Into the Unknown

Maybe I'm Crazy... Photo credit: kconnors from

In fact, I must be.

Right now, as I write this blog post, I'm sitting outside a Starbucks in Boise, Idaho...

I'm thousands of miles away from most of my friends and family...

And I'm Homeless and unemployed.

That's right - no job, no predictable income, no home...

And I have no intention of trying to get any of those things back.


Maybe not as crazy as you'd think.

Let me explain...

"Losing" Everything

You might be thinking that being homeless and unemployed is terrible.

After all, that's the scenario presented to us - no job, no home; it means you've lost everything, right?  Pretty soon, you're running amok inside a fast food joint demanding breakfast for lunch, even after they stopped serving breakfast...

For some reason, I feel like that's Hollywood's (embellished) take on it.  The reality is often much less dramatic.

And in my case, it's actually a little boring.

You see, I didn't lose everything.  I made a conscious decision to give up certain things that weren't important to me.  To simplify and streamline my life in a way that's congruent with what I want to do and who I want to be.  To get rid of excess.  To trim the fat, so to speak.

I didn't lose everything.

I have exactly what I need.

And now I have the opportunity to build whatever life I want.

It's a choice most wouldn't be willing to make.

But what good are talents if we keep them buried?

The Transition

About 6 months ago I put my 2 weeks notice into my employer.

Two weeks ago I sold my car and most of my belongings.

Last week I packed up what remained and shipped it to the West Coast for storage.

This past weekend, I signed out of my unit for the last time and started driving across the country with my fiancee (we get married next month).

I have no conventional job prospects lined up.  No massive savings account or trust fund to rely on while I 'get back on my feet.'  No escape route if things go south.

I've burned the boat - there's no going back.

No more job.  No more house.  No more semi-monthly paycheck.  No more job title.  No more certainty...

In exchange, I get the opportunity to fail.

And that's all I've ever wanted.

What Matters

Why does the opportunity to fail matter so much?

Because without the possibility of failure, there is no possibility of real success.

And real success is the only thing that matters.

Success means triumph.  It means achieving what we set out to achieve.  It means growing, expanding and advancing as an individual (and helping others do the same).

But if there's nothing challenging us, no roadblocks on our way to the top, no obstacles along the path, then success is hollow.

I'm sure just about any adult reading this could be the best 1st grade soccer player in the world.  But what does that even mean?  More importantly, why would it even matter?

The answer, of course, is that it really wouldn't mean anything (and it most certainly wouldn't matter)....

And so we need the prospect of real failure if we want the prospect of real success.

If we want to do something that matters - contrary to the classic expression - failure must be an option.
 Photo credit: RoganJosh from


There's a very simple litmus test to determine if what you're going after has the possibility of real success (and thus real failure).

Does it scare you?

If yes, you're probably doing something that could fail.

Fear is a guidepost.

It let's us know we're headed in the right direction; it means we're doing something outside our comfort zone; it means we're challenging the conventional, safe and certain approach.

If you're fearless, you're probably playing 1st graders in soccer.

And that should be a signal for you to move in a different direction

What's Next

So here I am in Boise, Idaho, enjoying an iced Americano and thinking about what's next.

Right now, we're on our way to the World Domination Summit 2013 (#wds2013) in Portland, Oregon.  We started in Nashville, TN and after several days of cross country travel, we're almost here.

If you're not familiar, WDS is essentially a massive, 3-day conference on entrepreneurship, creativity and creating impact.  Obviously, I'm a fan and supporter.

If you're there, shoot me an email and let's connect.

After the conference, my fiancee and I will be traveling up to Seattle to get married.  Then we're taking a year long trip around the world.  For about 12 months we'll be traveling the southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Peru, etc.).

While this sounds like a year long honeymoon / vacation, it's really not.  We're traveling for a year but we'll both be working.  We're just not working conventional 9-5 jobs that keep us tied down in a particular geographic location.

Instead, through conscious and calculated decisions (which I mentioned in the beginning of this article), we've created a lifestyle that is sustainable from anywhere in the world.

Believe it or not, this is possible. 

Not only is it possible, I think it's necessary for any person hoping to survive in today's economy (a topic for another time).

So how can I sustain myself from anywhere in the world?

Through a number of projects:

Starting an Insurgency…

Well, I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going full steam ahead with my publishing company: Insurgent Publishing.

Insurgent Publishing is a boutique, creative publishing platform.  That’s a clever way of me saying it’s a very small operation right now that focuses on bringing a specific type of content to a specific group of people, via non-standard methods (beyond simply publishing on Amazon, for example).

So what kind of content are we publishing and who is it for?

Well, if you’re a reader of my blog, you’re already savvy with the style of content I want to publish.  Insurgent Publishing focuses on unconventional non-fiction.  Like its namesake, it’s all about bringing insurgent ideas (i.e. the types of ideas that don’t fit the one-size-fits-all mainstream status-quo) to the attention of readers.

Some of my favorite books of all time include The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Poke the Box by Seth Godin and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  I love these books.  I read them several times a year.  I’ve probably read each over a dozen times.

But there’s a problem – there aren’t enough mind-blowing books like this in the world.

What makes them unique is their brevity and power; they’re urgent, critical, and they demand action after you read them.

And they don’t fit a specific, conventional mold.

My goal is to find powerful authors (unknowns and well-knowns), creatively collaborate with them in order to break, build and design disruptive ideas, and publish them in beautiful ways for the happy few who want to read them.

Conceptually, I like to think of it like TED talks in book form (and with more depth).

It’s a company that won’t produce content for everyone.  But I’m hoping it produces the right content for the right people.

The website isn’t complete yet.  It’s taken me about 6 times longer than I expected (which, ironically, I DID expect).  I’m hoping to have it up and running this August.

If you enter your email on the home page of the under-construction Insurgent Publishing website right now, you’ll get lifetime discounts on everything we ever publish…(everything - forever).

My way of saying thank you for taking a chance.

*NOTE: if you're a writer, designer or artist and would like to collaborate on a project and get your work published, shoot me an email (tom @

Taking On Courage

I’m also in the exploration, research and note taking phase of my next book.

I’m hoping to take the same easy to read, urgent style from my book “The Art of Instigating” (get it free by joining the Resistance) and apply it to the topic of “Courage” – what it is, how it works, and how we can cultivate, learn and teach it.

In the book Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath, we’re given a framework for how decisions work, and how, ultimately, to make better decisions in life.  It’s a fascinating and useful book as it helps the reader gain clarity before making a decision.  I highly recommend it for those curious about the brain, psychology, and/or marketing – or for people who simply want to make better choices in life.

But it left me wondering: what about the choices in life that are already crystal clear, but the right choice leads you down a path of uncertainty, pain or even death?  Or the wrong choice leads you down a path of safety, security or fortune?

How do we make those choices?

While not the entirety of the subject, I consider this an important microcosm of courage as a whole – the ability to make the right choices in life, even if it means sacrificing our comfort, happiness or even our lives.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my thoughts on (one aspect of) the matter.

Would love to hear what you think – and what you’d like me to explore in the book: courage in business, perhaps?

Or possibly courage in writing, art or entrepreneurship?  Anything goes – just email me – I’d love to start a conversation.

And Still In the TrenchesIn The Trenches

My podcast In the Trenches may be put on hiatus once I start my international travel.

That’s not to say it’s dead – it would just have to be put on pause.  I’m hoping that’s a worst case scenario and the places I travel will allow me the internet access I need to upload and create this type of content.  I’m also hoping traveling will expose me to even more awesome people around the world doing great things so I can interview them for the show.

So I’m not sure what will happen with In the Trenches…but if you want it to continue, you should write a review and rate the podcast on iTunes.

The only way this podcast or blog spreads is through word of mouth.  Thanks to all those who have spread the word already – and thanks in advance to those who help spread the word in the future.

So, again, please leave a review on iTunes if you want In the Trenches to continue!

Super Secret Projects

I also have a few other (super secret) projects I’m working on with several different people in various fields.

I was just brought on as a project manager for a small, potentially disruptive, startup.  Excited to see just how quickly this company can grow and dominate its niche.  I hope to share more details after we launch.

I’m in the works with a partner to develop a new online sales platform (apologies for the purposefully vague description).  It has the potential to be huge, and I have no doubt we’ll be able to develop it into a successful platform – but it’s going to take some hustle.  We’ll be bootstrapping the project using the lean startup approach (i.e. iterative testing until we find a product/market fit).  Again, as soon as we have a working product you’ll be the first to hear about it.

I’m also expanding my business consulting services.  It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a bootstrapper or a solopreneur looking to make sales (or start making MORE sales), or an author who wants to make money from his or her writing, you should definitely connect with me.

This is limited and I can’t accept everyone.

So shoot me an email and we’ll see if it’s a good fit for both of us (a caveat: I only work with hustlers who are totally committed – fence sitters need not apply).

Leading the Resistance…

Along with all this, I’ll continue to write for the Resistance.

Expect the same great writing as always sent directly to your inbox (plus behind the scenes stuff exclusive for subscribers).

While difficult to keep up the pace of multiple quality articles a week, I intend to do it for as long as I’m capable.

And I'll continue to create free and pay what you want content.

If you enjoy my work and want to contribute, the best way is to grab my pay what you want products and treat me to a cup of coffee or something.

Here are a few of my products you might enjoy:

The Gunslinger's Guide to Starting and The Gunslinger's Workbook - Start, finish and ship your project in 30 days or less

Putting on Your Brain Goggles - become more creative instantly

2 Days With Seth Godin - I went to a 2 day seminar/conference w/ Seth Godin.  Here's everything we talked about (consider this material gold for entrepreneurs and writers)

Thank you so much for contributing to my creative work.

The End (or is it?)

Well, that’s it for today.

Hope it was enjoyable to read a bit more about me and what I’m up too.  More personal than I usually get (and, thus, slightly uncomfortable for me to write), but I hope you enjoyed it.

Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

And of course...

This is Tom Morkes.  If you’re reading this, you ARE the Resistance.

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20 comments on “Into the Unknown”

  1. Hey Tom,
    Great post and it sounds like your anything but unemployed, depending on your definition of the word. 🙂 Your projects sound exciting. I'm anxious to hear your reporting on WDS. Vowing to get there next year. Onward...

  2. Safe travels...

    I am super excited for everything you have ahead of you Tom. The road is out there and you've only to decide which way you and your new wife want to turn. So exciting.

    To be part of your journey whether that be in hosting you for a night or two if you decide to make it over here to Van Island as part of your journey, me stopping in and seeing you in the NWest or us just continuing to collaborate is a blessing. I am truly enjoying the journey, your friendship and your commitment.

    You are one of the good ones Tom.... Keep it up.

    1. Alan same here. Excited to continue collaborating on projects together! I really hope we can connect this summer!.

      Thanks again for the comment Alan and good luck on all your projects!

  3. Well done, sir! I'm thinking of the movie JERRY MAGUIRE, except I prefer you to that other Tom...

    I like the themes you sounded in this battle plan. This is your time. You will amaze yourself.

    Thanks for sharing this work-in-progress. Creation, as it happens.

    Keep being you, Tom Morkes!

    1. Haha, thanks so much Tom! Sincerely appreciate the kind comment.

      I'll be in touch with you regarding Insurgent Publishing and hope we can collaborate on a project together in the future!

      Stay in touch - and keep writing!

      - Tom

  4. Hi there Tom.

    Well I didn't think that I would ever be writing a post like this, but since the turn of the year my head has been spinning.

    I discovered your mate Jonathon Mead at Paid To Exist, which has led me to you and your website, and I have been inspired.

    I have listened intently to the podcasts, time and time again (I have lost count of the amount of times you have said "That's Awesome....:) ) and realised that although my current role pays me well, is really quite easy, and ticks all my boxes, it has left me feeling flat for a longtime.

    So after listening to you, I have set about a plan to quit and work on my own as a self-employed webmaster for two sites that I have built.

    And do you know, when you really think and plan things out, you realise two things.

    Going it alone is not as scary as you think, and certainly in my case, I should be able to replace my current income within three months due to the fact that I suddenly have 24 hours free-time to work on it per day.

    And secondly having that time, will mean that I wont fail.

    I have the flexibility to change direction and assess my current path, which you don't get balancing a full-time.

    So this Monday 8th July, I will be handing in my notice at my company after 10 years service. I will free my self of my current restraints to work on a better and more positive future.

    And I don't want to be smug, but it is an absolutely critical time at my company, for my revolting boss, so Monday will leave me with a slight .......ok a huge satisfaction to see her face as I say "Adios"

    I am ready for the hard work.

    Actually massively harder than I do at the moment.. But its my work. Its my dream. I have become

    The Resistance.

    All the best Tom, and I look forward to listening to more of your great pod-casts, but next time from a beach or two and not an air conditioned office.


  5. David, first of all - thank you for the awesome comment! 🙂

    I absolutely love what you're doing and how you're going about it.

    You're completely right. It's not as scary as it seems once you get started. And you certainly won't fail if you are committed to the goal and you're ready and willing to pivot/shift/change directions when needed.

    There is so much power in taking your life into your own hands and going off in your own direction...I wish you the best of luck and glad I could be a small part of your decision.

    Would love to connect in more depth about your journey and what you're creating. Who knows, maybe I can get you on the podcast! 🙂

    Stay in touch,

    - Tom

  6. This is really great Tom! I love your ideas and your views for the future. Every time I see another person doing something different that contradicts the status quo, I light up a little more inside.

    It helps to keep me moving forward and one day I will be able to write a post about how I quit my job, am walking my own path, and perhaps give that added inspiration to someone else who needs it.


  7. Congratulations Tom! I am really excited for you 🙂 Please let me know if you are stopping in Singapore!

    1. Coralie we might be stopping by. Will definitely shoot you a message when we hammer out your itinerary. Stay in touch!

  8. Hi Tom! Bonjour! I am on Cape Cod as I am reading your blog. It's terrific! I will be following with great interest as you and Court spend the next year discovering a whole different life than what is the usual rat race. As I retire I do NOT want to be a a fence sitter and I look for inspiration in your work. Merci!

    1. Teresa - thanks for the comment! So glad you like it. And happy that it inspires you! Please stay in touch while we travel!

      - Tom

  9. Sounds awesome Tom. I'm new to your site (I'm a on Trailblazer) but will be eagerly following your story. While not very exotic, if your ever in Philly be sure to let folks now! DC

    1. Darrell - thanks so much for the comment! Would love to find out more about what you're working on. Definitely keep me posted on everything you're creating and if I ever cross through Philly I'll definitely let you know!

      - Tom