The Actionable Futurist® Podcast

S4 Episode 19: Karen Jacobsen - the GPS Girl on her serendipitous role as the Australian voice of Siri

August 01, 2022 The Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill Season 4 Episode 19
The Actionable Futurist® Podcast
S4 Episode 19: Karen Jacobsen - the GPS Girl on her serendipitous role as the Australian voice of Siri
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Our guest is world-famous and while you may not heard of her, you may have heard her voice!

Aussie-born and now back in Australia, Karen Jacobsen’s speaking voice is in over 1 Billion GPS units and smartphones worldwide giving directions.

From a single voice-over booking, she created her empowerment brand “The GPS Girl”, teaching the five directions for “recalculating" in business and life.

An award-winning Singer and Songwriter, Karen's musical career highlights include sharing the bill with Norah Jones, Neil Sedaka and Christopher Cross and singing the national anthem at major sporting events including 80,000 people at the Giants Stadium for the New York Jets.

A TEDx speaker, Karen has enjoyed wide media coverage including the NBC Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, The New York Times, NY Daily News, Glamour magazine, being named one of People Magazine's Most Intriguing People and she hosted her own web series "Navigating New York with The GPSGirl".

Karen's voice is in demand in the studio as a Voice-Over artist recording customised voice systems and advertising campaigns and in-person as an entertainer and speaker for Corporate events around the globe.


As an Author, Karen’s book "The GPS Girl's Road Map for Your Future” gives direction for getting more of what you want in business and life.

We covered a range of topics including

  • Karen's Hero: Olivia Newton-John
  • How Karen became "Aussie Karen" in Siri
  • How the recording process worked
  • How Karen uses voice interfaces in real life
  • Will AI replace the human voice assistant completely?
  • The time Karen found out she was the voice behind "Aussie Karen"
  • Karen's Son's reaction to his mummy being in her phone
  • Karen's most interesting voiceover job
  • The GPS Girl and corporate audiences on recalculating
  • Transferrable skills from a signer to a corporate presenter
  • The new reality of performing in a post-covid world
  • Advice for people wanting to perform as a singer or speaker and how to build confidence
  • Tips for improving your public speaking
  • How Karen recalculated in March 2020
  • Karen's new life in The Whitsundays, Australia
  • The blueprint for a real ambassador
  • The magic about The Whitsundays
  • Three Actionable tips for recalculating your next destination


Resources mentioned on the show
A Passionate Life - Ita Butrose
Tourism Whitsundays
Olivia Newton-John

More on Karen
Karen on LinkedIn
Karen on Twitter
Karen's Music Website
The GPS Girl


Your Host: Actionable Futurist® Andrew Grill
For more on Andrew - what he speaks about and recent talks, please visit ActionableFuturist.com

Andrew's Social Channels
Andrew on LinkedIn
@AndrewGrill on Twitter
@Andrew.Grill on Instagram
Keynote speeches here

Voiceover:

Welcome to the Actionable Futurist® Podcast, a show all about the near term future with practical and actionable advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question "what's the future?" along with voices and opinions that need to be heard? Your host is international keynote speaker and The Actionable Futurist®, Andrew Grill.

Andrew Grill:

Today's guest is world famous and while you may not have heard of her, you may have heard her voice, Aussie born and now back in Australia. Karen Jacobsen's speaking voice is in over 1 billion GPS units and smartphones worldwide giving directions from a single voice over booking she created her empowerment brand, the GPS girl teaching the five directions for recalculating in business and life and award winning singer and songwriter Karen's musical career highlights include sharing your bill with Norah Jones, Neil Sedaka and Christopher Cross, as well as singing the national anthem at major sporting events, including 80,000 people at the giant stadium for the New York Jets. Welcome, Karen.

Karen Jacobsen:

Hello, how are you?

Andrew Grill:

It is so good to see you again. We haven't seen each other since early 2016. We met in New York City through our mutual friend Jeff Hayzlett. When I knew that you two were connected. I said I just have to meet Karen for whole HIPAA reasons. And I'll be wanting to get you and your story on the podcast for so long. So thank you so much for your time today.

Karen Jacobsen:

Oh, it's such a pleasure. And look, our accents match.

Andrew Grill:

They do. I've had only a few double Aussie bills on so it's nice to have that although everyone tells me that I'm getting a bit posh. If I go back to Australia. They say you sound posh. And I'm sure you've got a bit of the New York twang in yours as well. That's right. Now we can talk about direction and recalculating without going back to the source. So I want to look at when you grew up and your influences. You were seven years old watching TV. And a voice came on the screen

Karen Jacobsen:

The most important and most influential person in the whole world. Which of course, is Olivia Newton-John. And when I heard her, my gosh, my life changed. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to become a professional singer and move to America.

Andrew Grill:

Now everyone knows Oliva Newton-John. In fact, I've seen one of the videos where you actually accompany her name with a beautiful piano sting.

Karen Jacobsen: Karen sings:

"Olivia Newton-John!".

Andrew Grill:

We often are told we shouldn't meet her heroes. But did you ever meet Olivia in person?

Karen Jacobsen:

I did. And she was so it was very satisfying. And I was totally starstruck. And I said, I just, you know, I

Andrew Grill:

I can feel you still buzzing about that moment want to acknowledge you for the influence. You've been on my life, every area of my life from where I live to what I do, and I just want to thank you. She said, Oh, that's such a lovely thing to say, What's your name? And I said, Karen Jacobson, and Olivia Newton-John said, your're Karen Jacobson, I love your CD. It was it was a life moment. down the Zoom call? Definitely. You saw her on television. And you looked at what she had done with her career. What did that seven year old do next?

Karen Jacobsen:

Not long after that. I started to write songs. And it wasn't a decision like I want to, I'm going to be a songwriter. It was little melodies and words popped into my mind. And I knew they were important. And I had to figure out how to write them down. So that's what I did. I was before it was before I'd learned how it was taking formal piano lessons and learn how to write music, but I was figuring out how to write down the songs, and you know, I just want I just had stars in my eyes from a very young age. And I knew that being on stage and sharing music was my path, and I just lived and breathed music from then on in. Australia. She was born in the UK. She came to Australia. I know a lot about her. She went back to the UK then she had an opportunity to go to America and one of the places she had the most success was la so I always thought I'm gonna move from Mackay in North Queensland near the Great Barrier Reef the Whitsundays region. I'm going to move from there to Brisbane, then I'm going to move to Sydney and then I'm going to move to LA so it was always la for me and my mind in the Olivia Newton-John pathway. But when the time came to move to America, New York, it just was calling me from every direction and I only spent 12 days in New York in my life at that point, but it led to a long 20 year love affair of living in New York City.

Andrew Grill:

The one thing you're well known for apart from your singing and you're an amazing singer, is this whole story about the GPS girl and this brand new created. Many people would not know maybe that you are one One of the original the original Ozzie Karan, in GPS smartphones around the world, I understand that whole thing was very serendipitous. And I live my life around serendipity. So tell me how one phone call in 2002 changed your life?

Karen Jacobsen:

Well, someone reached out to me and they said, we have a client. And they are looking for a native Australian Female voiceover artist living in the Northeast of the United States, and I read that brief, and I was just like, that's a description of me, this job must be mine. Now, that has only happened a handful of times in my pretty long now, decades long career in entertainment. But I was like, this is a description of me, I went along to the audition. And I was in the booth, I did the audition, I came out and they said, Oh, we want to hire you. So I got the job on the spot. Another thing that doesn't always happen. And they said, We need to take you to Ithaca, New York, which is upstate New York near where Cornell University is. And we need you to be there for three weeks, we have a script, it's going to take about 50 hours to record. And it's going to capture every combination of syllables possible. And we will chop that up and create a voice system based on your speaking voice.

Andrew Grill:

As this is a tech themed podcast, some of my listeners, what might want to delve a bit deeper into that. So you recorded for 50 hours. I'm sure you said "this", "that", "whenever", "recalculating", "you've reached the destination", those sort of things, take us through how that actually happens, and this is nearly 20 years ago. It is coming up to the anniversary. Gee, I have just had to plan something special was a phone book size script, it was a massive script, they had me record only four hours a day. So my voice did not sound tired or fatigued in any way. So day one, I, they put me in a hotel, I went from the hotel to the studio we recorded for four hours. And then I would rest my voice in the afternoon and in the evening, or write some songs in a hotel room and go back the next day. So that continued for three weeks, you know, I probably counted up to 1000. In terms of numbers in a row, there were a lot of sentences, there were a lot of phrases. And some of it didn't really make sense. It wasn't like I sat and did all of the directions in the entire world because what they were really focused on was capturing every combination of syllables possible. So a very clever team of engineers had figured out what that script needed to be to capture that. So you're literally a voice pioneer. I'd be intrigued to find out how you use voice and voice interfaces in your own life? Well, we have some of those interfaces I described myself is the last person on Earth to get an iPhone. I was just thinking about this yesterday how much I loved my Blackberry. Did you ever have a Blackberry? Andrew, I loved my Blackberry. I did actually I was one of the last people to get an iPhone. I think I got my first iPhone in 2016. I was a Nokia person for a long time, then Blackberry, I still have a Blackberry up there somewhere is my emergency phone. When I went to Apple. They say when you go Mac you never look back.

Karen Jacobsen:

They are right about that. I do love. I do love my iPhone. Well, I have two of them. Now, because I've got one for each country. I tried to use Siri. And we have a running joke in our household. Because when I asked Siri a question, she doesn't understand me, I get infuriated. So I've stopped. And then we have an Amazon Alexa, who might respond to now that I've said that word. Similarly, she seldom understands me. If we've experimented, and my husband will ask her something, then my son will ask and then I will ask and but in terms of getting help on my iPhone with a voice assistant, not for me. I'm doing busy doing it for everybody else apparently was technology hasn't just come so far and changed everything. And when I think that those engineers came up with that concept and reality 20 years ago, and what that I mean, just truly, it's changed everybody's lives. There are no more, no more MacBooks or atlases. It's all it's all GPS.

Andrew Grill:

So your voice is heard not just in smartphones and GPS, I hear it's in cruise ships and in lifts and those sort of things. But this is somewhat 20 year old technology. Where do you think artificial intelligence AI might replace humans? Do you see a time when your voice is no longer heard? It's just this synthesised, headless thing that's telling you where to go.

Karen Jacobsen:

I find it unusual to think that it wouldn't be based on one of the voice systems that existed all this time. Because they really did an elegant job of creating those systems. And it's only improved in quality. And I think people like to hear something that sounds natural They don't want to hear a robotic voice. So I would be really surprised. I'm not I'm not placing a wager, but I would be very surprised if they removed it. If it can be lasting for 20 years, I think it's possible that it might endure.

Andrew Grill:

So let me take you back to the time when you first heard that you were inside a phone, because I understand you record all these voice samples and never really knew what was going to happen to them. And I think I was one of your friends that that told you a I've just heard your voice.

Karen Jacobsen:

I got a phone call from from a friend. She said, Ah, Karen, my husband and I were driving from Maine back to New York City after the Christmas holiday. And I bought my husband, one of those new GPS thing owes. And he said, I'll put it on the Australian voice. So put it on the Australian voice. And oh my god, Karen. It's you. It's your voice in the GPS. And I turned to my husband and I said, oh, oh, no. I bought you Karen Jacobson for Christmas. And that is how I found out that my speaking voice had ended up in all of these devices. And what is now over a billion GPS and smartphones and elevators and cruise ships and software applications all the way around the world telling people where to go, and what to do answering that every question while I am here with you right now.

Andrew Grill:

Now I know you have a young growing son, I'm sure he heard you for the first time. What was his reaction when he heard mommy's voice on a machine?

Karen Jacobsen:

He's now 14, so when my voice was becoming very well known, he was six, maybe six or seven that everybody's mummy was in their phone, which I really think is so clever and so adorable. And like Why wouldn't it be? Why wouldn't everybody's mummy be in their phone? Because mommy in real life is already telling you what to do. Why wouldn't she also be doing that? electronically,

Andrew Grill:

So you do a lot of voiceovers. Obviously, this was one of your first gigs. But you are now a well known voiceover artist around the world. What's the most interesting voiceover job you've ever done?

Karen Jacobsen:

One of the memorable ones. And actually, I had done, oh, how many years many years at least 1012 plus years of voiceover work before I did this voice system. And one of my memorable voiceover jobs when I lived in Sydney, was when I had to record a commercial that was being played in a carwash. And what I loved about this was this concept that nobody could escape that that they were stuck in their car in the carwash, it was really a precursor wasn't to being stuck in a car with a GPS, but that they were in the car watching, they couldn't escape. And there's my voice blasting through with this commercial that I had recorded. So that one always, always amused me

Andrew Grill:

Now I want to move on to the rest of your career. But I want to ask one final question on the whole series speaking thing, if I could put your voice into any device or platform, which one would it be? And why?

Karen Jacobsen:

I am not sure where we're up to on this technology, where people have a little electronic note of some kind put into their head or their brain. But I just have this vision of that technology existing, and that my voice can actually tap into human beings. And that I mean, you know, crazy things have happened. But I'm very much as you know, into personal and professional development. And I, as a human being on planet Earth have experienced my fair share of negative thoughts, because that's what happens to all of us as human beings. And just imagine if you had a voice, that you were able to just, you know, press a button or tap the side of your head and then a positive affirmation, or a reminder of how wonderful you are, would pop into your mind or into your thoughts. Not even as a recorded voice. That's what I'm talking about.

Andrew Grill:

You could literally be the voice in my head. That's exciting, but scary at the same time.

Karen Jacobsen:

When you ask that question. I'm like, Yeah, I'd like to be the voice in people's heads.

Andrew Grill:

For real, you would be the voice of reason, Karen.

Karen Jacobsen:

I love that description.

Andrew Grill:

A nice segue. you developed your voice into a brand you embarked on a speaking career and were president of the New York chapter of the National Speakers Association in 2015. What did you learn from sharing your GPS story with corporate audiences

Karen Jacobsen:

Change. Goodness, we've been through such a period during this pandemic, which has highlighted this that change and uncertainty are incredibly uncomfortable to human beings. And they can be very uncomfortable in a professional setting. And I share my story and speak about recalculating, so I took that concept you know, you can be in the car and you may take a wrong turn. bought in the GPS satellites work their magic and a few quick turns, you're headed on the right road to where you were headed all along. And I made this connection with this analogy to everyday life and work that what if we applied that to, to our personal and professional situations, and when we took a wrong turn, is when we noticed it, to be able to then do something about that, and recalculate on to the destination, the direction that we want it to be headed. So what I discovered is that there is going to be an endless need for tools in corporations, which are filled with human beings, for navigating change powerfully. And I think if it is a skill that can be built, and if we build that skill, we develop things that have referred to as resilience, just word resilience doesn't sound so I don't know. But But all I'm saying is that there is the potential to build that skill base, and to be able to recalculate in the moment. And even when we are dealing with change, when we are dealing with uncertainty to keep bringing ourselves back to that present moment, and improve our quality of life from being in that fright state, which is generally not that much fun.

Andrew Grill:

As you're talking, you're reminding me one of my really great friends based in Sydney, Dr. Lynn Gribble, who's been on the show a couple of times, we started our career doctors together, I'm going to connect you both on LinkedIn after this because I think you share a passion. And actually you really like meeting each other. I hear what you're saying about resilience, Linda has been a great voice of reason in my head off, and I'm about to do something and I hear her now I'm going to hear you as well, I'm going to have you in stereo. Excellent,

Karen Jacobsen:

I'm very happy to hear that

Andrew Grill:

you will obviously a great singer and performer did that help you when you had to walk on stage as a corporate speaker

Karen Jacobsen:

When I have spoken to different people about speak the speaking business, creating a speaking career, I will say I really had a very, I had a head start, you know, I had this set of skills from a very young age of being able to be visible. And I was able to transfer that and use those skills. With my speaking business and how fortunate I was that I could draw on all of that those many years of experience it, it was different as in when you are standing on stage being yourself speaking and sharing your personal stories. There's a different set of vulnerability tools, I suppose or experiences than being a musical performer. So there was an anxiety to overcome. It wasn't just smooth sailing, but I definitely in terms of stagecraft had a lot to draw from.

Andrew Grill:

So you and I are experienced presenters and performers, we relish being on stage. In fact, I was saying to someone the other day, and I've probably done a live and in person events since late last year when restrictions are lifted here in the UK. I know you're about to embark on a world tour. But this funny noise happened. It was people doing that. And I was like, I forgotten what that is. And then I would walk offstage and I'd hear that noise again. And I'd have it's clapping. I've missed that.

Karen Jacobsen:

Well, how absolutely wild it isn't why I do what I do. But it is part of the interaction and the energy exchange with the group is to be able to to, you know, you speak or perform, you know, they've heard you because they're responding what, in one way or another. And so I'm so delighted to hear that that's what's been happening for you. And it is just goodness, it's like being in a time warp. I mean, to be able to move forward as I currently am with this trip coming up. We'll be travelling to the United States to quite a number of cities. I'm performing concerts and speaking it isn't going to be like it was before because I think it's really important for all of us to have this context that we're actually not going back somewhere we're going forward the time or part of it is quite real for me. Is that how it feels for you.

Andrew Grill:

It was interesting because I've been mainly staring at a lens with the word Zeiss on it. So Carl Zeiss and I become very, very close friends. But the thing about the clipping I don't do it for the clipping either. In fact, when I come off stage, people say that was fantastic. And I kind of absorbed the the flattering guy that's very kind of you, but what will you do differently and what did you learn, but I found on the virtual calls a zoom call, it'd be like, hey, bye bye. And we go click and it would be like as a performer. Have we done a good job? Did we connect Are there any questions? That would be that will be it and so that was quite strange to get used to. And also looking right down the camera. I had one client we're actually doing a pre booking call when they decide whether they're going to hire you. And then when we can really feel the energy down the lens. I'm like, Well, that's good. Thank you, well, then you need to hire me.

Karen Jacobsen:

Absolutely. Because I'm and then imagine how it would be in real life.

Andrew Grill:

So many people listening to this will be the ones that are not comfortable on stage. They're saying, Andrew and Karen, I can never do that. What advice would you have for our listeners who want to perform as a singer or speaker, but don't think they have the confidence to get on stage in front of hundreds or 1000s of people?

Karen Jacobsen:

I think if it is calling to you to do it, then you must. That's the first thing I would say. I am somebody who had to overcome chronic anxiety. Firstly, with singing. And from a very young age, I mean, I had abdominal pain so bad when I was 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Every year it was the Eisteddfod or the school musical or piano exam, and I would be home for up to a week at a time off school because I was so unwell, they did every testimony imaginable. They couldn't find anything wrong with me, the doctor would say to my parents, oh, it's just nerves. Well, nerves can be debilitating. But if you feel called to do this, I have a few, I think helpful tips. One is to remember why you're doing it, you're not doing it so that you can expose yourself and be seen by lots of people and put yourself into a horrifying, terrifying situation, you're doing it because there is something for you to share. And it's important for you to share it. So when I find myself in a high stakes situation, I will keep reminding myself that I am there for a reason what keep it really present so that I am not thinking about myself. And so the real trick here or the real indication here that you are on track is that you are thinking about others, if you notice you're thinking about yourself, your focus is in a misplaced place. And you can then go, Oh, I'm just I'm just dealing with some nerves. My focus needs to be out there. That's the same in terms of being on stage, if you notice yourself going into your head, thinking about how do I look? What are they thinking of me? Am I going to forget the next thing again, it may it really takes a lot of presence of mind and awareness to then put the focus back out there. Look into the eyes of the people out there be sharing, and connecting with the audience, not thinking about ourselves. So that is one of my biggest pieces of of experience. And the other would be you can practice in the mirror, it's the most terrifying thing to do, it will be way more terrifying than being on a stage in front of 5000 people, when you present to yourself in the mirror, like eye to eye in the mirror. Until you can do that without flinching without feeling badly about yourself without your inner critic going crazy. You can handle anything, you can handle any circumstances because that's going to be the hardest thing. And once you've got that really happening, and and you are comfortable doing that, what I found, too, is going out on stage. I know how I look, I know how I sound. I'm not wondering about that, which is what takes up a lot of space in our heads when we are on stage. And again, we don't have to start if someone listening wants to either sing on stage, or present on stage has something to say something to share. You can start small, you can start tiny, you can start on a screen, you can start doing YouTube Live videos to get your confidence, you can start with a very, very small low stakes situation and build it up. But if you feel called to do it, then my feeling is that you must and that you will be able to.

Andrew Grill:

The one tip I would give is film yourself. So buy a small tripod from Amazon or other retailers put your iPhone and film yourself even giving a talk to a small group of people and then watch it back. And it took me about two years to overcome the cringe factor because I thought my voice sounds funny. Now you'll know this but our listeners may not the reason that I hear my voice different to how you hear it is I hear it through the air and my ear canal. So it sounds different from when it's recorded when I got over that. And I thought well, that's my voice. I can't change it. I then focused on how I come across. And I'm very fortunate. I've got some great mentors in my life. One of them is Martin the impact topologist he watches my talks, and then gives me a voice file of how I can change it and they aren't incremental changes. I'll give you an example. I was doing a q&a session for a corporate if several years ago and someone asked me a question. And as they asked it, I stepped backwards. He said, Daniel, that's a defensive move, move forward. And I thought that is so incrementally small, but it's something that you've got to think about. So when you get to the level of experience you and I have it's those small changes, but when you're starting out watching yourself back, you'll probably go that was good. That wasn't so good. That was great. I found that by Getting over the cringe factor of watching yourself hearing yourself, you can then assess what you're doing. And I get a trusted friend or family member to watch and say, What did you like about that? And like anything, I think about it, and you're probably the same. I'm not an athlete. But if I was, I'd have a coach that will want me to get to my personal best. If people are spending time and money watching me perform. I want to be at my best every time and get better and better and better. That's the challenge that we've got the women in this for a while, how do you get better each time so people will want to be engaged and listen to your message rather than wondering what you're wearing or what font size your slides are? March 2020, a lot of change for both of us because we were being on stage. And then in my part of the world, you in New York at that time. Everyone's saying no, you can't go out anymore. So talk me through how you recalculated around that time, and maybe the decisions you made that got you back to the wonderful Whitsundays?

Karen Jacobsen:

That fateful week in March 2020, New York was closing down. You know, London was ahead of us, of course, and our son came home from school and said, We're going to be doing school remotely. We knew things were closing down. My husband and I had 24 months of work cancel in a 48 hour period. When I look back, we will roll in this level of shock. That's just not fathomable. There was a period in that week when they were talking about doing a lockdown that my husband turned to me. And he said, should we go to Australia? And I said, that's a bit dramatic, isn't it? over that weekend, you know, more information was coming to light, it was starting to look like it wasn't necessarily going to be two weeks, it was hard to gauge what was really happening. And my husband asked the quick question again, do you think we should go to Australia? And I said, should we? So we figured that if we weren't working and our son was remote schooling, perhaps we could go and we thought, well, we'll let's go be with my parents. And we can be there for a few weeks while the pandemic blows over. And that was what happened. We took very small, little overnight baggies, tight suitcases and came to Australia, thinking we'd be here for a few weeks. And we are two years plus down the track. And we us still here. And I'm not even sure how to put into words, the emotional experience of this period of time, the grief, as things unfolded. In those first weeks and months, it became clear it wasn't, it didn't make any sense for us to go back and sit in our New York City apartment, especially because we were very fortunate to be in Queensland, which was truly the envy of the world with very locked down in terms of borders, but within Queensland completely open and normal life. At a certain point six months in, we made the decision that rather than go back to New York, and then our son would be remote schooling, possibly for another whole year, which is what happened for those students. We could send him to in person school here, if we're going to be here for a period of time. And at that time, we thought maybe it's a few months. And that quickly, we thought, well, maybe it'll be get like a gap year. We didn't know. But we just thought, well, let's do that in paradise. And we met amazing people who said, Why don't you stay here in the Whitsundays, which is right next to the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland in Australia. And that's how it unfolded. And now I reflect on my How did that even happen?

Andrew Grill:

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. And so you made a decision, wondering how your family reacted. you reestablish yourself very quickly. And you've done some amazing things. You're an ambassador, you obviously in the Whitsundays, that's where your home is and your passion. Talk to me about how you had a whole new outlook on life and career.

Karen Jacobsen:

I had a very strong I call it the inner GPS, a strong inner sense that first of all, my parents don't live in the Whitsundays. They live in Toowoomba, and we were there in lockdown. And when it was coming to the end of the US school year, I happened to write this song called Take me to Hayman Island. I was thinking where would I be if I would be it could be anywhere in Hayman Island is an island here in the Whitsundays. And it's somewhere I hadn't been for a long time, but I had childhood memories of going there. And after I wrote that song, I said to my husband once the school year finishes, and they the lockdown ends, how about we go up to North Queensland, I can show you this beautiful area that I'm from. That's what we ultimately did. I was really feeling for the tourism operators who were just decimated. And I thought how great if I could help get the word out. I started to call myself the unofficial ambassador, the Whitsundays. We were here on vacation for a number of weeks. I was going in and interviewing business owners and popping these posts up on social media. I was reaching out to my own media contacts. I did a live television spot from one of the islands here. I arranged it same with radio. And before I knew it, I was really getting some, some very nice attention for the operators and for the region. And that led to being introduced to the CEO of tourism with Sundays. And we got together and had this incredible conversation and she said, Look, we haven't done this before. But what about becoming our destination, our official destination ambassador, which has led to almost two years of working closely with them to shine a light on this region and uh, for, you know, to get the word out about how absolutely beautiful it is and invite people to come on their holidays, to the Whitsundays, the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. So I've done we've done wildly successful media campaigns where I've done the voiceovers. There was a million dollar campaign, which garnered $18 million in bookings. I mean, it goes on and on. It's been an incredible partnership. I've done many, many media interviews, and as a part of my singing, Korea, I've just recorded two back to back albums. The next one is about to come out. I've been filming music videos highlighting and showcasing different aspects of the beauty of the Whitsundays and MCI regions in the music videos for my new original music. So it's a fresh way of connecting the art and tourism. And it just all feels very natural. I have to say Andrew and and it's been incredibly well received.

Andrew Grill:

It's such an authentic partnership because I think back back in 2011, I was running a influencer platform called cred that basically ranked people's influence and when I look now about these Instagram influencers, you are the ultimate influencer because you live and breathe it, you actually went out there without expecting any sort of contractual thing. I want to showcase the area that I'm from I want to help the owners I want to use my talents. And now you're actually working with them. And I've seen the the imagery we had together on Facebook and you said I'm going to be live on the Today show soon. So actually got my VPN out. I logged on to Channel Nine. I actually watched you live I think I sent a screenshot of you in the car. I've been living your new life, I suppose through through what you're posting. I see that as a blueprint for the ultimate ambassador, someone who lives and breathes who uses the product who sings about it, who lives in the area. I want to go to the Whitsundays now as well when I next come back to Australia because you showcase in such a great way one some influencers say if you give me a free night stay and some free food I might blog about and do a few Instagram pictures. I think that's a really, as I say it's a blueprint for people out there to seek out people who use and love your product. You are the gold standard Ambassador because not only do you sing about it, you're using the Whitsundays as a backdrop for your music videos, you will allow the Whitsundays to go to an audience they've probably never seen before. And I'm not being paid to say this I just my own personal opinion, and we're friends as well. You're living on Airlie Beach. So what is so magical about the Whitsundays?

Karen Jacobsen:

It's absolutely pristine. I'm looking from here right now out on the to the sparkling turquoise blue water of the Coral Sea and across there are 74 mostly uninhabited islands and it all Nestle's around the Great Barrier Reef, which is a 2300 kilometre long reef, and we are near the Southern end of that reef, it's as long as Japan and I had the life adventure experience of actually scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef earlier this month, and being out and you can actually go to this pontoon where you can sleep overnight, at the Great Barrier Reef, it's called Reef sleep, and they're only about 30 people do it at a time. Truly, my whole life experience has just been opened up to be sitting in ultimate tropical nature. It's very nourishing and healing, especially during this time to look at, at the beauty of nature, at that level. And I just feel like parts of this this area just feel like if you could choose if you could describe heaven on earth, it's here. It's so very beautiful and untouched.

Andrew Grill:

What a huge recalculation going back to one of the reasons why we're talking today. Having a destination in life and having to recalculate. I think what I'm learning out of this is you need to take risks, you need to embrace serendipity, and you never know what's going to happen.

Karen Jacobsen:

I'm a meditator, I meditate twice a day, I have meditated. For 11 years, I find my meditation practice or mindfulness practice, whatever anybody would like to call it to be key in my wellness, my overall wellness and in my effectiveness in business. What that has also allowed me is the ability to really listen and to hear. And there are those times in life where everything seems to be aligned and line up and everything flows. And it's just working and everything feels good. And you're like these good things are happening. It's amazing how moving to the Whitsundays thinking we'd only be here for a short time. It was like something activated from us coming to this location that I don't know how to describe it or explain it. But it was just right. It was right and it continues to be right And it means very good things are flowing in our direction. And we just generally we feel good all the time, or a lot of the time. And it just is it's just a match. Now, it's odd from one perspective, because I am so deeply in love with New York City. And we are planning our first visit. And to back there since we moved here. And that all feels very unusual. Because we've been in this time, well, what time in the world. But, you know, I've, I've a lot has opened up for me here, I feel very connected to the region I was, originally I am originally from, and I'm now looking at not what can I get from where I live, but what can I contribute to where I live. So I can contribute a lot to the arts and culture conversation and the visibility of this region, I can pop in and out of other places around the world, to share that message and to have creative experiences that I would love to be having. So it's just a very noticeable shift in context. For me in my life, and in this part of my life.

Andrew Grill:

I want to run you through a quick fire round. So I'm going to throw some questions at you. And I need a quick answer back iPhone or Android?

Karen Jacobsen:

iPhone.

Andrew Grill:

Window or aisle?

Karen Jacobsen:

Window.

Andrew Grill:

Online or in the room.

Karen Jacobsen:

Oh, in the room.

Andrew Grill:

Your biggest hope for 2022

Karen Jacobsen:

To be in demand. Because that means I'm sharing a message that is making a big impact.

Andrew Grill:

What's the one thing you won't be doin again, post pandemic?

Karen Jacobsen:

I won't be leaving a country for a few weeks and then getting stuck there. That will not be happening again. Okay, I'm touching wood.

Andrew Grill:

The best piece of advice you've ever received.

Karen Jacobsen:

Trust yourself.

Andrew Grill:

What are you reading at the moment

Karen Jacobsen:

I am reading? Oh, my goodness. I'm reading a book by one of Australia's media giants. Ita Buttrose.

Andrew Grill:

What makes your heart sing?

Karen Jacobsen:

I've got a list writing music, walking, taking a walk on the ocean front playing ping pong with our son.

Andrew Grill:

Who should I invite next on to the podcast?

Karen Jacobsen:

You should invite Tracy Brown. Do you know Tracy Brown, she is a body language and fraud busting expert and she is awesome.

Andrew Grill:

Final question our quickfire round. How do you want to be remembered?

Karen Jacobsen:

As somebody who always wants to make things better that I that I devoted my life to making things better for people

Andrew Grill:

As this The Actionable Futurist® Podcas, what three actionable things should our audience do today? When it comes to recalculating their next destination?

Karen Jacobsen:

They could sit with a piece of paper and a pen and quietly asked themselves? What does my soul most want me to know right now? Not think too hard about it and just write it down. Every morning, wake up and have two glasses of water. Slowly, as the first thing that you do. I like to get that front loadings jumpstart on water intake and set an alarm to make sure you are getting eight hours of sleep every night. Put it in your calendar, like an important business appointment, as Arianna Huffington would say. I'm all about quality of life, Andrew and doing those things make all the difference.

Andrew Grill:

Karen, how can people find out more about you and your work?

Karen Jacobsen:

Oh, I'm everywhere. Andrew. I'm in people's ears all the time, they can find out more about my work on LinkedIn, as you mentioned, and Karen jacobson.com, for my music and at the GPS girl.com For my speaking and Keynote work and I'm on all of the different platforms that one might imagine. But LinkedIn is a very easy way to connect with me Karen Jacobson with an "sen".

Andrew Grill:

I will put all those links in the show notes so people can find you so good to hear your voice again and reconnect. What a fantastic discussion. I thought that won't give you the last word,

Karen Jacobsen:

Andrew, it's been such a pleasure. I have been on the show with Andrew Grill on his Actionable Futurist® Podcast. And I'm Karen Jacobson, the GPS girl you have reached your destination.

Voiceover:

Thank you for listening to The Actionable Futurist® Podcast. You can find all of our previous shows at actionablefuturist.com, and if you like what you've heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your favourite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporates navigate a disruptive digital world with keynote speeches and C-suite workshops delivered in person or virtually at actionablefuturist.com. Until next time, this has been The Actionable Futurist® Podcast.

Karen's influences - Olivia Newton John
Karen's reaction to meeting Olivia
Karen's move to New York
How Karen became "Aussie Karen" in Siri
The recording process
How Karen uses voice interfaces in real life
Siri doesn't understand Karen
Will AI replace the human voice assistant completely?
The time Karen found out she was the voice behind "Aussie Karen"
Karen's Son's reaction to his mummy being in her phone
Karen's most interesting voiceover job
The GPS Girl and corporate audiences on recaulculating
Transferrable skills from a signer to a corporate presenter
The new reality of performing in a post-covid world
Advice for people wanting to perform as a singer or speaker and how to build confidence
Tips for improving your public speaking
How Karen recalculated in March 2020
Karen's new life in The Whitsundays, Australia
The blueprint for a real ambassador
The magic about The Whitsundays
Quickfire round
Three Actionable tips for recalculating your next destination
More on Karen