We aim to live a "no vacation required" (NVR) life, where every day is pretty awesome and something to look forward to. Our goal is to motivate you to do the same.
NVR FAQ / ABOUT
We're Kent and Caanan, a married couple (yay, progress!) who got tired of saving dreams for later in life and started living with an Everyday Fulfillment attitude, an approach that we've come to call No Vacation Required. For us, a No Vacation Required life means living exactly how we want to. More specifically, that means seeing the world, working from anywhere, expanding opportunity, and always aiming to help other people feel more fulfilled. Beyond that, though, No Vacation Required has become the “umbrella” organization – the overarching philosophy – from which all of our other endeavors flow.
That decision – choosing an Everyday Fulfillment way of living – has been successful. It's gone so well, in fact, that we surpassed a decade of living our No Vacation Required life. As we celebrate that milestone, we are moving into a new chapter – drawing on all of our rich experience to, once again, optimize and level-up all facets of our life. We're excited to see what our next 10-years will look like.
We're on the road a lot – exploring the world, working globally as Strategists (specializing in change and growth initiatives for organizations and individuals), and doing some travel writing / campaigns – but we'd love to hear from you.
The full story
These excerpts from an interview we did do a good job addressing commonly asked questions.
What is a No Vacation Required life?
K: A No Vacation Required (NVR) life is a life that you don't feel you need a break from. Whatever that means to you at any given time.
C: Yeah, it changes. Our current NVR life is quite a bit different from what it was 10+ years ago when we started this whole new approach to living.
What is your version of a No Vacation Required life?
C: When we were piecing together this lifestyle over a decade ago, our pre-NVR life that we now call our Chapter 1, we set out to make a living, make tracks, and make a difference – work on our own, explore the globe, and contribute to a better world.
K: Exactly. And since we really started living this life, a decade of living NVR that we've dubbed Chapter 2, things have gone better than we ever could have imagined. We have several successful "arms" to the work we do, we've been able to see so much of the world, and we've consistently found ways to give back.
C: So the last decade has been Chapter 2. We're currently masterminding our Chapter 3.
Let's back up. Why did you set out to live a No Vacation Required Life?
C: Well, we didn't have the "No Vacation Required" title when we were dream-scaping Chapter 2. We just knew what general direction we wanted to head in. We had happy lives as individuals and as a couple, but we both knew we were ready for a huge next step. We could sense that it was time for a change and that there was something much bigger out there for us.
What do you mean by that? by "something bigger?"
K: First off, we knew very early on in our relationship – during Chapter 1 – that, one day, we wanted to embark on some kind of entrepreneurial endeavor together. A few years into our relationship, we got to a point where we had each experienced significant success in our traditional careers and wanted something more fulfilling.
C: At that time, our dinner conversations revolved around everything our employers could be doing differently in order to be more successful. That's why we, personally, were so successful – we were great employees, but we also got the bigger picture.
K: Yes, we were always pushing to make our workplaces more effective and humanistic. So while we were at one time thinking we might open a bakery or a nursery way down the road, after retiring, we saw an opportunity to translate our shared passion for building better workplaces into our own business, work together, and do it now.
What prompted the switch?
K: Not long before creating what we now call our NVR life, I decided to earn an MBA, get a Professional HR certification, and make a career shift from marketing / management into organization development/organization effectiveness/HR. During my time in marketing/management, I grew tired of seeing companies make missteps that created workgroup dysfunction and employee disengagement. I knew I wanted to make an impact on the people side of the equation and help companies avoid those kinds of mistakes.
C: And during my time in retail leadership, I was always most motivated by operational excellence and inspiring employees. With a lot of experience under my belt, I could see all the ways in which both employers and employees were preventing those things from happening and standing in the way of their own success.
How did you know when the timing was right to make the change?
C: Well, earlier I mentioned dinnertime conversations. The truth is, we weren't having many dinnertime conversations because we rarely saw each other, much less ate dinner together. So, at a certain point, we were ready for the career upgrades we've been talking about, and we were also ready to see each other more.
K: I remember so many specific things about the year we decided to switch things up. The big one that stands out for me, though, is when we we're so over-committed that we couldn't find a single weekend for a ski getaway. It's so stupid how you get caught up in the rat race.
C: And also during that transformative year one of our ways of "bonding" was during training runs for the Paris Marathon. It was ridiculous and hilarious. There we were, out running at like 4 AM in order to train for this marathon while maintaining our upwardly mobile careers.
So that was the turning point?
K: Actually, it was right after the 2-week trip we took for the Paris Marathon, we made the firm decision to reengineer our lives. That was essentially the end of Chapter 1.
C: I have to add that something good actually came out of those crazy, pre-dawn runs. The really long ones that we'd do on Saturdays gave us time to connect in a different way and around a common goal. We both knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were ready for a big change. It was like marathon training andlife training.
What happened next?
K: There was some undoing to be done. When you've been in a certain mode for years and years, you have to re-learn some things. Like that it shouldn't be that hard to plan a little ski getaway.
C: We took some time to really slow down. It felt amazing. Having always had a hankering for travel and learning about the world, we decided to head to Southern Africa in order to figure out our next chapter and to continue on our quest to make it to all 7 continents before we needed walkers.
K: After that adventure, we would never look at things in the same way and were even more inspired to overhaul our life. So, propelled by our time in Africa, we took off on our capstone journey to the final continents on our list: South America and Antarctica, where we spent several months exploring and volunteering.
What was it about Africa that was so transformative?
C: We've all heard stories about the transformative power of visiting the African continent, and it was absolutely the case for us. In addition to traveling all around South Africa, we went to Zambia for some volunteering and to meet the family we had been sponsoring for several years.
K: It really helped us rethink how we define success, how we look at what matters in life, and the good fortune we enjoy simply because we were born in the USA. It was such a great experience that we then spent most of our time in South America volunteering. We had similarly life-altering experiences there as well.
Okay. So how did you build a business?
C: Well, our timing was both amazing and challenging.
C: All of this went down when we were in the heart of the Great Recession, 2007-2008. Businesses were slashing budgets and closing; there was massive uncertainty about our country's future. In a sick twist, businesses were outsourcing exactly the people-centric HR/Business consulting work we were aiming to do. We had some strong business connections, so a few key people gave us a chance.
Were you concerned about leaving consistent paychecks?
K: Yes and no. Yes because we did not have trust funds or huge savings accounts. No because we were ready for just this kind of move – to make a bigger impact, to be more fulfilled.
C: And we were really lucky to have a lot of early success in our careers. I mean, one of Kent's employers awarded him an SUV for his work.
K: And Caanan was the golden boy where ever he worked.
Were your early consulting jobs enjoyable?
C: Oh boy. That's a big question. It took us a while to find our groove. Many organizations were looking to get legal advice and other HR-adjacent things that were just not the right fit for. But we found our way pretty quickly and now have a over a decade of experience helping organizations and people thrive. See, those dinner conversations earlier in our relationship really paid off. They were like training.
How did No Vacation Required the website come to be?
C: The website started as a place where we simply shared our No Vacation Required way of being and documented what was going on for family and friends. It served no larger purpose. It had (and has) nothing to do with our core business. We’ve always looked at No Vacation Required as our overriding philosophy.
K: We wrote blog posts several times a week during that long period of transformation when we were traveling in Africa and South America, figuring out our next steps. And even our motivation was kind of selfish; having the website kept us from having to write update e-mails to every person we knew. Sorry mom.
C: And this was right during that period when blogs were starting to become a big deal. When we saw that the site was gaining some unintended traction from readers beyond friends and family, we started to write within three distinct categories that had become the framework of our NVR life: Traveling Deliriously, Living Deliberately, and Working Virtually.
So something clearly clicked with people?
K: Not only were blogs – especially travel blogs – becoming hot, but people were attracted to our lifestyle because of the loss so many had suffered during the Great Recession.
What do you mean?
K: People were inspired by the idea of living for now and living fulfilled. We learned that many people had felt betrayed by their employers. Years and years of service and they were just dropped.
C: And leery, really, of all kinds of things. Many had their houses taken away and felt distrustful of mortgage companies and the agencies that oversee them. People were realizing that they weren't happy. Or possibly that they were happy but not fulfilled.
How did your friends and family react to your big life change?
C: While many people were very supportive, we were surprised by the number of people that weren't happy with our decision to leave stable jobs and to put a different set of priorities first. We'd later figure out that that was mostly about the discomfort people have when someone “leaves the pack.”
K: It forces them to look at their own lives and to face things they may not be ready to face. Complacency has a strong gravitational pull.
How did your business grow over these 10 years?
K: The business growth we experienced over those 10 years is the primary reason we are now ready for a new chapter in our NVR life. It was so successful that part of our Chapter 3 is all about scaling back– focusing on the things that we find most fulfilling.
C: We've become very successful strategists, helping organizations with many things but primarily change initiatives in marketing and HR. Our success helping these organizations prompted us to create an arm of the business that helps individuals with change as it relates to their careers. And, as we were saying, interest in our lifestyle really took off too. In addition to resonating with readers, destinations and travel entities loved our travel tales, so we've done a lot of work in the travel space, developing travel-related campaigns and content.
So you have multiple sides to your business? And you get paid to travel?
K: Yes and Yes. We've loved the work we do in travel, but it's one of the things we've been scaling back as we move fully into Chapter 3. We've always looked at the work we do in travel as a hobby we get paid for. The work we do as strategists – helping people and organizations thrive – is what fulfills us most.
C: Also, scaling back the amount of travel related work we do does not mean we've "given up" travel. We travel a lot for our consulting projects, so will often tag on personal travel to that work. For instance, earlier this year, we had client meetings in Buenos Aires and then travelled around Argentina and Patagonia on our own.
You mentioned to me that you archived most everything from the first 10 years of NVR. Explain that?
K: We advise others on change, so we're always aware of the need to flex those muscles ourselves. We learned when building this life that you have to be able to give things up in order to make room for the new – in order to create spaceto see what new endeavors might become. We're not attached. We like to keep things fresh.
C: And websites and blogs now serve a much different purpose than they did 10 years ago. You know, as successful as our website became early on, we never bought into the different monetization tactics that propelled so many websites forward. It all just felt so fleeting and superficial to us. Paradoxically, I think it is why we were so successful in a much broader way. Anyway, now we've moved into a time when everyone with a social media handle is an "influencer," which is creating a really wonky media environment. I could go on and on, but I'll just round this out by saying we know our lane, and our next chapter is about growing within that lane.
Tell me more about what Chapter 3 looks like?
C: Here’s what we were solving for in Chapter 3: During our Chapter 2 – when we started living NVR – our life became a bit like our Chapter 1, our pre-NVR existence. Very busy, but a good kind of busy that's a product of doing what you love. Even so, we've learned that too much of a good thing is still too much. As they say: Be careful what you ask for.
K: We worked hard and fought hard to build this life. We're now rewarding ourselves by taking our foot off the gas a bit. Clients will feel it, too, as those we work with will have more of our focused attention. We're calling Chapter 3 our Mastery phase.
C: Yes, and this Mastery phase means finally getting our manifesto out in the wild. As I said earlier, No Vacation Required has always served as our overarching philosophy. Everything we do, personally and professionally, is an outpouring of what No Vacation Required means when put into action. So we want to give others the basic framework for creating change in their pwn lives – for loving every day.
K: Should we share our working title for the manifesto? It’s: Stop Hating Mondays.
What motivates you to aim high?
C: All of our experiences have served as a reminder that – across the globe – we’re all connected and that there are a lot of senseless inequities in the world. We've got to watch out for one another. We're inspired to think freely and live deliberately by the people who don't have the same luxury.
K: And there is nothing more fulfilling than being on purpose – than feeling in sync. We never want to lose that flow.
Now for some cotton candy questions. Spending so much time together, do you ever want to kill each other?
K: Most people who know us now, never knew the Chapter 1 version of our life – the version during which we rarely saw each other. We are both strong people and we each bring something different to the table, so it's pretty easy to make living and working together flow seamlessly. Plus, we're living a true dream life. What a gift for us to be able to spend all of this time together.
What are your top recommendations for travel destinations?
C: That's so tough, so I'll keep it short and high level. Here in the US, we think there's nothing better than the National Parks. Internationally, we really love South America. But we also highly recommend the places other people love: Italy, Spain, and Hawaii come to mind.