Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with Robin Pascoe, Expat Expert

Robin is well known abroad for her inspirational and informative articles, corporate presentations, and best-selling books. She is the author of five widely-used books on global living. Since 1998, her popular Expat Expert website has served as an international meeting place, discussion group, and source of advice and information for hundreds of thousands of expats world-wide.

Robin, can you tell us a bit about your background?

My husband used to be as Canadian foreign service officer (he's been in the private sector now for many years with his own global company) but during his time as a diplomat we were posted four times to Asia. As a journalist of more than 35 years now, at the time, I was not allowed to work as one given I carried a diplomatic passport!

So I initially started working in expat family support when our daughter was born in Bangkok and I wrote a newsletter for an international mothers group I helped start (and is still going strong after 27 years!) Later, I decided to write books, initially for the spouse, but the enterprise just kind of blossomed into five books and a website (sounds like a movie). Of course, because of the books, I was invited to lecture to expat communities in the schools, to clubs, and to international HR groups.

What products or services does Expat Expert offer?

Primarily, as a writer and journalist, I offer content in the form of my books and now a video lecture series. But along the way I also wrote hundreds of articles and conducted a major family survey that is still valid (and on the site for free) to give some statistics and a chance for families to give their point of view of the kind of support they need and the kind of support they received (or didn't!) I suppose I was also considered a bit of an advocate for expats because I didn't care what I said if it meant waking up organizations to the needs of the family. Mostly, I think of myself as a resource where people come to ask questions and to be reassured that their challenges are very similar if not often exactly the same as expat families living anywhere in the world. I like to think I make people's feelings real.

Tell us more about your books and what it's like to be an expat author

I was only going to write one book (because they say, write what you know!) and ended up writing five non-fiction books plus an expat novel that was serialized years ago on my website. Being an expat author back in my day was very isolating because there was no Internet, no Amazon, no connection between me and my readers. I used to joke I had a life I didn't participate in!

A writer's life is hard enough as it means going into a deep dark hole for a few years to write...it took me years to write each book because once I started to travel to lecture, I was always either getting over the jet lag and exhaustion of one trip or planning the next. Vancouver is always a 10 hour flight to wherever I was going, often longer. And the lecture tours, while sounding terribly glamorous, were brutal. On some, I would deliver over 30 talks in 5 countries in two weeks! But it was worth it because the audiences were so appreciative of my speaking to them. I only took a decision this past year to stop traveling because it was killing me to be on the road, all alone, boxes of books everywhere (I forgot to mention that I decided to become my own publisher in 2000!!), and I also experienced a lot of food poisoning! I could go on and on about my fear of flying which was not helpful either. I called it 'the flaw in my business plan.'

Video lectures are a new addition to the Expat Expert site - what prompted you to make these videos?

I was very blocked in my writing, not recognizing it was more exhaustion from traveling too much and not having the time to just think and write. A cousin of mine who is a career counselor of many years suggested I try working in a different medium, like video. I used to be a television reporter and documentary writer in another life so the idea of working again in video appealed to me (or certainly didn't scare me). I knew how to do it (but of course, had to figure out You Tube etc...)

So, coupled with the fact that I had taken the decision not to travel anymore, I thought putting together the lecture series would be a win/win. I could check out working in video, and my lectures would be available for free to anyone who needed to hear my messages (and could do so in private, not in a public setting). Having been through the exercise, and watching myself over and over again on video during the editing process, I have decided no more video for me! But hopefully, if people can find the lecture series (it's hard as you know to get anything new 'out there' these days with so much information bombarding expats) they will be helpful to families, especially spouses...

Read the rest of this interview at http://www.expatfocus.com/robin-pascoe-081010

No comments: