Bernard’s journey to Lithuania was a circuitous one. From a humble first job teaching English, he has built a successful career in copywriting and marketing. Currently heading up content at the award-winning ecommerce email marketing platform Omnisend, Bernard is living proof of what he calls Lithuania’s “hustle culture” of constant self-improvement.
How would I define the working culture? Modern, new, relaxed – I mean, you do your work, there’s hustle. But the work-life balance is amazing here.
Well, it’s a bit of a long story. I’ll give you the short version. Although I was born in South Africa, we moved to Miami when I was 13. I went to school in Indiana, and after graduating with a degree in English Literature, I decided to look for work outside the US. This was around the time of the 2008 crisis, and jobs weren’t exactly easy to come by. So rather than taking a job in say, a coffee shop, I ended up finding a job teaching English in Mongolia. Well, it’s not the easiest country to live in. For a boy from Miami, the winter was shocking. Unbearable. It just so happened that my brother had made his way to Lithuania with a friend, and he invited me to join him.
I jumped at the chance and settled there. That first year I worked as a teacher, and after a 12-month contract in Taiwan, I was happy to return, and little by little started moving towards more writing work. I was working in a company with a German guy I met, and he gave me the opportunity to start writing some marketing copy, and I took the initiative and things have just developed from there.
I think that kind of sums Lithuania up. There are lots of opportunities on offer. You just need to want to take them and do the work
Well, it wasn’t so tough after Mongolia. Of course, there are some cultural differences. Compared to the States, people here can seem a little reserved. But it’s just an external thing; after you get to know people here, they’re very friendly. It just takes a little bit of work.
There are some things that are really welcoming here. Take, for example, kids. If you compare teenagers in the US to teenagers here, like, there’s a big difference. Over there, they’re pretty rude. But here, people are nice. The kids have this kind of respect, which is old school, but it’s really nice when kids have it for real. And that hasn’t changed in the last 10 years I’ve been here.
Then there’s the fact that they speak multiple languages. I mean, you know, that’s a big thing, especially in the US, where everyone speaks half of the language – they don’t even speak English correctly, most of the time. So, if you’re coming to Lithuania with a working level of English, you can pretty much do anything you need, from ordering a beer to doing your taxes.
Lithuanians have a great hustle culture. You know, everyone has a side project. Everyone has some sort of thing that they’re doing on the side. Self-improvement is a massive thing here. I think it’s really useful to be able to get into the zone where you are always thinking about how to take yourself to the next level, and increase your status in life.
This is what drives entrepreneurship, and it’s this spirit that is making Vilnius a real capital for startups and companies in exciting fields like GameDev. I also think that our company massively inhabits a spot here as well. We really embrace creativity. For example, today we’re having an in-house hackathon to come up with cool ways we can integrate AI into our services. Yeah, Lithuanians really excel when it comes to lifting themselves up – bootstrapping is a way of life. So, I guess my point would be – if you are an ambitious self-starter, this is a great place to come.
And, of course, you can’t talk about what’s great about Lithuania without mentioning the nature. Coming from Cape Town and Miami, we didn’t really have very long summer days. It’s the best part of the year for me, when I can look outside and it’s 10pm and it’s still sunny. The relaxed pace of life here in the warm months, the fact that people love nature here, the long days, it’s really very impressive. But for the winters, though, you need to really be prepared for them if you come from any southern parts of the world.
I do like the working culture here at Omnisend. How would I define it? Modern, new, relaxed – I mean, you do your work, there’s hustle. But the work/life balance is amazing. I mean, if you want to work from home, you work from home, you don’t have to get pre-approval. You don’t have to do all that bureaucratic stuff. It’s nice because I have kids. So does my boss, the CEO, and everyone. So they understand when you need to leave at 2 PM in an emergency or something like that.
All that matters is that you get your work done, and they give you the independence and responsibility to take care of that yourself. How you do it and when you do it is not questioned. It’s an awesome place for people like me with a small family.
Absolutely. I take care of all the content here. So we have a lot of different types of content, you know, not just the blog, but also content for the website, content for guest posting, content for reports, content for case studies, any content that needs to be done, even helping people with their LinkedIn posts. So, in this sense, the job is very varied and interesting. Then there’s the marketing side where we create campaigns in order to drive acquisitions. And this is the really creative and communicative part of the role. We basically get together and throw ideas around until one sticks, we then do some sort of MVP, and, hopefully, voila.
I have two young kids, so I have no spare time 🙂 If I do get a peaceful moment, I like to read.
I think it really makes sense to talk to a lot of people before you start working at any particular company. Most people here have had experience of working in several companies, and they can give the heads up about the kinds of tasks you’ll be doing and the working culture. So, doing a bit of homework is always good.
Then (and this is only really a thing if you’re coming from a southern country) there’s the culture. Don’t get me wrong, people are very friendly, but they take time to warm up. So don’t expect to be invited out to dinner or for drinks straightaway. If you take the initiative, you’ll find people are always keen to socialize with you. Just don’t always expect people to make the first move. It sounds cheesy, but you’ll have to create the culture that you want to have, and you’ll find people are receptive here.