Reacting To Changing Times Like Amazon Does

The business world constantly evolves and as it does, it’s important that the decision makers realize this and adapt accordingly.

Think differently.

Amazon thinks about the delivery of products and information differently. It anticipates how implementing new technology benefits its customers and strengthens its market position.

Re-prioritize.

Redefine what is the most important and do it first. Are your priorities in line with your staff’s, your customers’, your suppliers’ priorities? Domino’s Pizza must have decided that outstanding customer service was its top priority, since service is shown at every point of communication from the moment an order comes in, until after the pizza is delivered or picked up. It leaves the customers feeling they are Dominos’ top priority.

Develop faster responses.

Decisiveness and a call to action are now the norm. Since the advent of the internet, involvement continues to grow exponentially because companies have taken “the no time to lose” attitude and jumped aboard to broaden their market exposure.

Focus and stay focused.

Find out what the most important to you and your customers. Find out what works and concentrate on that.

Simplify.

Find easier solutions and a better approach. Costco offers its members a quick no hassle exchange policy which is a benefit to its members.

Be flexible.

By using new techniques, altering your thinking, taking advantage of available, sometimes untried resources, your response will be all the more accurate. Many service stations today offer a flexible service approach by offering both self-service or full service as well as pay at the pump or pay the attendant.

Overcome your fears.

Fear inhibits the ability to change on a personal and business level. Work at conquering your fears. Questions such as; “Will it work? What if? Will they like it?” stifles growth. Tim Hortons realized that donuts and coffee weren’t enough anymore and struggled over introducing new products. Would customers like the new product line?

Become a problem solver.

Customers want solutions. Think about all the solutions that customers have adopted into their lives. Emails, post-it Notes, highlighters, insta-banking.

Energize.

Remember the Energizer bunny? It just keeps going and going and going. An “energizer” builds momentum, creates a company culture that keeps the organization moving forward just as Terry Fox mobilized an entire nation with his energy.

Listen.

All indications point to an ever-changing future. As the rate of change continues to gain speed, our response must keep up with its velocity to remain in sync. Move forward or else!

Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time

I have an internet acquaintance that I’ve been following on social media for a little over two years now, an all-around nice, smart girl who blogs and does odd jobs and has recently decided to go back and get a Master’s. In Europe. For a degree that, by all reasonable accounts, is probably not going to lead to a great job. And she knows this, I think, because she talks about it as “an opportunity to learn and expand her mind,” more than any sort of preparation for a future career. Which is fine, but the truth of the matter is that she is able to enjoy such freedom — to be a wanderer of sorts who enjoys travel, study for the sake of study, and long conversations over good dinners — because she comes from a good bit of wealth and, if not subsidized entirely, never has to worry about her safety net. She won that particular bit of genetic lottery, and it’s useless to begrudge her the freedom that fate bestowed on her.

But it is useful — important, even — to begrudge her the attitude that comes with it, one that is all too prevalent amongst young people who do not have to worry about the foundations of their future financial security: This idea that you must travel, as some sort of moral imperative, without worrying about something as trivial as “money.” The girl in question posts superficially inspiring quotes on her lush photos, about dropping everything and running away, or quitting that job you hate to start a new life somewhere new, or soaking up the beauty of the world while you are young and untethered enough to do so. It’s aspirational porn, which serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, while making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it.

It’s a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy. Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person. (Some of the most dreadful, entitled tourists are the same people who can afford to visit three new countries each year.) But someone who has had the extreme privilege (yes, privilege) of getting out there and traveling extensively while young is not any better, wiser, or more worthy than the person who has stayed home to work multiple jobs to get the hope of one day landing a job that the traveler will assume is a given. It is entirely a game of money and access, and acting as though “worrying about money” on the part of the person with less is some sort of trivial hangup only adds profound insult to injury.

I was able to travel, and even though I paid for my life abroad with my own work, it was still a result of a healthy amount of privilege. I was from a middle-class family who I did not need to support or help financially, I knew that I could always slink back to their couch if things didn’t work out, and I had managed to accrue a bit of savings while living at home for the few months before I left. There are millions of people who have none of these things, and even if they wanted to pay for travel on their own, would simply not be able to because of the responsibility or poverty they lived with. For even my modest ability to see the world, I am eternally grateful.

And what’s more, I understand (perhaps even better after having traveled a good amount) that nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person. Some people are simply saddled with more responsibilities and commitments, and less disposable income, whether from birth or not. And someone needing to stay at a job they may not love because they have a family to take care of, or college to pay for, or basic financial independence to achieve, does not mean that they don’t have the same desire to learn and grow as someone who travels. They simply do not have the same options, and are learning and growing in their own way, in the context of the life they have. They are learning what it means to work hard, to delay gratification, and to better yourself in slow, small ways. This may not be a backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, but it would be hard to argue that it builds any less character.

Encouraging that person to “not worry about money,” or to “drop everything and follow their dreams,” demonstrates only a profound misunderstanding about what “worrying” actually means. What the condescending traveler means by “not worrying” is “not making it a priority, or giving it too much weight in your life,” because on some level they imagine you are choosing an extra dollar over an all-important Experience. But the “worrying” that is actually going on is the knowledge that you have no choice but to make money your priority, because if you don’t earn it — or decide to spend thousands of it on a trip to Southeast Asia to find yourself — you could easily be out on the streets. Implying that this is in any way a one-or-the-other choice for millions of Americans is as naive as it is degrading.

Everyone needs to forge their own path to financial independence and freedom. And perhaps you are lucky enough that your path involves a lot of wandering around, taking your time, and trying a bunch of new things — because you know that security will be waiting for you at the end of the rainbow. That’s fine, and there is no need to feel guilt or shame over your privilege, if only because it’s unproductive and helps no one. But to encourage people to follow your very rare path, because you feel it is the only way to spiritual enlightenment or meaning, makes you an asshole. It makes you the person who posts vapid “inspirational” quotes that only apply to a tiny percent of the population who already has all the basics covered. And God forbid anyone who needs the money actually does follow that terrible advice, they won’t be like you, traipsing around South America and trying degrees for fun. They will, after their travels are over, be much worse off than when they started. And no souvenir keychain is going to make that reality sting any less.

This article was originally written by Chelsea Fagan and appeared on Medium on June 29, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

How I learned to code while travelling

In many ways I’m just another white collar employee turned digital nomad. I check all the boxes: quit my job to travel, found a way to earn money remotely and now, here I am writing a blog post about it. Check, check and check.

Unlike many other nomads I’ve met along the way, I did not start out building an online business, or writing a blog. I did not even start out on a beach (though I ended up on one not much later). Instead I started out learning to code. I wanted to be able to build things while also solve complex, abstract problems and coding seemed to combine both things perfectly.

Learning on the road

Luckily, the nomadic lifestyle is perfectly suited for learning. Life is cheaper (or at least it can be), you have all the time in the world to learn and, as you’re moving around, not a lot of social (or other) obligations to distract you. In addition travelling offers you many opportunities to take the kind of breaks people back home can only dream off.

But learning on the road also brings some challenges. For one, you need to know what and how you want to learn. One of the hardest parts of starting this journey is knowing where to start. What should you learn first? How do you break down this immense thing into manageable pieces?

Know what to learn and have a routine

The good news is that when it comes to learning to program, the first steps are pretty well documented and good resources are readily available online. There’s a bunch of online courses and books you can start with (personally I got started with Learn Python the Hard Way).

If you’re learning something that’s less accessible, I would encourage you to try and find people online who did similar things and ask them how they went about it. You could probably learn a lot from their experience and mistakes.

Setting weekly goals
Setting weekly goals

The second thing you need is a solid routine. Learning pushes you out of your comfort zone. At times you will struggle and lose motivation. You may feel stupid, or feel like you’re not making enough progress. What will get you through these moments is a set of habits.

And example would be: wake up, learn, eat, learn, nap, exercise, learn, socialize, sleep. But ultimately the routine you decide on is going to depend on your sleeping patterns, personal preferences and travel schedule.

The first roadblocks

For the first months I was on a roll. I had a routine and was reaching my goals, while steadily making my way through the resources and tutorials I had accumulated beforehand. But then came the end of my programming books and the road ahead got far less clear.

As it turns out, when it comes to programming, the internet is pretty good at getting you started, but far less successful at helping you map out a curriculum after that initial stage.

“No problem”, I thought. I figured the best way to learn is by building a small project. So, I thought up a random app and started hacking.

It took some sweat but the project got build. I learned a lot. At this point, however, I realized just how much I didn’t know and how much I still had to learn. I knew how to write a piece of code in one specific way, but I had no way to tell whether that was the right way. It’s akin to writing a book but having no one around to read it.

This article was originally written by Anouk Ruhaak and appeared on Medium on May 27, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

When You Travel Alone, You Belong to Everyone

I don’t really have an excuse to travel alone anymore, and I miss it.

I miss the times when I’d check in for a flight and let my eyes wander around the waiting area at the gate, trying to guess who my seat-mate would be. I always hoped I’d make a friend, yet still asked for a window seat, so I could stare out the window instead of having an unwanted conversation if my neighbor turned out to be a dud, which is what usually happened. I always got paired with the most unappealing partner, one whose body mass — or, worse, smell — would expand over the arm rest into my territory. Even then, it was something to write about, to chuckle 0ver silently.

The best conversation always turns out to be the dialogue you have with yourself.

When you’re alone, every moment is an opportunity for something exciting to happen. There’s nearly always room for one more, but usually not for two.

The first time I traveled alone, I flew to London and took the Eurostar to Paris, where I was studying abroad. It was a transformative two-hour train ride because when I woke up, it was suddenly snowing and everyone was speaking French. When I ran my belongings through security at Gare du Nord, I unknowingly dropped my passport, only to have a stranger pick it up for me. The kindness of strangers shines through when you’re freed from a set tribe of friends, marking you as one of their own. When you’re alone, you belong to everyone.

There are other perks of being a party of one. Like stopping to take a photograph without making anyone wait. Creating your own itinerary on your own whim. Eating wherever and whatever you’d like without a debate. You can walk away any loneliness and realize that sometimes it’s nice to keep quiet and just observe.

Who am I, undefined in this foreign environment? Maybe I’m a tourist. Maybe I’m a mysterious passerby. Or maybe I’m just another person searching for connection. Just like everybody else.

The second time I flew solo, I went to Hong Kong with a duffel bag and checked into the Geo-Home Holiday hostel. My room was the size of a jail cell, but it had everything I needed. I was free to go and come as I pleased. I wandered the city alone and I felt like I was trapped in someone’s dream, or in a movie, or in a universe where I was invisible.

The next morning, I woke up, got my hair washed, and ate fried shrimp balls on a stick with spicy sauce — all for less than two dollars. I spent the rest of the day wandering around Lan Kwai Fong, stopping to eat delicious bubble tea, then an egg tart, then street-style shark fin soup with a BBQ chicken leg. I went to Modern Toilet for dinner and thought about the Mary Douglas book, Purity and Danger, wondering why anyone (myself included) would want to eat in a restaurant that had a bathroom theme. Curiosity, I guess, is what lured me in.

Afterwards, I continued to wear down my summer sandals, my eyes growing weary from the flashing neon lights of the city at night. When I returned to my tiny quarter, I found the owner of the hostel, a bug-eyed woman named Miss Kitty, waiting up to tell me with concern that my mother had called. I thanked her and went to my room. When I started to dial home, I realized that a few more hours of worrying until a morning call wouldn’t kill my mother. I slept more soundly that night than ever.

Traveling alone is so underrated. Is it because we are so desperate to stay connected, afraid to be on our own and make our own decisions? Do we need other people to validate our good times?

We shouldn’t. We — and by “we” I mean “I” — should book that ticket to that city or island or country that we always wanted to visit. I shouldn’t wait for anyone. I won’t wait for anyone to tell me that it’s okay or that they want to go too or that they have a place for me to stay. I’ll just go.

This article was originally written by Cyrena Lee and appeared on Medium on July 25, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

22 Things Digital Nomads Need to Pack While Traveling the World

I managed to work and travel around the world for 3+ years with these 22 basic but essential things in my backpack. I hope the list will help you once you make the bold decision to set off on the road and make the world your office.

1. Send a scanned copy of your passport, international driver’s license, credit cards, and international health insurance to your email. And, of course, don’t forget to take the originals along.

0-EGHPGS4D7pYDo1VZ

2. Deuter Traveller 70 + 10 Backpack — a comfortable backpack to carry, with enough space for all the items needed for a long-distance trip.

1-KnPhh0HvG3-LBjkchSk9nQ

3. Unlock your smartphone and download some travel apps (e.g. MapsWithMe, Entrain Yourself, XE Currency, Triplt, Google Translate, Skyscanner). It can also substitute your torch as well as photo and video cameras.

1-i4qZmc_7w7-FWdvoe-omXg

This article was originally written by Dude Nomad and appeared on Medium on July 11, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

Iceland Travel Guide: Tips and Road Trip Itinerary

Table of Contents

This post is divided into two parts: tips and itinerary. Tips covers unique considerations necessary for happy Icelandic travel. It’s applicable for all travelers to Iceland. The itinerary provides and exact 8-day road trip plan, with sites, lodging, pictures, drive times, and routes. Everything you need for the perfect Iceland road trip.

  • Getting Started
  • The Ring Road
  • When to Go: Weather, Road Conditions, Light, Crowds
  • What to Bring: Map/GPS, Google Maps, Clothes, Gear, Money, Packing
  • Where to Stay: Hotels, Camping, Airbnb, Booking
  • Driving in Iceland: Lanes/Passing, F-Roads, Emergencies, 4WD, Rental
  • Activities: Helicopters, Hiking, Planes, Horseback, Diving
  • Food in Iceland: Hotels, Restaurants, Groceries, Gas Stations
  • Itinerary: Complete list of route, sights and places to stay.

As mentioned, a specific itinerary follows later in this article, but in general, what does one do in Iceland? Basically you drive around and gaze upon the endless variety of stunning landscapes. You do not go to Iceland to see Reykjavik, sit on a tourbus, or play it safe.

You go to Iceland to have adventures and see what another planet might look like if a beta version were being tested upon the surface of ours.

You want to design your trip so that you see as much of the island as possible. You should drive the entire Ring Road.

The Ring Road

The Ring Road is designed perfectly for a road trip. According to Google Maps, and under ideal circumstances, the total drive time is around 17 hours. I recommend undertaking this in 8–10 days, which allows for plenty of time to explore (and importantly, venture into the West Fjords).

To tackle the Ring Road, the first question is which direction should you drive? Counter-clockwise is the stronger direction. The reason is because, like any good narrative arc, this direction has some good action early on, a nice slow plot development section, and then some epic climaxes.

While “let’s just see what happens” is certainly an effective strategy in Iceland, it’s very important to plan your days such that you’re able to see everything in the most efficient order. I suggest planning each day’s itinerary before you leave, and then adjusting it each night while you’re there depending on weather, route completion and energy.

This article was originally written by Alex Cornell and appeared on Medium on June 27, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

Why every travel photographer should carry a notebook

Even before I took up my writing career again — to be able to both shoot and write for the articles I’m doing — I’ve been carrying a black, pocket-sized notebook. This journal is what I turn to when I sit down to start writing my articles. It is filled with words, sentences and letters, most of them written in a barely decryptable handwriting. I use it to write down the addresses and names of the restaurants and hotels I’m visiting. And the time schedules for trains or names of traditional meals, straight forward stuff. But all of those facts are available online, for you and everyone else.

The most important words to jot down are the details you can’t Google. How it feels like to visit that particular restaurant, what the main course smelled like or how the waiter ended up with that scar on his upper lip. The goal is to collect something that not everyone (actually only the people that visited the exact same spot as you) knows.

You‘re a photographer, why do you need to write stuff down?

Why should you go through the effort to take notes? The most obvious reason is that it could earn you money when you’re back home.

How come? The thing is, it’s usually a lot easier to sell your photos if you’re able to package it together with a text. But don’t think for a second that it’s just about writing a few paragraphs and believe that it will sell your photos. There are as many writers wanting to become travel journalists as there are photographers dreaming about making a living from shooting travel photos. You need to be good at writing too! It doesn’t have to be thousands and thousands of words though, but good writing. Flip through any travel magazine and you’ll realize that the lengths varies.

Woman smoking in restaurant before opening. Havana, Cuba 2012. ©Jens Lennartsson
Woman smoking in restaurant before opening. Havana, Cuba 2012. ©Jens Lennartsson

It makes your experience four times stronger

Even if you don’t plan on taking up journalism when you get back home, the act of note-taking will give you a much greater travel experience! Picking up your notebook and spending a few minutes now and then, jotting down what is happening around you, will make you more aware. Suddenly, you realize what the surroundings offer vastly more than you first thought.

Even if you don’t plan on taking up journalism when you get back home, the act of note-taking will give you a much greater travel experience! Picking up your notebook and spending a few minutes now and then, jotting down what is happening around you, will make you more aware. Suddenly, you realize what the surroundings offer vastly more than you first thought.

This article was originally written by Jens Lennartsson and appeared on Medium on May 29, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.