The inspiration behind Contentalist
Ten years have passed since I left everything familiar to me and relocated. Not just a move to a nearby city or state where people had a different accent and a twist on their pimento cheese recipe but another country on a separate continent where pimento cheese was not even a thing. Can you imagine the shock for this southern gal upon realizing my beloved feelgood comfort food was no where to be found in this land famous for its cheese? This was the first in a long line of discoveries that would reshape my existence.
From communicator to illiterate alien
For an extra dose of intrigue, my new hometown of Basel sits on the borders of three countries – Switzerland, France and Germany. Was I fluent in any of these? Embarrassingly not. I went from living and working in a place as familiar as my favorite pair of Levi’s, to an alien, illiterate in the native language. A glacial-sized challenge at the start for a communicator and connector of people. Call me crazy but it was one of the most exciting, albeit scary times I could have imagined.
Discovery and frustration
Every day became an adventure. Even routine tasks, such as a trip to the grocery or the post, were far from standard fare. There were times of jaw-dropping discovery, mixed with facepalm incidents of incredible frustration. Who knew the embarrassment that would result in the checkout line when you fail to weigh your own produce or on the train when you don’t validate the ticket you just bought? Some days, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Need to be heard
Ironically, I spent much of my career helping others get their messages across but I quickly realized how inept I felt when I was unable to communicate with the locals. One day, I had a lightbulb experience when I witnessed a well-to-do businessman in an all-too-familiar predicament. This “ah-ha” moment changed everything. No matter what path we are on, our ability to be heard validates us. Reminds us we matter, that what we say and do matters. It connects us, helps us start conversations, comprehend, learn, build trust and relationships.
In an instant, I knew it was time for a new approach. First, I learned a handful of essential phrases. Then, I adjusted my voice after realizing how much quieter they spoke here. Next, I enrolled in German classes. While my new language skills were rudimentary, they gave me the tools and confidence to talk with others. Amazing the joy in sharing a quick chat with the neighbors. Or the satisfaction in being able to ask for what I needed in the market without feeling like a complete nincompoop. As last, I was starting to be heard. I felt a sense of belonging.
As I settled in, I continued to put my knowhow in marketing, communications and business development to work for leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. I filled my days writing articles, quick tips and online tools that helped busy professionals convey important messages to stakeholders. I found incredible satisfaction in sharing my experience, while creating all sorts of content for smart folks who were making a difference.
My camera became a constant companion. Not only did it record new discoveries, it provided a way to connect with people. Once I realized how to unlock its secret powers, I had a front-row pass to places I could not imagine. Soon, folks were asking me to photograph all sorts of things, from gatherings to headshots for their CVs and websites.
My world changed and so did my perspectives. I learned different routines and customs from Swiss neighbors and expats from across the globe. I was energized by connecting the dots between my interests and the interests of others. It was eye opening, liberating. I realized I was becoming someone new, yet familiar.
I often laugh when I hear people say they dislike writing or having their picture made. Guess that makes me a bit of a weirdo. And I am perfectly fine with that because these are things I love to do.
Contentalist is all about creating compelling content for busy growth-focused professionals, entrepreneurs and startups that want to make an impact. Powerful words that demonstrate their smarts and insights. Captivating photographs that allow their personality to shine and make their work seem human, even if they dread the camera. Brand stories so engaging others feel connected before the first meeting.
What a thrill to combine my diverse experience and passions to help clients think bigger and broader about themselves and their businesses. A powerhouse combo that leads to all sorts of creative ideas and new approaches to propel them forward.
In case you are wondering
I just made the most delicious pimento cheese. A brilliant mix of my favorites – aged English cheddar with a Croatian spicy pepper spread called “ajvar” plus an extra-large splash of Mexican chipotle sauce. The anticipation of slathering this heavenly mixture on a hearty slice of traditional braided Swiss bread or “zopfbrot” was almost more than I could handle. It was an extra special loaf, made by a friend I collaborated with on a recent photography project. Each bite embodied who I have become. A perfect blend of beloved traditions and exciting new rituals. These familiar tastes are sure to spark fresh ideas that will fuel my trusty pen, camera and laptop on this ever-changing quest to be heard.
Now that you know the inspiration behind Contentalist, get ready for hot little tips and “I need that” advice to help you break through the clutter. Be on the lookout for a new post soon.
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