Speaking 18.237 km from home

Or how I got my first gig at the other side of the world

My first speaking gig in new Zealand

I’m sharing this story after an invitation from my friend Trav Bell – The Bucketlist Guy – from Australia. He’s working on a new book and was looking for some nice bucketlist stories. This is the story how I realized my bucketlist item: speak at the other side of the world.
“My name is Cyriel Kortleven (Belgium) and I’m a professional speaker who loves to give a creative boost to the potential of people. I gave a lot of training and facilitated brainstorming sessions but 4 years ago I’ve noticed that I got very enthusiastic if I could share my story in front of larger audiences. I’m living in Belgium right now and it’s quite a small country and it has not really a ‘speaking’ culture (like in the US) so it’s not an easy to find many interesting speaking opportunities. So I added one item (probably my biggest ever) on my bucketlist: speak on an international level. And because I love to dream big, I transformed my international ambitions into 1 concrete bucketlist item: give a presentation at the furthest city in the world (starting from Antwerp-Belgium).
Via the internet I found that New Zealand is more than 18.000 km away from Belgium. Wouldn’t it be great if I could speak in front of an audience of kiwis?! And if I could get some speaking gigs in New Zealand then it would be ‘easy’ to get more speaking opportunities in all the countries between Belgium and New Zealand
But I had a ‘small’ challenge … I didn’t know anybody in New Zealand. Woeps. Okay, a lot of people would already scrape that item from their bucketlist but I’m working in the domain of creativity and unleashing potential so I did a short brainstorming session to find some ideas to get connected to interesting people in New Zealand. I discovered that you can do an advance search via Linkedin: I did a search for the keywords ‘creativity & innovation’ in New Zealand and I got a list of thousands of people who have those keywords in their profile. I selected the first ten people because I think they would be the most relevant and spent around 15 minutes to explore their profile + websites. At that moment I could write a personalized mail to those people to announce that I was coming to New Zealand and interested in collaboration.
What happened? From the ten people, five of them replied and I got already 2 jobs out of this action during my first trip. I have to be honest and the jobs weren’t the best paid jobs but from scratch, I was suddenly working at the other side of the world.

And New Zealand is even smaller in terms of population so after a first trip, my network got an incredible boost and since then, I’ve been six times to New Zealand and Australia in the last four years and have build up a good business network & met great people. And one of those great guys is Trav who inspired me to refresh my perspective about my own bucketlist again.

My message for other bucket-listers: dare to dream big (YES), look for alternative ideas to realise your dream (AND) and just go for it and experiment (ACT).”

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