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I virtually met Mary by chance through interacting in a Facebook group. Hearing her story, I thought it would be a great topic for an article assignment I had been given for an Italian magazine.
As she talked during the interview, I realised how much her story was driven by the same mental process I had had, although it eventually developed in a different way, our paths taking very different directions.
From the little I know about her, she appears to be in possession of a fast-thinking and executing mind, as well as being a very confident hard-worker who has made her own dream come true. I am sure her path will inspire you to go after your goals, without turning back, as much as it did to me.
Mary is originally from the south of Italy, a beautiful place for sure. After her studies to become an interpreter however, she yearned to discover the world and set off on a long-lasting trip, living mainly in England and Spain for several years. Here, she easily found jobs in import-export firms or in hotels as a Guest Relations Manager. Although the jobs were very exciting and rewarding she really wanted more out of her life, “work is work, it’s not about that. It’s about being in control of my own time and space, not just waiting for week-ends or holidays to come.” – She eventually explained.
She moved to Argentina with her husband with the idea of transforming their passion for distilling essential oils into a job but it didn’t work out that simple, because after all, “it doesn’t take a day to become an entrepreneur.” Luckily, it was easy at that time to find jobs in Argentina, especially if your mother tongue was Italian and if you knew many other languages. Thus, she returned to her comfort zone and started to work again as a Guest Relations Manager in a hotel.
The comfort zone is awfully deceitful as it keeps you where you are and doesn’t allow you to step up and dare to reach out for the life that you really want.
However, Mary was not giving up so easily. Her idea of freedom was still there, and when you set your mind towards a goal, the universe conspires to push you through the difficulties. She didn’t say that in the interview but that is what I thought while I listened carefully to her story, as I consider it living proof that this is the way things work.
Funnily enough, her husband accidentally happened across a TV program where the president of the virtual assistant association of Argentina explained how she earned her living, and that she was promoting her course on how to follow her path at that time. Mary didn’t waste any time and jumped right in. She proactively followed the 6-month course and eventually built her own portfolio of international clients for whom she worked as a freelancer and was paid per assignment. She organised their agenda, took care of the social media strategies of a company, along with many other tasks she had learned, partially during her previous career, partially during the course itself.
And there she was, a few years after her decision to change the course of her professional life, Mary was actually doing it. And that was not the end of it, in fact, it was just the beginning of a brilliant career as an entrepreneur.
Her visionary mind helped her to find a breach in the Italian market, where more and more people were willing to give up on the perks of the full-time job, such as a pension and relative security, in order to enjoy more freedom and spending more quality time at home. On the other hand, companies, although still a little resilient towards change, were beginning to trust freelancers, even if they didn’t work under the same roof, and ultimately started to understand that working per assignment could be more productive and cost efficient.
Freelancers mainly rely on their level of performance and the reputation they build, and are therefore more motivated to work well and deliver fast, in order to keep the client happy.
Mary had the idea of fulfilling both needs, through the creation of a full course in Italian to help professionals utilise their own skills and build upon new ones in order to enter the world of the digital nomads as virtual assistants with certified expertise, as a guarantee of professionalism and authority.
Many women ended up freelance or even working as project managers, which meant looking after a project for a third party, from start to finish, finding the specialists and making sure deadlines were met and results fully achieved.
“It’s mainly about making a turnaround in your mindset” – Mary explained – “You need to start thinking as an entrepreneur and understand that you cannot take anything for granted, neither sleep on successes, nor give up after failures; on the contrary, it is a constant search for opportunities, networking, and most of all a continuous and persistent upgrade of one’s skills. It’s a world that is moving very fast and we need to keep up with the novelties and changes if we want to provide excellence with our services.”
And she went even further than that. Together with two of her ex-students, she created the Italian association of virtual assistants with the main purpose of offering an official professional status to the category and guaranteeing a certain level of competence to the client company. Virtual assistants need to pass a skills test in order to be registered with the association.
Mary is not leaving it there, though. She has many other projects in mind and is working her way towards completing them, full speed ahead. One is related to an already existing website which offers an online Chinese language course and is going to become a full service website for Chinese-related trading companies.
I admire her determination and willpower and I believe she is living proof that if you have measurable goals and really put time and effort into your project, you can make your dream life a reality.
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