Marianne Cantwell, Bestselling Author
How to Quit Your Day Job – Marianne Cantwell and the Corporate Cage Break-Out
Ever wondered how you ended up working the job you’re doing? Ever felt like you sort of just, fell in to it? Ever wondered how to escape ‘the corporate cage’? Finding out what you are good at, what drives you as a person, and then finding suitable work based upon that should be a keystone of our society, but unfortunately, it is not.
Lifestyle Entrepreneur Marianne Cantwell aims to change all that.
Marianne Cantwell works in helping people find their driving passion, breaking free from the corporate cage and creating “free-range” careers. She runs a successful business called free-range-humans and explains that passion should always be the driver behind our actions, not money. The old maxim do what you love and the money will follow proved to be true in this case.
Marianne Cantwell explains that living a dream is simple, it’s possible, and takes guts. As a woman who has thrown away the security of the 9 to 5 quite early in her career to chase down projects she is passionate about, she is an authority on the subject. Put simply, she broke away from the corporate life and has succeeded doing what the rest of us dream about, which is running her online business from anywhere on the planet.
Western society’s struggle with ‘finding your passion’ has ironically become one of Marianne’s driving passions. She helps people find out why the hell they should bother getting up every morning, if not for the lure of a fat paycheck.
This is a niche industry, and not a new one. But Marianne Cantwell is one convincing speaker. Twenty minutes listening to her and you’ll re-evaluate your entire life direction, wondering why you decided to study engineering when you really wanted to choose journalism or start a business selling cakes that look like celebrities.
Marianne Cantwell shares specifics of how to make your dreams work for you in not only practical, but financially feasible ways. Enter the “free-range human”. If corporate life is a cage, then Marianne Cantwell is a professional lock-picker and cage-opener. What began as a side project has now become a full-time job, sending her around the world to do public speaking, consulting and promotions of her books and courses on how to escape the 9 to 5.
Henry David Theroux once said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you have imagined,” inspiring generations to walk away from stable careers, live in financial free-fall while they fumble with the idea of what their dream might be, get terrified, and then shuffle back to a regular job with their tails between their legs.
Cantwell speaks to this, with sound advice in planning the next step. Firstly, she warns against quitting jobs prematurely, so if you’re in the middle of writing that resignation letter, maybe hold off hitting ‘print’ just yet. She argues your dream needs space, and needing quick cash in three months is hardly a way to go about it. Cantwell advises people to start the ball rolling before they tell the boss to shove it. She encourages the pursuit of side projects as an important stage before starting a full-time enterprise.
She also explains how simple it is to start a business with almost zero overheads and how to get the word out without advertising. (To date, Cantwell has never paid for advertising her business!)
Marianne’s career history makes for compelling reading by itself. She spent years working for the Disney corporate offices. Disney, for godssakes! But alas, this was a far cry from being all fairy dust, flying pirate ships, and wishing upon obliging stars. Turns out, Disney corporate is more populated with Captain Hooks than Fairy Godmothers, and was merely a more intense version of corporate every else. Detesting being shackled to the Disney offices, Marianne quit. She fell briefly back in to another job that was pressing an 80 hour-work-week, until she opted out for good.
Cantwell started a business amidst the mire of an economy-numbing recession. Fortunately, the business was a CV-writing company helping people get jobs, and there’s no better time to find out-of-work people than in a recession. Testament to this entrepreneur’s business skills, in that first year she was earning the same as if she had stayed in her regular job.
She explains it’s a slow transition. However, it is also a possible and potentially necessary one if many of us want to retain our last vestiges of sanity.
Marianne Cantwell has always been against the conventional career path. She scored top marks in her HSC, but, true to her own philosophy, decided against studying a course that might have promised high status. Instead she studied subjects she actually liked, including film, English, and Creative Writing. This has undoubtedly been a boon to her current business. Cantwell encourages others to do likewise, arguing against the reasoning that convinces people to blindly pursue the path of status instead of their passions. People assumed she would go in a certain direction but she didn’t. And now we congratulate her for it.
So what can you do now?
Find your niche. Cantwell argues that, “All the things about your personality that you might think are disadvantages, know that they are they key to your biggest advantage. True success happens when you stop hiding who you are and stop trying to be someone else every day.”
To that, we say Bravo!
- Marianne talks about her entrepreneurial journey
- How to work and do a 360 with your life
- Tips on working on what’s really meant for you
- Tips on finding what you love doing and starting your business
- Advice on organizing you time
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Marriane Cantwell
Nathan: Whatup fellow entrepreneurs and founders. This is the “Foundr Podcast.” So hope you’ve all been having a great week. It’s really sunny here in Melbourne. We’ve just hit spring. I was just outside relaxing in the sun living the life of an entrepreneur, you know, making awesome magazine issues, creating excellent episodes for you guys and showing people what’s possible. This weekend I’m going to the horse racing. It’s the first official day of Spring Carnivore so the horse race is quite big here in Australia. And I’m really, really pumped to just catch up with my friends and just have a good time.
So today we have Marianne Cantwell. Before I go into a little bit about Marianne, I just wanted to share something with you which is a super cool quote. It’s about the importance of showing up. It’s actually one of my all-time favorite quotes and it’s, “80% of success is showing up.” And it’s famously said by the man Woody Allen. And when I look at my life and all that I’ve achieved, it’s merely because, honestly, I’ve just worked harder than most. I started the magazine about a year and a half ago, and the first day I went live with it I made $5. And now I make a lot more money than that every day when I look at what iTunes has paid me.
And I’ve worked seriously hard to get there. And if you’re ever feeling down or feeling like things aren’t working for you, just remember that we’ve all been there and you’re not alone. If you just keep showing up, I found it just…you always find a way to make things work.
So that’s it from me. That’s just one of my little pearls of wisdom I thought I’d share with you all. And I’d love to connect with you. Drop me a line [email protected] Tell me how I can help you. You can help me by leaving a five-star review for the podcast or checking out the magazine. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. If you’re loving these interviews you’ll really love the magazine. It’s my art. It’s just a fun ride and I’m really enjoying it.
So that’s it from me, and today we have a super cool chic called Marianne Cantwell. And she runs a blog called “Free Range Humans” and she teaches people exactly how to ditch the 9 to 5. She goes into deep strategies around making money online and what it takes to become a digital nomad. She literally travels around the world and blogs about her experiences around everything travel and online business and marketing and all that kind of cool stuff. And she reveals a common secret that many people have when they start successful businesses that they never ended up admitting to, which is really interesting. And she shared with me her strategy secrets on how she teaches other people how to leave the 9 to 5 and just live the dream really by traveling the world, and running your own online business.
And she really demystifies the processes. You’re gonna get a lot of value out of this interview. So if you wanna do that kind of stuff which I think is super cool, who wouldn’t wanna travel the world and have a lifestyle business? Some of us we wanna do big startups. Some of us we wanna have massive impact on the world. Well, Marianne is having a massive impact on the world and she’s traveling around the world and meeting cool people, and she’s getting rewarded for it. I think that’s super cool. I think there’s a lot you can learn from this interview, so I hope you guys are having a great week. And now let’s jump into this episode.
Okay, everyone, before we get into today’s episode, I wanna give a quick shout out to our sponsor of today’s show, Odesk. odesk.com is the world’s leading website for online freelance talent with millions of freelancers doing graphic design, programming, writing, marketing, translation and much more. You’re sure to find the people you need to assist with practically any skill online that you need for your startup. I’ve actually used Odesk to launch “Foundr Magazine.” It has allowed me to rapidly scale and grow the business and save me at least 10 to 15 hours every week. I highly recommend this platform. To access a free $50 credit to get started on hiring today, please sign up at odesk.com/coupon. And use the coupon code FoundrEO2014, capital F for Foundr and capital EO for 2014. Remember, when you support our sponsors you’re supporting the show.
Today’s guest we have Marianne Cantwell. Now she is all about creating a free range career that suits your lifestyle every day. She travels around the world running businesses from her laptop, and teaches others how they can do the same. She’s a bestselling author and the book that she’s the bestselling author for is “Be a Free Range Human.” And she’s also an international speaker. She details a lot of her findings on her blog freerangehumans.com. So I’d just like to thank you, Marianne, for coming and speaking with me, and sharing your insights about everything that you do and the life that you live, and your entrepreneurial journey.
Marianne: Thanks, it’s great to be here.
Nathan: Awesome. I just like to ask you…this is the question that I ask everybody that I interview for the magazine, can you tell us a little bit more about what you do and what drives you, and how you got started doing what you’re doing today?
Marianne: Well, the thing I do now is I help people figure out what they wanna do with their life, and how to do it in a way that is completely for them and their personality and basically take charge of creating the life that they want rather than looking out there for a solution that might fit. So at Free Range Humans we’re all about going, who are you? What really drives you? How can you stand out from the crowd by being yourself rather than following a cookie cutter model of who you should be? And how can we put that all together in something that lets you live that life that you’re constantly putting in the one day box?
So that’s what we do, and we have lots of online courses and all that stuff. So what I do is I blog. I write a weekly email called my Friday Love Letter which is my main way of connecting with my tribe. And it very much is a love letter. It’s awesome and that’s it. By the way, you said it’s freerangehumans.com. I think that might be a conspiracy theory website. Fortunately, I have the hyphens. So it’s free-range-humans.com.
Marianne: Just a little heads up to everyone who’s like what on earth is that about? And that’s what we do. And we run these really cool things like we have a Free Range Festival which is an online event with a virtual campground and lots of cool playful stuff like that. So we have a lot of fun at Free Range Humans. And I got into that because I used to be in a 9 to 5 job, as Nathan, and I was not exactly a happy bunny in those environments. It didn’t suit me and no matter how many times I changed career, I kind of kept feeling like I’d fallen into something that was so far away from who I was that I just don’t know what to do it myself.
And I finally broke out. I started running a few different businesses. I was consulting in my old field of strategy consultancy. I was doing some market research which I’d worked in before. I was running a cupcake company online, like just for a couple of months as a trial. And my main business was helping people, this is ironic, write their CVs and interviews to get jobs. I know. Isn’t that funny? I first made money by helping people get jobs and now I’m like how about you don’t have a job at all? In short, the reason Free Range Humans came about was a little blogging side project on the side of my career change, interview skills business, which was going all right.
And people kept asking me through that blog, how did you start your business? How did you break out? And even clients who came to me to say, “Well, help me work out what career I should do,” would actually ask me, “Well, actually I really like to start a business. How did you do it?” And so I started writing about that and that grew into my main thing, and that’s what I do now. So I’ve shut down everything else and Free Range Humans is my main focus because it turns out that’s what I love to do, and that’s what people really wanna hear about. So that’s how it came about. That’s my story.
Nathan: Awesome. Now there’s a few things that I’d like to dissect from that. And the first was can you give us a little bit of a rundown about…because it’s such a difficult thing to somebody that’s locked in the daily grind to think, how can I find something else and really do a 360 with your life, and work out what’s really meant for you? What sort of processes do you go through to help somebody find something that they love?
Marianne: So the first thing I say is that everyone comes to this process from a different place. So people ask, what’s the process? What should I do first, second, third? And the question usually is, well, where are you in your thinking so far?Because everyone’s life journey is different, and some people come to this having never ever allowed themselves to dream at all, and that’s why my book actually starts out with daring to dream. Other people are like, “You know what? I’ve been dreaming for years, pretty clear on the dream. What do I do now?”
So that’s where they start. And so it’s very much tailored. But the thing that I do in my book in my courses and it’s super, super important, I give as a big tip to anyone who’s trying to do this, is you need to separate out your big picture dream from your practical how-tos. They are different things. So the mistake I see people make is they come to me and say, “I’m completely overwhelmed. I’ve been trying to work out what I wanna do, and I can’t find anything that I like. I think I’ll get bored of it after three months. I like so many things I don’t know where to start,” which is most of my niche by the way and totally me as well. “I like lots of different things, I can’t decide,” the focus of a small goldfish.
“And then every time I come up with an idea, it’s unfeasible, so I give up and I go back to the beginning and I have lots of things. I’m really good at dreaming. I don’t have one big dream. Oh my god, what do I do?” And I’m like there are some key mistakes happening here. One is you’re trying to figure out one thing to do with your life, and the big thing I tell people is if you’re someone with multiple interests, multiple passions, if you have the attention span of a goldfish, you will never have one thing you wanna do with your life. You will have multiple things.
So I’m totally that person. So Free Range Human is…I call it bespoke career, and I help people create bespoke careers in my book, in my courses, because it allows me to do things like have an idea, launch a festival, have an idea, write something, have an idea, create something different. It allows me to do these things within a space. I have another friend of mine who is what we call a portfolio careerist. So his free range career is that he runs several different things that feed his multiple interests. So if either of us had said, “How do we get paid to do one thing? Oh my god, I can’t work it out.” We wouldn’t be doing what we did today.
So if we go back to my story at the beginning, when I first quit my job, I did three different things to explore, and one of them lead to Free Range Humans and the others were things I still kind of do on the side for fun. So that’s the first mistake. The second thing I’d say people watch out for if you’re doing it is are you integrating your dream with the how-tos? And the way that happens is if someone goes, “Well, I have an idea,” but within 15 minutes or the next day, I drop it because it’s unfeasible. Because I’d go on Google and I look up what’s happening, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s not gonna work, but I’m not sure I want to do it anyway. But I don’t think it would have worked anyway.” We kind of go in this cycle. It’s like I think I have an idea, I’m not sure it’s gonna work, I’m not sure what to do now.
And you are actually working out what you wanna do and working out the feasibility of it are two entirely different questions. Until you are clear on this is who I am…and we always find your personality, not with an assumption about who you are. But this is who I am, this is my personality, this is my style, this is my natural strength, this is where I shine and I’m hack shining and this is the area I wanna go into, then we go let’s look at what you can do within that area. And you don’t go and interrupt your dream stage which is an actual fixed stage. In my courses, I have specific weeks for that.
You don’t interrupt that with feasibility. Feasibility comes when you clarified your dream because if you try to combine them you’ll go into this sort of pinball thinking. And that’s how people get wound up in knots. So now what stage you are, I go with those two. One is allow yourself to create a bespoke career with lots of different things in it. And second one is stop pinball thinking. Separate out your dream stage. Give yourself several weeks, months, whatever from your practical stage which is the one that comes next. That’s my nutshell advice.
Nathan: You break it down really nicely, and the first thing that comes to mind which rings so true is…I talk to many people about my businesses and the things that I’m doing certainly with the magazine. And people can see that what my dream is. And I have asked friends and family, like what’s your dream? And they all said to me…or have you ever thought about starting a business? And they always say “Look, I haven’t come up with an idea yet.”
It always comes back to people think that they’re gonna just have this miraculous idea that’s going to go bangbusters and just go absolutely gonna make so much money from it. And there’s gonna be no risk and just high rewards. And it’s just I think a really big common misconception. So I love the way that you’ve broken it down and you say, you don’t have to go with one thing because as entrepreneurs, usually when we start off doing something, the thing that we started out doing doesn’t end up being the thing that makes us all the money or that we are passionate about.
Marianne: Yes. I say that in my book as well. It’s so true, Nathan, exactly right. Usually your second thing, it’s usually the second project or the sorry to interrupt. I’ve noticed the thing with people I’ve talked to lately that it was their side project that takes off. A lot of bloggers, if you go and talk to a lot of popular bloggers at the moment, and I interviewed a lot for my book, they don’t say in public. When you really probe they’re like, “Well, I started that on the side of something else.” And my theory is that because you take the pressure off, as in you don’t try to make it look a certain way, and so it’s allowed to evolve into something more interesting interruption there.
Nathan: You’re right.
Marianne: It’s a theory.
Nathan: So I really like how you’ve broken it down like you have…you can start with many things, just start small. It can be all sorts of things, all sorts of interest, passions that drive you and start with the dream. I’m embarrassed to say this but the first thing that I ever did in terms of business-wise was I created a cologne review website. And I can’t believe how ridiculous it is, and I have never said this online yet. But, look, and this is a couple years ago, if I thought I’d be doing what I am today I wouldn’t even have a remote idea.
So, no, that was great. I really like that. So what I wanted to touch on is once you’ve kind of established a dream, how do you get these people that are in the 9 to 5, do you recommend that they just quit your job or transition, or how do you help people cope? Because it can be quite scary.
Marianne: And this is where it gets super personal with the individuals. Everyone navigate change in different ways. Some of us do better when we’re thrust into the moment and for others, actually panic in that moment and are worse by being thrust in. I quit my job twice, by the way. The first time I quit, I was working for Disney and I hated it. I was in the corporate offices. It was the worst job in the world, and I quit my job and decided I was gonna go free range, didn’t even know what free range was.
I picked up some contract work and then was like, I didn’t know how to do this, and went back into another job, career change, but still went back to another job. So it was my first attempt and that’s not unusual by the way. It’s okay to quit your job, have a go and then try something else because if I hadn’t done that and seen that it was possible for me to get work on the side, I don’t doing what I do today. So that’s the first thing. If you quit your job before and you’re thinking but I’m scared it was your first iteration, you can have two. It’s fine. You can have three if you want. So that’s the first thing. It’s fine. It’s all right.
The second time I quit my job was in the middle of a recession, which is a great time to quit your job and start a business, and then you feel you have no reputation. Some business advice from me there you might wanna ignore. But seriously, actually it was the best time to quit my job. I left it. I’d done this whole thing and I’m sure you’ve done this as well, Nathan, where I was like, “Look at all these people struggling in business. I can totally do better than that” And so I had this huge plan of how I was gonna take over the world with whatever business I had in my head at the time. I worked on it for like a year on the side. And worked on it is a glorified term for what I was really doing, which was flapping around with it.
And then I was…I negotiated to go part-time because I was in a really stressful job, eight-hour days working in the city with a slightly nutty boss. And I thought I can’t do this. Even though I’ve been doing a lot on the side so far, I can’t continue. And so that’d gone…was about to go part-time. And the week before I was gonna go part-time, things went tits up at work. I realized that this was not a place that would ever encourage anyone to have time for themselves and I hand in my notice and I quit. And I wasn’t ready and that was the best thing I could have done now. I would never have…all my planning by the way, by that point, I realized was worthless. I’d spent a year planning. I didn’t have any idea at all until I got on the ground.
And so what I tell my clients to do now is run projects. One thing I’d change in that whole year was instead of me going, “I can’t start till my websites up, I can’t start till my logo is perfect, I can’t start…” like pre-written a course I want to run or pre-written all the material for my clients, I actually run projects. So I’ve actually written a blog post last week called “What’s The Stage Before Starting A Full-time Business.” There actually are three stories of different types of projects that real people are running at the moment around this on the side.
And that’s what I tell people to do because when I actually got into that mindset and was running projects, doing stuff on the side, that’s when things absolutely took off. And doing these experiments and these projects and doing things allowed me to explore who I was and stand out as me, is why by the end of my first year in the recession and you feel I was earning as much as I had been in my old job. And if I had only gone a linear route after I left that wouldn’t have worked. But this is something you can pick up and do on the side in your job before you make a decision about what you wanna do.
And then you know what? If you’re like someone who says, you know, I know what I’m like, I will never do anything unless I quit, then feel free to make that decision for yourself. But don’t feel that you were forced into it because you can’t possibly start until you quit. It is a decision that you make. And either way, people do it both ways, so you know you’re being in good company whatever you choose.
Nathan: That’s great advice because I think what some people do, and this has happened to a friend of mine, is he quit his job and then tried to work out what to do later and then six months has passed, and then nine months has passed, he’s really stressed. He’s trying to get money, trying to make money, and it just all becomes far too stressful.
Marianne: And you know why? Like if you go back to what I was saying before, Nathan, around combining the dream stage and the practical stage, if he needs to make money he’s in no state to dream and that’s what I tell my clients. I always ask…I’m like do you need to make money within the next three, maybe six months or you’re not gonna be able to pay the bills? Is this situation you’re in right when you’re coming to me? And if they’re like, “I need to make money in three months,” I’m like, “This is not a dream state right now. Like what you need to do is a plan state.”
And I see this mistake a lot. People quit their job, email me and said, “I just bought your course. I’ve quit my job and within three months I’m gonna work out what to do and put it up online.” And you have no idea what you wanna do and you want to dream. I’m like it could take you three months to get back in touch with yourself and do a lot of stuff on like reactivating what we call your inner GPS which is the thing that tells you, “Oh my God, don’t do that. Oh yes, please, do that,” and that can take a little while.
So I just tell people it’s great to quit your job and have time off, and do whatever you want and go travelling, whatever it is, but don’t put pressure in yourself to say that within three months I’m going to have…after I’ve quit my job I’m gonna have a great time, worked out what I wanna do and started the business in a field I have no experience in and be making money. That’s not feasible. What might be feasible is, “I know what I wanna do. I’m gonna quit my job and within three months I want to have my first client and be set up and going, but I’m already clear on what I want.” That’s something that we can actually…it’s a tight frame that we can definitely get that going.
So don’t confuse dreaming with the creation, and don’t put your house on the line by quitting your job because you’re not gonna dream and you’re not gonna make money. Neither of them will work. You have to give yourself space. And if that means…there’s lots of ways by the way. If you need to quit your job, you’re gonna go nuts because your boss is completely psycho, then look at how else you can bring in money. It’s the same I did. What kept me going my first six months was actually that I picked up a bit of consulting work which came to me after I quit my job. At both cases when I left my job it came afterwards. So I was putting my word out, word of mouth, old clients. In one case, colleagues in foreign office that wanted me to come over and help them, something I’ve never done.
So put your feels out and go, what can I do that allows me to get an experience of being free range but can tap into what else…my existing networks. Maybe you have to quit to allow that to come to you. And while you’re doing that you’ve got the stage, you might be doing it three days a week, maybe you’re doing it for two weeks in a month, and you’re bringing in more money and so you have a week off. How can you create that experience if you know you have to quit your job and give yourself time to create your free range dream as well as doing that? There are lots of ways. You don’t have to stay in that job, but don’t think it’s an either or situation.
Nathan: Look, I love that, and just to touch on that someone that I interviewed for the magazine a couple of issues ago, his name was Tom Hua and he’s a freelancer. And he believes that everybody has…and it’s true that everybody has a skill set that they can sell and they can freelance or do something on the side to get a little bit of cash. So you’re right, that’s a great point.
Marianne: That’s really cool.
Nathan: So I wanted to touch on setting up a business for under $100. Now, this is something that can be achieved?
Marianne: If it’s an online business, yes.
Nathan: Run us through that, please.
Marianne: What I mean…right. Okay, if we break…I love breaking things down. Makes it simpler. So if you look at what are the key components of setting up an online business, it would be you want a way to communicate with potential clients, you want a way to have potential clients actually find you, and you want a way to be delivering your services and/or online products. So let’s just put in that realm because as soon as you get physical product and stuff, your costs are gonna go up. So going really clear, so if you’ll be delivering say consulting, coaching or online products, how do you do that for under say $100 or so?
And my math is always a little bit vague by the way, so we’re going $100 or so. So first thing I’d look at how do you get your people to know who on earth you are. Do you need to spend money on that? And there’s something I took by the book which I call the hundred thousand dollar test, something that I did, I made up for myself when I was running that business that was going all right but wasn’t really taking off yet.
And I kept having this excuse for myself. I kept saying if only someone will give me $100,000, I could really make this thing take off. And one day I sat down and I said, what would I do with that? And so I started writing down. It’s all in the book there, the details what I wrote down. I wrote down all the things I thought that I would do with it, and then I put my marketing hat on. So I had a marketing strategy background. I was like will any of that stuff actually make a difference? And I was like, probably not.
And I realized that the stuff I thought I had to spend money on, luckily I did know a little bit about it, was actually stuff that I could get pretty much like 80% of the results with or 90% of the results with without actually showing that money out. So that’s the attitude we look here. So if you look at what you need to bring clients into an online business, you need to pay for anything. I have never paid for ads to bring people to my business. I’ve paid for ads like Facebook ads to split test things like book titles and stuff but that’s a geeky future thing.
Did I pay for ads to start out? Not once. You don’t need that. What you need is…I’m sure you’re gonna hear from a billion people but I’ll say it again, you need solid content to prove that you know your stuff. And we’re talking blog posts and videos. Almost any field that you’re in, you will get a huge boost if you can prove to people that you know your stuff by sharing content. You can do that by setting yourself up with a blog. It’s free. It’s awesome. If you wanna get yourself a hosted blog, then you can go with something like Bluehost or whatever.
And if you break down the monthly costs of that, it’s not huge, hosting account and you set up your site for free using a decent theme. Put it up there and you can have as many sites as you want. If you want to go even like more free free blog, either one. So your costs are really low there. You create great content and then you can offer to guest post on other people’s blogs and that’s free. And that’s a great way because they’ll link back to you, driving traffic, and you still haven’t paid for any ads by this point.
You can go and connect with people in your field who might be running events if you like doing workshops. So something that got me kind of fairly well known in the U.K. within about nine months of starting was connecting with an organization. They have a huge base of people. I could see they weren’t making money that they should be. I went in, I was writing for them, and I went and had a conversation after writing and said, “Hey, would you like me to run this event and get people to pay? You bring in the people, I’ll organize everything else. I’ll make sure it works and that it’s really good quality.”
They said yes, and my profile went up. This is all free. And these are just some examples. There’ll be a billion others. Now if you got to the stage of you’re like, “I got people in. I haven’t paid much money yet,” what you do now you gotta keep in touch with them, right? So how do you do that? We can do it via social media, so Facebook is free. Facebook fan page for example or you can do it via a mailing list. You can set that up for free on MailChimp. I use Aweber which is paid for but I started out with much less fancy systems and Mail Chimp is free and something people use.
Again, you haven’t paid up. Then you can keep going up. How do you sell stuff online? What do you need to pay there? Well, I created until recently where we’re shifting systems, up until now I’ve created my own courses using a word document and a PDF converter. And these are course that would sell for like…converting it into dollars would be like that $800 at the time. They’re free. I use audible to record my audio. I used Vimeo or YouTube to put up my videos. I use iMovie to do the edits. And then I post them on my website and sell them using e-Junkie which costs $5 a month a shopping cart, and PayPal which just takes a percentage fee.
Again, we haven’t paid anything and your delivery is entirely then done. If you’re doing as a one-off course, e-Junkie can do it. If you’re doing a bit more complicated you might then want to upgrade to something like Aweber which will deliver your emails one at a time. So that’s when you start paying maybe a little bit more for that. But up until that stage, you can deliver everything by hand. If you’re doing it not as a cost, if you’re doing it as consulting or coaching sessions, you don’t need any of that. You need a PayPal button and that’s free except they’ll take a percentage of your fee.
When I first did my coaching, by the way, the very first coaching I sold, I didn’t even know Paypal was like a thing you could use. I got through the Transmanagement bank account. That was free as well. That’s not the greatest system, by the way. Use Paypal. It’s much better. So what I’m just saying is do not get hung up on fancy systems that are gonna cost you the earth. The only thing that I would spend money on that’s any good is if you’re going to pay for an email like an auto responder like Aweber just to keep in touch, send weekly emails. Pay for good ones. I love Aweber or go with something like MailChimp. Don’t pay up for a system that you haven’t got a lot of recommendations for. And that goes for pretty much anything. Unless you got a lot of recommendation, and you’re certain that you need it, go for something simpler.
My math’s is a bit off but I don’t think we’ve mentioned big numbers yet, and that’s how I ran my business up until about a year ago. I didn’t pay for anything much and now we’ve got numbers. I’m starting to upgrade, so you don’t need to do it straight away.
Nathan: Fascinating, there’s a few things I want to touch on from that, and one of those was…like you said, something you hear so often is write great content, write epic content. And it comes up a bit in my interviews, people say that. I just want to know because I was introduced to you, and I had looked around on your blog, and you’re a great writer and you do write some really interesting stuff. And I just want to know how do you go about it gauging if it is great content?
Marianne: I think there is a few things. I think some people would say, “Oh, the response you get,” but actually it’s really hard. If you’re starting out you don’t have much of a readership, how do you know?
Nathan: That’s right.
Marianne: It’s super, super difficult and I don’t think it is a numbers game, especially because I ran…well, I would say, you know, more than a full-time business. I was making more than I had in my old city job, with a mailing list of like 1000 for quite a while before I started getting known and my numbers going up. So you don’t need huge numbers, and the reason I say that is what is important is level of emotional engagement and intellectual engagement that people have with your content. So do people come across your content, just say you set to say three or four members of your niche, people who are really the right people, not people like totally right.
If someone, they’ll email you back and go, “Oh my God, I think you just crawled into my head and like read what I was thinking,” if someone’s not saying that to you, you might not have epic content. What you might have is pretty good content. The stuff that really takes off and that makes a difference in the world and draws people to you at the same time is the stuff that when you say it hits a chord, that people know to be really true to them. So who are you writing for? Are you saying something that when you read it you’re like, “You know what? This is what I want to say to them if they were standing in front of me, and I had the guts to say it,” that’s the stuff that’s absolutely epic. And it resonates with them. So it’s not written just for the sake of it. It’s not written because you think it will be good.
It’s something that resonates with them. And when you start doing that, even if you have small numbers, you’ll start realizing people say things like, “Wow, how did you know I was thinking that? Wow, that really touched me.” So I get things…my Friday Love Letter, the reason that started was that I wasn’t confident enough to post my real stuff on my blog. And I wanted the space…it was a really interesting experiment. So I created a mailing list, start sending it, and I started sending the stuff I wasn’t sure I wanted to make public.
But now my mailing list is ridiculously big and I’m like shit, I’m mailing all these people this really stuff that I don’t post in my blog. I post about say a third to 50% of it on the blog. A lot of it’s not posted still but I just feel that because people locked it in, it’s a different audience that’s chosen to receive, that’s chosen to be there. So that’s a great experiment but when I started realizing this thing was a thing, was I had a tiny email list made up of people who came to these workshops, this other company ran, and a couple people that came across my website. And I started getting one or two emails after a post saying, “Wow, that really touched me, or that made a huge difference to my week. Thank you.” And I started realizing what were the patterns, which were the emails or the blog post that people really resonated with it.
And if you keep putting out content you’ll start getting a feel for it yourself, and you’ll start getting a feel for how people are responding. So that’s where I start. I start creating it, creating it with the idea of authenticity, doing it as if you’re talking to them, and also listening out for it. But please don’t listen to what everyone says. Some people will not like what you’re writing and that’s fine, and that’s great because it means it’s strong enough for someone else to love it. So really tap into the people you want to be listening to.
Nathan: No, that’s right and one thing that was blurting out at me that I have to ask you is I think to really get the money that you deserve, or to be able to maintain a lifestyle or to be able to build a career I guess as an entrepreneur, you really have to be able to provide a decent amount of value to your community. Now one thing that you might have and I’ve struggled with when I first started these, I didn’t really think so much about the value. I’m more cared about the money. Do you find that when you help people when they’re first starting out they’re more concerned about the money, and not the level of value that they’re providing?
Marianne: Exactly, completely the same, and I think it’s because when you’re starting out, and you’re a little bit like this is a tint of desperation going on, it’s like this stuff about value and doing stuff in line with who you are, that’s all fluffy. That’s extra. That can come later as a nice add on when I worked out how to bring in the money. And when you’re in that space, which I have completely been in, I know what it’s like, you’re not in a space to take in information about value. So when I teach people this stuff when I wrote my book, a lot of my time went into writing and creating it in a way that it got across this message that you and I both really buy into around value.
But always focusing on what the benefit was for the person providing the value. So I think it’s really important for anyone who’s listening to this who has thought all this stuff about value and this and that, damn it, how do I just bring in the money, is to… I mean, have a look at my book. I talk about a lot in part four. But the important part of it is that it’s not disconnected, and you’ll see the theme that when people start focusing on value rather than just on sales, they both come together.
And this doesn’t mean just provide value and forget about making money. They are both the same thing. The best way that I like to explain it to people is whatever field you’re in its gonna be crowded, it’s gonna be competitive and if it’s not, it will be soon. That’s the truth of any decent field. Why would someone choose you over someone else? The only reason would be they believe that you’re gonna provide them with awesome value because either you get them and you can only prove that through your content, you get them more than anyone else. You have a style that makes them go, “I want that,” that’s really attractive to them or you know your stuff amazingly.
And the only way you’re gonna prove that is by proving your value before they’ve even contacted you to ask to buy something because they won’t be contacting you to ask to buy something otherwise. And even if they do contact you, and you haven’t proven your value, you’re gonna struggle to close that sale. So they’re completely and utterly connected. You can’t get people excited about working with you until you create value. And it’s kind of like if you don’t create value and you’re desperate about making money, it’s like you’re walking into an empty room and shouting out about your services, but no one is there or everyone’s backs turned. It’s by creating value that people actually turn around to you and you don’t even need to shout anymore.
That’s how I get people to reconnect. And another thing I noticed Nathan, is when people have broken through that barrier and have started to make things work for them, that is when I feel that they really get the fact that it was the value creation that got them there. And once they get that back they totally buy into it. So I always start by making it connect with them before we go on to getting them to buy into it by themselves.
Nathan: That’s awesome and that’s some really great advice. I love that. It comes back to something that I was actually reading about and that was about your one key fan, because I’m not sure if you heard of the term one key fan or you’ve probably heard of the term a thousand true fans. And what that is, is pretty much if somebody…your one key fan or your avatar as you will is somebody that just adores everything that you write, that you connect with them really, really well, and they listen to what you have to say.
And once you have that one key fan and you work out what they’re like and their avatar, more or less there will be more than one person that is like that. And all you have to do is just find at least 1000 of them. And what the theory use is, is if you have 1000 followers, a 1000 true fans, 1000 fans, you will be financially substantial.
Marianne: True fans, definitely, people who are super excited, wanna spread the word. Again that’s something that comes out of like this creating value as well
Nathan: I know. That’s awesome. I love it. So let’s switch gears a bit before we got on the call where we’re talking about travel and stuff. And I know you do a lot of traveling from your laptop. Now I just want to know, how do you go about organizing your time? Because I’m an avid traveler too and I actually struggle to be able to do work while traveling when you’re always on the go, and you’re always trying to see these places and do these things. How do you go about organizing your time and prioritizing and staff? Do you have any tips and tricks that you can provide?
Marianne: I think it’s really good to get a…I laugh at this because I’m the least organized person on this planet. Hilarious question, and I think actually the reason I think it’s gonna be a good answer is that it’s really important to get honest about who you are. I say this about everything, it’s so important. Like you, your biggest business is biggest asset and if you’re essentially lying to yourself that what your biggest asset can and can’t do, it’s not gonna work out.
So look at who you are, look at your patterns, when do you work best? Are you someone who works best in intense bursts? Do you work best when you’re switching task throughout the day? Are you someone who works really, really hard and then sort of want to take time off, or are you someone who prefers things to be slow and steady and consistent over a period of time? What’s your style?
So for me, I’m gonna answer from my perspective because it’s the only way I can answer from on this question, and that is I am very intense work-wise, and I work in bursts and then I take time off. And once I got into that, I was so much happier and got so much more done. So the way I work is at the moment I’m kind of…you really like reevaluating things. I’m creating my very first in-person event in Bali next year. So I’m kind of pulling back at the moment. I’m not launching anything.
If I was launching I would be staying up until late at night no matter where I was in the world. I’d be like working super hard. I’d be creating the sales, be doing the video. I’d be creating the course whatever it was. All out, be running it and I’d be off for a month and you wouldn’t hear from me after that.
Nathan: I see.
Marianne: And that’s how I work. It kinda works for me, but I think in terms of time management in general, when you’re on the road, aside from that, how do you actually work, the second thing I’d say would be look at what you need to do for the next few months, even if you’re someone who’s like I don’t know what I’m doing in three months’ time. That’s fine. Are you likely to need to be delivering something or bringing in money in three months’ time or in two months’ time? And if so what sort of resources do you need available to you?
So something I like to do, I like to stay in one place for a minimum of a month, usually up to three months, and scheduling what I’m doing based on what’s available to me and what I’m gonna want to see and do while I’m out there. So it might be, you know what? For the next three weeks I’m gonna be fairly intensely working, so I’m not gonna move around. I’m just gonna have normal days in the local area. But next month I know I want to go on a side trip, and I’m probably gonna really wanna explore this new area. So we’re gonna tone down what we’re doing and tone up the work before you get there.
So you create…essentially design your business based on the life that you got booked in, and obviously, make sure that the business is bringing the money to support that life as well. I hope that makes sense.
Nathan: Yeah, no, totally. I had two last questions for you because we have to work at wrapping things up. And I just wanted to start with like a bit of a comment and that was since the moment you’re born, society has a life planned for you, and that’s you go to school, you get good marks,you hopefully get a good job from it, you make good money, you buy a house, and have a family, the end. I just like to hear what your take is on that.
Marianne: I think that…firstly, I am so against that shit. But secondly, I honestly think that having a default plan or a path to life is dangerous because it doesn’t allow you to explore who you are, explore what you and your family, whatever else wants and iterate. So the firstly, it’s not just that path that I have an issue with, it’s the fact that it is a path. For some people it’s going to be the right path. Some people actually are gonna be really happy with that and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not telling everyone to quit their jobs. I actually know and have friends who are very happy in that path and that’s really cool.
But I always ask where things come from, and I’m sure some of you know this, but that particular path isn’t something that humans have always done. It’s not the natural order of things at all, and it’s actually based on an industrialist model where schools were developed to develop factory workers. So if you look at the entire school system from uniforms and all that, that was developed in the industrial era in England to create factory workers. That’s where our current education system comes from.
So if you ever feel like you’re factory farm in a school, where do you think that came from? So what are schools developing you for? They’re developing you for certain types of work. That’s what they’ve always done. They’re trying to develop. They haven’t developed very well. They certainly haven’t developed very well for our modern era.
So when I was at school…I went to school in Australia and I got really good marks, top marks in the state, and I was supposed to go on and do medicine or law, as you would. And I didn’t, and that decision is something I definitely don’t regret to this day because when you get great marks or when you’re a high performer in a job, whatever it is, people say, “Oh, look there’s so many doors open to you,” but the truth is that what that society really means is there are certain doors open to you that you’re allowed to take. Those doors are very narrow, but you should be grateful for them being opened because they have high status.
And really most people in my tribe are actually quite high achievers. I was…same thing in university. I was top performer in my university as well. And again people would assume I’d go in a certain direction. I didn’t and the reason was for somehow I on the quite young age that options really should mean options. Options shouldn’t mean you go and do the highest status thing. That’s not an option. That is as narrow as you having got the worst grade or the lowest performance review at work, right?
If your only option is to become the CEO or become a vice president which some of my clients were facing before they came across Free Range Humans, and you don’t want to and you’re like, “I have to because I am that performer,” you’re like you’ve worked so hard all your life in your school and in your job, and you’re telling me now that the reward for that is that you really don’t have options? And isn’t that ironic, right, that you work hard…
Nathan: Yeah, it’s funny.
Marianne: To get options and then… That’s my take on it. If anyone is in that position right now, at school, a job, high performers, whatever, I just say really look at the word options in front of you. What I did when I…this is a school example. I know most people listening are much older. But when I got my grades in New South Wales, I got my HSC, I looked at my mark and instead of saying, what do I get 99, what do we do? I looked at my grade and said, what do I do from there and below?
And I did an arts degree, in the end. I specialized in film and English, and my creative writing classes and the thing that currently drives my business because I learned how to write and how to create. And if I had gone on and do the things that I was supposed to do that was supposed to be high value I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing as easily. I would have had to have learnt a lot more. So instead of looking your options within the top cap, you look at your options down and decide whether you want to be in a standout performer in another field, can you take something and make it your own?
Because the final thing I say is in free range land, as I call it, the status is very different. As a free range or entrepreneur, whatever you wanna call it, it’s not about you go from here to there. It’s what do you create? And what if you took all your energy, all your drive, all your intelligence that’s got you to this point and you put into something you love to do? What if you focused on making that the best it could be and the best you could be rather than following someone else’s path? I think that’s something that creates a lot more options for you.
Nathan: And it’s a lot more exciting I think, personally, right?
Marianne: So much more fun.
Nathan: waking up and just excited about the day, not having to get the train to work and be there in a certain time. That was a great answer so thank you. My last question I have for you is, are there any words of wisdom that you would like to share with our audience listening? Now, keep in mind that our audience would be young entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, nervous entrepreneurs. What would you like to…maybe something that you wish you had known from your journey, living your dream right now, which meant. I’m not sure, it’s totally up to you.
Marianne: So really simple I’ve got is know that what you bring, like the person that you are, your personality, all the things about that that you might currently think are disadvantages, that maybe you’re not organized enough or maybe you’re super organized and not creative enough, whatever it is that you think are the biggest disadvantage about you that you’re trying to hide, that you’re trying to put away, that you’re trying to compensate for, know that they are the key to your biggest advantage.
That when you absolutely get into who you are and understand your greatest strengths, you’re not going to be focusing on your biggest disadvantage. So what if, this is just one question what if you knew that because you were that super organized person yourself to being not creative enough, what if there were people who would absolutely love to have you helping them and working with them for the person you are, not the person you think you should be?
What if you were that disorganized person with a billion ideas at once, you’re trying to pack yourself in and look more professional and if you found out that actually there was a niche of people who love you for who you are if only you could capture it? That time and time again with myself, my clients, and my colleagues is that when we stop fighting who we are and we start making it the center of what we do, that’s when true success happens.
So I’ll leave you with that. Look at your disadvantage now, what you’re trying to hide, what if they were the key to the thing that’s gonna bring you the most of life? You didn’t have to pretend to be someone else every day. That’s gonna be something in that for everyone.
Nathan: Wow, that was very, very touching. That’s probably the best answer or best words of wisdom I’ve got so far. So thank you. That was awesome, epic. That was epic. I have to wrap things up but, look, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And for those listening, make sure you go to Marianne’s blog at www.free-range-humans.com. Make sure you purchase her book. There will be an ad within the magazine and, look, thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Marianne: Great speaking with you, Nathan.
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