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Ep159 Transcript: Interview with Jean Marie DiGiovanna
Andrea Vahl: How would you like to travel more? My guest today, Jean Marie DiGiovanna, decided in her early 50s to become home free, as she likes to put it, and travel around the world while she works. Tune in to today’s episode where we explore how she does it.
Andrea Vahl: Hey, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl. And I am joined today with my longtime friend, Jean Marie DiGiovanna. She is a leadership expert, international speaker and executive coach and a lot of other things, but I’ll just say, welcome Jean Marie.
First of all.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Thank you. It’s great to see. To see you and to be here. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And you guys, this is kind of fun. This little fun little, little side note is she is actually in my house.
So we are recording this separately, but I knew I wanted to have her on the show because she does so many amazing things. And also, I just am going to give your book a quick plug, stop talking, start asking, and it’s 27 questions to shift the culture of your organization. So Jean Marie is awesome. And she also does an amazing thing in her travel.
She travels all over the world. And that’s what we’re going to dive a little bit deeper in to today. But so yeah, very cool. So let’s talk about your unique lifestyle that you have. So you are this speaker, you go all over the world speaking you’re training corporations in all parts of the world too.
In fact, this morning you were just on with Asia, right? With your client in Asia. But you also have have this lifestyle where you. Live in different parts of the world during different parts of the year. So let’s unpack that a little bit and talk about the way you do that. And first of all, I want to talk about the whole term digital nomad because that is something that you don’t necessarily associate yourself with as a term.
And I want to talk about that cause it’s a very common term. It’s probably, you get a lot of people who call you that.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Yeah. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: You don’t necessarily why don’t you like that term and what do you consider yourself instead?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Great question. Digital nomad has been around for a long time and typically it’s been associated with tech people, like people who have remote jobs that they’re working at a company, but they may not be working at a company, but they’re typically tech oriented, whereas, now that’s expanded out to people that are coaches and people that can literally work remotely. And that kind of turns into everyone after COVID. it’s funny cause I never resonated with that term because most of my work had always been in person. And so, you know, when I say digital and even nomad, there’s this, I don’t know, association with nomad, like we’re just wanders that, just flitter to here and there. And it’s like, yeah I enjoy. Not knowing where I might be living in a few months, but it doesn’t mean I’m not intentional.
So I created a term called mobile business woman. So that’s what I call myself now.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. I love that too, because I think that sometimes people may not take it as seriously. Cause you do you do very intentionally pick your spots, pick where you’re going to be.
You’re focused on delivering your client work from a place that it’s going to be beneficial. That you’re going to have, good wifi and good internet speed, or you’re going to even meet up with clients or people in person. So I love that you’re intentional about that as well.
Yeah. So here’s the kind of interesting thing and I tell people about this and people like, think it’s really wild, but you do not have a full time house or a full time apartment that you have as a place, but you do have several kind of home bases, I think.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: When people go, Oh, does that mean you’re homeless?
I’m home free. And they say, Oh, interesting. And no, I gave up my home about five years ago, a year before COVID. And I was inspired to do that out of a trip I took in Southeast Asia. And my last place there was Cambodia. And it just hit my heart in such A wild way that I never expected, which was just how grateful people are there that don’t have a lot.
And I came back to my, two bedroom townhome in Boulder. And I’m going, what do I need all this space? Do I need all this stuff? So I gave that up. I sold almost everything that I own. So I have a couple of storage units to my name and I’m exploring now, what are my specific home bases that I’d like to have because I travel is an important part of my life.
And to stay in one place the whole year feels almost like it doesn’t serve my own creativity.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And I love that because you do have these places you come back to, you come back to Colorado and you’ve got a community here and you’ve got people that you’re connected with and you plug into and reconnect with. And then you’ve got East coast and West coast, you’ve got like several places that you visit often and for long periods of time where you’re able to have that community, but then you get to choose and see where else you might want to go in the world. And I think that’s just so exciting. That is like what I want to do too.
Yeah. And so tell, talk about some of the challenges that you’ve seen and had with this. Cause I know it’s not always easy.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Yeah it’s, it is funny. I’m glad you asked that because It can sound so glamorous from the outside, but like anything it’s I will say this the first time. The first place I went was Costa Rica and it was the first time I actually gave up my home.
The first time, after about a week, when you feel like you’re on vacation after that week, I remember thinking. Oh my God. I don’t have a home to go back to. Like, this is so weird. And it brought up everything in me about what does home mean? What does security mean? What does safety mean? And I went through almost like my own internal Intense transformation around that.
And some people that are in this lifestyle definitely have home bases, which obviously make it easier. Cause you’re like, Oh, I always have a place I can go back to. And it’s not that I don’t have places like that. There’s always places I can go back to and have bases, but it’s often not my own or I’m renting or whatever it is short term.
But it was really. Intense. And then since then I’ve gotten better at just trusting like by the end of that Costa Rica time and I was there for two months. I didn’t set a time frame. I just kept going to the next place I was called to. And kept staying if I didn’t know where I was going to go next. To the point where by the end of the trip, like today is what Monday Someone would ask me, where are you going to go next?
And I actually wouldn’t know where I was even staying the next night. Now it’s not like I do that all the time, cause now it’s very different, but I, it was an experiment for me to test to trust that. All is well, there’s always a place to stay. So yeah, it’s been, and then the other challenge is just finding really good internet, for my type of work given I’m presenting to, hundreds of people over the line.
And so that’s a really high priority for me that helps me determine where I’m going to be as well. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: And that’s the good thing is that a lot of places I think now are just really conscious of that kind of thing is having good internet. One of the things that I thought was amazing is I went to Estonia and like the whole country is really wired with fiber, so they do attract a lot of people who are traveling and working at the same time because we’re mobile business women as well, or men. And and I think that’s a big thing with people attracting tourists now because they know that people are doing kind of hybrid things like this and not just there to just be on vacation.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: And actually I’m glad you mentioned that because I think when people have, there’s two things I want to say. One is when people have their home and they like reference me, they’re always saying like, how’s your trip to Malaysia? And I think – its actually not a trip.
I’m working there. I’m living and working in Malaysia now that I might take a vacation for a week or whatever. But and it’s really hard for people to grasp cause they just, but I will say this I have met. and reconnected with more family and friends all around the world and stayed more connected because I would go back to that location because I didn’t have to go back home.
And that to me has been one of the most incredible. Like beautiful benefits. I never even thought of.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. I love that too, because you don’t, sometimes people aren’t traveling to see you, but you can easily go and see other people because you’re just a little bit more flexible, and you have to be somewhere you might as well stay with friends or stay with family and do that work.
And yeah I think that is really important to highlight though, that it’s not like your life is just one giant long vacation.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: That would be very nice one day it will be, but right now, no.
Andrea Vahl: You’re still working. You’re normal. Normal working, just maybe you go down to the coffee shop in, in Cambodia or whatever,
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: And often my client work will dictate where I go next.
So that’s the cool thing too. Like, I had a speaker tour in Malaysia and I went there a month earlier to connect with new clients. So I always take advantage of the locations I’m at to see. Who else is there? Who am I linked in with? How can I develop more business?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. And you’ve gone, I like too, that you’ve found this conference that travels around the world with people who have this type of lifestyle and you’re able to then also plan your travel around that conference and see new parts of the world. Like you went to South Africa and yeah. Yeah.
What have been some of your favorite destinations that you have gone to that you’ve really enjoyed?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Yeah. So one is Croatia first time there last year and just. Beautiful. So much coastline, which is just amazing. So that was really special. I would say Kuala Lumpur, I was there several months ago.
And and I don’t, part of it, a lot of it’s the people, that’s just because I got to meet some of the organizations I have been partnering with hybrid, online and got to meet them in person and just really develop a following in Asia, which I hadn’t had before and now I do so that was an incredible trip.
Oh, my gosh. Oh, South Africa. Cape Town is just, yeah, I didn’t know what to expect. And that was very cool. You don’t realize how long it actually takes to get there. It just seems so cool when you’re in the States. But yeah, those are the highlights, I would say off the top of my head.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I know. It’s every place has its own charm and its own, own beauty, of course, and everything. And yeah. Talk about some of the challenges that have come up with just even planning this, is it, you talked about like early challenges, what kind of challenges have you had, like more recently that have been hard to get through and overcome?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Yeah, I think what happens I went into this. It’s just mainly because I wanted to travel more. I wanted to see more of the world and also work from wherever I am and make that happen. I had no idea when I went into this, how long I’d be doing it or…and it’s always been a temporary thing.
It’s not a permanent thing. And that’s still very true. The biggest challenge is. Just acclimating. I thrive on change, so this lifestyle is not for everybody. But there’s sometimes I’m going through too much change at once and I’ve really started to learn more about okay, if I’m, if there’s certain client work I have, there’s certain things that really have to be stable.
Whether it’s my space location, whatever that is, that I’m there for a certain period of time first. And so those are the things I’ve learned over time and I’m finally starting to understand like I’m slowing down the pace at which I was traveling in terms of locations, location to location. And now and it.
It provides me the opportunity one to get situated more in a location. So then connect with more people, build a community. So when I’m intentional like that, like I went to Florence for three months, I lived there very intentional and it was amazing. And I have a, a small community there that I can always tap into.
So the challenge now is. Finding places is just not traveling so much and instead sitting in places for three to four months and I’m being very intentional about that versus like, Oh, I’m going to go here. And then I wonder where I’m going to be, so now I’m really thinking a little further out.
And then eventually, like I’m already thinking about a few home bases, like where might those be and what would serve me and honor my my own values and passions.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I love that. It’s just, it definitely is it’s always evolving, right? And that’s the great thing is that it’s not like you can’t go back to staying in one space for a long time.
It’s now this is your life. You’ve got to move every week. And I think it’s the other thing that I think is really interesting is the way you’ve got your storage units here and you plan for these times to come and switch out your wardrobe.
So I am very glad that one of your home bases is here in Colorado because that means I get to see you a lot. So that’s awesome. So what has been what has been something unexpected, like an unexpected benefit that you’ve had from all this travel? Is it just, just getting to know yourself more.
What’s been something thats come out of this that is a great lesson?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: I think one of the biggest ones, and it’s funny cause we recently talked about this like, I never really shared this with client. You know, I don’t, I’m not openly like sharing like, Oh, I’m a, you know, I’m a mobile business woman and I travel to different places, but it’s interesting.
What most surprised me, especially in the last. year or so is when I do share it with people, how much they are like, Oh my God, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Or wow. Tell me more about it. And I think there was, I was being stopped by my own perception of thinking. People think, Oh, I’m this wanderer or I’m, or also like. what are you running away from? I mean, These are things that would go through my head thinking I’m actually not running away from anything. No matter what issues you’re dealing with, you’re going to have them, whether you’re in Croatia, Portugal, Cape Town, but people think Oh, she must be, this or that.
And so I’ve embraced more of my lifestyle in what I’m doing now and embracing that. That will shift and if it inspires people, great. If it makes people scared or nervous or they’re like, I can’t believe you’re doing this. That’s not my thing. It’s just whatever comes up for them.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it’s true.
People do have uh, you know, they’re like, Oh, I can’t see how you could do that. Travel is one of my big values as well. I love travel so much and I’ve even I went to Switzerland when I was 16 on an exchange program and things like that. So it’s always been a huge high value of mine.
And I think some people can’t wrap their head around how you can just pick up and go to another country in, just like in a few weeks and decide, Hey, I’m going to go to Thailand, or whatever. And they think it takes a lot of planning and it really. It really doesn’t. And I think that’s an exciting thing too.
And I do think that it’s inspirational. I think it really does connect with a lot of people’s desires to see the world. And I think it’s fun when people can then share stories around that too. And I had the same kind of thing when I was in Bali for a few weeks working from there, I didn’t want to share it with my clients because I was like, Oh, they’re going to think I’m on vacation.
No I’m working here.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Your program, it’s like you’re highlighting late starters and I’m over 50 like this lifestyle. I also thought Oh, I’m going to just be the oldest one there.
And cause I’m part of a a nomad community called nomad base and they’re amazing people and they’re all ages and all walks of life. And it was so refreshing to say, Oh, there’s people. Much older, there’s people much younger and it’s for everybody,
Andrea Vahl: yeah. And I love that too. So yeah, I always sometimes forget, Oh yeah, we’re talking about late starters.
So you are, you’re I think that was one of the reasons I want to wanted to interview as well. You’re over 50, you’re a woman traveling alone sometimes. Is there been any fear about safety? Times people do talk to me about that Oh, you’re going to go there alone.
And I’m like, yeah. And have you had any safety concerns or wondering about any of that?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: I, personally, I haven’t I also, I’m very conscious about places I choose to go. I look into things like that. Oftentimes I may know another person, it might only just be one person, or I actually connect on a Facebook group and connect with people before I get there.
Like anything, it’s about using your intuition, like any city, their town that you’re in. If you feel, start to feel uncomfortable, you’re going to do something different. I’m blessed that, I do also have a very strong intention that I am protected, supported, like I, I don’t go around naive, but but yeah it’s been great.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. And I like that you, kind of balance your travel with connecting with people and meeting up with people and then also time to recharge alone. You are big into beaches and you like to go to a space with water and really recharge. while you’re still working.
And I think that’s so awesome too.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: I would say that actually goes back to one of the challenges too, is like balancing. I thought I could do half day morning work, half day, tool around. And it’s no, what I realized is It’s better for me to just like dedicate several days for work and several days for whatever else I’m doing or want to tool around or meet people or whatever, because, but it’s just finding your own rhythm that works .
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, definitely. I think that is that’s a good message too. Cause I, I definitely had that sort of same thing where I prefer to have work with a little bit of tooling around time and then back to work, so that’s my rhythm. So when I’m out traveling, cause I like to check in almost every day.
You just, yeah find the thing that works for you. So that’s definitely a good message as well. Yeah. So I, I know that I know that a lot of. A lot of people like to, would like to think of ways to travel. What are some of your best travel tips for finding good places to stay? Good airline travel.
Do you have some good tips on how to save money while traveling?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Oh, yeah. God I’m not like the travel guru. It’s really funny because people go, Oh, you must have a million miles. And I’m like I don’t actually travel that often because I stay at places for periods of time. I look a lot on Google flights just to see what are the best times to travel to certain locations or what are the best permutations?
I’m on obviously Airbnb but when I look at longer term places to stay, I actually will find maybe a place on Airbnb and then reach out to the host and say, what do you have if I want to stay for a month or two? And then you can also find short term housing on Facebook marketplace, believe it or not.
I’ve found and other, shorter term sites. There’s also house sitting and pets. Sitting right? Like I miss having my pet, like I used to have a cat and so I get, that’s a fun alternative thing for me to do every, three or four months or so where I can be with a pet and take care of that pet and be in and take care of people’s, someone’s home that the home that I’m in and also explore a new location as a way of doing that. I’m also part of trusted house sitters and yeah. And so there’s, I don’t have a ton of hacks. I’m sure. Yeah. Cause I don’t, like I said, I don’t travel all the time, but right.
Andrea Vahl: And I think that’s a good message too, is that it. And, I think some people think that it has to be super expensive, but when you have, like you stay in a place that maybe is a little better value, like maybe certain countries are a little better value, but then you combine it with staying with, maybe staying with relatives or the house sitting or things like that and you’re not paying for a house or rent or mortgage. That’s, that’s huge. You’re not necessarily just like shelling out tons of money for this type of lifestyle. You can still make it really affordable.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: I will say. A lot of people think I save so much money by doing this lifestyle, but actually the reality is I spend about the same amount, it evens out, if I had a one place for a whole year that I rented, it would, I’m not saving a ton of money unless I’m really going to some remote places that are, much cheaper to live.
But, overall, cause I thought that would be the case a lot and I was like, Oh, great. This lifestyle will save me some, and then I’m like that’s not always the case.
Andrea Vahl: It’s also like, so like you have to save up a hundred thousand dollars in order to do this type of thing. So yeah. That’s definitely I think a good message too is it can just be exactly even with where you’re at. So that’s cool. This is awesome. I always feel like these half hour interviews go so quickly, but but I also want to check in.
It’s my, one of my favorite things to do is find out what your favorite inspirational saying or quote is cause I’m such a quote junkie. So share with us a favorite quote or inspirational saying you like.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Sure. So one, my favorite is by Howard Thurman, and it’s a much longer little story or quote. But I’ll share the piece that I really love because it talks about what success means. And it’s if you can make one person breathe easier and that kind of thing. So at the tail end of the code, it says, don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Andrea Vahl: I love that quote so much. I love that quote so much and it’s so interesting because one thing I’ve loved in a year of doing these interviews, I’ve hardly had any one. I don’t even think that anyone has shared that quote with us before, but that’s one of my favorite favorites.
So I love that. So yay. Awesome. It’s been so fun. Share where people can find you on your website and we’ll definitely have all these links in the show notes, but where can people connect with you?
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Just go to gmariespeaks. com and you can find everything there. And also LinkedIn.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I would definitely. Another thing that we didn’t even touch on is your whole LinkedIn training. You have, that is amazing. She went to the LinkedIn headquarters and did training there to have on their platform, but she also has almost 60, 000 followers on LinkedIn or is it? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Just, Just shy.
I’m sure by the time this come out…
And and she has the most amazing things that she posts on LinkedIn. So we’ll have her LinkedIn connection. I highly connect or highly recommend you go and connect with her. She’s just such an inspiration on LinkedIn and, everything and everything you do. So awesome.
Thank you so much, Jean Marie for coming on late starters club.
Jean Marie DiGiovanna: Very welcome. Pleasure.
Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at late starters club. com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.
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