Lessons From Wild Mongolia

For the past three months, I have had the strange pleasure of calling the world’s coldest capital home.

image

Photo credit: Will Low

Ulaanbaatar is the polar opposite of Mongolia’s pristine countryside: gritty, gray, and dead-locked with traffic at all hours. Downtown bears the scars of a Soviet legacy through its decrepit Communist housing blocks and iconic central square.

Viewed from above, half-finished buildings and cranes dot the skyline, peeking through the thick brown pollution oozing out from coal-fired furnaces of the city’s ambling ger districts, where one third of the population of Mongolia resides. Former camel herders cling to the edges of the only major urban center in their country.

Members of a distinctly Eurasian culture rooted in the legacy of Genghis Khan, Mongolians find themselves wedged between thousands of years of nomadic history and a modern world that urges them to become settled city-slickers. Perhaps because of this, Ulaanbaatar may truly be the wildest city in the world, life on the steppes transplanted into shopping malls and high-rises. It is the undeniable pulse of a country that has taught me just how much environment shapes existence.

image

Delightful scenes on the streets of the capital

Read more

10 MORE Strategies for LinkedIn I Bet You Aren’t Using to Drive Traffic and Get Hired

image

Photo credit: Forbes.com

LinkedIn is my go-to tool, even when I’m happily employed.  Because I never know when I may need to make a switch, it’s best to have an organized platform that enables me to survey my options at all times.

Due to the enthusiastic response to my previous post about 10 Useful Tips and Tricks for LinkedIn Users, I’ve decided to create Part 2, filled with even more ideas on how to make the best use of the site to job hunt, organize and maintain professional networks, and find potential clients or business partners.   

Read more

Road Warrior Secrets: 15 Little Things I Never Travel Without

image

Photo credit: Hosteling International USA

When people ask me where I live, I jokingly reply, “out of my suitcase.”

These days I am perpetually packed for 11 months of the year, never knowing if I will land in the South Pacific or Siberia.

True story: I was in Istanbul, packed for a 3-month assignment in Papua New Guinea when my office called to tell me my project was canceled and I’d be heading to Mongolia instead.

Slight change of plans, right?

Although my situation is a bit extreme, like all travel warriors, I know what I need, I know what I don’t need, and I know how to charm the airline staff at check-in so they don’t charge me for those extra kilos.

Remarkably, I can pack and unpack my 11-month suitcase in 20 minutes flat.

Whether bumming around South America or being the working-girl nomad I am now, I never leave home without these 15 little items.  

Read more

Musings on Meaning

image

Each of us has a physical presence in the world.  In the most basic biological sense, we take up space, we make noise, and we alter the places we inhabit.

Our actions have direction affects on other objects, people, animals, and the environment.

This may seem like common sense, but I believe we all could use a reminder that we are not invisible nor invincible.  Although at times we may be anonymous, anonymity does not prevent our sheer existence from creating ripples in the universe.

Let’s look at what the dictionary tells us about life…

Read more

Finding a Job These Days: A Practical Guide to Unconventional Job-Hunting

One of the most common questions I receive from this site is: “How did you find your job?” “How can I find one I love just as much?”

Here is my attempt to answer this question with as much step-by-step practicality that I think is more or less universally applicable whether you are hunting for your first, second, or fifth job, have a PhD or a high school diploma, are an engineer or a fashion designer.

It’s also focused on social and slightly unconventional job-hunting.

Hey, you asked how I did it.  This is what actually WORKS!

image

Photo credit: toughmotivation.wordpress.com

Read more

9 Little Things Nigeria Taught Me That Make Sense Everywhere

image

With over 170 million people, 1 out of every 4 Africans on Earth is Nigerian.  After spending my first 3-month assignment based in the business capital of Africa, my worldview has radically shifted to duly embrace this part of the world, which boasts a culture as dynamic and influential as China’s, India’s, or Russia’s, and an economic potential just as mighty.   

Locals face life in chaotic Lagos with a graceful strength, an unshakable core of endurance for the city’s assault on the human senses.  Its 20 million residents are unrelenting, virile, and enterprising, forcing outsiders into a jolting recognition of what it means to be alive in the most raw, feral way.

The city’s human engine thrusts itself through its maze of battered market stalls, webs of highways streaming with mobile junk yard relics, and women hawking goods on every crevice of soil, babies slung like rucksacks over their shoulders.  

Nigeria has significant implications for the world over, and has made an indelible impact on how I will perceive and interact with people everywhere.  I’ve learned that you aren’t acquainted with a Nigerian until you make him laugh, and you haven’t danced until you’ve shimmied every muscle in your body to those enrapturing Afrobeat tunes.  

image

Even with so much going wrong, Nigeria has taught me a lot about how to do  things right.  

Read more

How To Start Traveling Tomorrow Like You Only Dream About Today

image

Ask any ambitious, internationally-minded twenty-something what are some things we love to do and inevitably “traveling” will come up.  It is the thing almost all of us would like to do - or do more of, the thing that inspires envy when we see our peers jet-setting to Europe, backpacking across continents, and seemingly spending weeks and months and years of their lives on the road, living richly through not-for-sale experiences.  Many young people, especially Americans on our cultural fast track, are intensely curious about those Europeans and Australians who rebuke the two-weeks-of-vacation-per-year system and take “gap years” to spend months living out of their backpacks on one continent after another…and we find ourselves wondering why we can’t do the same.

Read more