Mini-retirements and other mindset shifts
In part one of our digital nomads series, we discussed the basics of the lifestyle and its variations. For part two, we dig deeper into the "why", exploring ideas from Tim Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Work Week.
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Ryan Purvis 0:00 Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings. So we did this trip to Cape Town. And I thought it would be nice to talk about each place and what I liked about each place. And what we did there whilst working. Capetown was just one of those things where it was in my mind when I was thinking about this. And I'd actually duford because I didn't take my laptop with me, I just took my iPad with me. And I got into trouble with my wife, because she kept saying you, she's just taking your laptop, so you could have worked and we could have, we could have stayed and enjoyed the hotel for two days, four days longer. Which is a, which is a mistake I made and when we went to it again, they'll they'll carry the devices with me. Because, you know, with with two kids, and they're still quite young, they are kids clubs, and hotels we stay in, we stayed in a very nice hotel called spear. And then a very nice kids club with the two lovely ladies that ran it. And they, you know, they really because because we're there for so long, they're really bent over backwards to make it a good experience. So there was no doubt in my mind that if I'd said to them, we stay in Thursday and Friday. Can you look after the kids, they literally come pick the kids up from that from the room to take them to the kids club for us. Because that's like, that's how involved they we were the kids. And then we would have the benefit of this beautiful wind in a wind farm with wonderful views every night after work as opposed to Joburg which is a whole bunch of lights, trees and buildings but but it's not Capetown. So yeah, it's I think, I think talking through each each place would be nice. The biggest thing that I struggle with these with these places, which you don't know to to get to is how good is the internet? Because if you don't know what if you have a look at how much data you spend on teams, because everything's video, you're looking at, you know, 4050 gigs a month of bandwidth being used, or data being used consumed. So you're you're beholden to where you're going and what they've got. Heather Bicknell 2:43 Yeah, I mean, that's the you kind of live or die by the Wi Fi. Or, you know, internet strength with the whole digital nomad thing. Ryan Purvis 2:57 Yeah, so so it's a couple of things that I've learned the hard way, is usually got to get a local SIM card where you can either load on so certificates got a network of rain, or a high end. And you can pay the equivalent of 20 $20 a month and get unlimited 4g data. Now, that's fine provided there and then in your network coverage area. So when I was in Cape Town, the hotel we're staying in, they didn't have that they didn't have coverage. So it wouldn't have worked for me there. But the hotel did have a business center. So I could have sat in the business center all day long. And then you would plug in directly to the thing. But most other countries I've been to I mean, Cameroon had Farber long before South Africa had Kenya is dead far, but long before that, I forget that so. So they you know the connectivity there is much better than than here. I was at that stage. So that that always helps. Heather Bicknell 3:56 Because another thing that I wanted to ask you about so when I was researching the the digital nomad stuff, the Tim Ferriss four hour workweek seem to be a source of inspiration for a lot of people or kind of one of the maybe foundational books of this movement. So, you know, I know this is a book you've referenced a few times, so I'm assuming it's one you know, pretty well, I guess. What's your guess? First of all, what what kind of stuff does he say about being a digital nomad? And then is it something you'd recommend people read if they're interested in that lifestyle? Ryan Purvis 4:35 I think it's a good book for anyone to read anyway. It's very much like startled why by Simon Sinek. Everyone should read that book. Everyone should read the four hour workweek. And it's not because you'll do your whole work weekend for hours. That's just, you know, it's it's a bad title, which which Tim Ferriss acknowledges. But what it does is this two mental shifts that that that it pushes on you one Is this you need to be in the office every day nine to five. Theater has taken a pandemic, but I think most people would say for most jobs, and I'm not saying the old jobs because clearly our jobs we need to be face to face, you can get away with doing your job remotely. Now, that's that's the first mind shift. The second mind shift is that you have a choice whether you want to save up your whole life, to retire with money, using your pension, whatever to do the things that you want to do, or do the things you want to do while you're doing things. So when you get older, you, you've done all the things you wanted to do. You may not have the big retirement savings, but this is part of the book as well. But at least you've you've you've traveled you experienced things etc. So So there are two there are big shifts to make. And what he does in his book as he goes through almost a how to manual on how to approach this. And then one of those key things is if you wanted to, because the mini retirements instead of waiting for the big retirement at the end, you retire a little bit at the beginning, every all the time. And he you know, he sort of gave examples of he went from this place to this place to this place to this place that did these things. He was a ballroom dancer, he did some martial arts competition. And he sort of explained some of the tips and tricks to how he got a good deal or negotiated something but, but really what he what he talks about at the very beginning is I haven't read the book in a couple years. So this shows you how much stuck in my head is you got to do the calculation to what your what your expenses are, that you need to generate revenue for to cover your costs. So so you know how much you need to consult or whatever it is to earn money to pay for those things. And, and he came out of running a sports nutrition business where he was, you know, working 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Any any explains how he had to break his own cycle and power his staff to make decisions and also outsource some of his decisions, so that he wasn't making less decisions. And then also, with the on the revenue side, how he worked at how much he needed so that he could go and do all these mini retirements then, okay, look, he's fast forward. Nice. He's a very wealthy man, you know, he makes about 3 million a year just on his podcast. So you know, he's he's cracked anything, but he also did a lot of investing. Along the way, he also, if you'd listened to his podcast and read his other books, he's got a very good way of breaking down complex things into simple things. And what the four hour workweek kind of talks to you on that front is outsourcing things that you that are not good, a good use of your time. So So one thing that I'm thinking about at the moment is there's some very basic stuff I do on the podcast, that I could probably pay someone, you know, a very small amount per hour to do, which frees up my time to do other stuff. And that's and that's kind of these things. It's actually ties in to Stephen Covey's book The Seven Habits of effective people or something like that to cover the book. Exactly cool. But it's, it's, you know, knowing the value of your time and then using it appropriately. The other thing with with Ferriss book is, he uses a lot of outsources a lot of work to two virtual assistants in Asia. And I've seen how that's actually changed now that you can get a virtual assistant in any country in the world, because I think people on the other side of that have realized that they're willing to work on a part time basis, to to do something for someone else, but they don't want a job. They don't want the grind of of being fitted to one company, but they can do you know, 60 hours a month for 460 different clients. Heather Bicknell 8:59 I watched a there's just a digital nomad like 25 minute documentary on YouTube that followed these two people and one of them thinks he was a Belgian man, but he was working without a contract for some guy who was really big into crypto. And so the sort of shift work he would do for him was just look at like the initial, the Ico the initial coin offering for like, just tracking different cryptocurrencies in an Excel sheet, you know, for this guy, and that would be, you know, I mean, it is like it's the similar thing with the assistant kind of work like doing this sort of task that someone else has obviously decided they're going to outsource and then that gave the Belgian guy the opportunity to have at least like that steady income stream as part of what he use to support his lifestyle. Ryan Purvis 9:56 Yeah, and I think that's a great example, because there's You know, if you look at your your task list every day, there's going to be stuff that you that you should actually systemize systematize. And let someone else do it, that I'm not saying is less intelligent or anything like that, but but they are a value proposition to you to do it for you. Because I mean, you know, some of these virtual assistants, I mean, the one guy who was doing some work for me was has a has an MBA and a doctorate. So it's definitely not an idiot. And I asked him to work out a financial model on something for me, which if I had spent the time doing, I think I also thought of things in the book is to get asked him to do something for you set a time limit, set a set a budget, whatever it is, this should only take you five hours. And you get some good results out of that, because you don't have these open ended problems where someone charges by the hour, and they do 10 hours, and you only spend five. But he did something for me in four hours, which answered the question for me, which, if I'd wasted the time doing, he would have probably taken me months to get to it. Because it always be a lower priority item. But it was still something I wanted the answer to. So it was bugging me. But I couldn't get to it because I had other stuff to do, which was more important. But I paid someone you know, I was I think it was about $50 or something like that. And he came up with a great model and solved my question. And a copy past something that I was I was trying to make a decision on. Heather Bicknell 11:26 Now, was this someone you knew already? Did you use one of the services like Fiverr, or I don't remember the names of the different ones. But there, Ryan Purvis 11:37 I used to I used to service? And actually what's what's a nice benefit of doing this exercise is often you search for something you need to get done. And you're not entirely sure what it is. But in order to get someone from the service, you actually have to go through the brain dump of what they actually want, and what actually what's the output that I want? Yes, you know, so. So why do I want this? How do I want it to look, and what the output is, which is the Simon Sinek golden circles. So, so I used slot five, it's the other one up work, I used up work. And you basically post a job, you get a whole bunch of responses. And you make a decision from there. And you just pick someone so the person that did the last one for me was based in Kenya. You know, and what I quite liked about that as if he does the work, it takes he uses an app, an app, take screenshots of what he's doing all day long. whenever he's logging time to thing, and you can go look through the screenshots. And he had, and he had actually had some other stuff on the screen. So I challenged him on that. He said, Oh, yeah, but I was spent two minutes on that about to give you back one hour. I said that's fine. But but but you know, there's a level of trust that you build with someone. So the next time I use him, I know that he's honest. So, you know, I won't worry about the ball so much. And then it's just a short term contract, you know, it's five hours, four hours, three hours, whatever it is, before, you could have, you know, you can have apps built using those sorts of services. But I think the point going back to, to, why would you do this, and the four hour workweek is, you know, it's very easy to put your money away to build up an aesthetic. But not but not reach that point. Because you might be injured, you might die, you might get crippled, whatever it is, and you can't actually do those retirement things. And I think the mini retirements make a lot more sense. Because, you know, you're able now to do these things. You know, when you get to 60 7080, you can't go and play golf every day. You can't go mountain climbing necessarily. You could try pulsation dry, but physically, you may not be able to anymore. So, so that was that was really the thing for me about that book, it really sort of pushed us into more experiences and stuff. So, you know, we've traveled every year, including through COVID, because we were in South Africa now. And now that we're stuck in South Africa, we're doing things in South Africa that we couldn't have done in from the UK, because the time you need to do it is means that you're flying out here, then you still have to go and do the trip. Now that we're here we're going to do the trips because we've got the time which is great. That's why Cape Town Durban. Now as that will be the next one hermanas go see the whales or part of the plan. Heather Bicknell 14:34 Sounds nice. I wish a lot of this was just the way you know, we as a society decided everyone deserved to have, you know, to live like live and experience and that that was just kind of built into our systems, but it's not so you have to kind of hack it, you know, in your own way. And it makes a lot I mean, you know, it's it's certainly there's a reason And why a lot of people from my generation and Gen Z are attracted to, you know, having these digital nomad lifestyles or doing things differently, and maybe sacrificing some of that security net for later, which is that a lot of people don't have, there's not a lot of confidence that it will be there anyway, when we get when we're old, you know, that we'll have social security to draw from that, you know, the climate will be habitable, and that we can see, you know, all the great places that we could visit now, that will even look the same, you know, by the time we would reach retirement age, or still be around or, you know, you can travel to so. Yeah, I mean, it. It certainly isn't, doesn't seem the best model to wait until, yeah, you're in your 60s to start experiencing the world. I mean, I've seen a lot of retired people who are doing that now. And they're so happy. And it's just, yeah, I mean, I hope one day, I can do the same, but definitely don't want to wait. Until then to do any sort of traveling, at least in the US, that is a really big thing. Like a lot of people just haven't traveled internationally. And then they do all of that once they built up, you know, that nest egg and they're in their 60s 70s and whatnot. Ryan Purvis 16:26 Look, I'm not saying you should wait till you retire to go and do these things. But but to, you know, from our point of view, we've, we've enjoyed a lot of things before, you know, before having the kids. We did a lot of traveling. And, you know, we did a lot of things that that look at what us you know, in some senses interpret a debt to do it. But, but we've explored these things. So when the pandemic hits and we said Jesus checked, you know, the shovel things of an issue were like, well, thank god we've traveled, you know, imagine you're waiting to, you know, because, I mean, we were planning a trip to to Boston this year, for my 40 years, to go watch the woods, go watch the Red Sox. So we will be in into Boston now. On next week, at least. And we could do for my 50th. Now I'm locked in I'm not fazed by it. But if we hadn't traveled and we planned the trip, it would be devastating to to not be able to to go and do it. Now, it's kind of like, well, we could do it another time. It's not a big deal. But I think being where we are now actually is better. But I think that's one of the things that that is mind shift is that you've got to take the opportunities when you when you can and not keep putting it off. And being able to work anyway, makes it that much easier. Because you know, you can be connected, you can do stuff, you got to set boundaries, you got to have some rules about it to conscious, it's not willy nilly. And I mean, I know that there's organizations that are forcing their staff, even if they're working from home, to designate their home as their office so that they can't work somewhere else. But I just think that ruins the productivity, again, the motivation, because if you motivate people and say, Look, you're an adult, you know, be professional, we're gonna innovate, I'm guilty of doing stupid things like joining phone calls in the car, where it's noisy, and people can't hear me and all the rest of it, I think that's you know, that's, that's a bad habit of mine that I have to break. But sometimes, you know, you, you're out to go pick up the kids, because the kids sick, and you're on the way back and the call starting and you have to be in the call, because you're important to get your call. And you're affecting a lot of other people, if you're not there, you have to join. So, so I think there's a level of flexibility all around, you know, contributions can come in many forms and factors that don't always have to be perfectly behind the desk. You know, some people work late, and a lot of times we work early in the morning, it's just, you know, how your body works, sometimes more. Heather Bicknell 18:56 I think one good thing to come out of, you know, all of this is that, since there are more employers making that shift and realizing Oh, yeah, we can, you know, be more flexible with our employees, and they're still getting the same amount done, if not more, that people are starting to look at that as not just a benefit of who they work for, but more of a requirement, like who wants to work for the employer. I don't remember who it is. But um, there's at least one company who said PwC I don't remember that they have, I think they have like webcams or some sort of tracking software for their employees where they have to justify even if it's just like taking, going to the restroom and coming back, they have to justify why they were away from their desk. And of course, there's like keystroke software that you know, and other ways that people are really granularly trying to quantify whatever you know, it's it's really impossible to fully quantify productivity, but these other ways, you know, staring at your screen and typing a lot is still valued by some companies. Ryan Purvis 20:09 Yeah, and I think that's, you know, an organization like that I wouldn't want to work in that I've been lucky, you know, we've had the tools to do all that kind of stuff. That's one of the reasons you and I know each other. And and the way it's never been, okay, look, you're gonna have cases where you want to check someone's actually working. You pay someone a good view, you pay someone a salary to deliver on something, they're not delivering on something. You want to make? Sure it's because they are, you know, there's there's a good reason not that they are, you know, freeloading that I have been involved in this discussion sometimes and had to do some investigation at it, you know, is nature to be sometimes but, but holistically the whole organization hasn't been built that way. In fact, the best way we've looked at, or the best view on that we've had is, is the tools we're providing you up to scratch. So is the laptop working sufficiently or the desktop working sufficiently so you can do your job? Do you have enough CPU df enough memory is your disk fast enough, you know, all those sorts of things, so that the entire user experience has been a factor. It's probably one of the reasons why I'm so frustrated with Windows. Because I've had to look at it for you know, hundreds of 1000s of users, and always finding challenges with it. But I think that's that's the view to have it is that you know, your contribution to organization, it's an agreement between you and again, the employer, that you're there to do a job. But they're not there to tell you how to do the job. Because if they're there to tell you how to do the job, then they didn't need you in the first place. Because they could just hire anybody to tell you how to tell them how to do it. They're looking for you to add value. And I think that's where there's a mind shift that's that is happening. Because, you know, I look in a lot of groups that I'm on, if an employee is saying you got to be in the office five days a week, guys are saying I want to I want a new job, I don't want to work in this place. I'm happy to be in the office a couple days a week. But I don't want to go back to a mandated nine to five, five days a week in the office. Because I'm finding that I can better balance. And I think this is a key thing. Work as part of your life. It's not a work life balance work as part of your life. And, you know, you're jeopardizing your family and all the rest of it. Which is really what your legacy isn't the end, not the workers you did, necessarily. And I think you've got a it's got a it's got to work a bit different thing. Heather Bicknell 22:34 Yeah. Not I totally think that's the right way to think about it. I was watching something and they were talking about I think, I think it was in Denmark, you know, the, the nation that ranks on the top of the happiness scale every year. And the way that people self identify their, you know, if you ask them on the US about themselves, one of the first two or three things they'll probably tell you about is what they do for work. Not the first thing. But in Denmark, it's like, oh, yeah, you know, I like to pay time. You know, I'm a parent, I have two dogs, you know, I love to eat, baguettes, and oh, you know, like 10 things down the list, they might tell you that, you know, they're an accountant or, or whatever. But it's not as ingrained into who they are. Which, you know, if you take the, their happiness ranking, and they're, I think, I think that could definitely be part of it. You know, obviously, life is full of so many things besides just working. A lot of those things do add, you know, the richness and the the meaning and, and that legacy. Yeah, Ryan Purvis 23:52 that's a probably Yeah, I mean, to to your point is more to life and work, but I should probably care at the moment, my mention of working it's not just work like, like a job I get paid for. It's all the things that I do that is to put some sort of output there. So it's recording the podcast with you. It's networking with people it's working on that book that I one day will write more published lists, you know, it's studying, it's, it's those things that are brain work. That's probably what I mean more than anything else. I've been able to do that anywhere, anytime, which is, which is a mind shift. So you know, we go away for the weekend, I get up at four o'clock in the morning because everyone else is sleeping. And I might watch a series I might read a book or I might work on something. But having that flexibility and that freedom to take it on. And do it is is the mind shift I think everyone should have and to an extent. So that's the Nomad lifestyle. Heather Bicknell 24:51 Yeah. Well, I'm excited to keep talking about this and in future episodes. That's super interesting, good, relevant topic. Yeah, Ryan Purvis 25:02 it's interesting because it's coming up with with friends. And that's even general conversation that they are leaning towards. Get even, even to weatherstrip to Maputo. Tomorrow was first of all Farrell supposed to go on. She didn't go because of a COVID test. But that's, that's a separate issue. That's more all these false positives that people are getting. But, you know, we were talking about how I used to travel quite a lot as a consultant. And I said, the one regret that I have on that as I didn't take one extra day, because you're always like, I've got to get there to get back, we're gonna do this, the sales significant back but spending one extra day and be it go play golf, playing a game of golf there, or going out to a local, whatever, going to see something there local, you know, that those, those are wasted opportunities. Because the world is diverse, there's so much to see and so much to learn. And you got to take those opportunities, because now, you know, you can't without a vaccine passport. Heather Bicknell 26:02 Yeah, I mean, it's certainly I think this, you know, the pandemic has created a lot of mind shifts, and just, you know, it's, it's an eye opener, for sure, a lot of things we took for granted, that you maybe would have put off, people are don't want put off anymore, because, you know, you never know who's gonna happen. So you might as well, you know, do the things you want to do. Now, and sort of putting them off for later, Ryan Purvis 26:30 you must have worked for the company worked for you, we're gonna put the put the results out that if those results, you know, whether they take you 40 hours a week, or 60 hours a week, or 20 hours a week. You still gotta you still have to commit to delivering and can I do it now where, you know, 500 a light week. But I work on a Saturday, a little bit on the Sunday. Because I I've got the inspiration to do something. I don't consider that extra work that I need to be paid extra overtime for it's just makes my week the next week a bit lighter. In the same token, if I want to go and watch my daughter swimming, I go watch something. And I don't feel bad about it. Because I know that I've worked weekends and late nights and you know, I've chosen how I want to work and the results. So it's time to end Heather Bicknell 27:24 there for today. Super. Ryan Purvis 27:27 Nice. Thank you for listening today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work for this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www digital workspace works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. 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