Meet Digital Nomad Girl Kay: Brand Storyteller & Communication Strategist

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Kay: Brand Storyteller & Communication Strategist

In our Digital Nomad Girls interview series we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we talked to Kay Fabella, brand storyteller and communication strategist.

Introduce yourself!

Hi there, I’m Kay, a Filipina-American expat entrepreneur based in Madrid. I have an ongoing love affair with Spain, my Spanish husband, and Sriracha. And I not-so-secretly wish my life was a musical.

What is your location independent job?

I am a brand storyteller and communication strategist. I help businesses to stand out with their story, to meaningfully connect with their customers, and boost their revenue through targeted online communication strategies.

We’d love to hear your story! How did you get into professional storytelling?

When a work contract fell through with no warning, I had to reinvent myself… fast!

I had always loved communication, languages, and helping people connect. So I looked into Master’s degrees in online marketing. But all of the Master’s degrees wanted someone with experience. And all the companies where I could get experience wanted candidates with Master’s degrees! What started as a way to build my portfolio as a freelancer to apply for a Master’s turned into my full-time business.

Now, I help solopreneurs to Fortune 500 companies in English and Spanish. I was also published as a storytelling expert in the Huffington Post and in El País, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the world.

What advice do you have for others? How can we use stories to help us in business?

Too many entrepreneurs I see focus on “how I sell my thing” rather than “how I can be of service.” It comes across as too pushy, too aggressive, and ultimately ends up being disastrous for their business.

No matter what industry you’re in, you have to communicate what you do in a way that connects with, convinces, and converts your audience into customers. And sharing stories is a great way to do that.

In the age of the social media, people care more about WHO you are + WHY you exist > WHAT you sell. So don’t be afraid to go past the shiny Instagram posts and show your human side once in a while, because that’s what people relate to most.

When everything on the market looks the same, your story is what determines if people like you, if they trust you, and, most importantly, if what you have to offer is worth their time. The decision as to whether or not they buy from you depends on how you make them feel. So if you don’t try to create an emotional connection with your audience first, you’ll never gain their permission to sell what you do.

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What made you pursue a location independent life? Have you always loved travelling?

As the daughter of Filipino immigrants growing up in Los Angeles, I was exposed to many cultures at once. So I think it goes without saying that I’ve always loved travelling!

Before college, I had spent a month living in Paris and a month living in Mexico. I fell in love with the idea of travelling “deeper,” rather than checking a bunch of sights to see off a list. So I leapt at the opportunity to study abroad in Spain while at university. I came back in 2010 with the intention of staying for a year… met my now Spanish husband… and the rest is history.

I realized how lucky I was to have a business I could run from anywhere when my grandmother had her second stroke back in California in 2015. At a moment’s notice, I was able to book a flight to be with her, without having to worry about vacation days or checking with a boss.

So my idea of a location independent lifestyle has definitely evolved. I may not be a nomad moving from one country to another with my laptop. But I love that my business lets me work from wherever, especially if it’s close to the people I love.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

I’m lucky to have an amazing support system here in Madrid, back in the US, and all over the world. And though I think my parents still don’t understand exactly what I do… they framed my El País interview even if they couldn’t understand it!

What’s been helpful is finding people who are also running online businesses, the ones who are “your kind of crazy”. Tribes like the Digital Nomad Girl group are super helpful for connecting with like-minded people who you can swap resources and experiences with!

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What do you struggle with most when it comes to running your own business?

I’d have to say patience. You may have a grand vision for what you want to see happen. You may have certain expectations and objectives. But when other people, technology, and so many other factors are involved, you have to be willing to step back, reassess, and pivot if need be.

There’s a great quote by Bill Gates that really resonated with me: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

And I couldn’t agree more. So my new personal project is learning not to let my own ambition get the better of me. It’s a very humbling exercise, but having a strong support system and team has really helped.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack on her trips?

Just one? 😉

I’d have to say all the chargers and adapters for your digital gear. And a good pair of sneakers to go exploring when you turn off your laptop.

What are you up to next travel or business-wise?

I just got back from marrying my husband in San Francisco, renting a Mustang and driving down the California coast for a month!

As for my business, I launched my first online coaching program for women entrepreneurs to help them sell with confidence using their story: Move Hearts Make Profits.

What is your favourite business/travel/self-development book you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

I’d have to say the Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life. This year, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Natalie Sisson, who was one of the first digital marketing gurus I followed!

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?

“Imperfect action > perfect inaction.” It’s my go-to motto whenever I’m nervous about taking a step outside of my comfort zone… as long as you’re moving, you’re learning!

You can find Kay on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Check out her website in English and Spanish and visit the Story School here.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Meg: Travel Blogger and Podcaster

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Meg: Travel Blogger and Podcaster

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we talked to Meg Collins, travel blogger, podcaster and co-founder of the Travel Blog Monetization Summit

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you, if we may ask 🙂 and where are you currently living?

Howdy, most people call me Meg or Megsy. I’m a 32 years old Aussie gal who grew up just outside of Brisbane. Along with my boyfriend Tom we have been a digital nomads since April 2013 and we are currently hanging out in Tbilisi Georgia.

What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?

We are travel / food bloggers and photographers and we also run the Travel Blog Monetization Summit which teaches travel bloggers how to make money and keep travelling.

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How did you get into this line of work?

We realised that the regular 9-5 – buying a house etc was not the life for us – so we looked into ways we could do what we loved most – travel – and sustain it through an online income source.

What did you do before you became a Digital Nomad?

I was working as a wholesale travel agent specialising in Cruise Sales at Infinity Cruise Australia.

How can others do the same?

Study, study, study the profession you want to go into. Work really really hard. Sell everything and give it your best shot!

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

We wanted to travel and have our own business. We were tired of working for other people.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

They were all very supportive – but I don’t think they really understood what we were planning on doing. Nor do I think they realised that we could potentially travel for this long. I think they figured we’d be back home, working and starting a family like normal people long ago….

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What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

For work i.e having other bloggers around and learning, we really liked Chiang Mai as there was a great community there. For affordable living, a great lifestyle, with really good internet – Tbilisi, Bucharest or Athens are some of our favourites.

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Reliable internet. Plus feeling guilty about not seeing some parts of the cities we are in because we have to get work done. You can’t have it all.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Couchsurfing meet ups are really great – plus we have a pretty large network of friends online all over the world. Also shout outs to groups like this are a good way to see who’s around.

meg-collins-travel-blogger

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

The first thing I thought was menstrual cup – lol. You don’t realise how difficult it can be to get the products you like using around the world – once I went menstrual cup I’ve never looked back!

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Do it – but realise it’s not all beaches and beers – it’s hard work and you need to have many back up sources of revenue to make sure you can be secure in not running out of money.

meg-collins-travel-blogger

What are you up to next?

Off to GREECE!!!! We loooved Greece and we have booked an airbnb apartment in the heart of Athens for almost 3 months to really experience local life.

What is your favourite business/travel/lifestyle book you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? LOL.

For the single girls out there (or even not so single girls like me) I just finished reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – really interesting look into dating in today’s world of technology!!!

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S Thompson

You can find Meg on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and check out her blog at http://foodfuntravel.rocks.

10 Digital Nomad Girls share … their female role models

10 Digital Nomad Girls share … their female role models

A few days ago one of the girls in the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook Group, Linn, asked for inspirational input on female role-models and feminist heroines.

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Her shout out sparked a really interesting conversation and within half an hour she had received over a dozen responses. By the time I woke up the next morning, more than 50 girls had shared and discussed their role-models. So I thought it would be a shame to lose all this information and inspiration in the depths of our busy Facebook Group and decided to turn the info into a blog post that we can all read and learn from. Because going through 58 comments and counting is quite a lot of work I decided to pick 10 answers by 10 Digital Nomad Girls.

Here we go, 10 Digital Nomad Girls share their female role-models:

 

Yoga Girl Book Cover Photo

Rachel Brathen/Yoga Girl

by Kris Oak – Health Coach

Rachel Brathen is the person that made me realise how important self-love & self-care are. Her book Yoga Girl was the 1st book I ever read in my life that reall touched me on a personal level. She made me see for the 1st time, that it’s ok to sometimes have shit days and cry, that you don’t always have to be strong and that no matter what past you had, you deserve to have a great future.

 

Lean In Book Cover

Sheryl Sandberg

by Katharina Kunze – University Admissions Consultant

My favourite role model is Sheryl Sandberg. She speaks to me in so many ways: 1) She is a (now single) mother with a high-powered job 2) She comes off as feminine and vulnerable, and not an “ass-hole”. She is someone I can identify with 3) The issues she raised in her book ‘Lean In’ really spoke to my heart and seemed well-reflected and balanced. She wrote a book that men also read, which I think is not so common among feminism books 4) She kick-started a conversation, at least for me, that had not been there in that form before 5) She manages to do all these things without, seemingly, alienating anyone. I am deeply impressed by her personally and that she comes across as so kind, personable and genuine as well. I also deeply respect Anne-Marie Slaughter and her husband, Andrew Moravcsik. Both have modelled a relationship where he is or was for a long time the “primary parent” taking care of their sons. They also spoke and wrote openly about the challenges they faced individually with that set up and as a family in The Atlantic. These were again incredibly enlightening and genuine-appearing articles.

 

J.K. Rowling

by Marta Ferreira – Graphic Designer

As nerd as this may sound, I have to say J.K. Rowling. Besides her amazing imaginative and creative mind, I absolutely admire the way she has fought for her work. She went through poverty and depression but transformed that into fuel for her writing and will to carry on. And after reaching gargantuan success, she kept her principles and generosity. Sher never forgot her past, never turned back from those who helped her, and keeps giving back. Awesome, even for a muggle.

 

Frida Kahlo

by Marina – Travel Blogger at My Dear Lola

Although experiencing lifelong health problems, what marred her for life was the traffic accident she suffered when she was 18 which made her be skewered by a metal handrail. Her injuries recovery isolated her from other people, and this influenced her works where symbolic portrayals of pain, physical and psychological wounds, skeletons and other grim images can be observed. Kahlo never gave up and kept painting form bed claiming; “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”. She used to draw on personal experiences; her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations. She insisted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality” and being influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colours and dramatic symbolism. Frida lived her life to the fullest, despite immense pain, handicaps, and suffering. She had a gift for communicating her emotions to the world through painting.

 

Gabby Bernstein The Universe Has Your Back Book Cover

Gabby Bernstein

by Sian Peters – Strengths Coach and Blogger

This woman has changed my life. Really. No BS. No hyperbole. She has changed my life. I met Gabby when I was at a particularly low point. I don’t remember exactly how she came to me [I was a little fuzzy at the time] but my gosh am I glad she did. She has overcome some serious obstacles of her own to develop into an international morale booster and spiritual teacher. In her new book ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ she shares techniques to keep you sane, to keep you from straying off the path of happiness and into oncoming traffic. And it works. It all works. I’ve been recommending her book to my friends and they’re telling me that they’ve found peace and wisdom in her words. She is what I aspire to. In order to change the world you must start with yourself, overcome your own challenges and obstacles, and then inspire others to do the same. I’m firmly on that road, and while I have a long way to go, Gabby is helping me get there. The universe has my back!

Ada Lovelace

by Nina Tomala – Writer and blogger

My unlikely heroine is 19th century lady-turned-mathematician Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of Romantic author Lord Byron: She’s famous for being the first computer programmer in the world – a hundred years before modern pioneers of informatics, in a field nowadays dominated by men. She worked extensively on the Analytical Engine, the first Turing-complete mechanical computer proposed in 1837 by Charles Babbage. Her notes include the first algorithm tailored for implementation on a computer. Even though the Analytical Engine existed only on paper due to lack of funds to construct it, Countess Ada realized its potential to solve problems of any complexity beyond merely crunching numbers. She also anticipated the later distinction between hardware and software. A Lady, a visionary, and a geek!

Felicia Day

by Susannah Bruck – Freelance Writer

Felicia Day has become one of my biggest creative inspirations in the last few years. The mastermind behind the web series The Guild, she’s risen from obscurity to become a nerd icon for strong women everywhere. She’s honest, vulnerable, and relatable in her autobiography, showing that if you just go out and DO something, create something, you can make your dreams come true. She was also a home-schooler like me! We’re not just weirdos after all!

Miki Agrawal Book Cover

Miki Agrawal

by Jenny – Digital Nomad Girls

My latest role model is Miki Agrawal, serial social entrepreneur and founder of Thinx, the first period proof underwear. Through the Thinx pants she has started an open and honest discussion about the ‘taboo’ topic of menstruation. In the developing world, having your period can have serious consequences for women and girls. Often they are shunned by their families and community, girls aren’t allowed to attend school during their periods and only few women have access to safe and hygienic products. Miki Agrawal is a fierce feminist and recently wrote her first book ‘Do Cool S**t’ in which she teaches you to follow your passions and start your own meaningful company.

Alicia Silverstone

by Marta – Blogger at VeganBTravels

Beautiful inside and out, she’s been proving you can be your natural self and conquer the world. To me, she represents the ultimate icon of success: an accomplished, respected star who has kept her uniqueness all the way despite tough showbiz reality. Plus she uses her fame to advocate cruelty-free lifestyle – an earthly angel.

Brene Brown

by Janneke Dijkhuis – Adventurer

As a researcher and storyteller Brene Brown took on the topics vulnerability, shame and courage. How they affect us and how we can deal with these emotions and feelings. These topics are for many very sensitive subjects that we do not like to discuss publicly, but Brene does it anyway. And the woman is doing it in a way that you think she is talking about you. About the parts of you that you don’t want to expose because you think no one else has these struggles that trigger shame and make you feel vulnerable. In Brene’s talks and books, you’ll find self-mocking, jokes and funny anecdotes which make it clear that the struggle is not only real for you which made me feel empowered.

 

There you have it, 10 female role-models to inspire you and learn from. Who is your female role model? Please share in the comments!

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What I Learned During My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

What I Learned During My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

I spent my first day as a full-time freelancer spectacularly hungover.

I’ll admit, it was not the most auspicious (or romantic) beginning to my new self-employed life, but I’d spent the evening before at a send-off party with my now-former co-workers, and I was riding the excitement and fear of what I’d just done: quit my job, cut down my safety net, and convinced myself that this was something I could actually do.

The next thirty days were a learning experience, and as with most things in life, some things lined up with my expectations. Others didn’t, and there have been more than a few surprises along the way. Here are just some of the things I learned during that first month as my own boss.

Getting sick is terrible when you’re self-employed

What’s worse than being hungover your first day on the job? Getting sick the week after. The fates were not on my side in early September, and I had a nasty little cold that lasted for a solid week. While I could physically still write for my clients, I was very slow and unproductive. It was a harsh reminder that I would no longer be paid when I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.

A support system is an absolute necessity

I was seriously on the fence about attending the Digital Nomad Girls retreat in Javea. After all, I’d just left my job and didn’t have enough clients to replace all of my income yet. Wouldn’t it be foolish to drop a grand and jet off to Spain?

I did it anyway—and I’m so glad I did

What I Learned In My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

The women I met there just got me. This was my community, my new support system for a life that can feel very isolating and scary at times. I learned a lot of practical skills while I was there, but more importantly, I learned that I do know more than I think I do. I am worth more than I think I am. And I am totally capable of making my dream work.

My new friends are all tackling the same problems I am and have the same insecurities and fears—but they’re all doing amazing work and taking the world by storm. When women support one another, great things happen.

We laughed, we cried, we listened. It was an intense week, and the perfect way to kick off my new life.

What I Learned In My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

The stress is different

Do I still have stress? Of course!

Is it the same kind of stress?

Not even a little bit.

As a freelancer, my stress mainly focuses on money, raising my rates, and getting new clients instead of the day-to-day work I do. My opinion? It’s a much better type of stress to have.

I am very bad at time management

I am a procrastinator–always have been. I hesitate to say that I always will be, because miracles do happen, but the possibility of this one coming true seems remote.

I have never had so much time alone with my own thoughts. I wander from one task to another; check Facebook; read an article that catches my eye instead of finishing the draft of the one in front of me. My fear of deadlines is the only thing that keeps me in check. Somehow, I finish everything. Every time. I am NOT good at time management, and it’s something that is constantly a work in progress.

Days of the week matter less than they used to

I constantly have to remind myself what day of the week it is. They all kind of run together now that I have nowhere to be. I live my life by deadlines, but when I think about my schedule, the urgency is just not there anymore—it doesn’t have to be. I wake up every morning and it’s just another day, a day that moves quickly because I’m always doing something. The weeks feel shorter.

I can go anywhere and do anything

During that first month, I found myself at yoga at noon on a Thursday. Now, I can plan my writing around my exercise and appointments instead of the other way around. Even though I’m not a full time nomad, the freedom of setting my own schedule and choosing where I work is extremely liberating.

What I Learned In My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

I’ve always been a traveller, but now I can plan any trip I want as long as I can fund it. I can spend 7 weeks with my family and take quick weekends on a whim with friends. There is nothing holding me back from this big world, and I can’t wait to see as much of it as I can.

My home is a peaceful oasis

I love my slow mornings. These days I have the luxury of cooking myself the breakfast I want, going for a run, doing a little yoga, and starting work a little too late. My home is a peaceful oasis on the weekdays when everyone is at work, and the only noises are my fingers on the keyboard and the dog shifting in his sleep.

What I Learned In My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

Going out means more

I like to think that I always try to look cute when I go out, but now that my ventures are more infrequent, my opportunities to show off my wardrobe are limited. I put more effort into my outfits than I did before and walk with renewed confidence because I know I look good.

What I Learned In My First Month as a Full-Time Freelancer

It’s really scary

I fly into a panic at times, because I’m not productive, or I’m not making enough money, or there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. But then I take a deep breath and remind myself that nothing is perfect, and that it will get easier with time and practice.

Life goes on

As a fortune cookie once said to me, “Only those who dare, truly live.” There are so many reasons to love self-employment: the freedom, the ability to linger in the small pleasures of a life lived slowly. On the flip side, there’s the loneliness, the uncertainty–the knowledge that it really is all on you.

It’s hard. It’s hard because life is hard, but you know what? The fear I feel over finding new clients and pleasing the ones I have is small potatoes compared to the lifelessness I felt every day getting up to work for someone else. And that feeling is enough to let me know I’ve made the right decision.

Susannah Bruck is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for travel. She spends her time visiting exotic locales, cooking new dishes, gaming, and writing her dystopian novel. You can find her at www.susannahbruck.com and www.welltraveledwriter.com (coming soon!).

5 Lessons I learned at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

5 Lessons I learned at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Sometimes, when the right people get together at the right time and place, magical things can happen. This is probably an accurately cheesy, yet true, description of what I experienced last week at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.

Fourteen girls from 10 different countries around the world met at Sun and Co., a unique coworking and coliving space in Javea, Spain for a week of mastermind sessions, skill shares, adventure, and coworking.

I am still completely high on the energy, inspiration, support, laughter and love us girls shared during the 7 days we spent together. In the short 48 hours since the retreat finished, one of the girls has already published an article about it on the Huffington Post, one girl has created a logo and name for her business and is about to quit her job, and another has successfully more than doubled her hourly pay on Upwork securing a new client already!

I can’t wait to see what the next weeks and months will bring and what these incredible ladies will come up with. But for all of you who couldn’t join us, here are a few lessons I learned during the first Digital Nomad Girls retreat.

 

Group photo of the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Photo: @annasophielc

1. The DN community is incredibly supportive

 

Many of the girls who attended the retreat still had corporate jobs and often our friends and families don’t really understand the digital nomad lifestyle and why we would want to pursue it. This can be a huge obstacle, especially when you have to leave behind a stable, traditional career. Being surrounded by people who understand what drives you means you can skip the explanations and justifications and instead get support, advice and inspiration.

In just one week we saw at least 6 or 7 professional collaborations between the girls. Two girls are starting a business together, one was hired by another as a social media manager, the list goes on.  Sienna shared her experience at the retreat on the Huffington Post, describing how the digital nomad community can foster professional as well as personal growth.

 

A mastermind session in the courtyard

Photo: noll.media

2. We can all do with a little ego boost

 

Over the course of the week and many a mastermind session, we discovered that apart from our wanderlust, we had something else in common: most of us undersold ourselves or didn’t really believe in ourselves. Every single girl had one or multiple great business ideas, but each of us didn’t expect to be able to actually monetize these projects. On top of that, it’s a fact that self-employed women regularly set their rates much lower than their male counterparts, often by more than half the price.

We spent a lot of time talking about how to raise prices, find better paying clients and outsource work to make more time for creative work and passion projects. But more crucially, being surrounded by other girls who encourage you, share ideas, help with accountability and believe in you more than you do, can be a life-changing experience. The support of other women really can help you achieve your dreams.

 

Cooking together

Photo: noll.media

3. Coliving helps create strong bonds

 

The reason why digital nomads love retreats and coworking experiences are the relationships they form within the community. In my opinion, there is no better way to form these bonds than living with people for a while.

I had plenty of ice breakers prepared for our evening BBQ at the first day of the retreat, but after preparing a meal for 20 people together, the ice had clearly melted all by itself (the sangria might have helped a little, too). Living and working under one roof is an intense experience, but it also accelerates friendships and business connections. Even after this relatively short time we all trusted each other with our business ideas and were comfortable sharing personal and business challenges, which often doesn’t even happen with your best friends. Sun and Co. was the perfect location for our retreat and the support from the owners made all of us want to return as soon as possible.

 

On a photo walk

Photo: @annasophielc

4. Every single one of us has something to share

 

Before the retreat started we generated some ideas for potential skill shares and the girls came up with great suggestions. A few were unsure, however, if or what they could share with the others, some even wanted help identifying their strengths. Over the course of the retreat it crystalized that all the girls had valuable lessons to share, whether in life, business or travels. Initially shy girls were slowly opening up, literally blossoming, sharing their experiences, offering tons of insights and a great deal of compassion and support. Important skills that one of us might have taken for granted were invaluable lessons for others. What was holding most of us back was a lack of confidence and awareness of how useful certain skills (even if very niche) might be to others. In the end, we all overcame this and shared freely, I hope this will continue on after the retreat.

 

Planning session at the Digital Nomad Girls Retreat

Photo: @annasophielc

5. The support doesn’t end with the retreat

 

Which brings me to the 5th lesson I learned. One of my biggest goals for the retreat was forming lasting relationships, both professionally and personally, that would continue on after the retreat had ended. The idea was to form accountability groups or find partners to check up on, help each other out with technical or logistical work and generally support each other.

It has only been a couple of days, but already we have formed a slack network with different sub categories and have used it to exchange ideas and hold each other accountable. Feedback has been solicited, people have hired each other and we are working on passion projects together. As we coined during the retreat “One week is good, forever is better.”

 

While these 5 points barely scrape the surface of what I learned this week, I hope they offer a glimpse into the learnings of our very first retreat. Only two weeks ago I was hesitant to think of organizing another one, despite many, many girls asking about possible next events, but now I simply can’t wait to get to know more of the lovely ladies in our little Digital Nomad Girls community at the next retreat.

 

And if you don’t want to wait that long, you can join us on board Coboat from 22nd to 29th October when we sail from Spain to Morocco.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This week we talked to Lani, an English teacher and founder of Gynopedia.

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you (if we may ask 🙂 and where are you currently living?

My name is Lani Fried and I’m originally from San Francisco, CA. I’m currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam and I’m 31 years old.

What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?

At the moment, I have two part-time jobs, one of which is online. These jobs involve teaching English, SAT prep, etc. In the past, I have also worked as a writer/editor and software product manager.

You started a website called Gynopedia, tell us a bit about it!

Gynopedia is a free resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. It’s a wiki, so anyone can contribute or edit information. Here’s how it works: You search for a city — for example, “Bangkok” or “New York City” — and Gynopedia provides information related to birth control, emergency contraception, STI tests, gynecologists, abortion clinics and more. Think of as like WikiTravel, but for your ladybits. This information comes from real people who have shared their experiences, or from careful research (after scouring the web!), also conducted by real people. Overall, the goal is to provide practical, non-judgmental information so that users can feel empowered and make informed decisions.

Screenshot of Gynopedia Digital Nomad Girls

How did you come up with this idea?

From 2010-13, I lived in Istanbul, Turkey. During those years, I constantly struggled to find high-quality and affordable women’s health care. For example, I was slut-shamed by a gynecologist for not being a virgin (and unmarried). I tried to get STI tests at two separate facilities, both of which didn’t conduct the tests that I asked for. I could only find tampons at select stores in my neighborhood. Then, I moved back to the States, where I supposedly had more health care resources. But I was unemployed and uninsured, so I dealt with the American type of difficulty that accompanies women’s health care. The same cycle kept on repeating itself: lack of information, lack of resources.

So, when I began planning a year-long trip through Asia, I realized: This was going to happen again. I wouldn’t know where to get birth control. I wouldn’t know what to do if I got pregnant. And I probably wouldn’t even know where to buy tampons in some places. This lead to an “aha” moment — and it just seemed so obvious: There should be a comprehensive resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. That way, we could all share our recommendations (and warnings), and women could finally get the information they need.

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

Personally, I don’t use the term “digital nomad” to describe myself. But I do feel a connection with other people who work online (which I have done on and off since my early 20s), people who love travel and people who have relocated often. As for my own story, I guess that moving around always seemed natural. Growing up, many of family members were immigrants, so I grew up around people who had lived in different countries. And, like many people, I wanted to see the world. Also, economics played a big role. The recession came after my college graduation — and, realizing that I had potentially bleak prospects for the next few years, I decided to look for opportunities outside the States, which brought me to Turkey. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

There are always supporters and there are always people who doubt you. There is something incredibly inspiring or threatening (depending on how you look at it!) about leaving your old life or old city behind. But I find that most people are supportive. Last year, I was living and working in New York. When I told my coworkers that I was planning to travel around Asia for an extended period of time, I got a really positive response.

Of course I get a lot of questions: How will you get medical care? How will you make money? How can you leave your apartment/career behind? There is a lot of privilege that is a part of travel, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately, it is way too often. But there’s also a lot of practical, not so glamorous stuff that people don’t always consider like: You can find jobs in different towns. Medical care is usually cheaper when you leave the States. But, all in all, most people are rather supportive (just slightly baffled by the whole thing).

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

Oh man, I wish I could answer this question! I’m too indecisive for favorites — I always like way too many books and movies and everything to pick one favorite. But I guess some places that I have visited in the last few years and loved were Japan, Indonesia and Colombia.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad GirlsFounder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Lately, bad Internet has been a huge pest.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

I love CouchSurfing. And awkward situations. When you’re cramped in a van with a lot of people, or when you find yourself sharing a table with strangers at a bar, you’re forced to interact, and that’s when you meet some of the greatest people.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

This is just me (and I spend way too much time researching women’s health products online). But I wish I had menstrual underwear or a menstrual cup in my travels. So far, I have been in some jams when I really needed a tampon but couldn’t find it (like in the Philippines, where there are so many amazing beaches… and yet so few tampons). So, pack a backup for times and places when you need a tampon!

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Focus on the basics. There is a wonderful online world of people who encourage you to move abroad, backpack around the world, work online, or be any sort of wandering type, and that’s great. But I think we sometimes forget the fundamentals because the inspirational stuff is so much more fun. But, if you plan to drastically change your life, you also need to focus on basics like: How will I work? For example, you may want to get a TEFL/CELTA if you plan to teach English, or you may want to build up your portfolio if you plan to do freelance work in translation, writing, design, etc. How will I get medical care? How will I find a home that works for me? There are many answers to these questions, and they vary from person to person. But take the time to really think through and take action on the basics. You’ll discover a lot along the way, and not all of your plans will work out like you expected, but think through what you can. It will help you in ways you don’t yet imagine.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What are you up to next travel and business wise?

Travel-wise, I am planning to visit Myanmar, Nepal and India next. Business-wise, I guess I’m still figuring things out!

What is your favourite business/travel/lifestyle book (or novel) you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

In terms of travel books, I love writers like Paul Theroux and Jan Morris. I think there’s also some great coverage being done by new publications like Roads & Kingdoms. Oh, and Migrationology is great.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

I guess I’ll share my favourite quote from my high school days, which I found through Anais Nin — but it’s originally from the Talmud:

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

 

You can check out Gynopedia here and please contribute if you have experiences or information to share!

Did you ever have to visit a doctor abroad? Please share in the comments!

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

 

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