Alan Donegan: PopUp Business School Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Financially Independent Pizza Lover, Marvel Movie fan and soon to be Script Writer
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As you know I like to write articles about Financial Independence, business and positivity. But occasionally I write about what is going on with me to share the ups and downs and hopefully inspire you
The plan for 2020
The last Donegan update was in November 2019 and Katie and I had grand plans for the future! We were working to sell our properties in Basingstoke and then go Nomadic and travel the world!
The universe had other plans for us!
We ended up putting our properties on the market 3 or 4 days before the announcement of the general election. People were consumed by Brexit and voting and that uncertainty meant that no one was buying investment properties. Then Christmas happened, then January and then Covid and we had no offers on our flats. Not only that but the market dropped 10-15%!! The worst timing in history?
For the most part we have had them rented out since but there have been ups and downs including one tenant with financial difficulties that stopped paying rent for three months.
Katie and I did however manage to clear out our own flat and get rid of all our belongings. That was a HUGE project and it still amazes me how much stuff had built up in our 2 bedroom flat in the 10 years we lived there!
By early January we had done it and we were down to a few bits in parent's lofts and two bags that we could lug around the world. We left mid January for our nomadic adventure with no plans to return!
Thailand - adventure in the east
We headed to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to meet up with Kristy & Bryce from Millennial Revolution.
The first month of our nomadic adventure was incredible. Katie and Kristy meditated on the roof of our apartment, we worked out in the gym, swam in the pool and used the sauna. We ate in some of the most incredible restaurants, street vendors and hiked up mountains to sacred temples.
This was Geo arbitrage at its best! The entire bill for the month was around £2000 for accommodation and eating out at some of Thailand is best restaurants every single day.
There was also a fun co-working space in the shopping mall near where we lived. It was a wonderful space to work in, collaborate in and drink coffee whilst doing post it note sessions together!
It was a wonderful way to start our nomadic adventures with some incredible tour guides that knew all about Geo arbitrage, travel and Chiang Mai. You can read Kristy and Bryce's guide to travelling Thailand here
If you haven’t come across Kristy & Bryce‘s book Quit Like a millionaire or their blog Millennial Revolution then I highly recommend it. They have had and continue to have an incredible impact on our lives.
NYC - TV show meetings
We had a few days in New York City on the way to Charleston to meet with our partners, the production company Moxie Pictures. We had some cool meetings chatting about the potential for a TV show based on PopUp Business School! Plus we wandered round the city, had incredible breakfasts and ate all the pizza.
It did make me smile that one of our first breakfast in New York City was over 10 times the price of the most elaborate breakfast we had in Thailand! Your dollars or pounds certainly go further in different parts of the world!
You might be thinking "what is Alan on about and what is geo-arbitrage?". The simple explanation; it is the opportunity for the currency you earn money in to be spent at a higher leverage somewhere else in the world. For example a pad Thai in London will be between £10-£15 whereas a pad Thai in Chiang Mai on the street will be £1 roughly! Your money goes further in different parts of the world. I’m going to be writing more about this in the future.
We arrived in Charleston, South Carolina at the beginning of March to run a pop-up business school! I had met Shawn Jenkins whilst we were on the Chautauqua in Greece in 2018 and we made an agreement to bring Popup Business School to help the community in Charleston.
This was the culmination of months of planning! It felt really good to be back at the Popup Business School and to see Sean McHugh running the event so well.
Whilst Sean was running the event I recorded several episodes of my new podcast the Rebel Entrepreneur and in between helped different people with their businesses. The venue was incredible and there were some amazing businesses started and support.
New Orleans & Lock Down
As you probably know my wife Katie plays the piano and has been experimenting with publishing some of her songs on her YouTube channel. The reason for going to New Orleans was so that she could learn jazz piano. If you’re going to go and learn jazz where else do you go?
But the world had different plans for us. It had different plans for all of us this year! Three days after we arrived in New Orleans, lockdown happened and we were confined to our Airbnb. We tried to wait it out!
The decision to come back to the UK
I did not want to make the decision to come home. I did not want to leave our nomadic adventures and all New Orleans had to offer! This was not the plan!!
But after a month of lockdown it started to become clear that this was not going to end quickly! The British government started issuing advice that all citizens in other countries should return home and the number of flights started to reduce. Katie’s parents message to tell us that we should come back but I really didn’t want to! I wanted to continue to explore!
In the end our tourist visa was running out and there were less and less flights back to the UK. We eventually decided to book a flight back home from Atlanta. It felt like a scene from Indiana Jones as we skidded through the gateway out as the door closed shut behind us.
It was one of the strangest experiences going through the busiest airport in the world when there was no one there. Empty halls and closed restaurants.
Making the best out of Lock Down
I don’t think any of us expected to be where we are and doing what we we are at the moment. I know I certainly wasn’t expecting to be in Sandhurst, Berkshire. Thankfully the British weather was absolutely stunning for March and April and I focused heavily on creation and making the most out of my time.
Katie and I did a mini experiment with a health and fitness coach, I created the first season of the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast, I published a whole series of blogs about financial independence and have developed a personal finance course called Take Control of your Finances!
I worked and helped the team at PopUp Business School to transition to running online courses and recover from the fact that we lost all of our income!
We might be three or four months into this lockdown lifestyle but a version of this is going to hang around for some time yet! I have the same questions for you now as I did at the start of lockdown. What are you going to create? How are you going to invest your time? How are you going to come out of lockdown better off than when you entered?
Some of you will be thinking "I’ve already missed out on the opportunity to use my time during lockdown". This is only true if you let it be true. It is in the moments of change that the biggest opportunities arise. You can still create, you can still invest your time in learning, you can still make things happen.
Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast
I am so proud of my latest creation The Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast.
At the end of last year Ed from ChooseFI approached me about creating a podcast with them. I respect Jonathan, Brad and Ed so much and jumped at the opportunity. I had a couple of false starts but eventually got going and during lockdown & recorded all of the episodes I needed for season one!
The whole purpose of this podcast is to further the PopUp Business School mission. Simon and I want to create a world where anyone is free to build a business without debt. We are working to do that through changing the way entrepreneurship is taught around the world.
We have some of the coolest guests on the show for you. For years I have wanted to take the essence of PopUp Business School and find a way to give it to you. Here it is!
You can listen on Spotify here:
Popup Business School has been hit hard by COVID-19! At the end of February and the beginning of March we had all of our events globally cancelled. We lost all of our income.
We spent the next two months scrambling to work out how to transition to running PopUp Business School's courses online. The team have done an incredible job and we ran the first fully online PopUp Business School for Westminster Borough Council in May.
We’ve been using the time In lockdown to sell online courses, develop a business resilience course to assist existing businesses to work out our strategy going forwards.
Change can be particularly painful but in every major change there is a knockout opportunity if you can find it. We’ve been spending the last few months trying to find our opportunity in this change. We’re not quite there yet but we have made incredible progress.
If you want to find out more about PopUp's online courses you can see them here.
Creating future plans in Lock Down
It is so easy to get caught up in the conversation about what you can’t do and what is wrong with the world. The news and the media are full of horror stories about what is going on right now! But you get to choose where you want to focus.
I am choosing and continue to choose to focus on the future and what I can create. I truly believe that it purpose and growth contribute immeasurably to one’s happiness!
So here are my plans for creation over the coming months! I have 2 reasons for sharing this with you. Firstly I want to see if it sparks ideas! I am open to collaborations, ideas and more. Secondly I hope that by sharing my plans it will inspire you to think about your plans.
What are you going to create? What are you going to build? Where are you going next?
What have I learnt since last update
One of the most important things in life in continual learning. This might have been a tough year but that means there are even more things to learn! This is a short list of some of my top learnings from the first half of 2020:
Ideas and the future
Thank you for reading the Donegan update! I hope this update has inspired you to think about your own life and what you are creating.
Katie and I are thinking about where we are going to travel to next! We want to escape England but we aren’t sure the world is ready for us! We are thinking about where can we go, what can we create and who can we spend time with.
If my article has inspired ideas for you I would love to hear them. Whether it is ideas for what I should do with season 2 of the podcast, ideas for the blog, or ideas that you are going to implement next! I love reading your comments and messages.
If you want to take part in Take Control of your Finances there is still time to sign up. The first day of the course is on August 3, 2020.
Good luck and have fun making shit happen!
Love from Alan