Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to use the "Space"-"Time" continuum to achieve your dreams

Take a blank piece of paper and write down your goals. Do the top 5 look like the following below:
  1. I want to be rich
  2. I want to travel the world
  3. I want to spend more time with family
  4. I want to do what I like most (This varies from painting, dancing, cooking to..seeing all episodes of of House MD season after season back to back..)
  5. I want to drive a Mercedes-Benz/Ferrari/Buggati Veyron
80-85% people in the world probably have these goals. Most have the same two-three excuses as to why they can't achieve these: "No Time", "Low Paying Job", " In debt due to house loans", "children's loans" etc.

In the 1990's, these excuses would still be valid. However, the advent of the internet and technology has bought forward solutions that can help achieve some if not all of these aims for an average person.

I am really impressed by the work of Tim Ferris as outlined in his book "The four hour work week". He surmises, that technology can be used to give you control of two things: "Time" and "Location" or space. These, two things when combined can be used to generate economic benefit far beyond what is imaginable.

While, Tim talks about how to make money automatically, I shall be the pragmatist and look at simple examples of how time and space can be used to save money.

The internet allows a knowledge worker to work from anywhere in the world. Telecommuting, work from home, outsourcing are sides to a similar phenomenon where talent does not have to be co-located with demand. However, all these have viewed the problem from the side of the "corporate". There is much more potential if the same thing is viewed from a "personal" front.

A small example, can demonstrate how technology can help you achieve all your dreams. Assume, you live like me in a city like "Mumbai". (It could be New York, Tokyo, Delhi or any other city here).

Say, you have to purchase a house.

A spartan 2 BHK flat in an upmarket area of Mumbai will cost you anywhere between 50-80 lakh rupees (1 lakh=100,000). Add to that the general cost of living , children's school fees etc and you will spend the better part of your life repaying loans to the bank and working your ass out. (No wonder, these "retirement plans" are becoming so popular). Add to this the long commutes, pollution, traffic jams and all the problems that come with living in a large city and it is no wonder that the number of suicides in cities have steadily been going up.

However, consider this scenario. What, if out of the 50-Lakh rupee loan you have taken, you buy a "Bunglow" in a Tier-II city like Nashik. It would probably cost you around 20-25 Lakh rupees.
You invest 1 Lakh for internet and network connectivity with your office in Mumbai. Say, you spend another 1-2 lakhs for a weekly commute to Mumbai(or bi-weekly).

Net-Net you end up saving 25 Lakh rupees which if well invested(and if those call-center people are to be believed) could make you very rich in a very short period of time.

Add to that all the advantages of living in a small town, easier education, lower cost of living , cleaner air and atmosphere etc.

By keeping the town near to the city (like Mumbai or Pune) you can be sure that you do not miss out any opportunities in those cities and yet spend a lot more time with your family and doing things you like at lot cheaper rates and keeping your job. !!!

Sounds, like a dream come true isn't it. !!!
At the core of it, it is simple economics. If one views himself as a business entity, providing services to his company and receiving a profit(his pay) in return, things become amply clear.

Every business entity must either increases his sales and revenue or cut costs to increase his profit. Since, increasing sales and revenue is much harder(especially during recessionary times), it follows that one must cut costs.

By, choosing when to work and from where to work a person can cut his personal costs much the save way the Americans cut the costs of IT Projects by out-sourcing to India.

I believe that this is a powerful idea, whose time has already come. I would explore the steps on how to make this possible in later posts, but would for now like to leave you with an image of you living in a beautiful hill-station enjoying the glorious beauty of nature and having the time of your life with people you love. (And when, you have had enough of that you do a little work as a side activity!!!).


Hitesh said...

Interesting article... People moving out to small towns will also solve the problem of people congestion in cities like Mumbai and eventually lead to infrastructure developing in every nook and corner rather than just the metro cities :-)

Anonymous said...

So when are you moving to the tire 2 city?
Its easy to read a book and go blogging, but what sense does it make to mere mortals who abide by the cosmopolitan corporate rules?
Nice try.. i am not leaving the city any sooner..

Steve Bendall said...

It's thought provoking, but it does require some more buy-in from employers yet.
About 8 years ago, my previous employer, were looking at the costs of going 24 hour operations.
It was looking expensive, however, at the time I was also seriously considering emigrating to australia.
I suggested that I would be happy to take the permananet night shift, in UK time, whilst working for them in australia.
It should have been a win/win situation, but at the time, they just couldn't quite get their head around it enough to agree to it.
Shame really - I think it would have worked well.
In our jobs, network connectivity, it the backbone of what we require, and once that is in place, we could be physically located anywhere in the world.
I guess peoples general expectations just need to change a little.

Vikrant Yagnick said...

Hi Steve,

You should read the book the four hour work week by Tim Ferris. Basically, he talked about guys in a similar situation like yours. One of them an engineer at HP wanted to get married to his Chinese Girl Friend. So, he gets his phone company to route his calls to his phone, flies to China gets married to her all the time without affecting his work. (or as Tim claims, without his boss knowing).

But, you are right it will need a lot more of a buy-in from companies. However, many are now realizing the cost saving potential of this. So the movement is catching on.

Prince said...

Good thought. The way I see, its a catch 22. The infrastructure has to improve to be able to make that seamless transition. If and when the satellite cities around super congested metros like Mumbai develop to support that kind of a lifestyle, it will invariably imply an increased cost of living. There is a definite early mover advantage here, but that comes bundled with the hassles of being the first to resolve some of the fundamental issues with adopting this model.
This life style also warrants a big shift in perception about work ethics on the part of employers. Especially in developing countries like India, where work is measured as unit of time and not a co-efficient of generated output. Again, this is based on limited knowledge (from friends) about time-card punching, limited VPN access, service companies not willing to trust their employees with designated work and minimum oversight.

@Hitesh: To your point about this solving congestion problems in large metros, Big Apple is a classic example, with all it's satellites well developed and connected. If anything, it will only increase the insatiable appetite of the city to consume more people or to put it optimistically "Fulfill more dreams".

Looking forward to future posts on the subject.