Olúmidé Gbenro is on a mission to unite digital nomads around the world. To educate and collaborate so we can all learn from one another. To create a place (physical and virtual) for digital nomads to live and work as global citizens. He also happens to be a truly lovely soul, and he’s outrageously successful as a social media advisor and influencer.
I came out of this conversation so inspired. Olúmidé is an amazing creator and connector with an incredible vision that has been informed by his global upbringing and years of living as a digital nomad.
We discuss what it is to be a community builder, how Olúmidé went from being a broke couchsurfer to an online business and digital nomad maven; projects like Globoversity and Digital Nomad Week and how they’re designed to usher in the new wave of digital nomads; digital nomad visas and what it is to be a global citizen; and how it just might be that the digital nomad revolution could help solve challenges around discrimination, socio-economic disparities, and cultural biases.
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21 Years of Full-Time Travel with Wandering Earl, founder of Remote Club
Remote Careers and VA Ethics, with Hannah Dixon of Digital Nomad Kit
Running a Remote Real Estate Business as a Digital Nomad with Matt Bowles
Jump right into my Awesome Interview Series videos on YouTube here – and please give it a thumbs up, leave comments and subscribe!
Meet Olúmidé Gbenro!
Olúmidé Gbenro is a remote work influencer, digital nomad community builder and founder of Digital Nomad Summit & Digital Nomad Week. He is a recognized international social media advisor to celebrities, influencers, and olympians. He’s also a notable TikToker known for his viral videos where he speaks several languages. Olúmidé has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Bloomberg, and Yahoo Finance.
Oh yeah, and he speaks at least six languages too.
Click here to watch our discussion on YouTube, or hit play below!
How Olúmidé Became a Digital Nomad
Being born in Nigeria and raised in the UK and United States certainly informed Olúmidé’s passion for global citizenship (more on that later). Growing up in the United States as an immigrant kid, his Nigerian roots (ie: parents!) informed his initial career choice, but he knew it wasn’t for him. We continue on to chat about things like:
- How he got started as an entrepreneur in San Diego and Los Angeles.
- How he discovered his talent as a community builder and networking facilitator.
- His desire to take these talents to the road so he could travel, despite having great success in San Diego.
- How he spent his first two years as a digital nomad as a broke couchsurfer while he learned the ropes of running an online business!
Building an Online Career
Olúmidé jokes that spending two years couchsurfing is not the way to become a digital nomad! (More on this shortly). But he did what he had to do while learning the ropes of being an online entrepreneur. Here’s how he did it:
- He leveraged his travels to reach out to people locally in person, and connect them with opportunities.
- He fearlessly sent video DMs on Instagram and Twitter – and got responses!
- He learned how to find common ground that greases the wheels for connection.
- He tells the story of reaching out to an Olympian with a cold video DM and ended up creating a huge brand campaign that dropped during the Tokyo Olympics.
- The importance of being willing to reach out to absolutely anybody, and also to not be afraid of rejection.
Digital Nomad Summit and Digital Nomad Week
After attaining success as an online entrepreneur and making inroads in the digital nomad community, Olúmidé turned his attention towards helping digital nomads connect and collaborate. Thus, Digital Nomad Summit was born. Here’s more on how and why he did this:
- The importance of connection as a digital nomad – both in person and online (Nora’s Note: ultimately my own lack of this kind of community ultimately led to me burning out).
- How the pandemic required him to convert a formerly in-person conference to a virtual summit.
- The advantages of a virtual summit, including bringing amazing talent and experts who wouldn’t have been able to attend in person.
- What differentiates Digital Nomad Week from other summits.
- The remote work revolution, and how Digital Nomad Week will serve new remote workers.
- The importance of personal development in events like Digital Nomad Week; because the tools to learn the practical stuff are available everywhere. It’s the intangible personal growth and connections that will move the needle.
See also: Top Digital Nomad Conferences to Attend
The Birth of Globoversity
Olúmidé is quite vocal about how living as a digital nomad on $5/day is not the epitome of success in this lifestyle! And he wants to show existing and aspiring digital nomads how to live and run their online careers at a high level. Throw in a pandemic, and Globoversity was born. More on this:
- Connecting at conferences is good, but without a support system the learnings fall to the wayside; Globoversity is designed to continue the momentum.
- He is creating world-class content and education for digital nomads.
- It’s a combination of online learning plus community.
- Opportunities for community members to share their skills.
- Creating a sustainable long-term community available at a high level.
2022 Note: Globoversity has been discontinued.
Digital Nomad Visas
Before the pandemic, digital nomads fell into a giant grey area from a visa perspective, so they traveled on tourist visas. We weren’t working locally at jobs that could be done by that country’s citizens, so we didn’t need a work visa. And we weren’t doing business with anybody in the country, so we didn’t need a business visa. And let’s get it right: digital nomads generally earn money in foreign currencies and spend that money in the countries they are visiting – seems like a win-win for everybody! (Except for the $5/day digital nomads who aren’t particularly contributing to the local economy, as Olúmidé would rightly point out). So, I for one had no qualms about traveling on tourist visas as a digital nomad, especially since no other appropriate visa was available.
Since the pandemic, the world has clued in to the number of people who now work remotely, and we have a “digital nomad revolution” on our hands! Dozens of countries are now working hard to attract remote workers with “digital nomad visas”, and Olúmidé is a big advocate. We discuss:
- The end of “visa runs” (as many digital nomads have done in the past to renew tourist visas).
- How his digital nomad visa advocacy started in Bali a few years ago, and how it’s developing.
- How he is imploring governments to make digital nomad visas open to everybody, including people from developing countries with passports that make it difficult to travel but who also have prosperous remote careers.
- The challenges with current remote work visas and digital nomad visas and their restrictions.
- Balancing the need for achievable standards (to keep out $5/day digital nomads who can’t contribute to the country’s economy) against elitist requirements (like to deposit $100k into a local bank account).
- How it will soon become open season for digital nomads; countries will start competing for our “business”!
How the Digital Nomad Community Could Change the World
With such a multi-cultural upbringing, I was curious how his time in Nigeria, England, and the United States has informed his life and world view. It was a fascinating way to sum up and build on everything we had discussed. We hit on things like:
- The irony of the terms “immigrant” and “expat” and how they’re used.
- Discrimination, racism, and hate are all behaviours that are ingrained at an early age.
- Working on his own self-development, Olúmidé realized some of his own childhood beliefs weren’t serving him.
- Your thoughts change the world around you.
- The idea that culture is not food/clothes/architecture, but rather culture is a mindset.
- How travel can change the cultural paradigm that each of us is born with.
- How the digital nomad / global citizen community might actually be the key to solving some of these challenges of discrimination.
Remember – this is just a summary of what Olúmidé and I discussed! He says all this and more so much better in person. Watch our chat here!