expats

Tending Relationships In The Technological Age: Multiminding

My worlds colliding -- no, integrating! -- at Estee Solomon Gray's Mmindding Symposium on what she calls agile attention management. It's a movement toward our reality as relational beings, supported by the technologies of today. We can do this. We want to do this. We are doing this. The talks were by academics who study things like proxemics and chronemics. The audience was filled with people who are carving out lives and work in just this post-industrial age reality. We're returning to our natural rhythms.

Pictured and not pictured, friends and colleagues and acquaintances from GlobalNiche, future of work thinkers, expat entrepreneurs, TEDxBayArea, Wisdom 2.o conference, Exceptional Women in Publishing, Bryn Mawr College alumnae, Women's Startup Lab.

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Held at Rodan-Fields HQ, pictured: Leslie Forman, Pamela Day, Karen Jaw-Madson, Tanya Monsef Bunger, Maria Judice, Monika Ashman, Shirley Rivera. Also seen at this afternoon of theory and practice of "multi minding", relational thinking and acting for a qualitative life: journalist Liza Dowd, Kevin Marks, creativity expert Austin Hill Shaw, Bonita Banducci, Minda Aguhob of Peak Foqus, salonista Betsy Burroughs.

 

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.

 

Expatriates Are Experts In Resilience

A few excerpts from interviews I've given and articles I've written:

Being an expatriate, you’re naturally a person in transition.

Your worst days can leave you feeling unmoored and alienated. Your best days bring a sense of your agile nature and the qualities that make you unique from the people who surround you and the people back home.

Working toward an understanding of what it will take for you to feel your best in your environment I think is extremely worthwhile. Your answers perfectly define you and the more closely they are incorporated into your business plans the better chance you have of career success abroad.

After five years in Malaysia and 8.5 in Turkey, I've made the limbo state of expatriatism (not belonging to your surroundings but having to navigate them in culturally appropriate ways AND honor the truth of who you are at the same time) a strength instead of a weakness.

 

With my career disrupted by international relocations and watching the traditional media business being disrupted by digital and social media, my particular m.o. has evolved into gate jumping. That’s a combination of reaction to obstacles in my environments, and a commitment to not be hindered by “what is”.

Gate jumping can work for expats of all kinds.

Here’s how I do it: Fearlessly operating without borders instead of accepting my off-the-grid, situation-mismatch as a paralyzing disadvantage.

Time zones, language barriers, geographical distances, old-school thinking and collapse in my industries of media and entertainment, these things don't stop me.

 

Being an early adopter of Twitter, I use it for continuing education like virtually attending conferences and entering high level discussions in my topics of interest, to networking and meeting my peers around the world.

One of the reasons I founded GlobalNiche.net is that I have noticed that the majority of expats disappear when they go abroad rather than come to local and international prominence through their expat lives as I have done.

Even fewer women expats accomplish this in Muslim countries or have managed to raise the voices of multiple other women in a country known for its censorship. See the details of this particular adventure in my piece The Accidental Anthologist.

I don't think any of this is easy to achieve. But I do think it's integral to surviving, and thriving.

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Linda Janssen has written a book on this topic called The Emotionally Resilient Expat. Jo Parfitt's Summertime Publishing is releasing it in 2013.

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.

Talking To Expat Entrepreneurs About How Facebook & LinkedIn Don't Touch Twitter

My comments from a discussion thread at the private forum for expat entrepreneurs run by Karen Armstrong: You can find me on Facebook (which I'm using increasingly more as a place to share what I'm reading, thinking, what I'm doing, etc -- and created recently an Expat Harem page which still needs a lot more love), Linked-In (which I've begun to join in forum discussions here and there) and Twitter.

I'm most active on Twitter because it works so well for me as a writer, as an expat, as a trafficker of ideas.

 

With Twitter I'm back in school (taking business courses, marketing and media affairs), I'm at summer camp, I've rejoined the publishing industry, and making new filmmaker friends, and following peripheral interests through the lives of people more devoted, taking part in live discussions about literature, editing, branding, virtually attending conferences and events like yesterday's brown bag luncheon thrown by Random House on the topic of digital publishing.

The other two sites have their purposes but nothing touches Twitter.

Explaining Turkey to 5 Million Americans on NBC's Today Show with Matt Lauer

When America's most popular morning talk show came to Istanbul, they asked me and my Expat Harem coeditor Jennifer Gokmen to explain Turkey to five million Americans. Here, we talk with NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer in front of the Haghia Sophia, a 1,500 year old architectural wonder of the world, on a breezy May first.

If the embedded video doesn't work for you, you can view this interview here

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Expat Harem Are Women On The Brink

This is the introduction Jennifer Gokmen and I wrote to the book Tales From The Expat Harem:

If there were ever a place tailor-made to play host to wanderers, travelers and those pursuing lives outside their original territory, surely Turkey is that place.

 

The perpetual evolution that travel and cultural assimilation visits upon the foreign born women in this collection echoes the continuous transformation that envelops the entire country. Threshold to worlds East or West depending on which way one faces, Turkey is itself a unique metaphor for transition.

Forming a geographic bridge between the continents of Europe and Asia and a philosophical link between the spheres of Occident and Orient, Turkey is neither one of the places it connects.  Similarly, foreign women on Turkish soil are neither what nor who they used to be, yet not fully transformed by their brush with Turkey.

Our Expat Harem women are on the brink of reclassifying themselves, challenged to redefine their lives, to rethink their definitions of spirituality, femininity, sensuality and self.

Aligned in their ever-shifting contexts, both Turkey and the expatriate share a bond of constant metamorphosis.

 

  • Delirious with influenza, a friendless Australian realizes the value of misafır perverlik, traditional Turkish hospitality, when she’s rescued from her freezing rental by unknown Anatolian neighbors bearing food and medicinal tea;
  • a pregnant and introverted Irishwoman faces the challenge of finding her place in a large Black Sea family;
  • a Peace Corps volunteer in remote Eastern Turkey realizes how the taboos of her own culture color her perceptions;
  • and a liberated New York single questions the gallant rules of engagement on the İstanbul dating scene, wondering whether being treated like a lady makes her less a feminist.

 

These are among the Tales from the Expat Harem.

The titillating, anachronistic title acknowledges erroneous yet prevalent Western stereotypes about Asia Minor and the entire Muslim world, while also declaring that our storytellers share a common bond with the denizens of a traditional Turkish harem.

 

Much like the imported brides of the Seraglio, İstanbul’s 15th century palatial seat of the Ottoman sultanate, our writers are inextricably wedded to Turkish culture, embedded in it even, yet alien nonetheless.

If a harem in the time of the sultans was once a confined community of women, a setting steeped in the feminine culture of its era, then today’s Expat Harem surely follows in its tradition.

Virtual and mainly of mindset, this newly coined community of expatriate women in modern Turkey is conjured by the shared circumstance of being foreign-born and female in a land laced with the history of the harem.

 

Like the insular life in the Seraglio of the past, foreign women in today’s Turkey can often be a self-restricting and isolated coterie, newcomers initially limited in independence and social interaction due to language barriers, cultural naiveté and a resilient ethnocentricity.

Tales from the Expat Harem reveal both the personal cultural prison of the initiate and the peer-filled refuge of those assimilated. Our harem is a source of foreign female wisdom, a metaphoric primer for novices and a refresher for old hands.

Our Scheherazades, modern day counterparts of that historic Arabian Nights harem storyteller, are drawn from a worldwide diaspora of women whose lives have been touched by Turkey.

When our call for stories reached them, through networks of people and computers, we heard from a multitude of expatriates in West Africa to Southeast Asia to America’s Pacific Northwest, all desiring to be counted and to recount their sagas.

By telephone from her home in California, an artist who studied illuminated manuscripts at Topkapı Sarayı was the first to admit the precious affliction she shares with many of her harem sisters: “Turkey gets into your blood. I’m an addict now.”

As editors we faced the delicate task of administrating the Expat Harem’s stories, preparing womanly wisdom for safekeeping. Managing the epic enterprise with its ticklish spectrum of cultural appreciation and feminine self-portraiture, our nights were nearly as sleepless as Scheherazade’s!

 

For months we coaxed diplomats, nurses, chefs and others to explore and express their truths about Turkey in a culturally balanced tone.

Some were not professional writers and some were unable to commit their tale to paper. Of those who did, only a fraction survived the editing process.

But affinities emerged as each woman divulged her internal journey and lasting emotional connection to the place and its people. Systems engineers and hoteliers, missionaries and clothing producers, artists, journalists, and others each share a fierce affection for Turkey.

Revealing what Turkish culture has yielded in their lives, they unspool humorous and poignant adventures at weddings in cobbled Byzantine streets, Ottoman bathhouses, and boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road.

In atmospheric travelogue through a countryside still echoing the old ways, through Giresun and Göreme, they transport us on emotional journeys of assimilation into friendship, neighborhood, wifehood, and motherhood.

Modern women in the real world, they take us along on their quests for national identity, business ownership and property possession.

What follows is a literary version of the virtual, modern harem’s never-ending gathering of women, day melting into night, a relaxed feast while delighting in each other’s diverse company, acting out scenes of cultural contrast and discovery.

 

The country rewards seekers, a veiled place insisting on being uncovered. In the process of discovering Turkey, contemporary women of the Expat Harem unmask themselves as well.

In narratives illuminating imperfect human nature and the fullest possible cultural embrace, our Scheherazades wrestle urges to overly-exoticize the unfamiliar and strive to balance self preservation with the fresh expectations placed on them by Turkish culture.

Some delve deep into interiors of country and psyche, like the shy teacher transformed by the full frontal impact of a 13th century Central Anatolian hamam.

Others teeter on the comic edge of a cultural divide, like the archaeologist who sparks hilarity in the trenches at Troy before language skills supplant vaudevillian pantomime.

In attempting to reconcile countless episodes of unconditional native generosity, expatriate women of the harem learn to accept a new emotional calculus.

 

A mid-life dancer mincing her way through the alleys of İstanbul’s bohemian Beyoğlu district to the beat of a darbuka drum invokes Mary Oliver’s poetic revelation, one that echoes in every tale from the Expat Harem:

 

“I was a bride married to amazement."