You could say that you are on a “career adventure” instead of a career path. Welcome to “Choose Your Own Adventure”! Our “career adventure” interview series charts the joys & challenges, and many different directions our career adventures can take us. Anything from career changes, working remotely, freelancing, contracting, self-employment, starting your own business, working on your own projects alongside your day job, having a side hustle or a portfolio career – all depending on what choices we make, what steps we choose to take, what opportunities or challenges that come our way in the most unlikely of places that help you to choose your own adventure.
In this interview, we speak with Jenny Lachs who is the Founder of Digital Nomad Girls who in her old life used to be a chemist until she swapped her lab coat for a round-the-world ticket in 2013. Since then, she has created DNG, run numerous amazing coworking retreats, met girls from all around the globe and turned her passion into a location independent business. Read her full interview here!
I’ve been nomadic myself for a good few years now and a lot of my own adventures have benefited from the great advice and support I’ve had from Jenny and through the online DNG Community. Thanks again, Jenny, for the fantastic community you have created and for sharing your journey here telling about your own journeys going from chemist to digital nomad girl and online business owner!
1. Tell us about yourself
My name is Jenny and I’m originally from Munich, Germany but haven’t lived there for the past 10+ years. In my old life, I was a chemist, I even got a PhD in chemistry, but after I finished I wanted a complete change of scenery and went travelling on a round-the-world trip with my boyfriend which was supposed to last 1 year. We travelled for about a year and then worked in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa for a year before starting to work online and living the digital nomad lifestyle.
2. What are you working on now?
I’m currently working exclusively on my business, Digital Nomad Girls. I gave up my last freelancing client this year so I could focus on DNG and try out some new projects. At the moment, I am creating a course for total beginners who also want to become digital nomads but have no clue how to get started. It’s called “Stop Dreaming, Start Packing” and I just launched the beta-round. Now I have to learn how to promote a course.
3. Could you tell us about how your career adventure(s) started, about what experiences, challenges or opportunities you came across over the years that led you to choose your own adventure? Where has your career adventure taken you in the past leading you to where you are now?
As I mentioned, I used to be a scientist and I worked in the lab for most of the past 10 years. I didn’t think I had any skills to work online. After a lot of worrying, overthinking and self-doubt, plus a tonne of Google research, I decided to treat my career change and transition to the digital nomad life as an experiment, after all, that’s what I was good at.
So I set myself a challenge to try out every digital nomad job I could find and I documented my progress on my blog. I worked as a SEO writer, social media manager, translator, created WordPress websites and all sorts of other stuff. I ended up doing mainly social media and writing which I really enjoyed and it taught me lots.
At the same time, I also started a Facebook Group called Digital Nomad Girls because I really wanted to connect with other women who were also living this life and so I could ask them all my questions. I was totally surprised that this little group started growing into a proper community and before long my members were asking me to organise a retreat. I thought, why the heck not and gave it a try. That was the first step of building my own business. I now have a membership site, the DNG Inner Circle, a virtual coworking community that travels with you. And I also organise retreats at least once a year, recently started offering 1:1 mentoring and I just launched my first course for beginners.
4. What past projects or anything that you have worked on spark joy for you when you look back at what you have worked on?
I get the most joy out of projects that connect me with people, so in the past that has meant my retreats and my membership, the DNG Inner Circle. I absolutely love connecting with my members, whether virtually in our coworking sessions and virtual events like Mixer Parties, Tea-Time, Book Club, Goal Setting etc, or in real life at retreats.
There’s nothing more special to me to make friends with these amazing women and also see them connect with each other. There are always so many incredible projects that come out of these connections.
5. How do you choose what to work on?
That’s a great question, because there are soooo many options. I’ve been learning this as I go along and it’s always hard to say no to something. In general, I look at what offers most value to both my community and me.
I don’t usually work on projects “just” because they make money, that doesn’t motivate me at all. I love connecting with people and both my membership site and the retreats allow that.
One of the hardest things is to say no to dozens of good ideas or opportunities, so you can focus on very few great ones.
6. What advice, practical or otherwise, would you give to someone looking to start a career adventure similar to your own?
My number 1 tip is to surround yourself with others who have the same dream or are already living it. Whatever adventure you want to go on, whether it’s a new business or learning an instrument at age 35, there will always be people who tell you that you can’t do it. Ignore them and find people who do believe in it. Having to justify yourself takes too much time and energy and you’ll need that for your big adventure.
7. Could you describe your day-to-day at “the office(s)”?
Oh that’s a good question and I have to admit I don’t have a super strict schedule. I usually work from home (which means an apartment we rent or and Airbnb or coliving space) as I have a lot of calls and prefer to do them in my own space.
I started this summer to exercise almost every day, then I have breakfast and often watch a Ted-talk while I eat. I always start my week with a virtual coworking session with my members, it’s great to see them and work together and get organised. I plan my week out in my bullet journal and then work on content for my membership or Facebook group, write my newsletter and pass on some tasks to my VA.
Since I started my membership two years ago, I’ve got much more structure to my work and routine which is incredibly important and useful as you work for yourself. And I also aim to create this structure for my members because we really need a support network and accountability.
8. Where do you feel you work best and thrive the most?
I work best at night, roughly from 11 pm to 2 am, sadly. I’m a total night owl and that’s when most of my creative work happens. I also work from the couch 90% of the time, but once in a while I like a change of scenery and work from a cafe.
9. What inspires and drives you every day?
I absolutely adore running my own business. I get to be creative every single day and try out new ideas, meet new people and learn new things. It’s never boring. Often it’s frustrating, and very often overwhelming, but never boring. I love coming up with fun ideas for virtual events or content for my members and planning retreats. And what drives me most are the lovely girls I get to work with and learn from every single day. They are all awesome and brilliant and I can’t wait to see what they get up to next.
10. What advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now?
OMG, what a question. I think the advice I’d give myself is that there’s not only one way to do things. Try out lots of different things and fail lots. Travel lots while you’re young. There’s always time for university later.
Find out more about Digital Nomad Girls by clicking here. Ladies, if you’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad or if you’re already a digital nomad then come on in and join us all in Jenny’s DNG Facebook Group right here!
Feel free to contact us at Project Anywhere if you have any questions about any of our career adventure stories. Come back soon to read more career adventures! Contact us here if you’d like to be featured here to share your own career adventures story or if you would like to write a guest blog for Project Anywhere.