We all know that strange things happen while traveling, but I really didn’t expect that during my month in Buenos Aires I would gave a public speech in an event about digital nomadism.
Digital nomad is the cool name for people that have a location independent job that they can perform online. It’s a recent and growing trend as there are more and more remote jobs available.
In my travels I met writers, translators, programmers, social media experts, bloggers, but also business owners doing their things online and hence allowed to use the title of digital nomad.
I met Nicolas, the organizer of the first Nómadas Digitales en Buenos Aires event, for a coffee and he asked me if I wanted to share my story and give a speech.
Before I could think, my ego already accepted with enthusiasm. Anyway I thought was a nice challenge and a great opportunity to meet like minded people.
Life starts outside of our comfort zone, right?
My first public speaking experience, and best of all in Spanish – Doh! I knew I was up to something funny to say the least.
I had two challenges ahead of me:
- Presenting in a language I learn from the street
- Talking about myself in a way that can actually help others
For the former I could only think about adding some humor in my speech and play around the fact that I speak Itañol, as they call the mix of Italian and Spanish. I learned Spanish talking with people – never had a class – and while I’m pretty confident with it, presenting in public is quite another story.
For the latter, I decided to prepare a presentation titled ‘From Employee to Digital Nomad’ sharing my story, highlighting some life-moments everyone could relate to, avoiding pictures of me on a beach with the notebook, and stressing the fact that everyone, if really wants, can become a digital nomad. I included some of my learning, a warning about the gurus and ended with a list of resources to get started.
The result was a slide desk I was pretty nervous about. Would that resonate with the audience? I sent a draft to Nicolas and his reply was very encouraging, that was such a relief!
Keeping my Argentinian audience in mind I had to pay attention to a few interesting linguistic tips.
For example I use to say that ‘I worked for an American company’ that in Europe automatically means ‘a company from US’, but Latin America is American continent and some people are sensible about how to call Unites States. So I had to say ‘I worked for a US company’ instead.
Another thing is that Spanish here is referred as Castillano language specifying its regional roots from Castilla region (as in Spain there are different languages) and again some people don’t like to hear that. In fact everyone here calls the language Castillano, and so I did during the speech.
I also had to adjust few words and the accent trying to pronounce all the ‘ll’ and ‘y’ such as yo (I) as they do, something like ‘zh’. That generates a funny situation where ‘se cayó’ (he/she fell down) and ‘se calló’ (he/she shut up) have the exact same pronunciation, but luckily I didn’t have to use any of the two 🙂
I’m sure nobody at the event would have been offended by those classic foreigner mistakes (if we can call them mistakes) but I thought was nice to make an effort and play accordingly. Surely I made enough mistakes I’m not aware of anyway!
Lastly, I dropped the word boludo in the first 30 seconds of the presentation. That’s the most popular Argentinian slang word that means ‘stupid’ but is also used in a positive tone among friends. Everyone had a laugh at that and I broke the ice.
At the Digital Nomad event
I arrived at the location early with Nicolas to sort out the technicalities. People started waiting outside while we were busy checking the presentations inside the room.
Suddenly I noticed the sound that a crowd of people make when chatting: it was getting busy!
40 people were present at the event and I was first of two presenters. I turned my performer-mode ON (like when I was dancing in the Salsa team) and I did my best… 30 minutes after everyone was applauding – they liked it!
Then the Q&A session started and that was the hardest part. First because it was getting tired and missing Spanish words, second because I actually had to understand the question and third because I had to come up with a relevant answer I obviously didn’t prepare in advance.
The questions were more about starting your own business and finding customers rather than the travel part of the digital nomad equation.
Here is the slide deck, I know that without me talking over doesn’t say much but I share it anyway and it can be reused with citation if needed.
The event ended with beer, pizza (being Argentina, with too much cheese) and nice talks with nice people that were a mix of students, employees and self-employed.
I close with two terrible pictures of me talking in front of the audience.
Many thanks to Nicolas and all the attendees!