I had an opportunity to meet up with and interview the charismatic Benny Lewis from Fluentin3Months.com in Budapest recently. Those of you following the location independent and travel blogger crowd will likely already be well acquainted with Benny. His blog and recent language hacking guides have been extremely popular. Currently fluent in 8 languages and proficient in many others, Benny definitely knows what he is talking about. What I admire most about him is the intense focus of his blog and language missions in different countries. Travel, lifestyle design and location independence are all very saturated topics, Benny managed to find an unique angle and he sticks with it. He is the Language Hacker Polyglot.
Here is a very brief summary of the video.
00:20 Start off by introducing yourself.
(He studied electronic engineering. Has been travelling for 8 years. Started his blog 1.5 years ago with a language focus. Every three months or so travels to a new country to learn the language.)
1:45 Why three months?
(It is not a magic number. It depends on the person. Three months is good for him.)
2:01 What is your job?
(He has had over 40 jobs in the last 8 years. Three years ago he decided to get more direction in his career and combined language learning with engineering to start technical translation work. He wrote his language hacking guide in May and it is now enough to cover all of his expenses.)
4:28 What kind of advice do you give in your guide?
(You have to speak the language from day one. Waiting until you are ready is a feedback loop of never being ready. You are never going to be 100% ready.)
5:19 You are a very outgoing person. That must have a big influence on your ability to learn languages.
(He was very shy when he started travelling. He forced himself to become an extrovert. A language is a social means. It is a way to communicate with people. It is something anyone can learn.)
7:00 Is your language guide giving you a full-time income now?
(Yes, he is still selling 1 or 2 a day even after the initial burst.)
7:40 Can you give us an idea of your travel expenses?
(Less than 1,000 euros -$US1400. Speaking the local language and knowing some tricks of the trade can help you get very good rental rates.)
8:25 Is 1000 euros enough in more expensive countries like Spain or Italy?
(If you are living in a capital city in the center, you definitely can’t get by on 1,000 euros. If you stay for three months, are charming enough to get a good price and do it in the local language you can haggle the prices down much better.)
9:34 Can you give us some advice on how to be successful online?
(He likes to be as social as possible. He replies to every single comment on his blog. He writes separate status updates on Facebook. He engages with people; he likes it to be a two-way conversation.
11:28 How important is meeting people in person to being successful online?
(It has been very important this year. Meeting people face to face makes them much more likely to help you.)
12:18 Any plans to settle down?
(He is currently enjoying his lifestyle but probably won’t keep it up for the very long term but he is only planning for the next three months.)
13:19 If you had to choose one country to live, do you have a favorite now?
(Absolutely Brazil. The people are the friendliest in the world and they have genuine happiness and warmth.)