Jonathan Green | Take The Power Back — Empowering Yourself Through Entrepreneurship

On this week’s episode of the Franchise Freedom Podcast, we speak with special guest Jonathan Green. After being fired from his dream job at 29, Jonathan vowed he would never be in a position that vulnerable again. Now he’s a multi-best-selling author, celebrity ghost writer, and lives on a tropical island with his loving family. His mission is to help others achieve financial freedom, become their own boss, and ultimately serve no master.

“Someone else has so much power when you work for someone. They have the power to affect not just your income, they can affect your ability to get the next job, they could affect your ability to take care of your family, to eat, to have somewhere to live. I didn’t start my own business because I had dreams of being rich, I just didn’t want someone else to be able to take away the money I needed to feed my family again. And that really revolutionized me,” says Jonathan.

We chat about the best advice for those looking to transition to entrepreneurship, as well as:

  • His business, Serve No Master
  • Determining if entrepreneurship is the right fit for you
  • Viewing your career as your business
  • A business model of Extreme Giving
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host, Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide. And today we have a very special guest. Today we are speaking with Jonathan Green. A little bio and Jonathan. After being fired from his dream job at 29, Jonathan vowed he would never be in a position that vulnerable again. Now he’s a multi-best-selling author, celebrity ghostwriter, and lives on a tropical island with his loving family. His mission is to help others achieve financial freedom, become their own boss and ultimately serve no master. Very interesting. And Jonathan, welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast.

Jonathan Green: Thanks for having so much. I’m excited to be here.

Giuseppe: Yeah, very excited and very intrigued. Living on a tropical island. Definitely want to hear more about that. So if you can fill the audience in just a little bit on, you know, your background, how you got started and what that journey looked like?

Jonathan’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Jonathan: Sure, I’m one of those people that always said to myself, I could never start my own business. I never really thought I had what it took to be an entrepreneur. And only when I look back at my life do I realize I’ve always dabbled in entrepreneurship, whether it was like starting a car washing business, or starting my own tutoring agency with one tutor, which was me. I’d always done some of those things.

But I’d always thought, oh, I’ll just, this is just a fill in the gap until my next job, or this is just to make enough money to get me to that next employment. I always thought having a boss was the answer to all of my problems. I wanted that job security. And then when I entered my 30s, I lost my big job, my dream job work yet at one of the best universities in the United States, and I realized I didn’t want to be that vulnerable again. As I got fired and I was driving home from work, I realized someone else has so much power.

When you work for someone else, they have the power to affect not just your income, they can affect your ability to get the next job, they can affect your ability to take care of your family, to eat to have somewhere to live, to make the payments on your car, all of those things that all come from needing that revenue stream every month, right? Like most of us, we need this month’s paycheck, we need next month’s paycheck and the next month’s. Not everyone has this huge buffer months and months of savings, right? Where they can just have three months of nothing in between jobs.

So if we lose our job, we need to get something to fill in that gap. That’s a really scary place to be. So, I went from there and I said, I never want to feel like that again. So that was really my kind of revolutionary moment is that I didn’t start my own business because I had dreams of being rich. I just didn’t want someone else to be able to take away the money I needed to feed my family again. And that really revolutionized me. And that was a little over 10 years ago. And along my journey, I tried a lot of different business models.

I found what worked for me and then eventually I started traveling the world full time and I met my wife in Southeast Asia and I said, if we’re going to live in this part of the world, I’ve got to live on a tropical island. I want to live somewhere amazing. And we live exactly 87 meters from the water on the beach. Every single day it’s paradise. Whatever my wife says, Let’s go on vacation, I say, we already live on vacation. It’s where I’ve always dreamed of living and just all came together from getting fired. Like, something that you think is the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s actually like, they just freed me.

Giuseppe: Wow, that’s very interesting. And I liked how you put that, you know, we kind of look at a job, employment as the safe bet. But it’s not always a safe bet as you gave the example that it also affects your next job, the current job that you have. So it affects quite a bit. It’s not always safe and, you know, there’s no control. You basically show up and you cross your fingers that you’re employed the next day.

So I, you know, I really liked how you put that. You know, a lot of people listening in are like, that’s great. And, you know, I’ve always wanted to own a business but, you know, what’s kind of the two, three top pieces of advice for that person looking to make that career transition? You know, they, a lot of people I talk to, I would say probably half the people I talk to at one point have thought about owning a business but they’ve just never did anything about it. So what’s kind of your top two or three pieces of advice for that type of person?

Shifting Your Money Mindset

Jonathan: My first piece of advice is that you got to take it seriously. Now, I was in a situation where my career was over. The boats were burned behind me and I couldn’t go back, right? So I didn’t have a choice but to move forward. But for most of us, we have that security. We kind of dabble, right? There’s all these people that like, invest a lot of money here, invest a little money there, buy some courses, buy some training, but it never comes out of a business budget.

It always comes out of like an entertainment or hobby budget. I have this friend, I’ll never forget. I was visiting him for the first time and I see this door locked in his apartment. I go, what’s behind that door? He goes, Oh, that’s the second bedroom. I said if you have a second bedroom why am I staying on the couch? And I opened up and there’s what I can only describe as an unbelievable number of DVDs on the floor.

And it’s everything you could ever imagine for how to start your own business to how to get into astrology or Reiki or all and everything in between, right? How to have the perfect marriage, everything you can imagine about from personal development and business development, and he had all these Xmas machines I’ve never seen infomercials for. And I said, Whoa, and it’s all still in the plastic wrap, right? None of them have been opened. He’s one of those people that was just a serial buyer. And I said, how much you think all this stuff cost?

It was, I don’t know, maybe $65,000. And I was like, Whoa, that’s a lot of DVDs. Even if osmosis works, they’re still in the plastics. Not gonna get through that. Can’t absorb the knowledge. And we have, we don’t think about it unless we put it all in this room. But so many of us invest a lot of money, but if we think of it as entertainment budget, like I spend 10 to $20 on a movie ticket, I don’t expect to make it back. But if I invest money in my business, I’m looking for that return. And we think about business money differently.

So even if you have a budget of $100, I recommend that you get us a business account. There’s a lot of really cool, like startup type business accounts now that have like no fees. I use one of those no-fee bank accounts. It’s amazing. So you don’t have to worry about maintaining a minimum balance. You put $100 in that account, you know, you have your little, you can use your personal social security number, you get a tax ID which is free for a business account.

And suddenly, you have a business name and a business bank account. And when you spend money out of that account, there’s not new money coming in, right? It has that money to start from. And so suddenly, you’re not spending for entertainment budget. It’s not spending money, like go to the movies, it’s spending money like this, I have to make it back because this is business. And it will change how you think about it. And doesn’t matter where they’re putting $100 or 100,000 into that account.

Once you have money into that account and once you’re spending from it, you go, this is a business expense. It’s a whole different world. Like you ever been, if you’ve ever been to a conference and there are a lot of people some of the conferences I go to, like 90% of the people are employees and 10% of their own businesses. And the employees are just maxing out the credit card every day. They go Oh, this is my per diem. I have $100 per day and then everyone owns their own businesses like I’m gonna go to happy hour because I need a minute, I need to cut back on every spend I can, right?

They’re like what’s the cheapest bar we can go to to meet other people? What’s the cheap restaurant option? Because we’re thinking every time I don’t spend $10 for my business, that’s $10 I could put into paying my employees or to investing in more training or to buy more software. So we see money differently when it’s business money and when it’s our own business money.

Giuseppe: Yes absolutely. Cannot agree more. Very well put. Talking just a little bit about yourself and your company, so, you know, what would you say is kind of most exciting? You know, what’s kind of exciting? What’s new in your world? Anything you’re working on?

Adjust Your Messaging to Your Target Audience

Jonathan: Yeah, so what we’re really working on this year is growth. So we’ve built out a really good business structure. It’s taken me 10 years to get here to really figure out the right business model for me, the right way to speak to my audience. So I feel solid invested in 10 years ago, the only people responding to me were like 19, and 20-year-olds. And now no one under the age of 30 really responds. You said you saw my website, it’s designed in like, a 1940s comic book style, which older people see, people my age and older. We see it, we go, Oh, yeah, that reminds me of stuff I saw either in a newspaper and a comic book as a child.

People younger than me go, Oh, no, that’s not the guy for me. So my messaging has changed. Now that I’ve really found who I want to speak to and what works for me and that messaging, my real focus is on finding and growing my audience, which means putting out more books, creating more events or spending more money on advertising. All of that is really just about expanding my reach. So I really see a business, the business model that I’ve just has three parts. And this is most digital type businesses. The first part is traffic or getting people to hear about you, right? Getting people to discover you or hear of you for the first time.

And that can be anything from a radio advertisement to a friend saying, oh, did you see, check out this book I’m reading, it’s pretty good. And they go, Oh, who is that? The second phase, once someone’s heard of you, I think of it as engagement or relationship building. It’s almost like, it’s the phase in between where someone’s met you And when they’re like your boyfriend or girlfriend and you’re actually dating. It’s that get to know you phase where they’re going, I don’t know if I’m interested in you but I’m interested enough to have one drink with you or I’m interested enough to have a coffee with you and I’ll see how it plays out.

And I know if you’re terrible, I could leave in the first 15 minutes, right? So there’s no actual weight on the relationship. But there is enough, you have a chance to kind of get to know each other. And during the engagement phase is where people maybe read another book or they visit time on my blog or they listen to a podcast, like listen to your podcast, right? So hear’s of your podcast, they go I’ll download an episode. If they like it, then maybe they download another episode and they go, you know, two was good, I’ll just subscribe because I have a good feeling about this.

And that in-between phase where they’re getting to know you, that engagement is where you get to say, here’s who I am, here’s what I stand for, here’s the people this is for, here’s people this is not for. And all of that can be anything from your branding to your messaging to the type of content you’re releasing. And so I have traffic, then we have engagement and then the third part is sales or profit generation. Because once someone knows you then you go, Well, here’s what I sell, or here’s what I do.

Whether it’s a service, whether it’s some product you’re selling, or maybe you make money doing recommendations and that’s my business model is really, I get to know people, I have them read my books, my blog, my podcasts, and then I sell them training courses. I say, Well, what do you want to do? What do you really want to do with your life? What’s your ideal business model? And if it’s something I teach, then great. And if it’s not something I teach, because we can’t all be experts in everything, well then I say, oh, here’s someone I know who does teach that. And that’s really the three parts of my business.

Giuseppe: That’s very interesting. So that’s, I’m glad you brought that up. Because yes, we cannot be experts in all areas. So and our roles, our companies are very similar in that we get to know, you know, to try to help out as much as possible. Our vehicle is franchising, our service is franchising. But not everyone’s the right fit for franchising, and to be quite honest, in many cases, and I’m not sure if you’ve come across this and maybe you can speak a little bit more is that people that contact me, they’re figuring out if entrepreneurship just in general is the right fit.

And then we look at the pros and cons of both based off of what they’re looking for. But not everyone that comes to me, I personally, I don’t feel they are the best fit for entrepreneurship because they may be doing it for the wrong reasons. Like, for example, I just want to make tons of money or I just lost my job and I just that’s what I, you know, that’s the default. And I say let’s talk this out. So how do you work with people that come to you that may not be, you know, the best fit for entrepreneurship? They just, maybe they’re just upset at their previous employer.

Gauging Motivational Energy

Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, that’s part of it, right? So if they really have a lot of anger, they really never want to go back like happened to me, I call that motivational energy. Whenever we try a new idea, there’s basically how long we’ll do it without experiencing success before we’ll quit. And we all have a different metric. Some people it’s one hour, right?

I saw some people that try to program they go, I’ve tried this for two weeks, haven’t made any money. I’m quitting. I was like, Wow, that’s a really short, that’s not a lot of motivational energy. Not very many businesses go profitable in the first two weeks. We see, you know, like most brick and mortar businesses and most social businesses, like if you start a restaurant, you’re expecting to make your money back in three years.

So wanting it back in two weeks, that’s definitely, they don’t have enough of that motivational energy, which I think is what you’re talking about, right? Like they don’t have that grit or whatever you want to call it, where we’re willing to stick with something long enough to make it work. I would love to say that being an entrepreneur, you can make it work in two weeks, but that’s really fast. So we have to have that first. That’s the first thing I look for. I say how much risk, or how much motivation can you absorb or how long can you do this before you’ll quit?

And then we have to put, I try and give them as many structures as they can to extend their motivational energy, right? So it’s either a quick win, it’s like if you go on a diet, if you pay a lot of money for a personal trainer or diet, they try to give you a quick win fast, right? Where they go, Let’s lose three pounds of water weight in the first week, because then you have that first experience, you know, oh, it’s possible to have a little success. And that extends your motivational energy. They put more time on the clock to work with. That’s the first thing that I really look at.

And I think you’re exactly right. Some people, they think they want to do this, but they don’t realize that entrepreneurship means most the time it means you work seven days a week. So right now, recording this it’s one in the morning for me. Who else on my team works at one in the morning? No one. I have 15 employees, but none of them have that same level of investment, right? They’re not going to work in the middle of the night, you know, unless I maybe offer them double pay or another incentive, but they’re not going to do that because they don’t have that same love for the business.

And that’s absolutely natural. There’s nothing wrong with them. That’s how everyone feels. If I was working for someone else I’d be like getting at midnight, I don’t think that’s gonna happen for you. We’re not friends, this is a business. So, but when you’re the owner, right? The way the money works is, I pay all my expenses, I pay all my team and what’s left over, that’s what I get to pay myself out of it. If we have a really big week, then I make the most money on the team.

And if we have a slow week, I make the least money. That’s really the difference. It’s high risk, high reward. And you have to be someone who can also handle living life that risky, where you don’t know what’s going to happen. Life is full of surprises. And there’s all these other ways that surprises can come into your life. Surprise bills. I just got a phone call right before our call from someone else who said Oh, you’re, you know, one of your bills it didn’t go through. I was like what?

There’s money in that account. I was able to log in, push the button, because I had the money for it and it was paid within like two minutes. But those surprises are really normal. If I don’t have the money, that will be really stressful, right? And it’s those things can happen. A surprise like that or surprise medical bill or surprise, oh, you thought you paid that off and you didn’t. So there’s already enough scary surprises that come into our lives. So we already have this risk, we already have surprises and becoming an entrepreneur means that your life becomes almost all surprises. Nothing is fixed anymore and everything’s on you.

It’s a lot more emotional pressure because now you don’t have anyone to blame, right? When you lose your job you can say oh, my boss was a jerk or the CEO made a terrible decision. That’s why the business shut down. But when it’s you, there ain’t nobody else to blame. And so you have to have the mettle or the emotional strength to say, yeah, it’s all on me and I like that feeling, right? I like to be on the trapeze without a net. So that is a certain personality type that not everyone has.

For some people, especially because what I teach, it can be a part-time type business. I say, even if you don’t want to start your own business, you need to see your career as your business and be an entrepreneur about your career and say, What can I do to improve my value as an employee? How can I accelerate how much money I’m making? An example of this is the last job I had. I was horribly underqualified. So on my master’s level course, it was applied linguistics. Basically, my expertise is in teaching English to people as a foreign language.

And I really focused on high-level executives. So most of my clients were high-level executives for Fortune 50 companies. And I wanted to go from what I was doing into teaching at high-level university. And everyone in my course was like, oh, once we get our masters, I can go back to my old job and they’ll pay me an extra 50 cents an hour. And I was like, that’s how much of a dream. And I said I want to move to the next level. I want to go from teaching high school and teaching privately to teaching universities. And out of my class, I was the only one who made that happen.

Every one of them went back to their old jobs with a tiny raise because they were slightly more qualified. That’s a mindset a lot of people have is they don’t think big. But everything you do is your career, it is entrepreneurship. You could determine how you form networking relationships, what kind of secondary training you do to increase your value. What can you do to bring more value to your resume? What can you do to increase your value to your company or to the next company? You can actually jump up the career ladder sometimes by switching up the same track to another company.

Instead of waiting for your boss to retire or die so you can have their job, you can look at opportunities around you. And that’s about being proactive and saying, okay, anytime there’s a job opening, I want to hear about it so I can at least make an active decision. Instead of waiting until you’ve lost your job to go, Oh, I need to update the resume, your resume should be up to date. You should look for things that can improve the value of your resume. What are the people who would go after the same job as you have on their resumes that you’re missing?

Do you need to upskill? Do you need to join a society? Do you need to learn a certain skill? A lot of people make the mistake of mastering the hard skills which is like they’re really good at their job, but they’re terrible at networking. They don’t know how to make friends with other people in their office. Usually, the person who’s the best at their job is also the person who has the least friends in the office. But guess what happens? When there’s a new job opening, how do you hear about it? Well, friend of a friend.

So if you don’t have a strong network or if you can’t form strong bonds with people, you don’t have that particular soft skill, the social skill, then it’s hard to grow. And so the same skills I have to learn as an entrepreneur are the exact same skills can help you grow working for someone else. So this, it’s not as though it’s totally two isolated worlds. Either you’re an entrepreneur or you have a job. If you want to grow at your business, if you want to get that raise, you have to bring more to the table. So when someone who works for me comes to me to ask for a raise, I say, Well, what are you going to do that’s different?

What new skills do you have? What can you bring to the table? And sometimes I have people on my team will have a, because they listen to my content, they edit my content, they go, here’s the three things that I’m going to do that’s different. Here’s some training I went through. I went through another course, I had a new qualification and so I’m worth more now. And that, when you do that, then you’re much more lucky to get that raise because now you’ve said something that you’re not the same person who was at the old salary level.

And this is how you can jump to another company. This is how I got the interview for my last job. I said, I took an in-between job that would increase the value of my resume so that when I applied for the job I wanted, I was in the strongest position. So I actually planned six months in advance, it took a six-month job, just to prepare myself for that next position. So we can be strategic as employees just as we can as entrepreneurs,

Giuseppe: Agreed, and very good points. Especially networking, things like that, as you mentioned that, you know, knowing about the job before it was even listed. You get into entrepreneurship. I know from my past jobs, I worked on Wall Street. I was given a client list or at least an area I would cover so there was some networking in the area, but I didn’t have to go out of my comfort zone and go out and get different accounts. So, you know, very good points there. Anything else you wanted to touch on, you know, maybe a little bit about the services that you offer?

Extreme Giving

Jonathan: Sure. So my business is built around kind of a core concept that I call extreme giving. And kind of revolutionized the way I’m thinking is that I, you know, as an author, I think if someone wants to read something I wrote, they got to pay for it, right? And but I also grew up as a blogger, which is we give away tons of content for free. It took me a long time to kind of bring those two ideas together. And the core thing that I teach and the core thing, I think, could really help a lot of people grow their businesses, the idea of extreme giving, which is just other words, saying over-deliver or give people twice as much as they expect.

And what that means is someone visits my website and say, Hey, I’m going to give you a free book if you give me your email address. Well, then I send them another free book the next day, and they’re both books that they can easily go and buy the bookstore as well. So they’re getting something that has real value. And this could apply in any area of your business. So always think this core idea, extreme giving, which is how can I over-deliver, because we have this idea that if we give away our content for free, no one will ever pay for it.

They go alright, I got all the free information. Why would I pay for anything? But that’s not true. What happens is if you go to someone’s website and the free content is amazing, Oh wow, this is the free stuff? Paid stuff must be unbelievable. And people will pay for the exact same information just codify better or in a different format. So a lot of what I do is teach people how to do that. The main things I teach are the core concept of extreme giving and how to use that to build your own business.

So whether you want to build a business around the internet, or they want to build a business around local services or whether you’re trying to improve your, you know, local business in your area, you know, how can I over-deliver to my customers, to my neighbors, or people who have businesses near me that are parallel? So that’s really what I teach. So if you visit my website, Serve No Master, which obviously, I always love to have more people visit, you’ll see I’m always trying to over-deliver. So that’s my main focus more than anything else is just to give, give, give, so that people come in they go, Okay, I really understand what this guy is all about.

I understand what he’s teaching. I don’t have any questions. So by the time you do see one of my products for sale or having a promotion, you know exactly what’s going to be on the other side of that fence because you really understand what I stand for, what I teach you what I believe in. And my real area of expertise, of course, is in books and in building a digital audience and in selling products that are in a training space, which is digital marketing, whether it’s affiliate products or products of my own.

So if those are the things you want to learn about that gets you excited, then absolutely, that’s what I can teach you about. But obviously, if you really want to learn how to start a franchise, I’m not the right guy. I don’t know anything about that. That’s why I would say no, you got to talk to Giuseppe. He’s when he knows that. He’s the expert in that area. So that’s why this relationship is great because now I can tell people, and I have some friends and some of my friends just opened up next to my house, a franchise pizza restaurant. I go wow, I have no idea how that works. Now I know someone who does and that’s very exciting for me.

Giuseppe: Yeah, this is, it’s all about networking, and it’s amazing. You know, it seems like every day you’re learning something new, meeting someone new and it’s definitely opened my eyes on just how businesses are run. You see traditional business and then you see, for example, the big thing in our world, you know, is in the franchising side, or just an entrepreneurship is many people calling me up saying, you know, I didn’t know I can keep my full-time job as well as own a franchise.

I always thought of a side hustle or side business but, you know, selling baseball cards or you get all these different examples but I didn’t know that they were semi-absentee businesses, you know, keeping the job and my benefits at least for the first year. Or maybe indefinitely. Some people just love their jobs and they want an additional investment or additional income stream.

So, always learning and, as you mentioned, can’t be an expert on every area. So this was very helpful and I hope everyone listening in enjoyed the call. Website, We’re going to put that in the show notes for everyone that wants to check out the site, download the books on the site. Jonathan, it was a pleasure having you on the show and look forward to speaking with you soon.

Jonathan: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was awesome.