YASMINE ÅKERMARK is the Cofounder of Svenska Nomader, a Swedish digital nomad community, and the Founder of Sharehive, a marketplace for female entrepreneurs. In this interview she shares her tips for how to be productive on the road and learning the skills to be a remote worker.
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Her tips for being a digital nomad:
- Being a digital nomad is not for everyone: Before quitting your job and going on the road, try it out in small steps.
- Save up money so you have a safety net for yourself.
- Have a routine in place and be disciplined. Learn to adjust to your circumstances.
- Surround yourself with others who are living the same lifestyle that you are. It’s helpful to have people who understand what you are doing.
- Working from the beach looks glamorous but it is not actually productive.
- Social media is a great way to meet new people and build your global network.
- Be aware of the communities you are traveling in, and contribute back to your community whenever possible.
- Use sites like Sharehive, Upwork, Freelancer, join Facebook groups, Slack groups, and conferences to get remote experience and to learn how to collaborate with people from a distance.
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
Lisette: And we are live so welcome everybody to this remote interview my name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely and today on the line a real digital nomad on the line today. Yasmine I’m going to have you pronounce your last name.
Yasmine Akermark: Yes that is Akermark.
Lisette: Right so if I were to say it with my horrible American accent I would say Akermark but that is totally not but it so Yasmine and you are the you are the cofounder of the Swedish Nomads group also a Swedish name I will have you pronounce that and also the founder of Sharehive which is a market place where women collaborate and we are totally going to get into that but first let’s start with what does your virtual office look like and what do you need to get your work done?
Yasmine Akermark: So my virtual office I guess it’s very changing right so because I do tend to even if I’m based in a city for a bit of time I always change my location network but generally like you know I do need obviously my laptop and then a paper and a pen, I’m very much you know some people can write everything down on a laptop wherever I need like a paper and a pen sometimes I don’t see but I, yeah there we go. Sometimes I don’t see what I write it’s just like, I just need that to make my list to like scribble I don’t know what it just makes no, there is nothing to say like my book is just there for a way like I just need to keep writing so that’s the only things that I really need but then I’m really picky in terms of like where I work so it kind of has to be the right amount of light, so when I find this co-working spaces of cafes which I tend to work most from I’m you know I want to be able to see people, I don’t want to be in front of a wall so I’m like [Inaudible 01:55] co-working thing going, in the past few months I have been in New York and I have been working from this thing called Spacious which is something in between like a restaurant cafe and a co-working space, it’s a transformed restaurants they are closed during the days to create co-working spaces and what’s so good about it is that I can change location like every day because they have like a bunch of them all over New York and that’s, I think that describes my virtual pretty good that it’s a laptop, my writing book and my pen and then the changing co-working space on a daily basis pretty much.
Lisette: So I’m curious how did you become a digital nomad, what is the story behind how did it happen?
Yasmine Akermark: I think like, I hope I just kind of been a digital nomad my whole life but like I was brought up with a lot of traveling, my parents we lived in different places so I think from like a very early age I kind of had that do you say mindset or like you know moving around and seeing new places and then I didn’t actually know I was an actual digital nomad until 2015. So I have been living as a digital nomad then for like four years or even longer really it depends on how you see it but I had no idea I was a digital nomad and it wasn’t until early 2015 when I was on Instagram and I was like uh what is this hashtag I keep seeing, it’s like [Inaudible 03:35] people in [Inaudible 3:36] like working in their laptops, that looks great and I was like oh isn’t that what I have been doing, so I was thinking I was like supper clever in my hacking life and I was like in [Inaudible 3:47] working from my balcony and like and having like a business and I was like dah obviously other people do that but I was thinking you know I didn’t think it was like such a massive thing so I didn’t realize I was until 2015 and before that I had just been running my own businesses since 2011 and freelanced as well and it’s just become because I do travel a lot it’s become like a very natural thing and like well I might as well work when I’m in different places. So it wasn’t like one day I was decided to become one I think like my whole life it’s just been.
Lisette: So you have discovered that you were one?
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah exactly even when I was studying I was like oh no I’m going to write my dissertation in a different place like even when you are not supposed to, I’m going to do this change here for a year a I’m not supposed do, I mean I was constantly like finding new ways of being in different locations.
Lisette: So what are some of your tips for being on the road because certainly you have learnt a lot by being in all these different locations?
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah, it’s not for everyone I can say this straightaway you have to like I mean you have to have your routines that’s really important, be very disciplined and think. I mean I struggle a lot with like yeah the discipline and the routines and what’s one pretty good tip is to surround you with other people with a similar like position because then you, you know it’s not just if you work in particular if your by yourself like it can be really hard and challenging to like motivate yourself even harder than if you are running your company, you are freelancing at home I think because then almost you have your setup and everything but when you are travelling you constantly like well you know there are so many things to do and to see, but like you need to be structured and disciplined and keep those routines even but those routines will change you know because some places you know it will be great to during the day do something you know actually work later at night because in your, you know if you work towards Europe or US you are in different times so you have to like keep your routines but adjust them according to the time zone kind of thing.
Lisette: Oh I love that.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah and I think definitely a lot of people like they ask me a lot of questions how do I start living as a nomad and I think as well as not necessarily like black or white like a lot of people think that now I have to like throw myself out there and you know be away for months and but it doesn’t have to be you know you can be in your home country and go in a different city for a while and you know you can test it out too depending on where you are based, let’s say you are based in Europe why don’t you just go to like Budapest or for like four days you know and test it out and see how that’s for you and then you can be a nomad for a month of a year it doesn’t, it really doesn’t have to be that you know what you have seen me yeah these people said they wanted coconut and a laptop on the beach I mean it doesn’t work to work on a beach with the laptop, let’s face it.
Lisette: It’s true, it’s true always see the pictures and I think come on it must be sand everywhere come on.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah now you can’t see any, it doesn’t work it doesn’t, yeah.
Lisette: So working from the beach does not work as glamourous as it looks, yeah.
Yasmine Akermark: It’s just for the photos, just for the Insta.
Lisette: So when did you start the Swedish Nomads group?
Yasmine Akermark: So the Swedish Nomads was started only 2017 and the story there is kind of funny because I was, my nomad base was London at the time and I had got to know this girl we were both writing for a Swedish Travel [Inaudible 07:56] and that’s how we knew each other because we both had been writing, we both are based in London. So we have been hanging out a little bit and then this guy reached out to her and he was like ‘hey when I googled digital nomads in Sweden your name was up because she has been writing articles about it,’ and he was like ‘I have been a nomad there is not much information about it in Sweden so we should totally do something,’ and she kind of because she knows that I was a nomad, I was heading to Poland at that time so she was like ‘hey this guy called Christopher contacted me you know this could be interesting,’ and so I was like ‘yeah sounds good and then I headed off to [Inaudible 08:39] and to one of my businesses kind of crushed. So I was like oh God I really don’t have time I need to focus on this, this is devastating, I don’t have time for something else and then they were like yeah but we know we should look into it, this is for fun you know it was people who asked us about it, share it we can start this it’s like a small blog. So we did and early 2017 and yes it started as a very small thing and we hadn’t met Mr. Fred this time me and Emily which is kind of funny so we just started something with him and we were like let’s see how it goes and we didn’t meet him until a few months later and we were like is he going to cat fish us or something?
Lisette: The good thing about humans is that most of them are really lovely people like for the most part humans are really lovely people yeah.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah I specifically treat people in that way too, people will be lovely if you believe that yeah.
Lisette: Yeah, so then how did Sharehive come about?
Yasmine Akermark: So Sharehive is, I would say like it’s, it’s kind of like some summary of all my experiences having been a female like freelancer and entrepreneur 2011. So basically when I started my first business back in the day this was completely different I thought that was going to be very very easy, it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined and I quite [Inaudible 10:23] that I had to start doing freelancing on the side in order to get that business going because I was one of those crazy people who quit my job which I wouldn’t unless I recommend, I just went for it for my business and then I was like uh this is not harder than I thought. So I then started freelancing on the side and where I was like finding work and getting more business was through my like female entrepreneur freelance networks. So I was reaching out to them and I was helping them and I was getting help back and I was spreading my business and it was you know really nice well like the ecosystem and yeah, and then I just a few years ago it’s like there it should totally be like a market place for female entrepreneurs and freelancers where you know we can help each other out and you know yeah because that’s what we already do but there is no really like structured way of doing like potter unlike actual freelance work plus there is like a lot of other things I learnt as freelancer you know these platforms like Upwork whatever they don’t really allow you to be transparent, showcasing what you are doing it very much like you are a freelancer but still it’s not like who, about you as a person and also a lot of like including myself a lot of female entrepreneurs or freelancers there are actually a combination of both, a lot of people has a business and through that business freelance or freelance on the side which is like a really important thing as well because a lot of these other platforms they don’t really allow you to be both, they kind of you have to be one of the other which is not really suitable for a lot of females entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Lisette: And why the focus on female entrepreneurs?
Yasmine Akermark: I think the, in the beginning it was obviously like it’s based on my experience and just this having this strong like support of women in business around me but also one of the aspects of Sharehive is there is the border aspect and the with border you know the more niche to this, the more like security the more trust you have in so you kind of have to like make it quite niched for it to work, so there is different reasons but maybe because of my experience and the support and also the fact that a lot of the people who join Sharehive do appreciate working with female freelancers because their businesses target for female in general which makes sense that you do then work with someone who is of that gender because they understand the business because that’s the target.
Lisette: What do you think female entrepreneurs, how is it different from male entrepreneurs, is there I don’t know if there is a main difference or?
Yasmine Akermark: I think it’s, I think everyone, I think that’s, it’s hard because I think everyone is you know you can have a, I don’t really know that there is a typical in terms of like in the gender to be fair-
Lisette: Right it’s a huge stereotype I mean yeah to date.
Yasmine Akermark: But I think like it’s, I mean you know for Sharehive and the future you will be able to go online obviously as a male entrepreneur having a business target females, go online and find female freelancers, entrepreneurs helping you with that. So in that way there will be just, it’s just a community that in like on the platform that is female only but it will also be open because obviously there is much more you can do and work around it so.
Lisette: Sure and there is all kinds of male networks and all I mean you know there is definitely there is the it was funny in one of the interviews I did somebody said men and women are equal but different so there is a difference and that’s why it is important that both needs get addressed because there is an equality but there is very much differences in the way we work and the way we approach problems and all kind of things and both are needed and equally as important.
Yasmine Akermark: Exactly and I think in like one last thing that just that I think what is not necessarily about a gender as well is about the fact that you are like that define like that a group it makes easier to like do business in like a community and that community could be everyone in the age of twenty five in a small city or so it’s just marketing to just finding your niche and really like be focused on that.
Lisette: Right that’s the focus is always the thing. So what is something that you struggle with as a digital nomad or a female entrepreneur, what is it what are sort of your main challenges that you are addressing?
Yasmine Akermark: I think its supper hard, I was like it’s so hard now but it’s really hard but-
Lisette: I agree you know you said I quit my job and just left into it, I did the same and it was so much harder I would never recommend people do it unless you have a huge like a huge pile of money, savings account or something like even then it’s so hard so yeah.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah it’s very hard I think it’s a very hard like the motivation and also like I think it’s very yeah it’s very hard to motivate stick with your work by yourself as well, it’s just can be so challenging in just waking up and being like hey I need to do twelve hours of this today and like there are so many ups and downs in entrepreneurship and freelance and you need to like you know one day you are like on the top and the next day you are just in the bottom and you need to just ride those ups and downs and also the fact that like you know like everyone you have days when you don’t, you are not that effective and then there days when you are like on a roll but the difference is when you have a job is that you get paid all the time right, you are paid for those hours that are human to not be effective but if you are not effective when you do your own thing you just miss out and I hate being ineffective so I can like really beat myself up for being like you know as effective but I also know that I can’t be effective all the time and it doesn’t work for me, I have like three really good hours and then I might actually need to do something else but it’s hard I just want to be effective all the time because I know that I want to move ahead, that is really hard.
Lisette: Yeah, yeah I have to say riding the ups and downs man it’s really it’s really a roller-coaster ride that I think people don’t understand how prepared you need to be for it and the constant hustling like constantly hustling for new work and new staff and that’s also very tiring.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah and just like believing because you do lose like you know like your confidence is low oh it’s not good and that’s also natural but you have times in your life that can be stretches of months that you are just not on the top and that’s absolutely normal but that makes things harder, I mean yeah so.
Lisette: Yeah if you are running your own show and you are having a hard few months then it can be really devastating whereas if you are just working for somebody else and getting paid no matter what and you have a hard few months well then you know you can write it out pretty much, I mean everybody you know each set of rules has its own each set of structures has its own ups and downs I’m sure, could you ever go back to an office or did you ever have like an office job day job kind of?
Yasmine Akermark: I did I did very shortly briefly after university I landed on paper reading a good job but just I mean I was very excited and yeah it was terrible. I mean I think that was like a bad I mean, I don’t think anything would have changed even if I had the best job like I have stayed maybe if I had stayed a bit longer but it just made me quit very quickly and just go ahead and do my own thing but I think like I mean I have been considering like you know like potentially it could be nice to have a normal job because you have as well people you work around, a community which is really nice but then I’m probably would just do full time freelancing with like bigger clients and just find a co-working space that I work from everyday so that would be my compromise kind of.
Lisette: And why do you like this life, what is it about this lifestyle that you love so much?
Yasmine Akermark: I think it is the freedom and like flexibility of just being able to yeah just moving like moving around or like it’s not like I’m going to be around all the time either like I said it’s not like I’m constantly traveling but that like freedom of like being able to be in different locations I mean just like booking like airline tickets you can go on a Tuesday that’s so much cheaper now but I’m so that’s my motivation, no it’s about the freedom and I also like in terms of like I really like working for myself it is motivating like I said it is hard to motivate yourself to do things but it is also very motivating to be working for yourself because once you are on your, you know you’re really high up there because you know it’s very exciting when things are going well so yeah.
Lisette: Do you have a favorite travel destination?
Yasmine Akermark: I have so many I keep like loving every place I’m like I’m in Austin now and I love it I’m like maybe I could be here for some time. I mean I think like I mean [Inaudible 21:13] is really nice I think it might be almost too much now but I think it was pretty nice like I have a thing for [Inaudible 21:21] like I don’t know I love big cities, I love the different cultures that meet there I just love that city, so that’s one of my like absolute favorite places I also do spend a lot of like tend to keep coming back to the balcony areas so I spend a lot of time in like Bosnia and Macedonia really like those areas too. I love the US it’s just so expensive-
Lisette: Oh interesting.
Yasmine Akermark: I was like New York, yeah-
Lisette: Ah New York.
Yasmine Akermark: New York that is I’m just like oh dear you want to have dinner spend a million dollars.
Lisette: Yeah yeah that’s the price of being in the big city usually is yeah I lived in San Francisco for a long time and it was very expensive, I live in a small town in the Netherlands now and my rent is like a tenth what it used to be really like a tenth, it was ridiculous yeah. So what about favorite tools and apps things that you use all the time?
Yasmine Akermark: I mean so what I use like I love Evernote I use Evernote like I said I like to scribble on my laptop as well then I write actually write things when I scribble with my hand its more, but like yeah using Evernote is great because I before I started using it I would just had like tones of like word documents just scattered around and weird folders like so that is that’s one of my favorite, I like Pomodoro the tomato where you work twenty five minutes on a break, work twenty five minutes then you are not like allowed to like watch anything [Inaudible 23:13] do anything which is really good because then I do need I really do need that little break and I need that focus. So those two are like I think are great and for, I recently discovered this app which is called [Inaudible 23:32] and it’s like digital business cards but it’s like it’s really clever because so I ran out of business cards I said I kind of think it is good so I there was this app and what it does is that you, at an event you someone you will take someone’s email they will write the email in the app and then you will both get connected by email and you will both get your LinkedIn sent to each other and then you save them into the app to. So it’s like rapid and like its saving the whole step of like well I will take your card and I will sit down and I will email you and that person will email me back, it’s like it just does it automatically and then you can straightaway connect to LinkedIn or whatever just its supper clever [crosstalk].
Lisette: I’m curious about your social media which is do you get a lot of connection on social media, do you find a lot of work that way?
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah I do, I do a lot of like digital networking I think social media is amazing for that like Facebook groups is fantastic when you start Instagram is fantastic too like and like it’s just like Facebook Messenger or like I think people just test out sending someone an email and Facebook message someone, I know they would like you have to like unlock it on Facebook Messenger and the same on Instagram but people are so much more likely to like reply to you and it’s so easy like I mean it depends on the nature of your business but like you mean LinkedIn is a little bit harder than anything because you get so much spam there unfortunately but like yeah networking on like Facebook and Instagram [Inaudible 25:16] is great I think.
Lisette: And when you travel do you connect with other digital nomads do you make it a point of like meeting up with other nomads or?
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah absolutely I love that part of being a digital nomad is that you meet awesome people from all around the world and they are all like obviously just travelling and like doing their thing so they are, they have a set mindset which is very open, its extremely easy to like create a community of people I mean I said that when I had like my leaving party in [Inaudible 25:55] which I spent well six weeks there I had like forty people showing up I had my leaving party in London where I spent like eight years I had like fifty people showing up. That’s the sort of mindset a big city’s people live with, some people are just too far away and ‘oh awesome, my husband is doing this barbeque tonight?’ So it’s like a really I think that’s like one of things I love the most about but that you to really inspiring people to and you get a lot of connections so, just imagine like meeting someone who has been like maybe not traveling all the time you know but been living in different places and met different people from all around the globe, just imagine their network compared to like when you meet people, I mean this isn’t always the truth but you know someone has been in the same city and worked same job of course you are constantly meeting new people that have a global network it’s just puff.
Lisette: Right oh I didn’t even yeah I didn’t even consider that you are right because if you are like at a normal job normal what’s normal anymore but okay if you have a day job for instance you are right you are running kind of with the same circles unless you are actively networking and bringing people in
Yasmine Akermark: Which is kind, which I mean it’s hard like some friends from back home they are like you know what do I do and it’s like I get like it’s not that much happening and I was like its hard you know but like when you are or like there is nobody to work on this co-work space it’s just like everyday thing happening and you will just hear about things and people are very inviting and open and yes suddenly you just have a wide global network which is amazing.
Lisette: Right right expanding your reach out to like way more than the local community indeed. So what makes a bad digital nomad?
Yasmine Akermark: I mean you do meet these people who are just not actually nomads but they say they are but they are just traveling which is fine I guess.
Lisette: So they are just travelers they are not working while traveling?
Yasmine Akermark: They kind of are but not really they are like yeah working in this blog I mean that’s not there are some I mean hugely successful people that do but I also meet people who just, and I think it is fine but they might just use it like as a thing because it is easier to say that I’m going to go working on this rather than say traveling which is fine and in on that they are just not nomads but like yeah what else how do we, how are you a bad nomad I mean its I think as well you need to be aware as well of like how it’s fantastic to be a nomad but it’s also you are very privileged you know a lot of people are not able to do to be a digital nomad you need to as well like understand that, the digital nomad culture can actually cause some damage to communities as well you know a lot of times it can be really good because these regions are growing but you know also the local population might be priced out so you think you need to like be aware of that so you know a dad digital nomad would be someone who is very ignorant to that so and you know there is a tone of ways as a nomad to actually give back to communities that you come to which I think is really important.
Lisette: How do nomads wreck the community I won’t say wreck or maybe you know have a negative effect on the community what does that look like?
Yasmine Akermark: I mean I think there is like there is always two sides to it but like you could say for example like certain areas of [Inaudible 29:38] like that’s been like old like fishing villages whatever and then now you know there is this tones of like really nice restaurants which is I guess great in these houses but everyone now is renting them out and [inaudible 29:53] and whatever I mean the prices are pretty much comparable to like US you know like the prices of… they are still cheaper but like the prices are a lot higher which means that these locals that live there forever they are now like priced out they can’t afford living there anymore. Then the other side is like benefiting the economy but I mean yeah and [Inaudible 30:19] again as an example I mean it’s also a huge problem with like I mean that’s everyone in the island but you know just plastic like the country is at a place now creeping up with the amount of people but it’s like tourism too so it’s kind of hard but I think mainly is that kind of pricing out people from their places that yeah.
Lisette: Yeah now I’m just curious like what is the negative effect because it sure sounds glamourous otherwise.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah exactly.
Lisette: So do you have any tips for people who are just starting out who are thinking about it what would you advise them to do?
Yasmine Akermark: I mean like really test it before anything else.
Lisette: Yeah you said start slow.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah start slow and I think as well one thing you can do is if you have a normal job like start building your freelance or company on the side you know you take baby steps and do that on the side until you feel like you have something and then make sure you save some money up but like you know just if you are going out there just have like a freelance gig, I mean like I was speaking to this girl the other day who has job which is completely like not remote working like it’s like in a lab [Inaudible 31:50], so like she was like how do I do this, I was like but it was like maybe there is ways that you can work because that’s an industry that is specific and I’m sure they are like are there like [inaudible 32:02] startups that you can potentially use as a freelancer maybe not for lab but maybe there are new digital skills that you can learn like is there like something like digital marketing or whatever because I think there is another really important thing is that you need to kind of learn that skill that is you know that you can work remotely with because all skills are not even though we are moving towards everything being able to do remotely but then like so like learn that skill or if you head that company you know of course you need to set that up for freelance and there is like tones of like obviously there is like this autonym skill, crush skill, share but I mean to be fair as well like YouTube works really well because you know people do great videos because they make money out of YouTube so you can find a lot of things on YouTube but also like one thing which is nice about Sharehive is also like great for people like people start out it’s like starting out because the border allows you to collaborate and like actually gain something that you need if you are freelancing, you want like a website with a logo whatever you can get that in exchange of like I make you a video whenever that can be and in that way you are actually like hey I’m getting experience and same time getting something back so you just collaborate with people and you know reach out don’t be shy and join all these like these tones of like Facebook groups slack channels and just join these conferences you know go for one and like start like tipping your toes into it like yeah.
Lisette: Love it yeah tip your toes in that’s a good way to put it like just tip your toes in go to meetups go to conferences check out and I do like the idea of gaining your experience through just small projects with others just do something small, make a video or and just learn the skills that way indeed, tip your toes in, writing it down. So the last question which is if people want to get in touch with you and learn more about the Swedish nomads or Sharehive where is the best place to find you, the best places is because you have mentioned Facebook and Instagram already.
Yasmine Akermark: Yeah I’m a little bit all over the place I mean yeah I guess LinkedIn or email is probably one of the better ones because see I was just saying you remember I like emails for like it’s a general so then that would be email@example.com or Yasmine Akermark on LinkedIn something like that.
Lisette: And I will link to it in the show notes for people so that I can make it easy for them. Great well thank you for sharing your story today I hope that I don’t have a lot of digital nomads on the show but I hope that this is something new for the audience to inspire them to get out of their box a little bit and travel the world and see what it’s like.
Yasmine Akermark: Great.
Lisette: So thanks so much for your time today.
Yasmine Akermark: Thank you.
Lisette: Alright everybody until next time be powerful.