Ep. 47: Minimizing Stress for Diplomats, Military Members and Expats, with Christine Lusk

November 30, 2021

I am beyond excited to bring our guest, Christine Lusk, on the podcast today because her business is not only GENIUS but so relevant to my life situation. Christine in the founder of Diplodash, which provides diplomats support services during and after transition to posts, and also while they’re in country! UMMM HELLO, ME!!!

Christine talks to be me about her life pre- entrepreneurship and how life of a trailing spouse (though she has properly renamed it a trailblazing spouse) brought on a lot of challenges she hadn’t realized. Once she was overseas, she was thinking how nice it would be to have someone send care packages and build shipments from home. She started with a system of information and insights from diplomats on what the would want and would pay for, and what they needed during their moves back and forth from the US. She started to build out each section of her business, and grew it from there!

She tells me how her husband and kids play such an important role in the company as what the support has meant to her. Then we talk about how she is able to remove herself emotionally from the work, and how much stress that takes away from her clients. We end our chat with one of my favorite tips for anyone who is thinking of starting something but unsure if they should — make sure you listen how she knew it was time to make the leap!

It was so fun hearing Christine’s story and geek over all the ways this is helping diplomats and their families! We are so lucky to have her in the diplomatic community, and now in the Amidst The Chaos Community!! Make sure to check out her website and Instagram to learn more!

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47. Minimizing Stress for Diplomats, Military Members and Expats, with Christine Lusk

I am beyond excited to bring our guest, Christine Lusk, on the podcast today because her business is not only GENIUS but so relevant to my life situation. Christine in the founder of Diplodash, which provides diplomats support services during and after transition to posts (UMMM HELLO, ME!!!).

DiploDash™ provides diplomats support services during and after transition to post such as pack-out support, consumables shipments, and care packages. We bring peace of mind to diplomats, so they can focus on life’s transitions.

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first, I would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham, and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did. As the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans. I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into when I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos Alright everybody, welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos. My name is Dana Graham and I am here this week with Christine last because going to tell us all about her journey into intrapreneurship. And I know every week I’m all excited and talk about how you know this guest is so exciting for me because Blank, blank blank. This is actually very exciting for me because Christina is one of the only people that really understands what it’s like to go through what I’ve been going through the past three months, which is moving overseas and living overseas as a Foreign Service dependent basically I know we have some sort of title, but I don’t even know what it is so welcome, Christine, thank you so much for being here.

Christine:
Thank you so much for having me, Dana. I’m so excited to be here. Of course I’m super nervous, but that’s you know, goes along with the territory I guess. And the term is trailing spouse but I don’t know that trailing as much as trailblazing is really what we’re doing here.

Dana: Yeah, accurate, especially when he like dumps me here and Turkey and then rolls back to the States without me.

Christine:
absolutely If isolating didn’t get more isolating?

Dana: Yes, yes, we’ll add it on. So yeah, give us a quick, just elevator pitch of what your current business does today. And then we’ll back up, rewind and go all the way back to kind of the beginning of your story. Sure.

Christine:
So my business Diplodash is designed to help diplomats and expats primarily right now it’s Foreign Service and military who are part of the Foreign Service, either with their shipments, getting ready to move managing those pack outs, doing remote consumable shipments, I realize a lot of people don’t know what that means, but it’s managing a lot of the logistics and delegating away the things you don’t have time for. And then I also help people get some bits of home and care packages so kind of flavors of home are navigating the diplomatic mail system.

Dana: Perfect. So this is the coolest service and I already am like dreaming of how I’m going to be incorporating this into my monthly life because it’s so true. Like on the comfort side, there are so many things that you don’t have access to and I’m in a very first world post like there’s you can find pretty much anything here I did have dry shampoo was like the last thing on my list and I was like, does this How does this country survive without dry shampoo? Like what are what are women doing? I don’t understand, but I did locate it but there are a lot of posts and I would say maybe probably a majority of posts where you cannot get access to normal everyday things that you have in the States. Would you say that’s kind of a fair assumption.

Christine:
I would say that’s absolutely fair. And I would say that it’s surprising the limitations in certain places and we’ve always served in what are classified as hardship posts where it’s hard to find things and even if you can find it, it’s astronomically expensive. And so having someone that you can get things through and package it in such a way or manage a shipment for you in such a way that they understand what is actually going to happen to that shipment or that care package makes a world of difference. Because I remember being overseas and receiving boxes where one item had bounced around for three weeks inside of it and exploded numerous times. So that is a world of difference for sure.

Dana: Yeah, absolutely. And I think just knowing that somebody does this as a job is incredible. And I know that there are tons of community resources like online and Facebook groups for trailing spouses and just you know, the embassy communities in general. And I think this is just such an awesome service. But I do want to talk to you about how you even got into this how this even became a thing what your life looked like before you were running Diplo dash. So give us a quick overview of what your life looked like before you had kids because that’s obviously a pretty big factor in all of this as well.

Christine:
Absolutely. So prior to having kids, I began my career in marketing, which evolved its way into luxury hospitality where I did event event management and I had done conference planning as part of my marketing background. But I was always in love with working with people experiencing different cultures. I worked on embassy delegations when I worked at Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC. And I loved just seeing things come to life for people taking their dream and making it their reality. And then my husband joined the Foreign Service. And we had to move and we were our first move was actually to New York City which was fantastic except that the housing bubble was burst and hospitality had already started taking a dive. And that’s a pretty common economic indicator, actually. But anyway, so I moved to New York City and couldn’t really find work initially, I was really struggling to find something that I thought met my interests and then I got pregnant. And we were living in a new place. We were learning a new place. And I loved New York City. I did not think I would but I absolutely loved everything about it. And then we had a baby and we knew we were going to be moving again. And so any job opportunities that were coming my way just didn’t seem worth it. And that is when I first gave up my original career. And then once we were back in the States, I did some volunteer work loved being back in was actually fundraising and so learning how to basically run a small business. We know nothing being put into it, but what you put into it, and that’s when I started going back to work. And while I was overseas again, I thought it would be so amazing if I did not have to spend my vacation time and the little bit of time I have with my family and my friends to manage things like a consumable shipment or another packout and to be able to say, hey, here’s what I want, please just go and do it for me and just make it happen. So that’s where that started. But that’s where that idea started. But then it took me five years to get to that point because I needed to really be back in the States to launch it all.

Dana: Yeah, so first off gene into genius idea, genius. I don’t know if I’ve made that clear by how excited I’ve been about it already. But I want to talk to you a little bit about your stint in New York. So for those of you that don’t know like working when you first start out in the Foreign Service, like most of the time, you’re not making a ton of money but you’re expected to move and there are a lot of expenses that are encouraged during that amount of time and then to move to an expensive place like New York City that there’s a lot of financial pressure that’s put on both the employee but there’s nothing they can do about it and then the spouse because it’s kind of like while I worked for the government, you know, like we kind of have to figure out how we want to spend the rest of our life in terms of finances to really make this happen. Do you want to be spending your days working at the embassy because there are a lot of people that can find embassy jobs, you know, they do reserve a small number of jobs for embassy spouses, but it might not be something that you really love or that you really want to do. It is an obligation and it’s not something that you can just, you know, like us we’re on are finally on week four of like sicknesses coming out of the fog, but I don’t know what we would have done if I had been working. I really don’t know. So I just kind of wanted to talk about this a little bit because when it comes to starting a business and being somebody who is you know, and I hate to say like you’re dependent on your husband, but like your life revolves around his travel at this point at that point in your in your career, right. And so you kind of had to figure out what you want to do on the side to make yourself feel fulfilled and also to support your family financially. So how did you transition from that New York City time where you’re kind of just like, we’re in this waiting period of, you know, where do we go from here? Like, is it even worth it for me to get a job to you know, moving overseas, picking up back up where you left off? How did how was your mindset during that time?

Christine:
So that’s an excellent question. And I think that it’s a myth for a lot of people that when you are posted stateside, that things are paid for. You get housing and you get per diem, and you get all of these things. And to be quite honest with you, we left New York City broke, broke, broke, nothing and so part of why we accepted the handshake that we were given, which mind you we spent nine months bidding to get an overseas tour that we were the only bidders on and it was a hard to staff post, which meant that they couldn’t find people to bid on it. And we said, we have to go we do not have a choice. We cannot pay rent anymore. We are so deep into our savings at this point. But we were saying okay, at the same time at that moment, was it I kind of grappled with. I really want to spend time with my baby. And I don’t want to commit to a job that I cannot follow through on and I’m going to have to tell them in a couple of months. That Oh, PS I’m pregnant. PS I’m pregnant, and I’m planning to go overseas in a few months after that baby is born. So don’t you want to invest in me? So strange position that you’re put in and then when you go overseas, and you are relying in a lot of places you have to rely on the embassy to find work because there is no bilateral work agreement. Unless you have a business which you then have to get approved to run and yada yada but those positions like you identified very astutely, often are not something you’re interested in. They aren’t something that you either have a skill set in or quite frankly, pay the bills. They are graded at a very low grade, and it’s very hard to do much with it. So it’s an interesting time and I do think and I do hope that the department is making strides towards being better about offering opportunities to family members, but i i Do you think it’s an upward Hill an upward battle that they are, they have to face

Dana: It has an even with you know all those factors whether you actually like it and the financial aspect of it if if it even makes you enough money like there is so much logistically that goes into these moves and that’s a huge part of where you come in as well. But I don’t know I literally don’t know how I would have worked any job that had certain hours and still had us be successful in this move. I mean, granted Shawn left 30 days after we got here so a lot of it’s fallen on me but still like it’s it there’s you just don’t understand and I didn’t understand till I did it and we’re not even through the first move yet. And I’m still like there is so much administrative stuff to do. So was your experience the same like were you totally overwhelmed with like, oh my gosh, how like there’s so much to do here is that kind of how you thought up Diplo dash like now walk me through that process.

Christine:
So I love a good spreadsheet. I’m not gonna lie. I’m like a spreadsheet nerd. And I have definitely been criticized for my attention to detail before for worrying too much about it. So I definitely have to balance that out. But our first move was such a chaotic mess it I mean, we had a three month old we were given a handshake on a Wednesday we were requesting to get out of our lease on a Friday and being told we had to move in four weeks. So it was it was intense. And so I could not for the life of me wrap my arms around any of it. Because we also were sent somewhere we weren’t expecting to go we were told we were going to stay in New York for the next year. And then we are suddenly going to South America.

Dana: So a little different.

Christine: This is just a minor difference with a three month old minor. No, no biggie as first time parents, but anyway, so a lot of it is knowing that it’s confusing to find information. The lists that you’re given are extensive, frequently overwhelming, and if you’re a first time officer and you are in training every day, nine to five, having to focus on passing language training and all of those things. You don’t necessarily have the mental bandwidth to even address some of these things, let alone not feel completely consumed by the stress and overwhelm of everything going on around you. So when I was talking with some friends, we were in Bolivia, we’re sitting around the dining room table and I said, you know, wouldn’t it be great if we could just order some Trader Joe’s care packages. And my very honest friend said that’s great, but you cannot make a business out of that. It will not be profitable. And I can’t say I disagree. But he said the other idea I have is being able to ask somebody to shop and manage a consumable shipment for you so you never have to leave post. And he was like now that is a business idea. And I said it is isn’t it? And knowing that I like checklists, knowing that I like systems and coming up with systems and being able to kind of change on the fly if I have to and that a lot of that was my event management experience and running around. I thought I could do it and I you know, it took me five years like I said to be able to do it but it was also talking to people and saying what would you look for and what would make this viable for you? And so it was basically market research without calling it market research. It

Dana:
was absolutely so and so obviously you got very enthusiastic feedback, especially from those I’m sure I’m sure that people who you know, you’re if you’re back in the States and you’re getting market research from them, and you’re talking to them and they’re like oh yeah, that’s a great idea. Like, you know, that’s I love that but I bet if you’re talking to people who are actively overseas deprived of the things that they really want, where they’re like, yes, that’s a good idea. I am on board. So talk to me about how you narrow that list down and kind of figure it out what was going to work as a business because like you said like some of the aspects maybe wouldn’t have been so profitable. How did you really figure out financially what was going to work in this business model?

Christine:
To be honest with you, I said, I had to make a decision because I had been thinking about it and wanting to do it and I had to say okay, I can either research this until the cows come home and know that in my personality, I can have paralysis through analysis, or I can throw some darts at a dartboard and start going and I knew that consumables would be needed. I knew remote consumables people would need it. Because it happened that I launched during the pandemic but it wasn’t because of the pandemic that I launched. It was that it just happened to be coincidental. So I launched with the remote consumable shipments and the idea of helping people manage their pack outs and their deliveries of their items. And it was a client and she’s now a repeat client and we’ve worked together since basically the start who came to me and said, Hey, I would really love to be able to get some care packages of Trader Joe’s stuff and I have a hankerin Will you help me? And she came to me with pricing and everything and I said, Alright, let’s give it a try. And so that and to be honest, as a small business, figuring out pricing is really confusing and really complicated. So it’s and I had talked to another woman who is a coach, a business coach, and she had given me some guidance on how to come up with that. So does that make sense?

Dana:
Yeah, absolutely. So talk to me about so talk to me about the actual service. So talk to me about like a consumable shipment because you do monthly ones, but also they’re customizable. So talk to me a little bit about that side of things.

Christine:
So certain posts, you would not get it where you are but certain posts overseas where it’s really hard to find food items, toiletry items, etc. Or they’re insanely expensive. They will apply to be a consumables post and they have to get approved by the Department, which means that they can get up to 2500 pounds of goods shipped to them, and they have to buy all of the goods but they don’t have to pay for the shipping and it gets packed up and moved just like your household goods. So what happens is I will work with clients, I have a whole system and all sorts of resources to guide them through the process of building a list what’s allowed what’s not allowed working with their assigned moving company. I have a guide that walks them through the steps of requesting the shipment at post. How do they do it? Who do they reach out to because some people just don’t really know and that’s okay. It’s it’s takes time to learn these things and, and then we build the list. We shop for it and we manage the survey which is when somebody comes to the house and says okay, we think this is gonna weigh 1200 pounds and then oversee the pack out so we work with the movers to make sure it gets packed carefully, that all the documentations that that they need are taken care of. And if you know if somebody didn’t submit their passport to the moving company for clearance with customs working on that and also managing the weight because with consumables, it’s easy to go over your weight allowance and if you do it can be insanely expensive to go out of pocket on that and I am definitely speaking from personal experience. And sometimes it’s worth it and sometimes it’s not. So I will say that and then when it comes to the helping people with their moving or you know packing out or getting their items delivered. I’ve had clients refer to us as the doulas of PCs behind that. It’s you know, you know what’s going on. And you also know the emotional state that our client is in and you know that sometimes more than anything, they just need somebody who gets it and to advocate for them. And so that’s a lot of what it is and making sure you know before we pack out we talk about what are their goals? And because everyone’s goals are different. What are their priorities? If they want to make sure that a certain room doesn’t get opened? That room does not get opened right so it is understanding what that person’s specific priorities and goals are and advocating for them and really just making sure that the end of the day they don’t feel like a Mack truck came through and ran them over.

Dana:
And that’s the most terrifying analogy on the planet because that’s literally like how it feels because there is a matte truck in your driveway.

Christine: In your driveway!

Dana: Yes and in they come in and it was just and it went well. We were like relatively prepared. I’ll do things a lot different next time but it does it feels like that day and they there’s a bunch of movers and everybody’s doing stuff and you can’t be in all the places you can’t be in all the rooms at the same time to monitor exactly what’s going on. So you’re running around like a crazy person and trying to figure out you know what’s going on? And I honestly like I had to leave at one point I was like I have I can’t be here like this is so stressful. I’m going to take the kit because the kids were there too. So I’m like I’m gonna take the kids which eliminates a layer of stress to and let my husband deal with it because you’re right it is it just feels so overwhelming if you don’t have a plan so this is awesome advice I think especially to get the word out about your business to first time PCs ours because again, like I’m a list person too I will be I will be much better suited next time around but to have somebody on the back end like actually in the States for when we move back like that is so incredibly crucial. Like that’s something that you just you’re like oh I wish this was a thing. It’s a perfect example of a mom realizing there’s a need for something and starting a business out of it because you’re exactly right. That’s exactly what the problem is even for us to come back. We’re gonna come back for a couple weeks over Thanksgiving and then fly back here with a friend. We have doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments like all these things that we’re we’re trying to schedule that happens. Yeah, meanwhile, our car is getting delivered here. Our second round of our he is getting here like might be delivered the day before we leave to come back home. So just to have somebody on either end to just kind of help and walk you through it is just totally totally amazing. And I’m blown away by how you even thought about this and turn it into something real. So talk to me about how this job and having this new business affects your family like what do they think about you doing this? Did they know it was a good idea from the start like is it a crazy time commitment for them like are they helping you pack boxes like tell me about their involvement?

Christine:
I think if you don’t have your family standing behind you when you launch a small business, you you are you are just I don’t know. I don’t know how anybody would do it. My family is very supportive. And my husband definitely has from day one said do it do it do it. You have to do this. This is going to be amazing. My kids, I mean they just want me to be a stay at home mom do anything but care for them and that is the mindset of all children that the world is their definite oyster. Nah, but I will definitely bring them with me and I will ask them questions and ask my youngest one when I did a little video. She’s like, Mom, that was terrible. You needed to say here’s what I have blah, blah, blah and done sell. So I definitely got a lot of feedback. But my husband definitely, I mean he was doing consumable shopping for me last week he you know, there’s a lot of times that they get brought into things and yeah they’re definitely a big part of it for sure.

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Dana: and it’s fun to for them to see that as much as you know you say and you’re right. The kids want the world to revolve around them. It’s so fun to have them see you start something from the ground up and something that nobody’s really doing. You know, this isn’t like, you know, I’m a photographer. Do you know how many photographers were born before me? All of them like 1000s and millions probably. So I did nothing to reinvent the wheel there but I think this is so cool that this is something that’s so innovative and so different. So how are you spreading the word because this is a very targeted community. Word of mouth is so popular in the diplomatic community like you don’t even understand until you’re in it and all people do is talk about all the things because even here like I wouldn’t know where to get the dry shampoo or where to you know, buy the best things that Turkey has offer or witch doctors that you can go to here that aren’t embassy related or anything. All these questions. Everything is just sort of on the gossip train. So is that how you’ve kind of gotten word around? or are there some other avenues that you’ve taken and resources you’ve tapped into to spread the word?

Christine:
So word of mouth is absolutely my number one resource for growth. There are some internal Facebook groups for the foreign service that I started there but I didn’t want that to be my main source of reach out. Because or outreach excuse me, because I just didn’t want people to feel like they you know, like that I was abusing that privilege to be a part of that community. So I have my own Facebook and Instagram, and website, but I’m building actually a newsletter so that will start and hopefully have a monthly newsletter to build more interest that way. Definitely. Once somebody experiences the service, I usually see more uptick and because they they understand you know we are a very skeptical bunch we are factoring intelligent, well versed group so we definitely want to check something out. And I think that’s totally fair. It’s a service that a lot of people are like, Well, why if this is so great, why why isn’t it existed before? Well, because it’s really hard to start a business and it takes a lot of time to grow that business. And that’s the only thing I can come up with. But it’s definitely a lot of word of mouth. And as soon as somebody posts me in a whatsapp chat group overseas, it’s over. Flooding. Yeah. So,

Dana:
so amazing. And it’s true too. And I’m sure well actually, let me just ask you, how do you see the differences in users by type of posts? So like, are you getting more? Are you working more with people that are coming to and from hardship posts? Are you seeing is it pretty even across the board? How does that work?

Christine:
So I would say that a lot of the clients for hardship posts where you would get a consumable shipment do both they want consumable shipments, they want care packages, they they want it all right. And then folks who are in easier places they want care packages because they still even though they have access to so much being in a developed country, they there are certain things they miss. And there’s just certain things that navigating that diplomatic mail system is no joke and I am not kidding. I am constantly rereading the guidance on it. The fam and the fall and all of it because I always want to make sure I’m up to date, and that I’m not missing something. So I think that’s really the two things and then for the deliveries it’s a mix and what’s surprising to me is it’s people coming from everywhere. But I You said earlier you know next time you’ll be better prepared. I’m seeing more very seasoned Foreign Service starting to want to use that service like the HHG packout or the delivery service because they know what’s coming horizon and they’re over it and they know you know what I can have help. I do not have to go this alone anymore. Absolutely. I want it. So it’s interesting, but I wouldn’t say it’s too region specific.

Dana:
Yeah, it is interesting because I feel like it’s such a specialist thing and like you know, like you were saying before it is a very skeptical group of people, for sure. People are definitely like is this worth it? And as like not to bring this up again, but like government employees, like you’re not paid a ton of money, like people really care about where every dollar goes and as you should, but when it comes to like paying for convenience, and that obviously boils it down into a very small nutshell. It’s not just for convenience, but it’s the same as you know, hiring a housekeeper like hiring a housekeeper here. It’s not very expensive, but it’s not dirt cheap, either. And so for me, it was like, Well, I don’t I don’t think I’m gonna pay for that. You know, like, I don’t think I could spend the extra money for a little bit of convenience but I think in the past few years and especially with the pandemic the hot button topics and issues are very much based on self care and maintaining your sanity. So I think anytime to start a business that’s built around, you know, convenience and making your life just a little bit easier. It’s the perfect time to do it because this is really when it’s becoming more socially acceptable to and not that it shouldn’t have been to begin with but now I think it’s talked about a lot more that it is okay to spend money to give yourself a little bit of freedom and a little bit of peace of mind. And I think to spread that part of the word will probably sell a lot of people to even when I’m you know talking about when I’m you know talking about when I’m you know talking about when I’m you know talking about when I’m you know talking about even when I’m you know talking about this with my friends here.

Christine:
Yeah, exactly. Peace of mind is a lot of the feedback that I get from clients who have used the service that it was so nice for them to have somebody who they knew understood everything that they had been through or were about to go through. You’re really just you’re paying for your sanity and that in some on some level and and it’s funny because there’s a lot of things no do you need me? No, you can totally do it yourself. But there’s a difference between doing it yourself and having somebody whose entire job is to make sure that it goes as best as it can and not have it all be on you. So it’s different

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Dana: There is a huge weight lifted off to for even just that you know the back of your mind the mom what do they call it like the mom cloud or whatever? Where like you literally thinking of everything every second of every day like okay, what are we going to feed the kids for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What’s for dinner? What kids have to go to school? When’s the doctor’s appointment like it’s literally that running list of everything in your in the back of your mind and then throw an international move on top of it and it’s just chaos like it’s just a lot of stress. And it’s a lot of things that you don’t have to worry so much about if you can outsource the help so I just I know I’m like really harping on this, but can you tell that I need like some help in my life because I’m like, Hey, that would be great.

Christine:
I know it’s a lot and the other thing too is that and I talk about this with clients is the great thing about the business for me is because you know you’ve been through the moves you know what the stresses, you know, the emotion it brings up, but what’s so amazing is that because it’s my business and it’s my job, I am not emotionally attached. That means that I have a clear head and I can think quickly and make decisions and help guide the client instead of getting wrapped around the feelings. So it’s so different in that way. And and it makes it so much easier for me to just manage it. Right. It’s an interesting, it’s very interesting. I don’t know

Dana:
it is the dynamic is awesome, because you’re right, it does it removes that whole element of emotion. It’s not your stuff, but it’s your client, right? You want to take care of her or him and make sure that they are emotionally stable right throughout this whole thing and you’re the one that can control that on the back end with all this experience. It makes it a lot less stressful for you and there’s no emotional involvement. So I love that. So talk to me about how obviously the business is growing a lot through word of mouth. Talk to me about how it’s working with you being back in the States. Do you guys have plans to go overseas again? Like how did you know that it was the right time for you to birth a business because it’s not a decision that you can really take lightly right to start to start a business? How did you know that it was the right time to jump in for you in your family?

Christine:
So I would say I got to a point where I said I’m either going to do this or not. And I just kept feeling like in my gut I have to do this. Now is the time if I wait for the perfect moment, it will never come. And I’ve had people ask me well, what’s going to happen if you go overseas again? I don’t know. I my goal. In my ideal world I can build this to a point where I have somebody who can be an on the Ground Operations Manager. It doesn’t necessarily have to be me. It has to be somebody that I can train. We are headed into the bidding process but we’ve had a very serious conversation about how I don’t think the kids or myself are ready to go out again, because we have done malt we’ve punched the hardship card very well and we’re good for now. And COVID certainly had an impact on that. It definitely slowed a lot of things down for everyone in terms of settling in and creating a routine and all of that. But I also want to give this time and so I do think that it’s something that we have to consider but why would I be constrained any more than any other business right like, I don’t know, I just I don’t worry about it. I worry about today and what I need to do today and what I need to plan for to grow. And if I get to that trouble spot, I am excellent. Like Life is good. Right? Right. Things are going the way I want them to go.

Dana:
Right and it’s so true. It’s like okay, if there’s something like if there if you’ve built something big enough that you feel like there’s something to lose, there’s always a way to pivot it to make it work, right. There’s always a way to be able to make it happen. And I think it’s so cool to because you could honestly like find you know, a trailing spouse that’s home on a just a two year stunt back in DC where they’re looking for a job but again, they can’t commit to something because it’s like, oh, by the way, I know we’ve just settled in and now it’s you know, been three or four months and we’ll have to, you know, leave a month before you know it’s less than two years and that’s not a commitment to any sort of career to a job. People want longer than that they do and so to potentially be able to employ somebody in the future that’s been through all the things that you’ve been through and what gives you the great expertise that you have of doing your job. I think that that would be so special and so cool.

Christine:
I love that. Yeah, and then honestly, I would love to be able to grow this to the point where I have a model that trains family members at post to do this at post.

Dana:
Right. I was thinking that For how long have we been talking? 30 minutes I’ve literally been thinking I’m like I could be your person here. Like I can totally do that. I love it. And it’s so funny that you’ve you know, you’ve built this business right that nobody else has. That is something that’s very creative that stems from your life’s experience. But that it’s totally scalable. Like it is not just something that is here and you do the service and it’s over right there’s so much potential and I think this is not to kind of beat a dead horse but this is like a this is a rare thing that happens in business where you come up with an idea that nobody is really doing nobody’s really had before. You, you implement it, which is 90% of the of the work right? You actually do it. And then it’s something that you’re able to keep growing and doing with you as your life evolves. And as you move on in your career and I just I think that is so cool. You’ve found something so special like that. So talk to me about how you were really really knew that this was a good idea like because again, that jump is really scary. And that’s that’s something that I’ve gotten away from asking people about on the podcast in the past few episodes and I really regret it because I think that that’s what holds so many people back in my target. Audience people that I really want to be listening to this podcast are moms who know that they want to do something else, but they don’t know what it is. And they don’t know how they’re going to do it. Or maybe they have an idea but they’re like there’s no way I could do that. Like what made you really jump over the edge and say okay, this is the thing. I’m going to do it. Here I go so

Christine:
a couple of things, actually. So one of the things and this is gonna sound crazy, and it takes me way back to eighth grade. I know that’s crazy talk. I love it. I remember in eighth grade, we were wrapping up the school year and we were putting together a little memory book and this girl in my class and she’s now a woman of course and she wrote that she hoped to live a life where she’d never regretted anything. And I thought even in eighth grade I was like, and her name was actually Dana and spell Donna, but I said Dana, oh my gosh, that is so profound. Where did you come up with that? And she was like, No, my parents teach me not to live with regrets because you can’t really live your life. Right? So that’s stuck with me and has always stuck with me. So it was that and it was also just listening to podcasts of inspiring women who said over and over again. Just do it. You have an idea. It inspires you. You have passion. Just do it. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Don’t wait for the stars to align or for somebody to come out of nowhere and tell you I love your business. I want to buy it. And I it was really important to me to not let the little voices in your head that tell you oh it’s never gonna work or they’re never gonna buy or you’re not all of that negative. I was just pushing it out. I was like, I don’t care. I’m gonna do this. It’s needed. We need services to support our Foreign Service and our families and our diplomats and we need resources and I can be that resource. I will do it and I will also hopefully show my kids because I have two girls that they can do anything they want. They just have to try and I thought if I fail I fail. And I learned what I learned from failing because that’s okay to fail. But I won’t know if I ever can make it if I don’t at least try. So that’s why I did it.

Dana:
I love that and it’s so true. I mean, you really don’t know what especially when, especially when you’re in a business that you don’t have a model for right you don’t have someone out there being like, hey, this really worked for me. And that’s a whole different aspect of it. So how did you kind of know you were on the right track in those moments where it’s like, well, shoot, I wish I had somebody that had done this before they could give me like a little advice.

Christine:
So I definitely reach out to it’s funny when you start a business you find just the world of entrepreneurs come out. It’s like they grow up around you like all these little plants are held around you and suddenly you see that there are all these other entrepreneurs in the world. And some of them are more experienced. Some of them are newer or somewhere in the same zone that you are and you just talk about things and you just ask questions. And you’re right. It was there was not a lot for me to find research on it was being just saying okay, let’s give it a try. So I would have somebody come to me and say Hey, can you do this? For me? This is what I need. And I would say I don’t know. Let’s try. And so it was really so much of it has been I don’t know let’s give it a try. And this is what I think I would do. And I will figure it out as I go because that’s I know that that might be a little scary for people to hear. But honestly, you have to be constantly ready to pivot on your business and what how you’re operating if it doesn’t work. So

Dana:
yeah, that is so true. And I think it’s really inspiring for those out there that maybe have some sort of creative idea that have a lifestyle that not everybody has an idea lends itself to them. That could be something really great and really impact the lives of others. So I think what you’re doing is so awesome. And I cannot wait to utilize the I’m like Okay, we’re ready to come back now. Like we got to figure it out. And you know, we’re renting our house out actually, of course they came up right now where the rental, we’re here right and the rental needs to be renewed so they’re finding new renters it’s a whole thing.

Christine:
That’s even just it stuff like that that nobody thinks about you just don’t understand when it comes to international move all of the pieces and day to day administrative tasks that have to go on and then you know, you’re waiting for somebody else to respond right you’re then then you have to do 10 more steps and then you have to respond, you know, and it’s it’s just a crazy waiting game and to have somebody with basically a manual I mean, you’ve been talking about your your questionnaire, it’s probably a manual of the things that you have to do is just going to be so helpful for our move home and I can’t wait to I will absolutely shamelessly blast your stuff all over the Facebook groups because I don’t care. I will use it because for somebody I mean, not for myself over somebody else. Absolutely.

Dana: So, Christine, thank you so so much for doing this. Obviously it’s a very personal episode for me, and I’m just really thrilled that you agreed to do it. And we found some time finally to chat and have this conversation. So any last parting words of advice for our listeners, just if you are thinking about launching a business or you’re thinking about changing your business?

Christine: what do you have to lose? You know, there are so many amazing women out there women entrepreneurs who just went with our gut, you know, and so I think we’re taught not to listen to our instincts, but our instincts are very strong, so I think you should listen to them. No, I love it. Well, thank you so much. It was great to have you and we will chat with you soon. Wonderful. Thanks so much, Dana. I am so honored. You spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos and any mom’s normal day to day.

Dana: If you love what you’ve heard and need more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast calm For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to rate and review. Thanks for joining me amidst the chaos

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