I first encountered Anastasia Ashman back in 2009 when I learned about the internationally acclaimed book she co-edited with Jennifer Gokman, Tales of an Expat Harem. Fascinated by her book and her story, I invited her to do an interview on my blog to learn more about her. You can read that interview where she chronicles her experiences as an expat and her journey to becoming a writer –Tales from an Expat Writer.
Since then I've had the pleasure of connecting with Anastasia and following her "conversations" online over the years. Anastasia has consistently explored new ground in the realms of culture, identity and how they play a role in our lives as global citizens. She's created the space for conversation on issues that shape our lives as expats and encouraged the expat community to embrace the identity crises that can come with living/working in other cultures while honoring the collection of experiences that define who we are.
For fourteen years Anastasia’s been on what she calls “a global rollercoaster”, including being fired in Hollywood, abandoned on a snake-infested island off Borneo, married in an Ottoman palace and interviewed by Matt Lauer on TODAY. Previously an expat in Italy, Malaysia and Turkey, she’s recently repatriated to San Francisco with her Turkish husband (see her article Repatriation is just Relocation with Benefits).
Her latest project is Global Niche, an educational media venture which empowers creative, adventurous people to tap into their own experiences and build a web platform in pursuit of self actualization.
I’ve asked her to contribute to the Expat Stories series to update us on the latest chapter of her story, as well as talk about how she is encouraging other expats to use their stories to improve their personal and professional lives.
Anastasia, would you describe Global Niche as putting your Expat Harem theory and years of experience as an expatriate professional into a solution that can help others realize their potential personally and professionally?
Exactly Megan! I think in recent years, expats and global workers and internationalists have been on the cutting-edge of life and work strategies -- as a *survival skill*. We’re way ahead of people in our home countries in our early adoption of things like mobile technology, social media and web platforms, creative entrepreneurship where we invest in our own intellectual capital, networked online/offline life, and global community development and participation. That phenomenon can (and should!) work in our favor as the world globalizes (and organizations struggle to operate with the kind of global facility we’ve already mastered). In fact, I would suggest to everyone reading this: look at what you can do *because* of your international experience, especially how you overcame the most stressful lessons of your global life, and prominently communicate that value to your employers or in your own career ventures. It’s golden.
Can you be more specific about the skills expats and global workers have that set them apart today?
A main lesson of expatriatism translates really well to what I see as the task at hand for people everywhere: to envision the global you. To achieve location independence. To cultivate self-agency. To apply an entrepreneurial eye to ourselves and our lifestyle and our livelihood. Many of us have been finding ways to operate independently of traditional limitations like geography, time zone, culture, language. Life hacks of location independents and global operatives who found themselves at a cultural disadvantage can be solutions for people in less ‘global’ situations.
You may recall I’ve been evolving my thoughts on lifestyle design and location independence for several years. Rather than being mobile and working on a beach or something, what attracts me about location independence as a strategy is the notion of being freed from the limitations of where you are. Being globally unbound, I call it. To create a life where you can pursue your interests even if the people around you don’t understand them, or speak your language. It’s about tapping into a bigger view of yourself and gaining access to a wider assortment of opportunities for community, lifestyle and work.
The best part of it is that location independence begins at home! Pretty much anyone with a computer and Internet access can get started. Imagine your family and friends being able to benefit from the way global citizens like you’ve been living in the world.
How do you recommend people become more "globally unbound"?
You have to first empower the person by creating the web platform that draws them out into a wider world.
So building a web platform and telling your story through it is the key to realizing the "global you"?
Yes. I’ve written a lot about how social media use can be a way to self actualize (Twitter is my favorite tool), but the key is a web platform. It may sound simple, but we came to it in a hybrid way, and we view it in a deeply complex fashion too.
GlobalNiche is based on a combined 25 years of expatriatism between me and my partner Tara Agacayak, but we also combine my experiences as an author building my publishing platform (that’s where you demonstrate your expertise, your reach, your ability to draw an audience) and the notion of creative entrepreneurship (which is where who you are is what you do best -- doing what you love), which was Tara’s territory.
A web platform is where the world finds you. It’s about making yourself a global microbrand. By combining sociotech advances that digital nomads have been taking advantage of to erase personal and professional boundaries, like mobile devices, online education and the social web, you can make your life work in straitened situations.
What does the future hold for you and Global Niche?
There is a lot of exciting stuff coming up as we roll out our offerings. We’ve got a live interactive videochat on the 3rd Friday of every month. You can sign up for notifications to learn about the next chat.
And September 23, 2012 we launch our first GlobalNiche course. SUM-it UP: mine yourself for purpose & profit is an online group coaching program to show you how to wrap your arms around your content and link it with your goals, using the social web and by building your global web platform. You can see an archive of our SUM-it UP mailings on this topic. Be sure to visit the Global Niche site to learn more and register.
Many thanks Anastasia for sharing about your experiences as an expat and how you are leveraging that to build a portable business - very inspiring!
EXPAT CAREER SUCCESS TIP: Writing your story is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments in life as well as uncover strengths, qualities and talents that could be keys to your personal and professional success.
Reflect on the things that Anastasia shared about how she is leveraging her own experience and story to build a portable business that is helping others do the same. What experiences do you feel you may not have fully "tapped" into yet - how could they help you move forward towards a successful career abroad?
Then consider writing about your own story to see what what strengths, talents or lessons about work and life you might find. Come back and share what you discovered.
For tips on how to write your story, you can read Jo Parfitt's advice on this topic in "expat story" interview.
Would you like to use this article in your newsletter or website? Permission will be given to those who include this information: Author: Megan Fitzgerald, expat and international career coach, helps forward-thinking expats become highly visible, valued experts and leaders and succeed abroad. Sign up for expat and international career success tips: www.careerbychoiceblog.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ career by choice can help you...become an expat and experience a global lifestyle ~ explore international career options and find work abroad ~ understand your Brand DNA and how you perform at your best ~ clarify your personal brand so you can stand out and be sought after for top jobs overseas ~ develop marketing tools and strategies to communicate your unique expertise in a compelling way ~ strengthen your online reputation to attract employers and secure international jobs ~ become highly visible, recognized and well compensated for the value you create ~ overcome challenges and grow as a leader on international assignments ~ leverage social media to build your global online network ~ develop a global mindset ~ find an international career coach and experienced guide ~ conduct an international job search ~ optimize your choices and discover success abroad on your terms by being your best self. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~