Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Destination Dubrovnik: Meet Mandy Fransz from Make the Leap Digital

April 5, 2022 -  With just over a month to go until the innovative Work. Place. Culture. remote work conference in Dubrovnik, TCN continues its look at the list of high-class international speakers who will be sharing their wisdom in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Below, a familiar face and recognized as one of the US LinkedIn Top Voices 2022, Mandy Fransz returns to share about remote work, LinkedIn, and entrepreneurship.

A busy season for Croatia's digital nomad story is about to begin. Last year's highlights included the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1, 2021, and destinations such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik attracted global interest with award-winning events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence project.

Both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will continue their push to position themselves in the market in 2022, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 set to take place in June, and a news conference before that in Dubrovnik, as previously reported on TCN: Work. Place. Culture.

Total Croatia News continues to present the elite lineup for the Work. Place. Culture., this time with Mandy Fransz. A former LinkedIn™ employee, Mandy had a front-row seat in witnessing the world’s largest professional network grow to currently nearly 800 million members in over 200 countries while generating +$320K in revenue in less than 12 months. She founded Make the Leap Digital from a tropical co-working space in Bali and since then she has worked, lived, and traveled around the world while helping clients around the world through digital courses, consulting, speaking, and interactive workshops. In 2019, she was nominated as one of the most inspiring and ambitious women entrepreneurs in The Netherlands and she has been featured in top (inter)national publications such as Thrive Global, VIVA400, & LINDA.

Another digital nomad event in Croatia, another appearance by Mandy Fransz. Tell us firstly about your relationship with Croatia.

Thank you for having me again! Excited to be back in Croatia -- last year, I was invited as one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and since then it has been one of my favorite remote work destinations worldwide. From the food, culture, and work-friendly cafes & co-working spaces in Zagreb to working remotely from the beautiful coast in Split while exploring islands with cobblestone streets and emerald green waters such as Brač and Hvar island. I am excited to see what this new remote work adventure will bring!


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

You were one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. How was that for you, and how do you see Croatia's progress in the DN sector since then?

It was an honor to be one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week last year, a well-deserved award-winning event! I hosted a workshop about "How To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn" and a keynote "The Rise of Remote Work" sharing my top insights and lessons learned since I quit my corporate job to work remotely back in 2018 while building an online community of 25K+ social media followers and +75K group members inside the Remote Workers on LinkedIn group. The entire city was transformed into the event venue, which was a perfect way to attend a wide range of activities, keynotes, and workshops while exploring the city -- also, one of the event highlights was the fun and insightful themed city walking tours in the evenings! (make sure to join the Ghosts and Dragons Tour by Secret Zagreb while you're there!).

I believe Croatia has done a fantastic job in taking the digital nomad and remote work lifestyle to the next level with ambassadors and initiators such as Digital Nomad Association, Total Croatia News, and Saltwater Nomads -- I am excited to see the momentum grow with the exciting events and conferences lined up for 2022.


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

The Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador program was a successful postscript to ZDNW, and now you will be working as a similar ambassador for Dubrovnik in May. Why did you take the role, and what do you expect it to involve?

I learned about the Ambassador Program while attending ZDNW last year, and immediately knew I'd apply if I'd have the chance -- I believe that it's a great initiative to explore a new destination while bringing together the digital nomad community by organizing local events and collaborating with different stakeholders to make a positive impact on the remote work lifestyle in Croatia. Additionally, I hope to discover the work-friendly cafes and co-working spaces, experience the food and culture, and explore the beautiful Dalmatian coast during the evenings and weekends.

Work. Place. Culture. takes place from May 5-7. Tell us about it, why people should come, and your role in it. 

Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads asked me if I would be keen to return to Croatia this year for another exciting event focused on remote work and digital nomads. Since my last visit, Dubrovnik has been high on my list as I've heard many great stories from fellow digital nomads and expats -- so when I heard about the Work. Place. Culture conference taking place from May 5 - 7 I immediately said yes! 


Looking at the event program, I am positive that this is going to be another world-class event filled with activities, workshops, and keynote speeches across beautiful venues from "netwalking" the fortress walls, a Game of Thrones Tour, and a Sunset cruise dinner on a "Karaka". I am honored (and a bit nervous haha!) to open the conference with my keynote and I'm excited to meet a few of my industry peers in-person, such as those I've been honored to be featured in the 2022 US LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work, and to reconnect with last year's speakers and attendees, many of which turned into friends.

You have built your business on LinkedIn, where you used to work, and there are 5 speakers of the Top 10 2022 LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work speaking in Dubrovnik. Tell us about the relationship between LinkedIn and the remote work revolution. 

I worked for LinkedIn's EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland as my first full-time job upon graduation. However, I've always had an interest in the digital nomad lifestyle, hence, in 2018 I decided to quit my comfortable 9-to-5 corporate job to "explore the world of remote work". While working at the world's largest professional network with currently +810 million members across the globe, I realized that the demand of the global workforce was shifting -- many research and studies showed that (especially millennials and Generation Z) more and more people were craving the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.


I decided to share my remote work journey on LinkedIn, and I was asked to manage a small community on LinkedIn focused on digital nomads and remote workers. In the past three years, we've grown from ~2,000 members to currently +75,000 engaged members which clearly showcases the remote work revolution! Many of our members were forced to "work from home" due to the pandemic, and now desire to work remotely forever.

What are you looking forward to most from your time in Dubrovnik, and what are you hoping to get from the conference and ambassadorship?

As mentioned before, I'm excited to (finally!) meet a few of my industry peers in person and to reconnect with last year's event attendees-turned-friends -- and, of course, I really look forward to the exciting line-up of keynotes, workshops, and activities (in case you don't know what a Karaka is, Google it now, please!). Finally, I'm thrilled to explore Dubrovnik and the Dalmatia region and I look forward to contributing to the digital nomad lifestyle and community in Dubrovnik as an ambassador. 


Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

And finally, what's next for Mandy Fransz?

I am currently working remotely from beautiful Portugal while launching my signature, online group program for early-stage entrepreneurs who are ready to kickstart and grow their online personal brand and business so they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that they deserve before I'll head to Croatia for the events and ambassador program. After that, I'm excited to see what serendipitous opportunities will cross my path!


Feel free to visit Mandy's website or reach out to her via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for inquiries, or follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn for valuable tips and inspiration about LinkedIn, remote work, and (online) entrepreneurship.

You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 4 April 2022

About 'Work.Place.Culture.' in Dubrovnik 5-7 May, Early Bird Closes Tonight at Midnight

April 4, 2022 - Ahead of the upcoming Work.Place.Culture conference in Dubrovnik, organizer Tanja Polegubić of Saltwater Nomads shares more details about an event that continues to establish the Pearl of the Adriatic as a mecca for remote work. The sale of early bird tickets ends today at midnight.

All nomadic roads lead to Dubrovnik, and you are embarking on your third event in the Pearl of the Adriatic, after Croatia's first-ever nomad conference in October 2020, and the award-winning Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence program. Before we get to the event, why Dubrovnik (which was not a perceived nomad destination), and why do you keep coming back?

There’s an Instagram video by Goran Visnjic which shows exactly why I keep coming back - I even drive around twice, for double the thrill.  

Like everything, the people. It’s so easy to work with the Tourist Board and City; this can be rare in Croatia. Also - the vision to shift from over-tourism. I freely admit I avoided the city in the peak of summer, and this is part of multiple steps to address this for future generations. I’m really fortunate that I can say I played a small part in the reinvention story of such an iconic destination, as it builds in sustainable measures in tourism. Also, see video above. 

Defining tangible results in a sector where little data is collected (nobody registers as a digital nomad) are hard to quantify. That there has been a perception change about Dubrovnik is evident when comparing British media stories from 2017 (The Times using Dubrovnik as a poster child for overtourism v. The Guardian in 2021 with a Dubrovnik leading image for a feature on digital nomad visas). How else do you quantify progress?

In the original pitch to the city, there was a quote from a 2017 NomadList user saying “nice place to visit, but only for a few days” with very little mention of Dubrovnik - this review was in 2020. Fast forward to 5 years now, and for example, a Dubrovnik Digital Nomads Dubrovnik Facebook group I started nears 700 members. And we know the average number of monthly digital nomads in Dubrovnik, according to Nomad List, is several hundred - and all the graphs for Croatia have a steep upward trajectory. Following this, the way to see the rise will be in long-stay occupancy and related businesses remaining open. 

Your last event in the city a year ago, Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence, has already picked up a couple of international awards. Tell us a little about the impact that it has had on the city's thinking and strategy.

The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program really highlighted the areas to focus on, and the City and Tourist Board are implementing these with ‘quick wins’ and longer-term goals. The workation and conference were part of those recommendations - the momentum is strong, and it’s a strategic approach.

And so to 2022. Saltwater Nomads is teaming up once again with Dubrovnik for another innovative conference called Work. Place. Culture. Tell us about the conference and what it is trying to achieve.

Following the work from home shift arising from global lockdowns, the greatest shift right now is the return to the office for millions of people - so, what does something like hybrid look like? If you don’t want to go to a physical office again - how do you champion this change internally, or as it has been popularly coined, do you join ‘The Great Resignation’? This conference brings this thinking - and leaders in their field with very close insights to share this information. It also allows destinations to open up their doors to raise awareness to the ready-to-work-from-anywhere crowd, while also learning about expectations and shaping their thinking as they craft a revamped offer- with so many countries now offering a digital nomad visa, having a digital nomad offer for tourism is going to be part of the furniture. As the name implies, it brings together work and place - with aspects of culture for both.

Who is it aimed at, and why should they come?

Those in the HR or remote space. Especially anyone interested in the latest data and trends. It’s a very interactive program design, including netwalking on the Old Town walls as part of the program, and several outdoor sessions - from nature park islands to medieval replica sailing ships. Also, any digital nomads in Croatia who ultimately want to visit Dubrovnik - this is a great opportunity to explore the city in great company, and also - anyone considering a workation.

The speakers list is being finalised, but can you give us a teaser?

We’ve now started sharing who is joining us, and we have some real ‘heavyweights’. Aaron McEwan, who was recently interviewed by TCN, will cover Radical Flexibility. We have 3 of LinkedIn’s Top 10 voices in Remote Work coming in person. Plus digital nomads and some exciting stories from destinations, which we’ll also share in coming weeks.  

As one of the pioneers of the cowork revolution in Croatia, co-organiser of the Dubrovnik events, Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, and co-founder of the Digital Nomad Association Croatia, you seem to be at the heart of many of the remote work initiatives driving Croatia forward. How do you see progress, and what are the key things missing which would help accelerate Croatia's path to become a major player in this exciting sector in the future?

Our DNA Croatia Reflection Day was a really positive way to start the year, to look back but also forward - and the uptake from all regions of Croatia is a sign of momentum and strength.

I would say budget - financial investment, is missing. When you look at places like Lisbon paying Web Summit $10million a year, per year, for a decade, you realise just how different a playing field we’re on. What we’ve done is remarkable, and the destinations are attractive - there’s not much effort needed to convince people to come- but I can only imagine what could be achieved, and also we know the numbers and average spend of nomads, so there is a case to increase investment in this area. Read: public support is missing in most places. Hopefully, this changes.

Early Bird tickets are available until today at midnight and can be booked via the official website.

You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 14 March 2022

Dubrovnik Announces 'Work. Place. Culture.' Remote Work Conference in May

March 14, 2022 - The Dubrovnik digital nomad story continues, as the Work. Place. Culture. Conference is announced, bringing work from anywhere to absolutely everywhere. 

Good things are happening in the Pearl of the Adriatic. 

A new initiative to reposition the iconic Croatian city, known also to millions as Kings Landing, is already paying handsome dividends. 


A media poster child for overtourism back in 2017, Dubrovnik is now attracting headlines for very different reasons. Dubrovnik's decision to explore the remote work path has propelled itself into an increasingly popular digital nomad destination. In partnership with Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News, the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board hosted Croatia's first-ever digital nomad conference back in October 2020, Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads, a conference which achieved considerable global attention, including a mention in the Washington Post. 


This was followed in April 2021 with the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads in Residence programme, the first of its kind in the world, in which the destination and its community co-created a future strategy for digital nomad tourism, in partnership with 10 resident nomads who contributed their expertise as guests of the city for 4 weeks. Read more in Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Meet the Creators, Download Case Study. 

DNIR has already won two international awards, as well as considerable global acclaim, and Dubrovnik is continuing its innovative path in the sector with the announcement of a major conference from May 5-7, 2022 - Work. Place. Culture. From the official conference website:

Welcome – to the conference which brings work from anywhere to absolutely everywhere. Join remote professionals and destinations from around the world as they inspire a global workforce who have greater location flexibility than ever before, and the destinations which are reinventing to support them through policy, infrastructure and community.


Work. Place. Culture. is designed for destinations, companies and service providers in the remote work space:


  • looking to attract remote workers and digital nomads.
  • connect and collaborate with regions and “nomad trails”
  • share success stories and further build your profile to a global audience in an event blending destinations + decision-makers.


  • creating/updating remote/hybrid work policy, looking for expertise and global best practice for talent attraction, retention, productivity and wellbeing.
  • with a remote work policy – promote your business to attract global talent and build profile as leading RW companies.employees:
  • learn about advocacy and support for remote work, travel and work from home (wfh).

Service Providers

  • Tools: remote collaboration, hiring, consulting, legal & tax
  • Teams:off-sites, team building, wellbeing, coaching, etc.
  • Digital Nomads: vanlife, retreats, communities, sustainability. 


Set against the backdrop of gorgeous Dubrovnik in early season, the conference will additionally offer fantastic experiences such as NetWALLking along Dubrovnik's historic UNESCO walls, sea kayaking, and plenty of treats for Game of Thrones lovers. Tickets include conference day lunch and dinners. Early Bird tickets are available until April 4 and can be booked via the official website

A full list of speakers will be announced shortly, and they will include 3 of the top 10 remote work voices on LinkedIn, who will all be coming in person. You can download the programme here.


It promises to be an information-packed event, set in delightful Dubrovnik, and an outstanding networking opportunity for destinations, companies and service providers. But there is more...

We will shortly be launching the first official workation pilot by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, with Win a Workation launching on 15 March, for a team of four to enjoy a 5-star experience at Sun Gardens and present at the conference.


And for those of you planning to attend this conference, there are many reasons why you should stay a little longer in Croatia. Nomadbase will be having their conference in Primosten from May 9-15, and the award-winning Zagreb Digital Nomad Week returns in June to the Croatian capital - more details will be released on both the Win a Workation and Zagreb Digital Nomad Week later this week. 

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section


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