That’s it! I’m outta here!
It was time for a new challenge in my life.
I got used to a heavy and fast-paced schedule at a young age playing competitive ringette and rugby, acting in drama productions, preparing for public speaking competitions, organizing social events and having top grades.
See, some people are addicted to cigarettes, some (or should I say most?) are addicted to Game of Thrones, and for others it’s coffee, whereas I have an addiction for trying new things and challenging myself.
No challenge? Not interested.
It came as no surprise that at 18 I dropped all activities and started my first business while I attended University. Two years later, I successfully coached over 50 young entrepreneurs over 4 years to over $3M in business and grew and managed one of the largest divisions for a Canadian Profit 500 company.
I had the perfect job supporting new and driven entrepreneurs every day.
But after consulting for 4 years, I realized I wasn’t growing anymore and it was time to get the heck out!
I sold everything I owned, condensed my things to a backpack and left to go travel the world alone.
For 7 months, I backpacked the beautiful streets of Morocco and rode a camel beside the pyramids in Egypt. I also volunteered in Kenya, and spent 56 days overlanding from Nairobi to Capetown with 24 complete strangers from around the world.
I then explored Thailand and Laos by scooter and boat. I ended my grand exploration in Indonesia while completing my Divemaster course to become a professional scuba diver.
Sounds magical right?
And it was! But there were numerous times I found myself up sh*t’s creek without a paddle. Fortunately, not literally.
I broke my phone within 15 minutes of getting off the plane in the first country. I also zapped my laptop after plugging it into a bad power source in the first month.
To make things worse, I had $500 USD stolen along with my debit and credit cards, I lost tons of expensive hiking clothes, a quality speaker, and a flashlight.
One time, I had to deal with a nasty gastro sickness with only a hole in the ground as my toilet. I was always dirty from the lack of soap to wash your hands, I slept at bush campsites with no showers, oh and it was blistering hot 40 degree weather every day.
I’d often share a room or tent with bugs or ants, I was always being sold things 60% higher than they were worth and often times you’d find me chiming off eenie-meenie-moe to choose my order off the non-English, no pictures foreign menu.
Sh*t happens. Backpacking ain’t for sissies.
“Now wouldn’t this make a terrific travel blog,” I thought?
So I made one. It was all about minimalism, bravery, how to survive the exciting (and sometimes downright terrifying) unpredictabilities of traveling and of course my fun adventures.
But one of the biggest difficulties I faced, especially in Africa, was the lack of a reliable connection to wifi. 97% of the time I couldn’t even load a picture onto Instagram!
When I finally arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a massive expat destination, I knew there had to be reliable Wifi somewhere. Fortunately, the super sweet, 4 ft 8 lady who ran our hostel recommended this coworking space near my hostel so off I went.
At this time, I had no idea what a coworking space was.
I imagined an uncomfortably hot, quiet, empty room with rows of computers with a few locals, and if I’m lucky a couple expats working silently away on a computer while an unengaged, non-English speaking person at the front desk collects my money and plays Fortnite on the computer all day.
Little did I know that a coworking space is quite literally the opposite.
I walked in and was instantly blown away.
In front of me was this unique and modern space with wide, open windows and loads of green luscious plants on the new solid tables. A small cafe was behind the sophisticated, front desk and the room was surrounded by a variety of expats, freelancers and small business owners vigorously working away while others networked away over a coffee.
I seem to have walked into this thriving business ecosystem.
“How can I help you”?
I was instantly and warmly greeted by an English speaking, pleasant and enthusiastic young Thai man sitting behind the front desk. Even with a 12-hour time change and over 13,000 km from my hometown Ottawa, this was the first time I felt like I was ‘home’ in the last 6 months.
For the rest of the day I hammered out a chunk of articles for my blog, and uploaded all my photos. I also connected with family and friends.
Over lunch I connected with 2 other expats that lived in Chiang Mai who gave me some feedback on my blog and helped me with some WordPress extensions and plugins I didn’t know how to use.
Not only was it my most productive day in the last 5 months of traveling, but it was incredible being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs, people who were working hard towards a vision and wanted to meet other cool people. I felt like I was part of my old startup community again.
It wasn’t until I returned home from Asia 6 weeks later that I began looking for a similar place to get work done here in Ottawa. I wanted a quiet and clean space, where I could go to concentrate, build a new network and get work done.
At this time, I wasn’t an entrepreneur; nor a freelancer or even had a job for that matter, but I knew I wanted to re-enter the startup world and be surrounded by those who were getting traction.
Starting and growing a business is tough and I knew that being home alone all day wasn’t helping me make the progress I needed for the vision I had for myself.
Fortunately, I came across Coworkly, a beautiful, brand new coworking space in Vanier, only a 7-minute walk from my house. It was perfect for me.
I didn’t know what to expect…. after all this was Vanier.
The building was nothing fancy, but once the elevator doors opened to the third floor, I knew I was somewhere special.
A modern, clean, creative and technologically advanced space in Vanier?!? I felt like I just walked in a progressive workspace studio in San Francisco!
Compared to my Asian experience, this space was bigger, wider, had more light, was freshly painted, had motivational quotes on the walls, and had large glass walls panels in the office rooms. They had a Facebook live corner, cameras for events, beautiful meeting rooms, an audio production room for podcasters, and most importantly, it was clean, comfortable and distraction free. It was gorgeous!
Coworkly had only been open for 6 weeks at that time, and they already had a tight-knit community of 10 members and were eager and ready to welcome more.
Little did I know that this was about to become my new home.
Within no time, Coworkly was ready to take on their first employee to help build and expand the business.
Realizing the perfect opportunity to be a part of a unique and forward-thinking community, I sent in my resume, sat down with the owner and got the job.
There was no doubt in mind that after an epic adventure and the search for a new exciting endeavor that this was going to be my new challenge.
Director of Community Engagement
P.S Whether you need a local creative space to get work done, want to talk about travel or just sit down for a coffee, please feel free to reach out! I always value connecting with like-minded people and learning about the different ways in which we can help each other. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn.