Expat Harem

Successor to Expat Harem Launches: Expat Sofra

So thrilled to share this expat lit news! Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.07.53 PM

Katherine Belliel and Rose Margaret Deniz, (Expat Harem book and blog writers you'll recognize whom I've had the privilege and pleasure of working with for many years) are now calling for submissions to their new anthology for expat women writers who've lived in Turkey.

It's called Expat Sofra: A Gathering of Foreign Voices Around the Turkish Table.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.18.54 PM As they explain,

"Follow in the footsteps of Tales from the Expat Harem by going deep into personal, introspective experiences that have a love and respect for the local culture and traditions.

"Sofra invites you to a second course by taking a seat at the Turkish table.

"Just as the sofra is the heart of the Turkish hearth, we want stories that are steeped in the experience of being an expat in Turkey. The editors have a combined twenty-five years in Turkey and are editing this compilation of essays to give back to the culture that has nourished their lives abroad."

If you've lived in Turkey for at least a year, or know someone who has, take a look at the call for submissions, open to April 1, 2015.

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"At the heart of every story is a flavor. Expats pack their bags with spices from home to find that incorporating it into meals, and subsequently their life abroad, can require trial and error, a sense of humor, and even failure. Relationships flop. Meals get burnt. Life abroad does not taste the same. But it evolves. Becomes enriched. And can even become decadent."

Eggshells-of-everything: fiction author Wendy J. Fox's domain

IMG_6311So pleased for Wendy J Fox, winner of the 2014 Press 53 Award for short fiction -- which resulted in today's publication of "The Seven Stages of Anger"! IMG_6312

Thanks Wendy, for the opportunity to read your collection in advance, and for your lovely note. I am likewise inspired by you!

(I had the pleasure of working with Wendy for the Expat Harem anthology.)

IMG_6313My review: "Wendy Fox's prose is strong and fragile at the same time. As she explores in these stories the hairline fractures in our relationships with life, ourselves and each other, you can't help but hold your breath for the big break you know is coming. The eggshells of everything? Fox owns the category."

Expat Harem: 9 Years On The Reading List

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.09.17 AM Thrilled to see Expat Harem top this list of best expat books in the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah. Thanks to Expat Harem book and blog writer Catherine Yiğit for the heads up! Leyla Yvonne Ergil writes, "Many an expat has penned their experiences of living of Turkey in captivating accounts of the beauty of the landscape and cultural divides...

"...some of the best reads to laugh, commiserate, and experience the wonder that is Istanbul through foreign eyes."

Glad to be included on this list with:

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.26.22 PM And thanks to Elle Loftis for recommending the book in her top 10 Turkey reads in Today's Zaman paper.

"It shows a side of Turkey and Turkish culture rarely portrayed outside of fiction, and definitely not covered by international media. Expats in particular will enjoy this anthology, where many of the stories will undoubtedly hit home," Loftis writes.

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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Expat Harem Writer Wendy Jean Fox Wins Literary Award And Publishes Her First Book

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 6.55.11 PMCongrats to Wendy Jean Fox (you may know her as one of the original Expat Harem writers, her piece is Coming Clean In Kayseri  [read it at that link] about a visit to an ancient hamam bathhouse in central Anatolia where Wendy was teaching). Wendy won the Press 53 award for short fiction for her collection, "The Seven Stages of Anger & Other Stories". It will be published by Press 53, a literary press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this October. I'm pleased to receive an advance reading copy and honored to blurb it!

The Denver, Colorado-based Wendy also joined the GlobalNiche program.

"The GlobalNiche program has been instrumental in helping me get focused on doing something with all random piles of pages laying around," she said.

 

"I was already sending out pretty frequently to lit mags, and getting quite a few stories picked up, but GN helped me get better - what do I really want, how do I get there, what do I already have, what do I need to make. I wanted, first, a book. Now I have to get my novel in shape.

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"I know this is not a coincidence that I began the program (I'm about halfway through) and that this is happening.

"So, thank you to you and Tara and the entire community. I appreciate your energy and what you are doing -- it's an inspiration."

Thanks a lot, Wendy, and thanks for the Expat Harem shoutout in your bio on the book cover!

Featured By Global Living Magazine As One Of Best Expat Books

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Thanks to Shelley Antscherl for naming Expat Harem among best expat anthologies in the January/February 2014 issue of Global Living Magazine!

I'm proud the book is listed alongside the work of editors like Suzanne Kamata of "Call Me Okasaan: Adventures In Multicultural Mothering", Monica Neboli of "Drinking Camel's Milk In The Yurt: Expat Stories from Kazahkstan", Diane Dicks of "Ticking Along Too: Stories About Switzerland", and Kate Cobb of "Turning Points25 Inspiring Stories From Women Entrepreneurs Who Turned Their Careers and Their Lives Around".

And thanks to Summertime Publishing publisher, Expat Book Shop proprietress and fellow expat writer Jo Parfitt for the review. "A fine bit of not just good writing, but literary writing, and that is due to the fabulous work of the editors."

See what else is in the issue here. Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.38.03 AM Global Living is a luxury lifestyle magazine for global citizens and sophisticated internationals who live, have lived, or may someday will live outside their country of origin.

Here's A Way To Ask For And Get Support For Personal & Pro Challenges, On An On-Going Basis

Graduates of my program are prepping to bring GlobalNiche's online presence & online community building methodology to their own worlds as servant leaders in peer-based workshops (like this group led by Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt starting in November). With this framework, in six weeks the network is connected and has a model to continue working together and a place to do so.

I've also been brainstorming the groups of people in my life I want to connect with more effectively. (You try it. Bet you can name three groups of people close to you that you want to see succeed.)

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My groups share a common thread.

We are peers and colleagues and friends and acquaintances -- and we are siloed in what we know, what we are trying to do,  how we do it, and with whom. We don't fully consider or know how to tap the resource we represent to each other.

That's what I'm proposing. A methodology to work in community on our own goals, with a stronger network as a result. A way we can all be cocreators of an effective network using the backbone of the social web. A way to ask for and get help and support for personal and professional challenges, on an on-going basis.

I see you.

You are people whose dreams I've been privy to, whose skills and talents I'm aware of, whose personal and professional pressures I know, whose untapped potential I recognize, and who I feel a commitment to helping put it all together to get where you want to go.

You're also people I would love to be better connected to, and who I'd like to connect better to fellow kindred spirits in my network. People you'd like to know. People who can help you and improve your life.

 

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Groups I'd like to be a servant leader to are:

1) people I've collaborated with professionally or been in peer work groups with, including writers and media pros and publishing world types.

Often coming out of traditional models and feeling the brunt of disruption, I understand your skepticism and why you are slow to adopt today's social web tools and ways of operating;

2) friends whose work and dreams I'm aware of but we've never really brought our full professional selves together to make things happen.

We can go beyond commiserating over coffee and silo-ing the personal and professional in our relationship;

3) people I have a history of interacting with intellectually in the long term, like fellow alumnae of my college;

4) acquaintances who ask me about what I do or how I do it, but don't imagine yourself doing it.

This would include my hairdresser who as an independent professional who moves from salon to salon could use the continuity and discoverability of an online portfolio. The young pilates instructor I met at the Wisdom 2.0 conference who could be establishing her practice with instruction videos online. The woman I met at a cocktail party recently who hadn't heard of local and online gatherings of people who share her cross-cultural experience;

e+H

5) people who have followed and appreciated my cultural work like Expat Harem the book and also the blog but don't see how it translates into GlobalNiche's social web training and online community building and personal brand building -- or why any of that is a way to help you live in the world the way you saw glimpses of in my cultural work.

People who haven't yet grasped that your cultural understandings, sensitivities, interests, experiences are assets and guidance you can use to live more fully with the help of social, mobile, and online tools and life. People who don’t yet see how your cultural understanding can help you on the internet, and in fact, give you an advantage online.

I see you, and I can envision what will emerge from our better connection. Don't wait for me to contact you. Reach out right now and let's get started.

Mapping My LinkedIn Network

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 4.41.07 PM My network has a new branch since I last did this network map in March 2013. That maroon group on the lower lefthand side is from PJ Van Hulle's 90-day list-building challenge, Listapalooza.

The blue are Turkey and Expat Harem-related. The green are Turkish diaspora. The pink is Bryn Mawr College, the orange is social media and online marketing pros, and professional coaches. The bronze is NYC, SF, writing and travel peers. The yellow at center is Silicon Valley, startups and the VC world, while the light blue is the TED community.

Click on the image to see a larger version. Here's where to get your own.

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!

On the GlobalNiche Bookshelf: Global Dexterity. Reinventing You. The Impact Equation.

GlobalNiche bookshelf: Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky

Building your global niche is a 21st century skill. For work. For life.

International business, human resources, the future of life & work bestsellers and new releases from Harvard Biz Review are stacking up on our bookshelf at Pinterest.

 

Finding cultural effectiveness. Career reinvention through social media and your own content. Achieving impact via your platform and social networks. Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset.

These are all GlobalNiche mainstays going mainstream. Click here to tweet about this.

What does it mean to be a global worker and a true "citizen of the world" today? asks author Andy Molinsky in Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process.

It means you're able to adapt your behavior to conform to new cultural contexts without losing your authentic self.

"Not only is this difficult, it's a frightening prospect for most people and something completely outside their comfort zone," writes Molinsky, an associate professor at Brandeis University's International Business School. He straddles the psychology and organizational behavior departments.

"What's needed now," he claims, "is a critical new skill: global dexterity."

 

Global dexterity? It's what we do here.

 

GlobalNiche is global dexterityGlobalNiche is global dexterity

 

This critical 21st century skill is exactly what we've been pioneering at GlobalNiche and expat+HAREM group blog and the Expat Harem book before it, as we have striven to make the limbo state and high cultural stakes of expatriate life a strength instead of a weakness. How to navigate your surroundings in culturally appropriate ways while also honoring the truth of who you are. That's global dexterity. Thanks to Andy Molinsky for the term. Back in 2009 we couldn't find many people talking about it at all, so we came up with our own term: "psychic location independence."

At GlobalNiche we've also come to the conclusion that this approach to a dexterous, global version of yourself  increasingly works for people everywhere, whether you're 'actually global' or not. You might be in your own backyard and need to navigate your surroundings in culturally appropriate ways and have your own, distinct truth to honor. You might not have a passport but can still benefit from becoming a global operative. In fact, being globally aware and globally functional has become an imperative in today's connected world.

 

GlobalNiche bookshelf: Reinventing You by Dorrie Clark

"Use social media to build connections" is one of seven steps branding expert Dorrie Clark lays out to reinvent yourself professionally, in  Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future.

"Show what you know" is another of Clark's steps. She suggests you use your content to show the world what you care about.

Again, sound familiar? It should. Using your content online and off to get where you want to go is exactly how you build your global niche. It's why the GlobalNiche program at its heart is about content strategy. Your content and your online presence is the key to creating your place in the world.

Another title that is particularly useful for people building online presences to reach offline goals is The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Brogan is a favorite of ours here at GlobalNiche.

 

GlobalNiche bookshelf: The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

The impact of our ideas is a function of the quality and similarity-but-distinction of the ideas, our ability to reach people and be understood, trusted, appreciated.

 

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

C = Contrast – having ideas similar to existing ideas, yet different enough to stand out

R = Reach – connecting higher numbers of people to your idea

E = Exposure – knowing how frequently you connect people to your ideas

A = Articulation – ensuring that your ideas are easily understood

T = Trust – based on multiple factors, such as credibility and reliability

E = Echo – connecting to your community in a personal way

As Brogan explained in a fun January 2013 Twitter chat I participated in (#BizBookChat a virtual book club for the actionable books community by Alyssa Burkus), "The Impact Equation is about how to turn your goals into ideas, & how to get those ideas absorbed and actions taken."

 

To build a platform, Brogan says, "you've got to find how you can best tell the story and where you can reach the people you hope to reach."

 

"Start where you are," Brogan counseled us in the fast-moving Twitter chat. "But look for growth. Move your chips to the next table. Strive to reach who you need to reach."

Start where you are. That's your only option. Oh, and start your evolution today.

GlobalNiche bookshelf: The Finch Effect by Nacie Carson

 

Evolution is exactly what Nacie Carson urges in The Finch Effect: The Five Strategies to Adapt and Thrive in Your Working Life. The Portfolio.com blogger and founder of TheLifeUncommon.net says it's your best bet in today's high-pressure economy.

Traditional career strategies spell professional extinction, she writes, but the fluid new gig economy offers tremendous potential for anyone willing to adapt.

Carson's five steps for ensuring professional success are all part of the GlobalNiche mindset and skill set.

  • Adopt a gig mindset.
  • Identify your value.
  • Cultivate your skills.
  • Nurture your social network.
  • Harness your entrepreneurial energy.

Among many other notable titles on the shelf about navigating the world today is Mitch Joel's Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It. I hope to tackle this sometime soon. In the meantime, tell us which books on your shelf echo these 21st century life and work skills.

 

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 Global Gives Writers Unique Voices

The writer and cultural curator Rose Deniz asked us what happens to our writing when worlds and languages collide.

Our language choice and vernacular will never be the same.

 

Even if I don't use Turkish words, the syntax is bound to slip in... like "make shopping" instead of "go shopping", and "arrive to" instead of "arrive at or in".

I know my adoption of the Malaysian "air-con" replaced the American "A/C" and remains hard to shake more than a decade since I lived there.

For globalist writers, like Rose and me and so many of the Expat Harem bloggers, I can only think it adds to the unique definition of our voice.

Masterminding An Expat's Reluctant Entrepreneurism

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Each participant presents her case study and we brainstorm next steps.

Here are some of my thoughts on an expatriate writer's mention that if she weren't an expat and forced to find ways to make a living outside the norm, she wouldn't be an entrepreneur.

It reminds me of the Dialogue2010 conversations at expat+HAREM, and how our hybrid lives have *forced* us to be flexible about a lot of things most people (especially those in our 'previous lives' if we're living outside an original territory, including who we might have been if we'd stayed) never have to deal with. Our careers are one of those things.

The beauty of being a creative entrepreneur is that it's about making your work type and situation *work* for you, for the type of person you are, and the situation you face. That doesn't mean it's the easy choice, just that it has the potential to deliver much more than you'd get from being a cog in someone else's wheel.

Was also reading something the other day about how we don't have to make money from everything we produce (or even try to sell it), but if we're professionals (or hope to be, that is, we're not hobbyists) earning money for the work we do has to be part of the larger plan.

Writing ONLY for money is different type of job than writing what you want to write and receiving money for it (at some point on the journey, and maybe not directly from the writing).

If your interest in writing dries up at the prospect of selling it, or using it as a form of content marketing for something else you are selling, then maybe writing is not an element of the paid work you want to do. Maybe you want to keep it as a hobby, a special form of personal entertainment. That's totally cool.

But, if you harbor dreams of yourself as a professional writer, not only sharing your work widely but receiving compensation for it, then writing *is* an element of your livelihood. If you have the luxury of already knowing what you want to write, and already writing what you want to write (some people are on a different carousel, where they write for hire and dream of writing from the heart and soul and it's hard to get off that carousel for the very reason that it's scary and hard) then all you have to add to your picture is a strategy to get paid for what you are already doing.

Will you have to make changes in your plans, will you have to improve to be competitive, will you have to be sensitive to your readership? Will you have to be aware of the market and how it works and what the shifts are in publishing? Will you see clearly whether you have achieved your professional writing goals or not? Yes.

In fact, writing might suddenly seem like a different kind of work if all that stuff I just mentioned has previously been kept separate from your writing life. I think this might be the key for you. Integrating in small steps your writing as professional, and with a market purpose.

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Another participant of the group points out this post by creativity coach Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action that if Shakespeare had continued to work for a patron, we may never have heard of him.

Masterminding A Membership Site

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it's a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Once a week someone steps into the center and asks for feedback and suggestions on their next steps. A week of discussion ensues. Here's my prompt about what I'm thinking of doing.

Hey all! Besides the in-progress shift at expat+HAREM (which includes among many other changes, making the content evergreen and getting off the feed the beast with original content every week treadmill), with Miss Tara I am working on creating a spin-off community.

Globalniche.net. GN will be a private and paid membership site for the same global citizen/multiculti/expat audience, but focused on solutions rather than simply discussion and entertainment. Adding practice to the theory.

In many ways Globalniche.net will reflect what we’ve seen at ThirdTribe.com this past year: bulletin boards for discussion of numerous topics, regular hosted seminars, audio and video interviews with experts and fellow seekers, custom-created educational material and special offers from solutions providers, and a support community to enact the things being discussed. It will be an actionable space, and since it will be shielded from public view, it will also have an intimacy we can’t experience on the open web.

Everyone in this mastermind group (along with some other solid members of our current eH and creative entrepreneur community) will be invited to join as founding members. When we’re ready to launch a monthly membership option will open more widely.

When we get started (date not set but within 6 months) we’ll be asking the below kind of questions to our founding members. It would be great if you could get the ball rolling, tell us what would make this a VERY valuable community for you, as well as throw out your own questions about the plan, or what we might also want to ask our founding members.

What is your biggest pain in finding your place in the world outside of your culture and comfort zone, and operating to your true potential both professionally and personally?

What is your biggest pain embracing all the worlds you love to belong to?

What drew you to e+H (and kept you coming back)?

What improvements to e+H’s brand and offerings would you like to see in a membership community at globalniche.net?

What tutorials, resources and educational material would you want from GN? What do you want to learn how to do? What do you need support for?

What kind of people would you want us to interview and make accessible to the community (by name if you know them)?

 

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Here are some of my responses to the feedback I received (I'm not sharing the direct feedback since the group is private). Five people participated (thanks to Catherine Bayar, Catherine Yigit, Sezin Koehler, Jessica Lutz, and Tara Agacayak!) and contributed 34 comments:

Thanks all, keep it coming! Characteristically, I have so many other deadlines this week I am practically missing my own party.

Thanks for the broader view of who might be of interest to hear from. Yes, futurists. In particular, may be able to address the tensions of living ahead of our time...because that certainly encapsulates a lot of the issues we face. It's coming for many others too, but we happen to be dealing with it all now.  Agree, Global Niche is a widening of the Expat Harem window, and I'm looking forward to transitioning to it, as well as bringing in new people for whom expat+HAREM may have seemed too 'niche'. Glad that the questions feel deep to you, and thanks so much for plumbing them. The deeper we can go here, the better we can start off the block. It's heartwarming to be able to trace where we came into each other's lives -- and so far back, too. Want to hear the revolutions the link has caused in your life, because it's a natural path to where we are taking this -- together.

Ooh yes I like the idea of being able to discuss whatever topics of the day that people are interested in (like art and culture and world affairs)....that would be possible in the bulletin board area where anyone could start a thread of their choice. Definitely on my list of interviewees are Amna Ahmad and Justine Musk!

You guys are really giving me some good direction here, about bringing my own worlds together. Being that bridge to make sense of how different communities and the leaders in them are informing who we are, and what our issues are. In particular, you're giving me some very clear ideas about how GN.net can synthesize all the best elements of what we know to be happening out there (rather than cover the same ground other expat or travel sites do and in the same way...because frankly, if those other sites were speaking completely to what I/we need, we wouldn't even be talking about this right now.) <- Exciting, challenging!

Thanks for your words about the newsletter, and the type of people and ventures mentioned in it. The newsletter can be a bridge between expat+HAREM and the GlobalNiche, and be a way to transition those who are interested into GN.  I'm also thinking about upgrading the newsletter to be more graphic...will need some tutoring please. Yes to the real-world meetings as often as possible (Tara and I've been making plans for a recurring Istanbul gathering) and I think we could also use a freaking major retreat on a regular basis.

This is really great feedback, thank you!

$$$ >> ONE LAST QUESTION << $$$

if you have any thoughts on it: price range. What would membership in this private community be worth to you?

Could be a range of prices...from the most basic offerings we talked about to more intensive and developed services.

Like Third Tribe -- the early adopters pay very little, and were part of the growth of the community. Now, they've just capped the community at a much higher rate and when they reopen, it will be still higher. All the while they've improved their offerings and built a year's worth of equity that new members can tap into from the very first day. So, can you share some comparable prices for memberships you have paid for, or know about?

Yes, the target market is a widening of the demographics attracted by eH material. Expanding to everyone who finds themselves geographically disadvantaged (could be and American in Kansas), culturally fragmented, etc. The idea is that this notion of a global niche may have come from our own need to find solutions but it can be applied to many other life situations too that may not seem so extreme in their disconnection.

Third Tribe is an example of an educational support community. It happens to be for online marketing. That does intersect with part of our interests at eh/GN but I don't mean that GN = internet marketing community. The model is instructive. As for cost, they opened the community at $27/month. I found that easy to sign on for, even though I'd never been part of a paid online community before. I think one of the reasons is that they had done a good job of letting me know what I'd be getting, and how I needed it.

I agree it would be great to have a resource area of best links on different useful topics...and self-help/self-improvement experts too. The counseling leads: There's a newish website of counselors globally (ExpatExpert.com was passing it around), as well as whole organizations for online counseling. Things have really changed, and it would be good to be on top of what's available.

Today we wrap up...thanks again to everyone for your fantastic comments and food for thought. (And excitement at the prospect of GN.net!)

FYI, we've got a Global Niche Facebook page as of today, and are collecting interested parties over there -- so head on over and like up. Thanks again for a terrific week of masterminding. You are all wonderful.

Masterminding A Writer, Artist & Cultural Curator Platform

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Once a week someone steps into the center with a case study and asks for feedback and suggestions on their next steps. Here are my thoughts on building out a writing and artist platform:

I use Wordpress and Tumblr (simply as a feed of my blog, microblog and Delicious activities). It seems moving to Tumblr or Posterous might make things much simpler for you as a blogger-- they seem easy/breezy as blogging platforms -- whereas Wordpress's wider capabilities will encourage building a bigger site with more going on. So, since you're talking growth and not just 'make it easier' then I'd say Wordpress.

As for platform building, where are you meeting and engaging with potential readers of your novel (besides Twitter, SheWrites, Facebook, LI, your blog)? Any communities out there specific to the topics in your novel? Taking part in reader-based litchats on Twitter would be another way to start being known as the woman behind the voice that people will be able to read when your book comes out. (Consider posting small excerpts of the book so we know what it's about and grow connected to it?)

Maybe someone here can share leads to artists, writers, cultural curators that you are aware of online -- if you know of them, they're doing something right to get your attention.

As for making the hybrid nature of your work clearer through your platform, I'm reminded of the blog convention of another multifaceted woman: Ruth Harnisch.  She breaks down the different channels of her being and lets that be the structure of her site. "The Maker of Mistakes". "The Philanthropist". "The Catalyst". "The Recovering Journalist". Perhaps something like this might allow you to indulge your interests and help a visitor to your site/blog comprehend your better?

The expatharem site has sold books through its Amazon link -- in the first couple of years of the site. The #s since I relaunched the blog are too tiny to count for anything and that may be a result of the maturity of the book or the fact that I don't push it much on the site, and/or people aren't coming to the blog to buy the book or learn more about it. However, yes, making things available to our interested parties is part of making what we do a business. We have to make the offer. It's relevant. However, I also know being on twitter has sold books. People I met there, people who found out about the book on twitter (like during #litchat on expat lit).

Also: here's a great interview with a 'unmarketing' book author about how he built both a support system and a target audience on Twitter and presold 3,000 copies of his book. Good lessons there about how to engage and when to sell. 

In response to your question about using your own name as a brand, an SEO specialist I know from ThirdTribe (@CraigFifield) just offered an impromptu SEO consult on Twitter before the end of his workday/workweek. I took the liberty to ask him for an opinion on this, in general terms. Here’re the tweets (which overlap, as Twitter does)....

CF: i have 15min before I quit for the day -- how can I help you with SEO or your Blog?

AA: wd someone's name be a better blog name for SEO than tagline about art and the creative life?

CF: in terms of SEO I would use a keyword that people are searching for. Or, I would go for branding and ignore SEO

AA: that is, are proper names SEO at all? and generally used words and phrases amount to very little in SEO world?

AA: so in researching keywords "creative life" what result would prompt good use of that phrase in blog title?

CF: depends how your audience uses those words. I would do some keyword research to decide. do you have an example?

AA: ok think i got it! (branding with a proper name means SEO considerations unnecessary)

CF: well, unless your brand will eventually be big enough to be searched on :) make your brand name unique to win there

From The Mailbag: Third Culture Kid Says ExpatHarem Blog Cuts Into The Complicated Issues

"Being a so-called Adult Third Culture Kid, what happens at the intersection of old and new, domestic and international, communication and technology always fascinate me - those are the things I have struggled to cope with up to my adult life. Occasionally great blogs like yours which cut into these complicated issues with grace appear and I can be entertained and at the same time talk with my inner childhood."

The Accidental Anthologist: Creating A Literary Harem

All the editions of Expat Harem bookTurkey often makes the news for suppressing its authors. Ironically, as an American expatriate in Istanbul I found my voice -- by creating a literary harem of my expat peers. My third month in Istanbul I found my way to an American women's social club. Milling among the crowd at the consul general's residence, I introduced myself by describing my writing project.

"At 40? You're too young to write a memoir," snorted a white haired librarian as she arranged second-hand books on a card table.

"Istanbul's such chaos, I'd be surprised if you can concentrate," thought a freckled socialite in tasseled loafers.

My memoir was going to happen. It had to. It was the cornerstone of my survival plan.

 

MY BRILLIANT CAREER WAS PORTABLE. I moved to Istanbul in 2003 so my Turkish husband could take a job in mobile telecommunications. Even though I lacked a formal proposal for my high-concept travel memoir charting the peaks and valleys of what I was calling “an adventurous life,” I already had a literary agent waiting to champion it. I was thrilled my spouse would be developing the kind of advanced cell phone software that excites him and that emerging economies demand. Yet my international move required a defense strategy.

"I'm not going to waste a minute sitting in language classes, diminishing my facility with English," I informed him.

"Whatever makes you happy," he replied.

In my mind I'd be on an extended writer's retreat, free from the daily distractions of our “real life” in New York City, where we had met.

I'd be an asocial expatriate writer who would one day emerge at the border clutching my passport and a masterpiece.

This exotic vision had been percolating since I'd last been an expat—in Malaysia. I’d spent five years rotting away in the tropics like a less-prolific—and more sober—Somerset Maugham.

Foremost to decay in the equatorial heat was my personality—the core of my writing voice.

In steamy Southeast Asia, my first long-term stint overseas, language and cultural barriers prevented me from expressing even the simplest aspects of my identity. When I told people I was a writer they'd reply, "Horses?"

 

I WAS DECOMPOSING at time-lapse speed. Vintage handbags and L.A. sandals sprouted green fungus overnight, while silvery bugs infested my college texts and a decade of diaries. I was also mistaken for a very different kind of Western woman in Asia, like when a crew of Indonesian laborers working at my house wondered when I was going to drink a beer and take off my shirt.

Three years later, in cosmopolitan Istanbul, I was a resurrected ambitious American prepared for my future. I imagined a successful literary life abroad—supported by a defensive version of expatriatism. "This move won't turn my world upside down," I cockily assured worried friends and relatives, who recalled my anguished Kuala Lumpur days.

Now I was all about the work. My plan to avoid alienation in Turkey was foolproof.

Istanbul, a hilly metropolis of 12 million, made Kuala Lumpur look like the sleepy river town it is. I couldn't envision navigating a car on its traffic-logged streets or squeezing into public minibuses or straying too far alone without a translator. I couldn't wait to hole up at home with my computer, DSL connection and a view of the Bosphorus.

Upon my arrival I joined an expat social club for some English speaking company. There I met the scolding librarian and the socialite. I also ran into an upbeat Michigan writer named Jennifer Gökmen, a 10-year émigré also married to a Turk. She had no doubt I would write my memoir. We both needed some writing support so we created a workshop with a handful of other American women.

Within weeks, the memoir stalled as I struggled to map my entire existence... dear god, what's the arc of my life? Maybe that caustic librarian was right! My resistance to Turkey started to wear down.

Jennifer and I began playing with a proposal of our own: an anthology incorporating essays about our Turkish lives.

I was bursting with that kind of material. The cultural gauntlet I faced on my first trip to meet the family. My glitzy Istanbul wedding. Inspired by the original harem of the 15th century Ottoman sultans, where foreign-born women shared their cultural wisdoms, new arrivals comparing notes with old hands, we figured we formed a modern version: the Expat Harem.

And that’s when the harem walls closed in.

 

SILENCED BY WHOOPING COUGH: I contracted a mysterious and ancient ailment of the pharynx. Local doctors unfamiliar with the diagnosis prescribed medications for asthma and antibiotics to treat a lung infection, neither of which I had. I passed the cough to Jennifer. For the next six months we were both homebound, hacking to the point of incontinence, succumbing to every little flu. I avoided anything that might incite a new round of spasms, like conversation and laughter, the coal smoke emanating from rural shanties, chills from the ancient city's stone walls, gusts of autumn blowing down from the Black Sea. The only thing Jennifer and I were suited for was speechlessly working, and we only wanted to think about the anthology.

"Embedded here, we're destined to be alien."

I brainstormed in an email to Jennifer, pointing out the dilemma of life abroad—even for those who want to blend in to local culture, it’s near impossible. Our cultural instincts will forever lead us to different choices— from simple aesthetics like lipstick color to complicated interpersonal communications.

Topkapi Palace harem door by A.Ashman

"The Expat Harem is a place of female power," she shot back, linking us to an Eastern feminist continuum little known in the Western world.

Harem communities offered women the possibility of power—in the imperial harem, they offered the greatest power available to women in this region. These women had the sultan's ear, they were the mothers of sultans. Several harem women shadow-ran the Ottoman empire, while others co-ruled.

Giddy with our anachronistic metaphor, I replied.

"Ethnocentric prison or refuge of peers—sometimes it's hard to tell which way the door is swinging!"

Like a secret password, news spread as we called for submissions from writers, travelers and Turkophiles. Fascinating women from fourteen nations poured their stories into our in-boxes. They shared how their lives had been transformed by this Mediterranean country in the past 50 years, moments that challenged their values and their destinies as nurses and scientists, Peace Corps volunteers and artists.

These women's tales were not universally known.

Many had never before been published and all were minority voices in a Muslim country with a reputation for censorship.

 

ALTERNATE REALITIES flooded over me: eerie Sufi pilgrimages to Konya, the intimacies of anthropological fieldwork on the Black Sea, glimpses of '70s civic unrest in Ankara, a wistful gardener's search for the perfect Ottoman rose in Afyon. Many represented a depth of involvement with the country I couldn't imagine: harvesting dusty hazelnuts on a brambly hillside, trying to follow the 9/8 rhythms of a clapping Gypsy, sharing space on a city bus with a dancing bear in the Technicolor 1950s.

I whispered to Jennifer, "Compared to these women, I'm a cultural wimp!"

Their struggles to assimilate nudged me to forgive my own resistance, and inspired me to discover the country, the culture and the Turkish people.

Now I could use the editing skills I had been suppressing since I was an infuriating child who returned people's letters corrected with red pen. From the comfort of my home office-with-a-foreign-zipcode, I was able to shape other writers’ stories. The anthology rewarded me for postponing the memoir, by laying the foundations for a more insightful next book. The joys of collaborating with writers from my home office clarified confusing aspects of my character—like how I am a prickly introvert who nevertheless craves connection with people.

One late winter day Jennifer and I stopped coughing and sold Tales from the Expat Harem to Doğan Kitap, a prominent Turkish publisher.

"That's more like it," snapped the librarian when I next saw her at a club meeting, my reputation somewhat rehabilitated in her eyes.

Four decades’ worth of expatriate self-discoveries earned its shelf space, more than my own 40-year life story would have.

"It's a love-letter to the country. I put it on my house guests' pillows!" shared the smiling socialite.

The anthology became a #1 English-language bestseller in Turkey and was recommended as a social and cultural guide by National Geographic Traveler and Lonely Planet.

My literary career and conflicted mindset about life abroad now had a promising new cultural context in the expat harem.

 

I FOUND MY THEORETICAL HOME. I arrived an insular writer afraid of losing my voice. In a temporary silence, Turkey suggested an empowering metaphor. It seems the country not only connected me to a worldwide band of my global nomad and expat writing peers, it provided a place to flourish out of restriction -- and raised my voice in the cultural conversation.

[This essay first appeared in JANERA: The Voice of Global Nomads, January 2008]

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What surprise context has your location provided you?

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[18 months, 2 expat writers, one feminist travel anthology with three editions. Our first book! A bestseller. How'd we do it? Read the story of making Tales from the Expat Harem]

Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

From Andrea Martins' ExpatWomen.com Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia and Tara are expat women entrepreneurs who have used social media to successfully grow their businesses and online profiles. We asked these two progressive business women to write an article for us, sharing their experiences and tips. 

Interestingly, whilst they both herald from the same part of Northern California and both currently live in Turkey, their paths did not cross until they met on Twitter.  

Creative entrepreneurship means thinking innovatively to both create a business and to promote it.  Expatriate women make ideal creative entrepreneurs because they usually require flexible and fluid work to fit their lifestyle (which typically means that they need to be creative in their business concept) and they are increasingly internet and social media savvy (which means that they are typically more willing to use social media creatively, to promote them themselves and their business).

Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, together with easy-to-use blogging systems remove many of the personal disempowerments far-flung expat women have traditionally experienced.  They can also be powerful professional tools, especially for expat entrepreneurs.  The niche nature and 24/7 cycle of the web can diminish cultural, linguistic, geographic and time zone disadvantages to both career development and entrepreneurial endeavours abroad.

Social media makes it easier to create these one-of-a-kind businesses by helping define and embody your brand, whether you are a writer, a coach, a consultant, a photographer or so on.  Applications and tools such as blogs, Twitter and YouTube enable you to extend your brand across the web and convey your multi-media message in text, video or graphics. You can monitor your brand, see how others connect with it, and evolve it as your expat journey transforms you. Well-curated Tweetdeck and Hootsuite columns and specialized LinkedIn groups provide access to state-of-the-industry practices, trending thought, and leading players in your field of business, as well as the opportunity to become known as the experts that you probably are.

 

How Do We Use Social Media?

The best way to explain how social media might be able to help you and/or your business, is to share with you our own real-life case studies…

Case Study One: Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia: Tara, going online solved your information technology (IT) career disruption after accompanying your husband to a small town in Turkey. How?

Tara: I first started experimenting with online sales by offering trinkets on eBay. Shortly afterward I started Citara's, an online boutique selling handmade Turkish products with my husband. Setting up an independent retail site was entirely different than selling through a hosted site like eBay. Getting our products in front of the right people required a unique set of tactics on the web. In this new attention economy, social networking and content marketing became vital to our online business. Citara’s started as a static website, but the brand has extended to a Twitter handle and Facebook page. We have also partnered with a non-profit called Nest where we donate a portion of sales to their microloan program generating funds for women's craft-based businesses. The work we do is editorialized through our blog and disseminated through channels we have set up on Twitter, Facebook and Kirtsy.

After building an offline network of artisans in Turkey I partnered with my expat friend Figen Cakir to start Behind the Bazaar, a site promoting independent artists and designers in Istanbul. It relies solely on social networking for digital word of mouth marketing. Using our blog as a content hub we offer a unique perspective on the local creative community. Content is then re-broadcast and re-packaged through Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and our Facebook page. We also act as experts on Localyte providing – an alternative view of Istanbul through the eyes of its artists.

Last year, Figen and I also started Intarsia Concept (IC) as a place for people to congregate and share resources for building creative businesses. Many creative entrepreneurs are their own entities. They manage their own PR, define their brand, and handle their own marketing and customer service. We envisioned IC as a supportive and informative environment for those starting their own creative businesses. Using our blog to centralize content we extend conversations out to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and bookmarking sites like Kirtsy and Delicious. I monitor HARO (Help A Reporter Out) requests for press opportunities and respond to questions on LinkedIn and Twitter. I engage in forums and groups on Ladies Who Launch to look for opportunities to collaborate or barter services.

Social networking is not just about getting your message out, but about opening two-way channels of communication and listening as much as you speak. It is the opportunity to learn from the greater community and create win-win opportunities.

Case Study Two: Anastasia Ashman

Tara: Anastasia, your writing and cultural entertainment-producing career is built on the publishing world's "author platform".  What does this mean and how is it related to social media?

Anastasia: I have been location-independent for eleven years, arriving in Istanbul from New York City in 2003, after Southeast Asia in the ‘90s where internet access revolutionized my estranged life. I virtually compiled and edited the book Tales from the Expat Harem with Jennifer Gokmen,  through email with more than 40 people in four different time zones. My second book and cross-media projects like intellectual global nomad salons and screen development of Ottoman and Byzantine princess stories require a vast rebuild of web presence and activity.

The publishing concept for launching a career – the author platform –  is a good model for the globally mobile woman entrepreneur. In order to make sales, land assignments, get project funding, attract collaborators and partners, a professional needs to demonstrate her platform of influence and credibility. She needs to pinpoint her market, get substantial attention, deliver the goods, including: a targeted mailing list; an audience; and alliances with others with similar audiences; access to media outlets (generating her own newsletters, blogs, podcasts); making appearances; and other speaking engagements.

To this end, social media offers opportunities to build a more robust and far-reaching platform with fewer resources. I interact with readers, agents, marketers and publishers in live chats on Twitter, meet peers in networks like SheWrites, TravelBlogExchange and the small business community Biznik, while SocialMention and Google alert me to people discussing my subject matter so I can join the conversation. I share thought leadership with fellow writers, travelers, globalists and culturati by posting favorite web finds to Twitter and Facebook feeds, and bookmarking them at Delicious. I upload presentations to SlideShare, and contribute to LinkedIn groups for: filmmaking; my college alumnae; the expat life; Turkish business; blogging; and digital publishing.

On my main sites I develop my own material, community and skills. I revolve ideas about female identity, history and culture at my individual blog, and foster relationships with my global niche of Turkophiles, intentional travelers and hybrid lifestylers as founder of the expat+HAREM group blog. Technology helps me amplify with syndication to Networked Blogs at Facebook, to Kindle, my LinkedIn profile, and Amazon Author Central. My ultimate goal is to create viral events – a worldwide rave for my most shareable ideas and properties – where my network voluntarily distributes my digital content to their connections, deriving their own meaning and use, telling my story their way. As I locate, interact with and help interested parties across the web, I create my ideal word-of-mouth market worldwide.

 

Anastasia & Tara’s Social Media Tips

 

Do:

  • Present yourself thoughtfully, accurately and honestly;
  • Mind-cast, not life-cast: aim for a high signal versus noise ratio;
  • Provide value: offer your expertise and knowledge, solve problems, be generous, connect people, be authentic; and
  • Monitor who is following you (be aware of who you are congregating with).

Don’t:

  • Allow incriminating words and images to be attached to your name;
  • Believe get-rich-quick and get-followers-fast schemes;
  • Use your birth year or publish information people can use to find your physical location; and
  • Use copyrighted material without permission.

Think Long-Term

 

        • Social media is a way to carve out your niche and congregate with like-minded people. Whilst this can happen quickly, it usually does take time – so think long-term.
        • The good news is that if you are patient, dedicated, committed, giving and authentic, you

will 

          find allies in your field. Your networks

will 

          support and promote you. They

will 

        offer solutions and encouragement and challenge you to be better. And the best part is… just like your own ‘career in a suitcase’, your social media contacts are portable and they will go with you wherever you go.  So good luck and happy connecting!

 

 

Anastasia Ashman aims to further the worldwide cultural conversation, raising the feminine voice on issues of culture and history, self improvement and the struggle for identity – from one family to entire hemispheres.

Tara Lutman Agacayak works with creative entrepreneurs around the world in multiple facets to craft viable and lucrative businesses.

 

January 2010

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

From The Mailbag: Expat Says Her Own Situations Now Described

"I just read your book. Thank you for compiling the stories of expat women in Turkey. I am one too. I really laughed and cried along as I went, so many situations for which I had no words now eloquently described for me. I will be passing the recommendation along to my other bemused expat girlfriends in Turkey."