Digital nomad professions can be diverse. As someone once joking told me, anything that doesn’t involve dealing with blood can be digitized.
By far and away the most popular work for peripatetics involve the likes of: Dropshipping — taking orders for items and then buying them later, asking the supplier to deliver straight to the customer; Software Engineering — self explanatory; Digital Marketing — again self explanatory; and Virtual assistants — personal assistants but remotely based.
But the ones that always intrigue me the most are business consultants, who can be relatively hard to find. Setting up your own business can be one of the most daunting life decisions for many professionals, regardless of whether they are a digital nomad, so what tips can we get from someone who has gained success from her ways?
As the wider population were scrambling around to figure out their remote working routines for the foreseeable future, Neelam Tewar’s digital nomadic lifestyle had this covered years ahead. She had left her high-flying marketing career behind in 2016, and has not looked back since. We spoke about her consulting style, her influences and how people could help themselves or identify when they need help.
Neelam is now a self-employed business consultant, in the traditional sense of the word. She’s the person in the middle and steers her clients towards their goals. Her clients incorporate the full spectrum of solopreneurs to government agencies, and she appears to be never short on work too. Though that’s about where the similarities end.
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Neelam’s focus on self-awareness and spirituality in her TEDx talk entitled “The Gifts of Micro-deaths” is what really drew my interest.
I asked where Neelam has a sense of home, and she wasn’t really sure either. She has Indian ancestry, but grew up in Tanzania and Nigeria, educated in the United Kingdom and spent her early professional life in New York. She had previously worked in the advertising industry in New York City as an account manager, then for a major pharmaceuticals manufacturer, before going solo.
“I’m the black sheep of the family” she acknowledges. “From an early age my family realized they had to let me do my own thing”. Authenticity to herself is probably her single most important core value. Everything about her business, her manner of speech and character always had this connection in mind.
“I’m easily bored by static systems and processes so I am always exploring and reading up on how to improve them.” She brings up the word Kaizen, the Japanese art of continuous improvement. Here though, she used it in the broadest sense, from the things she does to the personality growth that everyone undergoes.
Stagnation and mental sanity
The thought of static systems got me intrigued. I was imagining people stuck in the rat race or feeling a massive slump in morale at work. So what advice could Neelam offer on this? She said:
“Millions of people’s careers have been turned sideways by the coronavirus, and if 2020 is anything to go by, who knows how long this sideways-cycle might last. Many have had to come to grips with the idea that a full-time job may not be the most secure or dependable strategy.
If you feel disconnected, unmotivated or anxious in your current job, please know it’s understandable. Take stock of your feelings first (even if it doesn’t feel all that great), get honest with yourself and what would need to change for you to be more engaged and fulfilled in your job/career. Iron out a plan to move toward that goal consistently. Remember, the more awareness you have into where you want to go is more important than what might not be working in your present situation. Today is feedback on our past actions and if addressed appropriately, a vital stepping stone for a different tomorrow.”
We had a brief bonding moment as we talked about mental health and spirituality, especially in the “Instafame” modern society as dictated by social media. The strive for that Blue Tick from Twitter or Facebook to tell society that you’re a person of any significance. That’s one thing we felt equal measure of disappointment and annoyance of what many wannabe influencers had set as their life goal.
Our conversation was wide ranging and full of good advice. So many tips that I struggled to condense key takeaways. Nonetheless the ones that stuck out were the following:
“The very reason why you can’t is the reason why you must”. I had asked how someone should identify whether they can risk changing their more stable profession for a lesser stable one but aligns with their passions more. The context here was a young mother stuck in her job and was afraid that going on a different trajectory would cause too much risk to her family.
“Build your own personal economy”. The question was what younger professionals, digital nomad or not, starting out should focus on in order to maximise their career. The answer was deliberately more abstract, but holds true for many areas of life.
As our conversation drew to a close, I noticed I had been drawn to her warm, bubbly character which belies a shy and humbleness, which further belies a self-belief that can draw the most from any person and or business.
Overall it was quite the philosophical experience chatting to Neelam, inadvertently causing me to tap into critiquing my core values. It would appear that it’s precisely this appears to have helped give her the consulting success she has earned.