Curtis Duggan: Hello and welcome to another episode of Remotely Serious, the podcast where we delve into the world of remote work, exploring its challenges, its triumphs, and the future it holds for all of us. I'm your host Curtis Duggan, and today we have a truly special guest, as we always do, but this one's really special, extra special this week.
He's a man who has taken the concept of working from anywhere to an entirely new level. He's a digital nomad who has traversed over a hundred countries, probably living and working in a way that most of us can only dream of. Today. We're talking to the one and only Dean Ccho, but don't expect this to be a run of the mill episode.
Not that we ever make ordinary episodes, but this one's extraordinary. In this one, it gets really interesting because. We talk about the digital nomad lifestyle, but we get to a point where I don't think, I think we're going actually doing the opposite of glorifying it or painting an unrealistically, rosy picture of remote work.
We go off the beaten path of what remote work discussions are like. I think a little bit, and we're we delve into the less discussed. Aspects of remote work and why it might not always be the panacea for companies that it's often portrayed as by remote work advocates and remote work zealots. So whether you're a seasoned remote worker, a company contemplating the transition to remote work or just someone intrigued by adopting this lifestyle, you can you can strap in.
This conversation is gonna be anything but typical. Prepare for an enlightening journey into the less traveled territories of remote work with me and with Dean Kochel. And just one last note, this episode, I was in a different room using a different microphone than I generally do on our other episodes, so there's a slight echo to my voice.
It's noted. So you're just gonna have to get used to it. It's gonna sound slightly different and that's okay. But please stick with us 'cause it's a great
Dean Kuchel: episode.
Curtis Duggan: Hey everybody, welcome back to Remotely Serious. I'm here with Dean Kucha, founder of Digital Nomads Israel and United Nomads two organizations. I learned about when I met Dean for the first time in person at running remote in Lisbon. And Dean is the king of nomads. And you know what Dean, it seems like.
A lot of nomads will say, I spend four months here. I'm in Lisbon, four months or Madera, four months in Bali, four months. But following your work and listening to a bit of your conversations on other podcasts like about abroad, It seems like you're really going for it on the nomad thing.
You do travel to many countries. You are not a slow mat, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but you really have extensively gone to a lot of countries and may even be heading for the crown by going to every country in the world is I've jumped right into this. Is that fair to say that you're you're not a slowed?
Dean Kuchel: Yes. I'm not a slowed and I'm not sure why. I just enjoy the whole bits of travel. It's not just about. Being in a new place or going to visit a friend. But I enjoy the actual travel, the long bus ride, being in the airport, the security line, not so much, being in the airport, maybe having access to the lounge, meeting people everywhere I go.
There's something exciting about it, even 10 years into my journey. But big part of why I travel so fast and. Just to understand how fast, like in the last 60 days, I think I've been to like eight or nine countries. And since you and I met in running remote back in May, I think Yeah. I've been to a bunch of them and different continents as well.
It's to visit France. It's not just travel, it's not just to hike mountains and see museums and explore places, but it's a lot around. Meeting my people, my community, friends, family of course. And there are a lot of events to attend nowadays for digital moments, which I gain a lot of knowledge and even more inspiration from going to this event.
So it's part of what's moving me. And of course there is this mission of visiting all hundred 96 countries of the world eventually. But that's not the force behind the travels anymore. And I know there is a lot of criticism. If you go to a place for four days, you don't see much. And if you go for too long, you miss on others.
I just believe that each person should really go for what feels right to them. And I travel often on a one-way ticket. So if it's good, I stick, I stay longer. And if it rains, I take the train to a different place. Yeah,
Curtis Duggan: I think that's that's more common for nomads than maybe for people that are.
Planning tourism and the traditional trip where you book the one-way ticket and it's quite normal because you don't know when and where your next ticket's gonna come from. And there may be some minor savings from getting a return ticket, but it doesn't matter if you want to have the the optionality as they say.
I, I want to get into what it was like to Nomad 10 years ago but before, 'cause you've been doing it 10 years. That is longer than a lot of people. But first I just wanna touch on events. So we met at running remote, which is a. An enterprise focused remote work event that's held every year, I think from now on or for the foreseeable future.
It wasn't Lisbon this year, and it looks like it will be next year and may maybe they've found a venue to hold it, but it used to be this circulating through various cities, including Montreal in my home country of Canada to the year before in, in 2022. You've mentioned that you've gone to other nomad events.
I must confess I'm not as quick and fast ranging as a nomad of a nomad as you in terms of hitting all these different countries. And also, I must admit, I haven't been to that many nomad events. I have gone to running remote several years in a row, but there are certain nomad festivals and planned events specifically targeted at the digital nomad audience.
And I just haven't been to them yet, like SCO Nomad Fest in Bulgaria and others. What has that been like? How long you've been doing it? 10 years. Has there always been digital nomad events or is that sort of a post pandemic thing and which ones stand out for you? How do you choose which ones to go to?
Dean Kuchel: No Nomad events, as far as I know, goes back to 2016 or 17. I think Johnny FD was one of the first two. To put together conferences that was in Chen Mai targeting mostly people in the marketing business. I never went to this one, but it's really one that kicked off many of the other events to follow.
So there were not a lot of events back then. And when I started my journey, I didn't even know I'm a digital Noman that I didn't know to put a name to it. I was just traveling, working remotely. It was not even a choice at the beginning, but, Kind of circumstances because of a visa that was delayed for me to stay in the u s a.
So I had to go work remote until the process ends. And so
Curtis Duggan: You were trying to work in the U Ss A and then a visa situation kept you out of the u s A and then you Yeah, exactly. The world is my oyster.
Dean Kuchel: Yeah I got a job with a company in San Francisco, a startup company, and I was hoping to stay in the Bay Area, but then the visa was delayed, so I was forced to leave the country for a few months, and by the time the Visa was approved, I managed to be in like eight, 10 countries, see the walls.
And it worked. And also my, the company I was working for at the time, when they asked me to come back to the office, I told them, look, I don't think I'm going back to the office. Fell in love with this lifestyle. And they just said, okay, you, you. Prove that working remote has nothing to do with the performance of your work, doesn't affect it.
You are available, you perform well, your KPIs, you meet them. And I've been working remotely and traveling since then. That's again, that's 2014. So there were not a lot of, just going back to your question, not many events, but. I first was attracted to, to meet people that lives the same lifestyle, to hear about the what else I can do and take advantage of this lifestyle, but also hear more about the challenges.
And at the beginning of my journey, it was a lot about the travel, like me traveling places, taking amazing selfies and photos and landscapes. And if you scroll back on my Instagram, you'll see photos from amazing places around the world. But over time, As a solo traveler, I wanted to meet people. Now, it's easy to meet people when you travel, and I met a bunch of backpackers and locals anywhere I went.
But I came this point that, okay, it's not only about telling my story and getting people excited about what I do, I want to share this story and this travel and this lifestyle with people that understand my choices and live by the same values and ideas. And that's where I started. Okay. I need a community.
So not only I connected with other communities, if it's the Bansko community, if it's the Canary Island community, I also started one of my own. I felt Hey, I'm from Israel. Those are my people. I wanna connect with people that on not only live. By the same values, but also grew up in the same environment.
So this is where I started digital, nor with Israel about six, six years ago. And from seven people that I invited to the group, it's now turned to be a 42,000 people community. So that, that, that's crazy to see what it has become. But the moment scene has involved so much. And if you look back at Noad Pensko, I think it was the first festival in Pensko was 80 people.
Just couple days ago they wrapped up their fourth edition, I think, and the largest one with over 700 people. Wow. And it's just beautiful to see people connect and just celebrate life and celebrate the digital noad lifestyle. And now you see we have Nomad City coming up in, in couple weeks.
We have Ireland hosting a beautiful event in the August. There is a one in the east. There is. Because the Brava hub happening in SEP September. It's like endless options to meet people. And actually this is a call out to listeners go and explore this venues and events. And I never regret going to any of the, these events.
I never, even Portugal we met running remote. This was a very last minute decision. Like I had a flight, different destination already booked. But the night before I decided, okay, I gotta go to running remote. I changed my flights and everything paid whatever it paid. It was probably the most expensive flight.
If you look at the length of flight and duration of flight and cost that I ever paid for, but absolutely worth it. The connections that I made there the friends I met, the memories, it's completely worth it.
Curtis Duggan: In your journey, are you completely nomadic or do you consider anywhere a base or a home on this crazy journey to 200 countries and or however many you're gonna hit as the journey goes on?
Dean Kuchel: Ask me the same question 48 hours ago, and I would give you a completely different answer, but I had no base all those years. All I travel with is a single carry on and a dayak, and that's my home and I feel at home. I feel at home everywhere I go. And it's very important for me also to feel this way.
Mind if it's a hostile room, hotel, Airbnb, a friend's place, I call places home. Now, if you ask me where you're at now, I'm home. I'm in Lithuania specifically, and the reason it changed recently is that I started to date and amazing lady. And because of that, we are spending a little bit more time in the hometown in Kawan, Lithuania.
So the listeners cannot see my setup, but I'm. In a room, in an office, and it's the most settled that I've been ever in my life. I just bought a monitor and a mouse and
Curtis Duggan: keyboard. Yeah. It's not settling down, but it's changing the gear shift to one. Yes. Yes. One different
Dean Kuchel: gear. And it's nice to have roots and I spend a lot of time in Bali a place which also I call it bass.
I go. Stuck by choice during pandemic and I was pretty good to stay to, to be there. And it's a place I keep going back to, but I, I'm looking for this place that I wanna call home, but I don't think it'll be a single place. I am sure I will continue to hop between two, three destinations every year.
All year. Yeah.
Curtis Duggan: I think even more than most people, you have a perspective. On all of these different destinations, there are certain people that are great nomads. They're influencers. They're thinkers, they're thought leaders. But if they spend a lot of time in Portugal, they might talk a lot about Portugal or if they spend a lot of time in Southeast Asia, they talk about Southeast Asia and the quirks in idiosyncrasies of Bali or Chiang Mai.
But you've been a lot of places the reason I'm I bring that up is because I noticed that running remote, and I'm noticing more online too, even more now, the destinations themselves, the ministries or the tourism departments or the departments of attracting economic activity are coming to running remote.
They are posting, they're creating programs. They're creating marketing and campaigns specifically to attract digital nomads and remote workers. And this can be anything from ads. To a booth at a trade show, at running remote to an entire program like in Croatia, where I know you've participated and they bring people in to to workshop.
Actually, I probably don't even know how to describe it best. But my question is, having seen some of this and even being directly involved with these destinations, Are there some that are doing it better than others? And if someone's listening and they are, they're sitting at their desk in Bueno Aires or some or Uruguay or any country in the world, or Lithuania, and someone says, Hey, your job this quarter is to increase our digital nomads and remote workers coming to our city by a hundred percent.
Go do it. Are there things that person at that ministry or that city tourism board, whatever you call it, that they can do what have you seen from this front, from the front of destinations wanting to attract people formally and officially, not just on forums in Reddit, but as an official policy of the city?
Dean Kuchel: It's a great question and. Burning one is really, we sold, we see a lot of cities and countries making the call to, for no to come and spend longer time. And in the past it was board of tourism. Telling people come visit us. Now we see board of tourism saying, come stay with us. They want nomads and people who stay longer terms than the usual weekend or one week experience.
You mentioned Croatia, and I think they're doing really good job with not just a one time single effort of some advertising and putting a booth, but there is a digital association. They're working hand in hand with the governments. The board of tourism has a task force that deals with nomads. They put content out.
They have a year long program for nomads. There are so many events throughout the year, I probably don't know half of them that specifically target promote professionalism, digital nomads, and it proves to be worth a while for them. That you see places like Dubrovnik or other regions that see less tourism during low season and all of a sudden you have.
Few hundreds of people staying in the country, keeping some businesses even alive. And operating SKO is another good SKO in Bulgaria. Another good example for a place that is flourished thanks to nomads during low season although there's no much of involvement of the government we see bonus iris having an entire team focusing on digital nomads.
You have a welcome Keith. You touch down in. In Monte, you have a welcome kit waiting for you in Digital LO care with your public transportation card with explanation about the city with discount for transportation. That's
Curtis Duggan: amazing. Who's doing that? Is the city doing that? They're, when you register a visa they're getting that ready for
Dean Kuchel: you.
You don't even need to register for Visa, I think for most passport holders, I would say. But there's an organization called Nomads, BA Nomads, b Aires, and it's an official organization by the city. And they're doing so much, just had their event a couple of weeks ago. So they're doing so much to attract it.
And I think the biggest step that we see countries do is to connect with the local community with the nomads. It's it's not just some policy, but it's really in having an open discussions with the locals. And with digital nomads to understand what each need. Because bringing nomads into Portugal, and we've seen a little bit of a backlash there as a result, or we saw it in, even in Croatia, people raise some eyebrows, Hey, you bring, you offer people visa for one year.
They don't need to pay taxes. What about us? The local ask. So this conversation has to happen and it also has to pay off for the locals. So some countries doing it better, and I don't wanna give the countries too much, the governments too much credit. I love governments. I work a lot with governments, but I keep saying it, I don't wait for governments.
It's the private sector that has to drive those changes and bring the nomads in at the end of the day. So we see nomad X in Portugal being the legend between the nomads. And the locals and driving people into the country. It's not poor to go ing the people, but it's the multiple events you have on the islands and in the cities, et cetera.
Countries should put the call out for digital nomads, not only in a way to attract them as tourist. Yes, we come to spend money, but the opportunity is much bigger than just being a tourist. It's the opportunity to be involved in the local community, to do skill share to help others to what other, what are ever help.
They might need, if at all. They might not need help. They just come here, be a good tourist. That's good enough. You don't need to save the world every time you travel to new destination. But at the end of the day, we see remote professionals going with amazing talent, with good income, typically compared to the places we travel.
And I think there is a bigger opportunity than just spend money as a tourist. But it's how can you. This place better. And also it's how you pay it forward. Even if you just post about destination market the place, put a good word, leave a review, leave it deep, everything like that supports, supports such
Curtis Duggan: effort.
The year is unfolding. And it, so this is, we're recording this in the summer of 2023, and it does seem like there are more layoffs, some many jobs that would've been remote have, at least in, in North America, in, in Western Europe. There has been a slowdown, there may be a recession depending on how you define it.
And there's also complaints I'm seeing on Twitter about kind of a squeeze from both sides. Maybe there's less high paying jobs flowing freely. And also people are saying, Airbnb isn't what it used to be, the cost of just posting up somewhere. And for many people it was some kind of. Geo arbitrage around, Hey, in, in London or in New York or Tel Aviv, it's a little bit more expensive.
And if I go heat somewhere else in Southeast Asia or in an island somewhere it'll be cheaper, for better or for worse. And there's the whole, there's the whole gentrification conversation. But I guess what I'm wondering is, in your communities, are you seeing people feel a pinch?
Do you think that there's a wind blowing back against the movement A little bit. That's just simply economic. There's not quite as much froth and just total excitement, crypto money flowing, tech jobs flowing as maybe 18 months ago or two years ago. Because I know I, I believe in general, from a secular point of view, like over time the long term, this is only gonna grow that more and more remote work, more and more digital nomads.
But I'm just wondering if right now, in this summer, I do feel a little bit of a. A cool wind that's blowing back against the trend. And I don't know if it's my imagination 'cause I'm not traveling as much as you and I don't see it like really on the boots, on the ground nearly as much as you do.
'cause you get around to a lot of different communities.
Dean Kuchel: I, I think you have a good gauge on the trend right now. And we see I see the same. Maybe Google is surfacing different, blog posts to you than me. But I see a lot of posts about remote work is dead and hybrid model is not working.
And to be honest, and maybe to many surprise, I agree with it a little bit. The promise of remote work before the pandemic was that I. Employees who work remote are more dedicated, more loyal, they're more productive. But what we actually see, and now we have the numbers and we have the data coming from the large and the big companies, the corporates, it's not, people work a little bit less.
They might have a little bit more free time. It's definitely good for the employees. I think most people who choose to work from home happy with the setup, but when we talk about innovation, productivity, performance it feels like it's not there. It's not at the same level as in working from office.
I. And it might be also something that we need to accept that life is not all about business and making another dollar and making the 110% and at anything, it's okay if Salesforce or Google will maybe earn 5% less, but their employees will have a little bit more time for recreation and family. Okay.
That's another argument. But I cannot take only one side here. I obviously push for remote work and like you, I believe this is gonna grow. It's gonna grow with the gig economy people starting their own businesses and freelance. And young entrepreneurs, our generation and Gen Z, they will start the businesses and they will allow people to work remote because they want to be also location independent, right?
It's less important for the 40, 50, 60 years old leaders of today's businesses. And again, I go to the point, if you look at that from Salesforce, Google, Amazon, apple remote work, for many of them didn't prove to be as promising. Especially now that we see the markets. There's some face wind. You business is a little bit slower.
Infl inflation is at peak. The first people to go home will always be there. The remote professionals. When even if I had a business with a large team in a time of crisis, I want everybody in the office. This sounds
Curtis Duggan: like this has gotta be I, this is monumental just for me in terms of, because I think you're being the most honest.
Transparent. Again, it's a subjective opinion, but I really appreciate what you're saying because I think there are a lot of remote work influencers and zealots who everyone knows that it's better for the individual, but what won't, many won't admit or are insist on saying is that it's always better for companies to go remote because they will hire better talent and that remote workers are always more productive.
In some ways it's like being gaslighted and there is like this counter movement of large companies saying, no, we we've checked and remote work is not working, is not more productive for us. It may have some other benefits. We may have hired some people that we couldn't have, but it's not necessarily more productive.
And then what the remote work Xs will say is you just haven't implemented async properly or you haven't implemented the right processes. If you knew how to leverage X, Y, Z software and async and these various things, it's your fault. But I think there is this fundamental choice where some companies may simply be in office and it's better for them forever.
And some companies may be hybrid and some companies will be remote. Definitely there will be Gen Z, lots of companies that are remote and there's not one right answer and. It is primarily driven by the fact that this is better for the individual and individuals have leverage. So individuals have power and leverage.
But I find it really interesting. I'd love to get on a panel discussion because the remote work conferences are all pro remote work. You're going to the religion conference and saying, is this a good religion? And they're like, yes, it's a good religion. And it's not a multi religion conference.
It's not I don't hear and nothing against let's say running remote, but they don't have. Someone providing a, an opposing point of view on the panel. They, they rarely, if ever, I've never seen someone say here's the counterpoint, like a news program to talk about what actually happened.
With a certain company that went remote and maybe had some negative effects and decided to go back to the office, I'd love to hear about that. So I'm on a bit of a rant, but it's because I'm excited about what you said because I think, so I, I follow a really popular remote work advocate, Steph Smith, who's now with a 16 Z, great career, brilliant individual.
She worked for the hustle. She now works for a C, but it's always about how like remote work is always good. Company if companies aren't better, if by choosing remote work, they're just doing it wrong, it must be them, it must be the company's fault. 'cause it's never the fact that maybe just being in the office is more productive for a bunch of super talented individuals that wanna get charged up around each other.
I'll, I'm gonna come down off of my, my, my platform and my rant, but I just wanna say a heartfelt thank you that you said, sometimes it isn't more productive. That's just how it is. So thanks Dean.
Dean Kuchel: I love this and the passion and the energy. 'cause I feel the same and put all partners around the table for the discussion.
Everybody's wrong and everybody's right. Obviously there are companies that implementing remote work not in a, the most efficient and effective way. And obviously there are companies that did it and it still didn't work for them. Remote work is not the answer or the solution to everything and anything.
And it's not. It shouldn't be. Remote work is not for everyone. And also on the other side, remote work and digital moment is a lifestyle. It's not a profession. And many people I know are just not good. Being responsible for their own tasks and doing a performance, and they need someone to oversee them and manage them.
And it's, I've always been saying it, working remote is soft skills, is having the discipline, being on a Friday night in Thailand. When you need to service CU customers in East Coast U s A and say, okay, how do you give up the full moon party to stay at home and work while all your friends are out? Do you have the discipline to do it?
And people, unfortunately, many don't. So this is where companies feels remote work, fail for them, and it's, you cannot blame the companies what you're gonna say train your clients not to work on a Friday. Let's move to four days a week, et cetera. I
Curtis Duggan: think the people that think remote work should work for everyone are often people who have a bias and forget that not everyone is like them.
So the kind of person who has been successful at remote work and has a survivorship bias, I tried remote work. I built a great career in remote work, and therefore I look back on remote work and see all the things I did, right? Maybe I learned some lessons, but wow, this is great. But people have these blind spots where especially if you're an an excellent diligent, highly internally motivated auto didact, self-teaching, self-correcting individual who's always carefully reflecting on what to do better, then you may have all of those traits that make you a good remote worker.
The vast majority of people, more than half, certainly, maybe even 70, 80, maybe even 90% aren't like this. They're looking for they're not lazy, absolutely not. Most people aren't lazy. The of the 8 billion people on Earth, almost all of them are hardworking.
Dean Kuchel: Not about, it's not about being lazy, it's about outperforming.
And most people don't look to outperform, right? They wanna do the nine to five, get their salary, great career, and go on about their day and night. So I think it's not a problem, it is just. This is how we are. And not every person is a solopreneur that's gonna start his own startup company. And this is why remote work doesn't work for so many.
And I know people who don't want to work remote, give them the privilege of working from anywhere they want. No thanks. I wanna go to the office. Many nomads. Yes, they are in m i, but they wake up and go to a coworking space. What's a cowork? It's an office, right? So many of us need to have this environment to the people around us the communication, the community.
So there's no one answer. Obviously it worked for some, it doesn't work for some and. We talked about, yes, you can hire better, more accurate, specifically profession professionals from different countries, even have some saving on this. And it happened in the past. Companies in the US hire people in Israel, in Poland.
Amazing talent in Ukraine. In India, they work from offices, right? They, we already, I offshore for many years. That's nothing new. But those companies, Put together offices for their teams in these countries. And it worked very well for them. Now we say, Hey, we don't want the office anymore. We don't need it.
And it's okay. Nothing gonna happen. And of course there are a lot of companies that help you to. To do the transition from office to remote. But if you have hybrid teams and some in the office and some not, and some people want to be remote, but they cannot because of the nature of the job and some people don't want to commute, you have this mix of emotions and emotions in the company and that can create a lot of tension.
And also, I'm the founder of this company and we are building, I don't know, a software. Some app. I want to focus on this app. I don't wanna focus about. He works remote. He doesn't, he cannot travel, he couldn't pick up the phone. Internet connectivity issues. Of course, this is why we have operations and human resource and people to take care of it.
But all of a sudden companies are required to deal with something that they never did before and they don't feel it's irrelevant to the line of business. It's a change of. Way of thinking for so many years. So how do you implement this? Yeah, I think
Curtis Duggan: The counterweight that, so we've gotten into some of the fact that, oh, companies don't care about remote as much as you know what you're saying, which is just doing their line of business, generating revenue, getting their product to market, building their product, building features.
That is what most CEOs care about. I think the unlock for a lot of CEOs. That takes us all the way back around to why remote work is great for companies is just that unlock of talent of if someone is in a certain city and they can only hire, this is the thing you hear from all the people promoting remote work for enterprises, which is if you're just hiring within 50 miles it's great if you're in San Francisco, but if you're in a lot of other places, you may not find the systems engineer, you may not find the.
Enterprise salesperson, you may not find the exact person you need. If you only hire within 50 to a hundred miles of your building. And if you hire remote workers, you can hire around the world. You can get the exact person for the job.
Dean Kuchel: Until Covid 19, not single company ever said, Hey, let's go remote.
Let's shut down the offices, let everyone work remote. I worked with five or six different startups between 2014 and until Covid. None of them was remote friendly, remote first or remote at all. I was the only employee I. Among a hundred or 500 or 10 employees that worked remote. So it, it was not a thing until two, three years ago, right?
Only new companies were formed typically by, by young people. Went with a remote first approach, automatic. Hotjar, GitLab, et cetera, but you didn't see any of the big companies going remote all of a sudden. So it's a big change. And I'm obviously on the side that wants to see remote work being a right and remote work being acceptable and not just a privilege, but it takes time.
And we need to also listen to the people who run their businesses and not just the employees, to understand their pains and where it doesn't work.
Curtis Duggan: I think what's interesting is you're right, it the proportion of companies that remote are remote is still low. And I think what happens is I tend to hear about the same companies over and over again.
So people will say remote is working for enterprise companies like, GitLab and Doist, and that's great. It is great to hear about GitLab and Doist and several names come up again and again, but I think that over time that has a reinforcing effect that like, I keep hearing about the same five or six companies.
There's millions of companies. If this was growing, I would expect to start hearing about more and more. And I, you do hear about more, you hear about Shopify, you hear about certain companies that have gone remote. But I think what to, if I, if you're trying to market this movement, if you're, pro remote work for the enterprise, it would almost be like, you want to hear about a new name every month instead of okay, I've been, it's been two or three years and.
And I say, Hey, what are some great companies that are remote? Oh, GitLab and DOIs. And it's okay, yeah but I heard that two years ago. So that, that's, I love GitLab Love. Do it DOIs. 'cause that's not the point that they're, they don't need to do anything different.
They're doing it, they're doing great. But what I'd love to hear from the entire movement is A bit more perspective on, yeah, okay. You've got your buzzwords, you've got your buzzwords on who's doing it and who's doing it well, but I want to see those buzzwords evolve 'cause they get stale over time if they're used again and again.
But yeah, no I'm glad we, I'm glad we dug deeper in this conversation. It's one of those things where I really appreciate this con I'm gonna, I'm gonna pause and get a bit meta. I really appreciate that we're having this conversation that we're having right now, Dean, because I've listened to probably, I don't know, two, two or 300 episodes over the last four or five years of remote work podcasts of various flavors and genres.
And I think that, whenever you listen to a bunch of things like that in a row of the same type, there's certain themes that pop up and you can start to hear some things over and over again. And one of, and over and over again, it's that. Somewhat self-congratulatory thing of this is perfect.
This is great for everyone. If we're in this community of digital nomads, aren't we just smarter and more evolved and doing things right? We're all where all the people at the office are wrong I feel like what we've been talking about so far, you've brought a very unique perspective that is explaining and promoting your lifestyle without being unnecessarily rosy about what it entails and saying it's not right for everyone.
So I think this is gonna, I think this is gonna be a great episode, but so thank you again.
Dean Kuchel: Thank you. I'm extremely excited about this lifestyle. But we also need to be fair. There was a hype for two, three years due to Covid and it's dying down a little bit and it's okay. It's a process.
We had this hockey stick growth going from zero people working remote to everybody working remote, and now the trend is on a downshift for a little bit. I believe as you start this conversation, it'll grow. More and more people around the world will work remote. But now we need to slow down and make sure we do it right, and we don't just send people to, to work from anywhere.
They want to find out that the economy is not doing good, the companies are shutting down because if Salesforce employees. Who work remote are not performing well, eventually they will not have a job because Salesforce will have to shut down its doors. Yeah, that, that's the risk. And a lot of people really, they, especially young people who go on their first nomadic experience, they feel they're on vacation.
They forget their obligations. They have to, to companies and the business they have and their clients. And it happens no matter if you are employed or if you are a business owner. And this is a challenge that I've been facing for 10 years and I feel I'm disciplined enough, but I'm sure that many times, I opted for the boat ride or the skydiving experience rather than stay in front of my computer.
Curtis Duggan: Do you think that will change eventually in the sense of that large employers the big ones that are bringing people back to the office? Do you think they will ever trust that? Not just, I can see with a team of 20 or 50 or a hundred the kinds of size companies I like to start, I like to be part of startups, is what I like to be part of.
And it's what I know. But I brief, we I had a company that got acquired and I was briefly part of a large company for six months during the pandemic. Do you think these large companies with 5,000, 20,000 employees will ever trust that all 20,000 employees. Aren't taking the boat ride, watching Netflix go into the full Moon festival party down at the beach.
Do you think they'll, do you think that a gigantic company will ever have that kind of trust? Because I feel like this might be something where there's a psychology and human nature. You know how you have these. These laws about the psychology of tribes. Evolutionarily, we can trust the 20 people around us at most.
And then there's 120 people we can consider friends, but our brain starts to break before we can consider a thousand people high trust or 10,000 people high trust. And we have these nation states with flags that try and say, Hey, okay, we all have the same flag. 30 million people can trust each other with the flag.
But there's just something in the psychology where I wonder, Maybe remote work is embedded in our psychology of tribes and and close-knit communities from 10,000 years ago where it works up to 150 people, maybe the most, but it'll just never work at large numbers because our brains can't process that.
We can't trust 10,000 people. We don't know. I know it's a little bit crazy, but
Dean Kuchel: what is a company, right? A company is just a group of people and I don't think we need to ask the companies to. To trust us, the employee. I think it's our job to show them that we are trustworthy. And I believe this is a responsibility that I roll over to the employees and not to the companies.
I don't expect any fortune 500 company to, to have this trust. But I think this trust needs to be built with the employees. And at the big numbers might play a factor here because when you and I sit in the office next to each other and we know who covers and who's doing what, but when you are 3000 miles away from me I can say, ah, you know what?
I'm not gonna close this ticket because I trust Curtis to do it. But there's no communication between us because you're in a different time zone and your slack is off. And I went to bed. And this asking chronic communication not always works, but if we sat in the same office desk to desk and say, Hey, Curtis, are you taking care of ticket?
1, 2, 3? Yes. No. The responsibilities is moving from hand to hand and all the ends are being tied together. This doesn't happen all the time with remote work, no matter what technology you use, because it's not only the technology, it's how people use it. If. If they use it, do you have a, do you have Google Keep or Todoist or anything else?
Are you actually using it? Are you really typing everything you need into Notion? So if Google can trust 20,000 people, yes, Google can. Can 20,000 people perform every day from the beaches of as they performed in the headquarters in San Francisco, in the Bay Area? I don't know. I don't think so actually.
Curtis Duggan: you, do you work async or do you, when you have a project or a team or colleagues, do you try and match hours or have overlap or are you. Pro async in, in your, let's set aside the big companies for a second and just talk about you. Like, how do you like to do that?
Dean Kuchel: Do you? I'm pro async.
Yes. And I would say, so nowadays I'm solopreneur. I lead United Noad in digital nor Israel. It's my own business and I run it, and of course there is us in work with my team. But when I worked also before that for some corporate as a customer success manager. I was doing it for over 10 years, partially from the office and for many years remotely.
And it was, I think, but it also was a lot of staying up until two, 3:00 AM I never allowed myself to decline a client request to a meeting, even if it's 2:00 AM on my time of the, on my side of the world, because. I'm getting paid to answer and get on the phone with this client and I cannot tell my client, Hey, listen, I'm surfing in Australia and Bondi Beach right now.
Can we do it another day or come first? And I always reminded myself, 'cause especially back then, 5, 6, 7 years ago. Where there were not a lot of jobs, definitely not a lot of remote jobs. What allows me to be in Bonday Beach or to travel to Tonga and Samoa and Bali is the fact that I have a remote job.
And if I don't, if I fail at my job, I lose this level of freedom that I have. And that might be what we lost over the past two years. There were so many jobs. You can leave a job and two days after you'll have a new job with a better salary, benefits. And of course you can work remote, right? Because you.
You can make whatever de, whatever demand you wanted, these days are over. Now there are way more applications for every job, especially for remote jobs. So we can no longer come in these demands, and now people will start to feel the pressure and maybe start to perform better. So I think yes I'm big on it, but again, it's the same.
Are you disciplined enough to write your notes and leave all the communication that you need before you close your laptop at night? Again, I meet a lot of people that don't do it. Yeah.
Curtis Duggan: You mentioned something about jumping on a call with a client at a certain time, the day no matter what, because it's your prerogative to meet them where they are and regardless of, oh, I decided to move to a different time zone, but it's my, my job to meet them where they are at the certain time.
I think what that says to me is, or what that reveals to me is a certain kind of filtering where I think a lot of companies that are product led growth or marketing led growth where they don't need a lot of synchronous sales. Maybe they're just a self-serve software company that kind of has a plan that you, free trial, you sign up for, and they go, you go, they have a product led growth cycle.
They can afford to be completely 100% async. But I've yet to see an example of how a hundred percent Async works. For a sales led organization and sales led organizations are not gonna go away with sales led growth at an organization. So how do you close a major client if you're saying, Hey, we don't actually have meetings with you.
We're gonna share a doc and give our commentary on our own time whenever we feel like it. And then, yada yada, et cetera. Eventually we'll close the deal together. So I think there's just certain things that are human. They're 5,000, 10,000 years old about breaking bread and looking across the table in sales and in any and in any kind of partnership that's like sales, where I just don't understand how Async can support that.
I, I, it seems certain small deals can close over, emails back and forth, never having a meeting, but there are certain, at a certain scale, I think a lot of the thought leaders that promote async just. Haven't closed deals that big, there's a lot of people that are like my 100 person company that does a product-led growth.
SAS does ASIC and it works. It's great, what about this 3000 person company that does hardcore sales? What are, you're gonna tell them what to do anyway. I feel like I you've, of all the guests so far, Dean, you've brought out the most passionate emotion in me. I think I've had some great conversations.
I brought up my, I brought my full self to every conversation. But in a good way. In a very good way. You brought out most passionate anything like, as we get close to wrapping up here, is there anything you're excited about that's new in 2023 or 2024, something you're gonna do for the first time?
Something fun, something you're looking forward to in your lifestyle?
Dean Kuchel: 2023 is, A year that brought a new relationship to my life. So that's really exciting for me because we traveled together and that's a new way for me to experience this lifestyle. So I'm very excited for this. And then I'm excited for all the events.
If before, 20 22, 20 21 or before you had to like, look for that one event for Nomad on the calendar and. If you miss it, that's it. You're done with events for the year now. There is such an amazing influx of events and that's beautiful because it helps the community to grow and I think it helps the community to grow in a really good and new directions.
In May, I had to choose over the same week there were five different events for Digital
Curtis Duggan: Moment, I think. I think I know the week. Yeah. It was like, yeah, they all decided to be on the same day. Five
Dean Kuchel: different events around the world. I had I operate on fomo. You started, the first question is why so fast?
Let's admit it. Part of it, it's fomo. I want to be in all events. I want to meet people. I want to be in birthdays and hang out with people. So part of it is I wanna be there and now I'm excited again. I, we just had Bueno Aires last week. We have, again, no city in Canary Islands in couple weeks, island Spain, Croatia, Belize, everybody's doing something.
We have some events in different countries in Africa this year. So this is why I'm most, most excited because. As we grow, we also mature, and it's not only about me being an influencer, but it's more about the community and we have more and more people creating the conversation with local local communities as we see that there is an impact.
It might not be as big as we, we wish or think we, we make, but we need to have this conversation and we need to travel in a fair way and take advantage. In in, not take advantage, but we are privileged, most nomads are privileged in a way that I think we don't even understand. And it takes, for me, it took some travels to some really poor countries and even not to poor countries.
Some, second tier countries in East Eastern Europe, in South America, to learn how privileged and lucky I am, and I'll tell you what I'm the most excited about this year. I spoke about the events. I went to four events already this year, and for the first time in 10 years of being me, being a digital moment, I had a retreat in India where 50% of the participants were local Indians.
Wow, that's great. I went to running remote in Portugal. I met people from South Africa and from Nigeria. I know that I will go to Spain soon and I'll meet more people from Morocco and Algeria and Kenya that take on the remote work. And if for me, a new remote work is yeah, cool, I'm traveling the world it's really fun and nice for them.
It truly changed the trajectory of their life, their family's life, their tribe's life. And I think this is, for me, the biggest promise of remote work. I. It's not about it. It is about us traveling the world and having fun. But it's a lot about how this lifestyle and remote work changes the future for many others.
And I think this is the conversation we also should have with the companies. Don't hire people from Africa. Because you get a cheaper talent or you want to support remote work, but do it because you really make a change in the world. And this is what I see already happening in 2023. There are a number of organization pushing for it.
And this is beautiful. So I changed the order of things and this is the most exciting for me. Yeah,
Curtis Duggan: shout out to the South African team that came to running remote. I had a really deep dive conversation. With them about establishing Africa as a remote work destination, the things that they're interested in.
And it was slightly different than what I heard from European and other places. Shout out to the South African team and that, that makes total sense. Just in terms of what resonated me with me a lot. It was just the integration with locals and your 50 50 comment about the retreat where the locals are participating because, I don't think, I think.
The vast majority of people want an interchange of cultures and not this, not to be an expat playground community, that that these digital nomad communities are expat enclaves, separated from the locals. The whole point is to. Bring some of yourself and bring some of your culture.
Share it with others and share it with the locals in a way, that we'll see, if we go on another podcast, maybe soon, it's, I feel like we still have hours and hours of stuff. We could cover everything from this gentrification question to maybe, what it's like to travel with a partner after you've been traveling solo for a long time, just to all these destinations you've been to.
We've only really scratched the surface and we had a brief time socializing in Lisbon, but it's been great getting to know you one-on-one even more on the podcast. I hope someday we can, someday soon we can do episode two of this season of Curtis and Dean chatting. 'cause I just feel like I've only scratched the surface.
I've only. I've only gotten 0.1% of what we can talk about, so I really
Dean Kuchel: appreciate it. Thank you. And I would love to go out that two hours of friends here, turn it into like kind of a Rogan.
Curtis Duggan: Thank you for having me here. Thanks so
Dean Kuchel: much team.