This year we launched the Serendipity Machine. The app that connects people via an artificially intelligent algorithm based on their location, skills, interests and immediate needs, sparked interest in several groups. One of them, Digital Nomads. After all, it’s a match made in heaven. Digital nomads are often in new places where they don’t know anyone and need work and personal connections. And because they are always moving, they need it where they are, and at the moment they are there. We spoke to several Digital Nomads, and all of them have amazing stories. So here is the story of the Dutch couple who have been traveling around the world for one year and a half, and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Could you tell us who you are?
We are Eric and Fairouz, founders of We Are Digital Nomads but most of all partners in life. We decided to change our lives in November 2015 and start pursuing our dream of traveling. By reading more and more about the DN lifestyle, we began to really get enthusiastic and we decided to make a plan to be able to work during our travels. One lead to another and 6 months later we were heading off to Hong Kong, where our journey started.
Tells us what is We Are Digital Nomads.
We Are Digital Nomads is a nomadic creative agency and a platform for young and ambitious (location independent) entrepreneurs all over the world. The aim of We Are Digital Nomads is 1. Designing and creating as much creative cool stuff as possible (and being paid for it) and 2. Inspiring young people to chase their international dreams.
How do you describe digital nomads?
There isn’t such thing as á Digital Nomad. DN come in different shapes and kinds. But I do believe that they all have one thing in common and that is that they have the guts to follow their dreams and goals. Being proactive is a must when you pursue a lifestyle as a DN.
How do you work as a design agency and support digital nomads at the same time?
That can vary from seeking cooperation with other DN, for example, by working together with Dutch location independent web developers and marketers all over the world; to writing about them on our own website (www.wearedigitalnomads.com) and on the Facebook page Nederlandse Digital Nomads, which we manage, for example, by creating a monthly item ‘DN in the spotlight’.
Which countries have you been already?
Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Germany, Italy and France in the last 1,5 years.
And how did the two of you meet?
We grew up in the same small town nearby Amsterdam. When we were both 25 we saw each other at the bus station when we were both on our way to visit our parents in the town where we grew up. The rest is history 😉
How did you came up with the idea of starting ‘We Are Digital Nomads’?
It wasn’t really an idea that popped up of all of a sudden. It was more a logical step in both of our careers. Eric was already running his own design company in Amsterdam for over three years and I was at a point in my life that I wanted a change. A big change. So we decided to work together as a creative agency and with the decision that we wanted to work location independent, we started to brainstorm about what we can do and from that, We Are Digital Nomads started. And this was just the beginning. It wasn’t until we had hit the road and started to work online and offline for international clients, we realized who we wanted to be. The first 6 months were all about trial and error.
What are the main challenges of being a digital nomad?
Finding the discipline to work even harder than you already did at home. A lot of people think that most of the DN sit in a hammock all the time. Well, sometimes this is true, but most of the times you are actually working very hard to build your company and finding your way in a new environment over and over again. That takes a lot of dedication and organizational skills.
What are the main benefits?
Of course, the best thing about the DN lifestyle is that we are able to travel and see something of the world. The experiences in every country, the conversations with local people and learning something about the DN life by actually meeting DN all around the world has been such an enrichment of our lives!
What do you see for the future of digital nomads?
The only way is up. The world is changing. But not as fast as the DN need and require. If legislations and laws change as fast as we do, I am sure that there will be a lot more people who pack their bags and open up to what the world has to offer.
Jori is a game tested in more than 700 people. It consists of profound and weird questions that have the power tos really connect people and escape the old ‘what do you do?’ and ‘where are you from’ script.
Weird question: You wake up and there’s an enormous chicken-shaped balloon floating in your bedroom. How do you deal with this?
I would probably think that my boyfriend has had one of his ‘I can’t remember anything’ nights and he ended up stealing the balloon from a kid that really loves chicken balloons. I would wake him up and ask him what the hell he did last night. 😉
Profound question: What’s more important: a happy life or a meaningful life? Why?
By living a meaningful life, we live a happy life. So a meaningful life is more important for us than anything else. Meaningful is actually a pretty subjective word though. Something that is meaningful to us doesn’t necessarily mean that it is meaningful to others. For us, meaningful means that we are of value for each other and for others without losing our personal meaning of life. What meaningful is in life can change over time and is a dynamic term. That is why we find it important to constantly ask ourselves, with everything we do both in work as in our personal life: is it what we do meaningful for us? And is it meaningful to others? If we don’t answer both of these questions with ‘yes’, there is no way we will be happy in life.
I want to close with our favorite quote that really helped us to stay focused on our goals in the first year we traveled:
“This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will” – Gary Lew.