Dr. Matthew Horkey and Charine Tan were both on extremely successful career paths. Matt was working for a seven-figure chiropractic business and Charine was offered a lucrative management position at her company. On the outside, everything looked great. But internally, they both felt they were living a life of complacency.

The tipping point came when they took a sabbatical to wine regions around the world. That’s when something struck Charine. She believed they could build a business around wine and travel. So they built up enough run way to quit their jobs and started their journey as the Exotic Wine Travelers.

In this episode, learn why experiences are better than having things, why you should invest in yourself, and why communication is the most important skill you can learn.

Here are three things you can learn from Matt and Charine:

Having Experiences is Better Than Having Stuff

One of the things people learn over time is accumulating possessions is not as fulfilling as having great experiences. While many of us start off wanting to buy fancy things to keep up with the Joneses, few of us realize that buying stuff is a never ending cycle. It is experiences that truly light us up. “When we started to step away and travel, when we started to focus on experiences, we realized stuff is all on the periphery. It’s nice, but it’s a want, not a need. Life is all about defining what you need, number one, and then what you want.”

While many of us begin to internalize that idea, we can still get stuck in the trap because we want to fit in. “It’s funny because both of us pride ourselves, we really value experience over possession all along, for the past couple of years that we’re together. But, as much as we know that intellectually, and we can relate to that thinking, we still fell into the trap of possession or consumerism. And looking at things broadly, I don’t think it’s just consumerism. It’s just that human beings, we are wired to belong. And when we’re in a group, community, or society, you want to fit in, and… all of us will be influenced by our environment and people around us.”

Charine believes you can truly discover this for yourself once you have the power to possess things. “It’s only after you have the power to possess things or when you have the power to achieve all those things, and that’s when you start asking yourself whether you really want it or not. We are lucky we got to step out of the environment that we’re in and we get a clear choice of whether we really enjoy those experiences or not.”

Invest in Yourself

Charine and Matt both believe the best investment you can make is in yourself. While most people believe investing in high value stocks is the best way to become wealthy, they believe investing in yourself is far more valuable. “When you invest in yourself, it will always pay itself back and a lot of the times, it can be the best investment that you can make.”

What they found was that most people are afraid to grow. People are afraid of both the success and failure of personal growth, so they choose to do nothing instead. “It’s not that people don’t want to invest money in growing. Most people don’t want to grow. Growing is scary, it’s hard, and it’s difficult, and that’s the reason most people don’t want to do it.”

While they understand people’s aversion to growth, it’s still baffling that people choose to invest in everything but themselves. “It baffles me when people pick all sorts of investments to do, yet they don’t invest in themselves because you are the safest investment. Is there any risk at all? There’s no risk. There’s only growth.”

That’s why they are on this journey of traveling and tasting wines. They see it as an investment in personal growth.

Good Communication Sets You Apart

People often wonder what skills set them apart from everyone else. Matt believes the most valuable skill you can learn is communication. “When you can communicate and articulate your ideas, you move into the top 1% of humanity. When you can actually get up and speak in front of a large group of people, you move into another top 1%. If you can speak and inspire somebody to move, you move into another top 1%. So I think that’s a skill that everybody should learn to do.”

While most creatives try to improve skills within their craft, top performing artists are ones that know how to communicate with their audience. That’s why Matt recommends improving your communication skills. “I would recommend that skill (communication) to anybody because if you can communicate and articulate your ideas, that’s when you can really get things done.”

  • about Matt
    • went to Chiropractic College
    • traveled the world for six months
    • had chiro business and got blacklisted in Indonesia
    • built chiro business in Singapore, left practice in April 2015
  • about Charine
    • background in marketing, sales, communications, etc.
    • met Matt five years ago
    • started traveling and living independent lifestyle last year
  • getting into chiropractic
    • went to Michigan State University
    • science education training to be teacher
    • met chiropractor in a mall
    • didn’t have symptoms/problems
    • chiropractor talked about innate intelligence and he became hooked
    • fell in love with philosophy of the profession
    • wanted to see philosophy in practice and reach a certain level of success
    • live on a bigger scale and apply principles to something that allowed him to be location independent
  • getting into business
    • knew 5-10 years in advance
    • wanted to be in management consulting then have a successful business at 35
    • had 5-10 year plans
    • coming from an Asian family
    • was offered management position and she turned it down
  • leaving the comfortable for something less certain
    • was difficult for Matt because his practice was doing well
      • from the outside eye, everything look great
      • he didn’t want to be in the same place all the time
      • talked to coach about everything being good
      • living in an accessible place, great dining, amazing experiences/vacations
        • coach told him he was living a good life, not a great life
    • Charine used to tell herself things that made her happy
      • But is a huge indicator word
        • dangerous trigger for complacency
    • Good to Great by Jim Collins
      • “Good is the enemy of great.”
      • choose what you want and go after it

7:08 “I wanted more out of life. I didn’t just want to be in one place all the time, and it is incredibly scary stepping outside that life you’ve created yourself to try something completely different and try something new from scratch. I mean, I still have days where I’m terrified and I freak out a little bit because I think about what I’ve given up, in terms of where I am now and what I’m ultimately reaching for.” – Matt

8:24 “At the end of the day, my coach said, ‘Yeah, you’re living a good life. but you’re not living a great one,’ and from that point on, that’s when something clicked in my head and said I have to go and do this.” – Matt

8:38 “Having a good life or sense of security, it’s a very dangerous situation to be in because when you bite that mediocrity can be when you stop growing. And it’s easy to move on when you acknowledge that you have security, you have a sense of security. That security is not real. It’s not tangible. It’s something that you feel and it’s a possession. And we’re able to accept that, then that’s when you ask yourself what is out there for you to achieve because, yeah, there’s so much more that’s out there than settling down for security. Then, you just don’t have to go outside of the house. You don’t have to do anything… that’s not how you live.” – Charine

  • his coach
    • shaped his life and helped make practice successful
    • helped him in many aspects of life
    • mentors vs. coaches
    • mentors are more informal – can impart wisdom
    • coach you have to pay for, is on you, will tell you the truth
      • will show you things you can’t see yourself
    • uncovering things you know you should do
    • layers and peeling things back
    • “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” – Will Rogers
    • peeling layers back and finding what you want
    • his coach understanding him and recognizing what he truly wanted
    • identifying values – having trouble articulating what you want
    • Singapore – memorization pushed in education
      • pursuing certain careers and money
      • creativity and what you want is never asked
      • lack of creativity and not pushing people to be creative
      • templates for career/lifestyle decisions
  • living with a consumer mindset vs. what he’s doing now
    • money makes you more of who you are
    • mentor told him he should be successful early so he can realize he doesn’t need it anymore
    • multi-national cities – getting caught in the rat race
      • getting into clothes, watches, eating, wine, etc.
      • after traveling, he started to focus on experiences
      • identifying wants and needs
    • following into the trap of consumerism and belonging
      • power of possession and asking if we really want something
    • leaving Singapore and going back after traveling
      • traveled for 7 months
      • feeling competitive pressure when going back
    • being in Michigan before trip to Serbia
      • going to parent’s church for fish fry
      • saw parents of old classmates
      • asked what he was up to and he felt defensive
      • explaining his lifestyle to those parents

20:34 “When we started to step away and travel, when we started to focus on experiences, we realized stuff is all on the periphery. It’s nice, but it’s a want, not a need. Life is all about defining what you need, number one, and then what you want.” – Matt

20:50 “It’s funny because both of us pride ourselves, we really value experience over possession all along, for the past couple of years that we’re together. But, as much as we know that intellectually, and we can relate to that thinking, we still fell into the trap of possession or consumerism. And looking at things broadly, I don’t think it’s just consumerism. It’s just that human beings, we are wired to belong. And when we’re in a group, community, or society, you want to fit in, and… all of us will be influenced by our environment and people around us.” – Charine

22:12 “It’s only after you have the power to possess things or when you have the power to achieve all those things, and that’s when you start asking yourself whether you really want it or not. We are lucky we got to step out of the environment that we’re in and we get a clear choice of whether we really enjoy those experiences or not.” – Charine

23:28 “The biggest lesson for me is travel really helps you to whittle out to the minimal number of things you need in life to make you optimally happy and I think we really experienced that when we were on the road.” – Matt

24:05 “So when you live by your own terms, it’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole.” – Matt

  • family reactions to their journey/trip
    • started thinking about traveling three years ago
    • Charine primed her parents by leaving hints/messages
      • parents were sad
      • friends were saying “So this is really happening”
      • parents were supportive and trusted her even though they didn’t really know what she was doing
    • it comes down to the relationship you have with your parents
    • respecting your parents but also respecting yourself and living on your own terms
      • Matt’s parents haven’t always understood what he does
      • didn’t understand chiropractic/what he’s doing now, but they still support him
      • distinction between their lives and yours
  • preparing for the trip
    • sold everything they owned that wasn’t necessary
    • published a book before leaving
    • mostly living off savings
    • gave themselves a cushion until business takes off
    • two years savings for two years of travel
    • donated stuff and let friends take stuff for a donation
    • liberation in getting rid of the stuff you have
    • being more productive
    • travel as a personal investment
    • mentor worked for NBA in Asia
      • wanted to leave corporate world
      • lived off of savings for two years
      • now running big basketball clinic in Singapore
    • saw gap in wine industry
      • only saw gap because of the travels they did
    • Jim Hopkinson interview referencing Steve Jobs and connecting the dots
    • notes from travels became part of Travel,Learn, Earn
    • investing in their trip like they’re investing in themselves
    • Alex Hanse and the $2 mindset vs. $2,000 mindset
    • Daniel Pink’s speech at Northwestern
      • learning skills along the way
    • living a non-linear path
    • Seth Godin thinks people are scared of things that might not work
    • making blue chip investments vs. investing in yourself
      • 10% returns on other investments vs. returns you can make on yourself
    • growth from doing the podcast
      • importance of the connections you make
    • working at Hubud co-working space and gave away copies of his book
      • didn’t think of what he would get back
      • possibly secured a connection with a literary agent and New York Magazine
      • met many business people, designers, and freelancers
    • Hardcore History
    • co-working spacing – similar to the way people worked years ago

36:06 “When you invest in yourself, it will always pay itself back and a lot of the times, it can be the best investment that you can make.” – Matt

37:04 “It’s not that people don’t want to invest money in growing. Most people don’t want to grow. Growing is scary, it’s hard, and it’s difficult, and that’s the reason most people don’t want to do it.” – Matt

39:24 “It baffles me when people pick all sorts of investments to do, yet they don’t invest in themselves because you are the safest investment. Is there any risk at all? There’s no risk. There’s only growth.” – Charine

43:33 “You never know what’s going to happen when you invest in just giving to people.” – Matt

46:15 “I think the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself. When you ask yourself bigger questions, you’re going to get the answers. The answer is going to come to you because your subconscious mind is going to try to work it out.” – Matt

  • wine and travel
    • started as a sabbatical to wine regions
    • Charine suggested moving into the wine business
    • becoming consultants for exotic wines
    • breaking wine down to make it simpler and have people experience something
    • looking for two types of people: adventurous & people who want to learn
      • older people looking for people to show them something new
      • encapsulating culture with wine
    • helping people learn about wine
    • Alain de Botton – The Art of Travel
      • having a focus for your travels
      • being passionate about wine
    • wine as a gift from God and also as an art
    • wine being a time machine
      • being transported back to where he first drank a wine
    • wine using all your senses and creating conversations
    • talking to winemakers about their journeys/struggles

48:11 “I think that you can use wine as a tool, especially exotic wines, to open yourself up to a lot of different areas of life.” – Matt

50:24 “How much more pleasure can you get when you’re traveling with a purpose and overarching theme… It’s one of the genesis that got us into the business.” – Charine

50:47 “People are excited about being creative because they tap into something deep inside themselves or deep in the universal consciousness.” – Matt

53:04 “I recommend anybody, even if they’re casual wine drinkers… If you go to a country and go to a wine maker… There’s just so many beautiful things that happen in the creation of this simple thing that you see in front of you and consume. I think it’s a real magical thing.”

  • wine as a lens for viewing the world
    • wine that’s crappy and sterile or water that’s contaminated
    • using it as a social/connection vehicle
    • positive experiences attached to wine
    • pursuing the things you light you up
    • connecting with people through chiropractic and connecting  with people through wine
    • it’s okay to contradict yourself and try different things
    • having only one thing can be stressful
    • Renaissance men and women affected the world to a high degree
      • Leonardo da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Amelia Earhart
    • experimentation, non-linear lifestyles, being present
      • Tony Robbins saying you have to craft and create the wealth you want

54:29 “I think it’s about choosing a focus because anything can be used as a vehicle for connection.” – Matt

57:04 “I think life is a lot more pleasurable when you find something that you’re dedicated to that’s bigger than yourself.” – Matt

59:19 “I think society is generally intolerant of contradiction.” – Charine

1:00:00 “Why can’t we just have it or do a series of different projects or have mini milestones and achievements or successes over the years, over our lifetime, Instead of focusing forty years of your life on a singular goal? That’s conventional belief, but I don’t think that’s what life is about.” – Charine

1:00:54 “I think it’s important, if you really want to leave a mark on this world, you have to experiment a little bit and find out… a lot about a lot of different things and find out how ultimately that can serve your greatest purpose.” – Matt

1:01:51 “You have to go out and you have to craft and create the life you want. And most people let things come to them or just casually walk through life… instead of truly going after and creating what they want.” – Matt

  • industrialization leading to the world we have now
    • being thankful for what’s in front of us
    • industrialization making way for us to have options
  • how what they did before helps what they’re doing now
    • Charine’s experience with business
      • utilizing your experiences
      • experience was in business which helps with marketing/branding wine business
      • branding strategy and marketing strategy
    • Matt’s experience with chiro:
      • understanding how the world and human body works
      • communication as one of the most useful tools you have
      • Einstein – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
    • thing that helped with my communication:
      • improv – makes you quick on your feet and makes you adapt to your environment
        • also shows the importance of teamwork
      • starting a podcast – builds upon ideas and helps to spread them too
        • building a common ground between people
        • being genuinely interested and asking the right questions
    • everything you do makes you who you are
      • someone asked Matt what he would change if he could go back to when he was in school
        • he said he wouldn’t change anything because everything he did led up to who he is now
        • he made mistakes, but those helped him learn
        • living better than most of human history even kings
      • not being satisfied drives people to create
      • seeing that you are privileged

1:06:54 “When you can communicate and articulate your ideas, you move into the top 1% of humanity. When you can actually get up and speak in front of a large group of people, you move into another top 1%. If you can speak and inspire somebody to move, you move into another top 1%. So I think that’s a skill that everybody should learn to do.” – Matt

1:07:23 “I would recommend that skill (communication) to anybody because if you can communicate and articulate your ideas, that’s when you can really get things done.” – Matt

1:11:30 “You tend to forget how things go right in your body that you’re actually around moving… There are so many things that are going right that you have to be thankful for in the first place.” – Matt

1:12:49 “It’s about seeing that you are privileged and I think every one of us is privileged in our own way and seeing that we are privileged really opens the space and generosity to give and to offer value to other people.” – Charine

  • going to next destinations
    • old world wines of the other side of the Mediterranean
    • going back to US, then South America
  • preparation for traveling
    • long term travel becomes a way of living
    • things happen quickly and on the fly
    • they don’t make many plans until they get to their destination
    • the environment affects what they do
    • go to big cities, go to wine bars, and talk to people

1:16:07 “I think it’s. when you travel, identifying what’s important to you, what you want to get out of the travel,  why are you going in the first place, locating where a focal point could be, then spreading out from there.” – Matt

1:17:21 “I look at travel as who you become. It’s a process. It’s interacting. It’s figuring out different problems, how to navigate language, how to navigate unforeseen obstacles. I think that’s what makes it exciting. It’s what makes life exciting.” – Matt

  • ultimate vision
    • making an 8 figure business while being location independent
    • wants the company to be at the forefront of wine education
    • wants to make the website a place for long form writing of travel, culture, etc.
    • bringing an unknown country into the forefront of the wine industry
    • giving back to the winemakers and change the local towns
    • key motivator is giving value to people
    • many people create financial goals, but most don’t look at creating value as a part of it
    • figure out what people want and give it to them

1:20:13 “When you serve other people and try to help other people, you’re rewarded. That’s just how the world works.” – Matt

1:20:20 “Ultimately we have a financial goal. We have a self-fulfillment goal, but the key motivator always comes from delivering value to other people… Because if you don’t feel a sense of responsibility towards a community… It’s only when you’re connected to love and a community, that’s when it pushes you out of your comfort zone and it makes you want to do more.” – Charine

  • favorite quote
    • Charine: “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” ― Amelia Earhart
    • Matt: “When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear and loud than all opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life” ― John F. Demartini

1:22:28 “There’s so much virtue in being unreasonable. It’s the fact that you don’t need a reason to do anything. You want to do it because you feel like it. And there’s no reason to be accountable to other people if you feel that your action is important to you.” – Charine

  • morning routine
    • Charine had a strong morning routine in Singapore
      • mornings are important and a time for relaxation
      • getting up an hour earlier to get started on your day
      • pay yourself before you pay other people
      • start the day on your own terms
    • Matt used to have a disciplined routine, but doesn’t have one now

1:24:18 “Crafting the time for yourself first, before you do anything else, it’s really important, and it puts you in a really good mood.” – Charine

1:32:36 “I think creativity is about having critical thinking skills, having the cognitive flexibility to look at things very differently. So it’s about problem solving skills and pushing for improvement, not just for the right answer.” – Charine

1:33:36 “Creativity is not about right or wrong. It’s about your own self-expression. So I think that’s what creativity is about. It’s about your own critical thinking skill and your own self-expression.” – Charine

1:34:19 “My definition of creativity is understanding yourself and what you truly want because not all of us want the same thing, and when you truly know what you want, you’re able to give it to the world. Therefore, I think the most vital skill that people should learn to be more creative is understanding themselves more.” – Matt

  • being more creative
    • not being afraid to be wrong, putting yourself out there, and expressing yourself
  • challenge
    • write every day
    • writing clarifies and distills the mind
    • have a new intention every 30 days

Exotic Wine Travel

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