“Where would you rather be ?”
I had asked in my blog post, as I was preparing myself for the Freedom X Fest just a few weeks before the festival for location independent movement. “What would need to hold true for doing what you love doing from anywhere in the world?”
I was convinced that I had already found my own answers a long time ago. In fact, they led to the birth of Cowork7/24. Thus, my expectations for the event were more towards making new friends, growing my network, promoting Cowork7/24, and most of all having fun in that beautiful remote location in the Pyrenees. The event did meet all these expectations, but there was absolutely more. Keep reading!
Events are made of people, not the venue or logistics
My trip to Freedom X Fest took 23 hours, during which I slept very little. I set off from our summer house on the west coast of Turkey. I drove to the airport and took the flight to Istanbul, where I actually happened to spend the night at the airport at McDonald’s as they had closed the lounge. No worries! Conveniently I took the time to spend the night catching up on work, until my flight to Barcelona at 9:30 am. I must admit my head fell down a few times, but I managed it. Then a 4-hour flight to Barcelona, and 2 hours driving to Solsona and the event location. While we encountered a few first-time conference glitches (wifi connectivity, technical challenges, unexpected drops in temperature (which no one could plan for), etc.), we were impressed with the instant optimism that greeted us as soon as we stepped foot in that village – the positiveness, the smiles, the vibes – it was a reaffirmation that events are made of people, not the venue or logistics. The unsung heroes of the organizing team and volunteers had already set the stage for that positive aura, and nothing could beat that.
Events are made of people, as well as by the content and schedules.
The content was rich, the speeches were inspirational, the workshops were engaging. I’ve continually lived with the feeling of “missing out” on stuff. This fear was in part driven by the fact that something interesting was happening everywhere all the time, and in part driven by me rather choosing to talk and connect with people out in the open instead of going to the tents for the sessions.
It was amazing to see how everyone was so passionate about what they do, and diffusing that passion to everyone else. Passion is contagious. Events are made of people, together with the content and schedules.
Barriers disappear when connections are sincere. Collaboration triumphs over competition.
There is an attitude I love among the “new way of working” folks. Almost every conversation starts with the mindset of “let’s do something together.” This is a major difference compared to the corporate or industry events I used to attend in the past where (without any offense) everyone was distant when it came to doing business. I absolutely love the openness and talking/working without barriers, and Freedom X Fest was no exception. The whole event has been a huge enabler to make genuine connections and meet with people that otherwise would have taken weeks, many e-mails, and several swirls to reach. I am really looking forward to working with Remote Year, Coworking Safari, Coworking Days, Crossover, Nomad lifestyle, Workation and many other companies and individuals in the future. You’re all great!
Technology is an enabler when it doesn’t get in the way.
Internet and smartphones have been key enablers for us to work location independent. So is social media where you could just look up whom you are talking to, and for staying connected. I did not need any other app than Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram for that, therefore I was sceptical when we were asked to download Attendify to use during the event. However, I must admit it worked so well. Simple, useful and helpful as it should be.
I have 3 key takeaways from the event:
- Location independence is driven by, first, financials, secondly, by choice for lifestyle. Many individuals choose to work from locations with low cost-of-living while earning compensation based on country of origin of the employer, and while pursuing a certain lifestyle.
- Location independence democratizes the access to talent (for companies) and access to work (for individuals). Neither of the parties is limited to work (or staffing) opportunities or limited to present geographies anymore. This increases competition, and location independent individuals will continually need to adopt and develop new skills to stay competitive, while companies will need to adapt to become good “employers”.
- You can’t force a community. You just need to create the right environment that enables diversity, and where everyone feels included. Good communities do not need managers. They manage and nourish themselves. While we discussed this specific point within the context of coworking, this absolutely holds true for the Freedom X Fest community. (Kudos to the team)
Each takeaway deserves an elaborative article on its own, and I will come back to those later.
At the time I am writing this blog post, on a Friday evening, at a cafe in Budapest, it’s been just 5 days (and 9 cities/towns, and 13 coworking spaces) for us! Yeah, we travel quite a bit… but I am already missing the festival, and can just not wait for the next one.
See you at Freedom X Fest 2019 (if not any earlier somewhere else)!