Proud to be a Digital Nomad

Background Story

If you asked me where I live I’d try my best to find an answer that would make you comfortable but the truth is “home” is not any one place to me.  In July 2012, I made the decision to travel around the world.  Exactly 8 months later, on March 20th 2013, I had turned my previously home-based business into a remote-based business, sold most of my possessions and left on the journey of a lifetime.  Since that day, I’ve been lucky enough to travel across 3 continents.  I’ve lived in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Bali and spent months on tropical beaches throughout Asia.  The one and only constant in my non-conventional life is my job.

Freedom

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I consider myself extremely lucky to live in an age where technology allows for freedom.  That said, many of the people I’ve travelled with were surprised to learn how much of my time is spent working. Buzz Promotions was successful before I left but I had no idea if my success would continue to grow, or if it was possible to uphold, once I left Canada.  On average I spend 20-30 hours per week in cafes working off WiFi.  You will rarely see me on the beach without my IPhone and spare battery.  The truth is my nomadic life, freedom and flying to a new country every few months are things that motivate me.  My job is my freedom therefore I hold it in the highest regard, perhaps more so than I did before I left.

Career Challenges

One of the biggest career challenges I’ve faced is the reaction to working remotely.  Of course, there have been clients and staff who’ve supported me and I am grateful they have.  There’s also been a fair share of eyebrow raising, hesitation and nonacceptance.  I’ve come to terms with people not understanding my nomadic lifestyle or the ins and outs of a business with virtually no in-person interactions. And although I accept these hesitations, I cannot personally relate to them.  With Skype, VoIP phone services, online banking, Dropbox and social media, I can honestly say I’m MORE connected with my staff and clients now than when I was working from my home office in Canada.  Even though I can’t be physically present for events, I make a point of being fully engaged from the other side of the world. Even while I lived in Canada, a lot of the time I was dealing with people in other provinces.  It wasn’t until after I left that this became a concern for some individuals which in-turn prompted me to keep everything as under wraps as possible.

Global Networking

Over the last two years, I’ve run into many like-minded people, including several associates from Canada.  I’ve found myself surrounded by opportunities to grow my business and provide valuable information and opportunities to my existing clients and staff.  Recently, I created an Australian branch of Buzz Promotions during my time down under.  I’ve scoped out Belgium chocolates, leather boots in Bangkok amongst many others.  I made a point to reach out to these small business owners to create a lasting network that literally spans the globe.  I believe these connections are assets to me and I am an asset to them.  This goes for all my existing contacts “back home” in Canada as well.  I’ve decided to use this blog as a platform to inspire others based on my experience.  If somebody is hesitant to hire me because our physical distance makes them uncomfortable that’s okay.  If the last two years of travel have taught me anything it’s that you should find connections, both personal and professional, that align with your goals, beliefs and opinions.

by Andrea Johnstone