Name: Alexandra Mandel, Jonathan Kalan, and Michael Youngblood
Talent: Experience curators
Headquarters: California, USA and Colombia
Superpower: Reality sculpting
Alexandra, Jonathan, and Michael curate 30-day coworking experiences around the world for digital marketers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and people going through life transitions who want to experience location independence. Unsettled wants to encourage people to live outside of their routine as a way to build a fulfilling lifestyle.
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Lisette: Okay, great. So we’re live. And we’re hoping for no disasters. And my name is Lisette, and I am with Collaboration Superpowers. And I’m interviewing people and companies who are doing great things remotely. And today on the line, I have a whole group of people from all over the world, from Columbia and San Francisco, Alexandra, Jonathan, and Michael. And you guys are from Unsettled. And welcome. Thanks for being on this show. I’m going to start with the first question, which is what does your virtual office look like. And then we’ll get into what is Unsettled and what are you guys doing. But let’s start with what does your virtual office look like. What do you need to get your work done?
Michael: Thanks, Lisette. Thanks obviously for having us too. Our office is a product of how we travel. [inaudible – 00:45] a little bit more about. And we travel every 30 days to a new location around the world. And that’s an important basis, sort of starting point for how we work. The reason we do that is we believe [inaudible – 00:58] one place. We find it very difficult to constantly be on the move. A lot of people have lived this lifestyle, this remote work lifestyle like we do. They might be moving from hotel to hotel. [inaudible – 01:11] coffee shops [inaudible] co-working spaces. And that interferes with your scheduling, interferes with your productivity. And you might [inaudible – 01:18] co-working space or the coffee shop. And you might [inaudible – 01:21]. So for us, a very important part of how our virtual office looks is that every 30 days it’s a new place. But we stay there and we [inaudible – 01:29] for 30 days because [inaudible – 01:31] productive. So we’re sort of running between a virtual office and a [inaudible – 01:37] office. Jon, Alex, any thoughts on maybe how the actual, internal parts of that look?
Alexandra: So in every location, we set up a [inaudible – 01:46] co-working space that allows [inaudible – 01:50] participants to really have all the [inaudible – 01:52] that they need to be productive in their day-to-day work schedule. It also allows us to plug into the local community in a real way. So connecting with local innovators, artists, entrepreneurs, and people that also [inaudible – 02:06] in the cultural experience of every place that we’re in.
Jonathan: To add to Alex, virtual office is it is a lot of infrastructure around that that is non-virtual that makes it possible. And it allows us to be able to connect it into anywhere that we are really seamlessly and allows to be productive.
Michael: [inaudible – 02:28] three, four, five [inaudible – 02:30]. We’re always a small team that’s always on the phone and always on Skype.
Lisette: Okay. Your company is called Unsettled. And I have here that you curate 30-day co-working experiences around the world for digital marketers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and people going through life transitions. Super interesting category of people. We’ll talk about that. Tell us a little bit more about this. What is Unsettled? And why? Why did you start this?
Michael: I think the why comes out of a couple of areas. Initially, I think it was solving our own problem. We realized over the last four or five years that we could work remotely. We were living remotely at the time. But that wasn’t a great experience when done alone. Anybody can go out there and do this alone. Anybody can go [inaudible – 03:19]. But the difference is [when you’re alone, there are only few that are already – 03:21] freelancers. They’re already self-employed, sort of in that executive office by themselves, isolated. And we realized as soon as we can work remotely four or five years ago, we wanted to do it with people. So that’s the real focus. Unsettled provides a lot of the infrastructure. The co-working space is just important for this. That housing infrastructure is that people have a nice, comfortable place for 30 days. But really, what we love to do, what everybody [inaudible – 03:46] love to do is [inaudible – 03:47] experience [inaudible]. Jon, do you want to speak about that?
Jonathan: Yeah. I think we really designed this as an experience [inaudible – 03:54] as Michael said. It’s not just a co-working trip or co-working retreat. You can really drop in anywhere, plugin office, and be set. But it’s really be able to have an opportunity to grow, to gain perspective, to sort of be the best version of yourself and be with the group of people who are all [inaudible – 04:09] themselves to be the best version of themselves. It’s a pretty amazing experience. And I think it comes about not only, as Michael said, with more people working independently and working freelance, but also just the number of people who are in transition today. I think the last statistic I read is that millennials are changing careers – not just jobs but careers – every four years. So you have more people going through transitions in life and jobs. And they are looking for a sort of more structured break, where they can be productive. They can focus on side projects. They can focus on new endeavors and be able to do that in an environment where it is productive and it’s not just like a four-week vacation on the beach. So being able to combine that, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives, with those who are sort of seeking to live more of that sort of lifestyle. Provides a pretty interesting experience for everybody.
Lisette: And does everybody come to these co-working retreats with they come with their own projects, their own work. It’s basically entrepreneurs. They have their own thing. They just want to experience the digital, the location-independent lifestyle. And are these people that are just trying it out for the first time? Or are they just looking for new experiences with other people? You probably have all kinds, I suppose.
Michael: Absolutely. To your first question, people definitely bring their own work. It usually breaks down into sort of groups of third. [inaudible – 05:32] third of people over the last four years we’ve observed who sort of own their own business. [inaudible – 05:37] business owner. They came in with a little bit of planning, [schedule something like this for a month – 05:41]. There’s usually a middle, about a third of the people [inaudible – 05:44] are full-time freelancers. Often in the creative industries or development, a lot of designers, a lot of people in digital marketing. And [inaudible – 05:53] people who are looking for transition, looking for growth. And they see this as an opportunity to get out of their comfort zone to find new perspective, get out of their routine. And some of them are working on themselves maybe for that month. And then Jonathan, the second question, maybe you can…
Jonathan: If you could repeat the second part [laughs].
Lisette: I’m not even remembering anymore.
Jonathan: [Laughs] Mike, you’ve got a better memory than both of us.
Lisette: Yeah, indeed. I don’t know if Michael remembers. When I go back and listen, I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah.” Do you remember, Michael, what the second part of the question was?
Michael: [inaudible – 06:31] the second part of the question was… Yeah, so people…
Alexandra: [inaudible – 06:36]. Basically, it’s a mix bag.
Lisette: Okay, the kinds of people that are coming there.
Jonathan: Oh, the kinds of people, yeah, yeah [laughs]. So yeah, like I said, the third, the third, the third of the types of people or where they’re coming from and the experience that they’re looking for. I think we’ve had everybody from entrepreneurs who’ve started, companies that are worth half a billion dollars, to people who are just transitioning from five or ten years in a corporate career to do something totally different. We have a guy who founded a [hemic – 07:11] company, we have designers, we have really a broad mix. And I think what makes the Unsettled experience unique and what we love about running it is that you are brining this really diverse cross section of people from around the world, not just industry but the location. We’ve had 25 different countries represented in our experiences so far. And that’s the number we always hope to grow because it is that sense of if we’re going to be in a new environment, looking for new perspective, doing it with a really interesting and new group of people, kind of helps push you a little bit further. So I think there’s a lot of sometimes criticism [inaudible – 07:47] against some co-working retreats. It’s all just a bunch of guys [from in tech – 07:50] or a bunch of entrepreneurs. And I think what we strive for is something much more diverse and much more inclusive than that because it does make it a richer experience.
Lisette: And about how… Oh, sorry, Michael, go ahead.
Michael: To answer your second question, we absolutely have people who do this for the first time. They’re looking for a soft [inaudible – 08:09] allocation. But we also have people who’ve been [inaudible – 08:12] somebody [inaudible] right behind us in Medellín, Columbia now who has sort of all their [inaudible – 08:17] over a year. They’re doing this full-time and they’re quite an inspiration for us.
Lisette: Yeah, awesome. Awesome to be able to do that. How many people are typically on a retreat at any time?
Michael: It’s about 25 people. And we’ve had as many as about 42. We’ve tested all the way down to about 18. And about 25 people is a really very sweet spot. We’re doing a lot of vetting, Jonathan and I. We think of this much more as a people company than a travel company, actually. So we’re talking to every person who applies because we want to show this is for investing in you. You’re investing in us. So [inaudible – 08:55] 25. You definitely can try to connect really deeply with people, on a really fun level with some people, adventurous level [inaudible – 09:02]. It’s a really [inaudible – 09:06].
Lisette: Yeah, I can imagine. 30 months is a commitment with 25 people that you may or may not know. Okay, we had some [inaudible – 09:19]. 30 days is quite a commitment to be traveling with 25 people. And what does a typical… Is there a typical day? What would a typical day look like?
Michael: There is. 30 days does seem like a commitment, but you can be amazed at how fast that flies by. You see part of our [inaudible – 09:38]. And we’re talking about [inaudible]. But when you get here, you suddenly realize there are only three or four weekends left as soon as you get here. [inaudible – 09:46] planning adventures in this new country, all of these workshops to collaborate with people, these new ideas [inaudible – 09:52] from everybody. So a typical day looks like you walk out of your apartment. There are three or four people that are hanging out for breakfast. [inaudible – 10:00] local gym or [inaudible – 10:02] studio. So we hope people think of what is your dream routine because now that you’re out of your normal routine back home, you can implement this for 30 days. You can make and break habits in 30 days like the [inaudible – 10:14] says. So a nice, reflective [inaudible – 10:17]. People meet up with a co-working space. [inaudible – 10:21] usually two workshops per day. So we have one going on [inaudible – 10:25] workshops [inaudible]. So you can imagine if you have 25 entrepreneurs as freelancers from around the world with decades of experience in different topics, from user experience to living a healthy lifestyle around food, the number of workshops you can have is just infinite. So [inaudible – 10:44] couple of workshops. And oftentimes, people work [inaudible – 10:49] workshops. Most participants come to this. We usually get together for dinner in the evening. Oftentimes, a dinner party is at somebody’s house. [inaudible – 10:58], feels like a place. You’re comfortable. And we [inaudible – 11:02] accommodation. We want people to check out their [inaudible – 11:06], take a nap on somebody else’s [inaudible – 11:08] like your home. So it kind of feels like [inaudible – 11:13].
Lisette: Wow! It sounds great. I have to say that I’ve been on the road a lot for giving workshops and presentations all over the world. And I like the idea of being in one place for a certain amount of time because the constant on the go is totally exhausting. And I know some people thrive in that, but for me, I’m very unproductive because like you guys said earlier, I have to find Wi-Fi, doesn’t always work. The coffee shops are uncomfortable or they’re loud or whatever [inaudible – 11:40]. So I really like this idea that you have this fixed spot that people can go and rally around.
Jonathan: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of guesswork in traveling and working. And sometimes it can work out and sometimes it really doesn’t. Like you said, you’re bouncing between four coffee shops in one day, playing with Wi-Fi, playing with [inaudible – 11:58]. There are a number of things that can go wrong. And I think being able to stay in one place for 30 days, it does give you a sense of being able to be a bit more grounded, and as Michael said, try out new routines, right? If you’re constantly traveling every day, every week, you end up not really getting into a new routine. You’re always looking at what’s next and how do I get to next place. You’re unable to give yourself that time to step back and think and be productive and grow in the way that you want to grow. That’s what we designed these around, around a month. More than that, you’re sort of getting into living a little bit longer and maybe not being able to keep up those routines or keep them where you are. So [inaudible – 12:38] time for people to try something out and have an experience that does give you perspective without having to… Or being [inaudible – 12:47] that you are constantly having to worry about the things that are changing in your environment.
Michael: There’s something else at play here, Lisette. It’s more of a macro-level perspective, but I think it’s worth mentioning. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of people traveling like this today. And it’s soon to be in the millions of people who are traveling [and living – 13:06] like this. And if you think about going into a location for 30 days, [inaudible – 13:10] travel, right? A lot [inaudible – 13:13] metaphor [inaudible]. When you sit 30 days there, you’re shopping on the main street supporting small businesses, as much [inaudible – 13:20] that [inaudible] two or three days. So the economic impact of this sector, we’re going to have millions of people [inaudible – 13:28] traveling like this. Not only is it going to be huge but it’s going to be [inaudible – 13:31] travel industry. [inaudible – 13:36] 1970. The cruise industry was just forming. [inaudible – 13:39] talking about [inaudible] calls. Imagine us doing that today [inaudible – 13:42] millions of global travelers who are working like this, able [inaudible – 13:46] a hundred times more sustainable than that short-time travel [inaudible – 13:50]. So for us, that’s really exciting as well.
Lisette: Oh yeah, oh yeah, I didn’t even think of that part of it. That is really exciting because it just sort of evens out sort of global payments and distribution of everything. Where do you guys host your retreats?
Michael: Currently, we’re here in Medellín Columbia. And we have about half a dozen locations that are live and going on in the next few months. So we’ll be in Medellín in February and March. And then we’ll be in Bali in April and May. And then we’ll also be in Buenos Aires, Argentina during April, Buenos Aires in May. And Jon [inaudible – 14:29].
Jonathan: The summer has a bunch of fun experiments and places to be announced and then fall as well. We’ve had a lot of interest in future retreats [crosstalk – 14:44]. Kept it under wraps as much as possible, mainly because we have an incredible six months to get through before that, but yeah.
Lisette: All right. Oh, man, now I’m dying to know. The anticipation is exciting. Yeah, indeed, it’s also good to focus. It’s like okay, we’ve got six months’ focus. All right, when people are on these retreats, what is the stuff that they struggle with the most? What do people have a hard time with when they’re there?
Jonathan: I think one of the biggest challenges is a sort of different sense of self-discipline, right? I think it’s very easy to get caught up in a new environment and a new city and [inaudible – 15:23] time and exploring. And you’re with an amazing group of people, and there’s so much going on at any given time. I think when people do finally step out of their routine… Let’s say somebody who has just quit their job or is taking sort of a structured sabbatical to focus on their own project. When they do break out of that routine, sort of being able to balance that work-life-play scenario in a new place is just easy to get caught up. So I think the challenge is how do I really structure time for myself to be productive, to work on the things that I came here to work on, to be intentional, because we provide that space. We have the workshops, we have the impulses and the inspiration that comes through these different sessions and obviously comes to the city itself. But making kind of time… And part of living sort of a more virtual lifestyle and working more remotely is learning those habits of how can I balance my life out to have a great time where I can be productive six, seven, eight hours a day in a place and know that the other [inaudible – 16:21] hours, I’m going on having a great time. So I think one of the challenges is just self-discipline, adapting to a new structure, and learning how you’re productive for people who are used to sort of being in an existing, let’s say, 9:00 to 5:00 structure.
Michael: I was just going to add. I don’t think there are actually any challenges that you don’t have at home. So I would encourage everybody to think this is something anyone can do. The challenges are going to be the same [inaudible – 16:50]. And I think almost everybody everybody can empathize with that. Everybody looks for [inaudible – 16:55]. It’s very difficult to find… At times, I think at times everybody [inaudible – 17:00] trips. It is one where we [inaudible – 17:04] workshops on this. And then [inaudible] new people and new ideas, new place, they can become that much more challenging to find that balance. And stay true to yourself. I think that’s one that we really emphasize. We ask people to make sure they find time for themselves, just stay true to themselves. [inaudible – 17:22] I find it carries [inaudible – 17:25] I go, my flaws, my imperfections, my habits come with me everywhere I go. And it doesn’t matter how virtual or how [inaudible – 17:32] I am.
Lisette: Yeah, frustrating. You’re like all the way around the other side of the world, and bad habits are still [inaudible – 17:38].
Michael: No matter where you go, there you are.
Lisette: That’s true. That’s what they meant by that. But I really like the idea of learning how to be productive because I bet that you take a lot of these skills from the workshops and from the experience and bring it back into the normal life that you just left. I mean there must be so much that you learn after you go back home or continue on the road wherever you are.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Your listeners will have to come on our trips to see the amount of productivity habits we think through. We almost always get together on one trip and we get everybody in one room and we say, “Open your laptops, open your phones, all get on the whiteboard, and let’s write down what kind of tools you use.” We used to have dozens of [inaudible – 18:21], especially when you have people coming from different parts of the world, applications that have been built in, like, “Wow! [We didn’t know that – 18:26] existed.” So we’re just sharing [inaudible – 18:28]. And [inaudible – 18:29] time management aspect [inaudible – 18:31]. So it’s one of our favorite workshops that we [inaudible – 18:34]. Alex [inaudible].
Alexandra: I am looking forward to it, mostly because I’m [inaudible – 18:40].
Lisette: What are some of the most common tools or some of the most exciting tools that you guys have heard of in these workshops?
Michael: Most common and most exciting are very different.
Lisette: Okay, let’s do both.
Michael: [inaudible – 18:52]. Nobody gets excited [inaudible – 18:54] ways to [inaudible] out there. One small application that I use [inaudible – 19:04] emails, their LinkedIn profile pops up right there, inside of my Gmail. So I’m able to look right there [inaudible – 19:10] I get sort of an idea [inaudible – 19:12] might be the first time [inaudible] communicating. And then just [inaudible – 19:15] 30 seconds [inaudible]. By the time, you have dozens of ideas like that for email. And it just [inaudible – 19:22] and makes it simpler. I’m like everybody else [inaudible – 19:24] excited about.
Jonathan: Oh, I don’t [inaudible – 19:34] excited by tools.
Jonathan: [inaudible – 19:40] people. They’re standard ones. And people who rave about Slack and people who rave about different tools like that. But part of it is also on these experiences. People sort of unplug and try new things. They sort of break out of the things that they’ve been using and say, “Okay, do I really have to be on Slack for the next month? Do I really have to use that 24/7? Or can I disconnect it from my phone and see what kind of space that gives me to explore new ways of being productive?” Not that this is a digital detox in any sense, but people do try different things. We have had people totally unplugged from all the tools that they use, actually fully unplugged from technology for a week when they were in Bali, and they came out of it a totally different person. I mean he found the space that he never had. So I think it’s as much about optimizing your life and optimizing the tools that you use as it is about discovering how you can be productive in a different sense and how you can give yourself a bit of space. So that’s just something that we found, I think, on some of these trips, especially in Bali, just given what it’s known for.
Lisette: Indeed. A lot of people go to Bali. Sorry, I’m having a coughing fit because this interview is full of all kinds of strange, technical difficulties and [crosstalk – 20:55]. I do like the idea though of a digital detox. I think that’s an interesting thing that people are doing on these retreats. Is that pretty common?
Jonathan: I think we haven’t had too many on ours. But I think the idea of… You think about spending a month with 25 people, right? You’re spending more time with those people than you would typically spend with your best friend, perhaps, over an entire year because you’re there every single day. So when you think about the time that you take connecting to other people, the time that you take in your daily life really getting to know other people, it’s not as much as you might think. And I think what people realize on these retreats is you are surrounded by an amazing community, and you’re having these interactions all the time. It sort of gives you this chance to disconnect naturally where you don’t feel this impulse to check your phone as much, you don’t feel this impulse to hop on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger or other platforms to communicate because you’re really, in a sense, much more present just because you’ve intentionally set out to have this experience. And I think a lot of people do look at the Unsettled experience as a way to be present in a different format. They’ve realized kind of going through the hamster wheel in the daily life in a 9:00 to 5:00, or they’re working remotely or in a co-working space but still feeling quite isolated to Michael’s point at the beginning. So this is actually chance for them to connect more deeply with people. And by nature, you sort of start to pull back from technology. We do have a lot of WhatsApp groups in there insanely active on the experience and not… I mean I’m here in San Francisco and I’m added to all the ones in Medellín with Michael. And it’s insane. But it’s people sharing photos and where they are. It’s really interactive. It’s like, “Hey, we’re at this café. You guys should come over.” It’s really fun.
Lisette: Yeah, I can imagine. You get out of your normal routine and your normal rut. And that’s what travel actually does for people. You’re getting out of your normal circles and widening perspective, I think. And that’s probably the biggest thing. I don’t know if we touched on this, but why did you guys start this? What was the impetus? I think maybe you said in the beginning that because you were traveling a lot and you wanted… But why do this for other people?
Michael: Because the first time we did this as a total experiment, it ended up being one of the best months of our [inaudible – 23:20] months around… if you measure life around months, it’s such an incredible experience where we’re looking within ourselves. I tried [inaudible – 23:30] for the first time. I was learning a language. I was [inaudible – 23:33] productivity habits, face-to-face [inaudible – 23:37] things [inaudible]. And I just [inaudible – 23:39] away just my entire, whole self, my work life, my personal life, my love life, everything was just there, and I was vulnerable, and I [inaudible – 23:49] my life. We just knew [inaudible – 23:52] first experience [inaudible] ourselves. We had to share it. It really started organically, started with friends of ours. First time we did this, we had 40 friends show up in Bali with us. And after that, their friends came on the next retreat. And your best friend’s best friend is probably a pretty cool person. And we still get most people [inaudible – 24:13] friends [inaudible]. It’s a pretty strong community that we come into. I think we’re still just as excited about it today as we were that at first time.
Lisette: You seem to be. The enthusiasm, the smiles, the way you talk about it is definitely… I mean don’t you wish everybody felt this way about their jobs? That would be the best. Could you go back to an office, do you think?
Lisette: [Laughs] Okay.
Jonathan: Short periods, a week at a time. It’s fun to have structure for a short period. And I remember why you left.
Michael: Maybe that’s a good warning to your listeners. You can’t unsee things in life [inaudible – 24:57]. When you get out here and you realize that you can do this. And don’t get us wrong. It’s a very privileged thing to do. And we get these great jobs. People work really hard to set this up for month at a time. So we’re very aware of that. How lucky we are to be doing this. But once you get out there and do that, it’s really hard to go back to another life.
Lisette: It’s funny. I ask not everybody this question, but nobody can go back, unless there was lots of money involved somehow. It has to be a big pile of money to go back to day prison.
Jonathan: Yeah. And I don’t even think it’s money. I think one of the ways I look at my own life is that I’m optimizing my wealth as not what I own but what I share and who I share it with. And it’s [inaudible – 25:44] experience that give me that. Maybe 40s, 50s, and a bit later in life, money will be more important. But right now, it’s about having experiences. And I think having a network of people in a community is as valuable, if not more valuable, than having a boatload of money that you’re [sitting – 26:00] on. I can stay in any number of cities around the world with friends for an indefinite period of time. That’s a valuable asset. And for me, it’s something that I can give in and share. And it’s just sort of a different way of looking at things, a different way of valuing what is that’s important to you in life at that time.
Lisette: I’ve always wondered about this. I’ve never been super rich. I wouldn’t mind trying it. But I’ve always wondered about the super rich. You have all this stuff. You have multiple homes and yachts and stuff. What do you do with all that? How do you possibly enjoy all those homes and yachts and all? I don’t understand it. Why have all this stuff?
Jonathan: Hoping so you can invite your friends to come hang out. That’s what we do [laughs].
Alexandra: Yeah, some of the richest people might be some of the loneliest people. [inaudible – 26:52] the biggest asset in the world is being able to spend time with the people that you love and have the choice of where to do it and when to do it. I think that freedom is invaluable.
Lisette: Yeah, it seems to be the number one reason that people want to go remote. It’s simply to have the freedom. And not everybody wants to travel the world. Some people just want to go running in the middle of the day and are not able to do that at their day jobs. And those restrictions really bind people, I think. And it’s one of those things we’re breaking free of now.
Michael: About 20 percent of people changed their flights towards the end of this trip. I was talking to somebody last night who was going to change her flight. And oftentimes, what comes with that is they begin to rethink, “Hey, that apartment I own back in London [inaudible – 27:39] market. What happens if I sell half of my things [inaudible – 27:42] that apartment? Do I have to go back home as quick as possible? [inaudible – 27:47] I did. So we’ve seen people [inaudible – 27:50] trips with us. And they go home. And they’re quite [inaudible – 27:52] sold their apartments and their flats. And they’ve begun to live this lifestyle full-time and never looked back. So the things that you can’t unsee, [inaudible – 28:01] for good or worse. But it really motivates you to think about how you spend your time and your money [inaudible – 28:08].
Lisette: Are there people that shouldn’t do this? Are there types that come on this retreat and they’re like, “It’s not for me. Can’t do it. Don’t like it.” Does that happen?
Michael: Yeah. One of our main slogans is embrace the unknown. So you really have to be aware that when you’re going into a new culture with a new [inaudible – 28:29], language barriers, you have to have the mindset to embrace that uncertainty that’s going to be there. If things are going to go wrong, there are going to be annoying little moments when the language barrier is there. Most of the time, it’s kind of funny and you’ll laugh about it. But there are moments where you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. And if you’re somebody who can’t embrace that, this is not for you. But for everybody else who is seeking that out, sign up.
Lisette: Indeed. Is there an age group that’s common? Or does it totally vary?
Michael: It’s a little bit of both. We’ve had people, I think, as young as 25. And I recently signed up two seven-year-olds, a married couple who are just so looking forward to come in and to contribute in the board of a major university in the U.S. And they just want to pass things on down. We really appreciate that. We don’t want this to be something for some specific group of people. The more diverse it is, the more experience to bring on, and the more we’re all going to learn and take away.
On the other hand, the average age is mid 30s. People oftentimes are 10 to 15 years into their career, and they really feel like they need to be shaken up for a little while. A lot of [inaudible – 29:41] 40-year-olds and 20-year-olds [inaudible]. Everybody is mature though. Even the 20-year-olds seek this out. They realize that this isn’t an experience to [inaudible – 29:51] that problem. It’s something that [inaudible – 29:54]. This is a very [inaudible – 29:55]. So people come who are established in their careers and who are mature in their lives.
Lisette: It’s good to hear. I suppose the diversity is really what’s key as you want people from all over, from different cultures, different ages, everybody contributing to one particular [crosstalk – 30:10].
Michael: Yeah. I think we [inaudible – 30:12] about half of our participants between the Middle East and Africa, which is great. We’re two American co-founders. Every participant we’ve ever had, we’ve had more women than we’ve had men. Another great theme [inaudible – 30:26]. This is an area where we just place overwhelming emphasis on because we think it’s important. The easiest thing in the world be for us to [inaudible – 30:33] together. We want to [inaudible – 30:34] for a months and have a nice cocktail. But [inaudible – 30:38]. This is so much more than that. So we make sure to [inaudible – 30:41] people who are so much more.
Lisette: Awesome. Oh, man. I have two questions. We’re nearing the end of the time. I have two questions. One is advice for people who are just starting out on this journey. You guys have seen a number of them now on these different retreats. What would you tell somebody who’s just starting out or just starting to explore? What should they be thinking about?
Michael: We can do one each. Mine would be to [inaudible – 31:10] to my earlier points. A lot of people think that they can hop down to one country and then to a city and a new country time and time again. I really think [inaudible – 31:22] for a month, a couple of months, you can meet locals. You can learn enough language and interact with people in a different way. You can be more productive. But yet you’re still not establishing a [inaudible – 31:33] strong areas. It could take years. It can take lifetimes to explore some of these places. And it’s the same everywhere we go. We have friends who’ve lived in Bali for 10 years now, and they’re still finding new things to do. So don’t rush to see the entire world. There’s [inaudible – 31:50] digital nomad sort of mentality [inaudible – 31:53] year-long trip and get everywhere [inaudible]. That’s my advice, Jon?
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s a great one. I would say back to sort of one of our principles of be true to yourself, I think part of this journey is finding out what works for you. And what works for you is not what works for everybody, and what works for everybody is not always what works for you. And I think taking the time to, as Michael said, put roots down and find a way to kind of understand your rhythm, I think, is really important. When I find myself moving too much, I realize I have to stop because I’m losing productivity. I’m not able to focus. So it’s understanding what it is that allows you to be productive. So whether you realize that every morning, if you go for a surf and then you work for eight hours a day and then you go for a surf at sunset, that’s a routine. That’s great. How can you structure that in different environments? If you’re in a city, then you go for a swim. There are different ways of doing it. I think understanding when and how you are most productive and what influences that and then starting to over time match environments and go to places that you can find that is something to be conscious of. Like Michael said, it’s not a race to travel the world. This isn’t some I have to hit 20 countries as a remote worker by the end of this year. That’s sort of an aggressive mentality to go about. I think it’s much more about you’re doing this for yourself. So how can you really treat yourself in a way that allows you to be true to yourself and productive and get what you want out of these experiences.
Michael: Can [inaudible – 33:28] add one word?
Lisette: Yeah, of course. The more advice the better.
Michael: You have to be open when you [inaudible – 33:36]. I said 20 percent of people change their flights. They’re the [inaudible – 33:40] mentality to be open. Be open to fall in love with a new location [inaudible – 33:45] to fall in love with the person you’re going to meet when you’re traveling. You’ve just got to be open to try things in new ways. You can’t [inaudible – 33:52] mindset. This is how this is going to go. This is how [inaudible – 33:56] is going to look. This is how I’m going to be productive. You’ll take so much more of it [inaudible – 34:01]. So I think [inaudible] doing this for over a decade combined and [inaudible – 34:10] and be as adaptive as we can. So be true to yourself, be open [inaudible – 34:19].
Lisette: And Alexandra, do you have one?
Alexandra: Yeah, absolutely. To Michael’s point, I would say be true to yourself but also challenge yourself. Continue to push yourself. Go beyond what you think you can do or what you want to do. And I think it’s so easy to be comfortable, to just stay in your box, even if you’re going abroad or starting this journey. I think the real magic [inaudible – 34:43] happens when you push yourself beyond what you feel is your comfort zone. In fear of [inaudible – 34:52] up for [inaudible] Spanish [inaudible]. Scares the crap out [inaudible – 35:01] a little bit above my level. [inaudible – 35:06]. But I know that that’s [inaudible] learning and the growth will happen. So that’s just a small example, and I think we’re all able to embody that in our own [inaudible – 35:16].
Lisette: What I really love about what’s highlighted in this interview with you is so many managers at companies are so afraid that when they let people do flexible working and remote working, they’re going to just lay on the couch and they’re doing it because they want to be lazy. And the opposite is so true. I mean all of your advice, you’re in exotic locations or beautiful locations. But all of your advice is challenge yourself and be open and be curious and stretch your limits. And even I think your quote that you have here is living outside of your routine as a way to build a fulfilling lifestyle. So all of that points to managers have this really old-school view of what people really want out of their flexibility and what people want out of travel. So I love that you guys highlight that without meaning to.
Michael: We’re getting more and more managers who are coming to us with their teams as they’re beginning to identify it. How incredible could it be if your team could go out, be productive for that month, [inaudible – 36:18] this entire [inaudible – 36:19]. It’s a sabbatical of [inaudible – 36:21], sabbatical [inaudible] people signing up [inaudible] to do that. We’ve seen people go home. And their family members, their team members at work think of them as entirely different person. It’s like you’re going on a vacation but still being productive. It’s a really valuable [inaudible – 36:37] you’re making.
Alexandra: Yeah. And to add to that, we’ve had two managers or employers here who [inaudible – 36:42] talked about extending this opportunity to their team because they’ve seen how valuable it’s been for them. And I think as this idea kind of settles in and sinks in, we’ll see more and more [inaudible – 36:55] actually employers coming and wanting to offer this as [inaudible – 36:59] growth of professional and personal growth opportunity [inaudible – 37:03].
Lisette: Yeah. Managers are people too. This seems like a natural thing to want, right? They probably want freedom too. So let’s make it work. I hope there’s a bunch of managers listening. Last question, which is if people want to get in touch, if they want to sign up for one of your retreats, what’s the best place to go? Where should they log in?
Michael: Just go right to our website. It’s beunsettled.co. And you can find all the retreats that are coming up. You can apply right there on that. We have some questions to learn a little bit more. And quite frankly, we just set up a Skype conversation as soon as you sign up because like we said, this is a people company. It’s not a travel company. So we really encourage people to go there. And one thing [inaudible – 37:51] if your listeners are thinking about this, we sort of tell everybody, before you sign up, make sure you are 110 percent in. Make sure you fill this in your bone marrow because we want people… If you can imagine 25 people coming from around the world with that attitude, that [inaudible – 38:06] in your hands. So that’s the [inaudible – 38:09] to come to our website and sign up. I really know they’re going to be [inaudible – 38:12] going to be full participants to this experience. They’re going to come to the workshops and turn their phones off. They’re going to be present at the dinner parties. That’s when we want your listeners to sign up.
Lisette: Indeed. If you want a vacation sitting by the pool, there are plenty of other companies out there that will provide your vacation by the pool. This is like a co-workation or a work holiday. Do you guys have a word for it?
Lisette: Unsettled, I love it.
Jonathan: Nothing else, nothing else fits.
Lisette: Brilliant, brilliant. Thank you guys so much for telling your story today. I hope you get contacted by a lot of people and a lot of managers. I hope you’re changing minds of a lot of those old-school managers out there. Thank you guys so much. And for everybody who’s listening… Sorry?
Michael: I hope we see you out here some time.
Lisette: Oh, man, I would love to come to Columbia. I’ve never been. So that’s already on my list because I’ve never been. So thanks, everybody. And until next time, be powerful.