Building the United Nations with Grace Clapham and Solonia Teodros

In this episode I get to talk to two trailblazers who are taking unique approach when dealing with change, They come at it from a holistic point of view. With their multicultural background they have teamed up to form The Change School. The Change School aims to create a physical and intellectual space tailored to individuals in transition to align their passions with purpose for maximum impact.

Grace Clapham was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and has lived in Asia for nearly 20 years and spent majority of her primary and high school years in Singapore before moving to live in South America, Australia and London. Driven by purpose, passion and innovation, Grace considers herself a ‘Changepreneur’. 

She is Founder of Agent Grace a boutique marketing and business agency and Co-Founder Secret {W} Business, Connector at Plus Social Good, Co-Organiser of CreativeMornings SingaporeSheSays Singapore, Ambassador & Co-Curator of Deceler8 and a prior Lead Curator for TEDxSingapore Women 2010, 2012 and 2013. She is also a Mentor at Hub Singapore working with the young startups in Singapore. You can follow her on Twitter here or reach out to her on LinkedIn.

Solonia Teodros was born to Taiwanese and Ethiopian parents, with life chapters spanning the US and Asia so she considers herself a citizen of the world. From Boston to Taipei, New York to Singapore, she is ever-inspired by dynamic cities where culture, creativity and community meet, spawning innovations and movements that can truly change the world.

Fluent in Mandarin and Taiwanese, Solonia has broken cultural barriers to overcome traditional notions of identity and place in the world. A true embracer of change, Solonia strives to gain deep human insights from her life journey, providing the impetus to create meaningful connections that bridge minds and worlds.

Through her advisory SolWorks, she helps socially-motivated businesses and individuals design, launch and amplify their new ventures. A passionate community curator, Solonia founded The Hawker Sessions in 2012 – a pop-up FUNdraiser series that brings together Singapore’s uniquely diverse society with an innovative approach to giving back. She also runs the DBS-Hub Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamps and previously launched the Singapore chapters of global initiatives such as The Worldwide Feast and Jane’s Walk. Follow her on Twitter here or LinkedIn.

To listen to the episode, click here or play below.



Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

How I Survived My Crazy 2014 Summer Of Goals

Before the summer of 2014 started, I knew I had to make a change in my life. It would be time for me to turn my dreams into actions. I had many many dreams but how would I channel these dreams into actions? These were some of the things running through my mind as I came across a free invitation to cover a Arianna Huffington event as a blogger so i took it.

So there I was sitting in Ariana Huffington's Thrive event when she made one casual statement that went over most people's heads. She joked about how her kids made fun of her Greek accent even though she had been in America for a long time and that resonated with me because of my Third Culture Kid background.

I was covering the event as a blogger but the main reason I went to the event was because I wanted to hear her speak as I am a huge fan of her work. Anyway back to the statement she made. She said her kids sometimes asked her where she was from because of her accent and went on to discuss how she embraced it because it was who she was and boom! My creative juices started to flow. I thought back to a Buzzfeed article I had read earlier that introduced me to the term "Third Culture Kid" and I began to dream up ways that I could help people who identified with different cultures and many homes. 

All of a sudden a lightbulb went off in my head and I immediately wrote down the title of what would eventually become my first book. I said to myself  "I bet there are a lot of people out there who don't look like how they are supposed to sound and/or don't sound like how they are supposed to look so why don't I reach out to them and share my story of growing up in four different continents and five different countries.

This was exciting to me because for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to make a difference in people's lives especially the youth. I felt like it was my calling but I just was never sure what my vehicle would be so it felt good to be able to finally feel the passion one usually feels when you find your calling.

But had I really found my calling? As an untraditional visionary I tend to have tons of ideas running through my head constantly and not all of them are as good as I think they are so even though I felt strongly about being a voice for this audience, I still wasn't sure. I was fearful.  

So during the intermission, I ran into one Dave Gambrill who told me about his coaching business and how he was growing his online brand and I was amazed by what he was doing so I told him what my vision was for Third Culture Kids and global nomads and how I wanted to start building content to inspire people to become global leaders and he flat out told me to do it and that sometimes you just needed to start something despite your fears. I knew this of course but it felt good to hear someone else confirm this for me before I let self doubt creep in any further.

Validation shows value!

So goal one was established. Write this eBook

Lesson one: Ladies and gentlemen never let your fear prevent you from going after something you envision. What's the worst that could happen? Failure? Maybe, but the you will be getting one of the best teachers that money can't buy. It's all about perspective.

That weekend I wrote about the Thrive event and called one of my mentors to tell him my plans of building content for my "would be audience". Although he wasn't familiar with the term, he liked the fact that I was passionate about it and I felt even more confident after that. Then another idea popped in my head. I decided that I wanted to do a podcast that dove into issues and opportunities present to multicultural people. I love media in all forms so I thought why not take advantage of a medium that is growing?

However, I knew nothing about about podcasts. I had done a few interviews in the past but I had never packaged them into a podcast ready format. I floated the idea around but it was not as well received as I thought it would be. I got questioned about my audience and why I would use podcasting as a medium. It stung a little I can't lie. I mean I was on such a high. I thought that I had escaped doubters but an amazing thing happened. I decided not to listen to them. The doubt fueled my passion even more. 

I decided to proceed with my podcast idea because I felt like it would be a great way to spread my message to the world and I said to myself. "What's the worst that can happen?" I was also extra motivated to prove people wrong. I spent two days building lists on Twitter of people I wanted to interview to and I started reaching out to them saying I wanted them to share their nomadic experiences and what they learned from it.  Mind you I did not have a product, interview format or even know how to put together a podcast but I felt so strongly that this would work and so I went to work. To my surprise I got a lot of yes's and why nots from the people I reached out to and all of a sudden it became real! I knew I had to launch this podcast now because I had told the people I reached out to that I would be launching around the end of summer or early fall.

Lesson 2: It pays to have faith in yourself even when others doubt you. It's also not a bad idea to promise something without initially having what you will offer. If you believe strongly enough in yourself, you will deliver! I told my myself

Also so what if you fail, at least you will have experience as a teacher and she is the best type of teacher anyway.

Goal two launch a podcast!

I feel like now is as good a time as any to mention that I am in the process of completing my MBA so I have classes virtually every week. Mostly at night. I also happen to be on student government. When i got elected as the social chair on campus, I decided that I would do things a little differently. Instead of focusing on just happy hours, I would create events that I feel like would provide the most value for students so in May I told the student club leaders that we would have the first ever Career week on campus- a week focused on bringing together alumni and professionals from the different areas of specialization in the school to discuss different ways to become employable. and I decided that it would be a great idea to launch a career week in the fall that would bring alumni, and professionals from different fields to come speak at my school.  I thought it would be the easiest thing in the world if I got buy in from the clubs but that was not the case. Again as an untraditional visionary, I tend to think faster than I can speak and sometimes I assume that everyone is following my train of thought which is hardly ever the case. So throughout the summer, I learned that I needed to learn how to articulate my thoughts and better communicate a sense of urgency. I also learned that I could not do everything myself so I had to learn the art of delegation.

Goal three: Launch Fordham's inaugural Career Week

Lesson three: Delegation is key. We aren't all built the same way and we don't have the same skill sets. Also ALWAYS communicate with teammates and colleagues through every step of the way so everyone is on board.

Lesson four: IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN FOR AN EVENT & always secure a location as early as possible.

At this point with three goals, I had my hand full but I decided to take summer classes so I that i can graduate next May. I also wanted to learn more about media relations so I could learn more about how to reach audiences and influencers so I took an internship with a PR organization. This essentially meant that I would would have 12 hour days with working full time, taking classes at night, writing my book, figuring out how to podcast, and helping to plan the conference.

On top of this, I also am a fitness junkie so I knew I had to find time to work out so I decided I would wake up at 5:30 every morning to do my workouts. This way i'd start my day off feeling energized. With workouts comes food so in order not to lose myself to unhealthy eating habits that can become accustomed with someone who is hardly home, I started cooking in bulk and making sure I had enough food for at least four days. For someone like me who eats six to seven times a day in two to three hour intervals, that's a LOT of food but I had a fitness goal to maintain.

Goal four: Learn about media relations to help me better understand how to reach influencers and an audience.

Goal five: Get more defined and build more muscle

Lesson five: Prioritize! Prioritize! Prioritize! I knew that if I wanted to achieve all my goals this summer then I would have to prioritize so I cut out a lot of TV and replaced that time with a lot of reading. I only selected three shows to watch religiously. This is a big deal for me because I used to watch a lot TV! I'm talking close to 20 shows haha.

Lesson six: Take care of your body. Just because you are ambitious doesn't mean you shouldn't treat your body right.

I started doing research on podcasting and during one of the weeks of my research, one of the internet entrepreneurs I follow religiously Sean Malarkey announced he was partnering up with Kris Gilbertson for a webinar to discuss podcasting and I knew I had to attend. I attended and immediately enrolled in Kris's Podcast school. This of course would take another chunk out of my day but I knew it was worth it.

I should pause here and say that at no time was I feeling over worked and there are are a couple of reasons why. I loved what I was doing so it didn't feel like work and I was taking care of my body by eating right and working out.

Lesson seven: It's very important to be passionate about what you are doing you often feel more productive.

Along the way I decide it would be fun to write another book. This time a fictional book about a character that would loosely have elements of myself. Why? because I like writing and I always wanted to be a published author so why not. I also decided that it was best to start rebranding my website and shift my focus to talking more about third culture things.

Goal six: Write a fiction book

Goal seven: Rebrand my website

So there you have it seven goals and four months to complete them?! How would I accomplish all this. I had to learn how to delegate and multi task even more than I could.

To delegate I started using Fiverr for almost everything that I did not need to do myself. Fiverr essentially brings together a network of freelancers that can do almost anything so I used Fiverr for aspects on my podcast I was not good at so the artwork, intro & outro, editing and some research for topics I discussed in the summer.

While things were working on Fiverr, I was focusing on other things like writing books and networking online. By the time some of the work was done on Fiverr, I had done about five to six things simultaneously. So how did I do?

Goal 1: Here's the eBook-So far it has introduced me to a lot of people who share similar experiences with me and I have made new friends because a lot of people identify with what I wrote. (Way more than what I was hoping for)

Goal 2: Here's the podcast. I am probably most excited about this because I got the most resistance from this and so far it has ranked at one point as the number one podcast in my category and overall is doing well on iTunes

Goal 3: The inaugural career week just wrapped last week and it ended up being a success. The students liked it and I learned a lot about leadership and event planning.

Goal 4: I applied lessons I learned from media relations during my summer internship to get published in an amazing travel magazine. You can read the article here.

Goal 5: My goal of building lean muscle and becoming more defined was met and surpassed!

Goal 6: I just submitted the first draft of my first fiction book to a publisher

Goal 7: You are reading this blog post on my rebranded site.

I decided to write this because I believe in the power of the human spirit. I wholeheartedly if we put in the work ethic, discipline, and time while seeking mentorship we will be able to achieve our dreams. Some days will be long and hard but your passion will fuel you to where you need to be. Being realistic keeps you average. The wright brothers decided to build a plane that defied gravity. NOT REALISTIC! but now we have all sorts of planes and it is the safest form of travel. Thomas Edison developed the light bulb after many failures. NOT REALISTIC! And now a lot of people can't imagine living without electricity. 

Over the summer I came up with my mission statement: "Use Your Difference To Make A Difference" and now I live by that everyday.

What are your dreams? What are your ambitions? Write them down and go do it! Share your goals and aspirations I want to hear!

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

Special Episode with Lauri Flaquer: Find Out How People Do Business Wherever You Go

In this special episode with entrepreneur extraordinaire Lauri Flaquer, who has worked across Central America and United States talks about how and why now is the best time to build a lifestyle business and some of the different things she has learned from her travels. She also announces her upcoming 5 day Business on the Beach retreat from November 3rd to the 7th in the Dominican Republic aimed at helping entrepreneurs at all stages to get out of a rut and take their business to the next level. She also gives some amazing tips on how to interact with locals wherever you go. You can catch her on her website here, Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn and be sure to check out her TV show Focus Forward which is about how to take entrepreneurship to the next level and build a business on a global scale. Listen to the episode here or click play below.

Remember to Subscribe, Review, and Rate on iTunestunein and on Stitcher to get updated and support the show.

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

What Third Culture Kids Can Learn About Entrepreneurship with Matt Chambers of Loxo

One of the skills I feel like Third Culture Kids and Global Nomads are best suited for because of the constant change involved, need to adapt to many different situations and the ability to deal with a diverse group of people with unique personalities. Today's conversation is with Matt Chambers, Founder of a Software As a Service (SaaS) Company based in Denver called Loxo.


Tayo Rockson: Can you talk a little bit about your self and how you got to where you are today?

Matt Chambers: Absolutely.  First off thanks for having me; it’s a pleasure to be part of this impressive community you’ve built.

TR: Thank you!

MC: You are welcome! To answer your question, I’m the founder and CEO of Loxo, an early stage SaaS startup based out of Denver.  This is officially my second company, although my first foray was ill conceived at the ripe age of 24.

At the time I wrote a traditional business plan for an Action Sports and Media company called Life Style. I meticulously planned for months; albeit the way they teach in traditional academia and business schools. When the “business plan” was complete, I took out a home equity loan after coming to terms that raising money from my family wasn’t an option and before the ink dried I looked myself in the mirror and realized I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  I couldn’t risk my house.  I decided a more prudent path was to find the smartest tech entrepreneurs I could surround myself around, work my ass off and effectively earn my PhD in entrepreneurship and that’s just what I did. 

On a personal level - I’m a small town guy, from humble beginnings.   

My father was the hardest working person I’ve ever come across and still is to this day.  He’s been a custom homebuilder for 40 years.  He instilled the values that shape the core of who I am today.  A strong work ethic and guiding principles of integrity, taking pride in world-class craftsmanship and always doing what’s right when nobody is looking.  My mother was a sign language interpreter and social worker.  She helped kids with special needs, worked with the deaf-blind and handicapped.

My upbringing was central to the person I am, but also at the crux of what drives me.   

TR: Why do you feel like the start up culture was something that you identified with so much?

MC: I think it was less about consciously identifying with the startup culture, and more the fact that it seemed as if the universe pulled me into it.  When I was a junior in college, I decided to take advantage of a study abroad program in Australia.

During my trip, I was able to do some soul searching to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  Before I knew it, I was writing a business plan and from that point forward I started spending my free time self educating; learning about startups, reading every business book I could get my hands on and how the hell I find that secret path to becoming successful.  Now that I look back, I never made a conscience decision to be an entrepreneur – but I took that first step.

Startups epitomize everything I love and gravitate towards.  Being passionate and relentless towards a goal, kazien, continuous innovation, and leading an unproven concept with limited resources in a hyper competitive and constantly evolving environment.  Even small victories that come to life with a team in this climate are extremely gratifying.   The ping pong tables, kegs, flip-flops and long boards are a major bonus, but the cultural aspect that resonates with me the most is seeing the passion at the grassroots level - the young people who are so hungry to succeed they risk everything; surrounded by amazing mentors in an ecosystem of like minded individuals.   

TR: You used to be at Qualvu. That's where we met when I was an account manager for Keystone Learning Systems. When did you know that you wanted to venture out on your own and start Loxo?

MC: I knew before I ever started.  The funny thing was I joined the CEO as the first employee to help build the pitch deck a couple months before he had the seed round to pay me.  I jumped at the opportunity even though I had no clue how pathetic that first paycheck would be.  It didn’t matter because I recognized the opportunity to earn my PhD in entrepreneurship on someone else’s dime.  I told him one day I’m going to start my own company; I need to be ready when that day comes. 

As the business grew I pushed myself to learn as much as possible during each phase.  I spent as much time reading and researching, as I did executing.  Very rarely in a startup someone has the answer for you, so I developed an approach to creative problem solving to just figure it out.  I also always had this feeling in the back of my mind that I needed to prepare myself so when the day came I wouldn’t let my team and employees down, which was a huge motivator. 

As Qualvu grew to over 100 people, we raised anther round and launched an office in EMEA we started to transition into company building phase – the culture went through some drastic changes. I really struggled with accepting certain inevitabilities and at the time didn’t understand how common they were in venture funded tech companies.

My loyalty and fear of taking the leap kept me around much longer than I should have stayed but another thing I think is in the entrepreneurial mindset is timing.  Knowing when the optimal timing is to make a key decision.  It’s not just about making the right decision, but making the right decision at the right time.

TR: Can you talk about Loxo and why you feel there is a need in the marketplace for your solution?

MC: Loxo is a SaaS platform, we are building the next generation ATS – “The talent intelligence platform”. 

The hiring model is broken, and there is no effective solution to identify the best possible candidates for any given job opportunity.  Conversely, there is no effective online personalized career resource.

Loxo will enable our customers to find the best possible mutual match for any given career opportunity. 

By the way, I’m sure you’re wondering…Loxo means representative trajectory in Greek.  I thought it perfectly depicted the concept of accelerating one’s career path.

TR: Funny enough yes I was! Haha thanks for the enlightenment. So what would you say is your long term vision?

MC: My long-term vision is ultimately to help ambitious people reach their greatest potential.  That is what burns at my heart and is my passion. In order to put a viable business model around that vision I had to do a lot of customer development and competitive analysis to identify the opportunity first, then figure out the strategy to increase the probability of success while driving towards that vision.   

There are literally hundreds of traditional Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).  There is little differentiation at the top, and the “innovations” in the industry are focused on social job board sharing.  There has been a dramatic dip in the reliance of job boards.  Companies and recruiters pay a lot of money and get abysmal results, while companies struggle to find good people.

Loxo is creating an industry-leading platform by helping our customers be significantly more successful.   In the process we think it will help evolve the hiring model.

TR: Awesome! I think you are really hitting on something that we need to fix and I can't wait to see where it goes!

MC: Thank you very much!

TR: Anytime! So what is one piece of advice you can give to young entrepreneurs and job seekers today?

MC: Be true to yourself and you will never fail.  I think the pressure for budding entrepreneurs or anyone in life is to succumb to the tendency to let the people around you shape who you become, how you act and the path you ultimately take.  If you ever want to have a say in where you end up, let alone your vision – you need to have the courage to forge your own path and not worry about what anyone else thinks.  Figure out where you want to go, and take your time to decide when you will stop at nothing to be successful; the day you cross that line you have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to reach your first key milestone.  If you’re not going to stick with it, don’t start until you are ready because it’s not an easy road. If you don’t leave any other option and refuse to quit, more than likely you’ll end up seeing a version of your goal come to fruition.

TR: What or who is your biggest inspiration and why?

MC: My grandmother.  She is the rock and example for our entire family.  She grew up in the great depression on a farm in Montana with 12 siblings, put herself through med school, and raised a family on her own after her husband passed away when my father was young.  She epitomizes integrity and what character means – to do what is right when nobody else is looking.  I think that is extremely rare in society today, and she’s set an example that has spanned multiple generations.  She has no clue how much we all look up to her.  She is 92 and still sharp as a tack.

TR: Digital, mobile, and content marketing are three of the biggest buzzwords right now. How do you think these three can be used by software companies to optimize their bottom line position?

MC: At the end of the day, those buzz words are core elements of a business model.  Channels, content, and communicating that content to targeted segments.  Content Marketing is fundamental for communicating with your target audience in the digital landscape.

We are at the greatest time in history to leverage online channels and social networks to reach an audience at the speed and scope never before possible.  Why would you start a brick and mortar business when you could spin up an app with the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people, with a lower cost and shorter learning curve?  That’s why there is a buzz!

Looking at it from the other end of the spectrum towards the Enterprise, the shift to embrace these mediums has forced traditional businesses to reconsider their entire models, or face extinction.  This is mind-blowing.  Look at Blockbuster vs. Netflix, or even what Wal-Mart is doing with offering online delivery to try and stay out ahead of Amazon’s upcoming food delivery service.  Or MOOCS and the emerging Developer Boot camps that churn out 30 students every 120 days with graduates getting offers for $70k vs. a 4 year graduate at the leading Universities with a degree outside of the demand curve struggling to find work. 

Every sector in the economy is now online or in transition and trying to reach the constituents wherever they are on demand, which happens to be mobile. 

There is too much information and it’s difficult to measure the ROI. Identify key influencers, deliver the right message, and optimize the message to the highest yielding people that can help drive the bottom line. 5 years ago, none of this was possible at the price point and level it is today; I can’t imagine where we are going to be 5 years from now.

So to me, digital and mobile are really just platforms or channels that allow business to deliver their value proposition to their audience.  Optimize that and your bottom line will benefit.

TR: What are you currently working on and where can we find you now?

MC: My entire focus is on building a world class SaaS platform that is measured by the degree to which customers use it and refer it to others.  Loxo is in a white-hot market space; I’m learning so much every day, I’m surrounding myself around an incredible team, a special entrepreneurial think-tank group, passionate advisors and a growing community at the new Industry space in Denver, which has some names you may have heard of such as Google and Uber ;)…please swing in and visit anytime. 

Thanks so much for the invitation to chat Tayo!  Keep doing what you are doing and if I can ever be a helpful resource for any of your audience don’t hesitate to reach out.   

TR: You are most certainly welcome and it is my absolute pleasure!

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector