Interview With Perpetual Traveller Johnny Ward

Welcome to the sixteenth of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working.

This week was an interview with someone who brings a true definition to the term ‘Digital Nomad’. Johnny Ward is a 20-something Irish guy who left Ireland at 18 to study my degree in International Economics in England. Since graduating in 2006 Johnny has completed the small feat of having traveled, studied, worked, volunteered and backpacked around more than 50 countries across the globe.

Johnny is a true believer of lifestyle design and has continued to create his lifestyle around his own desires something most people choose not to do. I personally found this one of the most eye opening and fascinating interviews I have conducted. Johnny’s relaxed attitude towards life and how he leads his should be admired. Enjoy the read it’s absolutely excellent.

Q: Hi Johnny tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?

I’m from Ireland originally, but as soon as I hit 18 I left and never went back. I studied my degree in England, then since graduating in 2006 I’ve been overseas and around the world! I travel around 7 or 8 months a year now, the rest of the time I live in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s a cool balance.

Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?

I used to have to say ‘I work for myself’, but now I guess I have to say ‘I own my own company’ as I have 6 or 7 staff now, all outsourced around the world! Basically now I maintain my most famous travel site myself, the other 10-15 I project manage.

Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working from home?  i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.

To be honest Ryan, I live up to those stereotypes! I used to keep my workload to 10 hour weeks, but now it’s grown a lot this year, I do 15 hour weeks, roughly divided into 2 or 3 hours per day. So maybe an hour in the morning before I explore whatever country I’m in, then an hour in the evening. Or if I can’t get online for a few days, it’s not the end of the world. My freedom is my priority, not my bank balance.

Q: What is the most challenging part about working remotely and how do you overcome this?

I guess it’s knowing that I HAVE to be online every few days, I can take a break but I couldn’t leave it for 10 days or whatever. So if i wanna do a mountaineering course in India for example, I need to work out my workflow long before I go offline. Up until now though, I’ve just made sure I can be connected relatively regularly. Also, dealing with cultural differences with staff can be frustrating, neither their fault or mine (actually, maybe it’s both!), but it’s all part of the learning curve.

Q: What are the main positives around your wandering Nomad style working environment?

Without doubt, the amazing places I’ve been able to see around the world! I’m visiting my 100th country very soon, and some of the places I’ve been I never would have dreamed to be possible. That combined with the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Q: Are you an advocate of work/life balance and how do you try and balance both?

A HUGE advocate of it. Really, and I impart it onto my staff too. It’s not a case of trying to balance it mate, my priority is my lifestyle, seeing the world is the greatest way i could choose to live my life, so i make sure i’m doing that, regardless of the fact that i could earn more money if i worked harder. Maybe when I’m older, with more commitments, i’ll do the 40 hour a week thing, but for now i’m staying free.

Q: What’s a typical day for Johnny? Realistically….start to finish.

You know, that’s literally impossible for me to say. I’m constantly travelling so it could range to hungover fruit shakes on a beach in Sri Lanka or Thailand, to a 20 hour train in ukraine or a long haul, trans-Atlantic flight! Maybe I’m in bed by 8pm, shattered from rock climbing and kayaking, or partying until sunrise in Zanzibar!

Q: Do you have a dedicated office space and what is the importance of having this?

Not at the mo, just on my mac in my hostel/hotel/coffee shop. Although I’m thinking of getting an office in Bangkok actually.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

Johnny Ward on Mt Kinabalu

Johnny Ward on Mt Kinabalu


johnny ward in greece

Johnny Ward Working In Greece

Johnny Ward in Burma with kids

Johnny Ward in Burma

Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?

After reading Tim Ferris’s 4HWW, I adhere to the Pareto principle daily, 80/20 all the way. 80 percent of your output is created by 20 percent of your input. Then to squeeze out that last 20 percent of potential output, you have to use up your remaining 80 percent of input/effort. So I say f*ck that last 20 percent of output, i don’t need it. And I live life only using up 20% effort on work and stress, the other 80% i use on the things i want to be doing.

Q: If you could give any advice to our readers before deciding whether remote working is for them then what would it be?

If they’re considering it, then do it. Don’t hesitate. And if you’re current position doesn’t allow, find one that does. Life’s too short to be stuck in a rut.

Q: Do you believe more organisations should allow those with web based roles to work remotely? If so..how come?

Of course. I think it’s madness that society has developed a situation where you’re ‘success’ and salary are based on a system where you’re required to be somewhere for a set amount of time, as if people are equally productive. It’s nothing short of ridiculous. You should be set a target, given a time to finish it by. If you finish it in half the time, good for you. You can either be free, or seek a new project – but the new project should be paid additionally. It’s not your ‘fault’ that you’re more productive than your colleagues. However, I say leave that new project, go and enjoy your free time.

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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