Stephan Van Duin is a entrepreneur from the Netherlands traveling the world with Remote Year Darien
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
To shake things up. I like to sometimes throw over the nice little tower of blocks I've been building, and see which blocks I still like/need, and to start building a new, better one.
By creating contrast you see things clearer. As Alan Watts once said; ‘you don’t know what yellow is until you see something red.’ Sometimes you just need to learn what you don’t like to understand what you do value. And the other way around; discover things you like, so you can pursue that side of life!
What are you working on for the year?
I am trying to expand my company The Online Scientist, by developing new products, entering new markets and creating growth in general. We make IT-products for the medical and scientific world, like websites, e-learning and data visualizations and design. At the same time I try to develop my own skills as an entrepreneur.
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
I've lived in various places in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Wageningen) and in Berkeley, California. I've traveled to almost all European countries and Russia, half the US states and Canada, and a number of countries in Asia and Africa. Never been to South America, Australia and New Zealand, so looking forward to the second half of my Remote Year!
How did you find yourself a remote role?
I already had one; I've been working from home and/or coworking spaces for 7 years.
Describe your Remote Year experience in 3 words.
Positive, intense, detached
Where does your passion for travel come from?
A desire to give context to my life, my world, my nationality. To realize what my frame of reference looks like, and to change it as necessary.
What does your typical day look like?
I get up, get coffee, work until I can't or don't have to anymore, and then do stuff like exercise, eat, go out, etc. My goal for Remote Year was to have a local living experience in each city, so I try to enjoy this new place where I am, and limit side trips. This is also a lesson in peace and calm, to go beyond the rush of FOMO. In short: if I haven’t stood in front of a breakfast cereal aisle numbed by choice, I haven’t lived there!
How do you think traveling will affect your current work?
I don't think it does; I still have things to deliver, stuff to do. That won't change. It may be easier to connect to local markets through RY, and of course I will be inspired and influences on a personal level by the city and the remotes. The main value is being in contact with the other remotes! This definitely inspired me in my entrepreneurship.
What are you most passionate about?
The truth. Not my 'personal truth' or whatever people use as an excuse to do stupid stuff, but the universal one.
Describe your perfect day.
Any day that I don't have responsibilities and can be 100% open to what will happen. A crisp day that is chilly enough to wear jeans, but warm enough to top it off with a shirt. A day that has me waking up next to my love, allows me to reach new heights with my work, and comes to an end amongst my friends.
Who is the most interesting person you've met while traveling?
I don't remember names well, but those 75 other beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics definitely come to mind.
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
I will always be me, but the me is changing. I'm hoping to get more insight in which changes are brought on by me, and which ones are brought on from outside influences - and, consequently, to be even more comfortable with things that happen to me, but also to have more influence on what happens to me.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
Having to look for your comfort zone when you just really need it for a moment.
What is the best part of being a digital nomad?
New input on a daily basis. To overthrow all your old habits and select new ones based on your changing life and personality.
What book should everyone read?
My books! But those are in Dutch...Right now I'd say Player One, by Douglas Coupland.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
I guess it depends on what you expect from it, but to me, travelling is different from working remotely. I wouldn't bring my laptop to the type of travels I like to do... But this is definitely valuable in its own way, as a grey area between traveling and working. The essence is that you choose for yourself, be egoistic in a healthy way - and realize that mistakes can be made, cause almost everything is reversible.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
In terms of work: filtered coffee, my giant headphones (yay cocooning!), laptop (or is that too obvious?) But really: curiosity, flexibility and a desire to overthrow everything you know.
If you hd to be stuck on an island with one other Remote, who would it be and why?
Unfair question ;) Liesbeth, since she's the love of my life! But I feel that doesn't give enough credit to the 73 others… I’d probably choose Adam, John, Jason or Danny as company otherwise!
What is your secret talent?
Since I work with IT it's not clear right away, but I'm a biologist. In other words, I basically see evolution everywhere, and this grants me a very rational, grand-scale perspective on the world. Sometimes this surprises people when they ask me about it, but I’m sure my way of thinking will make companies and the world a better place!
Where are you in 30 years?
In my comfort zone, which, by then, will span the entire globe. But probably Lisbon or Amsterdam.
Your favorite quote/words to live by?
"Life is too long to be doing something that doesn't fit you."
"Patterns and traditions are there to be questioned."
"Value people and moments for what they are, not for what they aren't"
- Stephan van Duin (They’re in my book. And isn’t it an ultimate goal to live by your own standards?)