Hawaiian Hustle: Sometimes Life Is All About Coconuts

I'm sadly finishing up my 10-day business offsite in Honolulu, Hawaii. It's only about 50 degrees back home in San Francisco, which is disappointing given I'm paying 10% state income tax along with a boat load of property tax. States should adjust their tax rates based on the weather don't you think? Otherwise, what's the point of paying state income taxes and freezing your buns off? Crazy!

I swear you will be happier, less stressed, and live longer if you live in a warmer climate. I'm always so impressed by folks who live in Canada, the Midwest, and the Northeast. How do you guys even think with temperatures below freezing? Content on Financial Samurai would grind to a halt for four months a year if I lived in Manitoba!

As part of our company team building efforts, we spent two hours swimming and hiking each day. After each exercise session, we'd spend an equal amount of time strategizing on new business initiatives. During the middle of brainstorming one afternoon, we saw a fella climb up a coconut tree belonging to an ocean front mansion worth ~$20,000,000. Things got interesting. 

Making The Effort

Take a look at this guy's hustle! The tree must have been 80 feet tall.

The Hawaiian Hustle

The Hawaiian Hustle

We immediately recognized the teachable moment: If you want some coconuts, you're going to have to climb the damn tree yourself. Nobody's going to be willing to risk their life to get you something you want.

I've talked about this theme before in posts such as, If You Produce Nothing, How Do You Plan To Make Any Money?, and How To Blame Everybody But Yourself For Your Financial Mistakes to encourage folks to take ownership of their lives.

Instead of watching endless hours of TV and scrolling through useless fake news on Facebook, start producing something of your own. Don't rely on your parents, your friends, or the government to take care of you. Develop an abundance mindset so you can not only take care of yourself, but other people as well.

All the sacrifice you make today will be well worth the effort sometime in the future.

Sometimes You Get Lucky Too

The man who climbed up the tree hacked off nine coconuts and several palm leaves. When he finally came down he waved me over. I guess he could tell I was mesmerized by his feat. I got out of the water to greet the guy and he immediately took out his machete to make a couple drinks for us!

I thanked him for his kindness and waddled out to the ocean to share the coconuts with my team. I guess sometimes you're in the right place at the right time. For the next half hour we enjoyed drinking our fresh coconuts in the ocean. They were wonderful.

Coconut achieved


The final realization from this experience is that good things tend to happen if you put yourself out there for a long enough period of time. So many unforeseen and highly lucrative business opportunities arose this year because we kept on going. Everyday I'm so glad I just decided to start my site one summer afternoon back in 2009.

Feeling Hopeful

Business has finally slowed down as everybody begins to prepare for the holidays. I'm winding things down as well. It's strange, but for the first time since I left my job in 2012 I'm feeling extremely hopeful about the future.


Why Start A Business? A Better Life Of Course

The Best Way To Travel For Free And Lower Your Taxable Income

If You Can Make It In Hawaii, You Can Make It Anywhere

Recommendation: Learn how to negotiate a severance so you can leave your job with money in your pocket with my book, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. A baby panda dies every time someone quits their job! I was able to negotiate a severance worth six years of living expenses, including receiving unemployment benefits. If you quit, you get nothing.

Updated for 2019 and beyond.

52 thoughts on “Hawaiian Hustle: Sometimes Life Is All About Coconuts”

  1. I just came back from my honeymoon in Maui and returned to 20 degree weather in DC. I don’t know how anyone get anything done in this weather. Also, we had our first snow of the season the day after we came back. *sigh*

  2. No Nonsense Landlord

    “States should adjust their tax rates based on the weather…”

    Being from MN, I am not sure what my taxes would be if weather were part of the calculation. Maybe they would pay me?

  3. “good things tend to happen if you put yourself out there for a long enough period of time.” Very motivating and a great reminder. The longer you keep at it the more likely good things will happen for you. Sometimes even way more than you expected.

  4. I would think taking your family on a tax-deductible holiday is already a way to lower your contribution to the state of California, no?

  5. Fiscally Free

    Fun post!
    We had a similar experience on our honeymoon in Jamaica, although the fellow there didn’t use any harnesses or safety gear when climbing the trees.

  6. I see you’re hanging out in Kahala near Cromwell’s. Its being dismantled. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  7. Sam I’m laughing so hard at this article and the comments! Love love love the idea of adjusting taxes to the weather!

    See I live in London so it’s almost like they should pay me! After spending two years in Los Angeles, I can feel the difference… The funniest part is that people in London and Paris have so much disdain for cities like LA or San Diego. They can’t imagine how it’s like to live in a constant warm weather.
    I’d love to move to Italy or Spain now, but with my partner working a high level corporate job between NYC and London… Not sure how to do that..

    Keep the writing going!

    1. Yay! Glad I made you laugh. Injecting more humor was one of my writing resolutions for 2016.

      Demand change in London! And don’t forget to eat some amazing chicken shashlik bhuna in one of the restaurants near Brickfields. So good. The best ever.

    1. Yes! And I have a contractor based in Honolulu, so it’s good to see him 2-4X a year.

      Who doesn’t love a good corporate outing? Uber just had their holiday party for 5,000 guests and it cost $500,000 after they plan to already lose $3B in 2016! Love it!

      Now if only I could raise some money, never go public, and use the money for fun as well :)

  8. Did you find a house?

    I go diving for Tako during the winter months at the beach you took those pics.

    I agree with you on Kauai! I’m going over on Thursday for two weeks to hang out with the Kauai crew.

    Thanks for the great reads and Mele Kalikimaka! :)

  9. Money-Miser @ Money-Miser.com

    “I’m always so impressed by folks who live in Canada, the Midwest, and the Northeast. How do you guys even think with temperatures below freezing?”

    Haha, this is so ironic as I walk into the office after a night of heavy snow and a swamplike walk to work. Luckily I live in Vancouver so the temperature is nowhere near as low as other places in Canada, but it still gets to you at times.

    I think you just get used to it, honestly. I can’t fathom living in a place like Winnipeg where it’s frequently -20c through winter. How they manage to cope with that I’ll never know.

  10. A little (lot) late to the comment game, but to answer your question (“How do you guys even think with temperatures below freezing?”) we have a whole four months when the only thing you could possibly want to do is stay inside on your computer and work always.

    So much easier to be productive when the patios are shut down! Pro: productivity. Con: the air hurts your face, especially if you have a dog who reasonably demands his regular walks.

    1. You’re right. It’s hard to work when it’s warm and beautiful outside. So, we just did different type of work: fun, team building work in the great outdoors!

      I expect to see great content produced by bloggers living in colder regions during the winter!

  11. FIRECracker

    “If you want some coconuts, you’re going to have to climb the damn tree yourself. Nobody’s going to be willing to risk their life to get you something you want.”

    “Good things tend to happen if you put yourself out there for a long enough period of time”

    My 2 fav quotes from you because they are SO true. I’m finding the longer I that write, the more opportunity that come. The lesson is to do the hard work and put yourself out there. it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

  12. Hawaii sounds amazing right now! We’re near Memphis spending time with family for the holidays. It was 74 degrees yesterday and it’s only 17 today. It’s crazy!

    That’s awesome that you’re feeling hopeful – it’s always a great feeling to have :)

  13. “You have to work hard to get what you want” in a post with a man bringing you a gift of a coconut that he did the hard work to obtain. I see what you’re doing there.

    Business trips to HI sound great and I’m looking forward to reading your posts now that you are hopeful. Fascinating.

  14. Gold Medal Finance

    I live near the equator so it’s hot (like 90 degrees hot) every day of the year. Funny how we now value the cold as a “treat” – I’m away on business this weekend four hours higher up the planet and it’s so great to be able to walk the street without sweating.

    Wouldn’t change it for the world though, cold is a nice novelty but couldn’t do it for most of the year.

  15. Go Finance Yourself!

    Wishing I was in Hawaii now as it’s currently 10 degrees with ice and snow in KC. My wife and I are going to Maui and Kauai for our 10 year anniversary in June. Can’t wait!

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of this post. I’m a firm believer that if you want something you have to make it happen yourself. The past several months I’ve been eliminating several time sucks so I can make better use of my time. Since then I’ve implemented several new initiatives at work which have resulted in a 20% raise. I’ve also started a blog and continue to work on growing it instead of watching TV or doing some other mindless activity after work.

    1. Gotta go to Maui and Kauai during your WINTER to get the most bang for your buck! Isn’t it already sunny and warm in KC during June?

      Trust me. The experience will be much more glorious if you can juxtapose during frigid temperatures. Vacations really are better due to work!

      1. Go Finance Yourself!

        I know. Wish we could go when it’s icy and cold here but my wife is a teacher so summer is the only time we can string together several uninterrupted vacation days. We are going to Phoenix for a long weekend in January so we’ll get a taste of some warm winter weather then.

  16. You do have to do things for yourself if you want to be successful – no one hands you success.

    I don’t know how those guys live in those cold climates either. It was only 50 degrees here in San Diego when I went to breakfast this morning, and I hated it. I couldn’t imagine a colder place…

  17. Hey easy there big guy – I grew up in Manitoba!

    The weather is not as bad as some would have you believe. Sure, I only have three fingers and two toes due to frostbite, but you learn to adapt. Plus, Manitoba (and other prairie provinces) present the opportunity to meet people in a manner not available in tropical areas. Like for example, boosting people’s dead car batteries in -30 degree weather, or helping them shovel their doorstep out from under eight foot high snow drifts. An added befit is not needing to buy ice to keep the drinks cold during the winter house parties – just set them out on the patio for 30 seconds and presto – chilled to perfection!

    Of course all that said, I did move to British Columbia in 2003…

  18. Hawaii is so nice to visit. I love the beaches there and the weather. I like SF because it also has beaches, but the water is just way too cold to swim in! At least it’s nice to look at. Even though 40-50 degree winters feel freezing in SF, I’m just glad I’m not living on the east coast anymore. I had to take business trips to Toronto and NY in the winter many times in the last 5-6 years and man it was cold. I don’t miss that at all!

    Love your coconut story. Awesome!

    1. If only Global Warming would actually happen, and SF air and water could both be 10 degrees warmer like San Diego. Then property prices would shoot through the roof! :)

      Then it would be time for us to find a new place to live w/ less people.

  19. Physician On FIRE

    I live just south of the border. The Manitoba border, that is. The key to being happy up north is to embrace the cold and snow. Having an abundance mindset includes finding fun things to do with the abundance of snow. Wear warm clothing and make the best of it.

    It doesn’t hurt to get away though, either. A week of warm weather living in February can do wonders to break up the long, cold winter.

    Give “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” a listen for more tips on surviving the deep freeze.


    1. Go Manitoba! Who woulda thought? I just woke up this morning, thankful I didn’t have to go play tennis at 9:30am in 48 degree weather. Got moved to 11am where the weather should be over 50!

      One thing about not living in cold weather is need less clothes, and less expensive winter clothes at that. Enjoy the winter!

  20. Great post Sam. Thanks for sharing this story. I can’t believe how tall that tree was! But I guess, as you said, if you want the reward you need to be willing to accept the associated risk and get up and go get it! So thanks again for the Saturday morning motivation – instead of sitting on the couch I’d better get down to work. Happy almost holidays! :)

    1. Saturday? Gotta grind. Sunday? Gotta grind! It feels so good to just do even just a couple hours a work before play. Over a long enough period of time, so many good things will happen.

  21. Jack Catchem

    Congrats on the coconut! That looks amazing!

    I’m presuming the danger enhances the flavor.

  22. I enjoyed the part about doing it yourself and not waiting for someone else to take care of you. I know it’s controversial, but I don’t believe in the government covering college tuition-free for everyone. I think everyone that has he motivation to do is able to go to college in our country and those that need it the most have access to financial aid or loans. If you want it, do it yourself. Hustle, work part-time, apply for every scholarship you can find…worked for me and I did not have a single penny of help from family.

    1. I’m not sure how motivated one would be to do well in college w/ free college tuition. It was EXACTLY b/c I knew college cost money and time that I did my best to get the best out of my four years. That said, my company paid 85% of my MBA, but I was still motivated b/c of the 20+ hours a week for 3years. So I donno. Once you’ve developed work ethic by the time you leave college, it tends to stick.

  23. Haha. I grew up with that lifestyle. Going “home” in a week. Although I like it out here on the West Coast, I sort of have the perfect life, where I can come here and hustle, and then go “home” and enjoy nice people and coconuts! It’s true; people will just share things…just because. If your neighbour had a mango or avocado tree, you’d certainly be getting a lot of bags of their fruit when it was in season; they wouldn’t eat it all and they would not expect to. We have two coconut trees next to us that we take care of, and I really enjoy just picking coconuts with my family. I always come back refreshed, thankful for what I have, and really happy (plus, with a bag full of food, of course). Enjoy your time out there!

    1. Hopefully your trees aren’t that high and you can use a ladder instead! How amazing are the Hayden, White Puree, and other locally grown mangos? So good. I always try and go back during mango season.

      Sharing is caring! I like the idea of a communal planting and sharing around the neighborhood. It’s become more popular now.

  24. You are so right. It’s easy to fall in the trap of endless consumption, whether it be purchases, TV, podcasts, books, articles, or anything else. Ultimately, purpose is fulfilled and value is realized from creation, not consumption. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing your story.

  25. Sounds like an awesome team building trip. I totally agree with you that I need to constantly be making myself more marketable and developing multiple income streams. I currently have two streams that I’ve been working on with a third in the works. Hopefully I can get a fourth going in the future. I’m hustling as much as I can now so that in the future I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!!!

  26. Oh, you have to go back to 50 degree weather? Poor baby. I had to wait for a bus in a blizzard today.

    Yes, I’m being facetious, though that’s where I am right now. Fun.

    Good article as always, Sam. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Can you believe it? CA state income tax should go from 10% down to 0% whenever temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Unacceptable living conditions as a tax paying resident!

  27. Here in the Northeast we had a wind chill of -15 this week and 10+ inches of snow. Nothing pretty about that! We head south on Christmas morning for a week. I need to grow my “team” and spend some time with them too :) I won’t be climbing any coconut trees (those pics are amazing though!) but a little extra hustle and a little beach is in the plan. A lot of decisions coming in the next few months – but very hopeful and thankful for a great 2016. Enjoy your holidays Sam!

    1. -15 means DEATH if you accidentally get locked outside for more than 30 minutes right? Gotta have a state tax decrease in that kind of scenario!

      Gotta enjoy the beach. Life is too short not to.

  28. I’d love if the temperature was 50, let alone Hawaiian temperatures. I do like your tax idea. That being said the coconut thing is pretty cool. I’d have thought it’d be more common to do something like build a slingshot and shoot them down. But I guess since we don’t have coconuts it’s not a life skill I’ve learned.

  29. My theory is that many of the great cities of the US were built because people were too damn cold to do anything but work. When it’s gray, cold and snowy, what else are you going to do? There’s a reason why New York and London are the financial centers of the world and not San Diego. In San Diego everyone is having too much fun outdoors. They have no interest in going inside to work on spreadsheets.

    1. You could be right. It was harder than normal last week to publish a Wednesday post b/c it took away team building time at the beach. But, a sense of responsibility caused me to cut team building time short by 1.5 hours to write the post on whether our finances can withstand a Fed rate hike. I want to keep up the streak of 3X a week for the past 7.5 years, and I think writing about the Fed Funds rate hike was the responsible thing to do as I know many of my readers are wondering.

      Related: If You Can Make It In Hawaii You Can Make It Anywhere

  30. Always important to meet the minimum safe harbor of “two hours” of business a day to make the primary purpose of your trip “business” and hence fully tax deductible! ;)

    1. Is the safe harbor two hours of business a day? Dang. I’ve been working too much at 4+ hours a day then! It’s kinda of like when I realized I could spend $200/person during a client outing on my corporate card, instead of only $100/person after 6 years. Epiphanies!

      My epiphany was when I read that Buffer App spends $17,000 a MONTH on company retreats while only making $14,000 a month in operating profit before tax. Now that’s amazing and inspiring. I’ve been way too focused on profit maximization and need to adjust.

  31. You’re missing out, Sam, because the cold time of the year is clearly the best time of the year to be outside! Cross country skiing as exercise and a way to enjoy nature is my absolute favourite, and nothing beats a full the in the slopes on skis or snowboard with a gang of friends, followed by an after ski with beer and great food in front of a fireplace.

    Nothing wrong with the hot time of the year either, but nothing beats winter. Perhaps I’m coloured by the fact that I grew up north of the arctic circle, though :)

  32. Good article. Oh and I live in the northeast and can’t leave because of elderly parents. By February I’m climbing the walls so we catch a plane south. I was considering Hawaii this year. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there.

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