in International Careers

Calling all self-defined global citizens! What would you like to see here? And how can I serve you?

Today marks exactly one year since I landed in Chile! 

So much has happened in the past year, and now I’m redesigning this site to better fit my current goals. I need to provide better answers for the visitors who have politely commented that they don’t understand what I do, as well as build a platform to “go bigger.” 

Here are some of the questions I’ve been pondering:

What specifically do I want to do for other people, how should I structure this, and how would I like them to compensate me for this work? What is the best way to clearly communicate the value I have to offer while acknowledging the unusually broad scope of experiences that have informed my perspective? Who is my audience?

Let me tackle that last question first.

My audience seems to be a motley crew, more easily described by mindset than age, gender, geography, or nationality.

You have global ambitions, dreams, and interests. Perhaps you have lived in more than one place and in more than one language, or aspire to in the future. You are not content to be defined by a specific degree or organization, or by someone else’s expectations. Shifts and transitions have shaped your worldview, but you make the effort to stay connected with home. You crave food from faraway lands.

I’ve seen this psychographic profile in so many of “my people” — a Chilean recycling enthusiast who imports sassy high-heeled boots from the US; a French engineer who worked on oil and gas platforms in Indonesia before studying in China and developing wind farms in Brazil; a Chinese patent attorney studying Spanish in preparation for a trip to Argentina and Antarctica; a Chilean entrepreneur who dreams of developing his real estate app in Silicon Valley; an American writer who moved to Germany to build a new life with her husband and son; an American couple that lived in Chile during the dictatorship; a Chilean lawyer who’s interested in working with Chinese clients; a Filipina who has taught in China for years and is on her way to Chile to fulfill a long-held dream; an Aussie who loves Japanese boy bands and the Chinese indie music scene — and *so* many more.

I have a bunch of questions for you (yes, you):

  1. Do you identify with the globally-minded, self-defining psychographic I’ve described above? Why or why not? Do any titles or taglines come to mind? How about colors, textures, or styles?
  2. What are the most important tools for building this kind of life?
  3. What would be the most useful thing I could offer to guide or support this journey?
  4. Which stories best serve you? Features on specific topics like China-Latin America relations, the Business Model Canvas, renewable energy policy, or how to build a global career? More personal stories about my journey, with a focus on how you might be asking similar questions? Do you want tips on how to find cool opportunities through friends-of-friends-of-friends? (I consider this the holy grail of building a bootstrapped expat existence that fits *you.*)

I want to get beyond “all of the above” and begin to lead.

Leading the way, precociously. My dad has scanned a bunch of old photos and he particularly likes this one, of my brother and me exploring Boston's Freedom Trail. Circa 1988-ish.

Thank you all! For reading, for reaching out to me, for sharing your stories.

Lots of love,

Leslie

P.S. I’d like to acknowledge several people that have helped me come up with these questions and this proposed direction, and share some resources that might be useful for anyone else facing a website redesign.

Sarah J. Bray wrote this brilliant, honest, and practical post about the challenges of building your “personal brand” around yourname.com.

Abby Kerr profiled my voice and wrote about How To Resolve Your Brand Identity Crisis {Quickly, Holistically, & Without Embarrassment}

Alexis Grant mentioned her desire to redesign her site to “go bigger” in this post of three takeaways from the World Domination Summit.

Mayi Carles made this fun video of Top 20 Web Design Tips From a Web Design Aficionada.

Laura Calandrella has an amazing talent for weaving together seemingly random anecdotes into a leadership statement that is both cohesive and action-oriented.

I know that a website redesign is very much a first-world problem, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helps me think about how to build the next iteration of leslieforman.com.

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  1. Thanks for the sweet mention, Leslie. I LOVE that you describe your audience as a motley crew. We truly are, aren’t we? And we’re so attracted to the way that you reflect our own stories back to us. You represent what we know to be true about ourselves but can’t give voice to *exactly.* Can’t wait to see how people respond…

    xo

    Laura

  2. When I think of you, I think something like: “Life, globally.” Like, all of the things that are involved when you decide to make your life’s work a global endeavor, so that means building an international career; re-calibrating your self/skills in order to be functional in multiple locales; and, somewhere in there, language acquisition.

    I hope this helps! I can’t wait to see what you come up with, ma’am. :)

  3. Laura, yes! I think so. I like it.

    Tatiana, you’re a master of words. I like “Life, globally.” It’s both concise and broad. It’s more of a state of being than a specific action to take immediately, and it acknowledges the super broad range of concerns and needs and interests of anyone building a global life. Thank you!

  4. Hi Leslie!

    The psychographic profile reads very much like my personal horoscope, haha. I would suggest two very distinct sections- one business related and one that discusses more personal issues (i.e. staying connected with friends/family, adjusting to a new place, first time to a ‘grocery’ store, etc). That way, if someone is more interested in starting a business overseas, there can be more focused discussion. On the other hand, if someone is more interested in how to make an easy transition on a personal level, it won’t be mixed with the business side. This of course is only a suggestion. Good luck and great job!

  5. Leslie,
    First of all, I like your blog. It offers enough of a general scope of topics that keeps it interesting. A lot of your articles about “life away from home” resonate with me. And maybe that is why people don’t “get” your blog. You can’t be all things to everyone. A Chilean who’s lived here all his/her life won’t appreciate your blog’s subject matter. I wouldn’t worry too much about what any one person thinks about your blog. Just keep writing from your heart.

    Having said all that, you might want to have a running theme to connect your varied topics. It could be a love for food, a love for something you collect (I was going to say stamps, but that would just be really dating myself!), etc. I once followed a blog that used baseball cards as the running theme. The topics were as varied as could be, but it would tie in with the “baseball card of the day”. The blogger would use a fact associated with the card (obscure or well known to all) and use it as the base for his post.

    I think you’re at your best when you cover different topics. If you find an entertaining running theme, you’ll be good to go!

    Talk soon,
    Gonzalo

  6. Hi Leslie, delighted to answer these questions for you. I’m a newbie reader, so not sure that I’ll add much value but here’s my two cents regardless.

    Q1: I certainly do identify with the profile you mentioned. Congrats on verbalizing something that seems amorphous and huge to me. The piece on being self-defining (not tied to a corporation, country..)really spoke to me.

    Q2: Self-confidence and validation that it’s OK to do it my way not the way I’m ‘supposed’ to. I love reading personal stories and lessons, inter-twinned with practical tips.

    Q3: Being honest about the life you’re creating and the challenges/adventures inherent within it.

    Q4: As a new reader, I’m not sure I can answer this yet. I love it all!

    Best of luck with it Leslie, let me know if I can help with anything else,

    Clare

  7. Ashley, glad to hear the description resonated with you! Thank you for your feedback on the proposed site. I’ll make sure that different categories of information are easy to find on the new site. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding in Mexico!

    Gonzalo, thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words! Yes, at this point what I’m going for is an engaging theme to tie together articles on a wide range of topics. My current idea for this is to tie everything into the idea of global citizenship. You’re right, this concept might not appeal to a Chilean who has spent their entire life in the same place, and that’s OK. It doesn’t need to appeal to everyone (and if you try to appeal to everyone you end up sounding super generic and end up appealing to almost no one!)

    Clare, thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. I’m glad to hear the part about being self-defining resonated with you. I think it’s a message that is not everywhere (on the Internet, in schools, etc.) and perhaps I can describe how this has worked out for me. One thing that comes to mind as I think about your comment is how important it has been to have supportive people in my life: in terms of logistics, finances, opportunities, and so much more. Thank you for your offer of ongoing feedback. I’ll let you know if I think of anything.

    :)

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