My life as a Digital Nomad
I knew that leaving my corporate job last November was a defining moment in my life. I needed once more to reinvent myself, to start afresh and re-program my brain. I had to break my routine, step out of my comfort zone. I decided to become a digital nomad. As of August I uncluttered my place, selling shoes on eBay, donating furniture, giving appliances away to friends. End of August I handed over the keys of my beautiful San Francisco home, stored the rest of my belongings in a container ready to be shipped to Europe at some point. I resigned and kicked off my worldwide digital tour (#wwdigitour), studying the world digital ecosystems and meeting fascinating people of all ages and horizons who fuel the digital economy with passion and knowledge.
During my international assignments I made true loyal friends and I am now so fortunate to be hosted in homes in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Paris, Nantes, Frankfurt, Singapore, Shanghai and HongKong. After three months as a digital nomad I start making the change I wanted to and learned a few important things :
1. Creating many new routines is more important than breaking old ones. It opens up a continuous learning space as well as a storage of different behaviours you can mentally revert to when needed. As a guest and a visitor I always want to blend in. Living in home where you share WIFI and vital space with kids, cats, dogs or else I try to adapt as quickly as possible to the local pattern. I also join many work groups and circles and have a short time span to understand the objectives, the drivers and the dynamics of the various teams. I have always been aware of my prejudices but being regularly exposed to so many different environments uncovered many more. I now catch myself wearing my “blinkers” and remove them on the spot. Navigating constantly in foreign cities, practicing the few languages I know, being constantly on the move (#veronthemove) increased my EQ, improved both my listening and social skills (including patience a virtue I lack most) and put me in a continuous learning mode, a very gratifying status albeit an exhausting one at times.
2. Sharing and collaborative economy opens up a whole new world I was already used to work from anywhere in my previous job providing I could connect to a WIFI network so there was nothing new for me, it now becomes my lifeline. Before ordering any food or drink I check the quality of the WIFI and run away if anything slower than a LTE or high speed network. Making phone and video calls is of course free with the large offer of messenging apps. I may have to readjust my expectations in some future locations. The possibility to be hosted in an incubator makes nomad work even easier. The multiplicity of local apps notifying me of the good things to eat, the cool places to visit is both fun and time saving. With the improved translators language is even less of a problem. What I enjoyed most though is the possibility to share rides (blablacar in France), rent cars from individuals (drivy, coolicar, ouicar,..), meet locals anywhere and visit their cities (rentalocalfriend, withlocals, coolcousin). I don’t list the series of travel apps that you all master already.
As I mentor start-ups across the world, to stay productive and collaborate with people remotely I use Smartsheet, coggle, doodle and store critical data on dropbox, keep my notes on Evernote and share with Slack.
The only challenge is that every person you meet has his/her favorite and there is always a cool new app coming up you cannot resist.
3. Europe is vibrant
I decided to start my #wwdigitour by Europe. I had been almost 10 years away from the old continent and received many warnings from friends and family about the doom and gloom I was going to be confronted with. Starting my first day basking in the high energy of the Lisbon Web Summit, the kick-off of my digitour sprinted on a high that never stopped. I meet people who sincerely want to change the world with the digital economy. Innovation is blooming, start-ups and incubators pop-up everywhere. The ecosystem differs from the US and the silicon valley. The early phase start-ups very often benefit from public funds, backed-up by financial institutions. However some incubators operate more on the US models with only private BAs and VCs (for example 1kubator). I will publish a white paper on the European part of my #wwdigitour once I wrap up the European chapter of my tour.
3 months into my #wwdigitour, I am excited to be part of the digital revolution, less wise and an addictive learner.