How to Move from Local to Global with Your Expertise

 

grow your expertise

 

**This is a guest post by Caroline DePalatis (see her bio below)**

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression, “Think global, act local.”

In so many ways I agree with this approach. In fact, I’ve been doing so for about 25 years. And in doing so, I’ve found great fulfillment and purpose.

For the lion’s share of my professional career, I have been on or led a team of people reaching out to international students – now focusing on international wives, couples, and families. We assist them in basic felt needs (temporary housing upon arrival, learning English, for example) as well as more relational needs (feeling connected through 1:1 relationships, community and activities).

The half-time approach

But a few years ago, as I was approaching my 50th birthday, a friend passed a book to me he had found helpful. Half Time by Bob Buford addresses the question, “What do we do with that second half of life?”

I could see the value in the book. The target audience for Buford’s book was likely men (note sports analogy) who had spent the first half of their working career slaving for corporate America. These men had not pursued their passion but, rather, had followed “practical” careers. We know this story all too well.

Buford offered a range of ideas of how to make the second half of (working) life matter, focusing on the pursuit of significance. He hit a nerve and the book became a best seller.

Why this approach didn’t work for me

For me, however, the book was a mismatch. For one, I’m a woman. Not that I can’t get into the sports analogy. But it doesn’t quite resonate in the same way as it would for a middle-aged American man.

But more significantly, I had done the whole process backwards.

I was an eager idealist coming out of college with a degree in international relations. I wanted to change the world! This began with a job at a nonprofit, then moved overseas with a teaching position, some travel, missionary service, work as a leader in business and education, graduate school, freelancing as a translator & interpreter and, finally, working as the local team leader for a nonprofit Christian ministry outreach to international students for two decades while raising my three children.

You see, much of my career has involved service, and in terms of sheer dollars, it hasn’t been particularly lucrative.

The benefits of pursuing your passion first

Maybe it was naïveté. Still, I just couldn’t go the corporate-America route. Something in me didn’t see that as an option. With hindsight, I now realize that is indeed a valid option as long as you have your focus right. At 22, I wonder whether I did.

I see the benefits of the approach I’ve taken have come in the form of trust and relationships. Thousands of them, literally all over the world. Through my work with International Students, Inc., I have been able to “reach the nations from my own backyard” on a regular basis. Modern technology has only aided my ability to communicate well with these friends once they leave our area. It’s been sweet.

Over the years I’ve equipped others to do the same, some locally and some through my parent organization who serve elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. Although most of my impact has been local, it has had a global reach on a few different levels.

Still, I kept sensing there was more.

Getting back to that “Half Time” thing….

As I pondered this issue of significance, I asked myself two questions: Will I keep doing the same thing, or will I press on to the more? How can I have even greater impact in the years ahead?

As I considered this question, I realized I wanted to take the experiences and skills I’ve learned and cultivated to the next level. I wanted to have greater impact on a wider scale. And, as soon-to-be empty nesters, with my husband’s retirement from high school teaching within sight, we envision ourselves in four–five years becoming less dependent upon location and more able to both live and travel abroad. That is where we’re headed.

Expanding our reach

So, I came to realize that developing a solid platform and audience through blogging, video and other channels just might be the way to go.

I did some research and decided to join the Tribe Writers Course and community. That was in August 2015. It remains one of the best decisions I have made. This incredible group of people has encouraged, challenged and motivated me. Although we’re spread all over the map, the online communities connected with Tribe Writers are active, with people willing to help one another out. And the annual Tribe Conference is, hands down, one of the best events I’ve ever been to. You can read more about my most recent experience here.

I’m a relative newbie to the whole blogging scene. In May 2016 my husband and I launched CultureWeave, a for-profit venture (with a nonprofit heart). This is known as social entrepreneurism.

At first, we wanted to simply share the scores of international / intercultural experiences we’ve had through story. But now we’re focusing our efforts around this key vision statement:

Every parent should raise children to be globally engaged citizens.

In truth, we believe our world cannot afford not to. This is especially true in developed countries. Our children will face massive challenges we can’t even begin to imagine. It seems crazy now; just think what we’re passing on to them!

So, this is my (our) clarion call. We have done the work – raising our own children, experiencing life in other cultures, working with internationals in our own, teaching the next generation – and we have a pretty strong understanding of the needs young people, both American and from around the world, have. As well as the challenges they face.

So, how’s it going with the blog?

Well, we’ve got close to 90 blog posts up now. I’ve been consistently releasing one per week for the last year and a half. I believe the power of consistency will lead towards success, even if it takes time. Just. Keep. Moving. Forward.

I’ve also just written and published my first book, Jumping Out of the Mainstream: An American family’s year in China. And it’s getting a rather encouraging response!

readers

                                Some of my international friends who have recently purchased my book!

Most recently, I’ve been gaining some really good traction on Medium.com, growing from 36 to over 1500 followers in the last month alone, and the trend seems to be continuing. This has led to an increase of subscribers on our blog, pushing us along towards the milestone of 1000 true fans.

We’re also working on developing our first online course, YourFamilyAbroad, a how-to guide, sharing what we’ve learned to help other young families accomplish what we did.

Facing the challenges head-on

But honestly, all this has not been easy! I’m still working 20 hours/week with International Students, Inc., mostly focused on leading up a team to run our local outreach (which I love!). Even though I am making my first money from CultureWeave (through book sales), I am nowhere near replacing my salary, my first goal.

And, although I’ve always loved technology and feel quite at home figuring things out, I’ll admit – learning the ins and outs of WordPress.org has been challenging and, at times, continues to baffle me.

As I built the first version of our website, I remember letting out many wails. My husband and greatest champion would encourage me: “Don’t worry. You will figure this out. And someday it might even come easy to you!”

At the time, I wanted to throw something at him. But I know he meant well. And, for the sake of marital harmony, I refrained. I’m so glad I did.

More recently, I’ve found a fabulous local WordPress Meetup group, run by some helpful people, and this is making the tech side of my journey more manageable.

In addition, online resources such as Build Your Own Blog, ProBlogger, BlogTyrant and others have also helped me understand what I’m doing along the way.

The bottom line: Transitioning from local to global involves intention, effort and daily work. Every. Single. Day.

So, what can you learn from my journey?

If you identify in part or whole with my experiences, then let’s connect. If you want to move towards truly global impact in whatever field, we share a common dream. At the very least, we can cheer one another on.

But there are three key ideas I’d like to leave you with here.

(1) Stop putting off your dream! Act!

Even small steps each day make a difference. If you want to develop a writing habit, write for 10 minutes each morning.

“But I don’t have the time,” you protest. No, you just don’t make the time for it. Even with little kids hanging around your feet and in your arms, if you want to make it happen, you can. I know a ton of women (in this case) who do.

A favorite story of mine is that of the writer John Grisham. Know him? Did you know he wrote his first widely recognized book, The Firm, while working as a lawyer 60–70 hours per week? He started small but put time in every day, even when he didn’t feel like it. Look where he is now!

(2) You don’t need to have it all figured out.

It’s great to have a vision that pulls you. I know I do. I see my husband and me traveling and living abroad, encouraging hundreds, maybe thousands of returnee international students & families to their home countries, all the while writing and managing an online platform to help American parents (especially) raise globally engaged citizens.

But it’s taken us about two years to figure that out. Really.

Enjoy the process, and let it lead you. Stop being so focused on the product that you miss the laughter, lessons and leadings along the way!

(3) Find community. Online and local.

I cannot emphasize enough how having a consistent community – albeit much online – has made all the difference. I mentioned Tribe Writers earlier. Within that group there is also the Tribe Builder’s Network. I’m also part of Social Change Nation, Fizzle and Networking for Nice People. All of these are solid groups of people who want to make a difference.

I need these people. And, of course, I need people locally, who encourage me. My husband is #1, for sure. But I also have a group of friends who cheer me on, as well as a community of people I’ve developed through my local outreach to internationals.

In fact, I’m pretty darn certain I wouldn’t have been able to begin a book in November 2016 and got it published by early September 2017 without some amazing support along the way. One was an early morning writing buddy. The other was the online community through NaNoWriMo. These, and so many other friends who are reading the book now and encouraging me cause me to press on.

How about you? Do you desire to turn your local impact into something global? What’s your story?


You can read more of Caroline’s writing at CultureWeave.com and on Medium. If you want to be part of the solution, download our free ebook, You can be the Bridge: A CultureWeaver’s Manifesto, and get started today!

Caroline New Profile 150x150


Caroline DepalatisCaroline DePalatis is Founder & Chief CultureWeaver at CultureWeave.com. She has worked in the field of international education and service for over 20 years. A graduate of Stanford University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, she’s still doing much of what she was trained in: bringing people of the world together. A committed Christ-follower, Caroline longs to shine the Master Designer’s awesome creativity expressed through the cultures, languages, peoples and places of our world.

8 comments

  1. Danie Botha   •  

    Caroline,
    What a refreshing take on global responsibility and potential impact!
    It is fascinating how the different path we follow cross and cross again, especially when we’re ready for the next step.
    I attended the first Tribe Conference in Nashville in 2015, and went along and did my thing, blogged away. Two novels and a novella later, my blogging still feels, in Jeff’s words, like “spinning my wheels.” I rejoined Tribe Writers a little over a week ago. This time is for the long haul and learning how to better “break the code.”
    Your three closing statements are spot on: (1) Now is always a good time to take action; not one day “when I’m ready.” (2) It’s better to learn-on-the-go. (3) Effective networking—we need one another. Pocket the ego thing.
    Thanks for an insightful post, Caroline!
    Thnks for having her, Matthew!

    • Caroline DePalatis   •  

      Danie! Your comment is so inspiring. It’s things like this that push us forward and help us to realize we DO have something to say with impact. I’m definitely encouraged that the three takeaways moved you. Cheering for you this time as you go through TribeWriters. I should probably do a refresher sometime too. Maybe spring. Hope you go to the conference next year & we meet face-to-face. And, I noticed you’re originally from Zimbabwe, is that correct? Cool! All best & see you in the groups!

  2. Frank McKinley   •  

    Caroline,
    I can relate to working 60 plus hours a week while pursuing my passion. I also know the value of starting now instead of waiting. Life is good when you take the risks required to make your dreams come true!

    • Caroline DePalatis   •  

      Absolutely, Frank! And I can see you are doing it. Thanks for reading & commenting. Appreciate the momentum-builder you are!

  3. Colleen   •  

    I really appreciate this, Caroline, both as a blogger who struggles to prioritize my writing and technical learning over the demands of kids and as a former expat.

    • Caroline DePalatis   •  

      Thanks for sharing, Colleen. I get you! Yes, the demands of kids can be formidable. I read a terrific article you’d likely appreciate here: http://bit.ly/2hvHtyn. Written by a friend. Hope it’ll encourage you. Would love to hear more of your story, Colleen!

  4. Shantanu Sinha   •  

    Hello Caroline,

    Good shout over here 🙂

    Yeah its bit messy that when we are up for something different how old things seems to cross our paths at regular interval
    of time.

    Indeed if we want something better from our life then now is the time, we should have the courage and the ability to take
    risk so that something can happen with our self, or else we would just be regretting that why didn’t we went for a single
    shot when we had the opportunity. That one chance can really frame our life that we always wanted to have.

    Effective networking is the key, as one is not going to create a win win situation for themselves until they are caught inside
    their own bubble, for the good one needs to establish relations with other people One had to break their own blogging
    bubble so that world can know them and what are they up to.

    Thanks for the share.

    Shantanu.

  5. Caroline DePalatis   •  

    Shantanu – Thanks for what you write here. Yes, I’m all about encouraging & helping people take steps towards thinking outside their own box, bursting outside their own bubble, and (as the title of my new book says), Jumping Out of the Mainstream (http://amzn.to/2fg0ML2).

    I think that, deep down, we KNOW that’s what we should do. But often we default to just hanging out with people we know who are just like us, keeping within our own (safe) circles. Even though I’ve managed not to do that a lot, I still struggle at times. (And, of course, there are people in our own circles who need us – not to minimize that.)

    I wish you much success in your blogging journey and life ahead!
    Best, Caroline

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