Women Who Do What They Love - Jasmine Keel

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Who is this woman? Jasmine Keel

What is her passion called? INSPIRED

Where can you take a squiz at her stuff? www.inspiredbeijing.com

What does she actually produce? INSPIRED is a training and coaching organisation specially designed for the needs of expat spouses in China. We help expat spouses make the most of their time in China by organising workshops, seminars and offering 1-to-1 coaching programmes. We also offer pre-assignment coaching, cross-cultural training, life coaching, career counselling, job-search consulting, self-employment assistance and repatriation coaching.

Why does she do all this? That is an excellent question. I do what I do because INSPIRED is more than a business, it is more ‘me’. Its purpose is strongly aligned with my own personal and professional values which are: connection, achievement, learning, contribution and fun.

With INSPIRED, my dream is to help expat spouses connect with others and establish a strong and loving connection with their host country – China. I want to help them identify some personal and professional goals for their time in China and to achieve those exciting goals. I also want to help spouses learn more about themselves and about others and a new culture. I believe that expat spouses can contribute to China’s economic and social development.

I guess I am also doing expat spouse support because I am myself an expat spouse and I do realise moving to China offers a full pot of challenges and opportunities.

How long has she been doing it? When I moved to Beijing I ‘re-invented myself’ and became an entrepreneur; I created INSPIRED and it survived its first year. In a few weeks, I will celebrate its second birthday anniversary. Very exciting!

What is this talented woman’s story? I am originally from France but my Mum is from Tunisia and my Dad has got German roots. It seems like a long time ago, but I originally studied Economics and Finance and then specialised in Management Accountancy. For around eight years, I worked as a Chartered Accountant in Banking and Healthcare, in London and Zurich. Life was easy then and the pay rather good, but I now wonder how I could sit all day behind Excel spreadsheets and almost enjoy it!

In 2006, I moved to Beijing with my husband and two kids – Eva and Calvin. I guess that means I officially received a new identity: the ‘expat spouse’ one. In my spare time, I love skiing, playing tennis, reading and learning more about anything and everything. I am an addict of business E-books and self-improvement workbooks.

How has her journey been so far? In a way, it has been rather easy. In spring 2007, I was rather fit and used to go jogging three or four times a week. INSPIRED was somehow created during those jogging sessions. I also pursued a comprehensive survey among expat spouses in Beijing and the results confirmed the need of organisation such as INSPIRED. Later, I became more ‘strategic’ and drafted a business plan. At the first event in September 2007, I had three paying attendees. Today, my seminars attract group of 40 people or more.

Two other important things... I did not need a big cash investment to get started, so that helped a lot. Also, the financial situation of our household meant that I could go and test my ideas without worrying about cash and strong incomes.

What pesky obstacles have tried to block her progress? You know, in life, most of the obstacles come from within us, not from outside circumstances. In my case, I managed to sort out the legal aspect of the business without too many headaches and somehow attracted great consultants and coaches. But I did struggle with marketing and being strategic. I did not like ‘selling myself’. I did not like having to turn enquiries into sales. I struggled to put together a business plan and a marketing plan. I also struggled to actually identify the exact services I was offering.

I overcame those issues by reaching out and creating a ‘support’ network. I belong to a mastermind group of women entrepreneurs who meet every month. Sharing our experiences and brainstorming together has been of a huge help.

Also, I hired the services of a ‘down-to-earth, practical and rational’ professional to help me with the strategic and business development of INSPIRED. I am the one with the great ideas and I just need help to implement things in a strategic manner.

As said before, I am also an addict of Business E-Books. I bought CDs, tapes, books and loved them. Some were good, some were okay, but I always felt it was making me move somewhere and make progress.

What are her greatest joys in doing what she loves? The thank-you emails and the smiles of happy clients. Knowing that I do impact positively people’s lives. Reaching in March 2009 a salary comparable to my previous job salary level in Switzerland as a Financial Controller! That was more a one-off than a general trend, but that felt GREAT! I realised that if you truly follow a passion, the money will come (if you are also somehow ‘strategic’).

"Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul." Anonymous

What is she loving most at the moment? The group workshops. They are great. Only a small group of people in the same room for a day. The atmosphere is positive and the outcomes fantastic. One attendee said after a workshop that it had been the best day in her life since moving to China. Wow!

What is her inspiration? Everyday, I am learning something. I am putting in my bag numerous tools: some pure knowledge but mainly some hard skills, some soft skills and some people skills. Growing INSPIRED is similar to pursuing a MBA in the field. One day, I will be able to do something BIG and GREAT thanks to all this learning. If I make mistakes that is okay, because I am learning something from them.

If she could do anything in the whole wide, entire world – what would she do? I would be the Head of Creativity and Innovation for an MNC. I would have a Leadership and Talent Management company. I would be a world-famous public-speaker. I would be an ambassador in the field of microfinance. Believe me, I am not actually pretentious. I just have BIG dreams. And no, I would not be a Financial Controller playing with numbers on Excel.

Where would she escape to if she could? Seriously, I love China. I would love to go back to Chengdu and revisit the nature there. I also love and miss France. I would love to put my bikini on (I first need to go jogging again) and sit on a beach at St Tropez. And then go to my grandmother’s cottage in the mountains, put my garden boots on and pick up wild berries to make jam.

What would she do there? Suntan, relax, sleep, make jam and bring lots and lots of books to read. And I would see my mother and my grandmother having so much fun with my kids while I read all those books.

What are her secret aspirations? Right now, I feel that I am at an important phase in my business. I gained the confidence I needed and an understanding of the expat spouses’ needs. I am now ready to move into the corporate market and sell my services to multinationals bringing a lot of expats to China.

What is her greatest achievement? Starting a new, beautiful life in China. So many good things have been created here. For my family, for my marriage, for my children, for the community, for myself.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." Randy Pausch

What would be her absolutely perfect day? Get up. Play tennis. Work. Have lunch with a friend. Work. Read books to my kids. Go out with people.

What five words sum her up? Smart. Catalyst. Made to be with people. Creator. Loving Mum.

What really fabulous advice does she have for others wanting to Do What They Love? Don’t think too much about your passion. It does not need to be 100% clear. Start somewhere and let it unfold. Do NOT not follow your passion. If you follow your passion, you will find yourself working smarter and harder, and with little effort.

For more very INSPIRED inspiration, check out Jasmine’s blog.

Are you doing what you love? Please contact me here if you would like to tell your Do What You Love story. I’d love to hear from you – no matter where you are in the world.

1 comment:

Everything Counts said...

Enjoying what we do is perhaps one of the best things we can do. It helps us cope with stress and also achieve the best results in whatever we do.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...