Business Freedom

How I Reinvented Myself and Started Over

Madonna has truly mastered the art of reinvention, so when a friend told me she was coming on the Graham Norton show this weekend, I stuck around to watch her segment.

I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen Madonna speak and was intrigued to see what she would deliver.

Naturally, she didn’t disappoint.

She walked on stage wearing an eye patch and a sexy number which had her boobs almost falling out of her corset (a wardrobe malfunction I’m sure she would not be thrilled with knowing about since she controls her image with immense care).

Madonna - queen of reinvention

Yet her star power was undeniable, and the guests on the couch alongside her were left to sit quietly as she answered Graham’s questions with mystique, cheekiness, strength and an appropriate amount of intrigue.

She has just launched a new album and is going on tour at the age of 60 years old!

This in itself is a huge testament to her longevity, creativity and ability to keep on changing with the times and reinventing herself, to not only survive in a super competitive market dominated by teenagers, but to thrive in it for over four decades.

Reinvention is a necessity to remain relevant

In the past few months, several of my friends compared me to Madonna – not because I like to sing and dance to 80s music (which I really do) or because I wear sexually enticing outfits (I don’t), but because they said I’m always reinventing myself.

I have to admit I was surprised by this as I personally couldn’t see it, and so they explained to me that I had successfully, in their eyes, morphed from corporate career girl to Tech CoFounder to blogger, to being The Suitcase Entrepreneur with relative ease over the last 10 years.

And that when I returned home to New Zealand in late 2016, I apparently made it look easy to morph into being a brand …ME here on nataliesisson.com

Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my world I’ve been through a two year long metamorphosis filled with doubt, fear, curiosity, joy and exasperation.

If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my blog post on When Too Much Change is Dangerous, you’ll know that I did a 180 degree life flip that entailed going from:

  • Constant full-time travel out of my suitcase to living in one house, with no international travel for the first three months of being back in New Zealand.
  • Being single in December to a loving full-time relationship, moving in together in my apartment for a few months, to then buying a house together, creating joint bank accounts and taking on this beautiful property – Josh’s first ever property ownership.
  • Zero responsibility to having this mortgage, getting a puppy a week after moving in and five chickens the week after.
  • Owning so little stuff to having to furnish a 369 sqm house with four bedrooms and two living rooms in just a few weeks.  (People who visit us now say how it looks like we’ve lived here for years).
  • Having a full on business period, getting it ready for my sabbatical and writing the Freedom Plan book manuscript which I finished on March 30th, to NOT working.
  • Eternal summers traveling the world to my first ever autumn (fall) and winter. And that was probably the biggest kicker – I hate being cold.

Thankfully I’m almost 2.5 years down the track and LOVING life, but it hasn’t been an easy journey and what surprised me most, was an event that happened in late October 2018.

The untold story I’ve kept ..until now.

Not long after a pretty successful book launch of the Freedom Plan (audio book coming out this month!!), I also relaunched my most successful course ever of the same name that, to date, netted me over US$500,000 in sales – which still blows my mind to this day.

Except this time, I decided to totally redesign it and upgrade it to better align with my new book and to be more focused on how to work less through systems, outsourcing and clever sales funnels.

It catered to an experienced business owner wanting more freedom – the folks I wanted to work with as I could see them experiencing burn out and overwhelm and I truly wanted to help them.

Yet in doing so, I overlooked the majority of my community I’d lovingly built up over the years, who in reality, were still wanting to build their online business, learn how to earn more money and gain financial freedom.

The launch result?

I failed in an epic way.

That hurt, a lot. I cried in the final days of launch and sat there in disbelief as literally nothing happened – at least that’s what it felt like.

It caused me to doubt everything I thought I knew and was really good at, built up over nine years of business.

I was in shock. I was numb. I felt like a fraud.

The facts didn’t help either. I’d spent too much money, hired too many people and ended up handing over most of the things I’m great at, and got stuck with managing people, logistics and operations.

Along with that, I had not listened to my intuition and how I felt energetically, and forged on regardless as I wanted to stay true to my word and launch this course I said I would – damn upholder in me!

(Check out The Four Tendencies Quiz I talk about in my book to know what I’m referring to).

When I did my launch analysis, which I do faithfully every time, it wasn’t as bad as I thought but the damage was done. My confidence was knocked and I wasn’t bouncing back like I normally do.

Can you relate?

I was desperately trying to find the lesson in the failure as a good entrepreneur will always do that, but I was taking it way too personally.

After almost a decade it felt like I’d made a rookie error and it had cost me more than just money and a bruised ego.

The truth was I wanted to quit my business.

Deep down I was quite tired of my business. I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit this. For most of my business journey I’ve loved every aspect of my business, but there’s only so long one can continue to talk about the same thing all the time, before they don’t get a little bored, stifled or jaded.

Despite continuing to learn I had gotten comfortable in my knowledge and expertise and was looking for a challenge. Most of the time I had managed to find that within and apply it to my journey and clients.

But with all the life changed I’d experienced, and the time off I had taken from my business in 2017, I had never really found my flow again and I felt like I was holding onto something that I wasn’t passionate about anymore.

Josh and I headed away on a break to sunny Gisborne that December, and had some long walks and talks on the beach to explore my options, how I was feeling and what would make me happy.

While he had utter faith in me and felt it was just a minor setback, I wasn’t so sure.

One of the options that had come up was taking on a contract to experience the things I was missing as an entrepreneur:

  • Being part of a physical team (not just virtual)
  • Not having to lead and manage everything all the time
  • Experiencing being part of someone else’s business and to learn from them
  • Have a consistent income while I bounced back
  • Getting into the city so I wasn’t so isolated out at our rural lifestyle property
  • Be energized by the city vibe and socializing and;
  • Getting some structure back in my day

We used our own Life Pilot system and a Seasonal Dreaming session – which we do each quarter, to share our hopes and dreams across the eight areas of life we value most highly and by the end of that week away I had a plan.

I’d looked at job websites, which I happen to know every great business owner will look at even when things are going well, and wasn’t impressed.

Job descriptions made me yawn and sounded so formulaic or stifling and salaries seemed on the low end compared to what I know I can make in my business – but that wasn’t the key criteria – if I was referring to my criteria in the bullet points above.

Then I saw a role of Learning Designer, that I didn’t realize existed, yet wasn’t dissimilar to what I had learned and applied in launching online courses and designing curriculum’s to educate people.

I then sent possibly the worst email to a recruitment person ever that went like this:

Dear Beth

Very keen to learn more about your freelance opportunities for learning designers.

I’ve developed many curriculum’s for online courses in my own business and am known for making the complex simple and breaking things down into bite sized content that is practical and implementable.

Natalie

Naturally she asked for more details including my CV, which I then sat on for a while until I replied again, rather nonchalantly with this response:

Hi Beth

I’ve realized I’m not going to create a CV anytime soon. I just know after 8 years of creating, building and running online courses, events and retreats that this is my sweetspot of what I do well.

My LinkedIn profile is here www.linkedin.com/in/nataliesisson/

Understand if this is not conventional for you 

Natalie

This resulted in her Googling me where everything I have ever done is publicly available to see – proof of what I’m capable of, calling me up and having a good chat.

She saw an opportunity and my potential and took a chance on me.

A week later I was having an informal coffee with the CEO even though there was no role for me and less than a week later I had a job offer and a start date in 10 days time!

As you can imagine this wasn’t quite how I anticipated it happening but I took the leap.

Strike forward almost five months and I can hand on heart say it’s been the best thing for me.

Within Constraints Exists True Freedom

My working week went from working on my business anytime to having only Monday as my One Day a Week business day and Tuesday – Friday working at Inspire Group in the city including a remote day at home.

In and around that – yes even some evenings and weekends, I did paid consulting for four gigs I’d inadvertently picked up since January after volunteering my time to help these purpose driven companies, plus working with a few coaching clients.

I was truly living in the GIG Economy and am tapping into Future of Work by doing this.

If you’re wondering, YES I was at capacity!

For the first time in a decade, after preaching freedom and time off and experiencing that in droves, I was now energized by maximizing every hour I had – plus still having time out in the evenings and weekends AND training for triathlons.

In fact I credit triathlon training for instilling confidence, focus, drive and momentum back into my personal life, along with a self belief and mindset I had been missing, that then overflowed into EVERY area of my life. It’s been remarkable.

I also used all my own tools, systems, content calendar and 1 Page Biz Plan that I teach my clients and are featured in the Freedom Plan book on MYSELF and, low and behold, they worked a treat.

I’m not going to lie commuting via train, car or bike an hour each way into town wasn’t entirely thrilling initially but I used that time to work on my business, contracts, or listen to audio books.

I genuinely enjoy my job, the team and simply being in a different environment, which has allowed me to stretch myself, learn and grow plus take on an entirely different outlook and put myself in other peoples’ shoes.

Then something magical started to happen.

I got my mojo back by returning to being ME!

A combination of fewer hours to work on my business meant I became ultra focused again and started enjoying every aspect of it.

I cut my team down to just me and my Virtual Assistant so that I could get back to more of the doing, and experience what that felt like again.

This brought back fond memories of my hustling days early on in my business and showed me all the things I had almost forgotten I knew how to do. I decided not to outsource anything for a few months and ‘get my hands dirty’ doing all the doing.

This increased my love of all the things I missed or realized I’d lost touch with and things started picking up in my business.

Revitalized energy shows in business and people pick up on it. Before long I was vlogging, podcasting and creating again and getting back to being Natalie, doing all the things I did so well when I started out in business.

I did the analysis, I looked at what had worked all those years before and what I’d stopped doing or needed to stop doing to fully realign with who I was, how I could help people and how I wanted to show up in the world.

Then in June I totally redesigned my own website home page with a brand new look and direction – even though this felt like I took three months to actually get it done.

I was so proud as this is the first website I’ve fully designed by myself. Clean, clear and to the point. Let me know in the comments what you think!

2019 Design

2018 Design

I did this by using the best and easiest WordPress theme I have ever come across, Thrive Architect.

In fact I shot this vlog Thrive Architect – Your Must Have Website Builder Tool to show why it rocks and how to use it to redesign your website.

As you can see by the live demo I give it was before I had learned how to use it fully and well before I’d finished the homepage design – but you’ll appreciate it.

The messaging was clear as I’d been working/ procrastinating on it for months after many conversations with friends, peers and clients, and through a lot of internal introspection.

I listened to my own advice I hammer home to clients all the time:

1. Niche down

2. Keep it simple

I have a tendency to want to offer the world and help people on all fronts and this time I looked back to what I have consistently been doing ALL throughout my career and business – seeing your potential and helping you to monetize it by getting paid to be YOU!

While recording my Freedom Plan audiobook I had two major realizations:

  1. This book is full of gold nuggets that are damn useful (remember my previous knock to my confidence around the book launch time in October 2018…yeah it had the knock on effect that my book wasn’t good enough either).
  2. It would work really well to also pull out Chapter 6 on How to Monetise You and turn it into a teaser episode on my podcast, as well as to repurpose it into a standalone audio.

I then went ahead and created my first new freebie (gift you give in return for a person’s email address and trust – AKA optin) in ages – and I’m damn proud of it.

It’s this audio I created accompanied by my brand new amazing step by step guide.

 

​Download my Get Paid to Be YOU Audio and Bonus 9 Step Guide. You'll learn how to combine your knowledge, skills and passions into multiple income streams that amplify your purpose, impact and profit.

​Download my Get Paid to Be YOU Audio and Bonus 9 Step Guide. You'll learn how to combine your knowledge, skills and passions into multiple income streams that amplify your purpose, impact and profit.

I emailed my community, some of which have been following my work since the beginning to share it with them and the response was awesome.

More importantly close friends and peers personally messaged me to say this was completely me and so on point and that I had truly found my sweetspot – the intersection between what you’re good or great at, what you love doing and what people will pay you for and that aligns with your purpose.

Ironic really given this is what I’ve been teaching in courses, my book, podcasts and interviews since…oh you know 2013!

From this I have gotten so much clarity on exactly how I want to help YOU get paid to be YOU and thrive in the future of work.

In fact, I tested my theory around this with a mini launch in June which went amazingly well and helped me appreciate that I was back on track, doing what I do best and how my mission was to help others turn their skills, knowledge and passions into multiple revenue streams.

You’ll see this rolling out in the coming weeks and months, and I hope you’ll like what you see and get to experience it as a result.

But first, let’s recap on the method I used to reinvent myself. Even if you can’t see the method in my madness, it’s all there:

The ‘Natalie Sisson’ Reinvention Method 

  • Get super honest with yourself when you feel you’re not aligning with your intuition or your energy.
  • Throw in an epic failure or an event that makes you stop, reflect and take action – if you really want to create change!
  • Reflect back on all the things you know you love, are great at and have been paid well for in the past and compare them to where you’re at now.
  • Assess the situation and look at what you need to STOP doing and START doing. This may mean taking on a side hustle, starting a new business, taking on a few gigs that help you upskill and challenge you.
  • Talk to good friends, peers and mentors to get an outside perspective too.
  • Take definitive steps to be the architect of your own life and design it around what you really want out of life.

I hope there have been some key takeaways in here that you can learn from and apply to your own situation.

Never give up.

Always keep learning.

Trust your gut.

Listen to those who love and know you well.

Embrace the lessons failure teaches you.

Then pick yourself up and reinvent yourself!

How I saved $3,000 on tools and technology for one hour of work

Do you want an awesome hack for the holidays? One that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars  for about an hour’s worth of work?

Looking back, it seems so simple and obvious that we should all be doing this. So here’s how it all came about.

Two weeks ago I took a long-ish hard look at my business expense lines in my Profit and Loss Report on XERO (awesome accounting software – made here in New Zealand) and I was like:

Wow.  Why am I spending so much on all these things?’.

This report scared the bejesus out of me. It very clearly showed me that my software costs alone each month were around $700-1,000.

Now normally this might be fine, but none of these were actively contributing to revenue I was making. Turns out I had blown out my costs for team, tools, software and technology for no good reason!

I immediately asked myself if I really needed to be spending all this money on tools and technology?

The answer was NO!

It all started because I got an annual bill for tool I’d previously been using for years,  and I was like Why am I still paying for this because I haven’t used it since the start of the year?

When I dived deeper, I realized this was happening across the board.

How to dramatically reduce your business expenses

Step 1. Take it down a level

I looked at the tools that I use all the time to see whether I could drop the plan down from a pro plan to either a more basic plan or even a freemium free plan.

For example I downgraded my Zoom account. I adore Zoom and use it everyday for calls, interviews, team catch ups and more, but since I’m not using it for group coaching or programs for now, I went back to the free account.

What I love about Zoom is that they offer you a monthly contract, so you can upgrade and downgrade whenever you like, and add on features like their Webinar Platform for a few months, rather than being locked in all year.

Then I looked at Typeform, a great service for being able to collect surveys and use conditional logic depending on peoples’ answers.

But I didn’t need to be on the super pro version as I’d finished collecting responses for the surveys I’d run for feedback. I simply exported all my responses and went back to the free account.

Plus Google Forms works perfectly as a free survey tool, without the fancy functionality.

Another example is I pay for Google suite and apps so that I can have my own separate email domain. At some point I’d put eight emails under that one account for various courses that I’ve run.

I didn’t realize that every single email address that I created cost me about US$6 a month. It doesn’t seem like much but I didn’t actually need to to that, I could have simply made them alias addresses within one account.

Just like that, I have saved US$40 a month and cut down the complexity of my email accounts!

For almost all of the tools, it was possible to downgrade or switch to the free version without losing any of the functionality I used.

Top Tip: When you login, simply navigate to Account Settings or Billing. They spell out your options there.

I was surprised to see several of them even offered up multiple months of refunds if you let them know that you’d be inactive or not using their tool/ software. Bonus!

Almost all of them had a contact email, form or one click downgrade you could use. All up this took me about 10 minutes for four tools.

Step 2. Stop paying for nothing!

I then looked at all the tools that I’m not using all, that I’m still paying for.

I started with Shopify, even though it’s great and I think it’s the best option out there for selling products online, I’m simply not using it since my eCommerce experiment ended.

Why should I pay around US$30 a month for something that is not being put to use.

I did the same with Zapier, which is an awesome tool for connecting and integrating apps. We don’t need to use it anymore because we have a workaround with my email provider ConvertKit and my online course software of choice, Teachable.

And that was the only thing we were using it for. And they just billed me for a full year. So I got that back – their helpdesk was amazingly responsive and proactive too. Thanks Zapier!

I recently trialled some pretty cool educational software but it just wasn’t working for us. I approached the founder and they very generously gave us a pro-rata refund for 9 out of 12 months as I’d paid for a full year.

By this stage I realized that if I extrapolated all those monthly subscription fees out for a full year, plus the lump sum refunds I got, it was already over US$3,000 in savings that I’d reclaimed.

All of this took less than hour to do via email, forms or simply one click of a button.

How to reduce your life expenses

This got me thinking about what other services I was paying for personally that I’m not actually actively using.

Luckily there were very few. But the first to go – which had been on my mind for months, every time I saw the charge on my credit card, was for an online fitness program membership I had not engaged with since signing up.

So I simply emailed their support and asked to cancel, and here’s the thing, I also asked if they could retrospectively refund me several months.

I’m a big fan of the following motto, and a handy habit to get into, which is…

Step 3. Don’t ask don’t get.

I wrote an email that said:

‘I’ve not been using this membership for five months and you can see that through my lack of login activity. Is it possible to refund a couple of extra months?’

They said yes to two months. Better than nothing!

I don’t think most of us think about the simple act of asking for what we want.

If you ask for a refund, my recent experience is, almost every single software company or service is happy to do this.

Since I was on a roll, I then extended it when my car insurance renewal bill came through yesterday.

I had to change the address, so got on the phone to do that and while there asked if there was a way to reduce the premium.

Turns out they had my car value at $5,000 more than it’s currently worth –  because cars sadly depreciate at the speed of light.

And POOF! $100 knocked off my bill that I was about to pay on autopilot.

I just wanted to share these as examples as quick and painless ways to add some extra savings (or reclaim your hard-earned dollars) back into your bank account, for very little time and effort.

What have you got to lose?

And I figure it’s about this time of year where it’s pretty nice to have some savings in the bank and a bit of extra money to play with to spend on the things that you do love, or the people that you love or the causes that you really support.

Step 4. Go on a cleanse

If you’ve been in a little bit of denial (like me) about your spending or you’ve signed up for all these things and forgotten to cancel them, or simply can’t be bothered, I hope this gives you the kick in the butt you need to take action!

Right now is a really good time of the year for you to take a bit of a cleanse on both your business and personal subscriptions that you may have been paying for.

You can take it a step further by uncluttering your life too!

If you were one of those people who’s bought a gym membership and you haven’t been at all yet, but you’ve been paying for it all year please please please cancel that.

Instead use that money to do something else, like hire a personal trainer, go to a CrossFit gym you actually turn up to, buy a piece of equipment that you know you’re going to use at home or partner up with a friend to train outside together.

We are paying far too much money for services or products that we just aren’t using.

You may find that with all the money you saved from doing the above steps I’ve laid out, that you’re now able to pay for or afford a subscription that you really do want or maybe even a course that you been wanting to take.

I encourage you to go ahead and declare you’re going to downgrade or cancel subscriptions and services in time for the holiday seasons, that are costing you money, with no return.

You deserve it!

Share what you’ve done recently to save some money or cut your business expenses in the comments below.

3 Ways to Publish Your Bestselling Book

The Freedom Plan Book. Redesign your business to work less, earn more and be free.

Grab the first 3 Chapters of my new book The Freedom Plan for FREE in digital format here: thefreedomplan.co

 

Have you ever wondered exactly how all those uber successful writers actually publish their books?

Or have you ever wanted to publish a book of your own (but had no idea where to start)?

Well there are actually THREE different ways that you could publish your book: self-publishing, hybrid-publishing, and traditional publishing.

They each have their pros and cons (I’ve published books using each of the methods), but for me one stands above the rest giving you maximum reach for your book and minimal stress.

1. Self-Publishing

While self-publishing allows you to have full control over how your book is published, you are solely responsible for making sure you book becomes a best seller and effectively reaches your audience.

So while it’s great to have complete freedom over your book’s publishing process, you frequently have to put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort to ensure your book really takes off.

2. Traditional Publishing

This used to be a huge deal – the big juicy publishing deal that all authors hoped for!

It still is exciting, but the power of traditional publishing has diminished. Traditional publishers have much less influence and reach then they used to. Now they only want to work with authors that have a large audience or circle of influence already in place.

This is great if you have a wide following on social media, your podcast, blog etc.! But if you don’t, traditional publishers generally won’t be interested in taking on your book.

3. Hybrid Publishing

With hybrid publishing you still provide the community and do a lot of the marketing, BUT you don’t have to do the distribution, figure out how to get it into bookstores, create the book design, do the layout or do any of the copy editing.

So while you still have to put in time and effort to get your book out there, but they take care of the bit that you may need help with and the parts that are particularly complex. Win win!

This has been the ideal publishing option for me! I’m still able to feel in control of how my book is presented and published, but I still had their expert advice and guidance on hand.

With hybrid-publishing you still have to put in time and effort to get your book out there, but they take care of the bit that you may need help with and the parts that are particularly complex. Win win!

And if you didn’t grab it above, I highly suggest you check out the first 3 Chapters of The Freedom Plan for FREE here: thefreedomplan.co

In the first 3 chapters you’ll learn:

  • The freedom mindset you need to make your dream life a reality
  • How to design your own Freedom Plan
  • How to create and design your perfect day

And if you’ve had any experience in publishing a book, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Natalie xo

Monetize Your Free Content and Create Multiple Revenue Streams

Are you sitting on a wealth of content and have no idea how to monetize it or create more revenue?

This is a question that SO many of you have been asking me – in fact it was the #1 question from the hundreds of you who answered my Freedomist survey.

It pains me to think that you’ve already put a ton of time and energy into creating loads of incredible content and it’s just sitting there, instead of monetizing it.

So in this vlog I share a case study of how I took a humble, but well thought out and crafted, 12 part blog post series and turned it into multiple revenue streams for the next 3 years, that has netted me over $500,000 in revenue!

It astounds me even to this day, but that is the power of creating content that people value, and valuing the content you create. You can monetize that!

By the way there is also a myth that content is free to produce. I’m here to tell you it can take a lot of time, money and effort to produce, but the rewards are SO worth it.

I’ll definitely discuss that on an upcoming vlog if you’d like?

I hope you enjoy this vlog and go ahead and apply some of my methods to your own content.

And click here to subscribe to my vlog if you haven’t already (I’d hate for you to miss the new hacks and tips I’ll be sharing soon!).

How I plan my day (and entire week) for success

I am always deeply curious about how the really effective, productive, successful people plan their days and spend their time.

Do they spend it swanning around, lazing by the swimming pool or perhaps hanging out at rooftop bars?

I think not.

I think they are ruthless about their time management and planning what matters in their life.

And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over ten years in business, is that:

Discipline equals freedom.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m a free spirit, who for many years used to say “I want to do what I want, when I want and I want to choose where I want to travel and I only want to work on these things today.”

I realised pretty quickly though that what I was doing, wasn’t actually giving me freedom.

This was being disorganized, not being accountable to what matters and not taking responsibility for how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to spend my time.

If you are one of those people too, I totally get it.

But you are actually becoming your own worst enemy by living like this. You are creating your own version of chaos by not planning out what matters, what is actually important and how you wish to spend your work, creative and free time.

If you are somebody who has so many daily things on your To-Do list you’re also setting yourself up to fail because, what I realised a couple of years ago, when I took a very good hard look at my calendar is this:

We don’t actually have that much time. We don’t have that much time from the moment we awake.

If you take out time for eating sleeping, fitness, friends, family, social events, meetings appointments and all those other wonderful things that just make up life and are also important, guess how much time you actually have?.

Research has proven it to be around three focused productive hours of work a day. THREE!

Results from a study by VoucherCloud in the U.K revealied that employee productivity averages just two hours and 53 minutes per day.

Now of course, we have more than that depending on how effective we are as entrepreneurs and freelancers!

But in reality if you take into account disruptions, distractions, procrastinating and life, at the end of the day if you actually just allowed yourselves three hours a day, and that’s all you do, I can guarantee you would use those three hours so much more effectively than you currently do.

Behind the scenes of how I plan out my day and week for productivity

If you watch my vlog here you’ll see me actually sharing my calendar on my laptop screen.

I want you to not freak out because it looks really full on with lots of beautiful colours. What I want you to focus on is how I block out exactly what I want to work on as well as my free time which is baked in to my calendar.

That means date nights with Josh, walking with the dogs, fitness, massages, dinners with friends, cultural events and afternoons off.

What I’m then left with then is exact amount of time that I have in my day to work on the stuff that matters.

This might be more free time and fun events with people I love. Or it might be really really focused work on my business.

Doing this, is the single most important switch that I have made in my life. It’s  what we teach in our Life Pilot 10 Day Challenge – how to structure out your goals and actions each day, week, month etc and put YOU time + self care + holidays first.

That’s because you and I know, from experience, that the first thing that gets taken away when you’re stressed out or really busy is your free time on weekends and evenings, as well as your holidays and vacation time.

If you’re saying “Natalie, I never give up my holidays!” – well good for you because that’s the way it should be.

But I do see too many entrepreneurs going:

“I’ve just got to work this weekend” or;

“I’ve got to do another late night” or;

“I’m going to skip yoga to finish this client deal” or;

“I’m not going to make it to my gym class because I have to finish this proposal today”.

This has to stop!

If you knew how much as possible to achieve in a day, in fact in three hours or less, and you actually were more realistic about where your time goes and what you can achieve, you would condense the amount of work that you have to, into a shorter time frame and do far more effective work.

How I use my calendar for daily planning

Step 1: Block it out

I block out 15 minutes of planning every single morning at 6:45am. This may not sound like much but it lets me look at my three things in my Life Pilot spreadsheet for the day and ask myself, whether these tasks (that I set the night before) are still a priority for today.

I also look ahead at my weekly goals to make sure I’m on track to meet them, and then I check my calendar to make sure that once I’ve hit those three most important things, I’ve allocated time for other activities too, including downtime.

Then I go in and schedule chunks of time throughout the day for work projects including a time for email, so that it doesn’t distract me from the important work.

Most of this I colour code in blue for business, that way I can see green for lifestyle, yellow for personal growth/ learning and more.

Remember what gets scheduled, gets done!

The only reason my calendar system works is that I commit to it.

If the rebel in you looks at your calendar you’ve set out and says “Nah, I don’t feel like doing that right now”, then make damn sure you move that task to a time on the same day, or that week so it still gets DONE!

Step 2: Track your time

I use toggl.com for tracking every minute of my day. I love it.

I use the desktop application and simply put in the description of what I’m working on, assign it to a project e.g Freedom Plan Book, Freedomist Vlog, Launch Planning etc.

That way at the end of the day, I can see exactly how much time things are actually taking me to do throughout the day.

Over a period of days and weeks this gives you a really clear picture of where your time is going, versus where you think you’re spending it.

It also gives you a very clear idea of what things take up too much time and where you don’t spend enough time. You can’t hide from the data.

What’s more you can share this with your team members and also see their reports, you can Toggl client work to the second as well.

Step 3: Pomodoro it

The Pomodoro method is a lifesaver. You simply set a timer on your phone, watch or use the Toggl Pomodoro setting, and work for 25 minutes on ONE thing.

After that time is up take a 5 minute break. This is critical to your energy and motivation levels.

Even if you’re in flow, trust me, take a break!

I go out and throw the Frisbee to the dogs, I drop down and do some press ups or sit ups. I jump around and dance to music I love, I kiss Josh, or jump or I might leave a friend a quick video or audio message to say hi.

When that timer goes off, get straight back into it. That’s it. Then rinse and repeat, but after 2-3 hours straight, take a good half hour break for lunch or a workout or a walk in nature.

I can I tell you those time constraints by using the Pomodoro methodology is amazing for making you just focus in on what exactly needs to be done and do it as quickly and effectively as you can.

Step 4. Schedule in fun and reflection

In my calendar I have breakfast with Josh or at a cafe, lunch, workouts and fun time. 

At 9pm I also have reflection time where I look at how my day went, I do my gratitudes and I check the Life Pilot spreadsheet to see what I hit, missed or progressed in terms of my three most important actions.

Steph 5. Rinse and repeat

After the reflection time I then set my three goals or intentions for the next day, based off my weekly goals and even my monthly. That’s because I have all those baked into the Life Pilot tool, including my 3 year vision.

The results speak for themselves

For those of you always wondering how to turn your big dreams into a daily action, this is how.

Life Pilot, Google Calendar and Toggl have helped me build a very clear picture about my behaviours and habits.

It  has shown me a clear pattern, over 17 months of using it, for what is really working in my life and where I continue to procrastinate or let myself down. 

These colour-coded trends on the key areas of my life show me what times of the day I really shouldn’t schedule in deep work focused work – like writing, producing, strategising or proposals.

As well as the best times of the day that I’m better off doing a workout and recharging, or hosting a meeting.

Before I never fully understand just how ‘little’ time I actually had in any given day, I was always overestimating and putting too many tasks into my days and weeks to achieve and then coming up short.

I also wasn’t balancing out the key areas of my life – not that it was all work, in fact if anything it was more lifestyle!

But health, my relationships, wealth, personal growth – I wasn’t factoring them into my everyday activities, which meant I wasn’t focusing on them, which ultimately meant I didn’t improve them or get anything done or progressed.

It’s been a game changer for me and has been transforming other people’s lives because it is a system for life planning that focuses on your head, heart and gut – therefore what really matters to you.

It’s the reason why I can go into September feeling excited and nervous about the launch of my Freedom Plan book and Accelerator, but fully aware of exactly what I need to accomplish and how to fit that in around life, fun and self care.

Its been transformative. I want that for you to. 

Head to lifepilot.co to join our next LIVE 10 Day Challenge.

What 7 Years of Podcasting Has Taught Me

I made a pretty big decision this weekend to end my podcasting journey, without any fanfare or second guessing.

It dawned on me that I have been podcasting for 7 years. Seven freaking years of putting out episodes!

What started out as monthly back on May 16, 2011, turned into twice a month around 2012 and at at the end of 2013 became weekly.

By 2015 I’d decided to up my game and go twice weekly, with one interview one ‘Fresh in Fifteen’ 15 minute show with my own tips.

In august 2016 I hit 1 Million Downloads which was a pretty awesome achievement for me and a show of wonderful support from listeners and the Suitcase Entrepreneur community.

As I wrote in that article:

I started my podcast in 2011 on May 16th. I actually had to look that date up as I couldn’t remember!

My first guest was the lovely Colleen Wainwright from Communicatrix and the interview (from my side at least) was pretty mediocre. You can check it out here.

Episode 4, I convinced Laura Roeder to talk about The Art of Not Doing Everything Yourself.

From there, I was off and running.

At it’s peak 40,000 ‘Freedomists’ tuned in from all over the world, every month. To date it has over 1.8 million downloads which blows my mind.

I know many of my peers have podcasts that do that in a few months, but I’m proud of that result plus 200+ five-star reviews.

In late 2013 the podcast was nominated and made a Top 10 Finalist in the Business Category at the Podcast Awards and it consistently ranked in the Top 100 category for Business in iTunes.

Weekly interviews with successful entrepreneurs and digital nomads included Michael Hyatt, Amy Portereld, Pam Slim, Chris Guillebeau, Pat Flynn, Jaime Masters, Chris Ducker, Jill and Josh Stanton, Josh Turner, Nisha Moodley, Mark Manson, Nick Loper and Denise Duffield-Thomas to name but a few.

Podcasting Benefits

A few other valid points I made in that article:

  • I love podcasting – I enjoy it and it works for my natural talents – I like to talk a lot and I like to interview all types of people, treat it like a casual conversation, and bring out the best in them so they can share their stories far and wide
  • It’s a fantastic community building tool – I love my Freedomists who listen in every week and then meet me in person to tell me how much they enjoy the show – and that I sound exactly like I do on my podcast. Their engagement and feedback makes my day.
  • It’s a fantastic business marketing tool  – I’ve indirectly traced more revenue thanks to listeners telling me that they signed up to a program or a retreat or a mastermind because of hearing me talk about it on my podcast. I’ve also increased my list thanks to people who opted in to get my podcast bonus guides.
  • It’s an excellent way to engage with and partner with sponsors – I’ve been fortunate to have a host of amazing sponsors over the years like 99Designs, Hostgator, Upwork, Skross and more. Some I approached, others approached me and it’s been a brilliant source of revenue to not only fund the costs of running a podcast but as a revenue stream all in itself.

Podcasting Realities

You have to go all in, or not at all.

Sure you can start out like I did, with my laptop, Skype and no fancy microphone and do just fine, but if you want to be top of class you need to up your game as you grow.

I’m talking great equipment – I use the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder and an external Schuh Microphone.

I outsourced editing within the first month knowing this wasn’t where I wanted to spend my time. And it was a brilliant investment.

Over time as I’ve learned more and done more with my podcast, it’s meant hiring more people to help with show notes, content upgrades, formatting, images and hosting.

Our SOP (standard operating procedure) for editing and producing a podcast – which is also a full Asana template for our team now, is impressive and something I’m so proud we’ve built.

But it sure does take time, effort and money.

I asked Rolly, who’s been my amazing podcast editor since January 2014, to total his hours worked on my podcast and it’s approximately 1,200 hours to date!

Batching recording my podcasts in advance has helped a great deal too, meaning you can take time off, go on holiday or simply not worry about scrambling last minute to get an episode out…which has happened a lot to be fair!

Sponsors were a big part of helping out with covering the considerable costs of running a podcast, which I think a lot of people starting out underestimate.

To date I’ve earned over US$100,000 in sponsorships.

That is amazing in itself, as are the relationships you forge with the sponsors.

Podcast Guests Really Make a Great Show

I’ve been privileged to interview some amazing guests when it was the Suitcase Entrepreneur and these have made a huge difference to the quality of my shows, my reach and also credibility.

While I never assumed those I interviewed would share my show (although many did), just being able to put their name as a guest on your show gave you instant kudos.

I also loved interviewing those folks who were up and coming or just doing really cool stuff but were not ‘big names’ or influencers, because frankly they were in the thick of it all and told it as it really was.

Their stories resonated even more with my listeners, because they could relate.

Here are the TOP ranked Suitcase Entrepreneur Podcasts:

I finished my Suitcase Entrepreneur interview series on Episode 300 and that felt awesome.

Switching to a New Podcast Format

In January 2017 I switched over to a narrative style format and rebranded to Quest for Freedom when I also switched over to posting more on this new website and moving away from The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

I’d fallen in love with this format after listening to Startup by Gimlet Media and loving the storytelling and seasonal aspect of their podcasts.

Of course they had built an entire company to produce quality podcasts and had a whole team of editors, journalists and writers behind them but I figured I could do my own version and I was a bit ‘over’ the interview format that so many people do.

In April 2016 I went on my sabbatical and took a three month break from all content creation and my business. This didn’t affect things too much but I did quite like the break from having to come up with themes for the season and all the research.

Turns out narrative podcasts by yourself are much more work than interviewing fab people!

I navigated away from seasonal podcasts to more topical themes so mindset, meditation, productivity etc.

This helped me get my head around what to focus on, otherwise I could talk on all sorts of topics!

Losing My Podcast Mojo

Post my sabbatical was, incidentally, also around the time I realized my enthusiasm and desire to produce high quality content for free (but at my investment) week in and week out was waning.

And so it leads me to this moment in time, when I can quite happily walk away from seven years of committing to this amazing medium that has brought me so much joy, happiness and personal growth.

It’s also brought me new friends, connections and insights with incredible entrepreneurs and taught me a level of work ethic and discipline like batching and organizing well ahead of time, that’s permeated every aspect of my business.

It’s been profitable and pleasurable.

For now though, I’m looking forward to listening to other people’s podcasts and appreciating just what goes into theirs.

At some point in the future I have ideas for new and more targeted shows, but for now I’m hanging up my podcast boots with gratitude to all my listeners and supporters who made me want to turn up for 7 years and hit publish.

The great news is you can forever listen to the 48 Episodes of Quest for Freedom right here, the first 300 Episodes on the Suitcase Entrepreneur here.

How to be a super productive person

What does being more productive mean to you?

Being productive doesn’t mean sitting and working for eight straight hours. You’ll burn yourself out!

There are other ways to maximize productivity. For instance, cutting out distractions and turning off email notifications.

Many of us are looking for ways to live a more productive life, that’s why in this episode, I’ll share 17 strategies you can employ today to have an exceptionally productive 2018!

Key resources:

  • TeuxDeux is a simple designy to-do app for the Web and iPhone.
  • LeechBlock NG is a simple productivity tool: an extension for the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day.
  • Freedom blocks distracting websites and apps across all your Mac, Windows, and iOS devices so you can focus on what matters most.
  • Pomodoro Secrets To Productivity Freedom
  • Upwork is an online community of talented virtual workers from around the world who want freelance work, and companies who need their skills.
  • Want to learn exactly how to make your first hire in less than 30 days and start delegating work you dislike doing, shouldn’t be doing or frankly can’t do? Let me show you exactly how in Outsource Like a Rockstar.
  • Toggl: Hassle-free time tracking so your business runs like clockwork.
  • Why you need your own Personal Assistant

 

Delegate your to-dos

Behind every successful entrepreneur is a team they delegate the work they don’t love to, so that they can focus on the things they do love.

I found my first Virtual Assistant, Margaret, in February 2012. I hired her just two weeks before I headed off on my 6,500 cycling expedition down the east coast of Africa, which meant I’d be offline for over two months.

At first I had concerns about if she could handle the job, what if she screwed up, what if she stole my work or screwed up my customer relations….and then I got over myself, trusted in her and left her to run my business for two months while I cycled through an astounding continent!

Outsourcing was a necessity for me, and since then I have hired over 30 contractors throughout the years to help me, not only run my business, but to grow it, and to make sure I get out of the way when needed.

If you want more time and money, outsourcing is the key.

And it starts with delegating your daily to-dos so you can start to see the immense freedom that comes from stepping aside and giving up control of all the things you just shouldn’t be doing.

In this episode I talk about:

  • The ONE big tip that transformed my life and my business
  • The best way to figure out what you should delegate in the first place
  • My method for choosing who you should hire first

There’s a lot of juicy goodness in this podcast so listen up and take notes!

Key resources:

If you want to learn how to let go of your huge to-do list by hiring the right people to do it for you, and then set up your systems to build your dream team in 30 days or less, then check out my course:

If you want to learn how to let go of your huge to-do list by hiring the right people to do it for you, and then set up your systems to build your dream team in 30 days or less, then check out my course: OUTSOURCE LIKE A ROCKSTAR 👉 http://nataliesisson.com/outsource

If you’re not quite ready to take this seriously and start delegating right away, then at least figure out what it is that is overwhelming you by writing it down using my free template – it will be a game changer for you, once you see all the work you’re doing that you should be outsourcing.

Download the Four Lists to Freedom Template for free here

Why money alone won’t bring you happiness

Money. We all want more of it, but do we want it for the wrong reasons? Does money really bring you happiness?

Security, stability and the ability to get yourself of a crisis or look after your health are all great reasons to want to have sufficient funds in your bank account.

Yet research has shown that once you’re making around $70,000 a year, anything over and beyond that won’t bring you more happiness.

Money can certainly help you reduce stress but it doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.

Over the last eight years of running my business, I’ve noticed that when I’ve had just a little bit more money than I really need, I often felt at my happiest.

Despite the fact that I still wasn’t earning a lot, I was earning enough. Enough to buy my friend a drink or dinner, to get a gift for my family and to treat myself to an experience that felt special, but not frivolous.

And because I was living out of a suitcase for close to seven years I never felt the need to buy things, just experiences. So instead I saved my hard earned revenue.

Now that I feel financially free, I’ve put my money towards investing my own growth, in my business (mainly through new team members), property and more recently in others’ companies as an investor and advisor.

I still feel most happy when I have money to give and to spend on others, but not enough money to feel totally comfortable and as if I could afford everything. That would make life rather dull in my opinion!

In this episode I share:

  • How to get out of bad spending habits
  • The things that will actually make you most happy
  • Why minimalism can increase your financial freedom and happiness
  • The dangers of comparing yourself to others

Key resources to check out:

 

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Then make sure you SUBSCRIBE through one of the following:

Starting an Ecommerce Site From Scratch

One of the best way to have more financial freedom is to add in an extra revenue stream or two.

Preferably a passive or residual income stream that you don’t have to pay constant attention to, and that pay you a nice lump sum each month once you’ve set it up.

This can be real estate, investments, digital products and affiliate commissions.

It can also be the world of Ecommerce if you’re prepared to invest in it initially.

That’ why I’m diving into the world of Ecommerce to see if I can add an extra $5,000 revenue in 3 months!

And I figured you may be interested in doing the same for yourself, so I’m going to run my next LIVE Freedom Lab as a behind the scenes of starting an Ecommerce site from scratch.

In this episode I talked about:

  • The new business I’m starting related to my gorgeous puppies.
  • My Ecommerce marketing strategy
  • The next Freedom Lab that I’ll be running this March 2018

Key resources to check out:

Want to get fresh podcast episodes from me, as and when they happen?

Then make sure you SUBSCRIBE through one of the following: