Continuing our series on How People Work Around The World, our guest today is Kimberly Afonso. Kimberly and I virtually met through digital marketing and Fiverr Pro. A platform for freelancers and entrepreneurs to buy and sell services. The pro version of Fiverr features hand-vetted and verified professional sellers.
Kimberly is the CEO & Founder of Kimberly Afonso Digital Marketing Consulting. She consults with established brands looking to digitally enter global markets. She is here with us at Immensely Social today because, though Kimberly is from the United States like me, she does all this abroad working around Europe. Kimberly has lived in 5 countries and speaks 4 languages which is impressive as I am struggling to just get a 2nd language down even slightly.
Let’s dive in…
How did you get started in Digital Marketing?
I studied both Marketing and International Business when I was in college at NYU. I really loved how marketing was both creative and data driven from the time I started in school.
That’s great that you found work that you’re passionate. What made you want to head abroad?
From there, I started working in marketing and one of my first jobs was in a mid-sized company. That meant that I had the opportunity to work on both trade marketing and digital marketing tasks. I enjoyed building the digital brand identity and how the industry changed every year. I saw within that company that while trade marketing relatively stayed the same, digital was always evolving. As I love challenges and learning new things, I realized that was the area I wanted to work in, and a few years later started my own digital marketing agency!
I studied abroad in college for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina and loved the experience. I’m also half Portuguese, so I spent many summers abroad. I have always loved learning about new cultures and languages, which is probably the reason I travel so often. All of this paired with the desire to REALLY see how people do business abroad made me move to Barcelona, Spain for my first full-time job after I graduated from college. I still love living and working abroad and am really glad that I started a remote business so that I can work with people from all different cultures. I am still learning new things to this day!
Awesome. You are adventurous!
What has been your favorite place to live and why?
This is a tough question. I lived in NYC during college and absolutely loved it. Most of my closest friends and the people I relate to the most still live there. I still absolutely love NY every time I go back (which is at least a few times per year).
It is definitely the most diverse place I have ever lived and everything happens there first, which makes it really exciting. Nevertheless, I don’t think I would want to move back right now. It is a great hub for business, but difficult to travel abroad for short trips and sometimes TOO fast-paced, and those are things I really value in Europe.
With that said, I would probably have to say that Barcelona, Spain was my favorite place to live. It offered the perfect work/life balance. You have a dynamic business sector and it is a great hub to meet with International clients as they are always coming through for a conference or event.
On top of that, you have a REALLY great quality of life. It isn’t too expensive to live there if you are coming from a large US city and you have amazing weather year-round, fresh food, and the beach! I was also able to travel abroad very easily, even on short trips.
While I know living and working abroad can be wonderful, it also has its challenges.
What has been your biggest challenge of working in another country?
Definitely culture shock. I am an open-minded person and spoke Spanish before moving to Spain. Nevertheless, every time I have worked in a new country, there have been things where I have just thought, “What?! Why?”.
This happens to everyone. You have to experience a culture in person to really understand it and some things may still not totally make sense to you.
It’s important to accept and adapt wherever you are. Things change drastically just by crossing certain borders in Europe, which may seem relatively small for Americans.
Nevertheless, I really value all of these experiences and recommend that anyone interested in working abroad should at least try it for a year or two. It definitely opens your mind, makes you realize that things usually aren’t done the way they are in your home country (and that’s ok!), and makes you much more empathetic to others. These are great skills to have in business and in life.
If you were starting all over again, what advice do you wish you had at the beginning?
I started in a more “corporate” career path and I thought that was the way to work in marketing. I never thought I would start my own business before working for at least 15 years.
Nowadays, there are so many options to work the way that is best for you to thrive. Remote worker positions have increased a ton and I truly believe that with the expansion of online networks like Linkedin, it is easier to promote your business than ever.
Corporate marketing works for a lot of people but if it doesn’t work for you, there are PLENTY of other ways to work in marketing. That is something I wish I realized sooner.Nowadays, there are so many options to work the way that is best for you to thrive.
Nowadays, there are so many options to work the way that is best for you to thrive. Click To TweetKimberly Afonso
What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
Being able to help others. I really love working with my younger team members who are just getting started in digital marketing and eager to learn. Helping them grow makes me really happy.
Helping my clients is also so rewarding – many don’t know how they can reach their goals online and seeing them achieve their milestones, get new business, and be more confident posting content about themselves makes me really happy.
I also give seminars where I teach corporate teams about the importance of Linkedin and Personal Branding and have seen them really grow from implementing my advice! Helping others is what really motivates me.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
It depends where I am located as I am away from home on average 40% of the year!
On days that I am home in Milan, I will work from a coworking on non-call heavy days and from home on days where I am taking a lot of calls. I like to change up my office space and cannot commit to one place every day. I like change — that’s why I travel so often!
Usually start with a breakfast smoothie and a coffee. I sometimes start the day with my most difficult task, other times by reading business, entrepreneurial, or marketing news. My entire team is also remote so I try to catch up with them or send messages in the morning.
I usually work until about 1 pm where I take a lunch break and a yoga/another exercise break. I try to exercise every day that I am working from home as it is a great break for me and really energizes me.
Yoga is my favorite (ashtanga or vinyasa) but I also incorporate other exercises like running and pilates to change it up too.
As I work mostly with U.S. clients, 3 pm Central European Time is when my calls and emails really start to come in from them as that is 9 am on the East Coast. 3 pm to 7 pm are always super productive hours for me. I usually focus really well in the afternoon.
As I live in Milan, dinner isn’t until earliest 8:30 pm here so sometimes I will work straight up until then, while other times I will run some errands beforehand or fit in an exercise session if I didn’t around lunchtime. I am flexible depending on what is going on. I usually work a lot on days that I am actually in Milan to prepare for upcoming travel.
When I travel, I usually try to block morning hours OR afternoon hours and have a large chunk of time in the day to myself as well. Last week when I was in Greece, I went to the beach all morning and came back around 4 pm local time to take calls and had a super productive 4-5 hours of work per day there up until dinner time.
This is what I love about remote working – you can adjust to your productivity, needs, and location!
Wonderful. I too love the flexibility.
You made a change in your life through travel. What do you want to say to someone reading this who is in a rut and in need of a change?
If you really want to make a change, give yourself a deadline. One of my closest friends always says this to me and she is right. If you want to change your job, change where you are living, or go on a vacation that you will have to save for, give yourself a deadline to reach that goal.
Don’t just say, “I want to go to South East Asia.” Say: “I want to save X amount of dollars by X date to go to South East Asia.” Then you can more easily implement the steps to get you there.
If you really want to make a change, give yourself a deadline.
That really helped me in the past too – before starting my own business, I was considering a few different options and gave myself a deadline as to when to take that decision. Otherwise, you will just go on and on saying you want to change something without it actually happening!
That is so true! How can readers follow you and your journey?
To learn more about me: https://www.kimberlyafonso.com/
To connect on my most active social media channel (send me a message! I am always happy to hear from new people): https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberlyafonso/