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Podcast: How an Entrepreneur achieved Lifestyle Freedom

Steve Miller Entrpreneur

Jordon Bryant of ChambersDS App Academy just published this podcast with Steve Miller, who built a multi-million dollar software business and sold it in 2009 and retired. After being retired for several years and traveling the world, Steve is now creating mobile apps in between time he spends golfing, boating, cycling and keeping fit.

Ways To Listen To This Episode

About Steve Miller

The guest for this podcast is Steve Miller, an entrepreneur who built the multi-million dollar Pragmatic software and sold it to AutomatedQA, which is now SmartBear Software, in 2009. He has over 24 years of experience in software development, project management, and software architecture.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Steve:
  • 1:23 : Steve gives us a peak in his consulting days with Microsoft and how this influenced him in forming his previous company, Pragmatic Software.
  • 3:21 : The solutions, features and benefits of their software, and the pivots they had made to fully develop their company including branding and building up clients to make the business viable. These strategies resulted to winning awards and, in turn, made them more attractive to other companies.
  • 06:16 : How they ended up being acquired by creating strategic partnerships and pre-planning integrations with other vendors with products complimentary to theirs. We also discuss the value exchange that happens during cross promotions and partnerships, not only in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to building relationships.
  • 08:46 : We dig into how he came up with a SMART exit strategy and how he ensured that this buyout plan came into fruition. Steve shares the timelines, starting out by identifying the list of companies which would be a good fit, narrowing them down, reaching out to form a relationship to those which remained as potential candidates and finally achieving the goal of being acquired.
  • 12:07 : Steve explains what a buyout earn out is, as well as the things that companies are looking for before doing acquisitions. He adds that they are not just interested in the product but also, they are interested on what you will bring into the table. As someone who knows your product well, they would look at you to be there to support the transition initially. He also shared pay out terms during their buyout and how they exceeded revenue targets which resulted to bonuses.
  • 14:04 : What Steve is currently doing with his free time including travelling, exploring his hobbies, and finally deciding to enter the mobile app development world.
  • 15:10 : His amusing story of how losing his iPad spurred his genius and resulted to his first app creation, aMemoryJog. He also talks about how travel can change perspectives and about his long-term plans.
  • 18:41 : The structures Steve had in place when he started working with aMemoryJog starting from looking at the competitive landscape, creating a business plan after his analysis, and documenting his processes along the way.
  • 23:53 : Apart from looking at the App Store, Steve also shared his other validation techniques such as having the app reviewed with friends and family and leveraging on his network.
  • 25:21 : How detailing his specifications helped him in landing a good price and using oDesk and Elance services for his app development needs. Steve also shares advice to people seeking development.
  • 27:57 : Steve’s other marketing efforts including reaching out to bloggers to tap them to become beta testers in different silos to get feedback. He also shares how he plans to reach out to them using a template with a YouTube video and how he tracks response rates.
  • 36:10 : Other key take aways that Steve had learned from his first app that he will be applying for the second: driving social virality through sharing capability and establishing good PR.

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them why?
    • Everybody has an idea for an app so for me it’s 10% idea, 90% execution.
  • What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
    • It’s good to localize but you can localize too early.
  • What is your favorite business book?
  • What is your favorite app?
  • What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?

Links From The Episode

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Fleeing the Glacier National Park Fire

On our quest to visit all of the major US national parks, we set off last Saturday for Glacier National Park in Montana. Little did we know that more than 4,000 acres of forest would burn in the coming days. More about that later.

Bozeman, Montana

Our trip started in Colorado, and after a full day of driving, we landed in Bozeman, Montana, a funky little hip town. As we always do, we looked for a local brewery or pub. We found Montana Ale Works, a cool watering hole that offered up good eats and local brew.

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ranch

Our second day took us to an 80-acre Montana ranch to visit some early retiree friends, Bob and Robin Charlton, whom we met in 2011 after an article was written about them on the Yahoo finance site. Our first face-to-face meeting with Bob and Robin was just after we retired (2012).

We happened to be in Maine at the same time and met up at Arcadia National Park and shared a lobster dinner. Since then, we’ve kept in touch via email and visited them in Boulder early this summer.

As luck would happen, they were house sitting for friends who had a beautiful ranch in Montana. They graciously asked us if we could stop by and visit with them on our way to Glacier National Park.

Beautiful Montana Ranch

Beautiful Montana Ranch

The cabin was custom designed by their friends and is incredibly well done.

Custom designed cabin

Custom designed cabin

The cabin has beautiful mountain views, complete with horses.

Beautiful Montana views

Beautiful Montana views

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Friendly Horses

IMG_3406

Beautiful Blue Eyes

We spent our afternoon kicking back a few brews, chatting about retired life and enjoying each other’s company.

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Bob wrote a book called “How to Retire Early”, it’s a great book — I’ve purchased copies for our boys. Bob and Robin are about to embark on 2 full years of traveling — they chronicle their travels on their website (www.WhereWeBe.com).

Flathead Cherries

After spending a full day and night with the Charltons, it was time to head towards Glacier National Park. We kept hearing about “Flathead Cherries“. On the way to Glacier, we saw Flathead Lake and found out that there were lots of cherry groves around the lake.

Flat Head Lake

Flathead Lake

We stopped by a local cherry stand and purchased some. I’ve never eaten a cherry so sweet and juicy. If you are ever in the neighborhood, you have to try them!

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

Glacier National Park

Once we arrived to Glacier National Park, we entered the west entrance on the “Going to the Sun” road.  Our first stop was at Lake McDonald and dipped my toes into the cool and clear glacier waters.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

As we made our way up to Logan pass, we stopped to take in several waterfalls. Although I missed getting a picture of it, a huge brown bear crossed the road about 50 yards behind our car during one of our stops.

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Hike at Logan Pass

Our goal for the day was to hike to Hidden Lake. The 3.5 mile hike is not terribly difficult but offers some incredible views of mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls and ends at Hidden Lake.

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Views during our hike

As we were hiking up to Hidden Lake, a mountain goat came within about 5 feet of us. He could really care less about us, he was just moseying down the mountain without a care in the world.

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The reward for making this hike was Hidden Lake, a beautiful lake at the base of a mountain.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

On our return trip, we saw the same mountain goat eating vegetation along the way. How cool is to see wildlife in their natural habitat?

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

We finished our day by driving the rest of Going to the Sun road. Pictures hardly do it justice.

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

St. Mary Lake Tour and Hike

On the second day of our trip, we took a boat tour of St. Mary Lake, at the east end of the park. You take a 30 minute boat ride to a ranger guided hike that takes you up to St. Mary Falls.

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

The boat ride was surreal, a slow ride over 300 foot glacial water. The captain explained the biology and ecology of the glaciers and the ranger gave us insight into the forest and wildlife.

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Ranger Lead Hike

Ranger Lead Hike

The 2.5 hour hike wasn’t too strenuous, only about 300 feet of elevation change and it culminated in views of the silky St. Mary Falls. On our way back, we spotted a moose at the end of the St. Mary Lake.

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

Glacier National Park Fire

During our boat tour, the captain mentioned that the St. Mary Lake forest area had not had a major fire in about 100 years. We finished up our time at the park around 3 p.m. on July 21. Later that night, we saw on TV where a fire broke out at Glacier National Park, exactly in the spot where we had just hiked to St. Mary Lake and only about 30 minutes after we had left.

As of July 23, it has already burned over 4,000 acres and is still not contained. We also heard that they evacuated the restaurant and lodge that where we ate just before leaving the park.

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

We were incredibly fortunate to have viewed St. Mary Lake in it’s pristine grandeur. Our friends (Bob and Robin) were planning to camp there for a couple of weeks and I spoke them today, they were re-evaluating their plans because a lot of the park has been evacuated.

About the Millers

Steve and Lynn Miller retired early and now enjoy traveling and embracing new hobbies. In their spare time, they develop mobile apps. You can learn more here:

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya: Can you guess where this Buddhist Monument is located?

A stupa is a spiritual Buddhist memorial that is used to renew a spiritual connection to Buddha’s teachings. If I were to ask you where you might see a stupa like the one below, where would you guess?

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

I bet you would guess one of these places: Tibet, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, or Bhutan.

Not so! We visited this stupa located near Red Feathers Lake, about an hour from Fort Collins, Colorado. We were amazed. The stupa is located in a very remote area, with beautiful mountain views but nothing but a few houses and farms located nearby.

Lots of farmland next to the Stupa

Lots of farmland next to the Stupa

As we drove up to the compound, we were surprised that it was difficult to find a parking spot. There were a lot of people visiting on a Sunday afternoon. Once parked, it is about a mile hike to the stupa. People come to the stupa as a retreat and camp in the many tents inside of the compound.

Tents for retreat visitors

Tents for retreat visitors

The hike to the stupa is pretty easy, you simply follow the flags and cross several bridges along the way.

Black bird shows you the way

Black bird shows you the way

As you make your way to the stupa, you can hear the sound of nearby creeks.

Bridges along the path

Bridges along the path

Before long, you arrive at the stupa.

Arriving at the Stupa of Dharmakaya

Arriving at the Stupa of Dharmakaya

Once inside, you are greeted by a huge Buddha. As you walk clockwise around the room, you can see relics and donations left by other visitors.

Buddha greets you inside

Buddha greets you inside

Once you’ve visited the stupa, you are invited to watch a 25 minute movie that explains how and why it was built. It was built in honor of Shambhala Mountain Center’s founder, the meditation master, author and artist Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It honors his contribution in bringing the spiritual teachings of Tibet to the West.

Up close shot of the Stupa

Up close shot of the Stupa

I’ll leave you with our view on our walk back to the car.

Our view back to the car

Our view back to the car

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Rites of Passage: Touring New Belgium Brewery with my Son

Our oldest son, Cameron, turned 21 years old in November. This was our first visit to Fort Collins, Colorado to visit him since he turned 21.

Cameron said that many years ago I promised to take him to Ireland when he turned 21 to sit at a local pub and he could share his first beer with me. I don’t remember that promise and his schedule with college was too busy to make that a reality so we decided to share our first beer together closer to home — at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

New Belgium Brewery with Cameron

New Belgium Brewery with Cameron

New Belgium Brewery

If you’ve ever drank a Fat Tire craft beer,  you’ve had beer by New Belgium. New Belgium brewery was started in 1991 after founder Jeff Lebesch toured breweries in Belgium on his bicycle. The first beer they produced was named “Fat Tire”, after that Belgium trip.

New Belgium is now the 8th largest brewery in the USA and has almost 500 employees. They will soon be opening a brewery in Ashville, North Carolina.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

 

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

If you are ever in Fort Collins, Colorado, you must take a tour of New Belgium. The tour lasts about an hour where you will learn the history of New Belgium, the process of creating beer, and you get to sample lots of beer along the way.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

Getting a job at New Belgium is difficult because so many people want to work there. Our tour guide was talking about how his interview went. He first purchased several cases of Fat Tire beer and used it as the backdrop for his video interview.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

The employees of New Belgium all own stock in the company and are encouraged to drive energy efficient automobiles. They have electric filling stations for electric cars.

Environmentally conscious

Environmentally conscious

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Once the tour was over, we were invited to slide down the New Belgium slide and of course we took part.

New Belgium Slide

New Belgium Slide

Oskar Blues Brewery

A few days later, we went to a brewery in Longmont, Colorado that we had never been to. It was called Oskar Blues and the tasting room had a really cool hipsterish kinda vibe.

Oskar Blues Brewery was started in 1997 by Dale Katechis and are unique because they don’t bottle any beer. They only package cans and kegs.

You may have tried their Dale’s Pale Ale, it is a popular beer that was named “Best Pale Ale” by the New York Times in 2005.  Dale Katechis first brewed Dale’s Pale Ale in his bathtub while a student at Auburn University.

Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado

Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado

We went with a couple of friends we met last year in Fort Collins and we are now starting to get to know them better. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Doug and Julie - our new Fort Collins buddies

Doug and Julie – our new Fort Collins buddies

There was a band playing and as you can see from the pictures, dogs are welcome and shoes are optional. My kind of bar.

Band from Maine

Band from Maine

Pinner (a small joint) - it is Colorado!

Pinner (a small joint) – it is Colorado!

Shoes optional

Shoes optional

Cool funky vibe

Cool funky vibe

Brought to you by MemoryJog

This blog was brought to you by aMemoryJog, a free password management app for the iPhone. If you are looking for an app to track your passwords and other easy-to-forget information, download aMemoryJog now at http://apple.co/1BsnQ7K. Why not, it’s free!

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Exploring History in Savannah, Georgia

We’ve wanted to explore Savannah, Georgia for some time now and we finally grabbed the opportunity.

Original Capital of Georgia

Savannah was the first city to be settled by the British in the Georgia colony and later became the capital. It was settled by General James Oglethorpe to protect the Carolinas from Spanish owned Florida and French owned Louisiana. It is a port city on the eastern coast of Georgia.

Map of Savannah Georgia

The architecture of Savannah reminded us of European cities we’ve visited but the moss laden trees really give it character.

European Style Cathedrals

European Style Cathedrals

Savannah City Hall

Savannah City Hall

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Savannah has 22 squares, giving it a distinct European feel.

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Savannah is a vibrant city especially during the tourist season when they attract millions of visitors. We visited several museums and took a city tour. You can also take ghost tours (it is supposedly the most haunted city in the south) and carriage rides.

Ghost Tours

Ghost Tours

Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides

Tybee Island

Referred to as “Savannah Beach”, Tybee Island is a short car ride away. The Tybee Island Light Station was the first lighthouse on the Southern Atlantic Coast.

Tybee Island Light Station

Tybee Island Light Station

Along the beach are swings where you can rest as you take in the scenery. I wish we had these in Panama City Beach!

Swings along the beach

Swings along the beach

Katie taking a brief walk

Katie taking a brief walk

Fort Pulaski

On the way to Tybee Island is Fort Pulaski, the largest fort in Savannah, designed to protect Savannah during the Civil War. The fort was no match for the rifled cannons of the Union army and it fell to Union soldiers. As you walk around the fort, you can see a cannon ball still lodged in the exterior walls of the fort.

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

100 Year Old Home

We rented a 100 year old home during our stay. It had a 4 sided fireplace shaped like a diamond so that the 4 adjoining rooms had their own fireplace, all sharing the same chimney. Very cool.

4 sided fireplace

4 sided fireplace

Savannah Breweries

As we usually do, we sought out the local brew houses. We visited Moon River Brewing Company and enjoyed a nice amber ale.

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Slide Show of Savannah

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took in Savannah, click the image below.

Slideshow

Brought to you by aMemoryJog

This blog was brought to you by aMemoryJog, a free password management app for the iPhone. If you are looking for an app to track your passwords and other easy-to-forget information, download aMemoryJog now at http://apple.co/1BsnQ7K. Why not, it’s free!

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Hanging with the Snow Birds in Hilton Head, SC

This was our first visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hilton Head sits just off the southeastern coast of South Carolina and offers 12 miles of beachfront property lining the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilton Head SC

Hilton Head SC

Thousands of years ago, Hilton Head was a seasonal habitation for native Americans and was settled by European explorers for sea island cotton trade. It was an important island for the Civil War as it served the Union navy with an important blockade route for the southern ports. Once the Union had control of the island, many slaves migrated there and they became known as “native islanders”.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island

Sunrise in Hilton Head

We stayed in a newly renovated 1 bedroom condo with water views. It was nicely decorated and we enjoyed our stay there. During our time there, we met numerous snow birds from Ontario, Canada. They were staying for months at a time.

Katie enjoying the beach

Katie enjoying the beach

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

One of the things that surprised us was that there were tons on people walking the beaches, even at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One morning I woke up early and caught the sunrise.

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Hilton Head Sunrise

Hilton Head Sunrise

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Baynard Ruins

We also visited the Baynard Ruins, a plantation home that included a main house and slave quarters. The house which overlooked the Calibogue Sound near the south end of the island, was built by Captain Jack Stoney as part of Braddock’s Point Plantation around 1793.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The house remained in the Stoney family for several decades until it was lost by a Stoney heir in a late-night poker game. The new owner was William Baynard, a highly successful cotton planter who occupied the former Stoney home from 1840 until his death in 1849.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The home was raided during the Civil War and Union forces made it their headquarters. It burned down shortly after the Civil War.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

Golfing in Hilton Head

Unfortunately, I did not bring my golf clubs on this trip but Hilton Head has lots of incredibly manicured golf courses. I will have to make another trip back here to golf at some time in the future.

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Slide Show of Hilton Head

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took at Hilton Head, click on the picture below.

Hilton Head SC Slide Show

Brought to you by aMemoryJog

This blog was brought to you by aMemoryJog, a free password management app for the iPhone. If you are looking for an app to track your passwords and other easy-to-forget information, download aMemoryJog now at http://apple.co/1BsnQ7K. Why not, it’s free!

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Coastal Towns of South Carolina: Myrtle Beach and Charleston

After visiting Nags Head, North Carolina, we pointed our compass south. Our first stop was Myrtle Beach, the “Golf Capital of the World“. Boasting 100 incredibly manicured golf courses, this is a golfer’s paradise. Our next stop was Charleston, the site where the civil war began.

Myrtle Beach

Entering the city limits of Myrtle Beach, we passed golf course after golf course. All perfectly manicured, I can see why this is called the “Golf Capital of the World”. Traveling with our dog, I was not able to bring my golf clubs on this trip but I would have loved to play one of these courses.

View the Myrtle Beach Slide Show

The beaches of Myrtle Beach are expansive but I still think the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico are nicer (with our sugar sand and emerald-green waters).

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

One of the cool things about Myrtle Beach is that they have a boardwalk, something I wish we had on Scenic 30-a. They also have plenty of things to keep you busy, like zip lining, ferris wheels, and arcades.

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

As usual, we sought out a craft brewery. We visited New South Brewery but we were not very impressed with their craft beers — too watery for our tastes.

New South Brewery

New South Brewery

Charleston

Charleston is steeped in history as it was the main port for receiving slaves prior to the Civil War. Fittingly, this is also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired which lead to the end of a century of oppression. Evidence of the Civil War is everywhere.

View slide show of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is also a beautiful port city with century old mansions that take advantage of the seaside views.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Angel Oak

Near Charleston is an oak tree estimated to be about 1,400 years old, the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak measures 66 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference. The tree is massive, it reminded me of some of the huge trees we saw in the California Redwood forest.

Angel Oak

Angel Oak

Plantations of Charleston

Charleston has numerous plantations whose main crop was rice.

Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall was built by John Drayton in 1738 and has been preserved from that period. You won’t find many restorations (only those to keep it structurally sound) and you won’t find any furniture in the mansion. On our visit in late January, the house was cold and drafty.

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Inside Drayton Hall

Inside Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Hampton Plantation

On our way to Charleston, we stumbled onto Hampton Plantation. This is not the most visited plantation but it looked very similar to how I visualized plantations to look in the early 1800’s.

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

Charles Pinckney Farm

We also visited the Charles Pinckney farm. Charles Pinckney was the 37th governor of South Carolina and one of the architects and signers of the constitution. We were surprised to learn that South Carolina was the wealthiest state of the union at the time of the Civil War, more wealthy than Pennsylvania and New York.

Charles Pinckney Farm

Charles Pinckney Farm

Breweries of Charleston

Tradesman Brewing Company

We visited a couple of breweries while in Charleston. Our favorite was Tradesman Brewing Co. Located in a house that was converted to a brewery, it has a funky laid back vibe. The co-owner and wife of the brew master was serving up the beer and spent a lot of time with us bringing us up to speed on the local life of Charleston. She graciously suggested places to visit and talked about what it is like to live as a local in Charleston.

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Bay Street Bier Garden

The Bay Street Bier Garden (yes, they spell it Bier instead of Beer) is a cool place to enjoy your favorite brew. It has community tables where you can purchase a card that allows you to pour as little or as much beer as you desire from the taps at the community table. Pretty cool concept.

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Community Table Taps

Community Table Taps

Brought to you by aMemoryJog

This blog was brought to you by aMemoryJog, a free password management app for the iPhone. If you are looking for an app to track your passwords and other easy-to-forget information, download aMemoryJog now at http://apple.co/1BsnQ7K. Why not, it’s free!

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Slideshow of our Trip to Portugal

It seems like our trip to Portugal last summer was just yesterday. I finally pulled together a slide show of pictures from our stop in Lisbon, Portugal, I hope you enjoy it.

Lisbon, Portugal

LisbonPortugal

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Meet some Financial gurus that know a bit about Life Style Freedom

First of all, I am not a financial guru by any stretch of the imagination, but I love personal finance and enjoy reading inspirational stories about how others have paved their way to financial independence.

Most people who retire early are seeking life style freedom. They want to be able to plan their day as they wish. If they feel like playing golf, hiking, biking or taking a road trip somewhere, they just get up and go. If they want to vacation for a month or more, they can do it. If they want to work full or part-time on a job that is fun for them, they just do it.

We achieved life style freedom by selling our software company in 2009 but not everyone has a business to sell.  So do you have to own and sell a business to achieve life style freedom? No, there are people that had jobs with average salaries that saved their way to life style freedom. Let me introduce you to a few of them.


Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Although he goes by the name Mr. Money Mustache, his real name is Pete and his last name he wants to keep anonymous. He retired at 30 years old on a nest egg of about $600,000 of which he saved by stuffing away about 75% of his paycheck into savings. He is now a multi-millionaire.

He started the Mr. Money Mustache website to share his financial prowess with others and offers a free discussion forum where like-minded people swap advice about money, investing and creating life style freedom. If you like personal finance, I highly recommend visiting this website.

Website: http://www.MrMoneyMustache.com 


Robert and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Robert (Bob) and Robin retired at 43 years old the old-fashioned way, they saved their way to retirement. Although the couple averaged only about $89,000 in combined salaries per year, they amassed almost $1 million in savings over a 15 year period.

Bob recently wrote a book about early retirement called How to Retire Early (click here to see it) and it is one of the top-rated books in the Retirement section of Amazon. It takes you through a journey of exactly how they accomplished it. It is very transparent and incredibly motivating. We met Bob and Robin a few years ago after we retired. We share a love of travel and they document their travels on their personal website.

Website: http://www.WhereWeBe.com 


Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha owned a restaurant and decided to ditch the working grind at 38 years old. After accumulating savings in their dual career jobs and selling the restaurant, they had a net worth of about $500,000.

They have been retired now for over 25 years and their nest egg is larger than when they retired. They live on about $30,000 per year and travel the world most of the year.  Their website offers financial advice and documents their world travels.

When we started planning our early retirement, I read Billy and Akaisha’s book called “The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement” and it offered motivation and pragmatic advice regarding retiring early. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so.

Website: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com


How much does it take to Retire?

So how much is enough? First, try to reduce your monthly expenses as much as you can by following advice from the people above. Once you have that down, take your monthly expenses and make them yearly (multiply by 12) and then multiple that number by 25. For example, if your monthly expenses are $3000, your annual expenses are $36,000. Multiply that by 25 and it means you need $900,000 of investments to retire.

This is called the “safe withdrawal rate” or the “4% rule”. Click here for a really good article that explains the 4% rule in more detail.

Now, do you need all of that to quit a job you hate and take a cooler job that you enjoy? No. Let’s say you only have investments of $500,000 and your yearly expenses are $36,000. You can safely withdraw 4% of your $500,000 per year without ever running out of money, so that means you can withdraw $20,000 per year. So if you wanted to ditch your job and get a more fun job (maybe a part-time job) where you clear $16,000 per year, you could safely retire with the $500,000 in investments.

Are you nuts?

OK, I now hear you saying “Are you crazy? How can I (or we) save $900,000? I have almost no savings at this time!”. Bob and Robin Charlton also had no savings in 1992 and decided they wanted to change their life. So they embarked on a 15 year journey to save money and they retired with almost $1 million in the bank in just 15 years. Read the full story here.

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Cool Cabin in the North Carolina Mountains

As I mentioned in my earlier post about goals, we wanted to vacation more this year in the states so we took our first adventure to North Carolina. We rented this cool, yet tiny, cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina. Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, the cabin had incredible views of the tree laden Smoky Mountains.

See a slide show here

Woodland Loft Cabin

Woodland Loft Cabin

The cabin was small, my guess is that it was about 300-400 square feet. But it made great use of the space. It had flat screen TVs, a fireplace, views from almost every inch of the cottage, a pretty large bathroom and a small kitchen. It also had a nice deck area with hot tub.

Great views from the bedroom

Great views from the bedroom

Deck with Hot Tub

Deck with Hot Tub

Hiking in Deep Creek

Just minutes from Bryson City is the Deep Creek entry to the Smoky Mountain National Park. From here you can hike the Three Waterfalls Loop. This is a pretty easy 3 mile hike that provides up close views of 3 waterfalls.  As we started our hike, a deer was just a few feet away drinking from the creek.

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Biltmore House in Asheville

Located about a hour from Bryson City in Asheville, NC, the Biltmore House is an impressive mansion built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Situated on an 8,000 acre estate, the Biltmore includes a house, vineyard, winery, farm, and tons of hiking trails. We’ve visited several mansions in the USA and a number of castles in Europe but this home is decorated in the most tasteful way we’ve seen.

The Biltmore House includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, a gym, and a swimming pool. As we walked through the rooms and visited the huge kitchen and servant quarters, it reminded us of the popular series “Downton Abbey”. They don’t allow taking photos from inside of the house, so you should plan a trip to Asheville to see it for yourself.

The Biltmore Huose

The Biltmore Huose

Local Craft Breweries

We always tend to seek out local craft brew houses when traveling. In Bryson City, we visited Nantahala Brewing Company. When we walked in, one of the locals entertained us with stories of the Appalachian trail, other local breweries, and his love of Alabama football.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Nantahala Brewing Company

Our new friend told us about breweries in a town about 10 minutes away called Sylva and told us that Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other place in America. I always thought Fort Collins, CO was the brew capital, who knew! We had to visit more breweries.

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

One of the breweries in Asheville that the local told us about was Pour. At Pour, they have 43 taps where you can sample any of the beers they offer. They give you a bracelet that you scan to allow you to pour as little or as much as you like and you pay for what you pour. Very cool idea.

Bracelet used for Pour

Bracelet used for Pour

Pour - 43 taps

Pour – 43 taps

Cherokee

Our final stop around the Bryson City area was in a town about 15 minutes away called Cherokee. Here they have museum that details the life of the Cherokee Indians and their plight with the Europeans that drove them out of their homeland. The exhibits were well done and informative. After visiting the museum I’ve decided to read the book The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765.

Catching up with Old Friends

We took this travel opportunity to catch up with some old friends. My best friend from high school, Bill Stuart (the author of Gemstone Chronicles), lives just north of Atlanta. He and his wife Lana met Lynn and me in Dillard, Georgia one night for dinner. It was the first time I had seen Bill since high school and it was great to see him and meet Lana.

About 3 hours east of Bryson City is Charlotte, North Carolina. Another high school friend, Bill Baxley, lives there. As we began heading towards the coast, we stopped in Charlotte to see Bill and his wife Michelle. This was our first time meeting Michelle and it was really great connecting with them during our journey.

Where are We Heading Next?

As we leave Bryson City, we will make our way to the east coast. We plan to visit the beaches of Nags Head, NC to see where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first flight. We also plan to see Cape Hatteras to photograph the iconic light house.

Leaving Nags Head, we plan to stop into Myrtle Beach (although I did not bring my golf clubs). Then on to Charleston SC, Hilton Head SC and then to Savannah GA.

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