This post is the second part of my interview with Marcus and Felicia from Germany and we are talking about productivity and what made their DNX Conference so successful.
Previous part is available here.
Dinara: Guys, can you explain more how you discipline yourself to be able to stay so productive?
Felicia: There are days when we are like: ‘Oh, I am exhausted, I do not want to work’, but we learned that if you just don’t work, there will be time when you get your energy back eventually and then you will start doing one thing after another and in the end you get the same amount of things done in a shorter period of time. So, you just need to stop and then wait.
M: But another big factor is having a routine as well. Or have a structure, working with tools that help you to get structures to know what to do next.
D: Do you have your structures? Do you write your tasks down, or what?
M: Oh, my system is huge. It evolved over the years… And I have a very strict morning routine: I wake up before sunrise, and I go on the rooftop here, meditate with the sunrise, then go for a swim here in the pool to activate my body, or I do sports on the rooftop, fill in my gratitude journal…
D: What is it? Is it when you write down 3-5 things you are grateful for or what?
M: It is called ‘5 minute journal’, so it takes only 5 minutes a day and it is set up like you ask yourself 3 questions you are grateful for, then you write down three things that would make your day the best day ever, so it is about setting the mindset of what you want to achieve/accomplish and then the third part is your daily affirmation, because when you ‘pretend to be something’ it is easier to become something. For instance, if you want to get better in speaking, giving public talks, you need to have a daily affirmation that you are a good speaker or that you are calm and relaxed, when you actually stressed, it will happen, because you always talk to yourself about these things. So these are three parts you need to fill in in the morning and there are also 2 questions in the evening…
M: Yeah, after having this routine it is very important not to go into your facebook account or check your emails. I know it is very tempting, but the big thing is to keep all your headspace and your willpower for your most important task, it is called MIT. This one I mark in Wundelist the night before. The next day I start with MIT at 8 am. For instance, today it is a marketing boost for DNX conference, we also have two other MITs - we need to give a talk today here in Roam and tomorrow at Hubud, these are also big tasks we are working on now, and I have not been on my emails yet and on my facebook and now it is 10 am, right? So the big secret is not to be distracted, and when you accomplish this MIT by 10 am, you win the day already in the morning and you are totally in the flow.
D: Feli, do you do the same things, or you have your own tricks?
F: Well, I do not like too much structure. I do meditation and the gratitude journal, and this MIT thing, but sometimes if I do not feel like doing it - I skip it, so I do not force myself to really do it everyday, but most of the time I actually do it.
D: When do you guys check your emails then?
M: Oh, I try to set up a new habit for myself. I am very hard against myself, I am into this life hacking, structures and routines..
D: Like proper German…
M: Yeah, but it helps me to be more focused and do more...now I try to go through emails only twice a day. When I finish with my MIT, checking emails is more relaxing, because all these exciting things happening, and then I go to facebook, answer questions, help people, I enjoy this. It feels more like a break, it is not like doing something hard at work. Yeah, I try to check emails twice a day, after MIT at around 11-12 and then at 5 or 6 pm and I try to learn whatever comes in it will never stop, you have to live with it. I check emails for 5 minutes and then they come again, so I just try to let it go and get back to them the next day.
F: But there are also some things that help you a lot, for example, these noise-cancelling headphones, that help you to be focused. When we travel and we spend all day in the airport, these headphones really help, because you do not hear anything. So you do your things and answer emails, something simple. Or on the plane - I love reading, because at this time you can get some inspiration or I write down some strategies just on paper, so during this time you can be productive.
M: What really helps as well, when your MIT is sometimes too big, you break it, make it more fractured into smaller items. And also when we work on this MIT together, it is way easier than working on your own. This is also a big advantage of travelling together and and being together.
D: Can you guys tell more about DNX conference. How did you start it and manage to turn into a big international event?
F: I have a strong background in event management and conferences, so when I worked in Berlin I organized a lot of online marketing conferences around the world, so it was not really hard. I knew exactly which steps you need to take to organize such a thing. So the idea was already on my mind, because I have a good experience. Since we were travelling, freelancing and working on our own projects, started this travel blog, making money online, let’s say after one year of this nomadic lifestyle people got very aware of us and started asking a lot of questions. So on one hand there were people who were interested in this lifestyle or other self-employed people, who were not travelling, but they could and would like to start doing it, like all those people in co-working spaces here in the South-Eastern Asia, and on the other hand we had a good network, because we love to talk to people, we are not typical coding online guys, who never talk, we attend a lot of events, we have a really great network of people from online marketing world, as well as we constantly were connecting to other digital nomads, so one day we were like: ‘Ok, if they are all asking, maybe we can bring together all these people who are doing it already and people who are interested in it, yeah, let’s try’. At that time we were on a Caribbean island, we were not even in Germany, we just started doing it from there. And when we opened sales more people got interested in it, than we thought. We initially booked a small room and then we had to change it to a bigger one. This is how our German DNX started.
D: How many people attended the first one?
F: Nearly two hundred. It was the maximum, actually over the capacity of the room.
M: It was sold out in three days.
D: Wow! For how long had you been marketing before you started sales?
F: In December we started the project and the conference was in May.
M: As I said, we went very public with our lifestyle and trying to help people, some people already knew us, many people were following us in facebook, so they wanted to catch up and see how we do it and also the media got aware of us in Germany very quickly, because it was so outstanding at that time. They started to interview us, asking a lot of questions, how we do it and how get started. So there was an awareness and when we started sales, people were freaking out, because this is what they wanted at that time. They were waiting for it and then they were sharing it all over facebook and this is why we got this big marketing boom, but very organic, so we did not pay any money. But on the other hand it totally fucked up our calculation, because we had our Early Bird Price for 2 months and then the main price, but since all the tickets were sold out in three days - we did not make a break-even, but then with the help of some partners, who stepped in and were also interested in what we were doing, we met the break-even.
F: Also I think why people love us, because we are a a couple, which is not common and we are also very convincing about our lifestyle. So there is no question we could not answer I would say. Still I am convinced that it is perfect, maybe not for everyone, but for me it the best lifestyle for now. So when people feel that you are very convinced about it and have a lot of know-hows.
M: And we live it fully to the edge. No flat anymore, three t-shirts, two shorts, just a backpack for digital nomads, so we do not need to check in our luggage…
F: And we are still very productive.
M: And we usually stay in small places, like a small fisher village in Philippines where there is no power until 5 pm and we manage to work from there. We work from Taganga, Colombia, or El Nido in Philippines, the craziest locations, because we like remote places, simple, with a nice beach and very basic. People like it, then they think: ‘I they can do it, maybe I can do it too, make a soft launch and go on the camp with them or attend the DNX conference.
Read more about Marcus and Felicia in the next blog.
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