Interview with Johnny Ward

'Making my first million dollars; I can often be selfish..'

Making my first million dollars; I can often be selfish. Johnny Ward, a humble Irishman, defies the ordinary. From navigating every corner of the globe to becoming a millionaire, his journey unfolds like a captivating novel. Yet, beyond the accolades, Johnny shares the raw truth—the post-expedition hangover, the quest for new challenges, and the relentless pursuit of self-improvement. Dive into the extraordinary life of a man who turned dreams into reality, showcasing that the key to happiness lies in chasing the extraordinary.

Having travelled to every sovereign country in the world, what were your feelings after travelling to the final one?

You know, it was a big downer. Finishing a 10-year expedition was great, with family and friends celebrating with me in Norway, but it took me over 6 months to deal with the downer afterwards. My sister has warned me, that after achieving a big goal, there'll be a kind of hangover, and it's true. I drank too much, ate too much, was out of shape, not focused on business, and it took a while to snap out of it.

After ascending all the summits, which you have planned to do, what’s next?

Have kids! Haha, but also to go to the South Pole. And I want to row across the Atlantic and cycle across the USA. Also, do an Iron Man, or extreme Iron Man. Let's see. I would love to create a course/book to help people excel in their lives. I'm not talented in any way, but I've worked out how to over-achieve, and I want to help others do the same.

Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of travelling?

I love to exercise. Especially group exercise. And of course, ultramarathons, climbing mountains, and I'm studying Thai full time at the moment too.

What do you do to relax and disconnect from the outside world?

I'm not a good relaxer at all! It's for sure my biggest weakness, I'm always thinking about my next adventure, physical challenge, or financial goal. I need to work on switching off.

How do you find documenting your trips enhances the experience?

I'm not a YouTuber or photographer, so for me, my blog and social media don't detract from my experiences, in the way that they do for those people. I also don't document stuff religiously, it's off and on. I try to enjoy what I'm doing at the moment, and then if I write about it, great. If not, it's not the end of the world.

What is it in particular that made it your goal to travel to every sovereign nation?

I want to be free. Always. Growing up a poor, single parent, on welfare, I felt so restricted. So I want to be the definition of free. And I found that through my journey to every country.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten on your travels?

Dog in North Korea. I've been vegetarian for 4 years though, and since I realised the ethics of eating meat isn't great, I don't want to glorify it, to be honest.

When travelling, did you find any hidden gems which you believe everyone should experience at some point in their lives?

Anything that Instagram doesn't touch. I urge people to experience the destination, not just be obsessed with the perfect pic. The true 'hidden gem' is being true to yourself, finding your passion and chasing that. There's no address for that.

What is the most surreal experience or moment which you’ve had in your life?

Making my first million dollars online. I never thought it would be possible considering how awful I am at tech and how unprofessional I am as a blogger. But I'm so grateful for it.

Do you have any embarrassing anecdotes?

Oh God, so many. But they're not safe to write down.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Invest in Bitcoin? Haha, I'm pretty happy with how I managed my life. I'm 36 now, I left Ireland in 2006, 14 years ago at 22. I was broke from 22-29, travelling with true freedom, then travelled and worked since then, to be where I am now. I feel like I've done it right. I could have worked more and made more money. But for what? My life has been an adventure, just the way I wanted it.

Do you believe in ghosts and if so have you ever experienced any paranormal activity?

100% not.

Describe yourself in a few words.

Like everyone, up and down. I can often be selfish, single-minded, and obsessed with my goals at the expense of my loved ones. But equally, I want to make sure that in every relationship I have with friends and family, the person close to me is better for having me around. If you can say that honestly, you're on the right track I think.

What is it about Chiang Mai which has made you put down a more permanent foundation for your life?

I think it's the best place on earth. You have the beautiful chaos of Thailand, to keep you feeling alive. But also the luxuries of life available too. So if you want a $ 5-hour long massage, or a $20 cocktail, you can both. That's pretty cool.

Are you a shower singer? If so, what is your go-to song?

Haha of course, but I'm awful! The Gambler by Kenny Rodgers. Absolute winner.

Do you prefer dorms or private accommodation?

At 36, and business going ok, I can say I haven't been in a dorm for over 5 years. Although during my mountains, or ultras, I'm often sharing tents with groups of people trying to stay warm!

If you could leave an impression on the world in any way, what would you like to be remembered for?

For making the most of the hand I was dealt. For showing people that chasing the extraordinary is possible.

What’s your best-ever purchase?

My first apartment. I bought it in Bangkok with the first-ever USD 100k I had. And I went instantly back to zero and being broke again! But not having to pay rent for the last 7 years while I travelled helped me so much, and it's given me so much peace of mind.

Who or what are your main influences in life?

Honestly speaking, the only positive influence I can attribute to anything I've done in my life, is my amazing mum. I was a difficult student at school, dismissive, cocky. So I never had a bond with any teacher, I had no men in my life to show me the way but my mum did everything she could. And she taught me the true meaning of love, dedication and selflessness. If I'm even HALF the parent she was, in the future, I'll be doing well.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve done?

I ran the Marathon Des Sables last year, a 260km Ultra race through the Sahara desert. It was tough. Or the North Pole Marathon? But it has to be the 'Every country in the world' journey, it took a decade of my life, and over a quarter of a million dollars that I barely had. But it was my dream, and I can look back at it fondly now.

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Images via Instagram