She is mostly known for speaking seven languages fluently (German, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian), being a happy communicator, and facilitation quality / sustainable tourism development in her work, notably with a focus on creative travel, her real and true passion when it comes to the travel industry, and meeting other people.
She has studied tourism management at the IMC FH Krems in Austria and has toured the world, starting her own business, publishing a book and running a creative consulting agency ever since.
“I am really happy with everything I’ve been able to achieve so far, especially the people I have met in all these years and who have inspired me to go on, and look forward to the road ahead !”
YOU ARE A SPEAKER, AUTHOR OF THE CREATIVE TRAVELLER’S HANDBOOK AND BLOGGER AT CREATIVELENA.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START A SPEAKING CAREER?
As with most other activities, public speaking requires practice in order to shake off the feeling of nervousness, as well as other fears or inhibitions that may hinder us.
I personally started training at university, the IMC FH Krems University
of Applied Sciences where I studied tourism management, and still remember
my first, big public speaking gig, at only 22, in front of more than 200 people.
Ever since, and practicing to speak in front of small, middle-sized, and large groups,
I have gained a lot of confidence, and can now come up with these five tips for you:
5 BEST TIPS ABOUT SPEAKING
1. PREPARE YOURSELF
Dress well and comfortably, make sure you feel good in your skin and have a positive outlook on the day of your speaking gig.
Focus on something sweet, like the smile of a beloved person, thinking who would be so proud of you right now, etc.
Then, of course, know your topic, know the facts, but equally be prepared for some surprises – make it fun, for yourself and for the audience !
2. PREPARE FOR THE AUDIENCE
Who is your audience?
Check and gather as many socio-demographic facts about them as you can: Do you know someone – anyone already, that you can turn to for “support” (smiles, nods, etc.) during your presentation?
Who are they, what are their backgrounds, and what will they likely be looking
for in your presentation – facts, inspiration, or all of it?
All of this will certainly help you get through the experience.
If you don’t know anyone, and the whole environment is new to you, fall back on your own
inner strength, smile, be radiant, be positive, talk to people beforehand, ask a good friend for
support and rehearse at home, if you feel the need to!
3. USE VIDEO
Whatever the nature and topic of your presentation, a video almost automatically “breaks” the actual, or perceived monotony of your voice, and is a guarantee to get your audience back on track!
4. ENCOURAGE QUESTIONS & FEEDBACK
Don’t forget to allow and encourage questions and feedback throughout, and make sure there’s time for a Q & A session at the end!
We all know about the speaker that only ever talked, and talked, and never
encouraged questions or feedback – that’s not what you want, neither for yourself
nor for the audience !
5. TELL A PERSONAL STORY
Tell a personal story. Either to start with, in the middle, or to end with.
Not only will it cause everyone to smile, thoughtful, or to learn and observe you better, it will also connect you with people in the audience on a human level.
It is very important, I believe, and I would almost always to connect this fact to
great presentations & public speaking gigs I’ve witnessed in my career.
DO YOU THINK BEING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR HELPED YOU GAIN CREDIBILITY?
Yes, I certainly believe so.
Not so much for the absolute number of books sold, although that of course always helps too, but more so for what the idea of having written a book on a topic
that almost no one had published about in this very format means
(note: “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook” is the first book in the world to address the topic of creative cultural travel in a storytelling guidebook format,
apart from prior academic texts published,
and research done from a management point of view).
I have ever since been contacted for speaking opportunities, and other project work, that I know directly or indirectly to be related to the publication of my book.
It’s a very rewarding journey, and I encourage everyone to try and undertake it in their lives!
For that, I will also gladly offer assistance and advice ☺
WHAT ACTION STEP, TIP OR PROGRAM HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WHEN IT COMES TO GROWING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
Certainly, the EU has been a big influence in terms of opportunities, networks, and people I’ve met who have helped me further my career in ways I did not foresee or imagine.
My journey as a self-employed business woman has started in July 2011, with many contacts and networks already gathered at that stage in my life, notably in the field of tourism consulting, language studies and translations, a field I still work in.
Ever since, the book publishing, as well as my EU consultancy work, plus the fact of now being fluent in seven European languages, have all helped and encouraged me greatly.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED IN YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY? WHAT DID YOU DO TO MOVE FORWARD?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a challenge, more a (now I can say natural) journey that was filled with certain levels of anxiety: It was all about establishing the needed levels of trust with my (Canadian) book publisher: We trust Elena to do this.
She is the person we want to see published.
She can do it.
Let us support her.
What did I do to achieve that?
Activate all the people and networks in my support I could gather: Have a written statement from the Creative Tourism Network to support the publication of my book.
Gather support from local universities in and around Austria to be teaching about, and sharing the book as career material later.
Achieve distribution channels from all of my contacts and related peers in the field worldwide.
All of this process lasted nearly three years, and I am immensely proud of, and grateful, for the outcome, i.e. the book’s publication in the fall of 2015.
IF YOU HAD TO START FROM ZERO AGAIN WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
I love my way, and still look back on it proudly.
I honestly would do it all over again, there is no need for me to have been faster, or smarter, since every stepping stone and learning curve was and still is important to me.
Also, I would not have liked to miss any of the people I’ve met so far, and continue to meet, some of whom have turned into the greatest sources of inspiration in my life !!!
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH AND YOUR NUMBER ONE TIP?
This is really, really hard to say.
I have many places of that nature, and even to say New Zealand over Austria, or Portugal over Iceland, would be impossible.
I do, however, have a favourite place in mind in terms of my own inner peace, happiness, and calmness : The west coast of my beloved Portugal – in fact, any place along this particular coastline.
For some reason, I like the feeling of “looking out West over the ocean”, and be connected to the ancient feeling of “saudade”, or longing as the Portuguese would call it, for all times.
I always feel this to be a part of me, and it gives me both an inner stillness as well as a calm desire to just march on, and take on whatever life throws at me.
HOW LONG DID YOUR „OVERNIGHT SUCCESS“ TAKE?
I never had to worry about money.
Never in my whole life, and this is another fact I am immensely grateful for.
Speaking in more business terms, I did start out my entrepreneurial journey
partly employed, i.e. with a regular, fixed “salary” pay-out
in order to support my own peace of mind in other negotiations to fill up
the rest of my time and money needs, and to support myself.
This is, admittedly, the best position to start from, and I would encourage
everyone who launches themselves into self-employment, to either
have good finances already in place,
and/or to start with a regular project/part-time employment of some sort,
so as not to make the transition too hard or difficult,
both financially and psychologically.
ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER FEMALE TRAVELPRENEURS
(location independent entrepreneurs/business owners)?
Embrace your womanhood !
Men and women are both in need of good role models in terms of women who take to an opinion, and stand up for it!
Use your capacities, no matter if it’s speaking languages, communication,
caring for each other, or running networks and encouraging other
women to do likewise :
The best things come from working together.
And always try to understand the bigger picture of the context: Somebody said something hurtful to you today?
Perhaps they just had a bad day.
Try again the next.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT RUNNING A LOCATION INDEPENDENT BUSINESS?
The quality of life that comes with it.
You can literally work anytime, anywhere, when you are at your best energy levels
– at least most of the time, i.e. when no immediate major deadlines are due,
or you have several projects to juggle at the very same time.
Those periods in the year can get stressful, of course, but honestly speaking, at least 80% of my time, if not more, is spent peacefully and happily working away.
I love it.
It’s a wonderful, very empowering, and self-sustaining feeling, and one that has partly made me into the happy, supportive person I am today!
WHICH BOOK IMPACTED YOUR LIFE THE MOST AND WHY SHOULD WE READ IT TOO?
That is a very good question.
I have been a bookworm ever since I can remember, i.e. my whole life!
There have been many many books that impacted me in one way or another, but to pick one, just one, is incredibly difficult.
I still feel a close relation, and have read and re-read, “La Sombra del Viento”, by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón, three times (in Spanish, German, and English!),
a book that takes us on a time travel to Barcelona of the early 20th century, plus provides an incredibly compelling, personal life story too.
A wonderful novel I would recommend anyone to read in their lives.
WHERE CAN WE LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?