My first real Friday afternoon in Chiang Mai was spent a jungle-esque coffee garden known as Food4Thought, exercising my brain muscles and checking out the scene by attending a talk hosted by Digital Nomad Coffee Club.
It was packed with people, mostly in their mid to late 20s and early 30s giving off that CoffeeShopTosser vibe I talked about yesterday.
Less sockless brogues, more beards, plenty of Kankens and Jesus Christ, it was hitting pervability level 10 no matter which way you swing. Beautiful, youthful, free-spirited beings full of energy with glowing skin and big smiles.
The talk about starting up and scaling up your online business was given by Johnny FD, someone who shares my dislike for the term Digital Nomad, no matter how fitting it is. He described himself as “an entrepreneur who happens to be travelling around” and talked us through the various successful businesses and podcasts he’s set up during his time spent in Chiang Mai.
It’s always good to hear somebody else’s story of how they’ve achieved something; it becomes a case study to give you plenty of insight into what worked and what didn’t and helps move your ideas forward.
The Digital Nomad Movement
From what I understand about the Digital Nomad scene so far, it’s a gang I’d fit in with, purely because I’ve always been in love with the idea of my brain taking me travelling.
They seem to be truth-seekers who question the way the world works and, like me, have broken free from the restraining moulds of corporate life. Their ingenuity and entrepreneurialism has led them here and they’re reshaping commerce, one flat white at a time.
During the talk, the audience got to pipe up on what they do and ask Jonny some questions. There was one guy who was using Airbnb for his own rental arbitrage business, one who sells digital music as a product and another who sells his knowledge and experience in the form of online coaching. There’s a lot of clever stuff going on and it’s fascinating to be so close to all the action.
The talk left me with plenty of Food4Thought and I started daydreaming about this Digital Nomad world I’m stepping into when two thoughts of concern popped into my head.
The first was wondering if actually it could it be considered exploitation or at least in some way unethical, if you’re living in a place where the cost of living is around 84% less than London yet making more than the average salary of a capital-dwelling Banker Wanker Brit? (I’m not making any salary right now as I’m volunteering, but I can’t rule out being a world-famous billionaire in the future).
The second, was more of a general worry about where this movement could be going.
It’s all good and well rebelling against the white-collar world, being your own boss and having ambition but it’s so, so, so critical that it’s done with a conscience. The last thing we need is more products we don’t need, more marketing telling us we need them and the focus of value continuing to forcefully pinpoint itself on paper notes with dead presidents on.
The Conscious Digital Nomad
One of the first points Jonny had made during his talk was that you should take your fingers out of all the pies and just fist one of them.
While I appreciate this is solid advice for most people, it’s not something I’m willing to do myself right now. I have three projects on the go and I can handle them all because I have an equal amount of love and excitement for each.
All My Heroes Are Weirdos
The first is this blog, a digital diary that I’ve accidentally left out on the table for you all to read; my network is small but it’s gathering momentum and I’m gaining new readership daily.
A big part of my reason for doing it is for my own egotistical enjoyment; I get a dopamine kick out of thinking, learning, researching, living and then typing it up onto digital paper. I sometimes can’t get to sleep because I’m so excited to get up and write, that’s how much I love it and so I do it with ease – the words flow out of my fingertips at serious speed.
I’m providing a tonic to the Instagrammed world we live in and it seems to be helping and inspiring others. When I write posts like Lost and Found, so many people message me pouring their hearts out with the most intimate details of their lives saying I’ve encouraged them to make positive changes. The appreciation can be as small and simple as a Facebook and the impact can be as remarkable as turning somebody’s life around.
Then there’s the awareness I’m hoping to raise on topics I feel particularly passionate about – our mindless, consumerist existence being top of the list. When the Stacey Dooley documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets aired last week, I received almost fifty messages from friends, acquaintances and strangers saying that it reminded them of me. And that’s what I call a true accolade.
The second is a magazine that I’ve co-founded with my mate Eva.
We joke about being Patsy and Eddie, lazing on our luxury yacht in the South of France next year knocking back Dom Perignon from the bottle because when we’re rich and famous owners of a world-renowned magazine, but realistically it’s just part of our hypothetical hilarity – it’s just bantz, darling.
We’re working on launching this magazine because Eva liked what I wrote here and wanted to get her pen out alongside me. Mindless Mag will about zooming into our every day acts of mindlessness, providing thought-provoking, debate-evoking insight and tips on how to be a little bit more mindful. It’s being worked on behind the scenes and is growing organically into a collective of aspiring writers with consciences.
Perhaps in the future there will be a way to make money out of it to help us keep going, but for now it’s about contributing to a movement. Because in the words of Howard Zinn, small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
All My Heroes Consulting
Then last but not least, it’s all about making enough pocket-money to survive; shaking my money-maker (my head) and using all my experience to build a business strategy for Global Groove Life.
While I spend my volunteering hours running the day-to-day business operations, in my spare time I’m writing up a plan to take the brand, both wholesale and B2C, forward. The geek within is euphoric and I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed we can turn this into a longer term venture.
So I just hope that Digital Nomadding is not all about dollar bills and growing consumer markets. I hope it’s actually aimed shrinking them and taking share from those who don’t deserve it.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader