Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Shannon Neumann. He’s been a full-time (location independent) remote worker for 10 years and a full-time RVer for 6 years. Over the last 3 years, he also started a side hustle, freelancing as a remote technology consultant (Hedgehog Technology Consulting, LLC.)
Shannon and his wife initially jumped into part-time RVing for ease of travel and food preparations while running marathons, but after a couple years of moving their stuff in an out of their RV they decided that it would be easier to go full time!
Shannon was already able to work remotely from anywhere, before hitting the road, but he still had to learn a few things before launching!
In this episode we chat about:
- The evolution of growing a side hustle while RVing with a full time job
- RV and Camping styles for working on the road
- Balancing life, remote work and travel
- Distractions while working on the road
- Lessons learned to enable a digital lifestyle
- Advice before jumping into RV life and before starting a remote side hustle
Enjoy the journey! ~ Rose Willard
The Evolution of Growing a Side Hustle while Working Remotely Full-Time From an RV
with Shannon Neumann
Your Host: Rose Willard
Connect with Shannon:
- LinkedIn (Personal) – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-neumann-9532984/
- LinkedIn (Business) – https://www.linkedin.com/company/hedgehog-technology-consulting-llc/
- Facebook (Personal) – https://www.facebook.com/smneumann
- Facebook (Business) – https://www.facebook.com/hedgehogtechnologyconsulting
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/shannonneumann/
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THE RV ENTREPRENEUR
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The RV Entrepreneur #310 Full Episode Transcript
The Evolution of Growing a Side Hustle while Working Remotely Full-Time From an RV
with Shannon Neumann
Copy of RVE310-Rose and Shannon.mp3
ROSE: Do you work remotely for a company from your RV, but also dream of creating a side hustle that grows into something more? Well, you’re not alone. And today we’re talking with someone who is doing just that. Shannon Newman.
RV LIFE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur podcast. The weekly show for Nomads Work campers RVers and entrepreneurs looking to earn a living or build a business while enjoying the RV lifestyle. This week’s host is Rose Willard. Let’s settle in and enjoy the RV Entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV Life.
ROSE: This is the RV Life Entrepreneur podcast. And I’m Rose Willard, your host this week. Shannon’s been a location independent remote technology worker for ten years and a full time arvier for six years. And in that time he’s visited 33 states and over half of the US national parks. In addition to that full time job, over the last three years, he’s been freelancing as a remote technology consultant. Shannon and his wife initially jumped into part time arguing for ease of travel and food preparations while running marathons. But after a couple of years of moving their stuff in and out of their RV, they decided that it would be easier to go full time. So Shannon was already able to work remotely from anywhere before hitting the road, but he still had to learn a few things before launching. In this episode, Shannon shares his story and the evolution of growing a side hustle. While full timing, we also chat about RV and camping styles for working on the road connectivity, balancing life, remote work and travel distractions while working on the road lessons learned to enable a digital lifestyle and advice before jumping into the RV life and before starting a remote side hustle. But before we get into this episode, we’ll take a short break to hear from the sponsors who make this show possible.
RV LIFE: This episode is sponsored by wholesale warranties.
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ROSE: Hi Shannon, Welcome to the Life Entrepreneur podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. We have a great topic to discuss.
SHANNON: Yeah, it’s it’s great to be here. Thanks for thanks for having me on.
ROSE: So you recently introduced yourself and shared a little bit more about what you do in our entrepreneur Facebook group. And then we then suggested that if you interested to fill out our guest form and be a guest on the podcast and you did so here you are and this is your first podcast, right?
SHANNON: It is. So all new stuff for me here.
ROSE: This is a milestone. This is great. So you’re going to share a little bit today about nomadic full time remote employment and how you juggle that and freelance work. And that seems like a lot on your plate. So I’m really curious what that’s like and I’m sure our listeners are as well. But before we get into all the details, please just tell us a little could be a quick version. Just tell us about who you are and what you’re doing today.
SHANNON: Sure. Um, yeah. Like as mentioned, you know, my name is Shannon Newman, but I’ve been working full time in technology for almost ten years. My tech career goes back more like 20, but full time remote for about ten. You know, my wife and I, we’ve traveled mostly full time in our RV for six years. Since 2017, we did have a brief stint where we had a place, bought a cabin in Tennessee in 2020, kind of at the peak of Covid, and we were there for two years. Well, we owned it for two years. We were probably there for about 7 or 8 months of the two years because the travel bug bites hard as as most of us know. And yeah, the last winter we were there, we were we went to Arizona for the winter and we’re like, You know what? I think we want to do this full time again. And and bought a new RV and went back on the road in 22 full time again. So yeah, that’s kind of the short version.
ROSE: Yeah. So what really got you into this? Why did you say yes? We’re just going to just do this. We’re going to go full time.
SHANNON: Right. So initially in 2015, 2016, leading into 2017, we were doing a lot of races, road races. So my wife was a runner. She got me into it. And so she was doing a lot of marathons. And so we were traveling for four races and, you know, and that comes with hotels and and road trips and having to pack all your stuff and live out of a suitcase for the period of time you do it. And one of those things that comes with doing a lot of races is most runners get superstitious about things like food. And so we would take a little camp stove and and cook spaghetti in our hotel room in the bathroom so that it would be predictable meals. And at some point we just kind of went, what if we just had our stuff with us? What if we just brought our house with us, basically? It kind of grew from there. And so the races did drive our calendar for the for the first few few years as well. That’s where it started. And then it kind of kind of just stuck. And and like I said, we kind of went back to part time for a little while and now we’re full time again. And we just kind of always keep our eyes open for what the next chapter holds.
ROSE: Yeah, I love that. Because of your racing and having to prepare that food, I totally understand that. I love that You’re like, Well, why don’t we just bring it all with us? Why not, you know, think out of the box. That’s that’s a lot easier.
SHANNON: So also during that time when we bought our when we bought our first RV, we still had our first house back in Indiana. And we were using it part time. And then the other thing was every time we wanted to go somewhere, it was a lot of work, right, to move in and out of the of the RV from from our house because we couldn’t park it on site. So we had to like drive stuff over to it and prep it for trips. And that also is like it got to a point where if we weren’t going away for more than a few weeks, it just wasn’t worth the effort. Yeah. And so it just well, it’s just do it all the time.
ROSE: Yeah. When we first got our RV, we, we initially, we decided we want to go full time, but when we first got it, we practiced with it. We went to some local campgrounds and then we were back at my in-laws house. That’s where we’re kind of like stationed after we sold everything. And so the kind of unpacking and packing, the food and all that stuff, we we really that really confirmed that, yes, we want to do this full time. We don’t care for the in and out back and forth for quick like weekend trip. It just was like, what? It’s not quite worth that. I don’t know. So I’m always curious about what kind of people choose to live and work in. Tell us a little bit about what kind of you guys travel in and why you chose it.
SHANNON: Yeah. So that first one in that we bought it was a 2015, so we had it for a couple of years before we went full time. We largely picked it. It was a 37 foot travel trailer and we largely chose that one because it had sliding glass doors. And so it felt really like a little apartment. It really felt like an apartment, very residential. And we kind of just fell in love with it and bought it. But a 37 foot travel trailer gets to be a lot to tow over time. And so between that and we didn’t have a real separation of space. So our living area was living room, dining room, kitchen office, all in one space. And then bathroom and bedroom, of course were separate. So for example, I’d be sitting at we converted the little dining table area into a desk space. And so that’s where I was working. But, you know, I’m on phone calls a lot. And so we just we’re just in the same space all the time. And, you know, we also carry even then with that rig, we carried a lot of exercise equipment with us, and there just wasn’t a good space for what it was. It had a nice open space, but we were limited on what we could bring along. So when we started seriously looking at new rigs again, we knew our requirements were a separate space and a place to carry gym equipment. And so that that made toy haulers the obvious, the obvious option. So when we were new, that was the path we were going to take. We started by making sure we had enough truck to tow around what we knew we were going to want and then just started looking at a bunch of different floor plans and a bunch of different manufacturers. Don’t know. We probably walked through 50 toy haulers before we settled on this one.
ROSE: So you were looking for something that gave you a little more space than and it could handle the weight of your fitness equipment that you travel with. What kind of equipment were you did you bring with you?
SHANNON: Right. So we have a full a full £300 set of weight plates, a set of bowflex, adjustable dumbbells, a bar, obviously for the weights, a bench. It’s a fold up, which is kind of nice. The feet fold under it and then it can store on the on the top bunk, our top happy Jack bunk and the toy hauler and then various other smaller things. Like we put a we put a heavy duty hook in the bottom of the upper bunk. So we have a cable machine apparatus that clips onto it for pull downs and things like that. And since it’s a. It’s got loops in the floor too, so it can go down and back up for various things that work with that. I’m sure I’m missing stuff. Medicine Ball. Bosu Balance Trainer You’re familiar with what that is?
ROSE: Yeah, I am. Yeah, You had a whole little mini gym.
SHANNON: Exactly. And that was that was part of the point. And we also took the Happy Jack couches out for those who are familiar with those and on one side kept the arms and used it as a desk surface. You know, I mean, tons of people have great videos on on how they’ve done that conversion in their toy haulers.
ROSE: Yeah. Yeah.
ROSE: Well, I mean, that’s a lot of weight to put in your toy hauler, but they can handle a lot of weight. Right. And you have what kind of truck do you have to tow as well?
SHANNON: Yeah. So as I mentioned, when we knew we were going to want a toy hauler, we knew we kind of wanted to keep it around 40ft and not go all the way up to the big 44 and 45 footers. So we kind of knew where the where the weight was going to fall. So we have a it’s a 2018, but a GMC one ton Denali pickup that we tow it with. It’s in within its ratings. But and it tows great. But we will we will possibly look at another upgrade at some point.
ROSE: Yeah. So you mentioned 40 foot you want you didn’t want to go too big, but you wanted your space. So that brings me to what you know, what’s your viewing style? How did you determine like where you wanted to travel, you know, were you boondocking Were you in campgrounds, RV parks?
SHANNON: Yeah, that’s a great question. And there seems to be kind of two really distinct categories of people in the space these days. There’s the people who are kind of all in on the boondocking and then there’s everybody else who kind of does the, you know, some version of campgrounds or RV parks. In the beginning. First of all, we’ve never really been boondockers. That’s not really been our style. And so length is less of a big deal than than it can be. Although I know plenty of people personally who have big toy haulers and and Boondock pretty much all the time, that’s just never been our style at the beginning, like State Park campgrounds and other kinds of RV parks. But again, those are shorter duration trips and we hadn’t really kind of figured out the things that we that we wanted. Yet these days it’s mostly commercial RV parks. In fact, this one we’re sitting in now is still being built. But this one they are the lots are deeded lots and they are selling the lots. Right? And so you’re actually renting it from an owner, not just from the RV park, but it’s you know that when the clubhouse is done, they’ll have a pool and hot tubs and and basketball courts and all those amenities. So we tend to lean towards that kind of a style now as opposed to more of the state park style partially because we like somewhat longer stays. And many of the places we were staying at the beginning, you know might have had a 14 day limit. And we still do some of that. There are some places we really enjoy that do have those limits. And we’ll we’ll plan those in just to go to those places. But yeah, it mostly, you know, mostly commercial RV parks at this point, preferably something a little nicer with some some amenities. But yeah, that’s kind of the style at this point.
ROSE: So you like to stay put for a while and that’s probably based on your work As Is that correct?
SHANNON: Yes, that is part of it. We also the reason for that is because of the work and work schedule and trying to balance all those things. We kind of have to limit a lot of our other activities to the weekends. Right. And we also try to drive predominantly on the weekends. And so if you drive on the weekend and the weekends, the only time you have to do to go other stuff, then you need at least one weekend in between to be able to actually get out and do stuff.
ROSE: No, that’s a good point.
SHANNON: It’s more of a timing thing or cadence tends to be over the winter. We sit in place for a lot longer and then over the summer we move around a lot more. But even within that, most of our stays are at least a week and that’s only if it’s like a Saturday to the following Sunday. So we get the two days in the two weekend days in between, but most of them are more like 2 or 3 weeks this year.
ROSE: Okay, makes.
ROSE: Sense. So one more thing about your rig connectivity since you’re working from the road, what do you guys do for internet and all that and making sure it’s stable.
ROSE: And yeah, that’s quality.
SHANNON: That’s a question that comes up obviously all the time on the various Facebook groups.
SHANNON: And for us it’s evolved a lot, but the technology that’s available has evolved a lot in the last six years as well. In the the two years before we were full time and just kind of taking trips, we made the mistake that a lot of people try to make and that is, you know, oh, Parks Park offers Wi-Fi. We’ll use their Wi-Fi, which is never really usable. And many of them even say so many of them are like, Yeah, we have it, but you can’t use it for this, this or this, you know? Right. You’re not streaming video. You’re probably not doing Zoom calls, which of course weren’t a thing in 2015. But so the evolution has been has been great and so evolved from that to to a setup. That was the next step, which just boosts the Wi-Fi. Right? That’s available. That’s. Not really any better, but we knew we were going to go full time and we were planning for it. I was watching for good cellular plans to become available and the timing just happened to be right. And AT&T started offering a truly unlimited, dedicated hotspot plan. They don’t offer it anymore. Yeah, no, but they had offered.
ROSE: We had.
SHANNON: And I mean, the day I realized it was available, I went to the AT&T store and bought it. So we’d have that and we’ve kept that. So we still have that plan as of today. But StarLink is our primary now and the AT&T is our backup. And then coming from the tech space especially, I’m comfortable with setting up my own networks and all that. So have a blink router that they run simultaneously and it fails over if one of them drops offline. So and that’s that’s been a recent upgrade. But that’s that was a game changer having StarLink and good good hardware really, really makes a difference in speed and performance. I mean, I’m on StarLink now, so and that’s even with it being cloudy and raining outside.
ROSE: Yeah, but you don’t have any trees near you, right? Because that’s a big thing.
SHANNON: That is correct. And when we first got it, we still were in our we still had our house in Tennessee, our cabin in Tennessee. But we were staying in an RV park in town where we lived. We had the RV parked at an RV park. And when we got StarLink and there just happened to be one tree right next to our site. And so it really looked funny. And lots of people came up and asked, But the only spot I could find on our site at the time was actually to sit the little StarLink tripod on the roof of the car. Yeah. And so we had the car parked next to the to the RV. And I found a spot there where I didn’t have it mounted on a pole yet. It’s on I have it on a, on a flagpole now. But yeah, so we just sat the little StarLink tripod on the roof of the car with a with a towel under it so it wouldn’t scratch the roof. It looked hilarious and got a lot of questions about it because it was brand new to nobody really knew what it was yet.
ROSE: Oh, right. So we’re like, What is that?
SHANNON: Yeah. So especially in that part of that part of East Tennessee, I mean, our town, our neighborhood didn’t have ground based Internet. And so we the only reason we had Internet is because we brought our our cellular setup from the into the into the cabin. And we just happen to have good enough connectivity up in the hills there to use it. So yeah, that’s the short version of mine. Starlink is my primary, AT&T is my backup. Yep. I’m actually probably going to transition our AT&T over to their business plan in the near future to make it easier to put that on my business expenses and and write it off.
ROSE: Yeah, that’s smart. Yep.
SHANNON: To keep that nice, clean separation between the two.
ROSE: Yes. Yes.
ROSE: So let’s get into the business side and the remote work and. And what did you start out doing before you went full time? What was your job?
SHANNON: So so yeah, in 2013, yeah. 2013 is when I took a full time remote position. It’s a long story, but the shortest version of the story is I took a job with a company that didn’t have a technology team working for somebody that I knew and had worked with for a long time. And our job coming in was to create the teams, right? And so I worked from my home office back in Indiana, and and he was in our company’s home office in Wilmington, North Carolina. And we started building out technology teams and managing teams remotely and things that were that everybody takes for granted now. But we’re kind of new for us. At the time, we were kind of figuring it out as we went. And so that was everything from software development to infrastructure and network engineering to support and project management. And we kind of we built all those teams over the course of 4 or 5 years. And and I still I still work for them. But now I’m in a predominantly technical role. A lot of the same things I was doing just without all the direct reports.
ROSE: So that’s great that you’re able to start like just be remote anyways from the get go, which is awesome. But you are, but you’re working still for someone.
SHANNON: Yeah, I think the follow on to that question was where that ties into the, the entrepreneurship side of this, which is of course why we’re here talking about it.
SHANNON: And so over the course of my, my whole career I’ve always had an interest in branching out and working for myself and, and creating a business out of the skills I was bringing to my jobs. And and I’ve made a few attempts over the years, but most of them just didn’t really have any teeth to it and just didn’t have enough. I don’t think I had enough experience under my belt to really make a go of it. But then maybe three years ago, I had some former some guys that had previously worked for me had moved on to another company and just out of the blue, one of them called me up and said, Hey, we’ve got some stuff we want to work on. You want to you have time for some side work. And it was a really interesting problem set and a really interesting project to work on. And it just it just kind of grew into a thing. And I’ve continued working with them as my main client in the side business since then, and we’ve just grown it and it’s. Deeper and sometime early this year just decided to wrap a business around it and try to start growing that.
ROSE: Okay, so that is what you’re doing, your technology consultation?
SHANNON: Yeah, it’s like I said, they still have a full time day job and I’m building this business on the side. I try to keep a good separation between the two. Yeah, but you’re.
ROSE: Doing similar things.
SHANNON: Similar, similar things that do support each other. You know, learn things in both that I’m that I’m able to bring back and forth between them. But it’s growing to a point where it’s the only reason it hasn’t overtaken my day job from an income perspective is because I just don’t have more time. And so I’m kind of a crossroads. There’s a crossroads coming where I’ll have to make some of those hard decisions.
ROSE: Hard decision and be like, okay, I’m going to stop this, you know, consistent kind of income. And, you know, it’s always there and go my own way and take that leap of faith and run with it. You’re starting small, You’re growing, you’re growing big. Do you you want to just take it to as big as you can? I mean, how do you.
ROSE: Yeah, that’s.
SHANNON: A great question, too. And so I actually had a subcontractor working for me for a while earlier this year and that was great and it was going a great direction. But he got a great job offer. He couldn’t he couldn’t turn down. So he was he was a junior guy right out of school. And he’d kind of always had a dream of working for Apple. So when they made him an offer, of course, wasn’t going to stand in the way of his career. And so, yeah, moving forward, you know, I’m actively pursuing some additional clients right now and and with with a goal to have a couple more and a couple of more people back on my team, you know, by the end of the year or so. And so but to answer your question about growing as big as I can, I mean, I think that’s always it’s always the goal is to take a business to it, to whatever its logical maximum is. But yeah, I mean, I’m in the stages of setting some goals for the rest of this year, for next year and over the next five years, which will we’ll see a pretty hopefully see a very significant jump from where where it is now.
ROSE: Right. And the name is Hedgehog, right?
ROSE: Hedgehog Technologies.
SHANNON: Yeah, Hedgehog Technology Consulting. And there’s a bit of a story there. It’s not the first time I’ve used Hedgehog in the name of a of an attempt to have a have a side business. Okay. But it’s we’re largely driven from is that so. The company I work for full time when I started there, our company’s culture deck was largely built off of the book. Good to great. If you’ve read a lot of business books. That’s one of my favorites.
SHANNON: And for me, the standout concept in that book is what he refers to as the hedgehog concept. That is the one thing you can be the best in the world at. And we leaned into that pretty hard at the at that company in those days. And that idea kind of stuck with me. And so when I decided to go out on my own, I’m trying to focus a little bit narrowly and, and find the one thing I can be I can be really good at. So that’s where the name came from. And you know who doesn’t like hedgehogs, right?
ROSE: I know. They’re great. Well, no, like kind of in the spiritual world, it kind of symbolizes the importance of like self protection, the ability to kind of shield ourselves from emotional harm or that kind of stuff. They also signify like self doing some self work, overcoming your challenges, finding your true purpose, and then just, you know, they’re gentle, they’re calm and kind of just hone in on that inner balance and and do your best at that. Like you said that one thing. So that’s really cool. I love it. So I know it can be hard to kind of market yourself and acquire new business leads, you know, when you’re starting out. Have you done this yet? How do you think you’ll market and acquire these new business clients or leads for Hedgehog?
SHANNON: Yeah. So in these kind of beginning stages, which guess, guess I’m kind of technically in startup mode.
SHANNON: You know, begin because of trying to keep that separation from my kind of day job employment and and necessarily over time you know your sphere of people tends to largely include the people you work with. So I have to be a little bit cautious about that. But I’m starting with people I know that aren’t directly tied to to that business. Right? So especially coming from, you know, a good a good portion of my career in tech was based in Northeast Indiana. So I still have a sphere of people there that have relevant positions in the companies they work for. And in addition, some vendors that I’ve worked with over the years that that I know deal and some of the same spaces again after the whatever that crossroads comes if and when it becomes the the full time gig as opposed to the the quote, side hustle, I will largely do what I do for on the recruiting side for resources, and that is use tools like LinkedIn. Yeah. You know to to pursue those kinds of things and work my network of people more more deeply. You know it’s I learned an interesting lesson working for a different consulting company before I came to this.
SHANNON: This full time job, and that is that I started there early in their development. I was employee number 10 or 12, something like that. Right. And by the time I left there, we had over a hundred. And so I got to see a lot of growth. And what happens in those early stages of building a consulting shop. And one of the things I learned there was that we had absolutely zero turnover until we ran out of people we knew. And once we had to start recruiting from the outside, we started to have turnover. Now some of that is because we intentionally went after new graduates and built a training program. And so the point was to grow them up and then let them either stay or move on to something better. So that necessarily comes with turnover. But even before that, we started having people come and go more often. Once we ran out of people we knew. So I would definitely start with the the network of people I’m connected to in 1 or 2 degrees.
ROSE: Yeah. So that’s good that you’ve learned, you know, you’re learning and learned from that company and it’s helping to build this new side, hopefully possible future thing for you. Yeah, that’s awesome. So we talked about how you kind of handle things right now because you’re still in that transition. So you’re you’re kind of doing everything yourself right now. You don’t have to outsource anything for that. For Hedgehog, correct?
SHANNON: That is mostly true, yes. Yeah. With the exception of things like, you know, have an accountant, you know, that that kind of thing.
SHANNON: You know, I’m not interested in. I’m not really interested in doing my own taxes or trying to make sure I get it right. So that’s. That’s definitely a thing to outsource. Yeah, for sure. I’m sure there will be more things like that, you know, as growth comes, You know, I have I have a great contact who was actually she was the former head of HR for the company I worked for, and she left and started her own recruiting firm. And they do full outsourced HR. And so they everything from recruiting to all your onboarding and, you know, employee paperwork and benefits and all that kind of stuff. When that time comes, I will probably I will almost certainly outsource that as well. There’s just too much to know that’s not in my skill set.
ROSE: Yeah. And I would bet that it would be very good to have some kind of mentor, like you said, that lady that you’re talking about and kind of learn from some people that have gone through this transition. So mentors are great, community is great. And you’ve watched your industry evolve faster than almost any other, I believe, you know, being in that company and and your consult business, how have you stayed at the forefront while being mobile?
SHANNON: Yeah, that can certainly be challenging. Even even as recently as yesterday and today. You know, I was thinking of kind of about this exact problem. And there are some areas in the in the kind of services that I’m trying to offer where I’m like, okay, there’s some things I need to go learn, possibly some training conferences. I want to attend that kind of thing. But over the course of time, it’s mostly having the benefit of being in consulting. Before I was trying to do it on my own, we worked with a lot of different kinds of clients and just helping them solve their cutting edge problems forces you to stay, forces us as technology people to stay a little bit current. And even in this full time job, you know, growing from a place where we didn’t really have a technology team in house to building those teams and evolving our systems and our software and all of our processes to be the best we can be has forced us to stay current as well. And I’ve, you know, been able to be part of that. And so I’ve just solving the problems at hand has kind of forced the issue because business problems are, you know, especially in a company that’s growing really fast, a bigger company that’s growing really fast, the problems tend to be relatively current as opposed to an older established company, just because solving the same problems a little bit over and over again. And so there’s that. As far as specifics, you know, I’ve used various online training platforms, have LinkedIn learning. I have there are a number of them on the on the in the technology space that are that are available. And of course, Google is always our friend and that’s a starting point. And then it’s research and and hands on. I’m a very hands on learner, so I learn much better through working my way, you know, kind of, you know, churning my way through a problem and coming to solutions and doing the research and development along the way.
ROSE: Rose: Yeah, that’s a sign of a good entrepreneur as well. Just always learning and finding the answers and finding solutions to the problems and just want to dive deeper. It’s kind of like homeschooling a homeschool our two boys and it’s that same mindset. So I love it.
ROSE: So being a digital nomad is definitely more than just working or running your own business on the road. So where can we find you when you’re not working? What are some things you like to do and that is important to your life?
SHANNON: Yeah, that’s that’s a great question, too. And, you know, and I think we all understand if if all we’re going to do is work and build our businesses, then it’s definitely easier to do that in one place. It adds it adds a lot of work to move around a lot and. Right. And no, don’t have the work of maintaining a house and mowing and, you know, clearing trees that fell because that was a regular thing living in the woods.
SHANNON: Know, no, we don’t have that. But, you know, we do have to pack up and move. However often we’re going to and and there’s just a host of things that come along with this lifestyle of being on the road, you know, not having access to consistent access to doctors and veterinarians and and dentists.
ROSE: That’s a big one.
SHANNON: And all the all those kind of things or even just not knowing where the grocery store is or or stuff.
ROSE: In the grocery store.
SHANNON: Exactly. You know how it’s going to be laid out when you get there. We went to Costco yesterday, and it’s laid out totally different than the last 2 or 3 we went to. So.
ROSE: Take so much time. Yeah.
SHANNON: Point being, of course, that if we were going to just do all this work then and not have fun, then there’d be no point in doing it from from the road. So to answer your question, after we kind of transitioned out of running as the driver of our locations and our calendar. The kind of the next big wave was largely around other outdoor activities. So hiking, we go ziplining whenever we can find a good place to do that. And then more recently last year, we decided to buy a jeep. So that comes with its own whole culture and and set of activities.
ROSE: And so those the culture.
SHANNON: Yes. And there’s some overlap there. But the the Venn diagram of those is actually relatively small overlap. Most of the hardcore Jeep community are not rv’ers, and most full time rv’ers are not in that hardcore side of the the Jeep world, but there’s definitely some overlap. In fact, the, the Xscapers are having a get together in Moab in the spring and we’ll be there for that fun. But, but yeah, those are the big ones. We hike, we go to the national parks and the national forests and then more recently the Jeep has proven to be a very time consuming and possibly expensive hobby. But I enjoy it.
ROSE: That’s awesome.
ROSE: And a question that always comes up here and I hear a lot is, is kind of how do you balance living your life with the demands of this full time remote work plus, you know, your entrepreneurship that you’re diving into.
SHANNON: Yeah, we kind of talked about it a little and that is making sure you know which which days you’re going to do what, right? So it’s a scheduling problem more than anything else. And probably about a month ago, my my wife actually came to me and she’s like, I think I need for you to give me a schedule of when you’re going to be working the the second job, right? We call it job. We call it job two. She’s like, you know, I know the day job is set hours because, you know, it’s right. Relatively set hours. I have a lot of flexibility to kind of come and go as I as I please. But I have a lot of calls and meetings. So that’s that’s fixed. And their Eastern time and so so I predominantly work on Eastern Time even though since March or something I’ve been on Pacific time. And so that that is a that is a challenge but it’s also an opportunity because it’s so early in the day that I can still work Job two, as we said, for a number, get a number of billable hours in and still, you know, and still have a little bit of evening left at the end of the day. And we do our workouts in the morning. So we get up, do that good work. Job one, you know, take a little break, go back to job two. So it’s a it is it comes down to scheduling for me like this week’s been fairly heavy and I scheduled it that way intentionally so that I so that I have the weekend to mostly not have to to work. I’m working in technology. There is always off hours things that happen sometimes. And so for job one, as we’ll call it, we have a scheduled outage on Sunday night that I’ll have to be part of, but we’ll have the whole day on Sunday and we’ll have all Saturday. And then my birthday is Monday. So I’m taking Monday off as well.
ROSE: Happy birthday.
SHANNON: Thank you. But it really it really the balance comes down to scheduling for me.
ROSE: Yeah. Having a rhythm, having a schedule so you can get out still and do the things you want to do. When we were on the road, we had a full time. We had a YouTube channel. We still have it, but we did consistently every week videos and I found myself, you know, sticking with that algorithm and you have to get it out every week. And I’m sitting at the computer and just like it was many hours and we have two boys and we had to stop like, whoa, what’s going on? Reassess things, get back our rhythm, our schedule. So that is very, very important. So I’m glad you guys are getting into that. And it kind of leads me to, you know, you’re trying to be productive and get in a certain amount and a certain amount of time. What is do you have a favorite productivity hack? Do you have something that really helps technology wise or just something else?
SHANNON: For. For me, I’d say I’d love to say, Oh, here’s a tool I use and it just makes me ten times as productive. I don’t I’m actually a little bit disorganized when it comes to note taking, which is maybe unusual for somebody in the tech space.
SHANNON: I like paper, but paper is also it accumulates stuff.
SHANNON: It’s stuff that accumulates and it’s not searchable. And I’m like and I keep separate. I like yellow notepads. That’s my preference. Yes. And I have separate ones for different things. So I have 3 or 4 of them sitting here and I have to remember which one something is in and how long ago it was. So I know how many pages to flip back through to find it. It’s not very efficient, you know. So I have a couple of different, you know, tools I use for note taking and keeping track of things and task organization, you know, to throw some stuff out there. I mean, I use one note for digital note taking. I use Trello for for task organization. I like the I like the feel of it that it feels like sticky notes on the wall. I also like sticky notes. I keep.
ROSE: A I do.
SHANNON: Too a pad of them here for me. Those are for short term things. Right? So if I just need a quick note, all these things I need to remember to do today, throw a sticky note down there right on the Mac. I actually use the digital sticky notes too, but those are more those are more long term things. You know, I use the iPhone Notes app. I mean, so I’m kind of all over the place on that part of it. But in terms of being productive in the times that I need to be productive, it’s largely about avoiding distraction, you know, which can be really hard on the road because especially the the prettier the places we’re staying, the harder it is to want to sit here inside my at my desk and do stuff. And so eliminating distractions is a is a big one for me and sometimes just physically have to close the blinds because I can see right out the window in front of me, close the blinds. Music always helps. Noise canceling headphones are a big deal sometimes for different reasons. This this place we are now is under construction and they start at 6 a.m. and which is also nice because they stop at two. So the last three hours of the normal workday there, it gets quiet again. But when they’re out there, it is loud. And so having the having noise, canceling headphones, I feel it more than I hear it like it kind of rumbles the rumbles, the space. But yeah, so to answer your question a little bit better, it’s it’s it’s just mostly my productivity hacks are finding ways to avoid distraction.
ROSE: Yeah. No that’s definitely. You hit the nail on the head. There are so many distractions on the road and sometimes I like to give myself a little reward saying, okay, well, I’m going to get out for like ten minutes. I’m just get outside, Just run around or do something or just sit and read something else. Get out of my head maybe for a moment and then get back. You know, that kind of helps too. But yeah, do the sticky notes, even a dry erase board, those things kind of help too. But yeah, that’s great. So what are the most important lessons that you’ve learned along the way in this journey to enable this digital nomad lifestyle?
SHANNON: You actually asked a question earlier that I think is probably the biggest one, and that is solid, reliable Internet. I mean, that is without it, we can’t do this, right? I mean, we can travel, yes, but we couldn’t work full.
ROSE: Time, remote work.
SHANNON: And grow businesses and things on the road without without good Internet. And so I see a lot of a lot of discussion on on Facebook groups and online about this and a lot of the complaints about cost and and things like that. And those are not invalid. But I think especially for those of us trying to grow businesses, it’s just the cost of doing business we have to be willing to accept.
ROSE: That’s right.
SHANNON: It takes what it takes and you have to do it right or it’s going to be frustrating, right? Most of the time, yeah.
ROSE: You got to spend a little money to make that money.
ROSE: Yeah, 100%. Yeah.
ROSE: What do you wish more people could know or understand about this lifestyle before really jumping in? Like, I’ve got a whole mess of it in my head, but I want to hear from you.
SHANNON: Oh, man, that’s a that’s a huge one.
ROSE: A huge. I know it is. Maybe pick 1 or 2.
SHANNON: People that have been doing this for a while. You know, remember before we went on the road the first time, there really weren’t very many people writing about it online, like 2014, 2015 through into 2017. When we went full time, there were a few and they were kind of like the celebrities, right? You know, people like like the nomads were out there writing about stuff. And at that time, the very first blog I ever read about was Gone with the Winds. But there weren’t very many, right? There weren’t very many people doing it. But today, that’s not the same social media. It’s it’s everywhere, right? You know, And so I think the biggest thing I wish people could understand that I see is that. It’s not like it is on social media all the time.
ROSE: No, it’s not a vacation. Right?
ROSE: All the time.
SHANNON: Yeah, that’s probably the key. The key point there is that we always call it the the Facebook Christmas card problem. You get a Christmas card and a Christmas letter from your friend. Yeah, it’s the highlight reel.
SHANNON: Yeah, everything’s great. You know, kids are getting perfect grades and they’re going to go to Harvard next year or whatever, which, you know, then you’re like, Well, what am I doing wrong? Right? Yeah, but it’s that picture that gets painted that everything is kind of it’s kind of full time vacation, you know, it’s kind of carefree and you go where you want to go and you do what you want to do. But, you know, real life still has to get lived, right? So you still have to buy your groceries and you still have to pay your bills and you probably have to go to the doctor or the dentist or whatever from time to time. And all that stuff still has to happen. You have to empty the black tanks, you know, you have to fix the things that break, right? You know, and let’s be honest, No, no rig doesn’t have stuff break.
ROSE: No, it’s not if it’s when.
SHANNON: Yeah. So that’s probably the biggest one. And you’ve seen evidence of it or I’ve seen evidence of it in the number of the number of people who are selling rigs about a year after they bought them.
ROSE: Yeah, they didn’t quite realise what they were getting into, I think.
SHANNON: Yeah. And so the prices have gone up so much because demand was, was so high. And then you see a lot of people trying to sell rigs now, but the prices have stabilised and so they’re not really getting what they were hoping they could get back out of it.
ROSE: No, Yeah, no.
SHANNON: That’s the big one for me is just it’s not it’s great. I’m not trying to downplay it, but it’s Right. It’s not a full time vacation, right?
ROSE: That’s right. It’s a lifestyle that requires planning flexibility. You got to be willing to adapt to all these new situations. And gosh, there are many challenges, right still. And you just go with the flow, but you just have to keep that like bring that barrier down like it’s anything can happen.
ROSE: So can and.
SHANNON: Does and, and, and that’s just it. I mean, you know, like I said, it is great, but but things do break, you know you end up I mean yeah tires blow out. You have you know, maybe you get maybe you’re stranded at a rest area because you had a spring blow apart on a holiday. On a holiday weekend.
ROSE: That’s a true story.
ROSE: And what do you do? Yeah. Oh, true story. Well, and our wheel fell off. True story. But, you know, these challenges can become great opportunities, though, for growth and adventure. So.
ROSE: Yeah, pretty cool for sure.
SHANNON: That adaptability you mentioned is is a big deal. I mean, it’s it’s an interesting balance for for me and for us, we tend to plan our calendar at least a year out. And so over the course of the years, I see so many people that are like, Oh yeah, I’m in this place. I’m not sure where I’m going to go next. And it actually just makes me sweat a little bit.
ROSE: Yeah, there are that two mindsets, right? The ones that just go, whatever. Okay. And then I got a really plan this out. Yeah, but there’s a balance because you can’t plan too far sometimes because something happens here, it’s going to affect Abcd, you know, down the line. So yeah.
SHANNON: And that does that does happen. It’s a.
ROSE: Balance even we’ve.
SHANNON: Yeah, we like to plan our calendar out, but there have definitely been times where we have to go back and unwind a bunch of stuff because something changed and you know, I mentioned we bought a place in Tennessee over Covid and so we had to unwind a bunch of stuff there. And the triggering event was we were at at a place right on Lake Mead and we got kicked out. They closed the place. Oh, no. Yeah. They came and said, Hey, they’re closing the recreation area, everybody that doesn’t. They also had full time. It was an RV park, but they also had like permanent sites, not RVs, but like, you know, modulars, modular. The people who lived there could stay, but everybody who was was living there had to leave the next day.
ROSE: Was this right?
ROSE: Was this because don’t remember when you said exactly. But was this because of the water levels and stuff.
SHANNON: It was it was because everything was getting shut down early in Covid.
ROSE: Oh, that was Covid.
SHANNON: And so we already had reservations. We were going to go from there and we were going to Tennessee anyway. And so we called the place we were going to go in Tennessee and said, Hey, can we come early? Can we come, you know, about three weeks early? And they said, Please do. Nobody’s here. We need the we need people here, right? And so we had to rear all the ones in between. We had to shift up, you know, because that’s a long drive from Nevada to the Tennessee. So the overnights in between, we had to shift all those up. And that’s just one example. It’s not the not the only time we’ve had to to rework a calendar. Right.
SHANNON: So we also tend to look for we look carefully at cancellation policies, too, when we when we’re booking things.
ROSE: That’s important. An important point. Yep. But definitely be flexible. Yeah. So what’s the favorite thing or what’s the favorite part about what you do business wise? And then I’ll have another question for you.
SHANNON: Okay. Um, business and work wise, it’s I like to solve interesting, interesting problems. And what I mean by that is not so much the technology side of the problem, which sounds funny coming from a from a technology oriented person. But the thing I enjoyed about my previous consulting life was not developing software, which is what I did then. I was a software engineer. It was solving business problems. That was what I liked about it. I liked customers that made stuff. I liked clients that were manufacturers so I could go on the floor and see how what I was doing impacted their ability to make stuff. And so that’s really what it is, you know, solving problems that help help clients and help businesses be more effective.
ROSE: Right? Well, that’s great. And that’s another entrepreneurial skill, too. So you definitely have the the mindset for it. And so what is your favorite viewing experience? That was my other question.
SHANNON: Well, it’s you know, after after six years, there have been enough of them that that’s hard to that’s hard to pin down. Right. Oh, man. I should have prepped for a question like that. The things that jump to mind are a few of the places, the few of the places that. We’ve gone the feeling when you see them for the first time. Like the first time. I’m fascinated by the desert in southern Arizona and the first time we drove through Tucson. And the saguaro cactuses are everywhere. And it just coming from Indiana especially, it just looks like unlike anything you’ve ever seen anywhere else.
ROSE: I totally get that, being from the East Coast, too. Yeah.
SHANNON: And you know, there have been some other places like that driving into a place like Moab for the first time or into Yosemite Valley, or we stayed in a place outside of Santa Barbara, California, and it was kind of up in the up in the hillside. But when you come back into town, you kind of come around this curve and it just opens up in the ocean, is out in front of you. And the Channel Islands are visible on the other side of the water, just seeing, being able to see that kind of stuff. Right. And then the opportunities we’ve had to share some of those places with the people we know. We bring our kids to places as often as we can, and our daughter and our daughter and her husband are coming to Moab in October. They’re flying into Salt Lake, which is like a almost a four hour drive from from Moab. But we offered to pick them up and bring them so that we could be together when they see it the first time.
ROSE: That is so cool. Yeah, that’s seeing things for the first time makes you feel like a kid again and what they experience and I think that is. That’s awesome. So anything else that you would like to kind of maybe some tips or advice or anyone that’s looking to kind of go from their full time job or even the remote job for a company kind of heading into breaking off into maybe more entrepreneur their own thing.
SHANNON: I mean, not everybody, not everybody would agree with me on this. Some people are just all in. But for me, it starts small and grow. Yeah. You know, grow it, grow a side hustle into something more. And then if it starts to overtake the income, you can make it your full time job, then do that. This is largely driven from, I guess, a philosophy I’ve had forever, and that’s don’t quit a job that you have another job.
ROSE: That’s smart.
SHANNON: So, you know, and so for me, it’s definitely start something, start something small and grow it until it’s got some got some momentum. That way you always have something to fall back to.
ROSE: Well, that’s very good advice. Thank you. So where can our audience find you and connect with you online?
SHANNON: Um, I mean, I’m not super active on some of the social media platforms. I’m probably most active on Facebook. Our kids would say that’s because I’m older. But, um, I like Facebook, I like Instagram. I don’t post as much on Instagram. My wife does most of that, but I certainly communicate and respond. You know, I’m on LinkedIn, you know, all those kind of places, and I’m sure we can put some of that in the in the notes if we want to.
ROSE: We’ll definitely put that in the note. So they want to maybe learn more about your consulting business. Would that be going to LinkedIn then?
SHANNON: Yeah, I’ve intentionally kept it kind of under wraps online for the time being.
SHANNON: You know, there’s there’s technically a website, but it’s just a placeholder, right? So it’s got the, got the logo and everything. Um, that would be probably more of a conversation rather than a finding finding stuff online today that will probably change over the coming months, but today it’s intentionally fairly low key.
ROSE: Okay. All right. Well, we’ll put all that information in the show notes. And we want to thank you so much for coming on today, sharing your story with us, your personal insight about juggling all this freelance work while having your traditional remote job. And it’s really helpful, you know, and inspiring to other entrepreneurs. So thank you again for your time. And like I said, I’ll put all those links in the show notes.
SHANNON: Sounds good. Yeah, thanks for having me. If I can be helpful to other people in some way. That’s a that’s a bonus.
ROSE: So working remotely from an RV isn’t a new concept, but by hearing from Shannon, I hope it gives you a little more insight about this while also starting a side hustle. Shannon’s words of wisdom and personal philosophy of not quitting a job until you have another job and starting small and growing your business until it has some momentum so you always have something to fall back on is definitely sage advice. It’s a really good idea to build a side hustle while you currently have a full time income. Unless you don’t already have one, then by all means jump right in to your own thing. So if you’re interested in remote technology field, you can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn or follow his travels on Facebook and Instagram and I’ll put all that in the show notes. And I would love to hear about your side hustles and what’s been working for you. So head on over to the Entrepreneur Facebook group and let us know or just say hi or ask questions that you may have. We love hearing from you. Thanks for listening today, guys. Until next time…
The RV Entrepreneur is presented by RV Life – Tools that Make Camping Simple
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