Hello and welcome to my blog!
I’m Jean, and I’m a dad, athlete and investor with a very strong sense of curiosity about many subjects.
I grew up in Malta but left in my mid-twenties, subsequently living as a perpetual traveler as well as spending longer spells in a few places that I particularly love. I’ve also visited more than 50 countries and plan on travel to many more over the coming years.
This blog is my space on the web where I open up my heart and mind and pour everything out. I’ve been on a lifelong quest for clarity and meaning. More on why I blog here.
I love the following quote attributed to Socrates, which drives home the importance of being curious and examining all the components of our lives.
Quite simply, this the reason why I get out of bed every day. It’s the curiosity, the need for adventure, exploration and self-improvement. Layered on top of that is a sense that life is beautiful and we’re here to enjoy the ride, so I want to make the most of it.
I think of my life as being a long challenge in getting to know myself deeply and gaining mastery over my body and my mind while integrating into my surroundings.
My overarching goal in life is to be free, and I define freedom via four main pillars:
- Relationships (life is meaningless without them)
- Knowledge (including the ability to think freely)
- Wealth (money & time)
I need all four of them to be at excellent levels in order to be happy. It’s taken a long time for me to come to this conclusion, but I can now say that it’s very clear for me what those pillars are and what I need to do to have them all in sync.
You need to be healthy to be able to play sports, play with your kids, and be pain-free.
You will need financial wealth to rid yourself of the basic worries of subsistence and to be able to travel.
As you travel, you need the knowledge to understand what you’re seeing and learn from your experiences.
You need relationships so that you can share what you learn and also learn from those close to you. There will also be times when you will support those people in times of weakness, and other times where you will need their support.
In many ways this pursuit of freedom makes me adopt a contrarian attitude since so much of our current world’s systems are designed to optimize for conformity rather than freedom.
I also love the concept of taking the red pill.
My current online projects
My two main areas of focus at the moment are fitness and investment. I train daily and compete in several padel tournaments every year. I’ve always had a dream of being an athlete and I’ve finally gotten the chance to fulfill it.
On the investment side, I am fascinated by the intersection of finance and technology, more commonly referred to as fintech. I invest and blog about P2P lending, real estate and other topics within this niche. I also host the Mastermind.fm podcast, where I interview other successful investments and experts in the field of finance.
- Mastermind.fm – a podcast where I mainly cover investments and financial topics.
- Eurofinanceblogs.com – a European finance and investment news and content aggregator site.
- Crypto Headlines – a crypto-asset news and content aggregator site.
- Padel Vida – the world’s best padel site in English.
Previous online projects
For many years I was deeply involved in the WordPress community, right from the early days of the project. I’ve run a WordPress agency as well as blogged extensively about WP and created several plugins, the most well-known of which is WP RSS Aggregator. I maintain an interest in the space although I’m not actively involved nowadays.
- WP Mayor – a blog focused on helping people learn more about WordPress – founded in 2010.
- WP RSS Aggregator – WordPress plugin for importing web content via RSS – founded in 2012.
- Native: English, Maltese
- Fluent: Spanish
- Can sustain a conversation with some effort: Italian
- Can read/understand and speak at a basic level: Catalan, Portuguese
- Know stuff but not enough to be useful: Russian, Arabic, French
My 5 major strengths according to the Strengths Finder test:
Another popular psychological test is the Myers-Briggs test. My result is INTJ, which stands for Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging.
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite song: I Want It All, Spread Your Wings
Training and fitness are an integral part of my life, especially as I grow older.
I have quite a skeptical outlook on things and like to say it like it is. I believe that being honest about what I like and dislike helps me find my ideal environment and be at peace. Writing about things that bother me is also a form of therapy.
I consider myself a citizen of the world (watch this). I also identify with skeptics. That means that I’m a person inclined to question or doubt many widely accepted opinions. In common vernacular, a skeptic is someone who requires extraordinary evidence before accepting extraordinary claims. Essentially, this equates to having a scientific world view. Finally, I consider myself a student of life, which means that I view life as a long course with my daily goal being that of making sense of this life. I also like the values of stoicism and libertarianism.
Some of my favorite authors that have shaped my views on the world:
- Sam Harris
- Shane Parrish
- David Caine
- Derek Sivers
- Tim Ferriss
- Behavioral Scientist
- Alain de Botton
Over time, I have realized that I am great at going from zero to an intermediate level in sports, or even building a business from scratch up to a moderately successful level, but I’m not that good at going from intermediate to elite level.
This is due to the two sides of the same coin in my character traits. I am interested in many diverse topics, which turns out to be very useful when getting a new project off the ground, as you need many different skills to do so. Consider launching a new software product. If you’re alone, you need to know how to code, how to design a nice website, whom to connect to for promoting your software, copywriting to attract visitors, people skills for support tickets etc.
Most one-man businesses fail in the initial stages because their owners are too specialized. I’ve seen this countless times. Since I’m not specialized but can hold my own in multiple disciplines, it’s fairly easy for me to build something to a level that looks great to 80% of the population and is profitable.
The last 20% is elite level and is much harder to make inroads unless you spend many hours and are laser-focused on your goals.
So this idea of being “pretty good” at things is one that I try to employ throughout my life, being careful not to get too obsessed by anything in particular as it will only lead to overwhelm, and being aware of when I’ve reached the 80% level and can take a rest and move on to other things.
Curious fact: when I was a young kid I really enjoyed reading user manuals. I guess I’ve always had a deep curiosity about how things work.
While I’m an introvert, I do enjoy spending quality time with people, but there are many behaviors that tick me off and drive me insane, so depending on where I am, I might need to take a break and retreat into my private space after a while.
Finding Purpose and Meaning
I love the writings of Derek Sivers, so let me share some of his points on starting and growing a business since it has always been something I’ve loved being involved in.
- Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.
- Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.
- When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world.
- Never do anything just for the money.
- Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.
- Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.
- Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
- Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people.
- You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.
- Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.
- The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
Another thing worth reading is Hunter S. Thompson’s Letter on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life.
I truly believe in breaking the conventions, doing something you love and that you are passionate about. Only by doing this will you ever be happy in your life.
I believe in playing throughout life, trying and failing over and over at the many things that pique my interest.
Don’t you have a feeling, like me, that most people spend their lives chasing a highly paid job or career promotion? That might give you more financial security, but what are you sacrificing?
Think about it.
What about the stress, being forced to fit into a system, the office politics, and going against your core values. All these are daily features of corporate life. At one point you will end up asking yourself: what am I doing with my life?
Life is not about how much money you have, or the heights you’ve reached in your career. It is about you and your talents, and how you are going to use them as best as you can, doing something you truly love.
Everyone has to find his own ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life, but some of mine are:
- Exercise and keeping healthy
- Having a close and valued circle of family and friends
- Spirituality and an inner life
- Fulfilling work
- Enjoying good food and travel
Of course, it’s also true that you need money to be happy. It’s not something that will make you happy, but it will solve many problems that make you unhappy and prevent you from pursuing your dreams.
There are many ways to make money, and I can only share mine: which has always been the online domain. To be successful online you need to work hard, create something innovative, and never stop learning.
If you need some more inspiration, read on…
Online Business Ventures
My first big break in the online business space was WP Mayor (founded in late 2010), a WordPress blog that started out as a place where I could share all the new things I was learning about WordPress at the time. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from the success of WP Mayor is that in order to receive, you must first give.
Of course, many of us have already heard this phrase from many sources, but to experience it first hand is truly life-changing. WP Mayor has given me much more than the freedom to work whenever and wherever I want. Beyond the financial benefits of blogging, I built relationships with people all over the world that have shaped my identity and helped form me in my twenties.
I later ventured into the digital product business by launching WP RSS Aggregator (early 2012), one of the most popular plugins for importing web content into WordPress sites via RSS. It is currently being used by more than 70,000 websites. The product operates on a freemium model with a free version available on the WordPress.org plugin repository and more premium add-ons are available on the WP RSS Aggregator website.
After starting WP RSS Aggregator, I realized that the key to continue growing in the coming years would be to build a team of people that would be better than me at particular things in the business e.g. programming. I’m very blessed to have been able to assemble a group of highly motivated and talented people that have helped grow the projects I’ve started to higher levels and steer the business forward without me at the helm.
I started the Mastermind.fm podcast in 2016. On this podcast, which I currently co-host together with my dad, I engage in deep discussions with guests from the finance and investing space.
After moving out of the WordPress scene, I’ve been essentially retired from active work, dedicating the majority of my time to investing, sports, travel and family.
I’ve played many different kinds of sports, but football, cycling and padel have definitely been the ones I’ve spent most hours on.
Ever since I’ve been living in cities I’ve become a huge fan of Brompton folding bicycles. When I lived in Malta I used a mountain bike as it’s really the only ideal type of bike to use there, and I’ve also completed a very challenging Paris-Madrid trip in 9 days as a fundraising challenge in my early twenties.
During my twenties and early thirties, football was my go-to sport, but I later discovered padel and that has been my main sport ever since.
My Life Story
I was born and raised on the tiny island of Malta. My teenage years were good, although nothing spectacular. I loved trying out new things especially when it comes to sports, and reading was also one of my biggest hobbies. I never particularly liked the way the educational system worked and was quite a rebel at times. However I had a huge thirst for knowledge so I guess the two compensated each other, and I fared well at school.
I was always interested in entrepreneurship and would spend countless hours reading about how businesses were founded and about new business ideas that were being explored. The arrival of the internet was a huge game-changer for me. I immediately realized that whatever I did during the rest of my life, my work had to be related to the internet. Coupled with my fascination with business and entrepreneurship, my passion for the internet and computing would provide the basis for the next few years.
In my early twenties, I attended University and majored in Business and Computer Science, before spending a year in the UK reading for my Masters degree in Multimedia and Computer science.
The experience of living and studying in the UK was a clear turning point in my life.
Although I had traveled extensively all over Europe on short family holidays, this was the first time that I had spent considerable time abroad and also lived apart from my family. I had the chance to immerse myself in another culture and meet many fantastic people from all over the world. In short, this experience opened my eyes to the exhilaration of long-term traveling and exploration.
On my return to Malta, contrary to expectations, I didn’t get a job but started working on my own ideas and online ventures.
Unable to resist the wanderlust, I eventually left Malta in my mid-twenties to become a digital nomad, living in Barcelona and later on in Mallorca. That’s where I met my wife Alyona (we got married in September 2013). Since she was also keen on traveling and exploring the world, we spent the next few years visiting many countries together while working on our business. We lived in Thailand, Mexico, Malta, Spain and we also spent a few months traveling around Europe.
We maintain a location-independent lifestyle to this day, although our travel is slower than before.
I became a dad to Leo in December 2018 and since then I’ve made it a priority to spend a lot of time with my son, which has also helped me to relive my childhood in many ways and sharpen my skills and understanding of the world. I became a dad for the second time in February 2021 when our daughter Mia was born. I plan to keep spending the majority of my time with my family for the foreseeable future while investing and exploring the world.
To conclude, one of my all-time favorite quotes…
“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” – Richard Branson
My World Travel List
- Lived in 5 Countries
Malta England Spain Thailand Mexico
- Visited 50+ Countries
Malta England Mexico Thailand Spain Italy Belgium Russia Lithuania Switzerland Portugal United States Brazil France Wales Scotland Israel Tunisia Cambodia Laos Austria Bosnia Montenegro Myanmar Netherlands Palestine Croatia Poland Bulgaria Czech Republic Slovakia Germany San Marino UAE Monaco Hong Kong Singapore Indonesia Bahamas Ireland Greece Hungary Japan Philippines Vietnam Qatar Andorra Turkey Serbia Slovenia Canada
- Up next
- New Zealand
- Sri Lanka
- South Africa