The biggest takeaway from Japan was “Ganbare”
Hi, my name is Kim and I’m a marketing manager born in the US and currently living in Berlin, Germany.
I spent most of my childhood growing up in the sleepy plains of Oklahoma, which is where my parents settled after immigrating from Vietnam. Since my hometown of Oklahoma City hosted a very large Vietnamese community, my childhood was a nice mixture of Midwest America with a whole lot of Vietnamese influence.
When did you launch your life as a digital content creator?
Before I moved to Berlin, I lived in Japan for many years teaching English. It was there, in fact, that I nurtured my love of writing and creating digital content. This passion segued me into the startup world in Berlin, where I now work as a digital marketing manager specializing in content marketing.
Bicycling on Naoshima Island in Japan
What was your takeaway from Japan?
The biggest and most longstanding takeaway from Japan that I learned was from the phrase ‘Ganbatte kudasai’ or ‘Ganbare.’
From the first day I heard this phrase and my Japanese teacher loosely translated it to me, “It means ‘do your best,’ ” I heard it again and again. In America, we have phrases that might be used the same way: “You can do it! Good luck! Keep it up!’ But I cannot think of one phrase in the English language that is so consistently and so often used.
So, each time I heard the phrase, ‘ganbare’, I took it to heart. Some people might say that this is an obsession with perfectionism, but I don’t believe this. To me it simply shows a level of respect and reverence for the work you put out.
Is location important to your success?
Although I’m employed by a German startup and am part of a small team in Berlin, all my work is digitally based so I am able to work as a ‘digital nomad.’ This means I can work from home or at a coworking space, or even in another country if I choose!
Grafitti in Berlin
What does you typical day look like?
Since I’m mostly based in Berlin, my typical workday would look like this:
- Head to my coworking space where my team members often meet.
- Say ‘Hi’ to the team with some coffee and conversation.
- Meet with my team of editors to discuss goals and metrics; collaborate and do a content sprint.
- Once the creative juices are flowing, I begin my work in a quiet area to think about the ideas we just gathered together and begin creating content or managing my daily digital workload.
Co-working with other digital freelancers in Berlin
What is the benefit of working with Workshift?
I have very special memories of Japan and really want to maintain this connection in any way I can.
Having a digital lifestyle also lends itself very well to freelancing to help boost my income. That’s where Workshift comes in. Not only are the jobs I get through Workshift a great way for me to bring an extra bonus to my regular income, but they are also an excellent way for me to work on fun and interesting projects that diversify my portfolio and work experience.
Afternoon tea and cake
Since joining Workshift I’ve had the pleasure of doing projects in content creation, market research, and academic research and translation. These have all been great ways for me to apply my marketing expertise and creative writing skills, as well as my German language abilities.
And since I do all of this work digitally, I can complete my Workshift projects across any time zone – whether it be at home in Berlin, while visiting family in the US Pacific Northwest, or while I’m temporarily based abroad and traveling the world.
Sightseeing in Seoul
What advice do you have for new freelancers hoping to succeed online?
Many people think that being able to work digitally and remotely is a dream – and it is! But in order to be successful at being a remote worker or online freelancer, you need to be extremely intentional and diligent in your planning and time management.
Having extra freelance projects in addition to my full-time job has also meant many long days and sacrificed weekends, but the payoff has been worth it.
Some things that help me manage my time and be more effective and productive as an online freelancer are:
- Eliminating any online distractions during work hours (commit to not checking social media, smartphone, etc.)
- Be strict in delegating any time working from home to just that – work! That laundry that needs sorting? It will have to wait until after the work day is done.
- Identifying your peak hours of creativity and productivity – for me, it’s the few hours in the morning before lunch time.
- Incorporating a daily mindfulness routine – for me, I set an intention at the beginning of the day and dedicate a few minutes to meditation
In short, I would highly recommend Workshift for anyone wanting to expand their portfolio, build their skills while collaborating with international clients in Japan, and to have flexibility and freedom. It’s been a perfect fit for my digital lifestyle and has been nothing but a great experience overall. Thanks so much, Workshift!
Christmas in the US with Jantzen the dog