TRAVELING TECHNOLOGIST/ FOUNDER OF REFORY
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME ON REMOTE YEAR?
Back in June of 2015, I was doing a solo hike along the Seven Hanging Valleys in the Algarve region of Portugal. The sheer beauty of the cliffs, caves and rocks, combined with my freedom to explore them exactly as I wanted, made it clear it was time to do something I had talked about for years: quit my job, travel the world, build my ideas. I began adjusting my spending and saving, started planning and ideating more and in December took the first step. It wasn’t long after, while researching for my journey around the world that I discovered Remote Year. The opportunity to do what I was already planning as part of a group of like-minded individuals, led by a company on the forefront of a movement was something I just couldn’t pass up.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON FOR THE YEAR?
Any one of the myriad of ideas I encounter that I feel will teach me something, be enjoyable to work on and, admittedly yes, has potential to be a commercial success. My main focus among those ideas is Refory, a site determined to decide the world’s favorite everything. But already this year has also seen me develop an iOS app to find your friends in crowded areas, a website to review public bathrooms and another to find out how narcissistic of a writer you are.
WHERE HAVE YOU LIVED/TRAVELED TO PREVIOUSLY?
I was raised right outside New York City, studied in Washington DC, worked a majority of my career in Chicago and most recently spent two years in Paris...c’est magique! When we land in Bogota next month, I’ll have travelled to every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, which I plan to get to from South America after my [remote] year is finished.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF A REMOTE ROLE?
Self-employed software engineer is basically synonymous with remote role.
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TRAVEL COME FROM?
When I was young, my dad beat me over my big head with Socrates’ belief that “true knowledge exists in knowing you know nothing”. Each time I travel to a new destination, I realize there is so much I don’t know about it’s people, geography and history. While I learn a lot about the destination in my time there, I ultimately leave having more questions than when I arrived. My passion for travel is a passion for knowledge, in most the traditional and Socratic way possible.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Like many people, I have a long list of things I want to spend more time each day doing, whether it’s reading, writing, sketching or learning a new language. And like many people, I rarely make time for them. So recently, I adopted a new approach to my day wherein I devote 1+ hour(s) of what would be my “normal” work hours to any one of the things on my list. I have yet to use up all my mental energy for the day and there aren’t yet happy hour temptations to derail me. It’s been a huge success! Outside of that time, you’ll find me hacking away at one my current projects, exploring a new part of town by foot or bike and ultimately giving in to the happy hour temptations.
HOW DO YOU THINK TRAVELLING WILL AFFECT YOUR CURRENT WORK?
Traveling gives me a global perspective on the projects I’m working on. Are people everywhere experiencing the same problems in life? Are they using technology in the same way? By designing products with a global mindset you can reach a wider audience from the start and avoid a lot of hassle redesigning things down the line.
WHO DO YOU HOPE TO BE BY THE END OF REMOTE YEAR?
By the end of Remote Year I will certainly be a different version of myself. But I don’t have a vision, or hope, of what that version is because I didn’t come on Remote Year to change myself, I came on Remote Year to be myself. The personal growth I’ve made in my life has been a result of being self-confident and self-aware and letting the combination of the two naturally alter the way I approach and interpret the things around me.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD?
Finding balance. Whether it’s between working or sightseeing, between spending the weekend in town or going on a side trip or between having a night out or taking a much needed night off.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD?
It affords you more time in a city than you would get if you were just visiting as part of a vacation. This allows you see more of it, better understand it, be more in touch with it and appreciate it at a deeper level.
WHAT BOOK SHOULD EVERYONE READ?
The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. If you live in Chicago, it’s required reading. If you don’t live in Chicago, read it before Leo makes a movie out of it, so you can confidently say “the book was better.”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS LOOKING TO BRING TRAVEL INTO THEIR LIVES?
Take it easy; the less stressful your travels are, the more you’ll want to travel. Don’t plan out every minute; leave room for flexibility, spontaneity and that long lunch on a terrace overlooking the sea. Don’t visit too many places at once; no matter what anyone tells you, you can’t “do City X in a day”, so don’t try. Don’t worry if you don't see a “must see”; there’s always next time and even if there isn’t, what does Nick G from NY on TripAdvisor know anyway?
3 THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT ON THE ROAD?
Food, water and air. Everything else that is non-essential to life as we know it, in the most literal and figurative way, can be lived without. The more you travel, the more you see people finding happiness in what they have, whether it’s less than or just different from what you’re used to having. Once you appreciate that, things that once felt essential to your life become replaceable or simply unnecessary.
IF YOU HAD TO BE STUCK ON AN ISLAND WITH ANOTHER REMOTE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Any one of the Husinecká Boys: Nick Fico, Chase Hitchens or Danny Koppers. It was as if fate had us landing in Prague within 5 minutes of each other, coming from New York, Chicago, Amsterdam and Paris, resulting in us living together for that magical first month of Remote Year.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE ON THE GLOBE?
The desert. Aside from being visually stunning, I love it for its tranquility. You can travel for hours without seeing another human and it is the only place I have ever experienced complete and utter silence. The perfect place to go to escape and be one with yourself and your thoughts. Be careful though, it is also a reminder of how harsh an environment can be. Go prepared and you will come back a stronger person.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TALENT?
WHERE ARE YOU IN 30 YEARS?
No clue, ask me again in 29 years.
YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE/WORDS TO LIVE BY?
“You don’t know where you’re going when you’re looking back.” I saw this quote on the Lennon Wall in Prague, a constantly evolving palette of expression, the first time we visited it in our month there. It was especially moving to me, as it relates to the feeling of regret, something I had struggled with for a long time but conquered shortly before embarking on Remote Year. To me, this quote perfectly sums up how to not be hindered by regret and to ensure that you consistently make the most of every experience you’re in.