The Boss Series: Interview with Christina Gmyr
Welcome to The Boss Series!
My goal for this series is to shed light on the hurdles and challenges of the freelance/remote/work-at-home lifestyle, but also to encourage and give hope to women who dream of freedom from their cubicles.
I want to prove that it's possible to change careers — or to pursue any other type of work-related freedom — and I want to do that by sharing “case studies” of women who have done exactly that!
Interview with Christina Gmyr
Stina helps women build the life and business of their dreams, using a unique blend of astrology, science, and biz strategy.
Stina, what is your product or service, and why does the world need to pick up what you're puttin' down?
I run a marketing agency (Gumear) and I help women find financial and emotional freedom through my lifestyle site, FleetingLife.com.
When did you begin your remote, work-at-home career? Did you have a "normal" job before (and what was it)?
I used to work at a hedge fund in NYC, and I started tinkering around online in my spare time in 2012, but I didn’t start monetizing anything until 2013. By Aug 2013 I had quit my hedge fund job, moved to Spain and began working remotely.
How did you get to where you are today? What inspired you to pursue this career? This freedom?
When I was working in NYC I was hit by a car and spent about 5 months in bed recovering, which was enough time for me to really reflect on where I was in life. I knew I didn’t want to stick around NYC and my job wasn’t fulfilling, so I decided to take the plunge without having all of my ‘ducks in a row’ per se. As soon as I could walk I jumped on a plane to Spain and never looked back. A desire for freedom was definitely the biggest driving force! Also a desire to travel more and perfect my Spanish.
During the process of pursuing your remote career, at what point did you realize that this was going to work out for you? That you weren't crazy for having this dream, and that it was totally doable?
LOL! I guess I’m crazy enough that I never let myself think it wasn’t possible. I was very comfortable with risk when I first started, and felt confident in my ability to work things out. I’m lucky that I started the journey when I was younger (when I was 23) because if I were starting out now (at 30) I think it would be a lot scarier! Not because things have changed (it’s actually infinitely easier to find remote work these days), but because with age comes maturity, and planning for all of those ‘what if’ scenarios that we don’t care about as much when we’re younger.
My best advice to others is to know your own risk tolerance and based on that, make a plan you can stick to. If you have mouths to feed and can’t afford to take a big risk, like quitting your job before you have something lined up, start with a few small side projects and grow your client roster slowly.
But if you’re younger and okay with risk (maybe even thrive under pressure) and no one else is relying on you financially, you might decide that taking a big risk is exactly what you need to do to kickstart your journey.
It’s such a personal decision that only you know the answer to, so don’t let anyone else’s one-size-fits-all advice box you in or keep you stuck! You know you better than anyone else, and you can absolutely make this work if you choose the strategy that’s the most motivating to you.
Pretend you're at a cocktail party or you’re in some other awkward small-talk situation. How do you answer the question, "so, what do you do?"
If I’m chatting with someone I don’t know and don’t have much of an interest in developing a deeper relationship with, I’ll just say “I do digital marketing.” It’s so broad that it does fit, and if we’re just making small talk, it’s usually enough to satisfy their curiosity. If I really like the person I’ll give them more detail, especially if they work in the online world too.
How do people typically respond when you tell them what you do?
I definitely have some friends that say “What is it that you do again?” even though I’ve explained it many times. These are usually people who are in traditional jobs like medicine, law, etc.
Since I live abroad, I also meet a lot of expats, and since these types of people tend to think a bit out-of-the-box to begin with, they are more curious and interested in how they can do the same thing.
Where are you from, and where do you live now?
Upstate NY (US) originally, now in Barcelona, Spain.
Have you moved since you began your remote career?
A little too much! I’ve lived in Madrid, Mallorca, and Barcelona since moving to Spain over six years ago. For around 6 months I was a nomad, but I had to settle down due to health reasons.
Were your moves influenced by your new-found freedom of being able to work from anywhere, or did you move for another reason?
I moved because I love exploring new places.
Do you work alone or with a team?
Depends on the project — some projects I work on alone, some I hire contractors to help with and sometimes I collaborate with a client’s team for larger projects (but always online). I like the mix!
Do you ever feel like you're missing out on something by working alone? To put it bluntly, do you ever feel lonely?
I definitely go through phases where I feel like a hermit, and by the end of the week I can’t wait to spend most of the weekend outside of the house. But I’m lucky in that my hubby works from home most days as well, and when I’m feeling really cramped at home I’ll head to a coffee shop. I also have two dogs that keep me company and force me to leave my house to walk them.
I think introverts/ambiverts do best with remote work! I’m an ambivert, so I do love my alone time and having a quiet environment to focus on my projects without interruption, but I know if I work alone all week I feel like I’m losing my mind by Friday. So knowing yourself and finding the right balance for you is key.
Tell us what it's like to work with a team when you don't see them at an office every day.
Everyone I work with also works online, and sometimes a client’s team works together in the office. Face-to-face video meetings are important for building camaraderie, but I won’t lie, they tend to be unproductive compared to other forms of communication. So I try to encourage most project-related communication to be done via a project management software like Asana or Basecamp, and then reserve Zoom meetings for more informal ‘catch-up’ type chatting. This puts people at ease because they don’t have to be so professional on the call and allows both sides to open up more, which obviously deepens the relationship.
What are three must-have freelance/remote/work-at-home tools?
WorkFlowy, Toggl, G-Suite + Asana (I can’t pick 3!)
What is one of the biggest challenges you've faced since you began your remote, work-at-home career? What did that challenge teach you?
When I first started out I wasn’t terrible at setting boundaries with clients. This meant I bent over backward constantly and always met insane demands like getting online at 4 am because of a launch, working 16-hour days, and seriously delayed payments.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments since beginning your remote career? What did that accomplishment teach you?
Building up an amazing community through my site FleetingLife that has stuck with me through the ups and downs, and now that I am on the ‘other side’ of things, I am able to give back to them through courses, coaching, and mentorship. My biggest passion is helping other women find their courage, discover their calling and make big changes in their life, so to be able to work on that is a dream come true.
I’ve learned that no work, even remote work, will make you happy unless you’re working on what lights you up.
So your goal right now might be to get a remote job so you can spend less time commuting, or travel the world while you work. And to that I say “GO FOR IT!” ... but... keep in mind that achieving that goal will only keep you satisfied for so long. And when you feel that itch again, it’s time to figure out what kind of work will fulfill you on a soul-level. Never stop searching for that work that really lights you up inside, and once you find it, commit to it 1000%.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to change careers completely, or who wants to start a freelance/remote/work-at-home "side-hustle?"
Basically what I said in my last answer — take the leap to work remotely because it is amazing, and is such an enormous learning opportunity. And feel free to take a job/gig/client that’s not your ‘dream’ gig per se, because those experiences are essential to your growth and learning what you do and don’t want. But never stop searching for the projects that fulfill you on a soul-level, and once you find them, fight like hell to make them work.
At some point you need to learn when to ignore the one-size-fits-all strategies touted by the ‘gurus,’ and just do what your gut tells you to do. Because no one knows you like you and nothing innovative ever came from copying someone else.