I have a really fun in-person interview today with Han Talbot who is the host of the Remote Life Podcast. Han was actually one of the original five participants along with myself in the Work in Sunshine program in Herzegovina.

What was the mindset going up to apply for something that only allowed five people? 

I think definitely for myself I thought there’s no way I’m going to get this based on followers number. Having a background in the content creation industry, I’m aware that following is still very much a big important factor for a lot of brands. 

I met Anna briefly in Dubrovnik at a little conference called Workplace Culture Conference and she was introducing us to the region, telling us the good stuff and I was thinking that this looks amazing. I really wanted to find out more. She then gave us the opportunity to sign up for the program, and I just thought, why not?

So, I then obviously applied and I wanted to put my best foot forward, but honestly, in the back of my mind I thought I don’t have the same kind of following as a lot of people that I know; therefore I was not expecting to get it. But, here I am though.

Do you like the music from Herzegovina? 

I think it’s been really fun to be out, listening to their radio, and you feel like you’re in some crazy cliche European film. We were driving from those caves to the waterfall, as this traditional band was playing was honestly the backdrop of every single hipster European film of people who drive through the Italian vineyards or something. It was just amazing. But of course, even going to bars, they’ve got their own types of genres and I’m even just getting a vibe for that. So much fun. Definitely feel like I’m getting more of an authentic experience of what it’s like to be a local here as opposed to some other locations. I definitely feel I’m getting the real experience.

What was it like to be living in Spain while growing up? 

I lived in Spain for a couple of years at quite an interesting age where learning Spanish just sunk in quite easily – especially being one of two English kids in the entire school helps a lot. And then, essentially from there, I was just able to pick up a few languages very easily. Kids are sponges at the end of the day. So, we moved back to the UK when I was 14. We went out there when I was 10. It was definitely a culture shock, and then coming back to the UK I had a reverse culture shock. As a kid, you think, ‘Oh my god, what is happening right now?’ But then, as an adult, I’m actually very thankful because it essentially shaped who I’m now. 

I remember being about 12 or 13 (we lived in this tiny little village in the middle of Andalusia) and being given extra Spanish lessons during August. We were sitting outside one of the older traditional bars doing our lessons, having Fanta, and I remember thinking at the end of August, ‘Oh my god, I’ve now got to go back into a classroom, a gray walls classroom, why? I’ve learned more Spanish sitting here in the sun outside.’ I honestly think that’s partly why I’m now so keen on digital nomading. I love being outside. If I can work where I want to, I’ll get better results and learn more.

What was reverse culture shock like for you? 

People already semi-knew me coming back, but they remember me one way. I’ve obviously gone through this transformation. I found it easier to just start distancing myself in a way. There’s a new me now. So, I think coming back to an English culture where we, generally speaking, keep ourselves to ourselves, it was definitely a massive culture shock trying to deal with it at that age when you’re already changing. 

Does a digital nomad have a home?

After moving away to Spain for a couple years, I started enjoying different parts of that culture that just resonate. For example, I absolutely love family, I love community. It’s a huge deal for me even as an adult, and I’m not saying that the English don’t, but I would say I definitely took that on from living in Spain. And just certain aspects of the different cultures I’ve been around since have definitely stuck with me as I’ve grown up. I learned French when I was a kid very easily, then took on a language degree that completely almost not rips apart your personality, but again you do end up picking different bits and pieces from different cultures wherever you go. So, doing a study abroad in Brazil, you just don’t come back as the same person anymore. 

Therefore, do I really resonate with being English? To an extent, sure, but I created a home where my laptop is because home is not the UK for me. It’s not a place. I think that’s why I knew how to create homes where my laptop is because while everyone else has grown up in this one place, I think I moved about 17 times in the space of 22 years. 

How does a linguist shift into the marketing industry?

Growing up I was quite fortunate that I had a mom that pushed me into all the stuff that I was good at, which happened to be languages. I sucked at maths, so I just followed what I enjoyed doing at times. So, when I went to university, I was happy doing languages, and then I think going into my degree, I literally got asked for about four years if I wanted to be a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, or a tour guide. No, definitely not. But at the same time, we have people saying to us because you’ve got a language degree, you’ve got all these transferable skills that you can do. So, what are these skills? And it’s so varied that you can pick and choose as you want. But I suppose my epiphany moment was when I was doing preparation seminars for my study abroad year. So, as part of that, they get you to talk about risk assessment, they get you to think about how you’re going to keep up your second language when you go away. My university only lets you go to one place for the whole year. Sometimes they let you do two or three. We had to do one year and we also had to write our dissertation or thesis in our target language. 

Get access to our community of startups: Network internationally
Join now

So, when doing all these seminars, the librarian came in at one point and said, ‘Oh, by the way, as a fun thing, why don’t you guys maybe keep a blog to just talk about your travels, tweak up your second language, and just for your own record?’. And I turned to my friend and went, ‘What am I going to call it?’ Literally, I sat on that for about two weeks. Then one day, I was trying to do my research about going away, but I could find no information. It was really hard to find information back then about visas, how to essentially get yourself there, and what you needed to prepare for it. I then thought, how about I create that content? So, I started a blog. I started writing about how to do it as a process and in the process of doing that, I then discovered people who were making money online themselves doing YouTube, blogs, social media, etc. And I thought I want a bit of that. So, I actually got a grant as well to write this blog.

Instead of going down the traditional content creator route, I decided on the marketing side, helping brands set it up for themselves. Actually, I was really into just trying to do things the non-traditional way. Coming from an environment where you go into a graduate internship or executive position, I did everything in my power to do the exact opposite. Back then, people thought I sit on Facebook all day. So I was really lucky that I had a few people early on who said I’ve got some really great ideas and to keep going. One thing led to another and I just built up this quite random, but awesome portfolio of marketing, comms, social media, events – experience if you will.

How long does it take to build a portfolio as an entrepreneur?

I moved to Brazil in 2013. I just wanted to try as much as possible. I’m very curious about entrepreneurship in general. I like people who want to take action in their lives. I did some self-development. I thought I wasted my life at 23. So, I really got on with creating my bucket list and that included doing all the jobs that I wanted to give a go. It just all accumulated into this crazy wonderful experience that when I decided to go freelance back in 2019 was when I was able to go pick and choose projects that I was really super passionate about and could really lend my experience in a way that I couldn’t as much. I love working with innovative people and being able to create really cool stuff. My favorite word is action, so I can’t if there’s no action at the end of this. 

I always say to people, if they want to go freelance or start a blog, they’ve got to be realistic with their expectations. Why are you doing it? Do you really care or are you hoping for some free swag? That’s two very different concepts. Neither are right or wrong, but you’ve got to be realistic with your expectations. Ten years ago, if I could just make some money off of social media, then awesome, but not from a content perspective. Just being able to work for a company where I can do social media full-time, I’ll feel like I’ve made it in my own way. Now, this podcast for example, has just become its own thing because it’s something that I believed in, had a message and I thought it could go somewhere.

I never dreamed when I started that I would be sat in Bosnia and Herzegovina having a chat with someone about entrepreneurship. That to me is insane. So, I think it’s being realistic with why you’re doing it, but also understanding that you’ve got to have a mission as well that’s going to get you through. For me, it was empowering people to live their dreams. 

What does an event manager do?

First of all, doing an event is not putting a Facebook event up and thinking you’re done. There’s so much more, you’d be surprised. It is not for the fainthearted. When going into an event I knew I wanted to create a feeling for people. For me, it was never about necessarily getting loads and loads of tickets. I wanted to create this feeling of community, this feeling of being welcome no matter who you are. I knew if I created that my job was done. But again, not everyone works off of that. I love creating events because I love hosting people. I think that making people feel they are family is one of my favorite things. So, that’s why I love events and I love doing them. 

There’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of planning. It’s a whole very big team, so it’s not just simply one person with a few good ideas and great speakers. It is a whole operation and it’s a lot of investment that needs to be done. There is more to it than just simply what you see on social media of people having a good time. Being prepared to lose money on some of these things in the first year – that’s a reality. But understanding that once you’ve got a good concept, you can create amazing, awesome things, and it’s actually very easy, especially when you’re someone who cares and wants to bring people together like that.

What’s the difference between one-off events and long-term events? 

I definitely think most people have a strategy for it before they go into it. For example, if you do a one-off event and you lose money on it, that can be ditched. Now, if we want to create this one event but there is a long-time strategy to it, it’s different. I was brought on a bit later to the project in London, so I didn’t have as much time on it, but we knew we wanted to create something that was unique and different in the space. So, we were prepared to lose money. And uniquely, within that portfolio, that event was renewed literally the day after. They saw potential in it literally within seconds. It’s just understanding that you’re working with people who want to build a bigger product. Obviously, money is super important, but I think there is definitely more to it than just simply having one event and making loads and loads of money. 

What’s the strategy for one-off events vs long-term events?

It depends on what you’re trying to achieve from it. For me, one-off events for example could be a particular dinner for a campaign. You know roughly what you’re going to spend on a restaurant and you plan that maybe six months ahead to make sure you’ve got a budget and you don’t lose the money. When it comes to longer-term strategies, when you’re thinking that you would really bring this amount of people in for the next year, I would say you give yourself at least a year for these things because you’ve got to build up the marketing and you’ve got to put all you can into it. From that perspective, there is more risk in doing a longer-term strategy.

For example, on a lower scale, I will try to organize meetups and things wherever I go as a digital nomad because I know I want to meet people. My end goal is to have dinner with people who are expats and digital nomads in the area. Hopefully, there will be two or three people at dinner. Sometimes 20 people will show up.

How important is networking for future events?

It depends on what your goal is because for me it was creating this feeling of feeling at home, feeling welcome and making sure that everybody was comfortable, which doesn’t always happen at events. Networking was a good byproduct of that. And it was more just making sure that the company that we were partnering with at the time were happy with the results too and they saw the potential that we saw; they saw the vision that we knew was there.

What do event managers do to attract clients?

I would be thinking about what I can offer as value to the companies that are going to be there for one thing. For example, you’ll meet a great bunch of people who can then help promote you down the line, you will get X amount of money, you’ll get X amount of exposure. Is this a partnership for the long term? If you want to speak on the stage, you can talk about your brand or whatever it is you’re trying to put out in the world. I would just be thinking about what I can offer the company in terms of value that makes them wanna go ‘Yeah, I want a bit of what you are you are selling’. 

How important is the budget in event planning? 

Innovate: Scale & collaborate with resources & tools for startups
Go to entrepreneur hub

If I was starting literally today with $0 in the bank and I wanted to create a digital nomad event, I would start with being small. I’m not getting anywhere super quick right now unless I have a big community behind me, which there are a few in the industry right now, who I know could buy tickets of X amount straight away. I would have realistic expectations and consider what I am trying to get out of this. Do I want to educate people on digital nomadism? Do I want them to come and network? Do I want them to come and meet sponsors and do some content? Because of course if you want just to do weekly meetups on the beach, you just put a Facebook event out, and hopefully, people will come along or you put a post on the Citizen Remote app. If it’s a weekly meetup where you go for beers or you go for dinner, then that’s a very different space to come from. It requires $0 to get started.

If you’re trying to create a big industry event, I’d hopefully have some kind of community influence or a network that I could draw upon first. I’d maybe build a podcast or some kind of presence so that when I want to go live and create some kind of actual space, I would then be able to go confidently “I can get at least X amount of people to this site’. Then I’d go to sponsors going, ‘Hey, I know that I can get X amount of people to come here. Fancy putting a bit of money in return for some exposure?’ 

How do you get donors and sponsors for charitable events? 

If I want to do a charity event where I am fundraising for water aid or UNICEF, then maybe, for example, I would ask for more help from a hotel because sometimes spaces do donate depending on the cause and your influence and network. Or, I would maybe ask broker brands if they wanted to invest. You do have to be able to prove that you are someone that they can trust with their money. It all has got to be something that they’re aligned with as well. At the end of the day, they’ve got to find some return on investment for themselves. So whether that is that you get sponsors in to pay for the event space itself, or maybe they do donate it in return for bringing those people in, it’s about being aligned in messaging and goals.

What are the best parts of organizing events?

I love bringing people together. That’s my absolute favorite thing. So have your vision, see your vision, execute the vision, and just be able to look around and see everyone’s having the best time and having people coming up to you two, three years later going, ‘Oh my gosh, that event was amazing. When can we have another one?’ Even down to nomad meetups, when are you back in town? We definitely need to go grab a glass of wine, or let’s create a meetup in Mexico City. So, I think that’s the bit for me is knowing that I created this space for people where they could come together, feel welcome, and just have a good time.

What are the worst parts of organizing events?

The hours. It’s not glamorous. The event itself might be. It is not just putting up a Facebook event and it just magically appears. A lot of it is spreadsheets, negotiating, making stuff up on the spot, and bringing stuff in from home if you need to to make it happen. It can be two, three days before and you are still in the office at eight o’clock. Obviously, we can still get everything done, but it’s just being realistic that you’ve got to get stuff done.

How much sleep do you get the night before an event?

I don’t really think I sleep. Honestly, I’d say for at least the last month of that event, specifically the big one, I’d be lucky if I got maybe six hours.

Do you fear that people will not come to your events?

I had people not turn up to a paid event before. I’ve never had that fear necessarily with paid-for events because when you bought a ticket, you obviously feel more obliged to go. And I think that’s part of it. Well, we’ve made some money on this event, it’ll be great no matter what. We’ll do what we can. I’d say it’s never really been too much of a concern. I did have one nomad meetup when no one turned up. People were excited and I had one successful nomad meetup in Mexico City and people were requesting that I pick another date when it’s not on the weekend because obviously, nomads had different schedules to different people, so I did that on the weekday. No one showed up; however, I made great friends with the waiter, had a great chat about photography, and he gave me a free cake at the end of it. I still got epic views of where I was. So, as long as I’m in the place that I want to be, who shows up is great, and if not, I’ve got myself. It’s just being realistic. It’s not personal where people don’t turn up.

What is one piece of advice you would give?

Make like Nike and just do it. Don’t wait. If you’ve got a thing you want to do, whether it’s a blog, podcast, or business, an event, just get it done. Obviously, now in hindsight, thinking I’d wasted my life at 23 is actually hilarious. It was a very real fear for me and then I got going all the stuff I wanted to do. Of course, how can you be mad with your life when you’re doing all the stuff that you wanted to?

We sat on Quad bikes the other week and I was thinkiing ‘This is my work’. But again, it’s not for everybody – that’s my dream. So being able to sit there and go I’m doing it, is a really amazing thing.

I think for me, listening to people like Gary V for example, who talks about if you really live life, you don’t just go on survival mode, you really live, you can live like two, three different lives. I’m already looking forward to how many different decades are left.

Where can people find you? 

Come, discover, and chat with me at Han Meets World and find The Remote Life podcast on all the listening platforms.

Han, thanks so much.