Asia Storytelling: China and Vietnam Experiences of an American Entrepreneur with Luke Francis

Michael MicheliniLifestyle, Living, Podcast0 Comments

Everyone likes a story. Let’s get Luke Francis on the podcast! He and I have known each other since we worked on Enter China community together in 2015 and 2016 and he has been active in the GFAVIP community attending our Cross Border Summit and other sessions.

He has been through quite a bit in China and Vietnam business – from sourcing, to crowdfunding, to getting married and now heading back to the States later this year – I thought it is about time we get him on the show and share his experiences and insights.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Luke Francis

    American from which part, and how did you get to China?

  • China First, how long

    So when you came to China, how long and what were you doing mostly?

  • Move to Vietnam

    We also met in Chiang Mai a bit. What was the reason for the move, business, pleasure?

  • Sourcing Experiences

    Share some tips and stories on your own product sourcing journey.

  • Vietnam living and experience

    Also bumped into you in Vietnam during a visit – what are some highlights of living and doing business there.

  • The whole “Digital nomad” movement over the years

    How has it been for you? It seems to be changing – well for now for sure with COVID nothing is moving

  • Tips for those listening to get involved

    What would you tell someone just getting started

  • Tips for those with more experience already

    I liked how you said during our private chat that you didn’t want to tell everyone about your latest project until you had more to show – this is something I also am working on now – make something happen first before telling the world.

  • Any other tips or insights for those seasoned entrepreneurs listening

  • What is your latest project (you’re ready to share about it now right)

    What are you working on, something that is a bit out of your normal lifestyle business format.

  • How people can find you online

    To learn more about you and what you are working on

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Episode Length 45:11

Thanks again for sharing with us today Luke, it’s been a long time coming and I am glad we finally got you on the show.

Download Options

Listen in on Youtube

Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Episode 321 Global From Asia podcast, lifestyle category, living in China, Vietnam marriage, and heading back to the States. Interesting topic today. Let’s tune in. Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up actionable advice.

[00:00:24] And now your host, Michael Michelini. All right. Thank you everybody for tuning into this show. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve had some pretty amazing guests. I mean, to show, obviously it’s not me. It’s the guests. I’m just in a way, I’m just a dude with the microphone. I’m still getting used to this new spanking, new microphone.

[00:00:46] My amazing wife finally allowed me to budget, to buy, but I do podcasts and stuff. So we needed it too. Anyways, Episode 321 here at the Global From Asia show. And I don’t know if you notice, if you, I think it’s on the podcast artwork. I can’t keep track of the podcast artwork, but it’s Corporate, Business, Lifestyle is the three categories.

[00:01:13] And most of the time it’s business. Sometimes it’s corporate, like last week with Thomas Pun. Hope you enjoyed that. I put it under a corporate HR category. This one’s in lifestyle. It could be business, a little bit of business, I guess all of them are business. But Luke Francis has never been on a show. We had worked together in Enter China and we’ve known each other in the whole communities, come to the Cross Border Summit in the past.

[00:01:38] And we’ve, we’ve done amazing things together, but hadn’t yet as a guest. And, we’ve been talking. Recently we met up in Chiang Mai. Of course, we spent a lot time together in China and we thought it would be cool to get him on the show. A little bit different kind of topic. This one, talking about, you know, just living in China, living in Vietnam, being a digital nomad, being an expat, being a foreigner in Asia.

[00:02:02] And then he got married. He got married in Vietnam, found an amazing partner, life partner. And he’s moving back to the States. He’s preparing all the paperwork and everything. So we thought we just kind of bucked checked us off in a lifestyle. One for the, the travelers, the people, a lot of us like me and him find a, find a partner over here and get married, have kids.

[00:02:22] He’s got a kid now and he’s going through a lot of you know, changes that are normal for a parent, a husband, a spouse. And we talk about that, I think it’s an interesting topic. I think more and more people like us are going to be getting married overseas, you know, settling down, traveling, and then there’s a point where you decide, do I keep sticking it out?

[00:02:43] Do I go back home? Do I, you know, I think it’s really especially hard to live outside of both the husband and the wife’s home country. I mean, it’s already hard enough to be single in a foreign country, but to be married with a kid or kids. There’s a whole another level of complexity. So I hope you all enjoy this.

[00:03:03] Of course you can skip some of the shows. I know some of you select some, but, or maybe you like this one, let me know. I always appreciate feedback, The team and I check those and we try to read all the feedback. So without further ado, let’s put on Luke Francis and after the show in a blah-blah-blah session, if you enjoy that, I will blah, blah, blah.

[00:03:25] A little bit about Mike. You know, how I met my wife and how I got married out here and somebody other lifestyle category kind of stuff, if you want to hear that. So let’s do it with Luke. Thanks Luke again for sharing. Enjoy the shows. If you want to connect with more of us, honestly, which is on a board and another member at

[00:03:46] He actually found us from another content that I was on an interview. He says he really like what we’re doing, got into this, got into what we’re doing and just signed up and he’s diving deep into the courses. It’s overwhelming. I think I have about six courses in the program membership and we also have the member calls, which honestly is.

[00:04:08] Kind of my favorite part, cause obviously I did the courses already and we’re adding to the courses. But the members calls, we have either workshops on, we also have these kind of like hot seats where we really get to know a certain member and we try to help them out in our live online round table session.

[00:04:22] So I’d love to see if you’re interested application only Okay, thank you everybody for tuning in to a Global From Asia podcast. This one has been on the list, I dunno. I spent on a list for awhile and our team’s already talking to Luke about this episode before recording or were prepared today.

[00:04:43] Yeah, I mean, it’s in a lifestyle category today, or we can talk about so many different things. This is Luke Francis, another American entrepreneur, and so we say in China, but in Vietnam and heading back to the States or at least on the list. So today we’re going to talk about the journey and, and so sharing of, of all the sourcing of products and startups and things you’ve worked on.

[00:05:08] So thanks Luke for coming on, giving people a little bit of your background for, for those listening. Yeah. Sure. Well, thank you for bringing me on the show. It’s great to be here from Saigon, Vietnam. And yeah, I was back in 2015. I moved out to China to, to manufacture a watch and we can get into that, I guess a little bit, as we move forward here.

[00:05:34] But yeah, essentially I was, I started out at college and in the corporate world doing marketing for a SAAS company. And I, I didn’t really enjoy it. I think it was a great company, but the, the, the lifestyle and that kind of just corporate life wasn’t for me. And so I wanted to pursue my own options and see if I can make my own lifestyle where there was a balance.

[00:06:00] Between, you know, enjoying my environment and being able to travel at the same time, making money, you know, surviving. And so ,I I moved, I have, to China cause I, actually, this is interesting. So a lot of people in our, like that we know today jointly, they, they go out to China for the opportunity, right?

[00:06:21] There’s a lot of opportunity out there to manufacture. I mean, certainly now with COVID, it’s, it’s a little bit different climate, but you know, back then the opportunity was you manufacture something, you can pop it up on Kickstarter or, you know, Shopify or whatever you want to do. Right. For me though, I was always interested in China.

[00:06:40] I had always been interested in Chinese culture. And so I just wanted to go to China because of China. And actually I backed into the business opportunities that are, that China has available just because I learned through some online communities, like Enter China that, that I could start my own business

[00:06:58] when I, when I moved to China. So I kind of started opposite. Like a lot of people start with, I want to go to a factory something. So I go to China, I was like, I want to go to China. So how do I get there and afford that life? Oh, well, let’s, let’s try and make a business. Let’s manufacture something. Yeah. I hear you, dude.

[00:07:14] I know. I mean, it’s true this whole Covid. I mean, we’re all just want to know how long this COVID life will be, but yeah, it’s totally different now. I mean, people can’t just hop on a plane anymore and go to China or Asia, which is affecting all of us. I mean, I think you have everybody being affected, but yeah, I mean, I definitely miss those.

[00:07:35] I hope they come back, but those old times where you could just, I hope, I hope there’s this time where it goes back where it’s just like, I just want to go to China or Asia, or I want to just start up my know, like new Kickstarter. Well, my new venture, I’m quitting my job and I’m flying out to, to Asia. You know, you know, a lot of people sometimes pick, Thailand or Vietnam or China, but hopefully that comes back.

[00:07:55] But, yeah, I agree. I agree. Like, but unfortunately I feel like a number of things need to change, not just COVID, but maybe some, some geopolitical things as well as the other be addressed. Oh man. I mean, we chat and we chat still, hopefully that keeps working, but, but basically I, I, I do feel the trade war was already an issue even before Covid. Now, Covid, trade war and the other issues.

[00:08:25] Yeah. Political issues. And it’s going backwards, especially here in the GFA community. And we have the, even the event called Cross Border Summit, we try to do yearly or have been doing yearly, you know? It seems like walls are going up. I know you’re also going through some, some, we’ll maybe get to that later about, you know, immigration for, for your wife and everything.

[00:08:50] Guess that in a little bit, but. So yeah, I guess he kind of led into this. Let’s first start with your move to China. You know, obviously that each question on here, it could be an episode or a book. So yeah, I could ramble on about anything for a while. I know, but, you know, yeah, like you said, you had a watch and you, you know, you’re crowdfunding and, just give us some of the, some of the highlights, highlights.

[00:09:18] Yeah. Yeah. So that was, it was a great opportunity. So at the time, in 2015, I think this was March. I was looking at Kickstarter crowdfunding specifically or more generally. And I, I knew there was an opportunity there. I had found the Enter China community, which was kind of helping people to do this, these kinds of crowdfunded projects out of China.

[00:09:42] And, I was kind of learning that system and how that worked and part of that is researching what products are good opportunities and watches were very clearly selling well, and they still do today. And so many years later on, on crowdfunding. And so I worked with a designer on Upwork and designed the watch, although I, I.

[00:10:07] It’s funny, cause I never wore a watch in daily life prior to this. So, you know, it was just, it was merely a business opportunity and I, and I made the watch, went out to China and manufactured it, but there’s some downsides to that. And I guess this is kind of the lessons-learned part that although I was able to find what looked like a great supplier on the outside.

[00:10:27] They, they ended up making the watch exactly how I had imagined it and it looked great. But the quality, once it delivered and once people started wearing it was, it was clear that the quality wasn’t there and the watch has started to break in mass and everybody wanted their money back. And, this is something where I learned that.

[00:10:50] Quality control is super important. And for one you don’t trust the supplier to do quality control for you. And then for two, it’s important to know how your product comes together in order to be, be able to, to, accurately put together some parameters around what to check when you’re doing quality control.

[00:11:10] So if you don’t know what to check you, you can just go ahead and say, okay. Yeah, like everything’s working right now. And that’s how I kind of assessed it. Oh, it works correctly. Now the watch is functioning, but I didn’t know what the potential fail points were in the future, which is what caused all of these problems in mass, down the line.

[00:11:30] And so that’s why I did. My dad likes them. Then I took a couple of them, but the second one, he like, so that’s cool, man. That’s great. Yeah. I think I remember that. And then. Did his ended up breaking like the first one I sent? I think he says the dial dial thing, or, the glass, yeah, the glass on the top.

[00:11:58] Anyway. Anyway, everything just started falling apart. And so it’s a bunch of, you know, the, the, and I’ll just kinda get, get a little bit more specific on that. Like when you are doing quality control, uh, You either want to like, no, you’re fine product in and out and all the potential future fail points or bring somebody on.

[00:12:21] That’s like a quality control expert, but a quality control expert in the field that you’re manufacturing. So there’s like general quality control. And then there’s people that are quality control with watches and they, they know what all the potential problems can be. And that would be the type of quality control.

[00:12:39] That you would want somebody specific to your product because then they know exactly what to look out for down the line. Yeah, I understand. I understand. Let’s go. I actually, I don’t even know. Even I’m curious, we had, I had moved to Chiang Mai a couple of years ago. I can’t remember when you were in Vietnam for a while.

[00:12:56] Then we even met in Chiang Mai for a bit. And then I, I know you were back in Vietnam now. You know, I think a lot of people are, it seems like Southeast Asia, at least in our community is getting more hot topic for sourcing and for like, living at least pre-covid. And I’m just curious, how did, how did I don’t even remember?

[00:13:17] And when we talked, how, you know, what was the transition to Vietnam? I think it was trying to be. So after the watch has kind of broke down, literally, I, I was just kind of traveling around Western China. So like I said, I’d always been fascinated by China. So I just took the opportunity to kind of travel around.

[00:13:35] I was doing some consulting and just working off the laptop, living the laptop lifestyle, and I checked out like Chengdu, Kunming, Daling, Neijiang, all those beautiful cities and areas out West of China. But I was in Chengdu in 2018. And I felt like there was a change like, and I, it could have been Chengdu because Chengdu, you typically.

[00:14:02] tend to be more nationalistic. But I just felt that I wasn’t as welcome as an expat in China. And things just felt different. And so I, I said, you know what, I’m going to give it a break. I’m going to go down to Vietnam cause I heard that Vietnam was a good place to be as like a digital nomad and doing things off the laptop and trying to create business opportunities.

[00:14:28] So I wanted to go down to Vietnam and see what was available there. And so I went to see him in Sydney or Saigon, in, July of 2018 and just went to check it out, but it never left. That’s what happens to a lot of us in, in our stories. I mean, kind of a little bit my China’s story. I mean, I came, went back, came back pretty fast, but yeah.

[00:14:54] I mean, a lot of us are like that, so, yeah. So it was there. like, yeah, like let’s hear about Vietnam. Yeah. So I met my wife and that’s kind of why I stuck around, but, in general, on the kind of business side of things, it’s, I would say there are more individuals that are out here, kind of living the digital nomad lifestyle than you would find in Mainland China.

[00:15:26] It’s a different type of business group, entrepreneur group. In China, I felt like it was more tech and start like, you know, especially in the Shenzhen, Guangzhou area where I was. But then, and then people coming in and out of China. That, you know, they come in to do their manufacturing and then they leave.

[00:15:45] Right. Whereas here there’s people that have stationed themselves here. This has become like their, their kind of base. And then maybe they’re traveling around Southeast Asia. But, you know, still enjoying meeting up and there’s a lot of great people to meet up and a lot of cool events to, you know, mingle with other entrepreneurs and stuff like that.

[00:16:06] So it’s, it’s definitely a good hub for entrepreneurship. Maybe, you know, Chiang Mai is a great place to start. Whereas Ho Chi Minh City would be a little bit more mature on that journey of entrepreneurship. If you want it to look at it like that. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, I don’t know if you wanted to talk more about lifestyle.  It’s not really question, but, I’m almost curious.

[00:16:34] I do hope to see a little more evergreen, but of course there’s COVID. Some are, people, I mean, also it was not really affected. I heard Vietnam didn’t, but I mean, it’s, I think there was, they opened, they unlocked, they opened. They unlocked, then locked, got I heard, or going back into lock down again, you know, Yeah, we were on lockdown for about a month in.

[00:16:55] Shoot. When was it? I think it was April, April or May. It was about a month. And then, but it really, that was, I was able to come into the co-working space every day. You know, it was no problem getting around. There was only like a week there, where even Grab was shut down. But, uh, other than that, it was pretty, pretty open.

[00:17:15] And then after that month where there was no new cases for, I think a two-week period, then they, they opened everything back up and, you know, with cautions, like everybody’s wearing their mask and their temperature checked and everything, but things are pretty, pretty open. And then recently there was a flare up in Da Nang and that came to Saigon a bit.

[00:17:35] There was a couple of new cases here. And so there. There’s a bit more tighter measures. Like they’re back checking temperatures everywhere you go. And you know, everybody’s wearing their masks more strictly, but everything’s open. Still restaurants are still functioning. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. You know, it’s tricky with the Covid, but let’s just try to like, not think about Covid or let’s just, just hope, 

[00:18:00] maybe another few months, and then hopefully back to normal that, you know, what, what would you recommend somebody listening today, maybe back like in your shoes and then the US, you know, maybe not happy where at work and want to get a new adventure.

[00:18:13] I know there’s, I guess maybe Vietnam, you know, a little bit of Thailand and at least in Thailand would be good start. And then maybe a non for more experience or China, I guess China feels like with the political, you know, even I’m kind of nervous being in China right now. I don’t know. So yeah. As far as regions, I think also it depends on your, your sense of adventure.

[00:18:39] I think if you are a Western individual listening to this and you want to change your location, that Thailand is a, an easier option. It’s a great, it’s a great place to start like Chiang Mai and any of the beach towns in Thailand is a great place to start. The amenities. There are, uh, comfortable and living is comfortable.

[00:19:03] And it’s not incredibly jarring compared to the West, in my opinion. Now, if you move directly to China or Saigon, I think that could be jarring depending on your sense of adventure and how much you’re willing to accept new things. But, uh, but yeah, I think Thailand is probably the easiest place to start.

[00:19:25] If, if you want to ease into it from a location perspective, in my opinion, I don’t know. What do you think? Well, for me, I mean, you’re going to maybe get into that later, but I was looking for schools for my kids at the time when I was making, I was not happy with the school choices and costs in, in South China or prime, most, mostly China from what I’ve talked to, but, as entrepreneur to pay for the.

[00:19:52] Costs of school in China for English. It was a little bit out of control. I think anybody listening would agree with me. So I didn’t see too many of Vietnam. I have mutual friends. We have friends in Vietnam, Saigon were trying to convince me to pick there. But I couldn’t find as many school options.

[00:20:06] That was, that was kind of one of the issues for me in Vietnam. But, uh, in Chiang Mai, it’s like a suburb of, it’s like a sub American suburbs, like laid back. It’s totally different in Bangkok. You know, we also say Thailand, Vietnam. I mean, each city just like in the us or China, like obviously it’s also a city level.

[00:20:26] Right. But Chiang Mai is like a suburban coffee shop, bit mellow. I mean, it’s getting a little sooner. It was getting a little bit issue now with. Tourists still been overcrowded, a tour, especially Chinese tourists, at least again, the Covid it’s happening in the middle of now. So the whole world is changing, but at least then that was one of the negatives kind of was just to get a little bit more polluted.

[00:20:49] The biggest one is that burning season is such a, that sucks. It’s a real bummer, but, uh, yeah. You know, there’s tons of schools there for like English, you know, international level schools from the seven to 12,000 US a year per kid kind of range. So that was kind of acceptable for me and my wife, uh, I still got a little high when you put your times two, but, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, whereas Vietnam, I, at least from my research and my friends trying to tell me to go there, I said, You know, give me a couple of schools like that are not in the $25,000 a year, which sounds crazy.

[00:21:27] Right. I don’t want to pay $25,000 a year for kindergarten. I’m sorry. I just don’t want to pay $25,000 per kid for kindergarten. So I found those in Vietnam, in Saigon, like in China. So I couldn’t find even in Bangkok, there’s not that. And Bangkok’s expensive too, I think for schools, but in Chiang Mai or some reason, I guess, I don’t know really why, but it’s just the cost of living is low, even families and Thailand.

[00:21:56] for the schools, from what I’ve heard. Yeah, I’ve heard similar things. We haven’t started looking at it cause my kids are so young. And we’re also in the transition back to the States. But, uh, yeah, I’ve, I’ve heard similar things about the price here in Ho Chi Minh city. Compare similar to what you experienced in China, where these kinds of, Western schools. If you want English, that’s the hard thing.

[00:22:22] I think, I guess you’re going through it now. Like when you start looking at the costs. As a single, it could be female, usually it’s male, but just more, female, women, Western women coming to Asia too. But you know, the, the whole adventure of a single person, whether it’s a man or a woman is totally different than a married with kids.

[00:22:41] Life like changes everything. So I know when I’m, we met last in Shanghai, we, you know, you’re, you’re holding your little one. And I had my two they’re like more toddlers, you know, Run around, not by the ads. It’s a, it’s true. We went out the whole digital, no matter traveling, but even just anywhere in your home country, it’s just a, obviously a life changer.

[00:23:04] So yeah. I mean, today’s show is more lifestyle anyways. So, I guess I do have one, one question though. Do you think, you know, the digital nomad, some people said that the digital nomad lifestyle is dead, you know, they think with COVID and travel restrictions and these are restrictions that might be coming.

[00:23:24] You know, I mean, I kind of feel like it has been kind of smoke. I feel like it’s smoking out all these people. Cause I have friends in China that are on like 30 days, 60 days, days. And they’re like, kind of like, where do I go? My visa expired. I have friends in Thailand with visas expiring. They can’t get renewal or it’s harder to get renewal.

[00:23:43] I just feel like everybody’s kind of getting, I call it the smoke out, you know, it’s like a. And it’s getting harder, temporary though. I mean, this will change. Yeah, maybe, maybe it’s harder to know now, but it’ll, it’ll get back to the way cause the, the underlying desire that leads people to, to choose this lifestyle will always be there.

[00:24:03] You know? So once the Covid situation, yeah, it goes away and, and things kind of get back to normal, you know, people will be back at it again. Yeah. It’s true. That’s true. I do agree. It’s just, I guess the whole, we keep saying that, but then I do feel like I was there for September 11th in New York while in New Jersey I saw the towers go down.

[00:24:25] Yeah. If you think about travel before September 11th, there was no Patriot act. There was no all of this, like all this detect and it was definitely security, the airports, but it was not like to the level of now, you know, take your shoes off, dump the water out of your bottle. You know, like I think, I think travel is going to just, I think not to short term, of course, short term.

[00:24:50] But I think it’s gonna be a long term thing. Now, face shields, you know, like masks, I think it’s going to be more and more difficult to travel even five years from now. I feel, but we’ll never know we’re not going to really know, but yeah, I hope not. I just, I hope that we don’t get into a state of constant fear, you know, and let that drive, you know, how nations.

[00:25:15] Interact with each other and make deals on, you know, travel, you know, and, and the rights to go between nations. I mean, I hope that we can keep some of these wonderful open border agreements between you know, Southeast Asian nations, of course, and even China. But I know China, I have friends, really upset because they’re like us, have wife and kids.

[00:25:42] They were on the other side of, I almost, I barely made it back, you know, I think in my story, Barely made it back and forth. Borders closed and borders still seem, I think there might be some new polls now, but it seems pretty much closed still. So, in a way, you know, I feel like some countries are using this as an excuse to keep borders closed in a way.

[00:26:04] I mean, they’ll never probably have made or be able to prove that, but, uh, yeah, it’s just, it’s just, we’ll just have to wait and see, you know, obviously nobody can predict, look into magic crystal ball and get the answer, but let’s just hope they go back because it was getting crazy. But some people say it’s almost better now.

[00:26:23] Cause there’s all these like tourists everywhere and yeah, but the one thing we’re talking about Chiang Mai, I don’t know, but there’s all these elephant parks, which actually is good, they’re going away. Cause some of them were like cruelty, elephants and stuff, but they’re just releasing the elephants now.

[00:26:41] They’re just like letting them out cause they can’t pay for them, cause there’s no tourists. So it’s expensive to feed an elephant. So I, I’ve heard stories and Facebook groups and there, there’s like, cause then they might get picked up by, you know, loggers or whatever to be reused in that tray that they got out of it.

[00:26:59] Right. Yeah. Anyway, let’s just see what happens, but uh, um, so yeah, I guess let’s go to the next topic, you know, marriage, you know, the next stage of life for, you know, a lot of us are, Oh man movement. You know, I guess, I don’t know if I’m really, I guess we still count as digital nomads, but you know, we’re not.

[00:27:23] It’s a lot of this is only maybe 10, 15 years old, max, you know, of people is. So now I think more and more people like becoming like us getting married, having kids, you know? So do you want to kind of, I’ll just leave it at that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I definitely, so. I guess, and this is just kind of general, general thoughts on marriage, but like when you start as a, as an individual, it’s so selfish, right?

[00:27:55] Like everything is about me. Like I was optimizing for my life. To, to have the most enjoyment and in China and Southeast Asia, you know, just having fun, just for me and living life on my terms. But then when you bring a wife into the picture, then you’ve got to consider too, but then you have two kids and you’ve got to consider four people.

[00:28:16] Right. And, and it takes away a lot of personal freedoms and it takes away a lot of that selfishness as well. Or at least you have to come to terms with a lot of that selfishness. And that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned is that, um, you know, I, I had this idea of what a, what, like a digital nomad family might look like.

[00:28:38] But then that turned out to be wildly different in the fact that, you know, even visa is like, especially cause my wife is, is Vietnamese and the Vietnamese passport cannot get the same level of, you know, Travel experiences as a, as a American passport can get. And that’s just facts. I mean, I wish it was easier, but it’s not.

[00:29:03] And so it’s, it’s difficult for us to even go and enjoy another country because she has to leave within 14 to 30 days, you know? I know. Yeah. I mean, my wife’s Chinese and, uh, everybody’s similarly, even when we get to change my, like the Thai Thai people are much. Immigration policies are much more difficult to Chinese for longterm visas.

[00:29:25] But yeah, I think a lot of us, we all learn like even before we’re married, I know someone, us nomads have girlfriends. I want to travel on there, obviously, you know, from these countries that are also difficult for travel and it makes us start to realize also how fortunate we are to have a, that, but it will, of course it also makes it more.

[00:29:49] Uh, difficult now way. Yeah. But you know, and I don’t know, this is heresy to say out loud here, so maybe you can say it in a hush tone, but afterhaving a family, I start to feel like I’m, the constant travel lifestyle is not the best. And I feel like, I find myself gravitating, being more and more towards routine and something that I can count on daily.

[00:30:18] Weekly monthly basis. Yeah, I enjoy that consistency. Yeah. I mean, I think it, I think that’s all of us, me, me too, you know? It’s just exhausting to think about, especially if we have to move a group of people and then, so I think it’s natural. I think it’s, I mean, even reading some books about, you know, human

[00:30:45] The past, you know, the tribe, tribal, like I think humans used to just live in groups of 25 to 50 and they were Hunter gatherers and they, they didn’t really, you know, people want to stay in this book. 

[00:31:00] That’s why I was afraid to say, I read a book, a Sovereign, Sovereign Individual. I believe it’s on my Kindle.

[00:31:09] And. I got it. I get to me, but basically it’s talking about 500 years. We’ve been living in these 500 year cycles and. You know, Jesus was born, right? That was zero. And then for that, like Rome, Rome started falling after Jesus at the whole Jesus thing from zero to 500. And then there was the dark ages from 500 to 1000.

[00:31:36] And then from 1000 to 1500 was the Renaissance. They called it where Christopher Columbus, you know, the discovery of all these new places. And then 1500 to 2000 was the industrial wave. And, you know, now we’re going into the information age and the two thousands, which seems to be the book is written in 

[00:32:00] 2000, but I feel like he was, it took 20 years, but what he’s saying is like, even talking about virus and all this stuff, you know?

[00:32:07] And, but yeah, I mean, it’s just a new world. We live in the information world, you know, um, and it says governments are less and less important and they’re going to keep trying to hold onto their power. Because they don’t want to lose their power, but they’re not as powerful as needed as they used to be.

[00:32:25] Cause it’s all about information and, and, uh, and, uh, creativity, but, uh, the governments are still trying to show their power, which is what is happening, right? Like they’re holding onto their hours. So I don’t want to get too conspiracy theory, but it does seem to be at least how I see it. Um, but yeah, marriage and settling down.

[00:32:45] So let’s, let’s, let’s talk unless you have some sand that crazy ranch, but uh, just getting back to the marriage. Yeah. Marriage stuff. So, yeah. Yeah. Imagine you’re in chain, mind for awhile and then you’re back in Vietnam. And now we’re where are you at now? Yeah. So we’re back in, uh, in Ho Chi Minh city, um, just living out in kind of a far out district, not nearly center at all, but it’s, it’s located next to her parents so that they can.

[00:33:17] Come over and assist with the kids. So that’s been great. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, but in the process, like we are, we’re living here for the next year. As we fill out the paperwork to get home, her immigrated to the US. Okay. And so once that paperwork processes, we’ll, we’ll move over to the U S I just kind of comes full circle.

[00:33:44] I thought of you. Yeah. Thank you. I read the article. It says is getting more expensive and harder. I mean, I think it seems like the, you know, the whole Trump administration seems like walls are going. I mean, I think it’s happening with Brexit, something in everywhere, but it seems like everything is getting harder.

[00:34:00] Right. So I’d love to just. Yeah. So our experience has been that it’s, it’s, it’s not difficult for us. And I think the reason is, is that it’s, uh, we’re married, you know, she’s coming over as a spouse of an American citizen and, uh, that speeds up the process quite a bit. Uh, I think it is however, getting a lot more difficult for people that.

[00:34:25] You know, maybe came through some of these systems, like the lottery or even asylum seekers or, you know, any of these other visa, immigration programs that the U S had. Those are now becoming, um, yeah, just more difficult. But I think for, for people coming over as family members, or as part of, you know, from a spouse or, or however that works, it’s a lot easier.

[00:34:50] Okay. All right. Um, so then, so we’re kind of in the middle of summer 2020 now. So then you think by like, I guess then a summer next summer, you think, or so? Uh, well, actually we were hoping December, we’re in the second part of the process now, so she needs to schedule her interview with the US consulate.

[00:35:13] And once that, you know, hopefully she passes the interview. If she, uh, everything checks out, then, uh, then we’ll move hopefully in December. But we just, like, the hardest part is knowing timelines. You know, you can read online some averages, but nobody’s for sure everything is kind of backed up, uh, because the staffing is not as, uh, they’re not at a hundred percent staff, so it’s just, yeah, it’s backed up a bit.

[00:35:41] Okay. Well, good luck, man. I hope, I hope it goes smoothly. And, uh, um, it’s honestly not something I’m doing right now actively. We’ve had some discussions with, with Wendy, my wife, but for now what’s keeping you in China. Yeah. I mean, it’s a common question. I mean, we were in Chiang Mai. The quick, quick story was her parents got a, had two different illnesses and their grandma had passed away in November.

[00:36:11] And I’m sorry to hear that. Yes. Where grandma was. She says she’s brought her up. Grandma helped her a lot. So I guess similar like us in the, her grandparents are helping our kids a lot. So it seems like you too, a little bit. So they kind of have this connection with their grandparents even more than maybe in the Western world.

[00:36:31] cause I had good relations with my grandparents, but so she went back and then she was here in November while I was in Chiang Mai with the kids for, it was a long weekend, but basically, then she found out her mom had, you know, basically some pretty progressed cancer and her dad’s heart. And so she was just before, this is all before COVID.

[00:36:52] So in November last year we were chatting and she says, um, you know, I have to go back and spend time with my family. You know, I guess that’s true with, you know, I think any, and you know, I also think about my own parents, you know, or, you know, family members. So she says you don’t have to go with me, but, you know, I’ll take care of the kids.

[00:37:13] And, so the plan was, I would go to I just chose Philippines cause I have some business there anyway, and I didn’t really see myself living here. Well, I came here for a few weeks and I left literally. I remember hearing about, I don’t even know if they had a name coronavirus yet, but I remember hearing about a virus while I was still here, but I flew middle of January, early January to, to Philippines.

[00:37:37] Not nobody knew what it was going to become. Yeah. Yeah. Basically I was playing to be bouncing back and forth often, but I was maybe going to come back in March, you know, like a couple of months and then visits and it, cause I had a T I switched from a work permit in China to a 10 year. This is visa, you know, America with, I was just going to, I did couldn’t even stay for six months.

[00:38:00] Like basically it was a half year plan. The original plan was we finished the school semester in Christmas in Thailand and we didn’t renew. We told them it might, you know, we actually were switching schools, so it kind of worked out anyway. So I knew she may be, she also wanted to learn Chinese more anyway, so it was like a half year here.

[00:38:19] I could be like a digital nomad or traveler. Uh, and then we were going to go back to chain my, and the fall. And yeah, of course, a lot of people say, why don’t you go back to the U S you’re like hustling so much. You’re like paying all this money for schools. It is, it is true, you know, but I still, uh, even the show even, I don’t know, I don’t want to believe use my podcast as a scapegoat, but, you know, uh, I mean, I, it’s kind of become my life.

[00:38:47] You know, I’ve been here. So many years, and I can’t even remember, I guess 2007 is when I officially came. So yeah. You feel a stronger connection with China and the region than you do with the US well, I mean, a lot of people say, Oh, you can try it for life. I mean, I think I’m more Asia. I don’t know. It’s hard to say for life, but I think Asia, you know, I just, this is how I feel, but I didn’t plan to come back to China.

[00:39:15] I mean, I thought I would just visit China. Go would never come back. I don’t have that. Like, A big anti-China. I mean, all of you, I, I mean, there’s also learners, there’s governments and policies, and then there’s people, right. There’s so of course policies, like, I feel same. Like, I feel like not as welcomed here, I maybe it’s in my head, but it’s not like it used to be where.

[00:39:37] I guess it went, it was too extreme. Nice to foreigners are easy, especially right here. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, unfortunately it’s a, or fortunately, maybe a guest for us, but unfortunately for other forums that wasn’t as nice, but by being a white, especially male, I guess female too, but he used to be almost too easy or too nice for us.

[00:40:00] And now it’s like, I feel. I can’t really say specifically things, you know, I can’t say, I just feel, I don’t get that same vibe as I used to, you know, I feel, um, maybe I was spoiled, but it’s also not as welcoming of a feeling anymore. Just generally, I’m not doing business here. I’m working at home. But, you know, I do look forward to go back to Thailand.

[00:40:25] I kind of want also travel a little bit, you know, I’m homeschooling now. So actually after this interview, I, and afternoons, you know, after your teacher, Mike, I joke man, but, uh, I always resisted to become an English teacher, you know, like it ended up happening. You can’t escape. I think in my, one of my books, Destination China, I had it in there, like.

[00:40:50] You know, I had my failures with product development too. There was rock bottoms. And then there was a rock bottom where I was on the street corner with a, another, foreign American friend and we were drinking beer and I was devastated about a huge quality control problem I had and I was going to have to be faced with a huge loss, and.

[00:41:15] I was screaming like, what am I going to do? I was on, you know, in China’s busy everyone, but it’s like a busy corner, you know, like in like a, when it was ghetto 7-11, I’m like, I have no money. What am I going to do? And some woman in a suit really? Presentable middle-aged, you know, businesswoman she’s like, gives me the name card and just say, like, I think I had like a tank top, you know, I think this is like, I was still like a kid at like, you fit the bill for like an English teacher.

[00:41:48] You want to be an English teacher. I have a because she heard me and Kate Watson tried to get me. And then she says, Oh, you don’t, you don’t even have to really teach you just play video games. These are very wealthy. These are very wealthy, play with them. Their parents want them to spend more time with foreigners.

[00:42:10] So you’re just playing games and hang out with them. And I was like, my friend, like, you know, he’s like laughing in the corner. It’s like, I’m like, no, No English. Yeah. I feel that same aversion to teaching English as well Mike. That was, that was all I was I’ll find money doing anything else. Yeah. I will not teach English.

[00:42:34] Yeah. It’s just a strong aversion. I think we have listeners that are teachers. I mean, I mean, I understand some people do it, you know, I think even a, you know, in the communities, people do it as a short term way to get into the, get into this lifestyle. So, you know, I’m not trying to hate on it, but, you know, I think, I think you and I are similar page, like.

[00:42:55] We have a limp that’s kind of a line for, but my last part, which I saw, I teach English to my, not just English, Math, you know, like mine right now, my wife is doing it on her father, is my grandfather, her father, her grandparents are doing it. So we just share. But there was a time at the beginning where neighbors, kids were trying to sneak in and then I’m like, I’m like, there’s, I’m like, I’m like Wendy.

[00:43:21] What’s this kind of school? Who is this kid? See me here. Like it’s not my kid. I don’t think I like, I don’t remember having three kids, but can he just sit there and listen? I’m like, no, no, it starts with one. Yeah, it just gets it there. Listen to me. No, no, no, just my kids. This is it, this is a lie. I’m calling, I’m crossing lines here.

[00:43:54] I’m breaking boundaries mentally and physically. And then we had some organs and, uh, he hang out for a little while, but that was, that was the last time I, I felt bad, but, I’m like I have my lines, you know, anyways. All right. I think we can wrap up. Did he, but I do want to talk about what you’re working on.

[00:44:11] We didn’t talk about what your current venture is. So, let’s, let’s, I mean, I think you want to share a little bit about what you’ve been working. I mean, you know, when you talk about the watch, which is, you know, like a lot of us, some learning experiences, and you’ve been through a lot, you’ve helped lucky without funding, but I know you’re getting sold totally new space.

[00:44:28] So I’d love to hear a little bit about you’re working on. Yeah. So no, now that I’ve been kind of living the lifestyle and before I was trying to afford it by building things that were opportunistic, right. And just doing things that could make me money. But the there’s some trade offs there and the trade offs are often that.

[00:44:52] without the passion, you can’t really build something to the level that it has a potential to be. And so I wanted to pursue some business that was within my passion. And you know, for me that’s sleep. I, I love sleeping, but I love sleeping. Cause I sucked at sleeping for most of my adult life. I. You know, once I got to college, I just started sleeping terribly and then it just got worse and worse as I, uh, got into it, work life and then moving out to China and just living a different lifestyle out there.

[00:45:24] Like. I just became a terrible insomniac where I couldn’t count on any consistent sleep. And so, um, but with the kids, it became really clear to me that I needed to get better sleep. Uh, like, cause I mean, yeah, I could go into the statistics here, but the, the, the part of the brain that is regulated by quality sleep is also part of the, that controls your, uh, your emotions that are like.

[00:45:53] Would would indicate anger as well. And so if you don’t get sleep, typically you’ll find people that don’t sleep as well are more angry. And so it was one of these things where, you know, if I want to be a good dad, if I want to be a good husband, I feel like I need to be sleeping better. And so it really became a priority to figure out how to sleep quality for every single night and get the amount of sleep I needed every single night.

[00:46:15] And so in that process, I was able to figure that out and I wanted to share that with others. And so. I’ve started a, a challenge. I call it the eight months to eight hours challenge and it’s simply a, the same exact process that I use to get better sleep. And just sharing that with others and kind of walking people through the methodology, we built a great community of people that are on the same path together, that journey to better sleep.

[00:46:40] And, you know, especially for anybody listening, that’s like, uh, an entrepreneur or somebody that’s trying to get into business that, that stuff’s stressful. I mean, stress is the number one, cause. Stress and anxiety, the number one cause of sleeplessness. Uh, and you know, I’ve, I have over 200 people that have gone through the challenge right now.

[00:47:00] And I survey everybody like that’s coming in and the number one indicator is an overactive mind, I say, okay, if the first question I ask is what do you think is causing your sleeplessness? And the number one indicator, overactive mind. And if you’re getting in touch preneurs yeah. Where you already have your own business, then you probably know what I’m talking about.

[00:47:18] Just laying in at bed at night, just thinking like, Oh, I’ve got all these problems in my business, all these opportunities dreaming about what the possibilities are and those kinds of things, they just keep you up all night. And then the next day you can’t perform at the same level. And so that’s really what I’m trying to address is helping people to sleep through the night, get the sleep they need so they can perform at the level they want.

[00:47:40] Okay. Awesome. Is there, I mean, I guess I can link it in the show notes. I’m taking some quick notes here, but, it’s a, it’s a. Yeah, it’s just You go sleep So right now we’re building out a free newsletter. So if you, if you go check out, it’s just a newsletter signup, and it’s basically tips and hacks, uh, to get better sleep tonight.

[00:48:03] Uh, it goes out weekly. Um, okay. And I interview experts in the field like sleep scientists and coaches. Sleep psychologist, uh, really what I’m trying to solve is this part where maybe, you know, what you need to do in order to get better sleep, but you don’t know like how to convince yourself to do those things.

[00:48:21] Cause actually behavioral change is one of the hardest things to do in life. Right? So. That’s really what we’re we’re, um, you know, doing it in the sleepsheepy challenges, like really trying to improve that behavior change so you can get the sleep you need. So if you sign up for the newsletter, like the next page is to check out the challenge and, um, yeah, it’s like a free, free trial.

[00:48:44] So you just come check it out, see how it works for you. We have a whole web portal where you can track your sleep and okay. You know, check out different psychological hacks in order to improve your sleep, et cetera. So, yeah. Okay. All right. Thanks again for sharing with us today and I’ll appreciate it.

[00:49:05] I’m glad we finally got you on the show. It’s been a long time coming. Yeah, man, it is. I’m glad to be here. All right. Do you enjoy this show? I hope you do. I can’t take all the credit though. We have an amazing team and we do use this team to make other content for people listening. Some listeners are using our service.

[00:49:25] Some people in our community are using the service. Of course, people on the internet, using the team. I mean, Alvin’s our editor. We have LJ, we have Mindy, we have Stephenie, we have amazing people, you know, here. Um, and they love doing what they do. And. Work with us. If you want to support what we’re doing and get some extra hands for your business, check it out.

[00:49:47] Alrighty, Luke. Thanks buddy. Finally got you on the show and it’s great, man. I mean, we got some business in there and we got some of the lifestyle and the living, which is our Prerogative on this episode, Episode 321 of Global From Asia, Global From Anywhere my wife’s life don’t do that.

[00:50:14] You’re going to confuse people. Speaking of my wife, how did I meet her? She’s embarrassed to say maybe I sat on a show or definitely on my videos or my personal blog at Mike’ But I met her on Chinese social media on Weibo Chinese Twitter in 2012. Actually, when I was doing that startups social agent, before I even started this podcast, we were doing lead gen outreach, you know, social media tool on Chinese social media to help foreigners do business in China called social agent.

[00:50:47] It was actually even a right Weibo agent at a point. And she was one of my, the leads. Some people say, should we make it to a dating app, but, you know, if she is doing amazing business, she’s a business woman, a business person. And she was in Beijing at the time, working at an app company, doing business development for a down down joy, which is a, a kind of like a Google play of China.

[00:51:13] One of the Google plays and, you know, I was doing an app and, I was looking for Business Development people. So, yeah, I mean, I was in Dalian, not even too far from where I am as Shenyang. Yeah. Her hometown where I am now and not too far from Beijing. So during a business trip at China Accelerator incubator program, I was in.

[00:51:34] I went to Beijing and she was in one of my business meetings, which obviously got to become more of the business. But, you know, she’s, she is a business development person. She’s supporting this show. I know she’s never been on the show, but she’s been supporting this show so much. Um, you know, with our events Cross Border Summit, a Cross Border Matchmaker, across all the various events and she’s even influencing a lot of the decisions in here.

[00:52:00] So that’s what she, she helped me a lot in, uh, in the, I think she was just kind of amazing, just crazy for him to try and do a social media app in China, which was pretty freak crazy. Basically. It’s like, Insane. Anyways, we, obviously, but started building a, a relationship and it was a little bit long distance.

[00:52:23] I was in the incubator in Dalian, and then I went down back to Beijing a few times. We were considering my staying in Beijing, but I had my CTO. He was actually on a show. Chris Lee came out to. Chris I’m based in Hong Kong. So I came back to Shen Jen to, to work with him and there some others on the team in Shenzhen.

[00:52:42] So in 2012, went back down to Shenzhen. And then, we kept in, you know, we actually visit each other between Shenzhen, Beijing a few times, and then decided maybe, you know, she was open to coming down. And, and then, um, uh, recently the rest is history. We’re married 2013. And pretty fast, like within a year or maybe a year, a year and a half.

[00:53:06] And, yeah. Then Miles came and Global From Asia started 2013. And then, you know, we didn’t have too much time without kids, but we had a kid and then another kid Maggie and yeah, I mean, they’re American citizens. Can’t be both, China doesn’t allow it or US allows it. But, so that’s why some people popped over to Hong Kong to pop the kid.

[00:53:31] Sorry for that. And then, and of course having kids, honestly, I don’t want to say it, but the first couple of years, I don’t wanna say it’s easy, but you don’t gotta, it’s not as complicated, you know? They cry a lot that wake you up in the night. You know, there’s different things, but the complexity, I think in the challenge and the cost comes when they need to get into school.

[00:53:49] That’s where you notice like Luke and others in. And once you have to start kids during school is really when you get that. That a big blaring sign, like, okay. It makes sense to go back to my home country are, you know, to go back to my, maybe, maybe the wife or the husband, somebody home country. Cause when you’re both not in your home country and you have kids, you got to basically pay for international school or the schooling choices gets slim.

[00:54:15] Especially if you want English language, school. In Asia or probably most other places it’s more difficult. And then the tuition is just expensive. You know, like, you know, in China seems like English language, school. I was paying like over 10,000 a year for one class a day in English, you know? And it was not that good of English class.

[00:54:36] It didn’t seem to work. And, uh, you know, if you want full English and China, you’re talking about like 25,000 us per year for kindergarten. Oh, no, I don’t know. That sounds nuts. Right. But, uh, so anyways, the school is really when it gets to be that decision point. Like, do we really. Do we really stay where we are.

[00:54:55] And that’s how we got to Thailand was the kids’ school. There’s actually a lot of cool schools in Chiang Mai that are really reasonable and around the 10,000 Mark, which is why I was paying a change in, but it’s full English. And it was like the same as I made. I don’t want to say the same, but similar to the 25,000 US cost English school in China.

[00:55:16] And so that’s how we ended up there. Anyway. Don’t want to go through a whole life story, but yeah, I mean, it’s definitely challenging to be overseas with, married with kids. It’s just a different kind of lifestyle. You know, I do want to travel with the kids. I’m, I’m honestly, I’m really excited to be homeschooling them now.

[00:55:33] Uh, the Covid is kind of a good excuse to test homeschooling because there’s not many other choices and really see if you, if you could really get that homeschooling thing cracked. School is like the biggest cost. And it’s also for, you know, for me, obviously I can kind of work almost anywhere I choose to stay in Asia, but you know, can work online, you know, then you could kind of live anywhere if the school is really the part for me that has kind of been making me have to decide on a place to stay.

[00:56:04] Semi-permanently at least for, you know, semesters at a time. But I don’t know. I’m still not sure when the interesting, not sure if we’re going to continue to homeschooling maybe the rest of this year, but, uh, just thought I’d add this in a blahblahblah session. After the episode with Luke and talking about lifestyle and, you know, living and marriage and kids and all that complicated stuff, it’s, it’s true.

[00:56:28] What they say. If you’re not married with kids right now, you know, Not saying it’s a bad thing, but enjoy the phases you are in your life. You know, I’m trying to enjoy this. You know, my kids are six and four. I think that’s an amazing time to be with your kids. You know, I’m stuck with them during COVID at a great time to be stuck with them.

[00:56:48] There. They enjoy being with me or playing with me, you know, uh, I can influence, hopefully positively influenced their life and their education. So, um, Trying to make the most of it now, but definitely when you’re single and the worries are a lot less and you can, uh, really do, um, more crazy things.

[00:57:08] Although I can, I’m not saying I can’t now, but it’s just a different kind of lifestyle. So I hope this all makes sense. Thanks again, for listening to the show all the way through to the end, to blah, blah, blah. You’re a hardcore, if you’re all the way here, but episode 321 as always, we have show notes on the podcast, check it out.

[00:57:25] See you later. Bye bye. To get more in a boat, running an international business. Please visit our website at That’s Also be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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