Tarek Kholoussy is rallying the nomadic community to connect with social causes in their respective locales through his social enterprise, Nomads Giving Back. Learn how he's leaving his mark.

It takes guts to go against the advice of all your friends and quit a high-paying corporate job to pursue a life of service and volunteering but that’s exactly what Tarek Kholoussy did. In this interview we’ll hear about some of the crazy experiences one accrues when traveling to over 100 countries. Tarek shares what’s involved physical and mental conditioning-wise to run 25 marathons, 4 ultra marathons and the world’s highest marathon at Mount Everest base camp. We’ll learn about his current initiative Nomads Giving Back, how two back-to-back experiences of confronting mortality catalyzed him to take the nomadic leap and more. Enjoy.

Show Notes

Time   Topic
0:02:46   Welcome and context
0:03:50   Running the world’s highest marathon
0:04:40   How did you exit your corporate job to the world of nomadism?
0:09:04   Dan Pink: Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose
0:10:33   On getting interested in volunteer work: “That’s when I felt most alive”
0:11:43   What was the impetus for your volunteer work?
0:12:48   On mortality: abruptly losing someone you love who is your own age
0:15:58   What did you do after volunteering to help clear houses from Hurricane Sandy?
0:17:41   Getting sucked back into another corporate US job
0:19:08   Exiting the corporate world a second time, this time for good
0:22:28   Riding a rickshaw across India top to bottom
0:25:31   What did the volunteering you did during these travels consist of?
0:27:33   Going bunjee jumping off a bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe
0:31:25   What was your experience as a Kiva fellow?
0:35:31   The social impact panel
0:39:07   Mobilizing the collective power of nomads for social good
0:40:08   Why do you think more people don’t volunteer?
0:42:46   “Drop in the ocean syndrome”
0:45:11   Raising $100k AU to put 100 disadvantaged Balinese kids through school
0:47:19   How were you able run a marathon at altitude and run a double marathon in SF?
0:52:21   What does “Nomads Giving Back” need at this point?
0:55:10   Other than volunteering what can a nomad do to better integrate in a local society?
1:00:02   Headspace for meditation
1:04:46   How do we avoid continuously anchoring our expectations to higher and higher break points?
1:08:56   One book that has sculpted you in some critical way
1:11:16   One tool or hack that has made your life on the road easier
1:13:33   One bit of advice you would give to your 20-year-old self
1:15:35   Death is life’s greatest change agent


Nomads Giving Back Tarek’s social enterprise
Tarek’s interview on The Maverick Show
Eat With – an app for having dinner in the homes of locals
The Alan Watts song
Alan Watts The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Gmail snooze feature
Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address
Jim Carrey’s commencement address



Image 3 of 9


Sean Tierney: 00:01:46 All right, everybody. Welcome to the nomad podcast. I’m sitting here with Tarek Kholoussy who I met on the nomad cruise a few days ago, a Tarek on the show. Thanks Sean. Thanks for having me. Now let me set this up. I’m gonna read just the first part of your bio here. Target’s traveled to over a hundred countries supported social causes through volunteering, advocacy, fundraising, and special places like Bali, Kenya, Colombia, wild adventures, driving a rickshaw 4,000 kilometers across India. I want to hear about that. Uh, and 25 marathons and I know you’ve done more than just regular marathons. You’ve actually done some double marathons is, I understand it. Um, and, and a high high altitude marathon, right? You did something in Everest, I believe

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:03:26 that’s right. Yeah. I, uh, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to run the highest marathon in the world, uh, beginning at Everest base camp.

Sean Tierney: 00:03:34 That’s, that’s incredible. I’m a runner as well. I don’t know. Uh, maybe we can get to some of the tips and stuff around running. I would love to hear cause that is like a really advanced level of training required to do Everest base camp running. I can’t imagine what was involved in that.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:03:50 Yeah. Yeah. It was really a special experience. I think the part of the training I think was actually mental trading to making sure that uh, yeah I built the confidence cause at the time I didn’t know I can do it. So I think a lot of it is building the confidence to going after something that you think

Sean Tierney: 00:04:06 you might feel at. Yeah. I liked what I want to tell everyone listening. You should definitely check out the episode that targeted with Matt. Matt bowls is a mutual friend. That’s actually where I first learned about you. Um, and I went running this morning. Re listen to that episode. It’s amazing. You all should definitely check it out because they go way deep into your travel stories and I won’t try to rehash that stuff. I think it’s fascinating and people should just listen to it. Um, but I do want to go into what I think this is actually the, the, the thing that grabs me and I think that people listening are going to be interested in is how you exited the corporate culture. And you know, plenty of people may be looking at the nomadic lifestyle and a desire to do something different, but I think very few actually pull the trigger in exit the corporate world the way you did. So can you maybe talk about your background just a little bit about that with the corporate and how that came about?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:05:02 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, uh, yeah, it’s great that you mentioned Matt. That was, he’s such a great guy. I love that guy. Um, so I, he was raised in more of a, um, you know, traditional, uh, family and environment where the default path, you know, being in the passenger seat of my life was really just, um, going after some of the very well established paths, like going into business and joining one of the big firms in New York City, which I did after college. And, uh, I was just trying to chase the American dream, climbing the corporate ladder and it just felt like, oh, that’s what you’re supposed to do. And Society reinforced that in me, um, thinking that like they would give me compliments and made me feel good about what I’m doing and, uh, the pay was good. And so I went after that and I had a rocky road with my career early on.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:05:57 Um, I happened to join Arthur Anderson, uh, right before it toppled as one of the most established, respected firms that got an a big, probably the biggest corporate scandal over a lifetime. The smartest guys in the room. I saw that documentary, exactly what the Enron scandal and uh, yeah. So my, my, my, my dream job came crashing down on me and it was also right around nine 11 and I was living in New York City, so it was a very tough time. And I went unemployed for awhile. You know, and I don’t, I’m not sure I knew about this at the time or throughout my twenties, but when I look back, I realize that I think what drove me for the next decade of my life was doing everything in my power not to be that vulnerable again, feeling like I couldn’t have the job I wanted or at that time any job that was within my reach.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:06:54 And so once I got one, I just busted my ass as hard as I could because I did not want to be in that position again. But when he put one goal in your life above everything else, sure that might be helpful sometimes in getting it. But what about all the other goals? And so I, I put my personal growth way behind my professional growth for the next decade. And I, you know, I picked up some, some habits that are the most productive and just kind of like never really, um, made the time or effort for anything else.

Sean Tierney: 00:07:26 Yeah. It’s interesting how it’s like you have only so many cycles to dedicate. And so if you’re prioritizing, like you said, per professional over everything else, it’s not like an infinite pie. There’s something’s got to give. And it sounds like it was.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:07:39 Exactly. And in hindsight, if I was, um, where I am now about caring about the things that helped me get more broader satisfaction, life, more meaning and, and also personal growth and I think my professional growth would have been even better. Um, but I didn’t know at the time I went in more traditional like just work, work, work.

Sean Tierney: 00:07:57 Yeah. So the second job that was Goldman Sachs?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:08:01 Uh, no, I actually spent a few years at, um, this top cancer hospital called Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And I worked my way up through and, uh, ended up managing a team of about 40 people before I left. And it’s funny because when I look back on my career, that could possibly have been my most favorite job. Um, but also the least financially rewarding, which is ironic. Uh, you would think it’s ironic, right? But I loved my team. I love my boss. I used to wake up and uh, and jump out of bed and like think about like how to make things better. I was empowered. I was engaged. Um, and uh, got the ability to like restructure a large department and see results. And it’s funny because the following years, the more I, the salary ladder, I sometimes feel like the less empowered I was and making decisions, which is funny. The more you get paid, the less on the less I think I was doing well we were, we were talking

Sean Tierney: 00:09:06 way over here about the Dan pink stuff. Yep. Autonomy, mastery and purpose. He’s got this trifecta thing that he says is, you know, once you have money adequate, once you’ve met your needs and it’s

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:09:17 enough money that that’s not the most important thing anymore. That those other three things are gonna far eclipse the money. And it sounds like you are a living case study of that you’re, you’re spot on. I mean that kind of goes back to your original question. As I finally got through that, getting over, being vulnerable because I started making more money, more than I needed, and I was relatively conservative and how I spend. So I saved up money and I realized I’m not happier with the more money than I was making, uh, or the, the higher the ladder I went up and I found myself gravitating towards a travel. So those two or three weeks, a year that we, uh, not so generously, not so generously get in the u s I would go as far as I possibly could, uh, not, not just geographically, but culturally, uh, financially.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:10:09 And then I got it, uh, interested in volunteer projects, um, whether it was starting with habitat for humanity, uh, in places like China and Zambia. Uh, I did, uh, a four month gig and with Kiva in Kenya. Yeah, that’s awesome. The sooner to, oh, they’re amazing. Amazing Organization. And, and so I just found myself sort of realizing that that’s when I felt most alive is when I was in the field with people that lived in a completely different life. But somehow I connected on, I dunno, values and um, more than I did with, with the community that I found myself in the professional sense in the u s and when I come back from those vacations, I realized that, um, whether it was the locals or even fellow foreigners that were engaged in those projects, that’s where I connected with the most. And, uh, so this, the contrast became more and more stark between helping, I don’t know, just the, some of the richest people in the world in New York City, even though it was often through health, it was still didn’t feel like I’m helping the people who needed the most help. In fact, it might’ve been the opposite. Yeah. And so I eventually got to the point where I said, I need to live a life that’s more aligned with where I, what I believe in.

Sean Tierney: 00:11:30 So it’s interesting because you had two or three weeks of vacation a year, and yet you chose to spend those, you know, most people might spend that on a beach or a resort or whatever, but you chose to spend those volunteering. What was the impetus for that?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:11:47 I feel like looking back that I craved, uh, I think deep down people really know who they are. And I knew that I was living a life that was not chosen for me by me. It was really good life, which makes it hard to walk away from. And you know, and when I did finally make that decision, people thought I was crazy. They literally like I have had almost interventions with friends and um, I realized that I’m not living for them. I’m living for me. And it’s hard to make that transition of your thought, that transformation. It’s freaking hard. I mean, it was the hardest thing I ever did hands down and people said, you’re ruining your career, you’re ruining it and all you built this for. And um, I just had it at some point, need to trust my intuition. And I had a few specific moments that really served as a, as catalysts.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:12:46 Like for example, I, um, suddenly suddenly lost my cousin Sam [inaudible], who was roughly my age, who I, I spent some childhood summers with. And that was a hard, I mean, to really feel that firsthand, that what losses like, oh, how ti, how temporary life is and recognizing your own death. I’m going to die one day too. It becomes real. We all know these things, but it becomes real. Um, I, uh, I was in New York during Hurricane Sandy and, uh, it was right around when, you know, not only did the, was there a blackout in the village where I lived for four days, that was very ominous. It was also people died. And I was supposed to run my very first marathon that weekend. And it was the only time in the history of the New York City marathon that was canceled. So in lieu of that, of, um, a bunch of us went to Staten Island where the race would start the place I was most hit. And we helped volunteer and I found myself helping to clear a house that was flooded up to the second floor where this family was stuck in their attic for two days.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:14:05 And it was so traumatic for them. You can tell and you know, they’re just look in their eyes because we were there when the first day that they actually were back, fellow safe and two two boys died in their backyard during that. And so it just made me feel like, again, life is short and, and instead of that marathon, that weekend, I ran my first one two weeks later. So here you have these two dark deadly things and then you have this, wow, I can run a marathon. I smoked for 23 years. Yeah. I was overweight for a while in my life. Like I never thought I’d be one of those people that can run a marathon. So that was empowering. And then I also met someone around that time that lived my dream life should explore it a hundred countries. And then she, she was saying she’s going to go off now and create a social enterprise. Yeah. And like I literally saw someone living my dream life who I bumped into in the streets in New York all around this. All these things happened at the same time. And I just thought, just woke you woke me up. Exactly. Exactly.

Sean Tierney: 00:15:08 That’s awesome man. It’s, this is a theme interestingly enough, you’re not the first guest to say that, that it took some kind of life jarring event. I think, you know, Matt’s story about, you know, how he had this great job and then all of a sudden one day he’s cut and he doesn’t even have the phone to call and tell his parents that he lost his job. Like these abrupt life changes, uh, really kind of wake us out of our slumber and it, uh, it forces us to confront things and make a change. Yeah, exactly. Hmm. Okay. Well, so it sounds like you had a couple events that stacked basically that uh, that showed the power of volunteering, that volunteering during that blackout issue and then it also the winds like that you, like you said, feeling empowered and stacking wins and that can build momentum. And so those things then led you to do what?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:16:03 I think combining those events, that those are all around the same time. It, as you said, it woke me up and gave me that, not a push but like a pool towards the life I wanted to live. And you know, I, I recently heard a few talks on the nomad cruise you were both on and a couple of like, one thing that stood out a little bit is about how people, um, feel that they need to believe that they can take their life to the next level. There needs to be some sort of recognizing that they’re living your life as if you only have one life and not a second life. So part of that is actually letting go of the life you had. It’s so it’s, it’s kind of like counter intuitive that you almost want to experience death or become aware of death in order to really live [inaudible] and I think that that’s what happened is I said, okay, now it’s time to go. And I, I, I plan my exit where I planned a, my second marathon, uh, just the day before I was going to go abroad. And, uh, and then I went traveling abroad and I ended up doing more volunteer work in places like Kenya, like I said, but I’ll tell you what, I spent one year traveling, uh, and I found myself going back to the u s for three Freshman Year of college friends, weddings, all the same.

Sean Tierney: 00:17:31 It’s always a wedding. It’s always a wedding that brings you rag. And Yeah.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:17:35 Uh, and I couldn’t miss them. And before I even got off the plane at JFK airport, I check my phone for messages and I see an email that says, hey, Tarek, I don’t know where the hell you are, but I found this, this job came, uh, my way and it just looks perfect for you. And they were right. The job was perfect for me, but it was it from that old path, my old path, not my new path. I wanted to leave corporate. I want him to go entrepreneurial. I wanted to leave, um, uh, for profit, go more social impact. And I wanted to go more less New York even though I love New York and go more international. And this was New York corporate for profit. Yeah, actually was nonprofit, but the atmosphere was for profit is for another hospital. And uh, I thought to myself, well, I’m here for a month anyway and it doesn’t hurt to apply. I don’t know I’m going to do next. But then I got it. I eventually got it and got sucked right back into my old life for a will. I recognized early on that it probably wasn’t the right decision, especially seeing the stark contrast even more between helping those who have nothing in Kenya to those who are everything in New York.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:18:50 But at that point I had made a huge commitment to a lease and a job that was like serious. And so I stuck it out for over a year and I realized, I think it was pretty obvious that I had moved on and now I knew what was on the other side. So I plan my exit again where I planned a, again, my hardest race, a marathon, double marathon in San Francisco. The day before I left the second time. And then I still am this time, one way ticket, straight to the Taj Mahal. Literally from San Francisco Airport to a, I had a car waiting for me in India where I went straight to the Taj Mahal that day and I’m beginning my journey and there was no looking back after that. And uh, I, I’m, I look back with a big smile on my face because I know how hard it was. I basically jumped off a bridge from my career and you can’t leave twice. Okay. Maybe once I got lucky with twice, you know, we don’t do well with gaps on resumes in corporate, in New York. Um, they want commitment, they want, you know, reliability. And this was saying the opposite on that. And honestly, I did it in part because, uh, I wanted to take that leap. I cause I knew that it’s so tempting to go back. Right. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:20:13 That’s, uh, I keep thinking the burn the boats, it’s like you burned the boats that second time. Right? It’s like Cortez, you’re not going back. Exactly. Exactly. But that’s what it takes. It, sometimes you got to do that to ensure that the only way for you forward

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:20:28 is forward. Yeah. So you have to anticipate that you’re going to have weak moments and um, you know, that’s one of the reasons why I, I’m a pretty goal driven guy and I’m also guilty as most people of being a victim of social pressure. So like one of the the life hacks I picked up as I used be so private and now I am more public about putting my goals out there because yes, it gives you that much needed accountability. We all need that. But it also gives you that support and that love that you need. And I think it makes it more real when you put an idea out there, especially in today’s role with, with how interconnected we are, things become real once you start talking about them, which is so counter to the way I was my old self had a huge fear of putting myself out there and you can only disappointed at that point.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:21:21 You disappoint you. Now you have to do it. But now what I am careful about what I put out there, I put out there things that I know are good for me, long term that I will have to follow through and knowing that I’m going to have weak moments in the future and that now I’m like, okay, it’s because I’m so gold driven, I’m going to fall through on this. And I knew that at some point in my life with uh, with when I was feeling, I think you want to make those decisions when you’re in your best version of yourself or not always our best versions. I’m not for sure. So I tried to make the more strategic decisions in my life from a good place, from a place of abundance and, and then trust that, trust the better herself even when you’re, you’re less herself.

Speaker 3: 00:22:06 So that was, so you closed chapter one, which was the u s and open chapter two with the Taj Mahal, which is amazing way to open chapter two. Uh, what did chapter two consistent, can you talk a little bit about your travels and what that looks like? Sure,

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:22:20 sure. Um, I, uh, after the Taj Mahal I spent some time in India and I did probably the craziest thing of my life and I drove her Rick Shaw across India

Speaker 3: 00:22:35 from top to bottom for 4,000 kilometers. And how many days was that? Two weeks from sunrise to sunset. Wow. Yeah. Rick Shaw for the people that don’t know what that is, it’s like a what, a little kind of a tiny car. Like it’s like a golf cart. Go car. It’s three wheels. It’s got like a week engine. It’s made for city driving. Not 4,011. I tested it out on or checked it on the map.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:23:04 I think it’s like New York to Costa Rica or you know, they had India’s a big country and very diverse. And um, let’s just say that

Speaker 3: 00:23:13 the roads aren’t always roads. The maps aren’t always accurate. Um, at one point, I mean, I got lost so many, many

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:23:21 times and this one point Google maps led me where I thought it was going to get us to, I think it was Delhi. Um, I found it’s getting to a smaller road to smaller to smaller road, to like a dirt path to farmers who looked at me like they’d never seen anyone, not from India before, let alone a funky painted Rick Shaw, um, until the point where we hit a river and we’re like, there’s no way we’re going back. We’d lose the whole day. And I just refused to give up. And I got very stubborn and I was like, what? This guy, we weigh this copy away. And that was a common theme in that trip. But I haven’t thought about this in, well, we paid a guy to take me and my partner on the Rick Shaw on a, on a bamboo raft across the river.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:24:09 It’s amazing. It was amazing. We had like, these Indians are the most friendliest people, especially when you go rural where they are not used to having tourists. They’re off the charts in the world in terms of community and caring. I mean, not only did they, those guys helped me with Irec shawl on a raft. They, uh, every single time I, Rick shop broke down, which is probably around 20 times every single time within two minutes maximum without doubt. Someone came up and helped me. Yeah. That says a lot about just the culture. If it’s one person, okay. But if it’s like 20 times, 20 times every time, sometimes they would even go straight to the engine. Most of the time we didn’t speak the same language, uh, times. There were times where they helped me push the rickshaw for an hour in the sun to a mechanic. I mean, it’s, and they would refuse to take money almost every time. They refuse to take money. One time I asked the guy, I was like, please, how can I possibly pay you if you won’t take money? He’s like, no, I refuse. No, it’s, I’m happy. So is there anything I do anything at all? And he paused and looked down and shyly looked up and said to me, will you be my Facebook friend?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:25:24 And that’s, that’s all that’s all he wanted was connection. Yeah. That’s amazing. Cool. Well, let’s transition and talk about the volunteering that you did do, uh, in the course of these travels. And maybe you can just say a little bit about what that consisted of. Sure, sure. I, there’s about probably a handful of the more significant ones. Um, earlier on it was a habitat for humanity, global village programs where we, uh, did like a week long build a one time in China and other time in Zambia in Zambia was specifically memorable because this one, we didn’t stay in a hotel. We lived in this remote village in the community that did not have running water or electricity. Um, and we slept on the, on the, on the ground and really felt more connected to the community than the prior one. Um, and we help build homes for orphans for that one.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:26:25 Um, and it was powerful because you’re with the people that you’re building a home with and the locals are helping you. Um, they’re engaged. We like played with the kids. We walked through the town, we, um, went to a school and you feel more integrated and immersed and connected to the community. And it’s very humbling, uh, to see how people, how resilient people are. Cause at that time that, that one, I was in the middle of that last job where I was helping really, really wealthy people, like even billionaires through with healthcare, but still people that didn’t need help. And I remember before I left on a vacation for that trip, my boss said, you’re gonna have, you’re gonna be online and take calls and emails right on your vacation. And I said, I’m literally offline with no electricity. I don’t think there’s Wifi. And it was just amazing, the contrast of life of what you think.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:27:23 It’s very easy to be programmed with societal norms, whatever society, whatever bubble you’re choosing. Um, and I’m not saying there’s any right or wrong, but it’s very easy to make that normal. That same trip, I actually, uh, this is a little bit of a digression, but it’s going to make my point. I went bungee jumping for the first time off a bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe on Victoria Falls Bridge. And it was that experience alone was really, really wild, taking on a fear of heights. And all that. But when the guy picked me back up, [inaudible] me up, we were making small talk when we were walking along the bridge, underneath it, strapped on and on, my adrenaline’s pumping. And he just looked back at me while we’re doing this little unusual, uh, hike across the bridge. He said to me, what do you do back home? What’s your job? And I said, oh, I work for a hospital. He’s like, oh, you’re a doctor. Is that a no, I’m a businessman. And he looks at me strangely your businessmen for a hospital. I was like, yeah, um, it’s complicated, but in New York we have many hospitals. He was like, you have more than one hospital. I was like, yeah, we have many. And we, we compete for patients, we want more patients and he looks at me, you want more patients? And I said, yeah, we have a big hospital. We have, um, 7,000 doctors.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:28:48 He said, in your country. I said for my hospital and just, just unfathomable Bunge fathomable and me hearing it and seeing his eyes and his perspective made me wonder too. Like maybe, maybe I’m not the weird one. Yeah, I remember. He’s not the weird one. Not Getting this. Maybe I lived the world world where we have a hospital with 7,000 doctors and I’m paid to be a business, get guy to get more patients when their, their whole country. I don’t think it has that 100 patients. A doctors. Yeah. Um, so it’s sort of like what’s a Starks or realization that, you know, it’s time to time to follow my heart. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and then you’re, to answer your question about the volunteering, the main one I did that was really life changing as I did a four month volunteer fellowship with Kiva, which is a micro finance crowd funding platform.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:29:42 Um, so for example, let’s say there is Mary who is a farmer in Kenya, that if she can just get, say 300 more dollars, she can buy two or three cows and really build a much more sustainable income for her family and her farm. And, but if you can’t get over that lending and without having credit history, living day to day feeding your family, you know, it’s hard to get that little step up. That can be a sustainable growth. And so what Cuba does is they do, they post Mary’s story and say, 12 people like you, Sean, me and Matt, and nine other people put in $25, not as a donation, but as a loan, zero interest. And then Mary pays you back over time through the proven revenue generation from that cow. And they have a last I checked, they had about 98 99% repayment rate.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:30:37 Yeah. So it moves me. It’s almost guaranteed. It’s a win win. I’m a big supporter. I, I’ve been recycling, uh, the months, the funds I have in there. And I think at this point we’ve helped lots of people. And, uh, it’s a joy to sort of feel connected to people around the world that you haven’t met, but you know their story and, you know, you made a little bit of a difference. I’m a huge fan of Cuba. I love the dignity instead of donating money to people, loaning them and then they’re repaying it back and it’s just kind of an even exchange right on. I just needed some money and here it is back. But also then when you get those Kiva repayments and you can reinvest them and it’s fun to go to the site and you’d like Huda Up, not who do I help next?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:31:14 Um, so it’s a, it’s a magical model. I really, exactly. When I heard your interview with Matt, that was one of those things like, oh man, that’s so dope that he was Akiva fellow. Like I want to talk to him about that. Um, so yeah, maybe that’s a good segway. Like can you talk about what that experience was like? Like what were you doing? Sure, sure. So that was actually the first time I visited sub Saharan Africa. You know, on a side note, um, I was born and raised in the states, but my family’s originally from Egypt. So it’s your, I never properly lived in Egypt. I did a few months here and there. Uh, and I have many lovely relatives that I go to visit, but I’m still a foreigner. And I think maybe early in my life I had a couple of visits where I saw some deep poverty and that might have helped sort of opened my eyes at early age firsthand.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:32:03 Um, and then so for Kenya, that was my first time in sub Saharan Africa and I was honestly, I was afraid because I had never been to that part of the world and I would be exposed to some of the poorest slums in the world. And it’s, it’s hard to see cause it’s, it’s for me, uh, I’m a pretty empathetic guy on like I’ve been told and to feel the struggle and the pain. And then one of the things I felt honestly as guilt, you know, like one of the things I shared with people is that I feel like I won the birth lottery. Lucky to be born into a family that has, that can afford a good education into a country full of opportunity. And I see so much of the world when I travel where I’m like, I literally am blessed. I didn’t deserve this any more than anyone else.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:33:00 And, and then you don’t know how people, even when people were doing things you don’t approve of or agree with, you did a walk in their shoes, you don’t know what they went through. And we’re all culmination of our, our life’s experiences and our traumas. And so a lot of times I feel guilty and I think that’s, for me, giving back helps me feel like at least I’m making best use of the blessings that I’ve received in my life and maybe I can pay it forward and that can make me feel better about being so lucky. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 00:33:41 Yeah. Well, the, the, the thing we were talking at lunch I thought was interesting that when with the, the, the photos with the orphans in your, you’re saying like you don’t know what their intention is, so don’t maybe give them the benefit of the doubt. Like maybe they are just truly inspired and had an amazing day like working in an orphanage. So don’t necessarily judge that they’re, they’re just grabbing the Selfie Instagram. Like, look at me, I’m a great person. Yeah. Like you can, you give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove you otherwise. Right.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:34:11 Exactly. Exactly. Because in the end I think what is social media and what is community about, or we’re sharing our stories, we’re sharing in real time and, and um, sometimes things are perceived differently. Sometimes society reward certain behaviors. I feel like sometimes I see people who are doing social impact initiatives are held to a higher standard than if they were just helping their for profit business or helping their, their personal brand. You know, it’s like a lot of our celebrities, we see, we were proud when they, when they succeed, a life, when they win an award, when they win a trophy or like, yeah, you’re winning, you’re winning alive. But if someone sometimes does something with a social impact perspective, we’re like, well, are they really doing it for them or are they doing it for themselves? It’s like, oh, they’re not mutually exclusive. You can help people and help yourself. In fact, I’m a big believer that you are helping yourself by helping people like that. That’s the secret sauce that I feel that for me, and I think a lot of people, it’s, we, we rise by lifting others. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 00:35:25 Yeah. We, when we, like we were talking, it’s a win, win, win, win. Yeah.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:35:29 Yeah.

Speaker 3: 00:35:30 So speaking of social impact, you organized a thing last night that was very cool and you talk about what that was. Oh, I’m, so you came in

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:35:38 and shared the amazing stuff you’re doing with charity makeovers. Yes. So last night, uh, in Lisbon, we got a great group together. I think it was close to a hundred people sold out event where we, uh, talked about social impact and it was hosted by my friends at Lisbon digital nomads, one of the largest, most active nomadic communities in the world. Uh, and my organization nomads giving back and we featured amazing causes and s and they’re the founders of each that are doing really cool stuff to help the communities, um, from surf writer that is bringing together the passion of surfers with helping the ocean and the environment to hunter from re food. Um, who was a character in a legend that’s really doing a lot of great work, engaging volunteers and making better use of our food. That and mitigating the food waste in a world which is desperately needed today.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:36:41 And we had Stella from 22 stars who’s doing great work for Ugandans, helping both women and children through her social enterprise, selling, uh, paper, recyclable jewelry as well as a foundation, uh, that sponsors kids and does a lot of other great stuff. And, uh, yeah. And myself was featured as a guest for nomads giving back, uh, where we are on a mission to inspire nomads and expats and travelers to give back to the communities that we call home away from home. And uh, we keep bringing up our, our, our, our good friend Matt, Matt Bowles who has his own podcast and who, uh, was the awesome moderator that has a special gift for just bringing out the best in everyone. So it was a special night. Uh, we got a lot of engagement and we got the opportunity to promote a handful of war causes like Shawn’s charity makeover. So it was a great way to form a bridge and connect a lot of people that are looking for each other. And that’s really one of the main goals I haven’t, oh my taking back is, is to raise awareness by building a bridge between those who are looking to give and those that can benefit from that.

Sean Tierney: 00:37:59 I thought it was interesting that the same disparity. Like when I pitched on the boat and I asked that question, how many people here volunteer? And it was like a handful of people and then how many people would, if it were like a very clear way to do it, that that exact same discrepancy existed in that room last night. Um, it’s fascinating. Like it was packed. Like when he says it was a great group, he’s being very humble. It was like a full house, like people falling out the door to, to get into this place and the vast majority went, asked the people do want to volunteer. It’s like they just don’t know where the causes are, how they can contribute. Um, and I think interestingly, we’re kind of proceeding down these two parallel paths, which is probably why we kind of hit it off on the boat. And you with nomads giving back meet with charity makeover, um, I think we both see just this, uh, this need, this unmet need or people want to give and they know that it’s rewarding. You get this gratitude feeling and, uh, at least in our case, the way our model works, you also get kind of the social and learning and you know, fun of the event itself. Um, but yeah, that demand is there as your event last night proved. Um, so I thought it was fantastic. And what I loved about you,

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:39:08 I saw you on stage on the nomad cruise and you threw out this line and it’s very similar to something that I also believe in when you look around that room and you look around, our nomad movement are ex pat movement, you know, there’s just so much talent and there’s so much passion and if we could just mobilize the collective power, yeah. This movement for good. It just imagine what we can accomplish. And it, it’s a very, it’s still very early on. It’s very grassroots. Um, and I feel like, you know, I was a big believer, a big follower of politics in the u s and in the world and I worked for big companies and I know that a lot of change in his role happens from top down, but more than ever were with technology, with, with the, with the way we are, this rising culture of, of can do optimists that are global citizens. I feel like these grassroots movements is where it’s at. Yeah. This is where we can inspire, where we can get a lot of stuff done. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:40:08 Why do you think more people don’t volunteer? Like why is there that gap that we saw last night?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:40:15 So that’s a great question. One thing as you just highlighted is awareness. It’s where we’re all competing now for people’s attention and there’s just so much information and opportunities and choices that you know, wherever you go you’re going to see a lot of the same stuff. And the those who create volunteer opportunities often don’t rise to the top of the newsfeeds cause they don’t have the paid advertising. Both, both literally, I mean, but also figuratively, you know, in life, right. Where were we are brainwashed into wanting things into, to keeping up with the Joneses. And it’s not like you often see as much advertising for giving back and charities and things like that because it’s just not, the budget is not there. So I think part of it is awareness. I think another part of it is there are some sort of cultural shifts going on.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:41:13 I think where we are, there’s, you know, some more beliefs out there about self promotion, uh, taking care of yourself before others. Um, but even among the many people that aren’t thinking that way, I think also it’s just awareness of opportunities. It’s the confidence that or the faith that it’s good for you. So some people I know are passionate volunteers that do all the time and they’re almost addicted. And there, there are people that never really sort of step into it cause I think they don’t know how to give. They don’t know where, I don’t know who to trust or they don’t know exactly how it feels. And so, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And part of what I was trying, what I’m trying to do with no one’s giving back is give some bite sized opportunities where it’s not so sort of, I have to go volunteer in the slums of Kenya for four months, but rather a week or what I love about charity makeover, it’s a weekend. And if you can get that sense of feeling and accomplishment that you made a difference in people’s lives, even in a weekend, that will carry you forward to the next thing and the next thing. And, and, and um, yeah, I think, I think that’s, that’s it.

Sean Tierney: 00:42:42 Yeah. Yeah. I think some of it is like we were talking last night about that drop in the ocean syndrome that affects, maybe we can go into that. Like what? Uh, and I’ll let you describe what that is maybe. Yeah, sure. So I think sometimes people feel, and I certainly have, well I’m just one person. Okay,

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:43:02 well what difference can I make? Right? And so there’s this famous quote and I’m going to butcher it, but it’s something along the lines of like, what difference can I make if I’m just a drop in the ocean? And what is the ocean, what is the ocean? But a multitude of individual traps. Like there would be no ocean if it wasn’t for an individual job. And you are one, and I’m a big believer in the butterfly effect. You don’t know what impact you’re going to have. And if you literally just change one life, you change the world. And as we were, as this might sound, but I’m more and more every year of a believer that we’re all connected or all one. And so if, if you change one life, if you help one person, you’re, you’re helping yourself raw collective community. And um, and it just, it’s just something that I realized that I can stand behind this. And when it comes to like, there are certain things, jobs where I’ve had where yeah, you follow each drink that you drink the Koolaid and you’ve like, oh, I wanna help this company succeed. But when you’re actually helping an individual or helping the environment, that’s permanent, that’s real, that’s happening. I’ve seen companies come and go, I’ve seen money come and go, but no one could ever take that

Sean Tierney: 00:44:19 back. That impact you had on that person’s life. And that’s why I think Cuba is so phenomenal, right? It’s very individual focused. Yeah, it doesn’t, it’s not like the money gets diffused and kind of trickles into some amorphous, faceless

Speaker 3: 00:44:32 thing. It’s like you’re giving a pump so that person can put water in their farm and grow beans and then pay back that loan. Like that’s very tangible.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:44:40 Exactly, exactly. And I think, I think that’s another reason you were talking about why do people volunteers, it’s hard to capture that story. Like I, I did. Um, you’re asking about my volunteer experience that the latest one I did before, no, my team back is this really cool event organizer and my friend Tom Hickman who created the Bali Hope Ultra, which is, which was the first ultra marathon in Bali from coast to coast for 84 kilometers. But the, the, the purpose behind it was to raise a 100,000 Australian dollars to put a hundred disadvantage and these kids through school, and there’s only 13 of us raising a hundred k and I had never done a big fundraiser like that before. I didn’t know if I can do it. And I was also a lot more shy than I am now about putting myself out there. But ultimately I went for it and I was happy that my, my Karen community contributed over $6,000 and that forever changed the lives of six kids.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:45:49 It gave six kids and education that would have had otherwise. And I emphasized in number six because not five, not seven, six if, and they have names and they have lives and their families have lives and we don’t know that if one gets a much better job because they got a better education than they can have more kids and get a better education for the kids. It’s a butterfly effect. And yeah, I feel good and I feel inspired that other people join this cause and that it becomes, um, you know, the tagline I, I use for nomads giving back is inspire yourself, inspire the world. Because I believe that life’s about, it’s a virtuous cycle. You could go down a vicious circle or virtuous one and if you end up rising above and being a better version and then people are inspired by that, that feedback inspires me to be even better now. I feel like I, I owe it to other people to be better. And it becomes this thing like where you just want to be better and better in this, this grow assignability accountability and, and uh, yeah, people are counting on you like literally counting on you and you want to, you want to help them and so, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 00:47:08 I like it. You call your shot and then you’re held accountable to make it and like you said, it, it, it feeds on itself. Yeah. Interesting. Um, okay. Changing gears here a little bit. Um, can we talk about your running? Like I’m a fellow runner so I’m just very curious how you are able to run at altitude Everest and do these double marathons back to back. I know in San Francisco you like started, you know, before the actual marathon ran to the starting point and then ran another marathon, which is amazing. Like how did you get to this level?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:47:44 Yeah. Thank you. Um, it’s funny because I think a lot of people that I knew earlier in my life I that are going to be following me on social media. I lost touch with, um, don’t see that in me and I look back through their law eyes. Oh, they, and I, I see what they’re talking about because in my twenties when I was working hard and stressed out, I, um, I was a smoker. Um, I probably drank more than I should have. I definitely ate more than I should have and not healthy. Um, because I was in, in personal life also sort of in survival mode, but then I was rocking at work. Right. So I, um, in general, and uh, one day there was, I think it all started from a a JP Morgan corporate challenge race where they have like a, I think it’s a five k or all around the world.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:48:38 And I ran one in New York and um, it was so hard, like running that 30 minutes was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done in terms of like difficulty for where I was at. But then I remember going back to my office and I’m, I’m just being honest, as simple as it was, they had a, a banner at my desk and congratulating me and my team had like, I think they had like balloons and a cake because they knew it was a big deal, um, for me. And I was like, wow. And I, I,

Speaker 3: 00:49:10 I told him a couple of, of this story and they laughed. Or like for a five k they celebrated you for a five kit. I’m like, baby steps. Yeah. Life is all relative, man. It’s all relative. I’m telling you the till today,

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:49:21 five k was harder than some of my ultra marathons and part, a lot of it is the mental challenge, doing something that you don’t know or you can do, thinking that there’s a real chance you’re gonna fail. [inaudible] um, but someone’s smart told me once that showing up to the starting line is the hardest part. And that’s actually the most important part. And I feel like for me, running became a simile or analogy for other things alive. If I feel like I can do the impossible for me in this part of my life, like running a marathon, my first one, then maybe I can do the impossible and other parts of my life. Like start a business. Yeah. You know, all these other big goals. I’m like, well, I’ve done one impossible thing. Maybe we could do another impossible thing. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 00:50:14 Well I love this theme, this recurring theme of stacking wins. Um, actually in episode 14 we were talking about this where, uh, you build these very small things and it can, the first one can start as small as like cleaning your room today.

Sean Tierney: 00:50:28 You know, like start with something where you can just get it done and have a win and then, okay, great. And you feel good from that. So what’s a little bigger when we can tackle tomorrow, let’s go run a five k the next thing, let’s run a freaking double marathon. You know, you eventually road that to a pretty insane, you know, that level of athletic prowess, which is impressive.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:50:51 Thank you. Thank you. And I’m, uh, I, I think to add a little more, I, I mentioned how I’m goal oriented, but what I, what I like to do in life is reverse engineer the process. So like let’s say I set these goals, like I said, a thousand days before my 40th birthday, I set three big goals. One for my mind, which is to create a social enterprise. And I said that’s where my heart to one for my body, which was to run 25 marathons and when, who my soul, which was to explore a hundred countries because that’s what really sort of fueled my soul is, is that the exploration of not just externally, but it forced me to explore internally within, yeah. And uh, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t counted recently, but I think I’m at like 20 days, 18 days, something like that to go before my 40th birthday. And I guess I’m on track. I did the marathon goal and I did the travel goal, uh, 25 marathons, a hundred countries and the social enterprise, it basically launched, I mean I’m a, I’m, I don’t know when exactly to call it the launch date, but I’ve had now I’m nine events in, in a few countries and it’s a, it’s a real, like when I looked around the room last night, I’m like, oh, okay. I guess,

Sean Tierney: 00:52:16 I guess it’s launched. Well, it was certainly well received. What does it need? What can people contribute if they want to be a part of this movement?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:52:27 That’s a great question. Thanks. And yeah, so I was sharing with you, uh, this is brand new. We just started a few months ago and I’m excited about how the message is resonating. Uh, as we’ve been hosting these events and talking to people about the importance of connecting nomads and foreigners with the local causes, what I am super excited about is there’s been a bunch of people coming up saying that same question, how can I give back to know what’s coming back? Because they might think that perhaps there is a, a paid forward exponential effect, right? Because if they might not, um, be at the right place at the right time to get back to particular cause, but if they can help us help others, uh, I could have that domino effect. And I often, when they, someone asked me that, I asked the same question, I’m like, oh, how can you help?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:53:16 How would you like to help? So there’s two aspects of that question. Not only, or what are your skills, what are your interests? What are your passion? Because they’re not always the same thing. In fact, it often shouldn’t be, someone might be really good at website design, but they actually want something more. I want to help people, I want to connect with people or they might want to learn Spanish. Uh, and so what I try to do is find a way that’s a good blend of our needs with their skills, but also their passions and interests with what we can offer them. So, for example, I spent the last few months in metagene with his amazing Colombian team that are helping to build out this model for no one’s coming back. And other people that wanted to volunteer there, the nomads, one of them is that exact sample example.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:54:06 They have technical skills. Um, but they really wanted to learn Spanish. And so I said, okay, well listen, how about this? Why don’t we do both? You could donate your skills on how to improve our website for a few hours a week and a few hours a week you work with my Colombian team and you can work in Spanish and get to know more about the actual Colombian culture. I mean, one of the things that no matter you’re looking for are connections to locals. And I thought that, you know, everyone seems so happy about, um, finding a meaningful way to connect with locals.

Speaker 3: 00:54:37 Yeah. This actually brings up another thing that we were talking about at lunch. That theme of connecting with locals and how to better, you know, to some extent when we do things like a nomad cruise is amazing as it was. Um, it’s a bit of a bubble. Right. And the program that I was on that was my introduction to this lifestyle was remote year and that was very much a bubble, although they do try to integrate and get you out into the local scene. Um, but what can people do to connect with locals? How do you recommend volunteering seems to be a great way. Do you have any other advice for people that want to genuinely integrate and get involved in a local community?

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:55:17 Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. And I think, I think you hit it on the head. I mean these programs that you just talked about and there’s other, there’s other ones creating that safety community bubble is actually can be very, very good cause that could make the difference of someone actually taking that leap. That said, uh, even if the organizational leaders are creating opportunities to engage more locally, it’s on the, it’s on the person that’s on the users, on the client. It’s on the nomad himself to go out and do that. So I think it’s really important to set goals. Say, if I’m going to go to this one town for a month, I’m going to spend at least one day a week. It’s going out to an event where my fellow immediate bubbles, not going to, I find something on Facebook, Facebook, meetup.com all events, um, have all these events that are becoming more community based.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:56:09 You can go check out the bulletin boards at cafes. I think volunteers volunteering as amazing because what happens is like let’s say, I’ll give you an example, there’s a, a commuter, uh, like a poor neighborhood called community 13 in metagene Columbia where more and more people are going, which I think is great to get a glimpse of what maybe a lower economic socioeconomic whole environment’s like. And the main reason that people go there now or Kango there or feel safe to go is to go on something called the graffiti tour. And you go and you take pictures and they tell you about the history and it’s good. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s, it’s, it’s better than nothing. I think it’s great to get a glimpse of these cultures as long as long as you’re respectful and how you engage and you take these photos and, and give back while you’re there, at least with a little bit of money.

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:56:58 But that said, that’s more like observing. That’s not engaging. So one of the last events I had, we, my team ray, uh, formed a team joining our friends charity soccer fundraiser where we had a soccer tournament and we had a Nomex even back team and we went and played soccer with locals in the community. There are kids around us, they were looking up to us and we were playing with them. And it was rather than observing, we’re engaging with the community. So I think volunteering, finding a local events, um, even if it’s just a language exchange, wherever would let whatever level you’re at. Um, strike up conversations with people that, you know, just be friendly and getting out there. Um, I have some friends who go online dating, you know, and that’s another way to kind of have a one on one connection and exchange cultures. And there’s, there’s ways of doing this dating that’s not necessarily romantic. You could still be, I’m not dating, but just meet one on one’s through these apps and through these connections. Yes, there’s now these mentorship programs through Facebook you can do, um, I mean, it’s about taking a few risks. Even if you’re an introvert or this outside of the comfort zone, recognizing that

Speaker 3: 00:58:16 we’ve made all this effort to get to this point to put ourselves outside our comfort zone. Let’s not now after all that, revert back to our comfort zone and be in a bubble, right? Stay in the car when you’ve driven all the way to the destination. Get out of the car to explore. Exactly. Exactly. I’ll throw one other out there. Eat with, for anyone listening who hasn’t tried it, you should try this. It’s amazing. It’s an APP that allows you to connect with a local and have dinner in their kitchen. It, and it’s like six strangers usually come together and the local, uh, it’s, it’s for profits or you’re, you’re paying them, but they have you under their house into these amazing experiences. Um, that I’ve just, I’ve done a number of these in there, so. Cool. Yeah, and you know, one more thought that I think is really, really amazing about the time we are in even

Tarek Kholoussy: 00:59:04 today, not just joining an event hosted event. Like literally just say I’m going to be at this cafe and I want to talk about this. It could be your expertise professionally. It could be your hobby, it could be a question, it could be an open discussion. And nowadays with just Facebook and going, oh, coworking or cafe that’s popular and you just posted, you’d be amazed of the people out there that are like minded and you might post something for 100% of people, but really all you need is 0.1%. You’ll get a group of five or 10 people and you can share a discussion on common interest and common passion.

Sean Tierney: 00:59:38 Yeah, just get a conversation going and we’re doing it tomorrow night. That’s right. We found we have this extra beer that was leftover from the event. So what can we do with this? How can we put this to good use and like let’s organize a meetup and bring people together. So absolutely. Okay. Well we’re gonna wrap up, but I, I do wanna ask you one more thing cause I’m fascinated. This was one of the things I took from Matt’s interview that again was like weird commonality. So you are a fan of headspace. Yeah. You introduced me to the Sam Harris App Waking Up, which I now use. I think I’m on day 28. Um, so that was very interesting. Um, what does meditation do for you? How did you get into it? Uh, why do you meditate?

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:00:18 Sure, sure. So it’s funny that now I’m in a position where people are asking me about meditation because I still consider myself a novice. I just got into meditating about a year, almost a year ago, and thankfully I got into the daily habit of meditating, not much. I’d take 10 to 20 minutes a day. Um, usually right when I wake up and I’ve been using the app you just mentioned. I started with headspace, move to waking up. Um, for me it’s sort of let’s me start my day in a more centered mindset. Um, I don’t always connect well or easily with my inner self and I feel like that’s the closest thing that gets me to it. That’s quicken, quicken, easy. Um, not easy but uh, quick and just available. And what I realized is that having lived the life I had, being very busy minded, New Yorker, two phones, one work on this, so much data, so much input, so much people and things and news and calls and work and goals and just always on the go.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:01:30 Um, I think sometimes less is more and it took me a while to figure that out. And like even like my country go off exploring a hundred countries, I realized, yeah, it, for me it wasn’t about the number of countries is about exploring, but now I’m going to point where I am not seeking exploration externally, but more internally. And meditation is one way of doing that to sort of realize, okay, well what is this all about? Why am I here? What am I really after? What really happened yesterday and what I do immediately after my meditation exercise is a, a short, quick gratitude exercise where, you know, some people are much more robust in their approach, but I just write one simple thing sometimes too that I’m thankful for often something that happened the previous day. Sometimes it’s something that I thought about it in my sleep, maybe turn a dream or half lucid and it’s sort of when you start that day from gratitude, you’re starting that day with abundance rather than scarcity and you realize that, wow, everything I find is about perspective.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:02:43 You know, in New York when I was making good money, I felt lacking because I was surrounded by people that made me feel and really I let them make me feel less. Maybe they made more money than me, maybe they had more power over me. And then I found myself not making money, basically zero for years now on an active income and I’ve never felt more abundant. I’m living in places where, um, I feel blessed because of the background I had or I feel appreciative that I won that birth order. As I mentioned earlier. So it’s amazing how you can go from making good money and feeling less to making no money and feeling more because it’s all about perspective and how you decided to choose, perceive the life that you are given and the life that you’re living. And um, that’s what meditation, the gratitude exercise combined is doing for me.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:03:38 And I want to get more into it more and more my friends were doing for Pasina, you know, the 10 day silent meditation. I think that’s something that I like to try one day, but for me that’s like running an ultra marathon and I’m still at the five k yeah, 10 days of silence is pretty intense. But I’ve done the ultramarathon from a five k before. And so that’s another example of the parallel were like, that seems impossible for me. But you know what, I’ve done the impossible before. And sometimes you have to be your own sort of cheerleader, a champion and, and, and believe that if that’s something you want to do to work towards it.

Sean Tierney: 01:04:13 Yeah. Hearing you talk about the gratitude and the perspective and you know, more is less. Um, it, I find myself constantly being very intentional or observing. This is what I’ve gotten through. Meditation is observing that we set the bar higher and higher and as we come to, uh, anchor to new higher heights that we then, you know, you get that bigger car and now suddenly it’s like you’re bummed cause you don’t have the range rover, you know, like how ridiculous. Um, not in our situation because obviously we don’t have cars, but the point being that how do we avoid continuously anchoring to higher and higher breakpoints? How do we keep resetting that back to a baseline? And I think travel, that’s one of the really good aspects of travel is that it forces you to like constantly confront that and reset to that base point.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:05:06 Yeah. Yeah. There’s um, a term that describes a lot of what you’re saying that he, he donek adaptation where once you achieve a higher, something, you get influx of, uh, of like satisfaction and then it goes away and now it becomes a new baseline. And so if you’re chasing things that, um, are based on things, then it’s almost impossible to ever be fulfilled because there’s always going to be something better. But when it comes to experiences, it’s a little bit easier because the experience has come and gone. You don’t hold onto it. And every experience is different. And I think living a, an um, a life that there’s a lot of change, whether it’s travel or some other way is a good way to sort of mitigate that. He done it, got rotation. And um, I also think, again going back to gratitude is how do you continue to raise the goals but also be thankful.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:06:04 And I’ll give you an example. I woke up this morning, I’m like, so was that event successful? And I thought, and I, of course I zeroed in on what could have been better. I wish this had happened. I wish that had happened, a blah, blah, blah. You’re always going to be your own worst critic though. But then at what point are going to be like, wait a minute, we’ll look at where I came from. And you have to, so you have to have that balance. And I do think there’s constructive criticism, um, but it’s, it’s not easy. I think that that’s what you just described as my, my blessing and my curse. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot of what I want and I have, um, had hoped for, but I also didn’t make it easy on myself. I’m pretty hard on myself. I always want more and I judged myself too hard. But that’s also what made me get what I wanted. So I don’t know if I found, I’ll be honest, I’m still growing every second and I don’t, I don’t know if I found that out. I think that your last question just now is the one that I struggle with the most and I’m thankful and I’m also a sometimes humbled by how much more growth I want to do in that per category. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 01:07:22 Well, we’re all figuring it out. I thought it was a fantastic success. You’re reading before we started this interview, Italy, you got the message and the other one maybe talk about that. I mean, that was incredible butterfly effect.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:07:33 Yeah. Yeah. It’s, um, just off the cuff, right before we started this discussion. Uh, well I got to know vacation where I was tagging something and someone who, um, I spoke to briefly just met last night, did it really nice thorough posts summarizing the event, tagging the causes, the speakers summarizing the takeaways,

Speaker 3: 01:07:57 wrote it in a way better. I mean I might use some of the copyright. It was better written than someone of the stuff I’m saying myself, but my own cause. Yeah. And, and

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:08:05 um, wow. Talk about being a thoughtful, thorough listening, engaged and took the time out of her busy day to figure this out to join the event. Um, so one of the themes that Sean and I were talking about, a lunches, a lot of what we’re doing may not be for a 100%. Like right now, who’s listening to this right? This second, maybe some of what I had to say resonate with some of you. Hopefully it did. But if it didn’t, if it resonated with a few of you and it gave you something to do, like try that APP or do the ric Shar run or go for a run or

Speaker 3: 01:08:41 do a volunteer thing, just one thing again, then it was all worth it. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think that’s a good place to wrap up. Just three final questions that I always ask my guests. And I think I know the answer to the favorite book because I think we share it, but what is your one book that you would say has sculpted you in some critical way? All right. Well what I’ll do since you and I both know and love this book, I’m gonna

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:09:06 mention it and I’m going to jump to the next one. Perfect. So the untethered soul was a game changer for me by Michael Singer. So it helped me really sort of opened my eyes, uh, on a deep, deep level of connecting with my inner self and tap into even more of a spiritual side of me. Um, but that said, you know, I’m looking on your bookshelf from here and there’s one name that sticks out that even when I just see the name, I light up Alan Watts. Alan Watts is another major game changer who I discovered around that same time as, um, as Michael Singer’s untethered soul. Uh, most of what I’ve uh, do with Alan Watts is audio books and youtube listening to lectures. He just has this natural articulate way of explaining very complicated concepts about philosophy, about psychology, about your inner self spirituality, but in a way that, um, is fun, charismatic, uh, enlightening. Um,

Speaker 3: 01:10:18 his lectures, I don’t know if you’ve heard this audio lectures. Yes, sir. Um, I am going to link in the show notes to how I discovered him, which was via a remix song where it was Alan Watts overlaid and it’s just this beautiful song. But like, I started hearing this guy talk and I’m like, who is Alan Watts? I gotta look this guy up and there’s all kinds of free youtube lectures out there that you can go listen to them. Then of course, the books. But

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:10:40 yeah, I like that. He has this natural convincing way that to sort of make sense.

Speaker 3: 01:10:45 He’s so confident in talking about these things that to me are so abstract and unknowable, but the weight and then you hear him talking about, you’re like, wow, maybe he’s right there. Yeah.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:10:54 You know, he says things like life as a game and just makes it seem that like makes things light. You know, it’s so deep and so profound, but there’s beauty and making it light because don’t take life so seriously. Enjoy the ride, you know? And, and he does it in a way. Yeah. Huge Fan. Highly recommend him. In fact, I, I’m going to listen to him later today.

Speaker 3: 01:11:15 Awesome. What is one tool or hack or tip you can give for the travelers listening maybe that has made your life easier?

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:11:24 Yeah, so I think there’s a bunch of different things. Uh, one that comes to mind is not planning too far in advance in your travels so that you can curate flexibility. I think a lot of times, um, you know, in terms of like using a tool, what I do is I put Google alerts for flights, uh, from potential places. I might even know I’m going to be there and once in awhile I get a discount. That is just, I’m like, oh, that’s serendipity. I need to do that. I’ll give you an example. In two days I’m flying from here, from Lisbon to Bali for $290. But normally it’s like two or three, even four times that because I had a Google alert that popped up in my inbox. I’m like, I had an idea of going there around that time and I just bought it and then the next day doubled in price again.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:12:19 So that’s one thing. I, I you also use, um, this is more of like a productivity and also go more into things. Like we get so many ideas and ticklers like emails, you’re on a book and this, that you wanted to read and this and that. And, uh, I don’t want to forget about them, but I also don’t want it blogging up my current next week or month of thinking. So I use the Google snooze button. You know, the Google snooze, there’s a snooze little function within your Gmail and g GMO. And uh, so every single thing I get, if I don’t want to let go, but I don’t need to work on it and I don’t even think about it, I just snooze it for like a month, six months, sometimes a book, sometimes the chapter that I wanted to read and I’m like, I think in six months from now or I’ll think about this and if it’s, if I get it again, I’ll snooze it again or I’ll, I’ll address it then sometimes there’s a conference that I want to check out or a person I wanted to reach out to. It’s just a nice way to like not let go of all those things that aren’t urgent. But you think they might be valuable later on. Yeah. And declutter. Declutter. Yeah. So you can focus more now, but not let go of the value that it might be worth later.

Speaker 3: 01:13:22 Absolutely. We use something called Boomerang. There you go. Yeah, they built it into their tool is exactly, companies do. Okay.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:13:30 Last question. Um,

Speaker 3: 01:13:33 what advice, if you had it to do over again or if you had a time machine and you could go back to 20 year old Tarik and say anything, uh, is there anything you could, what would you say to yourself?

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:13:45 Oh my God, so much. Um, the first thing my mind goes towards is being healthier, um, and being more confident and living life with more of a sense of urgency. Um, like those are all sort of Cliche, but those are general things that are very true. I realized that, uh, there’s growth about taking the leap in anything, like you don’t know what you don’t know and that it’s become, it’s become now, um, a sort of addiction for me to try to be better than I was before. Um, I, like I said, sometimes I’m hard on myself and that’s not always easy, but when I look back year on year, I’m Elise, I see progress. Right. And so I think, I think I wish I can go back to my 20 year old self and say, listen, you don’t know what you don’t know. And, and I, I think to summarize it, I’d say that did it specifically did a 20 year old get out of the passenger seat and jump in the driver’s seat of that Rick Shaw and just, doesn’t matter if it’s a Rick Shar Ferrari, just get in something. It’s better to be a driver of your rickshaw then the passenger seat of our Ferrari.

Sean Tierney: 01:15:11 Words of wisdom. Love it. Yup. And the mortality, the confronting mortality thing, which I think is really unique in your case. It’s like you had that experience that made that very real, um, and kind of made you say, okay, well life isn’t permanent. Like it’s let’s do some things here. Um, there’s a speech that I, I’m going to link in the show notes by Steve Jobs that I love and he’s saying death is life’s greatest change. Yes, yes. I love that quote. You, if you haven’t seen this speech, it’s about 15 minutes. You get to watch the whole thing. It’s amazing. Um, but death is life’s greatest change agent. And when you acknowledge that it forces you to be like, dude, it’s not going to be forever. Let’s, yeah, let’s do stuff.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:15:54 Yeah. And um, another great talk if you want to, another recommendation is Jim Carey’s graduation speech he gave for me. That was, I, I when I was bout to make my change of Chump, like quitting my job and going traveling, I listened to a speech every day as if it was like reading the Bible. It really spoke to me and he says like a quote like risk being seen in all of your glory. Cause you know, acceptance, acceptance in this world can make you feel invisible. So risk being seen in all of your glory. Like that’s fine. We want to be, we, the world wants us to be the best version of herself, our best versions of ourselves. We all want it from ourselves. So if someone goes on states, you want that comedian, you want that speaker to be the best. So why, you know, not doing that, not being your best is being selfish to weaknesses and stuff. So, um, I dunno, I really spoke to me to just like take that risk and be genuine and go after your dreams and um,

Sean Tierney: 01:16:57 yeah, the nomad cruise had that in spades. If, I mean the exact, that feeling from that audience, you could tell that the, every time someone went up to speak, it’s their first time speaking in that speaker workshop. It was such supportive vibe.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:17:10 Powerful. Yeah. Powerful. Because you can, when you see people growing, people don’t want perfection. They want authenticity because that’s where you can relate because no one is perfect. We all have our insecurities. We all have our weaknesses. But when you see someone trying overcome and watching the growth in action, a work in progress, that’s beautiful. So how, let’s, let’s wrap it there. Um, nomads giving back quick plug, how can people get involved with that? What’s the website? Yeah, I would love, uh, to grow this movement. I mean it’s perfectly aligned with charity makeover or Sean and I love what you’re doing. Um, no much giving back. It’s just if you want to find us online, Facebook or Instagram or Linkedin, we have no meds giving back a handle. We are growing our, our communities in digital nomad cities starting already in Metagene, Columbia. I’m heading to Bali in a few days where I want to try to grow that community.

Tarek Kholoussy: 01:18:11 We’re here in Lisbon. So my goal is to create events in these top cities. I’m looking for people that want to help collaborate on these events. Like we’re going to do one tomorrow here. Um, want to share ideas about what kind of causes are recommended, are trusted, are doing great things that we can help promote, uh, to serve as that bridge. Um, I am, I, I want to help people find where they want to volunteer, whether it’s locally for a particular cause, but I also welcome people who want to support, no mites giving back directly. And I am taking anyone who’s interested. We find a place that’s productive for everyone. We have a nice discussion about, again, what are the needs, what are the skills, what are the interests among everyone? And we’re building a cohort. We’ve already have more than 15 people in the last few months and have volunteered in some way. Uh, and it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. That’s dope nomads giving back.com. Tara, thank you so much for being on the show. It’s been pretty awesome. Awe, thanks. Sean. Is, I love what you’re doing and what you represent and uh, I wish you all the best material to make over and uh, I’m so glad we got to become good friends. Cheers. Cheers, Bro.

Contact Details

Tarek Kholoussy
tarek.world / nomadsgivingback
tarek.world / nomadsgivingback
Tarek Kholoussy / nomadsgivingback
Video on my personal journey:
Inspiring Lessons from 100 Countries, 25 Marathons & 1 Social Enterprise by Tarek Kholoussy
Current Company
Nomads Giving Back!
United States of America
Countries Visited
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cabo Verde
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Curaçao
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Holy See
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Korea (Republic of)
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Moldova (Republic of)
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Martin (French part)
  • Singapore
  • Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Viet Nam
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
Where in the world are you now?
Where were you living when you decided to start a nomadic life?
In which (if any) of these travel programs have you participated?
  • Nomad Cruise
  • Selina
What were the initial set of circumstances or motive(s) that led you to experiment with a nomadic life?
I experienced a couple moments that led me to wake up and face my own mortality as well as a couple moments of serendipity that helped me believe I could live the life I imagined.
Was there something specifically you were looking to gain or escape from that you’re willing/able to share?
What did you do for income/work while traveling?
For work in recent months, I have been focused on creating Nomads Giving Back! For income, I rely on passive investments.
Did that situation change at all during the course of your travels?
Are you still doing the same work today as when you went nomadic?
Did you find it challenging to do your work from abroad?
What type of personal or business growth did you expect to experience and how did that turn out in actuality?
You don’t know what you don’t know. I honestly didn’t know what I expected, but I look back so happy to make the leap because of all the personal growth I experienced… I still don’t know what’s to come. But am learning to embrace that uncertainty recognizing the unknown is actually what makes a life worth living. I’m excited more than ever to see what comes next!
What was the highest high-point and lowest low-point of your travels?
The high-points of my travels were the moments I felt most alive and experiences that helped me grow the most… such as giving back to beautiful communities in special places like Bali, Colombia, Kenya and Sri Lanka. The low-points of my travels were generally related to dealing with the tough times that will undoubtedly arise without the support of your home community.
Was there ever a point at which you gave serious consideration to quitting the nomadic journey?
What did you learn from your nomadic existence that was unintuitive or unexpected but obvious now in retrospect?
You don’t know what you don’t know. In retrospect, it wasn’t obvious how my view on the world and on life would change. Or how my goals and dreams would evolve. I learned to try my best to remain open and seek experiences that challenge my assumptions and are uncovered outside my comfort zone.
Was it hard to re-integrate back into society after your travels?
I’m still traveling!
What can you not “un-see” at this point?
What I can’t un-see at this point is how we are all connected. As different as someone might appear, I believe if he had walked in my shoes and experienced what I had experienced, he would in essence be me. And vice versa, I would be him. At the end of the day, I believe we’re all the same… we’re all one.
How and to what extent has your group kept in touch after the experience ended?
I’ve stayed in touch with the Nomad Cruise community through joining subsequent ones as well as meeting old and new friends in various places and events around the world.
How do you think you’ve changed as a person from the experience?
Less fear. More open. More clear-minded. More alive.
What would you say to someone considering taking a leap like this?
How (if at all) has your idea of work changed from the experience?
For me, I am choosing to only “work” on initiatives that add meaning to my life.
What’s your best travel hack?
Don’t get stuck in the bumble… make local friends! It’s a win-win travel hack guaranteed to enhance your experience.
Is there a piece of gear you could you not live without at this point?
Any particular routines or rituals that kept you fit/healthy/sane throughout the year?
I set challenging long-term fitness goals that force me to break them down into many repeated smaller steps to keep me on track… such as a marathon that requires a prerequisite series of training runs.
What resources (if any) did you use in preparing to go abroad?
Not much prep really. Biggest hurdle was overcoming the fear of leaving my old corporate life. So I consumed hundreds of inspirational books & talks. 😉
If you were to do it again, what would you go back and tell your former self to do differently in order to get more out of the experience?
Keep a journal. Set more goals. Invest more time with locals. Learn the language. Give back more.
Any ideas for a product or service to solve a pain point for nomadic travelers you believe should exist?


Sean is host of Nomad Podcast, author of the Nomad Prep eCourse to help others successfully transition to the nomadic lifestyle. Sean is also founder of Problemattic, a global movement to mobilize knowledge workers for good. Read more from Sean on his personal blog or his business blog.

View all posts

Nomad Podcast is a series of conversations with nomads, founders and domain experts to help get more people unstuck through transitioning to a nomadic lifestyle. Add your email to get special access to private AMA sessions, pre-release products and other VIP shiz.