I started this blog in 2007 as a way to keep in touch with a remote team while working in the field in West Africa. Over the years, I have found it very useful to reflect on my work, reflect on my learning and share interesting things that I’ve come across with the blogosphere.
The last couple months have been quite the whirlwind after a relaxing summer focused on family and travel. I gave two energizing facilitation workshops using visuals (a topic I love) and have been looking at the social impacts of a global mining company on one of their communities (really fascinating). It’s been busy but nice to be working on subjects I care about that also contribute to making the world a better place (in my humble opinion).
I am now about to embark on a major shift in the way I work for the next 6 months. I plan to test the boundaries of a knowledge worker by moving my office (computer + phone + brain) to Kathmandu, Nepal. Much of the work I do requires 80% planning and 20% face-to-face. Hence, I don’t really need to be chained to my desk in an office in Canada. Some of the work I do is feasible from a desk in Kathmandu, for other projects I’ve recommended colleagues to take my place and I hope to make new contacts in Asia and work with them on national and regional projects.
While considering this idea of working from anywhere, I came across an advertisement for a very cool contract that could be based anywhere in the world. This seemed to be a great opportunity to work on a topic I’m passionate about AND still be able to live in a developing country for a much-desired cross-cultural experience. Even better, this would allow me to connect to networks in two different parts of the world (which I feel would enrich the work even more than I could from one location). I put in a proposal and was very excited to be selected for an interview. Wow – could this dream contract come to fruition?
Well, I spent the last few days preparing for the interview and got up at 5AM this morning, made my way to a local ‘HUB’ (shared office space you can rent for meetings) and had a phone interview with people from three different continents. Despite my belief that I am definitely a fabulous candidate for the contract, I came away feeling that I had not quite rocked the interview. While it’s all a bit up in the air, I am now reflecting on the process so I can learn from the experience and make sure that I rock future interviews! So I asked myself 3 questions: What did I do well? What could I improve on? How to move forward with a positive frame of mind?
- What did I do well? This is an important question as overall I am happy with the fact that I was selected for an interview amongst a global pool of candidates. My written proposal was strong and I had a lot of experience to share. I learned a lot about the subject matter through research online and I reconnected with several colleagues and networks around the world. I had great conversations with a lot of great people while preparing my ideas for the interview. Preparation was very inspiring and got me excited about a potential future.
- What could I improve on? Despite feeling a little blah after the interview, it’s helpful to understand why I felt this way and I have a few ideas. The easiest thing to change in the future would be to do interviews at a reasonable hour, when all engines are fired up. Waking up at 5AM and speaking to a group of strangers around the world via telephone was more challenging than I thought. I would have likely been more coherent and energetic with daylight and a few cups of coffee in the system. In addition, while preparation is important, it’s equally important to listen carefully to the questions being asked. Answers should be short and sweet (to the point). At times, I found myself distracted by ideas I had prepared rather than speaking from the heart in the moment. This took me on a few unnecessary tangents and I did not always deliver with confidence. Lastly, unable to see body language and receive feedback was challenging for me as I am a conversationalist and enjoy the back and forth / group conversation rather than providing a monologue. I could ask for SKYPE or FaceTime interviews in the future.
- How to move forward with a positive frame of mind? Now what? It’s not over yet and I remain hopeful. Still, the process has taught me a few things about myself that I would like to work on in the future. The biggest one is the skill of improvisation. Improv is a must-have for leadership, facilitation and interviews. One of the first principles is to be prepared (which includes ‘warming up’, i.e. coffee, sunshine and chit-chat for me). While preparation is important, one also needs to ‘let go’ in the moment in order to be truly authentic and present. Another principle is willingness to fail and/or make mistakes as this means we are trying, taking risk and engaging with something new. On this note, I definitely can I say I put in a good effort and am not afraid to try. There are several other principles but one for me to work on is to stay in the moment (as noted above, don’t be distracted by your prep in the interview).
It’s been helpful to reflect on my Monday morning, my experience and the future. I am not sure what the year ahead holds however I’m certain it will be filled with fun, interesting, and meaningful experiences wherever I go. These are exciting times and I’m happy to step out of my comfort zone, even if it is ‘uncomfortable’ (obviously!).
I’ll be sure to share a few updates from Kathmandu.