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 talking with Natalie Sisson. Really excited to be speaking with Natalie, learning a little bit more about what she’s up to. Natalie, welcome to the Franchise Freedom podcast.
Natalie Sisson: Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here.
Giuseppe: Very excited as well. I wanted to give your bio before we get started here. We show here that you are actually in New Zealand, which is great. So this is our first international podcast. So, yeah, that’s our first, so there’s always a first, so I thank you for that.
So you are a New Zealand entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, host of the Untapped podcast, and a triathlete. Very passionate about helping women leverage their unique set of skills, knowledge, and experience to get paid and make an impact from anywhere simply by being them.
So really cool, very excited to have you on. And I always like to kick it off with just giving the audience, you know, your background, how did you get into the business that you’re in now? And what does that journey look like?
Get Paid to be You
Natalie: Yeah, I’d love to because, like anything, journeys are not a straight line, are they? And I think what makes life so interesting is the tapestry of experiences you gain as you go. But to keep the story a little bit shorter and give some context, I had a pretty successful corporate career, actually, right up until around 2008, when I was actually, by that stage, in London, UK, in this really amazing role on paper and earning decent money and feeling really miserable–as I’m sure some people who may be listening here have, or maybe your circumstances have changed dramatically recently.
But I made this decision in the moment to not feel that miserable and that tied up in a bureaucratic, office-politics type of situation and to actually do something about it. And I had actually just co-invested in a house in London. I had all my friends there. I had my ultimate frisbee community. I had this supposedly great job on paper. And I just realized, wait a minute, there’s got to be something more to life than this. And I felt like I was not free at all. I felt like I didn’t have any ability to make an impact in the company that I was working for.
So I bought a one-way ticket to Vancouver, Canada, and figured that I would… I don’t know why. I just chose Canada because I was going there to play World Championship Ultimate Frisbee, which does exist, and is huge in the U.S. And also, at the same time, just have a fresh start.
And I was really fortunate to hustle and go to a lot of networking events and meet my business partner. We co-founded a tech company, actually, which still exists to this day, and they have done an amazing job of continuing to grow and pivot. And it was a Facebook application, back then, that allowed you to make donations or payments, which was well before people were even doing anything related to spending on Facebook.
And it was right during the recession, as people have pointed out to me recently. I didn’t even think about it. To me, it was just all new, hustle like crazy, get the start-up off the ground. And during that time, I started blogging because I was really fascinated in the experience I was having. It was my first foray into entrepreneurship. I was learning a ton. I was in a male-dominated tech world. I was struggling to meet other female founders and learn from, you know, both men and women, and I just had such a fascinating journey.
And I was learning at such a fast rate that I basically chatted on my blog. And suddenly this blog kind of took off–slowly, but surely. I wouldn’t say suddenly. With a lot of work. My business manager said to me at the time, “You seem to be really good at this, and you seem to love it. Maybe you should consider leaving.” Not that he wanted to lose me, but leaving and doing this because you’re really passionate about it.
And so it was a huge move at that time to make, about a year-and-a-half into our journey, but I’m super glad that he pointed it out and then I took the leap. Once again, to leave something that was going pretty well but was hard work and start again.
So straight forward to now, that blog turned into a multiple six-figure online education business. I’ve created digital products and courses and tools. I’ve ran retreats and workshops. I’ve got two best-selling books. I have a podcast, just like you. I love podcasts. Being paid to speak around the world and it’s all come from, essentially, being myself and understanding how my skills and experience can help other people and then monetizing that into services, products, and offers that are really useful and valuable to other people.
And it sounds nuts when I say it like that, but that is literally what it’s been. So turning out and getting paid to be you.
Don’t be an Expert–be a Leading Learner
Giuseppe: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. That’s definitely an impressive bio and impressive background there. So, very impressed. I also took the big leap from corporate America to owning a business, but that’s all within the same state. You know, bouncing around country to country, continent to continent, that’s a huge deal. So I applaud you for that.
Natalie: Thank you.
Giuseppe: You had mentioned, you know, so the common theme in technology and blogging and the podcast is monetizing your skill. So can you talk a little bit more about that? Just for the audience listening in? We have quite a few corporate executives. We talk about the various skill sets people have and how to take advantage of them, but what do you mean by monetizing your skills?
Natalie: Yeah, it’s a term that, I think, for some people, can be a little bit confronting because it sounds quite sales-y, but, essentially, it is how you take the “sweet spot,” which is not a term that is mine to own, but I use it a lot, so that the intersection between what you’re good at or great at, what you enjoy doing or love doing, what people will pay you for… And the fourth aspect to that is: what’s meaningful to you? How do you combine all those things? And often, it is actually just as simple as taking a piece of paper and writing the answers to that.
There often becomes sort of a trend or a pattern that you can see that comes out of that that makes sense, as a way of offering up service or some way of being able to consult, coach, as I said, paid for you, done for you services, products, courses that would make a difference in other people’s lives. And that would actually pay you pretty well.
And what I like to sort of say is that what you’re essentially doing is you don’t have to be an expert in any of these areas, but you have to be a couple of steps ahead of the people that you’re wanting to work with or who want to learn from you. And I call that being a leading learner, and, to me, it just puts it in so much more perspective than…
I hate the term “guru,” actually. And I really don’t even sometimes like “expert” which might sound strange to people on here because I think it takes, you know, years and years and years of experience and true diligence and learning the craft and mastering the craft of what you’re doing. And, right now, with the future of work being right here, right now, we need to learn skills very quickly, we need to apply them very quickly.
And there’s no better way to do that than to be a leading learner–consistently learning and up-skilling and bringing people along with you who are a couple of steps behind but want to know what you know and be able to do what you do.
The Pandemic Mistake Entrepreneurs Are Making
Giuseppe: Right. Now, that’s great. So, you know, just to kind of follow up on that, you know, we’re going through some crazy times, for lack of a better word. You know, with the coronavirus, most countries are locked down, so a lot of people are taking advantage of this or taking advantage of the opportunity of being able to work from home. And we were talking about that right before the show here today.
But you know, if you can maybe talk a little bit about staying on course. There’s definitely opportunity to pivot and maybe change up your product offering or service. But, you know, kind of overall staying with the plan. That plan should not change unless it’s something, you know, obviously drastic and in a business that you can’t continue to move forward with. But if you could just talk about maybe tying the online business into this type of environment.
Natalie: Yeah, I’d love to because I think I’ve even fallen victim to this in the last couple of weeks. This reacting rather than necessarily thinking about, “Okay, what did I have in the plan? What did I have in the pipeline that I wanted to implement in 2020? And how has that changed with this pandemic? But what doesn’t need to change? What have I been doing? Well, what’s still working that I can keep?”
So I think what I was really looking at was… I was looking at all these ways that I could step up and serve my community right now. I could put out offers that would really, really help and I could pull them together on the fly. I know what I’m doing. I know how I can teach. And then I realized–hang on a minute, that’s actually not the target audience that I’m wanting to serve. It’s not staying true to the course of my mission that I had for this year, which is still completely on track, for me at least.
And also it felt very reactive rather than well thought out. And I think there’s a time to seize opportunities and jump on them. Don’t get me wrong. And I’ve launched two things in the last couple of weeks to help people. But I felt like I was actually getting into a bit of a spiral, and I’m seeing other people, they’re dropping everything.
And they’re kind of just throwing everything away that they do super well and trying to react and capitalize on this opportunity–hopefully to help people, but some people are just wanting to make some money because they’re feeling the desperation of the situation. And I think that’s a dangerous place to be in if you’re chucking away everything that you usually do super well and not looking at the plan and the foundations that you had in place.
So I think it’s important, yes, to look at the opportunities and pivot as quickly as you can and put out the right offers or opportunities or services or products. They’re going to bring you an income and help others. But I also just don’t think that we should be reacting and throwing away all the good things that we built up and all the foundation and credibility.
So I’m seeing people discount like crazy, which I don’t necessarily agree with during this time. You can add value in different ways to discounting. You can make payment plans go out and extend. You can offer lighter versions of your products or services that aren’t the full investment. If you’re consulting, you know, you can look at different options that suit people right now.
But I think it’s really good to be mindful that what we do in this very moment is gonna set us up for the future, for the good or the bad, and just being really cognizant of what you do well and staying true to that right now.
Freedom & Discipline in Your Schedule
Giuseppe: Yes, yeah, I cannot agree with you more. And I’ve been seeing quite a bit of that as well. So I definitely agree they’re changing gears just a little bit. Going back to when you first started, you had worked, you had mentioned, you had a corporate career. So you know, I always ask this question of all my guests. And basically, that question is: what are the challenges that people face when they transition from that corporate job to a new career? And what is your number one piece of advice to them?
Natalie: Ah, great question. I think there’s a lot of challenges. For me, the biggest was realizing that I was now my own boss of my time, both personally and professionally, that I had to set the agenda for how I wanted to show up each day, that there was no sort of nine-to-five and, ironically, I think as an entrepreneur now, I appreciate the schedule and routine of setting your own hours, it’s actually really important.
And so for me, it was about setting boundaries, about choosing the hours that I wanted to work, how I wanted to work, when I wanted to work, and on what. And I think when you’re in a nine-to-five, a lot of that’s kind of built-in, right, even if you don’t like it, it feels very constrained at the time. Over the years, I’ve learned that true freedom comes from discipline and boundaries and constraints and they are a good thing sometimes if they allow you to focus, squeeze your work into a certain amount of time, and allow you to prioritize what’s important. So that took me a little while to get around.
Because, initially, I was like, “Whoo, freedom!” And then I suddenly realized I was working all the time, every day, because when we love doing something, you can, I’m sure you’ve done it as well. You can work on it all the time. And I lost the balance and the freedom in my life that I really craved.
The other thing is that sense of camaraderie that you get with your peers and your co-workers at work. And so I think it’s really important as an entrepreneur to surround yourself early on with mentors and peers so that you still have those sounding boards to be able to get advice and wisdom in those times when you’re doubting everything, when you’re struggling to be able to turn to people who know what you’re going through.
Because the biggest thing I realized is that my friends who were in jobs suddenly couldn’t relate to where I was at in my life. Like, you know, they didn’t know what it was like to run a business. They didn’t understand. They thought it was cool, but they couldn’t really relate to what I was going through.
So I think those are two pretty foundational things. To actually keep a sense of routine and structure, similar to what you would in a job, but, obviously, choose the hours and the way in which you do that. Set up your right working environment. For me, I was working all over the world. So sometimes cafes or hotels or Airbnbs. But I always made a ritual of when I worked, what projects I worked on, and the setup that I had.
And then surround yourself with the people who are going to be able to support you and understand what you’re going through and have the experience that you can turn to when you need it most.
Innovation & Opportunity During a Crisis
Giuseppe: Right. That’s great. I’m trying to, you know what, as far as, and we kind of touched on this, but what’s the most exciting thing right now in your world, in your business, that you’d like to let the audience know–just some opportunities that you see. And then followed by, you know, what are the best ways, if someone has any specific questions or would like to get ahold of you, what’s the best way they can get ahold of you?
Natalie: Yeah, so I think there’s just so many interesting opportunities coming out right now. For sure. We discussed before we jumped on this interview that there are industries that are falling over right now, there are businesses that are closing down. And it’s scary. And it’s tragic in so many ways. But out of that, I do think new businesses that are popping up, new industries that will emerge from this, that some of us couldn’t have even imagined. And it may seem hard to sort of see that right now.
But the entrepreneurs, I think, are super well-placed, and visionaries are super well-placed to actually be part of that, to be part of that change and to make those opportunities happen. And I have many, many clients within my business whose industries or businesses have literally just folded, but they showed real resilience and innovation in going, “Okay, this no longer exists. Like, I’ve had to shut this down. I’ve had to lay off staff, but what can I do right now that can bring in money, that can help me get paid to be me and also help other people?”
And it’s through, sometimes, that pivoting that people have realized that opportunity has been there the whole time. But they wouldn’t have taken it if they weren’t forced to. And out of that, it’s going to be a longer, harder slog, but also, it’s setting them up for the future where they’re bringing on different ways to get paid, different revenue streams that they’re bringing in.
And the biggest thing that I’ve seen come out of this is that I’ve always been quite fortunate to have built multiple revenue streams into my business. So even now, I’m fortunately in a really, really great place because I feel, more than ever, what I do and what I teach and how I help people is needed. But also, none of those revenue streams… If one of them fell over, I’m not suffering completely, my business doesn’t fold.
And I think this crisis, in general, has seen a lot of people realize how exposed they’ve been. So the biggest thing for me and for your listeners is to look at different ways that you can earn revenue from different, multiple streams and not be just reliant on one. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that’s going to come out of this, plus that self-reliance on monetizing yourself and being able to figure out ways to share your knowledge and experience through products, services, offerings, courses, all my favorite things that allow you to get paid to be you.
So I just think it’s looking at the opportunities right now and also setting yourself up for future foundations that are going to serve you really well so that you’re not in the situation again.
Giuseppe: Yeah. And we talked and that’s, you know, in the financial world, we talk about investment, diversification. And it’s the same, the same is true in the business world and relating it back to some of the franchise companies we work with. They are also doing the exact same thing. They are not one-product-or-service shops. They offer and are constantly adding various services, various products because, obviously, things change. Certain things are seasonal, obviously, with what’s going on. So definitely want to diversify as much as possible.
If someone wanted to get ahold of you, ask a question, you know, first off, how can they get ahold of you? And secondly, can you walk us through a new client reaching out to you? What does that process look like?
Natalie: Oh, that’s a good question. So first off, I’d love for them to come to nataliesisson.com, hopefully you’ll link to it in the show notes. And they can pretty much find me by googling Natalie Sisson, I come up all my, all the places online–LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it.
And the way that most people sort of come to me is actually by initially joining my community. So I have a really great guide on my site called “Get Paid to be You.” It’s both an audio and a workbook that will take you through some of what I talked about earlier. And I think it’d be really relevant right now, if people wanted to go through it. It shouldn’t take very long at all.
And then, from there, I have a number of offerings and ways for people to work with me, including one of my courses, which is called “Launch Your Damn Course,” which has been super successful because it’s actually more than just about launching a minimum viable course.
It’s about understanding your “sweet spot,” who your ideal avatar is, who you want to work with, and how to get in front of them. What do they need right now? Building your email list, your community–which is super important to build that CRM of clients and then being able to put out an offer and pre-launch it to them and have them sign up and buy it before it’s even out there, which I think is something that a lot more businesses could use, which is understanding the market and putting something out, testing it, getting it validated before they go into the huge creation of putting it together.
So that’s just one example of how I can work with people. And I do have a membership as well, which includes coaching and training. So I kind of put offers out that relate to where my audience is at and meeting them where they’re at. But I do specialize in, as I said, seeing the potential and opportunity in people’s lives and businesses and then being able to fine-tune that into a plan of action that they can actually implement.
Giuseppe: So you have clients all over the world then, correct?
Natalie: I do, yeah, they come to me all through the blog and through the podcast and then they often join my email list and then they’ll, you know, they’ll lead themselves on the sales funnel journey that is best for them and kind of get to the right offer that makes sense for where they’re at.
Giuseppe: That’s great. Well listen, Natalie, very excited that this makes the podcast international after the recording today, so I thank you for that. But very helpful. I, you know, I hope the listeners got a lot out of this. nataliesisson.com. We will put all that information, we’ll put the URL in the show notes, as well as the transcript of the call. Natalie, once again, I wanted to thank you for your time and hope to talk to you soon.
Natalie: Yeah, thank you so much. And I know I might be a little bit of an unusual guest for your listeners. But hopefully they’ve taken some insights for themselves today that have been really valuable. So thank you so much for having me.