For the longest time since I am a digital nomad I have been ignoring the possibility to work in a co-working space. In Munich, Germany and in Santiago, Chile I did visit a lot of co-working spaces and incubators and was always impressed by the stimulating surroundings (and of course, the generous amount of free pizza during talks and workshops). I figured there would be a good amount of learning and networking potential, but of course it is a lot more economic to just work from home.
A digital nomad retreat such as the DNX camp in Lisbon is again of course a different story altogether, with a lot more of a "school trip" kind of vibe which makes the experience all the more fun and transformative. For me as a nomad business writer, my participation is in the process of altering the way I am developing my business completely and is bringing me a lot of joy and business advantage, much more even than I had hoped for.
Why I Loved the Surf Office #1: Flow, Everywhere!
What I perhaps most underestimated was the intoxicating atmosphere of productivity. Nothing like a room full of brilliant people hacking away at their keyboards as if Neo's life depended on it. And true: A very peculiar brand of performance competition forms automatically that makes it super easy to get up, sit down in these rooms and get stuff done.
I figure it's part because people want to get a lot done while they are at camp so they can more fluidly act upon the advice and input of the other members, absorbing the essence of each other's knowledge. It is also valid to assume that looking at some of the very sophisticated business models of my fellow nomads sparked my ambitions a few notches northward. Just realizing the possibilities made my former achievements look a little shorter, inspiring the urge to seek growth as a matter of personal honor.
Why I Loved the Surf Office #2: Location, Baby!
I won't dwell long on it since it is such a no-brainer, but the location within the heart of an awesome city stuffed with nice furniture and good hardware (not to mention the soundproof windows, expertly-equipped kitchen and cozy bathrooms etc.) totally added to the smoothness with which my enjoyment established itself as THE predominant emotion during my stay. It's simply great to have so much space, so many lunch options and a powerful WiFi to build and tend to your web projects.
The ability for you to go surfing whenever you like adds a lot of sex appeal, though frankly: Days are so stuffed it would have been hard to add another getaway to the two we indulged in during my 10 days there. Peter though can organize trips easily, being connected the way he is, and indeed I found him to be an invaluable source of knowledge for stuff that's happening all around.
Why I Loved the Surf Office #3: Big Enough, Small Enough
While I know that the Lisbon office is still in the process of getting built up, I must say that the way I experienced it, there was the perfect number of participants present while I was there. Just so much that you would always get a spot to work and could take showers or cook whenever you wanted (every floor had three bathrooms for maybe 8 people or so) and still enough so that it was never empty and you could always grab someone for lunch or a quick chat as to what's on tonight.
Consequently, when we went out we routinely had ourselves an excellent ball and there was always enough critical mass to party until 6 AM if you were so inclined. We had enough people for extremely fruitful mastermind groups and enough variety in professions for very mind-enriching talks.
I personally got to know every single one of the group in varying degrees of depth and indeed remained extremely satisfied with my "networking" gains, if the activity of forming presumably meaningful friendships with crazy fantastic folks should be described in such a reducing manner.
On a second thought: Nope. This wasn't networking. This was for real.
Conclusion: In this life, I've had my fair share of lucky breaks- but lately, they're multiplying. The learnings and other takeaways such as the ability to guest post on other participants' blogs are already - 3 weeks afterwards - yielding returns of all kinds of different currency. If I have ever felt more confident about my future as a digital nomad, I wouldn't know when. Next to the DNX wizards Feli and Marcus I expressly want to thank Peter and his team for their hospitality and professionalism. I hope (and by "hope" I mean "I am sure") that next year's DNX Lisbon shall likewise find the Surf Office such an awesome place as I did.
About the Author
Joe Goerbert is a digital nomad business plan consultant and online marketer since respectively 8 and 3 years. With a total of over 4 years of extensive travel mostly in South America, it's not going to be for long until he calms down a little. As success - ever sooo slooowly - increases the availability of disposable funds, he will eventually participate in more programs, retreats, conferences and seminars for "our kind" in the future and learn to look even further beyond the boundaries of the "old world", growing his and his client's businesses in the name of freedom, service and unity.