Digital Nomad Interview Series: Paul Lam

I have been traveling and working online since August 2016.  During my travels, I always get lots of questions about my business and how to travel with it.  “What do you do?”  “How can you afford to travel so long”  “How can I work online and travel too?”  “What is a Digital Nomad?” I get these questions both from other travelers as well as friends and family back home.  This got me thinking about how I can share my experience traveling and the lifestyle that so many others have taken an interest in.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a location independent business and work online from anywhere in the world?  This allows you to travel and experience new cultures, see amazing sights, try new foods, and partake in experiences you never imagined would be possible.  After all of the interest about this lifestyle,  I decided to start a monthly blog series in which I interview other digital nomads and entrepreneurs who are successful at traveling long term and working online.

Pathhunters.com

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For this month’s interview, I decided to interview Paul Lam who runs The Path Hunters Podcast.  Similar to last month’s interviewees, Paul is also from Eastern Canada. He’s originally from London, Ontario but lived most of his life in Toronto doing insurance sales. In 2013 Paul took a life-changing trip to Vietnam to discover his roots. Seeing poverty up close not only inspired Paul to travel more, but it also motivated him to have a lifestyle business that allowed for freedom and encouraged him to help others on a global scale.  

After a bad breakup, Paul decided to make a change by gaining back control of his life and proceeding with his plan full speed ahead.  He knew that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, he needed to go where they hang out and surround himself with like-minded people.  His mentor was actually none other than Jay Wong who he met in Toronto.  Jay runs The Inner Changemaker, a well-known podcast in the self-help industry, and has helped guide Paul in the right direction.  Paul wanted to start a podcast that involved his newfound passion for travel and helping others.  In his research, he discovered the Digital Nomad community which he was excited to be a part of.

Paul Started the Path Hunters Podcast in June of 2016.  He initially started interviewing Digital Nomads and successful entrepreneurs from around the world.  In his interviews, he realized a pattern.  Every digital nomad he spoke with mentioned either starting at or traveling to Chiang Mai.  He figured this was where he had to be.  A few months later he booked a flight to Thailand, quit his job and left corporate life behind.  Paul has interviewed world-renowned entrepreneurs such as Chris Guillebeau, Philip Mckernan, and Heath Armstrong.  Paul started the podcast for 2 reasons.  To interview inspiring digital nomads that are excellent online entrepreneurs and to inspire others (as well as himself) to apply what can be learned from those who have walked the path before us.  Paul is now a full-time entrepreneur, author, podcaster, and traveler.

The Interview

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What do you think about the Digital Nomad community?

For years I’ve been trying to find something that I can fit into.  This community is not only very welcoming, but it is the essence of freedom and I’m very thankful that I’ve found something that offers an alternative way of life that is so rewarding.

What inspired you to start traveling?

I was tired of corporate life and felt trapped.  Traveling was a way for me to see the world, get to know myself and it really gave me a sense of privilege.

What fears did you have before traveling and how did you overcome them?

The fear of solo travel.  It’s scary your first time ever going to a far away country and not knowing the language.  For me it was China.  The only way to overcome it is to book the flight, go there, see what it’s about and conquer your fear head on.

What are you currently doing to provide an income in order to continue funding your travels?

In addition to doing the Path Hunters Podcast, I have an Ebook about overcoming adversity.  I also plan on making a few online courses and doing 1-on-1 coaching for those wanting training on how to host a successful podcast.

Tell us a little about your podcast

The Path Hunters Podcast is now dedicated to helping people in the corporate world who are unfulfilled, frustrated and looking to make a change.  This is in order to help find purpose and passion by interviewing entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and people who are living their life on their own terms.  I interview them about the process of how they got to where they are today.

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You always talk about overcoming adversities, what kind of struggles have you had in your past?

I was held at gunpoint a few years ago.  There was a lot of trauma that I needed to overcome.  It was holding me back from being the best version of myself.  I become paranoid and couldn’t differentiate from past and present.  There was a lot of meditation, self-love, and forgiveness involved to overcome that and become the man I am today.

How do you plan your next destination and length of stay?

I just go with my gut.  I felt a calling towards, Thailand, Vietnam, and China.  I’m planning on going to either Japan or Lithuania next.  I’ll stay about 3 months. I always try and stay longer than my last destination.  It’s really just intuition.  

I also prefer to travel as unconventionally as possible.  So I don’t really want to hit any major tourist spots.  I like to see how the locals live.  What do they do for fun at night?  When I go to Japan, I want to go to a Drift Night.  They have designated spots where you can drift or make your cars go sideways and do donuts.  Its part of the culture to hang out and drink beer and just enjoy the moment.  It will be a really cool experience.  

What type of accommodation do you typically look for?

I look for a private room in a hostel, an apartment, or something I can have to myself that’s cost effective.  I’m not really there except to sleep anyway.

Most nomads have difficulty in finding balance. How do you center yourself while traveling?

I believe in being in the present moment.  I’m not really big into balance.  I just slot specific times that I schedule for work.  The rest of the time I just play and hang out.  My schedule is actually pretty flexible.  If I’m not being productive then I’ll cut my work short and go hang out to clear my head.  If I have a burning fire to get a project done, I’ll go to work.

What’s the latest project you’re working on

I’m looking into other forms of income.  Possibly eCommerce.  I just my finished my ebook and will be offering courses on podcasting in the near future.

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What’s a typical day in the life like for you?

I wake up around 6 or 7 AM.  Drink water, think about 3 things I’m grateful for, do some breathing exercises and jump straight into work around 9 AM.  I do some creative writing, editing, some podcast work, or read something.  I then check emails and messages for about an hour and go back to work. Around 3 or 4, I go to the gym, then come back and relax for an hour or so.  I then go back to work until I’m done.  That’s an ideal day for me, but I do have a flexible schedule.  I  try and get 6 or 7 hours of sleep to be productive.

Do you have a home base?

Yes, when I go back to Canada I split my time between London, Ontario and Toronto.  I try and spend as much time with family as I can when I’m there.

How often do you go home and visit?

Every 3 or 4 months I come back to hang out, see everyone and reboot before leaving again.

What is the most rewarding thing about working remotely?

That feeling of being free!  I can choose when and where I want to be at any time. Not being tied down to a location or trading time for money really sells the lifestyle for me.  Ultimately, having complete control of my life is important to me as a former corporate slave.

What is the best memory that you have from traveling?

Being on an island in Vietnam just underneath Cambodia.  It’s called Phu Quoc Island.  Standing where it splits in half was an amazing feeling.  One side is the ocean and the other side is all nature and mountains.  It was a beautiful place.

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What was the worst situation that has happened while traveling and how did you handle it?

When I first got to Chiang Mai, I never traveled before and so I didn’t know to call my credit card companies.  I only had $200 (USD) in cash and I couldn’t reach my bank for some reason.  Seeing how I didn’t know anyone, I had to figure out where to stay.  After I found a hotel that was 2200 Baht for 2 days, I still had to figure out a way to unlock my cards because my calls were being blocked.  With just over $100 dollars left, I remember walking into a cafe and thinking “what the hell am I doing here!”  I calmed myself down and decided to use Skype to make the call.  Once I got through, the issue was fixed.  Within 3 days I was having the time of my life and was glad I took the plunge.

What advice do you have for people who want to travel and partake in this lifestyle?

Remember that time is non-renewable.  Everything in life can be acquired again.  Money, your laptop,  and material objects all come and go.  Once your time is gone, you’ll never get it back.  Don’t waste it!  Do the things you’ve always wanted to do now and don’t wait for the most convenient time because that time will never come and life will pass you by.

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