The first time I met Gloria Atanmo, I handed her a penis.

Go ahead, judge. But hey, when you meet your idol, “the Oprah of travel blogging,” and you’re claiming to be her number one fan, you need to stand out from the thousands of other followers girl crushing.

BALI Colorful Handpainted Penis Painted Key Chain fertility | Etsy

I knew she loved Bali (check out her amazing Instagram shots), so what better way to introduce myself than to give her the cutest, tiny wooden dick keychain covered in hand-painted orchids that I’d bought on this romantic, Indonesian island?

At least I’d be unforgettable.

Fast forward a few years, and I am now embarrassed by our initial meeting, not because of the little dick (we’ve all been there), but at my self-proclaimed title of being her biggest fan.

Glo has hundreds of thousands of fans, each one more fiercely loyal than the next. There’s something about Glo that makes you want to be her mentee, BFF, cult-like follower, and over-protective big sister all at once. How arrogant of me to believe I was the only one who saw her brilliance.

Gloria rose to the top 1% of the travel blogging world, but she is far more than merely a blogger. Her Likes and followers on social media include Beyonce, Serena Williams, and Obama, and featured in Forbes, Oprah Magazine, Conde Nast, Essence, and Buzzfeed.

She’s an author, motivational speaker, workshop and retreat leader, and coach mentoring female entrepreneurs worldwide. Her Blog Like a Boss course sells out almost immediately, and her Mastermind group is just as popular.

I have been a huge fan for years, watching her blossom from a funny, talented travel blogger into the powerful woman she is today, saving souls and transforming lives. I have read her blog, drooled over her Instagram, watched her Youtube videos, and used my rent money to attend conferences to hear her speak.

Today I would like to share some of the most life-altering quotes and lessons I’ve learned from Gloria Atanmo.

1. Choose your mission in life wisely.

Spreading Joy for the Glory of God is the new tag line of The Blog Abroad, and it is the perfect place to begin this list of quotes as it is the most important. I’m secretly using it as my life mission now.

After a few years of meditating and praying on it, my mission in life, and for this blog, has changed as well. My new tag line, A guide to romance and travel…with a bit of scandal, summarizes what I want most for my readers. My ultimate goal is to help solo female travelers stay safe while hanging out, having fun, hooking up, and falling in love around the world.

2. Do what you love despite your wallet.

Do what you love despite what your wallet might suggest. Money is an illusion. It comes and goes. There’s always money to be made and money to be paid. Don’t waste your life stressing over either.”— From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World

Gloria Atanmo

I have often lived by this rule, but was filled with shame about it. Gloria never seemed to give a damn that she was broke; she was simply going through a temporary state of a lack of finances and never let that stop her from living her best life.

3. Know your privilege and don’t abuse it.

Gloria reminds travelers to always remember having the privilege of traveling because of your nationality, your privilege of not getting randomly stopped or harassed, or having the financial resources, even if you’re broke af but having more than someone who simply is not able to travel for whatever reason.

4. Don’t confuse a magical moment for a magical guy.

“The hot guy you met has just left? No worries! He probably has herpes a girlfriend and was looking for an excuse to cheat on her. Dodged a bullet there, soldier. Chat it up with the other guy who’s been eyeing you instead… Follow your heart, but take your brain and morals with you. I promise you, the two can coexist despite what our Jersey Shore generation wants you to believe.”

Gloria Atanmo

Girl, I could not have said it better. Next.

5. Counting your countries doesn’t always make you a d*ck.

“Some people even shout out their numbers as if it were in direct correlation with their manhood, and if so, let me be the first to announce that I just might have a 30-inch schlong. While flaccid. #blessed” 

Goria Atanmo

Money is so transient and deceiving, Glo insists. Rather than to brag about money or material sh*t, she prefers when someone shares their travel experiences.

But, oh, Glo, you have a way with words.

6. Brand your blog.

From a Work With Me page to branding to including which services you offer with a well-made Media Kit, Gloria teaches bloggers that good branding is the goal, and the money and opportunities will follow.

7. Jesus didn’t die for our sins for things like this to happen.

Shit happens when you’re traveling, so always have a backup plan. Gloria swears by Revolut. How did I not know about this company? Revolut does not charge withdrawal fees or its kick-ass app? Another lesson learned late but is now saving my butt.

8. My “luck” has a name. And that name is HUSTLE.

So the “luck” you give credit to for my successes, please don’t forget to acknowledge the doors I’ve knocked down in the process, the walls I’ve climbed over in the journey and the barriers I’ve bruised my body running through in the storm.

So I struggled my way into opportunities, mastering the art of calculated risk-taking, and putting myself out there to fail over and over again until the universe finally caved in. By textbook definition, I was going to succeed by way of insanity.

I went from making excuses to taking excursions, turning my internal fights into external flights and ultimately doing everything in my power to use my God-given talents to do more than just exist. To learn more. To live more. To be more.

Gloria Atanmo

9. Write a daily agenda. Include blessings and meditate.

Glo points out that she wakes at 4am every weekday, 6am on weekends, and goes to bed around 8 or 9pm each night. This is something I have heard repeated over and over by every single mentor and successful person I’ve admired. Time for me to start setting my alarm clock.

10. Know your value.

You will get to a point where people will be willing to pay you more than you would ever dream to ask for.

They don’t pay for the 30 minutes it takes to write the article. They pay for the brilliance, expertise, and passion you took a decade to build.

Gloria Atanmo

These words were etched in my mind, making me stop to really think about my worth in a way I’d never really done before. It’s empowering.

11. Take risks.

My life is a sequence and series of one calculated risk after the other…Take some risks. I promise you I get it. I know what its like to be terrified to take a chance on myself…I’ve been faced with so many times in my life where I was like, you know what, I could just be a normal person, I could go get a job here. I could work a 9-5. Glo, you know you could just pick up any ol’ job that you wanted. And just be comfortable. That probably lasted like 20 seconds, like no-no=no. eff that, no- no. I was made for more.

Gloria Atanmo

I cringe when I think back to how many jobs I’ve been fired from. I used to be ashamed of the fact that I simply could not do a simple data entry job, or even work as a waitress. I thought maybe I was lazy. But now, I work sometimes 12 hours a day and I’m madly in love with what I do. I just needed to find the right career, and to take the risk and go for it. I’ve never regretted it and I’ve never looked back.

12. Strangers will support you harder than your friends.

One of the many reasons I am a hard core, loyal fan of Gloria’s is her generosity, which goes far beyond her being a giving soul financially. She is incredibly giving with her time, and with sharing her knowledge and experience freely with her followers. Part of the reason she has so many fans who eagerly buy her courses, retreats, her book, and click on her affiliate links is because of her generous spirit. But she has experienced back handed compliments, callous remarks and jealousy from some of the people closest to her. That must hurt, but instead of becoming bitter, instead she just gives even more to her community.

13. Expect to go broke. Many times.

Rather than to let the shame of being broke and feeling like a failure, Gloria used these times to become even more resourceful, motivating herself to try harder and to enjoy the moment, being grateful to be broke in Paris rather than to be back home at a desk job she hated. She knew that no matter what, there was always more money out there to make just around the corner.

A limited bank account does not mean limited opportunities. You just have to be a little more creative.

Gloria Atanmo

14. Brands got bucks.

Brands will often pay you whatever you think you’re worth (whether that’s high or low). But you have to remind yourself how much you’ve invested in your journey, and how much value you bring. Chances are, you’re charging 50% less than what you should be.

Gloria Atanmo

Gloria often shares honestly about her struggle to become confident in charging her worth. She tells her mentees about the first time when she emailed her fee to a company and the woman responded by paying her 4 times what she was asking.

Today Glo has achieved incredible financial success and shares openly how she diversifies her income, passing on her knowledge through coaching, mentoring and public speaking.

15. Community is everything.

It is your responsibility as a blogger to serve your readers, to find out their needs, wants and desires. While some bloggers and influencers post photos and write about how amazing they are, always the center of attention, a good blogger is there to help people, to listen to what they want, and to find a way to give them the information, support, and inspiration they need, and to solve their problems whenever possible.

Gloria became successful because she built a community around her readers, rather than about herself.

16. In pursuit of your dreams don’t forget God.

Many of us forget about God until we find ourselves in a desperate situation. It’s easy to remember to pray or ask God for help when the going gets tough. But Gloria reminds us to pray, meditate, and to count our blessings. By being grateful to God along your path to becoming successful, no matter what your career path is, you show God that you are deserving of the gifts and blessings The Creator has for you.

17. Never give up.

As a travel blogger, you go into this game knowing it will probably take years before you begin earning any money- IF you ever do. But with perseverance and faith, mixed with hustle, you can make it.

After five years of working most days from 5 am until midnight or later, I finally started seeing the numbers rise on my travel blog. Owners of luxury hotels, riads and desert camps started collaborating with me. And I have hundreds of tour company owners and guides eager to add me to their team.

But suddenly, corona came to Morocco and I found myself stranded abroad for seven months with absolutely no income from tourism.

I was barely able to survive, thanks to the hospitality and generosity of many people. Most of all, Gloria.

But it was her words of encouragement that reminded me to never give up.

“For I’ve been there,” Gloria texted me.

When I got that text, it was 11:05 pm, and I had just left Yaffa Cafe in Marrakech where I often worked on my website. I fell to the ground outside of the cafe, and for a good 10 minutes I sobbed.

My body shook uncontrollably for what felt like hours. I could not move.

From the first moment that I found The Blog Abroad many years ago, I wanted Gloria to be my new BFF.

Eventually, I would meet my idol, but of course, Glo is constantly surrounded by thousands of women who also long to be besties with her, women who are closer to her age, many thrilled to finally have some representation, some acknowledgment from the travel industry that women of color do indeed spend a damn lot of money traveling around the world and can be successful doing so.

And so, I was grateful to worship her from afar and prayed she understood that although I’m “strictly dickly,” my fangirl crush is based on her magnificence and powerful aura and energy and because what she gives to the world is magnetic.

Go ahead, try and be immune to her charm.

What I did do after meeting Glo was to write Baddass Blogger Babes All White Chicks Need to Follow. I included other powerful black female bloggers as well because they are also badasses, but mainly I was inspired to write it based on Glo’s rise to fame.

So here I was, staring at this text message from my idol, stunned. Finally, I was able to sit and breathe, releasing months of intense anger and frustration at myself for getting myself into such a horrific situation with no way out.

Her words lifted me out of the shame and embarrassment I’d been holding inside for months at not having a 6 months reserve savings account, at not being considered “successful,” at feeling like a fake whenever people asked me, “So, what do you do?” and at feeling like a complete failure.

I had completely forgotten how much pride I’d had at creating a blog I was proud of, even though I was now dead broke.

Gloria never seemed to let her lack of money stop in the beginning years of blogging stop her from following her passion. In one moment, her kind words helped me to let go of all that shit and to stand up, brush myself off, and get my ass back to America to get my shit together. And to never give up.

18. Pay that shit forward.

One of the most giving, humblest mofo’s I know is Gloria Atanmo. She is the face you see when you hear about a celebrity who never forgot where they came from. You will never hear her glamorizing her success; no, she embraces her hard work, the lean years, and she will not bullshit people (as many bloggers so) promising them money and fame if only they buy her course.

She gives it straight, no chaser; work hard, plus inspired action, and you can achieve your dreams.

But she also stresses the importance of bringing your sisters up the escalator with you. She never allows women to be catty or backbiting or gossipy around her.

I remember one time when a bunch of us were telling Gloria she does indeed look like Serena Williams, the celebrity she gets mistaken for most often while traveling.

One of her followers commented, “But you’re much prettier than her.” Rather than to simply accept the compliment, Glo set her straight, not allowing her or anyone to put down other women, instead, gently reminding us to support each other.

Gloria is always paying it forward, especially by giving her time, (much more time than she should,) often not remembering to spend some alone time when she badly needs it.

She gives through her mentoring, her coaching, Mastermind group, her courses, her blog, she gives a powerful workshop and as a guest speaker she is amazing, she seems ever available on her social media channels, she has poured her life out, (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in her book. And she gives financial support and charity to strangers.

In all ways, she is constantly raw, open and completely vulnerable, and no matter how famous she gets, she stays humble. Glo’s life motto seems to be to always pay it forward. By making it her life mission to serve, she shows her gratitude to God for all her blessings, never taking anything for granted.

This last lesson is the most important, most powerful and life-altering lesson to remember.

What are your favorite Gloria Atanmo quotes or lessons? Who are your mentors? Please share with us in the comments below!

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