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Marcus and Felicia, Germany 

(Part 1)

Started together, work together and stay productive even after climbing a volcano!

I heard about Marcus Meurer almost a year ago, when I was just starting as a digital nomad. I think I saw that someone from our 22 mutual friends, I met in my co-working space, Hubud, shared his post about Digital Nomads Movement in facebook and I decided to befriend Marcus, because I felt that this smart German guy and what he is writing about can somehow make a huge impact on me and my development into an ‘Advanced Digital Nomad’. This is when I discovered that he is a actually one of the leaders and evangelists of this movement and organizes conferences and camps for digital nomads under his brand DNX all over the world.

 

At that time I did not pay a lot of attention to Felicia Hargarten, his girlfriend, who is actually his business partner and they started everything together. To be honest, when you see such a guy and admire what he is doing, you feel like: ‘Oh, this girlfriend’....But when I started reading more about Marcus, I realized that ‘Marcus and Felicia’ - is something that always comes together. Yes, they are both complete and self-sufficient, authentic individuals, but the match so well and most of all the great things, I used to associate only Marcus with, are a product of years and years of hard work and effort, put equally both by Marcus and Feli, and this big fast-growing DNX Empire is a consequence of this beautiful partnership. Felicia is one of the best examples of a self-made young woman, who is able to maintain this location-independent lifestyle, nurture this high-quality relationship and stay productive without dissolving in her man, like a lot of women tend to do (especially Russian), she always has her own opinion, yet is ready to compromise and also sees the bigger picture and let go of tiny and sometimes uncomfortable, but unnecessary details for the sake of the better and more exciting future both for herself and this partnership.

 

‘Everything with the label DNX is just awesome! Feli & Marcus have built a unique ecosystem of events, tools, resources and services that is incredibly useful for any digital nomad’, says Christian Schulte, the Founder of Dropscan. And I am super-happy to share their story with you, that I had to break into pieces and will be sending you bit by bit, because it is so rich with tips and inspiration, so it would be a crime to publish only a small part of it.

I heard about Marcus Meurer almost a year ago, when I was just starting as a digital nomad. I think I saw that someone from our 22 mutual friends, I met in my co-working space, Hubud, shared his post about Digital Nomads Movement in facebook and I decided to befriend Marcus, because I felt that this smart German guy and what he is writing about can somehow make a huge impact on me and my development into an ‘Advanced Digital Nomad’. This is when I discovered that he is a actually one of the leaders and evangelists of this movement and organizes conferences and camps for digital nomads under his brand DNX all over the world.

Part 1:

Marcus and Felicia: started together, work together and stay productive 

even after climbing a volcano!

Dee: Marcus, Felicia, thank you so much! I am so excited to be with you here, it is an honour for me to interview you both. As I have already told you I am starting my blog, called ‘Why So Digital’ and it is about Digital Nomads: about those people who run online business, freelancers, online marketers or web-designers, all who are doing something, anything online and lead a location-independent lifestyle. I am from Russia and people in Russia are very creative, very talented, very smart, but this movement, that you guys kind of leading is still something new for us. A a lot of people do not know who are those ‘digitals nomads’, what it means, what they are doing, and how they manage to travel, enjoy life and beaches do sports and make money in between… You are a couple, you are both digital nomads and you started together, quit your jobs and started business together and you are now so successful, it is a kind of a mystery for me. Where did this idea start? To quit your job, for both of you?

Felicia: Actually we did not plan to become digital nomads, it just happened, because we had corporate jobs for quite long and we worked for online companies already, so we got that knowledge and know-hows how to gain traffic, how to get people subscribe for a newsletter, how to sell digital products, so we had this background from the corporate world, and actually it was me, who really wanted to travel. I have been always travelling, since a very young age, I quit several jobs to be able to travel and also between my studies, I always tried to travel as much as possible.

D: Oh, now I know the secret, because you guys actually never tell about this in your stories!

Marcus: Yeah, now you revealed it…

F: At one point, when we lived in Berlin, it was like: ‘Oh, I need to travel again for a longer time’, so it was my idea first to quit my job. And actually my plan was to get a short break and then to get into another job, but at the same time, Marcus was thinking about becoming self-employed, he was bored of his 9 to 5 job in Berlin too, so all those things came together and Marcus said: ‘Ok. I will join you for this small sabbatical’, and while we were on the road we figured out that our skills match very well and we could get our first clients while travelling, because he was thinking about freelancing and we already had a good network in this whole online marketing world, so it was not hard to get a freelance job because of our experience, so it just started like this and we realized that it is working and from there on we never stopped. So I did not go to another job, I actually signed a contract, but I didn’t start, yeah, so one thing came after another, it was very natural. It was not like we had a clear plan, it just happened.

D: Sorry for my question: for how long have you been dating by the time you hit the road?

F: We met at Stepstone, it is the biggest online job board in Germany. I was working in marketing department, he was working in online marketing department (it was in Dusseldorf) and it was...7 years ago. So before we went started traveling we were already together for 4 years...yeah?

M: Yeah, right. I got job in 2009 in Stepstone, then we met and then in 2011 we both went to Berlin. At this point I was a very career-oriented. I wanted to get better in online marketing, I took another job offer and worked for different startups and at one point I realized I had enough savings and I said: ‘Ok, I am starting my own agency’, but then we went on this trip and things went in a different direction - we became really location-independent. So, end of 2012 we quit our jobs and it’d been already 3,5 years we were together.

D: So since you already knew each other it was not a big challenge to travel together and live together, I mean of course it was, but not like as if you were just starting your relationship.

F: It was, still, but we were so excited, and we really wanted it that we were not thinking about what could go wrong. And we always thought: ‘Ok, if we do not like it anymore, we just stop’. It is not like you decide to do it forever. You can try it and if it doesn't work - just stop it.

M: But you are right. It is a very special situation: as a couple being on a road, traveling together, which means 24/7 together and then starting also businesses together, which means everything becomes more intense…

F: But we also try to separate our tasks somehow, so that I can work without him and he can work without me. Sometimes we need to take decisions together, but most of the time we can divide the tasks.

M: And also one of the secrets why it is going so well for us as a couple and we also do business together and travel - we never planned it, it just happened, it was very organic. We went on the road, we never planned to do business together, we never planned to be location-independent, quit jobs and leave our apartments - it just came naturally, so we just went with a flow…

F: So we did not have high expectations about this lifestyle and how it will be - we just did it.

D: So you decided to go with the flow and check it out and so far you are happy with it?

M and F: yeah!

D: You travel now all over South-Eastern Asia, South America, Europe…

F: I think the best way is to switch and have 2-3 bases. Let’s say in October you go to South America, then in the beginning of the new year - South-Eastern Asia and then in summer it can be Europe. It is also good from the weather perspective. It is good to switch once in awhile and not to get stuck for too long in one place. Because when you move - you get to know new people, new impressions, you get creative again and it is good to move sometimes in general, but also not too much, because you can get exhausted, especially when you start up, it may be overwhelming. You need to be productive, but when you arrive somewhere it takes a while to establish your routines and discipline yourself, when everything is so new. We exactly know what we have to do to get in the working mode very quickly, but it takes a while when you learn how to do it. Also some people love cities, some people love smaller towns, like us - we do not like big cities like Bangkok that much, we get overwhelmed very quickly, but a friend of ours for example - he loves to be there, so you need to check it out for yourself.

M: There is no master plan on getting into this lifestyle, how you get productive, how to set up your routine, where to go, as Feli said, people are different, and it also depends on how people make their money, how they get started, how much they want to get involved in the community, how much they need to be alone, how much they want to be by the ocean, how much they want to be in bigger cities, so this is quite exciting, everybody does it in their own way in the digital nomad community…

F: But the whole mindset of all the digital nomads is the same: very open-minded, very sharing, people not only care about money, but also about values of the countries they are in so there is really a cool vibe in this community.

D: You think there is more collaboration than competition in the community?

F: In general, yes. You always have people competing, but compared to corporate online marketing scene we were before it is much better. People are more relaxed, because of the travel aspect, people get more chilled out and let go easily.

M: And it is also because this movement is so new, people get very excited and want to let the world know what they are doing and want to help others, we want to help others, this is why we set up all these projects and DNX movement to get more people involved in this lifestyle, to enable more people to go on the road, meet other cultures, so they can meet other people, deal with the real-world issues, not living in their own bubble, so they have a big picture and then make cool things to make the world a better place.

D: Yeah, but there are only two of you… I know that you have a remote team all over the world, but you have so many projects, like DNX Global, DNX Camp, DNXJobs, DNXToolbox, Online Angels, Rock My Site, Wundersite, Travelicia, Trendings and what not. I mean, how it is possible to organize yourselves, while you are travelling and changing bases all the time, changing people in your life. How you manage to climb a volcano and then get back and manage all these projects?

F: Actually, when we climb up a volcano for half a day like yesterday, when we come back, then we are more productive in a shorter period of time. When you have 8 hours - you maybe work slower, you think: ‘Aah, I have more time’, but go climbing a mountain and you still want to do this this and this - you work faster. You know what I mean?

D: No, I do not know, how it is possible to climb volcano and then go back and work. You were exhausted, no?

M: We actually slept for 2 hours in the afternoon, or 3…

F: But then we worked until night, until 10 I think…

M: I think the secret is that we are so passionate about our projects, that we really do what we love to do. So it is never a pain for me to open my laptop. I wake up in the morning and say: ‘Cool, another day!’ I will do my morning routine and then I am already excited about what is going to happen and what tasks I have in my Trello board (we collaborate with our team in Trello), we both work in Wunderlist and coordinate each other in there… always something is happening in the way we designed this lifestyle for us and this is why is does not feel like pain. It does not feel like work anymore. And starting that many projects you were asking us about, I think it is a question of having this entrepreneurial freedom after being in corporate jobs for such a long time and not asking for permission from anyone, not asking for opinion from anyone, we are free to do whatever we want…

Read Marcus and Felicia (Part 2): about productivity in the next blog

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