Meet Mr. Money Mustache, JD Roth, Cheryl Reed & me for a Chautauqua in Ecuador


Mi Lindo Ecuador

Chautauqua –

“…an old-time series of popular talks intended to

edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to

the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”

Robert M. Pirsig

That’s the definition Pirsig used in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” a book I read in the 1970s and then again this past fall. Both times I was sorely disappointed to realize it had little to do with motorcycle maintenance. Other than to make the point it takes a level of patience and mental calm I was sorely lacking back in the day. Or now, for that matter.

But it did introduce me to that wonderful word: Chautauqua.

Chautauqua –

The perfect word, it seems to me, to describe the event we’ve worked hard these past six months to put together and are now pleased to offer:

Above the Clouds Retreats Presents

A Week Long Chautauqua where we’ll discuss

Happiness — Freedom — Wealth

Balancing Your Life

September 7-14, 2013

Regular readers might remember I first introduced Cheryl and her business, Above the Clouds Retreats, in my post Meet Me in Ecuador? In it I describe how we met and my return to Ecuador last fall to meet her personally and to explore the possibilities for this Chautauqua.


Cheryl Reed is a self-professed “happiness searcher.”

I was immediately intrigued. Happiness and the search for it is something I’ve personally struggled with all my life. I am not a naturally happy guy. Maybe it’s the way I was raised, maybe it’s in my genes. But happiness is something I have to work at. Meeting Cheryl I was confronted with one of the most relentlessly happy people I’ve ever met. Here’s a story:

The son of her farm worker borrows her truck and promptly rolls it. Her response to this very poor young man: “There are three responsible parties for this. You, who rolled the truck. I, for letting you take it. God, for permitting it to happen. You will pay a third of the cost (bartered in his labor as he had no money), I will pay for a third and I will see what I can do about getting the final third from God.”

This delivered with a smile, a wink and a laugh. Clearly, Cheryl is someone I can learn from. Maybe you can, too.


Some random guy. Maybe me.

Here at jlcollinsnh we discuss mostly why you need F-you money and how to grow yours. In our conversations, Cheryl and I agreed that money for the sake of money is almost completely uninteresting. But it is a wonderful tool. Financial independence allows greater freedom and range in the pursuit of happiness. That’s why my topic at the Chautauqua will be How to Harness the World’s Most Powerful Wealth Building Tool.

Of course, to be an investor and reach financial independence, you need money to invest. Most times that money can only come from one place, your earnings. You need to learn how to live on less than you earn. It is this surplus that you will invest and that will grow until it supports you and all your needs, freeing up your time for more important things. You need to choose to spend your money buying freedom.


Mr. MM and family

Nobody knows how to do this better than my pal, Mr. Money Mustache. So the next step in this process was to invite him on in. He graciously accepted. While I’ll be talking about how to make your money work efficiently for you, Mr. Money Mustache’s role in our Chautauqua will be to show you how get that money in the first place. For those of you, like me, who faithfully read his blog, you know we’re in for a wild, powerful, take no prisoners, punch-in-the-face ride. Personally, I can’t wait!

As we were further developing our ideas, Mr. MM said, “You know, we really should see if we can get JD Roth on board.”

“Who the hell,” I said, “is JD Roth?”

JD Roth

This is JD Roth

Trust me when I tell you (and indeed I’m guessing many if not most of you already know) the short coming in my not knowing who JD Roth is, is entirely my own. JD is nothing short of a lion in the financial blogging universe. He is the founder of Get Rich Slowly, one of the earliest, most successful and most respected of all financial blogs. He recently sold it, locking in his own F-you money. Then, recognizing as we all do, that money isn’t everything, he launched his current and very appropriately named blog: More Than Money.

“OK,” I said. “He’s an impressive guy. But what’s he gonna bring to our Chautauqua?”

For important things like this, I’m slow to accept. After all, I’ve been reading Mr. MM’s stuff for almost two years. Heck, I flew all the way to Ecuador to get to know Cheryl.

“Well,” said JD with great patience, “I thought I’d talk about How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear. It will be about securing the freedom to pursue your dreams.  How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne, for instance, was one of the books that influenced my thinking along these lines.”

Holy crap! That’s nothing less than what is very likely the most influential book, on me anyway, I’ve ever read:

How I found freedom

Many times I’ve lamented not having the sort of blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, JD Roth and, hopefully, jlcollinsnh to light my path while I was coming up. I knew my path was different. I knew nobody else who was on it. I knew the world was filled with complainypants who would never understand and, worse, try to get in the way. Harry Browne was a rare voice celebrating freedom. Until JD, I’d never met anyone who to my knowledge had read and embraced this book and its ideas. Other than those I’d recommended it to, of course.

And now. Now I’d been introduced to a kindred spirit in JD Roth and, even better, I was going to have the opportunity to listen to his presentation about this stuff. I can’t wait!

As you may have gathered, I’m not only excited to be a speaker at this Chautauqua, I’m excited to be in the audience. Together we’ll learn:

  • How to bring happiness into your life.
  • How to develop the courage to be free and to live life on your own terms.
  • How to arrange your life in such a way as to have an abundance of what is important, while shedding what is not.
  • How to invest your excess funds so that they grow to support you, allowing you to turn your full attention to Happiness, Freedom and Abundance.

But this isn’t just going to be four people talking at you. Sure we’ll each be giving a formal presentation, but that’s just part of the week.

You’ll also have a chance to select two of us for private one-on-one-sessions. Each will be an hour-long and you’ll have a chance to discuss whatever issues are most pressing for you. To have time for these is one key reason why we are limiting attendance to only 25 people. While we’ll try to accommodate everybody’s first and second choices, slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. So if you want me, or if you want to be sure not to get stuck with me, you’ll want to sign up early.

The other reason for limiting attendance, is to keep this a small, intimate gathering. We want to get to know you and we presume you’d like to get to know us. At mealtimes, each of us will host a small group of attendees on a rotating basis. It will give us, and you, a chance to continue our Chautauqua in a relaxed and informal setting.

We’ll also be exploring a bit of Ecuador together. We’ll:

Speaking of giving back, a full 25% of all profits will go to the The Project One Corner. Assuming we are fully booked with 25 attendees, that should be enough to help ten young Ecuadorians advance their educations.

We’ve also found an even cooler place than the one I mentioned in that earlier post to hold this Chautauqua:

Hacienda CusinArasha

Hacienda Cusin

 photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Ok. It should be pretty obvious I am very, very excited about this little Chautauqua we’ve put together. It is exactly the sort of thing that I want to attend my own self. That should be no surprise. I’ve been privileged to play a large role in developing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I’m a skeptic of financial services. I believe you should be clear-eyed and critical buying anything. I believe in reading the fine print. I believe in reading the fine print so much, for this Chautauqua, it is right in the FAQ and Disclaimers in print just as big as any of that for the cool stuff.

I believe in reading it so much, I’m reproducing it right here. Read it carefully, and then read it again. If anything here makes you uncomfortable, we’re both better off if you stay home. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but we’ll be a small group in a third world country. It’ll be best and most fun if we’re all kindred spirits. Here you go:

While we are doing everything in our power to make this a very special and wonderful experience for all attendees, these are a few things you might want to consider before you sign up.

  • As wonderful as we think Ecuador is, it is important to remember that this is a 3rd world country.  This means things don’t always go smoothly or as planned.  If you find the unexpected upsetting or unacceptable this is not the event for you.  If, on the other hand, you see such things as part of the adventure, you’ll fit right in.
  • This is a Spanish-speaking country.  If your reaction to this is “Well, duh!” you’ll fit right in.  But we’ve heard enough North Americans complain about this to include it.  BTW, you don’t have to speak any Spanish.  The Chautauqua will be conducted in English and when we roam around, we’ll have bilingual folks to smooth the way.  If you do speak a bit of Spanish that’s great.  You’ll find a warm response from the local people when you try.
  • Refunds. You will be asked to pay for your trip in three installments, beginning with $500 due with your registration. These payments are non-refundable. We are a small company and the success of this Chautauqua depends on people being seriously committed when they sign up. If that’s not you, please don’t register until it is. That said, should events beyond your control force you to cancel we will try to refund some or all your money if, and only if, we are able to replace you on the trip. So, if you are going to pull out, the earlier the better.

If that didn’t discourage you and this sounds as exciting to you as it does to me, you are going to want to sign up right now. Yeah, I know. That sounds like typical high-pressure-come-on-crap. I don’t mean it that way, but I don’t know how else to say it. Here’s the deal…

As we are limiting the number of attendees to just 25, both Mr. MM and JD Roth have graciously allowed me to announce this Chautauqua first. In a week or so they’ll be sharing it with their readers. Since both have far larger audiences, our guess is that the available spots will go very, very quickly once they do. So we all agreed to give you here an exclusive first look.

So that’s a Chautauqua, at least how we’ve planned it: Happiness, Freedom & Wealth in a Balanced Life. It is what we ourselves would want to attend. Hopefully it is for you too. If so, see you this September in Ecuador!

Addendum I: March 27th 2013.

Well, that didn’t take long. After a month and three days, I just got word that we are now SOLD OUT. The last two spots got snatched up today.

So what to do if you really wanted to go and just weren’t quite ready? Go ahead and register. This will do three very good things:

1. It will get you a place on the waiting list, just in case somebody cancels.

2. It will allow us to refund money to anybody who might need to cancel. As I said in this blog post and as it states on the website, this is a very small organization and unable to offer refunds. But, if we can replace an attendee who must cancel we will do it.

3. It will give you first option for a place in Chautauqua 2014.

Of course, if a spot doesn’t open up and/or you decline your option for 2014 you deposit will be refunded in full.

Addendum II: September 19, 2013

Post Chautauqua review.

In this post you’ll also find links to what JD Roth, Mr. Money Mustache and Johnny Moneyseed had to say.

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