The Safe Nomad

The Safe Nomad (7). Anthony Galli, USA. “Failure is not an option.”

It is very unlikely for someone aged 26 to have such thing as a “biography”. And by that I don’t mean the timeline of being born, going to school, getting a job, and partying in Ibiza or Cancun once. No. I mean it in the sense of “a life story worth telling”. Anthony Galli does have such a story and at the time of my writing this piece – some two months after I met him in Siem Reap, Cambodia – his story is still probably evolving at the same breakneck speed as always.

He was a bad student in primary school. Then he developed an attraction for history and language, two subjects in which he excelled during high school. Then he went to study Political Science. Worked for a state senator, and also a state assemblyman and at the age of 21 he even ran for local office.

Right after University, he bought an RV (Recreation Vehicle or camper van) and spent the next couple of years like a hobo, roaming across the US while making money out of temporary jobs and poker tournaments. He used this time to learn coding so he could develop an online app he had in mind. (We will get back to that later.)

When he reached the bottom of his pocket, he devised a bold plan: he would sell his vehicle and move to Asia, where the lower cost of living would give him a “longer runway” to take his project off the ground. He did as planned and for the last few months has lived, learned and worked in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (he moved to Ho Chi Minh just a few days ago).

Around the grapevines of Angkor Hub, the adorable and welcoming co-working space in Siem Reap, the rumor had it that Anthony would one day become a great personality of American politics. And while some may see this as over the top, one should not judge Anthony’s future by his young age or elephant-print pants; he’s got what it takes to follow the footsteps of his favorite American heroes Jefferson and Lincoln. He’s got the will, the knowledge, and – last but not least – the looks.

If this prophecy is ever proven right and this young man is a Governor, Secretary of State or even The President of the United States, remember where you saw him first: this blog.

“Bad boy Anthony”

Anthony was a bad student and a troublemaker during his early years and not because he did not want to study, but because nothing was motivating him enough to do so.

If I’m passionate about something, I will put all my energy into it. But in primary school I found nothing attractive enough to be worth the effort. Just later, in high school, I discovered history and was amazed by the biographies of great historical figures. Even then, I was a top student in History and English and bottom of the class in Math and Science. That’s how I am: either fully committed or not giving a damn.

His high grades eased his entry to the Political Science Department at the Binghamton University in upstate New York.  Then one day he had this idea about a productivity app that could empower people to get the most out of their lives. He took it to some programmer friends, proposing that they split the ownership and profits evenly. They turned him down.

They said they had better offers from the likes of Google or Facebook and they wouldn’t split 50-50 with me on an idea which they would work alone on, since I did not know anything about programming. I heard that a lot – that my idea was worthless and that the execution was everything.

Passionate about his idea, he joined a tech club to learn how to code and develop the app by himself. George Washington would have done the same.

Live to Challenge

Anthony’s online app, called Live to Challenge, is a habit and goal tracker. Users create habits and goals and track them to completion. It’s also a social platform where one can set goals together with friends and helps people achieve more in life than they would do otherwise.

Besides history and politics, I was passionate about self-improvement books and blogs. I’ve found all the information really helpful, but I felt that there was no good app out there to help implement the advice. You read, you say wow, this is great, I’m gonna do it, then you completely forget about it.

I think the more people use my app the better they will become so I want as many people as possible to sign up for it. Once the app gets bigger I can turn it into a business with real employees, I would like to build it into a big tech business to help as many people as possible to build a life around it.

I am willing to give everything it takes to make this successful because there comes a time when you have invested so much in something that failure is not an option.

Anthony’s life philosophy: how to be hugely successful in the future.

In today’s economy everything is about skills. People in their 20s should focus on developing their skills. Many millennials were like once I finish college I am going for the best paying job.

This best paying job could be a bartender, for example, because you make good money in tips. That’s a good job if you’re twenty-something, but how are you going to position yourself through your 40s and 50s?

I followed a different strategy; I worked less so I could learn more and therefore better position myself to be hugely successful in the future.

What I do now is a stepping stone, part of my guiding philosophy which is all about empowering the individual, specifically empowering people to live better lives.

How technology unleashes creativity

We had an industrial revolution that turned people from using their muscles to using their bodies as a whole and now we turn to an economy focused on using the mind.  Everything is going to be more creative in nature; whatever idea you have, the technology offers the possibility to make it a reality. Creativity will be highly encouraged and empowered.

Technology allows me to turn my vision into reality, I can focus more on my vision than selling it as I would have had to 10 years ago. Nowadays I can do a lot more by myself.

Technology has always given a lot of people freedom and will continue to do so because now freeing the mind is possible in ways never seen before.

Doing his thing, feeling protected

I don’t recommend the digital nomad lifestyle to everyone because it’s risky living abroad on savings to build a business.

In my case, my desire for success is greater than my fear of failure.

Some want security from work and derive their meaning from other pursuits, like family, recreation, hobbies, church or philanthropy. That’s more of a working to live philosophy.

I live to work. I spend most of my time working, but it’s out of passion and dedication and it makes me feel good. I know my work has a lot of meaning. When I wake up in the morning I’m more like I can’t wait to work!  There is excitement, there is something I have in mind and I want it accomplished. I feel my best when I know I’ve accomplished something. Every day I’m looking to accomplish something and if I don’t, I feel like I’ve failed.

Life is not about living quietly by the beach. For me, as crazy as it sounds, life is about making the world better because you were here.

He did not blink when he said that.

About the author


Brad has been working as a travel journalist, photographer and digital nomad for the last 8 years. From his base in Thailand he journeys around the world – from Papua to the Carribean – seeking for deep, meaningful stories about humanity, nature and life.