I Am a Digital Nomad
January 31, 2017- Barcelona, Spain
I am a digital nomad.
I work remotely.
I travel the world.
I live where I want.
As I set off on my most recent nomadic journey, so many friends and contacts are surely wondering…how are you able to travel and live like this?
I am not jobless.
I am not, in financial terms, independently wealthy.
I am not basing the countries I’ve chosen to live and work from over the next half-year based off of my work.
I am the Head of Operations for a progressive SAAS company based in San Francisco, StudySoup. StudySoup, which has constructed a marketplace for university students to sell notes to classmates, is a fully remote organization. Our team members work wherever they are, wherever they want to be.
StudySoup values not hours worked in an office or time spent in useless meetings, but instead places importance on the results and value that a team member creates. Don’t let me mislead you; we are a startup, so everyone on our team works quite a bit.
These results can be created from Santa Barbara, Barcelona, or Bangkok; it doesn’t matter where you are so long as you maintain high-output, a strong work ethic, and consistent communication.
Last summer I spent two months living in Europe and working from here. I wasn’t taking vacation, nor shirking my work responsibilities. I certainly hadn’t quit my job and decided to live as an unemployed traveler instead.
I was advancing my career, my organization, and my worldview all at once. In today’s world, you really can do it all.
But the truth is I wasn’t always convinced that this type of lifestyle was the best fit for me, let alone if it was even possible. The last few years have been an utter metamorphosis in my life, and my approach to daily life has drastically changed. In truth, I never could have excelled in a company like StudySoup a few years ago because my life was headed in a completely different direction.
Since the age of 16, my dream was to be a sportscaster. Fortunately, I was able to live out that dream, checking countless goals off of my bucket list, including being the voice of USC football (for student radio) in a national championship, hosting a “Gameday”-type TV show, and leading a nationally syndicated radio program.
But after being laid off from my two main media jobs in a span of only 3 weeks in early 2014, I knew it was time to make a change in my life.
Stents with a minor league soccer club and a fitness technology startup eventually led me to my current role with StudySoup. On the surface, I had no traditional operations experience. Yet after much deliberation, I realized that, despite seeing myself still partially as a journalist, I had a lot to offer this organization.
The first 4 or 5 months were a challenge unlike any other I’ve experienced in my life, but one that was worth it. Looking back, this experience has been instrumental in my development, both professionally and personally, and ultimately has allowed me to chase my dreams by living as a digital nomad.
A digital nomad is location independent, so long as there is an internet connection nearby. Many nomads travel to third world countries, spending time away from work helping to create clean water supplies and sanitation in remote villages.
As I get my bearings in this unique lifestyle, I’ve focused on a part of the world that feels much closer to home to me: Europe. Since my first trip abroad more than a decade ago, I’ve been incredibly fond of European life. Europeans live a more sustainable, mobile existence that emphasizes the importance of people in your life, as opposed to the importance of possessions.
It’s important to me that my (unborn) children are raised with European values. And that’s part of what makes this experience so special. I am constantly able to evolve my perspective, while simultaneously advancing my career.
Many reading this in an office job may think that this sort of lifestyle is a pipe dream, impossible to attain. But there are endless amounts of remote jobs and companies today, and even more opportunities to create revenue from afar independently. Seriously, just try visiting any of the job boards dedicated specifically to remote work.
If living this life is your dream, then it can easily be done. But before a job can ever change your life, you have to change your life first. This is a unique existence and one that I would recommend to every reader of this blog. But first you must connect with the components that deeply govern your inner happiness and determine what truly makes you happy.
Seize upon those, and you’ll rarely have a bad day in your life.
Increasingly, I’ll be providing tips and tricks to transforming your life into the one you want, whether that’s as a digital nomad or something entirely different.