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Why Work Abroad, Not How To Work Abroad That Matters

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Jan 20, 2015 1:11:01 AM

Recently, I declared 2015 at GeoVisions as the year of “Why.” Why?

All of us who work here and all of the people who work with us abroad know “What” we do.  We provide cultural and language exchange opportunities to our customers, to our host families and host communities abroad.  If you look over our website, you will quickly determine exactly “what” we do. And if you go to any of our many competitor’s websites, you will see that they do what we do.  In the business of cultural exchange, the “what” is pretty much the same no matter what site you visit.

Many people come to GeoVisions asking how to work abroad.

Now, “how” we do things might be somewhat different from our competitors.  But as a customer, do you really care “how” we make the magic happen?  You came to us to match you with a host family or with a teaching job.  To keep you safe.  To support you when things go wrong and to encourage you when things go right.  You may come to us to get you to France or Italy or Jordan or China.  You are going to ask us to confirm all these things before you leave home with your luggage and head to the airport.  It is also very odd if a customer asks, “How did you do that?” Just like going to a magic show or an action movie … you want to see the result.  And it had better rock the house.  Right?  So spending our time explaining “how” we make these beautiful life-changing experiences would bore most people to death.

“How did you make that paella?” Frankly, while I’m eating it, I only care that it is the best paella I have ever had.

But making 2015 the year of “why” is especially important.  We all make decisions based on the “why” part of our brain.  And “why” is a two-way street.  I’m convinced YOU do want to know “why” we do what we do.  And I’m more convinced WE want to know “why” you want to do what you’re planning to do.  So if we’re both mainly interested in “why” we’re doing what we’re doing … 2015 is going to be a very different year around here.

[testimonials backgroundcolor="" textcolor="" class="" id=""]
[testimonial name="Randy LeGrant" avatar="none" image="" company="" link="" target="_self"]Experiences are more important than landmarks.[/testimonial][testimonial name="Simon Sinek" avatar="none" image="" company="" link="" target="_self"]Start with Why in everything you do.[/testimonial]
[/testimonials]

If you and I sit down and chat, you might ask me if I’ve ever seen the Roman Forum.  And I can talk to you all day about strolling through the Forum, taking photos, reading the plaques, taking in the experience, soaking up the culture, and then walking across the street to eat the best bowl of pasta I’ve ever had. The what I did and the how to work abroad.

That would be a one-way conversation, if you have never been to Rome.  I’m talking and you’re listening.  Trust me, you're going to start to get bored.

In 2015, here at GeoVisions, we’re focusing the conversation on “why” you want to walk through the Forum in Rome.  And when I tell you “why” one of the first places I ever went in cultural exchange was to sit on Palatine Hill in Rome to overlook the Forum, you will smile and you’ll instantly “get it.”  And we’ll have a bond.  And that will lead you to telling me more about “why” you want to go and “why” it is crucial for you to have this experience.

“Why” is where our brains go to make things happen.  We buy from why.  We go from point A to point B for why.  We make life-changing decisions from our why.  We connect with others through why.

If I were back in my classroom teaching again, This is what I'd write on the chalk board (yeah, I dated myself):

WHAT: Go to Italy. Specifically Rome to see the Forum.
HOW: Buy a tour, get a plane ticket, reserve a place to stay, save enough money, read a book.
WHY: To experience a feeling of independence, to launch a career, to collect documents and take photos that can be shared with my students, to soak up the Italian culture and food, to learn a new language.

People don’t really get that excited that you want to go to Thailand and teach English.  They are more vested when you tell them you want to help others learn a language and improve their lives.  Or, whatever your “why” is for getting in touch with us.

Welcome to GeoVisions and the year of “why.”  If you have a moment, please take time to tell us your “why” in the comments section below.

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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