Hello! Welcome to my personal blog, the place where I write about things that I believe are important to share with the people that matter the most to me.
The last month was spent in China finding new products for our online business, where we are creating a constant passive income that will allow us to live the life we want, without having to be attached to a job ever again. What I do with my time and what I do for money need to be two different things.
Most entrepreneurs I know constantly talk about how to build large and successful companies, sell out, and have the good life. Fair enough. The question no one really seems to be asking is, – Why do it all in the first place?
I started this blog because I wanted to find my own purpose in life, – which I already did – and also because I’d like to inspire people around me to do the same.
I believe that being happy and fulfilled is a right, and not a privilege. I believe life is not as hard as some people make it out to be. If this is your first time here know that it is my sincere wish that reading about my personal experiences will help bring you a little closer to that direction. And if by any chance you are already living the life you always dreamed of, I would love for you to shoot me an email so that we can learn from each other.
So, lets get at it. This post will be about our experience in sourcing for new products on China to sell on Amazon.com 💰, applying God’s principles of rest and trust so that he gives you prosperity 🙏, and a poop story 💩 that led us to meeting our new team in China 👲👲. Let’s go!
The Great Firewall of China
There is something quite bizarre about landing in China and trying to use your phone. As soon as you take it you immediately realize something isn’t quite right, – not a single app works. Facebook is blocked. So is Google, – and there goes Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Maps. The first whole day was spent trying to find out how to find a stable Internet connection and how to bypass this horrible thing.
Stomping over personal liberties and ruling by fear and forcefulness, the Communist Party of China has never been much about freedom of information. – The Huffington Post
We were able to download VPN’s for our phones, which disguises your mobile phone’s IP address and “tricks” the Chinese government into thinking you are actually in Japan. It works. The signal is horrible though, – and there is this constant feeling that you are somehow being watched 👀.
It is very easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken away from you. We rarely appreciate our constitutional freedoms and liberty of speech until suddenly we don’t have them anymore. Being here showed me how easily our rights can change, and how fragile our freedom really is.
Five days in the Canton Fair
Picture in your mind a huge stadium big enough to fit 30,000 people. Now imagine that same stadium is being used to display thousands of small retail stands, – all of them selling kitchen-related products. Well, the Canton Fair has 8 “stadiums” selling kitchen-related stuff, and the same amount destined for toys, garden, furniture, cosmetics, gifts, bathroom, and many more categories. It took us a whole week to scout the whole fair.
It is exciting to choose products from an almost infinite selection of possibilities. Having this responsibility made me wonder would happen if we would choose poorly, – that would definitely impact the plan for my life. So that means that with every decision made I am actively writing my future. Or is it already written but I just can’t see it?
I don’t know the answer (let me give you a little secret: I don’t know the answer to most things 😄), but in cases like these is when extra help comes in handy. Having faith that you are doing things for the right reason makes everything fall into place. You just have to focus on doing the right thing, – and the rest will follow.
A poop story 💩
On the last day of the fair, we were offered a city tour sponsored by the fair’s organizers, which took us to several places in Guangzhong including a big flea market. I’ve always had a healthy metabolism, – I normally poop once a day – and have no problem going anywhere. So I went inside the flea market’s public bathroom 🚽.
Inside I saw something that would haunt my dreams forever. I saw a straight line of eight Chinese men, all crouched next to each other, pooping into a canal on the ground, – with no walls in between them. Shocked but completely unembarrassed I squatted right next to them and did the same thing, scratching one thing off the bucket list of things I would never have expected to have done 😬.
Then the most horrible thing happened. I opened the faucet to clean my hands but no water came out from it, – the faucet was broken. To my mind came the 1,825,482 Chinese men that had pooped in the same place and had also touched the same broken faucet with dirty hands, – so I ran to the nearest store to buy some bottled water to wash my hands with before my hand would fall off.
Why am I telling you this story? Steve Jobs famously said you can’t connect the dots looking forward; only looking backwards. You have to trust in something, and trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future¹.
On the same store where I bought the water were two Argentinians, who were astonished about how someone would buy bottled water to clean his hands. That peculiarity made us strike a lengthy conversation that eventually led to us explaining our business model. They were fascinated.
As we shared knowledge on several subjects with our new friends Roberto and Luis, they told us that they too came to China for the Canton Fair, but that their main destination was Yiwu, an enormous permanent market near Shanghai.
They told us Yiwu was perfect for our Amazon business model because they sell the same products that the Canton Fair does, but without the high MOQ (minimum order quantities). That meant we would be able to purchase a wider variety of products for the same amount of money, therefore minimizing our risk by diversifying more.
Suddenly Luis shouted at the top of his lungs in his thick Argentinian accent “I tell you now Rodrigo, this 23rd of May at 2:32PM, that in one year, 95% off your business will come from Yiwu!” and !BAM💥! slammed the table with his palm.
We decided to skip the last phase of the Canton Fair and take a bullet-train to Yiwu, located 6 hours away from Guangzhong, deeper into China.
Meeting out partners from the other side of the world
To be honest I was a little scared to come to this place since we heard no one over here spoke English, and it was a big deviation from the original plan. When a decision feels right we have a hard time explaining why we did what we did, but the underlying belief in something bigger and better made the decision to come to this place an easy one to make.
Here we struck a deal with a Chinese “agent” company, whose service is to make business easier for white people. Yes, over here they refer to me as that. Our agent keeps a small percentage (roughly 2%) of the money we spend buying goods for export, and in exchange they provide the following services:
They pick you up from the station 🚅. Book you a hotel and take you there 💤. Pick you up every morning to go to the market 🚗. They spend the whole day with you looking for products 👨👩👧👧. They translate every question you have for everyone 🉐. They negotiate the best price with possible providers 💵. Take note and pictures of every single product you saw 📷. Send you an Excel with everything at the end of the day 📑. Do the same for 5 days straight 🙇🏻. Take you back to the train station 🚅.
After you leave the real work begins. They bo back to the market and formally order the items you want📋. They make sure providers deliver the right things and on time⏰. They check for quality and store the goods in their warehouse🔒. They pack and label your products🏷. They ship to Amazon using the best freight forwarder they can find📦. How cool is that? A 2% commission fee is a bargain. In total, we are preparing 60 new products with them. They even helped me find shoes with little lights on them, something I wanted to have for a long time because of reasons 😁.
Rest is trust. Rest is faith.
I’ve said it several times before and I will say it one more time – I feel completely blessed. I am traveling the world and enjoying the best this planet has to offer. The grace of God is with me and everything I do seems to prosper. How is this possible? There are several different reasons at play, but one of them is that I apply God’s principles of prosperity in my life, – and today I’d like to write about the importance of resting on Sundays.
It may seem like a normal thing to say, – to rest on Sundays. Normally people just work five days a week, right? That was not my case at my last job, where I used to be available 24/7 and even though I was not physically in the office on weekends I was still thinking of new strategies to implement, always being stressed, always on call.
The bible says that God finished all his work in six days, and then rested the seventh. Strange thing, because God does not have to rest. He does not get tired or need to take breaks. I believe God made this day so that we could rest. This is a day where we can hang out with Him. This is a day where we can be with our family, and enjoy everything He has done. Here is what the Bible says about it (Deuteronomy 5:14) –
The seventh day is a Sabbath for the Lord your God. You are not to do any work—neither you, your children, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys, nor any of your livestock—as well as any of the foreigners who live among you, so that your male and female servants may rest as you do.
It was very hard for me to follow this principle. I needed to feel productive. I was afraid to stop. “Maybe if I worked more days a week I would do better?” No, – I would do worse, and this is how most people work themselves to death.
On this day, I don’t work at all. I don’t answer any work related calls or messages. I don’t think about it or even open the app to see how many sales I am making. On this day, I get to wake up late. I get to do exercise. I get to read a good book. I get to go snorkeling. I get to have a long lunch. I get to nap. I get to be quiet. And on that quietness there’s power. God speaks on the day of rest.
Guatemala has amazing entrepreneurs, but it is my personal opinion that most of them are missing supernatural principles in their businesses. Everything is so much easier when you are blessed because what you are not able to do with your hands, – He is very easily able to do it with His. Your business will be able to perform much better in six blessed days than in seven days all by yourself. On this day, you will get renewed strength and ideas, and remember that while you are not working He is taking care of your business. He is taking care of your life.
A lot of people tell me they want to get closer to God but don’t know where to start. I would advise you to trust Him on this one, – because those who trust get surprised. Those who trust in God find power and discover a better provision. Those who trust Him are shown that He has control of your ship’s steering wheel, and the coolest thing is that because you trusted, He gives you double ✌🏻.
The Amazon document is almost ready. 📈📊
On my last post, I wrote that there is a secret sauce to this Amazon business and that I wanted to share it all, – for free. The reason behind this is that I would like everyone who has been inspired by what I am doing and intrigued by this new business model to be able to give it a try, while at the same time minimizing risk.
I asked for a volunteer to help me write everything down since there is a lot of material to cover. 8 people signed up for the job, – and we have been working together the past few weeks in making this document a reality. In fact, the document is over 45 pages long, almost the size of a small college thesis. It has pictures and everything in case you are feeling lazy to read it all 😁.
Our team consist of a project manager, five transcribers, an editor and a graphic designer, all working after their normal activities to help make this a reality. We are just working on the final touches and it will be ready in no time. If you want to receive it straight to your inbox once it’s ready, click here.
A quick update to my own business. On my previous pos a month ago I uploaded a picture of my Amazon dashboard showing monthly revenue of $4,700, which is around $160 per day. I am happy to report that now I am generating an average of $500 per day on sales (revenue, not profit) just 3 months after having started. Two important things:
- Even though our sales are skyrocketing 🚀 we still have a very tight budget that we stick to. We do our best to find inexpensive places to eat and sleep because having more does not give you an excuse for mismanaging.
- This business is just a means, – not an end. This revenue stream will allow me to do what I really want to do later on.
We have a new member that recently joined our team, a full-time graphic designer that we are training to take the role of brand manager and oversee the brand creation process and listing optimization. 😁Welcome Analu, – and thanks for the trust 🙏🏻.
Paul, a normal guy with a big dream.
Entrepreneurship comes in all shapes and flavors, and sometimes the best dreams are not work-related at all. Paul Driessen is a new friend we met on China. He is from The Netherlands and has an ordinary job from 9-5 as an online marketeer.
He may sem like an ordinary guy, but there is something that makes him very special. Paul has a dream. The last year Paul has been travelling to one of the most remote countries of the world, – Tuvalu, – where he has been volunteering as a soccer coach.
He has spent the last months volunteering as a soccer developer and helping organize the country’s national soccer team. His goal is to get Tuvalu to be recognized by FIFA, so that the country can enjoy the benefits of major financial support to pay coaches and create professional facilities. Paul hopes this will in turn make people live a more healthy life because obesity is Tuvalu’s major Health problem. Here is a short documentary about his project:
Paul is a normal guy with an extraordinary mission. By donating his free time and effort he hopes to improve the future of an entire country, – and that is extremely admirable.
By the way, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Somewhere between college graduation and your second job a new voice enters your internal dialogue: be realistic and stop pretending. Life isn’t like the movies. Become an accountant or a lawyer, have babies and raise them to repeat the cycle².
Lots of people fall into this trap and eventually work themselves to death “I’ll just work until I have X dollars and then I’ll do what I want👆🏻“. The problem is that the X figure of dollars will increase indefinitely to avoid the fear-inducing uncertainty of finding what really inspires you.
When most people think about being successful they aspire to be the boss instead of the employee, – they want to be in charge. I would like to propose to be neither the boss nor the employee, but the owner. And I also propose that you can do it right now.
Are you living the life you always wanted to? If not, what are you waiting for? Measure the cost of inaction and try to develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: taking action.
Nest stop: Jakarta and Sri Lanka 🇮🇩🇱🇰
China was a very productive trip. We found lots of new products, formed strong alliances and had lots of fun along the way doing so. Now the real work begins. We have 60 new products coming soon that need branding, packaging, pricing, marketing, and promoting, – but that does not mean we can’t have fun. I’ve never been to Sri Lanka before, and I’m pretty excited to travel there.
Final thought: In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had phone calls with several people (friends and former strangers who now have since become friends) who have read this blog or heard what I have been doing and wanted to know more about it.
I have enjoyed every single one of those conversations and believe we have learned something from each other. If you are reading this and want to talk about anything, be it business, faith, travel tips, – anything, – send me an email and let’s have a call. I have time on my hands and I love to help out, – that is what I do. 👉 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, I’ll go check out some elephants.
Till the next time, be safe.
¹Steve Jobs was neither a theist nor an atheist. In his own words he was 50-50 about it. “I’m about fifty-fifty on believing in God” he said. “For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence that meets the eye.
²Being an accountant does not mean you are not following your dreams and passions. A dream has nothing to do with the job you have, and I believe you can still achieve all that you ever wanted and still work 9-5.