379 : RJ Macalanda – Taking passive income to slow travel and beyond

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Ok who would like to have passive income? Ok who would like to travel and take the time to really enjoy it? Ok who is under 30 and wants to do it? Of course us older folks know the answer to this. Of course heck yes! But RJ is talking to younger people and saying the high doesn’t need to come from racing through life. It can come from developing relationships, interacting with a community and getting the most from every experience. See that is a message not pushed by many. Bigger and faster challenges are what is show in Instagram. Well slow down, get comfortable and listen to RJ explain why he is taking the long way home.

 

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Here is transcript- It is automated so it is not perfect but it does seem to get better over time.

RJ:                                          00:00:00               So I looked at this as big business from day one. Um, I looked at where I want it to be and that’s what makes me different from other mergers is because I looked at the other higher tiers and I said, okay, I have I think two tee shirts today that I can design. Um, and then upload because you’re limited at the beginning. And then I’ll have 10 and then I’ll have 25 and then I’ll have 50.

Cool voice Guy:                 00:00:25               Welcome to the ECOMMERCE momentum. We’ll focus on the people, the products, and the process of incomers selling today is your host Stephen Peterson.

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Stephen:                             00:03:51               The number four e-commerce dot com, forward slash wholesale, save 50 bucks. Get that important part of your team working for you. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 379 RJ muck Alanda. Very, very cool story. Uh, again, these young guys who get it at such a young age, um, inspire old dudes like me, they inspire me. You know, a, it gives me confidence in our younger generation that, you know, despite what you read in the newspapers or hear on TV, not true. These are just people that have figured out that they don’t want to work forever to get that potential reward 30 40, 50 years in the future. Um, and it’s not like they’re looking for self gratification now. They’re just looking to live life now. Why wait 30 or 40 years and you know, nobody’s guaranteed that time. And so I think that it’s so cool that a younger group or younger generation figured that out.

Stephen:                             00:04:51               I guess that’s what it’s cool. I wish, you know, 30 years ago I would have figured it out. But it is what it is. Um, but we can get inspired. So great story again of Merck and what it’s allowed someone to do. Um, and I think there’s, there’s a couple of really key points. I love his description of slow travel, a digital nomad or slow travel lifestyle. I think there’s something very, very clever about that rather than, you know, running around the world showing a hundred countries, I think, you know, getting to go and revisit and then build that foundation in that community very, very attractive. It was very cool the way he described that. Um, the other thing is, is that, you know, he’s, he’s starting groups with young guys and these guys cause he’s a guy but it’s younger people. Um, I don’t see a lot of that.

Stephen:                             00:05:39               I do see a lot of older guys too and so very cool. Go follow him and reach out to him. If you fit that bill, this could be somebody that can be very helpful to you as you’re looking for, to design your own lifestyle business. Let’s get into the podcast and we’ll come back to the commerce momentum podcast. We’re excited about today’s guest. I’m living my life vicariously through him watching in our precall. We were talking about the food he’s eating, and it just blows my mind, the experiences that someone could have when they adopt this digital nomad lifestyle. I really, really love it. Rj. Micah Leyenda. How’d I do on the name? Yeah, that’s great. That’s a tough one. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of letters there. There’s definitely a lot of A’s. So is that fair? I mean, you are a digital nomad. Is that, is that a badge you wear proudly.

RJ:                                          00:06:31               Okay. So I do wear it proudly just cause it, it was a lot of hardship to get to where I’m at. Um, for a lot of people, the term digital nomads kind of cringy, I don’t really care. It’s just one of the most common names. Um,

Stephen:                             00:06:43               but well, I picture guys smoking pot sitting, uh, barely, you know, barely living, you know, drinking from dirty bottles, you know, just Kinda, that’s not the way it is, isn’t it? That’s a Hobo. But yeah. Yeah, that’s right. It’s, there’s an inference there. I mean, in some ways the Hobos. Yeah, there was a negative connotation to it for longest time. Now old dudes like me are looking like, man, these guys have figured it out. We, we are, we are so envious of you. It’s all good.

RJ:                                          00:07:13               Um, people say like location, independent entrepreneurs, a better term, but digital nomad, it’s just catchy on art. I just do, do me.

Stephen:                             00:07:23               So location independent, I mean, how, how important was that for you and is it still,

RJ:                                          00:07:30               yeah, it’s absolutely important. So anywhere I can go just pick up and decide like, hey, want to be over here, I just go do it. And that’s really what I wanted and I just wanted freedom. Um, so yeah, it’s absolutely important.

Stephen:                             00:07:45               Well, let’s get into the story, how you get there. So, so you were in high school, were you in the u s when you went to high schools?

RJ:                                          00:07:51               Yeah, so born and raised in Dallas. Um, and then high school is also in Dallas. Then I moved to Arkansas for college. Uh, that’s where I studied marketing. Okay. And so you were going to do, what would that degree, what was the big dream? The big dream was to be outside sales, um, in the medical industry. And so what was attractive about that? I mean, what was it, the money because you, you’ve heard that that’s where the big money is. Um, okay. So I, in high school I was really shy. I didn’t talk to a lot of people and I got enrolled into the speech club, um, by my parents. And of course I didn’t say anything because I was shy, but I was like really dreading it. And when I was in the speech club, this is not just a regular speech class, it’s every single weekend you wake up at 5:00 AM and go to sleep at like 10 doing a tournament. So you’re driving to a different city and you’re competing against other high schools. And so you’re doing speeches every single, you know, hour after hour after hour tournament style. Um, and so that’s, that’s completely

Stephen:                             00:08:56               like the opposite of what someone wants to do as an introvert. So I got into that break. You of that broke me. That’s a good piece of advice. So if, if somebody is, uh, you know, they always say face your face, your, uh, your demons face some, right. Rj. But realistically, by doing it that repetitively, consistently and then having a little success, you can break a bad habit. Absolutely.

RJ:                                          00:09:21               Yeah. I mean, it’s like I’m not, you know, a hundred percent extrovert, but I know I have the skills and talents, uh, go out and speak in public

Stephen:                             00:09:29               as a dad. That’s very cool. Dad, dad did a good job there.

RJ:                                          00:09:32               Yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of what forced me into marketing because I started winning a lot of titles for speech and I said, okay, this is actually what I’m good at. I need to apply this into some sense. And so that’s when it transitioned to marketing and that’s how I was like, okay, I think I can do sales and outside sales, um, the medical industry because my mom’s a nurse and so I look up to my mom quite a lot and I’ve always wanted to, you know, make them proud. They always wanted me to be a doctor and this was just kind of happy middle. Um, and of course like, yeah, it’s a high, high paid industry. Um, so that’s, that’s Kinda like the path that I wanted. Um, and that’s what I went for when I was in college. But, um, it was also a transition of like, do I want to follow entrepreneurship or do I want to go into the corporate life? Um, so if you want me to talk about that.

Stephen:                             00:10:22               Yeah, no, I do because I want to understand what, what you were thinking. Did you have a vision of what corporate life look like? A positive or negative. I mean, it, it’s important.

RJ:                                          00:10:34               It was a dream. Like I, I was like, oh, I want the nicest suits. I want, you know, the nicest car. I want to be the guy going into the hospitals, like knowing what I’m doing and like really making a difference with the products and stuff and like really helping a lot of people. Um,

Stephen:                             00:10:50               that’s what you thought it was. That was shiny. I thought that was the dream. Yeah. Mm. Hmm. When did you realize that that might not, or maybe you didn’t, uh, you probably do now, but I mean, did you realize that there might be a little chink in that armor?

RJ:                                          00:11:05               Um, yes, I did. Um,

Stephen:                             00:11:10               but

RJ:                                          00:11:12               it was kind of in different phases. So when I was in college, I had a couple of businesses, um, and not all of them were great, but at least I knew like I had some kind of entrepreneurship mindset. And so I was on the verge of I’m going fall into entrepreneurship and going into the corporate life. So it was my senior year of college and I had all these, these jobs lined up. But I also had this, um, this also dream and like the, the readiness to just go into the full entrepreneurship. But I chose corporate. Um, and when that corporate dream kind of died, especially the medical sales, uh,

RJ:                                          00:11:54               it was when I was going through trying to get to that path because with medical sales you need a lot of experience and you need to have like a bio degree and you need to have a whole bunch of like this, this, this check all these off and then five years experience, then you can get to the spot I want it to be in. And I was like, sure I could, I could totally do that. Um, the position I ended up going with was a mix of outside in, inside sales. So it was an insurance brokerage, um, kind of deal. So I would be going to banks and going to real estate offices, mortgage people and doing outside sales. They’re trying to get their clients to sell insurance too. And then on the other half it would be selling the insurance in the office, um, doing all the calls and everything. And I was going to say like, okay, I’ll do this for, you know, prove my worth. Insurance sales is one of the hardest sales to be in. And so I can bridge that into the medical industry. Um,

RJ:                                          00:12:54               and as I was doing that, I realized, you know,

RJ:                                          00:13:01               it’s not really what it all was not

Stephen:                             00:13:05               being away, wasn’t it? A little,

RJ:                                          00:13:06               yeah, a little bit. Um, I mean it had all the perks and everything. Like you, you could, you had a budget of what you could spend, um, for expenses and like, you could take loan officers out and you could do all these fancy things. But on the flip side, I was working like 80 hours a week and then half of that time, actually more than half it was just customers yelling at you because it’s like, um, insurance is not the most, uh,

Stephen:                             00:13:32               you know, appealing thing. I sold insurance when I got out of college too. So let me ask you a question. Your friends, right? Generally the majority of your friends, did they go the same path as you think in that corporate life? Is it, and it’s going to be the way to go? And did that influence you in some ways?

RJ:                                          00:13:50               Um, I mean I think it’s not just my friends, it’s just what’s expected of societies. These stays. So out of my high school, it was like probably a good 98, 95%, went to university and out of mostly everyone, um, and my friends and university, they all, that’s the path to go to find a corporate job afterwards. No one really goes to entrepreneurship. There were a handful, I’d say like maybe two or three that had businesses. And of course I had my own businesses and universities, so I was hanging around a couple of those guys. But mostly everyone, they’re still geared towards that corporate mindset,

Stephen:                             00:14:35               you know, thinking about like banks for example, friend of mine is a big v VP at a bank and I saw something in the newspaper, believe it or not, I actually saw a newspaper today and it had in there that they acquired another bank. Now you know, what happens to the marketing department in that other bank that they just bought, they’re gone. Completely gone because that’s how they pay for it, right? That’s, you know, all the administrative, all the old those. And so what, what’s missing today in that dream of what you have, what your parents had and your, maybe your grandparents, probably not, but, but your parents for sure is that that was the career path that your parents in me, cause I’m probably as old as your parents were sold because that’s what you do. You go to work at that bank and you do your work your way up and you earn your way up and you get to the VP level and you just keep working your way through today though, outside of your control. I think you guys understand it’s so much better than we do. And I see so many old dude’s 50 plus I called, I called that old cause I’m in there so I can say it not realizing that that didn’t, that doesn’t matter. You guys get it. I mean is that fair that you guys get it? That you could be gone tomorrow but you could leave tomorrow at your own free will?

RJ:                                          00:15:48               Yeah. We just look at the society as it is and we understand that there’s a lot of shortcuts you can take. Um, so

Stephen:                             00:15:58               cool. Oh, nice. Having to give your 20 years in that time, like that six years, right. Five years of experience and all the way you, that is a path, but there are also shorter pass.

RJ:                                          00:16:09               Exactly, exactly. Especially in what I’m talking about is retirement. So you spend, you know, 50 years to get to Hawaii. Um, when we realize like, you know, you could just work from Hawaii on your laptop. Um, and what’s the point of, you know, making all that money, he and then blowing it out in a week. Um, I’d rather just stay there long term.

Stephen:                             00:16:35               You know, when I look at the pictures and I’ll post a, his Instagram stuff here so people can go take a look at it. I mean it’s not, you’re not bragging, but you’re just living your life. Does that, is that feel genuine to you now because you’ve had some time to think about it. I mean, is this like the life you’re led to live? I mean, does that, is that weird the way I said that?

RJ:                                          00:16:56               Um, are you saying like, this is, is this what I want or

Stephen:                             00:17:00               is it, is it like flow for you? I mean, does it feel like, you know, you know how when things work and you can get into a flow and you just know that you’re meant to do this even for now it doesn’t matter. But do you feel like that now that, you know, when I look at those pictures I can see that’s it. That looks like somebody who’s really enjoying themselves and pretty happy. Yeah.

RJ:                                          00:17:20               I mean, I am enjoying myself and it is an awesome lifestyle, but there are a lot of negatives to it. Their training, it’s, and these negatives are the ones that I will, I’ll take over corporate life. Um, because, you know, I was, when I was in an insurance, there was some days where I was just like, ah, I can’t take this. I’d go to the bathroom and cry. And like at that time I’d be like, oh, that’s a lot. And like, it’s heavy. And, uh, I’d be complaining to my parents and stuff and they’d be like trying to be like, hey, you could do it buddy, suck it up. Like, so you just kind of bottle in yourself and then you just go and like go to the bathroom and start, you know, balling out about your friends.

Stephen:                             00:18:01               Did you have these conversations with your friends? Um, I mean, you know, you don’t want a pity party and you feel like misery, right? Because here you, you’re lucky to have a good job and you, you know, obviously, but realistically, I mean, did you have kindred spirits with some of your friends feel feeling the same way?

RJ:                                          00:18:18               Um, you mean as in relating to them of like how they’re struggling and corporate life?

Stephen:                             00:18:23               Yeah. Yeah. It just, with the grind at your age to have a grind and you’re so young when this happened to actually have a grain that young, it’s a bad feeling cause you only got 50 more years of it, right?

RJ:                                          00:18:33               Yeah. I mean, um, a lot of my friends, they’ve switched jobs and a lot of people, most everyone I know doesn’t like their job. Um, and so yeah, I sympathize with that. And it’s just, even when I try to push them out of that comfort zone and show them like the other direction, they still are too comfortable to make the switch. Um, and so it’s, I kind of don’t really have that sympathy anymore. I just kind of accept that like, hey, that’s the life they want to live and just let them do what they want.

Stephen:                             00:19:08               So you, you felt empathy and you felt like you wanted to help people and when you tried to help what happened?

RJ:                                          00:19:14               Um, okay. So out of my whole entire, um, experience from having success and then trying to share it, I’ve sat through with people laptop to laptop, showed my entire business model and showed them everything I do and all the secrets and things that people don’t even do, um, in my, my industry. And after a while they just, they, they get excited, they stop and then they go back to what they’re comfortable with. Um, and so that kinda hurts. Um, when you, when you really want somebody to go and make it and like, hey, here’s everything and like give them everything and then all of a sudden it’s like they just take it for granted and then continue with their regular life.

Stephen:                             00:19:58               I think that is w I mean, do you think if you, if somebody would have handed you this life back, uh, when, I mean, I’m wonder if you would have acted on it. I mean, I know you did take action, but you had to learn along the way, right? It’s not easy, right? I’m sure it’s not easy. Right? There were a pain. He pushed through the pain. You come out on the other side, you learn something, you don’t go back into pain in all those things here, you’re making it easy saying, Steve, here’s the answer. Here’s the keys to the kingdom. Just do this. But I don’t feel the pain. Is that part of it do you think?

RJ:                                          00:20:30               I think it is part of it. I think some people need to hit a certain point where it just hurts too much, that they have to take action. Um, and if people aren’t comfortable with, uh, where they’re at, then they’re gonna, you know, get off the fire, um, and make something happen. So, I mean, I go through that as well. Like I, I’m definitely in a place of comfort right now and I know I can be better, but, um, I think it’s just human nature to, to stay stagnant sometimes. So it just depends.

Stephen:                             00:21:00               Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think it happens to everybody and it gets, it gets more frequent the older you get. Um, um, so just get ready for that. Okay. So, so you decide that the insurance life isn’t cutting it. You get, you know, get off the toilet, you stopped crying and you say what, what, what, what triggers and then how did you take action?

RJ:                                          00:21:24               Yeah, so part of the job I said was driving around to different offices and stuff. Some places would be like an hour out of Dallas and I was working 80 hours a week and just really grinding it out. And I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. I wasn’t seeing my friends or family. Like weekends are just gone to, and it was around the third or fourth time that I fell asleep at the wheel and I just woke up and I was like, I am not about to risk my life for my boss. I know if I put the same amount of hours and effort into myself then I can make probably at least two times as much as I’m making right now. And that was really the point where, um, I had the revelation of like, yes, I need to make a change now. Well, let me ask,

Stephen:                             00:22:09               let me ask you a question there. So you think you could have made two times what you were making then? So money was still the driver at that point? Or was it to say if I can make two times, then I can make one in half the time. I mean, what was the math in your mind?

RJ:                                          00:22:24               Um, it wasn’t exactly like all just money related, but it was just the time I was spending in the office. It could have been spending it on myself or doing what I wanted to do, or, you know, making enough money to insure my happiness and the happiness of the people that I care about. So, um, just all of those factors combined, it was just saying, should I stay in this job for x amount of years and make x amount of money and then make a switch or just make it happen now? And then, um, really get going on the grind. Because when I was in the office, I also looked at everyone else in the office, especially the people that had tenure. And so the guys that were, you know, at doing this for a long time, they were making a ton of money, like 200 k or something like that.

RJ:                                          00:23:20               And I was on track for, for six figures and in a few years and I was actually pretty, pretty good at what I was doing. Um, but I saw the same lifestyle as day one to, you know, people that were in the office for a long time. And, um, I know one thing that really stuck with me was they were celebrating one of the older guys, one the top salespeople in the, in the office. He canceled his Disney vacation for his family because he needed to make this big sale and everyone was celebrating that. But I, I was just thinking back my mind, I was like, okay, well that sucks. I don’t really want that. And people explained to me, it’s like when you take vacation, you actually lose on a lot of sales because what if your clients are calling you? What if you’re, um, you know, your realtor is calling you?

RJ:                                          00:24:14               What if your partners are calling you and then all of a sudden someone else has a better opportunity for them, then they can go and snipe your sales. So the work actually never stopped. And it was just so many factors that I realize like, what am I doing here? Um, and even if I went into a different industry, I realized like, okay, the people that left our office, they went into home security sales and that’s basically the same grind, just a different product. Um, so that’s, that’s what I needed out and that’s when I put in the research of like, what is the opposite of this?

Stephen:                             00:24:51               All right. Before we go there, because it is exciting because it’s very cool to me how you found your lane in this world. But before we go there, I want to do this math. So you realize that, you know, you could earn double what you’re earning right now is what your goal was. But did you ever think about what it would have taken? And I’m sure this might have played into the decision to earn double in that office right? Course hand or 20 years, like you said, 80 hours a week. No vacations. You know, I think back to my corporate life in the kids’ stuff I missed, oh, it breaks my heart to think about it. I won’t do it, my grandkids, but I did with my kids because that’s what we did. Right? That is never worth it. Never, ever, ever worth it. Um, but to be mature about that.

Stephen:                             00:25:35               Now, the other thing that I would say for somebody listening who’s going through this right now is to think about that guy making 200 k or even a hundred k, right? Making six figures. There’s a lifestyle that comes along with that that’s expected. I remember how many times we upgraded in house because it was expected, you know, like you said, the car, the suits, the, all that stuff comes along. We had club memberships that a cost. And so when you’re making that kind of money, it becomes kind of like a heroine that you have to keep making it to keep the machine moving. I’m assuming in your lifestyle now, you don’t spend a 10th of that,

RJ:                                          00:26:10               correct? No. Yeah, you’re right. How different is that? That’s so different than your parents and your grandparents would have grown? Well, probably not your grandparents, your grandparents would have thought the same way. You know, your parents in that generation. And I’m not blaming them, I’m just saying I’m part of that generation too. That’s not what we were led to believe. I mean, it’s a different side of the sword now. So, um, I kind of feel pressed for to keep traveling, to show people more places, um, because it’s like, ah, I need to keep fulfilling this lifestyle. But then it’s like, I like being home too. So that’s, that’s kind of the, the negative that I have right now. And like the, the status of being a digital nomad. Like I’m, I can work wherever and I can be wherever, but I don’t know. It’s, it, this is something we have to the automatic, right? Does it always have to be? It doesn’t always have to be, but, uh, for me it’s just the thought of like, am I going to a destination because I want to check off a box now or am I going to destination because I think it’s cool.

Stephen:                             00:27:15               And you’re trying to please somebody.

RJ:                                          00:27:17               Yeah. So, uh, this, this just came up recently because my whole motto going into this lifestyle was I looked at all these people going to, you know, 50 countries in one year. And I said, I don’t want to do that. I want to do slow travel because I don’t want to burn out. I really like this lifestyle. And, um, this past January, I did six countries in one month and I was that, that completely like fried my brain. Um, and that’s when I realized like, what am I doing this for? Because it used to just be go to different places that I like and go back to them after I establish the community, make friends, and really learn the city. Um, so I lived in Canada for six months, living in Mexico for six months and um, visited Thailand, Japan and Philippines, uh, around three times each now. So Philippines way more cause their family there. But um, yeah, I just stuck to my core like around five or six countries. And this past month it was like six different places as just too much. And yeah, that’s when I was like, I don’t know what I’m, I’m trying to fulfill here if I’m trying to go to a different country just to say I went to a country or am I actually just trying to, to experience life. So I don’t know.

Stephen:                             00:28:38               I mean, he’s had a rich that you’re worried that your followers, right, or you’re trying to create a tribe of your own, that you’re letting them down, that you know you’re not living. I mean to see you in a coffee house and Dallas, right? It private coffee house, not even a Starbucks, right? A I just a private coffee house in Dallas, uh, drinking a great cup of coffee, um, chatting with other people. We’re at a, um, at a, um, uh, we work type of place that, I mean to, to an old dude like me, that’s still attractive because you’re choosing, do you know what I mean? I know it’s not as exotic. It’s this island and a dam. It’s not as good looking as that day and Mexican meal that I saw Jesus. I’m still thinking about that thing, but, but it’s still attractive in its own way because you have the freedom RJ. It’s so supposed freedom. I think that’s what you got to realize is that, you know, being digital or being a nomad, I don’t know. I mean, I know that there’s a connotation. Again, it used to have a negative connotation. Now it’s a positive, but it’s your free wherever you are. To me that’s still what’s so attractive.

RJ:                                          00:29:47               Yeah, absolutely. And I mean yeah, that’s, that’s really why I like to do it. Most of ’em the time I’m in Dallas, I really enjoy it because I’m actually here for fishing season. March, April, may is when the fishing season really hits hard. Um, I think it came a month early though cause it’s around 30 degrees right now so it’s going to be going to get like six inches of stone and I don’t want to hear it. It’s still, you’re wishing two degrees. I take 30 without the snow. All right. So I mean you’re right. You’re right. I think that’d be where you want,

Stephen:                             00:30:25               you’re being self aware. To me, again, as a dad, I get proud of kids who figure this stuff out. You know, because you’re being self aware. You’re saying, okay, this is what I want. And then you go get it and you say, hmm, this isn’t quite what I want. Let me adjust. It’s not that you’re in the corner, you’re not in the bathroom crying anymore. Right? You’re figuring it out. And to me, that’s the, that’s the maturity that you know, that you guys have as a generation. You know, everybody says that that generation is no good luck, good luck. They’re going to pass us by because they’re going to outlive us because they understand how to adapt. Um, okay, we, let’s, let’s start talking about the research process. So what, what did you, what was your initial thinking that you were going to do? Just do marketing stuff from wherever or what were you thinking?

RJ:                                          00:31:13               No. So, um, at first started out as everyone else how to make money online. You know, nobody’s ever searched for that. Right? How many know of, so, let’s see. I’m going to, I’m going to do that. Let me just Google it real quick.

Stephen:                             00:31:27               Yeah. Let’s just see and wait to, you see my feet is going to get filled with all this nonsense. Let’s see how many responses, how to make money on a lot. Okay, well, I guess you have to spell it. There are only, this isn’t too bad. It took 0.7, two seconds, 5 million, 350,000 results. Okay. So it’s pretty easy to find something to do, right. There’s 5 billion opportunities according to this, according to Google. Uh, so where did you start?

RJ:                                          00:31:58               And so I started by books. Um, I used to read about a book a week, especially when I was in sales. I really was reading a whole bunch of sales books and entrepreneurship books and business books in general. And there was one book called the millionaire fastlane. Um, and they had a four Ryan Moran. I know the author’s sorry. Oh, okay, go ahead. I know the book. Go ahead. Yeah, so they have a forum online and it’s just a bunch of people that have read the book and they’re like ready to go start or there’s a bunch of people that are already in the fast lane and they’re trying to help people out. And there was one article that really stuck with me is by this like 1819 year old kid who started an APP agency and I was 22 at the time. And so I was like, wow, this kid is younger than me and he’s making you know, a ton of money and it doesn’t seem that hard the way he describes it.

RJ:                                          00:32:59               Um, and so I said, I could do that. You know, I’m older, I’m more experienced than him, so why don’t I go ahead and try it. And the general business model was just to get a contract from the states, go to a cheaper country, hire developers for cheaper, and then fulfill that contract, send it back to the states and collect the money off of that. Um, so this kid was making like 20 k, 30 k, 60 k a pop just by hiring other people, being the middle man, and then selling it back to where the customers. Okay. Again, that sounds easy and it’s like, Ooh, this is great. Especially, you know, 60 K. Yep. Yep. That does sound easy. It was a lot of work. Um, so I partnered with other people and they had investors from Dubai and they were way older than me and they were more experienced.

RJ:                                          00:33:57               Um, and so I had the deadline of like, okay, I’m going to go to Bangkok and I’m going to hire developers there for them and then we’ll figure stuff out afterwards. And so I partnered with three or four agencies total of like a pool of I’d say over a hundred developers and we had, you know, the resources to go. And then when I came back from Thailand, um, it was supposed to hit the ground and then start finding more business and then start doing the contracts and stuff. And when I was on the ground, again, I’m back in Dallas. I found myself in the exact same scenario that I just left. So I was working 80 hours a week. Again, I’m going to different locations, driving to different clients and then doing the sales. And I was like, didn’t I just leave this? Um, so or security you had in the other?

RJ:                                          00:34:53               Yeah. Yeah. And so we actually didn’t make a whole lot of money doing that just because we weren’t really prepared to, to go in. Um, it’s still a good business model. A lot of people do it, but I, I just looked at it was like, I didn’t want this lifestyle. It’s not the same as what I envisioned it to be. Um, but on the other side I found what are called digital nomads and there’s a conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand where they just have a bunch of speakers and like people are just willing to help people out and show their business models and stuff so that, that first Thailand trip was kind of like a two pronged purpose of like find the developers but then learn from everyone

RJ:                                          00:35:38               that’s doing this travel stuff. Um, and so that’s really where most of my research

Stephen:                             00:35:43               came from to become a digital nomad. It’s almost the way it’s been described to me. It’s like a Joshua tree moment, right? If this works for you, the clouds open up the sun beams down on you and you realize that of what the potential could be if that’s what you’re into. Right. Is that, is that a fair explanation of what your experience at that conference was around? Nothing but like minded people saying, man, I don’t, I don’t want the responsibility of life. I want to do it on my terms. Right. That’s, that’s generally the experience. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so you go, you pull this money up, you go, what led you there? I mean, what, what was the thing that said I have to go on this trip to find myself because that’s a big jump. It’s not like somebody’s friend come and pick you up and say, Hey, I’m going to take you. We’re, we’re intervening with you. Our Gi, this is an intervention. And I, it wasn’t that what drives somebody to go there because that’s a big commitment.

RJ:                                          00:36:41               You know, you can’t find anyone doing this kind of thing in Dallas, no matter how many entrepreneurship workshops you go to or how many, um, people you try to meet online. There’s nothing as the same as going to Chiang Mai and going to the workshops there and learning from people that are actually doing it full time

Stephen:                             00:37:06               proof of concept. Like, because as you’re saying, if you go to, uh, you know, we work and you go to one of the workshops, it’s going to be the graphic artist or the, you know, sign maker or what have you. It’s not what you wanted. You didn’t want to create another job. You had already tried that and that didn’t work again. So, yeah, so that, that’s interesting that you get out, you physically get away. Um, it probably has something to do with going halfway across the world too. I imagine that plays into it.

RJ:                                          00:37:34               So I’ve, I’ve traveled quite a lot. Uh, we, me and my family go to the Philippines every three, four years. And so travel was never really a barrier to me. But I will tell you this, there was a time when, it was probably two weeks before my trip to Thailand. I just had like, oh, should I do this? Is this a smart idea? I only have so much money in my bank account. And it’s like, ah, I don’t know if I should do this. Um, but I’m glad I did. And like all the, all the lectures are available online and um, everything from the conference you can find on Youtube, but I just knew like I need to meet someone that’s actually doing this face to face. And that’s kind of how I see it. It’s like if you want to become a really good basketball player, you got to go to someone that’s already at a higher level than you are.

Stephen:                             00:38:25               Right. And step up. But you know, one of the things that I would worry about would be the example of you giving away all your secrets. All right, here you go, aren’t you? I’m going to teach you all my business. Here’s how you do other stuff. I mean, that’s a risk. If you go to that place and somebody says, oh, Rj, you can do this and then you come back and don’t take action. Right. That’s a real possibility. Most people don’t take action. Fair. Yup. Yup. Absolutely. Hm. Okay, so you go there, you have this revelation. What was the revelation?

RJ:                                          00:38:55               Um, so as I was in the nomad conference, so it was, it was just looking at everyone and really talking to everyone from different countries and seeing that, okay, this business model seems really easy. Um, and then trying it for myself and then watching other people make sales and then really learning about what they do and how different everyone thinks. Um, and it’s just this, were you leaning towards at that point it was dropped shipping on Ebay. So David option from Amazon to Ebay, correct. Drop ship from anywhere? Yeah, it was mostly Home Depot or like toys r us to, to Ebay. Um, and so there are people, it’s called retail arbitrage and then you just drop ship from one location to the other. They were buying products from like home depot.com actually, they weren’t even buying them. They were just listening to them on Ebay.

RJ:                                          00:39:55               So they’d take the picture and the exact description, putting that as an Ebay listing, marking it up by 40% and then checking the international box. So let’s say like there was one of those reindeer that you put on your lawn and we buy that from home depot and then ship it to the customer. Um, so you don’t even see the product physically. And I thought that was so cool. Um, so that’s the first one that I tried to get into and I realized it wasn’t for me around like two, three weeks in when I had to upload, you know, like 400 things a day. Um, and people had, you know, listing so 40,000 with like five Va’s and it was just a whole process. And I said, I don’t think this is for me. So that’s when I pivoted. Like when I, when you go through a business model and you look at it and you really analyze it and the time spent and like how you can plug yourself out of that and how much money you will make in the future, then you can realize like, okay, maybe this isn’t for me or maybe it’s not for me.

Stephen:                             00:40:57               What you described when you were in corporate America, you look, he basically did that same mouth. You went forward and said, this is the commitment I have to take. This is the time that we’d give up. This would be the benefit. And the math doesn’t work. It’s not. Exactly. And you’re saying you’re doing the same thing in the drop shipping model. Very cool. Yeah. Okay. We’re seeing a pattern. All right.

RJ:                                          00:41:14               Um, and so what’s next? I tried a whole bunch of things. Um, any other good ones that you can, you can talk about? Okay. So Shopify, it was taking a Shopify course. Alex Ikonn, one of my biggest role models and mentors, he started Luxy hair. Um, and he sold it recently. I was watching his youtube videos for the longest time and I took his course on Shopify of how he created a brand and made it big and then finally sold his store. Um, and while I was taking that course, um, I realized like, okay, I need a lot of money for this because I need to buy the pallets from China and then I need to, you know, pay for the marketing and everything. And it’s the same as like Fba is like, you need to do a whole bunch of research and then you need to put down a whole bunch of money and then you need to put even more money in and then try to fulfill orders and do all that. And then I had a realization like, ah, I don’t think this is for me either.

Stephen:                             00:42:18               Um, is it because some of it people make it sound so easy? I mean, that is definitely one of the things that I hear from people. They’re like, everybody talks about all the upside. Nobody talks about the downside and there’s a downside. I don’t care what you’re doing. There’s a downside, right? Is that part of it, and I don’t know how it is at that digital nomad conference, but people probably talk about how easy it is for them. Right? You know, and you’re not bragging, but it’s just, Oh yeah, I just do this and it sounds cool and easy, right? I mean, is that your experience?

RJ:                                          00:42:48               Um, so it depends. It depends on the model. Like some of them are really easy, like a skill share. So one of the, one of the talks was on skillshare where the guy makes videos of like 45 to 90 minute video is put some on skillshare and he only has like five up, but he’s making six figures a year. Um,

Stephen:                             00:43:10               because it is demonstrating what people were looking for. Correct.

RJ:                                          00:43:15               He’s demonstrating exactly. So his, his model is based around photography. So he’s an expert for cafe photography and um, people are looking for that kind of stuff. And so, um, yeah, it’s just filling the void, a finding a demand and then putting the product in place for it.

Stephen:                             00:43:36               It seems to be the model for any of them. FBA, Amazon, retail, arb drop shipping. So the same way. I mean, it really is, right? It’s, you’re looking for the gap in the market and you want to squeeze it in there and is there enough room for me? Um, interesting. Okay. So how do we get to Merch by Amazon?

RJ:                                          00:43:53               Sure. Um, so it was actually during this course that I was taking and again, an email one day and it says, Hey, you’ve been accepted smirch by Amazon.

RJ:                                          00:44:02               Cool. What’s that? Is this a scam? And a after a quick search, I’m like, oh, okay. It’s actually a business model and there’s actually things on it, fight for it. And just didn’t realize somebody say real RJ, just apply. Just do it like that. That’s why we sell, I don’t know. Yeah. Okay. So you did it and somebody said

Stephen:                             00:44:23               smartly, just do this. You did it. Yeah, we thought about it and all of a sudden you’re approved.

RJ:                                          00:44:29               Right. So it around six

RJ:                                          00:44:32               months, it took around six months to a year to get approved. Previously. Now it’s somewhere around a week or two weeks, sometimes even 24 hours. But, um, at that time, yeah, I calculated six months back and that was basically when I started this digital nomad search and I looked at this model and I was like, oh, this is attractive. Um, because I realized like I, there’s not a lot of startup costs and there’s a high earning potential and there’s no real cap. There are a lot of mentors. Yeah, no inventory. Okay. So I had a tee shirt business in university and I had this big like heat press. Um, so you take artwork, take a blank, a t shirt and then heat up the press to around 400 degrees and then press it down and then your tee shirts made. And so I had that in my trunk and university, Wayne, like 60, 80 pounds.

RJ:                                          00:45:28               It was heavy. I couldn’t do by myself. And um, I said, I don’t need that. That’s crazy. And I don’t need like any inventory and I don’t need to really do anything. I don’t even need to talk to my customers. That’s, that’s how wild it is. And I’m so I said, yeah, that’s, let me, let me look into this. And after more research. So I was like, okay, let’s, let’s go full in. And so I stopped taking the Shopify course. Um, and I started plugging in on March and I did around 30, 40 hours a week on that, just trying to see what works. And so I put up my first design and within three days it sold. And that was my first ever online dollar. And I was like, oh man. And this keep in mind like this is good. I think six months after that trip to Thailand after like, you know, grinding for that APP agency and I’m really trying to make it work with other various business models. And so after that I finally got a dollar and I was like, aw man, this is it. Yeah.

Stephen:                             00:46:34               You just said you had a business like that, right? Or you had something similar. So the learning curve, right. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s not hard because I can do it and I have one, but, but the learning curve for you wasn’t anything like you experienced with dropshipping, um, APP development or any of that. Right. I mean, it was basically, I got to fill this out. I upload this, but a title, that’s it.

RJ:                                          00:46:56               Exactly. Yeah. Hold. That’s it. You know, wait, where’s the rest? Come on. I got to do, there’s no more. Yeah, exactly. Um, so for the listeners, this is kind of the process of Merch by Amazon. You have an artwork that you create or you have someone else create and then you plug that in. You choose what type of product you want. So pop sockets, long sleeves, hoodies, tee shirts, um, yeah, whole bunch of stuff. And then you click next you go Phil, how much you want to price this at.

RJ:                                          00:47:30               You put in your title, description and your bullets. Choose the colors that you want. And then you submit and wait maybe 24, 48 hours. And then that product looks like an actual product on any other Amazon page. Um, and then once a customer sees that, they say, oh, it’s a cool shirt. They click on it, they buy it, and then Amazon sends you the royalties. So you don’t have to do any customer service, you don’t even talk to your customers. And you just collect the money at the end of the month.

Stephen:                             00:47:59               It is, uh, it is that easy. Now, you know, there is downsides and we’ll talk about that in a minute about, you know, the volume and blah, blah, blah. But if you didn’t become even cooler than that because I never knew this and everyone else is going to be like dust Steve, um, that there are, I dunno, dozens if not hundreds of other places. You can sell t shirts that same exact design and now there’s software that’ll transfer it over there pretty easily and allow you to sell it on teespring and t public and red bubble and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. There’s a million of them. I don’t even know them all, but it’s, it’s really, it’s, it’s an enormous, uh, right. I mean the capacity if you’re into it. And I have a friend who’s tier 10,000, so he scaled. It’s enormous. The potential.

RJ:                                          00:48:48               Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Okay. That’s really not much of a cap.

Stephen:                             00:48:53               Okay. So you, were you creating your own designs or were you buying your design?

RJ:                                          00:48:56               No. So I looked at this as big business from day one. Um, I looked at where I want it to be and that’s what makes me different from other marchers is because I looked at the other higher tiers and I said, okay, I have I think two tee shirts today that I can design. Um, and then upload because you’re limited at the beginning, and then I’ll have 10 and then I’ll have 25 and then I’ll have 50 said, oh, when I get to stage 50, how can I upload 50 shirts a day? Is that possible for me? No, it’s not possible. Okay. I need to hire a designer. Um, and also I didn’t know Photoshop. I didn’t know illustrator. I, I, I’m cheap man. Like I just downloaded gimp, which is a free program. Um, and that’s all I had. And so I looked at that and I said, I need to hire designers because look at this.

RJ:                                          00:49:47               If you spend $10 on a design, if you sell a tee shirt twice at $20, you’ve already made profit. Um, so as long as I can sell to these tee shirts per each design, then the rest of that money is profit. And so if people don’t realize that people say like, oh, I need to design and make sure I’m a good artist. Download Photoshop, learn how to do it and all that. But you could use that money on just, you know, paying a designer. Um, so I was paying like 12, $15 a design and I was totally fine with that, but I realized like I could go much cheaper, um, later on.

Stephen:                             00:50:25               Well, let’s pause for a second because you know, back to what you were talking about earlier, this is a generational thing, as she said, do, you could download this and you could sit through youtube classes or you to me and, and study how to learn all that software. Or you can take a shortcut, something that we talked about earlier. You can hire somebody who’s already got those skills and then you just have to communicate well with them. Were you feeding them the design ideas or did you leave it up to them?

RJ:                                          00:50:50               Yes. So I was giving them design ideas and then I would tell them like, I want this altered, that alternate blah, blah blah, but also make it towards this similar style that you’ve already made before. So is this

Stephen:                             00:51:03               one of the secrets to your success? Would you say that that right there, because a lot of people just say, give me seven designs next week. Our Chai.

RJ:                                          00:51:10               Absolutely. Yeah. Like you, you need to have an eye. Um, that’s one of the factors that makes me more successful than other people on March. Because if you don’t have the artistic eye and like know what’s going to sell, then it’s not going to work.

Stephen:                             00:51:25               Can you sharpen those skills if you don’t have it?

RJ:                                          00:51:28               Absolutely. So what do you do? So yeah, so this is what you do. You need to look at what’s trending on Amazon. Go to merchant former or just look at the rankings for the Amazon shirts and literally go through every single design on the top 100,000 and then you’ll have an idea of like, okay, this is what people are buying.

Stephen:                             00:51:50               Because a trend is a trend, right? I mean, you, you don’t get a copy of their design, but the, the, the, you know, um, I’ve had friends that made six figures selling the, um, when the moon gets blocked that way, that’d be clips, right? I’m one of them. Okay. And so, uh, but that’s a trend, right? And they came up with their own unique way to do that. But that lesson, they’ve applied to several other big events, right. That concept. And they’ve had maybe not as much success, but they’ve had success. And again, they didn’t touch a product. Right. Did, he didn’t upload. Okay. Love it. Love it. Love it. Okay. So you start having some success. Um, how quickly were you able to scale it to be a meaningful income, meaning that you could, to utilize that money to be able to start living?

RJ:                                          00:52:39               Right. So for my store, my first month after that first sale, I made around $50. Um, and that’s when I was like, okay, that’s around 50 sales or so, or something, something like that. I’m not sure how much it was. Um, but that was enough to just kind of fuel the fire. Like, oh, this is possible and making money online. And so then I just kind of kept at it, kept perfecting my system and made sure I knew what was wrong and what was, um, what should be changed. And then the next month I made $350. And so I was like, ah, this is like pretty substantial. Um, and at that time, you know, it was, it was still a struggle because I’m, you know, seven, eight months into this journey of not lot of income, living at home with my parents, bootstrapping and consistently giving me pressure to, you know, find another, the job or like make it RJ.

RJ:                                          00:53:35               Yeah. He’s wasted all of our time, blah, blah, blah. Trying to do it. So like at least like get something secure. Like it’s not safe, both blah. And I just kept thinking back to Thailand where it’s like, I know these people are making it, they’re doing it. I can do it too. And um, I believe in this business model because like, I’ve already seen results so far. In three days I can make a sale. That’s crazy. Uh, I know this can scale. And so I just kept at it. And then finally on the third month, that was August, um, I hit around $70,000 profit, um, for merge. And so it was really just like rocket it up. Um, and that’s when I was like, okay, this is, this is a, this is real. Um, and that’s when my parents finally believed me and like, okay,

Stephen:                             00:54:30               all right, I just want to push past this a second because you know, you, you went back and thought about those people in Thailand and then help push you forward. But there had to be more to it than that. I mean, you know, is it an ego thing? Is it an ability thing? What, you know, cause I think a lot of people would’ve given up, you know, they would have gotten 350 bucks and said, hey, that’s cool, but that’s not going to pay my car payment. You know, oh you got to go off and yeah, but what, what, what allowed you to push past that? Because I’m thinking of the person who’s listening to this right now. And I always tell people, if you’ve got an eye, you’ve got a big advantage, right? It like you said, I mean, if you have an eye, I don’t have that. I am an accountant by trade, you know? And so my eye is looking at numbers and I can see what’s wrong with them. You guys have an eye that looks like that’s what people are trending towards. What is it though that, that somebody can do to push past that? Cause they’re all hitting that wall.

Stephen:                             00:55:26               It’s fear for a lot of, especially if you’re older like me, but what is it that got you pass that

RJ:                                          00:55:32               first? You gotta be in a position where you feel a little bit of comfort, like you have a safety net. Um, for me, I didn’t have a lot of things that were debt. So I paid for school and like I, I don’t have a car payment and not doing any rent because I’m living with my parents. Um, so I had that safety net, but I had that pressure of my parents pushing on me and all my friends kind of judging me. And then, um, all my family friends, like my parents friends, they’d ask like, oh, so what do you do? And then I’d be like, make tee shirts and stuff. Um, so it was, it was more of just like, I know I can make this work and for me like the edges, I have to be independent and I know that no one’s going to help me.

RJ:                                          00:56:24               Um, and I know that my failures are going to be all on me. Like there are a lot of people that are judging me off of this and I know like, I want this as a lifestyle. Um, but I got to use this as fuel. And so there were a lot of people at the conference and they were trying to start out the same as I am, but they gave up, um, some probably maybe three months too early. And it really just jumping out of the airplane and knowing that the parachute’s going to open, you can’t go back into the airplane. You got to keep working on it and then make that parachute opened is as hard as you can.

Stephen:                             00:57:03               So you’ve been doing this for a while and you know how you said that there’s some downside to it because you know you do get, you know, you can only eat so much of that. What is that darn Mexican food again? What, what’d you call it? Yeah, you can only so much of that. Right. I mean at some point, um, you know, it, it, you know, it gets old, right. When you look going forward, what, what do you think, um, lifestyle, what did we call it? A light or location independent lifestyle is going to mean for you in the next couple of years. Probably like you said, you, you, you, you’ve already said that you’re not likely to keep up this pace.

RJ:                                          00:57:45               Right? I haven’t definitely not going to keep up like six countries in one month. No, it’s, it’s way too much. I much prefer maybe like two in a month, but I’ve been doing one every two months or so. Um, foot it looks like in the future for this kind of lifestyle for me. Like I don’t see myself stopping being location independent. I don’t see myself like settling down anytime soon. I’m only 24. Um, and so I spend easily my twenties and thirties, somewhere in a different city. Um, but I do think that eventually, like this lifestyle, I’d, I’d keep it as a work at home position travels somewhere throughout the year. Um, but I don’t see myself going to a corporate office anytime soon.

Stephen:                             00:58:37               No Way. You do you, are you almost unemployable? I mean, are you almost mentally there?

RJ:                                          00:58:43               Um, I have employed, so I, it’s, it’s kind of an edge. I mean, if someone, like someone goes through this kind of lifestyle and then, um, you can be employable because, uh, you’ve experienced so much more than everyone else has. That’s fair.

Stephen:                             00:59:04               The thing is, you, you probably come with an attitude like, look dude, you’re going to treat me right or I’m not going to be here cause I could do anything. I want

RJ:                                          00:59:11               it really. I mean, like if I wouldn’t seek out a job that’s not something that I really want. Um, and I’m currently freelancing as a marketer, so, um, I do have people that I report to and stuff. Yeah.

Stephen:                             00:59:25               Okay. So you have some boundaries here. Okay, well that’s all in. That’s real. So it’s not all glamorous. It’s not all cocktails and uh, by the beach every single day. Right? It’s not. Absolutely. All right. So, so I want to make sure people get, if they have a followup question. So on Instagram, you’re RJ dot Mac and I’ll put the link there for Instagram and on Facebook I can put your Facebook contacts if somebody has a followup question.

RJ:                                          00:59:53               Yeah, it is merch by Amazon lifestyle

Stephen:                             00:59:58               lifestyle. Okay. So I’m going to put that there. All right. So the goal of the podcast is to help people who get stuck and, and, and it sounds like you’ve hit that place a couple of different times and you were able to push through it. So I’m going to ask you for your best piece of advice for that 23 year old who’s out there listening to you right now saying, I want to do what RJ is doing. I don’t want to do what Steve Did and did 20 plus years of corporate America. I wanted to do, I want to live now. Like you said, I want to go to Hawaii now and work on the beach rather than, and take a tax deduction for that rather than wait 50 years so I can retire and barely walk on the beach cause I’ll be so darn old. Right. Which what’s the advice that you give to people that really, really want to choose a lifestyle for themselves? Yeah. So

RJ:                                          01:00:52               you have to follow somebody that’s been doing it before. Um, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. That’s why I said like I follow this 19 year old kid that was doing an APP agency cause it’s like, oh, I align with that. I’m young. Like I need to find more people like that. Um, and he’s showing me that it’s possible. So why can’t I do that? A few trying to think of like, how am I supposed to build a business online on my own and without any guidance or without knowing somebody that’s done it before, then you’re going to struggle a lot.

Stephen:                             01:01:25               So, so follow somebody again, you’re back to, you’re going to, uh, to Thailand to that, that conference. Get around those people who have done it and then you can emulate what they’re doing. So you can find out more about this if you’re interested at merch by Amazon lifestyle on Facebook, and I’ll put that link, but go check out this food or Judy dot. Mack on Instagram. Incredible. Yeah, I really appreciate it. I love what you’re doing. I just, I love that you’re 24 years old and doing this on your terms already. I can’t imagine what you’re going to be like when you get to my age. I mean, it’s just incredible today and it’s very cool. Your parents are very proud of you. Thank you so much. I wish you nothing but success. Thanks Stephen. I really appreciate it, man. Oh Man. What a, what a great interview.

Stephen:                             01:02:07               And I’m telling you as a dad, I get proud of guys like that because it’s like, man, you know, your son gets it, dad. You know. So Dad, if you’re listening, good job, mom. Good job. You guys have, well, you have a grounded son who understands there’s more to life than money. There’s more to life than running around saying you did it. Um, sometimes it’s just a taking it all in and, and gaining perspective. And I just think he’s a good example of somebody who’s done that. So very cool story. Reach out to him again and follow them on Facebook. Um, and follow him on Instagram. I mean our J. Dot. Mack and take a look at that food. Oh my goodness. ECOMMERCE, momentum.com ecommerce momentum.com take care.

Cool voice Guy:                 01:02:47               Thanks for listening to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. Hold the Liz mentioned today can be found at ecommerce momentum dotcom under this episode number, please remember to subscribe and the like us on iTunes.

 

Stephen-Peterson

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