I’m Curtin. No, my parents didn’t choose this name for me. It’s actually my surname but classmates, teammates, friends, and colleagues have been calling me this for over 20 years now. My name was my first real step down my own personal path. It was a scary feeling walking into an interview and correcting the people I was asking to hire me. Not going by my expected name made others fear I might be too much of a wild card. They were right. But deciding to take responsibility for something I liked about myself was the best thing I could have done. Since then I’ve learned how to make challenging choices for myself and how to accept the consequences.
I grew up in the USA and dropped out of university after two years to play rugby in Europe. This made it official that I was now responsible for my own future. I was free from the crowd but also lacked the safety and community they provided. Traveling the world forged me into a life-long learner. I like to tell people I was tasting the world’s buffet. I’d move to a country and find work in a new industry. Then I’d join a local rugby club, start an improv comedy group and host pub quizzes at a nearby bar. I was addicted to understanding how different people handled that same problems. I found myself filling roles in marketing, operations, finance, sales, and strategy. I worked in metals, transportation, education, investments, chemicals, apparel and entertainment. I ran my own startups, or worked for others. My life was a healthy mix of office and remote work, with hobbies and language study assisting my assimilation to each new destination. From over 15 years of working and traveling around the world, I discovered the following:
observed how some ideas worked in one culture but failed in another
helped startups and saw the daily routines of founders who succeeded vs those who didn’t
recognized how people’s unique personalities and leadership styles either helped or hurt their businesses
saw what little we actually need to survive and started to take stock of what really mattered to achieve set goals
recognized that an openness to being wrong usually allowed business leaders to fail quickly and cheaply instead of driving the business into the ground
learned how different creative exercises can help for different roadblocks businesses commonly face
As a swiss army knife employee, I often became close with the directors of the companies I worked for. Oftentimes, they’d include me in their personal lives and I became a fixture at the family home. I was supporting their dreams. All my knowledge and skills were helping their ideas become reality. After meeting the other Remote Work Mentors at a series of conferences between 2016 and 2018, I decided to focus my efforts on my own dreams instead. I’d build up a thick skin surviving unprepared as I had for so many years. I knew when to fight harder and when to cut and run. I was resilient and wanted to finally test my own passion projects in the fire of reality.
Currently I run Inkside Out Apparel, a custom embroidery clothing company for people with tattoos. I’m earning my masters in education while running workshops for the Uprise Academy, hosting a weekly philosophy call and coaching a women’s American football team in the Netherlands. I also help executives sort out their personal and professional struggles through a series of motorcycle rides. It’s sort of like therapy on two wheels.
I’m the resilience mentor at Remote Work Mentors. I help our community view their new projects and business ideas from new perspectives and build up their fight or flight tool kit. It’s my pleasure to pass on hard earned lessons from the road. I ran a public relations company, have been a personal coach, and have a degree in finance which have all allowed me to better understand my fellow mentors here. We all share a number of skills but have each chosen a speciality and I’m quite excited to continue to work with entrepreneurs and freelancers helping them get battle ready in our programmes.
... I have fielded the following questions in the last few years: 1. Don’t you want to get married? 2. Don’t you want to have children? 3. You know you don’t have much longer before you can’t have children, so when do you think you’ll stop travelling? 4. What are you running away from? 5. Are you sure so much instability is good for you, you know with your condition? (more on this later) 6. Is what you’re doing legal? (My brother asked me this — it was said in jest but in every stitch of humour is an ounce of truth) 7. Don’t you want to have a proper home? 8. Don’t you think you’re too old to be doing this? 9. Aren’t you lonely? 10. When will you get a real job? 11. Do you have a job? 12. How do you make money? 13. How do you ever expect to get a boyfriend when you move all over the place all the time? The list goes on but all with similar themes, marriage, children, family, stability and job. The answer to almost all of those questions is I’m really not sure, barring my job and whether it’s legal. I run a location independent branding and advertising agency called On The Run and yes it is legal. When I started this journey I put a roof over my head and food in my tummy by writing, more specifically, doing copywriting for various clients. One of whom is a tech agency that I still write for regularly on all things AI, Chatbot and RPA related - I even published a book on it this year called Working Machines: An Executive’s Guide to AI and Intelligent Automation I am South African, born and bred. I grew up all over South Africa. Went to a total of 12 schools and I have a degree in journalism (which I’ve never really used) and politics (which I have rarely used except for getting into heated debates about, well, politics). I love South Africa. I think it is the most beautiful country in the world and yes I am biased, but I have heard the same from many of the people I have met while travelling. The city that I consider home is, Cape Town, which incidentally has been named the best city in the world for 7 years in a row. I am in no way running away from my home or anything that matter, not anymore anyway. I am simply on a mission to find a place on Earth that is more beautiful than my home. I am a redhead and I believe that my hair is a very big part of my identity. I was the new kid in school 12 times and each time I was the new kid in school with freckles and red hair. Kids are merciless but I think the teasing made me more resilient… so there 😉 I was born with a congenital heart defect called coarctation of the aorta, I was the first female girl in SA to have the disease without having the accompanying Turners Syndrome. My brother and I were the first two different sex siblings to have the same heart defect in South Africa. At least this is what our doctors said, and doctors know best. I have had two heart operations and due to a rough start in life, healthwise at least, I tend to get sick a little easier than other people and then stay sick for longer. This has affected my school, varsity and work life. When I was 30 years old, I had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar (which is possibly a whole book in itself). I take medication every day and I have been mostly episode free since 2016. All of these things I’ve shared have shaped my life experience. Since 2018 On The Run has been a profitable 5 figure business (in dollars) and a 6 figure business in rands (SA local currency). I work with an incredible team of creative people who do exceptional work. Take a look for yourself. I am the Remote Work Mentor’s brand mentor and I have worked in advertising and marketing for more than 18 years. I started my career working for multi-national agencies like Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and Mirum. I have expertise in brand and marketing strategy and I specialise in brand messaging and connecting with your audience. So that’s my story and I am really looking forward to mentoring you in the future!