Free to Roam About the World

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“Free to Move About the World” Photo via Pixabay

There’s a Southwest Airlines tagline that goes “you’re now free to move about the country.” Ever since my MBA studies in Management of Global Information Technology, I’ve dreamed of being part of a worldwide network of talented professionals. So, when I came across a recommendation by Cup of TJ to check out Toptal, I knew I had to learn more.

If you don’t know them already, Toptal is a marketplace for top talent in different expertise, but they are currently focused around three core areas of expertise – developers, designers and finance experts. That’s no surprise because these are the most portable functions in most companies.

My first taste of remote work was managing projects with AT&T for Sun Microsystems. Often, I would be out of the office at various job sites across the Bay Area, logging in whenever / wherever and jumping on the occasional team conference calls.

Later, I would work as a semi-digital nomad, when I started to do consulting in commercial real estate and buying / selling businesses. Most of the time I bounced up and down the California coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. While this may sound glamorous, it gets old quick after you realize you spent more time on the road than in your own bed!

As Cup of TJ points out, there are pros and cons to the digital nomad lifestyle. It isn’t all unicorns and working on your laptop at beaches. Clients expect you to be available during certain times and to be professional when you show up on a Skype call.

But the bottomline, of course, is delivering results. They don’t care that you were ziplining on Monday, but you better have that prototype you promised for Tuesday ready.

Speaking of Monday, my next step with joining the Toptal design team is a Skype call with one of their team. Their screening process apparently only lets in the top 3% of applicants – wish me luck!

To learn more about Toptal click here.

Where to Find Digital Nomad Work

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Digital Nomad Work

First, my confession – I’m by no means a full-time “digital nomad.” But someone on Quora asked this question, and so I thought I’d answer here since this is longer than your typical Quoran response.

When Life Forces You to Change

Over the last year or so I was forced to switch almost completely to online work because my last car (an old beat up Toyota Corolla) finally died. Before that I would go back and forth between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area to do my main work in commercial property inspections. You can see me do a walk-thru in the video. [link]

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different things with varying degrees of success – everything from trying to make money through affiliate commissions to teaching online – both my own field inspection course to Udemy classes, even publishing a couple of Kindle books – Local Business Alchemy and Field Inspection 101 Home Business.

While there isn’t a remote / digital nomad site as comprehensive as Monster.com or networking quite like LinkedIn, here are some ways to find digital nomad work –

Who You Know vs What You Know

Often you can find opportunities through people they know – not so much by saying “do you know of any jobs where I can work remotely?”

No, it’s usually a bit more roundabout..

“Hey, I saw this posting – who should I contact in that company? Are you also looking for [your specialty]? ..would you consider hiring someone who works in [your location]? ”

Of course, although there are more companies today that would consider hiring remote workers, it’s still not the first choice of most businesses.

So, it may / may not be worth the time to “sell” them on the idea. To be honest it’s better to simply look for a company or hiring manager who is open to this.

Either that or your work specialty needs to be unique enough and still be portable, of course. This is why programming and other technical specialties are more common.

Some Recommended Sites for Digital Nomad Work

A few of the most popular freelancer sites include:
(links are to my profiles on these sites)

While it seems nearly impossible to make a living with microjob sites like Fiverr and more recently http://www.konker.io/, don’t write these off. Besides connecting with other sellers, this can be an opportunity (within the site rules) to get higher paying work.

There are specific niche sites like italki – where I teach English online through Skype calls.

You can even find some work on local sites like Craigslist

Be sure to check out social groups like Facebook groups geared towards digital nomads –
https://www.facebook.com/groups/DigitalNomadsAroundTheWorld/?fref=ts

People often look for specific tasks to be done or projects to be completed

There are now more and more “digital nomad” job specific sites, but most of the work for technical fields like programmers or other areas of software development. https://remoteok.io/

Like I’ve said, “your results may vary.” What works for one person in one area will probably work differently for someone else.

In general, until you get some ratings, aka “social proof,” are you willing to humble yourself and take a bit of a pay cut? If so, deliver the best work you can each time, and you’ll have no problems earning a solid reputation. Remember, often the best advertisement is a happy customer or client!

Where’s My Little Pony?

I’ve written before about my Navy experiences during the Reagan era.

One of the favorite jokes of Uncle Ronny, aka the Great Communicator, was a joke concerning twin boys. It went something like this..

pony-kid

Photo: erA_Blackout via Pixabay

Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities – one was a total pessimist, the other, a total optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist.”

“First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. ‘What’s the matter?’ the psychiatrist asked, baffled. ‘Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?’ ‘Yes,’ the little boy bawled, ‘but if I did I’d only break them.’”

“Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. ‘With all this manure,’ the little boy replied, beaming, ‘there must be a pony in here somewhere!’”

excerpt from How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson (source: Got to Be a Pony There Somewhere)

Going without a car in Southern California sucks – there’s no getting around it. This isn’t New York where you can jump on the subway or grab a cab. It’s not Chicago where you can take a bus for anywhere not covered by the Loop. And it’s certainly not San Francisco where you can juggle between BART and Muni to get to just about anywhere you need.

It takes almost an hour to get to Union Station in down LA by Metrolink. Then, if you need to get anywhere significant like Hollywood or Santa Monica.. well, expect significant delay..

Yet, it’s forced me to work on my online business of content marketing – to simply sit down & write.

Now when I go somewhere, there’s still a good deal of walking. So I’ve raided the public libraries for plenty of audio books and supplementing this was Audible.com. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (totally worth it!! check it out and let me know what you think!)

Gratitude is about learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass. It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, it’s harder to remember to be grateful.

Some of the greatest triumphs in history have come out of our darkest hours. Ryan Holiday shares many such stories in The Obstacle is the Way.

One Zen story he shares tells of a king who places a large boulder at the entrance to their city. He watched in disappointment as one citizen after another turn away. Others openly cursed their bad luck or halfheartedly tried to go around before easily giving up.

boulder-road

Photo: missyliner0 via Pixabay

Sure that his kingdom was doomed to be conquered by any invaders with such softness, the king finally saw a lowly peasant struggle. Something made this one subject persist until he finally made a lever out of a large branch.

Moving the boulder, the peasant found a bag of gold and a note from the king which read:

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, with every obstacle comes an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Connecting the Dots

This post was actually inspired by my friend, Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend where he invites us to “Choose Adventure.”

connecting-dots-tangovagabond

Connecting the Dots – Steve Jobs

Like Scott, I’m a big fan of Paulo Coelho’s beloved classic, The Alchemist. In fact, I recently wrote a LinkedIn post via Pulse about why I consider it required reading for entrepreneurs and almost any business bookshelf.

As both Coelho and Dmitri Martin (see his sketch “What Success Really Looks Like”) each show in their own way, often the straight line success stories are actually full of twists and turns. One of the things I like to say is that “life is what happens while we’re making plans.”

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What Success Really Looks Like by Demetri Martin, This is a Book

When I look back on my tango journey, it’s definitely been full of unexpected twists and turns – but I’ve always been glad to have taken the “road less traveled.” Besides lessons in being more creative and dancing everywhere from Brisbane, Australia to Amsterdam and Nijmegen I’ve met incredible friends and enjoyed memorable moments like improvising tofu parmigiana in Berlin.

Recently, I came across the idea of the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell said that “in the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.” That’s why myths and legends have always resonated with us as much as today’s blockbusters. Deep down we realize that from the moment the first cave man faced his fear of fire not only his life was made better but the lives of the rest of us as well.

I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole tango was going to take me. All I could do was follow my heart and see what happened. As I get ready for the next phase, I’m just doing my best to listen to the music and hear what it’s telling me to do.

 

Easy Healthy Living as a Digital Nomad

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Healthy Living Can Be Simple

We all want to live a life of freedom and passion. Sure, how we make a living and who we spend our time with are a big part of this. But first it’s important to take care of ourselves.

Without our health, there’s not much point to all the fun and adventure of the digital nomad life. It’s hard to enjoy even a good meal if you’re struggling to simply feel good.

So, this article is a little different from what I usually write about. I’m going to share some of my personal secrets to a simple but healthy lifestyle.

Rest is Essential

For me it all starts with getting enough rest. I know, this seems too simple for many reasons. There’s so much to do as an entrepreneur. And even when we’re not working, we just wanna stay up late. But getting enough sleep is just a piece of the bigger puzzle, and that is testing how things feel.

When I was a kid, I would eat and drink pretty mindlessly. Eventually, consuming junk food and sodas turned into alcohol and even cigarettes. Now I’m not going to preach about vices. Some folks may even argue that they enjoy how recreational drugs feel. No judgment here.

Check In with Yourself

All I suggest is to start gauging how what you consume feels overall. Does it make you sluggish for most of the day? Are you walking around in a cloudy haze for hours?

Don’t just go by what I’m telling you. Tune into yourself.

I like to believe that we’re here to really feel and experience things. Sure, there are parts that suck. But the point is to have clear minds and bright eyes in my book – to really experience what life has to offer.

Finding Balance & Calm in the Middle of Chaos

Recently, I came across the idea that balance is a myth. There’s probably some truth to this. Yet it doesn’t mean that we can’t find peace in the midst of everything. Taking time to reflect or meditate is just as important as doing.

When I trained for my first (and so far only) marathon, I learned that the rest days were just as important as putting in the miles. Likewise if we don’t “empty the cup,” eventually we’ll burn out – whether it’s doing work, learning or anything we want to achieve.

I share how I avoid writer’s block here.

Experiment and Explore but Keep It Simple

In general I love to try different foods. Although there are some fall back basics like pasta or soups, part of the fun is to not only eating out and trying different restaurants but learning new recipes at home (wherever home may be at the moment).

When I went camping along the coast of Oregon a couple of years ago, all we had to do was stock up on a few essentials like bread, cheese and lunch meats then buy some ingredients for interesting meals.

Fresh basil, mozzarella and tomatoes made awesome caprese salads with some virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and ground salt. Easy peasy!

Before I even knew it, I had already subscribed to the Julia Child approach towards that four letter word “diet” of trying different foods. Later on, I discovered Mireille Guiliano who wrote French Women Don’t Get Fat. She also advocates the same philosophy – all things in moderation.

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Julia Child on Diet Food


Test and Evaluate

So, that’s my overall approach to health and fitness. Try different things but constantly tune into yourself and check how they feel. I’m still learning and experimenting. More recently, I’ve been more conscious of pro-biotics after a few nasty bouts of food poisoning on set. (But that’s another story for another day..)

Please share your own ideas and tips. I’d love to learn what works for you. Let me know how this helps you, and what you’d like me to write about in more detail.

My First Digital Nomad Sale While Watching a Movie

“Wow, I just made two hundred bucks!” I announced glancing at my phone.

“Really? That’s awesome!” replied Molly.

As we found our seats arms full of popcorn and drink, I read the message again. This was what I’ve dreamed of – the whole “making money while you sleep” thing or in this case while watching a summer flick.

Ironically, this was the tail end of a great three weeks camping along the Oregon coast – not the middle of some product launch.

Years ago I published my first Kindle ebook to “demonstrate my authority” and ultimately teach workshops. I saw the need for this training because when I got started, there was little to no information available.

Although I had tried all kinds of get rich quick schemes and even programs that sincerely wanted to help you make your first dollars on the internet, I just wanted to finally make some real money online.

As I finished writing my book, there was a section about mystery shopping that felt incomplete. A friend put me in contact with Pam of IMSC (Independent Mystery Shoppers Coalition – a group for mystery shoppers formed by mystery shoppers,) and that one call launched my speaking and teaching career.

Pam not only generously took the time to talk to me about her own mystery shopping experiences, but she shared her own book and invited me to speak at the next conference in Las Vegas.

There I shared my journey as a field inspector before pitching my book and training. Although I managed to sell only a few seats, it was the beginning of my teaching online. Since then, I’ve launched other books like Local Business Alchemy and courses like “Build a Business You Can Sell” (based on my experiences as a business broker / small business adviser) and even co-produced one on Instagram marketing with a friend.

I’d be lying if I said that now I have all the answers, and I’m sitting on a beach in Thailand sipping cool drinks. There’s still a lot of work ahead. At the moment I’m doing some mix of freelance work through eLanceGuru and Fiverr. Folks are starting to contact me for things like podcasts through my LinkedIn profile.

Recently, I share some of what freedom looks like to me as a creative entrepreneur.

How about you? What does success as a digital nomad look like to you?

 

Life is Not a Spectator Sport

Photo: Yours Truly aka @jycmba with @joelcomm – really cool to finally meet him in person!

Each painful second pumped blood into his swollen ears, already pulsing red.

Bill raced to find the right sequence of clicks and taps to make the darn thing do what he wanted it to do.

With a sigh he closed his eyes and apologized.

This past weekend @belew and I finally had the chance to meet. He was one of the speakers on Sunday, and in the end everyone gave him one of the strongest applause for this three-day live event.

But things started off rough for poor Bill.

(This is related to the discussion on Bill’s Forum.)

What Bill hoped to show the audience was a live demo of how to get results with content marketing. Something that none of the other speakers could do.

It was a brilliant idea. But there was just one problem – everything was set up on his computer. and without knowing all the details the bottom line was that the AV system didn’t want to play nice with his computer.

So being the entrepreneur that he is, Bill worked to find a solution.

Normally, there’s time but when you’re on stage in front of hundreds (not counting the live audience watching the streaming video) seconds turn into minutes.. which seem like hours..

Bill has apologized profusely for this glitch. I feel like we all let him down.

The speaker shouldn’t have to struggle with a technical issue when we have an audio visual crew PAID to take care of this.

I sat too far back and didn’t jump up to assist because I took the typical passive audience mode we get into.

The host didn’t say anything except an occasional joke to keep things entertaining – he could’ve used his position to ask for help, and I’m sure any number of his staff or even a room full of internet entrepreneurs could’ve helped.

But instead of any of this – the clock kept ticking, and poor Bill was left to struggle along on that big stage under the hot lights, sweating it out –

Oh, yes, you definitely REALLY feel the heat in a moment like this – BELIEVE me.

And that’s the thing.. once the fight-or-flight kicks in, our bodies tense up, our hearts pump more blood and the monkey brain starts screaming at us.

At this point it’s game over for the rational site. The Elephant has officially started her freakout mode. All the Rider can do is hold on for dear life.


Master the Dance Between Elephant & Rider – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

There are way too many stories of bystanders that watch as someone is attacked. It’s too easy to judge, and too easy to say “no, that’s not me – I’d be different.”

But really – how we do one thing is how we do everything else. Too often we sit back and wait for others to act first. I’ve been just as guilty of this as the next person. Being passive is a habit just like procrastinating or leaving things unsaid.

If we’re not careful, habits can be terminal!

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Habits Can Become Destiny