1. a member of a people or tribe that has no permanent abode but moves about from place to place, usually seasonally and often following a traditional route or circuit according to the state of the pasturage or food supply.
Dream of Working Anywhere
The term nomad dates back to the 1500’s but has remained very relevant today by taking a new form of the digital nomad. When I was in college I realized that I wanted to be able to work from my laptop anywhere in the world. At the time I did not know exactly what I was going to do to allow that but I knew it would be with computers and technology and my goal was set.
That dream has turned into a possibility but not a lifestyle for me because I am mostly working full-time out of a beautiful San Diego office, an anchor. Luckily I’m the operations guy so I’ve set myself and our crew up with tools that allow us all to work remotely whether that be at home, a hotel, or a remote island or mountain range. But still, we are so grounded here in San Diego MOST the time… Perhaps it is time to pull the anchor up?
Reality of a Office
As an entrepreneur and start-up co-founder who began by working out of a desk in my small bedroom it became necessary to have an office. Tired of meeting at the house of my business partner or some free WiFi sandwich shop and knowing we could get more done by working closer together on a daily basis we leased a downtown San Diego office. After all, that’s where our target marketing personas were hustling at their businesses everyday, opportunity was good, and office lease prices were great at the time. So we got an office.
COO & Co-Founder not Producer
Let’s talk about my role in my tech start-up. I’m the Co-Founder and COO and we have a small team of employees, contractors, and a network of vendors. In this role I’m required to keep operations running smoothly and be a motivator for my team. Face-to-face in-person contact really helps with being able to do a good job with that. Although I consider myself slightly more introverted I still want to be the leader my team depends on which the central office really helps enable me to do that.
My primary skill set began with technology and IT work and later went on to learn to develop websites and earn a graphic design degree so those website would look as good as they functioned. So I’m one of those web designers who can code too who has moved onto strategy planning and consulting in my current role at PageLadder(I still get to do some ‘special projects’ an exercise those skills which I enjoy). If I was still primarily a web developer/designer full time I’d probably be writing this blog post from a mountain town buried in snow right now because it would be easy for me to get my work done as a producer.
So my real challenge lies in finding a way to be a present leader for my team while not being physically present. To have the knowledge, systems or tools in place to run my start-up performing my duties irrespective of physical location, no matter how much those responsibilities are easier when physically present.
A Nice Office in a Beautiful City
I love our office and I love my bicycle commute everyday from nearby Point Loma in San Diego. Our team loves our office too. We all kind of see it as a peaceful place where we can escape and keep our heads down and get work done. It’s been almost two years since moving in we’ve bootstrapped the furniture together to make for a pretty nice space to call PageLadder headquarters. We’re in a historic brick building with four big windows that all open overlooking Broadway, exposed rafters, and all the noises of the city. How could you ask for more from a place to call the office?
The Alternative: Digital Nomad
Well the alternative doesn’t look so bad either. The requirements for the alternative? A simple lifestyle, a laptop and a fast internet connection. I’m talking about working from almost anywhere in the world from your computer only and still meeting or exceeding all the requirements to fill the role of your job. Are there any examples of the best COO’s or Co-Founders who work remotely most the time? And what do their companies look like? Sure, lots of entrepreneurs live this lifestyle as well as many famous people but how effective are they at their job? Probably not very effective without the help of their team that allows the constant travel in combination with technology making nomadic success a possibility in the first place.
Give a dog too long of a leash and it will choke itself to death.
The digital nomad route is not for everyone and especially those who can’t handle the freedom and remain productive and accountable. Often when I travel I am with friends or family or on vacation so work always comes second. This is different from traveling as a digital nomad where you are not on vacation, you still must focus on work and spend time doing it, and you must be OK with being alone to get work done from a remote computer. So that you will become a free traveler while staying busy with work at the same time.
The Solution: Work for Both
Where I’ve landed in the short term is that my new goal is to find a hybrid solution. I don’t have some crazy aspiration to visit every continent before I am 30 years old or any ambitious desires of the kind. Basically all I desire is to be able to escape to the mountains in the winter to pursue my snowboarding passion a couple months out of the year. This sometimes involves ‘chasing storms’ to get the freshest powder and being able to re-locate when the season isn’t shaping up in a certain region that winter.
How to be a Hybrid Digital Nomad
I haven’t really fully figured that one out yet but I’m close. I’m getting my company better set up each day to make this possibility more of a reality. It will really come down to managing expectations of the people you work for and with. You’ll know you’ve done this successfully when you are able to travel as a digital nomad and your business actually improves as a results which should be possible. This is the very reason why people take vacations too in that they just need to get out of the day to day to be able to think clearly and I really believe that is true.
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