My podcast love comes full circle

I’m a guest on a podcast!

Last year I MC’d the Women in Travel conference. I told an audience full of 400+ influencers that my goal was to be a guest on a podcast. And Lisette Austin, aka Jet Set Lisette, delivered. She asked me to join her podcast, The Globe Trotter Lounge, to talk about global careers.

It was a delightful conversation full of fun. I’m thrilled how it turned out. In the episode I share all kinds of advice on global careers, the future of work, and why travelers are in the best position to navigate our new world of work.

I honestly could talk to Lisette for hours because she has such a fabulous perspective on all things travel (plus she loves languages too!). Subscribe and listen to her other podcast and episodes while you’re visiting.

How to write a first draft of a book


Update March 2020: I wrote the book! It’s published and lovely! Check it out here.

I just learned how to write a first draft of a book. I’m fresh off of four months of nearly daily writing to wrangle 60,427 words into a first draft. Actually I topped out around 68,000 but chopped it down before handing it over to a developmental editor who will cut it down even more. My first draft is quite the beast.

Wrangling your ideas and thoughts into a coherent narrative isn’t easy. It doesn’t come naturally to most. The funny thing about writing a book is that you don’t need to be good at writing to write a book. Instead, you need to be good at discipline. You need to commit to writing until it’s all out of your head and fight the feeling of quitting because your words look so awkward outside of your head. You also have to slay the procrastination monster on the regular.

I’ve spent the last four months learning how to write a first draft. I learned how to manage the logistics of writing at volume. I learned how to build an outline, find a pace that worked for me, and manage my writing time. Most importantly, I learned how overcome doubt.

Writing a book is a BFD and it’s pretty overwhelming at the start. So I started the process by breaking it down into manageable parts. I’ve conquered the first part: writing a first draft.

Here’s what worked to get me there and what might work for you if you’re trying to write your first draft.

Continue reading →

AI will teach you people skills now

Talespin, a VR/AR/AI company is bringing soft skills training to organizations using VR and AI. Call it a Choose Your Own Virtual Reality Management Adventure, these training tools help managers and leadership develop the soft skills they need to perform in complex organizations.

Employers are in a desperate search for employees with soft skills. As we retreat more into our digital spaces we are collectively losing the ability to have conversations with one another. The result is that our relationships, collaboration, and creativity suffer in the workplace. Soft skills are all about people: how to work with, talk to, learn from, give feedback to, negotiate with, listen to, create with, people.

Enter more tech to solve the problem.

My first reaction was this: shouldn’t people learn people skills through interaction with… people? Why are we outsourcing people skills to the virtual machines? How do fake humans teach humans how to be more human?

Also this tech is an indirect threat to my own work. I teach people and organizations how to build soft skills. From relationship building to negotiation to how to have curious conversations, I help people build their soft skills. So yeah, maybe I felt a bit threatened when I first saw it.

Then I stepped back. And I looked closer. And I saw the truly wild stuff going on with this tech. From the article:

“The great thing about VR is you can do something that’s rare in nature, and give people extra repetitions,” Bailenson says. “The cool part of using computer graphics for this, virtual humans, is you can go through as the manager and have this difficult conversation—then you can relive the experience from the point of view of the employee, get to hear your voice coming out of an avatar you’ve chosen to look like you. Now that you’ve got this newly emotionally understood information from being on the receiving end of this bad news, you get to repeat it and do it again.” – Boss Acting Nicer Recently? You May Have VR to Thank

Honestly, I can think of at least five managers from my past who could have used training like this. A lot of HR Tech companies are developing AI that will make your manager worse. Talespin is using AI and VR in an attempt to make them better.

People still need to practice building soft skills outside of a VR experience, so my work isn’t going away any time soon. But it’s wild to see this type of training applied using new technology. In the future I’d love to see research around how this emotional impact from virtual reality scenarios changes in managers for the better.

I’m also stoked for all the potential types of jobs emerging tech creates. As a creative who runs in HR circles (and worked in HR), I find the HR industry borderline stifling for creative types. Seeing a creative HR product that aims to improve the lives of employees is a welcome surprise.

I’m also curious about employees in this field. I’m curious who writes the scripts, how they work with designers, how the characters are modeled. After all, it’s real humans who build the fake humans who teach humans how to be more human.

I’m curious what type of employees they hire. What skills and backgrounds make up their teams? What type of employees succeed at their company? (Update: it looks like men. More than 90% of their 40+ employees on LinkedIn are men… that’s obviously a problem, especially when it comes to scenarios navigating inclusion in the workplace)


Road trip podcasts

I’m fresh off a much needed vacation. I road tripped down Highway 1 and I binged some seriously good podcasts.

My two favs:

Heaven’s Gate: A deep look into the lives and leaders of Heaven’s Gate, the cult that made international headlines in the late 90s when 39 members killed themselves to board a UFO in the heavens. This isn’t a salacious look – it’s an examination of the members, families affected, reasons for joining, lives of the leaders, and the cultural context surrounding the cult. What I really loved is the examination of how we other people. It’s easy to say, holy shit all those people were crazy, but like anything in life, it’s a lot more complicated than that. On top of that, the host, Glen Washington, shares his experience growing up in a doomsday religion.

At 10 episodes, it’s an ideal road trip podcast.

Bubble: I don’t normally listen to fiction podcasts but made an exception for this one after reading about it on the Atlantic’s Top 50 Podcasts of 2018. They had me with the show description:

“The rules of the show are this: You either live a protected life somewhere like Fairhaven—a so-called deliberate community reminiscent of Portland, Oregon, that is encased in a literal bubble—or in the monster-infested brush beyond. The story follows mismatched roommates living in a dodgy part of town. Morgan kills monsters; Annie then sells the creatures’ blood on the black market to get people high.”

Click to download, please. It didn’t disappoint. The show is so damn funny, ridiculous, and spot on with it’s cultural critique that I’m recommending it to everyone. With 8 episodes, it’ll transport you to familiar-yet-not-quite world, keeping you distracted from traffic or any of the bored bits on a road trip.