Tiffany & Mattia: "The best part is the freedom to write your own rules and reality"
What countries have you visited and where are you based now?
While our travels spanned African wildlife and a free love community in Southern Portugal before officially meeting and launching our business as digital nomads proper, we began this crazy ride in Koh Phangan, Thailand. We made some small dips into Malaysia for those love/hate visa runs. We left Thailand only days after their lockdown and entered Bali just days before they closed the border (is that what they call divine synchronicity?). We managed to find a cozy home in the rice fields of Ubud, where we opened Resonance, an e-residency company.
Tell us your journey on becoming a digital nomad, what made you decide to take the leap?
We first crossed paths as volunteers at an international school of awakening and yoga. Many otherworldly dates and ecstatic dances later, it became clear that we had more than just yoga, travel and Joe Dispenza in common — we actually shared the same work-life vision. Why not take our Fortune 500 experience in marketing/advertising and help small consciously minded businesses grow? The universe heard us loud and clear, and soon enough, clients came rolling in one after another — to which we said, let’s start this thing for real.
If COVID has taught us one thing, it’s that the future of work is remote.
What is the best thing about being a digital nomad?
The best thing hands down is the freedom to write your own rules and reality — not just for work, but for every aspect of living (no pressure). There’s a Japanese concept on purpose that we love, called “Ikigai.” It’s that sweet spot where what you love, what you’re good at, what rewards you financially, and what creates value for people all meet in the middle. We believe it’s available to those with a healthy dose of perseverance, hard work and trust. Every aspect of living and working then becomes a creative act.
What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?
You know that feeling when “you’re building the plane, while flying it”? As a digital nomad, you kind of have to let go of how things are supposed to be (professionally, culturally, and so on), learn as you go, and most importantly, wear many more hats than you’re used to. Running a business with your romantic partner also comes with its growing pains (saying it with love!), as the boundaries of work-life become more fluid and that much more important to manage for everyone’s peace of mind. That said, the best collaborations for us have always stemmed from being open, staying flexible, and doing business “not as usual” to create solutions and workflows that feel good for all involved.
Favorite destination(s) for remote work and why?
Koh Phangan and Ubud, hands down. There’s a really strong sense of community in both these places, and people are willing to help each other out, make introductions and recommendations easily, and blend personal and professional relationships naturally. When you’re not working, there’s an endless array of workshops and events you can attend to drop out of the mind and into the body, which for us is great as full-time yogis :) Not to mention, the beauty of both islands is absolutely unreal with much to offer around spirituality and nature, without losing out on fast WiFi when work calls.
What are some of your favorite apps and websites to share with other nomads?
We opened Resonance as an e-residency company, which with a government issued digital identity and status, can allow you to start and manage a business remotely from anywhere around the world (highly recommend them as a resource if you’re looking to do the same). We’re always looking to find the best way to consume news, interviews and stories, which we’ve found in the podcast and flipboard apps. For the latest on industry trends, Fast Company is a go-to source. To learn from world class performers, we recommend the Tim Ferris podcast, and to dive deeper into social justice issues, Krista Tippett’s “On Being” is perfect. If you’re a health conscious enthusiast, we would also recommend checking out MindBodyGreen, and their podcast featuring diverse voices across alternative healthcare practitioners and mind-body specialists.
When travelling, how have you been able to make friends and connect with others?
We find FB groups to be a treasure trove of connection, community and support. This might seem obvious but we also seek out events, workshops and sharing circles where we’ll likely meet people who are open and share the same interests and values.
Tell us your most crazy travel story.
You can pretty much expect peace and quiet 24/7 when living out in the rice fields of Ubud (with the occasional exception of the animated farmer or early morning rooster). That’s why we were a bit shocked when two drunk Balinese pool maintenance guys rolled up into our home unannounced, looking for the equivalent of $6USD (a day’s salary that the housekeeper left for them, but forgot to inform us about). An otherwise peaceful late afternoon quickly devolved into a one-way shouting match with lots of drunk falling and vomiting, with farmers’ eyeballs glued to the scene. While debauchery like this is never warranted, we were really struck by how desperate these guys must have been (like many others during COVID) to go through all that trouble for just 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah (6 USD).
How has Covid-19 impacted your life as a digital nomad?
Overall, starting a business during an unprecedented crisis has been one giant experiment — business is no longer “as usual” as we are living in tough times. That said, living in the peaceful rice fields was kind of the perfect place to hunker down and finally do it.
The crisis — first with COVID and then with the deeper conversation around Black Lives Matter, forced us all to course-correct and exist differently, which gave us the challenge to help our clients see this crisis as an opportunity to reevaluate their offerings and manner of communication, content, and engagement. The question always came back to, “how can we be of service?” and engage with people beyond empty semantics.
What are your plans after Covid-19? Will you keep travelling?
There is surely an end to the COVID madness, but it’s honestly too soon to tell when. I guess there’s wisdom to “the plan of no plan.” That said, we will for sure keep searching for the bases that most resonate with us. Bali is definitely on the list!
If someone was interested in becoming a digital nomad, what would your advice to them be?
We would ask, “what’s truly holding you back?” It’s the hardest but most rewarding thing to trust that your greatest fear is also your greatest gift and opportunity. Know that the process of change is inherently messy and challenging, otherwise everyone would do it — sometimes, you have to simply show up first before you have all the details mapped out. Do your homework, but also let go of perfectionism and surrender to the unknown of infinite possibilities. Your mind can only get you so far. Your trust will get you farther.
What would you like to see more of from the digital nomad experience post-Covid (such as people’s attitudes to travelling, more safety measures, more of a community base in each country etc.)?
Post-Covid, we’d love to see more concerted effort to matchmake people with projects — let’s say, we’re working on a new idea and want to find a team of developers to support us, where would we go to find vetted talent? (And this is real by the way, so if you’re a developer, holler at us!). Let’s say we are newbies to the digital nomad world, is there a mentorship program we could find to grow into the role? Also, we’d love to discover easy and accessible ways to meet more people in the digital nomad space (Creative Mornings is a go-to favorite). Things of this nature!
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Posted in: Nomad Stories