One great interview deserves another. Before heading off to South America, I had the opportunity to spend an extraordinary hour with Nik Halik on the phone and my life paradigms haven’t been the same since.
Rock star, adventurer, mountaineer, and now millionaire, he has 112 countries worth of experience and is an inspiration to everyone, traveler or not. He has even been to a couple of places that you won’t find covered in Lonely Planet: the Titanic and space!
Nik made his dreams come true by taking control of his thinking and by not wasting life trying to collect material things. He subscribes completely to the idea that we attract good things to happen with the right attitude and puts his money back into life experiences.
I’m going to split this interview into two posts: one with Nik’s background and one with the more personal dialogue and his advice.
Nik is a vagabonding hero and his way of thinking is highly contagious — you’ve been warned!
At first glance, it would be easy to discount Nik Halik as another Richard Branson type who has the money to tackle whatever adventure he fancies.
The truth is that Nik wasn’t born into privilege. He was born in Australia to hard working Greek immigrants (his father was a truck driver) and actually spent the first ten years of his life in bed with debilitating asthma.
No one would have suspected that this fatigued little boy would go on to climb the highest peaks of four continents and is soon to make a bid on Everest!
Despite not having the money, his parents invested in an Encyclopedia Britannica for him with which he literally wore out his eyesight reading day and night while stuck in bed.
At age 8 and with a head full of dreams from so much reading, he wrote down a list of 10 seemingly impossible goals that aren’t too far off from our dreams of that age. Included were: become a rock star, become an astronaut, climb mount Everest.
Nik is different because he never caved into society’s pressure to give up those dreams and “grow up” by joining the masses of middle-waged and miserable tax payers. Now at age 39 he is well on the way to completing nearly all of his original goals!
Making it Happen
Rather than go to university and get dumped into the mainstream workforce, Nik turned to music and started learning guitar. As a teenager he became good enough to teach lessons and rather than blow the money as most guys his age would, he saved.
By the age of 17, he had managed to save $30K and left his home country for Los Angeles to embrace his dreams of becoming a rock star. He later ended up in the band Big Dealand playing with Bon Jovi and Deep Purple. Dream #1 accomplished.
Nik’s beliefs about money are in line with Rolf Potts and vagabonds (like myself) around the world. Life experiences and wisdom which appreciate and will enhance your life over time are much more important than accumulating material things which depreciate and actually become a liability.
Even being a millionaire now, Nik doesn’t invest in “anything that moves” such as boats, cars, and the other things that the rich rush out to buy. He instead reinvests the money into himself and into “multiple pillars of wealth” — automated ways to make income that don’t require your constant time and attention.
Nik calls himself a “Thrillionaire” because, money or no money, he is rich in life experiences and wants to leave a positive legacy. He told me that his #1 ambition in life is to “walk with a smile on my face.”
According to Nik, “Capitalism is designed to entrench us in debt” and he goes further by pointing out how people physically become ill just to get out of going into jobs that they hate. It’s a trap which people fall into early in life when they are young and should be traveling, learning, and getting to know themselves.
“Money is the servant and we are the masters, not the other way around.”
He also points out in his book The Thrillionaire that our current educational system doesn’t provide young people with any practical financial education such as how to save money, how to invest, or how to use credit cards properly.
It is literally a system designed to crank out tax payers that are stuck in debt and unable to travel or pursue happiness. Sound familiar?
Travel and Vagabonding
Nik could have kept earning money and living the same rock star lifestyle, but instead he left music at around age 28 and went vagabonding for several years.
He recommends that we do serious traveling at least every five years because we change so much and it is necessary to know yourself again. His first advice to university students is to travel and take two or tree years to get to know yourself before jumping into the workforce.
Niks agrees that “travel is the best education ever” and his passport reflects that. He has been to Antarctica five times, explored the dangerous crystal caverns of Mexico, ran with the bulls in Pamplona (once wasn’t enough), and lived with Bedouins in Egypt among other things.
Even more impressive, he was the first Australian citizen to go to space (he went with the Russians) and has dived in a submersible to the Titanic wreck. He was also the first person to spend the night inside the Great Pyramid in more than 100 years and had strange supernatural experiences. Why? Why not!
I’m going to write up our conversation for the second part of this interview. Until then, I will leave you with some great advice Nik gave me over the phone:
“Live a purpose built life. We are unique but relinquish control…as adults we need to think like kids again.”