Offline Networking as an Expat in Covid times

Covid activity networking

Ode to expats migrants trying to make connections.

Last week I attended a face-to-face networking event for expats; we’re yet another social group needing connections a bit more intensely than average (having no/limited family or support networks where we live).

With real life events now an endangered species, it felt extra-ordinary. I approached it with a mixture of emotions: trepidation, curiosity, anxiety and self-talk “it’d be cool”.

Predictions is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neocortex, and the foundation of intelligence [J. Hawkins 2004]

Expats (or migrants) are the community I hang and identify with the most: our courage to push beyond the status quo behind never ceases to amaze me. The rawness in which we seek human connections is both our driving force and our addiction. The candour in opening up to a fellow expat on our current struggles our strength.

When I turned up, precautions against it becoming a super-spreader event had been taken – in spite of them, or maybe because of them, strange is the term I’d use to:

 – do introductions without handshakes
– greet someone you knew without a hug
– read facial expressions when a mask was worn
– discuss topic that didn’t involve work from home, isolation, tests & Co.

It made me realise that, as a species, we have learnt a set of new societal norms. A couple of years ago we surely did behaved differently: this time around no judgement was involved.

It made me realise that, as a species, we have been thrown right out of our comfort zone. And increased our sensitivitybecause of that.

It made me realise that, as species, the once taken-for-granted permissions have shifted levels.

It made me realise that, in our species, there are people still longing a real connection.

How do you network these days? If you are a migrant, do you reckon your cultural intelligence is a super-power or a hindrance?

#livingabroad #testimonials #graziecoaching #mindsetcoaching

How to set up your mornings for a successful day 🌄

If you want a better lifestyle it's important you consider your morning routine. App notifications can be big distractions.

Checking out Notifications on our mobile has become the new normal. How (dis)empowering is that?!

Towards a better lifestyle: What is the first decision you take after waking up?

Wanting a better lifestyle, I examined the decisions I take daily starting from the morning.

The first decision I am used to take is a habit that creeped without me noticing much: turning on phone notifications.

In an attempt to achieve a better lifestyle, a more sustainable and fulfilling one, I changed it to…👇

🥁 … confront myself with topics bigger than me!


Our brain makes ca. 35,000 conscious decisions (estimate).

Per Day.

But! While taking a decision, it can only hold 4-5 pieces of information in its “working memory” before becoming prone to error.

📲💣Switching on the notifications meant, literally, a bomb attack of information pieces (Social Media, Email, Messaging platforms, Updates, SMS and so on).

All while deciding whether to get up or indulge longer in bed.

That is not exactly the improved lifestyle (yes, it starts with the morning!) I aim for. My brain could not take it.

I was getting out of bed with a mild sense of helplessness for what the day had in store.

Motivation on the drop, and grumpy mood on the rise. 

Furthermore, I was not able to sustain attention for short period of time (read: 10min). I would catch myself opening Social Media and scrolling in auto-pilot throughout the day…without even paying attention to the content!
I was simply creating space for my mind to wander. A mind-wandering cry for help.

Listening to one of my favourite sources of inspiration for a better lifestyle (#timferris podcast), I stole the idea of reading small bits of philosophy.
Never been much into philosophy, yet my partner happened to have exact the right tool: a collection of stoic’s quotes divided by the 366 days of a year (#ryanholiday “The Daily Stoic”).

The quote and its brief explanation, set just the right tone to make me wonder whether I agree with that view or not.

If I don’t agree, then I ask myself: “Why is it so?”

And explore my thinking further.

Doing it first thing in the morning, leaves an imprint: I come back to the daily topic at different stages through the day (especially before going back to bed in the evening).

So, this is my work-in-progress contender for notifications.

I’d be keen to know your morning routines and what activities you believe are most empowering! How do you set up your day for success?!

If this has motivated you to re-look at your daily set-up, schedule a coaching session with me here to make it happen!



Resign as Chief Hope Officer

Resign as your Chief Hope Officer

Replace Toxic Positivity with Realistic Optimism 

Just came back from a break and dying for the next one? You (and I!) will be in a better mental shape if we 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙥 𝙙𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙛 𝙃𝙤𝙥𝙚 𝙊𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙚𝙧 👉🚪
Yes, you are a CHO too. 

…more now than ever before! 

The last few weeks before End of Year, let’s be honest can see us 𝗗 𝗥 𝗔 𝗜 𝗡 𝗘 𝗗 . Having just two or three weeks to unplug, often does not do the trick.

Naively optimistic sentences like “𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 3+ 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘐’𝘭𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦” are not really cutting it. Because, despite the words, 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗴𝘂𝗲. 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆. 𝗦𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗲. 𝗗𝗮𝘆. 

Lately there’s a name to this naive optimism: Toxic Positivity. 

So, what is going to get us going in a better mindset?? 

A useful strategy is to replace Toxic Positivity with  Realistic Optimism : a tool stemming from the 

Stockdale Paradox.

Stockdale was an American official who fell prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was held captive for 15years, before being freed again. 

In a very famous interview, he discussed:
   (question) “Who didn’t make it out?”
   (he answered) “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”





Is it a matter of surrendering? Nope.
Is it a matter of changing words? Nope. 

It is a matter of working on the choices you have NOW!

In summary:

   🟡 𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗴𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 you dealing with reality [hoping a break will dissolve your fatigue on a lasting basis is…just a hope!]
   ⚪️ Embrace the reality and 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 off at the end [it has been a very intense couple of years but you have got the tools to overcome this challenge]
   🟡 Meanwhile, 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 [you still have a few deadlines and projects to face]
   ⚪️ Break down the problems and 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 [How can you work more efficiently? What activities can you do to release the stress?]

🥈Can you do fire your CHO by yourself? Of course!
🥇Do you want to do it in a more sustainable way? Have a coaching conversation 👉 book it here



Ready to replace Toxic Positivity with Realistic Optimism ?



New Year, New Yearn!

Setting Goals is often done at New Year: achieving goals can be done differently by crafting an emotional solution

New Year, New Yearn!

Achieving your Goals by Emotional Solution

New Year 𝐒𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 for our goals are the new black! 𝐑𝐄𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐨 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏!

To me, starting 2022 was a matter of not REpeating the same disc of the 12 months just gone. My external realities have changed too, alongside with my internal ones 🆕 
If I changed, and my goals changed, 𝙬𝙝𝙮 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙜𝙤 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨?!

The new year is not necessarily just festive: it can bring negative feelings too, e.g. anxiety. 

Many of us experience this every 1st of January: I can’t help but wonder if we have successfully conditioned our mind to believe the first few days of January equal the excruciating pains of summing up our wins and losses…? From a mindset perspective, it could well be.

All in all, it is a cycle 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥𝘭𝘺 coming to an end. The mere thought of it can add to the sense of drawing balance sheets. Or writing down some goals. Or toasting to resolutions while still in vacation mode.


In the spirit of challenging my mindset, I set End of Year apart and considered time as a continuum. The break between one year and the next is an arbitrary one (humankind has been creating and using methods for keeping track of days and larger divisions of time for centuries); so do not fall into the trap of seeing each January as the dawn of your new history: you make resolutions, and you regret your irresolution, and so goes the vicious cycle. Antonio Gramsci, late Italian politician, had put this sentiment in a much more direct way more than a century ago:

I want every morning to be a new year’s for me. Every day I want to reckon with myself, and every day I want to renew myself. No day set aside for rest. I choose my pauses myself, when I feel drunk with the intensity of life and I want to plunge into animality to draw from it new vigour.” [A. Gramsci]

With most of us being our own harshest critics, the balances are pretty often in red 🔻. 
If operating in such a negative emotional disc, can you guess how long we are going to stick to our Goals (aka resolutions)?!
Correct! Not very long! 

So what do we need for Achieving Goals? An Emotional Solution!

Let me introduce you to a different approach: an Emotional Solution

It works like there
   🟡 select 𝗛𝗢𝗪 you 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 (𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁) 𝘁𝗼 𝗙𝗘𝗘𝗟 – could use a card game like  The Emotional Culture Deck – Elephant Rider | Certificate of Practice
   ⚪️ 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀, so to spot co-dependencies
   🟡 draw 𝗮 𝘀𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱 of the positives, so you can score yourself every day/week/or month

Emotional states can be identified with card games: this allows you to achieve your goals

With emotions driven by our thinking, this approach covers the closest route between the two: by reminding myself how I want to feel, I’ll be just one step away from adjusting my thoughts. 

🥈Can you do it too? Of course!
🥇Do you want to do it more efficiently? Connect with me and let’s have a coaching conversation 👉 book here





Navigating challenging times as an Expat

Navigating challenging times as an Expat

A month ago or so, I put together a Newsletter based on conversations I had been having with my clients and network in general. Having lived in 3 different countries (and counting!) a good part of my network is made up of migrants, expats and third culture kids. For a good part of this years, I have noticed a common thread in my conversations: the challenge of navigating this pandemic as an expat

You can sign up to my Newsletter here.

So these are my thoughts.

Expats and migrants living abroad are labelled also by the way they deal with challenges

Whether you had always envisioned living abroad or have stumbled on it by chance, being an expat is a sure way to learn loads from life

You may be loving it, be over it or, most probably, you are experiencing a mixed bag of feelings. It surely comes with its hard times: even more so during a pandemic

The current levels of uncertainty, a more arduous or reduced possibility to travel and adjustments in our professional lives have resulted in many of us feeling…displaced? confused? overwhelmed? (more emotions here)

How do we shake off this lingering sensation and, instead, start feeling positive emotions like being peaceful, courageous, confident again? 

The reflection below is set up like a Coaching session.

If you or anyone close to you are struggling coping, do get in touch: being a Coach means listening with an empathetic ear and I can help plan out how to get unstuck. 

Pandemic happens. How is your choice!

Step 1️⃣

Let’s start from where coaching always start: acknowledging who you are

Your resilience to move to another country, blend into new ways of doing, find new friends, in some cases start from zero again, has served you well when Covid first hit.

However this resilience can wear off; for example: it has been 2 years of borders close here in New Zealand, how much longer can you deal with not hugging your family?

Step 2️⃣

Next: reflect on your current reality. Tune in with yourself: which emotions do you spot? Think about how you feel towards: 

  • Your support system: family and closest friends, no visiting for prolonged period of times. 
  • Doubts creeping in: choices you may be questioning.
  • What’s next: a big question mark or still on track?

Whichever way you are feeling: it is ok to experience it.

Step 3️⃣

Instead of letting you dwell in despair, we will Reframe your thinking!

Naming emotions for what they are, understanding what factors you may not be taking into consideration can help you get back on track.

 So ask yourself the following question: “What the func(tion)?”

Each emotion is there for a positive reason: so reflect on what your emotions may bring you. Maybe they are protecting you? Maybe they are a red flag for a need you don’t realise you have?

Final Stage 🏁

… remember that Resilience is a skill: it can be learnt, improve, forgotten…and picked up again! 

By understanding which emotions you are feeling and how they play out in various life aspects, you gain awareness on what is most important to you.

When you know all of this, you start operating out of love instead of fear. You can translate them then into features and activities of your life that brings you joy and amplify these components! 

Need to discuss this personally? I’d be pleased to have a coaching conversation: book it here.





The Mindset around Habits – How to (and how not to!)

New Habits: Coaching tips for your personal and professional development!

As a 4th lockdown gloomed over New Zealand one month or so ago, one of my intentions was to start a couple of new habits ♻️. The limitations and opportunities of my being an expat with little support network became clear!

My coaching course with the NeuroLeadership Institute tackled habits, in one of the first modules, so I feel I have all the insider knowledge to hack them! Plus, as a bonus, I have successfully been coaching a few clients on starting up new custom routines. 

It’s now been the 31st day (and counting!) streak towards my Habit number 1 and a 25th day of failing my second Habit. 

Pretty polarising results that made me wonder: What went right and what went wrong?!?

In a time-wise ironic old fashion way, I have been marking down daily, my positive streak on the September page of a paper calendar, so before October (and possibly ease in Lockdown restrictions and more temptations!) kicks in, I shall prevent my short term memory-loss of what I have learnt so far by sharing some findings with you all. 

Tricks and tips from a career coaching and life coaching perspective

Background information

Habit 1️⃣ was around eating healthier. I’ve lost count of how many times it has now been a goal of mine – Healthy is the new black!  

Habit 2️⃣ focused on establishing a new morning routine. Full disclaimer: I am not a morning person. So very not. 

As days have gone by, I have noticed a few things worth mentioning. 


Your Environment – Inspiring or Expiring You?

John Assaraf phrased it perfectly:

your environment can either inspire you or expire you

The poor Routine no. 2 had no ally in sight for the whole lockdown duration. Most of my household was lucky enough to sleep in: keeping my new routine up while everyone else had the luxury of a few extra hours of sleep has not been inspiring, to say the least. As a matter of fact, it has probably expired my motivation a bit. 

🤓 Take away: get yourself an accountability ally!

The Triangle

Neuroscience explains habits as a triangle, where you can change an element with the other 2 adjusting as a consequence. The three aspects to that triangle are: trigger – action – reward. 

Habits are structured like a triangle: they have a trigger, that initiates an action leading to hopefully a reward

Goal number 1 had a nuclear bomb 💣 dropped on it: I eliminated the trigger. Goodbye sodas (yip, the tonic in the G&T too, do not judge me!). Adiós crunchy chips. Arrivederci cookies. 

I stocked up in healthy snacks (carrots, apples) and promptly sipped a boiling tea right after each meal (that’s when sugar cravings kick in for me). 

Furthermore, there’s a pair of trousers I have struggled getting back into. The prospect of potentially having to buy a new wardrobe was not cutting it with me. Yes, admittedly the shopping would have been much fun! Yet I honestly do not believe I would have had the heart (or the credit card coverage) to throw away an entire clothes collection racked up through the years and from around the world. 

The plan of attack on Goal number 2, on the other hand, saw a double capitulation. On one hand I set too many actions (4!! Four!! 4️⃣!!) to replace only 1 existing action. I would usually wake up and get on with my day: this, was decided, had to be replaced by a 5min meditation, followed by 6 poses of yoga, followed by 1 page of journalling and finally reinforced by 30min delay in turning my notifications on. On the other hand I didn’t set myself any reward at all: I had absolutely nothing more than a couple of “Pros” listed in my head to keep me going. 

Karma decided the 5th day was a perfect day to punish me with tissue tear in my wrist. So 2 of my intended actions became impossible: bye bye yoga and journalling. The other 2 actions collapsed shortly after.

🎁  Take away: do set yourself a reward exciting enough to motivate you!

The deadline

The myth of a habit successfully being formed in only 21 days has long been busted. What neuroscience has also discovered, is that habits tend to actually love the frequency of repetition more than the stretch of days one can maintain them for. 

Eating healthy is a choice we face multiple times per day, which (let’s be honest!) can make it an unbearable pain. That’s where my supply choices came in handy: with no sugary products available in the pantry, I forced myself into finally enjoying those once bland carrot sticks.

Habit 2 deadline was somewhat more flexible: as long as the lockdown lasted in Auckland. I was hoping the stretch would be long enough for it to stick around beyond whichever alert-level we were at. With a change of course happening at day 5, I not-so-unconsciously leveraged on that flexibility and, without further ado, declared the experiment over. 

🏁  Take away: decide on a fixed deadline (with optionality to extend it!)

Final Thoughts on my Personal Development Coaching Plan

It definitely has been a journey of discovery, and as a coach it has made me more aware of which elements to take into consideration when it comes to habit. Another, wonderful by-product is the fact that I can now relate more to the struggles my clients, friends, colleagues, family go through when trying to establish new routines. 

What about you? What is your major take-away when it comes to habit?

Keen to hear your thoughts 📲 , even in a private coaching session (book it here)!