Let me introduce you to my friend Rodrigo Flamenco.
He comes from El Salvador, a beautiful country, but one that he himself (and many others) describe as the "murder capital of the world" — definitely one of the most tumultuous developing countries on earth, with high rates of poverty and crime.
The economy got so bad in the 80s and 90s that they axed their own national currency the colón and replaced it with the US dollar in 2001.
Rodrigo joined the DNA community in 2012.
Precisely 2 years and 5 months later, he posted this in our private Facebook group:
I will always remember that day! One of the happiest moments of my life.
But, let me allow Rodrigo to tell you the full story in his own words.
Without further ado, everything that follows is from Rodrigo:
"Imagine this, you work from 8am to 6pm, you earn $520 per month.
You’re in a third world country — the smallest in the world to be precise. Not only that, but it’s also the MOST violent country in the whole world.
And on top of that, you’re already in one of the best jobs the country can offer, and you have no family in other countries, nor any connections.
But thanks to your job, you have one of the fastest internet connections in the country (20mbps, which I know is not so fast, but compared to having 1 or 3mbps at best, that’s a HUGE improvement).
You’re in that position, what would you do?
That was the position I was in 3 years ago.
I live in El Salvador, the smallest and most violent country in the world. I worked my ass off, climbed to the top, saw what the country had to offer me, and realized that I was in deep s#!t.
Most people here rationalize living like this (or worse), saying things like “it’s not so bad”, “other people have it worse”, “every country has its problems”…
…but I had a VERY logical and objective kind of thinking thanks to being a science geek. I couldn’t do that. I saw the facts and I couldn’t deny them.
I started getting depressed. I started thinking “maybe there’s something wrong with me”, “everybody else looks happy in this job, but I’m not so maybe it’s something wrong with me”…
Now don’t get me wrong, the job I had was way better than a day job of doom. I had a cool boss, I barely did anything, and again I had probably the fastest internet connection in the country.
But still, I felt unfulfilled. I started thinking about settling in there, “being thankful” for being there, accepting the fact that probably that was the job I was going to have until I died…
…which made my depression even deeper.
3 months after “accepting my fate”, I came across a video on a blog that I followed.
This guy talked about creating a “freedom business” that would allow me to travel, to have adventures, TO ENJOY LIFE! And he mentioned the book The 4 Hour Workweek.
I devoured it in one day. Then, as my scientific mind told me, I started looking for cases of people doing this, to see if this wasn’t a scam or something.
I went to Google, found many people doing it, and then the last page I found, which confirmed the “idea” with an amazing video showing all these adventures all over the world made it real for me.
It’s possible. There are people doing this, 100% online. I can reach people all over the world and have them as clients, and get the hell out of this place.
That video, was an old video from Cody McKibben.
The page? This very site you’re on now — which connected deeply to what I wanted out of life.
I was in shock. First, angry at myself for having “accepted” that horrible kind of life I lived before.
But very soon another question took over me:
“HOW DO I DO THIS?”
I found Digital Nomad Academy, but the monthly fee was too expensive for me being where I’m from. But I understood that I needed to get there, to surround myself with those successful people to up my game.
But then, out of nowhere, an opportunity came.
I hustled and made a presentation to make my case, and Cody gave me a scholarship to help with the cost of the DNA enrollment!
This was my Christmas gift!
My training began in January, and at this point I had zero knowledge about business, which made it hard at the beginning.
Every week I was learning new lessons from a successful entrepreneur, but I didn’t knew what to ask, what to do. I felt a little bit lost in the beginning, but I started taking notes and ideas, and if I had one big thing from DNA it was ideas — LOTS of ideas, and business models to learn from.
I created my first blog, just to learn about how to do basic marketing online, and a few months later, I created my first freedom business, Epic Web Studio.
Horrible I know, but it was the best I could do with my budget and my skills at that time.
I used the connections I had inside Digital Nomad Academy to offer some free projects so I could build up a portfolio, and get some testimonials first, so I could show something to my future clients.
I understood something very well from day 1: I was in a really horrible position in life, in a really bad country to do this. I barely had any knowledge, so I knew that this was going to be hard, like REALLY HARD…
…and I understood that if I wanted clients, I needed to give them a GREAT reason to work with me, instead of the countless other people in the world. But I knew that I needed to grow that “reason” little by little.
Epic Web Studio was launched in April. I interviewed the businesses owners I knew locally and internationally, I had a friend of mine make some logos in exchange for a nice dinner, and did a poll to test the 6 logos I had.
The answer from all the people at the time told me that they needed websites that would give them more sales and videos, so my business started as a way to sell videos + websites in the same package.
In the first 3 months I got my first $1K, from 2 clients, and it took me 1 week to do it.
In just 1 week, I made what it would have taken me 2 months to earn at my day job… I was blown away.
This was damn clear when I joined DNA.
After 6 months of being in DNA, I had received my first $1,000 and had a good portfolio and testimonials to start with.
Starting from absolutely zero.
I knew the importance of keeping people like that around me, so I started seeking out more masterminds and communities to be a part of.
I met many amazing people, I got some damn good friends in DNA which are still there with me supporting me.
It was crazy, people who have never met me face to face were there for me, they believed in me, they supported me, people from USA, Australia, Thailand, UK, Sweden, all over the world, were my biggest supporters for the first 2 years.
Even my family didn’t support me in my “crazy idea”, but the people inside Digital Nomad Academy were there for me, and they celebrated my achievements.
It took me 1 year and a half to leave my job and I haven’t looked back since.
It all started with DNA in January 2012.
3 years later, my digital agency provides web design, videos, apps development, social media marketing, we have worked with many amazing brands, and we have worked for clients in more than 18 countries so far (and our new design looks SO MUCH BETTER now).
I started a blog where I have interviewed many amazing entrepreneurs, and even got some big guys like Fred Seibert (CEO of Frederator and creator of pretty much every cartoon in Cartoon Network in the 90’s), Stephen Silver (Lead Character Designer in Disney), and created my own “Hustlers Mastermind” to help the people who are starting out from zero.
My team won a $30,000 prize for an animated series we want to produce (which would be the first animated series produced in Central America I think or at least in El Salvador)
I traveled to Bulgaria to join a huge event with 130+ successful entrepreneurs from all over the world and learned a lot from them, made many new amazing friendships and also got some amazing memories.