Posts tagged work trips and road trips
It’s a wrap! July 2019
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Sometime last year, one of my best friends and I conducted an exercise that applied design thinking techniques to what I think is best called “life planning.” Following a step-by-step manual, we had to decide on three guiding principles and values we consider essential. For each of the tenets, we then had to draw a visual five-year timeline. On each of the timelines, the task was to include personal and non-career events we’d want to see happen in our lives in the next few years.

Usually, when people think about doing something like this, they draft just one option. I personally find it puts a lot of pressure on me to only think of one option. Instead, drafting three different options – contradicting or similar ones – gave me a lot of inner peace. It was easy to write “everything” down because suddenly it didn’t matter if what I wrote down was the right choice. It was all optional and, thus, felt much more flexible.

What I especially enjoyed about the exercise was that my friend and I read what we had written out loud and commented on each other’s. Because we know one another fairly well and are used to being candid with one another, we also called each other out on our weaknesses, insecurities, and patterns.

The afternoon was, as you can imagine, rather eye-opening. Nevertheless and as is usually the case, nothing changed immediately. I folded the three sheets of paper filled with my potential life plans, stuck them in the back of my notebook, and more or less forgot about them.

When, six months later, my friend sent me a message to wish me a happy birthday, he asked if I’d made any progress on what I had written down that afternoon.

To my surprise and in that very moment, I realized that I was pursuing one of the big things I had included on one of the timelines. Something that, at the time of the exercise, I didn’t even think was realistic in any way.

I had written down that I wanted to go on a road trip in a camper van.

That’s precisely what happened this past July.

My partner and I left Berlin for five weeks. We traveled from Amsterdam through the south of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, and further on to France where we drove from coast to coast before heading back up to the Netherlands with an overnight stop in Brugge.

It wasn’t my intention to go on vacation for five weeks; living in Berlin, I often seem to forget that the world is not as digital as I sometimes like to believe. For the first time since I started freelancing, it was difficult to get my work done – at least as soon I needed internet. So, even though I’m a member of the rebranding team for the Swing Kitchen, working on the brand bible and planning what we’ll do with Swing Kitchen’s website, which will be redesigned soon, there isn’t much to be shared about work in July’s review.

I'm currently fully booked and working on the rebranding of the Swing Kitchen, vegan burger chain from Vienna, and also producing and designing their stand at the Veganes Sommerfest at Alexanderplatz. I'm hoping to make more progress on this project now that I'm back from vacation, and I’ll share more about it here next month.


“What do you want to do?” might not be the right way to ask this question
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I wanted to share something with you that’s been on my mind lately.

“So, what do you want to do next?” is the question I keep hearing since I publicly announced that I’m looking for new projects. In a way, I’ve answered it in my call for new projects. In a way, I’ve also not answered it. At least, not in a way that would lead to a great outcome.  

Speaking with someone who works at an accelerator, you know they hear many good (and bad) ideas every single day. Yet what is it that distinguishes a good pitch from a bad one?

“I keep hearing a lot about solutions. I hear how people want to solve this or that. It’s almost as if the problem wasn’t even worth discussing. If someone is passionate about a problem and they managed to explain why they are the right person to solve it, I’ll listen up. Because then you know even if the first approach to solving a problem fails, they’ll go after finding another solution. And should that approach not work either, they’ll keep looking. Then it's just about them convincing you they're the right person to solve that very problem by sharing WHY they care.”

In the startup world, it’s become normal to try out different ideas, pursue different businesses, and even switch between industries if what you tried to do didn't work out as planned. Often, people don’t just go after a whole new sector. They also change the problem they want to solve.

After having spent the afternoon preparing for my TEDx talk, all my guiding sentences, my values, and ideas... everything I’ll talk about in Graz in February popped up in my mind.

I’ve always loved the internet because it’s an incredible platform to share what you’re excited about. It’s a platform to share those ideas and passions freely. And it’s a platform that enables each and every one of us to find and be found by our like minds. If we master how we tell our story, we’ll eventually find those who’ll want to listen, who’ll support us, and who’ll share our passions too.

In Work Trips and Road Trips, I wrote that one finds purpose if they decide on the community they want to serve and see benefit. And I still believe that’s one side of the coin. Yet, it’s also very much about the problem one wants to solve. I’ve always loved the internet for giving each and every one of us the possibility to become and be seen for who we want to be. It’s something I’ve been vocal about since I worked at Somewhere.com. It’s something I’ve been preaching in all my books. It’s something I’ll talk about at TEDx too. In my last post, I might have shared my thoughts and ideas on the formats in which I want to work, yet I’ve not acknowledged my guiding sentence, and what it is that’s deeply connected to my personal values.

Which brings me to..

Next time you have to decide what you want to do next, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Who are the people I want to serve with my work?

  • What is the problem I’m genuinely passionate about solving?

  • What’s the mission I see be the red thread in my work and how can I continue solving the problem I deeply care about?

Answering those questions might make it easier to tell your story. It will definitely be more comfortable to explain mine.

It's a wrap! October
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At the beginning of the year, I said that by the end of the year I’d love to have some time to learn new skills and deepen my knowledge. I wanted to know what works on social media and what’s no longer a thing. Because, frankly, the social web is constantly evolving and it’s hard to keep up.

Often we get so overwhelmed by our daily rut that we just keep doing what we’ve been doing because we know it's worked before. But now, maybe it doesn’t anymore. 

To give you an example, when I published This Year Will Be Different and My Creative (Side) Business, many posted pictures of the books on Instagram. Now, with Work Trips and Road Trips people posted stories, so the news about the book release vanished rather quickly and the sales remained, compared to the other titles, mediocre. It’s become hard to reach people. It’s become even harder to sell on the internet. Especially if you don’t have dedicated budget to finance ads. 

This past month, I haven't done much client work besides working on a website that will hopefully launch very soon. Instead of working on client projects, I focused on reading books I’ve had on my bucket list for a while. Here are the titles: 

Perennial Seller - Will help you understand why people still buy classics instead of going for the latest releases.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - A must-read for everyone who works in communications, marketing, or sales. 

Service Design Business - A wonderful guide to help you understand all the details you should consider when planning a customer experience, both online and offline.

Captivate - One of the most valuable books I’ve ever had in my hands recently. It’s one of those books you’ll finish and want to start re-reading immediately. Just get it now. Don’t even read what it’s about. 

Killing Marketing - Explains the principles of good content marketing and why it makes sense for brands to invest in long-term relationship building through creating valuable content.

Sprint - If you’ve worked in a startup, you’re most likely already familiar with the sprint methodology. I really enjoyed learning more about the theory behind the practice and was able to reflect on where the company I had previously worked for had gone wrong. 

UX Strategy - Talks about the process of building human-centered products. I found it to be very controversial to what Sprint preaches, yet interesting. 

Branded Interactions - Is most likely to be called the bible of UX, UI, and overall digital design. Everyone who works in digital product management or design should read it. 

I still have some capacities in November and December. Please get in touch if you need help with your online strategy. 

Would you like me to write another book for freelancers?
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(Here is the link to answer the survey.)

It’s the end of October. Which means it’s been almost three years since I found myself in a mouldy room in London. With a leaking ceiling. Without functioning heat. Wondering whether “this” was what freelancing was about: insecurity, shitty projects, lots of struggles. Just the memory of it gives me goosebumps.

Those who know me personally know how much I loved the job at Somewhere I had before. Going freelance was something that while it made sense at the time, wasn’t anything I was planning on doing. I needed to be location independent and had no other option. I had to learn to deal with the situation and do so quickly.

Over time, I have learned that sometimes, we need to fall deep to pick ourselves up in a whole new glory.

My way out of that mess and how I was feeling then was the first book. A book I conceptualized, produced, and financed within three months. I had the idea because I needed to learn how to freelance myself, and the insights of the women were so cool, I thought I should share them, so I did.

It actually still baffles me how many people wrote me after they read the book about how much it made their year different. How it encouraged them to make a leap and go freelance.

Given for the past three years around this time, I was mostly at home interviewing people, transcribing their interviews, editing, or writing, I’m now wondering if I should do it again. Or if I should do something different. I’m also thinking about ways to make it something more.

When looking at the numbers, none of the books were financially feasible. At least not directly. Each one helped me produce the next one, and with each, I still took a personal loss. It’s not even what I would have paid everyone who worked on the books what I believe they deserved for their excellent work. Most certainly, without the three Kickstarter campaigns I ran, none of the books would have been realized. To this day, the biggest benefit I got from writing these books was the feedback I received from the ones amongst you who felt encouraged to create and do so in self-initiative.

I’ve conducted a little questionnaire. It’s for me to learn about your needs and wants. Given it’s Christmas soon and you have probably already heard “Last Christmas” at least once, I’ve decided to raffle five books amongst those who fill out the questionnaire: 

Click here to view survey

Thank you for your help,
Monika

It's a wrap! July
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If someone would have told me three years ago I’d one day go on a business trip to Iceland, I’d have thought they were joking. But now, almost three years after going freelance, what I thought would be impossible became a reality. This past month, I started working with Anitar, Inc., an Icelandic startup that focuses on revolutionizing horse tech, to help them launch a Kickstarter project

Now, and given I said I’d prefer to take a break from working on Kickstarter projects to focus on marketing hotels and restaurants, this project was truly quite unexpected. Honestly, Karl Már, the founder of Anitar, pretty much bribed me with the idea of working with horses for two months. 

The beginning of the month was busy through and through, and although I finally managed to publish Work Trips and Road Trips, a book about working mindfully and also taking breaks as a freelancer, I must confess that I worked 24/7 and on several weekends to make everything happen that piled up on my to-do list. But sometimes, and even when you’re trying to avoid such moments, they still might sneak in. 

As you can image, the proudest moment of the month is that Work Trips and Road Trips is finally out and available on Amazon! Jamie Milnes and I have also finished the copy for the website of his agency, Double Underscore, and I also handed off the copy for the Go Global Outsourcing, Llc. website for Jamie to continue working on the design with the lovely Go Global team. Also, one of my articles on how to take a vacation as a freelancer was published on the Freelancer Union. A milestone! I’ve also been working on the Skillshare class about how to structure a website if you’re a freelancer. I started working on this class to help myself structure my own websites, however, I still haven’t managed to come very far with them. Planned release, nevertheless, is in September. Wish me luck! 

At the beginning of September, I’ll be at Reasons.to in Brighton, then a wedding in Italy, and after that, I’d like to start working with companies from the hospitality industry. If you know of someone who knows of someone in that sector and you know they need help with marketing, please connect me! Thank you! 

Are you still looking for the right book to take with you on your vacation? Look no further!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073TJL3S2/ref=sr_1_2

Just a quick heads up, Work Trips and Road Trips is now available on Amazon!

If you’re wondering what book to bring along for your vacation, this might be the perfect read. It’s, once again, 15  personal interviews and a great bunch of tips and tricks. I’ve talked to the ladies quite a bit about finances too, so if you’re wondering how others are managing their money to be able to go on vacation, Work Trips and Road Trips might have the answers for you!

You can get the book here

It’s a wrap! June

Let’s start with the most unexpected news: I got a dog. The fun back story is I decided to finally get a dog after reading The 4-Hour Work Week in Bali. I love dogs. I’ve always had dogs and I really love how having a dog impacts your everyday life. You become much more approachable to the people around you. A dog simply breaks away the social barriers. You also feel much more present, like you really notice the seasons and how time passes. I love that.  

I figured if Tim Ferriss can have a dog, I should also manage to have one. Even people with dogs travel. With or without them. Of course, I know how everyone always says you won’t be able to travel anymore, but I think it’s more a question of how you handle the fact you have a dog and still need to go away. I’ll just need to socialize her properly and go to puppy school. That’s at least the plan for now.

***

June has been an extraordinarily busy month. I feel like I’ve worked on way too many projects and because I’ve been busy doing so many things simultaneously, I’ve also not managed to finalize anything.

I’m currently working on projects with Christiane Wallner-Haas, the team at Go Global, Greta Gotlieb, Jamie Milnes, Karl Mar Larusson, Mike Lanner, Mike Katzmann, and Sarah Halbeisen.  

I’m fully booked throughout the beginning of September and as you know, I’m currently rebranding my business. If you know of any hotels or restaurants that would like to try be more experimental with their marketing, please let me know!

It's a wrap! May
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May felt like a transition month. Having finalized my involvement with Kickstarter after two years and coming back from an extensive vacation, May was the month I needed to decide what to do next.

Given I studied interior architecture but spent most of the past couple of years working in the digital communication field, I’ve decided it’s time to combine these two and rebrand accordingly.

My plan is to focus on clients from the hospitality industry and work with hotels, cafés, restaurants, and other physical spaces to help them shape their customer experience. I want to help these clients understand how to best use social media, which means I’m planning to get involved with the interior design, help them plan exciting events and retreats, and shape the overall customer experience in order to build a loyal community and customer base.  

Simultaneously, and in celebration of having a third book, Work Trips and Road Trips, coming out soon, I’m working on a community platform, which you’ll soon find under http://wearesmartcreatives.com.

My own website, this website, will become a personal landing page.  

I’m currently rebuilding my entire web presence and – you guessed it – building three new websites simultaneously. If you know of someone from the hospitality field who might need help with their communication, or if you know someone’s planning to open a café, a restaurant, or a hotel soon and wants to refresh their offering, please direct them to me.

I also started working with a global field sales team that works with clients in the hospitality field to help with their digital messaging. Additionally, given I also like to work with socially-minded projects, I’ve rewritten the German texts for Ruby Cup’s website, which is launching soon!

I'm booked throughout the summer but happy to take on new clients from September on!