Jul 18

TLDR;

Today I’m unveiling a project I’ve been working on for the past few months: a new podcast designed to demystify nomadic, location-independent work and make it more accessible. My goal is to help 100 people get “unstuck” by helping them make this transformative lifestyle change. You only get one chance with a podcast launch and I would love to break into the iTunes “New & Noteworthy” section for Places & Travel. Every single download & review helps towards this cause. If you support what I’m doing please take 30 sec now and download and subscribe to my podcast on iTunes. You can find video episodes and other goodies on NomadPodcast.com.

The Bigger Picture and Backstory

This effort began in December 2017 when I read an editorial piece on the New York times that talked about The Lost Einsteins. That article proposed that society today is deprived of an unknowable number of life-changing inventions by would-have-been Einsteins. They theorize that these young future potential contributors grow up without access to the environment and opportunities that would have been the catalyst for them to flourish due to living in poor socioeconomic status households.

This article resonated with me but for a different reason. While I agree with the author’s premise and suspect that indeed this is true and happening I hypothesize that the same phenomenon is at work within adults of all walks regardless of socioeconomic status. I believe there are a non-trivial number of privileged adults with all the trappings that came with a graduate education who went through a plinko board of choices in the education system and wound up winnowed into a career that doesn’t allow for the optimal expression of their talents. It’s debatable to what degree this is happening but unarguably this is true for some percentage of adults and it gets only more difficult over time to extract yourself from this rut. We find ourselves in veritable doldrums at points in our lives and while revamping the current education system to address the root cause and get more of the right people in the right roles out of the gate is a longer-arc massive undertaking, I believe there is a simple, immediate antidote for this issue and I want to try and make this more accessible to people in this situation.

Nomadic working travel has been instrumental in awakening me from this adult slumber. I won’t go into my personal story (if you want to read details Remote Year covered it well in this piece) but basically RY was a defibrillator that shocked me back to life, served as a gateway drug to nomadic working travel and ejected me from a personal and professional rut.

Why these three resources?

I spent three months living and working in Mexico, City last winter and had the opportunity to get to know a bunch of the admissions team for Remote Year. I was sitting within earshot and overheard numerous calls with aspiring digital nomads and while I only heard one side of the conversation, I got a high-concentration dose of Customer Discovery insights into the concerns and objections of aspirational nomads who wanted to do this type of working travel program.

I decided over Christmas break to develop a simple eCourse that would package up everything I had learned from my 1.5yrs of location-independent work at that point and give people a resource to help them more confidently make the leap. That project mushroomed into a significant undertaking. The deeper I got into developing the curriculum for that effort the more I wanted to apply what I knew of automation and software to turn it into a personalized coaching system that would not just be a static brochure but a living, interactive preparation tool. I spent most of my Christmas break developing content, gamification, an interactive checklist and automations to create the resource I wished I had going into Remote Year. I launched Nomad Prep a few weeks later with little fanfare and promptly realized I had committed the age-old entrepreneurial mistake of building a product before building an audience. That course continues to receive a trickle of students each week but I realized there needs to be a better way of reaching more aspiring nomads.

Nomad Bloggers (at the time RemoteYearBlogs.com but now changed due to trademark) was a project I had started in our first month of Remote Year originally intended to be a way of aggregating the blog posts from the bloggers in our group. I had modified it to support syndicating posts from other groups and it was growing in traffic. I rebranded it with the Nomad label, sold RemoteYearBlogs.com to Remote Year and used that cash to hire a developer from Upwork to add “Reddit-like” voting functionality and make the blog aggregator more sticky. While this seemed like a promising potential source of aspiring nomads it didn’t move the needle traffic-wise for Nomad Prep.

Shortly after I did a few interviews with prospective clients for Remote Year (they call them “Premotes”) and while the sessions were super-helpful, that approach unfortunately doesn’t scale. It led me to realize though that face-to-face video interaction captured and shared provide a rich way to ask and answer questions. I got the idea in my head that there’s room to do a podcast wherein I interview successful nomads, founders of travel programs and domain experts on subjects that could help educate folks on how to be better at working and living abroad. As with everything, it ended up taking 3x as long as expected working nights to cobble this together but I’m proud today to launch what I believe is the missing piece of the distribution puzzle here. I present to you NomadPodcast.com, the first platform of its kind for sharing stories that can help current and aspiring Nomads.

I’ll spare you the gory details of everything it does but it showcases interviews in HD video via YouTube, is mobile-friendly, has audio-only versions syndicated across all major podcast platforms and each episode includes a bunch of supporting elements like transcript, photos, links, show notes and the ability to ask the guest questions via text comments as well as recording a video via your webcam. I’m hopeful that this will become a resource that helps current nomads be more excellent and helps prospective nomads confidently take the leap to trying this lifestyle and in so doing will have the same transformative, awakening effect that nomadic travel has had on me. If it helps even one or two people have an adventure abroad they otherwise wouldn’t have had that revitalizes them or even awakens the next slumbering adult Einstein then I would find that hugely rewarding.

I have interviews at varying stages of the production cycle now with a number of stellar guests. If you’re onboard with this cause there’s nothing to buy here nor donations to make, just subscribe to the podcast via your favorite platform using the links below and tell a friend who could benefit from it. Thanks for your support.
Website
Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Spotify
YouTube
Overcast
Anchor
Pocketcasts

Dec 05

Well we just broke the halfway mark of Remote Year having left Valencia, Spain and rounded out month six. Here’s my normal video recap that shows where we lived and worked there:

I was fortunate to get outside of Valencia too this past month and travel around Ireland and to Barcelona. Here is the month told in photos:
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Salient things that stand out about this past month:

  • Spain spanish is very different from latin-american spanish. I learned my espaƱol in Ecuador so it was a bit of an adjustment to get the Valencian Spanish. They speak very fast and with the “theta” accent.
  • Ham, ham and more ham. Spain must do 5x average pig consumption per capita as we do in the States. Jamon was on every menu (we even went to a restaurant called “Jamon Jamon.”). If you get a chance to try Iberic ham, do it. It’s delicious. Paella too, but be prepared to take a nap after.
  • Valencia was a beautiful, quiet, walkable city with clean streets and nice parks. It was a great R&R stop after Rabat and before diving into the 2nd leg of our journey in Mexico and S. America.
  • Our Ireland trip was the highpoint of the month for me. The Cliffs of Moher were stunning and just driving the countryside was super relaxing. Driving on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right is a mental curveball but such a great experience.
  • Strong month for sales at Pagely and I’m engaged in two efforts now setting up our business intelligence and implementing a marketing automation framework for improved nurture and conversion.

Anyways, I’m headed back to Phoenix to see friends and family over the Christmas break. If you’re in Phoenix the evening after Christmas we’re doing a happy hour. Hit me up if you want to join and I’ll add you to the FB event. Here are some of the songs that will remind me of this month:

cliffs-of-moher

Sep 30

We’re wrapping up our time in Lisbon and are headed to Rabat, Morocco tomorrow so I took the morning to shoot some video that shows a little of the town and where we’ve lived and worked over the past month. Check it out:

A couple points of clarification to the video:

  • Lisbon, your gelato game is strong, very strong. I commend you for this. I failed to mention this in the video but it’s one of your greatest attributes.
  • Indeed my sales numbers are up 72% for Pagely since being on Remote Year. In hindsight though the calculation I used overstates the effect. I averaged my sales from the past four months vs. my 11mos at Pagely prior to RY. Some of the lift in that is attributed to other factors (for instance we raised prices back in March, we’re progressively getting larger and larger clients now so deal sizes overall are bigger than they were, I had a ramp up period when I first started, etc). I realized after shooting the video that a better computation would be to compare the past four months to the four months prior to RY. When I refactor with those numbers it’s actually only a 42% lift since being on RY… but still a 42% increase!! If you’re an employer with remote employees consider allowing them to try working abroad. Not only is it possible to match performance but as with my case employees can actually outperform their prior domestically-based selves. I have some theories as to why this is that I’ll explore in a future video.
  • This is the guy we just hired for the Growth Marketer position. So stoked to have Rod on the USS Pagely.
  • I wrote more about our Startup Weekend Lisbon experience in my last post. Worth reading if you’ve never attended one. There are some good video testimonials in that from participants.

Here’s a chronology of our time in Lisbon told in photos:
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This month’s gear shout-out goes out to my REI Saturn pack. Love this thing. It fits in an overhead carry-on space on the airplane (even though I’ve been checking it since I have a laptop and guitar as carry-ons). Lots of compartments, pockets, webbing, straps, zippers and everything else you’d want in a pack. Solid gear.

Lastly, here are the tunes that were in my earbuds most of Lisbon:

Lisbon you’ve been amazing. Obrigado for everything. I will be back someday.

Sep 17

One of my best friends Benny.com happened to be in Berlin, Germany traveling on an 8wk Europe adventure and invited me to visit him for Lollapalooza. I had never been to Berlin before (nor any part of Germany for that matter) so I said yes and booked a cheap flight to meet him. Her are some quick thoughts on the city and the concert experience while they’re still fresh…

The Negatives

  • no-uberPreconceptions about cities: crazy how far off some of my preconceptions have been about the places we’ve visited (Belgrade and Germany erring in opposite directions). I had envisioned Berlin, the capital of the country which is the financial powerhouse of Europe, to be this spotless mecca of German engineering and perfection. The streets there were the dirtiest of the places I’ve been thus far out of Prague, Vienna, Belgrade, Split, London and Portugal.
  • Internet performance was 3rd-world quality in terms of speed and reliability. It wasn’t just cellular data service but the Internet itself seemed to be fundamentally broken there. Benny was explaining how a monopoly on the “last mile” of cable there by Telekom.de created a dearth of competition and set the stage for this problem. Whatever the cause, it was shocking to me how poor the connectivity was. It was to the level where I believe that factor alone would have precluded our Remote Year group planting there for a month with 70 knowledge workers reliant upon sketchy connectivity.
  • Uber isn’t there yet: How is Uber not in Berlin yet??

The Positives

  • Vibrant creative feel: it has a young, vibrant aura to it. The people all look super healthy and fit and holy cow 6′ blonde German women… zastavit. Street art was abundant and there’s a skate store on every corner (which is confusing because all the streets are cobblestoned so I’m not sure where anyone skates). But mad respect for the plethora of skate shops and vinyl record stores.
  • steps-berlinYou walk everywhere. In all we did just under 68k steps and just over 17mi in 3 days. The concert venue for Lollapalooza wasn’t that big so most of that walking was wandering around the city.
  • The food was solid: all the places we ate at were great. I had probably the best burger of my time in Europe the first night and the food every meal thereafter was on point.
  • Benny and I still have game in foosball after all these years since iTOOL.

tree-lined-venueLollapalooza was a blast. Radiohead destroyed it and that was my first exposure to a Major Lazer show (which was bananas). Odesza was a cool new find- I had never heard of them before. We got there late on Sunday so just caught the tail end of Milky Chance and all the other bands we saw just blended together. It was a really cool venue for it in a big park with massive trees and concert infrastructure was fairly solid. The one thing that was a real detractor was the level of dust kicked up by the 70,000 concert goers. I don’t know how they mitigate that short of constantly spraying down the field (but then it becomes a mud pit). But all in all very well-handled event.

This photo and video album below gives a good flavor of the weekend. I’m back in Lisbon now and just kicked off Startup Weekend Lisbon earlier tonight. I pitched an idea for an app I want to build called DiscoverPath and we have a killer team to execute this weekend. More on that soon…

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Apr 09

remote-year
I’m incredibly stoked to announce that I’ve been selected as the most recent addition to the RemoteYear.com posse. This is essentially a study abroad-type program akin to “Semester at Sea” that enables young professionals with remote working arrangements to travel the world while they work. I’ve looked at planning a work-from-the-road expedition like this myself previously across the US but the overhead associated with coordinating travel & lodging made it unfeasible to do solo. This is basically “nomadic working as a service” and makes it all possible and safer as we travel as a group with lodging/travel/event logistics just handled. It will be 12 cities in 12 months (full itinerary here). I leave May 28th for Prague.

Lot’s of loose ends to resolve before I hit the road but the whole trip seems far less-intimidating knowing that I’m traveling with my friend and fellow “outdoor cat” Chris Peloquin. I want to give a public shout-out here to Josh & Sally Strebel for their faith & trust in me to take this opportunity and continue delivering the results I have been for Pagely only from abroad. I had dinner with Sally last night to get her blessing and Josh, to his credit when I asked him said, “We should all create our own reality. I just care about results. I don’t care which continent you deliver them from.” If you want to work at a company that places that level of faith & trust in its employees and has a remote-work-friendly company culture, we’re hiring for a boatload of technical positions right now at Pagely.

I started 2016 with the stated goal to double Pagely’s sales this year. I won’t divulge revenue numbers as we’re privately-held but having just completed Q1 we’re exactly 25% to that goal and I haven’t even implemented the funnel tweaks that should have compounding effects. The improvement thus far was purely from shoring up followup and sales process. The hat trick I’m intending is to not only accomplish the stated ambitious goal of doubling our revenue in one year, but simultaneously doing it while seeing the world and documenting the strategies and techniques I used so that others can do the same for their endeavors and weave their own magic carpet.

Getting deep on the Why

I’ve been very public about my endorsement of Simon Sinek’s “Why University” program. He has a whole framework for unearthing what your core “why” is and embracing it. I wanted to take a sec here and deconstruct my why on this. IMO true foreign diplomacy does not occur from the Oval Office. It occurs at the dinner tables in foreign lands when strangers break bread together and seek to understand each other’s cultures, customs, celebrations, fears, religions, philosophies, aspirations, familial ties, frustrations and goals. This type of foreign diplomacy happens one conversation at a time and is how we meaningfully dispel stereotypes, bias, hatred, racism and prejudice. I pledge to be the best possible ambassador of the US (and Arizona – go AZ!) to the places I visit. It’s my hope that I can do a small part to represent our culture well and mend unfounded misconceptions wherever possible. You can read more on my Why on my about page.

I did an exchange program in Quito, Ecuador years ago in college. When I left I took a blank journal with me which I started on the plane. Unbeknownst to me my father had taken it and written the following words on the last page of that journal:

Observe
Inquire
Reflect

I have yet to come up with a more concise prescription for fellow travelers than those three words. My Dad is a very wise man. You should read more from him here.

If you know anyone in Phoenix who is looking for a place to live, I’m looking to rent out my furnished Phoenix apartment for the next year and hopefully return to it when I come back in summer 2017.

For all my Phx peeps, I will miss you guys over the next year. Chris and I are planning to do a bon voyage sendoff end of May. I hope you will join us and see us off. More info to follow on that.

Lastly, I will be doing a rolling monthly email update as we move city to city as well as obligatory Instagram photos of all the best places we visit. I had started these periodic updates in October last year but it’s been tough to stay disciplined with regular updates. The monthly move from city to city should provide a good framework for me resuming those updates. If you want to follow along with those get my email update here and follow my Instagram here.

I’m so thrilled to have this opp. I promise to make the most of it and share as much of the experience as possible here on this blog.

May 10

I’m back from a week in Boulder, CO for their Startup Week palooza and holy shnikes was it a neat series of events. I wanted to do a braindump of my thoughts on the weekend while they’re fresh.

First, kudos to Andrew Hyde for pulling this thing together- what an amazing community they have up there. Paul Graham had written a post a few years ago that distilled the traits necessary to produce the next Silicon Valley. While Boulder is no SV (nor should it necessarily want to clone that) there is definitely something other than beer brewing in that town. And I’m not the only one this weekend that felt it – Chris from RWW (another AZ person) sensed the same thing.

What worked well

Plancast – this is an app that allows people to express their intentions of what events they’ll attend. This worked extremely well for coordinating things. It integrates w/ Twitter and FB and allows you to parachute into a situation and conveniently track what’s going on and schedule where you want to be. But it’s more because it allows you to connect w/ attendees after the fact so you don’t have to obsess over collecting people’s contact info while you’re enjoying the moment. I was skeptical of this app when I first heard about it because it has the same downside of LBS only amplified because you’re publicly projecting your intended location for the future. Well, I stand corrected: this is a kickass tool and I hope all conferences adopt it (or something like it).

Startup Crawl – I co-founded a company called Pubcrawl.net back in the day. We ran crawls in Phoenix and made a site which enabled 100+ other cities to run crawls of their own. We knew the magic interaction & serendipity that occurs when you get a group of people to travel together amongst interesting locations. This worked really well and I want to do something similar with the meetup group I run for techies in AZ. You meet the people in your group, learn about the companies that you visit and the whole thing is super-fun. The TempeNerd lunches have been somewhat anemic lately but I believe this tweak to the format will revive it and take it in a new and more social direction. Unfortunately Phoenix is so geographically disbursed it will be a challenge to find pockets of startups within walking distance but I have some ideas. I’ve put a picture set at the bottom of this post to give you a flavor for what the crawl was like.

Ignite Boulder – solid to very-solid. They rocked this event and nailed the major things you need to do:

  • venue with character
  • quality speakers
  • flawless A/V execution
  • likeable moderator
  • live-streaming for remote folks
  • intermission w/ beverages
  • legit live music
  • ice-breaker nametags
  • a pre and post party for people to socialize

You get these core things right and you’ll naturally draw interesting people. Jeff Moriarity is kicking butt w/ our Ignite event here but we can definitely learn some lessons from Boulder’s.

The bigger picture

I told Andrew the bigger picture of what’s happening here is a “unification of the tribes.” Economy 2.0 is going to operate very differently from what we know today. The facts we do know at this point:

  1. it’s unquestionably f#$%’d now and not going to fix itself.
  2. entrepreneurship will play a prominent role in the recovery.
  3. collaborative technical infrastructure has evolved to the point where people no longer need to be on-premise to participate effectively on a team.
  4. while in-person presence is not essential to render work, there is no substitute for intermittent convergence of people who can then remain in contact afterwards via digital means.

I don’t know that Boulder represents the “next Silicon Valley” but I also don’t know that we need another Silicon Valley. Whatever it is it’s stacking up to be a hub of startup activity. The quality of their community is testament that they’re doing something right up there in the mountains. I’ll definitely be searching for an excuse to get back there next snowboarding season and looking forward to staying in contact w/ some of the people I met up there in the meantime.

Props to peeps

Random shout outs in no particular order to some of the interesting people and companies I hung out with up there: Chris Hough, Suzan Bond, the Tweety Got Back girls Heather and Rachel, Lane Becker of Get Satisfaction, Micah Baldwin of Graphic.ly, Joe Stump of Simple Geo, Ari Newman of Jive (formerly Filtrbox), Ben Brikerhoff (formerly of Devver), Brandon Harper and of course Jeremy & Andrew.

If we met and I haven’t connected with you on Twitter yet hit me up.

Thanks Boulder people for welcoming us travelers into your community this past week. You guys have at least one guaranteed couch here in Phx to crash on when you need it.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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