6 Lessons from Simon Wilson’s ‘No Money’ Challenges for Job Seekers

How a ‘no money’ challenge Youtuber can teach us to persevere during this Covid-19 struggle

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Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve started craving travel content and Simon Wilson’s series, ‘Race to Monaco’ popped up in my Youtube recommendations. I decided to give it a watch and I was so hooked that I binged the series. The premise behind this competition is similar to the recent BBC series, ‘Race Across the World’, where participants have to get from A to B in any way they can (besides flying); the difference in Simon Wilson’s series is that the contestants had no money.

Watching the ‘Race to Monaco’ got me thinking that if normal people can find a way to travel from Amsterdam to Monaco without a single cent then we can all find a way to get through this Covid-19 struggle.

‘No Money’ challenges are Simon Wilson’s trademark. He has grown a large Youtube audience based on his creativity, resourcefulness and outlook on life. I’m keen to share some lessons I’ve learnt from watching this 28-year old’s channel because they could be invaluable takeaways for us all at this time, especially when negotiating the world of job seeking.

Be resourceful

At the start of his ‘no money’ challenges, Simon Wilson knows very little about the place he is visiting. This means he has to think on his feet and work out how he’s going to source food and a place to sleep.

He can draw knowledge from past experiences and certain hacks; Couchsurfing and Tinder are his go-to’s for finding a place to sleep. But when these don’t work out, he has to think on his feet. This is often where the episodes become exciting; he’ll attempt to find somewhere to spend the night, whether it’s a hotel lobby or an empty Christmas market cabin. He’s willing to try anything.

There are an incredible number of resources around us that are ready to be used. A little research and creative thinking could lead to your next business idea or your next job. And our access to the internet means these opportunities are limitless.

Try to think outside the box — maybe consider the skills you would like to develop and which jobs (no matter how menial) could provide a platform in order to learn some of those desired skills.

Be Persistent

Something I admire about Simon Wilson is his unfailing ability to keep going — even when things aren’t going to plan. On his trip to Ljubljana (the capital city of Slovenia), Simon and his travel partner were looking for jobs to earn enough money for a night in a hostel. Despite many rejections and many attempts to make some money, they found that beacon of hope; a job that would feed them and pay them enough for a hostel stay.

I was honestly surprised about the fact that they found a job in a foreign country after just over a day of searching. Before, I would’ve thought that impossible. I also think that many, including myself, would give up after so many rejections. Especially because most of the rejections were due to the fact that the guys were looking for a job for just one day. But they were relentless in their search and their persistence paid off, quite literally.

It just goes to show that after several no’s a yes might transpire. And a single yes is all you need.

Ask for help

Admittedly Simon Wilson has an army of avid subscribers on his side, but he still consults the help of locals that he meets in the street wherever he goes. The locals are the experts in his field (of knowing the ins and outs of a city) and he can glean invaluable insights from those locals to aid him in his challenge. Of course, some are too busy to chat but many are more than willing to help him out; that’s how he eventually found a place to work in Ljubljana.

It can feel a little intimidating to approach someone especially if you fear that you’re imposing on their time. However, this is often not the case and most people will be happy to share their wisdom with you if you take the first step to reach out and ask. When trying to build a career in any discipline, connections can be key. Building a relationship with an expert in your chosen field can be helpful, not only for your development but also for your future job prospects.

Also, understanding and acknowledging that you don’t know everything is important. In order to get a job done well, you need to be willing to clarify tasks you don’t necessarily understand. People do enjoy sharing their expertise so take advantage when you require someone else’s input.

There is VALUE in your skills

Often we undervalue ourselves, not just in our talents but in how much our skills or experience are worth. During the ‘Race to Monaco’ series, Lee (one of the contestants) used his art skills to draw 2–3 minute abstract sketches of passers-by. He gave his clients the option to pay whatever they felt it was worth and he was paid anything from 2 euros up to 25 euros for these quick portraits. If Lee can sell quick sketches in foreign countries to people in a rush then what skill can you sell? Or are there any skills that you can learn that could sell?

Personally, I know I’ve undervalued the skills that I have and I’ve been willing to offer services for free. Considering the time and effort that we have to put into certain skills or products it makes sense to charge for those services/products/skills. The same can be said when you’re making the leap from a degree to a job. You’ve put in those hours and finances to learn; you deserve to set your sights on a job that pays well.

Step into the discomfort

In order to achieve any of the above lessons, you’re going to have to cross the threshold of your comfort zone. Simon Wilson mentions that with each new challenge he is pushing himself further into discomfort. Yes, it can be scary but it can also lead to incredibly enriching experiences. And next time you're faced with a similar type of discomfort, it might be that little bit easier.

When applying for jobs you can end up being invited to several interviews that don’t culminate with a job offer. A diverse type of interview styles can keep pushing you outside your comfort zone but with each interview, you will become more and more comfortable. Once you’re confident and comfortable in an interview, you are more likely to get that offer!

Stepping out of your comfort zone is a muscle to keep stretching in different areas of life.

Keep smiling throughout

Everyone loves a smile. We can’t be happy all the time but we can shoot a quick smile in other people’s directions. And we can do our best to add some happiness to other peoples lives.

It may just be for the camera, but Simon Wilson often asks the people he meets how they are. That simple gesture can mean a lot. Occasionally he will give surplus food to homeless people because he knows that he will be able to buy food when his challenge is over. Those small acts of kindness are awesome, especially in a time of struggle like this.

What can you do to help? How can you make a strangers day? This is something to note as recruiters may look for humanity and kindness in their candidates.

There’s no question that the economic impact of Covid-19 is going to be pretty catastrophic but having a resolve to push through the struggle could be a vital lifeline. Watching Simon Wilson’s ‘no money’ challenges, as well as his ‘Race to Monaco’ series has motivated me to consider new side hustles and to apply for ambitious jobs.

“Everything comes from nothing and with the right mindset anything is achievable!” — Simon Wilson

By following the lessons that Simon Wilson demonstrates in his videos, I have no doubt that we will all be able to find our own path through this strange time.

I write about my curiosities and experiences. My background is in Biology (Oxford Uni) and scuba diving. Subscribe: creativelyadventurous.substack.com

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