Ep. 280: How This Entrepreneur Helps Others Fast Track to Freedom with Jodie Cook
In this episode, I speak with Jodie is a location independent entrepreneur, author and athlete.
She built and recently sold the marketing agency she started at age 22. And writes books and articles on the topic of entrepreneurship, while also she competing for Great Britain in powerlifting.
Listen on to find out how Jodie lives an extraordinary life while running a business.
Ep. 279: MOJ: Freelance work vs. Full-time Remote Work: What’s Best for You?
Ep. 278: MOJ: Where to Start Your Remote Work Search?
Ep. 277: How This Travel Influencer Lives a Sustainable Freedom Lifestyle with Alyssa Ramos
Hey everyone! Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to speak with my guest today. I’m here with Jodie.
Hi Jodie! How are you?
Hey Debbie, I’m really good. Thank you for having me!
Thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us more about you and why you live an offbeat life?
Yes, definitely! So I would describe myself as an entrepreneur, a writer and an athlete. And I try and do all three of these things really well whilst not having a fixed location.
So I really love summer, so I try to chase the sun around, not have seasons, just be in the sunshine all the time and I guess focus life around traveling and training and working on a business and writing books.
That is incredible! And how did you get started with doing all of this? Because you are multifaceted. You’re a writer, you’re an athlete, you’re an entrepreneur, was this always something you wanted to do or did you find your way here?
I always knew I wanted to start my own business. And then the business I started when I was 22, so I was fresh out of university and a graduate scheme, was a social media agency. So at the time, it didn’t really feel like starting a business. It just felt like one client and another client and then that accidentally turned into a business. And then I would say the writing, and the lifting, came as a result of just running a business and developing other interests, really.
And I don’t know if you find this, Debbie, but I find it quite hard to just have casual hobbies. They always turn into something just a bit more serious. So a journaling habit turned into writing articles and books that I then published. And a gym habit then turned into starting competing in powerlifting and everything was just taken to that next level because of the type of personality I find that I have as an entrepreneur.
Yeah, that’s incredible too, but you know what’s funny about that is that you go all in with all of these things that are hobbies and you make something out of it even just lifting and going to the gym and then you become this competitive athlete which is amazing. And that is a lot to do, you know? You’re writing, you’re doing all these competitions, and you’re running your business.
How do you maximize your time but also have time for yourself? Because I’m sure you love everything too, but sometimes I’m just like, “How do I have a good downtime?” Because even though I love everything I do, I put so much into my plate.
Mhm. Yeah, I think a lot about how I love everything that I do and I make sure everyday that everything I’m doing is a choice. I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I want to do this? Because if you don’t, then there’s no point.” And there’s definitely no point in competing and taking stuff to the extremes and going all in, like you say, if you actually don’t love it.
So one of the things that I do is I guard my time between those three things very carefully. I’m so against multitasking. So if I’m in the gym, I’m in the gym. I’m not checking my emails. If I’m working, I’m working. I’m not thinking about my training session later. And I guess that involves quite strict boundaries and a very structured day.
Although because it’s all enjoyable it never feels like a chore. Like I always wake up looking forward to everyday. So I normally work on my business for the first couple of hours of each day and then train, and then half the afternoon doing, if you’re fully with the maker and managing schedule, I do the making stuff in the morning and the managing stuff in the afternoon and just write in between all that.
Yeah, and that’s really good discipline for yourself. Because it could be really difficult to keep up with all of these things.
Well, you started as an entrepreneur in your early 20’s and it seems like you’ve been doing this for awhile now, right? And when I first started, especially being an entrepreneur, it’s very different. There’s like a different, I don’t know, I guess lifestyle to it when you’re also remote and then you location independent. Because there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that have a brick and mortar, they see their employees, they have people around them.
But then would somebody like you, Jodie, you could really technically be on your own most of the time and it can be hard to self motivate yourself. Did you do that easily? Was that just your type of personality to do that? Did it take you a while? Because I know when I transitioned to remote working and being an entrepreneur, like sometimes I would just be, “Okay, I’ve just been in bed all day. What am I doing? I need to do something.”
I think sometimes there’s a very fine line between self-employed and unemployed. But I feel like when you have a team, it’s quite different because it’s not—well a team of clients makes sense, it makes it feel real then you absolutely have to do the stuff, and you want to anyway. But I think, for me especially, chasing the sun around it means that nearly everywhere I spend time it feels like the summer holidays and everyone else feels like they’re on holiday so I spend a lot of time in Mexico, – Carmen, and Australia. And at the moment I’m in Copenhagen, and it’s gorgeous weather, no one seems to be working. And I think if you didn’t love what you do, it would be very easy to just be in holiday mode and you would never escape it.
You would never get that ultimate spring time when you actually get your head down and do the work. So I think the basis of it is, I kinda call it my repeatable day, like my perfect repeatable day. So, imagine if you had to run the same day for the rest of your life on repeat. How would you structure that day? So is it sustainable? Because I’m not really a fan of boom and burst. I don’t like the idea that you work yourself into the ground and then you need to have a holiday to escape it. I prefer having this sustainable way of living so if you had to live that same day on repeat, you could and you would really enjoy yourself. So it means, everyday involves exercise, work, writing, leisure, and it’s not this unsustainable rollercoaster that I feel, inevitably just leads to burn out. I try to stay very far away from that.
I couldn’t agree with you more. And I think that’s one of the things that I love about having this freedom, having a freedom lifestyle, is you could really create that ideal day. That ideal lifestyle that you want. Because for somebody who’s working a 9-5, it’s not really your time, it’s your employees time. But the beauty of now having remote work and having freelance gigs is that you’re technically also self-employed and there’s a lot of companies now that are flexible and allow you to have this flexibility. So, it’s freedom but also for somebody who’s never done that before, it could be really hard because maybe you’ve never thought about that. Because for most of your life somebody was telling you what to do with your day and then all of a sudden you’re handed this gift, well I think it’s a gift.
But if you don’t know how to use it, it could either make you or break you. And what you just talked about, Jodie, is exactly the type of mindset that you need to have when you are given this freedom. You are given this gift with your life like, “Hey, you do have to work but then there’s so much time for you to do other things.” Because honestly, let’s be honest here when you’re working a 9-5, there’s just so many hours that you’re not actually working and you’re just sitting around doing nothing. But when you’re working from home, you don’t have to pretend like you’re working anymore.
You can do other things with your life, so it’s like what do you do with those times now? What do you do to actually enjoy it? So I love that. I love your way of thinking about this, of being an entrepreneur and making this sustainable for yourself because I think there’s a lot of type A personality people too that you always feel that you always have to do something. Which is super unhealthy, right?
Yeah, I think so. I think that the default way that we’re wired, which I guess starts with schooling, because you go to school a certain time, you have to move from lesson to lesson, to the sound of the bell, you have to line up in rows and you have to pass exams with marks, and a teacher, a curriculum. I think that sometimes schooling can just translate into the working world, and then we just follow these ways of running our lives without actually questioning them.
And when I had my social media agency, I sold it about 18 months ago. I had a team of 16 and everyone in my team worked full-time. And so they worked mainly 9-5. Sometimes, 8-4, 10-6, but it was still pretty much those hours and sometimes I would feel like I wanted them to have a flexible life as well and to make more of it. But a lot of the time, they just didn’t want to. They just thought, “Well I want to take the weekends off, because all my friends are taking weekends off as well. So I wanna hangout with them, therefore I’m gonna work Monday to Friday.
I want to have evenings off so I can hangout with my friends and watch TV, therefore I’m gonna work 9-5.” And it’s almost like they’re so trapped in that way of being that they wouldn’t necessarily think another way around it. And I think I didn’t really realize that at first, because when I first created our holiday policy I made it so that you didn’t have to take off bank holidays. You could choose, so you could just work a bank holiday if you won’t do that it would be fine.
And I was amazed that everyone took bank holidays off. And I was like, “Why? You can do whatever you want. Why would you wanna have your holiday when everyone is having a holiday.” Because I like when, I kinda call it the first-class experience, where you can achieve the empty restaurant or the not busy beach or supermarket or wherever you wanna go even though it’s the middle of the day, because you just moved your timings. And so I couldn’t understand why they wanted to do what everyone else was doing. But I think it’s just because it’s drilled into us from such an early age. That unless you question it, you might just run your life like that even as an entrepreneur.
Yeah, and you know what I find too, being on that other spectrum too is that not many people will have that freedom so it can get really lonely. So even if you are given that opportunity like, “Hey, you can take off whenever you want.”.
But then maybe your partner doesn’t have that time and they have the regular schedule or your friends don’t have that, like you know a different schedule, that freedom to do anything whenever they want. It is something that you never think about until you are in that situation and you’re like “Oh my gosh, I have to get used to doing things solo unless my friends are doing the same things, my partner is doing the same type of lifestyle and has all of this kind of freedom.”.
And you know, you and I, Jodie, have talked about this before. It’s different when you have that flexibility and you don’t know what to do with it, especially if you are not in that mental space. So, it’s just weird that you don’t think about that until you’re in that situation. And like you mentioned, everyone else is kind of like, it’s bad to say but everyone is just like a herd, they’re just like sheep going in line and then you have the black sheep trying to do something.
And it’s like, “What are you doing? Get back in line.” Because we’re not going to do it with you. So sometimes you also have to realize that that is part of the lifestyle too. So it can be very difficult when you’re on your own and you don’t meet a lot of people in your circle, in your life who are able to do that. But for me, I wouldn’t do it any other way even if I have to do things solo.
I think that any entrepreneur here feels like they are the black sheep, which probably is all of us. I think the thing to do is find that tribe and find the people who do get it and then that opens up this whole new world of possibilities. Because for me, I find that I know I’m with a kind of tribe member when I don’t have to think before I speak. I don’t have to censor myself.
And often, I find that, it’s after when you’re talking about traveling and where you travel plans are because if you speak to someone who hasn’t got any travel plans and you talk about your travel plan, it sounds like you’re just showing off or bragging. Whereas if you speak to someone who organizes their own lives like that, it’s just interesting and they’ll say, “Oh, you’ve been to Copenhagen? I went there and I did this and that.”.
And you have this open, honest conversation and you feel that, “Wow, this person has the same values as me. And they want to run their life like I do.” So I would keep joining groups and meeting people until you don’t feel like the black sheep until you feel like you’re with this community of people that are running their lives in the same way.
Yeah, it’s really true. And I love that you mentioned having to sometimes censor yourself when you’re with people who are not in this type of lifestyle and in a similar industry—or not even a similar industry, but they just know what you’re going through. For me, that happened too. Like, I’ve felt I had to censor, and also there’s kind of a guilt. I don’t know if you felt like that too.
Because people around me would be complaining about their jobs, they would be complaining that they don’t have x, y and z. And in my head, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I love what I do.” I could do what I want when I want. I’m getting paid way more than my 9-5 that I had to before. I have nothing to complain about. And I think to myself, I can’t really express that because that ‘s going to sound really horrible.
It sounds like you’re, like what you mentioned, Jodie, just showing off. You know? Or even when you talk about your travels. It’s these things that we come across once we’re finally going into that, more deep into what that you never thought about because most of the time you just think about trying to get there. And when you actually get there there’s these things that you have to do, you know?
Yeah, I think it’s a really good problem to have. But it’s still a problem. Say, what do you do? What’s your strategy, Debbie? Do you avoid those people or do you try and come up with a new way of chatting with them? How’d you do it?
No. So, the people, most of my friends that I grew up with do not have this lifestyle. So, honestly I have just become a really good listener. Because one time, I did try to say something, and I didnt even talk for a while, and one of them was like, “I don’t wanna hear about it.” So once I got that, I was like, “Alright, that means they don’t really care. I’m gonna step back and just listen.” But also, you mentioned Jodie, that you really need to find that tribe.
And what I ended up doing was finding my people. And I would talk to them even just once a month, because you know, all of our friends that in this type of lifestyle, they’re all over the world, they’re traveling so most of the time we don’t see each other in person. But you know, even if you just talk to them once a month, you’re like, “I wanna get all of this stuff out.” Because not many people beside my husband I can talk to and they’re not going to be judgy, you know?
Yeah, that makes sense. I find myself asking quite a lot of questions because I am always fascinated. Like when you said, you hear someone complaining about their work or their life or their situation, I think I find it fascinating that someone would believe that they were stuck and they wouldn’t see a way out because that’s gotta be something in childhood or something that is making them think, “I am stuck and I can’t do anything about it.” Or maybe they don’t realize, they actually enjoy complaining. But, I find myself a lot of questions, probably to the point of annoying people.
And so, if someone’s like, “I don’t like this, or I don’t like that.” Then I’d be like, “Oh, so what could you do differently?” or “Have you thought about anything else?” You always have many coaching sessions with people and some people are really open to that. And I’ve definitely had friends that have been like, “Wow, I never thought about that before.”
And to me, it felt just like a basic question like, “How would you wanna spend your day?” or “Where do you wanna be in a year?” All those kinds of things. And they’re all like, “huh” and they think for ages. But often, they just need to be asked the question, and as soon as they are, their default mode network is wearing away finding the answer, and inevitably they find it. And then they make a change, and I think that’s–I find that really incredible when that can happen. So I’m always looking for those questions and trying not to annoy people with them at the same time.
Yeah, and I think that’s how you have a conversation with people when somebody is in that stage of their life. If I’m thinking about it in my position too, I’m feeling stuck and I feel like I hate what I’m doing. And I’ve been in that position too, I also wouldn’t like it if somebody just started talking to me about how great their life was and how they’re going here and there.
So I could definitely understand that. And the way you go about it, the way you ask questions, I think is one of the best ways to do that. Because also for the most part when you’re in that position, at least I’m thinking for myself. Like, you’re not defensive, you’re just, “Okay, yeah you’re right. I should think about this, or x, y and z.” Which is really great to do.
I think it’s also quite difficult to not interrupt people when you ask those big questions. And then you know that they just need to think and they will come up with a very good anwer. It’s really easy to interrupt and try to fill the silence. But if you sit with it, they come up with really cool stuff. And then you know, you can always feel sometimes when someone is on the edge of their next epiphany or their next huge decision and I love doing that with friends.
Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. And also once you see them start to do something and you remember where they were and where they’re going. I think it’s one of the best things that you see somebody in their journey and then to finally see that come into fruition. Because I think for the most part, you just see the now and not necessarily what could be the possibility and when things start to happen even if it’s just tiny little things, I think it’s one of the most exciting things.
I try to adopt that strategy with my team at the same time because like I mentioned before, we sold the agency, I had a team of 16 and I go with employees or team members, colleagues, and always to have people where I never had to feel like I had to manage them. I was looking for these resourceful, self-sufficient people who could do their thing and tell me when they needed something but try to figure it out on their own.
And maybe that was because putting lifestyle first and putting travel first meant that I was often on different times and couldn’t physically be there all the time. You kinda wanna make sure that your company is not gonna burn down if you’re asleep because you’re in Hawaii when everyone else is in the UK. So a lot of managing them, or working with them was about asking them the questions.
Training, asking them questions but also kind of trusting that they would figure stuff out and that often all they needed was just the confidence in their autonomy to be able to be okay with figuring stuff out. And I remember there were complete situations where one couldn’t get hold of me, had to work something out and when they figured it out on their own and maybe got it a little bit wrong.
But actually it was the right thing to do. To say, “No, I’m so happy that you went for it, that you thought about it, wnet for it and then got it wrong rather than just didn’t do anything and waited for the answer and didn’t really think about it.” So, it was like rewarding those behaviors meant that people were more resourceful. Which then contributed to being able to have a company that didn’t need me to be so hands on which then contributes to having a life that you can travel and put lifestyle first.
And yeah, that is such a great business model because not only are you creating a really great lifestyle for yourself and having that balance as the owner of the company but also it really goes into, it drips down to everybody around you. And you hear it all the time too, when people complain about their bosses, and x, y and z. But then if you’re also getting a lot of the perks that the boss is getting it feels like you are a part of the team.
You are a big community rather than just an employee and you’re doing whatever it is that you need to do and I think in most cases you feel like it’s a part of you. It’s your company too, and I think that also creates people, workers who are dedicated to that company when you do that. Which I think is interesting why not many more employers think like that. So you just have to make people happy, if they’re happy they are gonna be very loyal to you as well.
I think it’s a hard balance to strike. Cause I think that if you want to give someone almost too much freedom and then they actually don’t want it, they do want the 9-5, they want the bank holidays when everyone else takes them off.
But there is an element of guilt, I guess, in that you know that you have planned your life in a certain way, and you’re like, “Uh, but now everyone else has got this.” But you have to remember that you are the one who took the company up, took the risks, probably worked your butt off for the first however long to get to that stage and never forget that.
At the same time, which I think can be tough, but it’s kind of essential for running a remote business.
Yeah, Absolutely. Because it does take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to that point. I think most people just see the easy part of it when you’re finally succeeding when you have all that employee and you are able to have more freedom because you trained your employees to be able to do this without you. That’s another thing that I don’t think people really understand how it takes real dedication but also real talent to train people well.
Because if you don’t know how to teach your employees like certain things, or train them, it’s not gonna be good for you. So yeah, I think that’s another skill that people underestimate when it comes to having a business. And when you finally have a team and you’re not training them correctly and teaching them properly that the business is not gonna run well. Because you know you cant do everything yourself especially when it starts growing.
So I created a framework for this that I think is quite useful. That I’ll share, if that’s okay. It’s from my new book called, Ten Year Career and the idea behind the book is that I believe wherever you are right now, you can organize your business in such a way so that you could make work a choice within 10 years. So the book comes with a 4 part framework. And the framework is execute, systemize, scrutinize, exit.
And I feel like I’m on this mission again to bad advice and mission again to entrepreneurs being confused because they don’t know which advice is right for them at which stage in the journey they are in. So, you might be on the receiving end of the bad advice before and often it’s because it just is not right for the way you are right now. It might be like, “you shouldn’t get too involved, you should sit back and let other people do the stuff.” or it’s “you have to say yes to everything, every single event, every single podcast and everything. because that’s the right thing to do.” or it’s “you should be strategizing, you shouldn’t be in the detail or wherever it is.”
So that kind of 4 part framework, says that in the first stage, which is execute, that is why you’re doing all those things that don’t scale. And you’re busy, and you’re saying yes, and you’re working all the time, and you’re kinda putting all the effort in and seeing what sticks and getting your business to be in the stage where you have a business and it’s working, and it’s growing. You know who your customers are, you know your product and you got your stuff all together.
Then and only then do you train, hire, ultimate, delegate, put systems in place, write the SOP’s, everything else. Because that’s why you know that what you’re creating systems for is actually working, you’re not trying to create systems for stuff that doesn’t actually matter. And that is when you get this well-oiled machine if you do it correctly and you train everyone. And that’s when you can go, “okay, what do I wanna do now?” And then you either go to business, sell the business or you sit back and you have a lifestyle business.
And that’s what I probably did for about 5 years, had a systemized business that I can run and kinda not run at the same time and go travel the world. But if any of those stages get confused, then you’ll really have a really horrible time because you just don’t know when you should be involved or when you should be leaving the people to do it. And you really don’t know what’s working because you haven’t put in the work at the start. So I think it’s quite a useful framework just for knowing where you are, knowing what to do, and being able to take the advice and then fight through. That’s not right for me right now, maybe when I’m in this other stage that’s when it is.
That is such good advice, I love that. I can definitely attest to, you know, there’s a lot of bad advice that comes out there. And also that has happened to me where I did things too soon and I wasn’t ready for that yet.
And again, I mentioned this, we often see other peoples journey and we think we should be there and we’re not ready for that yet. And we keep comparing to that and that’s also, I think one of the reasons why we do certain things in our business that we’re either not ready for or we’ve been ready for but we’ve been too scared to do it and start implementing it. I love that, Jodie.
Can you tell us about your book? Where can we get it?
Yeah sure! It’s available on Amazon. It’s everywhere that sells books. It’s called “Ten Year Career’.” And it’s got a lot of my journey in it, it’s got a lot of stories of entrepreneurs who have started, grown and exited their business within a 10 year period and then not having to work again. And the goal is to reframe how you think about everything to do with your life and work. So that career can be 10 years and it doesn’t have to be 45 or 50, or however long we’re told when we leave school.
But now that I’ve got the framework in my head all the time, whenever I’m talking to entrepreneurs, I’m almost working out which stage they are in right now and then if I’m trying to ask them questions or chat to them about their business I’m making sure that I’m not giving them the bad advice and I’m not saying, “You should do this and you should do that.”.
When actually it isn’t right for their stage. There’s a quiz actually. So if you went to quiz.tenyearcareer.com, there’s actually a quiz that asks a bunch of questions and then you can work out at which stage you are in, what are the pitfalls of this stage, how do I progress to the next one and how do I absolutely smash the stage that I’m in as well.
That is awesome. We definitely have to take that quiz, cause I think most of the time we’re so confused about everything especially if you’re an entrepreneur. There’s just so many things in your hands that you have to deal with and understand and realize where you are and what step. You need to take so crucial to growing or even what to do when you do want to exit your business. Sooner or even later.
So Jodie, let’s fast forward to maybe 30, 40, maybe even 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you wanna be remembered for?
I think, for me, it’s all about capability. So on my last day on earth, can I look back at my life and say, “Yes, I achieved the highest potential of myself as a human being.”.
Like, I achieved what I was capable of. I think the thing thats the scariest, the scariest situation is that so many people don’t and they think their limit is somewhere that’s actually not so they never push it. So for me, it’s about that. It’s like, “Did she achieve what she was capable of in all these different areas?” And that is a life well lived and that is the kind of legacy I think I would want to live.
Yeah, I think that’s one of the worst things, right? Is looking back and wishing you had done more or wishing you had gone to your tearful potential. I don’t remember who I was listening to one day, I don’t even know their percentages of their statistics but they did a study of people on their deathbed of who were wishing and who actually was living to feel like they lived through their full potential and it wasn’t a very large number.
And that’s kinda sad, if you think about it. And sometimes I think about that too, I’m like, “If this is the only life we’re living, we should be making as many mistakes as we can just to try things out and live life to the fullest. Especially if we have so many things in our fingerprints that a lot of people don’t in the world.
For me, it’s kind of a disservice to ourselves if we don’t try everything that we want to try, and do everything we want to do because of fear or because of limitations that we are putting on ourselves and obviously there’s other things that come along and it’s not as easy, you know?
But I don’t think it’s ever too late, and I even saw a video of an old man, he was 100 years old and he started competing when he was in his 80’s, I think? And I was like, “Yeah, it’s never too late! Holey moley! We can do whatever we want!”.
Yeah, and starting a business really late as well, is a really interesting one. I just read about this the other day, Colonel Sanders of KFC. I think he was 65 when he sold his restaurant to focus on his fried chicken recipe. So many stories of people who started business late.
I think lifting, strength and sport, it’s easier to tell if you’re hitting your potential because you see actual numbers going up. Whereas in business, there are many different measures of success. It’s not always just revenue or profits.
Even in lifting it’s like you can feel yourself thinking, “Oh I’m hitting a limit. I might not be able to lift anymore than this.” And then if you just try, you probably can. And then it’s just keep going, get the confidence, keep going even further.
There’s just so many things. I think life is so beautiful. Like, oh my gosh, we should just do whatever it is that makes us happy and just do what we’re interested in.
And I love the way you’re living life, Jodie. Because you’re like, this is my hobby, but I want to go all in and see what I can do with it and I think that’s pretty amazing and sometimes how you find your true passions too. It was just something for fun and then you don’t know what you can do with it.
Thank you so much Jodie for being here with us! I had such a great time with you. If our listeners want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Thank you so much for having me, Debbie. Everything about me is on jodiecook.com. And then all my Instagram, Twitter and everything else are linked from there. And then everything about my book, Ten Year Career, is at tenyearcareer.com.
And I would love to hear anyone who has listened and resonated or anything to say or any feedback it would be cool to hear from you.
Love that. Would definitely be checking that out.
Thanks Jodie, we really appreciate you!
Thanks Debbie. See ya!
Listen to Jodie’s extended interview where she talks about how to design a lifestyle you love.
What you’ll find:
In this episode, Jodie talks about designing a lifestyle you love.