Why You Need Community
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Authenticity. Transparency. Community. These are such millennial buzzwords. Presently, they are so ubiquitous, if not overused, that the meaning and weight of those words can easily get lost. For Jon and I, just barely on the millennial side of the millennial/Gen X divide, “community” had definitely lost its meaning. We didn’t think about community much. We didn’t feel there was a void. Community was only a buzzword–until Heath and Alyssa Padgett helped us find it.
The Beginning of Our RV Life
The first 6 months of our full-time RV life looked nothing like the second 6 months of our first year, or the six months following the first year. Not only did we mostly stay in just one area, we also didn’t know a single soul living the full-time RV lifestyle. Now, we did know there were others out there (thank you, Technomadia for your incredibly informative website), but at the time they were something more like a celebrity or TV personality as far as we were concerned.
Another key difference was that we still (okay, mostly I) cringed a bit if the topic of where or how we were living came up. It was impossible to explain. No, we were not on vacation. No, we’re not coming back to reality, this is reality. Most people didn’t really understand what we were doing. And, maybe, just maybe, we (or maybe, I) allowed a few doubts in anytime someone referred to our RV adventure as living in a trailer (we started out in a Towable Travel Trailer).
Podcasts: A Great Way to Find Community
We weren’t avid podcast listeners until we began full-time RVing. We started with Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. Somewhere along the line, Jon came across a podcast called The RV Entrepreneur. Immediately intrigued, he pressed play. He absolutely loved it, and we added it to our lineup. We would listen at our dinette, over dinner, every week.
During one of the episodes, Heath announced the first ever RV Entrepreneur Summit. I adamantly stated we would buy tickets, and I made sure we bought our tickets that night. This remains the best decision we have made as full-time RVers.
We would like to note that Podcasts are amazing resources for any number of topics, not just Full-Time RVing. Many Podcasts will have Facebook groups you can join, like the RV Entrepreneur, as well as meet-ups and conferences where you can meet group members and listeners in person.
The RV Entrepreneur Summit I: Our Very First Conference Ever
Before we knew it, we were arriving at the RV Entrepreneur Summit. We had no idea what to expect. The only conference we had ever had on our radar was World Domination Summit, but we certainly hadn’t attended it, or any other. We arrived just in time to make it to an early-arrival wine tasting. Looking at the time I knew we would be arriving after everyone was already settled in. There wouldn’t be an opportunity to quietly slide in. That annoying butterflies-in-the tummy feeling began to take hold.
As it turns out, this was not a moment that should have invited any sort of nervous feeling. I don’t think we will ever forget that the first person we met was the amazing Jill Sessa (you may have first heard of her as Vespa and a Laptop). It was pretty awesome! You see, she was one of the “RV celebrities” on Technomadia’s website--and she was chatting with us! When we got to the table the group was sitting at, chairs where immediately pulled up for us.
We were fortunate to end up seated next to Bryce and Camille (from More Than A Wheelin'). Camille, who has the ability to make people instantly comfortable, started to talk to us right away. For the first time, we didn’t have to stumble through explaining what we were doing. They got it! They knew! Furthermore, our stories were similar, and we had been on the road a comparable length of time!
This pattern would repeat itself over and over throughout the weekend. Everyone just got it. There was no explaining, no awkwardness, no doubting. Being at the Summit turned out to be as natural, and easy, as breathing oxygen. For the first time we got to talk to other people about some of our heroes, like Pat Flynn and Mr. Money Mustache. Multiple people also found inspiration in books we loved like The Secret, The Alchemist, and Think and Grow Rich.
Inspiring, Humble Speakers and Hosts
We were so inspired by all the speakers! Joe Hendricks and Kyle Kesterson literally changed Jon’s life. And most of all, there was no “cool kids” table. We never expected the speakers, and hosts, all successful in the full-time RV world, to mingle with attendees the way they did. And if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it and would hold them in high esteem just as much. Eric and Brittany of RV Wanderlust invited us to dinner! We had binged on their blog just a few months prior and was incredibly surprised and delighted to be going to dinner with them. Heath made it a point to remember our names and greet us.
We would like to note that the RV Entrepreneur Summit is special. We’re not sitting here thinking that keynote speakers at every conference invite you to dinner and remember your name. But no matter what, if the conference is a worthwhile one, you should be inspired, and you will have a chance to connect with like-minded people who are inspired by the same people and ideas as you.
Connecting with Attendees Beyond the Summit
The attendees were just as energizing as the keynote speakers. Before “the Summit”, we didn’t know you could meet someone and skip explaining what the heck you are doing. We didn’t realize how much fun it could be to meet-up and travel with fellow RVers. We hadn’t realized that, up to that point, we hadn’t had anyone to share the RV life triumphs and struggles with. We came away with friends, a whole tribe of them, and from then on we’ve been consistently meeting up on the road. The connections made have led to amazing travel adventures as well as opportunities.
Challenges: Easier to Overcome with Community
After making a big change, attending a conference, or finding a community. You are inspired, motivated, and riding high right after, but inevitably those feelings begin to wane. So then what?
I know for us personally, the first RV Entrepreneur Summit confirmed that we were not crazy and that we were on the right path. In our case, more than just a community of Full-Time RVers, we found ourselves part of a community of Entrepreneurs. It became clear that, between last year’s summit and this year’s summit, we had (mostly) mastered the RV part, but now it was time to really get moving on the Entrepreneur part. In reflecting on the second summit with our friend Drew Bensen, we noted that we weren’t the only ones who realized there was work to be done on a new phase of RV Entrepreneur life.
And that realization can feel daunting. It’s as if you were climbing, reached the top, only to realize that what you reached the top of was a hill, and now, atop this hill, for the first time you are seeing a mountain you’ve yet to even start climbing.
But that’s where community comes in. With supportive, like-minded friends you find your bearings when the doubt and the overwhelm try to creep in. You rub your eyes and see that you have actually started climbing the mountain, and it’s okay if you’re not at the top yet. Community helps you understand that all you need to do is continue to climb one step at a time.
Keep in mind community helps whether you’re working toward RV Entrepreneurship or something else. Inevitably, the overwhelm sets in as whatever runaway you’ve set for yourself begins to shorten. The doubt creeps in when something doesn’t work, or worse, when you look to the side and your mind tells you others are pulling ahead. It is SO hard not to let that happen. It is extremely difficult to fight those negative thoughts without community. On your own, it is VERY hard to realize it’s a journey, not a race, and that everyone’s journey will be different.
RVE Summit II: Actively Reconnecting with Our New Community
The RV Entrepreneur Summit, even after round 2, remains our best RV Life decision. We’ve met so many great friends, and even had the chance to do some networking. And networking at the Summit is actually FUN! Heath and Alyssa continue to be amazing stewards of the wonderful community they have built. Judging by the line-up of speakers, I feel they are very in-tune with their community. This year they had to have something for those yet to be in their RV or newly in their RV, while providing something for the sophomore RVers. They know what it’s like. And they provided what was needed. I felt, that compared to the first year, the theme of persistence and persistence even in the face of apparent failure was even stronger.
On a long journey, you need someone to confide in, you need someone to celebrate with, you need someone to cheer you on, you need someone to contemplate big ideas with, you need someone to pick you up, and you need someone who can relate. That’s a mighty list, but community provides them all, if you’re open to it. For us, meeting up on the road with fellow RVers and returning to the RV Entrepreneur Summit is our way of staying connected and supporting our community. Do note, that it will take effort on your part to keep the fire burning so to speak. When you find your community, remember to contribute, and to actively reconnect.
Community was missing in our RV life, and it is more than just a millennial buzzword. Thank you, Heath and Alyssa, for dreaming big and building something beautiful.
Check out the Roaming Remodelers YouTube channel for a recap of the RVE Summit II. How has community helped you? Are you on a new phase of your own journey? Let us know in the comments below.