Joanna Penn was a self-proclaimed “cubicle slave” who had a nagging feeling that she “should” be happy with her life, even though she wasn’t. So many digital entrepreneurs face similar feelings on their path to freedom. How did Joanna get from there to where she is now as a very successful, bestselling author entrepreneur? In this episode, Joanna shares her digital entrepreneur origin story.
It’s a story all of us who are aspiring, and even current, digital entrepreneurs can learn from.
In this 36-minute episode, you’ll discover:
- How Joanna started and failed numerous businesses before one stuck
- The book she read that changed her life
- What eventually inspired Joanna to become unwilling to live with the pain of having a job she didn’t love
- Why Joanna decided that she was NOT going to go up the career ladder (and what she means by a “Pizza Hut job”)
- The importance of embracing movement and the “zig-zag”
- How Joanna dealt with her inner “frustrated creative” who had a NEED to do something that mattered
- How Joanna got into self-publishing … without any publishing experience at all
- Why Joanna is now “seriously happy” in her new life … and how “work-life balance” doesn’t really apply when you love what you do
And more. You can get more from Joanna at thecreativepenn.com, and you can see her speak this October at Digital Commerce Summit. Early bird ticket prices go away later this month! For more information, go to rainmaker.fm/summit.
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The Show Notes
How Joanna Penn Designed the Lifestyle (and Career) of Her Dreams
Voiceover: You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs.
DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.
Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur. I’m your host Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and this is episode No. 22.
In this episode, we are going to continue our interview series with the esteemed panel of digital commerce practitioners who will be speaking at Digital Commerce Summit this October in Denver. If you missed our recent episodes with Brian Clark and Chris Garret, Joanna Wiebe, Sonia Simone, and Pamela Wilson, they are easily accessible as the previous five episodes in your Digital Entrepreneur feed.
How to Take Your Digital Business to the Next Level
Jerod Morris: If you enjoy those episodes and if you enjoy today’s discussion with author, entrepreneur extraordinaire Joanna Penn, then I highly recommend that you consider joining us in Denver this October at Digital Commerce Summit, where you will discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital products and services from some of the most successful digital entrepreneurs in the world. People like those that I’ve already mentioned, as well as folks like Rand Fishkin of Moz, Jeff Walker, Laura Roeder, Tara Gentile, Chris Lema, Chris Ducker, and many others.
Plus, of course, you’ll get to spend a few days hanging out in a theater full of like-minded people who are pursuing the goal of building a successful business around digital products and services–like you may be right now–and, of course, people who want the financial and professional freedom that can come from doing that.
It’s a great way to build your network, and it’s a great way to build your notebook with ideas that, who knows, might change the course of your business. That can happen at conferences like this. I know that because it’s happened to me at conferences that I’ve gone to.
Early bird tickets are still available for the conference for at least a few more weeks, at least as of July 7th, 2016, when this episode first goes live. The early bird tickets aren’t going to be there forever. In fact, we’re taking them away later this month, so don’t miss out on getting the best value. You can go to Rainmaker.FM/Summit for more information.
All About Joanna
Jerod Morris: Well, today on The Digital Entrepreneur, as I said, you’re going to be learning from Joanna Penn. Joanna, if you don’t know her already, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling fiction and nonfiction author. She’s done it all independently. She’s not just an author. She was also voted one of the top 100 creative professionals in the UK by The Guardian in 2013, a recognition of her success as a not just a creative, but also a businesswoman.
Clearly, Joanna has an impressive professional life and so many essential lessons. She can teach so many essential lessons that we can all learn when it comes to the power of creating ‘intellectual property assets.’ This is a buzz term that Joanna uses a lot, and it makes so much sense once you hear her explain it. This concept is how she’s built her thriving business and how, in her words, she’ll still be making money 70 years after she’s dead.
Well, I had the chance to chat with Joanna about this and much more on a recent members-only case study inside of Digital Commerce Academy. What surprised me about our conversation is that I was actually more fascinated by her origin story–how she went from being a self-proclaimed ‘cubicle slave’ who ‘should have been happy with her life but wasn’t’ to where she is today because it certainly didn’t happen by accident.
She made a series of intentional, strategic, and well-thought-out choices to systematically transition out of her IT consulting job and into being one of the world’s most successful independent authors. It’s a story that so many of us who are aspiring or even current digital entrepreneurs can learn from and relate to because I know there’s so many of us. Maybe we’re in a current job, but we have this dream of doing this over here, this business idea, maybe something creative, and we can’t seem to get to that point, to get to that transition point.
Well Joanna did it, and there’s so much that we can learn from her story. I’ve decided that for this week’s episode of The Digital Entrepreneur, I’m going to play you an excerpt from that conversation because I got a lot out of it, I got a lot out of re-listening to it as I prepped for this episode, and I think that you’ll get a lot out of it, too.
We discuss how Joanna started and failed numerous businesses, actually, before one stuck. We talk about the important decision that she made about how to view her job that actually set the stage for her growth as an author and to her becoming an entrepreneur. We also talk about the book she read that changed her life, how she dealt with her inner frustrated creative–and I think a lot of us deal with a inner frustrate creative–and much, much more.
I will tell you real quick that what I’m going to play for you here right now, it’s audio that is recorded from an GoToWebinar session, so it’s not perfect. Fortunately, Joanna comes through much clearer and much better than I do, so please just suffer through my short question interjections. They’re very short, and Joanna does most of the talking because, as I said, the audio for her is much better than me.
She provides some incredibly useful insight, so I didn’t want less-than-perfect audio to keep me from bringing this to you here on this podcast. I really hope you enjoy it. Here now is an excerpt from my Digital Commerce Academy chat with Joanna Penn.
How Joanna Started and Failed Numerous Businesses Before One Stuck
Joanna Penn: Like many people, I went to university and did a random degree. In England, you can do random degrees. I did a degree in theology at Oxford, and out of Oxford, you tend to get recruited to these big firms, like a bank or a consultancy firm. I became an IT consultant straight out of university in order to pay off my student loan.
Like many people, getting that first job, you’re not so much worried about what it is. It’s just making a living. I never thought, back in 1997 this was, that I would end up doing that job for so long. So many of us, we don’t even make a decision, or we just do something by default, make a choice, and then wake up years later and go, “What the hell just happened?” That’s basically what happened to me. I had a fantastic time. I certainly appreciate my years in business, but it was 13 years before I got out.
Basically, I ended up implementing accounts payable in large corporate financial departments, which is just not at all creative. I did this across Europe. Pre-2000, I did a lot of the Y2K bug, which everyone will laugh about now, showing my age, and traveled all over Europe, Asia Pacific, came to America. Basically, I was paid very well to do a, as we said, corporate-slave-type job.
As I put on the screen there, I should’ve been happy with my life because I was paid well. I traveled. I was doing a job that my mum thought was great, that society thinks is great. I was paying my taxes early. I was the epitome of what a good girl should do out of Oxford University or any university–get the right degrees, do the right job–but I was basically really miserable. I almost felt ashamed of being miserable at work because I had a good job. I should’ve been happy, but I just wasn’t.
I started to try and figure what the hell was wrong. I actually left my job a number of times. I was a consultant, so I could come and go on projects. I started a scuba diving business briefly in New Zealand, which didn’t go very well because the price of fuel, insurance, a boat, and skipper and crew–recommendation, don’t start a scuba-diving business. Then I also did property investment and really just didn’t enjoy that and lost money on that as well.
The Book Joanna Read That Changed Her Life
Joanna Penn: Before I started considering what do I actually want my life to look like, and we’ll get into this in a minute, the turning point for me was always implementing more accounts payable into a train company, rail company in Australia. I was just crying every day. I just couldn’t work out why I was so miserable, so I started reading a lot of self-help.
Just one book–well, I’ll probably mention a lot of books as we go through this–but the book I read that changed my life was The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. The very first principle is take 100 percent responsibility for your life. This is a big deal because I thought I was taking responsibility, but what it said was, all the choices you make over your lifetime that mean you’ve ended up where you’ve ended up. The continued choice to choose a job for money and stability over my happiness was part of the big deal. That was the as-was situation and the point at which things changed.
Jerod Morris: You said to me that you found that you weren’t willing to have the pain any longer, and you’re talking about existential pain here. I think that we find that, for a lot of us, whenever we want to make a big change, we have to get to that point where the pain of the status quo, of not acting, becomes so great that we just can’t, and that forces us to do the hard work of change. You talked about this book being a big influence.
Were there any other moments, big moments that really signaled, “Hey, this is the time I’ve got to really start being intentional about designing the life I want because I’ve got all these things–but yet I’m not as happy as I should be, and I’ve got to do something different”?
What Inspired Joanna to Leave the Job She Didn’t Love
Joanna Penn: As I said, I was listening to a lot of self-help audios. I was reading a lot of books, and I guess I just looked at how short life is as well and just wanted to do something that would make me happy. I started researching how to enjoy what you do with your life. It was at that point where I thought I should write a book.
Although I’ve always been a reader and I’ve written journals, I’d never written a book. I started researching that and finding out a bit about that. Probably, another big deal was I got into affirmations. This was around the time of The Secret. I want to say that The Secret was missing a big thing, which is the action that you have to take.
But one of the things that they did introduce me to was this idea of an affirmation. I wrote down, “I am creative. I am an author.” At the time, I couldn’t even say that out loud. So I wrote it down on a little card, and I would say it in my head “I am creative. I am an author.” This is going back to 2006 now. Then, eventually, I started whispering it on my route home when I was out walking and things. Eventually I could say it out loud. I certainly wasn’t creative, and I wasn’t an author at that point. But there was this point where I was like, “I just have to make this change.”
Why Joanna Decided That She Was NOT Going to Go Up the Career Ladder (and What She Means by a ‘Pizza Hut Job’)
Joanna Penn: Around then, I also decided that my job was not going to be a proper career anymore. Everybody knows that, when you’re in a job that you want to stay in, you do extra stuff. You go above and beyond, generally, but you don’t work eight hours a day at most normal jobs. You work longer hours. You do certain things in order to go up the career ladder.
I made the decision that I was not going to go up the career ladder. I was going to treat this job like a Pizza Hut job. I can’t remember where that phrase comes from now. But basically, it was a job to pay the bills, but I was not doing anything more than the basic amount of work in order to keep my job. I did a good job, but I didn’t do anything more than I should have.
If there was a chance to leave early, like at four o’clock in the afternoon, I would go home, and I would start. I was writing, and I was learning and all this type of thing. Essentially, that crux point came when I was crying at work, and I just went, “That’s it. I have to transition out of this,” but it did take quite awhile to transition.
Jerod Morris: I think it will for a lot of people. It’s one thing to have this realization, to start making these affirmations, and it’s quite another thing, then, to take the next step of being truly intentional about what steps you want to take next.
Obviously, you don’t just want to quit your job, have nothing, make this rash decision, and don’t have anything set up. This is what I love, that you did that. You asked yourself, “Okay, I know I need a change. I’m realizing there’s these other things that I want to do more than what I’m doing now, but it’s more than just what you’re going to be doing. It’s what type of life do you want to live.”
As you told me, you decided that you wanted to indulge your inner introvert. You wanted to travel. You wanted to be location independent. You wanted to create things in the world. How important was it that you actually sat down and figured these things out in terms of helping you actually create that reality, which you have now?
The Importance of Embracing Movement and the ‘Zig-Zag’
Joanna Penn: Firstly, I would say it’s very easy in hindsight to look back and figure out these things, but when you’re actually in the moment, I normally tell people it’s a bit like skiing down a hill. Even if you haven’t skied, you know what it’s like in that you don’t just go straight line, top of the hill to the bottom of the hill where you wanted to end up. It’s really zig-zag. You have to zig-zag down the hill, so you’re not always pointing in the direction you think you’re going.
Also, you need to be moving in order to turn, so you actually need some momentum before things appear, before you can turn and try the next thing. For me, the mistakes I’ve made before that–so for example, the scuba diving business–the location-independent decision came from running a location-dependent business, where we’re dependent on a physical boat, a physical island, physical people.
That decision on location independence happened earlier on when making a living on the Internet was not such a big deal. That was back in 2004. I know some people were online, but I wasn’t. That came from that. The introvert thing, I am an introvert, which means I get my energy from being alone. I’d just been working in a department of around 400 in an open-plan office … everyone knows what an open plan office looks like, and it was awful.
For an introvert, that kind of noise level and people vibration is very, very tiring, and I had a lot of migraines and a lot of physical pain from just that over-stimulation that introverts struggle with. That was another thing that was like, “Okay, I need to be able to work on my own.” Like many introverts, I’m not a team player.
And if people don’t really know what they are personality wise, I really recommend Quiet by Susan Cain. Even if you’re not an introvert, chances are that your partner or one of your children or parents is. Quiet by Susan Cain, really good book to try and understand people.
How Joanna Dealt with Her Inner ‘Frustrated Creative’ Who Had a NEED to Do Something That Mattered
Joanna Penn: Then the creative thing came from being an IT consultant. Basically, everything you do when you work in a technical space, different to what we’re doing technical-wise, but I was implementing these systems into big companies. What would happen is we’d implement all this stuff, and then a year later, they throw it all out and implement something new. I felt like everything I ever did disappeared, and it really upset me.
It was like, “What is the point? All I’m doing is earning enough money to go out for a nice dinner and pay the mortgage and whatever, but I’m not leaving anything in the world. I’m not creating something original.” That upset me. I just felt that it was all a bit pointless, so that’s part of the existential pain. Maybe I just am, or was, a frustrated creative who was desperate to do something.
Maybe some people listening feel that way–that need to do something and create something, but this seeming inability to do it. The travel thing is I’m just a travel addict, so that was always going to happen. But tax-deductible travel in order to do book research is fantastic.
Jerod Morris: Hey, hey, I like it.
Joanna Penn: Those are the things that I thought about in terms of the life I wanted, and I thought, when I considered this, I wrote this first nonfiction book, which at the time was called How to Enjoy Your Job or Find a New One. I actually rewrote it. It’s now called Career Change, which is a much better title.
Essentially, I thought I was going to be a professional speaker and also make money online selling training courses. Although I am a professional speaker as I’m coming to Denver to meet you guys and speak and I do sell training courses, I’ve ended up being first an author, which I didn’t really think that would happen at the time.
Jerod Morris: That will happen. Like you said, it is to a certain extent like skiing and there’s zig-zagging, but being able to have these overarching things that you wanted to make sure were in your life helps you go from point A to point B–even though there were a lot of zigs and zags in there. It hasn’t been exactly what you thought. You’re doing a few different things than what you thought.
What I found especially interesting is, as you told me, “I’m just going to find out how to get into self-publishing and learn about to do it,” because you made this decision that you wanted to write, that you wanted to create. I love this mindset that you had here because it’s very much the mindset of a digital entrepreneur.
What was it that motivated you to want to do this on your own instead of going more traditional routes to just say, “Hey, I can figure this out. I can learn this, and I can figure out how to do it on my own”?
How Joanna Got into Self-Publishing … Without Any Publishing Experience at All
Joanna Penn: That first book, which is now Career Change, I wrote it, and of course, at the time, I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry. I was also in Australia, was learning from people like Darren Rowse at ProBlogger and Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur’s Journey. I was in a blogging space where, of course, the general atmosphere is do-it-yourself, can-do attitude.
Also, queried one agent with that book, so it was a nonfiction book, which generally, if you want a traditional publishing deal you should sell based on a proposal. I finished the book, and I was like, “Now I’m going to publish it.” When I got this email back from the publisher, it was literally just one of those ‘we’re not interested’ emails.
Then I started to understand what traditional publishing was, that it was based on this scarcity model, this gatekeeper model. Also, even if you got an agent and you got a book deal, it would take a long time for the book to be out there. I’d just written this book, and I was just changing my life–and I was not going to wait. I started to look at self-publishing.
I was also lucky in that I was in Australia because at the time, back in 2007, 2008, self-publishing was vanity publishing, even still in America to a point, although the Kindle was starting to emerge at that point. Also, I was amongst professional speakers, and a lot of professional speakers self-publish because they can sell their books at the back of the room. There’s a much more positive attitude towards self-publishing amongst professional speakers, so I was glad for that.
Basically, I went, saw traditional publishing, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this quickly. I’m going to make some money”–and then I basically proceeded to make every mistake in the book, which we can talk about in a minute. The upshot of that mistake, and this is why mistakes are so important, the mistake that the scuba diving company made my decision to go online.
The mistake of my initial self-publishing, I started my blog, TheCreativePenn.com, Penn with a double N, and to share what I had learned. That was the beginning of what has become a massive part of my business. These mistakes are important along the way.
Jerod Morris: Yes. Yes, they are. We’ve talked about your timeline a little bit. Let’s go through it just where everybody can understand how you got from where you were to where you are. We mentioned 2006, and we mentioned this decision that you made to change. As you said, you changed your mindset to a Pizza Hut job.
You weren’t going above and beyond. You weren’t doing extra. You were doing what you needed to do for your job, but you had set aside any thoughts that it might be a career. Yet it wasn’t really practical to leave right away. I think a lot of people who have a day job and then maybe a side hustle, they end up daydreaming about just leaving their job right now and being able to just pour all of their energy into this new thing–which sounds exciting, but isn’t that practical.
Why did you decide to take this more deliberate approach, and why do you think it was better than just waking up in 2006 and just saying, “I’m out”?
Why Joanna Took Deliberate Steps to Leave Her Job (and Why It Makes the Transition Easier)
Joanna Penn: First of all, that picture–so people looking at the slides or in the recording, get the slide–I think that’s the last time I wore a pinstripe suit. I really like that picture because I don’t wear a pinstripe suit anymore. I’m one of these creative people who wear colors. It’s really funny to look at that picture.
I didn’t know very much back in 2006. What I did know was how much money I was making in my day job. I’m a businesswoman. I want people to be very clear about that. We’ll come to the timeline, but I left my job in 2011. This year was the first year I made more money than I ever did in my day job. It’s taken quite a long time to build up the business to where it was more than it was when I was at the point.
The reason being, and I always say this to people, how much are you worth in your first year in any job? Of course, not very much. How much are you worth in year five at any job? Still, not massively, but at 10 years in any job, you’re going to be one of the top people around there. I think we have to look at it in that way.
Basically, in 2006, when I made some kind of decision to get out of IT consulting and accounts payable, I was still earning very good money. Basically, my husband, at the time we weren’t even married, we bought a house, so we had a mortgage. We had a car. I think we had a motorbike as well. Financially, it was going to be impossible to just leave my job, but what I also knew was how little I knew about publishing, about online business, about speaking. I started the process of learning the skills I needed.
Although I didn’t have a degree in writing or online marketing or online business, I have spent a lot of money. As obviously people listening are investing in their education, this is what you have to do is invest in what you need in order to change your job a little bit further down the line. That was around 2006. I started to invest in my education with some idea that I would exit my job at some point.
Jerod Morris: Again, you had to sacrifice maybe doing the extra, going the extra mile to continue shooting up the corporate ladder, but then you substituted that time with researching, learning, and doing some of those new things. It’s always a give and take. We certainly don’t suggest that folks just quit their job and jump in.
You’re going to have to take that time from somewhere to learn and to start building it on the side. I think this approach that you’ve shown is a good one. We go to 2008, and this is an example of an important step you took. You started your website. Tell us how that impacted and helped keep you going.
How Going Down to Four Days a Week in Her Day Job Changed Joanna’s Life (and Why Choosing a Website Name Needs to Encompass the Life You’re Going to Lead)
Joanna Penn: Basically, at the beginning of 2008, I self-published that first book, How to Enjoy Your Job or Find a New One. Realized how little I knew. In fact, basically what happened is I had all these boxes of books in my living room. Then I realized I didn’t know how to sell them, so I embarked on this journey of learning about online sales, which is incredibly important and has become the backbone of everything I do now and what all online entrepreneurs have to do.
TheCreativePenn.com was my third blog, and I think that’s a really important thing to tell people. I started the first blog around the book, so I had one book. I thought, “Oh, I must start a blog around my book,” which I don’t recommend if you’re intending to be an author with multiple books.
Then I started another one, which was about what I was learning about online business and the blog about blogging, which we all know can be a dangerous thing. I started The Creative Penn, so my third site, in December 2008. I thought, “It’s crazy. This is the affirmation to reality thing.” My affirmation had been, “I am creative. I am an author.” I didn’t believe I was creative at that point, 2006.
In 2008, I was far enough on the mindset journey that I could call my business TheCreativePenn.com because I thought, “Anything I do for the rest of my life can be under this umbrella because I intend to be creative.” I could become a painter and that website name would work. This is a big tip from me with your main website is go big enough. If it’s a lifestyle brand or a personal brand like mine is, it needs to be big enough to encompass the life you’re going to lead. If I had SuccessfulSelfPublishing.com, that would’ve been a very tiny part of who I am now.
I think that’s important, and then I moved down to four days a week at my day job. I went to my boss and said, “Look, can I take 20 percent pay cut in order to work four days a week?” Everybody knows, if you work four days a week, you still do the same amount of work as five days. I basically said, “Look, I’ll take that extra day,” and taking that extra day made a lot of difference to me because I spent that extra time, again, learning more, building my blog. I started a podcast in 2009. I did more training. I started writing more books. I started writing a novel.
Going down to four days a week is a really massive lifestyle shift for a lot of people, but I really credit that with changing my life because the time has to come from somewhere, basically. Better to give up the money, 20 percent of your income, instead of just ditching it all.
Jerod Morris: Right. That led to 2011 when you left your job and started doing what you’re doing now full time. At that time, you were only making, and correct if I’m wrong, but you were making about $2,000 a month from the side job. It’s not like you had built it up. You even just mentioned, you just reached the point where you’re actually replacing the income that you had been making before.
You may not be able to have that perfect, “Okay, I’ve totally replaced this before I leave,” but you’re still going to have to take that leap of faith at some point. For you, it was in 2011. How did that feel? Did you feel ready? Were you scared? What was going through your mind at that time?
Joanna’s Leap of Faith and Downsizing to Make Her Dream a Reality
Joanna Penn: Basically, my husband was very super supportive, and basically, I’d been the main wage earner and helped fund his master’s degree. Then once he finished that master’s degree and got his job, I said, “I want to try and make a go of this. It’s my turn.” Basically, we agreed that … well, first of all, I saved like six months income, so we had a cash buffer in the bank.
Secondly, I said, “After six months, if I’m not making more money, if this is not going in a positive direction, then I will go back to my job.” Pretty much, let’s face it, all of us here are employable people. We can all get another job. It’s one of those, “Oh, what’s the worst thing that can happen?” If the worst thing that can happen is you have to go and get another job, it might not be as good as the one you had, but is it that big a deal?
Basically, I was at this tipping point of, “If I don’t have more time to create more intellectual property assets, make more connections, or learn more, I cannot escape this small figure. I need to have more time in order that I can grow this.” I should also say that we totally downsized. We sold our house, sold our investment property, sold our car. We actually moved back to England from Australia, which some people wouldn’t consider downsizing. We really made our life a financial risk-free zone in order to give this a shot.
Again, a lot of what I’ve done sounds quite radical now, but I think if you really want it, then you will do whatever it takes. Certainly, as I’ve said, I’m a businesswoman. We’ve never been poor, and my husband worked as well. Basically, we’ve worked really, really hard, but we’ve downsized and changed our financial risk in order that I wouldn’t feel like I had to go back. That gave me some real breathing space. But yeah, September 2011, left the job and never went back, basically.
Jerod Morris: Now here’s my favorite detail about this whole story. In 2015, your husband quit his job so that you could work together, which is just the happiest of happy endings. It’s not even an ending to the story, but at least, as we bring up to the current time. I love that.
What Creating the Ultimate Freedom Means for Joanna and Her Husband
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and this was probably my biggest financial goal. I hit the six-figure goal. I had earned six figures before, so that wasn’t quite so exciting. I had a certain figure in mind that, if we hit it, then my husband could leave his job.
He quite enjoyed his job, but at the end of the day, it’s about what kind of life do you want. The getting up and commuting and being on someone else’s terms, and also being told that if I wanted to go travelling for research, he had to ask permission … I know people on the line who are entrepreneurial, asking permission is just the worst thing. I hate asking anyone’s permission to do anything.
I was like, “We have to get you out of your job. Then we just have to ask our own permission, so we can go on holiday when we like.” We were just in Spain last month, walking in the south of Spain. We’re just doing things together now and working together. He’s learning online marketing. That pretty much represented an almost 10-year journey from both committing to go in this direction, and now we’re looking at what is the next step and basically running a global media company, as these things turn into. It’s actually really great for me to have someone else on my team. I have a lot of freelancers, but to have someone on my team here is fantastic.
Jerod Morris: It ends up coming down to freedom. That’s what being a digital entrepreneur is all about. That’s why digital commerce is such a great opportunity for that, for being location independent, for building a business that you own, that you run, and that you make the decisions on. It gives you, then, the freedom to do what you want.
And I imagine that is why you said this to me, which is that, “I am seriously happy in my new life,” because you have freedom now that you had all these things before. When you said, “I should’ve been happy with my life,” the one thing that you didn’t have was freedom, and now you do. We see how you feel about that, which is happy.
Why Joanna Is Now ‘Seriously Happy’ in Her New Life … and How ‘Work-Life Balance’ Doesn’t Really Apply When You Love What You Do
Joanna Penn: It’s funny, isn’t it? We start talking about freedom there … Tony Robbins in one of his books had this, “You must come up with this one word that will help you guide decisions in life,” and my word was ‘freedom’ and still is freedom. So you’re right. That’s the point. Also, I think what is so amazing is I really love what I do.
I love writing fiction. I love writing nonfiction. I love speaking and helping people on the blog. I love the business side. I love the marketing. I get a lot of comments from people who say, “How do you manage work-life balance?” I’m like, “You don’t understand. This is my hobby, my passion, my job, and my income.” When people talk about lifestyle design and also lifestyle business, this is a lifestyle business, but the income is scalable.
I know we’re going to get into this, but what is so exciting about books, courses, and intellectual property assets that you can exploit in all different ways is, that income is scalable. As I said, this year we went over this tipping point of making enough that my husband left and making more than I ever did as a consultant. Now it’s exponential. I’m 41, and I expect to be creating more assets every single year for the next 50 years. That’s what’s so brilliant. I’m seriously happy as a creative, but I’m also seriously happy as a businesswoman. I know that people listening are also interested in that business side.
Jerod Morris: All right. Well, thank you so much for tuning into this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. I hope you learned a lot from that conversation with Joanna. Again, Joanna will be speaking along with me, along with Brian Clark and Chris Garrett, Joanna Wiebe, Chris Ducker, and all of the other people whose names I mentioned earlier, Rand Fishkin and Jeff Walker. I could go on and on, but all of us will be sharing the stage at Digital Commerce Summit.
We really hope that you’ll join us. It’s in October. It’s in Denver. It’s going to be fun but also really educational. The way that the conference is going to be structured is with a bias for action, a bias for movement. We want every single person who comes to the conference to be further along with their digital business than when they left so that you have some real takeaways and some action items so that when you’re on the plane flying back, driving back, or however you get there, that you’ve got some plans to make. You’re ready to hit the ground running once you leave the conference.
Again, early bird tickets are still there. We’re taking them away later in July, so make sure that you get on them while they’re available. Go to Rainmaker.FM/Summit.
All right, everybody, thank you again for tuning into The Digital Entrepreneur. We’ll be back next week with a brand new episode. Until then, take care.