How I Became A Digital Nomad at 25
Hello Everyone! My name is Matt and welcome to my blog!
I would like to take this time to be as open and transparent with you as possible. I will be talking to you about my past and how it has led to the actions I have taken today. I cannot promise you flashy success stories as a top salesperson or marketer; Or how I created a successful drop shipping business at the age of 12. What I can share with you is what led me to drop everything and begin living the life I wanted to live.
I believe I was born with an explorative spirit. I have learned that I thrive in unfamiliar territory so naturally, I have an obsession with personal growth and actualizing my full potential. But I did not always think this way. I went to school at George Washington High School. It is located in the northern Manhattan area of New York City, named Washington Heights. Now George Washington High School is known for churning out baseball prodigies that hail from the Dominican Republic. It was a public school and their academic program wasn’t very academic. It was more of a correctional facility than anything. Since baseball isn’t my thing, I would have to get good grades and get accepted to a great college if I ever had hoped of making it out of Washington Heights. The only problem was that during high school I was average at best. I was a C student whose mortal enemy was homework, showing up on time, and staying quiet in class. I barely graduated. Senior year I even decided not to take the SATs and not apply to any colleges. I figured I’d rather not get into debt so early in my life. I did not want to sign up for FASFA either, a federal financial aid program that states that if I accept their assistance, in the event of war, I will be subject to a military draft. Thanks, but no thanks Uncle Sam. So I figured I’d get a real job after high school and start making money like an adult at a top-tier company. Starbucks. It did not pay much and it was not flashy but it was my first taste of independence. I was working hard and making my own money. I was 19 and not asking my parents for money was heaven on earth for me. But as a 19-year-old, I did what young wild kids from the city do. Hitting the town for fun and adventure. I picked up a habit of partying on the weekends which involved drinking and smoking. Somehow how I was smart enough to save most of my paychecks and not get into massive credit card debt.
Fast forward to 2021. I regard this year as the year I actually gained consciousness. Up until this point I have worked as a janitor, and a lifeguard and even tried my hand at college, studying accounting at a local community college in Queens, New York. When the pandemic hit, I told myself that I’d go back after everything blew over. We all know how that worked out. By this point, I had lost most of my hair on top of my head at 23 and I was severely self-conscious about being bald. My girlfriend of two years also decided to leave me and I don’t blame her. I haven’t amounted to anything in my 23 years of life. I thought I deserved it in a way. I felt like a complete failure, I was hopeless. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, “This cannot be my full potential”. That is when I was challenged to do a job that was completely out of my comfort zone and taught me how to face my fears head-on.
My friend referred me to a job at Hudson Yards, which is a neighborhood located west of Midtown Manhattan. Manhattan has only one mall in the entire borough and it is located in Hudson Yards. So I showed up to the interview with black shoes, gray pants, and a navy collared shirt. As far as I know, the job I am applying for is the “Edge ambassador” position. They are the employees who work for Edge’s Skydeck experience located on the 100th floor. It was pretty scary to think about. Being up that high isn’t something I am used to but I figured I will be on a solid platform and the all-glass observatory seems pretty safe. So I walked into the interview with confidence ready to answer any questions that might be asked. I practice the night before, rehearsing the dreaded, “tell me about yourself” question. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.
We all were told to sign NDAs, ensuring that what would transpire that day will be a sworn secret to all who would participate. They then rolled in a tv hooked up to a laptop and projected a PowerPoint. The first slide displayed the words “CITY CLIMB” as the title. Then I realized, I was not there to be interviewed as an Edge ambassador, I was being interviewed to be a guide for the new aerial attraction that was set to open in 2022! You see, City Climb is an aerial adventure course that requires you to be strapped into a harness and connected by lanyards to climb up to the top of the 6th tallest skyscraper in New York City and lean out like superman. As a guide, I would be responsible for the guest’s safety. We would have to endure a 3-week training process to learn the ins and outs of becoming a City Climb Guide after the interviews. During the presentation, some interviewees got up and left. They did not want to do something so death-defying for a job. I was unsure and a little scared. I did not even like to get on roller coasters, let alone a swing on a kid’s playground for fear that I might fall. Therefore I had to make a choice. Will I accept this challenge or not? I wanted to get up and leave like the others but I decided to stay. I am glad I did because it was the first step in the mindset shift that would lead me to make the choices I would make later on.
The next step in the process of becoming a Climb Guide is to go up on the 1200-foot adventure course and try it for ourselves to see if we had the guts to be a Climb Guide. So we were strapped into harnesses, given our equipment, and started our journey from the bottom of the course, which they called “The Cliff”, at that point you are 1189 feet above the ground looking at the south side and west side of Manhattan into New Jersey, all the way up to the top to the “Apex” which is the highest point in the climb. At the Apex, you are 1271 feet above the ground on an open platform. The only things keeping you from falling off of the building are the lanyards that are attached to your chest and back. Now once we reached the top, we were instructed on how to do the lean out. This was a mandatory activity if I wanted the job but I saw this as my chance to prove to myself that I can overcome my fears. I viewed it as a moment of self-development where even though I was afraid, I wanted to be brave and do something I never thought possible. And so I placed both of my feet over the edge hesitantly, looking down at the bustling city below me, feeling the cold shiver at the prospect of my lanyard snapping and me falling to my death. I shut the thought out of my mind and took a deep breath slowly to calm myself down for the next step which was to push my hips out over the edge. I pushed my hips out over the platform, half of my body is angled outside of the skyscraper at this point. But my self-doubt kicked in and I wanted to come back to safety. I wanted to be in a place that was familiar again, a place where there wasn’t any doubt that I would be safe from harm. I realized that my growth lies beyond my comfort. The point of difficulty and uncertainty is the catalyst to self-realization and personal growth. I realized that if I don’t put myself in uncomfortable situations, I can never actualize my full potential. And so I leaned out further into the unknown, I immediately felt the warm rush of being suspended in mid-air and extended my arms straight out, relinquishing all of my fear, feeling the exhilaration of adventure coursing through my body and having complete trust that I will survive.
During my time as a Climb Guide, I took the time during and after work to invest in my education. I read books on self-development, personal growth, sales, books about marketing, real estate investing, and even books on philosophy and religion. I read books like Think And Grow Rich, Extreme Ownership, How To Win Friends And Influence People, Atomic Habits, The One Page Marketing Plan, and many others during this time. During that time I learned that I needed a marketable skill in this increasingly digital world. I first purchased a course on B2B Tech Sales which opened my mind to the fundamentals of sales along with the importance of conducting sales research and outreach. Also during this time, I was becoming increasingly more comfortable at my job as a Climb Guide. I got along well with my co-workers, I was content with my wages; getting paid about 50k a year and I was living at home with my parents with virtually no expenses and saving a lot of money.
That’s when I realized that sometimes being in a bad situation is better than being in a good one. At least the bad situations inspire action and growth, situations that are good enough lull you into a comfortable state of complacency where you are in a state of inertia. I remember I picked up The 4-Hour Workweek from Barnes and Noble one day and it completely changed my perspective of what living life should look like. I wanted to be location independent, have “mini-retirements” and make money online to sustain my nomadic lifestyle. I researched ways that I can make money online and I came across Adam Enfroy. He taught me how to build a personal brand, make a profitable blog and run it like a startup company. That is exactly what I needed to jumpstart this life where I can finally be in the driver’s seat. So equipped with a small amount of savings, my little knowledge of B2B sales, self-help philosophies, having a personal blog and being bald, I decided to quit my job as a Climb Guide to dive headfirst into being a digital nomad. While only knowing enough Spanish to survive, I moved to Colombia and dedicated myself to my dream of becoming fluent and making money online. I put myself in a situation where I have to win. And I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
My goal is to make the world nomadic. I want to inspire others to do the same. I want to help others take their leap of faith in any endeavor they wish to accomplish. You cannot wait for all of the lights to turn green before you hit the gas. We only have one life to live and we are not getting any younger. I am leaning off of a skyscraper all over again. I am leaning far into the unknown with the faith that I will survive and become stronger. The only fear I have is the fear of complacency. I challenge you to actualize your potential with me and help as many people along the way as possible.