There are plenty of ways to go about globetrotting:
Some travel writers go where the story is.
Some seek out the darkest corners of our world in order to shine a light where one is needed most.
Some go wherever their finger landed when the globe stopped spinning. (Side note: it’s funny how antiquated globe-spinning seems in the age of global communication. When I think of the globe as a tangible object such as you might find in a well-stocked library, a mental image of Colonel Mustard from the game Clue unfailingly crops up.)
Jen Leo’s method for choosing her next destination seems to be a highly effective combination of playing to her strengths and challenging herself. With an innate knack for connecting with people wherever she goes, Jen takes easily to the social side of travel journalism.
She was recently named one of Christopher Elliott’s 50 Travel Twitterers to follow. And yet, on the flip side of her aptitude for online response, Jen enjoys and excels at face-to-face networking – something she discovered while on tour promoting Travelers’ Tales Sand in My Bra, a popular book series she co-edited.
“The marketing side of publishing is my favorite part,” Jen said in an interview with GoNOMAD senior travel editor Kent E. St. John. “I love touring, having face time with readers, and especially meeting booksellers.”
Genuine and personable, Jen has carved out her role as a trusted member of the travel media. People love to check in with her regularly, and in a number of different ways – by reading her Los Angeles Times column and Conde Nast Traveler articles, following her top travel tweets, and tuning in for This Week in Travel, a podcast she cohosts with Gary Arndt and Chris Christensen.
Regardless of where Jen is headed next, she’s constantly on the path to improving her storytelling. Jen follows her own advice to immerse (to the point of obsession) in reading and writing in order to refine her skills. Top that off with her ahead-of-the-curve implementation of the latest in travel tech, and Jen Leo is a travel media expert worth keeping up with no matter where she wanders.
“The correlation between obsession and success rings true across many different industries. When you are dedicated and persistent with improving your craft, success is completely within reach,” Jen says.
This April, Jen will bring her valuable point of view to our Panel of Experts in the 2012 Island Intern Contest. I’m looking forward to hearing from Jen as judging progresses because I know she’ll guide the Island Intern candidates to “get obsessed” with Isla Palenque. Pure, unadulterated obsession with our island… hmmm… maybe we should list that as a requirement in the job description for our summer intern?
Also, since the winner of this year’s Island Intern contest is asked to develop a curriculum for their time on Isla Palenque, a curriculum derived from their individual strengths and passions, I think Jen’s policy of playing to her strengths when representing the travel industry will go a long way in guiding the next generation of advocates.