Michelle Welsch is a social worker turned entrepreneur who quit her life in New York City and moved to Nepal to work on various projects that support leadership and educational opportunities within the country. What started as three-week volunteer trip evolved into her packing up her bags and moving there full time. She has now been in Nepal for two years, and even though she might not be making oodles of money, she is more fulfilled and happier then ever.
She worked with a group in Nepal to conceptualize, fundraise and build the Learning House – a combination coffee house and tutoring center that provides a vibrant environment to foster education growth and community in the region. This is her main focus now, but she still runs her entrepreneurial venture, Project Exponential – an invite-only dinner series in New York City, from afar.
Michelle has already learned a great deal from her decision to ‘quit everything.’ She has discovered some major cultural differences between the US and Nepal and they have led to her living a life that is more focused on gratitude and simply being. As she wrote in Quitting Everything to Go to Nepal Was the Best Thing I’ve Done, “When you’re happy — truly happy — you shine from the inside out…I hate to think I could have missed out (BIG TIME) because I was afraid to quit. Sometimes, you just need to live life.”
Listen below to learn more about Michelle’s Chapter Be story…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[03:00] How Michelle saw the correlation between social work and advertising – it is all about empathy.
[04:50] Moving from a ‘helping profession’ where you help to elevate others to being the head of her own operations and on her own – and what she learned from this move.
[7:50] Choose your company wisely and surround yourself with others who understand what you are experiencing.
[10:30] Fear is a huge paralysis. To get over her fear, Michelle wrote down all of her fears about what could go wrong…
[13:30] Michelle’s story of how she ended up moving to Nepal!
[17:40] “Is it me – am I not content or is there really something greater?”
[20:00] How Michelle has learned to be grateful for what you do have, relax and let things take their course.
[22:40] What Michelle has learned about competition since living in Nepal.
[26:50] The importance of learning to say “No!”
[29:20] Michelle’s ideas of community have changed – it is not just about creating community, but also being a member of a collective.
[35:00] The goals of the Learning House and moving the education system in Nepal forward.
[41:30] Michelle’s advice to you if you are not happy where you are and want a change.
[46:30] What “simply being” means to Michelle.
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
I was once a Probation Officer. Also I know how to make animal balloons.
“Leap and the net will appear.”
Worst work experience?
Let’s just say it was a desk job.
What is your definition of success?
Am I helping others?
Am I accomplishing set goals?
Do I feel welcomed into a community?
Are there people in my life who support me?
Am I learning, getting a bit better, more patient, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving each day?
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
Music. Dance. Movement. Writing — even if it isn’t “great.” Rest.
What does “to be” mean to you?
I’m present, authentically me in whatever form that takes: exhaustion, enthusiasm, anxious, satisfied.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
The web. Or eating.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
- The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
- Krista Tippett – On Being
- James Altucher – Podcast
- Zen Habits
- Elizabeth Gilbert’s facebook page
- Marc Maron – WTF podcast
- Seth Godin – blog + Linchpin
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Be Lucky by the Who
- Michelle Welsch – Website
- Michelle Welsch – Blog
- The Learning House
- The Learning House Indiegogo Campaign
- Project Exponential
- Khata: Life
- Seth Godin
- Business Model Generation by
- Humans of New York – Mott Hall Bridges Academy story
- The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer / Amanda’s TED Talk
Images via Michelle Welsch