New perspectives on first world problems

Witnessing the future of work unfolding is the best 'job' in the world

My head is literally in the clouds this week, because I am in Madeira for a conference.

It’s cloudy a lot here in February I gather, while over the space of 5 days I have enjoyed pretty much every kind of weather available - something to love about island climates. However due to a significant error in an Airbnb listing, I booked accommodation which is not only nearly 5 km from the conference venue, that 5km is pretty much vertically upwards.

This is absolutely the definition of a first world problem. I am in a stunning coastal resort, for a fascinating event with amazing people. I have an incredible view from way up here. Walking down to the village takes over an hour and provides amazing eccentric exercise, of muscles I did not know I had. And I don’t know about walking back up, because there are plentiful cabs.

So I’m trying to stay mindful and grateful of my privilege, as I enjoy the peace of this beautiful place, having a bit of a retreat with myself, and making important decisions about the future of the podcast - the future of the Future is Freelance.

Coincidentally this week, the episode explores the issue of digital nomad privilege and inclusiveness.

I had a brilliant chat with Dean Kuchel, who truly is the OG nomad King on the road for over a decade – and he seen it all.

He is a worthy advocate and ambassador for all that is great about the location, independent lifestyle, and with his new initiative, United Nomads, he wants to address the sheer inequality he has witnessed in travel to over 100 countries.

Every destination is different, and it can be difficult to know how to help when you are a new arrival. But consistent themes of privilege and spotting different advantages create a common thread and a basis for doing what we can, individually and collectively. United Nomads supports the development of a moral compass, for all of us who are lucky enough to enjoy what this lifestyle has to offer.

This theme of unity underpinned the conference I came to Madeira to attend, as it brought together common themes of development and institutional cooperation between the regions of Macaronesia, through joint strategy in the economic, social and cultural domains of the four archipelagos involved (Madeira, Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde.)

In association with Startup Madeira the event brought together a stellar range of speakers and partners, including experts in remote work and collaboration, digital nomad lifestyles, content creation, emerging opportunities, repopulation and community, interwoven with cases studies from across Macaronesia and beyond.

A really amazing time of insight and networking and connection, and despite my vertigo-inducing accommodation I quickly realised I was definitely in the right place, for the right reasons.

Among the meany things I learned is that Macaronesia originally meant ‘islands of the fortunate’ - which made total sense to me, as I reflected on the intentions that had brought this group of global and local experts together, from different viewpoints and experiences and backgrounds.

When nomads unite, it is powerful indeed.

With best wishes

Maya Middlemiss