For longest time, I’d been well-aware of Charles and his course on Udemy entitled ‘How to Become a Successful Digital Nomad‘. But, It wasn’t until recently when my friend, Victor Kung recommended it to me that I decided to check it out.
Charles is also a big advocate of testing something out before committing to it so he structures everything as little experiments with is in line with the concepts of rapid prototyping. These concepts tie in with product management and lots of the methodologies and processes used in tech companies
– Victor Kung, The Remote Lifestyle
So with a break in client work and a coincidental flash sale on Udemy, I decided to pick up the course and see if there was anything worthwhile sharing with my readers.
Here’s a quick review of the course if you’re considering grabbing it on Udemy.
Charles Du is a successful product manager, famous for the design of NASA’s first iPhone app and for his work teaching product management at Stanford, UCLA, Art Center, and General Assembly. In February 2016, he was selected from 50,000+ applicants to participate in Remote Year, a network of 75 professionals who travel and work remotely.
Unlike a lot of information out there, the course is focused on advising students how to not only becoming digital nomads but also to be successful in their own careers.
The keyword in the course title is “Successful“.
Instead of teaching you how to sell an eBook online to make enough money to live cheap in South East Asia, the course focuses on helping you build a successful career regardless of whether you choose to take it remote.
Within the course, Charles breaks down the 3 ways to make money as a digital nomad and then discusses other aspects of digital nomad life including
- Digital nomad programs vs travelling solo,
- How to make friends and find love,
- How to manage your money, as well as
- How to stay productive and healthy while on the road.
The course ends with long-form video versions of interviews from Charles’ podcast, ‘Going Remote‘.
The Good Stuff
The two biggest value-bombs I see in the course are:
- How to build a successful career for the long-term, and
- How to negotiate with your current employer to finally go remote
Therefore, I feel that this course will be most valuable to those who already know what they’re passionate about and want to hear the rare advice of nomads who have successfully negotiated their way into the remote work lifestyle.
While not relevant to me, the section on how to become a remote employee I feel, is powerful advice for anyone who has a career already and doesn’t want to give it up.
The Not-So Good Stuff
Overall, while the course is divided into sections, the content within the sections is largely unstructured.
More than half of the course content is interviews with successful nomads who share their answers to all kinds of questions about
- What they do,
- How they are able to do it remotely and
- How they get around common problems in regards to their career and lifestyle
This is not necessarily a negative but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
To be fair, the path to becoming a digital nomad is a simple one in theory. All you need is
- A career or business (basically, an income), and
- The ability to work on it from anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, there is not a single path to becoming a digital nomad, just like there’s no one path for how you should build your career. So, I understand the lack of structure.
Charles comes at the digital nomad lifestyle from a completely different angle to me and that’s the part of the reason why I enjoyed taking the course.
What I mean by that is that Charles was already a successful product manager in the US before going nomadic. On the flip-side, when I learned about becoming a digital nomad, I had no career and so I built the skills in order to pursue the lifestyle.
Throughout the course, you’ll find a lot references to Remote Year, one of the original long-term programs to take regular 9-to-5ers, freelancers and entrepreneurs on a fully planned digital nomad journey. This was the path that Charles took to going remote with his business and he leverages the Remote Year team and attendees for most of the interviews.
I also found the course to cater to a predominantly American audience and focused specifically on the region of the Latin America. The interviews all appear to be recorded in Buenos Aires and sometimes, Charles makes references to things like General Assembly (a training organisation in the US) as if the audience knows what he’s talking about. This was interesting to me as my own experiences and content are focused on a completely different region of the world, Asia (as at the time of writing).
Lessons for Myself
The course is predominantly aimed at skilled 9-to-5ers in the United States with no nomad experience but for me, I was still able to learn two very important lessons from the course.
Lesson 1: Follow your Passion
At the very beginning of the course, Charles references Tina Seelig from Stanford, who stresses the importance of finding the intersection of…
- What you can do well
- What you’re passionate about, and
- What people will pay you for
For me, the biggest lesson here – and it flows throughout the course – is to build a career in something your passionate about. Of course, the other two elements are essential but for me personally, passion has been the one part the trio that I’ve been trying to figure out.
This idea is reinforced throughout the course as you hear the stories of (actually) successful digital nomads.
Being a digital nomad it turns out, doesn’t have to derail your career or force you to make large sacrifices – if you do it right.
Lesson 2: Not all digital nomads are Dropshippers and Amazon sellers living in Chiang Mai
Obvious, I know, but living in Chiang Mai (as I am currently), you sometimes forget that there are thousands of nomads in other continents and that are earning well above the small sub-$1,000 cost-of-living of Thailand, and doing so in a variety of industries.
In Charles’ course, he profiles several digital nomads who are successful in their own careers back in the US, many of which who negotiated with their employers to allow them to go remote with help of Remote Year.
To me, it’s a far cry from the usual story you hear here in Thailand of regular folk quitting their jobs to live cheap and start an eCommerce business after buying their first online business course. Yes, that’s one part of the scene but it’s very eye-opening and inspiring to see properly skilled people talk on camera, something that I found is a rarity in the digital nomad community.
Like I said earlier, if you live and work in the US full-time and want to take your career remote, this course is definitely for you.
For the rest of us trying to become successful digital nomads, there’s still many lessons to be learnt within the course. Most notably, a reminder to follow your passion as well as a range of ideas and resources to help you on your digital nomad journey.
For me, it proved much more valuable than the $19 USD price-tag that I paid during the sale and has further inspired me to follow my passion and become a successful digital nomad.
If you’re interested in picking up the course, please use this link so that I receive credit for referring you.
Until next time,
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is however, at no extra cost to you. You’d just be helping me out 🙂