Digital Nomads live in a bubble
How to burst that bubble and connect
I look up from my MacBook and see many colorful kites flying, playing in the wind of the northeast Brazilian coast. The sky is blue, the sand is white and the sun is shining. It’s hot and tropical — over 30 degrees.
I hide myself in the shadow of a wooden kitesurfing booth where the internet is fast and the coconut water tastes more flavorful. I start to type this article and only get interrupted once in a while by kitesurfers asking for support with landing their kites.
I am still crashing after some metres on the board in the waves of the ocean, but slowly getting there.
This is a random day in my life as a Digital Nomad. Life is simple in Northern Brazil. I am staying here for the next 2 months before getting back to Asia to prepare the next DNX Bangkok — Digital Nomad Conference.
Before coming to the small beach place Jericoacoara, I had been roaming around too often and working on many projects simultaneously. The last months were really tough, both mentally and physically. It’s hard to get into routines and be productive when you are constantly working on the road.
I felt really rushed, drained, powerless and exhausted.
This is also the life of a Digital Nomad!
Digital Nomad lifestyle hyped everywhere
Many people approach me and ask how to become a Digital Nomad.
People thinks it’s hip, cool and lots of fun being constantly on the road.
To be honest, it is a lot of fun and I love to spread the word about my location independent lifestyle. I love to share my knowledge. The more you explain, people begin to realize that succeeding as a Digital Nomad requires lots of hard work, will power and focus.
When I started into the Digital Nomad lifestyle more than 3 years ago I was also excited as hell — like everybody who stumbles on this whole new world of opportunities.
The crazy thing is: At that time I stepped into the nomadic lifestyle none of the location independent entrepreneurs called themselves “Digital Nomad.”
Even the keyword domains for the term Digital Nomad were still available.
You probably have seen these websites: Shady one-pager landing pages showing a guy at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail in the hand. Lots of buttons and popups on that website asking you to sign up for a free video course on how to become a Digital Nomad.
This is a scam and no one likes it! Scams suck!
DNX Digital Nomad movement 2015
Back to now: The development of the movement gets faster and faster. Every few weeks more and more exciting projects for Digital Nomads appear.
My girlfriend and I started to take the DNX movement internationally:
The first DNX Conference for Digital Nomads took place in summer 2015 in Berlin, and it was a huge blast with 450 people from 34 countries with awesome speakers like Derek Sivers, Natalie Sisson and Mark Manson.
In 2015, we also started the first coliving and coworking DNX CAMPs in Tarifa (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal) and Jericoacoara (Brazil).
DNX CAMPs on Koh Lanta (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia), Jericoacoara (Brazil) and Santa Cruz (USA) will follow in 2016.
We checked out new coworking and coliving spaces for Digital Nomads like SunDesk in Morocco and Surf Office in Lisbon. In November 2015 we gave a talk at the first Digital Nomad cruise, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to Brazil.
The movement picks up speed and I love the fact that our tribe gets bigger.
I love the growing options to hang out with like-minded people all over the world. Good times for Digital Nomads all over the world.
The Nomad bubble
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. (Mark Twain)
Many of the Digital Nomads I meet are so passionate about their new lifestyle that they hang out 24/7 in Nomad chat channels, Nomad forums and Facebook communities discussing 1st world problems.
Nomads talk about visa hacks, onward tickets, geo arbitrage, proper hardware, productivity tools, technical stuff, insurances, banking, accounting, taxes and incorporation.
They talk about remote jobs, freelancing tips, personal development as an entrepreneur, productivity hacks, team building, outsourcing to virtual assistants and cheap flights.
We also debate about online marketing, social media marketing, SIM cards, data packages, the best WiFi, how to sub rent your flat, routines and structure on the road.
Last but not least, Digital Nomads chat about coworking spaces, airbnb, working with clients in different timezones, the cheapest countries and owning several residencies and passports.
More Nomads start to travel together in big groups: They cowork together, eat together and have fun together. They enjoy the ride being one of these cool and hip Digital Nomads.
Especially in South East Asia there are certain spots where the costs of living are extremely cheap and more and more Digital Nomads gather. They roam within the Nomad bubble from their serviced apartment to their favourite coffee shop and back home into the apartment. These coffee shops are open for 24 hours, offer fast internet, play western music and serve food and drinks in Starbucks style.
Living the life of a Digital Nomad in a bubble is not a sustainable goal.
Choosing the Nomad lifestyle is just another modern option in regards to how to work and live.
Just being a Nomad does not solve any problems, and it does not make the world a better place.
Connect with local people
What brings real value and makes the world a better place is connecting and integrating with other people and cultures. Understand their needs, learn from other people, and share your knowledge with them. Give something back!
Digital Nomads are well connected, and what I love most about our movement is the supportive community. We got a lot of smart people and lots of knowledge within the Digital Nomad community.
Try to involve local people as much as possible.
Let’s spread our skills and knowledge to the countries we are visiting.
In DNX CAMPs we invite local entrepreneurs to connect with us.
Johnny Azpilicueta came to our camp in Tarifa, Spain for an inspiring talk and discussion. We discussed about sharing culture and which values Digital Nomads could bring into local communities.
During DNX CAMP Lisbon, local serial entrepreneur Hugo Sousa gave us insight into the Portuguese ecosystem and learned from the Nomads.
Two weeks ago during DNX CAMP Brazil, we invited Igor, the local founder of elephant coworking, into our camp.
Also Fabio, the founder of windsurfing club Los Ventos, joined and shared his inspiring entrepreneurial path. Starting with renting out two surfboards that were carried by a donkey to the beach, he built one of the most stunning windsurfing resorts I have ever seen.
Michael, one of our DNX Camp Brazil participants, went to a coworking space in Fortaleza to share his 20 years worth of online entrepreneurial knowledge from the Silicon Valley with the local Brazilian coworkers.
Topper, our local eventmanager for the upcoming DNX Bangkok is from Thailand. He is helping us a lot in organizing the best event ever and his design ideas give the Bangkok DNX conference branding a real Thai style.
Give something back: Nomad Charity
My girlfriend Feli and I wanted to give the Transatlantic Nomad Cruise a stronger goal than simply giving a talk and hanging out with like-minded people.
Once we arrived in Brazil, after being on a cruiseship for 9 days, we visited the social project that we were supporting the next day. We met the kids in school who are living a very poor and simple life, but are still super happy. We hung out together for that day and had a lot of fun with the kids. These moments remind us how lucky we are to be able to give something back to local communities.
2013 we moved to the lesser known island Kuta Lombok, next to Bali, and supported local families. We helped them so they could afford to send their kids to school and buy them pencils and the school uniform.
Thanks to geo-arbitrage, very little money can make a huge difference in these countries: Every Nomad can contribute something!
Fighting the climate change
Digital Nomads love to travel and we are aware of the amount of CO2 we cause with our flights and other transports. We leave a CO2 footprint on our planet.
Compensation cannot solve the problem of climate change since it does nothing to change the actual source of CO2. It is a necessary second-best solution as long as the best solution does not yet exist.
We compensated over 20k tons of CO2 for every DNX participant with our donation to myclimate — shape our future.
Our contribution to climate protection goes toward projects in developing countries and emerging markets. All projects reduce emissions by replacing climate-impacting fossil fuels with renewable energy or by promoting energy-efficient technologies.
DNX will go on supporting the protection of our environment and climate in the future!
Live and train like a local
To understand the local culture and people, you have to integrate.
Because I love to play sports, I always connect with local sports enthusiasts.
On Kuta Lombok, I went to a local gym to workout with the Indonesians. On Caye Caulker, Belize I trained with my TRX straps at the beach with the local island kids.
Coming down to the beach with my TRX for the sundowner was always a big party for all of us with sweat and laughs.
In Medellin, Colombia I trained in a local CrossFit box, and on Curaçao, I sweated with the locals doing MMA and kickboxing.
In Brazil, I will catch up with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I plan to go into a Muay Thai boot camp in Phuket, Thailand next year.
Also going to the same market everyday to buy ingredients for your meals and staying in a place for an extended time helps you get acquainted with the locals. You start small talk with your limited language skills and hands.
You could do so many things to get connected: What always works is a smile!
Let’s burst the Nomad bubble and connect
Digital Nomads have a big responsibility in shaping the future of work and also shaping the picture of Digital Nomads.
Let’s be open-minded and friendly.
Let’s connect with the local people and bring joy and knowledge into the countries we are visiting!
We will tackle this topic at the upcoming DNX ★ Digital Nomad Conference in Bangkok at the main event on 1st of March 2016.
Steve Munroe, the founder of the most popular coworking space on Bali, Hubud will give a talk on the DNX stage:
“How Digital Nomads can meaningfully connect to their host cultures and not get stuck in a bubble”
Join us for 2 days in Bangkok in the beginning of March 2016 for the next chapter of DNX!
Ping me and say “Hi” on the DNX event, I am happy to connect with you.