How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur in Thailand after Dropping out of College

Are college drop outs more successful business owners? It’s no secret that quite a few college dropouts have done very well, so it’s time to meet copywriter and digital nomad John McIntyre.

In this interview, John shares his best tips. He explains how you can also have a rewarding nomadic life, what his favorite gear are, what you need to know about his world tour, and why a nomadic lifestyle will give you more freedom!

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is John McIntyre and I’m currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. However, I’m originally from Sydney, Australia. Thanks to my freelance copywriting business, I’ve been able to live and travel around the world since 2011.

Though these days, I’m not 100% focused on business. I actually split my time 50/50 between business and music production. I’m teaching myself how to make dance music, and one day hope to play music for thousands of people.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

How and why did you become a nomad?

In my case, I think it was inevitable…

I dropped out of high school, skipped university, tried community college but dropped out after six months. The standard life script of “go to school, get a degree, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, and die” never appealed to me. I don’t know why as I just felt like it was boring, and that there was more to life than following society’s step-by-step plan for “success”.

It took me a few years after school to get serious, but when I finally did and committed myself to becoming a successful business owner (and digital nomad), things changed pretty quickly.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

Why is having a nomadic life important for you?

For me, it’s about the freedom.

I LOVE being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want. I’m free to wake up when I want, set my own schedule, work and play as I please, and so on. I’m accountable to myself, and it’s a great feeling.

I love to travel too, but that’s not what makes this life so cool. And in fact, I don’t travel that often. I actually prefer to base myself in a location for a long period of time, so I can focus on goals and hobbies. Right now, I’m doing both business and music and having a total blast.

Over time, I think I’ve become increasingly convinced that living a meaningful life means doing whatever it is that you feel you need to do. Some people feel they need to change the world. Others just want to travel, and others want to have a family. There’s no cookie cutter solution to the problem of how to have a meaningful life, you’ve really gotta chew on it yourself and figure out your own answer.

And that’s what this nomadic life is great for. With unparalleled freedom, I’ve got the time and money to explore what living a meaningful life means to me. I’ve danced salsa in Colombia, visited Richard Branson in his private island, interviewed hundreds of marketing experts, jammed on my guitar at open mic nights and lots more. It’s all just one big great exploration of me and what I want to do in the world.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre
Party with Richard Branson

What have been the most difficult parts of being a nomad?

Sometimes the loneliness gets to me. Most nomads are moving around often, so it can be difficult to build long-term friendships, but it can be done.

Also, people back home don’t really get it. For the few years, people from home were always asking me if I was making enough money to get by. They just couldn’t wrap their head around the fact that you could live like this and survive long-term.

Where do you live as a nomad?

I have a studio apartment in Chiang Mai that looks over the mountain. It’s beautiful, and every morning, I wake up and feel grateful. Since Chiang Mai is a relatively leafy green city, the main thing outside my window and balcony is trees. It’s wonderful.

My apartment has a kitchen, which is rare in Chiang Mai, but for me it’s a must-have because I like to cook my own food. It’s cheap to eat out here too, but cooking at home is the best way to be healthy since you control exactly what goes into the food.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

Where do you usually work?

I’m all about the home office.

I used to do coffee shops and coworking spaces, but I find them to be more of a distraction than a benefit. People want to talk, go out to lunch together, and ask questions. Sure, if your purpose is to be social, it’s great. But if you want to work, in my opinion, it’s much more productive to work alone.

So yeah. That’s me. I wake up at 6am, start work at 7am, and go for most of the day. I stop for the gym, and to read books or listen to music. Lately, I’ve been a bit of a hermit. I rarely go out to meet friends. Mostly, I just want to work on my business and music.

How do you build a social life as a nomad?

The trick is getting involved in a community of some kind, whether it’s the Dynamite Circle or another group of digital nomads.

Once you’re connected with a community and meet a few people, you get invited to other things, and then more things, and so on. Before you know it, you’ve assimilated into the overall community, and it can be relatively easy to find other nomads in almost any cities.

Also, because other nomads have the same social life challenges, everyone is looking for friends, business associates and even romantic relationships, so everyone tends to be warm and welcoming and willing to hang out.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

How do you finance your nomadic life?

At the moment, The McMethod finances my nomadic life. With The McMethod, I help aspiring copywriters and marketing consultants to increase their income and get more freedom.

My cost of living in Chiang Mai is around $1,600 USD per month, and that gets me a great apartment with a great view of the mountain, home-cooked meals by a personal chef, a cleaner and someone to do my laundry. My biggest expenses are usually my rent and eating out. While eating out can be super cheap ($1 meals, anyone?), it’s also possible to spend $10-20 or more per meal if eating at Western restaurants.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

What kind of gear do you bring with you?

I have the Western Flyer bag from Tom Binh. It has a ton of space and is small enough to fit on the plane as carry-on. Whenever I’m traveling, I take that, plus a smaller backpack.

The other main piece of gear is my laptop. Since I work online and need to be able to work anywhere, this laptop goes with me almost everywhere.

Other highlights include:

What has been your best gear purchase below $100?

The Roost Laptop Stand.

It’s a small, lightweight laptop stand that lifts your laptop screen up to eye level so you don’t hurt your back or neck while working.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

What is your best advice for new nomads?

Just do it.

It’s not impossible… it’s not even that hard these days. But you have to commit to doing it, and then execute. Too many people either never get started because they convince themselves that it’ll never happen, or get started but don’t manage their money properly and so run out and have to return home.

Commit to figuring it out. Take it seriously. And really believe it’s possible.

Also, spend as much time with REAL business owners. Sure, it’s cool to meet other beginner nomads, but if they’re the only people you spend time with, you’ll find yourself in a bit of an unproductive bubble. Seek out more advanced people through meetups and communities and build a better network. Remember, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Digital Nomad John McIntyre

What will the future bring?

World tour with John Lavido, my music project. Bigger business. More adventures (white water kayaking tomorrow in Chiang Dao!). More friends.

I’m pumped. I love my life, and I feel like it just gets better and better.


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