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.
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.
3. Why did you choose to live in Van in a city like San Francisco?
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. You backpacked alone in Europe for 3 months. Did that have any impact in making a decision to live in a Van?
5. What do you think shaped this mindset in you? Travels, books, peers etc?
6. What hurdles did you face when you transitioned into this new lifestyle & how did you overcome them?
7. You encourage people to “Be Opposite”. Why is that important to you?
8. If there is one advice you would give to 20 somethings, what would it be?
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!