David speaks with Lauren Razavi, Director of Special Projects at SafetyWing, overseeing the Plumia mission to construct a virtual nation on the internet.
Lauren is also the author of "Global Natives: How Digital Nomads Will Shape the Future of Work, Travel, Innovation & Migration," a book that explores the impact of digital nomadism on work and culture.
They talked about:
🌍 Defining digital nomads
✈️ Travel and work-life balance
🏡 Different modes of travel: Nomad, Tourist, Business
🌟 The importance of a global outlook
⏰ How time scarcity changes the way you travel
✨ Creating meaningful connections as a nomad
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👤 Connect with Lauren:
📄 Show notes:
0:00 | Intro
02:20 | Defining digital nomads
05:46 | Travel and work-life balance
08:56 | Different modes of travel: Nomad, Tourist, Business
17:24 | The importance of a global outlook
24:03 | How time scarcity changes the way you travel
31:39 | Creating meaningful connections as a nomad
🗣 Mentioned in the show:
Safety Wing | https://safetywing.com/
Global Natives | https://amzn.to/3PaimNe
The Guardian | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guardian
Hacker Paradise | https://www.hackerparadise.org/
👨🏾💻 About David Elikwu:
David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.
🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com
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📖 EBook: https://delikwu.gumroad.com/l/manual
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[00:00:00] Lauren Razavi: I think that nomadding gives you that same kind of lens on the world. So as in the more that you travel, the more that you see, the less you take for granted that your country of origins way of doing things is in fact, the only way or the best way. And I think that's really, really good because I think in the world as a whole, if we want to make progress as a species, we should really be like trying to copy paste solutions that work from anywhere in the world into other locations, into other jurisdictions. I don't think nearly enough of that is like happening in the world. I think the first step to that is for people to recognize that different cultures, different countries kind of have different competencies and can maybe educate the rest of the world on how we should be doing things.
[00:00:47] David Elikwu: This week I'm speaking with Lauren Rezavi. Now, Lauren is the author of an awesome book called Global Natives. She's the VP of communications at Safety Wing, which is building a global digital safety net for people around the world. And she's also the executive director at Plumia, which is building a global digital passport that would be available again to anyone around the world.
[00:01:09] David Elikwu: In this part, Lauren and I talk about her background as a digital nomad. So first of all, we're going to discuss what a digital nomad actually is, and the distinction between digital nomads and tourists and business travellers, and what life is like for someone, being able to travel around the world for many months at a time, how you build friends, how you find community, and how you manage the relationship between your home base and a lot of the various destinations that you might travel to.
[00:01:34] David Elikwu: So this was a really interesting conversation. I think you will love it, particularly if you are into travel, the idea of being a digital nomad and working remotely, so, you'll get a lot of tips from Lauren on how you can be successful as a digital nomad or as a traveller and how you can have, I guess, maximum positive impacts as you travel around the world.
[00:01:52] David Elikwu: In the show notes or in the description below we'll link to Lauren's book as well as her substack where she writes a lot of really interesting essays about this intersection between borderless living and being a digital nomad.
[00:02:04] David Elikwu: You can find Lauren on Twitter @LaurenRazavi. And if you love this episode, please do share it with a friend. And particularly if you're listening on Apple Podcasts, don't forget to leave a review because it helps us tremendously to reach other listeners just like you.
[00:02:20] David Elikwu: So I thought we'd start by maybe just talking about this concept of being a digital nomad.
[00:02:25] David Elikwu: So I mean, you didn't necessarily coin the phrase, but I think you were the first journalist in the UK to really start writing about the concept of digital nomads while you were working at the Guardian. So I'd love maybe If you could frame for us, I guess maybe there's two parts of it. One is how you would define what a digital nomad is, but also maybe how the idea of what a digital nomad is has also evolved over time, because I think there has been some changes as things have gone on, especially now coming towards the pandemic, where people are starting to think about that a lot differently.
[00:02:55] Lauren Razavi: Absolutely. So yeah, I'll start with a simple definition. A digital nomad is a person who remote works and travels at the same time. And that's a very concise explanation of what a digital nomad is and it was kind of like a hard one during the book writing process. My first book, Global Natives is kind of all about the rise of digital nomads and the work from anywhere movement.
[00:03:16] Lauren Razavi: And my editor and publisher and I spent a long time sort of figuring out how we were actually going to kind of like define digital nomads because there was quite a lot out there I think just kind of like talking about, oh, nomads are just people who travel full time and they're, you know, in a different place every week. But then you also have people who, for example, might have a home base for nine months of the year, but then spend three months traveling around.
[00:03:40] Lauren Razavi: And that definition to me, this idea of just remote work and travel combined is the kind of most authentic way to think about what a digital nomad is. This sort of relates to another point, which is that, I think that, one of the reasons that definition is important is because I think we need to recognize that digital nomads signify that kind of like the fringe case, the early adopters, they signify a new way of thinking about mobility and location in the world.
[00:04:08] Lauren Razavi: So in a common question that I get asked is, do you think everybody should become a digital nomads? And my answer to that is always, no, I don't mind what people do, but I do want everybody to have the option to do that, and actually, once people are remote workers, they tend to start thinking a bit differently about flexibility and freedom and kind of what they want to do with those things.
[00:04:27] Lauren Razavi: In terms of the sort of development of the nomad movement. It's maybe a fun little anecdote. I became a digital nomad in 2013, but actually didn't know what a digital nomad was, i. e. that there was anybody else doing this. Until two years later in 2015, when I went out to Bali to cover a story about coworking retreats. There was a group of people organizing for people to come together like freelancers and entrepreneurs in beautiful paradise locations around the world in groups of about 20 or 30 in order to kind of like co work and travel and then kind of do this remote work travel thing, I guess. but that was the first place that I actually learned. What a digital nomad was and that this is like the label that people were giving to themselves in these kind of groupings and communities. And yeah, since then, I guess the biggest thing has been the pandemic. Digital nomadism as a, as an idea was kind of on the rise prior to COVID, but the sort of overnight adoption, the overnight proving and dire circumstances that remote work could in fact work has really seen a skyrocket. Seeing more and more people become digital nomads, and I'm sure will get into this as the interview goes on, but many countries now are offering digital nomad visas, which is something else that's really kind accelerated and bolstered the movement.
[00:05:46] David Elikwu: Yeah, I think another idea that you touched on, which I'm really interested to know more from your perspective on is that, I often hear a lot of people that say, you know, I just want to quit my job and go traveling for six months or for a year. And I think very often people have this idea, everyone wants to travel, you know, I've been fortunate enough to travel to I think 49 countries, I'm hoping to, I need to figure out where I'm going to go for the 50th. But you know, I find it interesting that most of my traveling, I've never not been working full time, actually, like the times that I've traveled the most have been the times that I was working and it wasn't necessarily for work. And I think, my model might be slightly different from the digital nomad model. I don't know if there's a strict model that I have, I just kind of find times to travel and, you know, you just find long weekends and you just, I have a very unstructured mode of traveling. I don't think it has to be, you know, Oh, I'm going to spend two weeks in this place. Oh I'm going to spend all this time here. I just want to go and I just want to see things and spend time with people and you know, just try and see through the eyes of locals and figure things out.
[00:06:47] David Elikwu: But a lot of people seem to have this like rigid frame in their minds that travel has to look like this. And in fact, the only way I can travel the only way I could see the world, the only way I could experience all these things is in fact I have to quit my job completely and I need to 100 percent devote my life to doing this.
[00:07:03] David Elikwu: So I would love to know maybe from your experience how different or, you know, what's the extent to which you might challenge that worldview and how you have found your ability to navigate the world while still being able to work while still being able to do other pursuits as well.
[00:07:18] Lauren Razavi: Yeah. So like you, David. I've not really had periods of time where I've traveled, where I haven't been working. Like for me pretty much straight out of University. I was in journalism and then tech editorial and the roles that I had just did not require me to be in one place. While I was a journalist as like a foreign reporter and a travel writer, it was in fact very much encouraged that I would travel around. But yeah, I think for this reason, life on the road has usually felt very, very, like, natural and normal to me. I think that's something I observe in people who perhaps travel less frequently or are not working when they're traveling. It's this whole different mode of operating. Like, they think about travel differently. They think about kind of packing in as much as possible in a short amount of time, eating every meal out, and this kind of thing. I guess that's the difference between a tourist and a nomad. And for me, it's just always been that travel's part of my life. But you also have to kind of, like, establish your own routines and habits in each place, and this is actually one of the reasons why I personally, the exception of a lot of business travel that I end up doing these days because I'm a public face of the company that I work for. I like to base in places for quite long periods of time, and I also like to go back to the same places.
[00:08:32] Lauren Razavi: So, for example I would say that I am a local of Amsterdam, London, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, San Francisco, and New York. Like these are places that I know very well that I spend some time in each year. And it feels a little bit like stepping back into a different life in, in each of these places, you know, like I have my habits, I have my routines. I know which supermarket I like to go to this kind of thing.
[00:08:56] David Elikwu: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I think even for me, just what you were mentioning in terms of like your, your traveling habits. I think I've had some very similar experiences in a sense as well.
[00:09:06] David Elikwu: I think the time I was probably doing the most traveling was actually when I was working. So I used to work in corporate law, but at the same time, or at least after a few years, once I'd kind of settled in, I started a travel business. So we would organize group trips around the world. So pretty much, all of my annual leave was devoted to going on these random trips to loads of places around the world. And then also because you're organizing trips for, you know, typically other millennials, but usually young kind of working people as well. You're basing a lot of these trips around bank holidays. So you're bookending them so that, you know, people can make the most of their holiday time and it happens to work out well for me as well. And what I found interesting about that period, so there was a year. I can't remember what year it was. I think it was sometime, I don't know if it was maybe 2018 that pretty much every month of the year I was traveling. And what was interesting about that year is that I basically, and since then, I don't think I've changed. You kind of, it goes to what you were saying about modes, right? My mode of living changed where I ended up just having a backpack that was always kind of halfway packed. It didn't necessarily have clothes in it, but it had all the other bits that I needed. And I just never unpacked it because next month, I'm going to be going on another trip you know, there could be a time where I'm going on back to back trips. And so you're always kind of semi prepared to move on.
[00:10:19] David Elikwu: However, what I haven't done is staying for a long time in just one place apart from Shanghai. So I spent some time working at a law firm there and so fine. But I think maybe, actually, maybe you could consider it being like a nomad because I had an apartment, but that's not different to what someone might be doing as a digital nomad, living in an apartment for a few months and then moving on to somewhere else, et cetera.
[00:10:42] David Elikwu: So I'm interested to know, because outside of that, for me, I haven't really done much like slow traveling or spending a lot of time in just one place. I'd love to know how you would differentiate the two in your experience between just, you know, not backpacking, but hopping around to lots of different places where you're staying for a short period of time and how things change when you're actually spending a much longer time.
[00:11:03] David Elikwu: And I think I've heard you talk a bit before, and you just mentioned it now about this difference between like a nomad and a tourist and the impact, I guess, not just for the person themselves, but also on the economy or on the place that they're going to.
[00:11:15] Lauren Razavi: Yeah, so, I guess there's, I guess we can talk about three categories of traveler really. Nomad is one, tourist is one, business traveler is another. And my chosen lifestyle when I don't have work related travel is very much nomads. But then I also combine nomading with business travel.
[00:11:35] Lauren Razavi: So to talk like a little bit about kind of, I guess the fast pace versus the slow pace. My general like structure is two or three months in one place, like based out of one place earlier this year, it was Kuala Lumpur, it's been London just recently. And then basically after those two or three months, I'm probably going to have a run of somewhere between like six and nine weeks where I need to go because it's conference season and I need to speak and appear in a different place every week. And I guess, like, the reason that I made that distinction at the beginning of my answer here is because to me, that is very much business travel. I might get a little bit of tourism in there, as in, to be able to go and see some things, but essentially, like, I'm going into a place with a purpose to, like, have meetings, to speak at an event, to kind of explore like, an innovation ecosystem, things like that.
[00:12:24] Lauren Razavi: And I think that's quite a different mode to nomadding or tourism. And I don't think I could actually personally cope with that level of business travel if I didn't have this kind of like downtime in between those, like very busy periods.
[00:12:37] Lauren Razavi: And I kind of think to relate it back to nomads a bit, but most people, when they become a nomad, do travel way too fast, you know, they'll spend like one or two weeks in a place. And then they will sort of burn out and then they'll decide to spend like, more time in a particular place.
[00:12:52] Lauren Razavi: And the way that I think about this, which maybe shed some light on the difference between nomad and tourist is that when you're a tourist, you're kind of going for like one week in a place and you're basically like not living your normal life, your normal routine. You are just there to experience that place, as much as possible in that short period of time. If you want to sort of achieve the same thing as a nomad who's working full time, you sort of need a month minimum. As in, if you think about weekends, it's like what? Two, four, six, eight days, eight days over the course of a month. If you take conventional weekends is probably the amount of time you need to be able to kind of see the same amount, maybe experience the same the same kind of like, local things that you might be looking to experience. And so yeah, I think that's a, that's definitely a distinction between tourists and nomads is this kind of like, both pace of travel as in like jamming a lot in, but also intention of travel, you know, like a tourist is, in my view too often that to kind of use a place for a week, to kind of recharge and relax. I think nomads definitely are more focused on integrating. You know, they're more likely to take a longer term apartment rental, they're more likely to work from a co working space. They're more likely to be, like, going out for events and things to kind of get to know the local ecosystem. A bit of a like, slower pace.
[00:14:10] Lauren Razavi: So yeah, and to kind of talk a little bit more about the, I guess, macro level, cause you asked about that as well, like the kind of impact.
[00:14:17] Lauren Razavi: I think overtourism is a really, really big problem in the world right now. You see it in places like Lisbon and Portugal and in Mexico city. And a lot of the time you're seeing kind of backlash that is directed toward nomads. But in fact, the backlash is more against tourists. So, for example, property price increases are one of the big impacts when you have an influx of sort of wealthier people from overseas kind of coming into a place. However, that's really being driven in a city like Lisbon and a city like Mexico City, this sort of unaffordability of property is actually being driven by landlords deciding to put their places on Airbnb for tourists, not for nomads, because you can make a much higher amount per night on Airbnb, if you're doing just one or two day trips rather than renting to a nomad for one to three months, perhaps longer. And so I think that's a really interesting kind of thing that's happening in the world right now. This kind of debate that's raging about, Oh, you know, nomads, nomad gentrification is a problem. And it's like gentrification is a global problem.
[00:15:22] Lauren Razavi: Nomads are kind of one piece of a very complicated puzzle of the things that kind of aren't working in the world right now. So, yeah, I think that there's huge, huge potential for nomads to have a really positive impact on local communities and to be able to actually contribute and kind of connect the locality that they're in to the kind of, like, global work opportunities and kind of global view on things.
[00:15:45] Lauren Razavi: And that really takes a bit of like investment from somebody in the ecosystem. And it can sometimes be nomads themselves. It can sometimes be co working spaces. It can sometimes be government programs, but to really kind of focus on, okay, what would make a difference in this place? We have all of these like remote workers from overseas kind of coming to do their thing here. How do we want to, kind of have local people benefit from the presence of those people, and I don't think it takes very much, but we're really at the beginning of nomads going mainstream, so there aren't enough people actually kind of taking the proactive steps to build the infrastructure that we need for this lifestyle to thrive.
[00:16:22] Lauren Razavi: And that is what we try and do at Safety Wing and something I'm really personally committed to. I think that, how many people become nomads in the future is really depending on like us building that infrastructure for borderless living now. And now is the time with remote work here.
[00:17:24] David Elikwu: Okay, that's really interesting. How do you think that traveling in this way changes your ability to appreciate both the place that you came from, like that may have been your home base or may continue to be your home base, as well as appreciating some of the other places that you go to? I know you kind of touched on it to an extent in terms of the difference between how a nomad might relate to an area versus a tourist, but it's funny,
[00:17:47] David Elikwu: I was just thinking back to, so when I was working in Shanghai, it was so funny. Like I've had to go back, I've gone back tons of times, you know, I'd go back every two years or so. But I remember when I first went, even the first few months, I barely got to do any of the tourist stuff because I was working. Because I was working and so you're working like regular hours. Like you said, you only actually have time to do tourist stuff on weekends and half the time I'm tired. I'm too tired to like go see all the sites. You just want to hang out with some friends or make some friends or, you know, go hang out at a bar or go do something. And so funnily enough, there's a sense in which you don't actually get to, and I guess maybe, you could say that is actually much more like a normal person's life than let's say a tourist life, but then you don't necessarily get to enjoy all the, the tourist things or the tourist aspects of stuff. But then potentially what that might also mean is that you know, tourists, there's a sense in which tourists can be good for an economy because they will go and spend money at all the expensive places and go do all of those things. Whereas when I know I'm going to be living there for a while, first of all, I've already paid rent on my apartment. And so actually I'm looking to eat a lot of cheap places. So, you know, I'm not looking to spend all my money at the highest end places all the time, especially because. At the time I wasn't getting paid in pounds. I was working for like a local company. So I was getting paid in Renminbi. So, you know, I want my yuan to go as far as possible. So I'm actually looking to go to all the, the cheap dive bars and places like that.
[00:19:10] David Elikwu: So I'm interested to know how you think about that, that aspect of things as well. And then also touching on the idea of having like a home base. One thing that I've been thinking about recently is, I hear people complaining a lot, and this is not in a negative sense. But very often, particularly with London, which I think I have come to appreciate. The more I've traveled to other places, the more I just, I've really come to appreciate London in a way that I hadn't before, because I think for a very long time, a new city would be my favorite city. Every time I travel somewhere new, I'd be like, Oh my gosh, this is the best place in the world. But very often maybe you hear people complain that, Oh my gosh, the house prices are so crazy, I can't afford to buy a house here. I can't afford to, or just, just nitpicking a lot of stuff. The transport system, the trains are so late, all of these things. But actually like it's, it's pretty great you know, I think, London as, as an overall balance of a lot of these things that lots of other places might have slightly better in some of these different areas, but London has a good balance overall. And I think it's only because I've traveled to so many places that I can actually appreciate the where I am already living, the place I'm coming from is actually like really, really good as a base standard of living. So I'd love to know how you think about those ideas.
[00:20:17] Lauren Razavi: Yeah. So, I mean, I think there's kind of two parts to my answer on this. And one is that like, for me personally, I grew up as part of a, a sort of refugee diaspora family. My dad is like the youngest of eight children, fled Iran in the eighties. And all of his brothers and sisters went to different parts of the world. So my childhood holidays were going around sort of visiting these little pockets of the Persian diaspora and, you know, in Hamburg, Germany and Connecticut, USA. And so I already had, I think quite a, a weird, like mixed up sense that things were global and things could be different in different places. And I guess that's like very textured and layered. I also personally like grew up in the UK and the U.S but like, sort of recognizing that not only is it a case that like Germany is a different country with a different way of doing things, but also recognizing that I was engaging with Persian, like Iranian culture within that other country. So I think when I kind of emerged into adulthood, it was already very, I already had a very global perspective on the world and understood that some places do things better than others, that there are kind of pros and cons to wherever you are, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:21:27] Lauren Razavi: I think that nomadding gives you that same kind of lens on the world. So as in the more that you travel, the more that you see, the less you take for granted that your country of origins way of doing things is in fact, the only way or the best way. And I think that's really, really good because I think in the world as a whole, if we want to make progress as a species, we should really be like trying to copy paste solutions that work from anywhere in the world into other locations, into other jurisdictions. I don't think nearly enough of that is like happening in the world. So, I think the first step to that is for people to actually recognize it, to recognize that different cultures, different countries kind of have different competencies and can maybe educate the rest of the world on how we should be doing things.
[00:22:12] Lauren Razavi: So the other thing that I wanted to say, essentially what you were just saying about London is really interesting to me because I think that there is a sense in which we are able to think about our country of origin differently when we've seen the rest of the world.
[00:22:28] Lauren Razavi: But I also think that London and New York in particular are really unique cases because they are like, I think like by one academic kind of like, study of it. They are like alpha plus plus cities basically like the most globalized places in the world. And so I think it's definitely the case that when you're in London or New York, if you are a person who's traveled globally, there are so many perks to being in what is essentially a global village, you know, you can get food from anywhere in the world, you have a huge diversity of different cultures and ethnicities and all of this just kind of happening around you all the time.
[00:23:02] Lauren Razavi: So I think there is an argument that we get new appreciation or new criticisms of our country of origin from traveling, but then there's also this kind of other thing going on in your example of London, which is that London and New York are just kind of this like next level city where you really do have kind of the whole globe available to you in one place. So I think it makes a lot of sense that a lot of nomads kind of end up in those places or in other, you know, similarly international places around the world. Because it's like when you've traveled, you then, if you are going to establish a home base, you want to do it in a place where you still have the availability of the things that you love from all over the world.
[00:23:42] Lauren Razavi: You know, I want to be able to go to like Muji when I want new notebooks, cause I love like Muji, the Japanese brand. And I want to be able to go get Korean food on a whim because I love Korean foods. And it's like, I think it's very natural for us to want to, if we are going to home base, if we are going to like spend a lot of time in a place for it to be a place that can kind of deliver on that, on all that's good from the world.
[00:24:03] David Elikwu: Okay, that's a great answer. So a concept that's in my mind that I want to ask you something about, and I'm trying to think of how to phrase it, is really this concept of time scarcity that I think can come up when a lot of people think about travel. And I think the typical mode that it comes up in is usually, people want to travel, you know, if they are not a nomad and they have a traditional job where they are not working remotely and they're locked into one place, you have a limited time to travel. And so people are trying to make the most of the time that they have and maximize these trips.
[00:24:32] David Elikwu: But similarly, even like you mentioned that's something that happens both to nomads. And I think to, to everyone else is you mentioned like when nomads first start traveling, you want to see all the places. And I hear this within the travel community a lot, I ran a travel business for a while and I spoke to lots of other travel entrepreneurs. You get loads of people that like, Oh my gosh, I've been to however many countries I want to go see all of these different places and you're kind of just counting countries instead of, I don't know, counting experiences or just whatever other way you might have to measure the experiences that you have.
[00:24:59] David Elikwu: And so that's one side of the time scarcity aspect. But the other side that I found interesting, particularly as I've traveled as well, is also just how fleeting, I guess, moments in time in a particular place can be. So for example, I mentioned living in Shanghai, I'm also really interested to hear the experiences.
[00:25:17] David Elikwu: Like I've met and spoken to some people that lived in Shanghai, let's say like in the eighties and it was completely different. And that's like a window of time where if you didn't necessarily experience that and the same with Hong Kong as well, then that moment is kind of gone forever. And similarly, I went to Lebanon, I think it was, was it 2019? Yeah, December. And then I think just at the beginning of the next year, there was that blast. Half the stuff that I just saw, and I'm very grateful that I was fortunate to see, was gone. But also, even while I was there you know, you're also looking around and, and I think there was this hotel that had all these like bullet holes and, you know, the stories from like a war that had happened before and things like that.
[00:25:56] David Elikwu: And I think quite similarly, I was actually meant to go to Iran that year and I didn't end up going, or I didn't get to go because of the pandemic. But then also during the pandemic, you had this weird phenomenon where, I don't know, people are talking about, Oh my gosh, the Iran and the U.S are they going to fight? Is it going to be world war three or whatever? People were joking about that. But it just reminded me of this, this idea that there's a lot of places that if you don't necessarily get to see them at a certain period of time, things could change. And you know, it might not be exactly what it was if you didn't get to go to Libya a few decades ago or to Syria or some of these places that actually had an incredible amount of natural history and natural beauty, and just so many of the things you could have seen if you were to go now, it's completely different. You don't necessarily get to see the things that you would see. And so I wonder the extent to which that changes how you think about the places you travel to and the places that you stay at whether it's short term or for long term, does any of that change at all? Does that play a factor at all?
[00:26:49] Lauren Razavi: I think it's a really kind of interesting an interesting area to think about. What kind of comes to mind for me is, I mean, a couple of things, maybe like one thing to mention up front is that, I fundamentally don't travel for places like I travel for people. And so I'm very much like, you know, if I go to, if I'm going to go spend like one to three months in a place it's very likely that I already know the place. I already have friends there. Or like a friend has relocated to that place and I want to go and experience that place through their eyes. So I'm very, very people led in my travel. And having been doing this, like nomad thing for like 10 years now. It's like, I have people in the world. It's like, it's been a couple of years since I've been to El Salvador, I should go catch up with my friends there. And so this kind of like, very fluid way of, of navigating the world, I think is very much like how, how I think about it. So I'm not going like, Oh, I want to go and see like, the great wonders of the world or a particular natural beauty. It's kind of that that stuff just happens incidentally because I'm led by people. And I know lots of interesting people who want to do interesting things, which is I'm very lucky. Definitely a privilege.
[00:27:56] Lauren Razavi: But with that caveat, the thing that I wanted to say is this is a couple of things that really came to mind in response to what you said before, one is that I find it hilarious, so like my parents lived in London in the 1980s as young people. And I so like, I've worked in the past for the Guardian, I've worked for Google, both have offices in King's Cross in London. My dad cannot get it out of his head that King's Cross is still a very dodgy area like it was in in the Eighties. So he's always like, Oh, you're going to go hang out in King's Cross. Like, be careful. And I'm like, dad, like come and look at the like bougie office buildings that this place is full of now, this is ridiculous. I think it's an interesting example of this, right? Where it's like, you're so used to like a perception of a place and then like 10 years later, even five years later, even less than the examples that you gave, it can have a drastically different character. And so I think it's really special to be part of a scene or a movement to go and spend time with people in different places. Whenever you have the opportunity and to kind of like, try and approach the experience as that. Like, I can never come back to this place and have this experience again because everything is moving all the time. Like the world is in, is in motion, right?
[00:29:06] Lauren Razavi: The second example that I just want to share of this in practice is like, so I spent time in New York pretty much every year. But between, I guess it would be between about 2016 and 2019. A good friend of mine, who is actually the guy who taught me what a digital nomad was, a guy called Casey Rosen Graham. He ran a company called Hacker Paradise that is still going now that does these kind of nomad trips. He invited me out to cover his company way back in 2015 in Bali. That's where I learned what digital nomads were. But anyway, this friend after a good few years kind of doing that, then relocated back to New York, which is where he was living before. And he opened a coworking space, a private coworking space, like invitation only. And so this is somewhere on Broadway, like I think lower Manhattan kind of area. And for a few years. It's like every time I rolled into New York, I would just go and catch up with this friend and work from his co working space. And it's really funny to think back on that period now, because at the time I didn't appreciate that it was a temporary thing, that this kind of grouping of people, that this kind of experience, that this way of interacting with New York and being guided by Casey would like not always be the case for my relationship with that place.
[00:30:16] Lauren Razavi: And, yeah, I think that something that's very interesting for me to reflect on now is that at the time we were a kind of a little gang of people, maybe like 10 people in the world who are now all very embedded in different aspects of building countries on the internet, which is one of the focuses of my work at Safety Wing and in my kind of creative work as a writer as well.
[00:30:38] Lauren Razavi: And I find that really interesting to think about because again, I didn't at the time really like, appreciate the kind of like high intellectual caliber of those interactions of like Casey having created this space and somehow like attracted all of these weird, wonderful people who were interested in the same ideas and then did a fantastic job at really like creating a sense of community. And sometimes when I go back to New York now, I'll just have like a little moment when I walk past that building, you know, and I'll be like, I can never, I can never go back to like that time and it's a shame. But then again as time moves on and places also move on and that's exciting, you know, it's like, okay, so that scene is not located there anymore.
[00:31:21] Lauren Razavi: I think everyone who is involved is in a completely different country now. It's what happens when you hang out with nomads, right? But there are other scenes, there are other subcultures, there are other things to kind of get involved with now. And so to create as well as to participate in, I think that's one of the big lessons from the change that we see in the world.
[00:31:39] David Elikwu: Okay, awesome. I think that's a perfect answer to the question because it also leads to, you use the word scene, which I think is a really important word. And I guess this is follow up question that comes naturally from what you were saying, which is like, how do you cultivate or find or create these scenes? Short of having to go and build a co working space.
[00:31:57] David Elikwu: You've mentioned, I think throughout your, your journey, not just what you've mentioned, but also what I've heard you talking about in the past, I think before going to university, you were like a band manager traveling around Europe and you know, in your early career, being a journalist traveling around.
[00:32:09] David Elikwu: So there's always been an aspect to which travel has been part of your career and part of your journey. And maybe everyone doesn't always share that. And so maybe there is a sense in which you've been able to create and build some friendships, just tangential to the work that you were doing that wasn't necessarily effortful and you can correct me if I'm wrong. I'm just saying, you know, potentially.
[00:32:28] David Elikwu: So I'd love to know how you think for other people that we can kind of create that sense of serendipity. I would love to go and visit my friend in Kuala Lumpur or, you know, how can we build those networks and build those scenes, even if they're only fleeting and if they only exist for a moment in time.
[00:32:43] Lauren Razavi: Yeah, I think you can't build a scene like there aren't productivity frameworks for creative pursuits. This is an argument that I have with a good friend of mine. He's a YouTuber quite a lot. He's very embedded in the productivity space. And I'm like, no, he cannot kind of like, use these frameworks to understand everything in the world or to kind of like build everything in the world.
[00:33:04] Lauren Razavi: And I really think a scene is it's a group of people, it's the right energy, it's creativity, it's shared interest it's ideas. I don't think any of the American expat writers or experimental artists that went to Paris in the 1920s were like, okay, guys, how are we going to build a scene today? It just doesn't happen like that.
[00:33:24] Lauren Razavi: It's kind of the pull of different, I guess, frequencies, like things that are happening in the world. Pull people to specific places at a specific time. And so I think a scene is born organically. I don't think you can build a scene. However, I also think that I have experiences that are informative to, if you want to kind of like increase serendipity in your life and kind of build global and borderless friendships. And I think the number one thing is just approaching it all with intentionality.
[00:33:53] Lauren Razavi: I have two best friends in the world and one of them is based in Amsterdam and one of them is based in Berlin and both of them travel a lot. And it's like, I'm incredibly intentional that no matter where I am in the world, how wacky the time zone is that I'm talking to them most days, and certainly like every week, like both calls and text messages. So I really like take an intentional approach to like building and investing in those relationships and really like valuing them, whatever else is happening in my life. And I think that's one layer, like you have to be really intentional about who you're going to have, like your day to day interactions with who's going to know exactly like what's going on with you, because actually when you have a wider network, where you're very close with people, but perhaps you're only spending like that really intensive one on one time with them for a month or for three months every one to two years, that's a very different kind of friendship and I think both sides have a enormous value, but you really have to approach it with intention.
[00:34:49] Lauren Razavi: So building relationships is one, I suppose the other bit that I would point to is being kind of intentional about travel. So I said already, you know, I travel for people, not places, and that means that when I'm thinking, okay, I've got a couple of months at this moment in time like to go somewhere. I'm thinking like, who do I want to go and see? Who do I want to spend time with? What do I want that time in my life to look like? But also like, which kind of relationships do I want to make sure that I'm investing in? And really kind of like, yeah, keeping up that global network.
[00:35:18] Lauren Razavi: I think it's quite difficult, like a lot of people talk to me about like, how crazy my network is. I think that in order to actually maintain like a network where there is a lot of I guess I'd call it like intellectual intimacy, curiosity real like enriching of one another to like have a network like that, which I feel like I do. You really have to like be prepared to be very present and kind of invest that time with people and actually organize your life and the time that you have that is flexible around cultivating all of that.
[00:35:49] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.