Episode #
005

Let's Rethink Remote Work as Distributed Work Life with David Gamboa

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Episode Summary

This episode of The New Nomads tackles mental health and the challenges remote workers experience day by day. Hosts Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski together with their guest, David Gamboa give tips on how to manage working from anywhere while ensuring that work-life balance is maintained.

From just giving yourself 10 minute breaks from work to just refresh your mind to adjusting your mindset to make the most out of your situation, this episode sure has a lot of takeaways that are helpful for remote and office workers alike.

From the episode

What You'll Learn

Timestamps

[7:03] Following your dreams can be a double edged sword

[12:09] Adding life to our years

[16:51] How to use procrastination to your advantage

[19:23] The Stoic Philosophy

[26:15] Autonomy: The key to working remotely and harmoniously

[31:32] We’re more spiritual than physical

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad. We have a great guest today, David Gamboa will be joining us to talk about living beyond global the future of work, and how to make work more humane and meaningful, which I think is an incredibly impactful topic for the day. But before we get to that, we love to introduce my co-host, Andrew Jernigan, who himself has been a new Nomad, and perhaps even an old Nomad, because you've been in many countries in many places. How are you doing today, Andrew, and what's on your mind?

Andrew  

Doing fabulously well, it's a it's a great day as we have another thoughtful, and actually life changing guests. So I'm excited about what we have ahead in the show. But first off, Allen, I were, I think a lot of our focus right now, even though you and I have been working remotely for years. I think a lot of the focus today is on things we do for taking care of ourselves. Right? That's one of the main aspects. If you were to say one thing, I'm throwing this on you spur of the moment. But one thing, Alan, that you would say, is the essential to take care of yourself mentally, physically, everything. What's that one habit?

Allen  

I would say it's work-life balance, whether you at least if you're having a hard day, and you're working hard to take a walk, to maybe go out, hop on the bike, you know, do something to clear your mind and body for a little bit. And maybe even just feel the warmth of the sun and get out of an office for a minute or two. How about yourself?

Andrew  

Ah, you've really impacted me on that one. I am glad that was how you responded. Yeah, I years ago, I picked up a book after I have had a heart attack and bypass surgery called eat, move, sleep. And, you know, just being conscious of what we put in our body. How we how we move around and getting enough sleep. Those are three such basic things. I met David today is going to talk about that during our during our episode when we bring him on later on today. But yeah, this is this remote work lifestyle isn't new to you. Isn't isn't new to myself. I've been remotes, both in my home country, and in countries around the world long term and passing through whether it would be a Liverpool for four months or, you know, different countries. So yeah, it is. There's so many topics we're going to be hitting on. But as of today 2021. What's on your mind, Allen?

Allen  

Well, this is why I think the topic today is gonna be so interesting. is there's been a lot of debate on are people going to be 100% remote hybrid workers? Or are they going to be coming back to the office, so I can't wait to get some perspective on that. But I'll mention this to you. And I was just thinking that even when I was 100% remote work, I really wasn't because it was going to business meetings. We are having off sites, conferences. So it's I think that human contact is really needed. So even if somebody thinks they're going to be 100% remote, I think in short order, we're gonna have people you know, realising that the hybrid work environment is probably what we're going to be seeing more of, I'm not sure. But that's just my guess. What's your thoughts?

Andrew  

Ah, what is work? What is balance? What is, you know, if we love what we do? Is it work? That's true. And can you turn it off? And is it normal to say, I'm going to turn work off? Now of course, if we're with our best friend in life, we're not gonna be talking about what the spreadsheet we're working on today. 100% of the time, so yes, we're going to turn it off. But his wordplay you you you have people saying only do what you love, only do what's your what's fun. But a lot of times that's that's a misnomer. That's a misunderstanding, because we do have to disengage from it our mind as to stop. So so I'll leave that there because I know we're going to delve into those some of those things later on.

Allen  

Well, let's bring David in because we'll disengage from our conversation, engage David here to join us today for his perspectives. David, welcome to The New Nomad. appreciate having you with us today. We'd love to get your thoughts maybe a little bit about the future, not only the future of work, but your comments on humane and meaningful and other things that we saw on many of your earlier conversations. Welcome today.

David  

Thank you. Thank you, Alan and Andrew, thank you for having me. Yeah, it's definitely A very topical subject right now everything that you been talking about and touching here and there, I'm very passionate about coming from my background, you know, I'm not a full Nomad, but I'm a full remote worker right now. And I used to work in the corporate world for over 10 years in banking, oil and gas. So I've had that perspective, I've also gone the digital nomad route. So I've seen both sides, and I have my views on what's going to happen the future, I take a lot, you know, care about mental health, physical health, well being for us live beyond this cornerstone of what we do. So so very happy to engage in these conversations and take it however you want. Yeah, I'm very happy to be here.

Allen  

It's interesting, you brought up mental health, because this is an area that Andrew and I, you know, obviously, we're in the healthcare space. And we've seen a huge uptick in the need for mental health, even substance abuse, etc. Maybe a quick comment of what you see there that would help folks, or any tips that you might have to make people feel better about the work environment that they might be in?

David  

Yeah, so well, it's a huge one and where to start when we were talking about humane work and meaningful work. You know, even before the pandemic, one of the biggest epidemics around the world was the epidemic of stress and anxiety, depression. And unfortunately, a big part of his his work derived. When you look around potential causes for depression, stress. It's really the disconnection with meaningful work. So that this connection of what Andrew was saying, What's work, what's played. I mean, ideally, we all do something that we love. And ideally, we all do in our lives or passions, that's not real, you know, what happens, but it is possible to find meaning in whatever you do, you know, so.

I know there's a lot of people talking about quit your job, follow your dreams, follow your passion. I personally believe that could be a double edged sword, because some people don't really know what their passion is, some, some people don't really have dreams that I want to pursue about. And I think that contributes to more anxiety and more depression, because depression is just some wishes that are unfulfilled.

So I think, you know, a few tips or, or a message out there is to try and have, you know, a good mindfulness practice every day. This is something that, for me, takes my life when I was sitting in the corporate world in finance, you can call it meditation, yoga, tai chi, whatever having a habit of a mindfulness practice is really good for your mental health, because it strengthens the muscle of presence of being here of being now. And if you translate that into the working world, it allows you to be less distractible, that means that you're allowed, you're more able to be present at the task at hand, that allows you to enter flow states, which, from a neuroscience perspective and behavioural science perspective, it has shown that it increases your sense of purpose, and then your connection with that work, whatever it is that you're doing, even if you're doing spreadsheet thing, or if you're doing, you're writing a book, whatever.

So it all connects. It's very spiritual, yes, it helps with with mental health and all that. But it's also scientifically proven that it allows to have a better relationship with work. And that is important, because it allows you to have more autonomy, you know, in you have more autonomy, you're going to get better at whatever you do that drives mastery. And if you become better at what you do, you're going to get more passion about it. So that's how you uncover your passion. So you are really finding meaning at work with a simple practice that starts with some 10 minutes, 20 minutes of mindfulness, I would say it's one

Andrew  

So good. This is something that I never thought that I would be failing. But for the past six months, I've been stopping for a good 10 minutes, four times a day. And it is a new practice within the last two months, and it's really shifted. Like you say, You're my effectiveness. It's really shifted my clarity. It's it's one of many measures I've put in place to make sure I'm operating at my best. But there's so many things you just said that that I wish you could dive deeper on. Oh, yeah, I think you speak from some, some passion with that you have be present on your shirt. Tell us a bit about your journey, if you will, and who you are why you're here. Why you come from us knowledge base that is really seems to been there. Right? You all

David  

Right? Absolutely. Thank you for that question. And I mean, where to start, let's say, Where do I fit in in the whole scenario? I'm 34 years old right now, I'm technically what they call a millennial. I was, you know, born in this society, but in Colombia, unfortunately, a little bit rigid in the sense of what is success, you know, what is really the pursuit of that success? You know, I had many different dreams and passions and all that. But I ended up going the route of engineering, worked in oil and gas, and then worked in finance.

Why am I saying that because for 30 years of my life, or a little bit less than that, but I was doing something that was not played right, something that I did not love, I was really good at it. But I was not excited about I was ticking all the boxes of success, money, you know, London, a career, everything, but then my mental health. And I love that we're talking about health here because it was going down the drain despite that I was exercising and I was taking good care of my nutrition and all that my mental health was not taught.

And I found myself in a point in 2016, in which everything came down at the same time, and I had to find a solution for it. Mindfulness came into my life. And then that's when the whole journey with the mind started. And I was passionate about the how the power of your mind just really creates your reality. Right? I mean, the power of your mind really determines a lot of different things in your in your daily life.

And then since then, 2016 the journey began, I started being very curious about behavioural science, human motivation, neuroscience, mindfulness, Fitness, Health, optimization, biohacking. Have you heard that, that that term, all of these things, how to optimise your performance as a human and live a happy life, right? Because if you think about it, science is adding a lot of years to our life. But unfortunately, we're not adding life to our years.

So we are, we are living for longer. But that doesn't mean we're living happier or healthier, right? So came down to that point 2016, my life completely changed. And I also like to travel. So travelling around the world, I saw the digital nomads, and I always asked, Hey, what are you guys doing? Why can you work here, and I cannot. And they were ecommerce, freelancers, software developers. And I thought, the only reason I'm not able to do that is because there's no trust with my employer and us. This is a matter of time, because I'm a millennial, I know what I want. And the GenZeds, I think even differently. So there's going to take a few years for a generational shift for us to adopt remote work.

So that's sort of the journey, how it started. And in 2018, I decided to set up Live Beyond using remote work as a vehicle to improve people to help people improve their mental health. Because this what we're talking about purpose, before that passion, mastery. And before that autonomy, if we have the autonomy, to work on our own terms, to do that work and play and to switch off at our own will, I thought that was a key to unlock human well-being. And I also thought, okay, if we're now given the the keys of the cubicle, is going to fail, because we are not able to focus, our productivity, we're really distracted as a human race, because of how the tools that we use everyday, they're designed to create dopamine shots, and just keep us addicted. So that's how Live Beyond started as a vehicle under three pillars, productivity, well-being and self development. So using remote work for that, right. So living ideal lives, plus travel, because we like that.

Allen  

you know that that's amazing, because I was thinking to myself that the people that I know that are the most efficient, maybe that's maybe that's not the correct word to use. But you know, I'm saying in their jobs or feel best about the jobs, or folks that I think have really good balance. But it's people that say comments, like, I want to learn something new every day, which ties into our, or I want a new experience, or I like sharing knowledge with others.

You know, people that you even touched upon it, just the well being aspects of, Hey, I'm not burning the candle at both ends, I'm going to get a good night's sleep, so I'll be productive tomorrow. And even Andrew's comment about taking 10 minutes off, you know, during the course of the day, and maybe I'm dating myself, but many, many years ago, my dad gave me a book called The Memory Book by Jerry Lucas. It's something from the 70s he was a famous basketball player, but he was also a guy who could memorise the phonebook. And he always said, study for 15 minutes and then take 10 minutes to walk around, and you'll absorb more data or you'll and you're you're basically hitting upon that now, and I'm just amazed people don't study it like you have to make themselves more productive. So what made you feel like, Hey, I'm going to study this? And then come up with the answer. And I love the fact you're sharing it with folks, because obviously, you've had to put a lot of thought into it.

David  

Yeah, well, thank you. It's exactly that I'm super, you know, happy we're touching on these points and why people see, for example, sleep as non productive time and why we're not tapping more into our subconscious mind in order to expand what we do. So where to start, you said two words, which I like to also give my perspective on them, you use efficiency, and reuse effectiveness, I like to think about being more effective, right?

If you're gonna work hard, work smart, and be effective, because it's not about getting a lot of useless or meaningless stuff in the in less time, which I think is sort of the flavour of the month, a lot of people saying be become more productive, do this do that. I believe in productivity, we have this thing called holistic productivity, and we believe more effective, effectivity, not efficiency. And then the other one about the balance. Yeah, Andrew also said, like, what is balance?

We like to talk about integration, you know, work and life integration, if the if the line is, is gone, because of remote work and home office and all that? How do you integrate better your working life, and it's with all these little things, you know, stopping here and there taking care of your sleep. I was so driven because of the understanding of the mind. And if you really think about it, I also recommend another book called how we learn. And it's all about that on how to use procrastination to your advantage. This is something that some people are like, I don't want to procrastinate, I procrastinate all the time, as if it was some sort of illness. It's not an illness, it's just a bad habit, you can change it. But also you can use it to your advantage so that so do something stop, then your subconscious mind is going to be working for you.

There's a very famous quote by Benjamin Franklin, which is before you go to bed, never go to bed without a request to your subconscious. And that's so important. I mean, so the table the chemical table of the periodic table was invented in his sleep. I think it was yesterday by Paul McCartney was, you know, done in his dreams. So there's a lot of power in the subconscious, a lot of power and sleeping in a lot of power of maximising your performance as a human in different areas of life, work, mind, nutrition, body, and sleep, actually carry a sleep tracker with me because I do that every day, every night. That's how that works. Yeah, there you go. So that's exactly why and I believe we have so much potential as humans, and we're not accessing that because we live distracted, we're not in the in the moment. That's why I'm so passionate about being present, you know. So,

Allen  

you know, I think what you're hitting upon is, is amazing, because, you know, a lot of people right now, and this is where the stress comes in, I think you to me the the issue is stress is so great. Because people are worried about so many things they can't control. It sounds like you're what you're saying is take a little bit of the control back. Like if I'm taking five minutes an hour back, that's me taking a bit of control. So maybe maybe some of your comments on that. I don't know if I said that correctly. But that's what I'm kind of taking away that I want to control that I'm going to take 10 minutes and just breathe deeply and meditate a bit. And that will help me and maybe your comments on control.

David  

I have so good as well. Um, so under Live Beyond we develop this thing that we call the Live Beyond Method. And it's you know, the three pillars of productivity, well being and self refinement, as we call it. Self refinement being a nice word for self development and professional growth basically. And embedded in that there's a lot of said like there's a lot of thought put into it and a lot of research and a lot of science and Asian with an ancient wisdom into this method.

One of that ancient wisdom is stoic philosophy. And one of the basis of stoic philosophy is like, don't worry about what you cannot control why really put any any thought or any on things that you cannot control only the things that you can control. And that is very important because stress really is not meeting commitments with yourself or others. If you start your day with endless to do list and you want to do all those things, you're really setting up yourself for failure you're already studying to be stressed.

So control what you can do just set up what's the priority, you know, apply 80-20 principles to that Pareto principles, and then just focus on what really matters. So you're starting to control and work on your own terms, being self self managing yourself. And that really brings stress levels down improves your, your well being your health as you as you know. So, there's a lot of that control your day, set clear boundaries, you know, timebox things and know where your time is going. So, there's a lot of different things about control that I would I would share. So yeah.

Andrew  

You know, I hear some of those things. And it takes me back I remember I was I picked up a book in the, in the bookstore in Johannesburg, South Africa, five years ago that I, it had deep impact on me. So it's like, Okay, how am I gonna make this impact further. So I came up with a phrase, like, I got to summarise it in just a phrase, and that phrase was hurry is my enemy. Yeah, and this was, you know, six, six or seven months after I had had a heart attack and bypass surgery. And it was, it was a, it was a real time of reflection and shift and how I was going to live life. On my relationships were going to be how my, how I'd spend my career and, and I came out of South Africa with a new vision, and which is what I'm doing now, actually.

And that was some six years ago. Realising that we can't rush through moments. We can't miss out on our life. But that takes such intentionality. Yeah. And many people aren't on that same pursuit. Because it's a foreign language. We're speaking right now. To many people, they have no idea what we're talking about. And so it does require patience with the others around us, but it requires patience with ourselves as we learn this foreign language. And as we learn to apply it, and the end the multi dimensional meanings of words that that we kind of skimmed over, well being didn't mean anything before.

You know, hurry, at one meaning busyness, business had a different meaning than it may today that or tomorrow to us. And as we grow, we're not the same person, that other people in our seasons of life have known. We're not the same person that we knew yesterday. But yet our colleagues look at us through their lenses are the different people we react with. And, you know, there's, there's, I love some of these points that you brought out. It's one of those things where I want to re listen to the things you've said, because there are some short phrases that may only be 10 seconds long. But we need to hear them again. We need to think again, we need to reprogram. And I just see the poster behind you here for those listening on audio. We're on video as well on our YouTube channel.

So I encourage you to subscribe right there, but that I just realised the poster behind you says, reuse, remake rethink. And then we've got to rethink the words we use the words we speak inside our heads that don't even come out of our mouths. You know, you've I think you're in London, in the London area today, but you're not from there. Your heritage isn't even from where you grew up. I think it's one of those melting pots. And so I'm all of our guests answer this one question uniquely, because we're all crafted So, so well. Some of us have realised how well crafted we are and have things we want to share with others. So with this question, give it a moment to think but what is the one person, place or even experience you feel like others should know about?

David  

others should know about that, that makes me or also it makes me think about what what are people overlooking right in terms of of an experience and if we keep it to what we're talking about The New Nomad, maybe the new nomads are our people that all of a sudden because of the pandemic, they can have location independence from whatever they do on their daily basis on their own. Other professional activities.

I have multiple talks with people every day. And there's been one recurring theme that has been popping up in the past two weeks, two to four weeks. And is the fact that a lot of the, let's say, the new nomads, or the new remote workers have said, I've been doing remote work for one year since the pandemic, like everybody else. I'm like, Okay, well, first, this is not new, you know, remote work exists for a while the digital nomad exists for a while.

And I, there's a message I wanted to put out there, because what people are overlooking is that what we're seeing right now, remote work as of today, is not remote work. This is home officing. And this is just another hybrid ugly mix between remote work and, and the office. So literally, what I think people are overlooking is that most are saying, I don't like to remote work, I can't go, I can't wait to go back to the office because I miss my colleagues and I don't like the loneliness and I am burning out, I'm burning the candle. I mean, my mental health is going badly, because I never spoke. People are working two to three hours more on average around the world, despite the fact they don't commute, which is just silly.

So the overlooked I think is the word remote work really means and remote work is not that remote work is freedom. It's autonomy. It's, you might not have your work colleagues, but you're going to have colleagues from all of our other backgrounds, you're going to be able to love what you do, because you're going to do it because it has a purpose, even if that's paying the bills. But at the same time you're integrating your life which you can write outside, if you want to do it from any any country, any particular place, mixing with any other people, you know, sometimes we like what we do, we're good at it, but we don't like our colleagues, remote work breaks all of those things.

So I think people are overlooking the real power of of remote work. And my invitation is to don't give up, you know, it's time to change things. I worry that some companies and we did not talk about the future of work and where I see that going. But I believe some companies will unfortunately make the mistake of calling back people to their offices. It just because they want to avoid mental health, and loneliness, and all these things where it's completely the opposite. I mean, with remote work, you can improve remote mental health, you can increase the sense of purpose through autonomy, well managed remote work, some companies are letting go their offices, because of bottom line reasons. I think that's going to backfire.

So if there's any managers, any remote team leaders listening to this right now is believe in remote work, but rethink, you know, rethink. So think it from, from our sense of human, a humane workplace in which autonomy is the basis of productivity, the basis of well being. So that is, I think, something that people are overlooking. And the invitation is for them to rethink remote work is not what we're living right now is really it's much.

Andrew  

Wow, yeah, I think a great invitation and you're being quite humble with us. But a great invitation for teams for individuals is to go on a Go Beyond retreat, whether this be for an individual or for a corporate team. And so I do prompt you with that invitation to people to check out to your retreats that are coming up, whether it be in the Iceland, or Bali or Mexico, you do these retreats from Austin to Antigua, probably so do tell us where can we learn more about those retreats, your consulting, and more, these links will be in the show notes. But for those who are listening and ready to grab their phones, and they're open up their laptops, where can people find you and learn more about what you're up to David?

David  

Thank you. Well, we're online in most platforms, I'd say we're very present on Instagram, Clubhouse a little bit more right now @livebeyond.global. That's our main website you can find there. Yes, as you said, We design these remote work experiences which are one week to two weeks depending on the destination. And you don't only come and co-work, co-live with a group of 20 to 25 people but we are also co learning about the Live Beyond method. We bring experts in all of these topics. We bring experts to help you sleep better with you know biohackers to talk about blue light blocking we bring mindfulness experts to teach you how to get in the habit of meditating, how to create habits.

It's the core of living beyond this habit creation, positive work and life habits as I would like to to say it, so you can find us there is we're recording this early 2021. We've had a few experiences planned in Mexico, Morocco, Bali, Iceland. And furthermore, and this is not only for people who can join us, but also for teams, as I mentioned, teams that have let go their offices and they want to find a place to reconnect, to grow, to do their internal planning. This is what we're doing. So as part of that service, we help them transition to remote work. So everybody, welcome.

Allen  

Thank you, David, what an enlightening conversation today. And I think we really learned a lot of Andrew, you know, as I reflect upon the comments today that David has shared with us, I mean, I just, I just come back to, you know, the whole idea of rethinking remote work, but it's, it's a much more holistic approach. So, share with us what you learn today, as we as we take things out.

Andrew  

Well, I learned that I do need to re engage with my mind on a regular basis, you know, it is, it's good to be reawakened often, to the fact that we are more than our fingers, and our keyboards were more than our pens and our paper, were more than our than our arms and legs to do physical. We're much more spiritual than we are physical. We're much more than, than the words and the, the things we touch. So it's saying it is stimulating to me to get on that wavelength again today. And so David has brought up some great points.

You know, I, I'm passionate. I know you are passionate about building in innovation in, in healthcare. And that's, that's a key piece for you as President and Chief Innovation Officer of Insured Nomads, as you built out some of these things, including in in our new plans, whether it be travel or international health insurance. It includes well being and counselling. And when unlimited by telephone and chat, which is something that I am I'm so glad has been built in. Because you travelled 100 plus nations, I've travelled and lived in different countries long term and it takes a toll on you. You need counselling, you need that you pass through traumatic events, and you need to talk to somebody. And many times we focus on the physical, we focus on what we're going to wear, what we're going to drink what we're going to sit on, rather than this being that we walk around with every day. So that's some of the things I walk away from today exuberantly energised about. So thank you, Allen. Yeah, I

Allen  

think the tie it all together, the mental health aspect is so important for people. And well you want to have opportunities to talk to others or have, you know, virtual mental health assistance. I love David's point that you could take 10 or 15 minutes off to meditate and they'll help to or taking a walk or chatting with a friend and you know, the holistic approach that he discussed is great. So great job today. Really interesting. For those of you out there, please subscribe to The New Nomad podcast and leave a great review. Also, beyond our typical podcast platforms, you can listen to us at thenewnomad.net or catch up to us at insurednomads.com. We really look forward to your comments, your feedback, and please share with others. I think we learned a lot today and we look forward to another conversation with David in the future. Cheers and stay well everyone.

Let's Rethink Remote Work as Distributed Work Life with David Gamboa

About the Guest

David Gamboa