Modern Day Gypsy

Kayla Pongrac

It’s been almost 5 months since I left Barcelona and I still haven’t unpacked my bags.  Needless to say, I am getting real good at living out of a suitcase.  In fact, I’ve been all over the map with this thing and began to realize it’s really all I need – my gypsy toolbox.  Although my plan was to return to Spain after a month of travels, opportunities on this side of the pond have kept me here… for now.

Networking and generating self-business growth in North America is common to our generation.  Everyone is moving at a fast pace, building their careers and helping each other to succeed.  In Barcelona, I felt this same eagerness and support but the economy is just not the best for one starting a business, especially if you’re a newbie in your industry.  Of course, there is an upside to a poor economic situation; the lack of jobs and high unemployment rate will drive you to create your own work and develop the fundamental skills of an entrepreneur.

Barcelona - el gotico.

Barcelona – el gotico.

When living in a new city, you don’t have to fully immerse yourself as long as you are learning important lessons and values from that particular culture’s way of life.  For me, I couldn’t conceptualize the daily 2 hour siestas and constant tardiness.  Yet, Barcelona succeeds at being a place that gives back to you.  It gave me the opportunity to be inspired by the embedded rich European culture and the life values the Barcelonian embrace.  However, these values need to be balanced with a modern day work ethic.  Applying my work habits and devoting time to strategic and big picture thinking, I began to develop my business. Being in such a transient city with people from all over the world, Barcelona acted as a perfect hub to generate ideas and network. Once I saw the potential, and felt the confidence with my business concepts, I flew back to North America to engage in the entrepreneurial trend with fellow generation y-ers.

Sure, I have invested a lot of time and money into travelling, but it’s been worth every dime.  If you’re twenty-something and set out for an adventure, I recommend doing less of the stereotypical agenda; shop, eat, party, repeat, and instead explore the more productive agenda; research, eat (healthy), network, repeat.  If you want to be your own boss, get out there and meet the entrepreneurs who have inspired you to grow your own business. In fact, meet anyone who can help generate ideas. Weak ties are just as good as strong ties and you should develop these wherever and whenever you travel.  I can confidently say that new opportunities come from weak ties. The world is small and who knows when you will need to reach out in the future.

While travelling, I was able to meet with some incredible designers and entrepreneurs in my industry.  It was really surprising how open they were with sharing their knowledge and experience. It seems that most business owners support each other and are happy to pay it forward.  If you put yourself out there with an open mind and ask questions, others will help lift you up.  Of course, some people may think you’re irrational, but you’ll still get a lot of useful feedback. Target your energy by spending time with like-minded individuals to share and generate your business ideas.  This should be your advisory board and should be made up of people who reflect the type of person you want to be.  Be sure to listen carefully and pay close attention to their gut reactions, criticisms and enthusiasm.

A ship in the harbour is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.

A common trend in our society is the fear of failure. Your business idea won’t start itself and you will never quit that 9:00 to 5:00 dead-end desk job if you fear you ‘might’ end up without any money or any job at all.  Decide that failure will shape you just as much as success will and that it is strictly a temporary condition. It seems as though fear comes from being too comfortable, which is another trend amongst our generation.  From jobs, to significant others and friends, this preconceived notion that personal comfort is the goal of everyday life isn’t doing anything for us twenty-somethings. The truth is people are more successful once they leave the repetitive, unproductive and unsatisfying zone they find themselves trapped within.

Generation-Yers need to forget about the “suppose tos” and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Don’t be afraid to pursue something that you are passionate about because when you succeed (and you will if you want it bad enough) you will spend every day doing what you love.  We should be seeking success rather than comfort and an acceptance for failure; treat every opportunity that comes your way as a vital component of your journey.

“If you want it, work for it.  If you never try, you’ll never know.” – A Wright World 

Fear is a LIAR.

Work to travel or travel for work, or both at the same time; this is what I do. And in-between is where I discover my passions, strengths, weaknesses and how to make a living from my lifestyle. This is where I stand at the moment, and even though my gypsy toolbox is looking rough, a trip back to Spain for business and pleasure is in the works to wrap up the summer.  My advice to you, explore it all and make it count.  Invest in yourself and travel to add value to your life and career, for travelling is the one thing you can buy that will make you richer.

Lead with your heart - steer with your brain.