#earlytobedearlytoshred and The Ethos to Turn Your Passion into Your Job

Anyone that knows me, thinks of how far I often go on the bike and closely associate cycling with my work. Sure my legs have gotten me places but my network has gotten me further.

I’ve made a living out of connecting and helping people. Without the many people I’ve met and those that have helped me along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

When Daniel & the Student Generation team asked me share my story of how I got where I am + to share some lessons learned over time, I immediately thought about the post I wrote about the importance of being dropped for Vulpine last year.

Whereas this article is about incorporating your a passion into a vocation, the Vulpine post is about perseverance, tenacity & resilience. In fact, it has been nearly exactly a year since that post and nearly a year since starting my newsletter & 9 years since starting my own bike shop. But let’s go even further back in time…

Pre-History – first job to odd jobs | 1999 – 2006

  • First job 1999 – employed at 15 years old washing dishes, bussing tables & catering at a BBQ joint.
  • Summer 2002 – I spent my senior year of high school in Germany on a scholarship
  • Summer 2003 to Summer 2004 – I worked  landscaping & in a grocery store + finishing high school
  • 2004 to  2006 – got into GA State worked as a waiter in fine dining, brunch places & as a barista

Key lessons:

  • Show up on time, do what you’ve got to do, stay until it’s done right. This sets you apart from the start.
  • Learn from your managers. Helping them with tasks beyond your job descriptions. Listen to their stories.
  • Quit for new opportunities. It’s easy to stay in a job. Don’t let opportunity pass you by for the sake of job security. (protip: leave on good terms & take a good reference with you)

My Own Bike Shop |  2007-2010

When I share my story with people younger than me, it goes way back to undergrad. Working as a waiter and later as a barista. Back then, I was into the urban cycling scene in Atlanta. I competed in and ultimately helped organize alleycat races with bike messenger buddies of mine. We all liked riding track bikes but bike shops in our city didn’t sell the kind of gear we wanted. What the hell, we thought, let’s open our own bike shop. That was July 7, 2007.

Key Lessons:

  • Starting a business with your buds can rule! I learned so much back then from running the business to working on bikes, brand collaborations and negotiations + everything in between.
  • Establishing a network globally and in your community are equally vital. I lean on bonds made then still now. I learned the value of a strong network.
  • Starting a business with your friends can suck. Spoiler alert! Here is an old post about it.

Office Jobs |  2008 – 2014

Not even a year into starting the shop and nearly done with my undergraduate degree, I got an internship helping with Web Content & Promotion at a translation agency. My online work for my own shop got me in the door. I did that then project management and, later, sales for this agency. After that, joined a small Ruby on Rails shop that, a year later, merged into full stack software development and developer training company. The merger was my ticket to Amsterdam but that office closed only 5 months later. Three months later, I got a job working at a Dutch startup for 6 months before the next chapter.

Key lessons:

  • Pay it forward – advice, favors, introductions, etc. Don’t keep count. Just help how you can. You’ll become the person people turn to for help, insight to share opportunities with.
  • Overdeliver – don’t just do your job (like i did in the pre-history section) Do that but more: new ideas + higher results = impressed managers & colleagues
  • Be nice. – do I even have to say this? Even if people suck, are dumb, mean etc. Be nice. Thank me later.

My Own ‘Office’ Job | 2014 – Current


By the winter of 2014, I had been in Holland for just over a year. I felt confident that I had what it took to start my own consulting business and re-applied for my and my family’s visa’s with a new incorporation. I began to slowly taking on clients. The pace began to pick up quick in the spring.

Now 1.5 years into starting my second company, Twotone Consulting. We’re an Amsterdam based agency stoked on where sales & PR meet. We…


  • empower clients by building targeted lists of ideal customers & show them how
  • qualify leads, run automated outbound campaigns and generate new business
  • offer lead gen appointment setting + shared know how and 1:1 coaching
  • develop PR strategies to tell your story to the right people in the right way
  • create brand events and activations: sales pro meetups to casual rides

Key lessons so far:

  • Trust your team – 5 months in I hired Headroom, then 6 months later my first employees. Communicate well and you won’t have much to worry about execution. Track progress and hold people accountable.
  • Trust yourself – from long bike rides to publishing regular content. Make a name for yourself that people can comprehend and share with their network. Be confident about your decisions. Follow through.
  • Wake up early – #earlytobedearlytoshred is more than my most famous hashtag. It is really hard. So most people skip it. Give yourself a headstart. It is that simple.

In closing, it might be easy for readers and even myself to see how my “life turned out” in a logical way

But combining work, fun and passion whilst finding time for my family hasn’t at all been intuitive, straightforward or easy at all. Despite bumps in the road, the bicycle has been at the core of each, major professional era for me, the foundation of my closest friendships and the first thing my wife and I had in common ; )

For this reason I do often go back to the early decision to open the bike shop and how it impacted my life. I often say “it always comes back to the bike” but what does that really mean?

The essential formula for me: find a consistent passion that keeps you stoked and keep pushing on that. Over the years, that has meant going faster, further and on new terrain with new people. This dedication impacts how you hold yourself accountable and how you push yourself personally and professionally. Not to mention a constant stream of new contacts and adventures.

Keeping a routine of perpetual improvement that’s fun + remembering lessons like those above that you learn along the way will make all the difference!

I hope this story contains some concrete and actionable tips on how to go incorporate your passion into your job! In case you’d like to read more: I share weekly insights + interesting articles here: bit.ly/Subscribe-to-my-newsletter

Thanks for reading!

Featured image by Ian Matteson for Enve Composites.

❤️️ #ottogram #miragram @drbabyguns. I’m an ex-bikeshop owner, #earlytobedearlytoshred @rollcallams, co-organizer of @saleshackerams & founder of @twotoneams ✌️
I write about cycling, startups and sales weekly: www.twotoneams.link/newsletter

How to become a digital nomad – 7 Characteristics you need

Becoming a digital nomad sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Working from wherever you are, whenever you are. We are Anna&Matt, the girl and guy behind hostelgeeks.com, an independent travel brand putting together the world’s most stunning Hostels: the 5 Star Hostels.

Do you want to know what’s a Hostel? Then check out our definitions of what is a hostel in the first place: hostelgeeks.com/what-is-a-hostel-defintions/

We work location independent. With every day passing by, it gets harder and harder to imagine going back to a 9-5 job. We escaped the European winter, living on an island next to Africa. We can work and live at the most beautiful places in the world, schedule our own time.

We are time- and location-independent, and personally, we enjoy it.

5 Star Hostels

However: We do not claim being location independent aka. a digital nomad is the best thing in the world, and everybody should go for it. In fact, it is a lot of work and certainly not the best choice for everybody.

It takes a lot of discipline, a thick skin, and most of all the right mindset. Running an own business, whether it is location-independent or located-based, is a different way to earn a living.

In this article, we share with you 7 things that we think are important to know beforehand when planning to become a digital nomad. We do not hold back and share with you insights and our knowledge.

We hope, our experience and insight helps you.

1. Self Awareness

Hostelgeeks in Menorca

This may be the toughest, most personal thing you have to overcome: You need to know you! We mean, you really need to know you, your skills, what you want, and what you do not want.

And most of all: You need to know your weakness and what you are NOT capable of!

Make a list and write it down. If you cannot think of anything to put on the list, start nevertheless. Write down the smallest things that pop in your mind. Continue this list the next day, and so on.

It may take a few days to get the list done. Once you have it, it will be easier for you to actually narrow down your possibilities – and we think this is what you need if you want to become a digital nomad.

2. Self Confidence (NOT arrogance)

If you do not believe in yourself, you cannot expect anybody else to do so!
Now, there is a big difference between being arrogant and self-confidence, and sometimes it can get mixed up.

Digital Nomads in Barcelona

When you mastered #1 of the self-awareness, it will be easier for you to be self-confident.

Simple as that: Because you actually now what you are good at and what you are not good at. This is a crucial step.

3. A clear vision

A clear vision is key for pitching possible investors and clients. Be clear, be consistent – then your counterpart will also be able to understand you in an easy way.

This will save you lots of time, and boost your „conversion rate“.

It might be a good idea to pitch your ideas first to friends. They can ask you valuable questions from an outsiders perspective you maybe haven’t even considered.

4. A boxer’s nose

Get ready for punches…in your face…a lot! Especially when going for a competitive market (and even the non-competitive ones), get ready for people who want to take you down, and undercut your confidence.

Let us give you an example of things we had to listen to:

  • oh, cool…so you live wherever you want and never work!
  • We don’t want to work with you…because you seem to enjoy too much your life!
  • Enjoy this as long as you can, until reality comes for you…
  • And how do you ACTUALLY make money?

There are many ways of handling this negative energy, this rejection. There is a simple rule to remember always: don’t take it personally!

If you are good at what you do, there will be most likely people who appreciate your work!

And those are the people you should care about. Remember #1 and #2!

Hostelgeeks, Digital Nomads and Travel Brand

5. Acceptance to make mistakes

This one may also hurt for some people: You are not perfect. And even worse: You will never be perfect. And yes, we are also not perfect, and will never be – we know that!

Now, this sounds brutal, but it is the bloody truth. Personally, we think, perfection does not exist in the first place, and if you want to put yourself out there, stop waiting for the perfect moment „until you don’t make beginner mistakes“ anymore.

Because, guess what, you will make mistakes anyway and you HAVE to do them. As soon as possible, as many as possible! The most important thing is:

To. Learn. From. Your. Mistakes!

We Bologna Hostel

6. A strong network and friends

Now, here is good news, for a change: There is way of reducing your mistakes. One thing that helped us to get started were close friends running their own businesses.

You can learn so much from their success and their own mistakes.

Ask them for their expertise, share your ideas, and evaluate. You will get access to the knowledge you won’t find anywhere else.

Anna&Matt in Venice

7. Patience (Yoga might help!)

Whatever you do, whatever your plan may be in business, patience will be your biggest enemy. Well, at least my one is. Building up a (location independent) business takes (usually) a lot of patience.

You will hit bumps along the road, and remember the bloody nose from above. This is where you can apply all the points mentioned above.

Summary How to become a digital nomad

This is just a generic article about how to become a digital nomad. Quite brutal, right?!

Is is actually worth it to become location independent? If you really know what you are getting into, then yes.

Is it hard: Oh yes!

But it wouldn’t be fun if it would be too easy, would it?! At the end of the day, the key is your mindset. We hope these 7 small tips for becoming a digital nomad are helpful for you. Those are only our own experience and our own point of view.

5 Star Hostels in Venice

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends, and let them be part of your upcoming journey as a digital nomad.

Be unique,

You can follow us at Facebook.com/Hostelgeeks.

Digital Nomads Hostelgeeks

The future is yours

The future is yours

The future is yours. Says your grandmother. She is lovely. She makes great cookies, but… please! Has she not read the news? It is really hard to find a job after graduation!


Companies are hardly hiring.


Companies are not interested in my field of studies.


Even if you find a job, it might just be a contract for a year.


The economic recession might turn into a depression.


Companies prefer people with experience.


So, the future is certainly not mine!

Not true.

Despite all the doom and gloom that you might perceive of our time, you are in the most privileged position ever.

You live in the digital age.
You have access to the world. To all the people. To all the knowledge. To all the ideas.

And, you not only have the possibility to access the world – you also know HOW to do it. Older generations struggle to understand the technology. Once they do, they run into a even larger problem. Their ideas of social interaction and etiquette are vastly different… and they do not work in the digital age. For you, connecting is as common as breathing.

The world has changed tremendously in the last 20 years. And it continuous to change ever more rapidly. You grew up in this era of change. You know no better than that things are changing constantly. You don’t have to adept to change. It is part of your DNA. You are probably not even aware of it.

That change and way of thinking is only slowly embraced and incorporated in the academic world. Schools and universities offer excellent and outstanding education, but the market place requires more than just that. The market place requires that you are in charge. You need to take the initiative. You need to be in the driver’s seat. That is essential.

Nothing is stopping you

Let’s get real here. Never ever before are people, and especially you, in a position to literally launch a new business from their bedroom.

Need finance? Get crowd funding.
Reach-out to the masses? Use your social media.
Technological issue? Ask your search engine.
Contact an industry leader? Send her an e-mail.
Looking for like minded people? Join a hub or an incubator.

Use your free time
Your studies are intensive. They require a lot of your attention, time and focus. And they should. But do not forget that your education is NOT the end goal. It is the beginning! You study for a higher purpose. To enjoy life. To bring about positive change in the world. To discover new things. Why wait with action till you get your official paper?

You can already start your own business. Right now. Nothing stops you from doing so. You have all the resources you need. Especially now. As a student it is a lot easier to contact corporations. People applaud motivated and inspired young people with initiatives. You rapidly extend your network and that will always be to your benefit later.

Perhaps your initiative fails. Great, well done! By failing, you have given yourself the best education life can give you. At least you now know what doesn’t work. This experience has tremendous value! It gives you a great advantage and impetus to get it right the next time. If you apply for jobs after graduation, an employer would be mad not to hire you!

I am not promoting to not study seriously anymore or to forego your studies altogether. On the contrary. I am actually advocating to USE your studies to already start and explore. You are now surrounded by bright and intelligent students (especially here at TheStudentGeneration). You are part of the academic world and have access to all the knowledge that you need to launch your business. What better environment can you wish for?

Good old wisdom
Go for it! But before you do, go give a big hug to your granny. She was right all along. The future is yours.

Bertil Schaart Msc MBA is speaker, author and visionairy in the field of sense making, mindset and personal power. He (re)connects organisations and people with their strategic sense and purpose.

Bertil inspires to take one’s one responsibility in life and at work. He makes the audience aware of hidden social dogmas that limit thinking and subsequent action. By applying business thinking on a personal level, the mental context is expanded, issues dissolve and a new world of possibilities and power opens up.

Evade society’s pressure and embark on a journey

Since the modern world has taken root, risk is something that is slowly being eliminated.
Instead of forging a unique path in life and discovering their authentic self in the process, many have allowed society’s
pressures to dictate the course of their life. The idea of paving your own way seems mad in today’s world.
That’s why my decision to sell off everything I own to travel the world might come as a bit of a shock to you.

My name is James and I first traveled when I was 16 across Europe on an excursion with 40 friends from high school.
The previous year I worked my first job and used the money I earned towards this grand adventure.
The trip was an unforgettable experience with all of its insane, drunken mishaps through Germany, Austria, Switzerland,
Italy, France and England.
We talked about that trip every day for the following year and even to this day it almost automatically resurfaces
in our conversation. After this trip, I was addicted to traveling and repeatedly visited Europe in college.

During my exchange program in Germany, I met a beautiful girl from South Africa who has changed my life.
This past year, she asked if I’d come visit her in South Africa for the summer.
I was working as a steam turbine mechanic at the time because I made good money and my job
allowed me a lot of freedom to travel since I worked contract to contract.
Work had started slowing down and I figured why not embrace a little risk?

When I first arrived, I landed at the Port Elizabeth airport which is about an hour from her home by car.
I was picked up from the airport by her dad in his RV-9 experimental airplane and he flew me to the town they lived in. The flight was absolutely breathtaking.


We flew inches above the mile-long crashing waves that landed on the shore of untouched sand dunes
with great hills behind them that formed the perfect background. All this vast landscape and not a single person in sight!
Our first night we had a braai (bbq) and went out to watch the sunset on top of the dunes.
When the moon came up that night, it was so close you could almost touch it’s unforgettable blood red surface.
During the days, we spent our time: surfing, snorkeling, bungee jumping, cliff diving, kayaking, and off roading in the sand dunes.
We watched Jeremy Loops perform live and we ended a drunken night on her lawn watching the sunrise
more times than I can count.

I went from James to Jimmy (or jimbo or jimbo-slice ah!!).
One day we took a road trip out to the Addo Game Reserve which is one of the only reserves that they allow you to drive yourself.
We saw zebra, springboek, warthogs, water buffalo… but what I wanted more than anything was to encounter wild elephants.
We drove around the whole day in the sweltering heat in a car without functioning air conditioning.
The day seemed to sweep out from under us as the sun started to descend in the horizon;
we realized at that moment that there was a section of the reserve that was missed in our search. We decided to try our luck.

Instead of forging a unique path in life and discovering their authentic self in the process, many have allowed society’s
pressures to dictate the course of their life.

All we could see was bush for a while until finally the land opened up to a body of water surrounded by a herd of elephants.
We were stunned watching the baby elephants drink from the water while the adults showered themselves
or guarded the herd, watching us outsiders.
After the elephants started making a move, we decided to finally get back on the road,
but as we drove onwards, there was another herd crossing in front of us.
After the last of them finished walking off the road, we decided to move forwards slowly, to not
disturb the one that just crossed our path.
She was walking only meters away alongside our car and we cautiously inched forward to keep pace with her.
This majestic creature’s power was enhanced by our fear but we were awestruck by the beauty of this massive wild animal.


The trip was the happiest time in my life. I was so hesitant to leave South Africa because I felt right at home there.
Once I landed back in the states, I was simply unsatisfied. Yes! I came home to beautiful Miami.
Yes! I came home to my good friends in our huge house that we always dreamed of getting after college.
But I still felt so unsatisfied…
That’s why after being home two weeks, it was so easy for me to sell everything I owned
and use the money to backpack Asia and Australia.
I felt constricted back home.
Constricted by this 9-5 culture that has, for some reason unknown to me, become a requirement after you graduate college.
Constricted by all the useless things I owned that, at the end of the day, I didn’t need!

These are the typical stepping stones of the standard path for western society: 9-5, marriage, dog, cat, kids, minivan, suburban lifestyle e.t.c. That’s okay if it’s something that you truly want.
Right now, I’m the type who wants the risk.
I want to have that feeling that reminds me, I’m alive!
That leaves my hands shaking from a drop of fear because I’m doing something I’ve never done before.
That gives me the little voice inside my head playing devil’s advocate telling me you’re crazy!
Now is there some truth to that?

Constricted by this 9-5 culture that has, for some reason unknown to me, become a requirement after you graduate college.
Constricted by all the useless things I owned that, at the end of the day, I didn’t need!

Oh yeah, especially given the fact my first stop is in India where their cuisine
and my inability to eat spicy food or dairy, due to an absolutely crippling digestive disorder, won’t mix well.
But as I’m writing you now, I’ve made it and I know my choices were right.
I refused to let anything stop me whether it be my stomach issue or money.
Did I have difficulty with having to poop a lot? Yes! That’s why I packed some extra toilet paper.
Has my budget been tight? Yes! That’s why I work for accommodation and sell my body on the street for food (only kidding!)
because I didn’t let these miniscule problems discourage me, I survived India and have learned to appreciate the little things in life.

I’ve raced scooters through a tiny village on roads with craters like the moon in Thailand. Flying down a hill at 110 km/h on a road covered with gravel and holding on for dear life.

Has my budget been tight? Yes! That’s why I work for accommodation
and sell my body on the street for food (only kidding!)

I can tell you how exhilarating it is to rock climb up the side of a mountain in Australia during a wicked storm.
To end up in a country with a cure for your disabling stomach disorder that’s caused you suffering for the past ten years.

These are the gifts that life grants you to let you know, making your own path was the right choice
and to never let anything discourage you from achieving your dreams.

If you don’t get this feeling, this reassurance, that what you’re doing is essential to your very existence, then take some risks!
Let the unknown consume you and allow the outcome to be random/unexpected/unintended…

Because at the end of the day, no one who follows the same path as everyone else has ever had much of a story to tell.

If you have any questions regarding how I did this trip or have any feedback, feel free to comment in the section below or message me whenever through the community!

I sold off all my posessions back home and used the money to travel the world. If it doesn’t fit in my bag, i don’t take it. Life is about your experiences and the people you meet, not the posessions you own.