A Dispatch from the Marseille Office

When I decided to leave AARP at the end of last year, I left a seven week sabbatical on the table. I know, I know, I should have taken it while I was there. But, social kept growing. I was constantly making the business case, fighting for budget and staff, and turning wins into case studies to garner additional investment. And then, I had the opportunity to turn our legacy television and radio operation into a first class, brand multimedia studio.

The reasons why I didn't take that sabbatical were important to me at the time. But, now...

In the first few months of 2016, I launched Verified Strategy and packed my calendar with prospecting and proposals. I've got a few clients now and feel like we are growing at a steady pace.
My desk in Marseile
One day, I got a notication in my  HomeExchange.com mailbox asking if I would be open to a spring house swap in Marseille (I had listed my place on a whim,) so I jumped at the chance. For two weeks, I would live in the South of France, servicing my existing clients, writing communications audits, developing new proposals and sending invoices. I purposefully took care of my in person meetings before I left and set up a couple of weeks worth for when I return.

As I write this, I'm three days in. It's working. I've been using Skype and FaceTime for meetings. The wifi at my apartment is fantastic, so the work isn't suffering. In fact, it might be improving as I allow my brain time to learn new things. And, thanks to a quick dash up to the Apple store in Aix-en-Provence, my power supply is working great. [NOTE: If you're heading out of the country, it's worth getting the Mac adaptor set.]
The Apple store in Aix-en-Provence
Since it's life, not just vacation, I'm continuing to keep American office hours. I wake up and go on long walks, exploring cathedrals, markets and patisseries. I'm on a quest to find the best almond croissant in France. But then, mid-Marseille day, I'm back at the laptop.

My French improves daily. The Starbucks barista remembers my name. I can wander the winding streets, grocery shop like a local, make dinner at home and explore nearby towns.
The Old Port of Marseille, a half block from my apartment.
Fear not, I'm headed back to Washington soon enough. The East Coast is where business, friends, families and love are. But, it's nice to know that this life is possible. It was very difficult to see how I could step away from the busy trap I was caught in for a decade or longer.

It does, indeed, get better.

In the coming days, I'll share my working abroad experience, plus my usual restaurant and travel favorites. Many thanks to those of you who have already sent me recommendations. 


MotherWouldKnow said...

Bravo! (I realize it's not French, but you get the point.) You've found a wonderful way to keep working, yet take a break. Hope you enjoy your time in the south of France - such a beautiful place, well-stocked with fabulous food, beautiful sights and amazing wine.

Laetitia said...

Resisting the urge to make an obnoxious Parisian joke about the Marseillais' French ;-) I give in, don't pick up their accent!!

Laetitia said...

Also, are you basically right behind the Bar de la Marine? Love me some Marius!!!

Rizl said...

Hey, awesome story! Just curious about how communication strategy is different in France as opposed to the US.

Rizl said...

Hey, awesome story! Just curious about how communication strategy is different in France as opposed to the US.

Tammy Gordon said...

Hi, my clients are American, not French. Yet. Maybe when I improve my language skills!

Unknown said...

Wow Tammy sounds like such fun!! I'm happy for you!

Misha said...

You left out the MOST important detail! IS IKE WITH YOU?????