Keep your business on the go while you travel and enjoy yourself.
In this Podcast:
- James shares how easy it is to manage a business while travelling across europe.
- He also talks about building your own lifestyle design.
- How to make content creation a routine and how to keep doing it while you travel.
- Surround yourself with passionate brands to get more traction.
- The dangers of letting jealousy stop you from moving forward, be inspired by other’s success.
Get your swimwear and head on to the Freedom Ocean and have a dip.
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Tim: Welcome back listeners to FreedomOcean, I’m one of your hosts Timbo Reid and right there, fresh back from his European vacation, is James Schramko. Good day mate!
James: Good day Timbo, how are you?
Tim: “Bonjourno”, “Bonjour” , all those things.
James: You know I didn’t pick up too much language while I was away, which is an interesting point. Not a lot of English where I went.
Tim: No, no I wouldn’t imagine so. Now, you had a bit of a, it was kind of a bit of a study to it in the spirit of you liking to get out of your, what do you call it? – your “spaceship”, and getting out there into the world and learning some more. You did a bit of learning but you also did a bit of family “Griswold vacation” type stuff didn’t you?
James: Exactly, I did seven countries, caught seven planes, drove 4,100 kilometers on the wrong side of the road in a new Mercedes Benz and stayed in thirteen different places. And there was very little English in a lot of the places I went, especially in the back parts of Italy and France, really not into the whole English thing so it was interesting and I took the family along as well.
Tim: Well it’s interesting because you’re saying, just before we hit record, you know I was asking how your family was and you said we’re going to talk about that in this episode and it’s kind of interesting because you reminded me that this show is called “Freedom Ocean” and it is, I guess the spirit of it is helping people build a business around their chosen lifestyle. So, discussion around how the family enjoyed the holiday and what you got up to as well as what did you learn in it for your business is relevant in this episode.
James: Yeah, I would split it into two things. I would have a people column and a business column. And it’s been really fascinating to see how people approach this because in the people column I’ve got my customer group and some of them, well in fact, most people have a real confusion between vacation and work. It’s like you have to have one or the other and I somehow blended things where I’m just living and the work happens as a routine or a habit which is why I was able to make more videos while I was away than I was even normally making it at home for the same period. And there are other aspects of the business that I really just let go completely because it’s really awkward when you’re travelling and you’re on the road for a few hours or you don’t have Wi-Fi.
Tim: Like what?
James: Well, for example, there’s a big difference between “urgent” things and then things that you do to move business forward or grow the business. So when I’m at home, I’ve got a massive amount of capacity because I have very few appointments. So I can go and create something and move the business forward. I can really dig into the forensics or the analytics of the business or work on the numbers or for example, I opened up my Mastermind at the moment and I need to be able to fill the inquiries for that but you just can’t do that when you’re on the road so you do have to defer some things but then there’s other things that tick along just perfectly via either human automation or systems automation. For example, my information products are pretty much unaffected; my blog posts with the videos were unaffected; my Facebook was more or less unaffected.
Tim: Can I just ask you? Because you know, a couple of things: “A” you’re emailing me, you’re like one email I laughed, you were in Nice, and it was like “Tim I’m in Nice for the next seven days when are we recording”. Clearly you have, there’s just this really blurred line between holidaying in Nice and doing work and some people would go “Jeez, does he ever switch OFF?” but it’s kind of they’re coming at it from a different mindset. Clearly, you just kind of, I don’t know, there’s not even a question there. It was just the observation and a bit of a chuckle of like “Mate, if I was in Nice, I know I wouldn’t be wanting to record” but you just kind of cross that line.
James: But that’s the thing. I actually have no mental resistance to doing what other people might label “work”. For me, it is a passion and it’s like that saying that “The guys who build up the real wealth and are going to build a killer business, they’re exactly the opposite type of person who’s going to retire and sit back and do absolutely nothing”.
We had a great time in Nice and I actually cut my computer time down to about half an hour a day for a month, which is massive for me. That’s freed up maybe 180 hours or so of other time. But in that time, you know, I had my family with me as I normally do anyway when they’re not at school but we still got to do all sorts of things. We went out and toured perfume factories and drove Ferraris at Maranello and visited dog shows in Italy and all sorts of interesting things, as a family, but the family doesn’t question what we do. It’s just how we live and I do sometimes chuckle and I think “What a bizarre thing I do” so I’m going to sit here at one in the morning in my hoody, which is pretty much my habit, catching up on emails or whatever, and I think “This is totally bizarre”.
Except, when the morning comes around, I don’t have to jump up, have a shower, strap on a suit and tie and polished shoes, hop in my car and drive off for nine hours and help build someone else’s empire. No, I go and get a coffee, turn on Skype and have a chat to my mate, Timbo. So, I don’t consider this work, I love talking about this stuff. My grandfather used to talk about business and hang out in his backyard and he was a timber broker to pretty much until the day he died. So I have a feeling that I’ll continue to be surrounding myself with this type of activity as long as I enjoy it.
Tim: What if one of your, just as an aside, one of your kids, you got four…what if one of them says “Here goes” and works for the man?
James: Fine, I don’t mind what they do because it’s up to them. I’m not one of those controlling parents. If they want to put food on the table and look after themselves first, then may one day they’ll have partners or whatever, then it’s really entirely up to them. So we often have the discussions about preparing them for being good in life and that’s really a huge part of that trip. You know, to take my kids through seven different countries was a great experience for them and I think they learned more just hanging out with the family for that period than what they would have learned at school.
Tim: Oh for sure.
James: The amount of things that happen when you travel are you know, you learn a lot about yourself as well, about how you deal with stresses and things. I mean, I watched the TV show last night for about five minutes before I switched over to the Formula One and there was this English people trying to get driving examiners to assess their driving because they were so bad at driving, around England where they live, right? Except, here we are, we just transport to the other side of the planet, hop in a car, switch sides of the road, drive for 4,100 kilometers through all these different countries, don’t speak any of their language and we just take it on and we have to manage all the travel agendas and the passports and the security checkpoints and all the rest of it. But we just take it on and I’ve learned that my kids have picked up that fearlessness as well and they’re quite happy to cruise over to the shop with a couple of Euros and order something without even being able to speak the language. And they’ve really come along and they’re quite independent in their way.
Tim: So mate, you’re very good at looking at your business when you’re at home. Looking at your business at a very macro level as well as getting deep deep inside it on a daily basis. You’ve gone away now to Europe for seven weeks. You’ve had time to kind of look at it from a distance. Any “Aha!” moments on things you might have you thought “Ah you know I could change the way I’m doing things”?
James: Yeah, I think one of the biggest discoveries and the thing that I was the most interested in was how will I cope with things like emails and how much build-up will I get? You know what it’s like. Most people can’t handle their emails normally. Now I’ve managed to get that, on a typical scenario, my inbox is completely empty. I was just interested how much would it build up over a month and it turned out that I got up to around about 400 emails over the month that I couldn’t deal with or were not urgent enough to warrant my attention. So I came up with a system with the team and that was “If I had to implement something, they were to put URGENT in the subject line”, that way, when I did pick up Wi-Fi at the next hotel, then I could just dig into my Gmail, search for URGENT and then instantly respond to them. So they still had a same day response and that was how I was able to get so much done in about half an hour.
Tim: So these are emails coming from your team. So you’ve said to your team “If you’re going to email me and you need an immediate response, put URGENT in the subject line” yeah?
James: Yeah, well actually I should explain that predominantly, all my email is just my own team. That’s the number one way that I manage my business, and I’ve sort of migrated to that over the last three months. So that was proving the system. I don’t log in to Basecamp, I don’t log in to Google Docs, I’m just managing my business via email and Skype, and of course I have my GoToWebinar meetings. First thing is I didn’t attend a single meeting with the team for the whole month. Second thing is the email system works beautifully, because I do get a daily numbers report from the team leaders, so I know exactly what’s happening in my business in about five seconds. I scan the chart, and it compares yesterday to today, and also we do it weekly and monthly, so I know exactly where the business is up to.
I was able to attend to things that were urgent. An urgent thing might be someone who cannot login to a system and they can’t fix it, or someone who accidentally purchased the wrong product and requires a refund on the balance. I’m the only person with the keys to the PayPal account, so that would be an urgent email. Or someone who wants to spend a lot of money with us, or anyone who’s not happy for some reason – I need to know about it. So the main emails that I get are just my team or customers. I don’t get many emails from marketers anymore, almost none, and then there’s other types of emails that I wouldn’t classify as urgent but are really important, such as administration emails from domain registration and hosting.
The main take-away for me is that I can pull a hundred plus hours from my business each month to work on whatever I want, and the business will still survive. We still had a really solid six-figure month the whole time I was away with my family, which is really just amazing. We live in a time where we have that freedom of choice, to not work for the man, to wake up and say, “Where do we want to go today?” I literally was rolling out the travel plans on the fly. You know, a good mutual friend, Jake Hower, my customer and one of your fans at your other show, was just rolling out the accommodations and stuff via email. With one or two days’ notice we were like, okay, we’re on the south of France now, should we keep wrapping around to Spain, or should we sort of head up the middle on our way to Paris? It was really fun to have that flexibility, and it just shows the amount of lifestyle design that you can build into your life is way beyond what people think it is.
Tim: How do you build in lifestyle design?
James: You decide what sort of lifestyle suits you, and what things you won’t compromise on, and then you build a business that funds it. Almost every single time you’re going to find that someone owns a business, and my mantra is always, “Stop thinking about it like a money blogger or a hobbyist, think about it like a business”. All this online Internet marketing stuff, people think of it as some kind of shortcut or loop hole. It’s not, it’s a business. You need a business behind that marketing, that you’re driving all these leads to, and I think we’ve discussed this a few times on the podcast.
This podcast for me is a traffic thing, it’s a way for me to find more people, and it’s a way for me to express my creativity, so I really enjoy it, but it also invariably leads to people finding out about my other products and services. And the business there, that’s a real business. There’s real people doing real value creation for customers, and there’s real products that solve problems, and that is the underpinning of my business. So build a business that funds the lifestyle. That was really where I was going with that product Wealthification. It was that whole concept, that if you replace having a single-source dependency, one income from one place, a job, with multiple customers from multiple traffic streams, building out your chocolate wheel, as we call it in that product, then you have a fortified business that can survive. You know, I’m travelling at a time where there’s this chaos in the market around SEO, and that happens to be one of my business divisions. But it’s certainly not more than half, and it doesn’t contribute more than half the profit, so it wouldn’t take out my business even if the whole thing collapsed, which is no chance it will, and we should talk about that on a separate episode.
Tim: Did it?
James: I’m just running it, anyway, it’s not an option. And I had to sort of creep closer to the main house to get good Wi-Fi. But the absolute disaster was this little town called Avignon, in France. It’s like this medieval fortress that the Pope used to go and visit, like 700 or something. And the Wi-Fi there was spectacularly poor, it was like 0.12. It made my Internet at home look like it was super broadband. And I tried to run a webinar for my FastWebFormula members, and it was just dropping out. In the end it just collapsed. But I was recording on my end. I just continued as if nothing had happened at all, packaged up the recording, and it was saved. So it wasn’t a disaster. It was ambitious, especially since I couldn’t predict the connectivity. Connectivity was the difficult thing. Also I racked up a nice sort of data-roaming bill, somewhere close to $5,000.
Tim: No way.
James: Except I was able to negotiate to get the sort of a bundled data rate and bring it back to around 750 bucks, which I think is a bargain.
Tim: How did you do that? What, did you just ring up and plead ignorance?
James: Well they sent me an SMS just saying that my phone’s got restrictions, so I called them up and said “Hey, how are you going?” and they said, “Oh, listen, are you aware that your bill’s climbing up?” I said, “Yep.” I said but they do make it hard to publish. Guess how much they charge for one megabyte of download time?
Tim: I don’t know.
James: Fifteen dollars.
Tim: That’s outrageous.
James: It is outrageous. I mean, in modern society that’s ridiculous. But anyway, we talked about getting the bundle of data and it was able to be brought back to 750 dollars so…I do recommend, if anyone’s roaming, pre-discuss it with your service provider. It’s almost impossible to buy a SIM card in a foreign country where everything’s on contract and they don’t speak English. I tried about five times, not possible.
Tim: And James, could you have done what you’ve just done twelve months ago?
James: I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable about it twelve months ago.
Tim: So what have you done in the last twelve months that’s allowed you to go away for seven weeks with your family and still run a business that generated six figures in that month?
James: I’ve changed my business, as I do. I had a huge change –
Tim: Around Christmas?
James: No, it was earlier in the year. Remember January, when you had like a solid vacation, like absolute tools down?
Tim: Well, one of us had to keep the hammock warm.
James: (laughs) Well, you know, I’ve got a hammock here, I’m not doing it too hard. But the thing is, that’s when I – it was Boxing Day, at the end of last year. I sat down and mapped out my new business plan, and then I just set about setting it up in January. A few months after that I upgraded my email system and I started building SuperFastBusiness out. Remember, I went to that new platform? Well, a little bit down the track now, it’s given me that singular focus of one place to pour my marketing energy into, so I’ve now racked up around 40,000 views on YouTube, I get about a thousand podcast downloads everyday, I build subscribers from that central blog, and it feeds my entire business. It turned out to be a great strategy, in hindsight. I knew that it was likely to work because I’d been doing it for customers, and some of them made millions. So I guess I’ve simplified my business, at the same time as really specialized in some of the things that we’ve become good at. In particular, my community, both communities are very strong.
My mastermind and my coaching forums are really strong, because I completely rebuilt my Internet marketing forum. And my service businessesare really strong, because we took on a lot of staff between December last year and the first three months of the year to really scale up, and we’ve got that size now where I’ve got so many competent, really switched on team members, that the business is very, very strong. Hence I didn’t have to go to the meetings, because I put in the work prior to that. Because I attended daily meetings with my team for the last year, it meant that a month without me they knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing, and they’ve done a tremendous job with it.
Tim: Interesting stuff, mate, what a great seven weeks.
James: Yeah, you know, the other thing that is really worth highlighting, and you notice it more when you travel, is because every day’s new scenery, every day’s a new challenge, you haven’t been there before, it’s a lot of stimulus to take in, different currencies, even just trying to order food can be challenging, it really comes down to your inherent habits and routines. All of your energy’s burnt up, you really don’t have much left for will power, and I’ve been studying this a little bit lately, and what I’ve found is, my routine of making a video every few days is very strong. It’s like the athlete that gets twitchy if they don’t visit the gym. I just needed to keep making videos to feel like I was moving forward or maintaining things. And I really looked forward to it, and I enjoyed working with the new canvas. I love making videos in unique locations and bringing out a little bit more of the creativity. It’s fun filming with the Coliseum behind you. Tower of Pisa. I think in the Tower of Pisa one I didn’t mention a word about it, it’s just in the background. I thought that was kind of cool. All the kids took turns on the camera, there was a lot more wobbly camera work and the other thing was, we were working with just an iPhone. There was no external mic, no fancy lighting, no tripod. We’re talking absolute ghetto.
Tim: All those videos that you created while you were away, just on the iPhone? You didn’t take the fancy stuff?
James: Didn’t take anything fancy. They were either on the iPhone or my wife’s little Canon portable camera. Nothing fancy, left the good gear at home.
Tim: Did you have a mic?
James: Nope. Seriously, just absolute minimum. And you’ll see how wobbly some of them are, but I left the outtakes in and that was a discovery. The customers love the outtakes, probably more than the video, and I think they watch half of them for the outtakes, maybe they want to see me jam a chocolate waffle in my face. My kids, at one stage they just couldn’t hold the camera anymore and they’re laughing as it’s dropping down and down and I’m trying to chase the camera down and stay in the shot. But I left them in, and the most popular one, so far, is the Ferrari video. And something I really want to impress from the key outcome of that was when you leverage big brands and passionate brands, and you’re all about this – I actually thought of you when I made that video, Timbo, that you’ve got this saying about the brand is what people think of, right? When you mention the brand? So I went to the Ferrari museum, I filmed before I went in, when I was I there, and then afterwards, driving a Ferrari, and I bundled that together into a marketing lesson, and that has been, like, meltdown. It’s getting me massive traction on Facebook, lots and lots of people have seen that, it’s a low cost per like, and people are joining my blog because of that, so get surrounded by strong, passionate brands that you can hang your hat on, and basically just for the ride with that brand. Ferrari’s doing the heavy lifting there, and by putting that strong brand in a headline and associating yourself with something that people resonate with, it can get you a lot more traction than just trying to push it yourself.
Tim: Absolutely. Yeah, I did a – it wasn’t so much relative to that concept, I was at the airport last week, though, and wrote a blog post as a result of a number of brands that I was looking at around the airport, and I think just doing something on the hop like that and taking some insights from where you are just makes for good content, because it’s there and now.
James: There’s one other aspect I think is worth talking about that I got good perspective on, and you know that I travel to get perspective. But when I was posting some pictures to Facebook, I had a couple of different reactions that were really interesting to me. One guy said “Hey, stop loading pictures up to Facebook, you’re spamming my wall.” I’m like, what? So loading a picture of the Coliseum is now spam? How could this be possible? Then other people say “Thank you so much for letting us into your family holiday.” So I had complete polar reactions to that. And now I notice this, sometimes I’ll post a picture of, say, me at the Eiffel tower or whatever or something like that – someone will say, “Jealous”. And then other people say, “Oh, I love Paris, I was there”. So people relate to these things differently and I can’t help but think the ones that say “Jealous” or whatever, they’ve still got a little bit of reconciliation to do. I say don’t be jealous, build a business, and take your family to Paris.
Tim: And as you create more and more content I’ve found that just with creating podcasts for the last three years, as soon as you stick your head above the trench, which is what content creation does, you’re always going to get those two different camps, those who encourage and those who discourage.
James: Well, I don’t think they think they’re discouraging when they say that, “Jealous”, but they should really pay attention to what’s coming out of their brains. I posted my iPad Mini the other day. “Jealous”. First reaction. Well, don’t be jealous.
Tim: Was this the same person?
James: I don’t know but there’s a bunch of them. There’s a bunch of people who look at what other people have, and they feel jealousy. And then there’s the other people like me. I look at someone in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini or whatever, and I think, “Awesome, I want one of those.” And I’m prepared to work for it. So that’s probably one of the big take-aways.
Tim: I don’t know how you do it, mate, but every now and then I’ve had it happen on a number of occasions where, when I’ve been speaking, you might get the odd heckler, or not even a heckler but the guy who creates just a bit of pain, asks a few too many questions and maybe he’s trying to trip you up or whatever and on more than a few occasions those types of people have actually become clients, because they seem to be the most dissatisfied with where they’re at.
James: Yes. You’re actually creating resistance, and at the time you seem like the enemy, but you’re causing resistance and it might actually create that change. So I understand that, and I know it’s about them.
Tim: Sometimes I think those comments are a way of starting a conversation with you, hoping to get a reaction.
James: You know, I actually encourage them and say, “Hey, don’t be jealous. Let go of the jealousy and be inspired by it.” My message is pretty much this: if you want something, then work on making it happen. And don’t wish you’re me or whatever, I could get flattened by a bus. Look at Steve Jobs.
Tim: Richest man in the cemetery.
James: That’s right. You should never want to be someone else. Be yourself, and then do whatever you want. Be whatever you need to be to get what makes you happy, if that makes sense.
Tim: It absolutely does, mate, it’s a good point. To finish off this episode, in upcoming episodes, listeners, James and I are going to tackle that question, Is SEO as we know it dying a quick death? We are going to discuss content creation. We’ve done that in a few previous episodes but it just seems to have taken on a new level of recent months, this whole content creation thing, and we’re going to talk about that. What else are we going to talk about, mate? We’re going to get specific about how to complete metadata in blog posts that cover more than one topic. That’s specific, isn’t it? We’re going to cover a list of questions, and productivity tools that we’re both using and enjoying. Plus, I’m sure there’s a whole lot more out there, hey?
James: Aw, this is classic FreedomOcean stuff. I’ve missed you, Timbo.
Tim: Oh, don’t be like that, mate. I’ve missed you too. I wish I could have gone over and visited you in Nice.
James: (laughs) Come with me next year.
Tim: Well here’s a challenge. He’s laid down the gauntlet, now. Maybe we could run a mastermind on the French Riviera.
James: Well I’m thinking Monaco Grand Prix. That would be a highlight. I did drive the track, and it was surreal driving around the track that I’ve played on Play Station and I’ve watched the big race. It’s been one of my goals to go to Monaco and I’ve been to Monaco now and it was really quite an exotic place.
Tim: I’ll bet it is. It kind of just rings of James Bond films and dinner suits and casinos.
James: It does, it does.
Tim: Love it. Alright, buddy, that’s episode 48 of FreedomOcean. Listeners, if you want to find out more about James and I or anything, any information, any training, anything that we talk about that’s going to help you move your business forward, go to FreedomOcean.com, and you’ll find it all there, and till next time, see you, James.
James: See you too, Timbo. And be sure to comment on iTunes if you enjoyed this episode.
James: We really appreciate those.
Tim: See you, mate.
James: See you, buddy.