Shane and Jocelyn Sams were both school teachers a few short years ago. Then they discovered the world of digital marketing and digital products. Now they’ve both quit their jobs and are running a very successful six figure digital business. In this episode they reveal how they did it!
- Check out Shane & Jocelyn’s website (and find their podcast) at flippedlifestyle.com/
- Twitter: @flippedls
- Facebook: Facebook.com/flippedlifestyle
Transcription Episode 93: The Flipped Lifestyle: From School Teachers To Six Figure Digital Entrepreneurs
Welcome to the Project Ignite Podcast, a podcast designed to skip all the hype, skip all the BS, and bring you guys real, actionable tips and strategies to help you start and grow your business on the internet.
This is your host, Derek Gehl, and in today’s show I’m going to be interviewing a really inspirational husband and wife team that, I guess it was just about four years ago, were working full time as school teachers and discovered the world of online business and digital products and created their own flipped lifestyle.
In the following four short years they have achieved a flipped lifestyle and transformed their lives by building some pretty incredible online businesses that have allowed them to quit their jobs, reclaim the freedom everybody’s looking for, and I’m going to guess make more money than they probably thought possible before they’d gone down this road.
Today I want to explore this incredible flipped lifestyle transformation, take a little look behind the scenes, and see if we can’t reverse engineer some of the secrets to their success so you can have a little of that transformation in your life and business. Without further ado I’m excited to welcome Shane and Jocelyn Sams to the show.
Guys, thanks so much for being here to discuss your flipped lifestyle.
2012 we were both school teachers. I was a history teacher and I was coaching football and Jocelyn was an elementary school librarian. We had two very small children, babies basically.What happened was we had some very negative experiences in the workplace and some people can probably relate to this. I lost a job, schools consolidated, we had to move across the state to go somewhere else. That was a couple years before this.
Then in 2012 there was a really negative experience where my son had something happen to him and I had to basically leave work. I had to go right then and there and I had an assistant principal who was in that day that was very mean to me, very harsh, and didn’t want me to leave and basically told me that I would have consequences if I went to take care of my son.
I kind of realized at that time that we had given a lot of control of our life over to employers, over to systems that we couldn’t have control over. I started looking for something different to do and one summer, the summer of 2012 I was out mowing my grass and I just got sick of the music that I was listening to on my podcast and I said, “I’m going to find something in iTunes related to business because surely I can make money doing something else than teaching.”
I started downloading just a couple random podcasts and I stumbled across the Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn. This was before Pat blew up. It was only like his 30th or 40th episode and he was talking in that episode about selling digital products online. He was basically selling a study guide for some kind of test, like an architecture test.
True story. Left my lawnmower just sitting there right in the middle of a big track and I busted through the door and Jocelyn was over by the stove cooking lunch or doing something. I said, “Jocelyn, I figured it out. I know exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to quit our jobs and we’re going to sell emails. People are going to send us money to email them stuff.”Jocelyn looked at me kind of like, crazy at that point.
What was funny about this was I always used to, when Jocelyn and I dated back in college, this was like ’99, 2000-ish. You know what I’m saying? We had this long drive back to her mom and dad’s house on the other side of the state of Kentucky. We went to UK in Lexington. I would always say, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if you could just get like 100 people to give you $100?”You’d make like ten grand a month if you could just get people to give you $100.
I’m like, “Surely there’s 100 people on the earth that will just send me 100 bucks.” Or something, you know. When I heard that story and I discovered how technology literally allows you to do that. They send you money, you send them something back.When I heard that on that podcast, Derek, I said, “That’s how I’m going to get 100 to send me $100.” You know what I mean? That’s kind of what started the exploration and all this flipped lifestyle madness that followed.
Let’s dive in, then. Let’s talk about that first business that started the flipped lifestyle. I know a lot of our listeners are in that startup phase. They are the guy right now pushing the lawnmower, right, thinking, “God, how do I get rid of this job?”The question is, “What do I sell?” Most people look at themselves and go, “Yeah, I hear about this digital information products, stuff like that, but what do I sell? What do I know?” How did you guys come up with this idea or your ideas and what were those ideas?
I needed money to buy domain hosting and all this stuff. Jocelyn’s like, “This is crazy.” There’s a funny story that really made us turn the corner and I think this will help anybody out there that is doing this and struggling and can’t figure this out.My first thing you do like everybody else is you try affiliate links, you try Google Ads, you try anything you can do to make any money, right? Nothing worked. Tried some digital product stuff but I was using them more for opt-ins and that kind of got a couple emails here and there but, you know.
Lo and behold it wasn’t like the gurus said, “If you build it, they will come.”
Basically what happened was one night I was laying in bed and I was literally about to give up. Jocelyn was convinced it was over. I was looking at my Google Analytics and my AdWords and my Adsense and my Amazon account and I was like, “This just doesn’t work. These people are liars. I cannot send things out and have people give me money back.”I had made up my mind right then and there that tomorrow this was over and I was going to try to find something else.
It was right after midnight, Jocelyn was laying beside me reading a book and I was like, “You know what, I’m going to check one more time.” I literally hit refresh from the last time I checked it whenever earlier in the night and right in front of me was the greatest thing I ever saw in my life. Someone had clicked an ad on a blog post I had written and we had earned 11 cents.
Basically what happened then was Jocelyn got on to the flipped lifestyle idea. We did the math in our head. If one person will click an ad and give you 11 cents well what if a million people click the ad? Or what if you’re selling something that costs $50 and you can go get 200 people to click the ad and buy it?That’s when we started saying there’s 3 or 4 billion people on the internet today. 3 or 4 more billion going to come on in the next few years. How can we get a piece of the pie and live a flipped lifestyle?
Jocelyn jumped in and she took every failure, every lesson, everything that we had learned at that point and she started elementarylibrarian.com.
Yeah. The reason that I wanted to do Elementary Librarian, it goes back to what you were saying earlier Derek, about how people don’t know what they’re going to sell. Well, the way that I decided what I wanted to sell is I’m a very practical person so I didn’t want to spend a lot of my own time developing things that may or may not sell.What I decided to do was to create something that I already needed in my everyday life and that was to create library lesson plans. That’s how I started elementarylibrarian.com and that’s how I started selling products on there.
Basically we decided we couldn’t just sell lesson plans, because you can get stuff like that. We had to have something that was different. Jocelyn created a personal brand. She was the elementary librarian.We started promoting this on social media and we decided that we didn’t want to just sell people stuff, we wanted to sell them time. How could we save a librarian the most time? Easy. What if they never had to create a lesson again. Jocelyn was a trained librarian, she had been doing it for a few years and she made 185 lessons.
Every day of the year, literally put your classroom on autopilot and people responded like crazy to it.
They came in, they joined her community, they started buying those lesson plans, and it just absolutely exploded. We think that the reason that it did that was because we didn’t listen to the gurus. We didn’t say, “Follow your passions and your dreams and all the things that will follow.”
We made a bunch of mistakes, threw a bunch of mud at the wall, and something happened we did it, but we focused on our expertise. We focused on what we knew and then we figured out how to cure symptoms for people. What was the pain point that we could solve with that expertise?
When Jocelyn’s thing took off I realized, “Hey, I’m a football coach. People want to win football games.” I made a playbook. Football was a love of mine but it wasn’t my ultimate passion. If it was my ultimate passions I’d be like, “Hey, I’m going to go review beaches.” I mean, come on. You know what I mean?
That was an amazing flipped lifestyle story and there’s two things I want to drill down and really just highlight for the audience there. There was a profound marketing lesson in there.When you talked about creating lesson plans for librarians and what you said there, let me rephrase that. You didn’t sell lesson plans, you sold them time, as you said.
That’s such a shift for people to realize when you’re selling, that you’re not selling the product. It’s not about the lesson plans, it’s about the outcome the lesson plans are creating for that person. The freedom it’s giving them, the time it’s giving them back.That’s the selling point there, which was such a smart way to go about that. It’s like, “What’s the key problem? How can you really help them?” Which is amazing. Most people would create the lesson plans and I think would then sell the lesson plans on the virtues of the lesson plans. Like, “These are the best lesson plans, they’re better than those lesson plans. Your students learn more.”
When in reality the real hot button is time.
That’s how we market things. We’ve learned over the last four years some valuable lessons in marketing, too, and we kind of realized that really there’s only two things that you can sell to people. You’re going to help them either make more money or save time and give them more freedom in their life back.
That’s even if you’re selling aspirin. The person wants the headache to go away so they can enjoy their life. It’s not just because the pain hurts. That’s just the symptom. It’s the result of, “My life is being impacted. My time is short and I’m not experiencing it.” That’s the problem.
If you can think of your business like that it’s a lot easier to create those results and market those results and let your product take care of the symptoms.
Yes. Exactly. The other thing I want to point out because we’re so in alignment on this one and it’s interesting because I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs on this podcast. I’m hearing more and more entrepreneurs say this is, “It’s not about following your passion.”I always go on a bit of a rant here because I’ve got a bit of a beef with this whole, I don’t want to call it … Did you guys ever read The Secret or that whole book?
Yeah, that’s going to be a stretch, right? That’s going to be a stretch. Sometimes it’s not about what you’re passionate about. I’ve always said to people, “Are you passionate about having more time, money, and freedom?” “Well, yeah.” “Well then find something that can give you that and do it.” The outcome is that along with a flipped lifestyle.I love that. I love it when I talk to entrepreneurs that are pragmatic, practical, that have been through the trenches and say, “No, no, no, no. It’s not about your passion, necessarily.” I mean, great if it can be. Awesome.
You know what? I think that it can eventually be. There’s a saying that you hear all the time that says you do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. That’s exactly what we did.Did I want to create lesson plans for the rest of my life? Not necessarily but doing that gave me the opportunity to now do what we do in Flipped Lifestyle, and that is help other entrepreneurs to start and grow their own online businesses.
I am going to try to have fun with our flipped lifestyle now but it’s because we started websites around playbooks and US history teacher lesson plans and elementary library lesson plans.Even Flipped Lifestyle, all these other things have given us the time and the freedom and we’ve got a team that can edit and do all these things for us now. We get to do our passions now but most of the gurus are like, “Start over here.” That’s just a rabbit hole that doesn’t materialize for 90 percent of the people that follow that path.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Now let’s talk about audience building. You’re obviously working with entrepreneurs and as you said there’s all these rabbit holes people are sent down. They go to this guru to that guru. They say, “Do this, do this, do this.”When you’re working with somebody and they launch a product, they come up with their idea, their digital product, how are you coaching people to get in front of their audiences? What are you recommending today?
Here’s the basic crux of it all. It goes back to the same thing you sell. The only way to make it in today’s online market is you either are going to spend a lot of time or you’re going to spend money.
We believe in organic plans. We believe that you do need a strategy. We believe that you do have to write content that people are actually looking for. You need to research that and see what is happening in Google, what is happening in the search engines and you do need a great content plan.
It doesn’t matter the medium. You can podcast, you can vlog, you can do video, but you need to be targeting things that your perfect customer avatar are actually in the market looking for We don’t want you to educate people that they need this thing. They already need it and you just have to show it to them.
We actually really focus on ads with all of our customers because we believe it’s so easy now to just go spend some money, give yourself a boost, ramp your success forward six months to a year by figuring out how to market in Facebook.
In any social media network that you’re using. On Google, in the search engines. We focus a lot on that because we think it’s easier to buy attention than it is to organically just go get it. It’s going to be hard to just throw stuff out there and hope people find it when you can easily 100 percent in a measurable way go buy traffic.
Yeah. I completely agree. Again, we’re in alignment in how I teach as well as, look, you need an organic strategy. You need to push good content out there. Organic’s free, right? We don’t control what’s free. Things can change too rapidly.If you want to grow reliably and scalably you need to find quality sources of traffic that you can buy reliably and convert into customers. I look at it and I think part of the problem is there’s too many, let’s say the guru space, where they see these people that started a podcast and it just went bananas and created a flipped lifestyle for them. Like EOFire, right?
It doesn’t make sense to me anymore to do that. I know that money can be a problem but the problem with most entrepreneurs, for all the startup people listening, and this is something, another hard lesson that gets told very fast in our membership community, is you’re not spending money. You’re investing money in your flipped lifestyle.If you don’t have the guts to be on yourself I can probably predict that you’re not going to make it anyway. Yes, you are going to lose money in the first month or two you’re running ads. You are not going to find an ad, more than likely, that’s going to perfectly convert exactly like you want it to where you can predict it and repeat it reliably until you experiment and figure it out. But two months is better than two years.
Go invest in yourself, bet on yourself, and you’ve got a chance to actually make it and achieve a flipped lifestyle.
I completely agree with that. There’s also a shift that has to happen because one of the big questions I get all the time is, “Okay, I’m going to do paid advertising. I’m going to go out there and advertise on Facebook. How much should my budget be?”Trying to get people to understand that effectively we’re doing direct response marketing. If we’re going to spend a dollar we want to know that we’re going to make a measurable return, let’s just say in the next 14 to 30 days. If we spend a dollar hopefully that’s going to return two, right?
Trying to get people to understand that we’re not Nike, we’re not Coca-Cola, we’re not spending 10 thousand dollars a month just so people remember us. We’re spending money to generate an almost instantaneous return.
If we can self-liquidate and break even, great, but we need to be seeing profit on our ad spend, let’s say 14 to 30 days out and if that’s the case all of the sudden budget is meaningless.
It’s as much as we can spend to get that traffic in and I think that’s a real shift that people are having to make in how they think about advertising because all the people from the traditional advertising space are saying, “Well, how much should I have to budget for my ads?” I’m like, “No, that’s not it.” Find a source that converts properly and there is no budget.
Exactly. We do that in a couple of different ways. Jocelyn does all of our training on Facebook so I’ll let you tell her how we look at different ad spends. The one overlying principle for us is, we used the membership model. We believe in recurring revenue streams. We don’t really sell one-off products anymore. We either sell monthly memberships or you buy annually.One thing about ads that we look at it a little different is this. Let’s say I spend $100 and let’s say I’ve got 100 bucks a month or my membership is 100 bucks a month. Whatever, round numbers. I’m from Kentucky, we don’t do math real good.
Let’s say I’m going to spend $100 and I’m going to try to get one member that pays me 100 bucks a month. Let’s say I go a whole month and spend my 100 bucks on my ad spend and I don’t get a member, but the second month I do. I’m just using this for easy situation.
A lot of people will look at it like, “Ha! You spent 200 dollars to get one 100 dollar sale.” I’m like, “But there’s a catch to that. When you create a customer they usually buy more stuff from you.”
Our members actually stay an average of about eight months. That one client that I got out of my $200 ad spend may have only gave me 100 bucks the first month but on average they’re going to stay eight months, I’m going to make $800 over the long term from that person.
There’s so many more things that go into your ads than, “Whoops, I lost 100 bucks” that people don’t really get that. Jocelyn actually handles most of the ad strategy for us.
Everything you said there, it’s so true. Getting people to shift how they think, from traditional business to how we do this with the recurring, with lifetime value. Lifetime value, so many businesses and new entrepreneurs, they start off just purely focusing on the initial transaction, right? “I want to get the sale.”If it’s not profitable they’re like, “Oh, it’s not going to work.” That’s such a shift when you realize it’s about the lifetime spend with them and one of the challenges that I’m seeing right now is we’ve got this world of the Amazon business models. Everybody’s out there pitching the source products from China, sell them on Amazon, sell them on Ebay. Plug-In, it’s already pre-selling for you, right?
I mean, I look at that and I just shake my head and go, “Wow, what a painful business.” Because it is transaction driven. You don’t get any customer data. You can’t follow up with these people. It’s just not the business that strikes me as building a real long-term asset.
We target people for various things. We target them to get them to come to our Flipped Lifestyle website with the intent of capturing them with a pixel. Once they’ve been to our website and get familiar with us we want to make them into somebody on our email list so we’ll show them a Flipped Lifestyle ad to get them to opt in for something and then we place our attention more on selling.That’s a whole other part of the budgeting is that you’ve got to put some money into cold, some money into warm, and some money into hot advertising.
I think that a lot of people don’t really understand that. They think they’re just constantly trying to sell people things, but if you’re showing people who have never heard of you an ad to buy something it’s probably not going to convert well.
Yeah, and also too there’s friction involved in our strategies, like when Jocelyn sets up our cold ad modules she’s like, “All you want them to do is land on your page here. This is just free stuff.” You can pixel them, you don’t even have to get an email anymore.You pixel them with a Facebook or a Google pixel and you show them ads later because they came to your site. Then you try to get email so you can really market to them and then once you see people that are engaged you can actually send a hot ad.
For example, this is being recorded right before Black Friday. We had a Black Friday special on our Flipped Lifestyle podcast last week. I wanted to make sure that all the people that we considered hot, which is people who are on our email list and have been opening emails, I wanted to make sure that they’re going to see the right thing.
I sent an email today because I want them to click to a page so I can pixel them and I’m going to show them a Flipped Lifestyle ad next week for our Black Friday special. Within one minute of sending that email we had hundreds of opens.
We still collect emails through those cold ads but I just don’t want friction when people discover us. I want you to come and get a free podcast and it’s just great and you subscribe and you stick around for a while.See what we’re about and then when we show you our next email that says, “Hey, get our free guide to setting up your Black Friday sale” or whatever it’s going to be a lot easier for you to just, “Oh, cool. The last thing I got was great. I’ll go give them my email now.”
Yeah. Yeah. Question for you and I know that lots of people, once they see these multi-step strategies, right? We’re spending money on retargeting then we’re spending money … We’re spending money on getting the pixel, building our customer audience, then we’re spending money on retargeting. How effectively are you able to track back your spend to the actual outcomes? To the results?
Pretty easily because we don’t totally rely on the pixels, like in Facebook and things like that. We have everything set up where Facebook helps us track but we create layers in our tracking. We use the tools like Leadpages which you can set up custom thank you pages that will help you track so you can compare different things from different places where you’re pixeling people.Also too, when you create these layers you’re still going to create it in a linear way. I’m strategically going to say, “This podcast was really good.” It’s going to start a funnel so it’s going to get a cold ad, but I’m going to go change that whole page and remove it basically from the rest of the blog structure, you know what I mean?
There’s going to be an opt-in related to that and the people that looked at that podcast should see the opt-in that is related to it so they go to that page.
Then you can create multiple sales pages at the end. We might have a sales page that says Facebook. We could have the exact same sales page that’s copied but it says Google. Maybe the only way from the Facebook free thing to the Facebook opt-in, the only way they could ever get to the final point in that funnel is a page that we’ve actually created that’s only that product.
There’s a lot of different roads to lead to Main Street but we don’t want to look like an old city where roads were just built randomly. We want to create new straight roads that go to downtown.If we’re going to create a sales funnel and we’re going to have cold, warm, and hot ads leading to it, then everything to the point of getting downtown is going to be it’s own thing, self-contained, and when we spend money on that road we know where they’re going down that road and we can track that.
The only way you can possibly do that is to keep everything in-house and have an actual sales page at the end, we think, from that funnel.
Then the pixels and stuff help you with more analytics, but if something looks wonky we always have a backup that we can go say, “No, these 100 people bought from this exact order form.”
Got it. Got it. Okay, in the same vein here of Facebook, I got a question for you. It sounds like you’re doing a lot right now.One of the reasons I love the podcast is I get to talk to all sorts of entrepreneurs and get their take on things and now one of the common themes I’ve heard from a few different entrepreneurs now that are doing a lot of Facebook stuff, which doesn’t necessarily reflect my result, but their results is, with their targeting they’re saying if you’re using Google’s algorithm to create say, look-alike audiences, that’s not getting them a great result, whereas targeting people based on specific things that they have liked, right?
That we strategically target, basically.Yeah. From the look-alike audience. I have had some success with look-alike audiences but the problem for me is just that I think it’s a little too broad. They give you so many people and elementary librarians, I estimate there are approximately 100,000 in the United States.
Just a rough estimate based on the number of elementary schools. Facebook will give me a look-alike audience of 1.1 million or something like that.
I really don’t like it for that product and that group of people because I feel like it’s too broad.
If you’re going to create broad lists, we like to target the big groups and then we will send our cold ads and let them filter theirself by saying, “Yes, I actually am in your audience.”You do have to go broad but I just trust us more than I do the algorithm in some cases. Does that mean you can’t do it? Listen, some niches, it might be perfect. It might actually work perfectly for some people. It’s the same thing with everything.
Take my US history site. I don’t show Facebook ads for it because what I find is that history teachers go to Google when they need something. When they’re on Facebook they don’t give a crap about anything else but looking at scores and arguing about elections and whatever. You know what I mean?
They don’t want to see ads for that there, but when they need something for tomorrow because they didn’t make a lesson plan because they went out of town this weekend they’re going to go to Google.
I can show ads there and skip the cold ad part and just go straight to warm in that particular thing. It’s the same thing on Facebook. There’s probably businesses where look-alike audiences work like gangbusters. You know what I mean?
It’s just one of those things, you have to not trust what anybody says. Take everything as a practice that worked for someone and test it in your own space and you have to trial and error and figure it out.Which actually brings me to another point. That’s the biggest mistake all of our Flipped Lifestyle students always make with ads is they turn them on for a week and they turn it off and then they try a look-alike audience and then they turn it off.
That’s not how it works. The day you start your first ad you might turn that ad off but it’s only because you’re replacing it with the next thing you’re testing. You’ve got to keep refining and keep it going forever if you’re ever going to improve it for your business.
Totally agree. Totally agree. I think back to that whole look-alike, the algorithmic audiences. I think you hit the nail on the head. For some it will work and I think it’s for people that are in a more, they have a more general product, not as, for example, librarians.I think Jocelyn, what you said there, it’s very easy to figure out when you’re in the smaller niches like librarians in the US. As you said if the look-alikes …
Exactly. It has it’s place. I’ve got two more questions for you as we’re coming to the end here. This one’s a little bit, a big question.You guys started your business four or five years ago. You guys have seen a lot of success very quickly and are living the flipped lifestyle. Now it’s awesome, you guys are helping empower other people to do the same on Flipped Lifestyle and I’m probably pretty sure it’s safe to say that there was a bit of a learning curve that you’ve acquired over the last few years. Some new skillsets that did not exist as teachers.
Here’s the question. If you were talking to one of your past co-workers and they asked you, “Okay, I want to do this online thing. I want to follow in your footsteps.” What would you tell them if they asked, “What are the most important things or skills I need to know to be successful online?”What would you tell them?
People just don’t do that here. We left school a month in, actually two months into the school year which is just unheard of. We do get this question a lot and I would say that it sounds kind of crazy but probably the most important thing, the most important skill that I think you need to have to start a business would be time management.So many people get this wrong when they’re looking for the flipped lifestyle. You start working on something, life gets in the way, and you just let it go. For us we were so busy at the time we started our business we had no choice but to be so tight with our time and really schedule everything and I think that that alone has really helped us out a lot moving forward.
We actually, I mean I’m sure we broke some eggs to make the cake kind of deal when we did this. We turned off voicemail on our phones. We stopped answering everybody’s calls. We would meet every Sunday, Jocelyn and I would.The first time we ever did it we were sitting in a Mexican restaurant. You know those pieces of paper that have columns, like column pads that accountants use?
We put everything we had to do and then we said, “What are we doing these other hours?” Then we realized that we were wasting time.People were demanding our attention that didn’t need it. We had to cut some things out and sacrifice even relationships to be able to have that time to make it happen and that’s what we’ve done the whole last four years is, what is actually going to move the needle in our time?
If you can figure that out it’s a lot easier to figure out where to get the money. You’ve got time freed up, you can go get the money to do it.
Right now we’re actually implementing a thing, what we’re calling 100 Days Ahead. We are actually going to forfeit the next 100 days in planning and we’re going to act like, “What if today was actually 100 days? What would I work on if I had to do something for tomorrow for what was happening 100 days from now?”We’re actually going to try and take a few months and slide our entire business 100 days ahead.
Yeah, exactly, totally. That’s totally what they were expecting and I love your answer because I know it’s the truth because I see it with the entrepreneurs I’m working with.People that are just getting started. Because you got to do, it’s called the side hustle, right? We have such limited amounts of time and I think one of the words that people have to master is no and learning how to say no. “No, I can’t do that. No, I can’t do this.”
Taking that attention away from the people, the stuff that is demanding attention. It’s the only way it’s going to work, right?
We have another principle too to go just a little bit deeper for everybody listening. Because a lot of people would be like, “Well, okay, fine. I manage my time.” Really every business, if you look at it, comes down to one thing: do you have a customer who actually has a problem that you can actually solve?Sometimes it frustrates me when people come in and they’re like, “I’m going to start a website to show people how to live better.” What the..?
You have to have, we always say it’s the difference in selling aspirin or vitamins. If it’s midnight and I wake up with a headache and I go to the medicine cabinet and I can’t find aspirin and my head’s hurting so bad that I can’t sleep, guess what I’m doing? I’m getting in a car, I’m going somewhere to someone that is selling aspirin 24 hours and I am buying it.If I wake up in the middle of the night and I go, “Gah, I forgot my B12. Aw, man. I forgot that vitamin.” Vitamins feel good, they kind of sound good. Like, “Hey, be healthy. Take your vitamins.” You know what I’m going to do? “I’ll catch them next time I’m at the store.”
Make sure that you’re looking for a problem that you can solve with your experience and expertise. Make sure that you’re looking for headaches and you’ve got the aspirin. Don’t try to sell feel-good vitamins and all that stuff. It’s not going to work.
Yeah. I think that’s a great analogy. My last question for you, because you know what? I know there’s going to be quite a few couples, married people, listening to this show.I’m sure a few of these people are wondering about the dynamics of a husband-wife team starting a business and living a flipped lifestyle. To give you a background I work with my wife in my business. I have for over a decade. When I met her I met her because I had hired her as my VP of Finance in my last company.
We’d worked together for a few years before that evolved into a relationship. For us it was work first. You guys had relationship first and now together have built a business.
It sounds like you have a good working relationship but what was it like when you first started working together and how would you describe dynamics, roles, and what advice would you give to other people considering starting something like this with a significant other?
Yeah, he’s a good starter, I’m a good finisher. It works out actually really well for us. There are times that it can be a little bit stressful. When we get stressed both of us deal with it in different ways that get on each others nerves a lot.That part is definitely hard but honestly I mean I have to say that I would never be here if we weren’t working together because although sometimes we bring out the worst in each other most of the time we bring out the best. I would say it’s not going to be easy.
Yeah, big time. It’s very rewarding to work with your spouse, it’s also very challenging. Just total transparency. Yesterday we had a massive disagreement in the morning, okay? We were just like, we had dropped the kids off at school.We always take our kids to school together every morning, like we all go as a family, and then on the way back we were talking about something that was really important and we just really disagreed. It just derailed the whole day. We did not do anything yesterday productive because we could not come to an agreement.
We have systems in place to figure out how to work through stuff like that. This morning we worked through it, we figured it out and now we got right back on track.That’s the biggest thing that we try to put in place when you’re working with your spouse is, you have to know what you’re both good at and you have to assign those tasks to the person who’s good at them and you have to let them go. That’s the first thing.
Number two, you have to have clear expectations at all times. This goes beyond communication. This is like, you have to predict how the other person’s going to react. You have to have something in place to fix problems because if you don’t then you’re going to get derailed and you can’t be derailed for long because the business won’t be able to make it.
Number three, you have to just be patient. You’re together 24 hours a day. Our desks literally face each other and then we pick up our kids together, we go to school together, we take them to events together, we go to church together.
You’re with your spouse and really we enjoy that because that’s the way it should be and you just have to be ready for when there are problems and not sugar coat it like, “Everything’s going to be fine.”
That’s the beauty of what we do. There are times that we do things with our children and we do not use technology, generally, when the kids are home.We try to get all of our work done before they get home but then we’ll still find ourselves going back to, we’ll be getting ready to go to bed and he’ll be like, “Oh, what about so-and-so. They had this idea. What do you think about this?”
It still always creeps back in but I don’t really think it’s that much of a problem because, like I said, we do just genuinely love what we do.
If you block off times mentally, like you see it. We go back to our calendar, we pretty block off 10 – 2 Monday through Friday to work. That’s when we’re allowed to use our computers, basically. For work.We try to work three to four hours a day. Some of that’s lunch and some of it’s just watch TV or something but we try to work in that three or four hour window and then when the kids get off the bus it’s over. When the kids go to bed we’re going to do something else.
That might mean not hang out with each other. We like different TV shows and things like that.
If you’re very vigilant going back to that time, four years into our flipped lifestyle our time is still our most precious asset and that’s what we manage. We manage that ferociously because if you’re not blocking those times off you will work 10 hours a day and you will go 70 hours a week and we don’t want to do that.I don’t want to scale infinitely.
We just bought a house. It’s on 30 acres. We bought a private lake. We got all these things to enjoy. Why would we not go do the thing? We’ve worked so hard to get here, why would we spend 80 more hours a weeks to keep scaling? What are you scaling for? What’s the point of the flipped lifestyle?
We get to hunt and fish and walk and hang out and do what we want to do and that’s what’s more important to us so that’s what we prioritize. If you do that you won’t work 90 hours a week. You’ll work a few extra because you have to, but you know what I mean.
We worked hard. I’d say for the first 24 months, that’s when we were in the grind creating our flipped lifestyle, but then once we had some success we started looking at things going, “Well, who can I hire to do this part of my job? What machine can I buy or program that will automate this part of my job?”As you starting chinking away at the time you start scaling back. What most people make the mistake, though, is they go all Gary V. on everybody and they start adding more things into the time they saved by hiring and automating.
We went the opposite. Every time we took an hour back, because we automated something, we kept the hour for ourselves. Every time we hired someone to take 40 hours off of our plate, we took the 40 hours back for ourselves.
Honestly I think the majority of people don’t want that but there’s this expectation that, “I’m starting a business. I just have to grow it, make it bigger, make it bigger, make it bigger.”I fell into that trap. At one point in my last company I had 100 staff, I had an office in the US, an office in Canada, and then my son was born and I looked around and went, “God, I have no life. My health is suffering. What’s the point?”
Fantastic. Guys, I want to thank you so much for sharing your flipped lifestyle. I think you guys are an inspiration and not only are you guys an inspiration. I’ve interviewed a lot of people, I think you have a gift for explaining, taking what a lot of people consider complex things and breaking it down in very easy to understand, for the average person to use.I talk to lots of entrepreneurs and they may be very good technically but would be damned if they could explain it to the rest of the world.
Cool. All right. Well, everyone that was Shane and Jocelyn Sams.As always any of the links that were mentioned in the interview, we’ll include those in the show notes along with the entire transcript of this episode and as always you will find that at projectignite.com/podcast.
While you’re there make sure you subscribe. If you’re on Itunes or Apple device, you know where it is. It’s Itunes. If you’re on Android device you’ll find me on Soundcloud and while you’re there if you like what you heard leave us a rating, leave me a review.
Guys, that’s the fuel that gives me the momentum, that motivation to continue making this the best info-packed podcast for digital entrepreneurs.
Now it’s time to take all the tools, tips, strategies that Shane and Jocelyn shared with us here today to flip your life and apply the ingredient that’s actually going to make them work for you, and that ingredient is action.
Go forth, take action, apply what you’ve learned and stay tuned for a more info-packed episodes of the Project Ignite podcast.
This is your host, Derek Gehl, signing off.