Me? An Entrepreneur?

Yes I am – a surprise thought that became a fulfilling activity!

I have and I did. In 2006 I started Live Life Now Coaching – english coaching for expatriates based in the Netherlands or overseas. I did this as I realised I wasn't returning to the UK and my former HR career due to my partner's work overseas – he's been based in the Netherlands since 2004 and I needed an outlet for my skills and "self identity" as well as realising how coaching could benefit other expatriates. I'm glad I did it and I love how my business has allowed me to meet many other expatriates from differing walks of life and allowed me opportunities to be involved in projects that I never would have done if working in HR in UK! I also love that my business works in conjunction with my lifestyle both as expat in being a portable career and with my role as a parent.

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TIBETAN LAMA visits Hilversum and Baarn 3 and 4 February

A spider? Mindfulness and purpose in making its web - symbolic of creating meaning and happiness in yours?

As many of us begin a New Year looking for meaning and purpose in our lives, I recently heard about this visit that I felt I should share.

I think the opportunities to hear a Buddhist Lama speaking on 3rd and 4th February on the topics of mindfulness and on creating meaning and happiness in life may be of great interest to members of both the International and Dutch communities in the Hilversum and Baarn areas.

Tibetan Buddhist Lama, Geshe Pema Dorjee, is visiting the Netherlands for the first time from Dharamsala, India. Pema Dorjee is the director of the Bodong Research and Publication Center in Dharamsala, where he is responsible for reviving and promoting the Bodong Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, on the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has previously been Director of the Tibetan Children’s Village School (TCV) and Principal of the College for Higher Tibetan Studies Sarah, both located in Dharamsala.

Geshe Pema Dorjee has since 1997 travelled to many countries of the world to give teachings, retreats and workshops and to raise funds for his humanitarian work and charitable projects in the North of India and Nepal. You can find more information on Geshe Pema Dorjee attached.

Please come and let yourself be inspired at the following talks

Thursday, 3rd February, 2011:
20:00 – 22:00: MINDFULNESS
How to Create Mindfulness and Compassion in our Western Culture.
Venue: MEC SPIRIT, Javalaan 24, 3742 CP BAARN
Registration: bodong.mindfulness@gmail.com by 31st January, 2011 (limited seating).
Admission: € 20 p.p.

Friday, 4th February, 2011:
19:30 – 22:00: CREATE MEANING AND HAPPINESS IN YOUR LIFE
Venue: VIOLENSCHOOL IPS, Rembrandtlaan 30, HILVERSUM
Registration: bodong.lumla@gmail.com by 31st January, 2011 (limited seating).
Admission: €20 p.p.

Please note the two different email addresses for registration.

All proceeds from both events will go towards the building of a Nunnery/Girl’s School in Lumla, Arrunachal Pradesh, India (further information on project attached).

Closing 2010 and Starting 2011 – self coaching questions

The questions below are powerful in helping you to reflect on what has happened in the past 12 months. They may not all have an answer but consider them and see what comes to mind for you. Have fun with it too!

What was your biggest challenge in 2010?

What qualities did you draw upon to meet this challenge?

What have your achievements been this year? What are you most proud of?

Which project or commitment could you let go of in order to release energy and time to spend on something joyful this coming year?

Which people do you most value in your life? How can you spend more time with them in 2011?

What is your greatest learning this year?

In 10 years time how do you want to remember 2011? It was the year you did what?

HAVE A SUCCESSFUL, FULFILLING AND HEALTHY 2011!

Expat Coach. Amersfoort Netherlands. Expat Alley Interview. Nicola McCall

I recently was interviewed by Expat Alley – another excellent blog for expat information from the “mouths” and experience of other expats. Hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and where I live in the Netherlands by clicking on the link below and check out other interviews on the site too – there are some amazing expat stories and lives out there in the world!

Expat Coach. Amersfoort Netherlands. Expat Alley Interview. Nicola McCall.

Part 3 Interview with Heather Markel: Building an Expat Coach Resource that will Impact on ROI for International Businesses and Expatriates. Want to join the Challenge?

In our third and final interview Heather looks to the future impact and benefit that Expat Coaching can have in business and on the expatriates personally as well as how she would like The Expat Coach Association and The Expat Coach Directory to be perceived.

In the short time since we did this interview, Heather has put much energy and work into developing further projects for the Association and Directory. One of the projects I’m happy to be a part of and have championed in a recent blog is that of The Expatriate Coaching Challenge, which is to source an international organisation (or number of) to take part in using and then measuring the impact that Expatriate Coaching has on its expatriate employees, their roles, their productivity, their assignment fulfillment and to the organisation’s Return on Investment (ROI) and bottom-line. Hard and soft benefits to be measured and I have no doubt they will impact.

If Reader, you as an expatriate think your organisation could participate or you as decision maker in an organisation know you could, please contact either Heather Markel or myself for further information! We’d be delighted to hear from you. (See end for contact details)

I’d like both to be perceived as professional resources that serve the needs of multinational corporations and their employees.

1. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT ORGANISATIONS SHOULD OFFER/ PROVIDE THEIR EXPATRIATES WITH COACHING?

As mentioned above, from a purely business perspective, it’s about protecting their investment. Again, I’m speaking from a “bottom line” perspective here, that organizations would relate to. The other reason they should offer coaching is because if a business expects to be competitive in other regions of the world than their corporate headquarters, they need to be able to blend cultures as they expand, so the coaching becomes imperative.

To meet corporate goals, it is then necessary for them to offer employees coaching to help orient them to the culture shifts they will have to learn and adjust to to be effective in business, and also socially, outside of work, so they can create a life for themselves beyond the office.

2. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING COACHED AS AN EXPATRIATE?

Some of the benefits include being able to effectively settle in to a new culture – to feel like they fit in, rather than sticking out like a complete foreigner having no idea how to begin friendships or how to go about blending in. Coaching is also a huge aid in deterring the onset of depression which can arise when moving to a new culture, stemming from the self-imposed isolation that can arise as part of the transition process.

Cross cultural team success - greater productivity and engagement

3. HOW CAN THOSE BE DEMONSTRATED TO AN EXPATRIATE EMPLOYER? DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE?

There is evidence out there, but I don’t think anyone has a good enough handle on it yet. The biggest statistics out there are Return on Investment (ROI) – the hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to send an employee overseas. Combine that with survey results from organizations like Brookfield, which show the rate of assignment failure, and you begin to make “dollars and sense” out of the importance of expatriate coaching.

My hope for our Association is that we can plug into all the resources out there that have, or are developing, statistics to show the cost of the investment in the employee, versus the benefits of the employee staying in an assignment over time, versus money lost when an assignment fails. One of the avenues I’m pursuing is having some questions asked in the annual Expat surveys related to coaching, so we can start raising the profile of this important service.

4. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS ON THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EXPAT DIRECTORY AND EXPAT ASSOCIATION? HOW DO YOU WANT IT TO BE PERCEIVED?

As I’ve mentioned above, part of the direction I would like us to head is to help us be more effective working with corporations. I’d like us to plug in to resources and businesses that make logical partnerships for us, and to uncover and bridge the gaps to our being more successful and larger in the world.

I’d like the Directory to become “the single most important and user friendly place to find an Expat Coach”. We’ll need some more feedback from our end-users to make this happen. In the near future, one direction I’d like to go is to add a “search by location” feature, so that people requiring a coach to be on site can easily find one nearby. I think the ability to search by languages spoken is probably another obvious direction.

I’d like both to be perceived as professional resources that serve the needs of multinational corporations and their employees.

5. HOW DO YOU SEE THE MEMBERS DEVELOPING THE GROUPS? HOW CAN THEY BEST SUPPORT THESE INITATIVES?

I think if we keep growing as we have, it may make some sense, in the near future, to have some sort of regional “team leads” that maybe mould the Association in the directions it needs to go.

I think we have to get solid on how we are going to accomplish the tasks we need to, and then I can see there being different leaders for different pieces of the Association so that we can have further reach and success. (Nicola’s comment – this is already happening since the interview!)

6. WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE EXPAT DIRECTORY AND EXPAT ASSOCIATION IN 5 YEARS TIME?

I’d like the Directory to be the #1 resource to find an Expat Coach, and probably, between the two, have developed some standard business practices that make it easy for corporations to work with us, as well as a real community – I would LOVE if we could have live meetings, perhaps once or twice a year, in different parts of the world, to really come together and brainstorm in the same room! I can already tell that would be extremely powerful.

7. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THEIR IMPACT TO BE BEYOND THAT PERIOD?

There is a natural merging that is happening between coaching and cross-cultural training. I think that’s going to become more and more apparent. I’d really like the world to know what an impact for positive change we can all have – think about how culture clashes frequently deter businesses around the world. Imagine bringing in a coach who can help businesses to understand one another through cultural understanding, and help them to create happier lives for transferred employees, which translates into higher productivity all around the globe!

This is another benefit Expatriate coaching can have for BOTH organizations and individuals.

8. IF YOU COULD MAKE ONE CHANGE IN THE WORLD THROUGH CREATING THESE GROUPS WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Ultimately, that being from a different culture is not a deterrent to living anyplace you like, and perhaps one day, helping all cultures to reach a point of mutual understanding and effective collaboration in life and in work!

9. HOW CAN OTHER EXPAT COACHES JOIN THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY OR ASSOCIATION?

At present, all they have to do is sign up!
The Expat Association is at www.theexpatcoachassociation.com
and to get listed on the Directory, it’s www.theexpatcoachdirectory.com/GetListed

Thank you Heather for the interview and your keen belief and passion to see Expatriate Coaching impacting on the success of Expatriate assignments for both international business and the expatriates individually. I wish you and the Association and Directory every success with The Expatriate Coaching Challenge.

If you or your business would be interested in knowing more about participating in The Expatriate Coaching Challenge please contact either myself via the comments box below or email expatriatecoach@livelifenowcoaching.com

OR contact Heather Markel via email heather@culturetransition.com

Part 2 Interview with Heather Markel: The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association developing to help Expatriates

I recently blogged Part 1 of my interview with Heather Markel, Founder of The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association. Part 2 looks in more detail at the creation of the 2 groups, the Coaches involved and how the Directory and Association can interact to benefit Expatriates, Expatriate Employers and Expatriate Service Providers.

Heather - creating a brand for Expat Coaching

Heather Markel - Creating a Brand for Expat Coaching?

1. HEATHER, WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT WORKING WITHIN THE EXPAT ENVIRONMENT? WHY?

What excites me about working with the Expat environment is the connection I feel to it. It brings forth all the fond memories I have of past experiences, and my current zest for travel and all things foreign. It’s about connection, inspiration, and reflection. (NICOLA: I feel similarly Heather, as I believe do many other Expat Coaches!)

2. WHAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY YOU’VE SEEN THAT LED YOU TO CREATE THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY AND ASSOCIATION?

I was meeting a lot of people – in passing, at networking events, etc – and when I told them what I do, they would all say, “Wow, that’s fascinating! I’ve never met anyone that does what you do.” I realized I am not the only one that does this work, and felt a need to bring more awareness to our work on a grander scale. I also attended the FIGT conference this year, where I met Sarah De Hayes and Andrew Miser, both of whom helped reinforce and flesh out the many obstacles we share in being more effective collaborating with corporations. The three of us discussed “starting a revolution”, so I suggested creating a place to gather, and voila!, the Expat Coach Association was formed. While the Association is a gathering place, I saw the need to help people find us – our businesses – in particular. So, I created the Directory as the external piece of our work – the place I hope will become a single point of reference for businesses and individuals to find an Expat Coach for their needs.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY? AND THE ASSOCIATION?

The Association and Directory were both launched in March of this year (2010).

4. HOW MANY MEMBERS DO THEY HAVE? WHAT HAS BEEN THE INTEREST OR RESPONSE TO THE GROUPS FROM COACHES, ORGANISATIONS AND THE EXPATRIATE WORLD?

We have about 60 members in the Association, and 33 on the Directory (as at May 2010). Coaches seem to feel very excited about the opportunity to come together with other like-minded people, and about the knowledge-sharing that’s being fostered in our community. We are fairly new to reaching organizations and expatriates, but our members are being very helpful in spreading the word about the Directory so I am hopeful we will be getting a lot more exposure in the near future. Preliminary feedback from partners we have reached out to has been that the Directory is a great idea.

5. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EXPAT COACH DIRECTORY AND THE EXPAT COACH ASSOCIATION?

The Association is our internal gathering place – the place we come together as coaches to discuss industry needs and gaps, how to bridge them, and make plans to be more known in the world. The Directory is our external face – the place where we help businesses and individuals in need of our services to find us.

6. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE COACHES IN THE EXPATRIATE COACH DIRECTORY/ ASSOCIATION?

The members of our Association and Directory are from many different countries and cultures, which I think is a fantastic blend. Also, within the “Expat Coach” specialty, we even have specialties beyond that! People who work, for example, with Trailing Spouses, focus on life issues, career issues, etc. So, it feels like whatever a clients’ need within the umbrella of Expat Coaching, someone exists to meet that need. I hope I’m not infringing on the Apple slogan here, but it’s like, “Whatever you need as an Expat, there’s a Coach for it!”

7. DO YOU HAVE A MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENT? DO YOU QUALITY ASSURE THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE COACHES?

There is no minimum entry requirement for the Association. The idea is to attract coaches and partners who have a vested interest in our success to come together. The Directory, however, has one base requirement at the moment. You must coach Expats to join, and your website must state that this is one of the types of coaching you offer. I do ask whether coaches listed there are certified, and as we develop, and discover the information most helpful to businesses and individuals, I see the need to re-group on requirements and how we are listed. Since we are very new, right now it’s about discovering “who’s out there, and what do you do”, but that will change in future. (NICOLA: I’ll come back and interview in a year or so’s time Heather and we discuss how things have changed and grown!)

8. WHAT CAN EXPATRIATE COACHING OFFER TO AN INDIVIDUAL? TO AN EMPLOYER OF EXPATRIATES?

There are so many things, and I’m sure different coaches would offer different things.

For an individual, Expatriate Coaching offers the ability to effectively transition between cultures. There is so much detail in that statement, but at a high level, it ultimately helps the Expat (and potentially his or her family) to settle in to a new life and be HAPPY living it. Another huge benefit for individuals is coaching during the Repatriation process. Most people presume they are “returning home” so it will be “easy”, and soon discover it can be harder than the initial expatriation process. This has been getting more attention with the economic downturn, requiring many Expats to return to their home countries.

For a business, the ability of an Expatriate Coach to help the employee being relocated to settle in helps with their ROI. Businesses invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the overall process to relocate an employee. It’s in the best interest of the business that the relocated employee is happy, and has effective resources to help adjust to a new country.

Another way Expatriate Coaches can help a business and individual is with on-the-job coaching where cross-cultural teams can be observed, and professional clashes addressed and resolved.

Looking for an Expat Coach?

For further information on The Expat Coach Directory and becoming a member or finding a coach who can help you or your organisation
http://www.theexpatcoachdirectory.com/
For further information on The Expat Coach Association and becoming a member

Interview with Heather Markel of The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association

As a coach, I’ve been in several different coaching groups over the years to differing effects.

Recently Heather Markel contacted me and said she was creating The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association. I thought great. finally a like minded group of coaches with which to network, share my learning and seek support from and show the professional range of skills, qualities and experiences of coaches in this niche to a global community. Within weeks of joining I was excited at the potential of the groups and the coaches within it! WOW! And Heather, what a dynamo!

Looking for an Expat Coach? Use The Expat Coach Directory

Having gotten to know Heather a little, in the last couple of months and see how much the Directory and Association are developing and so rapidly, I thought that there was an opportunity to showcase Heather as a coach and The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association and find out why she had gone to such great effort to create these groups. We discussed a great range of areas and Heather was amazed at how the questions got her thinking and moved her forward into a new stage of development for both The Expat Coach Directory and The Expat Coach Association.

I’ve decided to split the interview up into 3 blogs as I want to keep them sharp and punchy and you the reader involved and wanting to know more! I hope this works especially as if you’re interested in this area of Coaching or an Expat or Expat service provider these interviews will inform you a little more about what Expat Coaching is, its benefits, the new group’s roles and possibly you may wish to become involved further.

So for starters – WHO IS HEATHER MARKEL and HOW HAS SHE BECOME INVOLVED IN THE EXPAT WORLD AND EXPAT COACHING?

Heather - creating a brand for Expat Coaching

1. FIRSTLY HEATHER, COULD YOU GIVE A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY ABOUT YOURSELF IN LIFE AND WORK, WHERE YOU ARE BASED, YOUR COACHING BACKGROUND/TRAINING?

I am a Native New Yorker who developed a zest for all things international after my first journey to France as a teenager. With nothing more than high school French under my belt, I became part of a new family, complete with 8 siblings, and a herd of cows, one of whom followed me around like an overgrown pet puppy! That experience began what is now my passion for discovering international cultures, learning foreign languages, and meeting people from diverse cultures. I went on to live, work, and study in 4 countries.

I have 18 years corporate experience in sales, marketing and customer service – working for several multinational companies – some of which was overseas. When I worked in New York, most of that career was alongside Expats, with whom I shared a deep bond, and with whom I remain close friends today.

I have a BA in International Relations from The George Washington University, and I am a Certified Professional Coach. I received my certification from Leadership That Works, an ICF-accredited program.

2. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO COACHING AND SPECIFICALLY EXPATRIATE (EXPAT) COACHING?

My experiences overseas, combined with the close bond I feel to people from other cultures is what fostered my desire to work with this community. Coaching is, quite simply, my deep passion in life. When I walked into the introductory session of my program, it was as if a beam of light shone through my body and illuminated all my chakras! I knew I had to be there, and becoming trained as a coach is one of the achievements I am most proud of in my life. I have always enjoyed helping people, and am simply in love with the transformational process that coaching brings about – both in my clients and in me.

3. CAN YOU DESCRIBE (FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW) WHAT EXPATRIATE COACHING IS ABOUT? WHY WOULD AN EXPAT NEED COACHING?

Expatriate coaching is a division of coaching that focuses specifically on clients who will move overseas, or have already done so and are caught between cultures. The nature of Expatriate Coaching is to help these clients to adapt to very different cultures, which can include different social norms, a different language, culture shock, professional obstacles, and more. Though the word “Expatriate” refers mainly to a person who relocates for work, Expatriate coaches often work with trailing spouses and kids (often Third Culture Kids) who will be going through another set of adjustments. At a very high level, some of the reasons an Expat might need coaching are:

• Preparing for or overcoming culture shock
• Avoiding or overcoming possible isolation and fear pertaining to the relocation process
• Aligning personal and family goals before and during the relocation experience
• Support in making new friends and establishing a new life
• Adjusting to a new professional system and professional behaviors that are dramatically different than the culture in which the Expat is from.

This is not at all a full list! Just an overview of some of the starting reasons an Expat might need coaching. It’s also ideal that an Expatriate start working with a coach BEFORE they relocate – in this way, they arrive with some preparation that can make the transition less shocking.

4. WHAT IN YOUR PAST HELPS OR ENHANCES YOUR COACHING WORK?

The things in my past that I feel enhance my coaching are:
• Personal experience adjusting to foreign cultures
• Working alongside other Expatriates and helping them adapt and adjust to their new lives
• Speaking 6 languages, understanding the frustration of NOT being able to communicate in a foreign place
• Corporate experience in both American and International companies – understanding the different types of work cultures and work styles that can be prevalent even when working for the same company in a different country
• Ability to meet new people and make new friends with ease – something I like to work with clients on in particular

5. WHEN HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU’VE MADE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO AN EXPAT’S EXPERIENCE THROUGH YOUR COACHING?

When they tell me! LOL. You know, the answer is really different for each client. I think one of my most favorite examples is a client who insisted she couldn’t speak the local language, and felt she didn’t want to spend too much time outside her apartment. Then, one day, I learned she had held a conversation in a restaurant with a complete stranger, in the host country language, for the better part of an hour! When I reflected that back to her, I think she suddenly realized she had made some progress!
I’d say, most often, the difference I’m helping make with clients is to point them towards the progress and accomplishment they are not seeing. It seems to dramatically boost confidence. The other difference I believe I make for my clients is to help with ideas/outside-the-box thinking to resolve the problems they are facing.

For further information on The Expat Coach Directory and becoming a member or finding a coach who can help you or your organisation
http://www.theexpatcoachdirectory.com/

For further information on The Expat Coach Association and becoming a member http://theexpatcoachassociation.ning.com/