In order to thrive in the digital age, you must embrace the digital frontier and become a Sovereign Individual. This unique class of people embraces digital technology to become free thinking, location independent, and global citizens. They understand that life is becoming more digitally integrated and requires a global mindset. And with this knowledge, they aim to legally straddle government jurisdictions to maximize freedom, increase personal agency, and take personal responsibility for their own well being.
This essay lays out 10 main elements that you must prioritize in order to become a Sovereign Individual. These mindsets, frameworks, and goals are not things you develop overnight. But are the concepts that you should be driving towards over time.
1. Cultivate A Forward Looking Mindset
Sovereign Individuals cultivate a forward looking mindset and identify where society is heading. You need to be able to look out 12 to 18 months and ahead 5 to 10 years. If you’re not prepared for what comes next, you’ll find yourself following the herd and living an average existence. Taking personal responsibility for what comes next empowers you to think for yourself and prepare.
The goal is to move from a reactionary mindset to a proactive and prepared mindset. The key: don’t be a sheep looking to be told what to do by experts. You must become an expert on the topics relevant to the immediate future.
How do you effectively look forward towards the future? By gathering a diversity of information from different sources including traditional media organizations, scientific publications, and research papers. It’s important to pull information from conflicting narratives, in order to highlight cognitive dissonance in society. As you do so, you’ll see that some forward looking narratives don’t add up, while others do.
The bottom line: gather diverse information and try to craft a narrative for what might come next.
2. Identify & Understand Future Societal Trends
As you gather info on the future, prioritize identifying the worlds problems and how they might evolve over time.
Keep in mind, we think of time and progress in linear terms. Despite this, it’s important to search for the trends that will provide non linear change to society. Developing a mindset that hunts for compounding and exponential change. The mobile internet, social platforms, video streaming services like YouTube, and on demand services like Uber are examples from the past decade.
Sovereign Individuals must identify and understand the major trends that are changing society from the bottom up. Current trends shaping the next decade include: pandemic related tech (contact tracing apps), digital communications infrastructure (Zoom), remote work, remote education, global internet access (Starlink), and decentralized computing that provides open finance and freedom of speech.
But there are 2 “most important” trends that will create longer term societal changes. 1. The future will become an increasingly hybrid reality of digital and physical experiences. Our digital actions will have increasing impact on the physical world, and vice versa. 2. The lessons we’ve learned from big data, early AI, and machine learning indicate a likely future full of automation. And this automation is likely to include many human centric tasks.
How we live and work is changing rapidly.
3. Build Systems to Act on Emerging Trends
Sovereign Individuals must build systems to act on these emerging trends. These systems must find a balance between a bias towards action and patience, ie: a sense of urgency to position yourself for what comes next and the patience to allow these trends to fully emerge. And while patience is always important, a Sovereign Individual must also have a bias towards immediate action.
You should focus on taking advantage of long term, non linear growth and compounding. Studying the practices of venture capital and private equity will provide useful insights into building risk adjusted strategies. Position yourself so that you can make many bets on future trends with the mindset that one home run will pay for your other bets.
Ask yourself, how can I best prepare for the trends of tomorrow?
4. Prioritize Remote Income Streams
As the world changes to a hybrid reality between digital and physical worlds, you must prioritize remote work and digital income streams. Why? Because location-independence empowers the tech-enabled exit. The most powerful modern tool a person has to protect their personal sovereignty.
With the ability to earn income anywhere in the world you’re able to reprioritize your personal needs. It allows you to choose which governments and cultures fit your personal values and the flexibility to move there. In the event that a government policy or cultural change comes into conflict with your belief system, you can leave.
But you shouldn’t just focus on getting a remote oriented job. You must also focus on remote oriented entrepreneurship. If you’ve correctly evaluated future trends, you can and should build service based businesses to address these future societal needs. And these businesses should be operationally effective from anywhere in the world.
The more remote income streams you develop the more secure your personal sovereignty becomes.
5. Embrace Individualism & a Pioneer Mindset
Seeking out and positioning yourself for future trends requires you embrace individuality and a Pioneer Mindset. You must train yourself to stop following herd mentality. Make your own decisions based on the unique information you’ve gathered. Start by doing it a little bit at a time until you become comfortable making large decisions that go against conventional wisdom.
If you want to become a Sovereign Individual, you’re not aiming to be “normal” you’re trying to think and act for yourself. Embracing a 1 in 8 billion mindset.
This means you must get comfortable with having an opinion backed by information you’ve gathered. In the digital age, if you blend in the with the crowd too much, you will get lost amongst the growing digital community. It also means you must place a priority on learning about common cognitive bias that impact our ability to go against conventional wisdom. Like normalcy bias.
6. Prioritize Skill Building For Tomorrow’s Needs
To survive the future you must actually prepare for what comes next. That means building skills that will be relevant in the near future. Too frequently, we build skills needed for the present with little mind for the in demand skills of the future. Sovereign Individuals must work hard to escape the red queen effect in education.
You can do this by combining the intersection of your individual interests and desires with a forward looking mindset. Or as David Perell calls it, your Personal Monopoly. Your goal is to build the skills required at this unique intersection over the next 3, 5, & 10 year intervals. Where is the world going?
Assume the world is going to continue to integrate digitally. Learning a second language will be useful. Mandarin and/or Spanish are good choices because they combine with English to make up over 75% of global web traffic.
And if the world is more integrated, it will be useful to learn the methods of modern integration. ie: How to use APIs and the fundamentals of data management. While coding may not be for everyone, data standardization and integrations will be. Whether using no-code software or teams of developers, you will need to integrate digital software systems in the future. It will put you ahead of the curve.
A final example, you must learn digital broadcast communications. Video conferencing, email, chat apps, vlog/webinars, courses and mediums yet to be developed. The most important skills in the digital age require understanding the standards and nuance of mass communications. Your ability to integrate and grow global networks, and leverage these networks via the trending communications mediums is essential.
7. Build and Accumulate Distributed Assets
As you identify trends, build skills, and develop a remote lifestyle, you must also accumulate distributed assets. And you must do so with a mindset of diversification, risk management, and generational wealth building. These assets should include historical assets (Real Estate), modern assets (equities/bonds), and digital assets (cryptos and information capital assets).
Focusing on building distributed assets supports your personal sovereignty and ability to conduct a tech enabled exit at a moments notice. By accumulating diversified and unique assets, you also become more prepared to weather the coming automation age.
The more assets you accumulate now, the greater the velocity of the compound growth will be. Your assets are your safety net in the event you haven’t developed the skills of tomorrow. You should have the mindset that you’re racing against the clock of becoming obsolete to society. You must prepare for an eventual future where your skills are not in demand, where you won’t be able to earn a meaningful income.
By leveraging your ability to work remotely, you can take advantage of the cost of living arbitrage that still exists. Saving at a greater magnitude and investing in distributed assets that will support you in the event that your skills don’t align with the future labor market needs. Seed the world with different types of assets so that you can support your remote lifestyle.
8. Build Freedom & Security Via Flag Theory
You can cultivate freedom and security with Flag Theory and the tech-enabled exit. A hedge against rising nationalism and a path to becoming a global citizen.
Flag Theory is a method of leveraging unique global laws to cherry pick the best policies for yourself. You can think of it as the process of becoming your own multinational corporation. You want the best tax plan, best cost of living, and the best rule of law to protect you and your business.
One goal is to legally reduce tax liability. If you’re cultivating a global and digital business you want to domicile your business in a country that reduces the tax you pay on global income. For example, the difference between the US global tax regime and a “territorial tax regime”.
Global corporations have used Tax Inversion and Earnings Stripping processes to reduce their global tax liabilities. This is effectively the premise you must follow. Hunting for the ideal tax regimes that suite your unique mix of remote income streams and distributed assets.
You do not need to break any laws to take advantage of how the global regulatory system is structured.
9. Frontiersmen Building A Sovereign Collective
Although Sovereign Individuals cultivate a pioneer mindset you must also focus on building a Sovereign Collective. Be vocal in your beliefs and values and build yourself a community online.
A Sovereign Individual does not mean you should travel the world on your own in a life of solitude. How sad would that be? It’s not intended as a lifestyle of exile. On the contrary, it’s intended to be a mindset and framework to succeed in a changing world. The internet has shown us that there is infinite capacity to form communities of like minded people online. And these communities can ultimately be transitioned from digital to physical reality given time and nurturing.
By sharing your ideas and beliefs consistently on the internet, you can leverage the mere exposure effect to find and build your tribe.
10. Critical Thinking & Operating Frameworks
Above all, you must prioritize critical thinking and design decision making frameworks for taking action when you’re under pressure.
Embracing individuality is separate from the ability to think critically. Individuality is the expression of your unique attributes, opinions, and belief systems. While critical thinking is the ability to gather data and make informed decisions regardless of personal feelings and beliefs.
Critical thinking is the scientific method of questioning and adapting our sense of reality. It’s a willingness to use evidence that finds our past beliefs were wrong.
It requires individuality and a pioneer mindset to avoid the lure of herd thinking. ie: their is wisdom of the crowd but it’s healthy and useful to question conventional wisdom with fact based reasoning. It’s how you position yourself ahead of the crowd.
But it’s also important to understand that as smart as we think we are, human beings are always subject to emotions and evolutionarily developed cognitive bias’. Simply put: despite our best efforts and preparation, we often act differently than we intend under pressure. So you should build decision making frameworks to rely upon in high pressure situations so as to remove as much cognitive bias as possible.
We want to make decisions based on predesigned rules built when we are in our strongest frame of mind.
Final Thoughts on Becoming a Sovereign Individual
These mindsets, frameworks, and goals will help secure your future and set you apart from the herd. They aren’t intended to be a silver bullet or a perfect recipe. You can always choose to adapt them to your own unique style and worldview. But the bottom line is that you must identify future trends and aggressively take action towards that impending future. If you don’t you run the risk of being left behind by societal progress.
I’m building a digital age worldview. Every Monday, I write and curate a publication called The Sovereign Individual. A weekly newsletter that includes news roundups and analysis to help digital age workers adapt and thrive in our changing society. Topics intersect at geopolitics, fintech, crypto, individual responsibility, and personal freedom. Don’t get left behind, subscribe below.