Though I’ve been a digital nomad for a while now I’m still learning new things. One thing I recently realized is how people new to the lifestyle seem to think digital nomad is a job description and we make our money this way.
Now, you can call it many things – a lifestyle, a rebellion or even a movement – but it is not a job. That part of it is entirely separate. We get going by writing, freelancing or starting businesses and that allows us to then move around.
So why do people think of it as a job description? I suspect people have this idea because they’ve been sold a myth. Often, it is made out as if it’s not of this world. The way our lives are often portrayed is as if we’ve passed through the looking glass into a magical realm. A place where the sun always shines, the living is easy and we’ve moved beyond capitalism.
But that’s not true. Quite the opposite. The digital nomad lifestyle is dependent on modern capitalism.
We offer products in exchange for a fee.
Continue reading ‘Digital Nomad’ isn’t a job description (and how to find that job)
Starting a business in a foreign country is definitely harder than doing so at home. You have to deal with a different culture, language barriers and bureaucracies which treat you with mistrust. So the deck is stacked against you. Despite that, migrants start a lot of businesses. In fact, they’re far more likely to do so than the people who don’t leave their home country.
In the UK they’re three times as likely to start businesses as those who haven’t moved. In the US, 13% of the population is made up of immigrants, while they start 28% of its new ventures. Even more astounding, more than half of the billion dollar new ventures in the US are started by immigrants.
So why – despite the extra hardships they face – are migrants more likely to start businesses and succeed in them when they do? To find out, I interviewed Philippe Holthuizen, who traveled half a world away from his native-born Holland to start not one but two companies.
Continue reading Road interview: Philippe Holthuizen – Expat Entrepreneur and 3D Cobbler
What if too much choice is bad for us? Is it possible many modern ills can be laid at the feet of our unbridled options and their consequences? Could it be that this uncertainty we’re feeling is down to there being too many decisions? Perhaps, instead of liberating us, all these decisions we have to make oppress us instead.
Are we living in a tyranny of choice?
The term ‘Tyranny of Choice’ is not mine (I wish). Instead, it was coined by the psychologist Barry Schwartz. The idea, as he explains in an article, is that while we believe as a society that more choice is better, research shows that’s not necessarily true. For many, more choice creates less well-being.
The reason that some experience a fall in well-being is down to something Schwartz calls ‘maximizing’. Mind you, we don’t all do this. Some of us are ‘satisficers’ – or willing to go with the first option that satisfies our criteria. So, if a satisficer is buying toothpaste they’ll grab the first box that satisfies their conditions – say one that says ‘extra fresh’ on the label.
For maximizers that’s not enough, though. They’re after the best. So, even when they find one product that is good enough they keep going. Then, after they’ve found several, they’ll compare them. As you can probably guess, the more products there are, the harder their choice becomes. How do you decide how different dimensions compare? For example, how do flavor, quality, cleaning power, if it was made ethically, price, and size compare when buying toothpaste?
Continue reading The Tyranny of Choice and Its Repercussions
India is a funny place. It can be both indescribably beautiful and hell on earth – often at the same time. It’s polluted, difficult, engaging and breathtaking. About ten years ago I spent six of the best months of my life there. At the end, I was so frustrated I swore I’d never go back. Considering our recent escapades, I guess the universe means to hold me to that promise.
I recently wrote how my girlfriend’s non-European passport has made it difficult for us to stay in the Schengen long-term. As we had to leave again and since we’d already spent two years in South America, we decided to try India this time around. I mean, like I wrote in my portfolio, I travel not just because the world is beautiful, but also to better understand human nature.
And India is different. It’s a world apart. I mean, while the rest of the world has embraced indoor plumbing, the Indians have to resort to publicly shaming people to get them to use them. I know, right?
But to get in you need to get a visa. I bet you can see where this is going.
Continue reading Why I hate India And Why You Should Care
No, they won’t ask you for an onward ticket out of the country every time you cross a border. I spent most of my twenties traveling without an onward ticket and never had a problem. Of course, my twenties were a decade ago and the rules do seem to have changed (or maybe I was just lucky). Now they will ask you for an onward flight on occasion – particularly if you have the ‘wrong’ kind passport. For me, I’ve been asked to prove I’ve got a ticket out far more often since I started traveling with my Central American girlfriend.
And when they do ask you and you don’t have one because you haven’t yet decided where you’ll go next, that can be a real problem. For example, when checking into a flight to Costa Rica they wouldn’t let me get on the plane without an onward ticket. As there was only an hour left before boarding, I had to run around like a maniac trying to get something that would satisfy them. In the end I managed, but not before getting seriously stressed out (and paying a bomb). And that’s not what I enjoy doing just before getting on a plane.
For that reason – and because getting an onward ticket of some kind before I travel is easy as pie – I now always make sure I have something.
Continue reading How to get an onward ticket easily, cheaply (and even for free!)
In some moments our lives seem far luckier than at others. Like when you go traveling the first time. For those months everything just seems to go your way. You meet interesting people, find opportunities and have a ton of lucky coincidences – way more than before. It’s like your charmed or something.
But for a logical person who doesn’t believe in superstition that can’t be, right? Luck is random, after all.
Well, it turns out that it might not be entirely true. It’s quite possible to actually be luckier during some times than others. And it’s not down to fairy dust, lucky numbers or your astrology sign.
Instead, according to psychologist Richard Wiseman’s book the Luck Factor, being lucky comes down to behavior and beliefs. In his book, he discusses four principles which separate the lucky from the rest. It would seem that during those lucky times, like when we first start traveling, we unconsciously embrace those behaviors.
Now imagine what you could do if you were consciously aware of those principles. Then you could take steps to enhance them in your daily life and end up not just with periods of good luck but a whole life filled with it.
For that reason, without further ado, here they are (along with a few observations of my own, of course).
Continue reading The Four Principles of How to be Lucky (According to Science!)
Do you loathe the query letter? I sure did when I started out. And it wasn’t just because I didn’t know how to write them, but also because when I did it was so damned hard to figure out what to make of the feedback I got back.
I mean, there are so many reasons somebody might not get back to you or turn you down when they do. Yes, obviously they might not be impressed by your letter. But it’s as likely they’re overworked, got distracted or don’t need any freelancers. The problem is, you don’t know which it is. And so, often you end up trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
To help you avoid that fate, today I’ll explore what I’ve learned over the years about writing query letters. In that way, you might have a guiding light and won’t have to learn by trial and error like I did.
Continue reading 6+ Simple Insights To Make Your Query Letter More Effective
Have you also noticed the teeth gnashing in intellectual circles? Just check out serious magazines like The New Yorker, Scientific American and The Economist. They’re all talking about how we’re not half as logical as we think we are. And with good reason. The pile of research about the subject is getting bigger by the day.
- There is cognitive dissonance. This says that if we hold two beliefs that are contradictory, we’ll distort one of them until they once more get along. Often – like I discussed in my article 3 Big Mental Mistakes – we prefer distorting the evidence rather than our dearly held beliefs.
Then you’ve got the confirmation bias. It makes us disregard evidence that contradicts our position while paying extra attention to the stuff that confirms it. Heck, we even forget events that contradict our held beliefs!
As if that wasn’t enough, there is the backfire effect. Here when you show people evidence that their core beliefs hold no water, they don’t change their minds. Instead, they come to believe more strongly in their original positions.
Continue reading Why We Resist Change, How to Convince People and Cultural Antibodies
When I started freelancing I didn’t have a clue how to actually get clients. So I did what I always do in those situations. I read a lot. A bunch of the articles I read said I should start on the big freelance sites like Upwork. I guess whoever wrote those didn’t know how to get freelancing clients either. That isn’t too strange, as getting those initial clients is probably the hardest part.
So I followed their advice, created a profile, wrote query letters and spent the next six months trying to break through there. In the process, I learned that it is true what they say. The worse the client pays the more demanding they are.
By that standard, Upwork’s clients are among the most demanding out there. The site is infamous for having clients that pay ludicrously low rates. I charged a cent per word there, which is too little to support my girlfriend and myself. And yet still I was regularly undercut by people willing to do it for less.
Those were some pretty miserable months, I can tell you!
Of course, hardship is a phenomenal teacher. I recount some of the lessons I learned there in the article my life as a warning to a friend and a whole generation. The one that matters most here can be summed up pretty simply.
Continue reading How I Find Clients – Tackling The Most Tenacious Freelancing Problem
All pictures by Bianka Ibarrra
The forest through the trees
The regular road was blocked. Every time we had to drive to the hospital where my father was recuperating we had to take a detour over the Feldberg. What a majestic mountain.
There is this valley near Oberursel which has been taken straight from an artist’s mind. Higher up, between the evergreens, the clouds did battle with the view; swirling, obscuring and sometimes revealing. In those moments, when we saw the landscape below, it didn’t feel like we were looking across the landscape. It felt like you were looking across worlds.
And then there are the sunsets from the top.
Isn’t it funny that at the very moments when we most need to stop and appreciate, are the times it’s the most difficult to do so? We only took this one picture. The rest of the time we barreled on through, barely looking up from internal little worlds.
Continue reading 9 Of The Best Photos From Our Travels And Their Stories