In our Digital Nomad Girls interview series we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.
This month we talked to Kay Fabella, brand storyteller and communication strategist.
Hi there, I’m Kay, a Filipina-American expat entrepreneur based in Madrid. I have an ongoing love affair with Spain, my Spanish husband, and Sriracha. And I not-so-secretly wish my life was a musical.
What is your location independent job?
I am a brand storyteller and communication strategist. I help businesses to stand out with their story, to meaningfully connect with their customers, and boost their revenue through targeted online communication strategies.
We’d love to hear your story! How did you get into professional storytelling?
When a work contract fell through with no warning, I had to reinvent myself… fast!
I had always loved communication, languages, and helping people connect. So I looked into Master’s degrees in online marketing. But all of the Master’s degrees wanted someone with experience. And all the companies where I could get experience wanted candidates with Master’s degrees! What started as a way to build my portfolio as a freelancer to apply for a Master’s turned into my full-time business.
Now, I help solopreneurs to Fortune 500 companies in English and Spanish. I was also published as a storytelling expert in the Huffington Post and in El País, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the world.
What advice do you have for others? How can we use stories to help us in business?
Too many entrepreneurs I see focus on “how I sell my thing” rather than “how I can be of service.” It comes across as too pushy, too aggressive, and ultimately ends up being disastrous for their business.
No matter what industry you’re in, you have to communicate what you do in a way that connects with, convinces, and converts your audience into customers. And sharing stories is a great way to do that.
In the age of the social media, people care more about WHO you are + WHY you exist > WHAT you sell. So don’t be afraid to go past the shiny Instagram posts and show your human side once in a while, because that’s what people relate to most.
When everything on the market looks the same, your story is what determines if people like you, if they trust you, and, most importantly, if what you have to offer is worth their time. The decision as to whether or not they buy from you depends on how you make them feel. So if you don’t try to create an emotional connection with your audience first, you’ll never gain their permission to sell what you do.
What made you pursue a location independent life? Have you always loved travelling?
As the daughter of Filipino immigrants growing up in Los Angeles, I was exposed to many cultures at once. So I think it goes without saying that I’ve always loved travelling!
Before college, I had spent a month living in Paris and a month living in Mexico. I fell in love with the idea of travelling “deeper,” rather than checking a bunch of sights to see off a list. So I leapt at the opportunity to study abroad in Spain while at university. I came back in 2010 with the intention of staying for a year… met my now Spanish husband… and the rest is history.
I realized how lucky I was to have a business I could run from anywhere when my grandmother had her second stroke back in California in 2015. At a moment’s notice, I was able to book a flight to be with her, without having to worry about vacation days or checking with a boss.
So my idea of a location independent lifestyle has definitely evolved. I may not be a nomad moving from one country to another with my laptop. But I love that my business lets me work from wherever, especially if it’s close to the people I love.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?
I’m lucky to have an amazing support system here in Madrid, back in the US, and all over the world. And though I think my parents still don’t understand exactly what I do… they framed my El País interview even if they couldn’t understand it!
What’s been helpful is finding people who are also running online businesses, the ones who are “your kind of crazy”. Tribes like the Digital Nomad Girl group are super helpful for connecting with like-minded people who you can swap resources and experiences with!
What do you struggle with most when it comes to running your own business?
I’d have to say patience. You may have a grand vision for what you want to see happen. You may have certain expectations and objectives. But when other people, technology, and so many other factors are involved, you have to be willing to step back, reassess, and pivot if need be.
There’s a great quote by Bill Gates that really resonated with me: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
And I couldn’t agree more. So my new personal project is learning not to let my own ambition get the better of me. It’s a very humbling exercise, but having a strong support system and team has really helped.
What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack on her trips?
Just one? 😉
I’d have to say all the chargers and adapters for your digital gear. And a good pair of sneakers to go exploring when you turn off your laptop.
What are you up to next travel or business-wise?
I just got back from marrying my husband in San Francisco, renting a Mustang and driving down the California coast for a month!
As for my business, I launched my first online coaching program for women entrepreneurs to help them sell with confidence using their story: Move Hearts Make Profits.
What is your favourite business/travel/self-development book you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?
I’d have to say the Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life. This year, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Natalie Sisson, who was one of the first digital marketing gurus I followed!
And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?
“Imperfect action > perfect inaction.” It’s my go-to motto whenever I’m nervous about taking a step outside of my comfort zone… as long as you’re moving, you’re learning!