Did you know that the CEO of Wawa went to Villanova? Or that NASA astronaut Andrew M. Allen is a Villanovan? Villanova has a network of over 123,000 alumni, many of whom have gone on to do incredible things. They have stories to tell, advice to share, and amazing memories of their own Villanova experiences.
In this column, we will share their stories, both of their time here at Villanova and beyond. This week, we feature John Honochick, a 2011 graduate from the business school. Honochick has accomplished quite a lot in the seven short years since he has graduated, including leaving his full-time job and traveling to 57 countries (and counting). Following his dreams, Honochick was introduced to the world of digital nomads and hasn’t turned back. His kickstarter launches this month, and he has so much to share with the community that allowed him to grow into the adventurous individual he is today.
The Villanovan (TV): What urged you to travel the world?
John Honochick (JH): At first, I worked in insurance and then for Boeing. I decided to pursue my goal of backpacking the world for a year. In the moment, I realized that it was a now or never situation while I didn’t have any real responsibilities. So, I quit my job and went off to backpack the world. After coming back after a year and working another full-time job, I got the itch to travel again, and so I did. I have been traveling for about seven months since then and am working on a kickstarter now.
TV: Where have you traveled during these gap years? Where are you now?
JH: First I went couch surfing in Eastern Europe—Germany, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia all the way to Turkey. Then I went down to Africa and saw South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya. In Southeast Asia, I did Vietnam and then went to Australia. During this time, I was introduced to so many different cultures, and it was eye opening to see how people lived their lives in so many different ways. I internalized a lot of that during my time abroad. For my second trip, I went to New Zealand, but, after I realized it was too expensive to stay for the duration I had planned, I decided to head to Southeast Asia again. I went to Bali and am currently in Thailand.
TV: What would you say are the benefits of becoming a digital nomad? Are there any disadvantages?
JH: The benefits definitely include location independence and that you can take your work with you anywhere that you go. Of course, you still need to put in the time and effort, but you can balance exploring with your work. It really is about the balanced lifestyle. Digital nomads truly need experience in many different walks of life—teaching English, creative writing, social media, digital marking, the list goes on. You can really do anything. Skills are transferrable. Many people are freelancers. It’s such a wide spectrum. The disadvantages definitely include living out of a backpack and being away from home and family and friends. Of course, you’re always meeting people, but in most cases, they are 24-hour friends. It’s definitely tiring to travel so much and tough to not have a stable home, but for me, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
TV: What would you say are your future goals from this point on?
JH: I have my entire life from now on to live up to the things that I have learned and seen. I also have so much time to see what else I would like to focus on. I want to continue focusing on investing in myself and working for myself. I want to do things that make me happy and continue being location independent. I also want to fully develop my kickstarter, Life Quest. I also have one or two other ideas that I would like to get working on.
TV: What is your kickstarter, Life Quest?
JH: Life Quest is a self-improvement card game. Each day your pick a card that has a new challenge on it, and you must complete it within 24 hours. The goal of this card game is to get into the habit of productivity. I created this card game because I realized that in life, we make goals that are too large, and we rarely accomplish them. So, Life Quest is designed to build up habit by starting off with simpler tasks.
TV: How did Villanova help you grow into the person you are today?
JH: Villanova really helped me grow as an individual. I was a very shy kid in high school. My sophomore year at Villanova I studied in Shanghai. I was forced to interact with people there, so I started to get out of my shyness. I also was a part of the campus activities team at Villanova and really made sure I was involved with the community. Also, the professors I had at Villanova truly challenged me by teaching me to learn and fully understand concepts. This not only had a profound impact on me at school, as I saw my GPA increase every semester, but also has continued into my work life as I know better how to tackle new ideas and challenges. Overall, coming from a small high school to a much larger school, the community and family aspect really helped me settle into my own.
TV: What advice would you give to recent graduates?
JH: I think a lot of people, myself included, think that when they’re done with college they’re done with learning. But the truth is, you should never stop learning. Invest your time. Try new things and fully focus on a new skill. Be ready to throw yourself in the deep end. It is really tough to deal with pressure from this society and your family but it’s your life to live and you should take control of it. Go out there, learn and show everyone that you’re capable of following your dreams.
TV: What is your favorite Villanova memory?
JH: Scottie Reynolds taking the ball the length of the court with four seconds left on the clock and making a last second floater to send Nova to the Final Four. It seemed like everyone on campus was on Lancaster Avenue within a minute of the buzzer. At the time, that was the furthest Villanova had made it since the ’85 team and the best in the Jay Wright era. I definitely have other favorite moments, but currently Nova basketball is all that’s on my mind.
You can check out John’s kickstarter at: www.lifequestcards.com.