Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by Charmaine | The Canadian Wanderer
Adrian is a university dropout from New York who felt the traditional educational system was not for him. He wanted to travel and so he kept researching until he founded his own business and became a digital nomad. His story is very inspirational and I’m so excited to share with you today!
“I basically told myself I would find jobs that would allow me to travel the world. So, I worked a bunch of odd jobs that allowed me to get started.”— Adrien Harrison
1. What is your name and where are you originally from?
Adrien Harrison, originally from New York City
2. Where do you currently live?
Nowhere. I’m trying to perpetually travel.
3. What is your current/past jobs that you have done that allowed you to travel? Where are these located?
I dropped out of the University of St. Andrews after my second year to travel the world. At the time, I had no clue what I was doing.
I thought the first thing I need to do is figure out what I really want and how I’m going to get it. I started with The Tim Ferris Show, meditation, stoicism, and a healthy dose of Taoist thinking which provided some much-needed discipline, clarity, and first steps.
“I basically told myself I would find jobs that would allow me to travel the world. So, I worked a bunch of odd jobs that allowed me to get started.”
The first job I tried was as to be a freelance videographer. I made promotional videos for institutions or organizations in New York City. Then I landed a job in Buenos Aires and later Hong Kong, but, upon arriving, decided to just have fun with the money I had made in NYC.
Then, based on an irrational interest in mixology, I learned how to bartend and worked my way up to being behind the bar in an upscale restaurant that boasted a devilishly profitable happy hour right in the heart of Manhattan’s financial elite.
At the same time, I was running a non-profit called Interest District with a friend of mine where we would amplify, edit, and promote the passion projects of other international “students” like us.
Starting a Business
After 2 years of freelancing, bartending, and making no money with my labour of love, I decided it was time to start my own online business. I had been learning so much about them via The Tim Ferris’s Show and the brilliant people that show was presenting. Specifically, I grew particularly interested in a man named Ramit Sethi, who owned an unbelievably scammy-sounding website called I Will Teach You To be Rich. It took a lot of reading and research to get over the red flags that went off in my head concerning this guy’s legitimacy.
But, eventually, through seeing how good his free content was, I believed in him, and I’m so glad I did.
I splurged $2400 for an online course called Zero to Launch, that taught me the fundamentals of how to start an online business and provided me with a roadmap that made sense.
I used those initial skills and my desire to help people follow their passions in my business: Echo Studio.
Now, I get to travel wherever feels right while getting paid by New York clients for consulting work and other international entrepreneurs through online courses and coaching. Currently writing this to you from Mumbai, India.
4. Why did you choose to live in the locations you chose?
I choose New York City to start because I knew I could comfortably hone my skills here until I landed a job somewhere else.
Buenos Aires was a no-brainer. Beautiful people, delicious food, joie de vivre, and tango which had always mesmerized me. I also didn’t need a visa to stay or work thanks to my French passport.
Hong Kong and the Philippines were two places I had always wanted to explore in Asia and my French passport allowed me to secure a working visa for Hong Kong.
5. Why did you choose this career/nomad lifestyle? Was there a turning point that led to the decision?
Having explained my thought process after dropping out of university I suppose it’d be best to explain why I decided to do so here.
Living in a world without freedom always terrified me. I also happened to be a recalcitrant teenager that had a strong dislike for organized institutions, academics, and predetermined life plans.
I’d actually never wanted to go to college, but was strongly and lovingly coerced into attending instead of taking a gap year first to clarify my thoughts and focus on my intentions.
Through two years of questioning and noticing some faulty processes in the education, my conviction to do things my own way while I travelled returned, and, after taking the second of four finals, I decided to take my chances.
6. What experience do you need to do your job? How did you get started?
Well, now it’s quite a steep learning curve. More than anything, honing a strong psychological discipline outweighs the technical knowledge. But, technically, you need to know how to:
- Generate, find, evaluate, and execute profitable ideas
- Validate a target market full of ideal customers for a potential business idea
- Create native products that you know your market is dying for
- Craft a unique selling proposition to get you to stand out from your competition
- Write effective sales copy that gets people to subscribe or buy on your website
- Design a website that’s primed for conversion
- Learn how to reach out to, pitch, sell to, and land clients
- Grow an email list from scratch
- Create quality content and learn SEO to drive quality traffic
- Leverage social media to market your quality content
- Learn how to use Google Analytics and other CRO management systems to track and refine your sales process
7. What is your favourite thing about the job?
Either the simple freedom it allows or the fulfilment I get from helping others do what they love while doing what I love. Depends on the day 😁
8. What is the least favourite thing about the job?
Really I enjoy my work. If I had to choose something, it would be dealing with difficult clients. Now, I don’t waste time and simply cut them out if the relationship becomes toxic.
9. What does a typical day as a digital nomad look like for you?
- Wake up in the late morning around 9:30/10am
- Journal for 5 minutes
- Read a chapter in two different non-fiction books
- Take a shower
- Have breakfast, while reading if I have the physical book, preferably not from my phone
- Go out to find a nice bang-for-buck lunch joint
- Find a nice workplace (e.g. park, café, by the sea, on a mountain, etc.)
- Take care of any tasks that demand the most creative thought before checking email (e.g. client work, content creation, etc.)
- Check email, Messenger, Shapr, BumbleBizz, LinkedIn, Facebook Groups and Slack
- Have a one-on-one with a client or one of my VAs if necessary
- Work on an online course I’m taking
- Meet new friends at a hostel or on a walk through the streets
- Go for a nice bang-for-buck dinner
- Go out for drinks or partying if I’d like
10. What is your advice for someone who wants to do something similar?
It’s incredibly hard to give general advice for something like this because each person has a different set of struggles, limiting beliefs, pressures, or problems. Ideally, I’d speak to them one-on-one, figure out the single biggest obstacle in the way and either work around it or blast right through it.
If I had to choose a single piece of advice that could apply as generally as possible I would say:
- Spend the time and scrutiny necessary to clearly define exactly what you’d ultimately like in 7 major aspects of your life and why: energy, mindset, health, learning, social, legacy, and wealth. The process of doing that is too complicated to explain here but email [email protected] if you’re interested.
- Define what your ultimate ideal day would look like
- Define what your ultimate worst nightmare would look like
- Define your worst-case scenario for a given “risky” or tough decision (like starting an online business) by Fear-Setting
- After setting your ultimate goals, defining your ideal day, defining your worst nightmare, defining your worst case scenario by fear-setting, and dreamlining, set up tiny habits you are guaranteed to start and follow. Here’s why that’s important instead of just defining goals.
- Build those habits up and slowly get closer to your end-goal (or your “mountain“) while enjoying the ride
Adrian is a college dropout who educated himself to become a successful entrepreneur and digital nomad. He built 10 businesses before he turned 23 years old and figured out the best ways to monetize on the Internet. Today, he runs Echo Studio, where he helps other people become digital entrepreneurs like himself.
You can also connect with him online on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.