Reader Alon is asking:
I’d really be happy to read your in-depth life story. I was surprised to discover there are more people who share my own thoughts, and who actually succeeded in implementing them, which is my next step. I don’t want to sound like a blind fanboy – but the only word I can come up with is HOLY SHIT. Not to mention that going through many of your photos does bring up an image of going from one paradise to another.
I guess it’s time to give birth to a proper About Me page.
Who Is Regev Elya?
My goal is to build a life I don’t need a vacation from. (Sr. Rob Hill)
In 2010 I dropped out of the fanciest university in Israel with the dream of building a passive income big enough to set me free to travel the world as much as I want. Things worked out pretty well. I now spend my time writing my second book, and building a travel app that will change the game of travel.
June 14th, 1987: Hello world, a new baby is born in a hospital in Haifa, a beautiful beach-city in north Israel. Mom says I weighted 2.6kg (5.7lbs) and that grandma accused her for sleeping with our Yemenian neighbour because I was born “half black”. Pregnancy was tough.
I grew up in Tirat Carmel, a small town between the mountains and the beach, and had the most amazing childhood a kid can hope for. My father had 7 siblings with about 3 to 4 kids each – and we all grew up together like brothers and sisters. We call it ‘Tribe Elya’. All of us went to the same school which was — and still is — separated by a fence from our grandpa’s house. This meant a few things:
- We could all meet every day at our grandpa’s huge yard to play with the animals, ride bicycles and climb trees. We did that every weekend too, since the entire family lived five minutes walking from each other. There were no iPads, but joy was everywhere. Thirty years later, we still meet every Friday and often more frequently.
- While most kids in my school had cheese sandwiches for lunch, I was just walking to the gate, yelling ‘grandpaaaaa’ and he would come and give me a plate of whatever grandma cooked that day. And ladies and gentlemen: my grandma was no Western Career Woman™: she spoiled me and my friends with her handcrafted couscous, meat and spinach stew (“Bk’hila”) and the holy grail of her cuisine: THE TUNISIAN FRICCASEE.
- We were not allowed to enter school with a football because playing meant a big mess. So every day at 10:20 my grandpa would throw a ball over, and we played, and we later threw it back to his yard. It was hilarious, and the teachers couldn’t do anything about this hack.
- We had three big dogs and plenty of puppies in the yard. Sometimes on friday my father would open the gate (he had the key) and I’d sneak the dogs in and run wild with the them scaring all the girls away. I felt like The Beast Master.
- Every shabbat (Saturday) all my cousins would come to my grandpa’s house, collect our big electric toy vehicles and race each other inside the school when nobody was there. I had a blue Jeep. My cousin Karin had a pink Corvette that she never let anyone use. I drove it when she wasn’t around.
One of the buildings in my school was a few stories high. I used to climb it from the outside all the way to the roof. My grandma didn’t like it. I loved it. The sense of freedom, and the… possibilities. I used to look down from the roof and see possibilities. “That tree over there? Let’s build a camp around it!”. I always wanted to attach a zipline from the roof to my grandpa’s yard. I think I’ll get to it one day.
In 1996 my grandma was the winner of the most popular reality show in Israel at the time. It was a show where people send funny moments captured on their video cams. The prize: Ford Tracer (‘Escort’ in the U.S). Our video? My old-school grandma got an answering machine for her birthday and found it too funny to record a message speaking to a machine:
People tend to think a rich childhood is a childhood of Call of Duty on the Xbox, but what a kid really needs is a strong and secure tribe, a bonded unit to lay a solid psycho-developmental foundation to socialize, explore and learn the world. Divorces and career moms who don’t spend enough time with their kids are especially devastating to their healthy brain development. Modernity breeds disorders.
Mid and High School
That’s when I got my first computer. Slowly slowly I disappeared from our football games outside and my friends soon migrated to my house and play FIFA instead. My mom still remembers when my best childhood friend Guy told her “I don’t know what happened to him. He doesn’t get out of the house!”.
I soon read my first book, a monster of a tome about Visual Basic and taught myself how to program. I was a part of a teenagers forum that had a virtual currency (“points”) so that members could trade virtual goods. Most had anywhere between 0 to 200, the uncommon riches had perhaps a thousand or two.
I created a virtual league and used my new Visual Basic skills to build a small program that simulated scores. Every member paid points for joining, choosing a team, and buying players. The champion won about half the total ‘revenue’ and the runner-up received a nice amount too. The rest went to me for running this whole thing. The result? I had more than 40k points. My Jewish ancestors were proud.
I was banned a few weeks later. For some reason, the admins couldn’t comprehend how somebody could get that ‘rich’ legitimately. It gave me two important lessons for life: First, if you’re going to achieve some success – expect jealousy. Second, people with a Poor Man Mentality don’t believe anybody can get rich without cheating.
Later on high school I created a small software (“WinneReqo”) designed to predict the Israeli football league results and help people win bets. I was exhilarated when somebody sent me a mail thanking me for a big win he made, but the true shock was when the official Israeli sport betting organization (“Toto”) called me and wanted to buy the software. I ended up screwing the deal because I didn’t care about money.
I spent the last year playing World of Warcraft when the rest of my friends went out and talked to girls. My parents were genuinely concerned I was gay. I later sold my WoW account for $600 and got my life back.
But with all that geekiness, I was the most extroverted, hyperactive kid around. One of the teachers called me “the hardest kid in the history of this school”. Another teacher made a deal with me: “You can skip my class and go eat couscous at your grandma’s so that I can teach.” We had this agreement for a year. So every friday I came to school in 8:20 and left at 11, because her two weekly classes were the last hours.
Though I wasn’t the kind of ‘broken-family kid’ who threw chairs at teachers. I just could not sit still. No matter how hard I tried to listen to the teachers, I couldn’t hold my attention for more than three seconds (I counted). There was no emotion in their voice, and if the teachers can’t enjoy their work – how can we? My way to cope was trying to make everybody laugh. And I never cared about the consequences, which is ironically why I never got in serious trouble.
That’s where my life really changed.
I actually wanted to go through fight-pilot training, but they didn’t let me because I was underweight and therefore had a special clause in my profile preventing me from joining elite forces. Instead, I was sent to an accelerated course to become a ‘logistics officer’ within a year. Fuck that.
I left after two months and as revenge was sent to do another bootcamp, this time in the southern desert with the armored forces. Bootcamp is the hardest part of the service and I refused to do it all over again so they sent me to jail. I was the only one in my cell, isolation was mindfucking, and I had a young fragile spirit. It took them exactly a week to break me.
After three months I was done with the second bootcamp and went through a Field Intelligence specialization, and I was then sent to serve in the shittiest shithole Earth has ever known: a deserted brigade in the middle of nowhere. It took a few months but I managed to do the impossible and get out by giving the act of my life feigning psychosomatic symptoms. I learned them through a psychiatrist friend of my dad. Many soldiers have tried that before but I was told only one managed to pull it off. That was me.
I was then sent to my final base where I was flourishing. That’s where I did my skinny to muscular transformation and gained about 30kg. I still couldn’t take orders though and kept my reckless behaviour. I was confined a couple of times for a few weeks and was even sent to jail for 21 days a few months before my final release.
A week before finishing my service I put on new uniforms, brushed my shoes and infiltrated a bootcamp acting as if I was a new soldier. When the commanders were playing their act to put discipline and fear in the new soldiers – I stepped towards one of them (a female), put my arm around her shoulders and gave her the joker speech. Everyone was shocked. I then ran away and escaped. It was hilarious, and for a week I was worried to be found out and sent to jail.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d go to the most combative unit available. But I was a stupid 18 year old young boy with no understanding of the conflict in the Middle East. I’ll make sure to compensate and send my sons to protect the land. If you’re a young Israeli dude, I advise you not to go through the military route that I took, and take it more seriously.
I bought my first DSLR and started working as a nightclub photographer to improve my photography. Somewhere along the way, as I got more confident and started to know everyone in Haifa, I begun working as a club promoter here and bartender there and later became the promotion manager of a famous club. Incredible times.
At that time, I decided to leave my girlfriend home and go try my luck in sales in the U.S.A. The job was so boring and my girlfriend was crying to me all day long because her grandfather passed away.
I decided to fly back home after three weeks.
Within a few months I flew to Sweden to sell oil paintings door to door. But DAMN – have you ever been to Scandinavia? That land is so spectacular that when everybody was doing drugs – I was eating salmon and broccoli showing them youtube videos of the Northern Lights trying to convince them to quit this job and go travel around. My friend Mor quickly had an idea and the next day we were on bicycles on our way to Denmark, collecting apples and sleeping in a tent.
I also tried to work in the cinema here because I love movies. They fired me because I became so intensely focused in a movie (Shutter Island) that I forgot to do my job. I also spilled a huge box of nachos and salsa sauce all over the floor. Beautiful times!
The Technion is rightfully called “The M.I.T of Israel” and studying there carries a high status stamp. It’s funny because most students there are social robots with zero imagination, domesticated to be working cogs in big corporate systems – yet they still think they’re better than the rest of Israel.
My high-school grades were so bad that I had to get an incredibly high psychometric (our “S.A.T”) grade. I got 768/800 on the last simulation that I did – but then my girlfriend and I broke up and I had a short fling with another girl. One night we drank so much champagne and had so much action that I couldn’t reach the middle of each chapter the next day’s simulation. On the real test, I could barely focus and my final score perfectly reflected my demonic lifestyle – a symbolic 666.
It wasn’t enough. I needed 0.01 (!!!) more points on my overall rank so I went crazy and emailed the professors every single day till they gave up and let me in. Not unlike Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption and his library fund. It’s truly amazing what you can achieve with enough grit.
After three weeks of dissecting sharks and pigeons I realized there was no way I’m going to spend my whole life in a lab. But what else could I do ? I came back home one day, and on the news there was something like “How Two Teenagers Make $12,000 a Month Online, Working 6 Hours a Week From The Beach”. FUCK. ME. SIDEWAYS. I watched the whole thing and went to the office the next day to freeze my Technion membership. I trusted myself I was going to figure this whole online thing out.
By the way, my Technion membership is still frozen to this very day. And they still send me emails to return. If they only knew..
So after quitting the Technion I saved up some cash as a substitute teacher. They fired me because I was teaching evolution to religious kids. When my birthday came, I donated all the clothes and stuff that I had, went to the airport and asked the receptionist to book the first flight. She said there’s one going to Kiev and another to Bangkok. THAILAND HERE I COME.
That’s where everything really begins.
I went all across Asia and built an online affiliate business along the way. I spent about two hours at the end of each day, working from bungalows to beaches to rain forests. Wherever you name it. I even worked on it while creating a fundraise for a very poor village in Cambodia. And I was watching online marketing webinars for an hour a day and kept reading books along the journey. After a year of hard work things really started picking up.
The business grew and matured significantly and I had no geographic chains, and therefore kept exploring the world. From christmas markets in Europe to bungee jumps in Costa Rica. The business kept working wherever I was. It was fully passive and the dream was achieved. Financial freedom.
The main goal behind my work is to put all my ideas and experiences on paper and leave something behind for my future grandkids to be proud of. If it can help the rest of humanity too, I guess why not?
I now live off my online income and alternate between a few months in Israel and a few months in some exotic location to recharge. But something interesting is happening. Now that I have the financial freedom to travel the world as much as I want, I no longer have the desire to do so. Maybe it’s time to get married and pop out some babies.
That’s what we’re hardwired to do, after all.
Things you didn’t know..
- I tried to get into Abkhazia to locate and study the oldest living people in the world but was stopped in the border and interrogated by the Russian army. They thought I was a Mossad agent.
- As a kid I could name the company and model of EVERY car on the road from a hundred meters.
- I never smoked a cigarette.
- There’s a story in the family of how two young chicks approached me when I was three years old and went “what a beautiful girl!”. In response I unzipped my pants and showed them my dick.
- I was invited to talk in a few primetime talk shows in Israel, but rejected them all.
- I am a voracious reader and spend hours of reading a day. I probably read about 50 books a year and more than a thousand papers and articles online.
- I created Pernicious Anemia Relief when I discovered how many people were sick with that condition, desperate for proper treatment.
- I own a piece of FaceIt, a company providing attractions for events in Israel.
- My favorite movies are V for Vendetta, Django Unchained, Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, The Matrix, The Godfather, American History X, Schindler’s List, Deadpool, Saw, and Inception.
Countries visited: Israel, United States, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Holland, Bulgaria, Italy, Vatican, San Marino, England, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Jordan, Taiwan, France, Switzerland, Georgia, Armenia, Romania, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Hungary, Slovakia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Cyprus, Canada, Tanzania, Poland, Norway, Iceland, Jamaica, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Gibraltar, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Egypt.
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