Interviews

I'm doing an AMA on Reddit. Come ask me a question.

EDIT: Here's where you can see my completed AMA.

 

Wut.

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I'm doing an AMA on Reddit this Thursday February 5 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern.

AMA stands for "Ask Me Anything", an interview where everyone can participate.

Come ask me some questions?

 

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My topic is "What's so wrong about being Selfish?" and in true AMA fashion, that's just a starting point for what we'll be talking about. I'll be joined by Brock McLaughlin, manager of the Luke Austin Band and a Canadian Selfish brand ambassador who racks up karma points with his obsession of dressing up his pug Sidney Vicious, and Selfish's iOS project manager Marat Kinyabulatov checking in from the Ural Mountains.

 

Here's one of my favorite questions from the day: "Do you think the name "Selfish" might turn people off from joining the network?"

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My answer:

"Yes, it's a hurdle because our associations with the word are so one-sided. Since childhood we've been admonished "don't be selfish." When someone's breaking up with us, we dread hearing the reason "you're selfish." But we have to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can help anyone else, right? And there's also a growing trend that we need to take care of ourselves, and nourish what we care about.

"We have an assortment of interests and relationships and ways of being. Social networking and mobile apps and visual capture tools should be able to map to those realities, and give us the control and power we desire."

Video Director Amit Raikar's GlobalNiche Interviews

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"It's a community about possibility. I'd like to see this become a life philosophy." ~ Tiny Habits coach and environmental engineer Shirley Rivera

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.33.02 PM Just saw the rough cut of director Amit Raikar's video about the GlobalNiche movement shot this spring. Such great questions, and so many distinctive perspectives to fill in the mosaic of what GlobalNiche is, what it means, where it's going, how it works in our lives. I can't wait to be able to share it more widely! Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.18.54 PM Here are some stills from the video (Shirley Rivera, Tanya Monsef Bunger, Loreen Huddleston, Bertita Graebner, me, and Evelyne Michaut), and a few juicy quotes. More to come...Thanks everyone, and Amit and crew for the wonderful work.Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.31.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.32.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.18.13 PM

"This allows me to build the platform to be very consistently me in the world." ~ transpersonal psychologist and life transitions coach Bertita Graebner

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Shirley Rivera Takes On GlobalNiche Community Outreach, Compiling Case Studies

 

So excited, and grateful, Shirley, for you to apply your special skills to this massive task.

 

Shirley will be collecting good news and specifics from everyone. Hope to hear more, like the below...

 

 

Faye Brann Addresses The Gap In The Market For Narrative Expat Literature

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.37.18 PM Thanks to expat author in Dubai Faye Brann for interviewing me about #expat #literature and the #publishing world's opportunities to capture expat lit's readers.  She blogs about it here. Here's the interview as it was conducted on Twitter this week -- which is where Faye and I met!

 

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Faye is working on her first book, There’s No Place Like Home, to "look at the often misunderstood life of the ‘trailing spouse’ abroad". At her blog she explores the gap in the market for narrative expat literature.

Personal Branding Interview By Peter Sterlacci

Peter Sterlacci, an American expat and personal branding expert in Japan, included me in his Brand Mechanics video interview series.

Peter writes: "As a long-term expat, she had to learn from the ground up how to build a global life and work solutions to survive. Her years of experience led to the creation of a holistic approach in building one’s global niche, or what she also calls a global personal brand.

"Her formula is simply: Personal Discovery + Professional Expression = Your Global Niche. The foundation of her formula rests in the fact that each of us already has what we need to be successful and we can use it wherever we are."

Thanks, Peter, it was fun!

Shared Worst Business Advice In Spark Minute Video At Women 2.0 Founder Friday

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by David Spark at Women 2.0 Founder Friday, Google headquarters, San FranciscoHappy to contribute to this Spark Minute video taken at Women 2.0's Founder Friday at Google headquarters in San Francisco where producer David Spark asked attendees, "What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?"

My answer: "Incorporate in Wyoming."

 

Why's that bad advice for a new entrepreneur?

Because however well-meaning and forward-looking and clever the suggestion may be, it practically precludes getting investment if you're operating, like I am, in California.

It's just too avant garde. Out of the ordinary.

Investors aren't going to do extra legwork to educate themselves on the rule of law in a state they're not familiar with.

Faced with an unknown entity, investors (and other people you want to work with) will simply pass.

For whatever special benefits you might reap incorporating in Wyoming (less complex filing with the least administration costs, taxes, and state oversight were the main reasons), you make your enterprise too much of a puzzle for just about everyone else you hope to deal with. That's a hidden cost of being unconventional.

Thanks to David Raynor of Accelerate Legal for putting this into perspective for me at the reception of Catapult 2013, a conference about 21st legal career tools where we both were speakers.

Turkey's Top Selling Novelist Elif Shafak Recommends Expat Harem in The Telegraph

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 9.13.43 AM Thanks, Elif!

Turkey's highest selling novelist Elif Shafak recommends Tales from the Expat Harem, the anthology I coedited with Jennifer Gokmen, in the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph.

In "Flights of the imagination: Elif Shafak on books about Turkey", she writes about Expat Harem:

"It brings out the voices of Western and Eastern women in Turkey. Travellers, students, teachers, housewives – the cultural shock that some of them went through, their personal encounters and how they made Turkey, or perhaps limbo, their home."

Elif also wrote the foreword to our book back in 2005 for the Turkish Dogan Kitap editions in both English and Turkish!

My 40-Over-40 App

The 40-over-40 Women To Watch celebrates women over 40 who are disruptors, role models and makers...creating momentum and changing the world.  It's an initiative by Dare, Dream, Do author Whitney Johnson and 40:20 Vision founder Christina Vuleta. Excerpt from my application.  

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How are you disrupting professionally, whether in business, tech, media, entrepreneurship, social good, science, academics, creative arts, or politics?

Are you creating growth, jobs or new products, ideas or services?

My startup GlobalNiche works to train women to use the social web and mobile technology (what we call digital literacy) in alignment with their vision for the world they want to live in order to make that vision a reality both through their own work and through the connections and collaborations they make with others through their web platform. We show them how to do this.

In showing people how to build an effective online presence to connect with broader networks and opportunities, and build social capital, I help people appreciate and tap their own assets and the potential of online spaces to find or make their own jobs.

Along with my cofounder Tara Agacayak, I created a 6-step multimedia program and training system that shows women how to lay a foundation on the web for the work they want to do and the life they want to live.

In our experience, even with the availability of technology, extremely capable women stumble when it comes to sharing their expertise, knowledge, ideas, cause, or voice on the web because they feel uncomfortable using the technology or they feel vulnerable calling attention to themselves or joining a public conversation or taking credit for their ideas. We address these issues by bringing them together in a virtual environment that allows them to interact with one another, learn digital literacy skills and test them out in a supportive community, and encourage them to take the steps toward realizing their vision.

When offered to individuals, our program works to empower their vision for their own life. When offered in community, our program supports the community’s shared goals.

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What are some of the outcomes of your work?

What would suggest your greatest achievements are ahead of, not behind, you?

The world is just waking up to the future I’ve been living in. The future I’ve been solving for, and have now created distributable, teachable, learnable, actionable steps for.

 

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How are you a positive role model to younger women: innovating around work/life issues; promoting women for leadership?

Are you innovating around work/life issues; promoting women in leadership, or simply willing to make tough choices?

As a longtime expat and pro in culture, media, I’ve been forced to create my OWN GLOBAL LIFE/WORK SOLUTION …because it didn’t exist yet.

Younger women share that I have validated their instincts, helped them contemplate their own possibilities, and provided them much needed support & structure to operate.

  • A young work-at-home mother says “I am getting organized both in the real world and in my mind. For the first time I am making visual representations of my work and my ideas.”
  • A 30-something author and educator says my support community “became my think-tank, support group, go-to team, and more.”
  • A 30-something global curator tells me “When I hear you talk about identity and multiple cultural personalities and finding your creative outlets no matter where you are, I feel understood.”

I wouldn’t say I’m a positive role model to just younger women. I work with women older than I am and they tell me

  • I “Love the personal & pro growth spurt it’s providing!” in the words of a 60 year old women’s life-transition coach.
  • A university instrucutor also my senior says “I felt smarter and more empowered to make decisions” after receiving my training.
  • While a 50-something global mobility expert and real estate agent says training “generates introspection. It will open your eyes to the potential of online spaces.”

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How have you disrupted yourself personally?

How are you personally reinventing or creating a new path? Are you applying your prior experiences in new ways?

My current town of San Francisco may be a tech-forward location but that’s not why I’ve increasingly been turning to technology to help me be where and who I am today. Since living in 30 homes in 4 countries -- talk about personal disruption, try serial personal disruption as a lifestyle -- I’m a globally mobile individual and rely on social & mobile tech for my total, global operation.

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Why do you think you are about to 'take off'?

Because after a lifetime of existing in the wilderness, I am finally on-trend.

My custom life-work solution seems torn from today’s headlines and bestseller lists on the topics of future work skills and work-life fit solutions.

  • “Leaning in” to your own life, your own preferred way of living and working.
  • Optimizing your online presence in the age of the personal platform & personal branding, the global microbrand of you, content marketing, the social era.
  • Being recruitable (quotable, invited to speak, hired, you name it) based on the appeal and impact of your web activities in the beyond-the-resume Google age.
  • Your digital footprint IS your resume.
  • Building global community through expression of your interests in the age of resonance and new world order of the interest graph — people who share your interests.
  • Taking charge of your life’s trajectory in the age of the Start-up of You & disrupt-yourself and the ‘everyone’s an entrepreneur of their own lives’ times we all now live in.

Why am I about to 'take off'? Because I have turned to entrepreneurialism, education, and online spaces in order to share what I know more widely.

 

Keynote Speaking At Women Inspire Tech San Francisco

Women Inspire Tech San Francisco April 2013 Was pleased to speak tonight about my career arc to the young professional members of Women Inspire Tech's San Francisco branch at the offices of BBD&O.

Turns out when you've got as many twists and turns as I have you end up saying things like "and then I moved to the other side of the world, and let's fast forward through five years of freelance writing and producing in tropical Asia, and then I was back and couch surfing in California til the snow melted in New York. Then I got an editorship at an Internet magazine even though I'd come from a technological backwater. What I did know is that the Internet can help you survive being isolated."

Takeaways?

If there's something you want to do that's not in your job description, do it anyway. Then at least you get the experience and can build on what you learn.

 

Also, if you get laid off, don't take it personally even if it may be to some extent. There are always bigger picture issues at play and you really can't afford to get wrapped up in why you've been asked to leave the tribe when what you really need to do is locate (or create!) a tribe that wants you *badly*.

A smart programmer told me about a program she built for sharing small diary-like snippets of her world flung, post-Harvard, scrappy life and times with a friend, how she's used it for three years and finds it so helpful for her emotional well-being and how everyone tells her they don't understand the concept and it's not strong enough to pursue.

"What do you think?" she asked me. "Do I have something?"

I don't know if she has something for others.

But I do know she created something for a need she had, and when new options became available (and pervasive worldwide, like Facebook and Twitter) she has continued to use her own solution and it works the way she needs it to.

I believe in her. If she wants to develop it further, she's the best person to do it.

 

Do you know a woman in tech in San Francisco? Let her know about this free networking & leadership group founded by talent recruiter Tiffany Roesler, who modeled her talent scoutingp prowess when she located me on LinkedIn and reached out to me to join her group.

Interview With Yesilist About A Global Niche As Sustainable Lifestyle

"The new era is about believing in yourself and creating your own niche," writes interviewer Ergem Senyuva of Yesilist, Turkey's guide to sustainable living, after talking to me and Tara Agacayak. "GlobalNiche helps people realize their visions and reach their dreams." Read the entire interview here. Moving to a new place can be challenging for many people. What are your suggestions for them? Build your safety net before you need it -- that means creating a global niche even before you move to smooth your transition. Connect as soon as possible with potential peers in your new location. Take care of your personal and professional needs, you’re the only one who knows what they are.

Can you please briefly tell us how you became part of Global Niche.  Even though we’re from the same San Francisco region in California, we met in Istanbul through a professional women’s group in 2009. Then we took an expat professional women life design class together and learned more about our commonalities, and noticed how our backgrounds complement each other. Anastasia is a media person with experience in Hollywood and New York, and Tara is an information tech person who designed databases for the US Department of Defense. Combining the media and info tech, we were both early adopters of social media used as a survival tool -- especially Twitter, which brings the world to you -- so in 2009 we started talking to groups of international women about becoming visible in the world through a professional web platform. That’s an online presence meant to support you as a professional person.

GlobalNiche.net was an off-shoot of Anastasia’s cultural producing work at the ExpatHarem.com site for global citizens. ExpatHarem was a group blog and discussion site, and GlobalNiche was meant to take all that philosophy and put it into practice. We wanted to give people the practical skills and tools they’d need to thrive. Tara came on as chief operating officer in 2010 and in 2011 we started having monthly webvideo conversations to discuss the issues of being at home in the world. Now we have a program and two monthly live webvideo events and a private Facebook support group for people in our program.

You live in different continents and different time zones. What are the obstacles you run into while you are running the operational aspect? We use Basecamp, an online collaboration software, and Skype for weekly conference calls. We’re connected daily on an asynchronous basis through Twitter, email, and the other social web services we use. We have an ambient awareness of the other’s activities through all that social media. Even though it’s nice to be able to work around the clock by passing the baton back and forth to each other, the biggest obstacle is often the time zone. We can’t always connect when our energies are at similar levels.

GlobalNiche operates online. Do you sometimes believe you are missing the warmth of face to face communication? How do you compensate for it? Live web video has the warmth of face to face communication. We use the Linqto app for that. We also make the effort to see each other and members of our community when we are in close proximity to each other, with planned and impromptu GlobalNiche meetups around the globe. We’ve had gatherings in San Francisco, New York, Istanbul, London. We also know that virtual life is just as real as actual life, and what’s most important is not the exchange of molecules but rather the depth of our human connection.

How do you see Global Niche evolving over time? This is a solution whose time has come, and the problem will only continue to grow as people move around and the economy remains weak. We’d like to continue to listen to the needs of our community, develop even more robust products and services to help them overcome these huge life challenges. We hope to continue creating a nurturing environment, providing tech-savvy, globally-aware, culturally-sensitive support. We’d love to add some live bootcamps to speed people through the process. Get them on their feet, and doing what they love, right where they are.

Requests That Get A Yes

I get a lot of requests related to my Expat Harem book and other productions that I wish I had the time to say yes to.

Sometimes I get requests that I would have said yes to if the requester had spent a little more time setting it up. Make it really easy!

 

I heard from a travel writer developing a story about her own cross-cultural family experiences who needed expert sources to flesh out her query to an unnamed publishing venue. She gave me four questions to answer.

Four questions is a lot to ask, but her email gave me even more things to wonder.

Which venues she was pitching and by when did she need my answers?

I wondered why she was seeking an expert quote for a personal story (expert quotes in a pitch usually point to experts you're going to interview if you get the assignment). That would be like using my material to land an assignment to write about her own life! If she were to be assigned the piece, was she planning to interview me in more depth? It would have been good to hear that she only needed a one sentence answer for  -- any of -- those questions.

An expert would want to see how she was going to be described in the query. This could be done by telling me why I am being approached. For instance, "because you wrote about your Turkish in-laws in the Expat Harem book and in Cornucopia magazine." Or, it would be nice to be asked to point to a description I prefer.

Assume people want to help.  Just cover your bases and keep the ask as small as you can, so they can.

P.S. Be gracious when someone says no. When I let this travel writer know I wouldn't be able to help her out and explained what questions her pitch brought up for me, she let me know how sorry I was going to be for not doing what she asked.

Being A $100 Changemaker With Other Digital Nomads & Global Entrepreneurs

Anastasia Ashman's advice in the $100 Change ProgramNatalie Sisson of The Suitcase Entrepreneur asked me to be a $100 Changemaker in her $100 Change Program. It's an ecourse designed to get you to take action on your dream idea, project or business to make it a reality in 100 days or less.

I’m joined in the program by 100 other entrepreneurs, digital nomads, thought leaders, TED speakers, authors, and artists from around the world, to share what it really takes to start something, make it happen, and create real impact and success.

Other changemakers include Chris Guillebeau, Danielle LaPorte, Janet Hanson, Chris Brogan, Michael Stelzner, Cameron Herold, Steve Kamb, Laura Roeder, Jonathan Fields, Clay Collins, Pamela Slim, Amy Porterfield, Corbett Barr, Lewis Howes, Pat Flynn, Nathalie Lussier, Dane Maxwell, Christine Kloser, Adam Baker, Johnny B Truant, Pam Brossman, Derek Halpern, and Alexis Neely.

$100 Change Program from Suitcase Entrepreneur Here are my answers to the $100 Change interview.

If you had $100 to start a creative project how would you spend it? Get Internet access. If I had that already, then invest in more access (like wi-fi, or a mobile device to facilitate using the web for more things, in more places).

 

What is your daily ritual for setting yourself up for success? You may not be ready but you'll be so much further along (and figuring it out!) if you simply get started right NOW.

You'll also be in community with your peers, and your clients will be lining up when you launch.

Build those relationships years before you "need" them.

What I'm doing now with my startup GlobalNiche I've actually been doing for years but didn't make it available to as wide an audience as I could have way back then.

Get started, go wide. Share the process. Don't wait til it's perfect, or when you know everything you need to know. That day will never come.

 

What is worth paying for? I'd pay for nitty gritty details and big picture advice from professionals who specialize in certain areas.

Legal advice, accounting guidance.

The opinion of a high level editor on a massive writing venture.

A consult with a brand messaging expert.

These kinds of things can unfreeze you, set you on the right path, and help you avoid lots of pain in the future.

 

What's a saying of yours we can put on a poster? A nugget I can offer from GlobalNiche's combo of microbrand building, creative entrepreneurship, global community development: polish your ideas in public.

That's how you're going to build a borderless community you love, and tap into a deeper sense of yourself.

 

What key methods do you use to stay focused on your priorities? Committing to making sense of what I do.

I'm finding the last mile of taking my ideas to market has been about GOING BACKWARD to meet my larger community.

Letting go of the coinages and jargon I love but that confuse the uninitiated.

For so long I've been pushing forward and existing on my own leading edge -- which is necessary to evolve in your field -- but now I need to make sense of how I got here and why any one else might want to join this journey.

I think of it as leaving a trail of bread crumbs they can follow.

In committing to simplifying my message, and charting a path others can follow, I am both getting to the heart of my thinking, and reaching far more people.

 

How do you stop fear from allowing you to do your best work? Do your thing in public, and invest in yourself.

Volunteer to get access to opportunities no one is offering you otherwise (for instance, if you want to go to a conference but can't afford it and Twitter-attending won't suffice, ask to work there. You'll make contacts and open new doors.)

Don't keep your best ideas on a shelf -- you want to be known as the person with all those good ideas.

Keep them flowing, more will come and they'll be even better developed.

Learn the basics of pitching your ideas to people more established than you are. If you nail that etiquette (know their work, which part of your idea is right for them, and you're able to be brief), you're going to find success.

Talking To Cigdem Kobu's Creative Solopreneurs

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by Cigdem KobuExcerpt from a profile in Cigdem Kobu's A Year With Myself program for introverted creative solopreneurs.

Are you location independent by choice, or necessity? Why?

Both!

First by necessity when I lived very far from my culture, removed by thousands of miles by people who knew me, who spoke my language, dislocated from my professional fields. Swallowed up by my foreign-to-me surroundings.

Then, as I realized the power of location independence, I became location independent by choice.

I believe that we all can tap into that same power no matter where we happen to be. If you think about it, we’ve all felt like a fish out of water at some point in our lives, and for too many of us, that’s an on-going feeling we have today. It doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s what GlobalNiche.net is about. You could say we teach people how to be globally unbound -- by choice.

Although expats and international types have more reasons than most to find a way to operate independently of where we happen to be physically, I see now that we don’t even have to leave home to do it.

It’s not about being mobile physically (and working on a beach in Thailand, as many in the location independent and lifestyle design movements talk about).

It’s about being okay with where you are, and setting up your life so you can be fufilled and, unlimited by your surroundings.

With today's economic uncertainties no matter who or where we are, we all have to embrace an enterprising view of ourselves -- a way to operate unlimited by the options around us.

We’re really lucky to be part of a trend toward entrepreneuring and indie creative careers, as well as using the social web and mobile devices to help us achieve what I call “psychic location independence”.

We don’t have to be a tech expert or social media guru to build a micro-yet-global base of operations with a professional web platform and virtual network for continuing education, professional development, and a close-knit but world-flung set of friends. We can be digital world citizens and achieve a cutting-edge state of being.

You believe that our metamorphoses choose us. Can you explain that a little?

I said this after a year on Twitter, back in 2009. I noted that the major undertakings of the year hadn’t rated a 2008 resolution. I didn’t plan any of them.

Nilofer Merchant, a cutting-edge entrepreneur I admire and author of The New How and the upcoming book Social Era Rules, recently tweeted, “Once you find your purpose it pulls you effortlessly into the future.” That’s definitely what happened when I opened a Twitter account and followed the trail of my interests out into the world of all possibility.

I was on soul-auto-pilot. Suddenly I took charge of my own web presence, an intention I hadn’t held, a vision I didn’t see, and a plan I don’t recall making.

All it took was that first microblogging step that lead to a curated-webpath to what I now recognize as my specific interests and larger intentions. I was pulled into my future, effortlessly, and without warning!

I was virtually attending conferences on publishing, interactive media, women’s issues, and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature.

I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for an experimental blogging course before I even had a blog, and volunteering for a life design course for expat women entrepreneurs that helped me hone my vision and introduced me to my present day business partner, Tara Agacayak.

I experienced a reawakening of my inner student to learn exactly what I needed to know, and fresh direction on how I might contribute to the future of my communities.

I have seen this same thing happen with other people on Twitter too, so if you’re willing to dive in and let your metamorphosis choose you, that is the first place I’d recommend you go.

How do you help other women change their lives?

By sharing my own journey, and how I’ve combined my talents, interests and experience to create solutions for myself.

The largest solution I have to offer is the power to change our own lives by building a custom platform to operate from.

Also, by seeing in them what they could be, and telling them, which gives them the opportunity to see themselves and build their own place in the world.

The Native American Medicine Wheel card for hummingbird really resonates for me. The hummingbird is an agile creature which withdraws nectar from flowers and pollinates them at the same time, making them productive and viable.

I would love to be that force for the women in my life.

Interviewed on Bay Area Focus TV Show

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by Susan Sikora on Bay Area Focus TVToday I taped an episode of Bay Area Focus with Susan Sikora at CW 44, cable12, (KBCW) the CW Network affiliate for the San Francisco Bay Area. It'll air June 24. We talked about Tales From The Expat Harem, expatriatism, and the location independent lifestyle.

Here are some of the prep questions.

1. What factors should we all consider before moving abroad?

2. How is moving abroad different from travelling abroad?

3. What is the perception of Americans abroad? What is the image most non- Americans you met had of the U.S? Did that improve at all during the time you lived abroad? Did it change? How so?

4. What prompted you to leave in the first place??

5. What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?

6. For 14 years you've lived in three countries outside the USA (Italy, Malaysia, and Turkey). Why did you choose the countries you did?

7. How is living abroad different than travelling abroad?

8. In what ways were you unprepared for the realities of a wider world? What conventional wisdoms about the world did find to be untrue?

9. Can those differences between expats and travelers be seen in the literature they write about a place?

10. When you moved to Istanbul in 2003 you were planning to write a memoir about your life in Malaysia. Why did you create an anthology about Turkey instead?

11. What is behind the metaphor “Expat Harem” and how does it help us understand Turkey better? How did it help you understand yourself better?

12. As you compiled the book Tales from the Expat Harem you found that cultural understanding wasn’t a function of time spent in a location but rather the depth of an individual’s connection with the place. How can we foster that kind of connection to have a better experience when we travel?

13. What were you hoping to learn about yourself by moving?

14. What were your expectations of living abroad? Were they met?

15. How were you perceived as an American? How do you think most Americans are perceived?

16. You’re a Berkeley native. How do you think being raised in the Bay Area prepared you for the life abroad?

17. For people considering a trip or a move to Turkey, what would you suggest they do to prepare themselves?

18. A few years ago you launched a group blog of “neoculture discussion” inspired by Expat Harem. You called it “expat+HAREM, the global niche” and it wasn’t just about Turkey, or women, or expats. Why did you expand your sights, and to whom?

19. What came out of those neoculture discussions?

20. You’ve coined this expression “global niche”. What is your definition of a global niche?

21. Where did the idea of a global niche come from?

22. Why do you call yourself a hybrid ambassador?

23. Can you explain what you mean by 'psychic location independence'?

24. What’s the difference between location independence -- where people are looking for the freedom to travel and work and live where ever they want -- and your version?

25. So can we take advantage of your global niche concept even if we don’t leave home? That is, can we be global citizens without a passport?

26. You believe if we build our global niche we’ll have found where in the world we belong -- and also be globally unbounded. How can we be in one place, and everywhere at the same time?

Talking Sociotech Advances, The Value Of Our Content, & Going Paperless

This is an excerpt from an interview by John Zipperer for Northside, a San Francisco neighborhood newspaper, April, 2012

So tell me about Global Niche. What is it? Who is the audience/customer?

Global Niche is my startup with my partner Tara Agacayak based on our combined 20 years of expatriatism, my experiences as an author building her publishing platform (that’s where you demonstrate your expertise, your reach, your ability to draw an audience) and the rising notion of creative entrepreneurship (which is where who you are is what you do best -- doing what you love).

Global Niche is a life-work initiative for global citizens, mobile progressives, cultural creatives, independent professionals and any one who finds themselves in a situation mismatch. In this day and age we should be able to operate independently of traditional limitations like geography, time zone, culture, language. I call that achieving “psychic location independence”.

There’s a place in the world just for us, where we can be both as unique as we want to be, and as big as possible. We don’t even have to leave home to find it, and build it out -- and our progress in doing so is reflected in a professional web platform. That’s where the world finds you. It’s about making ourselves a global microbrand.

By combining recent sociotech advances that digital nomads take advantage of, like mobile devices, online education and the social web, the Global Niche philosophy supports your effort to make your life work in straitened situations. To live a globally unbounded life.

I call it “creative self enterprise for the global soul” but our audience don’t have to be expats, world travelers or professed globalists to tap into a bigger view of themselves -- and gain access to a wider assortment of opportunities for community, lifestyle and work.

Anyone in a disadvantageous situation -- for instance, recent school graduates who are discovering a thin resume doesn’t get their foot in the door, corporate refugees, stay at home parents and people forced into early retirement -- can also use Global Niche’s “creative self enterprise” approach to build a more empowered life and livelihood.

You've mentioned a new product or service you're rolling out in April. Tell me about it.

It won’t be launching in April, but we’re close!

It’s a content packaging program inspired by the content marketing movement (and once again, a concept borrowed from the publishing world, of a building an author platform -- you don’t have to be a writer, just think of yourself as the author of your life).

That is, letting your content support your aims, whether you’re positioning yourself as an expert in a field to land jobs or funding, or you’ve got a product or service to sell.

Whatever you want to do, you’ll need help and support and part of that is going public with your process, to gather likeminded people to your cause. The kind of people who are interested your stuff, can help you develop your plan, the kind of people who will form the basis of your network.

Many of us have generated a lot of content in our lives which is not actively working for us. Hobbies we’ve poured ourselves into. Independent research we’ve done (and no one around us thought was a good use of our time!). Things we alone are very knowledgeable about. The older we are, the more boxes of stuff we’ve got that we’ve never used for anything. Photos that haven’t seen the light of day. Artwork in the basement. Things we may consider failures.

I imagine many of us are sitting on a mountain of it, at the same time wondering how we’re going to make ends meet, or finally leave this job we hate. Or actualize that dream we’ve always had. But if we consider that earlier output not as failure or a waste of time, but instead a chain of events that make us who we are today, then we start to get an idea of the arc of our lives and how what we’ve done in the past can help us get where we want to go in the future.

At Global Niche we’ve created a 6 week group program to help you wrap your arms around your content and link it with your goals. We’ll also be releasing a self-study guide.

Describe a typical day for Anastasia Ashman these days.

After breakfast with my husband, we both settle down to work. We’re on the dining table with our double monitors at the moment.

I’ll scan my emails, which I have almost down to nothing by judicious pruning of subscriptions and automatic filing rules.

If I receive things that aren’t personal, I’ll adjust my email rules to make sure I don’t see that kind of correspondence again. I’ll peruse, bookmark and participate on my Twitter account (my favorite social media platform to swim in deep, intellectual waters. I’ve been a top ten user in Istanbul in 2009, top 20 women entrepreneurs according to Forbes.com in 2010, and this year a top 50 follow according to another business personality).

I’ll have a Skype call or two with people in other time zones about collaborations or a Webex call with a TEDx Women Entrepreneurs group in Silicon Valley (we’re creating a pitching support group after TEDxBayArea), and maybe an hour-long Linqto video chat with my Global Niche partner in Istanbul, a guest expert on creativity coaching or women’s leadership like Tara Sophia Mohr along with all the members of our community who also log on for these live monthly events.

Throughout the day I’ll share links relevant to my field and interests and my own work, at multiple Facebook pages, Twitter and Google+. Reading news and other links I’m directed to by my Twitter network.

I’m building out my Pinterest account too, a place to visualize my handful of cultural projects in a fresh light, as well as discover more likeminded people.

I’m going through my research and web bookmarks to find ways to bring more previous work to light and familiarize myself with sources after a hiatus. Most of this is preparation for what’s coming: as this relocation displacement comes to an end, I’m preparing to begin a huge memoir rewrite based a plan devised last fall with my editor and agent.

If I met someone the day before I’ll connect with them on the social media platforms and then throw out their card. No more paper!

What's ahead?

Just further along on the path and projects I have simmering now. Offering life-work solutions for the globality of us, through Global Niche.

Running a transmedia production house for all my cultural entertainment projects like my Byzantine princess art historical soap opera about the forgotten woman builder who spurred an emperor to beat her with the Haghia Sophia, and my Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Meet the Parents tale of culture clash at my Istanbul wedding.

I can see having the staff to enact some of the ideas I’ve had for producing the work of others. For instance, having a stable of illustrators working on digital graphic novels based on unproduced screenplays, that’s an idea whose time has come and with a huge amount of polished writing lying fallow due to the high barriers to entry of the past.

Speaking at storytelling and innovation conferences, producing retreats and summits of my own.

At that point I hope my memoir is released, and optioned for film, so I may be involved in book tours and writing the screenplay, or involved in the production.

Talking To Intel Free Press About Early Adopters Of Tech In Turkey

"Turkey is a very young society, I told reporter Ken Kaplan in an interview for Intel Free Press for his article "Turkey Bets on Tech, Youth to Grow Economy". "One early adopter can get a group or whole family into a new thing almost overnight,"  which drives quick adoption of computers, smartphones and Facebook.

My Interview With Asian Geographic Passport Magazine

This Singapore-based magazine with a worldwide distribution approached me for an interview about being an expat in Turkey for the February 2012 issue. Here are my answers:  

Where are you from? What's your job? Could you tell me a bit about your background?

I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, and have lived abroad for almost 15 years.

I was in Kuala Lumpur for five years in the ‘90s, where I learned some good lessons about what it takes to survive and thrive as an expat.

I drew on those realizations a lot during my time in Istanbul, and they inform much of the work I now do as the founder of GlobalNiche.net, a work-life initiative for cultural creatives, mobile progressives and other global souls.

When did you move to Turkey? What brought you to Turkey?

I moved with my Turkish-born husband in 2003 (and we relocated to San Francisco at the end of 2011.) But even before that, we chose an Ottoman palace in Istanbul as the site of our 2001 wedding. So maybe a stint living there was fated?

Could you speak a bit Turkish after living there for almost 10 years?

Yes. I took a month-long course at a language school when I first arrived, and then employed a private tutor a couple of years later to consolidate what I’d held on to and work on advancing my conversational skills.

I get along just fine with transport and shopping but since my work is English-language based and I’m not a linguist (I’ve studied 8 languages and am proficient in none!) my Turkish has never allowed me to express complex thoughts. I no longer agree to Turkish-only business meetings, and swore off Turkish language television appearances after it became clear that they didn’t work well for me.

I have been surrounded by only-Turkish conversation for untold hours, zoning in and out. Sometimes understanding perfectly, responding in English. Other times, lost!

It’s an agglutinative language -- meaning you keep adding endings and some words have 20 letters in them -- and the word order in a sentence is backwards to what I’m used to with English. You have to back into a sentence -- sometimes you never make it to the end. The funny thing is, people either say “Turkish is really easy, isn’t it?” or “Turkish is really hard, right?” and both groups are correct. Most Turks love to hear you try. There are conventional things to say which you can use a lot on a visit. Pick those up.

Which part of Turkey do you think remain pretty much untouched by mass tourism?

Anywhere off the beaten path.

You can even find this in Istanbul, where massive cruise ships dock and zillions of people get off and go to one or two spots.

I suggest you go down a back street, don’t stay in a tourist neighborhood if you can help it, don’t eat at restaurants with menus in English or other non-Turkish languages (or menus at all -- Turks don’t order from the menu, they ask what’s fresh, in season, special).

Try Beyoglu, or the Asian side of town. Try some walking tours to explore areas you might not find otherwise.

Head the opposite direction of crowds, you will find something. If you want to see a mosque choose one by master architect Mimar Sinan, not the one with the big line in front of it.

How would you spend your weekend in Turkey?

Walking along the Bosphorus Strait, eating and drinking with friends at all the cafes and restaurants and bars and clubs along Istiklal, the pedestrian street in the European quarter of Beyoglu. Museums, film festivals, nargile establishments, tea houses. For glitzier occasions, events at a multitude of ancient and antique locations that are now nightclubs and restaurants, concert venues and other hangouts.

How about your food experience? Apart from the traditional dishes like kebab, baklava, what is your favourite and where to try it?

Neither of those are favorites of mine -- in fact, there’s so much more depth in traditional Turkish cuisine than kebab and baklava.

Turkish food is the cuisine of a vast empire, after all. Lots of taste and ingredient influences, and many dishes perfected for the sultan. Try the stewed homestyle dishes made with olive oil (called “zeytinyagli”), the roasted lamb on a bed of eggplant pureed with cheese (“hunkar beyendi”), or a tangy okra stew.

With four different seacoastlines (Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean), Turks do great fish and seafood dishes. A spicy shrimp sauteed in butter and red pepper flakes...grilled octopus. Dreamy! If you visit during the turbot season in winter it’s worth going to a place that specializes in this huge, flat and spiky Black Sea fish.

Desserts:

I’ve been partial to the chewy lokum (what you may know as “Turkish delight”) since I was a child in California, with my recent favorite being the pomegranate lokum studded with pistachios. Malatya Pazari is a national chain that sells it.

Try the different milky puddings at Saray or other traditional restaurants, one even has chicken breast in it.

Basically I could talk about Turkish food all day and not mention kebab or baklava.

If you’re staying in the old town, go to Beyoglu to eat. Greasy bland tourist food is an awful waste of your palate. If you’re after a spicy kebab though, ask for the ground lamb Adana kebab from the Southeast of the country.

What are your favourite nooks and crannies or hidden retreats in Turkey?

I like the private waterside setting of Assk Cafe in Kurucesme, the wild surf around red-roofed Amasra, the archaeology museum in the grounds of the Topkapi Palace and the overlooked mosaic museum under the Arasta Bazaar -- which is where you can see the decor of Emperor Constantine’s palace. He’s the Roman who founded the Eastern Roman empire, and why the city became known as Constantinople.

Hidden retreats are everywhere but most recently I enjoyed a hotel at the top of Assos on the Aegean. If you stay there you can visit the Temple of Athena at sunset, when it’s deserted and the Doric columns are bathed in an orange light. Great for portrait photography.

Do you know anything about the working culture in Turkey?

Yes. I worked fulltime as a cultural writer and producer which means I worked solo but in collaboration with many individuals and organizations. I pitched, sold, edited and published two books with a major Turkish publisher. That’s the anthology Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey, and its Turkish translation, both in 2005.

I also wrote for Cornucopia, a magazine for international connoisseurs of Turkish culture published in Istanbul, as well as web consulting for Turkish companies. The work culture differs from my own personal work culture -- closely tracking along cultural differences, as you can imagine.

I suggest you learn as much as you can about Turkish culture if you’re interested in working in Turkey or with a Turkish company. It affects what people expect around deadlines and goals and standards and other basics like that.

It’s good to know what people mean when they say “yes”. Turkey is a Eurasian culture so it’s got a bit of the west and a lot of the east in it.

Is there any particular myths you heard most about Turkey? How much of it you found to be true?

All the cliches.

Wolfish rug dealers. Men in mustaches and tweed suit jackets. Coffee shops with no women present.

That’s all there, but that’s not all there is.

In fact, the reason those things are cliche is because the details in between the lines are missing. Who those people are, why they behave that way, where the women really are.

There’s a huge spectrum of Turkish society from the most rural and conservative to the most urban and secular, and a very young, forward-looking population. There are also deep traditions, an interdependent culture, and a multiethnic population. It’s an ancient place and a modern republic, its contradictions and tensions spring from the ground itself.

Overall, what do you think about Turkey in terms of a place for expats to work and live?

I think there are opportunities -- the Turkish economy is strong and has been only minorly affected by the worldwide economic crisis -- and the lifestyle can be really good.

However, like any foreign country it’s best if you do your homework. Come visit a few times before you try living here.

Make some contacts in both the expat and Turkish communities, and preferably in communities that contain both expats and Turks.

You want to be able to live in a bridged way, not in a bubble.

You’ll also want to know what kind of work you want to do, and where in the country you want to live. Even what neighborhood. The more you know before you commit the better off you’re going to be. Try poking around at an active online forum like TurkeyTravelPlanner.com.

That’s where you’ll pick up some useful lessons of cultural awareness like how to walk through the Grand Bazaar area without being harrassed (hint: it’s things like body language, and appropriate dress).

I have also written a lot about life in Turkey which you can find at my neoculture discussion site expat+HAREM  (www.expatharem.com).

Speaking At The Commonwealth Club

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 2.16.58 PM I'm pleased to be speaking on a panel on The Rise of Turkey for the San Francisco Commonwealth Club's Middle East Forum, along with scholars, a diplomat and a Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist.

I'm joined on the panel by professor of cross-cultural communication Steven West, honorary consul Bonnie Joy Kaslan, and Stanford journalism professor Joe Brinkley.

It'll be recorded and posted on the Commonwealth Club website afterwards. (Listen to the full podcast here.)

My Global Niche: An Interview With Today's Zaman Newspaper

American reporter in Turkey Brooks Emerson asked me about the foreign edge, and the challenges of finding my niche in Turkey for his series on expat success stories in national English-language newspaper Today's Zaman. In the far-ranging interview, Emerson asks me what the initial impetus for my success as an expat was, and how I've evolved.

No surprise to those who know me, foreign language adoption has not played much of a role -- once I realized that taking business meetings and doing live television interviews in Turkish literally was rendering me mute! But mentoring in all realms of my personal and professional life has been a "secret weapon" in the creative entrepreneurship of self that I aim to practice.

Emerson asks me how the environment affects the outcome of an expat's endeavors. I tell him how sense of place can inspire a sense of self.

"Anastasia says that she has always been attracted to places with an amalgamation of people and cultures. However, the biggest pull is “the idea of crossroads … like Rome, where [she] studied in college … and now here on the Bosporus,” where she senses a positive energy and vibration for self-discovery and reinvention.

"Anastasia believes that working and living abroad is an excellent way to discover new self-potential."

Read Emerson's entire July 2011 interview "The global niche of Anastasia Ashman" online.

Interviewed For The Istanbul Project By Foreign Correspondent Students

Interviewed today by American college student Willa Hine for an ieiMedia anthology about people in the city as part of a one-month international journalism program by Mary D'Ambrosio. Read the resulting FACES OF ISTANBUL ebook by foreign correspondents in-training at ieiMedia's Istanbul Project. Faces of Istanbul anthology

 

I also spoke to the entire Istanbul Project class of American journalism students about being a foreign correspondent in Turkey and the special cultural considerations that come from being a foreign woman.IMG_3904