One Digital Nomad on What It Takes to Succeed

Profiles By Brendon Schrader

Digital Nomad 01

Work-life balance means something a little different when it includes juggling world travel with serving clients. But independent consultant Zac is able to do just that, combining his lifetime love of travel with a vibrant marketing career. As long as he can get online, he’s able to provide top-notch service to clients, no matter where he is.  

The Work

Zac has managed a lot of projects over the years that he's been able to manage remotely. For example, he had a project running paid search campaigns for a 24-hour online clinic that provides online diagnosis and treatment plans for common ailments. He helped the company find new customers who are in the market for a doctor. “Beyond the basic keyword management, there is a good amount of time spent coming up with ideas on how to reach an audience when the company launches their service in a new market or starts treatment for an ailment,” he says.  

The Travel

Zac has been traveling all his life, inspired by his father, who often worked overseas. “He lived in Saudi Arabia, India, and Indonesia, and I remember seeing his passport filled with stamps and extra pages, and calling him long distance while looking at a map and dreaming of going,” he says. His father would save up airline points and take the kids on trips to Barbados, Bermuda, and Curacao for vacations.

As adults, Zac and his wife, Jill, decided to go on a long trek every two years to places like Machu Picchu and Nepal. That schedule turned into every year, until they sold their house and belongings July 2014 and have been traveling ever since. Zac is currently on an adventure that will take him to Budapest, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Oslo, Edinburgh, and Bath.

The Balance

Zac says he avoids scheduling meetings on travel days, because travel itself is stressful enough; he simply tells clients the days he’s unavailable. “I just work wherever I am,” he says, fitting in flexible work without having to take vacation time to travel.

“There are great advantages for people who can work this way,” Zac says. “You can literally go anywhere there is a decent internet connection and be productive. It's the definition of work/life balance.” He says employers find some comfort knowing that remote contractors are totally dedicated to making that lifestyle succeed, so they work harder to prove that it can and does benefit everyone.

“I'm way more focused on getting a project or task done when I know there is a beach or a mountain waiting for me,” he says.

Back home, Zac partners with companies back home who help by picking up the client management oversight and support, and all the back-end administrative details like contract negotiation and billing. This type of arrangement allows Zac to devote all of his work time to solving clients’ problems, no matter where he is. In addition, these companies serve as a local face for clients who need a little more hands-on attention when Zac is out of the country.

The Future of Work

It’s no secret that the way people work — and how they understand work — is changing. A PwC report looks at some of the emerging possibilities about how we work, including a greater emphasis on flexibility, collaboration and freelance work. Technological advances have already made it easy, with a little planning, to deliver for clients from around the world, like Zac does. As tech continues to evolve and more clients see the potential of collaborating with problem-solvers on a project basis, these arrangements will become even more commonplace. All it takes is a sense of adventure - and a willingness to do the work to make it work.

About The Author

Brendon Schrader is an entrepreneur, executive and business coach. He resides in the ‘Bold North’ of Minneapolis and is always up for a good cup of coffee. Brendon has published his ideas in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and more.