My “WHY” behind Freedom X Fest

by | Sep 12, 2018 | Blog

Some time in 2016. London Pub. Conversation with my old high school mate, Shane. 

“So it’s a conference. But not really a conference.” I assert.
Shane looks at me blankly.
“It’s like a festival. But not really.”
“Eh???” Shane is very confused now. Shane and I, it is fair to say, have gone in very different directions since leaving school. Shane has had a successful career in accounting and now does the books for an Arab prince.
“It’s about WORK” I continue.
“Aha” grunts Shane skeptically as he sits across the table in his Burberry suit. “Stu, you haven’t worked a day in your life! Working from cafes or besides swimming pools in Bali is NOT work!”
I ignore his comments…”But it’s also about LIFE”.
“Fuck, Stu…what are you on about?! And where is this conference-not conference-festival-not festival taking place?”
“I am not sure. Somewhere unique. Somewhere inspirational.”
“The Himalayas? The Vatican?” Shane’s sarcasm continues.
“Himalaya’s could actually be quite a good spot mate! Might be a bit difficult to get people that far…maybe for the next event!” I retort.
“Geez, Stu. And who do you expect to attend this event?”
“ People involved in the Location Independent Movement”
Shane spits out his beer…”The what?!?!?!”
“Those interesting the changing way we work and live…the fusion between work and life”.
“Ok, Stu, I have had enough of this…I’ve just finished a very long week of WORK. And now I just want to enjoy LIFE. Go get the beers…it’s your round”.

That conversation with my well, slightly more conservative mate and has led a somewhat more mainstream life than me (ok, maybe a LOT more), took place a couple of years ago. It was when the seeds for a festival/conference to unite the Location Independent Movement (as I call it – The LIM) had been sown in my mind.

This is the video I took when first visiting the location. I am not sure what is worse…my videoing, or my Aussie-accented Spanish!

A few weeks ago, the dream became a reality.  We took the first steps towards uniting the LIM.  What was it that sparked the idea, fuelled my desire and shaped the structure of the first event of this kind?  There were 5 pivotal moments

1 – I started Coworkation – In 2015/16 I began researching companies related to Coworkation with who we could potentially collaborate. As my research deepened I began to fathom the depth, breadth and variety of companies that seemed to be related – some loosely so, others tightly intertwined.  

I couldn’t put a finger on what it was that connected us until I stumbled upon the term ‘location independent’.  In those days it was a term rarely used…all the talk was centred around ‘digital nomadism’. I had lived periods of my life in a nomadic fashion but I did not identify myself as a digital nomad. And, I thought, that by centring the conversation around digital nomadism we are ignoring the more profound impacts that are shaping society through workplace flexibility and location independence.  

I pledged to steer the conversation away from digital nomadism and bring awareness to the movement surrounding location independence.  I wanted to help give a voice to the location independent movement.

2 – I attended a festival…Ouishare Fest I decided to volunteer at an event that unites the sharing (or collaborative) economy.  Ouishare Fest in Paris was a ground-breaking event that centralized the sharing economy. It brought the conversation to the next level, raised awareness about this new movement, connected founders of businesses within the sharing economy and provided a platform for the numerous startups within the movement to give exposure to their businesses.  OuishareFest enabled me to visualize what an event to unite the location independent movement would look like.  

3 – I received a tip-off about an abandoned village now used for events A ground-breaking event deserved a location that was worthy of it. It needed to be unique. It needed to be inspirational. It needed to be somewhere away from the distractions of a city where we could focus and connect on deep levels.  

4 – An incredible team came together Without an amazing team dreams generally will remain just that. Thanks to a group of talented, motivated and selfless people who shared the vision, and who worked their absolute arses off throughout the year to pull this off.  We were confronted with a huge number of challenges but the crew were steadfast and solid. The event was far from perfect – but it is something that we can all be proud of.

5 – Sponsors, Partners & Speakers supported us Once we launched the Fest communications I started reaching out to potential partners and speakers.  They were intrigued by the idea – but I also interpreted their skepticism. I couldn’t blame them! It was a new concept. The first such Fest – and it was being staged in the middle of nowhere!  The majority politely said ‘good luck with it, Stu, but we can’t attend’. Yet, there were some who put their faith in what we were doing. Who got behind us and decided to support the Fest – they understood the intention behind the event, and shared the purpose. I really couldn’t be more grateful to these pioneers who helped us make the event so special.  

I would particularly like to mention our sponsors…each of whom represent a different element of The LIM:

  • Cowork7/24 –  enabling coworkers to find a place they’ll love working at and helping coworking spaces better streamline their operations and grow their community
  • SafetyWing – Insurance for Digital Nomads
  • Balsamiq –
  • CrossOver – Connects companies to the best talent from around the world, and provides a seamless end-to-end solution for remote team management.
  • Doist – On a mission to make work calmer, more organized, and more productive with simple yet powerful tools.
  • Sun & Co – The first coliving and coworking community in the Mediterranean Coast, Spain.
  • Hotel Schani – The SMART Hotel in Vienna for coworker and digital nomad tourists from around the world.
  • Nectar – An inspiring & creative place in the midst of nature
  • Running Remote – 2 day event focusing on managing remote teams
  • Hubud – Exotic coworking in Bali which I consider to be “the birthplace of the Location Independent Movement”.

And now – we’re starting to penetrate the mainstream… One week after the Fest I was in London, having a beer with my mate Shane. “So, how did it go?” he asked.
“Well, it was damn busy! Tiring, some operational issues, but we created something pretty special, I reckon”.
“You know what, Stu? This thing you keep rambling on about – it’s a great idea. Workplaces are changing. Companies of all sizes. This is all still on the periphery of mainstream society, but things are evolving. This is now an issue for corporations and for society on a much broader level.”
“Yep, Shane, I agree…”

The LIM – it really IS a movement!

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