Moved By A Story

About ‘Room to Read’

Once upon a time, when I was back in Zurich, a friend of mine told me over lunch that I should research a charity organisation called ‘Room to Read’ (RtR). Little did I know at the time, how important & much it would become part for my life…

Now, I know that most of you have been appropriately ‘brain washed’ by me on what RtR is. However, I don’t want to miss this opportunity to highlight what makes it such an unique organisation, worthy of your attention.

800 million people are illiterate in the world today. Over 530 million are women and children.

Imagine for a moment, they have the chance to learn how to read & write...and I mean with teachers that are trained, a curriculum, measuring parameters, with books in their language that have been developed locally with writers especially for children. Give them access to libraries that are filled with books and run by a trained librarian. You might think that this scenario is surely the standard across the globe, because that’s what we know from discovering the ABC. Well, it just isn’t…although we all know that literacy plays a fundamental impact on quality of life, health and economical standing, i.e. people creating their ‘productive’ life, communities and surroundings.

Now, let’s take it further and assume that both girls & boys can continue schooling after 6th grade. Again you might say, that this is the norm – for us. The truth is that girls are taken out of school to either work or be married off. The positive impact on lives of these girls on top of the economical benefits is a no-brainer really.

Room to Read exists to turn these two scenarios into reality – World Change Starts with Educated Children ® – with a Literacy and a Girls’ Education Program. The idea is to enable children to develop the skills and habit of reading and ensure girls complete secondary school and have skills to negotiate key life decisions.

What’s so different is that RtR collaborate and engage the families, local communities, partner organizations and governments in the transformation. RtR sets measurable goals and collects action-oriented data to ensure the programs are run with quality and impact, while maximizing cost efficiency. Results and reporting are shared with transparency and key indicators ensure rigorous evaluation of more than 7’000 projects. RtR has been reconized by Charity Navigator for its transparency, financial excellence, and responsible work that each donation has maximum impact.

Still want to know more? Read the two books that John Wood the founder has written ‘Leaving Microsoft to Change the World’ and ‘Creating Room to Read’ or visit the global website.

We are so thrilled that we have achieved our goal of reaching 10 million children by the end of 2015! Of course, we have a new goal and that is to benefit 15 million children by 2020.

Join our efforts, make a difference and become a donor, volunteer, advocate, friend and part of the worldwide RtR family! YOUR contribution (be it in skills, time, money or awareness spreading) will make a profound, direct difference in a child’s life. And I ask you – what is better than that?

Please reach out to me, if you want to discuss fun-fundraisers, volunteering, company engagement or maybe a trip with me to one of the Room to Read projects?

I was a member of the Zurich chapter and was welcomed with open arms into the Vancouver chapter. In April I had the chance to attend the RtR Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco and honestly, I was blown away…what a feeling…to be part of such a passionate, active, fun, intelligent group & movement. And just like that Room to Read has become an intrinsic part of my life – happy (me) end.

 

‘How you imagine the world determines how you live in it.’
David Suzuki

 

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Founded in 2000 in Nepal – Literacy & Gender Equality in Education – in 2015 will impact 10 million children
Where we work
RtR is in ten low-income countries in Asia & Africa

Zurich Event June 2014 – Music & Art for Education

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Vancouver 2015 – Destination Dining Series

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RtR_DD12May2015 Start following us on the Vancouver Facebook site

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provoked by Technology

A Website-Drama in 10 Acts

(written, performed, partially directed, suffered, survived, reported by me)

For the impatient audience:
Right now, I have an up and running website. The End.

For the practiced reader:

April showers bring May flowers…or how after six months my website is finally open for business.

This is for all of you that think about setting up a website using a freelancer, and for all of you that want to have a good laugh!

Honestly, I did not expect this to be such a Sisyphus struggle – taking one step forward and three back.  Me being such a classical cliche entrepreneur, of course, I wanted to do as much as possible myself; spend a minimum amount of money, get the maximum out of it, and that as fast as possible. Let’s just say, I paid dearly maybe not with money but with lots of hours, nerves, frustration, sweat and tears. So much so that I started believing that it might be a sign I should not have a website all 😉

On the positive side, I know now SO much about domains, hosting, website building, code, back-up, css, themes etc. than I could have ever imagined possible (or wanted to know for that matter). It all started out so promising and harmless; I registered my domain and hosting in 10 minutes (with ‘Go Daddy’) and I knew what functionality, design and structure I wanted. A colleague had recommended a huge tech freelance platform called ‘Freelancer.com’ and sure enough after putting my project up (of building a customized ‘WordPress’ template), I had more than 20 offers that promised to build it very cheaply within 21 days.

Although you can see the numbers of jobs a freelancer has completed successfully and read some customer references, I had no idea how to select one over the other. Naturally, I looked at the price and time line and looked at work samples etc. but in the end, I picked the one that started chatting (over the platform) with me first. Here come crucial indicators (I wish I knew) when NOT to pick a freelancer:

  1. if the level of English is questionable in the first chat. It can only get worse, because the guy writing to you at this time, is the boss – every other person in the team speaks (even) worse. The number of times, I had to read a (so called) sentence out loud over and over again, were countless…I think deciphering hieroglyphs would have been faster.
  2. if they cannot provide live sample websites. I found out (way too late) that the ones they gave on the platform, were really more mock-ups than a full-blown functioning website. Also, look at the re-hire rate, that really tells you if someone was happy with the working relationship.
  3. if they say the time difference is not a problem. As most of them are based in and around India, you are looking at 12-13 hours (!). In my case, I don’t think they understood that I was behind them and basically, we barely managed to chat, exchange updates, comments when we were both online. That makes for very slow progress and unsettling sleeping habits. 
  4. if they don’t tell you how many different people will be working on your project. I just wanted to throw in the towel, when I got asked the same thing over and over again (being addressed as SIR again). Not only did I not know what was going on, but I think they didn’t either. 
  5. if they are trying to sell you something more or different, before they have completed what you have hired them for . Not a week passed by without them trying to sell me a logo design, search engine optimization etc. All I wanted was for them to build my template and make it easy for me to manage it.
  6. If they are not insisting and have an efficient way/process to give feedback and track progress. You don’t want to know the hours I have lost in trying to explain what I was happy with and needed changed etc. Also, the 21 days turned into 4 months with them just not doing anything at times. 
  7. If they are not promising you a back-up file with your custom made theme template (css sheet) that they are sending once the job is done. Through whatever weird incident (that even Go Daddy people hadn’t seen before), my theme sheet got renamed and oh, surprise – got thrown out. ‘My’ freelancers did not make a back-up and had the nerve to tell me that they would have to build it from scratch, charging like it was a new job.
  8. if they say something is not possible that logically seems not such a big deal of a request, i.e. a change of font style, size or header characteristics. That simply means they don’t know how to do it. 
  9. if they want to log in into your WordPress account using your personal log in and password. Thank heavens, I did not agree to that and forced them to set up a separate user within my account. Had I agreed to them using/sharing my ‘user’ set up, I would have never been able to tell who had created, edited, changed what! It would have all been ‘me’.
  10. if they don’t offer / know that one can create your template in an off-line environment that can be activated when you are happy with it.

There you have it…I ended up hiring another freelancer to make the last changes, and I would re-hire him. I hope knowing these points will support you in having smooth sailing. Or maybe it has convinced you to just hire someone to do it for you. Either way, I do want to share why I took on the challenge of having a website altogether 🙂

As a professional accredited coach (ACC) and consultant (BSc, MSc) I support professionals to move successfully through transition (e.g. promotion, job change, self-employment), through the optimal application of value systems, behavior patterns and state of mind. It is my goal that clients can help themselves, developing a sustainable resourceful state of mind, which will let them make even better choices and develop more productive communication with others.

If you are curious, I’m happy to reserve time in my calendar to give you a sample experience. At your service, if you want to put it all together. 

Grabbed by the Idea of a Space

What led to the idea of creating the Star Cluster Space, a co-working, learning & community concept.

‘If you aim for the moon, you land among the stars’ and form a cluster with other stars, part of a constellation. You are part of a group. The urge of being part of a community is ingrained in us, situated in our mammal part of the brain. it has a huge importance and positive intention, as it ensures that we stay safe, survive and thrive. In all days of our ancestors, being expelled from the group was one of the biggest punishments. As an outcast you were always suffering hard ship, in the worst case scenario quick death. In today’s age, it’s the same mechanism that let’s us want to be part of a family, a tribe.

Having a traveler’s heart with a strong curiosity for cultures, languages, ethics and behavior made me study hotel management and have a career with Hilton. And that’s when I first encountered the community feeling. It didn’t matter in which country or city, whenever I walked into the staff entrance, I felt part of a micro-cosmos. I belonged, no matter what time of the day it was or in which department I was working. As teams you encountered the funniest, stressful, surprising, exciting, horrible, useful and beautiful things that became our shared memories.The glue that not only connected us, but forged live long friendships and became the foundation of my resilience. Everybody knew, when the going gets tough, it will be tough, but you’re going through it together. It’s immediate, face-to-face, real time experience.

When I left the hotel industry after six years, I didn’t realize at the time that the next industry I joined runs according to the same principles. Now I’d say that it is harder to find the difference between a theater and a hotel rather than listing similarities. If you wonder why I left a successful career in the first place, here’re are the reasons: I have a very strong creative side to me and the second best thing to being on stage myself was to become part of the world where my passions lie.

Also, I believed that it would give my work/life more purpose, i. e. that sense of fulfillment.Well, I was partly right. When you become part of a producing opera house/theater, you do play a crucial part in making the performance happen. Bringing such a special ‘product’ to people, reaching them in person, on an emotional level through music, singing and dancing carries purpose. What I also experienced again was this sense of family or community.The same thing happened where as an overall team (with lots of different departments, type of people, languages and nationalities) you were pulling on the same rope, honoring the motto ‘the curtain has to go up’ – no matter what. I don’t know if you can imagine what that means, but let me share with you that it’s not exaggerated to say that every possible, highly emotional, complex, unthinkable situation occurred. Me being a storyteller by choice probably subconsciously knew that it would give me material for a lifetime!

Yet, after seven exciting years in the performing arts; the pressure and working hours took its toll. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t fulfilled.  You can imagine that admitting to myself that this wasn’t it (although I so believed it) was a truly shitty moment. It took several month to work through that experience and I had absolutely no idea, what to do next. It was not until I was recovering from a foot operation that I was researching the option of leaving Switzerland (again). That’s where I literally stumbled across coaching and after months of not knowing anything, it became clear in an instance. That was the missing purpose piece; being of service and working impactful 1:1 with people. I cannot even begin to describe the joy, relief and exhilaration that came with that clarity. The program of Erickson International College struck a chord with me and therefore, moving out to Vancouver an educational sabbatical just felt right. The path of coaching and neuro-linguistic programming proved to exactly right, and it led me to stay in Canada, as a self-employed coach, consultant, artist and storyteller.

Guess what happened when I started working as a coach from home in a city that is not my hometown? Exactly. I started to miss both, being part of a community and the in-person interaction with others. I felt I’m doing something very meaningful, but the cooperation and community was missing. Wanting to bring all three (and more 🙂 together and seeing that there are others looking for the same, gave birth to this idea of creating the ‘Star Cluster Space’ a co-working, co-learning & community concept.

We believe everybody deserves to belong to a community; be it to connect with others through work, play, learning or just to show up in person and feel part of it. Star Cluster Space is based on this principle and uniquely combines co-working with education, entertainment and creating a community across all ages.

The facilities and programs are based on the input of the community members in entertainment, hospitality, art, visual design and professional services. People that work from home, on the road, in small teams, as new arrivals to the city or starting out their business. Being true to the nature of a community it strives to bring together people from youth to senior age; from apprentices, to entrepreneurs, to retirees, to artists, to professional, to academics and people in transition.

Star Cluster Space achieves this by combining its facilities with especially created programs and initiatives that actively foster productivity, cooperation, compassion and connection. Becoming a member means much more than ‘just’ renting a desk or an office. It means that you become part of the cluster, the constellation. We from the team see it as our mission you becoming involved, grow personally and getting the most out of your membership. Star Cluster Space aims to become the place where innovation sits right next to education and entertainment, where the atmosphere ranges from a theater, a library, a laboratory, a working garage to a space of drive, wonder and welcome. Think a community center merges with a co-working space, a theater and a hotel where people work, cooperate, connect, learn, and socialize in person.

I’m very grateful and excited that the project is gaining momentum. That is why I’ve chosen now to tell you all about it. I invite you to engage in the project, if you’re sitting there nodding your head. Let me know what came up when reading this and would you like to know more, share ideas, give input? I invite you to become part of the Star Cluster Space community!

We are envisioning to be part of the future of Granville Island.
Either like us on Facebook or sign up on the website: www.starclusterspace.com to get news.

 

 

‘There is nothing like a dream to create the future.’
Victor Hugo

The Benefits

You are becoming aware of your patterns, way of working, motivations and beliefs. Also, you will learn how to work with emotions productively, rather than be run by them. You  become and stay productive on all levels (physical, emotional, intellectual) in any given situation.

Fact is that people in transition are at risk being not their most productive self.  A transition might be a change of career, setting up a business, taking on a new role etc. With it comes uncertainty and fears. Fear in a person can result in the most unproductive behavior for the business and themselves.

I support people in a transition, not because I think they cannot make it themselves. I work with them, because I believe they will make it through faster, more successful and even have some fun. Humans operating at maximum productivity live in a state of personal confidence, contentment and motivation.

Combined with the structural element of a solid administration it is a major key to business success. It ensures operational efficiency, which leaves time to focus on business development.

My coaching and training techniques will help pull your many skills, abilities and experience together to create a plan to achieve both personal and professional goals, consistent with your deepest beliefs and values.