#12Months12Cities – my new pet project

#12Months12Cities – my new pet project
9 November 2017

Life is short, and you only regret the things you haven’t done.

One of the best things I’ve done in recent years was to set myself the target of visiting 41 World Heritage Sites in 2016 (here is an article I published about the experience).

What seemed a bit daunting at first and required a fair bit of discipline and planning turned into one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Lots of insights, memories, and photos.

Efficient organisation allows you to get a lot out of a place in just a short amount of time. E.g., I visited New Delhi in a weekend, leaving London on a Thursday evening and landing back in time to be in the office at 6am the following Monday. In between, I visited six World Heritage Sites and had time to spare.

Walking to a tube station in London a few months back, I had a new idea.

Why not spend a year exploring 12 cities around the world? Not as a full-time job, but to the degree possible in between a busy work life and other engagements such as visiting family occasionally and having a diary of conferences and events that I need to attend in different parts of the world.

Roll out #12Months12Cities, starting November 2017.

Here is what you’ll get to read about

I am not into writing a travel blog in the conventional sense, but I do enjoy writing down and sharing my impressions. Not the least, as publishing my musings regularly leads to all sorts of other stuff, ranging from meeting new people to being offered all sorts of tempting opportunities.

Over the next year or so, you can follow me travel the globe and visit 12 of the most exciting cities known to man.

In every city, I want to spot at least one new trend, idea or lesson that will help me in advancing my business interests and those of the people I work with (e.g., developing Master Investor Ltd.). I will write about that on www.swen-lorenz.com, wearing a hat as globe-trotting trend sleuth with an interest in building, growing and restructuring companies. Also, in each city, I’ll endeavor to find one good investment idea or investment theme. These may not always be immediately published, but be added to my list of ongoing research projects for publication at a later date. In summary, I will choose cities that are interesting for business, investing, and trend sleuthing. What I am not after are beaches, tourist sites or entertainment.

Over the next year or so, you can follow me travel the globe and visit 12 of the most exciting cities known to man.

Of the 12 cities I visit, at least six have to be entirely new for me; the others I can choose from ones I have been to before.

With these rules in mind, I compiled an initial list of 30 suitable cities, then whittled it down to 20, before cutting it back to 12. They are on four continents, ranging from 150,000 residents to 15m residents, from poor to rich, and it’s a mixture of cities with strong personalities.

I have already booked visits to the first three cities for November, December, and January:

November = Hong Kong: The world’s no. 1 bulwark of free enterprise.
December = Sao Paolo: A major city in a country that is in deep, deep crisis.
January = Lisbon: Europe’s latest “in” hub for digital nomads.

Other cities will be revealed as I go along. The current list of 12 may yet be changed, which is why I am not publishing all the names in advance.

A few other ground rules I have set myself

I enjoy the luxury of not having to set anything in stone, but among the aims I have set myself are:

  • I’ll only stay in apartments, no hotels. Even if it’s just a short visit, it’ll help me experience the city in a more authentic way.
  • I’ll do some tourist stuff, but primarily trying to experience the city like a local. E.g., I won’t go to see Broadway-style musicals or participate in tourist bus tours. Instead, I’ll…
    • attend interesting Meet-Up groups;
    • spend a few days working from co-working spaces.
    • try to meet a few local bloggers.
    • read an English language local newspaper, where available.
    • read at least two books about the place, one each about past and present.
    • see if I can meet one local charity to learn about the challenges there.

My work and business life must never suffer. If a major client needs to speak to me and it’s 3am in the morning where I am, then I’ll get up at 3am.

Other goals I have set myself are:

  • To make this inspiring for others, I’ll do it all on a normal budget. I want to pass on some advice how to live such a life, and no one will ever be able to say “I’d love to do that, too, but I don’t have the money.” I’ll hunt bargains and write about how to do it all without a large budget. If you ever considered living a similar life, you’ll have no excuses not to do it (shoot the dog, poison the wife, and hand the kids to an orphanage).
  • My work and business life must never suffer. If a major client needs to speak to me and it’s 3am in the morning where I am, then I’ll get up at 3am. Which is how I have always done things anyway. Usually, no one even notices if I am on a different continent.
  • I want to teach myself using one additional digital tool per month, i.e., an app, software tool, or website that makes life easier for digital nomads. Ideally, use that to further downsize the amount of physical stuff I own.
  • Much as I love meeting old friends (which I have almost everywhere, bar Antarctica), I want to meet lots of new people along the way and will find ways how to achieve this.
  • It’s imperative that I keep fit and lean while doing all this. Anyone who has ever spent lots of time on the road will know that this is a challenge onto itself. After changing my eating habits and losing weight in 2017, getting super-fit again is my goal for 2018.

Overall, I want to push the boundaries and show how it’s more feasible than ever before to have a job/business and enjoy some variety of digital “no-mad-ness” (sic!).

No doubt I’ll make up some more stuff along the way. But I wanted to have a reasonably clear plan for myself from the outset.

Hong Kong in mid-November

I have been to Hong Kong many times (and once co-managed a $300m property fund in Macau), but it’s a fast-changing city and one that lies at the crossroads of the planet. I have long said it’s one of the five cities I’d love to live in.

I’ll be there from November 14th. If you are around, drop me a note. I always have time for friends, old and new.

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