I was able to catch up recently with James Maverick, who readers may know also goes by the name of Maverick Traveler. I had interviewed him some time ago to explore his general ideas on travel and life. I consider him one of the few truly accomplished travelers out there.
Since then, he’s published The Sovereign Man and The Way of the Maverick, and continues to turn out thought-provoking work on his blog. One gets the sense that his mind is always pondering the implications and nuances of the “stranger in a strange land” motif, and this makes for fascinating reading.
We had done a voice-to-voice interview since his last appearance here at Return of Kings. I finally was able to track him down (not an easy task) in Barcelona, in between his jaunts to Eastern Europe. Let’s see what he has to tell us.
QC: You’ve been in Europe for a long time now. If I’m right, you’ve been in Barcelona for over a year, right? How has that been?
JM: Thankfully, it’s been much less, around 4 months. I don’t think I can live in Barcelona for a whole year (chuckling).
For me, Barcelona is a fantastic getaway from the cold and dreary Eastern Europe. The city is simply gorgeous, has fantastic sunny weather and awesome food.
However, I think the problem with Barcelona is that it’s just too organized, too predictable, too modern—plus it’s overrun by tourists pretty much all year. For a “Latin” and southern European city, it’s nowhere near as friendly as any Latin American city.
When it comes to women, Spanish women are cute and sexy, but aren’t exactly easy, especially to fly-by-night foreigners. So, if you’re a single guy, do yourself a favor and do not come to Barcelona. Go find yourself a girlfriend in Eastern Europe and then come with her to Barcelona. Oh, and I had plenty of time to finish my second book.
QC: You’ve written about a fascinating subject, which you call the “strategically lazy mindset.” Can you give us a quick breakdown of what that is?
JM: Strategically lazy means that you only expend energy where you’ll have the highest ROI (return on investment). People tend to downplay laziness, but I think if you use it correctly, it can become a virtue, almost like a weapon.
The core idea is instead of chasing and convincing people to do stuff, you simply show up and announce your intent to do something. That can be asking out a girl or starting a new project. Then you step back, relax, and see if there are any takers.
If not, then you need to do something else or with someone else. This forces you to always look at reality from an objective viewpoint instead of trying to fit everyone and everything into your notion of what reality should be.
QC: How did you come up with this concept?
JM: I learned it the hard way. All my life I’ve been chasing people and things that simply didn’t want to be chased. I started projects that failed because no one cared. I chased women who played games, but weren’t genuinely interested.
After lots and lots of failures, I decided to step back and reexamine my strategy. I realized that I needed to be more nonchalant about my behavior; I needed to let people come to me and then go from there.
This is something I also noticed about other guys; they’re extremely needy and chase the wrong things: money, women, etc. That never ends well. This is a topic that I explore in depth in my first book, The Sovereign Man.
QC: You’ve written a recent article on your site about guys who become “slaves” to the game. When did you first become aware of this concept?
JM: I became aware of this as a result of becoming a slave myself. You see, for the past eight years, I’ve been traveling around the world and trying to pickup women. I’ve done the whole “numbers game.” I’ve toughened up against the inevitable rejections (and there are always lots of them). But no matter how much I rationalized my behavior, I was never fully content and satisfied.
Then it hit me that instead of using this skill (meeting women) to enrich me and make me a better and more capable man, what actually occurred was the reverse: I became a slave to game. That needed to stop.
Ultimately, I realized that there has to be something more to life than endless approaching. I’ve been spending lots of time lately trying to connect the dots.
QC: I liked reading your recent article about how every man should live in Eastern Europe at least once. Roosh has been telling me the same thing. I’m beginning to feel left out. But I got the sense that some of your Balkan travels didn’t live up to expectation. Am I right?
JM: Eastern Europe is a barren, depressing and unforgiving place. The weather sucks nine months out of the year. The winters are brutally cold. The people aren’t very friendly, at least until they get to know you better. There isn’t much customer service and hand-holding. If you combine that with rotting Soviet-era buildings everywhere, it’s very easy to feel down. Think of it as America but without all the bullshit, hand-holding, the fake smiles and confusing dating rules.
The flipside of all this is that it toughens you up because you’re no longer dealing with the soft cushion, the fake and superficial veneer that we experience in the West. It makes you more assertive and resourceful. I can say for a fact that it had a positive effect me. Other guys that have lived in Eastern Europe all mention the same thing.
On the bright side, dating and relationships are relatively straightforward. Women play less games. You can actually connect with them emotionally because every conversation doesn’t resemble a televised debate.
Balkans is a bit different. I refer to it as “Eastern Europe Plus”: The tough Eastern European mentality with nicer weather, tastier food and friendlier people. Belgrade is one of my favorite cities in the region because it’s cheap, compact and has a certain charm. I always feel extremely comfortable in Belgrade.
QC: As far as I know, you haven’t written about Asia or traveled there. Any plans for that in the future?
JM: I’ve been to Taiwan and Thailand around ten years ago. Asia has never been on my radar for any kind of exploring or long-term living; I much prefer Latin America and Europe. I think it’s because there are either guys who dig Asia and guys who don’t really care much about it. I’m in the latter camp.
Though, I have a good friend who goes to Asia often. He goes there every month and always has an amazing time. He brings back tons of amazing stories. His experiences have piqued my curiosity, so I might check out the region sometime in the future.
QC: How do you see yourself having changed when compared with two years ago, if at all?
JM: Great question. For one, my traveling pace has greatly slowed down. I no longer do any kind of backpacking or even carry a backpack; I travel with a medium-size suitcase, which is much more convenient. I’m also much more interested in renting a place for 3-6 months instead of bouncing around different cities and countries.
The biggest change is that I’m also less interested in meaningless relationships. I don’t really have any desire to have random one-night stands or spend lots of nights in bars or clubs. They take away the time that can be used for more productive means: working and building your empire. Building a business takes lots of time and it’s almost impossible to do when you’re chasing women seven nights a week.
QC: I’ve noticed that you generally avoid subjects like religion and the possibility of marriage. Do you have any thoughts on those subjects you’d like to share?
JM: It’s funny you ask this because for the past week I’ve been penning a long article about the qualities that you should look for in a wife. It’s a complete detour from my regular content with deals with traveling and self-improvement, so I’m very curious how it will be received. It should be out this week.
What marriage and religion have in common is that both are extremely polarizing. Religion is polarizing because it’s religion. And marriage is polarizing because in the manosphere it’s being treated as religion.
Many guys are doggedly against marriage. They think it’s a trap. They think that their ex-wife will take all their money and fuck them over. There are also guys who are interested in getting married and want to settle down with a nice girl. Then there are the guys in between who aren’t sure what they want in life.
I think it’s important to find a nice balance instead of viewing something as black and white. That’s why I do what I do: elucidate other men on the way of the maverick.
QC: I agree with you that a man shouldn’t box himself in to any rigid conception of life. As we grow and develop, we just don’t know where life will take us.
JM: Yes, very much so.
QC: All right, man. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to us here. We’ll have to hit you up again soon.
JM: Sounds good to me, man.
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