The importance of sticking true to your mission, yourself, your values and goals will help bring your vision to success. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t feel the need to do what everyone else is. If you have an idea or a vision, try it before you write it off. I feel that through chartering new territories, I am creating my own path to success. It’s okay if that doesn’t look like everyone else — as a matter of fact, it shouldn’t!
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Geneva Lutomski.
Geneva is an Internationally Certified Travel Coach specializing in Adventure and Work Abroad opportunities. Having lived, traveled and worked abroad for 6 years, she has visited 45 countries and is on a mission to help those in their 20’s and 30’s explore the world through long-term backpacking trips and International work experiences. Through Unwrap Your Map™ Geneva guides aspiring adventurers in turning travel goals into reality through practical planning and effective budgeting, leading to life changing experiences abroad.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a family of five, originally from the Pacific Northwest but relocated to the suburbs of New York as a kid. Weekends were spent watching College Football games and working the concession stand of my brothers’ Baseball games. My father was the team coach and so the games were always a fun time! Throughout my growing up years, my dad traveled extensively for work and brought home stories from abroad that sparked my interest in travel. My parents had lived in Japan before I was born, so I like to think I already had the travel bug embedded in me from an early age!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I was a growing up, I remember hearing my dad tell us, “If you don’t like something, change it!” At the time his words did not mean much to me, but as I grew older, I realized how much power the expression packs! The statement is loaded with potential. It has managed to serve as a constant reminder throughout my life that we have the potential to make changes to the things that we don’t wish to accept as they are. We have the potential to inspire change and create new paths for ourselves and those around us. The expression has become something I use in my work as a Travel Coach to assist others in finding their potential and possibilities through travel.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Having an extensive background in team management and now transitioning to a career as a Travel Coach, I have found Trillion Dollar Coach to be a book that has resonated with me in unique ways. I’ve managed teams ranging from 4–70 people in 4 different countries. While managing teams at a high level is quite different from a role as a personal coach, I still find the general leadership element to be relevant and important when it comes to bringing out the best in people and their work. I find the book has helped give me some perspective from an angle which I am familiar with. It’s allowed me to help form a blend between my prior experiences, and my ever-evolving role as coach.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I left behind my career in Retail Management in 2013, which is when I started my travels abroad. What was supposed to be a 3-month backpacking trip in Europe quickly turned into a 6-year journey traveling around the world. Through my experiences abroad I was constantly being introduced to new work opportunities in different countries. During my travels I worked in many different fields including Retail and Hospitality. I even spent a 6-month period working in the Australian Outback and enjoying weekend trips to the Great Barrier Reef. I brought my former management experience into the field of tourism in 2017 when I accepted a position in Cambodia. I found it was a great combination of my passion for business, service, customer experience and travel. After two years working in Southeast Asia primarily in tour operations, I entered into a role as Business Development Manager. That was my most recent role in tourism prior to the start of the pandemic.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
In my role as Business Development Manager, I had begun developing an outreach strategy aimed at bringing young students and travelers to Southeast Asia. This was an exciting opportunity for me as I had always had an interest and passion for helping other young people travel. As the pandemic was just beginning, my role as Business Development Manager came to an end. It was shortly after that the decision to pivot my career focus came about. The idea for Unwrap Your Map™ had always been there, but the pandemic now posed the perfect opportunity to bring that vision to life. My passion and goal remain the same; to help educate and encourage young people to pursue international travel and work experiences. At this stage, I focus on growing my networks, and expanding my reach and message to help ease future travelers into what will be a new and very different world of travel opportunities post-pandemic.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I had dreamed of traveling for years, but when I was in University the options were limited. Traditional pathways through education and career seemed the only logical options for most. Once I began traveling, that’s when I was introduced to all the amazing opportunities out there. The people I met along the way were hands-down the inspiration for this venture. Their stories, experiences and outlook on life opened my eyes to other possibilities. Throughout my travels I met individuals whose lives were changed through their experiences abroad. Thus, enter my ‘Aha’ moment! I realized midway through my travels, that there are still so many young people from the United States that were in the exact position I was in prior to my travels. Others who want to be able to experience this kind of turning point in their lives, but without access, guidance or direction to the proper resources that help make such a goal achievable. That’s where I come in. My mission is to help supply the tools, resources and personal experience necessary to help guide others in achieving their travel goals. As a Travel Coach, I work with clients and educate them on their untapped travel potential. My goal is to help others change their own lives through making decisions and taking action steps to begin a journey of work or travel abroad.
How are things going with this new initiative?
The Feedback has been outstanding! The number of contacts I have made throughout the process has been incredibly inspiring. The potential for collaboration and new ideas seems endless. More importantly, as it’s all driven by a passion and genuine interest, the results will undoubtedly be groundbreaking for some. I’ve been grateful to see how many people are interested and curious about their options abroad. The circumstances are very different from when I was in this position several years ago. When I began my journey there was not enough accessible information and now it seems there is too much, making it overwhelming for new and hopeful travelers. My goal is to cut through that overwhelmed and provide a personal relationship for those looking to achieve their travel goals.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My dad has been my biggest cheerleader since I was a kid! At first, he did not understand my interests in long-term travel, but over time he’s come around and has become a huge proponent for everything I’m doing with Unwrap Your Map. As someone who has always been a supporter of following a traditional path, he also remained inspiring, creative and motivational throughout my life. He’s now my go-to Brainstorming buddy! He traveled a lot when I was a kid, at which time I had set a goal of catching up to the number of countries he had visited. I’m 45 down but still have 20 to go!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
My adjustment to using the internet full-time for work has been one of the most interesting parts of this process for me. In a previous role, I spent a year working as a Project Manager overseeing small scale construction projects in rural communities outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was not previously spending much time on Social Media and was often away from screens in general and working in hands-on roles outdoors. The forming of a predominantly online business has been quite a roller coaster for me! However, I have managed to meet an incredible group of new and supportive small business owners, travel enthusiast and all-around inspiring individuals. I am grateful for the opportunities which I have discovered through new connections since the start of the pandemic.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- As much work as it is, is also how rewarding it is! The number of new things you learn through the process of creating a new business is actually spectacular, and despite being a one-woman-show, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the result of all the hard work, as I think most business owners do!
- Allow yourself breaks to avoid burnout! I learned this the hard way. As an entrepreneur, you often hear that setting up your own business is a lot of work, but it’s much more than that. When you serve as your own web designer, graphic designer, content creator, social media manager and bookkeeper, it all chips into your time very quickly. Be sure to take breaks, refresh, and give yourself something to look forward to.
- The importance of sticking true to your mission, yourself, your values and goals will help bring your vision to success. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t feel the need to do what everyone else is. If you have an idea or a vision, try it before you write it off. I feel that through chartering new territories, I am creating my own path to success. It’s okay if that doesn’t look like everyone else — as a matter of fact, it shouldn’t!
- Don’t be afraid to recognize and ask for help when you need it. I hit a breaking point more than once, but when I started loosening the reins, things started to fall into place. As great as it is to learn new things, sometimes calling for help can cut down the stress, frustration, and complications of learning certain pieces of the puzzle all on your own. Chances are you already know some experts — don’t be afraid to use them!
- If even one person is affected by the work you are doing, let yourself revel in those wins. It’s through celebrating even the smallest of successes that you find the strength to carry on through the hard work, long days and limiting beliefs. I had to learn to let myself be proud of the smallest things along the way and that ability has kept me going.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
One of my main methods for reducing anxiety in such stressful times has actually been tuning out these dramatic jolts. It is possible to stay up to date and informed, without being hooked to our devices, TV’s and Social Media. Set limits and boundaries. Turn off Notifications. When it comes time to update myself on the situations and circumstances of our world, I do so with intention for education rather than sensation. I talk with friends from New Zealand, Australia, France, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. We have real, honest, deep conversations about what is going on in the news cycle and in the world around us. This combination of varied external perspectives has been a huge help in keeping up to date with current events. By staying informed with intention, purpose and an open mind, we limit the likelihood of getting sucked into the dramatic jolts of the news cycle.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
One simple lesson I’ve learned through life abroad, is that less is more. Some of the happiest, kindest and friendliest people I’ve ever met, had very little to call their own. In a first-world society where everyone strives for happiness, the answers are sometimes simpler than we’d expect. I feel everyone in this world has a lot to learn from one another. I’d start a revolution amongst young people, to find their gifts and talents through seeking out new experiences in unfamiliar places. By challenging ourselves and pushing our limits, we learn about ourselves. Through learning about ourselves, we can achieve our best selves. Our best selves are capable of helping those around us. When we don’t know ourselves, we limit our possibilities to inspire and motivate others. The world would be a better place if we all chose to challenge ourselves to know who we are, find better, do better and be better towards one another. Learning new things about the world around us and the people within it is the key to a better world for us all.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Photographer Jimmy Chin is my Photography idol! His work is incredible and as someone with an extreme passion for amazing scenery and adventure activities, his work and those he photographs are an inspiration to me.
How can our readers follow you online?
The go-to place to find me is on Instagram over at @unwrapyourmap. You can also follow along through my Unwrap Your Map Facebook Page as well.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Absolutely! Thanks for your time. Wishing everyone to get out there in the world, have fun and try something new. Happy Travels!