Twelve Weeks For A Fulfilling Career: How We Built Nomad Academy

Twelve Weeks For A Fulfilling Career:

How We Built Nomad Academy

At Nomad Academy, we’ve spent the last two years asking only question when designing our programs:

"what skills and mindsets do you need to create a career that’ll make you come alive again?"

After running seven programs, we’ve found that there are just three pillars that form the foundation of creating a remarkable career; owning your personal narrative, cultivating an entrepreneurial skillset, and being around the right people. And it works; we have over 170 alumni from over 30 countries creating entrepreneurial careers that make them feel alive — going from sitting in corporates to joining startups in Silicon Valley, launching plastic waste movements, becoming freelance brands and everything in between.

This is part I of a two-part blog that answers the following questions:

- How did we get to those three pillars?
– What are those pillars exactly?
- And how do they get instilled within you in twelve weeks?

We’ll answer the first question in part I, taking you through our thought process, journey and surprises — so you can better understand why are programs are so effective.

How Did We Get To Those Pillars?

  1. We delved into the common traits and skills of people who’ve created remarkable careers
  2. We first applied those to ourselves, and saw what worked best
  3. Then we took those experiences, and applied them to our programs. And saw what worked best again; constantly experimenting, iterating and refining.

Nomad Academy was founded from a big frustration. That so many capable and interesting young professionals, like ourselves, were wasting their lives in corporate jobs that held no innate joy or deeper meaning to them. Which is such a shame, because there are remarkable careers out there for those who dare to answer their own call to adventure, and try something different.

What triggered my journey out of the corporate consulting job I was stuck in, was stumbling across the Tim Ferriss podcast. Through him, I listened to the stories, habits and mindsets of remarkable people who’d built lives interesting enough for hundreds of thousands of people to want to listen to their stories.

It was like a gateway drug for me — opening my eyes to different ways of seeing the world. I realised the impact personal growth can have, in EQ areas like cultivating self-awareness, empathy and speaking skills; in habits that compliment elite performance, like daily meditation and fitness practices; in the mindsets and philosophies that people have underpinned the people shaping our world.

How could personal growth not be taken seriously, how is it that we have to stumble across areas of it as a response to the pain of an unfulfilling life — and then have to piece it all together ourselves?

I loved Tim Ferriss’s method of finding remarkable people, identifying the areas of personal growth they had in common, and then trying them on himself to see if it worked.

So the team at Nomad Academy did the same thing as Tim. We set out on journeys to find careers that’d make us come alive again, and kept learning from remarkable people along the way, then applying the things they had in common to ourselves.

We backpacked the world to break out of routines, and get perspective. Through it, as you do when travelling, we met so many out-of-the-ordinary people full of interesting life stories.

We spent years in the startup world, from intern to first employee to founder, learning the frameworks and philosophies of the people who are impacting the world exponentially right now.

We even did Masters in entrepreneurship to learn from universities — the default place to go for pivoting your career, right? We saw the benefits of stepping away from the rat-race, and the power of a group of selected people focussing on their growth together.

From this journey of learning from remarkable people from all walks of life, and then relentlessly applying those lessons to ourselves over the past 6 years, we created our first programs:

  • they’d take personal growth as seriously as professional growth, looking at topics like charisma, EQ and self awareness.
  • they’d get young professionals the entrepreneurial frameworks for them to understand how to take ownership of their lives. For us, entrepreneurship is ownership in your career.
  • they’d focus always on doing things that are meaningful to us. Which meant consciously trying to get people an understanding of what their ideal future could be like, what truly matters to them, and to seeing their actions as being of significance.
  • they’d be more holistic programs than what exists out there; touching on the best habits to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Because what point is there in career success without your health?
  • they’d involve some element of travel, to get us feeling alive and having the space away from normal-life for introspection
  • and finally, they’d always include select-cohorts for the momentum that brings, and sheer joy of doing hard things in a community

The first program was 25 selected young professionals, slow-travelling through 3 countries in SE Asia across 3 months. We’d give some workshops on areas of personal growth and authoring their futures. There’d be a meditation retreat to deep-dive into the habit of self-reflection and maintaining mental wellbeing. There’d be a fitness bootcamp to delve into physical wellbeing and the power of movement. They’d do an entrepreneurial course for the practical skills and domain expertise to make their future a reality, gathering at co-working spaces to do it. All in twelve weeks.

If that sounds mildly ridiculous it’s because, well, it was. But it worked. We had over 1,000 applications for our first program, ran it, and watched as it sparked our first tribe’s journey towards remarkable careers.

But we wanted to make it even better. So on our second program we added regular mentoring sessions to give more structured support to our students.

On the third program we launched our own course, because we’d seen that what students really wanted was to learn how to start a company that got them owning what they did, after they’d found their new direction. Our course distilled the most effective frameworks and mindsets of remarkable entrepreneurs.

On the fourth and fifth programs we added regular 1on1 coaching to our startup course, and made it a course that’s video-rich with emphasis on taking action. We added themes to each month to better structure the journey we saw students from our past programs take most effectively; that of first finding what is meaningful to themselves, and then taking action through entrepreneurship to move towards that direction.

And on our sixth and seventh programs we went from occasional workshops to weekly workshops, including flagship workshops for each month delivered by our team, and external speakers that fit the journey our students were going through. On our online course, we added Pitch days, peer-to-peer sessions and iterated on the content of our last version heavily.

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It’s been a hell of a journey from our first program; learning what works most effectively and which topics to delve into, never wavering from our mission of getting the brightest young professionals on the path to careers that make them come alive again. The journey will never stop, that we can promise you, but we’ve got to a point now where we know what three pillars are most important in getting you the best chance of a remarkable career.

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