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Last Updated on January 31, 2019

How to Disappear Completely and Start a New Life

How to Disappear Completely and Start a New Life

We live in a dog-eat-dog world. Everyone’s doing what they can to stay afloat. As NSA whistleblower and gestapo “traitor” Edward Snowden has shown us, though, somewhere along the line, any of us could find ourselves in need of an escape route. You’ll have a lot on your mind, and disappearing takes discipline. You’ll walk a tightrope without a net, and you can’t ever lower your guard. Keep this page somewhere safe to use as a checklist in case shit ever hits the fan, and you have to disappear completely and start a new life…

Remain Calm…

A clear mind is always better than a cluttered one. Think about how your house is arranged. If everything is cluttered and things are in the way, you’ll have a harder time getting around, be less efficient, and get less done.

Your mind works the same way: If you’re too busy dwelling on things that you can’t change (bills not currently due, a job you’re not currently at — anyone or anything that doesn’t exist in your physical present), you’ll miss opportunities in the present moment in which you’re able to act. You switch from P(roactive) to R(eactive) and your life begins to slide in reverse as your Spidey-sense loses that tingling feeling. I digress…

The point is, you need to have a wide open mind. Starting a new life is possible in many ways, but you have to decide both what you’re willing to give up and put up with. The reason for this life change will drastically impact the way you start a new life. Resetting your social circle, family makeup, etc. based on a voluntary career decision takes a different approach than escaping from prison and going underground in the modern surveillance state in which we live. You’re about to embark on a serious life decision, many steps of which can’t be undone.

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Now Bug Out

You need a bug out bag. I keep several for different situations, but you don’t necessarily need to go that far — I’m just giving you choices. Create a bug out bag that works for you. A lot of this will depend on your financial capability and resources. I have a backpack and messenger bag. Each one has different necessary items that help in various situations. Having two styles of bags helps you blend into different situations. My backpack is a well-designed High Sierra that has a high storage capacity. It’s useful for carrying basic survival gear along with personal electronics (laptop, music player, cables) I need to survive. The messenger bag helps in urban situations. There are times when you may want to blend into a city or professional environment, and a backpack won’t help that.

Fill your bug out bags with universally necessary items. You’ll need at least a small amount of currency for emergency situations. Keep identification on you. People will tell you that you should destroy ID cards, but there are more reasons to keep them than discard them. Think of how many identification cards you’re given in your life at school, work, conferences, parking garages, stores, etc. You never know when you may need to recreate an ID for something, so keep them all. As a whistleblower, I spend a decent amount of my time conversing with law enforcement and security personnel as both a consultant and person of interest. What I can tell you from detailed analysis of extensive field training is that police officers and security guards often tend to be human beings with jobs to do. More often than not, pairing an ID with a cool head and friendly demeanor can get you out of tough situations. Not every encounter wit’ the po-po gotta end wit’ yo .44 makin sho all dey kids don’t grow. They look at a situation in terms of the amount of paperwork they’d have to do to contain you. There are plenty enough ways of beating the house rules, but that’s a discussion for another time…

Your bug out bag should also contain any of these survival basics: condiments, hygiene essentials, a water bottle, Camelbak, tea bags, spare stores of any medications you take (prescribed or otherwise), peanut butter, honey, chocolate, nuts, salt, trail mix, crackers, cookies, seeds, powdered drink mixes, bandages, hydrogen peroxide, sunscreen, a small mirror or compact, minor hand tools, writing utensils, a tape measure, duct tape, a sewing kit, cables (especially fax/telephone), chargers, batteries, a laptop (preferably sans wireless card…and I mean physically nonexistent, not turned off…), cell phone, several firestarters, vitamins, hand sanitizer, a flashlight, small umbrella, poncho, map, compass, eating utensils, radio, atlas, and almanac.

You want to have at least one bug out bag on hand wherever you are. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a survival situation. A few months ago, for example, I woke up in a hospital with nothing but a pair of bloody shorts (sans Australian accent), my iPhone 5, and a cloudy recollection of the chain of events that led me there. The point is, things sometimes happen, and you want to be prepared for the basics. What’s important is maintaining your sanity, surviving, finding comfort, and continuing to push on. If you don’t already have one, put together a bug out bag and keep it in a safe place. You never know what the future holds, and you never want to be left out in the cold with nothing.

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Disconnect

If you’re starting a new life, hiding from the internet seems like the most logical move. That’s not necessarily so. We live in a society where you blend in by hiding in numbers and not sticking out. If a police officer stops you, and you don’t have ID, you stick out and require further scrutiny. Applying this principle to the internet, you’ll still need to stay abreast of our constantly updating and evolving society. The internet is like having an all-knowing deity in your pocket at all times. Depending on the individual circumstances surrounding your personal disappearing act, you may need to connect to the internet in more creative ways. Hiding from the government is different than hiding from your family. Either way, digital isn’t the type of disconnect I’m referencing.

In order to disappear, you’ll need to cut off connections to your family. In order to obtain a government security clearance, you’re asked a lot of questions about your family and friends. This is because your emotional connections can be used against you. Your enemies can tug at your heartstrings and torture you by opening wounds that have nothing to do with physical harm. I used to be a skip tracer for the banks. My job was to find you anywhere in the world you may be hiding. Carmen Sandiego couldn’t hide. Waldo couldn’t hide. You’re a three dimensional person, though. You have free will. You can take precautions. Disconnecting from your family and friends cuts off potential routes of finding you. If you’re seriously trying to start a new life, you can’t bring those connections with you, and checking them in is akin to returning to the scene of the crime.

As a side note to cutting off personal connections, I realize that this is difficult. The thought of it provides anxiety and fear. You’ll have to face these afflictions sooner or later, regardless of whether it’s in your new life or your old one. Know that if you do lose someone in your life, you can meet new people. Life will go on. It’ll take effort and work, and you may have sleepless nights of feeling like a failure, but the journey will make you stronger and more resourceful. There’s a brave new world out there that’s yours for the taking.

Hiding in Plain Site

One of the most effective defense mechanisms you can use is the tactic of hiding in plain site. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it works a lot better than it sounds on the surface. The most obvious way of hiding in plain site is by simply ignoring someone. If the reason you want to disappear and start a new life is to get away from someone, it may be possible to simply ignore them. To apply this concept to a different perspective, when I first blew the whistle on Bank of America, they retaliated with some brutal tactics. My lawyer advised me to keep my head down, but I was already in too deep with Anonymous by that point. I instead hid on the internet and eventually in the media. By hiding in plain site, I effectively defended myself against a lot of underhanded tactics used by a large machine against a single unknown.

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Here’s another example: back in high school a, ummm… guy I knew… and his friend would test store security with some admittedly creative techniques. What… they… discovered was that the best way to circumvent security is to hide in plain sight. They’d test this theory out by walking into grocery stores at various “rush hours,” filling a cart, bagging it, and walking out without paying. The patterns were repeatedly tested in more and more brazen ways. Later on as an adult, one of those guys ended up testing the idea with various work badges and uniforms. The lesson to be learned from all of this experimentation is that the more obvious you are, the less likely someone is to believe they’re seeing what they’re seeing. If you want to disappear, tell everyone you’re invisible. Or just stand still until everyone just accepts that you’re there. Whatever you decide to do, own it. Reality exists at the intersection of perspective and perception. Learn to dance in the streets.

Good Ideas/Bad Idea

Good Idea – Using cash for all purposes…

Bad Idea – Plastic… and tipping your stripper more than your waitress…

Good Idea – Having a plan, but being open to spontaneously reacting to hurdles…

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Bad Idea – Going in blind and getting upset when things don’t go as planned…

Good Idea – Being friendly to every person you encounter…

Bad Idea – Being friendly to every snake you encounter…. 

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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