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Learn how he saves $2k and 60 hours a month living in a major city!

This month, I had the chance to interview the creator and visionary behind a blog called “Be Opposite” by DJ POD. I met DJ in Prague last year on a trip to Europe and was intrigued by his mindset right away. With his floral t-shirt that he wore for weeks straight to learning about his blog, I knew that he would go back from the trip and do something brilliant and unconventional with his lifestyle. He lives by his mantra, “Observe the masses, do the opposite”. Read his interview below to learn about how he manages to save $2k and 60 hours a month living in California and scroll to the bottom for a video tour of his van.

 

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  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you study in university? What were your plans after university? Did your plans work out or are you doing something completely different than what you thought you would be doing?

I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois and graduated in May 2015. From day one, I knew that my passion was at the intersection of business and engineering, which led me to pursue a minor in Technology & Management. 

 After graduation, I planned to pursue a career in Strategy Consulting at a big box consulting firm. But after HR pushed my start-date and an amazing internship in Silicon Valley, I elected to ditch the Midwest in favor of the booming tech world and California weather. I currently work in Business Strategy & Operations at eBay, Inc.

2. What inspired you to start be opposite? When did you start it & why?

Be Opposite was started last summer during a time when I was experiencing a ton of personal growth and reconnecting with my passion for writing. I had always enjoyed producing content, being editor of my school newspaper and making (extremely) amateur YouTube videos in high school. At this point, I had begun a monthly challenge to write every day for a month and experienced a heightened sense of creativity.

The blog is meant to be the chronicle of my twenties. I use it as a reminder to live by my favorite mantra of “observe the masses, do the opposite“. My hope is to inspire others, young and old, along the way to take action and not be afraid to do something they have always wanted to. I think that is key to both collective happiness and general improvement of society.

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3. Why did you choose to live in Van in a city like San Francisco?

Living in a van in Silicon Valley makes sense for four reasons:

1. Rent is RIDICULOUSLY high. On average, people pay $1500-$2000 per month on rent.

2. My commute was terrible. Traffic can be pretty bad in the Bay Area and my office was inconveniently located. This led to a 4 hour daily commute. With the van, I am close to work during the week and wherever I want to be on the weekends.

3. The climate is conducive to living in a van. Thankfully, the weather here is temperate enough for me not to freeze to death or bake inside.

4. There are so many interesting people and places here in California that it would be a huge waste to stay in my apartment all of the time. Living in the van forces me to get out of my comfort zone on a daily basis.
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4. You backpacked alone in Europe for 3 months. Did that have any impact in making a decision to live in a Van?

Backpacking Europe solo for three months definitely had an impact on making my decision to live in a van for a handful of reasons. The biggest mindset that came with my brief walkabout was the itch to return to the road. I have a deep desire to continue to travel and living in the van helps me reach financial goals which will help me get back to traveling sooner, as well as adventure during the weekends.
 
Also, living out of a backpack for 3 months showed me that I didn’t need a lot of things to be happy. I realized that I didn’t need to fill a large apartment with expensive furniture and gadgets to feel fulfilled. Living minimally has given me exponentially more freedom and appreciation

 

5. What do you think shaped this mindset in you? Travels, books, peers etc?

After enduring a tough senior year filled with a couple existential crises, I developed a thrust for reading. Books such as Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek and Charisma on Command by Charlie Houpert were huge influences in shifting my thoughts about leadership, life, and social dynamics. The key in cementing my thought shift was definitely the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. That book (at the recommendation of Ben Altman of Charisma on Command – thanks Ben!) opened my eyes to a completely new world and aligns with the Be Opposite movement.

 

6. What hurdles did you face when you transitioned into this new lifestyle & how did you overcome them?

Moving into the van had its own challenges on the macro and micro scale. From a micro perspective, things like parking, water, food, and bathroom access took time to nail down, but were eventually solved. 
 
On the macro side, I was apprehensive to tell people, especially romantic prospects, that I lived in a van at first. I was self-conscious and afraid of judgement. Thanks to encouragement from friends, family, and even strangers, I overcame the mental roadblock and embraced authenticity in my lifestyle. Living in the van has definitely been a challenge that has built my confidence and self-reliance in that regard.

 

7. You encourage people to “Be Opposite”. Why is that important to you?

The mission behind Be Opposite and the actual action of opposing the majority is important to me because in order to solve the world’s problems, we have to do things that we have never done before. We have to question assumptions. We have to try things that seem outside of the box.
 
On a more personal note, I think a lot of people refrain from doing what they deeply desire to do (e.g., quit their job to travel, end a bad relationship, start their own company, etc) because they fear judgement from the masses and failure. By embracing the Be Opposite mentality, you can start with small changes and challenges of the status quo that will ultimately enable you crush the limiting fears you had previously. It is the only way you can truly find happiness and impact the world.

 

8. If there is one advice you would give to 20 somethings, what would it be?

Being a 20-something myself, I am not sure that I am in a position to give advice, so instead I will share my mindset on my twenties. My goal, in my twenties, is to be OK with not having it all figured out. My philosophy is to view my twenties as a series of experiments. Right now I have hypotheses about what I want from my career, relationships, hobbies, and life in general, but I won’t really know until I test them. 
 
My twenties are a perfect time to take risks when the stakes are low, so that I can confidently double-down later in my life. I want to go explore. I will work for a few different companies. I will date different women. Life is way too short to be committed to something or someone I don’t love. I am using my twenties to do my research before I make life’s biggest purchases. 

 

9. What have been some of your biggest learning experiences/takeaways while living in a van? Do you see changes in yourself? or is life the same as its always been?

The biggest learning I have had from living in the van is self-reliance. With no roommates or neighbors, you are often left to your own devices which can drive people crazy. I have learned that, in order to love someone else, you have to love yourself first. I can definitely say that has led me to become happier and more confident, although I still have plenty of moments of loneliness.

 

10. With savings of 2k a month and saving 60 hours what are able to do that you weren’t able to do before? How do you use that time/money for yourself?

Good question! The money is mostly being saved so that I can have freedom in the future to take risks (pursue a dream job, travel, etc) in the future. The time has been spent focusing on things important to me such as reading books, learning new skills, optimizing my fitness, and writing.

DJ was kind enough to record a video tour of his van! Watch it below for a crib style video of his sweet ride!

 

Check out his blog BE OPPOSITE 

Follow him on Instagram: @manjosevanjose

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Shreya Nijhawan
    July 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Wow I’m really intrigued! Thanks for sharing this experience 🙂

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