Close friends of mine know there's a podcast that I've become a huge fan of over the last two years. It's called Startups for the Rest of Us by Rob Walling & Mike Taber... their topic is all about working on startups as a solopreneur or micropreneur. Even if you aren't doing a startup, if you're a self starter or someone who works from home or works for yourself, there are tons of good life and work tips in this show.
In February 2013 I sold my interest in the company I co-founded, Critical Path Training, for a new challenge... but no plan on what that would be. There was absolutely no negative reasons or issues why I made this change related to the company... I just felt like "ok... done that... check... time to move on to a new challenge". In March I found this podcast through a friend. I listened to a few episodes and eventually downloaded the entire back catalog to listen to everything from day one. Today, it's the number one podcast I listen to every Tuesday.
Over the next few months (February 2013 - May 2013) I figured out what I wanted: to figure out how to stop trading hours for dollars. I thought that was to build a product. In the last few years I've been working on a startup, not successfully might I add as it still hasn't launched, and let myself get pulled in many different directions chasing business & contracts. But in the last six or so months I've refocused and eliminated so many things in my work life to gain focus.
Why? Because as much as I'd like to build a software product, I recognize that I already have a product that's doing well & it's something I enjoy doing. So for now, my focus is on doing video based on-demand training courses for a while: something commonly called an info product.
Do you feel like you can't get anything accomplished because your todo list is so long and your calendar is always filled up? I recommend two things. First, read Essentialism - The Disciplined Persuit of Less if you too struggle with over-extending yourself. I do... but in December 2014 I was on the shelf unable to work for about two weeks due to shoulder surgery. It gave me time to take stock of 2014, look at what I did and didn't accomplish and how I wanted to change my life in 2015.
The other thing I recommend is to read & incorporate into your life is Paul Graham's Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule. I recognize that I'm most productive in the morning... I usually get up around 5 AM, work for a few hours, then take a break to help get the the kids ready & off to school & exercise at the gym or go for a run. Then I get back to work usually by 9 AM. I rarely take meetings or phone calls before lunch. I don't start the day with email, I end the day with email and usually (but not always) pickup email just before lunch. I know when I'm most productive & creative, so I don't let others take that time away from me.
Recently I was talking to a few people including Mike & Rob in a discussion group I participate in about info products. One thing led to another & recently they interviewed me for this week's episode to talk about making a full time income just on info products. While I don't care to share what my income is from this line of work, suffice to say that at the current level for many people, it can be considered a full time income. Right now I'm working to level up and grow the revenue side by releasing more courses. Can you do it? Sure... for context, keep in mind that I've been filling my info product catalog (ie: Pluralsight courses) for two years and have 100+ hours of training available related to SharePoint & Office 365. So can you do it overnight? Sure... if you pick the right course & technology & topic... but that isn't going to happen.
I get the question a lot about what the business side of being a Pluralsight Author is like (BTW, if you're interested in becoming an author for Pluralsight, check out the details on their site: Pluralsight: Create First-Class Training. Earn First-Rate Royalties). Finally I've got something to point to that shares how I see this stuff. It's a great gig... and as I explain in the interview, there are plenty of options & angles in it. As you'll hear, I'm working through a few things in my head related to this business right now... all fun challenges! I had a lot of fun in this episode... hope you enjoy!
Steping on the Soapbox for a Minute; a Pesonal Note from me...
I wanted to share something else that's a little more personal. Finding this podcast, Startups for the Rest of Us, was literally a mind-changing & life-changing event for me. As I said above, I found this podcast a month or two after closing one chapter in my professional life (selling my stake in my business to my business partner) with literally no plan on what's next. Prior to this mindset I thought you always needed to build some big company with multiple employees which may need funding to bring in enough revenue to support your family. As I said above, this introduced me to the single founder concept and starting your own business as a bootstrapper (self-funded... not seeking external funding). It totally changed the way I think about business, myself professionally and has been a source of incredible inspiration.
Its taken me a while to find the path I'm currently on with info products & on-demand video training, specifically around SharePoint, Office 365, Angular & Azure... but the path I took got me where I needed to be: right here today. I can't stress how beneficial this podcast has been for my life.
Mike & Rob also run a bi-annual conference called MicroConf (one in the US, one in Europe) that I attended last year. Never have I acquired so much value & experiences from a two-day professional event for the cost in my life. The forum I referenced above is called The Micropreneur Academy where they have forums and just recently setup a Slack group which I've been a lifetime member of for the last two years. In addition, Mike recently published a book that looks fantastic & I plan to run through called The Single Founder Handbook. I'm going to get it (not sure which package yet).
Last but not least, do you work for yourself? Do you work from home? Are you married? Have kids? So many times people use these things as excuses for what you can't do, but that's bullshit. I'd strongly recommend another podcast I've become hooked on, as has my wife, called ZenFounder. This is a new show with Rob & his wife Dr. Sherry who's a clinical psychologist. They look at how they handle this lifestyle and tackle other issues, challenges & the day-to-day life we all face. My wife & I listen to the episodes independently and usually have a conversation about them afterwards. I highly recommend it!
By now you should be able to tell how finding this podcast by Rob & Mike has been life-changing & an eye opening experience for me. It's literally opened a door to a whole new world that I believe has made me a better, happier, more productive & more confident person in both my work & personal life.