The Remote Show

Show Notes:

Nicole's links:



Avvinue Company Website


Tyler Sellhorn (00:02):
Hello, everyone. My name is Tyler Sellhorn, and welcome to another episode of The Remote Show, where we discuss everything to do with remote work by the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought to you by We Work Remotely, the largest community of remote workers in the world. With over 220,000 unique users per month, We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire.
Tyler Sellhorn (00:20):
Today, we are blessed to be learning out loud with Nicole Caba. Nicole is the Founder and CEO of Avvinue, the moving and relocation marketplace. Nicole is a 30-year-old entrepreneur born from an immigrant family and raised in the United States. Nicole spent the last 10 years in the corporate sector as a technical project manager for Fortune 100 companies. Nicole was inspired to found Avvinue through her experience of moving from New York to Lyon, France, where she currently resides. Nicole hopes to help people transition from the traditional corporate world to a remote working lifestyle. Nicole and the Avvinue team are committed to inspiring people to live where they feel fulfilled. So Nicole, welcome to The Remote Show. Tell us what are you all trying to solve with Avvinue?
Nicole Caba (01:02):
Thank you so much, Tyler. I'm really excited to be here on the show. Well, we are truly on a mission to make moving less stressful. For anyone who's ever moved, whether to another neighborhood or to another city or internationally, you know moving sucks. And we are trying to make it so much easier so that instead of people focusing on the logistics of moving, they can focus more on thriving and integrating into their new community.
Tyler Sellhorn (01:30):
Outstanding. What are you describing when you're saying focus on thriving? What are the things that you're trying to enable people to do by ignoring the stressful parts of moving?
Nicole Caba (01:42):
Yeah, most people, when they think of the logistics of moving, it's not pretty. It's just like, data isn't sexy kind of concept. What I mention about thriving in a city is because once you arrive to a new city and you're sitting in your house full of boxes that need to be unpacked, after all of that havoc, you really think of, okay, I need to meet people or I need to get to know the city. And that's really, when things start impacting your experience from the very beginning is like, oh, I don't know where to go. I don't know who to hang out with. I know these seem less trivial, but you'd be surprised, as adults, it's not as easy to make friends as if you're younger in school, it's a lot trickier. So you have to be more intentional about building out your community.
Nicole Caba (02:33):
So I think that's really important and that's really what you should be more focused on because, right, you move to a new place. It's for a reason. So being able to get past that stressful part of the logistics allows you now to focus more on, okay, I came here, I have intentions of being here. How can I actually hit the ground running and build out the community that's actually going to help you feel more at home, more of a sense of community. And so that's really important. That's what we want people to get to.
Tyler Sellhorn (03:03):
Yeah. I know that feeling as an adult, trying to build connections, even in a place that I've lived for a very long time. I'm grateful for you to kind of remove some of those stressors to give us the mind space for those things. I'm curious, could you tell us a little more about your experience of moving from New York to Lyon and how that served as the launching point for your business?
Nicole Caba (03:24):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that wasn't my first move. I'll actually share... So I do come from a military background, my family being in the military, as well as coming from an immigrant family. We moved a lot. So actually one point I counted, we moved more than 12 times in a 10-year period. And whether it was to just another neighborhood or west coast to east coast, up and down the east coast. But my move from New York to Lyon, France, where I live now, was completely new. I had never lived abroad before.
Nicole Caba (03:58):
So I knew, of course, stories from my own family that had immigrated, I mean, 20, 30 years before, not the same kind of immigration, but it definitely was a stressful process, just trying to figure out how in the world can I move. I'd never gone through a visa process before. So when I was looking up, okay, how can I move to France? Oh, these are the visas that are available. How exactly can I get this visa? How can I get it approved? And just all of the nuances between getting housing, figuring out a bank account, all these things, mind you without knowing French, which is very important to have.
Nicole Caba (04:37):
So just that my own experience of navigating and figuring out exactly what I needed to do really stemmed me into identifying like, okay, this is actually a problem that exists. Why isn't there a solution already that helps people move and I'm not talking about moving and just movers, but then also immigration lawyers. Those already exist in their own fragmented space, but why wasn't there a solution for the average person that wants to move? And so that started my mind thinking about how can I actually solve this problem? I mean, my background is a technical project manager. We're all to solve problems. So as soon as you identify a problem is really how frequent is it? How painful is it? And then obviously trying to find what solution is actually going to meet those needs?
Nicole Caba (05:26):
And that's when I started speaking with people here in Lyon, I spoke to a lot of people on Facebook ex-pat groups, just to figure out what is this pain point and how much are people willing to pay to solve it? And that's really what got me started on Avvinue. And I'm excited that now it's truly something that is providing people guidance on their move.
Tyler Sellhorn (05:48):
I can't imagine having to juggle visas, housing without being able to speak Francois, as they say. The lingua franca of France does happen to be required to make all those things happen for yourselves.
Nicole Caba (06:05):
Oh, yeah.
Tyler Sellhorn (06:07):
I want to rewind the clock back to thinking about you as being a part of a military family, right? In thinking about moving and also kind of zooming forward to your career as a technical project manager, what is it that really has helped you to zoom in on this specific problem, right? Like when you think about the inputs and the outputs, and you're the project manager, you gave us the jargon there, but when you think about those things, what is it that really goes into making a successful move that allows us to thrive in the new place that we end up in?
Nicole Caba (06:43):
Yeah. I think that understanding or knowing what's the actual job to get done, that's super important. There are pieces of moving that are, I guess, in the technical project manager world, nice to haves versus must haves. And this is what really makes the difference when somebody who is moving and just let's say searches online, okay, they're moving, let me get this checklist or let me just search what should I do, they're bombarded with so many things. As a matter of fact, when we started our own checklist, we had more than 200 items on the list and that was super overwhelming, but it was something for us to start with and say, okay, what is exactly required for this person to move? And then what is a nice to have later that can help them integrate more easily and understand more the dynamics of where they're moving.
Nicole Caba (07:37):
In terms of the military side, because we actually do have a lot of military personnel that use Avvinue for their move, they move on average every 18 months. That means that by the time that they finish their logistics, they really don't have as much time to get settled into their community. And especially if you have military families it's very tough. So for us, it is very much how can we create this standard? Here's what you should do to move. Here's how you can coordinate it so they can actually coordinate with movers, they can coordinate with pet transportation, they can get cleaners if they need to, all through our app. And by doing that, they can basically do a rinse and repeat, keep that same model for their next move, which happens in the next 18 months.
Nicole Caba (08:20):
So for us, it was very critical to identify really what do they absolutely need to do? And also, there's prerequisites for certain things. So if, for example, you have clients to get a visa, oh, before you get the visa, you actually need to translate documents. I mean, obviously it depends on where you're going, but there are certain prerequisites that impact everything else. I actually have some previous customers who came to Avvinue and really needed assistance with getting documents translated. Something so simple can actually be very trivial because, because of this misstep in their plans, it resulted in a negative visa. So this really impacts a lot of things. So not only have we identified what you need to do to move, but also what's a prerequisite, when are the recommended times to do certain things so that you can make sure that you have a more successful move.
Tyler Sellhorn (09:11):
Yeah. Plus 1000 for reducing the friction, to getting all of the bits and bobs sorted, even before you make the step of crossing the border.
Nicole Caba (09:20):
Tyler Sellhorn (09:21):
Okay. So we have a lot of remote job seekers listening to our podcast. And I'm so curious to hear you, maybe talk to them directly about what they should think about as someone who has made an international move. The remote dream is out there for so many, right?
Nicole Caba (09:41):
Tyler Sellhorn (09:41):
And you've even communicated it in the bio that we have presented here is that you are committed to inspiring people to live where they feel fulfilled. What are the things that you would say to those people as they are seeking to be fulfilled in an international move or living as an expatriate or immigrating to a new country? What are the things that you might say to them as they consider that as a life path?
Nicole Caba (10:06):
Well, if you're listening to this episode, let this be a sign to you that if you do have a vision, if you do have this dream of working remotely, working abroad, it's possible. And my advice and tips that I would share is prepare yourself, obviously the best way possible, because there are a lot of opportunities opening up. We're seeing in the world right now that companies are changing their way of working. There's more remote options available. And at the end of the day, career goals are changing as well because what I think the world is realizing and usually realize for those listening is finding a place that really aligns with your values is super important. We've seen what working too hard does to the body and mind and spirit. So it's really important to find a place that really embodies what you're looking for and what quality of life looks like for you.
Nicole Caba (11:10):
I definitely recommend if you have ideas in mind, or even if you're just starting blank, I recommend get a dry erase board. I always have one. And mark, what are the top values? What do you absolutely need to be happy? And also what can you not live without? So really mark the top of your list, is it, I absolutely have to live in a city. Like it needs to be a walkable place. Revisit that list. So not only just map everything out with your family, definitely this is a family activity if you're moving with a family, and map out what are the priorities for you? Because let's say you've lived in a city all your life. So it's automatic thought that, okay, maybe a city or maybe your dream is, you know what, I want to do the complete opposite. I want to now go and live on a ranch. That may be the case, but sometimes there are pieces of your own upbringing or where you've lived before that truly impacts what you may most prefer. So it's really important to mark absolutely what is critical for your own happiness, for your family's happiness.
Nicole Caba (12:13):
Then I would say, revisit, look at it again and see, is this absolutely critical? Because once you identify what are the main things, it will help you narrow down where in the world can you get that? And I think that's super important because actually, my husband and I did this, we mapped out what do we absolutely need? And so for us, it was walkable city, clean and safe. Mind you, we're coming from New York. So we're definitely comparing certain things with New York, but we absolutely have realized because we also lived in a rural area as well, okay, we need the city. We're city people. So that's important for us to recognize it. And I think sometimes this self-revelation is really going through this practice, but definitely go through that.
Nicole Caba (12:58):
And then from there, if you're putting where you live as priority over a job opportunity, you'll find in many cases that this may make your life and quality of life much better. I think traditionally people would choose a job and wherever that job was, that's where they were going, regardless of their own personal interests. Maybe they're like, I like being in the country, but now I went to a city, worked in a city, got the salary they were dreaming about, but now their personal life, their own emotional mental health was suffering. So what we're seeing is that people are now realizing this and we very much as part of our mission to help people find where exactly would make you most fulfilled, most happy in your true self and then work after. So I think it's important to really think about that, like where are you able to negotiate within yourself? What is negotiable? So I think that's really important.
Nicole Caba (13:55):
Then from there, there's opportunities. So if the dream is to find the right opportunity, I very much believe in signs, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be, but make sure that you're putting your quality of life first. So I think that's super important.
Tyler Sellhorn (14:13):
That's really great. I just really enjoy the invitation to prioritization, right? To say, number one, it is possible. Okay. So go back to your dry erase board with you and your spouse, right? What was on the list that were the must haves and nice to haves that ended up with you all choosing Lyon? You gave us some hints there, but run down the list for us.
Nicole Caba (14:38):
Okay. And now, this is two years ago. So I know on the list, it was walkable city. This is actually a challenge because the American dream is owning a house, not as possible in a city. So it's like, we battle this, well, we should live in a house maybe, but the city is better. But we realized, definitely city, walkable. We wanted to actually be in a place where we had access to international airport, super important for us for travel back to family or to explore and travel. Then we also wanted to make sure the cost of living was reasonable because now we both work taking that leap of faith going into the entrepreneurial world full-time. So definitely to be able to survive, that was key. Those were definitely the must haves.
Nicole Caba (15:24):
The nice to have, of course, is great weather. Some people, this is a non-negotiable. But great weather and, of course, that depends on where you're coming from. And great food. So depending on what your appetite is, French food was actually not on my top list. I'm used to eating Dominican food. So French cuisine wasn't on the top, although they're known to actually-
Nicole Caba (15:53):

Exactly. Actually, Lyon is the Gastronomy City of the World. So funny enough, it's still not my cuisine. So there's nice to haves and there's must haves. Surprisingly enough, we had never visited Lyon before we moved here. And we didn't pick Lyon, so I like to say Lyon picked us because the French visa that we received required that we attend a program for three months. So it's an accelerator. The accelerator was in Lyon. So when we arrived with our luggage, I remember we arrived at the train station, which is not in a nice neighborhood at all, but we arrived at the train station and I'm like, this is home. Oh my gosh, we have no idea what we're getting into.

Nicole Caba (16:38):
But now it's two years and it's been a beautiful city. Love it. So you just never know. But I think, as people, allowing their hearts and their dreams to really help people make that decision, I think that's really important. I think that's what life should be about. I think we come to a point where yes, people were focused on working up the corporate ladder. I was for 10 years, that's what I was doing. And then I decided, you know what, great. I could work up the ladder, all I want, and I was making a great salary, but at the end of the day, was I happy when I left from work? Was I really fulfilled? Was I challenged? Obviously everyone has different motivators. So that's really important to keep in mind. But I think that's important.
Tyler Sellhorn (17:20):
Well, thanks for going deep on how Lyon chose you. That's so cool to hear that story. I know for myself, just thinking about the opportunities that I've had once I decoupled my location from my work, I had the opportunity to become a technology company executive right here, where I am living near family here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. So I think the opportunity to be in the job that you prefer in the location you already are in, or for you to find the location you want to be in and maintain the job that has been fulfilling you, that remote dream is possible and not just possible, it's happening for Dominican's from New York City, it's happening for white dudes in the Midwest, right? It's happening for any number of folks that really do want to connect to the opportunities that are available to them once they decouple their location from the opportunities that they're seeking. Join us out here in these internet streets, right? It is possible for you too.
Nicole Caba (18:26):
Tyler Sellhorn (18:27):
Okay. So let's flip it around, Nicole. You're a founder, you're building a business. What are those things that you would say to employers that are looking to hire these people that are seeking remote opportunities? How can we signal to them that this is possible, this is something that is possible for you, in fact, do it with us?
Nicole Caba (18:47):
Absolutely. All right. So on the employer side, this is super important. I think that employers that are considering changing their positions to remote working opportunities, I think what needs to happen is employers need to think about the value versus the time. And, of course, it depends on the job, the capacity, but the amount of work that someone can accomplish, shouldn't be determined on the hours that they work or within the hours that they work, but more of like how much value do they bring to the company and how much value can they bring to their team?
Nicole Caba (19:26):
I'll give my own personal example. So even in the corporate world for a few years, I did work remotely and I know it's a very big trust game. Honestly, if you're hiring someone, you should trust them because you hired them to do the job and you should already believe in them day one, that they're going to do that job. Giving that trust, you're empowering that employee to go above and beyond because you trust them. It's so powerful. We're also adults, people know when they cross the line and when they don't. So I think that employers should look at the remote working space as an opportunity to now, kind of give the keys to the kingdom, to their employees and allow them to really take on the responsibility and feel like that ownership, because it really makes a difference.
Nicole Caba (20:16):
So when I was working remotely in the corporate sector, I switched managers a few times. Like I had different managers. I can tell the difference between a manager that trusted and guess what, I was way more efficient. I appreciated that manager so much more compared to the manager that was almost micromanaging. Micromanaging is not a great work style. As a matter of fact, it's toxic. So I think employers should go through a proper training, go through a proper kind of analysis of what makes a good manager and really understand that in the same way that you give trust to family and friends or any other person, you should, too, your employee, they're your team. Some people like to say they're also your family. I wouldn't say that in all cases, but if you're a tight team, then for sure.
Nicole Caba (21:07):
But I think employers should definitely look at how can they be a better manager. If you have to constantly be reaching out to your team, hey, where's this, where's that, something is missing. And that's not missing necessarily on the side of the employee, it's missing on the side of the employer. A good manager inspires. A good manager leads by example. So I think that is super important for any employer. If there's hesitation, it's not because the employee, because actually you never even gave them that chance. It's on the employer side. So I think in the same way, employers, you're looking at employees. But also employees, when you're doing a job interview, why don't you ask questions back? Test and make sure that that manager is a trustworthy manager. How do they work with teams? How do they handle situations? That will certainly reveal itself later, but if you can find earlier on, that's valuable.
Tyler Sellhorn (22:01):
Really, really cool. Okay. So I want to go deep on something that you mentioned, right? You were talking about the contrasting managers that you experienced in a remote environment. What were those behaviors that signaled to you, oh, this is a good manager, I know that I am trusted? What are those things that you saw and experienced with that person that really signaled to you, okay, I really can be my best self as an employee under this person? What are those things that we can be encouraging people to do?
Nicole Caba (22:32):
Yeah. I'd say, since I had multiple managers, I saw the way that they onboarded, not necessarily onboarded, but more, they took on this new team that had already been working together. This good manager, she actually almost interviewed me because she wanted to get to know me, know my skillsets, know where I came from, what was my professional background. I thought that was really important because also, she asked what motivates you? This is super key. Everyone has a different motivation. For me, my motivation is learning. If I'm not learning, if I'm not challenged, I get bored. So in a working environment, a corporate environment, if I'm not able to step out or try new tools or do different things, things get boring. I don't know how else to put it.
Nicole Caba (23:24):
But some people, motivation is money. Some people's motivation is position, hierarchy. Okay. Knowing that was super important. She immediately asked those questions from the first moment that she became my manager. Then later on, when she was giving me responsibilities, I felt the trust that she was like, "Okay, Nicole, here's a project I want you to work on. Here's some key people you should talk to. Let's connect next week and just show me what you have." She didn't speak to me at all during that week. I felt the trust. And actually, I felt now the pressure that I need to over-deliver when it was time to show what I needed to show. That, to me, was really great. She gave me the keys and she just said, "Show me what you got next week." That's how our relationship was the entire year that she was my manager. I can share in contrast the other approach.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:19):
Let's stay on the positive. I thank you so much for going deep there. Just to say it back to you and to the audience that a good manager takes the time to learn the skills and motivations of the people that are working under them, that they give them the trust to execute on the tasks that they've been given to them. And that starting well really does set up the relationship and the working relationship for the longterm. So thank you so much for talking about those things.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:45):
Okay. So let's zoom out. This is my favorite question right now. And especially kind of like under the valence of thinking about international moves and living and working abroad, would you tell us, how do you think about the remote work environment and the remote working space? Think about it from the perspective of what it might have been in 2019 and earlier, and right now as we're experiencing the extra stress of health concerns and the pandemic moment that we're in. And then also look ahead to the next version of remote work and remote life, 2022 and beyond.
Nicole Caba (25:24):
This is such an exciting question. I love this. What has remote working been? I think remote working wasn't as big in 2018 or before. Yes, there were some people that had that luxury. And I say, it's a luxury because I was during that time and anyone who said, oh, you work from home, so you don't do anything. So it was a very terrible perception of, oh, so you don't clock in. Do you clock out? And so it just was interesting how that perception really was before. Now with remote working, becoming more a requirement actually for companies to really implement the perception is so much... People are clearer, people are understanding more because now through this crisis, they've had to experience it. So they're seeing one way or another that guess what, you can be working at home and you can get things done. Yes, in some cases you may have screaming kids in the background, but guess what, work still got done and we still were moving things forward.
Nicole Caba (26:28):
What do I think it will look like? I mean, I get super excited because there's, for example, digital nomad visas that are coming out. I mean, there's like more than 18 countries now that have digital nomad visa options. This is super exciting because I really see that if you have a remote work opportunity, you can be anywhere. And that is super exciting because that means that whether you for one month, six months or a whole year, want to spend time in a completely different environment and just experience what it's like to be surrounded in a new culture and integrate into a new cultural environment, I think is so, so amazing. I honestly think it's going to change the way people view the world, because I definitely say that from my own experience, living abroad and actually, I think if you ask anyone who's lived abroad, it changes your entire perspective on the world. And I think that it's going to be a beautiful transition of people seeing similarities in different cultures. And that's actually, I think what's going to bond us more.
Nicole Caba (27:40):
And in terms of remote working, I think more opportunities are going to come out. I know that there's challenging topics that are being solved by really great entrepreneurs, especially regarding taxation, all of that, and how companies formalize their contracts, how health insurance is being provided. There's travel insurance. There's so many innovative things that are being developed right now. I'm also going to add Avvinue in there. But so many great things that are being built, that when the time comes, 2022, 2024, and we start seeing everyone is dispersed throughout, we're going to have the right tools in order to make it so easy that really the question is why not?
Tyler Sellhorn (28:27):
It's really interesting to hear you rhyming with others that I've asked the very same question that in 2019 and before, it was a luxury. And right now during the pandemic, it's a requirement. And in 2022 and beyond, it's hopefully, the thing that we're building is that it becomes a lifestyle. And I'm really excited about continuing to work with you and others of building that future together. Nicole, thank you so much for coming on The Remote Show and blessings to you.
Nicole Caba (28:55):
Thanks so much, Tyler. Thanks, everyone. 
Tyler Sellhorn (28:59): 
Thanks so much again, for listening to the show and be sure to check out weworkremotely.com for the latest remote jobs. But if you're looking to hire a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always, if you have someone we should talk to, any advice you have, or if you'd like to advertise on the podcast, please reach out to us at [email protected]. That's [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time. 

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