Who is Andy Willis?
Andy Willis is an entrepreneur, mentor and founder of Working From Anywhere.
Andy well knows the consequences of business taking over life. His successful Conference & Event Management business took him all over the world, yet he fell into the trap of deferring ‘life’ until ‘later’.
Today he runs his WFA business from his beachside home in Australia, a village in the French Alps or on road trips in his customised WFA van with Belle, the Jack Russell by his side and with time to ride a wave or cycle every day.
His Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device program sets business owners free, fulfilling his personal mission to help people start living The Carpe Diem Way.
How did your new book Carpe Diem – Seize the Day come about?
There is a long story behind this, here is the shortened version (not that short) which should convey the why.
I was trapped running my very successful conference and event management business, I travelled the world with the business but I was deferring doing the other things I wanted to do until later.
Stuck waiting in yet another airport, I picked up Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week. The tagline – Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich – attracted my attention. I decided to transition my business to work from anywhere.
Making the transition didn’t happen overnight, but I knew that for anything at all to happen, I just had to start.
Then came a change in life circumstances that saw me become a single man again.
It was then that I decided to put it into practice by booking a trip to the French Alps, somewhere I had been putting off going back to until ‘later’. I booked a small apartment for the month of May 2013, packed my bike, bag and laptop and off I went.
It was life-changing, I discovered it was more than ‘where’ you worked, it was much more about ‘when’. I was in a different time zone to my staff and clients, I connected with them in the morning and then the rest of the day became mine to choose work, cycling, hiking or immersing myself in the small village community.
It worked so well I went back for two months the following year, three months the next and then three months every year after, running my conference and event management business at the same time.
I’d come back from these trips and notice many of my friends in business being in the same situation I was previously in, trapped in their business deferring living life until later.
It disturbed me, so I decided that I would make it my life purpose to help others to discover living life now. I would share my knowledge and most importantly the message of seizing the day and making time for life now.
So, after 15 years in the conference business, I wound it up to focus on my purpose and WFA.Life was born.
I’ve looked on as the business owners I have worked with discovered the connection and how transitioning their business to work from anywhere became much more than working anywhere — it became their pathway to living life now.
I then decided that I wanted to write a book to get the Carpe Diem message out to as many people as possible.
The bottom line is The Carpe Diem Way is written to get the Carpe Diem message out there as far and wide as possible, to deliver on my purpose to help people to discover the benefits of making time for life now.
With COVID 19 forcing people to work from home, has that changed the attitude to not being tied to an office?
Business owners, organisations and employees have all discovered the benefits of working from outside their place of business that they didn’t know existed.
The myths have been well and truly dispelled, productivity is at an all-time high, sick leave is down, staff are happier and healthier, people are exercising more and spending more time with the people that count.
Prior to business owners and organisations being forced to allow their people to work from home, they saw it as risky, unproductive and having the potential to lose some control.
The attitude to not being tied to an office has definitely changed for business owners, organisations and employees.
How important is it to have a better work-life balance and how does your book help this?
The work-life balance thing is a whole topic on its own, this is my take on it though. “There is no such thing as work-life balance. There is only life.”
This is something very close to my heart, it forms the major theme and direction throughout the book.
Work is part of life, as is doing the other things you enjoy doing and spending time with the people that count. The key is prioritising all the things that make up your one life, taking control of your choices every day.
Most importantly stopping from time to time to ask yourself why?
Why are you working so hard?
Why do you need to grow your business?
Why do you need to build your super fund to an amount that you have no chance of spending?
Why do you still need that 4 bedroom house when all the kids have left home?
Big one, why do you have to wait until retirement to do the things you really want to do?
Oops you’ve got me started, I’ll stop there even though there is so much more.
You spent months living in France while still doing your job in Australia. Where did you live and what did you love about it?
I’ve spent the majority of my time at a small village in the French Alps called Borg D’Oisans. It’s at the base of the famous Tour de France climb, the 21 hairpin bends of Alpe d’Huez.
I fell in love with the beautiful mountains, amazing scenery, the small village culture, the cafes, outlying tiny villages high in the mountains and most of all the people.
I also started hosting small group cycling tours during the Tour de France, these tours gave me the opportunity to share my passion for cycling in France as well as funding my time there.
What were the highlights of that destination?
I’m a crazy keen cyclist, cycling in the French Alps is an experience like none other, long climbs ( I like riding uphill best), narrow roads that traverse around side of the mountains with tunnels that are cut somehow into the mountain, the views are breathtaking.
I can’t describe in words the feeling of riding these roads.
Then I was introduced to hiking by my crazy French friends, scaling up mountains, sometimes on a path, other times not, ending up above the clouds hiking past lake after beautiful lake.
Often coming across French families, kids, parents, grandparents all climbing the challenging trails together.
Other highlights are the regular local markets, held in different villages on different days of the week, numerous village “fetes” individual village celebrations with food and music, and of course the Tour de France often came through.
The French are very family and community orientated, they prioritise spending time talking to each other, are in no hurry to move on when having coffee at the cafe during the markets and most often are without the distraction of mobile devices.
What other weird and wonderful locations have you worked from?
Chicama in South America, a tiny village on the coast that is home to the longest left-hand wave in the world.
Many times from my sister’s tiny village in the hills above Ubud.
I spent three months working from my campervan on the mid-north coast last year when I couldn’t go to France.
On a train between the French Alps and Paris, numerous airports, co-working spaces in Bali, Berlin, Sydney and anywhere else I’m at from time to time.
I often get in my Campervan and head out locally to work from there for the day, sometimes not leaving Tathra, just choosing to work from a different environment for the day.
Have you had much feedback from people who have taken your advice on working from anywhere?
Yes, I’ve had plenty of feedback from the people I have worked with, more about the greater benefit of when to work. Here are just two.
“If I hadn’t adopted the strategies in this book, I may not be sitting here writing this. My Doctor said if I didn’t change my life, I wouldn’t have a life to change. Andy showed me how to do it“. Jackie Parry, Best selling author, entrepreneur, founder of SisterShip Training Pty Ltd, world traveller
“I joined the program to get tools to help make my business portable because I love to travel and as a business owner paid holidays were no longer an option.
I had so many ah-ha moments during the program including that I did not need to do everything, there were cost-effective options available.
The biggest realisation for me was that my business had taken over my life, and while the tools made it possible to work from anywhere, I was still treating it like a job and missing out on so many experiences.
The mindset shift Andy helped me make has been extraordinary, I now focus on spending time on all the things that are important to me, my family, myself, my friends, travel and my business.
Choosing to live a life that integrates what I love instead of compartmentalising means I am happier and so are the important people in my life. My business has also grown by over 100%.
The WFA program has truly been life-changing, maybe even life-saving.”
JUSTINE MAREE COX, Leadership Development Coach, Business Strategist, Founder of Leaders Change Room Programs
There are numerous others.
You live on the Sapphire Coast at Tathra. What are your favourite places in the area?
The Sapphire Coast is beautiful, there are so many gems, I walk on the beach every day and look up the beach and to the headland at the iconic Tathra Wharf, I never tire of the view.
The campsites and beaches Gillards, Aragunnu, Picnic Point locally. Further up the coast, you have Camel Rock, Bermagui and everything in between. Moving south, Bar Beach at Merimbula is hard to beat as a place to kick back for coffee or a dip at the little beach. Further down the coast to Eden, Haycocks beach and walk, plenty of hiking trails including the famous light to light.
There are so many places to explore, best discovered by exploring yourself.
Where in the world would you love to go (when we can) next?
This is a no brainer for me, I’m going straight back to my village, my mountains and my friends in the French Alps.
Apart from that, I had a SUP surf trip booked for my 60th in 2020 on a boat called Carpe Diem in the Maldives, that trip is held in credit until we can travel so that will also be on the schedule.
In the meantime I make a point of never wishing to be anywhere else but wherever I currently am.
I’ll be heading north in my campervan for the Australian winter again. This trip will be a moving book launch and promotion of the Working From Anywhere Camps that I will be running on the Sapphire Coast over 2021 and beyond.
Have you travelled much in Australia since COVID hit and if so, have you discovered any gems that you didn’t know much about before?
As I couldn’t go to France in 2020 I instead converted a small van, Renault Trafic (French of course) to a camper and travelled up the east coast. I spent most of my time in the small coastal village of Scotts Head on the mid-north coast.
Scotts Head was the gem for me, small-town, long beach, nice wave, great coffee shops and a wonderful caravan park community.
ANDY’S TOP 10 TIPS FOR WORKING FROM ANYWHERE
- Move all, yes ALL of your business to the cloud, files, software, communications.
- Use one platform that includes a suite of tools and integrates with other necessary third party tools. My platform of choice is Google Workspace.
- Implement Asana into your business/life. Have a maximum of six things on your to-do list for the day. I have a strategy using Asana (which you have implemented by now) that works for this, it’s easy and effective.
- Don’t make up your own passwords, secure your digital world by implementing a Password Manager, this is a must do. My choice is LastPass.
- Work to your energy levels, working in eight-hour blocks doesn’t work. If you’re feeling like you’re getting nowhere, stop, go for walk, take a break, go do some gardening and come back to it. Guaranteed you’ll solve all your problems and think of new ideas as you walk.
- If you work well in the morning, work in the morning, if you work better at night, work at night. Whatever you do, remember to STOP, walk away, enjoy life and come back to it tomorrow.
- Spend time working with or talking to people outside your business, the best opportunities come from conversations with people you are yet to meet.
- Work on one thing at a time, give it your full focus, multi-tasking doesn’t work.
- Check your email twice a day maximum and never first thing ( I have a strategy for this too – it’s called Inbox Zero)
- Make time for life.
The Working From Anywhere TagAlong
To help people start their working from anywhere life, Andy Willis is presenting a series of WFA TagAlong camps. These are seven day events with collaboration sessions, presentations, activities and daily happy hours. The first Camp is sold out, with the second scheduled for 10-17 May at Tathra Beachside in Tathra. More events are scheduled for later in the year with the potential to run them in other regional locations in the future.
Where can people purchase the book?
The Carpe Diem Way book is available postage-free in Australia from https://wfa.life/read.
Also available by asking your local bookstore to get it in through the IngramSpark distribution network.
E-book and paperback available from Amazon worldwide.