Originally written by Codie Sanchez (that's me!) for Forbes: here.
When people find out what I do, often the first thing they say is, “How did you find a job that allows you to travel the world and do what you want?”
Then they say, “You’re so lucky.”
I answer, "Yes I am."
That said, my answer is always the same: “I didn’t find the job, I created it.”
"I wanted to travel, see the world and make an impact."
When I started my career in finance, I wasn’t incredible. I was quite good but I was not the top performer at my company. I could pitch investors, make sales and perform financial analysis but I was new to finance. But here’s the thing: I didn’t want to spend my life behind a desk. I loved my job, but I wanted to travel, see the world and make an impact.
I found the intersection of talent. I wasn’t No. 1 in the world at one thing but I was very good at several, including finance, sales and speaking Spanish. I realized that I didn’t have to be the 1% because I had something better: a unique combination of skills that no one else had. I call this my leverage point.
Instead of quitting my job, I put together a business proposal for my boss at the time and said, “Look, I think there are investment opportunities in Latin America that we are missing out on. I want to take see if I can create business for our company down there.”
He was intrigued and gave me the go-ahead. When that first trip was successful, I asked for a month-long second trip. I extended that to two months, then six months. Finally, I proposed that we create a new position for me that would allow me to travel Latin America as much as I wanted, creating business and investment opportunities for my company and only paying me if they worked.
You may be thinking, “Hey that’s great for you, but my job isn’t remote.” Neither was mine until I proved that I could add value. Here’s how you can take your career on the road without taking a pay cut. Sound good?
"Find your leverage point..."
Make a list of two or three talents to combine and use them as your leverage point.
Find Your Leverage Point
Make a list of what you are good at. What two or three talents can you combine to use as your leverage point? Remember, you don’t have to be the world’s expert or even the most exceptional person at your company. It might be the fact that you have both technical skills and human resources qualifications so you can travel to overseas manufacturing plants for quality assurance and safety procedures. Maybe you are a writer and a business analyst and you can travel to clients and potential clients and create clear reports that describe what is happening there to your home office. The possibilities are endless because your leverage point is not based on a single skill but on a combination of several.
Do The Research
Once I found my leverage point, I began researching opportunities in Latin America. Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S., meaning there are a lot of ties between U.S. and Latin American businesses. NAFTA and other free trade agreements, micromills and proximity to distribution mean that businesses are turning to Latin America instead of Asia for manufacturing. Plus, the growing startup scene in places like Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil makes these countries a fertile playground. Go to Google, subscribe to the top newsletters on your area of interest, look at what your competitor firms are doing in the region and pretend like you are writing an article on the opportunity. Think like a journalist. Gather data.
LatAm: The fastest-growing demographic..."
"...a fertile playground for investors..."
Make The Pitch
Once you have your leverage point and your data, make the pitch. Show them that you can bring more value to the company on the road. Ask for a trial run to prove yourself, a short trip with a specific purpose. And one last thing: Don’t ask for a higher salary. That will come after you have proved your value in this new role. Besides, you are about to start your dream job traveling the world. And you just got your company to pay for it. What more could you want?
The hardest step to take is always the first one.
The rest build momentum like a snowball downhill. Your goal here is to self-assess to find your leverage point, externally assess to find your supporting research and finally turn those two into a win-win case for you and your employer. Remember above all else, most people who have built incredible lives created them. They weren’t given them. That means all that stands between you and the life you want is yourself.