December 5, 2018

There’s no Traffic on a Small Caribbean Island...and Other Reasons Why I Moved Abroad to Live my “Why”


I was recently asked to write a blog post about "Living My Why," which is part of a concept we talk about quite a bit at PartnerCentric. It’s also important to note that as I write this, I am sitting on my front porch on a gorgeous beach in the Caribbean. No big deal.

Rewind 1.5 years. I was commuting many hours daily in Bay Area traffic, working in yet another high stress executive sales job. When I would get home, it was just in time to put my kids to bed, or shuttle them to and from a sports practice. Family life boiled down to passing each other in the kitchen at home or sitting in traffic on the way to one of too many of my kids’ activities (any parent will agree that our kids are oversubscribed to activities these days!) My calendar was in half-hour increments all week and weekend. While many thrive on this pace, for me it was unsustainable.

I decided a life reboot was in order.

PartnerCentric Enters the Picture

I began speaking to a highly-respected, 100% remote agency in the performance marketing space, PartnerCentric. The people were impossibly nice, company leadership consisted of people I respected and wanted to work for, core values of the company centered externally on delivering best-in-class client service, but internally it was also important that employees could enjoy a good work/life balance, and went so far as to employ a model of "Living Your Why." In plain-speak, the company wanted employees to live a life of purpose that was meaningful to them as individuals. Enough research has been done to know that happy employees do great work, with a byproduct of happy clients and low turnover. Needless to say, I told the Owner/CEO and COO, sign me up!

After onboarding and spending half a year in my new role, I decided I wanted to continue unplugging from what many term the "Hamster Wheel." I wanted to do great work, but I also wanted to enjoy my family time, and be able to spend quality time with my kids while I still had them at home.

So I approached PartnerCentric about helping expand our global footprint. Since we are a fully remote organization, it makes sense that we can work from virtually anywhere as long as there is no interruption in delivering great service to our clients. I grew up an "engineering brat," living in and visiting exotic places around the world with my parents. I wanted to deliver some form of that pivotal experience to my family. So after tons of research, and in conjunction with PartnerCentric leadership, we decided that enhancing our LATAM footprint with me located in the Caribbean made the most sense.

Stop and think about that for a moment...I had an adult conversation with my company C-level about moving to another country to chase a personal dream of mine, while adding value to the organization. In many situations in my career, that thought would seem absurd, or just downright dangerous to even consider proposing to executives. This to me just shows the emotional intelligence and true grace of PartnerCentric leadership.

Needless to say, when I told my extended family and friends I was pulling the kids out of their cozy private school existence to move to another country, most suggested I see a good psychiatrist. My Father-in-Law asked if I was recreating the film “Mosquito Coast.” But mostly, you just learn that many people fear the various components of change. Growing up and attending a new school every couple of years taught me some valuable lessons about change, and it’s served me well over the years in my chosen industry of digital marketing, a space that is all about constant evolution.

A New Life in Paradise

So here we are in a small, safe Caribbean country. My kids are in local schools, which is giving them an amazing experience that is teaching them so much about life, tolerance, culture and the double-edged sword of privilege. The cost of living has gone down dramatically from the Bay Area. Every morning I walk my kids to school and jump in the ocean for a swim, then go on to a full day of conference calls and other work tasks, but I get to do them without a multi-hour commute and 10 internal meetings. My car is now a golf cart. I have also dialed down my consumption of the highly-addictive and stressful American 24-hour news cycle, which I felt was chewing away at my soul. Evenings and weekends now include unlimited family bonding over snorkeling, fishing, beach volleyball and traveling to Mayan ruins. Is it all unicorns and pixies? No, nothing is. But is it the reboot I was looking for? 100%.

And so you don’t think this is a total puff piece, I’m doing what I feel is the best work of my career. We are expanding our global footprint as a company, continuing to manage rapid growth in clients and employees, delivering terrific services to our clients, and uncovering amazing enhanced services to deliver even more value.

Having worked at some of the most forward-thinking companies in online business, it continues to blow my mind that more companies haven’t embraced remote work. Isn’t remote-anything built into the DNA of this industry? I agree remote work is not for everyone or every company, but while touchpoints are critical, the tech stack to create a cohesive team is so mature now (Slack, Asana, Google Docs, etc.) that I haven’t experienced any slippage since moving from office to remote.

How to Get Started

Many people who find out my story want my advice about how to pivot their own life. Everyone has different circumstances, so there is no uniform model here but there is a high-level formula and it’s quite simple in theory, yet more difficult in execution. It involves two critical factors:

  • Find a vehicle - in my case it was a progressive company with leadership that just gets it.
  • Take the plunge - the only way to create and fulfill your “why” in life is to take an educated leap and just do it.

Craig McGlynn is the Director of Client Services for PartnerCentric. He has a long history in VP Sales and senior e-Commerce roles for a number of companies including Amazon and VigLink. Want to find out more about his Caribbean experience? Drop him a line at Craig.Mcglynn@partnercentric.com.