I’m typically the one asking the questions on this show but today in honor of hitting double-digit episodes we’re doing a little twist and reversing the roles. I’m being interviewed by the talented Dr. Laura Gallaher.
My first foray into nomadic working travel was through Remote Year as a participant of RY Darien which travelled the world from May 2016-2017. It was one of the most transformational years of my life and I’ve invested a considerable portion of my free time since then making this lifestyle more accessible to others in hopes I can help people who otherwise wouldn’t have done it to take the leap.
In this conversation we cover many of the same questions I ask my guests. We dig into the circumstances that led me to doing Remote Year, why I chose to continue traveling afterwards and eventually settle down in Lisbon, Portugal. We discuss what it means to be a modern day tribe and explore a hypothesis around implications of returning to a primal hard-wired living style. We discuss the balancing act of staying connected to RY while branching out and becoming rooted in the local scene in Lisbon, deconstruct how I was able to achieve a 70% sales increase while on RY and a bunch of other fun topics you can skim below.
It was interesting to be on the opposite end of the interview table this time and was a really fun conversation. Enjoy!
0:02:37 Welcome and context
0:03:37 The story of how you came to be on Remote Year
0:05:28 What was the moment where it hit you that you were doing this?
0:06:44 What were you hoping to gain or escape from this journey?
0:07:54 How was it going into RY knowing someone else in your group?
0:09:04 What else can you tell me about the Darien community experience?
0:10:33 What was an instance where the value of the tribe became clear?
0:13:35 A Tribe: “that’s how we used to be as humans”
0:15:04 Can you share some of the decision making to keep traveling vs. go back to the US?
0:16:48 Can you talk about the process of getting residency in Portugal?
0:18:23 How do you balance staying involved with RY without staying in the bubble?
0:21:17 When did you become aware of the bubble and how did you consciously step out?
0:23:11 Tell me about your passion for helping others go nomadic?
0:25:53 Why do you have the passion that you do for helping others do this?
0:28:20 Is there anything fundamentally that changed for you about your view of the world?
0:31:04 Cracking through the egg shell that develops around us as adults over time
0:31:37 What would you say to someone considering this who isn’t necessarily in a rut?
0:34:00 To what do you attribute your success for Pagely while on the road?
0:35:40 Tell me about the biggest deal in your company’s history
0:38:17 Final thoughts for people considering going nomadic?
My blog post on why I’m investing all my spare cycles in promoting the nomadic lifestyle
Chris Peloquin’s film company (buddy who introduced me to RY and who I traveled with)
Expand Your Edge – Dr. Laura Gallaher’s podcast
Nomad Bloggers – “Reddit of travel posts” Sean built while on RY
Nomad Prep – Sean’s guided 14-day eCourse for helping prepare first-timers to go nomadic
New York Times piece on “The Lost Einsteins”
Regret minimization theory
Pagely’s current remote-friendly open positions
More about Sean
Near the summit of Huayna Picchu
Sean Tierney – 00:21 – A little bit of a curve ball today for our 10th episode, a double digits. I am not interviewing anyone want to do something special. I was intending to do what’s called an AMA. Ask me anything where I invite all my previous guests and we’re going to get everyone on the phone and do a live ask me anything. And long story short, this isn’t going to be possible to pull off and still maintain the pace that I want to keep of the one episode per week, but instead of that, as luck would have it, there’s another podcast or in Lisbon right now. Uh, so I was able to meet up with her and we’re gonna turn the tables. She is interviewing me on my own show. So Laura Gallaher of Expand Your Edge, a very accomplished podcast. We actually interviewed one of the same people.
Sean Tierney – 01:07 – Matt Dunsmore, who is my guest on episode five. Who she’s interviewed. Um, so, uh, so yeah, so that’s what we’re doing in this conversation. We talked a little bit about my motivation for becoming a nomad. I did Remote Year from May 2016 to 2017 as we talked about, kind of the circumstances that led me to do it, what I took from it, why I didn’t go back to the US and continued to travel and eventually settle in Lisbon. We talked a little bit about what it means to be a tribe. I think there’s some interesting parallels actually thinking about what this means and there’s some lessons there. So talk about that. We talked about some of what contributed to the success that I had while on Remote Year I was able to realize a 70 percent year over year revenue increase for my company. And so we dig into, you know, try to deconstruct what contributed to that. Um, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff that we touch on in this interview. Um, it was very interesting being on the other side of the interviewing table. Uh, but I hope you enjoy this conversation. So without further adieu, here is Laura Gallagher’s interview of me.
Sean Tierney – 02:17 – 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 nomadprep.com/podcast. 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 – 02:35 – So yeah. Okay, so let me. Actually, I will start off. So we’re doing something a little different today. Uh, wanted to celebrate the 10th episode, just hit double digits. And this only happens once. So, uh, for this episode, I was originally intending to do an AMA with all previous nine guests and my vision there was to do like Brady Bunch style grid nine people realize that that’s going to take too much effort. Uh, it’s not going to happen. I want to keep the pace of one a week if we can. And so I’m. Laura has graciously agreed to try a different twist on this. She has a podcast of her own and she’s going to interview me on my podcast. I’m going to be my 10th guest. See how this goes and let’s just see what happens.
Laura Gallaher – 03:17 – Thank you the opportunity to interview you. I have to imagine that anybody that’s following this so far has been really curious to hear more of your experiences. I think it’s a great episode. Alright, cool. Well, so I would love to hear the story of what was happening for you when you discovered Remote Year and decided to do the journey.
Sean Tierney – 03:57 – So I came about it in a really weird way. So I was living in Phoenix at the time. Yeah. The small coincidences abound. So buddy of mine, Chris was living, he was a neighbor of mine, lived a block away and he had been accepted and he didn’t have a remote job at the time, so he basically came over to my place one night and just asked me. He says, hey look, I know you’ve got a remote job. How do you do it? He was working in a family business and so he was just curious like, can I actually do this thing? So he was looking to me for advice on how I did my job for Pagely remotely, uh, but in the course of that of me giving him that advice, he’s describing this program and the more he talks about it, the more I was just like, man, I am so jealous, like I want to do this thing. Um, and then like really to backup.
Sean Tierney – 04:39 – Before that I had actually investigated, I was interested in doing a working road trip around the US. So, right. So I looked into what’s involved. I wanted to go connect with a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in awhile and, but the deeper I got into looking at that, like the overhead associated with planning the next route and driving and then trying to work during the day, it just didn’t, it all seemed feasible for me to actually do that road trip and still be productive for Pagely. So I kinda had written that off. But then about the time that I had just shelved that idea and said, okay, I guess I’ll just keep working remotely. Um, Chris starts describing this thing and I just, the more I heard it, the more I realized like, holy crap, this is, that it’s solving all the problems that precluded me from doing that. But it’s a global scale. You guys are going all around the world. This is amazing.
Laura Gallaher – 05:25 – So what do you remember? Was there a moment or something in particular that he was describing about the Remote Year program that made you realize like, wait, this sounds kind of awesome and kind of took the turn?
Sean Tierney – 05:37 – Yeah, I mean it was just a willing. Again, the emphasis wasn’t even on that. It was on like, well how do I do my job remotely? Blah Blah. And I’m like, well look it. Well, so what’s the situation like? What are you trying to accomplish? And then yeah, I mean it was just basically, oh I got accepted this thing and we’re going to go all over the world. And they’re like handling all the travel and like we could see the world. And so it’s like my, I just was like slack jawed as he’s describing this. I’m like, yeah, he was asking me if he thought he should. If he, I thought, I can’t even talk if I thought he should do it, and so I said, look, A, you should absolutely do it.
Sean Tierney – 06:11 – And B, I’m going to do it with you. Yeah, I applied that night and then, uh, it was pretty close to the time when we were leaving. I think this was about March-ish. Like late March and so, yeah, I, so I applied, I didn’t hear back for a few weeks and then actually got in and it was just like this. I had a month to prepare, so it was just like off to the races. It was one of these things we were talking today. It was like, basically I went from like, oh no, what if I don’t get into. Oh crap, I got in, like I got it all right.
Laura Gallaher – 06:42 – Okay. And so then you go on the journey. Can you say more about what you were hoping to gain or possibly escape in doing this journey in the first place?
Sean Tierney – 06:55 – Yeah, um, I wouldn’t say it’s an escape so much as gain. Uh, so I set out to do it because I just, I was in a bit of a Rut, like I was working out of my apartment. Um, it was pretty grueling hours at the time when I look back on it now, like I was doing a lot of different jobs. Um, it was in the early days, I think I was employee number eight, at Pagely and it was working really long hours out of my apartment. I was having to force myself to go to coffee shops, um, here just to get out and have some human interaction during the day. And so it was like a travel kind of represented this idea of like, well, I’ve got this remote job, I’m not really taking advantage of it. I’m just working out of my apartment and then like going to a coffee shop. Like now that I know about this program, I’d be foolish not to just be doing this from around the world. Why would I not? So I mean that was the logic for me. It was just like, once I knew this thing existed, like holy crap, how could you not take advantage of your situation and work from around the world?
Laura Gallaher – 07:53 – And so I imagine that your experience was also a little bit different than some other people because you participated with somebody that you knew beforehand. Right? Your friend Chris?
Sean Tierney – 08:04 – Yeah. Funny Story. So, uh, I guess we were the only, there was two couples and obviously they knew each other, but we were, I think originally treated as a couple logistically. Yeah. No. And then I know there was a guy, Scott in our group that when he found out that we knew each other, it was a few months into it and he was just so he’s felt so betrayed. He’s like, Oh man, you guys know each other? Like that’s not how this works. No, but it was great. I mean it was really cool early on I felt like Chris and I, because we had history and we, we just, it was like we already knew each other. It was just like, I felt like it was very easy for us to go out and people kind of gelled around us. I felt, I mean obviously a few months into it we all knew each other and so it was no issue, but like early days, no one knew anyone, but Chris and I knew each other and so it was easy know wingman setup or whatever you want to call it.
Laura Gallaher – 09:03 – So what else can you tell me then about the community and that experience?
Sean Tierney – 09:09 – Yeah, so Darian. I think every group feels this way, right? Like everyone’s going to say, oh, our groups the best. But like, I really think we had a special group of people truly like I, if our farewell parties anything. I think we had like 26 staff in Buenos Aires when our program concluded, right? So there was a magic amongst our group that it, I’ve seen it in a little bit, like in a few groups since then, like CCU and the group that’s in town now, community is like, how’s it? Certain groups has, how have this, uh, I don’t know. There’s just this essence of like generosity and people having each other’s back and like really truly they get it. They get to me that the remote, your experience is all about just stepping out of your comfort zone, like trying things. You would never try. Just being very generous with your time, like trying some new food, trying some new language, like starting a, running a seminar on something that you know how to do and just like it is this platform. Like in the last interview with Greg, it truly is like something that you can use to launch a side business or to go try some new thing that you didn’t know. So yeah. I don’t know. I’m rambling at this point, but yeah.
Laura Gallaher – 10:25 – I love that and I completely agree with all of that based on my seven, eight months now, but I would love to hear from you like what was a personal experience or a situation where the value of community and tribe really sunk in for you.
Sean Tierney – 10:47 – Interesting that we talked about today about pausing and reflecting and just thinking about that. That’s okay. Well, I can tell you one thing where I don’t know, this is weird, I don’t know why this comes to mind. There was a lady in our group, Nancy, uh, and this was the first instance that I remember, it was in Prague. So in our month one the first instance that it really resonated it and I felt it and I was like, oh wow. Like, this is what this is all about. Basically we were staying in a place, it was called Belgicka, which means Belgium in check. And so it was like this big kind of hotel dorm setup. A lot of people were staying there and apparently someone was crying and Nancy had a room adjacent to someone and heard it and she jumps on slack and just says, Hey, just wanna let you know, like whoever’s crying like, I’m here for you, you know, come see me.
Sean Tierney – 11:42 – Like, reach out, this is what this is all about. And like, no judgment, like I’m here for you. And like that action to me epitomized the essence of that. Um, I guess one that jumps to mind, there’s a guy in our group, Jeremy, he probably won’t even remember this, so if I have the photo I’ll dig it up, but like I came into Belgrade which was month two and it was late one night. I come into the workspace and he’s there after hours working with someone in our group teaching excel, like staying after, you know, like I don’t think anyone truly knew each other that well at this point, but he’s really just like doing what he can to help someone else with what was clearly a frustrating excel like v lookup, one of those funky things that you always have to look up every time you do it.
Sean Tierney – 12:24 – Um, but like that to me was like the real magic of Remote Year. Is that something like going into it, I had only seen it as like this is solving the logistic problem that prevented me from driving around the US and traveling on my own. I saw it as that. But once I got into it, I realized, no, this is like, that was the sugar coating that got us all to do it. But now that we’re here, it’s fully the community is, is 98 percent the community. Once you’re on it. And I mean, I think you’re nodding. I think you would agree. No, that’s, that’s what it is.
Laura Gallaher – 13:03 – As you said, I have my own podcast too. So either similarity that we have is that I’m here with Kayla who I knew beforehand. So when we talked about this on our podcast, I said this is before he even started that I was looking forward to the community aspect of the Remote Year experience just as much, if not more than the travel. Um, and you brought up a word earlier in our conversation about tribe and I’ve used that same word because I feel like it’s just so compelling and I think it’s natural for us. I mean that’s how we used to be as humans and to have this nomadic experience with the tribe is really cool and very different than how a lot of people live today.
Sean Tierney – 13:45 – So I think in the same way I’ve noticed like if you’ve ever sat around a campfire and like everyone’s just transfixed by the fire and there was just something like I think hardwired in our brains, in our primal limbic human brains at this we sit around a campfire that maybe it’s awakening some primal memories of like, oh here’s more, here’s fire. Like we’re all transfixed by it. I think there is some tribal imprint of the way that people used to live maybe. And like Remote Year is the closest thing and you know, other tribal programs. Not to say that only Remote Year has this Wifi tribe and the other ones that are out there moving as a group of people I think is how we were hardwired to, to, to approach the world. And I think getting back to that touched on some primal thing and it restored it. And maybe that’s the thing that kind of rejuvenated. Like I’ve, I’ve, I’ve tried so many times to figure out what was it that revitalized me or what is it about this experience that really like reawakened me and like it. That is what I keep coming back to is, is that the thing like, or is it just traveling again is like a modern tribe. Uh, yeah. I don’t know, like it’s, it’s a hypothesis, but yeah, I think maybe that is what it is.
Laura Gallaher – 15:00 – I love think that your listeners may already know this about you, but you’re still traveling around quite in the same nomadic pace that you did with Remote Year, but you also didn’t integrate back into United States. Do your listeners already know this or do you want to share some of the decision making?
Sean Tierney – 15:32 – I mean, this is a whole one big experiment, so I don’t even know my mom likes and friends who’s listening. So yeah. So for people that don’t know, here’s, here’s my situation. Like I finished Remote Year or group concluded in Buenos Aires in May of 2017. Uh, I made my way back up south and Central America through various countries. Went back for a wedding or old drummer, got married. So we went back, did that. And then I bounced right back out to Portugal because Lisbon was the place that really spoke to me. Like I love this city. Um, it’s on Remote Year. It was month four and I just remember everyday I woke up, I was so happy to be here. So stoked about it. So I want to come back and validate. Okay. Was that just a honeymoon phase? Was that Remote Year? Like, was it because it was book ended by London in Morocco which were to of the most difficult months for me, like um, so I really just wanted to get at that question like, do I truly love this place or was that just a honeymoon phase? And so I came back and sure enough validated it and just like, yeah, I really love it and I want to move here. So I started the immigration process. Fast forward anyways, went back closer to up in Mexico and so my visa came through and then uh, officially moved here in February, earlier this year and got residency in May and yeah, I’ve been here since February and I can stay here now that I have a residency
Laura Gallaher – 16:47 – That’s really cool. So I would imagine that there are people who, if they’re not interested now would be interested in the future to know more about that whole process of getting the visa and everything. But yeah. Do you want to save that or would you want to talk about any of that experience?
Sean Tierney – 17:03 – I can touch on it. Yeah. I mean it was not hard in the sense that like it was super, like a high bar to jump over, but it was a lot of little low bars basically. It was, it was annoying I guess is the best way to describe it. Yeah, exactly. I mean there’s just a lot of dysfunction, for lack of a better word. There’s just a broken parts of the process. You’ll find yourself in a catch 22 that you need this form to get to see that person. But that person requires that you have this form, so there’s a lot of that in just brokenness. So I used a company called Move In, uh, I believe, I don’t know if they’re specific to Portugal or if they do it elsewhere. Uh, but they made the process a lot simpler. Um, worked with an attorney from there and yeah, I’ve got a Trello board. I’ve given it to a number of people who have asked me like, how did you do this? I probably need to change that because it’s got like all my id numbers and everything sensitive in there. So at some point I’ll do like a redacted version of that Trello board for the people that are interested. But yeah, it’s, it’s all doable. It’s just a start to finish. It took 10 months, you know, I’m happy that it’s done. I’m happy I don’t have to wait in another Portuguese line for a Portuguese document. But uh, but yeah, it’s, it’s very doable.
Laura Gallaher – 18:21 – Tell me about your experience now still being here in Lisbon. So obviously your cohort, Darien, and in a while ago and how you balance sort of this ongoing feeling of tribe that exists with Remote Year with this idea of not getting too in a bubble.
Sean Tierney – 18:42 – This is a great question. So, so Remote Year when we say bubble, just for the people that don’t know or refer to a Remote Year can be a bubble that you never leave. It’s very much, I, I called it an aircraft carrier, like when we’re traveling, it’s, I liken it to like you’re traveling on this very big safe ship that’s like going around the world and then you can choose to do these little side trips and they venture out and whatnot, but you always can come back to this place of safety. Right? So the bubble is traveling with you at that point. Um, now that I live in Lisbon, there’s a group like Remote Year has a very strong presence here. I work out of the workspace. That’s where these calls are filmed. Um, so there’s always a group in town like 11 out of 12 months here.
Sean Tierney – 19:22 – And so it’s now this revolving door. Uh, I guess like the analogy is like before I was the water flowing through the stream, right? And I’m flowing through all these cool places now it’s like I’m the rock in the stream and there’s all this cool water flowing past me. Um, so it can be, it’s awesome. It’s amazing. First of all, it’s, I’m so lucky to have this position that I do. Um, but it’s also exhausting in the sense that, yeah, like you meet 40 new people every month and then they’re gone the next month and a, you know, I’ll see some of them again and it’s cool. We have the remote nation slack to stay in touch. It’s cool for that. Uh, but it’s also like, yeah, there’s a, I just remember for instance, when CCU left, it was a, I was definitely like mildly depressed. I really connected with that group, um, and to have like, it felt like that all those feelings of our own group, like of closeness in a tribalness to develop that so quickly and then have them just like leave, which I knew it was coming. That was a tough thing. So, um, so yeah, it is an interesting position to be in. I’ve definitely noticed that since then I’ve decidedly tried to make more local ties and remain only so connected to a group of y’alls group is awesome. Like you have that same feeling, same inclusiveness and welcomingness that they did and so it’s tough not to want to hang out with you guys all the time
Laura Gallaher – 20:49 – And our family feud.
Sean Tierney – 20:50 – Yeah, family feud was amazing. We’ll post a clip of family feud. It was pretty great.
Laura Gallaher – 20:58 – That was really fun.
Laura Gallaher – 21:15 – Yeah, yeah. Well, so when did you become aware of this whole idea of the bubble? Like even if it was still during Darien and how did you build the courage to step out or are you still working on that?
Sean Tierney – 21:30 – Yeah, I mean I would say uh, if I was going to give myself one bit of advice, I don’t think I did that particularly well. Like I really enjoyed our group. We had such a close group and we’re in all these amazing places. Remote your has this thing called tracks where they try to get you out of the bubble, you know, they connect you with a local lady who makes empanadas in Cordova and you go into a kitchen and then you make up like, so stuff like that. They already have it baked into the program to do that. Right. But I, I do believe that there are the advice that I would give to my former self if I was going into Remote Year would be, you know, beyond that, take it upon yourself to like go to local meetups, use something like internations or whatever the local APP is like that. Uh, there’s a platform called eatwith great for connecting you to go have dinner with locals, like do things to decidedly put yourself outside of the Remote Year bubble because even though it is a track event with a local, it’s still remote. Your people, you’re still surrounded with a bunch of people, you know. So that would be. Yeah.
Laura Gallaher – 22:32 – Okay. So great advice for anybody who chooses to use Remote Year specifically as a platform,
Sean Tierney – 22:38 – just allocate a few days a month where you’re not even going to do anything Remote Year related, you’re going to go off on your own. We had a guy in our group who was very good. He did like half of his time was spent towards the end just wandering on his own and I, I don’t know the right mix. I think everyone kind of has to calibrate that on their own. But that would be my advice is like definitely get out on your own. Yeah.
Laura Gallaher – 23:01 – And so whether it’s with Remote Year or a different travel company or people just venturing out on their own, you definitely have a passion now for helping people create that experience for themselves. Can you tell me about that?
Sean Tierney – 23:15 – Yeah, I mean, well clearly we’re, I’ve done quite a bit of, like most of my spare time at this point is consumed by the different initiatives that you know about it. So did this podcast is the latest one. Uh, the Nomad Prep course. I mean, this all kind of started because, you know, I heard a bunch of conversations from the PA’s in Mexico City when I was living there and it’s like all these people, they would talk to the wrong people and they’re asking like all the same questions and it’s like, how can I make this better? How can I make it so folks can, can solve the logistical problems, get excited, you know, get inspired to want to do this. It’s not even so much about like, factual knowledge because you can go look a bunch of this stuff up online. Um, but I think it’s really more about like hearing the right stories, hearing about what’s possible, getting psyched to do it and then just pulling the trigger and being like, what do I have to lose?
Sean Tierney – 24:09 – So I built that ecourse December, uh, and spent some more time to gamifying it and making it really, you know, like the tool that I wanted, an interactive checklist and all sorts of stuff. And so I built the thing that I, that I thought was missing in terms of an onboarding process when I did Remote Year, um, they do now have, they have put more energy around that, although I would say it’s still like I built what I think they need it. So anyways, we’ll leave it at that. And, and then once I invested all the energy and built that, then it was just one of those very like low fanfare launches and like, okay, like nobody’s doing this now and I just put all this energy into this. Okay, well, so if the mission is to get more people, give them the courage to do it.
Sean Tierney – 24:53 – So then what else can I do to promote the course? And the podcast just became a natural extension of, okay. Like I could see myself interviewing a bunch of people. I’m endlessly fascinated about all these different subjects, you know, of what, what makes someone a good nomad? Like what, what, why do people not do this? What are the blockers there, what, you know, what can I help do? Is there some maybe some completely weird thing that we haven’t even thought of that’s gonna be the answer for a lot more people doing this. It’d be like a benefactor sponsor kind of model where like, okay, if it’s truly, you know, funds are financial, maybe there’s some way to like solve that or you know, getting access to remote work. So all these questions around like why don’t more people do this? Yeah. I just Kinda like took it upon myself to be like, okay, let me make that my mission to help more people do this just because I found it to be like such a transformational experience. So yeah.
Laura Gallaher – 25:50 – Say more about that. Why do you have the passion that you have for helping people on this journey?
Sean Tierney – 26:01 – I think it’s just wanting to share what it did for me. Like knowing the rut that I was in and knowing how close, like on the fence I was to not doing it. It was literally like, once I got accepted like Oh crap, like I have to go to, like sell on my stuff. Sell my car. Get immunizations. There’s a thousand reasons why. Oh man, like I don’t know if I am going to do this after all. There’s a lot of like inertia keeping me in one place, but then, you know, fortunately I did it and I can’t imagine my life right now. Had I not done it is really the thing. So um, I mean in the piece, I don’t know if you read the piece that I wrote on my blog, but it was like a, I read something in the New York Times was talking about lost Einsteins and that is just like, it gave me goosebumps because like that is what I think is going on in a lot of people.
Sean Tierney – 26:51 – I think people are just like stuck, in rolls and stuck in a place where they’ve, they’ve layered on like all these reasons why they can’t change. But like what if those folks could be the ones that are the next Einstein and they get inspired on the road and they contribute and they solve some weird malady because of the inspiration they had from traveling. I just feel like this could be the thing that unlocks so many people and so like when I look in the grand scheme of things is like in terms of what can I contribute, I feel like this could be like towards my greater mission of getting people unstuck. I think this is a really good method for helping others get unstuck and this may not be the only method, but it certainly did for me. So like this is a logical place to start
Laura Gallaher – 27:38 – So it sounds like because you were able to get over the hump of some of those difficult tasks. I guess I want to call them because I remember that same feeling of overwhelm. So
Sean Tierney – 27:53 – Just this intangible kind of weight, you’re just like, ah. But it’s not difficult. It was just a lot of
Laura Gallaher – 28:07 – Mine was a total shit show as I was telling you earlier. I just begging people to come to my condo and take stuff away. But yeah. No. So I wanted to on a more serious note, like you were able to get yourself out of the rut because your friend presented this opportunity for you and it sounds to me like what kind of shook loose for you in terms of your mindset and the way that you show up in the world, is this additional source of inspiration of realizing that like you can be the catalyst for other people. Is there anything else that you think from a place of, um, you know, mindset or headspace that’s really shifted big time for you from having done this experience?
Sean Tierney – 28:55 – There’s me pausing thoughtfully because I really want to think about the answer to that.
Laura Gallaher – 29:01 – Yeah.
Sean Tierney – 29:04 – I don’t know that fundamentally anything about my view of the world changed necessarily. I think um, I think constantly being faced with a lot of little challenges is just I really think there is something to that that maybe cognitively it, it jogs us. Like just enough. I mean there’s gotta be research about this. I’m just completely speculating here, but like constantly being stimulated in novel ways that we don’t even think about. And I think like the examples that I’ve used or like the way toilets work or doors work or just little things that you never think of being different. Right? Like the American way that all things work and then you go somewhere and you’re like, oh wow. I guess yeah, lights work differently. Like Serbia lights, lights, which is put on light switches. Like okay, do they do that? Like, but stimulated in that way though. I just like, it’s just enough little weird stimulation that makes you creative I think. And it just wakes you up in a weird way. I don’t know.
Laura Gallaher – 30:11 – I think it took me until month seven to remember that oh I have probably have to find a switch to get my washing machine to work. Like little things. You said something else that sparked a thought for me, which is just a small little metaphor example, right? Of a, a baby chick that’s just hatching out of its egg. Have you ever watched that experience? Which I’ve never done live, but it’s struggling. Like it is difficult and it’s hard and it looks weak and fragile and it’s trying so hard to like bust out of that egg shell, but it needs that experience to gain the strength to be in the world. And so when I hear you talk about that, like the little challenges and how it can just unlock creativity or help us, you know, I experienced things a little bit differently and that’s what made me think of,
Sean Tierney – 31:03 – Well that’s a perfect analogy that eggshell to me we get through time as adults. I feel like there is an eggshell that develops around each of us and we’re just, it’s become a little blind to it and we go through life and it’s there. But then like it takes something like this, like a drastic change and being challenged with little things that we never think about to crack away that eggshell and realize like, oh yeah, I was living in an eggshell the last few years. Right? Like I was in a rut. I just don’t know any other way to put it. So yeah, I don’t know.
Laura Gallaher – 31:37 – And so what would you say to somebody who is considering this but doesn’t necessarily think that they’re in a rut? They’re just curious about the experience?
Sean Tierney – 31:46 – Well, I mean, yeah, I, my experience was not going to be your experience and nor should it. Should we try to think that it should be, you know, like this is just where I came from. Um, I think you can help a lot of people for different reasons. I think that just a exposure to other cultures. I think this is the way that we dispel a lot of stereotypes and just hatred and misunderstanding and all that stuff. Like there is no media sure is not going to do it. That’s like going the wrong direction. There is no better way than going to the other side of the world and eating with someone from a different culture that I can think of to have that one on one conversation that just completely opens doors for both people. Right? It’s a two way street. It’s not just you like as a spectator, like you gotta realize that like you’re these footprints all around the world in ways that you could not even fathom, you know, there’s people in Morocco now that have a different vision of what Americans really are, you know, like we know that for a fact, people came to our Valencia, a farewell from Morocco because we made such an impact on that.
Sean Tierney – 32:59 – So it’s just like we’re were crisscrossing the globe and leaving all these traces and it’s just like, I can’t find no bad. I can find no downside of this whole thing really. Like there’s. Everyone should try this in the same way that I think every college student should do an exchange program. Right? I did. I did an exchange program to Ecuador that was hugely influential on me and shaped my view of the world. So I just like, this is, I don’t see an issue why more people wouldn’t want to do this and I hope more employers will embrace this. I know that there’s some resistance right now in employers and I just hope it, it does get to the point. Greg was saying, you know, like I was saying to Greg was saying he was in that interview with Greg were talking about like the, the, the sea change that will happen once enough, dominoes fall and enough employers are pushed, but it’ll be a good thing because then there’ll be forced to adopt this and then I think it will become much more acceptable. I think that’ll happen very quickly and I, I, for one, can’t wait for that day. It would be great.
Laura Gallaher – 34:00 – And for you personally with your own personal evidence dispel, I think one of the myths of letting an employee go do this experience, what would you say about your ability to achieve results for your company while you are traveling?
Sean Tierney – 34:16 – Um, you know, it worked really well for me. I don’t know. We’ve tried to unravel that and attribute why that was the case. I think, uh, you know, I, I worked really hard. I think people in my group would attest that I was last one of the workspace a lot of times, but I think we just had the right mix. Like I love my company, I love what we’re doing. I love the fact they had the trust in me to go do this thing and so I feel indebted to them to make sure it works. But also I think there was some other weird things like, you know, the time zone overlap issue turned out to be kind of a blessing in disguise. I think like being eight hours offset in Belgrade and having very minimal time overlap where we had to be really efficient with how we did meetings.
Sean Tierney – 35:01 – It was actually a good thing. It forced, it forced the issue also. Um, I was doing a number of roles going into this and I think it made it very clear that, oh yeah, now it’s time to hire for some of these. So, you know, it made that easier and let me be more strategic. It gave me kind of white space in the day to be able to do things that weren’t just so reactive. You know, I had the mornings, like my inbox didn’t start filling up until two in the afternoon, so I had the mornings to either go, like get rejuvenated and explore the city or you know, or work on a project or it’d be very strategic and say, okay, I’m going to pick this thing that’s slowing us down and how can I tackle that and go do that.
Laura Gallaher – 35:40 – And tell me about the biggest deal that you closed and company history. Where did that happen?
Sean Tierney – 35:47 – I’ll get the picture, I’ll overlay it. We were in Morocco. I can’t disclose the client unfortunately. We do have an NDA, but it’s a very large university. It was the biggest deal to date for Pagely and yeah, it closed in a bowling alley in Morocco and I will never forget because the girl, Ronda who was organizing the event, um, threw on the song, All I Do is Win that had like the laptop that I like. We have a picture where I like showing the PO that just came through the PO for this massive deal and it’s like all I do is win win. Yeah. It was such a high point my boss tweeted out like something like, you know when your director of sales as his best sales month ever. And is it a digital nomad and in Morocco, none the less. It’s a surreal feeling.
Laura Gallaher – 36:49 – Did you go bowling a strike right after that too.
Sean Tierney – 36:51 – I would love. I wish I could say I did. I think I probably pulled a gutter ball,
Laura Gallaher – 36:56 – But it didn’t matter at that point. That’s awesome. You know, I think it’s cool to have such a really tangible example of incredible success. Well I’m traveling around. I think more employers can benefit from hearing that.
Sean Tierney – 37:10 – I mean I hope so. I hope it’s so the resistance when they shoot it down because they think that people aren’t going to perform or they just like, they don’t see this working. To me that’s just. It speaks to a trust issue that exists and so if your employer’s doing that, like my advice to the folks that where they do get shut down. We had a couple of people in our group who just forced the issue. They’re like, look, I’m going to do this. Like if you don’t want, if you don’t want to allow this, I’m doing it like so I guess we need to part ways. I think if you have the luxury of being in a situation where you have a little leverage and you can throw that out there, that that’s a good tactic and I think employers are more and more going to need to be okay with this, at least on some term, maybe not for a full year, but on some basis they’re going to need to allow more employees to travel and work this way just because it has so many benefits and it really does. Like if you don’t allow it then that trust issue exists regardless and so that should force the issue and it should make you realize like, okay, my employer doesn’t trust me. I should probably be thinking about finding another place to work at this point.
Laura Gallaher – 38:15 – Yeah, definitely. Well, I know I can keep asking you questions. We’d probably talk for hours and hours, but I would love to just, I guess, give you one last opportunity where you’re the one being interviewed for any final thoughts that you’d really like to share.
Sean Tierney – 38:32 – Yeah, I mean the, the, the cliche thing is just do it like the Nike phrase, right? I’m not going to say just do it because that is, I know not everyone’s situation permits this. I know there’s a lot of people now I know that families who were asking like, how do I take my family on the road? Is there a family for like a Remote Year for families? Um, to my knowledge that doesn’t yet exist, but it should, like, so maybe someone listening go build that because we need it. Um, but like if your situation permits this and you’re just fabricating reasons why you don’t go, like, I really encourage you to think about this thing. I put it in the, in the notes, the pre interview questions, but um, there’s this a regret minimization framework, theory of decision making where it’s essentially saying like, you know, what are you going to regret more on your deathbed? Are you going to regret having tried it and maybe it failed and you came home? Probably not. Are you going to regret having always wondered what if and never tried it? Probably that’s probably the thing you’re going to regret. So don’t do that.
Laura Gallaher – 39:38 – Sean, thank you so much for being on your show today.
Sean Tierney – 39:47 – Thank me for… you know what I’m saying.
Laura Gallaher – 39:54 – Absolutely.
Sean Tierney – 39:55 – Awesome. No, but seriously, thank you for doing this. I know this is like late at night and we just dreamed this up today, so I do appreciate it.
Sean Tierney – 40:28 – That was my conversation with Laura. Hope you found it useful and I hope you found that interesting and it was certainly interesting from my perspective to be on the other side of the interview table. So at this point usually I go through a script and I’m going to break from that script today and actually just talk kind of free form off the cuff about what’s coming down the pipeline here. So this whole effort has really been one big experiment and I, we’ve got 10 episodes recorded now. I’m excited about that. Not many podcasts actually make it to 10 episodes, but there’s quite a bit of time involved in producing each one of them. I spent about six hours with the video and making the show notes and transcriptions and photos and Yada, Yada, Yada. All that. So, uh, I am after the next couple, I’ve got three more in the camp of recorded, one with a Mayo clinic sleep specialist.
Sean Tierney – 41:18 – I’ve also talked with the founder of a site which is essentially like the Yelp review system of remote job seeking sites. So it’s a way to help you maximize your efficiency in terms of finding remote work. And I’ve also talked recently with a, uh, a nutritionist, certified nutritionist and health coach who also traveled on Remote Year. So all three interesting conversations. I will be releasing those three episodes and then we’ll likely take a little bit of a break, I’ll pause, the content production. And I’m going to shift my emphasis a bit. So I’m going to be focused on a couple things. I’m going to reassess this format and see if the six hours that’s involved in each episode is justified and if it makes sense to continue doing that or if there’s maybe some other format that makes more sense. Certainly if this was audio only, that would be a lot easier, but I do like the video and so I’m genuinely curious if you’re listening to this, I’m very curious of how you consume this content.
Sean Tierney – 42:20 – I see the stats, I see which platforms are being used and how many YouTube views there are and all that. But I’m genuinely curious if you find value in the video component. If you want me to continue doing the video, if it’s worth it to people, I will invest that time. Uh, if nobody really needs the video, I may switch gears and do audio only going forward. So just being upfront about that, I’m also going to take the time to take some of this great content that we’ve had recently and integrate it into the ecourse. So as some of you are, hopefully all of, you know by now. Um, I spent a good deal of time actually building an ecourse, the Nomad Prep that we mentioned on today’s episode. I put a fair amount of time into developing what I think is the perfect system for prepping someone to go on the road, not just for Remote Year.
Sean Tierney – 43:08 – I know we spent a lot of time talking to Remote Year people just because that’s the program that I did, but this is a tool that can be used by anyone for any program even for solo travel. And so I want to look at that and, and do a better job and integrate some of these podcast episodes, go back and revisit that course and start to integrate some of this content back into there, put it in the emails that help people, you know, pull them back into the system and get them doing it. So, uh, so again, going to pause content production, focus on those things. I’m also going to, if I do continue doing video that I want to put some emphasis into streamlining the content production process because it does take quite a bit of time right now. Um, and so yeah, and I want to keep doing these.
Sean Tierney – 43:50 – I really enjoy these, uh, but I also want to make the most of my time and uh, and see if I can whittle that down a bit. Okay. And then the last thing I’m gonna do is I’m also going to put some emphasis around promotions. So we actually have a pretty good body of content. If you’ve listened to all 10 episodes then thank you. And hopefully you would agree that these are some high quality interviews that we have here. So, so that’s what’s up with me. I am just wanted to give you that heads up that after three episodes from now we’ll do a little break and I don’t know, it may be a week, it may be a month, maybe two months. I don’t know how it’s going to be as long as it takes me to kind of rejigger some of these other things.
Sean Tierney – 44:31 – And then I’ve got plenty of other awesome guests lined up. I mean the good news is that people were having no shortage of really smart people applying to be guests. And so now it’s a question of I want to keep that quality high and I want to keep the time commitment within reason. So, so that’s where things are at all. That being said, thank you so much for listening. As always, if you want to sign up, you can put your email in and the footer of the site to get notified, get access of these special events that we’re going to be doing. Subscribe on any of the platforms. Try the ecourse. If you’re thinking about going remote, uh, all these things get discounts for the programs we’ve got. I think a good thing going here, but I would love to hear from you and get some feedback. Uh, very little chatter, very few comments so far. And so it would be great just to hear a shout out and say, Hey, we like what you’re doing. We think it sucks, you know, xyz, whatever you want to say, we’d love to hear from some of the people that have been listening that we’ve not heard from. Okay. So until next time is a big world out there. I will see you on the road.
Outro – 45:34 – Nomad, nomad, nomad, podcast.
|Director of Sales|
|What’s something noteworthy or an accomplishment we can cite in a headline to get people interested in listening to your episode?|
|70% increase in YoY revenue for Pagely while on RY. Closed the biggest deal in company history in a Moroccan bowling alley. Major accomplishments were organizing the first Startup Weekend in Lisbon and the first Charity Makeover in Cordoba, AR.|
|United States of America|
|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?|
|Which RY group were you with?|
|What were the initial set of circumstances or motive(s) that led you to experiment with a nomadic life?|
|I was already working remotely for Pagely working out of my apartment in Phoenix. I was in process of organizing a working US roadtrip to see a bunch of people while continuing to work and gave up concluding that it would be infeasible to remain productive given the overhead associated with planning everything and driving city to city. About that time my buddy Chris (who was a neighbor down the street) came by one night and was asking me questions about how I do my job remotely.. He had been accepted to Remote Year and was contemplating whether he could pull it off. As he described the program I about fell out of my seat because it solved the issues that precluding me from doing what I wanted to do PLUS it was on a global scale. I told him immediately: a) you’re definitely doing this b) I’m doing it with you. I applied that not, got accepted and Chris and I traveled with Darien from May 2016-2017.|
|Was there something specifically you were looking to gain or escape from that you’re willing/able to share?|
|What was it and did that play out as you were hoping?|
|I was in a rut working each day out of my apartment. I would go out to coffee shops to work for part of the day to get in some face-to-face interaction to keep my sanity but still felt like a lone wolf. I thought traveling could restore some of whatever was missing not really assigning importance to the community that RY would later provide. It’s funny in retrospect that I was yearning for travel to fill a void but it turned out that the void was actually desire to belong to a tribe.|
|What did you do for income/work while traveling?|
|I ran sales for Pagely.|
|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?|
|I was honestly just hoping to break even performance-wise. I figured if I could do my job from anywhere I should do it from everywhere (make the most of that unique aspect). I anticipated gaining perspective from seeing the world. I far underestimated the value of living and working with others. On a personal level formed some amazing friendships that will persists for many years to come. On a professional level it was cool to be exposed to people from other disciplines like authors, other sales people, developers, designers, etc.|
|What was the highest high-point and lowest low-point of your travels?|
|Highest high-point was Huayna Picchu literally and figuratively 😉
Lowest point was probably when Trump won right after we got to Valencia. Eddie nailed it in his episode (#3) – we were living together that month and a lot of things stacked up for us both plus it was a really rainy month weather-wise and we were fairly isolated from others in the city. It was just a funk that finally cleared up when we hopped the pond to CDMX.
|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?|
|Failing to assign the proper importance to the value of community. If you had asked me going into RY the value prop to me was in solving the logistical overhead associated with this type of working travel. In retrospect that was just a sliver of the value relative to the value of feeling part of a tribe of coconspirators.|
|Was it hard to re-integrate back into society after your travels?|
|What specific challenges have you faced following your journey?|
|Well yes & no… I didn’t actually ever re-integrate back into my old life in AZ. I kept traveling for nearly a year and then ultimately settled in my favorite city, Lisbon. I would say I still haven’t truly “integrated” here either though. I’m just now after 6mos starting to form some ties with locals and in the local startup scene. The bubble that was RY in which we lived for 12mos is still present but now revolving through my city each month with RY’s presence in Lisbon. I choose to work out of the RY workspace because RY self-selects for the type of people I love and it’s amazing to meet incredible people every month. But it’s also exhausting and sad each month to say goodbye to each group. My biggest challenge is in deliberately allocating some time each month to be consciously forming ties with locals and not stay permanently in the RY bubble in Lisbon.|
|What can you not “un-see” at this point?|
|Weirdly it would be hard to return to a primarily US-based existence at this point. Having been exposed to some 60+ cities in the past two years and 20 countries I identify more with the lifestyle in Portugal than I do in my country of origin. That brings up the whole question around “what is home?” but that’s a massive conversation in itself…|
|How and to what extent has your group kept in touch after the experience ended?|
|We actually just had our 1yr reunion in Prague. Some of us stay loosely in touch via Slack. I helped organize a Zoom-based virtual reunion the other day but ironically the time that ended up being chosen was while my buddy Chris was in town and we were wine-tasting in the Douro Valley outside of Porto with no signal so I missed my own event 😉 Our Broatia group still has a WhatsApp going and I’ve bumped into a few of our people in various cities like Barcelona, CDMX and here in Lisbon.|
|How do you think you’ve changed as a person from the experience?|
|Overall I’ve developed muscles of resilience, patience, tolerance, generosity, empathy and gratitude that I didn’t have previously. I’m on the older side of the age spectrum of RY participants and I feel like my personality traits are fairly well-baked at this point. I’ve definitely come to assign importance to community and being a member of a larger group. I think interestingly RY supplemented that community feeling that was missing given my remote work setup and made me realize that having meaningful work and social belonging are both important but needn’t necessarily come from the same place. Pagely and RY provided me both of those things separately.|
|What would you say to someone considering taking a leap like this?|
|I learned about a decision-making theory years ago called “minimization of maximum regret.” Basically, “do what you’ll regret least on your death bed.” I would say yes, it’s a scary proposition to sell all your stuff and leap into the unknown but you have everything to gain and very little (really) to lose. And in terms of regret theory decision making, which scenario will you look back on in hindsight and regret more? Do the opposite of whatever that is for you.|
|How (if at all) has your idea of work changed from the experience?|
|We were already a very outcomes/results oriented company so I already had that mindset. I think interestingly over the course of RY I’ve come to see the importance of passion side projects for staying revitalized. Some companies have policies against moonlighting but I think extending trust to your employees and allowing them to do the things that keep them revitalized ultimately yields a better outcome for everyone. Pagely has been super progressive and supportive in this regard.|
|What’s your best travel hack?|
|So many. Take my eCourse hahahah ->
As simple as it sounds, loop the strap of your bag through your leg when you’re in a cafe or at the beach. Getting in the habit of doing something this simple over the course of a year will be the difference between losing a bag or two vs. not.
Pin a safety pin on your laptop bag so you have a tool for swapping SIM cards in your phone (or know a girl with ear rings).
Download offline Google Maps prior to landing in a city so you can still navigate if your cell service doesn’t work. For that matter, get the free mobile app “Wifi Maps” (crowdsourced wifi passwords). Redundancy in anything that’s important to your job (power, connectivity, phone or iPad) so you can still get work done albeit to a lesser degree in the event you lose or break some key component.
Setup “Find my iPhone” and do Friends & Family sharing so someone can track you in the unlikely event you were to go missing… Those are the ones that come to mind. But seriously take NomadPrep.com for a bunch more- I made a whole 14-day course dedicated to this stuff so too many to list here.
|Is there a piece of gear you could you not live without at this point?|
|What is it?|
|TRX Suspension Trainer – no need to join a new gym in each city. Work out in parks or in your house depending on your schedule simply hanging it off the door frame. Great way to stay in shape and it travels great condensed down to about the size of a softball. I’m hoping to interview the founder on here at some point because it’s been probably the most key piece of gear in my pack in terms of quality of life while on the road.|
|Any particular routines or rituals that kept you fit/healthy/sane throughout the year?|
|TRX and running. I did Krav Maga (see Joey Karam’s episode) when I lived in CDMX and haven’t yet joined a Krav gym in Lisbon but that will happen when time permits. I’ve been fairly disciplined doing the Headspace app for meditation most mornings.|
|What resources (if any) did you use in preparing to go abroad?|
|I just scoured a bunch of travel blogs and our group was connected via FB prior so there was some back and forth. There really wasn’t much of an onboarding process from RY at the time (I know this has changed since). I developed the NomadPrep.com eCourse to be the prep tool I wanted during the last holiday break. That’s literally exactly the tool I wish I had had going into it.|
|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?|
|Make a conscious effort each month to get outside the bubble. This isn’t an issue if you’re solo traveling but one of the downsides to travel programs as they can insulate you from the local community. There are so many useful platforms like Meetup, Internations and EatWith for integrating with locals wherever you go. Take advantage of those and be more deliberate about allocating at least a few hours each month to get outside the group and do some stuff on your own in the local environment.|
|Any ideas for a product or service to solve a pain point for nomadic travelers you believe should exist?|
|Details your willing to share on this envisioned product or service:|
|Yea someone should do a podcast, blog aggregator and eCourse to make this lifestyle more accessible to a larger population… oh wait 😉|
|Are you open to answering listener-submitted video questions here if someone has a question?|