Juha Liikala has always been an independent thinker.
Growing up, his parents pushed him to hustle 24/7 and Juha quickly learned how to get things done. Juha’s entrepreneurial spirit was born out of this push and he grew up selling Christmas cards (for up to 8x their original price!) and making money as a traveling IT guy.
Now, Juha lives life as a digital nomad. Juha travels the world and works as a developer. Our team is lucky to have Juha takeover our Instagram feed this week and share beautiful snapshots of his adventures around the world. Read on to learn why Juha believes everyone is at least partially a digital nomad these days, where his favorite destination has been and how he feels free daily and achieves happiness in his work.
Tell us about yourself.
I think I’ve always been the independent kind.
I used to get bullied through comprehensive school. My love for the sweets and good food probably had something to do with it! You know the guy who was always picked last for the sports team? Yeah, that was me. I didn’t have that many friends, but those that I had, have been dear friends ever since. That taught me a certain type of independence. To do well on my own. To make my own rules. No need for other people’s “approval.” A great lesson in a way.
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs. I was raised in that 24/7 hustle environment. I was the little kid running behind the shop counters and trying my best to figure out what drove people to buy certain types of things. The entrepreneurial spirit caught me early. I used to sell Christmas cards from door to door while I was still ten or so. Bought them for 10 pennies, sold them for 8 times the profit. Bought and sold comics. Bought and sold all sorts of stuff really. Fun times.
For my first “real business,” I did gigs as an “IT-guy.” I drove from house to house to fix people’s computers. Web development came to the picture next and all of a sudden, I found myself doing freelance gigs as a developer. That went on for several years. Then came contracting. Fast forward to today and it’s been well over a decade now working as a developer. Can’t complain really, it’s been a great ride so far.
Describe how you live your life in 5 words.
Curiously. Daringly. Lovingly. Resiliently. Enthusiastically.
How did you become a globetrotter and digital nomad?
Reading the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss was that defining moment for me I believe. I was already “digital nomading” before that, but that was the time traveling truly came to the picture. Me and my fiancée have embarked on quite a few wanderlust adventures ever since that day! 🙂
What do you love about being a digital nomad?
The flexibility. No doubt about it. A certain amount of freedom is paramount for me personally when it comes to achieving happiness in life & work. I don’t mind working in a regular office setting (that’s how I work most of the days), but it’s nice to know that you can just grab your laptop and go, whenever you feel like changing surroundings, the city or even the entire continent. No leash attached.
If you could have dinner with any 5 people (living or not), who would they be?
Let’s go with alive ones! I’d love to have a dinner and chat with… Richard Branson for his entrepreneurial ideas. Tim Ferriss for his crazy experiments. Jeff Goldblum for his fascinating character. Arnold Schwarzenegger for inspiration. Jessica Alba for.. well, because which man (or woman!) wouldn’t! 🙂
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to?
Oh my… Nearly an impossible pick! We went to Singapore this March and absolutely fell in love with the city. But we also love “paradise destinations,” so any island in the Maldives will do. Or Santorini.. incredible beautiful place to be and explore. Or perhaps Palawan in the Philippines.
Where’s your next destination?
We’re heading to Bali later this year. Before that, a few shorter trips are in the works inside Europe.
What’s a common misconception about those living the digital nomad life?
There are several. Probably the most common involve the very concept of “working on the move.” You don’t have to be constantly switching countries to be able to coin yourself as a digital nomad. In fact, I dare to say that almost everyone is at least part-time digital nomad nowadays. The Internet has enabled us to do so.
For me, being a digital nomad has always been about the ability to work from wherever I choose. That can be working from an apartment in Spain, or it could be working here in Oulu at my local coffee shop. The main factor for me is that I can just grab my laptop and go to wherever I please and keep working. It’s about the ability to do my work remotely. Pure and simple.
If you could spend the rest of your life in one location, where would it be?
I live in Oulu, Finland and although Finland (like any other country) does have its flaws, I think it is a great place to live and to work from. But if it weren’t here, I’d probably say Singapore. Or somewhere in the Mediterranean. I’m not a huge fan of the cold winters here, so a change to a warmer climate certainly would not hurt!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Join me at TravelingGentleman for more photo stories & insights on location independence, entrepreneurship and globetrotting. Would be great to connect with other like-minded people and keep the nomad community buzzing!
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.