In today’s episode, I have Kay Fabella on to talk about finding your voice and building an audience in a language you don’t speak fluently. Kay moved to Spain without speaking the language all too well (which you can tell with her travel story at the end haha) but has built a strong business with the Spanish-speaking world.
Kay Fabella is a storyteller and communications strategist. She helps business owners around the world develop a communication strategy to meaningfully connect with their audiences — and meet their business goals. Kay is also a world-recognized author, speaker, and trainer. A Los Angeles native, she’s built her dream business from Spain to help bring brands to life in English and Spanish. She’s also been featured in international media including The Huffington Post, El País and EFE Emprende.
The woman has some skills!
The best part of chatting with Kay is that we have formed the start of an awesome mastermind group together! We hop on a call once a both to talk business and help each other out where possible.
We end up talking about wanting to be like Marmite to your potential audience… Some people will LOVE you. Some people with HATE you. And that’s perfectly fine!
I hope you enjoy this episode dudes and dudettes!
IN THIS EPISODE WE COVER:
- Authenticity. Especially if you have a personal brand. It’ll make things easier in your business because you’re not pretending to be someone else.
- Building an audience, if you’re being authentic then you’ll attract people like “marmite” people will either love you or hate you. That’s what you want!! The people who love you will LOVE you… They’ll be your raving fans.
- Language barriers, not only within the business but your surrounding area too
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED:
Wanna connect with Kay?
LT: So, Kay, thank you so much for coming on the show today and co-hosting this episode with me. This is a topic I’m really looking forward to talking about and in this record-well, before we start recording we jammed a little bit about the topic. And I think the episode name we’ve got for this is going to be amazing.
KF: I would definitely agree, yeah, for sure. Thanks for having me, Luke.
LT: You are more than welcome. So in the intro I did introduce you and tell everybody a little bit about you but if you would like to introduce yourself, let everybody know who you are, where you’re from, where you are in the world right now. Sort of how you ended up getting there.
KF: Absolutely. Well, my name is Kay Fabella. I’m originally from Los Angeles, California. But I’m based in Madrid, Spain, and I’ve been here for six and a half years now. Time really does fly, I originally fell in love with Madrid when I studied abroad here at university and I found a way back after I graduated and I thought, “Okay I’ll be here for a year, I’ll finally up my Spanish, I’ll travel around Europe teaching English to support myself. I’ll get it out of my system for a year and then I’ll come back.”
LT: That’s like everybody’s opinion when they first go travelling. Yeah, I’ll just go backpacking for six months and get it out my system and it’s like four years later and you still haven’t gone home yet.
KF: Exactly, that’s the crazy thing. I don’t think it’s something that you ever get out of your system once you’ve tasted it. I think it’s the absolute opposite. And having a Spanish husband – or having a person who now is my Spanish husband – helps. So that’s how I physically ended up in Madrid. But I’ve been a business owner as the storyteller for business and a communication strategist since about three years ago. I actually became an entrepreneur on accident. I was waiting on the renewal of a work contract which fell through at the last minute.
And I basically was sink or swim, so at the time I thought, “Well, what could I be good at,” and by that point I was already bilingual so I looked into communication could be interesting and was something that seems that could grow. And I thought marketing. But at the time I was looking for jobs all of them wanted a Master’s degree and all of the Masters degrees wanted me to have more experience so I was in a Catch-22.
LT: Yep. That’s what you find all the time everywhere around the world.
KF: Pretty much, yes. So I thought, “Well, the easier thing so to speak is to build a portfolio and apply for that Master’s degree.” So the original plan again was on accident. It was supposed to be for a few months and I’ve been building my business ever since, or, I guess building my portfolio for three years. So now I’ve been working with business owners from around the world from Asia to here in Spain, in Latin America, back in the US of course as well. And I’ve worked with companies as big as Google and (inaudible) and solo like myself and it’s been a really exciting journey and everything I’ve found from – no matter what level of business you’re in, you always need to figure out how to communicate the best yourself to your audience in a way that connects to them and converts them into customers instead of I think the, sort of, what we associate with selling like 10-20 years ago where it was just sell, sell, sell, push, push, push, and people are so much more turned off by that. So you really need to have a good story to make that connection.
LT: Yeah, definitely, yeah. Like you said, things have changed so much in the last few decades that it’s not all about, like, sales techniques anymore. It’s all about building the rapport with people and building that, like, know and trust factor that everybody talks about online. But there really is that – important that you do that online. Especially when you can’t interact with people one on one.
KF: For sure.
LT: To be able to do that through the content that you produce or whatever it ends up being. But this is the reason why I love to have you on and help me co-host this episode because we are going to be talking about finding your voice and building that audience and the nice little twist that we’re putting on this is – how to do that even if the people that you’re interacting with, or the people that are around you, don’t speak the same language as you.
KF: Absolutely and especially for your audience of digital nomads and aspiring digital nomads, it’s super important. For sure.
LT: Yeah. So this is what we have decided to call this – so you need to be like marmite because it is super important that you, sort of, like, attract the right people to you in your business because, you know, being online you have access to virtually everyone in the world. I think it’s like 60% of the world connected online. You know, so you got all those people you could potentially attract and being you is the best way to attract enough people to make your business successful.
KF: For sure. And that’s so funny speaking of – I know we’re kind of doing language and culture in this talk today – and how you have to transmit your stories depending on who you’re talking to. But for us I don’t think it would be marmite because I’ve never actually tasted marmite so I can’t say if I like it or not. But for us it’s like pistachio ice cream, you know, in the Neapolitan, so you have like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry – vanilla’s kind of the one that everyone’s like, “I’m not super excited about it but it’s there,” but pistachio ice cream has I think for us the same effect that marmite does. It’s very polarising – it’s either “I really don’t like pistachio” or it’s “I love it” and pistachio lovers are just, like, freaking singing praises out windows about this ice cream.
LT: Yeah, there’s no middle-ground.
KF: There’s no middle-ground.
LT: People either absolutely love it or detest it.
KF: That’s so true. So I think that’s awesome that we’re calling this ‘be like marmite’ because I think it’s super important – especially if you’re just starting your business and you’re going to be building a business online that’s going to support your lifestyle abroad – and it’s not your job to be like vanilla. You know, if you were Walmart or a big brand and you have a huge marketing department that took care of making sure that your message was for the general public, then by all means go for that. But you are normally the only person who’s as passionate and as driven and as willing to hustle those long hours in your business when you’re first starting out.
So rather than trying to speak to everyone, you want to speak to that very niche audience and the more specific, the better, that just instantly gets it – that just instantly gets it, like, connects with your message. And from there like we were talking about before we started recording; they become your best brand of ambassadors. They become the people who are shouting your praises out the window like the pistachio lovers and the marmite lovers who are still trying to convince people, “Please join my tribe”.
LT: Exactly. So I think we should just jump straight into this. So yeah, let’s just go straight ahead. So the first thing that I want to talk about is about authenticity and how important that is to, like, attract your tribe – in the people that are going to love everything that you do. And this is especially important if you have, like, a personal brand and you are the face of your business, because it’ll - not only would it make it easier to communicate to people in your business because you’re not putting on a pretend persona or a fake persona, you know, not pretending to be someone else.
It’s going to make it easier because you’re just being yourself and, like the title of the shows says, people are either going to love you or hate you. And the people that love you will absolutely love you and you’ll be, like, their marmite, you know. They will love you and then people that hate you – don’t even worry about them, because the people that love you are going to love everything you put out there and – they’re just going to share everything that you do and, yeah, just rant and rave about you and they’re going to be your people.
KF: Absolutely. Yeah. I think authenticity is huge especially when you have so many social media platforms out there where you’re able to be your own storyteller, so to speak. Because you’re the one who – you know, you think about 10-15 years ago when the people who got the air-time on radio or, you know, on TV or on billboards were the people who had the most money. Now anybody can be a creator and that’s super exciting. Everybody can be the face of their brand, like you said, so I think that social media is fantastic for showing that authentic side of you – and that’s the thing that people resonate with most. And when I say authentic I think authentic is also – it’s not just those, like, filtered versions of Instagram pictures of like, “Here’s me with my laptop on the beach,” which are awesome, but - - -
LT: Or the ones that you’re sort of, like, posing for and – makes it like, “Look how awesome my life is,” especially with Instagram, you know, the behind-the-scenes look of your life, and what things really are – the good and the bad - makes you more relatable to people.
KF: Absolutely, and you absolutely hit the nail on the head there. I think it’s the fact that you have to be willing to not only use those platforms for those good moments but be willing and okay to share those bad moments if it’s relevant to your audience, because those actually end up being the moments that people relate to the most. You know, when people share their struggles or they, you know, show the – like you said – behind the scenes. If that seems to resonate much more, feel much more approachable and attainable for your audience and people are more likely to trust you because they know that you’re not putting up a front.
LT: Yeah and like I said to you before, like, I said to you about this podcast that I’ve done – like editing, like, our conversations because I want this to be something that people are just overhearing and I’m not going to edit out the mistakes that we make because – like I said to you – you will seem more real to people and more relatable if they see you, like, make mistakes and you don’t give, like, your best polished version because you’ll look, not, you won’t look, like, so unobtainable or on a pedestal or anything like that, but you just come across more relatable because people see someone that’s, like, doing what they want to do and see the mistakes that they’re making. It makes it seem more obtainable for them as well.
KF: Oh, I think you cut out for a second there. (Inaudible) and edited. Couldn’t hear that last line.
LT: So yeah, so, with people seeing, like, the real you and, you know, seeing all the mistakes that they’re making, you know, you look and – When people can see you’re doing what they want to do and they see, like, all the mistakes you are making, you seem – you make the lifestyle or the business or whatever it is that people want that you have; it seems more obtainable to them because they can see, “This person’s doing it and they make all these mistakes and, you know, they’re not perfect.” So it means - obviously not everybody feels that they’re perfect. People do get down on themselves. So if people see that you’re not perfect and they feel like they’re not perfect then, yeah, what you’re doing that they aspire to do as well seems more obtainable for them.
KF: Absolutely. And I think – I know we started this around authenticity but I think it’s also the importance of just who we are as human beings. I mean, our humanity. And one of the ways that we communicate, I know that we, you know, we build trust around how we communicate to each through the stories that we tell, you know. The reason why you always start every podcast with, “So here’s the story of Kay started her business,” or, “Here’s a story of how I met Luke,” or, “Here’s the story of this.” It’s just what we do naturally as human beings, it’s how we connect. And I think that people are craving more of that connection now – especially because social media has essentially levelled the playing field for us as digital nomads, as business owners, as travellers – to just share and connect with, like, new people.
I mean, you know, I’m in a bunch of these digital nomad groups, yours included, and you know, so many of them are, you know, so wonderful in terms of, you know, “Hey you guys, I’m going to Bogota, Columbia tomorrow, and I’d really like to see if any of you guys are here,” or, “Hey, you know, I’m moving to Melbourne and I’d really love to know where are your favourite cafes to like co-work,” or you know, “Any core key spaces in the Canary islands where I could head out while I’m there and I’d love to meet with you guys.” So it’s not even just the fact that, you know, you’re connecting with people through being authentic and sharing your humanity but you’re also creating community and that sense of community, I think, is fantastic – not only for, you know, for connecting like-minded people like digital nomads or business owners but also for you and your customers, whoever those people are.
And yeah, I think it’s just people respond so much more to, like you said, being real, being honest and it doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to be, you know, curse like a motherfucking sailor – I mean, great, that works for you, by all means do it – but if you’re – if it’s not your authentic voice then, you know, there are many, many ways to share what’s real for you and what’s authentic for you in your own voice. Which I think is another really, really important thing when you’re determining who you’re speaking to and how you’re creating communities to find customers.
LT: Yeah. You’re so right there. Cool, so shall we move onto the next point? What have you got on your list?
KF: So, I’ve got – so kind of authenticity and personal branding but how do you – and this is actually really interesting because I was really attracted to your personal brand, Luke, so I’d love to hear how you went about building your personal brand and what would be the sort of first people who are listening if they’re thinking like, “I want to take the next step but I want to support myself while doing it – how do I build a personal brand or start building a personal brand that gives me that flexibility?”
LT: Yeah, so sort of, like, how I got to, like, that marketing dude. It was just sort of, like, an accident really.
KF: I love that’s like our running theme of this episode.
LT: Yeah, all the mistakes. Yeah, I can’t remember exactly how I landed on it, but, you know, dude is just like a vernacular that I use in like my personal life. I call all my friends dudes and all that sort of stuff, so, like I said, you know – that’s just who I am. That’s my authentic self, so I’m not pretending to be someone that pretends to say dude or because it might sound cool to people, or anything like that. And that marketing dude – the marketing side of it is I’m fascinated by (like you said) how social media and the internet, like, levels the playing field for people, so – you know, learning different – not necessarily marketing techniques but sort of how you can market yourself, like your authentic voice, and your personal brand or your business persona if you’re not going the personal brand side – so how you can market yourself from it.
And that’s something that I was like, always interested in, back in school and college. I originally wanted to go to, like, college or university and study sort of, like, marketing and advertising, because I love sort of, like, the psychological side of things when it comes to, like, some of the psychology principles that you read about in books. They haven’t really changed over the last 40-50 years, you know, that whole like used car salesman technique from like the 60s still works today. And it’s because of the psychological side of things or because the psychology. So the reason why that marketing dude came around and – I’ve had like a few other business that have had that something dude. One, it creates like a – what’s the word that I’m looking for – like everything’s like the same.
LT: Coherent, yeah. So you’ve got like the coherent brand because – so there’s like someone that finds that marketing dude. I used to have a fitness website – it’s still up – and I haven’t touched it in three years and that was like the fitness dude. That used to be sort of, like, – I used to do like personal training stuff, so that was sort of, like, how I showed off some of my knowledge and all that. So I had, like, fitness dude, that marketing dude, so like the old company name used to be that helpful dude – because I like to help people, so all of my businesses followed around the dude because that was, sort of, like, how I, like, talk to people myself.
I call people dudes and dudettes all the time, so that wasn’t anything – so if I started calling people dudes and dudettes – I wasn’t putting it on. Like we said it’d be (inaudible) I’m not pretending to me someone else. And then whatever that middle part was that whatever dude – that was just something that I was interested in. So I was interested in marketing and the psychology in marketing. It was just like a natural step for me to go into this side of, you know, teaching, marketing stuff. And then obviously now it’s sort of, like, pivoted towards helping digital nomads because I fell in love with travelling and I’m a digital nomad myself now.
LT: Everything that I’m doing in this business and, you know, going back to like the personal brand and the authenticity – it’s a slightly different personal brand because I’m not using my name. You know, I’ve got LukeBenchmanThomas.com but that’s just something silly that I put up there but it’s still a personal brand because I’m the face of my business. But even though that marketing dude isn’t my name, it’s still something that’s authentic to me, and the person that I am and, you know, I’m attracting the people that like who I am, you know. I’m not polished like I said, I don’t edit these podcasts because I want people to see that I do fuck up like we’ve seen already in this episode – things go wrong. And yeah, so that’s sort of, like, how I fell into, like, that marketing dude and how I fell into this because that’s who I am.
LT: And I’m going to attract the people that like me and like the brand that I’ve sort of, like, built for myself, which is literally been over trial and error, you know. That marketing dude has been around since like, 2012, 2013. I started it when I was in Australia because I fucked everything up with my fitness business and wanted to show people the mistakes that I made and sort of, like, how you can like market things properly so you can build a business online successfully. And like I said, now I sort of, like, pivoted it towards more of the digital nomads, so, you know, you can build a business and learn different marketing techniques – I really don’t like that word – but – different ways you can market yourself and your business whilst you’re travelling now.
LT: And making travel the goal and, like, building that business, so it’s sort of, like, creating the lifestyle that you want, which is hopefully travel, you know. They’re the people I like to help the most. Whether or not you want to be digital nomad who’s travelling around the world constantly or a location independent entrepreneur who has a home base but just wants to travel for three to six months of the year. Hopefully I’m attracting the people that like me, because there’s going to be loads of other people online that, you know, do all of this stuff as well.
KF: For sure.
LT: Back to the level playing field. Because there’s so many people teaching this, I’m going to attract the people that like my personality and like the brand I’ve built.
LT: And again that’s one of the reasons why being authentic is also important because there’s going to be loads of other people out there doing what you’re doing.
KF: For sure.
LT: But people are going to lie you.
LT: And the way you tell the information or the way that you present the different marketing techniques.
LT: So yeah, that’s like how I got to sort of, like, my brand at least.
KF: Absolutely, yeah.
LT: I just like waffled on there for like five minutes. Hopefully people understood it and it didn’t just sound like I was word vomiting into the microphone.
KF: Oh my god, you so weren’t. I loved – I love stories, as you know, being a storyteller, so I loved that. And the reason why I asked that question is because you’re obviously doing a good job because I was attracted to your brand - I was attracted to your voice. For me it’s so distinct and I was like, “Hey, here’s a guy who gets it,” you know? Here’s a guy who - - -
LT: Can I just, like, clarify one thing?
LT: It’s not because I have an English accent by any chance?
KF: Although, you know, we’ve been fed that by Hollywood for so long that we just assume like English gentleman whenever we hear the accent, we’re like “ahhh”.
LT: I’ll take it, don’t get me wrong, but - - -
KF: We fawn over it, I believe it. No, but I love that because I think that, like you said, you – I think authenticity is something that’s really important for your listeners and for you and me as we’ve been building our businesses. It’s not just a way to distinguish yourself or a way to be consistent and have people recognise you. It’s also good business because you attract the right people to your audience. The people are – to your business, I mean – the people who most resonate with your message. And you end up working with better customers, better clients. Building connections with people who are much more likely to be, you know, who knows a future business partners – as happened to me in a couple of instances – because they fall in love with your message, because you’re building essentially a business from the inside out when you’re being true to yourself. And that just feels so much better.
If you’re designing your life around whether it’s being a digital nomad or in my case an entrepreneur who’s based abroad – but being a digital nomad was not something that had ever crossed my mind until it just – the word kind of has been cropping up recently over the last two years. And right now for me, being a digital nomad means that, you know, when my grandmother had her second stroke last year, actually right around my birthday, end of July, and for me that flexibility of not having to worry about, you know, putting in vacation days or, you know, buying a ticket the next day, and not having to ask a boss for permission to go for a family emergency and go back across the world to San Francisco. You know that, for me, was super important, and that’s, you know, whatever you’re creating for yourself, if you’re putting in all of this effort into building a business or creating a lifestyle that allows you to live in a different country every month – whatever that is for you, build it from the inside out.
Decide what your purpose is and who you’re meant to serve, and what is the line with your values, and you’ll attract your own audience and business should be fun. If you’re putting all this effort into building it, it should be fun. So yeah, I think you’re doing a fantastic job which is how I was curious about how you built your brand.
LT: But you do make a good point, like, this sort of lifestyle, whether it’s digital nomad or location independents, the thing that like attracts people to this is that freedom, you know. You can, you know, jump on a plane the next day if you need to, or, you know, you’ve got the financial and the location freedom to be wherever it is that you need to be or want to be. So it’s – and what am I trying to say – so building a business that will allow you to do that would be much easier when you’re being yourself.
LT: Which is the point that we’re obviously trying to – well, I think we’ve, like, brought it up so many times now that I think it’s obvious that - - -
KF: We both believe it, yeah.
LT: We both believe that if you build a business around your personality that people can connect to you. Like you said, you’re not being a fake person online. And then you show how much, I don’t like using the word passion – but how much you want to help people solve their problems, because that’s basically what we’re doing as online business people. We’re either helping someone’s problem, a need that they want solved, and if you can do that being yourself then you’re going to attract those people so much easier than, you know, trying to please everybody.
KF: Yeah. Definitely.
LT: Back to the marmite thing.
KF: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think if people are struggling specifically on, “How is it that I go about figuring out my voice?”, I think really it’s figuring out, you know, who you are and how you speak. Like you said. The other reason I love you’re called that marketing dude is because being from California, dude is a way of life, so - - -
LT: Well if anyone’s watched The Big Lebowski, dude’s a way of life.
KF: Classic. So, you know, I think that when people are trying to figure out, “How do I stand out and make myself different?”, especially when it sounds like, you know as you and I both know, because we consume so much marketing and branding and social media and entrepreneur on a daily basis – the market feels saturated. But the thing that makes everybody different or gives them a different take on it is their story, is what led them to where they were, is what specific audience they’re serving, what specific problem they’re serving. And one of the techniques I always use with my clients – techniques – is going from every story in terms of going from point A to point B. It’s a journey. So basically what you’re telling your client or your customer is that you have – you recognise that they’re at a point where they are, which is their reality, their challenge, their obstacle – and you also recognise their point B, which is where they want to be.
So you have two options, either you can try and navigate point A to B in this sort of spaghetti-noodle-looking path. No one can see me doing this but I’m waving my finger around in person right now. Or you can find somebody who’s already walked that path and can show you how you can get to where you want to be faster in a straight line. And not only that but when you on top of that bring to the story that you have already walked that spaghetti-noodle-path thing – again with the finger – you have learned all those lessons and you have taken all those struggles and you have created something that you know is of value, then it changes the whole tack of the conversation of who you’re talking to. And the beauty of that whole technique or framework or whatever you want to call it is that is going to be different for everyone. Your story is completely unique to you.
LT: Yeah, definitely, yeah. Like I said, everybody can like, has got like, a similar sort of, like, framework, whether it’s like training a dog to behave or, you know, building an online business or, you know, starting up like a bakery or whatever, you know. The steps are pretty much similar but it’s how you present those steps and infuse your personality, your background, your story, into those steps as well that’s going to make people relate to it and see that, like you said near the beginning, that it is possible for people to do.
KF: Absolutely. Cool. How about you and (inaudible) have you got for me?
LT: I think we should jump into the language barriers and things because we’re getting on a bit now.
LT: And I know that you, obviously, it being in Spain at the moment, I know you work with a lot of, like, Spanish clients and like Spanish obviously isn’t your first language. The part I want to bring up about language barriers as well is as digital nomads or location entrepreneurs, we’re going to be moving around from country to country or visiting different countries for whatever period of time, and we could end up being surrounded by people who don’t speak English or don’t speak whatever your native language is, so sort of, how that could also be a barrier. Not only for your business but for like in life in general.
KF: For sure. I think there’s one thing that I’ve learned. Something about I think learning a foreign language in general has been really humbling for me in general, because when you start to celebrate the sentences that are understood – literally you are measuring your success in moments. That is just – it totally changes your world view. So that’s probably been the biggest learning, like, lesson I guess for me. But then the second thing is I think it’s something that you already have to adapt if you’re willing to take on being a business owner or living as a digital nomad – that, you know, it’s not – done is better than perfect, you know, when it comes to learning a language.
And so just putting yourself out there and making a horrific mistake that ends up being like a great anecdote in the future should be your approach to learning a language. So that’s one thing is its okay. It’s okay if you’re coming in as a beginner or an intermediate speaker into the culture that you’re moving into. Because people generally tend to be really understanding.
LT: That’s like – like my experience with that as well. Like if you are in a place where you’re trying to speak the language, people appreciate it.
KF: Yeah they do.
LT: When I lived in Fiji, I learnt a little bit of Fijian, and just going up to people and saying, “hi, how are you doing today, good, you’re good, yeah I’m good too,” just learning that little bit in Fijian, really made a big difference to my daily interactions with people. Because in Fiji people speak English like really well, so there wasn’t the language barrier there but you know making the effort to learn the local language does make a big difference. And just talking slower and louder in your own language does not work, by the way.
KF: It does not work.
LT: If you are in Spaniard you don’t speak Spanish, talking slower and louder in English does not work.
KF: It’s not going to help, no. But like you said, it definitely goes a long – I think that’s probably the reason I’ve been able to get as far and as fast quickly as I have in Spain. Kind of on accident I became the business storytelling expert for the Spanish-speaking world. El Pais which was the largest Spanish speaking newspaper in circulation and internationally interviewed me for a full one-page interview - - -
KF: - - - in their business section. And it came from just really making an effort to connect with the people around me in their own language. And you know people will come up to me knowing that I’m American – or potential clients will come up knowing I’m American – starting to speak to me in English. And as soon as I speak in fluent Spanish, their faces – just light up like “ooh”, and that’s just like “thank you god” because it just, like you said, I think that all – I think if we’re looking for one word to look together this episode it’s connection. You create that feeling of connection whether it’s in one language or another; that opens a door for you that you would not have had open to you otherwise.
And for me that was learning just enough in the beginning to get by and then little by little learning to develop , you know, relationships like entire relationships. Two of my business partners now are Spanish-speaking, and it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I’m still speaking to them in Spanish every day. It has to happen for sure. But then I guess that leads me to the next thing about I think your original question which was language, which is you know – when you get on the ground, look for a tribe immediately. Look for people who you know are in similar situations as you. Like be open – open your mind – if you’re already making the decision I imagine to go somewhere new – that takes, as they say, cojones, balls.
So you know, live up to that. Take that notebook with you, record, you know, give yourself little voice recordings on your phone. You hear a word you don’t understand, look up later. Be a student of the language and the culture you’re in. And on top of that look for people who are on a similar path as you. You know digital nomads have the luxury of co-working spaces now in many places in the world where they connect with other people who are nomadic or just passing through or even local entrepreneurs who can point you in the right direction so you have a community. Like know that you aren’t in this alone, and language should be the last thing in your mind that should be stopping you.
LT: Definitely, and like you said, just knowing something in the beginning – like you said your Spanish wasn’t perfect when you first moved to Madrid, but like, you don’t need to be fluent in a language, you know. Learning a few of the basics and with things like Google translate and apps like Duolingo, you can learn like the basics fairly quickly. With a notebook, spell things out phonetically if you need to. That’s how I learnt, like, my first, like my first handful of phrases in Fijian. I spelt everything out phonetically.
So, you know, learning just enough that you know – I don’t want to say you’re learning enough to make it look like you’re trying, but you genuinely are trying. People appreciate it and it will make life in a new country much easier on yourself. Not only if you are interacting with people for business purposes but just day to day as well you know. Being able to go into like the local bakery and say, “Good morning, how are you?” in Spanish, will make a big deal to people. You won’t look like that ignorant tourist either which, you know, you don’t want to get that reputation.
KF: No. Especially if you plan on living there for at least a month. You don’t want to be that person.
LT: So yeah don’t let language barrier stop you whether that’s in business or, you know, day to day, because you move to a new country, new city. Like you said, you know, you find your types of people before you get there or even when you’re there. With the help of Facebook groups and co-working spaces, you’re going to find the people that you can interact with and hopefully learn a bit of the language from them as well.
KF: Yeah, for sure. And I think that leads me to one last really important point about the language which is understanding that every language isn’t just tied to, you know, the grammar - which obviously is helpful especially if you’re starting from zero. But it’s also the culture that you’re speaking to, which is – I think the other reason why I really loved Spain is that everything is a lot more – It reminds me, like, my parents are Pilipino so it’s like immigration seems to be a genetic thing. But this level of, you know, trying to connect with your surroundings but not only surroundings, like, the fact that, like, I need to know you as who you are as a person before I even do business with you.
So actually ramping up that trust factor that you mentioned before but like ten-fold, and so, whether it’s your first language or not or whether it’s your first time in that country or not, doing a little bit of research beforehand on what the locals are like and what their customs are. Do you say please, do you not say please, you know, be respectful always, I think, is really really important, but also if you want to make that connection aside from the language it’s also being respectful of the traditions that you’re meeting. So that’s just a little sidenote.
LT: It’s all very important, and it’s again linking back to this entire conversation. It’s about being authentic, being yourself, and you know, putting your best foot forward no matter where it is in the world.
LT: And again, don’t mean to bring up the title yet again, but I just love it, you know. It is being like marmite, you know. You’re going to attract the people that will love you and whether or not that’s because you’ve learnt a little bit of the language which I think is probably like a big deal especially for yourself. How you learn a lot of – like you said – when people found out that they knew you were an American but when they found out you spoke Spanish they were so happy. So just doing that alone, help build that rapport, even more with people and it shows the type of person you are.
KF: Thank you.
LT: I think this is – this sort of topic does get talked about a lot, but it’s important to talk about different techniques on how to build – techniques on how to find your voice when to be perfect honest there aren’t any techniques. It’s just about being yourself and not being afraid to show it. A lot of people are afraid to show their real selves online, you know. They go ahead and create, like, second Facebook profiles and, you know, they got their business profile and then their personal profile.
KF: It seems so silly.
LT: Yeah, just – I don’t hide anything on my Facebook profile. If you found me on Facebook, all of the stupid shit that I’ve done when I’ve been travelling; that’s all on there for people to see. Because, again, especially with like the space that I’m in, there’s going to be different from industry to industry, but my industry is about travelling and business, so if people can see the stupid, fun things that I’ve got up to on my travels, you know, that shows people that, you know, I am walking the walk, not only talking to talk.
LT: So yeah, don’t be afraid to show your real self to people. This is how you’re going to build those raving fans, the people that love the pistachio ice cream or love the marmite. They’re going to be the people that are going to stick around. And the people that don’t like you, fuck them You know, they’re not the people that you’re supposed to be working with. Kay, thank you so much for coming on, this is a fantastic talk. I love talking about this topic, as you can probably tell. I can waffle on for quite a bit. I can, like, talk myself into circles on this topic as well, which I’ve probably done a handful of times. Just a - - -
LT: Just the last few minutes – so yeah, thank you so much for coming on, but before you leave - - -
LT: One more thing to do. Are you ready for your rapid-fire question session?
KF: Okay, yes.
LT: Excellent, so I want the first answer that comes to your head. No thinking about it, okay?
LT: So question number one: what is your favourite country that you’ve been to so far?
LT: Good. What is the last YouTube video or movie that you watched?
KF: Rouge One yesterday.
LT: Okay, what is the weirdest thing that you’ve eaten?
KF: Oh, I want to say – crickets from Senegal.
LT: What is your favourite drinking game?
KF: Oh, drunk Jenga. All the Jenga blocks have a number and there’s a list that corresponds with it, so it depends on what you have to do, either truth or dare or shot.
LT: Oh, I like that, I need to add that one to the bible. If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?
KF: Oh, I would say – I’d really like to hang out with Arianna Huffington.
LT: That’s a good one. Never had that one before.
KF: I met her very briefly, but it was at an event here in Madrid and it was too quick.
LT: Nice one. Name one book you would recommend everybody should read.
KF: Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
LT: Good one. What is your favourite swearword that you’ve learnt in another language?
KF: It’s not really a swearword but it’s a phrase. Spaniards like to “shit in things”, so it’s like “me cago en dios” (inaudible) “me cago en la leche”, like “I shit on the milk”, I think that’s the weirdest one I’ve heard. “Me cago en la leche”, I shit on the milk. Like, “God damn it, me cago en la leche.” Hilarious.
LT: I shit on the milk. I like it. What is your go-to song when you need to get into the mood to get shit done?
KF: Oh, Dance too much booty in the pants.
LT: What the hell is that?
KF: Dance too much booty in the pants, dance too much booty in the pants.
LT: I like the dance moves, it’s a shame that nobody can see that.
KF: Yeah, that’s, like, my three-minute warm-up song when I need to get things moving.
LT: I like it. What is your favourite podcast apart from this one?
KF: I would say Smart Pass by Pat Flynn.
LT: Good choice and finally, can you give me your best travel story in under five minutes?
KF: Oh, under five minutes. Okay. I’m going to have to go with – let’s see. I guess you won’t be able to understand my sort of imperfect action perfect inaction approach to Spanish until you understand how I first got here my first night. So, I was in university, I was in college, so it was our first night. We were like we’re going to go out. And Spaniards love to go out. Like, when I mean out, I mean you’re lucky if you turn in at like 6-7 in the morning.
LT: Oh wow.
KF: Because it just never stops- it’s amazing. So that, to me, was like okay, I need to like, get all LA, get all Los Angeles and put on my heels. I learnt my lesson, nobody wears heels here. And cobblestone and heels do not get along. I was walking – No, we were running actually – between two different bars, and it started to rain. And of course, rain plus heels plus cobblestone is not a very good combination. So the Spaniards we were with were telling us, “Run, Kay, run – correr.” And there’s this slight, slight, ever so slight thing called the reflexive – when you make the verb like too unto you. Like correrse, or whatever, and so it just so happens that correrse means ‘to come’ in Spain Spanish; not in Latin-American Spanish, in Spain Spanish.
So of course what am I shouting through the street at four in the morning, going from one bar to the other? Not ‘I can’t run’, as I was translating it in my head. I’m shouting ‘I can’t orgasm’. In the street, at four in the morning. And that was my first night here in Spain. So of course, my lovely Spanish friends; they take us into the next bar once we made it there. They’re like, “Kay, you don’t say that and here’s why.”
And ever since then, it’s like fuck it, every other moment – every other, you know, slip-up with the language if I don’t get the gender right or if the subjunctive’s wrong, or if I don’t say things in the right sequence if I’m tired or stressed, it’s not going to matter because I’ve literally made the biggest caca da – speaking of shit – the biggest fuck up possible. The first day. So everything else can only get better from there.
LT: That’s awesome – I’ve got like a similar story, really quick. When I was in Fiji, I learnt – so if you want – there’s two different words, you’ve got mana and maga. They mean two completely different things. When you spell them out – what’s mana – and one’s maga. So mana means brother, but maga means vagina. So again, the slight different inflection – mana, maga – you know, just that little nasal – makes all the difference. And when I say it means vagina, it means like see-you-next-Tuesday. The most, like, insulting version of it.
KF: Oh my god.
LT: So that’s like – again – the slightest difference in the wording means something completely different.
KF: It’s so true.
LT: So Kay, again, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people find you online?
KF: So I’m at kayfabella.com, or if there are any Spanish speakers listening, kayfabella.com/inicio. And if any of your listeners are interested in learning about how to sell more authentically with their story, I actually have a free sales challenge going on which I’ll give you a link to, but it’s kayfabella.com/freesaleschallenge.
LT: Excellent. And you guys can find all of the links and everything we’ve mentioned in today’s episode on the show notes page, so if you can’t remember anything, any of the links or whatever, you can find them all there. So again, Kay, thank you so much for coming on. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
KF: Likewise, thanks for having me, Luke.
LT: Perfect. Fist bump.
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