This week, I’m happy to share the story of an inspirational women I met earlier this summer through a mutual friend. She has perfected the art of intentional living at home and abroad, she runs multiple business and she is making a big impact in the lives of many. But I’ll let her tell you the rest….
Hey there, friend! Excited to have you on the blog! Why don’t you introduce yourself to our amazing community.
Hey guys! My name is Ginger Kern, and I’m always creating something new, no matter where I am in the world. I’m a transformational coach, TEDx speaker and a Fulbright alumna. After working in Europe for over three years and traveling to 25 countries around the world by the age of 25, I brought ‘the traveler’s mindset’ back to the United States to support Americans in traveling, working and living abroad. I noticed that only 38% of Americans have their passport, and founded The Passport Project, a non-profit, to change that stat.
Through my self-leadership coaching and keynote speeches across the U.S., I create leaders who are confident, adventurous, and powerful, no matter where they are in the world.
Ginger, tell us more about your global story.
Since the age of 14, I wanted to live in Europe. I knew a few weeks of traveling, or even a semester abroad wasn’t the goal; I wanted to create a real life in Europe! So I figured I should learn languages to give myself a foot in the door at European companies, and studied German, French and Italian before graduating college with a German major and European Studies minor.
In 2010 I left the U.S. on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to Laubach, Germany. One year in Germany turned into more than three, as I ended up working in communications for the American Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt following the Fulbright year.
Since returning to the States in late 2013, I’ve been based in Boulder, Colorado and will soon move to Denver, where I will continue to build my business, Global Mindset LLC. One facet of the business is http://www.travelersmindset.com, a website that supports Americans in traveling internationally through coaching and online products like the Travel Savvy eCourse and our guide to finding funds for traveling abroad. I was honored to speak at TEDx on the key to living a life of adventure. Whenever I get the chance, I always encourage people to apply for their passports and take the leap to travel abroad!
Outside of work, for the past year I ran the Boulder Hub of Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum that exists in more than 450 cities around the world and is made up of people between the ages of 20-30 who are committed to creating a more peaceful and inclusive world.
How did you find, coordinate and finance these global experiences?
The Fulbright grant paid for my year abroad in Laubach, Germany, including my travel to and from Europe, a monthly stipend of 800 Euros and my health insurance. I gave private English lessons on the side to earn money under the table throughout all three years I lived in Germany. After the Fulbright year, I worked part-time as an au pair for 2 months, which paid for my room, board, insurance, and city-wide travel. I used my spare time to look for a “real job” and within one month, had accepted a position working full-time with the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, as one of two Americans in an office of German colleagues. I worked there as an employee for two full years, with full benefits and 26 days of paid vacation (!) while still continuing to teach private business English lessons on the side.
Following my time with the Chamber of Commerce, I freelanced for several months while building my coaching practice. I was a translator, editor, and proofreader and worked mostly remotely using the website upwork.com. This, coupled with money I had saved up, allowed me to travel to Southeast Asia and work while I traveled.
How have your global experiences impacted your professional trajectory?
My global experiences are directly related to the transformational coaching work I do with clients today. Being able to observe with and interact with people from all over the world gave me a chance to map out patterns of human behavior. No matter where we’re from, we all deal with similar root problems, frustrations, and worries. We all possess the same innate dreams and desires. We all have blind spots, and we all can contribute to our families, our communities, and the world if we choose — and part of what makes us able to make the biggest contribution is to have a coach, a mentor, or a community around us that pulls for our “biggest self” to come forth.
I work with people who want to step into leadership — of their own lives and often, of their businesses. My clients typically are people who either feel very anxious about certain aspects of their lives, and know that they don’t want to feel that way anymore, or who feel like they can’t quite get control of their own circumstances, but really do want to feel powerful again.
How do you communicate this positive impact to employers/clients?
I don’t often send out things like resumes and cover letters, but in any business partnership I create, I draw on soft skills and emotional intelligence that I’ve learned through years of working with people all across the world, from different socio-economic and religious backgrounds, to create a deep listening and clear communication that just helps business run smoothly. Living abroad long-term also gives me access to empathize deeply with anyone in the United States who isn’t originally from here, but attempting to build a life here and create something great for themselves and their families. There is always struggle, and there are dark periods when you choose to uproot and move alone across the world, and it’s fulfilling to comfort someone who is now going through what I went through previously.
What would you say to someone who is struggling between the idea of following their head (get a ‘real job’) or their heart (‘see the world’)?
Sit quietly alone sometime, when you can drop in and ask yourself, ‘What do I want right now?’ and then, ‘Why do I want that?’ / ‘What do I want to get out of that?’.
Wait until you get an answer, and then ask another layer deeper, ‘Why do I want that?’
Often, when we continue asking more deeply, we find that the root reason we want something can be achieved many different ways, which actually gives us a lot of flexibility in how we reach that outcome.
For example, if I ask myself ‘What do I want right now?’ and my answer is “to make a lot of money”, and then I ask ‘Why do I want that?’, I might get an answer like, “I want to make a lot of money so that I can buy nice things for myself and my home.”
And if I ask, ‘Why do I want that?’ I might get an answer like, “I want to buy nice things for myself and for my home so that I feel comfortable, elegant, and secure.”
So if I know that really, what I’m aiming for is feeling comfortable, elegant, and secure, a whole range of options open up to me. In fact, there are lots of ways I could feel comfortable, elegant, or secure. I might not need to take that high-paying corporate job in order to fulfill those desires.
Moral of the story: dig deeper. The answer’s already there, you just have to look underneath the obvious answer and ask for the true answer.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given (and why is it the best)?
Everything is a grand experiment.
This gives me the freedom to play in my work, to create and to test things out, to put out an idea without being attached to how the rest plays out. I get to try things and fail, and know that it truly doesn’t matter. I might as well experiment, because each time I do, I get closer to the ‘right’ answer, closer to finding an idea that people will pay for, closer to finding work that brings me endless joy and energy, closer to creating something that will actually help people.
Is there any advice or resource you’d recommend to someone looking to build their professional skill set while traveling the world?
Absolutely. If you’re between 20-30 years old, apply to join your local Hub of Global Shapers (www.globalshapers.org). Or, if you’re in the United States specifically, apply to go through the Startingbloc Institute (www.startingbloc.org). For good measure, take the Landmark Forum (www.landmarkworldwide.org) for a mindset upgrade that will have far-reaching effects in your ability to deal powerfully with professional challenges and personal challenges.
Ginger Kern is a transformational coach and founder of The Traveler’s Mindset. After working in Europe for over three years and traveling to 25 countries around the world by the age of 25, Ginger wanted to bring her traveler’s mindset back to life in the United States. She noticed that only 38% of Americans have their passport, and founded The Passport Project, a non-profit, to change that stat. Through her self-leadership coaching and through keynote speeches across the U.S., Ginger creates leaders who are confident, adventurous, and powerful, no matter where they are in the world.
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