Join Up Dots Business Coaching Podcast

Introducing Mike Volkin Today's guest joining us on the Join Up Dots show is Mr Mike Volkin, who is big on freelancing and making this approach work for others. As he says "I have built and sold 4 companies and wrote 5 books (one-best seller). I recently launched Freelancer Masterclass to empower all those who side-hustle who want to make real income (that will replace their full-time job..) But he wasn't always as focused on this as you might expect. Leaving the Stephen F Austin State University with a master of science, environmental science and biology in 2000, he moved through several marketing positions within the corporate world for nearly twenty years. But as we see time and time again, an idea was brewing until it couldn't be denied anymore and he gave birth to that idea and made it real. That was Freelancer Masterclass in April 2019, which is a 9 step course that is 100% online. The courses contain video content, homework and quizzes. Along with the courses are interactive student chat boards and live bi-weekly classes so you can continue your education and interact with students and instructors. The instructors at Freelancer Masterclass are the best...of the best....of the best. These are freelancers who have proven themselves to be a master in their field. So was this idea one that once launched was perfect from the beginning or did it grow over a period of time? And why did it take so long for this action taking to truly start in earnest? Well let's find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Mike Volkin Show Highlights During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Mike Volkin such as: Mike shares how he used to try to function on less than four hours sleep per night and how it made him reassess. Mike reveals how he once spent over $40,000 on a website before ever checking to see that it was market fit. Big mistake How 30% of the worlds population are now freelancing across the world, a figure that is expanding every year. And lastly................. Mike shares how his passion has changed dramatically when the entrepreneurial bug really beat into him and the steps that he took. How To Connect With Mike Volkin Website Facebook Twitter Linkedin Return To The Top Of Mike Volkin If you enjoyed this episode with Mike Volkin, why not check out other inspirational chat with Clayton Morris, Dorie Clark, and the amazing Niall Doherty You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy Interview Transcription For Mike Volkin Interview David Ralph 0:00 Once upon a time, there was a guy with a dream, a dream to quit his job support himself online and have a kick ass life. Little did he know that dream would lead him into a world of struggle, burnout and debt, until he found the magic ingredient and no struggles became a thing of the past. I of course, was that person. And now My dream is to make things happen for you. Welcome to Join Up Dots. Intro 0:27 When we're young that we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be, but somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling in Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here's your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph. David Ralph 0:52 Yes. Hello, man. Good morning, everybody. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning and welcome to another power fueled inspirational moment. combinational conversational episode of Join Up Dots. As you would expect if you've been listening to Join Up Dots over the last six years. That's what we deliver and we're going to deliver it again to you. But today's guest joining us on the show is big on freelancing and making this approach work for others. As he says, I've built and sold four companies and wrote five books one bestseller, and I recently launched Freelancer masterclass to empower all those who side hustle who want to make real income that will replace their full time job. But it wasn't always as focused on this, as you might expect, leaving the Stephen F. Austin State University with a Master's of Science, environmental science and biology in 2000. He moved through several marketing positions within the corporate world for nearly 20 years. But I guess as we see time and time again, an idea was brewing until it couldn't be denied anymore, and he gave birth to that idea and made it real. Now that was Freelancer masterclass in April 2019. Which is a nine step course that is 100%. Online. The course contains video content, homework and quizzes. Along with the courses are interactive student chat boards and lively bi weekly classes. So you can continue your education and interact with students and instructors. Instructors at Freelancer master class are the best of the best of the best. These are freelancers who have proven themselves to be a master in their field. So what's this idea one that once launch was perfect from the beginning? Or did it kind of come out a bit ugly and grow over a period of time? And why did it take so long for this action truly to start taking shape? Right now as we bring on to the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Mike Volkin. Good morning Mike. How are you? Mike Volkin 2:50 That was quite the introduction. I'm doing great. Thanks for having me on a longtime fan. David Ralph 2:54 I've we picked you up because when we first connected you was all floaty and all relaxed and you said you've just you just been Busy meditating, I don't think you can be busy meditating. But you'd certainly sounded like you'd got the benefits of it. Mike Volkin 3:07 Yeah, I'm really into meditating now, because I'm just getting to the point where I'm good enough that it's making a positive impact and on my stress and my time management, so I try to do it before guest podcasts like this and other other live events. So it's, it really helps me out. David Ralph 3:24 Now, I'm going to jump straight into this because my listeners will have heard me mentioned this, I can't do it. I can't do it. I, I kind of expect to be floating three feet off the off the floor. And then somebody the other day said to me know, as long as you're sitting there relaxed, then that's meditation as well. It doesn't have to be rolling white eyeballs, and sort of weird things happening. What do you do? How do you get into it? Is it just sort of just relaxing and then just thinking about things? Mike Volkin 3:54 Yeah, the best part about meditation is you really can't do it wrong. You just got to stick with it. It's kind of like going to the gym the first few times. You go it kind of feels weird and uncomfortable and different. You know, first time I meditated, I'm like, What am I doing in this empty room by myself, it kind of felt weird. But then, uh, you know, you stick with it. And after three weeks and four weeks, it's kind of you feel a little bit of some of the benefits. And then you just like going to the gym after a couple months, you start to see some noticeable changes. So really, what I do is I just, I sit in a room, I actually use an app called headspace. There's lots of apps out there, there's one called clear that's very positive, that's very unpopular. But really, I just let the guided meditation, meditation and voice just do its thing for 10 to 15 minutes, I just sit there, I make sure I don't lay down a lot of people make that mistake is they just they lay down, they get to relax. But with meditation, you want to be up and alert, I sit in a chair, and I just let my thoughts and my brain go with the flow and take it where it may and at the end of 10 minutes I just feel a lot more relaxed, a lot more focus, which is the big thing. And I really think now it's getting to a point where it's it's almost an investment on my time. If I don't do it, I kind of feel unproductive. David Ralph 5:02 Yeah, now I agree with you. I went through a big phase of Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle and got into some terrible condition. Now my thing is sleep, I get as much sleep as I can humanly squeeze into me. And you know, I just don't see it as a waste of time. I used to, I used to. So were you ever that kind of entrepreneurial idiot, but so many of us are where we go, I only need three hours sleep a month, and I can still function where you've ever that kind of guy. Mike Volkin 5:33 Yeah, you know, I mentioned I was a fan of the show, and I know I'm going to be doing a sermon on the mic. So that's one of the things I was mentioning is one of the big mistakes, or actually that's one of the things I will mention. During that sermon on the mic segment is one of the big mistakes I made when I was a serial entrepreneur still am but when I was really trying to build and sell companies fast, I was just working nonstop and I would lose sleep. I at best get four hours of sleep, trying to bring a product or service to market as fast possible. I know now, the real way to do it correctly is the exact opposite of Oh, hey, I did it. David Ralph 6:05 Now, what do we buy into that then Mike, why? Why does everybody either go through that? Is it to prove that they've actually committed? Because I kind of feel that that's the answer. We all kind of think, well, we can't say that women entrepreneur, we can't say we're starting a business unless we put any effort in. So let's really put the effort in. Mike Volkin 6:25 Yeah, it's almost like inspiration, you know, you get this inspiration, like you want to quit your job or you want to build a business or whatever is inspiring you and motivating you. And it's human nature, just to go all in 100% and really go after it, especially for someone who's entrepreneurial minded. But the real thing to do is pace yourself, you know, I'm a big tennis player, I, I play competitively. And, you know, what I want to do is I want to swing as fast as I can at every ball and hit the ball as hard as heck. But the real way to get the most control and most power out of the ball is to is to control your arm. It's kind of the same way with an entrepreneur. You don't go all in and Go fast, like like a sprint. You want to pace yourself and be smart about it. David Ralph 7:05 Now, let's get you into the freelancer world because that's why I invited you on the show because I, I like the idea of freelancing as a step towards entrepreneurship. I now after going through it, I think a lot of people could really do with being in the freelancer world for a couple of years as a tester to actually going out on their own. Would you agree? Mike Volkin 7:31 Absolutely. There's a term, you know, side hustlers. As you can imagine, it's a very popular gig economy. It's just getting so popular. It's I think, I saw a stat was an infographic by upwork.com, which is the largest Freelancer platform in the world, they, they had said that over 30% of people worldwide who have full time jobs, do some kind of side hustle. So it's getting super popular and now, companies are starting to be more in tune to hiring freelancers, as opposed to two full time employees. So who knows What the next 10 or even 20 years will bring for the gig economy. Now, David Ralph 8:04 one of the reasons I like the freelancer world is it helps people develop their skills without having to try to get customers because that is the fundamental difference between having a business and really having a business people will sit there in a pub going, yes, what I'm going to do is do this and do that. And they kind of think of it as a kind of visual sense of, yes, I'm going to get a website, I'm going to get some business cards, but they don't really grasp the fact of how difficult it is in the early days to get customers. So we've freelancing sites like Upwork and all the other ones. A lot of that is taken away from them, isn't it and a lot of it naturally comes from Mike Volkin 8:45 Yeah, I mean, it's, it's easy and it's also hard to be a freelancer. I mean, the more you do it, the more you'll find it easy but getting started is the hardest part. It's you know, I referenced going to the gym, getting started is the hardest part right is actually making a commitment. You know, the way I got started With a certain skill set that makes me a good amount of money as a freelancer is I just read a couple books, you know, I mean, I was a marketer for a while. And I wanted to get into the technical side of search engine optimization. So I just started reading all the best books I could find on search engine optimization. And then I got a couple clients that way, just just from the knowledge I got from books, and that was several years ago. Now there's great sites out there like EU to me, and you know, those sites with courses even, you know, my own site. And, you know, there's ways that you can learn online from, from the best people in the world that will bring you video instruction step by step courses. I mean, there's so many research sources out there that you just really have to pick what you really are passionate about, and go with it and not just pick something because it's popular because someone else told you you should get into it. I David Ralph 9:46 mean, a simple way to actually pay for it. Now. I think, you know, I know YouTube's out there. I know YouTube's good, but I do think laser focused content developed, kept up to date, which is a key thing as well is worth paying for and there's a company out there I can't think what they're called you're gonna know who visa Mike I'm sure we've got like Gordon Ramsay doing a cookery class for you and Steve Martin Mike Volkin 10:11 doing classes David Ralph 10:12 master class of a year ago. And you look at that and you think, Well, why wouldn't you pay for that? Why wouldn't you have Mr. Ramsey teaching you something? You're not going to get that kind of knowledge elsewhere? Well, yeah. Mike Volkin 10:24 Yeah, I mean, there's there's YouTube obviously, we can go and you can see scattered information, you can type in a keyword, you'll get a video or two on the topic here and there. But the reason why I did masterclass is because it's a step by step course progression with actual resources spreadsheets that I use in my everyday business, you know, homework assignments and quizzes to track your progress. You just not going to get that on, on sites where you're watching a video or two on a particular topic, every now and then. So what's really popular is these masterclass style of courses where it's just leading the, the viewer through one specific step at a time and then by the end, you're Kind of progressive this whole course. And now you're just, you know, a rock star whatever you're doing with with my masterclass Freelancer masterclass, it's a nine step course. So you finish one you don't start on Step three, you start in step one for a reason. And then you go on to two, three and four that way. David Ralph 11:15 Now one of the things of course, we are going to be talking about that, but one of the things that interests me about you is I do my homework, and I go and I delve around, and I could see that you you left University in 2000, and being your LinkedIn profile starts about 2010. And I'm intrigued by that 10 year what what were you doing? Well, you were you flew in around California getting drunk and surfing, what were you doing? Mike Volkin 11:42 That was last week. So I was I graduated and I played the corporate game for a while, you know, my father was a scientist and I kind of liked science in high school. So I figured what the heck I'll study science, environmental science and college, got a couple degrees, got a dual bachelor's degree and then I got a master's degree. Then I went out and I spent time doing some environmental consulting, and I freaking hated it. I mean, I liked the work. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't my passion. I mean, I was just living the weeks living the months that year by year went by, and I just, I just wasn't, it wasn't doing it for me, you know? So David Ralph 12:17 it wasn't a mic looking back on it now, why wasn't it because, you know, okay, you can float through, you get paid, you get a Christmas bonus or whatever. Why wasn't it doing it for you? Mike Volkin 12:27 You know, it was more along the lines of people telling me when I could go on vacation when I needed to go to work when I could leave. But really, the big thing was my life's purpose. You know, I started thinking about when people look down on my grave at my funeral, what what am I going to be known for? Is it for the bed, I worked for 20 years for this company. I mean, what I was doing, honestly, as a scientist, especially as an environmental scientist, and I would I would travel all over the country, and I would write reports for comfort corporations and factories to tell them how much they can pollute within the law. And, you know, that wasn't my whole purpose. This one was to tell companies how much they could literally pollute within the law of their of their state or the federal government. And I would help clean up certain sites, what's called Superfund sites. But, you know, ultimately, I mean, my passion just changed. I went from wanting to, you know, help the earth and being a lab and do measurements and studies to get that entrepreneurial bug that once once that hits you that hits your heart and hasn't let go sense David Ralph 13:25 because I remember when the bug hits me. And it was just the fact that I started looking around. And I think for many years, and I've referenced this a lot when I started work, I'm an older man when you Mike, but when I started in 1986, there was no internet. There was no email, there was nothing. So you basically were quite content. Looking back on it. There was no mobile phone. You just went to work. The old way of a big pile of paper, and then at the end of it, it was like just go home. But once you start looking around and seeing what other people are doing and what other people are sharing claim to fame, why not me? And it's the big part of my life that I think, why do other people not feel like that? You know, why is that person just beeping things through beep beep at the supermarket? Why are they just content to sit there? Why Why haven't they got that spoke? Mike Volkin 14:20 Yeah, you know, some people, the vast majority of people are like that, you know, I mean, my wife is one of those people who loves her job. She likes going in at eight she loves you know, getting off at five and she likes her off time and she likes her vacation time. There's no fault to you know, people who liked that. But there are a lot of us millions and millions of us who just get that sense of, you know, what would it be like if I put this product to market I've always had this idea in my head for a book I've, I wonder if my extra knowledge I have on I don't know, football coaching could make me some money and then once you get a taste, in my experience once you get a taste of being your own boss and working your own hours and work Wherever you want in the world, I mean, there's just no comparison to corporate life. You can give me all the vacation time and salary you want. There's, there's no no going back for me to corporate life. No, I David Ralph 15:10 agree 100% just the fact that I don't have to book holiday, I just kind of go and we can use don't really mean anything to me. They just have a blend into one. And there are restrictions, you know, we're not getting to get away from the fact that it's just a walk in the park because he's not. And we're going to come back to that shortly. Here's Oprah. Oprah Winfrey 15:30 The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. You know, you're not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you because failure is just there to point You in a different direction. David Ralph 16:01 Now I remember walking around in the early days thinking, oh my god, everything's going to go terrible. Nobody's going to buy this, nobody's gonna buy that. And by weren't they weren't buying anything in the early days and I think it was kind of there was a desperation to me. There wasn't that Tom aim of bedding in an understanding actually what your value is you're just trying to pay bills. But I also look back on it, Mike. And this is where I'm leading with this question that even though I walked around thinking, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god never turned up. I always found a way through. I always manage to do something to pay that month's bills or find it from some other source. Do you look back at those kind of fledgling days when you fall? It was all a pack of cards and actually think I think it was a lot more stable than I imagined. Mike Volkin 16:53 He Yeah, that's a really good example. And I love that quote from Oprah. It's um, it's all about goals. You know? It's amazing what you can accomplish even if you think something isn't going to happen. And that's, you know, one of the things I talked about meditation, but I'm also into self talk positive self talk that helps as well. You know, somebody approaching a task, or even a goal as something you can't do. It's amazing what your brain is capable of. And, you know, there's a goal a right way to do goals in a wrong way. When I tell my Freelancer students to make goals, they usually just come back with a yearly revenue number. And I'm like, no, that's not a goal. You can't evaluate a goal after a full year, you have to break them up into smaller chunks. So just like what Oprah was saying, you know, don't just look at the big picture, look at what it's going to take to chunk that out into smaller pieces of goals. So one goal should be 10 or even 20 separate goals that are very attainable, but still challenging. That's the true way to make progress. David Ralph 17:48 episode eight of Join Up Dots. Six years ago, this was before I launched was a lady called Pamela slim. Now I'd never heard of Pamela slim and once I got her on the show a lot of people said to me Oh, how did you get her on the show and in those days I was just sending emails out willy nilly to people but they always remembers that she said but what she does with all her clients who are stuck is break down everything into those tiny little dots you know those tiny little chunks so it's not like right create a website and do this and do that too big. First of all it is you know, get a comfortable chair get your pens and paper you know tiny little tiny micro steps but lead you along that garden path and then you can quite easily build up build up progress because I think with what you've done and what so many people do, it frightens other people because they see the end sexy product and they don't see the ugly beginning Mike Volkin 18:46 Yeah, I mean look at any social media influencer with 5 million followers, making making their hundred thousand dollars a year on YouTube that you look at that and it's intimidating, but it took lots of milestones to get to that point and lots of individual goals. So, you know, it's, it's about making those goals but making them attainable. I had a client, a student who wanted to write a book and said, you know, Mike, how did you write five books? And I said, What is your book going to be about? And he told me and I didn't quite understand. So I said, you know, what, can you do me a favour and just write the Table of Contents as if you know, you'd be explaining it to me just write out the main chapters. And then he came back to me, he's like, okay, here's the table of contents. You know what I did, I actually wrote out the first first chapter as well, because I started getting into it. Once I wrote the table of contents and things started getting very clear. In my mind, I'm like, see, that's, that's how you do it. You were thinking about writing a book as it being a huge task. But all I did was I asked you to write the Table of Contents out, and now it's starting to form a book on its own. So you can take that analogy and form it to any tasks that you might have in your plate. Now, anybody listening, if there's something that you've always wanted to do that you're kind of always put there's always something that seems to be a priority over it, but it's something that you've been thinking about for years. You know, it's time just to take the smallest possible chunk and just just start doing it. Our goal this week to do something towards that, that chunk to get that started and you'll be surprised that it will be like a, like a rolling snowball downhill. It takes a little bit of effort to get that snowball forms. But once it starts going downhill, it's going to pick up steam on its own. David Ralph 20:12 Because I'm always blown away, Mike, I teach people how to build rocking and rolling online businesses that sort of change their lives. And I would say 95% of them turn up and they say, Oh, I bought URL already. I bought a domain name already. And I go well, what have you done now because you haven't defined your avatar you haven't defined your your goals, you haven't defined your offer. And I guarantee that's going to change as you proceed through. And I suppose what it is it's that enthusiasm to let's get going. But most of them won't give up that URL over. You know, it's about $9 and even though I say to them, Look, there's a bad one out there we can really get some traffic we can really get a brand going. They still want cling to that. That's strange, don't you think? I don't actually understand why I've never asked them but they seem strange to me. Mike Volkin 21:07 Yeah, that's where the experience of being an entrepreneur comes in. I mean, you got a growth hack that kind of stuff, why build out a website and, and I made those mistakes before I spent $40,000 building a business once before I even took it to market and then I realised once I started getting some customers that it wasn't the, the exact product market fit that they were looking for. But you know, it's just a matter of prioritising what needs to be done website very rarely comes first and like you said avatar, Product Market Fit competitive research that kind of stuff needs to be done but you know, that's sexy is to get a website and get a domain and now you feel official. And if that's okay, if it's something cheap and quick like getting a website, at least a domain, that's fine, but I wouldn't I would avoid building out a full website before you have all that other all your other ducks in a row, David Ralph 21:52 because only become fascinated recently about IP addresses. Now it just sounds boring, but I'm fascinated by Every single person has now got the ability to get different search results from Google because Google is so focused on local search, because that's the power. And I'm, I'm obsessed with this concept that every town is a market in itself, every street, and you start with looking at the people next door to you, more than you look across the globe. You know, I just find it fascinating. When I'm driving around my town thinking there's a market, there's a market and every single person has got the ability to dominate. Now, if we save that, why is it then that a lot of people think that it's more difficult than it is because it's not they're the only ones really living in that area? But you've got the the lion's share right at the very beginning? Is it knowledge, or is it belief, Mike? Mike Volkin 22:52 I think it's a combination of both but isn't it amazing? You're talking about, you know, in the at starting businesses in the 90s and I was starting in the Early 2000s it's like, I would have never imagined that I could run a Facebook or a Google ad that would target a specific neighbourhood in, you know, anywhere in my town or anywhere across the United States. I can get super specific if I wanted to target. You know, a freelancer who is specifically in California who makes is a side hustler in she does writing like, I could target that exact person for an exact course that I have. I mean, it's, it's just amazing the opportunities that are available now and where it's going in the future is even more amazing. I mean, with all this mobile technology, what cars have Wi Fi now, I mean, who knows where advertising is going to be five or 10 years from now, but it's certainly a lot different than just opening up the Yellow Pages, what we did a few decades ago, and that was literally your marketing department is where you are listed in the yellow pages. David Ralph 23:45 So we take you back to the freelancer route. Are we now saying that the freelancers I've got even more opportunity because of what we've just discussed, or have a better to, to go across the world and a better become global and I better to join up work and all these different sites but their network reach. Mike Volkin 24:07 Yeah, I know a lot of freelancers who just work in their area locally, there's something to be said about that. I live in Sonoma County in California. And there's a big wine region here, we produce a lot of the world's wine. And I know freelancers who are specific to working, just the wineries, and they are not interested in anything else other than outside of Sonoma County and Napa County out here that produces the fantastic wine. But then there's people like me, I've worked with clients in over 20 countries, and I love it. I think that's great. I'm working with a website right now. And Saudi Arabia is a women's clothing company of all companies. And it's just fascinating the cultural differences and the mar

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