DR. JENN BURRELL
MANAGING DIRECTOR, MADX
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME ON REMOTE YEAR?
...to take a journey to put it simply. I love to travel; and, working from home every day got doldrum. So when I heard about an opportunity to focus on work and business development while traveling simultaneously with a group, I couldn't resist applying. Traveling, of course, will expose me to different lifestyles, foods, and history and being able to do it with Remote Year will provide some structure and consistency making it easier to build relationships on the road (and creating business opportunity).
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON FOR THE YEAR?
Something old. Something new. I'll be running MadX, data analysis, research, and evaluation firm while on RY. My goal is to be in a position to hire employees to carry out the technical aspects of the business, while I work on the business development side. I’m also writing a guide on how to develop an effective research plan designed for graduate research students who are feeling lost. In my opinion, the technical aspects are simple with the right templates and tools. Lastly, I’m working on expanding my Python coding skills using a Big Data framework. And, when I can’t sleep at night, I’m up making lists of new things to work on.
WHERE HAVE YOU LIVED/TRAVELED TO PREVIOUSLY?
Not enough places!! I've traveled to: Canada; Jamaica; Bahamas; St. Johns; Puerto Rico; Southern Rodeshia (Botswana); Dominica Republic; Belize; South Africa; Mexico, France; Spain; London; Zambia; Martinique; Netherlands; Greece; Singapore; Indonesia
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF A REMOTE ROLE?
One day I simply took a leap of faith and left my 9-to-5 as a contractor for the Department for Education Magnet School Assistance Program. I’ve known that I love social science research for many years, but I want to be able to do it without being confined behind 4 walls. So, I started MadX to allow me that freedom and to provide that freedom to my consultants. I believe that you don’t need to be in a particular space to design a research study or related training tools or to conduct data analysis. In 2016, you just need skills and focus and can take the tools necessary to complete projects on the road with you.
DESCRIBE YOUR REMOTE YEAR EXPERIENCE IN 3 WORDS.
“On The Edge”
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TRAVEL COME FROM?
I think it's innate. I love learning from others, hearing their lived experiences, and exposing myself to new things on the edge of my comfort zone. Traveling enables that.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I don’t really have a typical day but I do have a sense of routine. I plan my week on Sunday. I usually wake up very early. I do whatever is in my calendar, which includes meetings, professional development activities, whatever tasks my clients’ need, and business development. My free time consists of stalking chefs on Instagram, checking their ring fingers, and finding delicious foods wherever I’m living at the time.
HOW DO YOU THINK TRAVELLING WILL AFFECT YOUR CURRENT WORK?
I have already established a relationship and trust with my clients, which has been really helpful while traveling. Otherwise, the Ph.D. process prepared me with all the skills I need to travel, while staying focused. I had to be disciplined, be aware of the hours that I work the best, and keep a schedule. It’s the same on the road. It’s a beautiful journey but full of distractions! You have to prioritize what you want to accomplish both in terms of work and your leisure activities. I tend to handle priorities first (hopefully somewhere beautiful) and then reward myself after. So, it hasn’t affected my current work so much as traveling has sparked ideas and opened my eyes to a broader range of opportunities to do kind of work I enjoy.
WHO DO YOU HOPE TO BE BY THE END OF REMOTE YEAR?
I have a strong sense of self, so I’ll still be me, but, will hopefully have been able to share who I am with others. While engaging in new experiences with other remoters, it's inevitable. So, I hope to make new lifelong friends. I hope to have contributed something meaningful to the group and to those we encounter outside of the group along the way. I hope to have a clearer sense of how I can use research and data to make larger contribution to the world.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD?
The biggest challenge is connecting long-term. It’s easy to meet wonderful, fun people that you connect with, but you really have to enjoy the time together while it lasts because before you know it, you’re on your way, and they are on their way. The other challenge is continuing to foster relationships at home. A time difference and out-of-sight/out-of-mind bugs can bite and make it hard to stay connected but it’s so important because these friends and family members are your ultimate support system.
WHAT BOOK SHOULD EVERYONE READ?
I can't keep it simple...depends on your interests.
Business: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Education: Other Peoples Children by Lisa Delpit
Justice: Going Up River: Travels in a Prison Nation by Joseph T. Hallinan
For Leisure: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS LOOKING TO BRING TRAVEL INTO THEIR LIVES?
I'd say Remote Year is an awesome way to do it! Just enough of the itinerary is planned that you can stay focus on your work, but there is lots of freedom to add your own activities. My favorite part is the community: traveling with a group of folks with a "work hard-play hard" mindset too is awesomesauce.
3 THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT ON THE ROAD?
Spork (Spoon-Fork-Knife Combo)
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TALENT?
Reflexology foot massages (soon)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE ON THE GLOBE?
This question really made me think. I like so many different places for so many different reasons. Some places, it’s just about who I was there with (Ambergris Caye). Some places, its about how aesthetically pleasing they were (Crete, Mosi-Oa-Tunya Falls). At the risk of sounding like a complete sapp, which I’m totally not; at end of the day, my favorite place is where love is mutual because it that has created my most powerful, memorable, and positive experiences no matter where I was.
YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE/WORDS TO LIVE BY?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Anderson