious, a documentary detailing the rise of Conor McGregor.

If you haven’t yet, you should watch it. Inspiring is an understatement.

The combination of the documentary and walking around the city today filled my mind with possibilities.

This city shows what can be achieved when people get together to build something. Sure, it has its imperfections but that’s what makes the good parts even better.

Conor is the same. His record isn’t perfect. He’s had some professional loses. But they only make his story better.

He started out dirt poor but with a vision and a couple hundred years ago, New York was the same.

It’s reminded me how powerful a belief in yourself can be.

And if you know where your belief is, all you have to do is walk towards it. One step at a time.

A bunny rabbit pushing a lawn mower

Down the middle of the street.

Which was strange because roads don't have grass.

It was walking on two legs and 3 feet tall.

Coloured balls were popping up and down in the centre of the mower.

The rabbit got closer. Its ears were the only things covered in fur.

Then the blue bucket hat gave it away. It was a little boy. Walking his toy lawnmower down the street.

I had two dogs in one hand and a bag of dog shit in the other.

I let the little boy keep going for a little bit.

'His parents shouldn't be far behind,' I thought.

They weren't. They weren't far behind. They weren't anywhere.

'Hey little dude, you should come off the street,' I called out.

He pushed his lawnmower towards the sidewalk and got off the road.

He was determined. He kept walking the direction I'd come from.

I kept walking the other way. 'Better not,' I thought. Then I stopped. And turned around.

His hat had Isaac across it in white letters.

'Isaac, where's your mummy?'

Isaac kept walking and turned the corner. He had his lawn mower across over his shoulder. The bunny rabbit ears were still sitting high.

I followed close behind. He knew where he was going.

'Isaac, where's your daddy?'

He didn't respond. He was on a mission.

200 meters ahead a lady was running around from house to house. Isaac's mum.

I walked out on the street and held up my dog shit hand to wave. The bag swayed back and forth. She turned and started heading towards us, must've seen the waving dog turds.

'Good morning,' I said.

'Where'd you go?' she picked up Isaac.

He didn't respond.

'See you, Isaac.'

Isaac's mum didn't say anything else. She looked panicked.

I didn't say anything else either.

I turned around and found a bin. Then kept walking.

Going for walks is a good time. You're moving your body. You're moving your mind. Walks are great for thinking.

If you want adventure, you don't always have to travel far. It could be a 5-minute walk from your house.

You never know what's going to happen.

You might run into a bunny rabbit mowing the street.

Then it becomes a story.

And the next time someone mentions mowing the lawn, you can say, 'did I tell you about the time I saw a bunny rabbit mowing the street?'

And they'll ask, 'What?'

And you’ll say, 'Well, I was going for a walk...'

Adventure is closer than you think.

I got high with a stranger in a Japanese hostel lobby - here's what I learned

We were talking on the couch in a hostel lobby in Tokyo. It was snowing outside, the first time in November for 60-years.

My friend had gone to sleep, he had a flight to catch the next morning.

The guy I was talking to was from America.

He had just finished telling me how he brought his vape (electronic cigarette) into Japan. He had a medical permit to smoke cannabis back home.

"Cannabis is highly illegal in Japan, up to a 10-year jail sentence," he told me.

“The Japanese customs have never seen this.” he pulled out a few vials of hashish oil.

I was writing in my journal what I had been up to that day as I was talking to this guy. He had some cool stories and I didn’t want to be rude so I turned off my iPad.

“Want to try some?” he asked.

I didn’t respond he just handed me the vape.

“You just push the button on the top and suck it in.”

“Alright,” I said.

I could hear the liquid bubbling as I held the button down. I had no idea what hashish oil was but I’d heard it was some kind of cannabis plant extract.


I inhaled the vapor.

My eyes dilated immediately. Like the feeling, you get when you look at yourself half asleep in the mirror and try to stretch your face out.

“Take another.” he said.

One was more than enough.



My whole body relaxed. It was like a dozen masseurs had decided to treat me for the evening, all at the same time.

Whatever I was writing was now definitely on pause.

I noticed myself starting to struggle to tie thoughts into a sentence. The words were there in my head but I couldn’t say them to the guy I was talking to.

I laid down on the couch.

“Maybe two was a bit much, my bad, enjoy it dude.”

Time dissolved. Everything was happening at the speed of light and at a stand still at the same time.

I started feeling as if the couch was pushing up against me rather than gravity pulling me down.

The guy was telling me stories about his life back in the US.

“Okay.” was all I could reply.

He had way more hits than me so maybe he was feeling the same. His tolerance was probably way higher.

I turned my head to try look behind the couch. When I moved my body I could feel again. I started shaking my head, with every change in direction I’d get some sense of the world but when I stopped, everything went back to being nonsensical.

“I’m going out to smoke a cigarette. Want to join?” he asked.

“No thank you.” I think I replied.

When he left I tried to get back to writing. I wanted to document my current situation.

As I sat up the demons started creeping in. What I’d done just hit me. I’d just smoked a variant of cannabis in Japan. I could go to jail if they found me.

I needed a way to sober up so I started to text my friends, they had a bit more experience than I did.

An example of what I was sending my friends. There's two more pages.

An example of what I was sending my friends. There's two more pages.

The paranoia started to kick in. I thought the guy was going to try and rob me.

Step 1: Get me high.

Step 2: Take my stuff.

I thought it was such a genius plan.

I decided I better take myself back to my room.

Everything was in slow motion. Seriously slow motion. My room was no more than 20 meters from the lobby.

By the time I put my stuff together in a pile and got myself off the couch, it took me 40-minutes to get back.

My bed was the bottom half of a bunk bed. I was sharing a dorm room with 12 or so other guests. I wondered if they knew how high I was.

I put my stuff in my bag and put my bag next to my pillow. I was travelling with one bag.

Because the rooms had so many people, the bunks had black out curtains so you’d at least get a little privacy.

I managed to close my curtains.

Then it began.

My sheets were white and the curtains completely black. As I laid down, it felt like I was floating through space. The blackness of the curtains was a perfect backdrop for the emptiness of space.

I was on a magic flying bed on a journey through the boundless universe.

The guy above me was doing some kind of update on his Windows laptop which was less than ideal theme music for my adventure but I didn’t have many options.

As I hovered through space with no sense for time, I managed to drift off to sleep. I slept for 14-hours. I woke up 30-minutes past the time I was supposed to check out from the hostel.

The guy who gave me the vape was in the bunk across from me, he had already checked out.

My bag was still next to my head untouched.

I was afraid for no reason.

I packed up my gear, got a photo with my friend on the hostel guest board. And went outside to check out the snow, the first time in 60-years. And the second time I’d ever seen snow. What a day.

Moral of the story?

Get super high in a hostel lobby with a stranger you’ve never met and realise most of our fears are in our mind and not in reality.