Sep 17

So first week… lemme recap:

We’re staying in what appears to be either a new or newly-remodeled triplex compound on the island of Crete.

2nd day we’re exploring the 4000-year-old palace of Knossos which apparently is the oldest ruins in the oldest civilization in Greece. It’s really old.

They’ve got old jars. On the one in front you can see the thumbprint of its creator on the handle. A 4000-yr-old thumbprint!

There are some really old paintings like this one but most burned in a fire ~1300BC. It’s a stone palace but a) all the columns were cypress trees covered in plaster b) the floors were wooden c) they were using olive oil lamps. Doh!

This is the place where the mythical Minotaur was allegedly underground in the catacombs. Turns out that was just a misinterpretation of a weird procreation screening ritual that involved grabbing a bull by the horns and jumping over it. If you couldn’t then… you didn’t. We didn’t find any Minotaurs but we did find the oldest known throne.

It’s crazy to imagine people living here 4000 years ago. They even had flushing toilets. My Airbnb sometimes don’t even have those…

Anyways this peacock shows up like it owns the place…

So we left and went to dinner at a bombass restaurant called Peskesi (highly recommend).
This is the view off our balcony. Not mad about this for a month. Opa! (at Kournás, Khania, Greece)
https://www.instagram.com/p/B2gwfHJH7Gb/?igshid=1qu7cg4m73b4u

Aug 01

My brother and I grew up going to the Vineyard every summer as kids. This place hasn’t changed in the 18yrs since I’ve been here- it’s still a magical place. This is the cottage campground in Oak Bluffs in early morning. (at Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts)
https://www.instagram.com/p/B0ntPdDnNVY/?igshid=1skm5y7r9i0zk

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:


Salient things that stand out about this past month:

  • Spain spanish is very different from latin-american spanish. I learned my español 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:

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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