Johnny Ward is an entrepreneur, adventurer, philanthropist, motivational speaker, and travel blogger. He is the founder of one of the top travel and lifestyle blogs in the world OneStep4Ward, where he blogs about travel, his journey to every country in the world, digital businesses, and living the best life. Johnny is also the co-founder of Mudita Adventures, running adventure travel trips that make a genuine difference to the communities they visit.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I was born in Ireland and grew up in Northern Ireland. My childhood looks tough on paper, but it was full of love. Single-mother, absent father in prison, surviving on welfare for a decade+. But my mum always taught me I can be anything I want to be. And she gave me the wings I use today.

Being broke growing up though, that motivated me financially. This is why I’ve been so hungry to be finically secure.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

To dream big. Really big. If you’re gonna climb a mountain, make it Everest. If you’re gonna go for a run, run an ultra marathon. Anything and everything is possible, it just requires a shift in one’s mindset. I’ve now made that shift, but it took me until I was 30. Imagine what you can achieve if you learn that at 12 years old!

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

That the market is saturated. Nonsense. It’s the attitude of someone destined to be an employee. There’s always space for a hungrier, better version of anything.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

My mum spent a long period depressed, so it’s in my family. And my bloodline is littered with alcoholics. Drinking is something I’ve struggled with, especially when I finally finished my big 10 years ‘every country in the world’ quest. After that, I was like – what’s next? Took me 6 months to snap out of that funk.

I’m not a fan of medication though. Meat-free, alkaline diet. Daily HARD exercise of 60 minutes. Early nights and early starts. That fixes such a large portion of anyone’s struggles, mine included.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

My success isn’t judged by my bank account balance, but by the freedom I’ve created. What contributed to that? Leaving the corporate world. The courage to chase my dreams, regardless go the income it may, or may not, generate. That’s freedom.

What is your morning routine?

I honestly have no routine. I’m indifferent to countries every other week. If I’m in Bangkok, my home base, then normally I’m up at 6 and at boot camp at 7. Then it’s back, brunch, emails. Then co-working space until 4 pm. Then dinner and chill with the Mrs. But I’m not often in a routine, to be honest.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Giving up meat. Knowing that I don’t contribute to the suffering of animals for the sake of my taste buds helped me sleep better at night. And then undertaking big physical challenges (7 summits, north pole, Sahara ultra-marathons, rowing the Atlantic) has allowed me to know that I’m making the most of my short time on earth.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I’m in the tough love camp. I know the next generation is all about ‘everyone is a winner, ‘it’s taking part that counts’ mentality. That’s not me I’m afraid. Life is tough, and if we want to rise to the top, we have to put in the work and take the risks that are required. So I focus firstly on my lifestyle, then on my business. And if that means waking at 4 am to work out or answer emails because I’m flying that day, then I go get it.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Wow, good question. I’d say these:

The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Back before I made my money online, Tim Ferris opened my eyes to what was possible, a different, cooler life.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. If you want to achieve big things, be prepared to suffer. If not, be average. Those are the 2 choices.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter – teaches financial responsibility. So when I started making crazy money, I didn’t start buying Rolexes and Porsches. Not I should be set up for my future, and it’s allowed me to begin building my dream home.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“You’re never as young as you are tonight”. – Chuck Palahniuk (the author of fight club).

I love this quote. And for sure I think about it often.