Chautauqua February 7-14, 2015: Escape from Winter


We’ve already missed this one in Abilene, 1929

Courtesy of Daily Yonder

If you have read this blog for long, or any of my Chautauqua posts, you know that for the last couple of years each Fall we have taken a small group to Ecuador for a week of adventure and conversation surrounding life, freedom, happiness and investing. We call it a Chautauqua, an old Native American word that Robert M. Pirsig, the author of  “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,”  translates loosely as

“…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.”

Both times now we’ve attracted an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of people. Almost everyone has described it as one of the (if not the) best weeks of their lives. To give you a flavor of what goes on, here’s my recap of the last one: Lighting Strikes Again.

chau nick 1

Hacienda Cusin

Photo by Nick, Chautauqua alumni 2014

We all know that, in reading blogs like this one, we are walking the path less traveled and frequently not understood by those in our daily lives. But for this one week we get to be surrounded by others who “get it.” The fact we get to do this in a stunning beautiful country while staying  at Hacienda Cusin, a gorgeous old estate and monastery built in the Andes mountains in 1602, still leaves me a bit slack-jawed.

And this time I also get to escape, if only for a week, a bit of the sometimes brutal New Hampshire winter. WooHoo!

As before, we’ll have four speakers:

Cheryl Reed

Cheryl Reed is the owner and founder of Above the Clouds Retreats and 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. Her talk is Following Your Bliss.

paula pant

Paula Pant is a journalist, globetrotter, entrepreneur, investor who has traveled to 32 countries. She’s her own boss and lives on her own terms, and she’s figured out how to live and work anytime, anywhere in the world. She writes the wonderful and wonderfully named blog Afford Anything

Her talk is Three Rebellious Roads to Financial IndependenceIf you’re ready, Paula can teach you how to shatter limits and maximize your life.

I’m proud to call her a friend.

tyler lewke

Tyler Lewke is new to me. So new, in fact, this is the only picture of him I could find. Here’s what Paula has to say about him:

“…a rebel who blogs at the crossroads between capitalism and spirituality. He’s a corporate CEO who believes that “loving kindness … creates profit.” He’s the offspring between a genius scientist and a hippie (literally and symbolically), he hasn’t had an employer since age 17, and he blogs daily about the intersection between “hard core capitalism” and “contemplative service to others.” Tyler will speak about finding sustainable happiness in work and life.”

OK, I’m intrigued! How about you? Looking forward to meeting and hanging out with you, Tyler!


Then, of course, there’s me.

Here at jlcollinsnh we discuss mostly why you need F-you money and how to grow yours. In our conversations, Cheryl and I agree 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.

So these are your speakers and hosts. But unlike many events, we won’t be just getting up, giving our talks and disappearing. We’ll be hanging out with you all week. This is part of what makes these Chautauquas so special for us and for the attendees.

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 limit attendance. 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.

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

Speaking of giving back, as with every Chautauqua, a full 10% of all profits will go to the The Project One Corner.

You’ll also have free time to visit the famous Otavalo Market, horseback ride, tour a rose plantation, paraglide, hike the mountains or just chill out at the Hacienda.

For more insights check out Paula’s excellent post. I especially like her take on who should come and, importantly, who should NOT come.

And Tyler’s: Ready for Adventure?

If you decide you should, and I hope you do, here is the registration page.

As before, attendance is limited. In the past we’ve been able to accommodate 25 attendees. But because Hacienda Cusin is in demand we were unfortunately not able to secure as many rooms as before. This means we’ll only be able to accommodate ~15-20 attendees, depending on how many room-sharing couples sign up. So this will be an even more intimate gathering.


Los Angeles

December 26 – January 4 I plan to be in Los Angeles. I’ve never done a “reader meet-up” before, but I think it would be great fun. Maybe a small group of us meet for lunch and hang out for awhile? If you are interested let me know and, of course, I’ll need a volunteer(s) to select a venue and organize it.

LA update: Looks like we’ll have two reader meet-ups and I’ll be visiting a group at Dreamworks:

Reader Meeting 1: Garden Grove lunch 12/27
Reader Meeting 2: Glendale lunch 1/3
Dreamworks: 1/2


If you read my post Tuft & Needle: A better path to sleep and have an interest, you’ll want to read the Addendum just added to it.

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Mark…

      That should work.

      We are thinking of spending the first few days in or around Laguna Beach and the latter part up around Glendale where I have a speaking engagement.

      But we’re still figuring it out. So if anyone has hotel/location suggestions….

      Are you volunteering to organize something? 🙂

      • Mark says

        Good one Jim on the volunteering – 100% not my forte s0 hopefully there is someone local that would be awesome at that. We will keep in touch though to make something happen. Laguna is great and it will be a nice break from the New Hampshire winter.

  1. Mr. FC says

    The LA Pow-Wow Adjunct to the Chautauqua! When/where are you going to be in Glendale? Happen to live in Glendale and have that week off. Would be a downright crime to not try and set something up.

    Now if we can just get MMM and Jesse down out of the mountains and into the sunshine…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well, it will be a pale shadow of the Chautauqua, but could be fun nonetheless.

      Should be in Glendale Dec 29-Jan 3. Only day booked is the 2nd.

      Come spring I plan to get out to Utah and meet up with Jesse. Once I get those dates set I’ll announce it on the blog.

      But, first things first. 🙂

  2. Linda says

    Thanks for the link to Tyler Lewke’s blog. By the third post I read, I had almost been moved to tears, looks like another subscription for my spiritual health.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Linda…

      Glad to hear you are enjoying Tyler’s blog.

      As I mentioned in my post, I haven’t met him as yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it and to spending some time with him.

  3. jlcollinsnh says

    Thanks to all who have expressed an interest in meeting up in LA, both here and in private PMs to me.

    I just sent an email introducing you all to each-other. I’m pretty sure I remembered everybody, but if you expressed interest and don’t get this email, please ping me again.

    Likewise if you’d like to join in. 🙂

  4. The Roamer says

    Well the Chautauqua is still to rich for my blood but I am really bummed I’ll miss out on yours and Paula’s presentation. Your letters to your daughter have been great reads and Paula has an amazing story.

    My goal hopefully to attend some day. However I am very interested in meeting you here in SoCal.

    Did you find an organizer. And can I get the email. With the list of attendees, time and location. It might not be the Chautauqua but I am excited to spend more time with like minded individuals.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Sorry to hear it, Roamer, but you are making the right call in NOT attending. At least at this time. Wait until you can easily and comfortably do it.

      Meanwhile, it will be great to catch up to you in LA. I’ve sent you a PM and once I get your reply I’ll introduce you to the rest of the group.

      At this point we will definitely have a meeting in Glendale, most likely on Jan 3rd. There might also be another further south in late Dec.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Myles…

      As it happens, I’m working on a post announcing the next Chautauquas today. Should be up shortly.

      We’ll be doing two back-to-back the last two weeks of October later this year.

      Hope to see you there!

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