Moving, Dominican Style

To read this week’s interview on how a small company can leverage the legal power of the US Government to compete, go here:


I’ve always moved around a lot. The longest I’ve stayed in one country since 1990 until now has been 3 years. Now I’m moving from a city I’ve lived in for the past 7 years, Santiago, Dominican Republic, to Santo Domingo, the capital (Santiago is the second largest city).

I’m moving for a couple of reasons.. people think i’m crazy but i’ve developed a real phobia about earthquakes. iIf you haven’t lived through a major one you may not understand. We had a big one here in 2003; everyone in the city thought we were done for, and it was only a 6.4.

Santiago is right on a major fault, similar to the san francisco bay area. The difference is that in the Domincian Republic there isn’t earthquake resistant construction. In fact, my current building is designed with a car park UNDER the building, so if a major quake comes, the entire building will collapse on to the car park. (this information comes from some caribbean earthquake geologists from the US). But my earthquake phobia doesn’t come from the initial quake – its the 2 months of aftershocks. As far as I know they’ve not had that recently in the bay area.

In Santiago, the entire city was on edge in 2003 because we never knew when the next quake would come. It was extremely scary – you’d be sitting eating lunch and a 5.5 would just randomly happen.. I’ve read about this kind of trauma on the news in countries like Turkey and China when they’ve had a lot of aftershocks. If you haven’t been through it, its hard to relate to.

Santiago was actually already destroyed in the 1500’s by an earthquake.

A piece of the wall from old Santiago which was destroyed by a massive earthquake in the 1500’s.

The tension has built up dramatically and there is a now major tragedy waiting to happen. I lived in Pereira, Colombia for a while and just after I left, a major quake took out Armenia, a nearby city. It was a real tragedy.

I prefer to be in Santo Domingo which while close to Santiago, is not on a major caribbean fault line. I noticed the earthquake affected almost everyone in the city at the time, we were all tramautized by so many aftershocks and the original quake.

I also just want to live in a bigger city with more services. My next move will likely be back to the US to join or start a startup, probably in 18 months. although I’m game to go anywhere for the right opportunity. I don’t need a job – i want to build a billion dollar company either as a founder or part of a founding team. Meanwhile I will stay in the Dominican Republic, using leverage working with other teams and not working with anyone locally.

As part of this move i have done my biggest ever life cleanup. I’ve gone through every single thing i own and tried to dispose of as much of it as possible, a little “tim ferris” style (although I think I was doing Tim Ferris type stuff before Tim Ferris was!). I’m moving to a furnished apartment so this meant I could really dispose of a lot of stuff. like to delegate as much work as possible, however this was something i couldn’t delegate and had to do myself. I now see why i never did it before ;-).

As I went through my filing cabinet it was shocking to see how many different projects and ideas i’ve worked on over the years. I’ve really tried a LOT of different ideas to try to find what would work. Most things didn’t and failed miserably. But a couple did. Its been a lot of trial and error trying to figure out what works for me and my strengths. Ihave a lot of respect for successful entrepreneurs, they aren’t just overnight successes. there’s a lot of interim steps to get it right.

And, I went through all the wiring i’ve had installed everywhere throughout my apartment. i hadn’t realised just how many different things i’ve attempted to get a good system for playing audio and video. finally i have it here:

As i discarded everything, we put it all in to the living room. then my maid got to work and started selling everything. Keep in mind these were things which have very little value for me; I just want to be rid of as much as possible. Well, i put her on a 20% commission for sales she made. I had no idea that my maid with an 8th grade education would turn into such a dynamo. It turns out that as of Sunday she’s made US$3000 in sales! This from all the stuff in the US that you’d normally just send to Goodwill. Dominicans LOVE buying used stuff. It was funny reading about black friday sales in the US and seeing just the same happening in my living room.

Its amazing getting rid of everything. I’m switched to mac, so all my PC stuff is now gone. i’ve switched to iphone so all my old cellphones are being sold. I had 5 cellphones and 3 laptops just sitting around which i’d never had time to get rid of. It feels good.

So now starts a major new phase in my life.. new place to live, running on mac, living in santo domingo, completely organized life, ready to work on exciting upcoming projects. i’ve delayed a lot of things to make this move happen and am really looking forward to getting going again.