We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Jaskolowska and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I don’t think that there is only one factor behind any success. Success is a result of many factors, decisions made in the process, character, taking the opportunities and learning from the lessons that life brings. Success is a process, it’s a continuum and in my opinion it’s not a single achievement or event, but a constant sense of happiness, fulfillment and a burning desire to grow continuously. I think that what hinders most people from achieving success is their mind. It’s conditioned from the very childhood, when something inside tells us that being more than average is not the best choice. That we are destined for other roles and other missions to fulfill.
And if we believe it ourselves, the whole world around us will believe it too and will reinforce it and throw obstacles under our feet. I am a social psychologist. While writing my PhD and conducting research around the world I spent a lot of time in different countries and cultures. For four years I have been running a travel blog and I spend most of the year on the road. In total, I have been on the road for 13 years. Traveling has taught me that even at the end of the world there is no place where someone will appreciate us, give us a chance, believe in us. Either we work it all out in ourselves and pack it in our suitcase, or we will be scared on the same level miles from home. Traveling and running away will not save us from ourselves.
From how we think about ourselves, how we define ourselves. Nor can any culture or country in which we are born save us. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: ‘It is not that crowded at the top’. Why do you think that is? Not because there is no place at the top, but because most people don’t even dare to dream about it. They believe they are predestined for mediocrity. I feel that no one is free from this, it’s just that some do better, and some do worse. I keep hearing stories of wonderful, smart, and valuable people who can’t find a place for themselves, getting lost in who they should or shouldn’t be. So many years of being dissatisfied with themselves, reprimanding themselves for not being perfect yet. The feeling that there is always someone better in their place, more suitable, more competent, smarter.
And then it turns out that it doesn’t matter anyway, because there aren’t any better, faster or smarter ones. Pride. This is the key word to my success. Pride in being confident, in being tough, in being strong, in being resilient, in crying with emotion, in being nostalgic, in being dreamy, in being feminine and, in being smart and educated, in having developed muscles and strength. Out of each of these qualities individually and out of the whole they make up. No matter what I do in life, I am always guided by the thought of how proud I am of myself. This helps me to never give up, to define failures as lessons and accomplishments as the engine that drives me forward. I draw my strength from myself and the feeling that I can always handle whatever happens. There is a beautiful quote by Marilyn Monroe: Always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, Sweetie?
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Travelling has been an important part of my life since an early childhood. Visiting many different places seemed to be quite natural. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 85 countries so far. Professionally, I’m a psychologist. I’ve always loved science. Especially, cross-cultural psychology was something that pushed me forward to another places. I wanted to know more, observe more and understand more about human behavior. I’ve been doing research all over the world and it was one of the reasons for traveling. I took part in student exchange in South Korea and Italy. From that time, I knew that studying and working abroad it’s a perfect opportunity to explore the world. So, I decided to go for more. I received plenty of government scholarships for my research in Japan, United States and Australia.
For the last few years I had a chance to live, study and work for a longer period of time, among others, in the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Italy and Spain. On the blog I share my observations and impressions about the places I have been to, amazing lifetime experiences, love for nature and natural wonders, as well as reflections on culture and people from around the world. When I founded Travel and Keep Fit, I believed with all my heart that I could create something that would help and inspire others. Even those who are still hesitating, afraid or think they are insufficient to have the life they dream about – whether in terms of traveling, studying abroad or trying something crazy, what everyone advises against. I’ve heard all my life that something can’t be done, because it’s impossible. First, I’ve heard that it’s impossible to combine professional dancing with studying, than that I will never get government scholarships, than that I won’t be first psychology student in my country who received fellowship for the research at very young age, than that it’s impossible to live from blogging, that I won’t publish my book „South America – the path of natural wonders”, that traveling and keeping fit it’s impossible. Every time I heard that, I thought: „Watch me.” There is no magic, coincidence or luck. But there are loads of determination, hard work and belief that I’m capable of doing great things in life. I’m trying to show my readers that to pursue your dreams, you don’t have to be rich, very talented or especially gifted. I am proud that I create the life of my dreams.
I travel a lot, while I didn’t quit my passions for science and active lifestyle. I have never sold everything and resigned from my life to travel the world. I found a way to keep the balance and have a little bit of everything in my life. We are pushed to make our choices every day, define our roles, be a specific type. But you know what? I do not want to choose! I want to be a bit of everything – a traveler, a writer, a businesswoman, an intellectualist, a badass. Someone once said I have an excessive hunger of life. And I think it’s just openness, diversity and the need to be versatile. I help young people to study abroad and find their path in a scientific career. Everyday I’m doing coaching to people who are afraid that they are not good enough to do something and they are afraid to take a risk. I write articles from the most amazing places around the world trying to encourage people to visit them on their own and learn from the beauty of our world. I work with tourism boards, travel companies and brands. I write for magazines like National Geographic. I wrote two travel books and I work on another one. In the meantime, I train a lot, run, find new challenges like skydiving or motorcycle trips and share my ideas of a healthy and active lifestyle. And this is what I show on my blog Travel and Keep Fit and in my social media – be whomever you want and how much you want. You don’t have to choose to be the one thing only!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is my thing! Four years ago, I visited Miami for the first time, and I felt in love with this place. From that moment, I return here every year for winter. I realized that each time I say ‘Miami’ in a conversation, everyone gets excited and wants to go there. We have an idea about this city imprinted in our mind by movies and TV series. But frankly speaking, it’s exactly what they show – beautiful beaches, palm trees, tall hotels with heavenly views and in Miami Beach – clubs, restaurants, crowds of people hungry for entertainment, movie-like boulevards and artistic, colorful districts. You can’t be bored in Miami! However, if you drive a few miles away from the downtown, you can find peace and calmness, allowing you to live, work and relax. And this diversity is the best part of the city. If my best friend would visit me for a week, I would have taken her to the eclectic district of Wynwood in the center of the city. It is known mostly for its huge murals but it’s a home for my favorite art galleries, shops with handmade accessories and antiques or bars and restaurants with extraordinary design. To put it shortly – it’s one of the largest open air, artistic places in the world. It is really worth taking a walk, geting inspired by street art, which is absolutely unique. Then, we would go to movie-like South Beach, which is associated with music clips’, fast cars and nightclubs. It’s very crowded but it has its charm. Beautiful wide beach with colorful lifeguard shacks and the palm trees mixed with tall hotels. Just the kind of Miami you’d see in a postcard. I like this place for the beach boulevard. Thriving with life, swarming with smiling people, some of them riding bikes, doing jogging or working out in outdoor gyms. It’s super motivating. And in the nearby bars you can get 35 oz. margaritas. Welcome to Miami Beach! While being in Miami, you can’t restrain from going to see the NBA game at American Airlines Arena. Even if you are not a huge sports fan, seeing a real basketball game and feeling the energy of the fans is priceless. The emotions are unbelievable and before you even notice, you’ll shout your head off, screaming at the top of your lungs. Pure life. I would also love to show my friend something calmer, slower… Hollywood Beach is one of my favorite places near Miami. I have a sentimental attachment to it, because this is the place where I’ve lived, when I’ve gone there for the first time and I returned there after three years. It’s famous for its incredible, wide beach and beautiful boulevard by the ocean, which is perfect for riding a bike and jogging. It’s much cozier than the touristic South Beach or crowded Fort Lauderdale. The Broadwalk stretches for miles and except for the main part, where you can find the biggest hotels, it’s quiet. Nothing disturbs the humming waves of the ocean, you can really relax and the beach is never crowded. Along the Broadwalk there are small restaurants, Pachamanka is my favorite, where they serve fresh ceviche. My favorite active thing to do is biking along the coast, from Hollywood Beach to Miami Beach and back. I especially remember the first time I did this ride. The weather was excellent, I put a radio in the bike basket, so it played all the Latin music hits (which by the way, fits the Miami vibe so well…). It was such a perfect day! Palm trees, ocean, people smiling at me and Miami I always dream of – sunny, cool and thriving with life. I have so many ideas for this week that I think it should be at least a month to enjoy the unique Miami vibe!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I don’t have any particular person that made me who I am. Instead, I think I am the sum of the people I have met in my life. Those who supported me on my way and those who tried to stop me. The first group gave me strength, inspiration and support in moments of doubt. It includes my loved ones, but also people who appeared in my life only for a moment. I don’t believe in accidental meetings between people. I believe that people appear in our lives for a specific purpose. They have to teach us something, give us inspiration, or vice versa – by their behavior they make us start to doubt and question. Constantly questioning is an important process of growth, success and business creation. For each of these people in my life I am grateful because they played an important role in my process of getting to be the person I am now. I will say more – I believe that those individuals who mostly didn’t believe in me, tried to drag me down and told me I wouldn’t succeed, made me fight even harder. They made me more motivated to prove that there are no limits for me and show them that I will never give up. From the time perspective, I can only be thankful for that.