Could You Be Living a Sustainable, Low-Impact but High Impact Life?~ Michael Q. Todd

Via elephant journal
on Sep 11, 2011
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Photo: Toban Black

“Become a man of value rather than a man of success” ~ Einstein

Thanks Thomas Power for encouraging me to write this when you kindly visited Brisbane in February this year. I was bloody close to not having the $35 to pay for your talk and could not buy you or myself a drink but I’m very glad I borrowed the money and made the effort to spend the (very rare) afternoon offline.

In Easter 2008 exactly three years ago something shifted for me. I woke up.

After an “Entrepreneur Business School” in Bali followed directly by eight days straight water fasting and meditation back home in Tokyo, I became the person I had waited all my life to become. I had learned that the rest of my life would have nothing to do with me.

Photo: via Flickr

Till then I had been “rich” and privileged (still am!) all my life. Most expensive private school in New Zealand, #3 ranked under 15 tennis player in NZ, lawyer salary, four wonderful kids, purchaser of 28 properties, four handicap golfer, skied all over the world etcetera, etcetera.

I biffed it all away, chose to “rewire”, got divorced by a sweet but money hungry woman (who did not understand why I needed to do this) and bought myself a $130 second hand laptop (which I am writing this on).


I decided to “retrain” for the second half of my life and do my 10,000 hours. After three years and thanks to the support and encouragement of many including several Ecademy members I have come full circle.

In the past three years I have lived mainly in Tokyo with very rarely access to money for food or train fare. Regularly I have searched through my pockets for change to go across town to visit my daughter and sometimes it has not been there. Sorry Koko.

I have no doubt pissed a lot of people off (including Ecademy administrators) because I have not been able to pay money to them. That is why I have not been on Ecademy the last two years. Paying my Black Star membership was not on my hierarchy of values. I have possibly “burned” many great potential friends or supporters by not going to expensive parties or trips with them.

I have lived mainly off the generosity of a couple of kind women and by house sitting and couch surfing and by taking advantage of free events where there was food and booze. Thank you to all those people.

Photo: Stephen Bolen

In the middle of all this my beloved father died which knocked me for a six. I fully expected some kind of sizable inheritance but my Mum grabbed the lot. I now fully believe that getting all that money at that time may well have  diverted me from my path and now count it as a blessing.

In June 2010, I was invited to Hong Kong to speak on Social Media to an environmental technology conference. I was promised the plane fare, hotel accommodation and a substantial speaker’s fee. Reluctantly I went. It meant flying, you see, which I am not big on and also meant a potential few days without regular Internet access. I borrowed the plane fare and have still not been able to repay it. I was cheated you see.

The assholes never paid me for the flight nor the hotel and I was stuck there. I ended up spending three weeks in Hong Kong. Well I slept outside for several nights, had to sneak into hotel lobbies for an hour of Twitter and got bitten badly on the ass by a poisonous spider. At that time I had formed and was leading a group of people who were working to support each other online and were used to my daily presence. That group of 20 wonderful people collapsed because they were used to me being around all day.

In short, going to Hong Kong and departing from my path was a massive mistake.

See, I decided three years ago to focus. Basically, I want to know as much about social media tools and strategies and environmental issues as possible as well as the people who are the “thought leaders” in these spaces. Going to Hong Kong was not part of that. It seemed fun…

People, money, clothes, food, drink, and holidays have become completely irrelevant.

Photo: Aleksandar Cocek

I have regularly done 16-17 hour days seven days a week online. In the last six months I have done that daily. It’s my fun.

In short, I have chosen to paraphrase Albert Einstein “a person of value rather than necessarily a ‘success.’” Funnily enough I see no “sacrifice” in this and my health, my body and my self-esteem have never been in better shape.

The next part of my journey, now that I have done my training, is to define my value more clearly and find an agent to market me to people who might see it worthwhile having me on their team as a strategist or brand evangelist.

I am now regularly being touted as “a genius connector in the environmental space” and a “social media wizard” but who cares about that? The important thing was to find peace and to find why I am here on this earth among all you in 2011. I believe I may have done this.

Great things are beginning to happen. I have been asked by a publisher to write a book and I will speak at TEDxHomer this Saturday about the new age of content sharing and how it effects a rise in consciousness.

I love my life and I am incredibly excited every day. As I write I have $8 to my name so will catch the train into downtown Brisbane this balmy Sunday evening in my best op shop clothes and shoes and see if a pretty girl will buy me a drink.


Michael Q. Todd is a Twitter coach for businesses and charities. He is an author and international speaker. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn or on Skype: michaeltoddshoot 72.





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6 Responses to “Could You Be Living a Sustainable, Low-Impact but High Impact Life?~ Michael Q. Todd”

  1. Great article, Michael! Just posted to the elephant facebook page. Cheers!

  2. Lori says:

    Hi, Michael. I'm on a similar journey, getting ready to start riding my bicycle across the U.S. And…I will also be presenting at TEDxGWU (DC) on October 1st. : ) I have three blogs going now through Blogspot: "TheBlueTurtleBlog" which is mostly about my "outward journey", "TheBlueMoonTurtleBlog" which is more about my "inward journey" and "BlueTurtleSolutions" where I am trying to focus on solution oriented discussions for dealing with world problems rather than just talking about the problems (just getting started with that one). Like you, the money is tight, and I suspect it will get even tighter, but I feel I have to do my "Life's Work" rather than just a "job", for better or worse. Thanks for sharing your story. Let me know if it is okay for me to send you a friend request via Facebook. : )

  3. Bartekus says:

    I just recently started to live like that and now I only own a bicycle and a computer… I live at the apartment that my parents are trying to sell so I renovated it for them with all the material I could find for free and put in a lot of work to redo everything; And now nothing makes me more happy than help other…. I have forgotten what it is to be human for so long; but now that I have change my way I have found more and more people who think alike and decided that this is what I want to do! Thank you Mr.Todd for showing me that there are more people like us!
    United we stand!

  4. Lori says:

    Thanks. Request should be in your queue. : ) Lori

  5. Your authenticity is what makes you so special – loved getting a peak beneath a few of the layers of that onion called your life ;D – I have no doubt you'll excel at whatever you choose my friend!

  6. […] can get our act together as a planet and live on a more resource-based economy or some alternative/sustainable exchange system, money is the way the world turns. By instituting a belief system that says […]