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Mikkel Thorup: Zero Taxes & the Secret Offshore Gold Vault in Singapore

On this episode, we are going on an adventure. You're going to meet Mikkel Thorup, who is the number one bestselling author of Expat Secrets: How to Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas & Make Giant Piles of Money.
He has spent over twenty years continually traveling the world, visiting more than 100 countries, including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran and so many others. He's traveled and lived in Central America, South Pacific, Asia, the Arctic, North America, as well as the Middle East. We talk about traveling the world, so if you like exotic destinations, you're going to love this.

We talk about expatriating and how you can pick up, no matter what country you're in and move around the world, which allows you to benefit from zero taxes. If you're very interested in paying a lot fewer taxes, possibly zero taxes, you’ve got to tune in. We talk about offshore markets and the big clincher, we discuss the secret offshore gold vault in Singapore.

Dustin
Mikkel, you're a high school dropout, failing out of school by fifteen years old and yet you've traveled the world having been to more than 100 countries including North Korea, Zimbabwe, El Salvador and Iran, which I definitely want to talk about. You read over 100 books per year and you show folks how to generate additional streams of income, eliminate their tax bill and take advantage of offshore structures, so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again. Let's start off with how in the world did you go from being someone who's not so successful high school drop out in the eyes of the world? You're a successful investor, you're an entrepreneur and you’re a bestselling author and many other titles. How do you turn it around?
Mikkel
First off the bat, thank you so much for having me here, Dustin. You’ve got a cool audience, so I'm excited to get into these topics with you. To your question, basically what had happened was I got yanked out of school when I was young. They put me on a little white bus and they sent me across town. They had told me, “Mikkel, there is something wrong with your brain.” I didn't exactly know what that meant at the time, but they pulled me out of school and sent me to a special school. The problem was, it wasn't actually a special school. It was a special class in a school and I ended up getting in fights every day. I was getting picked on. I absolutely hated it. It was the worst experience of my life. I went for grades four, five and six to this “special school.”
At grade seven, they actually sent me back to my neighborhood school and I thought, “I'm going to be back with all my friends, all the people I know from growing up and everything's going to be amazing again.” Kids like to gossip and they like to whisper, “What happened to him? He went to some retard school.” In the 1980s, it’s totally politically correct. The fights continued and I felt I didn't belong there. I stopped going to school and by twelve years old, I was failing out. I stopped going. At fifteen, I was actually officially had dropped out and I started traveling. When I traveled overseas for the first time, I felt I had found myself. I've found what I was supposed to do in this world and I felt a sense of belonging.
I left school at twelve years old, but it doesn't mean that I ever stopped my desire to learn. Actually, traveling is an incredible way to learn. It challenges you every single day and puts you in difficult situations that normally you would never be in and by overcoming those types of challenges and you grow as a human being. You're able to grow and develop a character that is very resilient. I've always been a voracious reader. I’ve loved reading and these days I read mostly on economics, a little bit on the philosophy side of Libertarianism, taxes and different things like these. I tried to stay as educated as I can.
Dustin
You're fifteen years old, what's going on with the parents? How are you able to stop going to school? Shed some light a little bit there because I think people are thinking about this.
Mikkel
My parents would say I was a willful child. They were not very good at controlling me. The first couple of years, I didn't go and didn't tell anyone that I wasn't going. My mother has always been incredibly supportive of me. They realized that they were not going to be able to force me to do this. I started working at a very young age. I started working at twelve, thirteen years old. I worked, saved my own money and started buying trips. I wasn't traveling internationally on my own at twelve. That came a few years later. I went to Europe for a couple of months and North Africa. I've been all through Central America. I spent four years in the South Pacific and traveled a lot. My parents have been incredibly supportive over the years.
Dustin
We ought to start with the word being an expat or ex-patriotism. Let's first define that because I feel that people don't know that word.
Mikkel
It's actually a word that we use every single day. It's completely part of our lexicon and we use it interchangeably with a foreigner or traveling, but what it means is someone who has moved overseas with the intention of either moving again to another country or returning home. That's the difference between an expat and an immigrant. An immigrant is going to move their entire life overseas, build their life, business and build their family there. Most likely never to return to their home country or never switched countries again. I've been an expat in eight different countries over the last twenty years. I've been in the Middle East and I live in Abu Dhabi, but we're actually planning to relocate again. After eight years, I'll make the move. I'm going to land in a new city and start all over again. I'm sure that will be two, five or ten years. I'm not sure how long, but I will probably do it again because this is part of my normal life. This is where I feel comfortable and this is what I enjoy doing if that makes sense.
Dustin
I feel compelled to ask, how do you pick the next city? This is right at the forefront of your mind. You're going to be leaving. What goes through your mind in terms of picking the next place that you're going to live?
Mikkel
I am a hardcore libertarian. I do believe that small government is important and I am absolutely against income tax. When I live in the United Arab Emirates, it's a tax-free country. In January, we did get a 5% VAT, which came in January 1st but as for income tax, it is income tax-free. The cost of living here is extremely high. You're paying $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year for rent for a one-bedroom apartment. It’s the top ten most expensive cities in the world. There's another place on the map that I am very fond of called Panama. Although they do have an income tax, they only charge income tax if the revenue was generated inside the country. I have my podcast, the Expat Money Show, my business that runs through that and it's all an internet business so it's not being generated inside the country. Therefore, I do not have to pay taxes. While I am a resident there, I'm actually able to apply for citizenship after five years so I can get a second citizenship. There's a whole bunch of personal reasons for choosing Panama, but it is a beautiful country. It ticks all the boxes with the taxation and it has a lot of freedom in it. I am fond of it.
Dustin
In your first international travel, what country did you leave and where did you go?
Mikkel
First of all, I'm Canadian. I'm from Southwestern Ontario. Besides going to the United States, which we did as kids, I went to Ireland, England and Wales for about a month. That opened my eyes. That trip was actually with my father. It was interesting because he had always told me that traveling overseas was the best thing he ever did in his life. He had gone backpacking when he was in his twenties and this was the best thing he ever did. I thought that was quite interesting that he only did it one time though. I went traveling with them and I thought, “This is amazing. This is incredible. I understand now what he's been talking about my whole life. I want to do it again and again.” It's been many years and that magical feeling has never gone away for me. I still get such a thrill from getting on an airplane, overseas and experiencing something new.
Dustin
We mentioned some very interesting countries such as North Korea and Iran. Does the political climate or what you hear in the media, which might not always be how it is I'm sure you can say a thing or two about that, how does that weigh into your decision to go to that place or travel there?
Mikkel
For me, I like going to the places that not a lot of other people go to. I like going to those places that have a bad reputation and seeing for myself, I'm like, “Is this as bad as everyone says or what's it really like?” Let's face it, there are a lot of hidden agendas and I'm not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I don't think it's too farfetched to say that mainstream media is influenced by a lot of political agendas. You'll definitely see more right-wing news agencies and more left-wing. I like to make my own decision. That's been my MO for my entire life. Take a place like Iran for example. It has a terrible international reputation. I wanted to see what it was like for myself. I wanted to see if this was the access of evil like they all claim it is. I took a flight over from Abu Dhabi to Tehran. This was one of the only countries that I've been to that I was actually a little bit nervous because this does have a bad reputation.
I got there. I went through immigration and everything was fine. I got in a taxi and I drove to my hotel. I started eating the food, chitchatting and talking to people. It seemed like a pretty normal place. I ended up getting a tour guide who spoke perfect English. He was my driver and a guide. We drove around the entire country for two weeks, just me and him. We went to Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd and all these incredible places. You're seeing mosques that are a thousand years old in these Medinas and handicrafts and carpets and talking with people like normal human beings. They're so curious, “Where do you come from? Why are you here?” They want to show me the best of everything. Honestly, they were the sweetest, nicest and most gentle human beings that you will ever meet in your life. I had a fantastic time when I was in Iran.
Dustin
I had the same experience in Colombia. I was with a group of people that knew the land. This was years ago. I definitely think everyone should do it. When you coach and talk to people, it's like, “Mikkel’s special or he grew up that way.” Are there considerations for Americans that are going to embark on this or people from other countries where they're going to enter a country that they feel is unsafe? Is there anything that you would advise people to do when they're considering entering one of these proclaimed countries?
Mikkel
You have to understand that inherently people are good and I don't care what country you come from, what color your skin is, male, female, tall, short, fat, skinny, gay, straight or LGBT, it doesn't matter. Human beings are inherently good. Honestly, I've been to more than a hundred countries. I've spent twenty years doing this. I actually calculated it. I've circumnavigated the planet more than 300 times. I feel like I've met a lot of people and I have a wide spectrum to judge from. I can tell you that people are good and it doesn't matter where you are from. If you are American and you're going overseas or if you're from Zimbabwe and you're going overseas, you will always find nice people. There are a few bad apples out there but by and large, people are good. They're curious and everybody wants the same thing, a roof over your head, warm meal in your stomach. Everyone wants to be loved. Seriously, I don't mean to be idealistic but it's true.
Dustin
North Korea obviously is in the media. It's getting an incredibly bad rap. What’s your story about going to North Korea?
Mikkel
With a lot of these countries, we do have to preface it by saying that people are very different than the government. As an American, Dustin, I'm sure you can attest to that. The US government, their foreign policy, there are a lot of things that happen that are terrible. There are a lot of things that are not good and North Korea does some terrible things as a government. As for the people, they want the exact same things that I mentioned. They live in a bizarre country. It is weird. I will give you that. Granted, it is strange and it has shaped the psyche in a certain way. We were there ten, twelve days, something like that. We were doing normal stuff. We went to the circus, rode the subway, and went bowling every night.
We drank a lot, ate food and we had a nice time and chitchatting with people. We were actually quite fortunate. You have to go with a tour group for this country. We had a Brazilian guy who had lived in Seoul for eleven years, so he spoke fluent Korean. When the guides were not around, we could still communicate with the local people and chitchat. We ask about their lives, family, what they do and everything like that. It was a cool experience and I'm very glad that I went. As I said, it's weird. It's like going into a time machine and stepping back to the 1960s or something. All the haircut and the clothes, cars or lack of cars but it was cool. I enjoyed the experience.
Dustin
Mikkel, here's the million-dollar question. You're jet-setting around the world. Who doesn't want to do that? Go to interesting places, meet great people and eat great food. How have you built your life to support this? Are you a trust fund baby? How are you doing all of this if you have to pick up and move every so often?
Mikkel
Dustin, every single thing that I have ever gotten in my life, I've worked for with my own two hands. I was diagnosed with a learning disability. We know now that it's a type of dyslexia. It's not a big deal. Everything that I've ever had in my life, I've had to work hard for whether that would be odd jobs when I was in my teens or building a business. I've had to do everything myself. Nothing has been handed to me. I have been fortunate to know what I've wanted to do since a very young age, which was location-independent and travels extensively. I was able to build the business with that in mind. I'm a big proponent for income that comes from online and things that I can do in any country in the world.
I'm not a digital nomad or a laptop lifestyle type of person. I'm an expat. For me, what that means is I do the hub and spoke model. I pick a country, it is my base. I have a house here in the UAE. I've been here for eight years and we have a car. It's me and my wife, daughter and my mom. We all live together and I use this as a base and I travel out. I've been to Oman, Bahrain and to all the neighboring countries here. When I move to Panama, I'll do exactly the same thing. I'll visit all the Caribbean countries. I'll go to Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and a bunch of places that I haven't had a chance to go to yet.
Dustin
Do you have a bucket list? Is it your goal to go to every country in the world?
Mikkel
Yeah, it's been that goal for twenty years. I'm constantly working on it. I try to average, five or six new countries every single year. I don't think I hit that last year. I went to Nigeria twice. Vietnam, I think that was the only new country. I did go to Germany ten times and Switzerland. I went to Austria. I've been to a lot of places in the last couple of years, but I ended up going to the same ones over and over again for my business because I work in the offshore markets. I meet with bankers over there. I meet with gold and silver vault operators. That's work stuff. I do tack on a little bit of sightseeing, a little bit of fun as well.
Dustin
Are you at the halfway mark in your journey?
Mikkel
The United Nations says there are 193 countries in the world. Technically, I am at 102 or 104 countries or something like that. Some of the countries become very difficult, some countries are easy. The UK, Paris and Holland, things like that are dead easy to go to, but when you start going to some of these small African countries or countries that are in a Civil War, that becomes a lot more difficult. I do travel to Africa pretty much once a year. I went to Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. There are lots of cool places in Africa but that's not work stuff. That's holiday stuff you could say. I like the safaris. I like animals and being outside.
Dustin
Do you need a second passport to pull off some of this stuff?
Mikkel
We can get into the reasons why someone might want to have a second passport. With the majority of the countries with a Canadian passport, it is a Tier A passport. There are most countries I can go to visa-free, but there are some places that I can't. For example, I can't go to Russia or China visa-free. My wife is from China, so I was able to get a special visa that's valid for ten years with multiple entries. That's because I have a Chinese spouse, but there are some countries out there that I have to apply for in advance.
Dustin
I want to get into this next part. Secret vaults in Asia, offshore bank accounts in Belize, hardwood plantations in Central America and real estate in China, all from your new book, Expat Secrets. You talked about this and how to pay zero taxes, live overseas and big giant piles of money, which I imagine if someone is reading this blog, they want all of those in spades. I’ve got to ask before we get into more about that. Doesn't writing a book about this, even talking and coming on the show, doesn’t this put you on the radar of a few governments or governmental agencies?
Mikkel
I was a little bit concerned about that I suppose at first, but you have to understand, Dustin, that everything that I talk about in the book is 100% legal. A lot of governments might not like what I have to say, but it is legal. I play by the rules. Although as I said earlier, I do believe in small government or I want a smaller government and I hate income tax. It's immoral and wrong. I believe that tax is theft. That doesn't mean that I'm going to break the law by any means. I work with tax lawyers and CPAs every day. We try to stay abreast of what the laws are. I have no interest in being thrown in a cage for breaking the law. I go back and forth to the States over and over again. I never had a problem. I am very careful about the advice that I give. A lot of times if I don't know the answer to something, I speak with a CPA and it comes directly from them. I copy and paste. I am fortunate to work with some of the greatest CPAs for the expat space in the world. My personal network has come in handy with this business.
Dustin
You mentioned offshore markets and I don't think I fully understand that term. Will you explain what that is and what your day-to-day looks like?
Mikkel
Depending on what type of criteria you would look at, we've got somewhere around 42, 43 “offshore markets” in the world. What it means is an area that is outside of your country of birth that has favorable tax laws and favorable privacy laws. It doesn't actually have to be offshore as an island or something, which I think a lot of people seem to think. You can even have places like Switzerland, which is absolutely an offshore jurisdiction. You can have places like Gibraltar, which is a near shore, they would call it a slang. There is taxation in some of these places but they're very low, certainly lower than we have in North America. The main two criteria are lower favorable tax situation and high regard for privacy. I don't like to use the word secrecy, but I suppose privacy is probably a bit better and strong asset protection law, which is something that we work with a lot.
Dustin
There's a benefit for folks that aren't ex-patriots. I imagine you work with folks that are Americans or in their traditional country of birth and they want to take advantage of some of these benefits. Am I correct in saying that or do you have to be an expat?
Mikkel
There is a couple of small things that we can do, but the majority of the people we work with live outside of their country of birth or at least spend the majority of the time outside of their country of birth. The IRS is very particular. They are the most aggressive tax agency in the world. You have to be very careful about what you do. We don't do anything illegal. If you have a brick and mortar business or if you sell shoes, you sell them out of a store and you come to me wanting an offshore account or tax favorable situation, there's not much I can do for you, Dustin. If you sell shoes online and you want to move to Puerto Rico, Belize or something like this, absolutely.
Come see me, I can help you out. We can do this. I work with a lot of people who do online selling, coaches, consultants and SaaS companies like Software as a Service. Those are the types of businesses that we work with. At this stage, I can be a little bit picky about who I want to work with. I want to work with cool people, people who are not going to nickel and dime that are going to let us make our margins. People who want help and who understand the benefit. Because if you come and get services like mine, neither from me or from someone else in the offshore space, we can save you $100,000 or $200,000 in taxes, but it has to be done in a certain way and certain things need to line up. That's how it works.
Dustin
Do you have to pick a country? If I wanted to leave the United States, do I now go and pick a country that I live in or can I not claim a country?
Mikkel
You could do both. I have people who already live overseas who come to me and they explain the situation. Everything we do is tailor-made. There's no cookie cutter answer. That's why I'd be remiss to give any individual advice. Everything is tailor-made to the person. If someone came to me and said, “I want to move overseas. I like what you're talking about. I want to be an expat. This is my business. What should I do?” We can start at the very beginning and walk you through the whole process. It's up to the person and how willing they are to do the move. Different countries have different advantages based on your needs.
Dustin
How does one know if expatriating is for them? Do you tell them to take an extended trip? What's your advice to dip your toe in the water and see if this is a lifestyle you want to adopt?
Mikkel
Honestly, I think people know in their hearts whether they want to live overseas or not. I don't think that's something that a trip is going to answer. Either you've had this desire to explore the world or you don't. Sometimes I used to wish that I didn't have this burning desire to travel and go. Maybe my life would be a lot easier and things would have come to me a lot simpler. For me to be happy, I had to live this type of life. It was already there. I don't know for sure but I would guess most people have had a dream of living in France, Thailand, Caribbean or something like that. The cool thing is you sell your stuff or you put it in storage and you try it. If it doesn't work, you go home. It's not a big deal. There's not something bad that's going to happen. People are good and they're going to want to help you. Everything's going to work out.
Dustin
I want to talk a little bit about some of these asset protection and gold vaults. There are other things that you can invest in. When you say a country like Switzerland, people feel that as the gold standard, it's safe to put my investment or money there. What do you say to some of these investments or these stories where a crazy dictator comes in and takes your money or takes your asset? What do you say to people that bring that up?
Mikkel
There are cases of that happening that would not be one of the countries I would ever be putting money in. You usually know these types of countries in advance. If you're looking at any type of socialist, communist or a dictator type of country, a monarchy, you’ve got to be careful in those places. I'm here in the UAE. I don't keep my assets here, although I love it here and I think it's a beautiful country. I feel my personal safety is very high. I don't keep my wealth here. I keep it in Singapore, I keep it overseas, in Europe and in the Caribbean and common law countries. I always look at the political stability of the country. If you want to take Switzerland, for example, it has arguably the most stable economy in the world. If you're going to stay in cash, I would rather see you stay in Swiss Francs than USD, certainly than Euros. God knows what's going to happen to the Great British Pound. You have to look at an overall holistic approach to these types of things.
Dustin
I'm curious how you look at investments. Are there any commonalities or key things that you look for when you're placing money into investments?
Mikkel
I like the Chinese style of investing. It's either real estate or it's gold. I like those tangible things. I like to be able to touch it and see it. I have bonds and I've traded derivatives for nearly ten years. I've made a lot of money in the stock market and different things like this. With the computer systems that we're having, these ultra-fast trading and all these types of stuff, I don't know if I can compete with those types of things. I don't know enough about how that works. If I have real estate and it’s cashflow positive, my wife and I own several apartments in China. We've nearly doubled the value in the last few years since we bought them. We can go and visit them and get the checks from them. I can touch and I can see them that makes sense to me. I like the simple stuff.
Dustin
You mentioned China, real estate, gold and tangible assets. In my understanding, you have quite an interesting story about a secret offshore gold vault in Singapore. Can you enlighten us on this one?
Mikkel
Yes. One of the cool things about having my own podcast is that I get to meet some interesting people. I had a gentleman on, he was actually German but he gave up his German citizenship to move to Singapore. He married a Singaporean girl and they ended up opening a vault there. I knew it started quite humbly. He was literally storing the silver underneath his bed when they started. The thing has grown into, I wouldn't even call it a vault, it's a warehouse with forklifts that moves gold and silver around. This place is mental. Anyways, I had him on the show, we became friends and went back and forth, talk. He invited me over to get a private tour. I thought, “This is incredible. I’ve got to take him up on this.”
We actually hired a film crew and went over there. He gave me a four-hour private tour and went through everything on the vault. It was so neat. He's showing me the security system. When you go to the front door, it's an L-shape and when you go inside, the front door has to close before the second door will open. You go in and you hand over your passport in this two-inch-thick bulletproof glass. There are five armed guards behind it. They take a scan of your passport and they open the second door. You have to be on the list to enter. He explains that it's in an L-shape because if someone tries to use a vehicle as a battering ram to get through the first door, they can't because they would have to do a hard right turn and you would never be able to get through both doors.
I’m like, “This is so wild.” It was an amazing experience. He showed me everything they know. I was asking, “Couldn't someone come through the vents? Couldn’t someone drill through the walls or come in through the ceiling or the floors?” He's like, “No, we've got vibration detectors like seismic detectors in case someone drills. We're two minutes away from the police station. It's automatic that the police will be there immediately.” He's showing me these doors. These huge vault class one and class two doors that would take a minimum of 60 minutes, even if you had the best safecracker in the world with the best tools in the world, it would still take him an hour to be able to open this door. It was a cool experience.
Dustin
That sounds like some James Bond movie stuff right there.
Mikkel
It was. He's like, “Here, hold this.” It was a fourteen-kilo or thirteen-kilo bar of gold. He's like, “That's half a million dollars right there.” I was like, “Cool.” I’m such a guy. I think stuff like this is neat. I love my gold.
Dustin
You travel so much. I’ve got to imagine you've got some cool travel hacks. Can you share a few of the most interesting ones that you've picked up?
Mikkel
I can't think of any travel hacks. I'm pretty old school, pretty basic travel. I like the five-star hotels. I like traveling business class. I don't try to do things on the cheap anymore. I actually like my time more than anything. I always pay for a guide or a translator or a private car. I’m a little bit spoiled that way because I travel so much. Time is so important to me. I don't have a better answer to that one, Dustin.
Dustin
You also read 100 books a year, which is roughly more than eight a month. How do you do it?
Mikkel
While I'm traveling, I'm a big fan of audiobooks, so I will preface it. I read 100 books a year. Probably 50% of them are audiobooks but I still count that. For me, that is reading. If I'm in a taxi or if I'm on a plane, although I do like movies for a little bit of entertainment, the majority of what I try to do is educate myself. I think that self-education is extraordinarily important. I spend a lot of time and energy making myself more valuable in the marketplace. That has a direct impact on how much money I'm able to earn every single year. I will be honest with everybody. Money is important. I am not one of these people who try to be altruistic and tell you that money doesn’t matter. You should be happy with everything and be happy with the world and sing Kumbaya.
I'm a true-blue capitalist. I like to grow my wealth, to grow my business. I do it in an honest and ethical way. I try to help people along the way. For me, I need to be more valuable and to be more valuable, you can't beat books. Books are the greatest resource in the world. You get someone who takes twenty years of their life and they put it into 100, 200, 300 pages and you read it in a day or two and you have all that knowledge. That's incredible. That's unbelievable. I don't understand people who nickel and dime, this book is $10 and this book is $18. I need to buy the $10 book like, “What? I'm going to take both books. I'm going to smack you with them.”
Dustin
What are you into? What's resonating with you?
Mikkel
I'm on a big history kick. I have this goal where I want to understand the world and to understand the world, you need to understand history. I read a lot of financial history in my life, literally the history of money, how money came about, trade and commerce and things like that. I'm reading all about World War I and World War II. After that, I'm going to get into the rise and fall of Rome. Not just in facts and figures and memorize these types of things, but I want to understand how it affects us, how it affects our psychology as a species. These massive events that happened in Europe less than a hundred years ago because they do play a part in every day's life and understand why Germany is the way it is. Why Great Britain, why France, how this shapes all of the political stability and instability in some cases that we have on the world.
Dustin
What book has challenged your thinking?
Mikkel
A lot of what I read is because I want to get a good understanding of the people that I'm going to have on my show. Who I had challenged me? I'm reading The Creature from Jekyll Island, which is all about the federal reserves. I'm only 20, 30, 40, 50 pages into it but this is some intense stuff. I studied a little bit on my own by reading blogs and other people's work. This book is intense. You have to stop, pause, think about things, take some notes and write it down. This is a challenging book. If you go through it properly, you could do it in a few sittings and blast through it. If you want to get the most out of it, you’ve got to take your time with this one.
Dustin
What are you most excited about these days? What are you working on?
Mikkel
Every day is growing the business and trying to help more people. I believe that I'm on a mission. I feel like every person that I’ve helped to eliminate their tax bill, I'm doing a good thing. Not just for them but for people overseas because I don't believe in these predator drones dropping bombs on small villages, killing women and children. I am so against this, it's unbelievable. What I try to do is starve the beast. If I can help people to legally reduce their tax bill that is less money that the government has to spend on defense spending. I truly believe in this and I know it's a drop in the bucket. It's one person at the time but I feel like we all have to do our parts. If you let them, governments will run rampant. They will go out of control. Look at what's going on in Venezuela, Syria and all these types of places. This is a nightmare.
I would take a guess and say that the majority of your audience are not hardcore left-wing, high taxation, tax the rich, this 70% marginal tax rate that I'm reading about in the newspapers. That's craziness. They might say that they want to use it for social programs, but they're basically taking responsibility away from you and saying that they don't trust you to make your own decisions with your own money. I think that you're going to see that we have a lot of capital flight if things like this progress in North America. I don't want to get off on a huge tangent but this is my mission, to help people to legally reduce their tax bills. We have certain strategies we use to do it. It doesn't work for everybody. This is not a blanket situation but for the right person, it does help.
Dustin
Is the makeup of the people that you come in contact with or you work with, is it dominated by a certain country or is it all pretty spread out?
Mikkel
My podcast has been listened to in more than 120 countries but the majority of the listeners, I would say about 48% of my listeners come from the United States. I would say one out of every two people who contact me is American. The majority of the listeners might be Americans and live overseas as expats. What this statistic tells me is that I have a lot of people who want to become expats. They want to move overseas. They want to take this jump. The US tax system is the most convoluted. It's the most difficult. They have what's called worldwide taxation. If you live in the UAE, for example, you had a job, maybe you made half a million dollars, in a lot of expats, that's not unreasonable. You would still be paying taxes in the United States even though you don't live there. You don't use the roads, you don't use the police department or a fire station or anything like this. The US government would want you to still pay taxes. That is unique. The only other country in the world who does this is Eritrea in Africa and they're very well-known for human rights violations. The majority of the people that I help are Americans.
Dustin
Mikkel, it's time for WealthFit round, essentially my fancy name for rapid fire questions. What's been your most worthwhile investment?
Mikkel
Myself, absolutely. I spent something like $50,000, $55,000 on coaching, consulting and masterminds for myself because I need to be more valuable. I read a lot. I'm a big proponent for masterminds. I have a couple of mentors and coaches that I work with. In getting the answer to a question really fast that's tailor-made for me is so worth my money. I don't want to spend a day or a week or a month Google searching around, watching 500 YouTube videos and falling down the rabbit hole to try to find the answer to something. The next thing I know, it's 4:00 in the morning. I'm sitting here in my underwear eating peanut butter out of the jar, watching videos on how to build a nuclear reactor. That's not good for anybody. I want the answer. If I can jump on a fifteen-minute call or a half an hour call with someone, get the answer and it costs me $500, $1,000, I'll do that all day long. These things don't cost me money. They make me money and people need to make this mindset shift.
Dustin
That's what we embody here at WealthFit learning hard and questioning the ordinary. You definitely embody that. What’s that investment you don't want to talk about? Where's that misstep that Mikkel took?
Mikkel
Crypto has been terrible. I lost something like $200,000 in crypto. That's not pretty. Luckily, it was just a part of my net worth. I didn't throw everything in there. I know people, I've heard of people or read things and people got a second mortgage on their house and put it all in crypto because they thought they were going to be billionaires and it bottomed out. The funny thing was about three weeks after I sold the last of my crypto, Bitcoin almost doubled in value. I had a bunch of problems. Maybe your audience heard about what happened with the Canadian exchange, Quadriga. Apparently the CEO, the founder of this company went to India on a trip and he had severe Crohn’s disease.
He was doing some peace work over in India. He had a complication with his Crohn’s and he died. He was the only person who had the private password to the cold storage wallet that held something like $193 million. The company, the exchange has gone into liquidation. I'm getting contacted by the lawyer every week, every month from the liquidation because I am one of the people who has lost money on that. That was a kick in the nuts you could say. I don't usually talk about it on my podcast but thanks for bringing it up, Dustin.
Dustin
I appreciate your openness and willingness to share because we all take these missteps in life. Hopefully, you inspire a few out there.
Mikkel
I broke my own rule. I got to do with the investments that you can touch the ones you can see. If I had bought $200,000 with gold and stuck it in a private vault in Switzerland or Singapore or Austria or something, I wouldn't have had this problem.
Dustin
When you're not investing in crypto and life is great, you're getting great returns from other things and you want to treat yourself to something, what's Mikkel's splurge? What's your guilty spend?
Mikkel
It’s two things. First of all, if I've got a little bit of extra money and I don't have too much work to do, I'm pretty old fashioned. I like date nights with my wife. We go to dinner and movies. It only happens maybe once a month or something like that, but that's really important to us. The other big one is to travel. I try to go to several new countries a year. It doesn't always happen. We went to Hong Kong and Macau as a family that was nice. Actually, I did go to four countries, that's good. My wife and I try to go away together every couple of months and my mom looks after the baby. Sometimes, she'll take care of the baby, we’ll go travel somewhere and see something new. We'd like eating lots of good food and good wine is worth spending money on, I reckon.
Dustin
You said that travel challenges you, it builds character and you seem pretty fearless. Being able to go into a country, yet I know fear and self-doubt stop a lot of people from achieving success, what do you say to people to help them overcome maybe fear and self-doubt, whether that's travel or starting a business or doing something out of their comfort zone?
Mikkel
You have to understand this is like the chicken and the egg type of thing because you're right. I am fearless and I am extraordinarily self-confident. I do believe in myself, but I didn't travel the world because I'm all self-confident and I know what I'm doing. I'm confident because I've traveled the world. I can rely on myself and I know what I can do. Seriously, if you drop me in any country in the world, I know that at the end of the day, I will have a warm meal in my stomach. I'll probably have a beer in hand. I'll have a roof over my head, I'll probably have a couple of friends, be shooting and chitchatting with people. I know I can do that so I can take strength from that. I had a terrible childhood. I had a really rough childhood. I had no self-confidence when I started this. I had no idea what I was doing. I felt lost, alone, completely alienated from everything, everyone and even from myself. I put one foot in front of the other and I tried things. I made mistakes and I failed. I fell down over and over but piece by piece I got stronger. After twenty years, this is the result. This is the chicken and the egg. Which one do you do first?
Dustin
You travel quite a bit, which makes things a little tricky in my experience. Maybe you've cracked the code on it. Do you have any special routines or things that you do no matter where you are in the world to get yourself in peak state or start your day off?
Mikkel
I have lists like this. I've attended the Tony Robbins conferences. I've watched a lot of the Brendon Burchard types of things. All of these sound great, then life comes and I get busy. I know you're not supposed to check your phone first thing in the morning. My eyes open, I roll over and I check my phone. You’re supposed to take a few minutes for yourself, take a shower and let your mind wander. I'm listening to an audiobook while I'm taking a shower. I do all the things that you're not supposed to do. I know all the rules and I know all the things that are supposed to equate to success. I work right through them. I’m like a workhorse. I work 80, 90, 100 hours a week. I love it. I'm enjoying it. I am quite careful with myself to talk I suppose. That's the only thing that I can say, I am very careful with myself talk. I don't allow negative thoughts in my mind. If they do come, I push them out and I recite some affirmations to myself. I get in a peak state that way but I'd say the rest of it, I break all the rules.
Dustin
Mikkel, I appreciate you being on the show. I appreciate you sharing what you shared with our tribe here at WealthFit with what you're up to in the world. You are doing amazing work. For folks that want to keep tabs, see what country you're in and what's left on the bucket list and maybe pick up a copy of the book, where's the best way for folks to stay in touch with you?
Mikkel
You can visit my website and go to ExpatMoneyShow.com. If you'd like some of the things that we've been talking about, I put together a special report. It's called 15 Global Strategies to Protect Your Wealth and you can get a copy of that for free if you go to ExpatMoneyShow.com/Protection. It goes into depth of about a lot of these things that we're talking about. How to protect your assets, how do you use the gold and silver markets, how do you use offshore incorporation and offshore banking, which things we didn't even get a chance to talk about but are amazing. All you have to do is put it in your name and email address. You can get that one for free. I've got a great response from it and pick up the book, go to Amazon, it's called Expat Secrets. Search it in there or search Expats Secret Mikkel, it should pop right up. I encourage you to pick it up. It's a number one bestseller. It spent eleven weeks in the number one bestseller list and people are enjoying it.
Dustin
I will be keeping tabs on where you are in the world. I am thankful that you came to the show and shared your wisdom with us.
Mikkel
Thanks so much for having me, Dustin.

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