In our brand new Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with our lovely DNG Inner Circle members! This month we talked to Alison Rakoto a career strategist, LinkedIn expert and mum of 4!
Hi Alison! Please tell us a bit about yourself
I am from Boulder, CO. Moved to Bayonne, France in 2013. After a few months of looking into local work, decided to go remote. Started with elance (now Upwork). Did some interesting stuff, started freelancing through word of mouth, developed into strategic writing, resumes, LinkedIn profiles and the last year into career strategy and career coaching. I love it.
What is your location independent job?
Career Strategist + Visionary = I love to help people to listen to their heart, build on their strengths and find work they love.
How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?
I started out doing resumes and working as a VA that provides business strategy. I am good at it, I am good at hearing people and seeing through what they say to what they mean. I believe in setting goals and intentional decision making.
If you see patterns, if you see into people’s souls, if you see what makes people shine, and you can guide them to access their strengths and passions, if you can help them to define and tell their story, find their confidence and set their goals in motion, you can do the same!
What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?
I HATE the 9 to 5 office gig. My dad was a freelance illustrator and I loved his ability to set his schedule and to work hard for himself. I never pursued traditional jobs, but even the less traditional jobs I had burned me out, when I had to follow silly corporate rules or my bottom line had to be the financial line. I am all about making money, but I want to make the world a better place at the same time.
Working as an independent consultant I have the freedom to set my schedule, set my fees, pick my clients and help people in a way that both invigorates me and fills me with pride (the good kind vs the 7 deadly sins kind).
In my dream world, everyone works in an office with daylight, plants, fresh air and the ability to stop for a yoga break, go for a run or a hike and spend quality time with family and friends. No one should work to live, especially not in a lifeless life sucking office.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?
My family is pleased and proud. I am challenged with navigating my schedule and working from home. It’s hard for fellow human beings to not get jealous when mom/wife/daughter is focused on a computer screen. My husband has promised that in our next location the first thing we’ll set up is my private office.
What challenges have you faced as a digital nomad and how did you overcome them?
I haven’t really overcome this… with two young kids, when we are on the move, getting all the work done that I’d hoped to get done is often a pipe dream.
My tactics that do bring some success are: getting up early (say 5 or 6 AM) when I know everyone else will wake up after 8 AM; hiding in a quiet office or workspace; scheduling task work that is less focus oriented for times when I have to work in public (like a plane or car). I have a terrible time/writing/thinking or doing creative work when other people are around me.
You’re a member of the DNG Inner Circle, yay! Why did you decide to join?
Because, through the general group I made a few real connections, found a real tribe of women and like-minded individuals for the first time since I moved overseas. When the Inner Circle opened up, I knew that connecting on a deeper level would be an investment I wouldn’t regret.
Today, I am thrilled to be a member, the benefit is more than worthwhile, from co-working to the special topics, to the questions and general convos I’ve been encouraged to raise my rates, be more accountable, branch out, focus, and on and on… I am certain this year would not be going nearly as great for my business if I hadn’t joined the Inner Circle!
What is your favorite part of the Inner Circle? What makes it special?
Connecting with smart, motivated and compassionate women who are driven to succeed on their own, but also draw pleasure from helping group members. The culture of the DNG Inner Circle makes me smile.
Who do you think would benefit from joining the DNG Inner Circle?
Anyone looking to boost her confidence and really hit the road running. Seeing successful women at work is a great motivator. Talking candidly about our dreams, our challenges, our goals is inspiring and helps keep us accountable.
If you sometimes feel alone and or uncertain about your ability to succeed, whether you are a nomad or you just dream of it, the Inner Circle is a beautiful place to find your tribe and set your goals, be intentional, be accountable and work towards the future you want.
How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?
Haha! I don’t. That’s my husband’s job. He talks to everyone. I just make the plans. And talk to people after they talk to me first.
What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?
Believe in yourself and not the naysayers. Determine your financial comfort level and emergency backup plan. But don’t keep putting it off until you are “ready,” because you will never be ready. At some point, you’ve just got to jump.
Depending on your age, work situation, and field industry, it may be easier or harder. If you’ve got 20 years experience under your belt you can likely transition to a consultant or start your own biz.
If you’ve got a great skill that makes for a great remote job that is a super way to go to. And if you are uncertain what you can do remote/on the road then maybe save up for a 2 or 3 month sabbatical and just take off time, before you quit your job. Listen, watch, and experiment on your sabbatical, because maybe a new career will rear her head and you can make the leap (or plan your leap) from there…
I tell career transition clients that you’ve got three main foundations/pillars in your career: your industry knowledge, your technical knowledge (what you actually do), and your professional/social network. If you want to branch out, build off of at least one of these pillars, ideally two pillars, and use the third as a totally new transition point. This will make your leap easier.
Quick Fire Round:
The coolest thing I’ve been able to do thanks to being location-independent is…. prepare to move to Madagascar with my husband this fall.
When I feel lonely, I ... hug a kid. Call a friend. Call my mom.
My favourite digital nomad location is … soon to be Madagascar with better high-speed internet than France.
The one item I always pack is … Wet wipes.
My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is … The Inner Circle! Or AndCo, which I use for invoicing/contracts. 🙂
In 5 years time I want to be … A full-fledge career coach and business owner of an online school.
My all-time favourite quote is …
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. James Michener (This is my motto)
If you’re interested in checking out the Inner Circle, I have good news: we’re opening up again soon! Join our waitlist to be the first to get all the deets >> Click here.