Wish you could quit your job and travel the world? Well, Journey LIVE community member, Rosie Yakob, did just that! Rosie, alongside her partner, Faris, is the co-founder of a nomadic creative consultancy called Genius Steals.
So, how did they create such a lifestyle and how do they find community along the way? We were excited to be able to chat with Rosie to find out how they’ve made these dreams possible.
Let’s start with your nomadic lifestyle. When and why did you begin this journey?
In January 2013, Faris, my boyfriend of 4 years was thinking about selling his share of a digital agency he started. He proposed to me, from a pyramid in Belize, and while part of the proposal was the traditional “let’s-get-married,” the other part of the proposal was a less traditional “Let’s quit our jobs and travel.” We had already booked speaking gigs in Germany, Croatia, and Australia, later in the year, and so we used those flights to slingshot us around the world, and explore various cultures. The thinking was that we would then pick another country where we should live, but that never happened. We’ve been nomadic since we left New York City in March 2013.
You’ve created Genius Steals with your partner, Faris. Tell us a little about this company and how it got started.
We consider ourselves accidental entrepreneurs because we didn’t set out to start a company. Previously we worked in advertising agencies. We met and lived/worked in NYC for 5 years, and before that, Faris worked in London and Sydney as well. Once we started traveling, we had friends as well as former clients/colleagues reach out for our help with smaller projects. We mostly said no, as we were conscious of how much we defined ourselves through our work, and figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But there were a few projects that were too interesting to pass up. At the end of our 6 months of traveling, we realized that with our limited work and conscious budgeting, we had made the same amount of money that we had spent on our travels. So we were net zero. And so we thought that we should give it a proper go, thinking about what was fun, interesting and profitable. We figured if we couldn’t make it work, we could always go back to getting a more traditional job.
The company has evolved over the years, but these days almost 40% of our work is public speaking - at companies and conferences, on topics like leadership, innovation, digital marketing, creativity, etc. Another 30% is made up of bespoke workshops and training, sometimes for senior leadership teams, and other times for 200+ people at a company. The last 30% tends to be more traditional consulting, with brands and agencies. We’ve worked with companies from Coca Cola and Gibson Guitars to startups we’re not allowed to talk about!
How do you keep connections and relationships strong while living life as a nomad?
Having friends around the world is just that: Friends around the world. But community, we believe, is when those people have a chance to interact with each other. We started calling ourselves, and our crew, Team Awesome. So we have gatherings for our extended Team Awesome fam - meetups around the world. And twice a year, we’ll host events ourselves - in Mexico or the mountains of Tennessee, with 30+ people, some that are long-time friends, and others that we’ve just recently met while traveling.
When we’re not physically nearby our friends, we use iMessage, MarcoPolo, and social media to keep up with our friends. We’re trying to get better about scheduling 1:1 phone calls for longer catch-ups.
Tell us more about your meditation practice!
I started meditating in high school, when I got into yoga. At the time, there was a Wednesday evening meditation class that I loved getting to do with my dad. When I went to college, and then started working in NYC, I totally lost my meditation practice, as I had never really done it on my own.
Things changed once my partner and I started this nomadic lifestyle. We were frequently bouncing around countries and time zones, and in this unstructured life, there was more chaos than we were used to. We talked to a therapist who recommended that we create a routine, and we laughed. Our life simply doesn’t allow for routine. Most of the time, we’re only in a city for a week, and even within the week the schedule differs drastically. And on top of that, I’m the type of person where if I set a routine, and then don’t follow it, I’ll feel guilty.
So, we decided to talk to another therapist, who suggested the same thing. When we explained that our life didn’t allow for routine, she re-framed it, suggesting a ritual instead. We started doing yoga, which I consider to be a moving meditation, and began using meditation apps to slowly build our meditation practice. Sometimes we meditate every day, and sometimes weeks pass before we realize we’ve been missing it. We try not to be hard on ourselves, and instead just use that moment of noticing to jump back into practice.
How has meditation benefited you as a business owner?
As a business owner and operator, there’s always something you could be doing. Meditation helps to give me a break in my day to refocus, and to find some peace. Equally, I work with my husband, and we use meditation as a reset button when we disagree on a project, or how to move forward.
How has meditation benefited you personally?
I think the best benefit of meditation is inner peace and acceptance. Of course I still have days where I feel frustrated with myself, or uncomfortable, but I find that I’m better able to pull my thoughts back in the right direction.
Let’s talk about Journey LIVE! How has it helped make meditation more a part of your life?
I was intrigued by the communal aspect. I like the idea of meditating with others, and I enjoy the support and discussions that follow the meditations. I also think that because Journey LIVE is, well, live, there’s an immediacy aspect. For me, it’s easier to make a decision to do something right then and there instead of putting it off later.