Nomad Playground gives you a roadmap for finding high-quality remote-friendly work faster and with less headaches. Hear from founder Luke Tierney how it works.

The single biggest obstacle preventing most people from trying the nomadic lifestyle is lack of access to high-quality, nomad-friendly remote work. Hundreds of remote work job sites exist but how do you decide which are the ones worthy of investing your precious time? Today’s guest is Luke Tierney (no relation) of Luke is on a quest to save you time and heartache in this search by curating the best remote work sites out there and aggregating reviews so you know where to focus your search.

Luke was a nomad himself from an early age and found a huge discrepancy in the quality of remote-friendly job listings depending on the site. Reputable, big-name sites often consumed disproportionately large amounts of time while providing poor results relative to lesser-known alternative niche sites. Luke tackled this problem by creating essentially the “Yelp of job sites” by aggregating reviews from job seekers and categorizing the sites on various dimensions to help the job seeker identify the gems which would yield the highest return for effort invested.

In this interview Luke shares design patterns of what works in successful job hunts, trends he’s seeing in the shifting landscape of remote job sites, why he created Nomad Playground, how it’s evolved beyond his original vision, the dangers of spec work, why Google cannot be trusted in a job hunt and more. I got to play an open mic performance with Luke while he was living Lisbon and can vouch that he sounds like Scott Stapp when he wants to and shares my passion for helping nomads become more successful while on the road. I hope you enjoy this conversation.

Show Notes

Time   Topic
0:01:57   Welcome and context
0:03:03   What is Nomad Playground?
0:04:47   So you’re not aggregating the listings, you’re aggregating the job sites?
0:05:40   Saving you the brain damage of the search
0:08:11   What are the dimensions on which you categorize job sites?
0:10:18   The category of spec work
0:13:53   Are there any patterns in terms of what you’ve seen in the marketplace?
0:19:11   You can’t trust Google, need opinions from people who have used the sites
0:21:21   Can you tell us about the origin story of Nomad Playground?
0:24:45   How has it evolved and deviated from the original vision?
0:28:00   You serve both employees and employers: what’s the value prop here to an employer?
0:30:09   You’re the matchmaker that routes employees and employers which sites they should be using
0:33:00   What can someone do to increase their odds of getting remote work?
0:36:42   Anything you read on an ongoing basis?
0:40:33   Rituals or travel hacks to save money & time?
0:42:56   What are the exercises in your morning routine?
0:45:14   For meditation do you use a particular app or style of meditation?
0:47:30   What would Scott Stapp do?
0:48:13   Parting thoughts


Nomad Playground website
The exhaustive job site list for remote work
Top Coder job site
Indeed job site
Freelancer job site
Free Up job site
VIP Kid Teach English online site
Angel List job site (enable remote filter)
We Work Remotely job site
“The Art of Learning” book by Josh Waitzkin
Josh Waitzkin’s interview on Tim Ferriss’ podcast
Scott Stapp Wikipedia page



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Speaker 1 – 00:00 – Nomad, nomad, nomad podcast.

Sean Tierney – 00:21 – What do you think the single biggest obstacle is that currently prevents the average person who wants to try the nomadic lifestyle from doing so? Answer access to quality remote work. Our guest today is Luke Tierney of Nomad Playground. There are hundreds of job sites out there featuring remote friendly work, but you could easily spend all of your days just sifting through, making profiles, applying to these jobs instead of actually just drilling down and finding the one or two sites that are going to yield the most likelihood of you finding that job you want. Luke is tackling this issue, head on with Nomad Playground, having created a review aggregator, which is essentially the yelp of job sites. In this conversation, Luke explains the challenges of finding that needle in the haystack when it comes to landing that dream job that’s going to allow you to work comfortably from the road.

Sean Tierney – 01:08 – We’ll talk about the tips for job seekers, how to increase your odds of landing that ideal job trends and the remote work job market design patterns of what works well in nomadic job, hunting in the common mistakes to avoid. That could hurt your chances, so Luke has been a nomad himself around Southeast Asia and South and Central America, and so this is a job site by a nomad for nomads. So I’m very excited. Without further ado, here is my conversation with Luke Tierney of Nomad Playground. Nomad podcast is supported in part by Nomad Prep, an online academy that teaches you everything you need to know to take your job on the road and crush it abroad. Enroll today at, and get your first four days of training completely free. Nomad Prep. Take your job on the road and take on the world.

Sean Tierney – 01:57 – Alright, welcome. Luke. Tierney. No relation to Nomad podcast.

Luke Tierney – 02:04 – Good to be here.

Sean Tierney – 02:06 – Let me. Let me set the table here for everyone. So to me, remote remote work, my goal is to get more people making the transition to the nomadic lifestyle. And my hypothesis is that the gating factor for more people not doing this is that they don’t have access to remote work or good remote work, right? Desirable remote jobs. I lived with Trish, whom, you know, from Remote Year was the month of June I spent with her and over a couple of conversations we talked about it and she pretty much validated that indeed, at least for Remote Year, this is the case that most people that apply for that, it’s the lack of, of good remote work that keeps more people from doing it. And I’m just assuming that that same thing applies to just the space in general. More people going nomadic nomad, Nomad Playground. Your thing proposes to be a solution to that. So can you just tell us what is. So what is Nomad Playground?

Luke Tierney – 03:06 – So very simply, we are the first review aggregator of remote job opportunities. So basically to set the stage for what led to our creation was, um, the, the online search for jobs for remote jobs especially is very difficult. It’s very frustrating and there’s a lot of bad content. Um, and so Nomad Playground actually started as an experiment just to see, you know, what, you know, how many quality jobs are out there because we were really tired, you know, we um, we were already nomadic ourselves and earning online, but it was because we had gotten suggestions, um, from like existed from people who are already, you know, working on line. You’ve already had a work they could do nomadically, um, about like the right places to go. So without the suggestions we wouldn’t have been able to do it. And so we were asking the question, um, so what quality options are out there because if you just google it’s a mess and you get a lot of really low quality solutions.

Luke Tierney – 04:06 – It’s really hard to navigate. And it turned out that there’s way more than we ever would have thought. We started collecting reviews of different job marketplaces, a freelancer marketplaces, job boards, online companies of all different kinds of sites. And so that led to us creating Nomad Playground in its current state today, which is basically a review aggregator for any way you can make money online or anyway, you can find an online job. Um, so we collect views of things like Upwork. We collect the views of things like AngelList, we collect reviews of companies that are hiring translators, teachers, programmers, designers, you name it,

Sean Tierney – 04:44 – So, you’re not aggregating the liftings themselves and the jobs, right? You are reading reviews on these services. So you’re almost like a layer above, like a yelp review site of job sites,

Luke Tierney – 04:56 – exactly where tripadvisor for finding online jobs. So we aren’t Upwork where the site that peat that freelancers review Upwork on. Um, and so the whole idea is that job seekers can see what all of their options are at a glance and they can see how good or bad those drops are. Um, because it turns out that most people know about the, most people know about the same sort of like three or four online job resources. And most of them are really bad. Most of them review really terribly. And when people don’t know is that there is literally hundreds of alternatives that review much better. So our promise is if you have a internet connection, you can find a quality remote job and you don’t have to mess around with any of this low paying or bottom of the barrel, freelance or nonsense.

Sean Tierney – 05:39 – Right. And so it sounds like not just finding more quality work but saving you just the brain damage in that search because I. same thing, I have a link and I’ll put it in the show notes and it’s this exhaustive list of all the sites, like 200 sites that have remote jobs and yet when you dig into it it’s like you could spend your whole life applying and tracking and following up and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on all these sites. But that would not be a good use of your time. And it sounds like you cut all that down and help people quickly figured out like what is the best use of their time?

Luke Tierney – 06:09 – Exactly. Like I’ve been traveling the world giving presentations on, okay, so if you’re applying for remote work, these are your options and here’s what you can expect to find, you know, here’s like the worst of it, here’s the best of it, here’s the in between. And it’s really just about managing expectations and sort of just letting people know what, what the options are because nobody’s really trying to map this sphere out before it’s so new and it’s expanding so fast and it’s breaking down categories and barriers. So it’s really fun actually to be able to categorize what all these different sites are. So some of the options that I’ll often go over with people are, you know, let’s say whether you’re an English teacher or a programmer or a, uh, you know, like I’m a graphic designer, what have you, SEO specialist. You’re typically gonna see, like the same categories of options when you’re looking for jobs online.

Luke Tierney – 07:03 – Just going to be job boards which will have longer term positions is going to be freelance marketplaces where you can build up your freelancing reputation. Um, there’s going to be companies that higher massive distributed teams online that you can apply to directly and there’s a wide variety and all these categories of um, of what sites are high quality and what sites are low quality. The, a lot of the famous sites are really only famous because they have great marketing teams and they have brand recognition. A lot of these places do not have good incentives to actually be good to their freelancers or employees. Um, so it really, really, really pays to know which of these sites, which of these companies are good to spend your time with because you know, people often will spend like four or five years until I figured out a combination that really works for them.

Sean Tierney – 07:57 – Nice. Nice. So yeah, you’re helping the signal to noise ratio. You’re helping people kind of find those gems, not waste their time on the ones that are just a complete time sink. So I love it. Can you talk about, uh, because you, you referenced something that kind of a is one of the questions I wanted to ask you, what are the dimensions on which you categorize these things? So the, the different types of job boards that you just listed, are there any other ways that you categorize jobs or how is it structured, I guess in your.

Luke Tierney – 08:27 – So we’ll structure things on the kind of site that it is, you know, whether if it’s a company that’s hiring people for a salaried position, that’s, you know, that’s one category. If it’s a, you know, a job board strictly for writers, um, that has a couple of different categories. We’ll put as many tags on it as we can. Um, there are sites that are very specific to certain countries, you know, it’s remote work, but they’re only hiring people that are from the US or it’s a site that’s only in French or they route specifically catered to people who are from the united way. In Germany you do have those splits. Most often though, most of the resources that we’re getting reviews of our resources that are open to anybody internationally as long as they speak the language that that site is, and usually it’s English, we are getting reviews of alternative options in different languages, but this sphere is largely expanding in English right now.

Luke Tierney – 09:21 – I’m, part of that is just because it’s very new. Um, I expect to see way more resources and other languages soon. So we’ll break it down on the kind of company it is. We’ll break it down on a region, we’ll break it down. Um, this is a little trickier, but we’ll often break it down and how easy or difficult it is to get into because there’s, there really are tons of options. You know, on one end you might, you know, you have sites that paid abysmally but we’ll take just about anybody. And then on the other hand you have things like, um, you know, a top towel or free up or there’s a couple of other options now that will only take the top one to three percent of their applicants. And we collect reviews of those sites as well, so there really are options ranging from like the very beginner all the way up to people who have six, eight, 10 plus years ago.

Sean Tierney – 10:12 – Got It. Yeah, I know, uh, I mean, this is kind of a tangent, but back in the day, uh, my friend Andrew, who am I actually interviewed on episode four here, uh, had a big crusade against Spec work and it’s this notion

Luke Tierney – 10:25 – that’s a whole category as well because it’s controversial, but it is a category in and of itself

Sean Tierney – 10:31 – and it. But it’s, it is, it’s terrible to like expect that people are gonna like work for free essentially to win the right to then later worked for you. You should always pay for work. And so he, he had a big crusade against that. But it sounds like you, that is a tag or a way that you have a filtering out that type of nonsense so people can read through that, which is awesome.

Luke Tierney – 10:51 – Absolutely. So we do collect reviews on that as well. And whether, how good or bad though those writings are really depends on the freelancers and individuals that have, that have worked with those sites. Um, I have heard many a rants against Spec work. Um, it’s not the first option. I recommend. Interestingly, I have not heard and this will likely, this will change with time one way or another. I’m sure. Um, they’re one spec site that has not gotten terrible reviews so far is Topcoder and I think it’s because a lot of people. So for people who aren’t entirely familiar with what Spec work is, basically I can, if I’m going on, if I’m a client going onto a spec work site, I go on and I post my project and then as you know, freelancers basically do the work without getting paid at all.

Luke Tierney – 11:42 – And then I just choose among like who I thought the best ones are and the, you know, the top maybe three might actually get paid and everybody else is just shit out of luck. Um, Topcoder has been getting aside that follows this model, but it’s gotten some pretty good reviews because coders look at it as a fun way to practice and have like brain teasers at least those are the positive reviews that have heard of this so far. So it doesn’t look like it doesn’t have its place depending on the site, but overall freelancers really, I really don’t like this kind of work. Yeah.

Sean Tierney – 12:17 – Yeah. And I guess I should clarify my stance because I actually, I use Upwork quite a bit and I do have a method whereby I’ll poster project, uh, all award it to a handful of people and then actually pay them and let them run with it for an hour or two. I think this is actually a really good way to, you know, as the employer to figure out who’s good and not waste your time with a contractor who’s not. So you almost think of it like a horse race where you let five of them run against each other and then the one who does the best, then you double down and you award the full project to that person.

Luke Tierney – 12:47 – Well, that’s actually a very interesting strategy we use on a general market place like Upwork or People per Hour or other sites of, of that nature because yeah, because that’s not spec work. People like they’re getting paid for their work. Exactly. Simply, you’re simply letting them get to a certain point and then seeing who’s clearly head and shoulders above the rest and then going with that with a freelancer to save yourself time in the long run, which given the quality of people that can come through Upwork, that’s not a bad strategy at all. There are. Excellent. Let me clarify. There are excellent people on Upwork. There’s also really abysmal people in Upwork. It really depends. Um, it really depends on who we hire.

Sean Tierney – 13:25 – Yeah. Yeah. But I mean Spec work is that scenario, but not paying them. It’s basically having them run the horse race for free.

Luke Tierney – 13:32 – Exactly. It’s like if I’m a designer and you need to get a logo done, you’re like, I want, you know, I want to say you can design the best logo and then me and like, you know, like 10, you know, other freelancers each like submit our work to see who’s one you’ll like best and then one of us maybe will get paid.

Sean Tierney – 13:50 – Cool. Alright. So back to the subject of, uh, the, the, the companies that you’ve seen, is there any patterns that you’ve noticed? Uh, you know, I’m, I’m sure you don’t want to play favorites or you know, necessarily talk good or bad about any of the people, but are there any more generic patterns you’re able to talk about that you’ve seen in terms of, you know, which sites are good, who does well? Uh, anything like that you can comment on or do you want to remain kind of agnostic of that? I could, I could, I could definitely see why you might not want to say good or bad things about.

Luke Tierney – 14:21 – So all the information that’s about to come out of my mouth is from interviewing hundreds of freelancers, drop secrets and clients that have left reviews on our site so far. So everything is constantly getting updated, but I have no problem talking about what’s been trending as really positively thus far and what has not, um, partially because like, like a lot of us, I also have a bit of a grudge against, against some of the sites that really treat their freelancers terribly. So I can, I can, I can talk about it in ways that are not necessarily calling people out, but maybe just some of the better options. So what we’ve noticed is a lot of it does depend, but generally the sizing companies that are reviewing better are the ones that curate really heavily on both the freelancer and the client side.

Luke Tierney – 15:16 – And so there are exceptions to this, but basically what this means simply is that the more niche the platform and the more carefully they control the amount of people in, on either side of their marketplace, um, the, the higher reviewed it tends, it tends to be. So for instance, um, indeed might end up getting a whole lot of really positive reviews as we get more information so far it hasn’t. Um, and they are very general, like anybody can post up, you know, if you’re a client, you might get like hundreds of unqualified applicants, know we’ve heard many stories of this and um, but if you’re on a more curated marketplace, they are by definition harder to get into if you’re a freelancer, you often have to apply or if it’s just an, if it’s just a company with a distributed team is going to be a longer process to get in. But those are the kinds of companies that we tend to hear much more positive reviews from on average.

Luke Tierney – 16:15 – Like there really are companies that people just love to work for and travel, you know, while they’re working for them. Um, there are also one example that I like to use is, um, so, uh, is sort of a good juxtaposition that I like to like to use against the, the niche sites when I’m giving examples of this because has gathered abysmal reviews on our site as far like, we’ve heard a lot of stories of freelancers who started with them and they just ran away and refused to ever use online marketplaces again. Um, and they are also like a giant, like general site. They will off their know, like advertising will often be like, you know, get a website made for like the cheapest amount possible. And so it tends to attract clients that are demanding that and you can end up owning the platform and money in different ways. And it’s just, it’s not, they don’t treat their freelancers as well, at least not according to the feedback that any of the feedback that we’ve gotten this far.

Luke Tierney – 17:16 – But if you’re working for a site that’s more niche site, that’s more curated aside that you probably had to take longer to apply to get into, um, that will generally get, are much more positive. Reviews. I’m free up has been gathering positive reviews of this so far. They only accept the top one percent of the people that apply to their platform. Um, Toptal has gotten mixed reviews thus far, but it’s been generally positive and we’ll see how that pans out as more information comes in. Um, people said really positive things about companies like VIPKID for instance, which is a English teaching platform, wasn’t English teaching a company out of China. Um, and it really, it really depends. It depends on the individual, like you will get good and bad reviews of these resources, but there’s very, very strong trends of what sites and companies people are running away from and what sites in companies, people are saying really positive things about, especially from professionals within the industry.

Sean Tierney – 18:16 – Cool. Anyone can go to this site and see what you’re talking about. They can kind of peruse the reviews, see the trends, the, the, uh, you know, the shifting, no, oh, Toptal is trending and this one’s not like they can get a feel for who’s improving, who’s on the downhill slide and see all this stuff and it sounds like you haven’t tagging classification systems so they can kind of use that structure to eliminate or you know, focus on certain things is accurate.

Luke Tierney – 18:43 – Right? So we need to, so we need to add like a trending sort of functionality to, to decide, but you can easily go in and see categorized based on industry and based on what’s available where region and you can see what kind of reviews people are leaving of these companies. Um, what we’ve learned, one of the biggest lessons that we learned early on is that you can’t necessarily trust Google when it comes to researching these things. You need to be getting opinions from other professionals, whether it’s through us or whether it’s through somewhere else because there’s a lot of content out there on blogs, for instance, that’s very contradictory or it’s not very in depth. And then my, um, you know, it might be from somebody who’s not, not in the same position as you and uh, there’s a lot of affiliate, you know, there’s a lot of blogs out there who basically basically have affiliate links to a lot of these sites. Um, and so their content will be skewed and full disclosure, like we have affiliate links and my playground too, but we’re not writing the content. Um,

Sean Tierney – 19:50 – yeah, we see this with the company that I worked for Pagely. It’s just this, this absolute a affiliate, I don’t know what you want to call it, astro turfing, but you go out there and it’s like all the top links and Google are these paid for sites that are just churning and burning to get the SEO to then bury these other people. And uh, yeah, I, I hear what you’re saying. You can’t trust the google reviews purely because of those monetary incentives of the affiliate programs that will skew things

Luke Tierney – 20:18 – exactly like an edit. Like when it comes to blogs, blogs are great. If you can find a really, really reputable, like high quality one and they have really in depth information, that’s wonderful. Um, but it’s really hard to separate the signal from the noise and uh, there’s just a lot of bad content out there, like it’s a very new sphere. And so the incentive is on people to really pump out click baity content that has, you know, a hundred, you know, every, anybody can create a list of like 100 sites, you can find remote jobs with us, but the problem is if you actually go like hunting through those links, like there won’t be much qualifying information on them. Um, there won’t be reviews of them a lot. Some of these companies will be dead, some links will be broken, a lot of them won’t apply to you at all. And it’s kind of this, it can very easily turn into this never ending rabbit hole until you’re talking with somebody who has actually worked with these sites and can give you the insider perspective on what it is. So that’s what we’re trying to provide to everybody right off the bat. I’m just all their options all at once.

Sean Tierney – 21:18 – Yeah. Cool. So we’ve been kind of deep in the weeds. Talking about the nitty gritty here. Can we take a step back and maybe tell us just about the, the origin story, you know, what were you doing? You mentioned that you were traveling the world working remotely and then you saw a need here. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Luke Tierney – 21:35 – Absolutely. So I was in Colombia that was in Medellín when I was out down there for different reasons. Um, I was, uh, I was working as an English teacher originally and um, ended up founding my first business down there and that’s when I came across a digital nomads and I had never met them before, like seeing these kind of seen this kind of lifestyle and I was really intrigued and so when I, when I exited from my business down there to go explore more of Latin America, like by that time, just by being in contact with the right people, like I now had, you know, online remote job options as well. And I remember I noticed like we had, like when I first got to Medellín, I basically dropped in there with like with no money, just a goal of becoming bilingual in Spanish and I must have applied to like a dozen schools at least just running all across the city, the usual hustle when you arrive in a new place.

Luke Tierney – 22:37 – And I’m just like a broke backpacker who’s there to learn something. Um, and I remember like later on and you know, eventually like found like a part time gig getting paid like six equivalent of $6 an hour, which is normal there. And um, and like a little, a little a language school. And then later on I came across, um, you know, we had volunteers in the school that, you know, I built down there that were earning $10 an hour with applications on their smartphone talking to people in English. There were tutors, but there was no preparation whatsoever. I can now show you four of these sites, like minimum that we’ll pay native English teachers $10 an hour just to have conversations like you and I are now. And like, that blew my mind, like that is almost twice as much as I was earning hourly, you know, I’m like constantly asking for more hours and you know, the commute and office politics and you know, preparing like language, um, you know, they didn’t have a whole lot of support for the teachers.

Luke Tierney – 23:37 – So I created like all the lesson plans, etc. And we could just be a simple like conversation practice tutor for almost twice that and if you’re like actually like teaching English online and you’re qualified to do so, you can earn like $20 an hour and more. So that really just blew my mind away and really just started getting me thinking like, what, what other options are out there that you don’t normally hear about? Because if you’re just doing an online search, it’s really hard to know what to trust, like information disseminates information and disinformation equally. So, um, without the, without a filtering mechanism, it’s really hard to find what’s right for you. So that’s where the inspiration came from. And then as, as I traveled, I just realized that, you know, this is something that is applicable everywhere, this is a problem that people have everywhere and this is a resource, like this is something that can help anywhere in the world and the internet connection. And that was just very exciting. And um, and yeah, and so that was a, that was the starting point and then we were out of the gate and I’m collecting as many reviews as we could.

Sean Tierney – 24:45 – And how has it evolved with what your vision was then and what it is today? Has it, has it, is there is a deviated from what you expected it to do? Or is it pretty much what you had intended from that?

Luke Tierney – 24:57 – Oh, it’s grown. It has grown immensely. Um, initially, initially I started, I started Nomad Playground with at a very specific profile in mind. I wanted to initially I wanted to help the backpacker who is no working for like $4 an hour at a beach bar and like Costa Rica or Thailand who you know, is like dedicated and just once to see more of the world and keep traveling. And, you know, fund that and uh, you know, who doesn’t know that they can have all these different online making options. Like in the beginning I was actually focusing on getting reviews of a lot of simple things that like any given person could do to, to keep moving. Um, and then what I noticed is that we started getting a lot of reviews, have way more professional resources from freelancers and from remote workers who have been doing this awhile but needed to level up and then came, started coming, you know, we started getting reviews from people who had been doing this for like years of more resources.

Luke Tierney – 25:59 – And um, and so we expanded to include like, you know, digital nomads generally. And then, you know, people who work from home and then it became evident that on the client. And they’re also exists. this problem of, because this is expanding so fast and because, um, you know, there really are a lot of like badly rated marketplaces out there. Like there’s a lot of frustration like your story on Upwork of needing to try out several different freelancers in order to find just one that really works for you. I’m like, I’ve heard much worse stories than that. And so there was a problem on the client and as well and a lot of, a lot of people who work on these platforms, you know, we’re also, we’re clients on these platforms. We will find work and we also hire. I’m in the same place, the same couple of websites. and so we started getting reviews from clients as well.

Luke Tierney – 26:53 – And then it turns out that recruiters have the same problem and that the whole hr world has been turned on its head because now there’s all these automation tools and people are hiring remotely, but some companies don’t want to do that. And all of this is up in the air. So by gathering reviews, by accepting reviews from all angles of these marketplaces and of these companies, we can actually get some very deep insights into where different kinds of talent are looking for jobs. Uh, we can get insight into, you know, where to find the right kinds of people, we can get a learning where to find like the right kinds of companies and clients and different people want to work for and as this whole sphere grows, it becomes more niched out, you know, there’s certain places you go to find certain kinds of jobs or certain kinds of hires and so it’s really, really fun actually to be able to map out where all of these different niches are and what’s the best place to go for which option. Um, and there’s a lot of different, there’s a lot of different sectors that we can help with that information.

Sean Tierney – 27:56 – Got it. And so, yeah, so this is actually another question I had is like you serve both the job seekers as well as the employers and I think I understand now what you provide to job seekers. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, what’s the value prop here to an employer?

Luke Tierney – 28:11 – Right? So to employers, so we’ve actually started doing this. We started doing this by request. Um, this is not something that was initially baked into nomad on. It’s something that we started doing because people were asking us to do it. We started doing remote recruiting and headhunting. So essentially there is distributed companies, companies that, you know, their entire teams are remote face, unique issues and went, especially if you have a startup, like you need to find the right person, you know, some jobs you can just easily outsourced, uh, you know, uh, some of the online marketplaces and haven’t done super quick. But when you need to find someone quality, how exactly do you go about doing that? There’s lots of different strategies, there’s different places to look and you know, some platforms are great for finding one kind of talent and some platforms are great for finding a different kind of talent. And so we have a finger on the pulse of all that.

Luke Tierney – 28:58 – And so if you’re looking for a specific kind of programmer or videographer or a voiceover artist or what have you, depending on, at what level skill level you’re looking for, these people, are you looking for something really cheap and doesn’t necessarily need to be the best quality? What’s a good spot for that? Or do you need like consistent top talent? Are you looking for a team member? So I’m going to stick around with you for awhile. Where’S the best place to find, you know, these profiles. Um, and so that’s, that’s the service that we’ll provide employers and in clients is we will work with them on finding the right person. And if what they’re looking for is they just need to know the right place to outsource simple quick things, then we’ll just pass them off to the right marketplace. If they’re looking for a more long term, permanent employee will help them with the right kinds of job boards to post on. And we can also often, you know, we have a pretty substantial network now. We can often just tap in a tab our people and find the right, the right person ourselves. Right for them.

Sean Tierney – 30:04 – yeah. I love it. You’re, you’re basically the router or I don’t know, almost like a matchmaker of hey companies you belong using these two services. Hey job seekers. You should probably try these things. So you’re like this middle router that’s kind of helping people like make it efficient from both sides of the equation, not just the job seeker side.

Luke Tierney – 30:22 – Exactly. Because one facilitates the other, you know, if I’m helping job seekers find the right companies and I’m out can also do the reverse. No companies find the right, you know, the right employees. Cool. It’s all about just fitting the puzzle pieces together in the right way.

Sean Tierney – 30:36 – Love it. I mean I’ve just. Anytime someone has asked me the question, how do I find a remote job, I always send them to AngelList. That’s a good one. It has a remote filter and I’ve found AngelList to be kind of like the defacto tool that startups use for talent recruitment. So I send them there and then I think we work remotely. Is one that’s just, it’s not as structured, but it’s like a Craigslist just firehose of posting after posting. Right. But I mean, it, it sounds like you’re, if you don’t want to weed through a bajillion posts on we work remotely, it sounds like just this solution is you go there first and then you figure out, okay, I should spend my time on these three sites given my scenario.

Luke Tierney – 31:15 – Right? So based on what we’ve heard so far, AngelList, we have heard quite a few positive reviews of so far and I’m one of the reasons that I like AngelList is that it’s, I mean it is niche, it’s for startups mostly out of the u, s. So that by definition is um, you know, as a very specific focus. So if that’s the kind of client that you want to work for, AngelList is a great place to go. Um, we work remotely. I have not like I, if you have, if you have found a job or hired people and we work remotely, I would definitely want your reviews on Nomad Playground because we actually need to get some more information on them. And Craigslist, I’ve heard one positive review of Craigslist and it surprised me because everybody else did not have positive things to say at all.

Sean Tierney – 32:00 – Yeah. Yeah. And just to clarify, so I was, I have not used, we work remotely myself. I just heard that it’s like this, I checked it out and I’ve heard from others that it’s just this firehose and indeed it’s like hundreds of posts. Right? So it reminds me of what Craigslist did for classifieds. They are kind of doing for jobs at that level. But

Luke Tierney – 32:20 – yeah, it could be. My insight is limited to the amount of people I’ve the amount of reputable people effort feedback from uh, so if, if you have your listening to this and you have worked with we work remotely or AngelList or any others and pleased isn’t no nomad and lead review quick blood. Um, but um, but yeah, no, I totally what you’re saying like there are like the reason that we, the reason that we’re like I’m so excited to be building. No my playground is because we want to be able to sort. Exactly. You know, there are people who want the firehose, there are people who want something that’s more, more.

Sean Tierney – 32:58 – Yeah. Cool. Um, all right, so you’ve seen, you’ve seen so many, you get both sides of the equation and you’ve seen hundreds of people from each side. Okay. What can someone do to increase their odds of getting remote work? Like do you guys close the loop and know when people do finally get a job or do you only ever see him in the early hunting stage and not actually know if they ever do get remote work?

Luke Tierney – 33:24 – Depends how closely we’re working with a client. Um, and it depends what kind of reports we’re getting back from these different websites where we have closer partnerships with, um, with some of the sites where they will send back information on whether or not people are actually getting through their process. Um, and we are working on, um, you know, having those relationships with more of these marketplaces just so we can track more accurately and help people better. Um, but um, I’m sorry, I’m losing the question.

Sean Tierney – 33:58 – Thought it was a convoluted question.

Luke Tierney – 34:00 – So glad I hadn’t answered my head and just totally left. So the first part of the question was,

Sean Tierney – 34:05 – so what can someone do to increase their odds of landing a remote job? Right, exactly. Do you close that loop? So like do you actually have insight into the folks that that are successful? And then if so, like what were the commonalities from those people what worked?

Luke Tierney – 34:20 – Exactly. So the biggest thing that someone can do, and this sounds very obvious, but it really, when it comes to the actual job search, this is the biggest problem we see people making really like I like really identify what your goals are and then hone in on what they, what they are. Because when people, the toughest, the toughest person to work with for us is someone who comes in and saying, I’ll take anything because that’s too broad to be successful. Like you really want to get specific. You want to identify niches that you want to work in or at least really want to, you know, check out enough that you can go all in, on, in the beginning. Like, there are some really easy, simple things you can do to make some, like, you know, it’s a quicker amounts of small cash, but if you’re really looking to like go in and make it promote career, you’re like, the beginning is going to be a hustle and okay, you want to know if you aren’t, if you don’t already have a career that you have a lot of skills built up and you really do want to identify where you want to expand the skills and spend and invest a lot of your time because the more focused you are, the easier this is going to be.

Luke Tierney – 35:25 – Um, it is rare to talk with somebody who has like an easy starting out story. Like, you know, people start out and they have to have to build their portfolio or you know, they have to, you know, apply to a lot of companies before they, before they get the right job. Like the spray and pray attempt is not something I would necessarily recommend. Like identify what kinds of companies want to work for. Um, you know, think about why you want to work for them. and um, and then go from there.

Sean Tierney – 35:58 – That’s sniper versus shotgun. You’re saying like just be very focused in expend your energy wisely going after those few opportunities that you think.

Luke Tierney – 36:07 – Exactly. And like within that, like if you really are just looking for anything, there are a couple of general directions that we can point you in, you know, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to teach English online than it is for you to be able to pick up a degree in programming and become a junior developer for a company. Like when is it going to take much shorter time than the other, but you really want to do some thinking on what your longer term goals with this because it will, it will take a lot of investment of time upfront for sure.

Sean Tierney – 36:41 – Cool. Alright. I’m going to change gears here a and with the remaining time that we have left, I have a set of questions that I’d like to ask just kind of everyone because I think it’s interesting. Is there anything that you read on an ongoing basis? like anything that, you know, a podcast you listened to or blog that you come back to, any sources that you regularly read?

Luke Tierney – 36:59 – I for related to finding remote jobs or

Sean Tierney – 37:05 – it could be anything in general. Yeah, just kind of generic.

Luke Tierney – 37:08 – So I’m a big fan of so somebody has got to be pretty cliche, but I’m a big fan of um, um, like traveled the nba. I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss, you know, interviewing top performers, you know, podcasts. I’m a big fan of Josh Waitzkin, his book, The Art of Learning or other, my favorite nonfiction book I have read so far. um, and uh, and yeah, like I tend to, I really enjoy those kinds of, I really enjoy that kind of, that kind of content and really just diving in and exploring the nitty gritty of what helps somebody, you know, be on the level that they’re at or different kinds of business models. And um, I mean other than that I listened to a lot of, I was into a lot of just random story podcasts and Spanish just because I enjoy that. So, and that doesn’t really go anywhere in particular.

Sean Tierney – 38:08 – It’s a great way to hone your language too. But I would say plus one for the Josh Waitzkin book. Uh, that was incredible at The Art of Learning. I will link that in the show notes. That’s, that’s one that’s worth looking at.

Luke Tierney – 38:18 – Fantastic and fantastic individual, fantastic performer and just an inspiring story. Like I really love stuff. Very practical. Very actionable.

Sean Tierney – 38:27 – Yeah. Yeah. And his podcast, I’ll link that to the one that he did with Tim Ferriss was how I discovered him and incredible story. Just for anyone listening, this is a guy who was a, I believe he was the searching for Bobby Fischer. He’s a real life guy. He was a chess prodigy. Mastered chess. But then you think, okay, that’s amazing in itself. But then he took his method by which he learned and applied it to then go and win the championship, a push hands

Luke Tierney – 38:57 – Tai Chi Push Hands.

Sean Tierney – 38:59 – And so it just incredible story how he, he condensed like The Art of Learning. That’s the name of the book, but he’s like, this is the framework. This is, I’m taking stuff that I don’t even fully understand what I’m doing, but I’m trying to distill it into something that I can teach it and I just thought it was such an interesting

Luke Tierney – 39:14 – and and now he’s actually so after he won the world championship in Tai Chi Push Hands became the first, the first black belt underneath the current world champion in Brazilian jiujitsu and still where he is as he’s like studying underneath this guy who was considered to be like the best grappler in like history or some crazy thing and I’m like, he runs a school with this guy up in up in New York, so he’s just gone from like everything he’s gone into, he’s managed to get to the top of and he just spells out his exact method for that book and it’s just wonderful.

Sean Tierney – 39:49 – So I’ll just throw this out into the ether because this is what you can do on a podcast. If anyone happens to have a connection to Josh Waitzkin. Absolutely love to interview him for this podcast because he’s amazing.

Luke Tierney – 40:00 – Yes. I would love a conversation with him. Would just a nominal.

Sean Tierney – 40:04 – Maybe we can make a three way call and we can, we can both interdigital um, okay. Just a few more. So, um, that I don’t have my question that I normally ask and I can’t remember it off.

Luke Tierney – 40:23 – Um, so what editing is.

Sean Tierney – 40:26 – No, no, no. Okay. Here it is. Rituals. Uh, so do you have any kind of rituals? You know, this is very Tim Ferriss, but do you have anything like any travel hacks or things from the road that you learned over your time traveling that much things to save money, save time, etc.

Luke Tierney – 40:42 – Um, yes. Uh, so, I mean I’ve become very minimalist fire that was already by nature and a lot of it was just by the necessity of being on the road, um, and just like the fewer, the fewer things you clutter up your life with, the less complications will generally have. Um, but as far as like daily routines, I do, I do meditate daily. I have discovered that exercise is like my probably my personal best way to just unload stress after a long day or to get activated early in the morning. Um, I have, uh, I have a morning routine that’ll typically be a combination of like meditation, just half an hour of exercise. I’ll take a cold shower because that wakes you up more than any cup of coffee in the world and um,

Sean Tierney – 41:34 – agreed, agreed on that by the way.

Luke Tierney – 41:36 – I just getting used to, but you do get more use to it.

Sean Tierney – 41:39 – I’m two months into cold showers and I get it. It’s absolutely. Yep. Endorsed.

Luke Tierney – 41:47 – And um, and I mean it’s an ongoing as far as, as far as daily habits that I find help me best. It’s kind of an ongoing personal discovery. One of the lessons that I had to learn was that like most of the time, like when I started like learning about this stuff, I sort of like a cookie cutter approach of like, okay, so there’s this one really successful method. I’m surely that will work for me, but often it’s more of a, you know, like take what works for you. And it often takes about like three, four, six tries to find what really clicks for you. Um, you know, I must have tried like, you know, half a dozen different ways of working out in the morning and I hated all of them until I hit on like this combination of a relatively simple exercises and some physical therapy because I got a screwed up shoulder that actually enjoy doing in the morning because if you have like if you try to take something out of somebody else’s routine and you do it and use consistently hate it, then you probably need to tweak it a bit.

Sean Tierney – 42:52 – So what was the, what was the tweak or if you don’t mind me asking, what are the exercises that you did that work for you?

Luke Tierney – 42:59 – I, I’ll just do a combination of like upper body shoulder stuff and you know, some, some core exercises, um, a lot of the time. And, and I’ll just like, I’ll very, the exercises that I put in there and I’ll do different days and I also just keep, I just keep it dead simple. Like, you know, in the past the what I used to do that was very unsuccessful. And I think this is a mistake a lot of people make is I’d be like, okay, so like now, like, you know, starting this month I’m going to be working out, you know, like an hour a day or an hour once every two days and like really like get it in. Um, and I just lowered my expectations because like, that’s very unsustainable. Like we’re not always going to have an hour in the morning to do things like we’re busy people. And uh, I would also like to take exercises that really left my body, not feeling good, you know, I would feel like I would feel tense afterwards. I’d be like irritable.

Luke Tierney – 43:55 – Um, and I was doing exercises that might not have been the best for me given what my posture and sort of daily habits are. And so I started doing exercises that more just, you know, I left, you know, after working out I would feel good about it or at least neutral and not, you know, like hurting. Um, and um,

Sean Tierney – 44:18 – optimize. It sounds like you’re optimizing for what’s gonna keep me doing this for the longest. Not like what’s gonna have the most immediate effect because it’s going to, if the exercise dies out after two weeks, then it doesn’t really help you, but if you end making it a ongoing habit, then that’s where you actually get the results.

Luke Tierney – 44:34 – Exactly. And this is a pharisee as well, but it works. It’s like, you know, look, look at the habit, looked at the system like set up a system that works for you and that you can do long term instead of just going for like one, like all out, you know, thing that is ultimately unsustainable. Make it easy and um, and if you incentivize yourself in the right way, then you know, you can, you can really keep doing it for, for a long time. But um, uh, if it’s gotten to the point that when I don’t do those things in the morning, I noticed the difference and it really like, that’s a lot of motivation to get back on track because it feels, it feels good to take care of all these things in the morning

Sean Tierney – 45:13 – for sure. On the meditation front, was there a certain system or app or did you just kind of do that on your own or how did you work there?

Luke Tierney – 45:21 – I’ve been doing that on my own since, um, since like early, like early college, late high school, honestly don’t remember when I first started experimenting with meditation, um, and I did it like off and on for many years and then when I started my first business is really when I started doing it daily just to help cope with the daily craziness of that, um, of that time period. And um, and it, it got me through like it’s, I don’t have a particular app method of recommends. Unfortunately. I just kind of have like a space after doing it enough. It’s just kind of like a space that I go to and I just hang out there and observe. I don’t really know how to describe it. There’s probably much more, there’s probably some more spelled out methods that will get better results than what I’m doing, but what I’m doing works for me, so I stick with it.

Sean Tierney – 46:10 – Yeah. I had tried transcendental meditation many years ago and didn’t stick with it. I just couldn’t let you know, to your point, it’s not something that just resonated and it, it just wasn’t my instrument or whatever. If you want to think about that. Uh, and then the Headspace thing was the one that app for whatever reason, hearing Andy in the headphones, it’s this British guy who speaks very like just soothing voice. Something about Headspace worked and I’ve been doing it for like two and a half years.

Luke Tierney – 46:36 – Nice. Nice. Yeah, I think that’s a. Yeah, I guess I guess if that’s, that’s probably the biggest thing that I can advise when it comes to what’s worked for me is, uh, you know, those of us who are like, you know, fans of this kind of content have, you know, like what makes top performers, top performers and all these things. What’s easy to lose is our own process of discovery because we see something that’s working for somebody else and we’re like, you know, that must be yet. And then we’ll kind of forced to force ourselves into it. Um, when really it should. Everything that’s worked for me has become much more of like a mix and match and it’s this ongoing. It’s an ongoing thing, like I haven’t perfected it yet, but I’ve gotten a lot of results just from just from playing with it and finding what really does. Finding you know, what an instrument so to speak is a is the one that’s right when it’s right for me.

Sean Tierney – 47:27 – Cool. Alright. So I just have one last question. Um, what would Scott Stapped you? For the people listening.

Luke Tierney – 47:47 – Everybody is super confused now. Scott Stapp would, would just keep rocking, would just never stop rocking chairs

Sean Tierney – 47:52 – Just with arms wide open. So Luke and I met in Lisbon and formed a very brief band. The Scott Stapp where Creed takes on other songs.

Luke Tierney – 48:05 – Exactly. Because everything sounds better when sung by Scott Stapp.

Sean Tierney – 48:12 – Luke if people. So give me the scoop here if people want to. If I’m listening and I want a remote work, what do I need to do to use your site? Is it’s pretty straightforward. Just

Luke Tierney – 48:23 – You can just visit our site and you can explore. You can explore what we have on there. So far there is, um, we’re always getting more information and we’ve always spoken with about three times more people than the reviews that are on our site. So if you want further insight, feel free to reach out. I’m just And um, and uh, yeah, just make sure, make sure whether It’s through us or whether it’s through other sources, make sure to talk with people or to get information from people who actually have worked with these sites in one way or another because that will give you way more insight than any, you know, than, than any blog or, um, you know, any other single person resource out there.

Sean Tierney – 49:08 – Cool. And assuming that people can solve the work component of this, if someone’s listening and they’re really yearning to do the nomadic, the nomadic lifestyle, uh, assuming they can solve that through your site or through other sites, do you have any parting thoughts for those folks? Uh, in terms of doing this lifestyle that you did for a few years?

Luke Tierney – 49:28 – Go for it. I mean, just at some point you got to take the leap. Um, it’s wisest to, if I think to take the leap after you already have the means down. Um, I, I mean if you’re, it depends on what you want to do, like if you’re just looking to travel, there’s so many resources out there for you. If you want to do like a more permanent nomadic lifestyle sort of thing, then you definitely want to get the finances down ahead of time or at least as fast as possible. But at some point, regardless of when you decide you’re going to do it, you’re going to need to take the leap and you’re gonna need to have a plan that’s actually actionable. Like you don’t want to be the guy. You don’t want to be the guy that moves out to Bali to start their travel blog without any idea how that goes or how realistic that that plan is. There’s a lot of people do end up coming back home. A lot of people do end up like not having a go where they want it to. Um, so make sure, like, make sure to really check things out and um, make the leap. When you’re ready like there’s no need to rush it, but know that there are resources for when you land.

Sean Tierney – 50:40 – Got it. Yeah. I mean, and that’s been a theme of this entire conversation that we’ve had. It sounds like, is the adage, I think it was Abraham Lincoln said, if I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d used seven to sharpen the ax. It sounds like, you know, take your time, plan it out, use resources like Nomad Playground, figure it out and then go do it. Don’t just abruptly leap into nomadic traveling. Then I think that you’ll solve the work component later.

Luke Tierney – 51:06 – Yeah. And like I, that that is by far the smartest plan. Um, I feel a little strange recommending only that sometimes because I’m definitely an example of somebody who who left and figured it out as I’m, you know, as, as I went, but I wasn’t going for a digital nomad lifestyle. I was a, you know, way back in the beginning I was, I was a backpacker and I was doing workways. I was doing couch surfing. Um, you know, I was teaching English like I arrived in countries with litter, really only hundreds of dollars and not a backup plan. Um, and so, but I, but, you know, at the time I was 20, I was like 20, you know, 23, 24 and just for, I just was loving that part of the journey. So, um, but that’s, that’s uh, so it really depends on what you’re going for, you know, it’s one thing to be like in your early twenties and like enjoy the sort of, the hustle and the managing and just figuring out as you go. That’s one thing.

Luke Tierney – 52:05 – Um, if you’re looking to go full digital nomad and have the luxury of traveling around the world sort of at your own pace, that’s much different and so you can, you know, start in one place and grow into the other certainly, but have like an accurate idea of what you want to do before you leave out and do it. Um, it will save you a lot of time and a lot of agony.

Sean Tierney – 52:27 – Cool. Alright. Words of wisdom from Luke. Alright man, thanks so much for your time. This has been awesome. A is the website. We’ll be in touch.

Luke Tierney – 52:42 – All right. Thanks so much man.

Sean Tierney – 52:44 – Take care.

Luke Tierney – 52:45 – You too.

Sean Tierney – 52:46 – Okay. That was my conversation with Luke Tierney of Nomad Playground. if you have a question for Luke, you can leave them a written comment under his episode. You can also record a video comment using your webcam and if you’ve been yearning to try the digital nomad lifestyle and maybe held back by lack of access to remote work, give it a shot. Go to and take your site for a spin and see what you find there. That should hopefully help you whittle down your search and be more effective in terms of using just the one or two sites that are going to give you the most bang for the buck there on finding a job that works. Additionally, if you have successfully used one of those sites to land a remote job, consider contributing a review. The aloof side, and again that’s

Sean Tierney – 53:32 – So if you’re considering doing a nomadic travel program, you can save up to $300 off select programs simply by applying via our discounts page. You’ll find that link in the footer of our site under program discounts, or simply go to to apply for any of the available programs. A note that if you do apply directly to a program, it does invalidate your opportunity for the discounts. So make sure that you apply via the form on our website Nomad podcast is supported in part by Nomad Prep, an online academy for aspiring digital nomads taught by yours truly that teaches you everything you need to know to successfully make the transition to the lifestyle of a digital nomad. Get the first four days of this two week program completely free by going to Nomad Prep. Take your job on the road and take on the world.

Sean Tierney – 54:21 – So if you’ve enjoyed the content thus far on this podcast, the biggest compliment you can give is to refer it to a friend. So considered sharing it on your social media. whether that’s a tweet, a Facebook share, or an Instagram story, whatever works for you, anything you can do to help spread the word helps a ton. Also, what helps a ton is going to the podcast platform of your choice and leaving a review or a giving us a rating there. All of that helps spread the word. So anything you can do there is much appreciated. So our next guest will be Kara Mosseso. She’s a nurse practitioner and a nomad who traveled with Remote Year. Uh, the theme of that episode is going to be health and wellness. So Kara will be talking to us, giving us some insight about what it takes to stay healthy on the road. Uh, all that goes into that diet and everything else. Um, although this next episode is going to be specifically focused on nutrition and diet.

Sean Tierney – 55:16 – So Kara will be giving us her diet tips, uh, in the nutrition framework that she uses and how to eat healthy when you’re not always surrounded by the luxuries of being in your own kitchen at home. Uh, lastly, if you’re a blogger, we have a platform that you can apply to and get your content syndicated. To reach a wider audience, simply go to and click the blue submit link in the header to add your blog. Uh, so thanks for listening. Thank you for supporting this effort. Uh, as always, until next time, it’s a big world out there. Get out there and explore it and I will see you on the road.

Speaker 1 – 55:53 – Nomad, nomad, nomad podcast.


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.

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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.