Brennan Dunn Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Freelancing Expert Brennan Dunn
Brennan Dunn is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots Podcast.
He has lived in the world of freelancing for quite a few years, since starting on what we like to call the slide of faith
Yep, todays guest didn’t take the old leap of faith, but instead did lots of after work hours.
He came home everyday and instead of laying on the sofa watching “Breaking Bad” he provided freelance work for clients that he slowly built up.
And small steps, lead to big leaps, and after a while he had enough clients to be able to quit his job and freelance full-time.
Now this was important dot on his join up dots timeline, but maybe not quite as big as a dawning realisation that came to him a little bit later on.
He realized that he was losing out on a lot of opportunities by staying small.
He needed to think bigger, to reap bigger rewards.
How The Dots Joined Up For Brennan
So he grew his company and over time opened up an office, expanded to a bigger office downtown.
He quickly had eleven full-time salaried employees on the payroll, with clients all over the world, and some very recognizable brands coming to him for his expertise.
But life often will have different plans for us and this was certainly the case with todays guest.
As family and health reasons made him step away from my brick & mortar agency, and he now makes his living providing great software and products to freelancers and consultants from his upstairs office, with his wife and two girls just a room away.
He loves what he does, and loves helping others find the success that they are seeking within their own personal lives.
And now with his company We Are Titans doing better and better, life looks very good indeed.
So what does he get from freelancing and the entrepreneurial route that he didn’t get by being an employee in a corporate gig?
And does he believe that all of us have a knowledge or skill that we can translate into an income stream if we decide?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, with the one and only Mr Brennan Dunn.
During the episode we discussed such weighty topics with Brennan Dunn such as:
How he recalls that when he started building a business he made a lot of wrong decisions that affected his family, and wouldn’t do the same thing again.
How even as small child he always had the dream that he would build a large business, inspired by his fathers great success, and perceived time freedom.
Why he would advise his daughters to look at creating their own income when they start building their own futures.
How he feels that you should be more critical of your successes than your failures, as you can then multiple those learnings to build towards more success.
Why he is so convinced that the starting point to his life, was deciding how he truly wanted his life to become and then making the decision as to how to make it so.
How To Connect With Brennan Dunn
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Brennan Dunn Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Today’s show is brought to you by podcast is mastery.com. The premier online community teaching you to podcast like a pro check us out now. podcasters mastery.com
When we’re young, 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. 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 [0:38]
Yes, hello there everybody. Hello bear world hello there green land and all the places that I listened to actually as if you’ve listened to all the other shows, Greenland you’re not part of it. What you’re waiting for. Just start downloading and make me happy. Now I want to introduce you to today’s guest because he is somebody that is he’s got a fascinating story because it’s a kind of story that most of us can do if we want and we’ve got a hustle and the persistence. Now he lived in the world of freelancing for quite a few years in starting on what we like to call the slider faith. Yeah, today’s guest didn’t take the old leap of faith, but instead did lots of after our work, he came home every day and instead of laying on the sofa, watching Breaking Bad, he provided freelance work for clients, but he’s slowly built up and small steps lead to big leaps. And after a while, he had enough clients to be able to quit his job and freelance full time. Now, this was an important dot and he’s Join Up Dots timeline, but maybe not quite as big as a dawning realisation that came to him a little bit later on. He realised that he was losing out on a lot of opportunities by staying small, he needed to think bigger, to reap bigger rewards. So he grew his company, and over time opened up an office expanded to a bigger office downtown and quickly had 11 full time salaried employees on the payroll with clients all over the world, and some very recognisable brands coming to him for his expertise, but like Often will have different plans for us. And this was certainly the case with today’s guest, as family and health reasons made him step away from the brick and mortar agency. And he now makes his living providing great software and products to freelancers and consultants, from his upstairs office with his wife and two girls just a boom away. He loves what he does. And he loves helping others find the success that they’re seeking within their own personal lives. And now with his company, we are Titans doing better and better. Life looks very good indeed. So what does he get from freelancing and the entrepreneurial route that he didn’t get by being an employee in a corporate gig? And does he believe that all of us have a knowledge or skill that we can translate into an income stream if we decide well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Brennan Dunn. How are you Brennan?
Brennan Dunn [2:48]
Hey, David, how are you? Good to have you. Thank you for having me, brother. Now that we really are in the US
David Ralph [2:53]
we should say that we’re actually sitting in the same room and build up some magic about it. So I am actually in the same room with At the moment we’re not stretched by thousands of thousands of miles. And I’m looking out on beautiful beaches we have lovely young ladies running around Is that the kind of image that I’m actually looking out at?
Brennan Dunn [3:11]
That’s a great image and yes, I think it is.
David Ralph [3:14]
So So whereabouts are you obviously I’m just outside London whereabouts are you Sabrina?
Brennan Dunn [3:18]
So I am in southeastern Virginia and a little south of washington dc by the beach actually so so each other yet but in a
David Ralph [3:26]
few more months, so because we’re we’re getting a bit of a fluky warm spell in the United Kingdom where you actually think to yourself this this is it this is it. We’re we’re on our way past winter, we didn’t really happen rubbish winter at all. So are you still in that sort of mindset, but you winter has got its grips on you.
Brennan Dunn [3:44]
So Virginia can be interesting. Virginia can go from snowing one day too hot and sunny the next day and today it’s colder but yesterday was mid 70s Fahrenheit. I think that’s 20 something late 20s maybe Celsius. So it was it’s it’s getting Yes.
David Ralph [4:03]
And I’ll use somebody that because because you’re entrepreneurial and you are building your own income and we’re going to talk about this because you quite obviously love what you’re doing. When the days are glorious and the sun shining Do you still stay in your office banging away or do you go now it’s a great day I’m gonna go out this is what I do to work for.
Brennan Dunn [4:23]
It’s good question. So in the usually I try to especially when it gets warmer out, I don’t work for weeks and I definitely do not work full days. I try to keep my schedule year round really around the girls school schedules. So usually done in the afternoon by 3pm. But in the summertime, I try to take Friday’s off and make that a you know, a permanent kind of three day weekend for the for the summer really. So you know I I’m definitely a type here when it’s warm out. I’m not inside. So So do you gills.
David Ralph [4:53]
How old do you girls First of all, they’re 3673 and six. So did I actually think that daddy works Did I just say goodbye to you and been See you again being exactly like this the last time they saw you?
Brennan Dunn [5:06]
They do. I mean, there’s always you know, I’ll need to look at my phone or my iPad sometimes off hours and they’re all you know, they know that’s work and they’re okay with it guys, you know, I try to always put them first and put work secondary. So they know that it allows them to, you know, get their little princess dolls or you know, good afford everything so they understand the cost of work. And they’re actually at a Montessori School where they actually the school calls what they do during the day work so they they have their work Daddy has his work and Mine isn’t as interesting sometimes is theirs is but it’s to them. It’s the same thing.
David Ralph [5:44]
And have you always had that balance in your life because I hear it time and time again with people I mean, a corporate gig and I go right I’m gonna become an entrepreneur and control my own hours so I can spend more time with my family. And actually, it that goes out the window and They seem to see less of their family, even though they’re working at home doing their own thing.
Brennan Dunn [6:04]
I mean, you see, for myself at least, total opposite. And I’m sure we’re going to talk a lot about that today. But when I was building this company, my goal then was to build a great company, a big company, and I totally forgot that I had a family. At home, I would get home every night the kids would be either in bed or about to be in bed. And it really, I didn’t see that I consciously at the time, I didn’t see the effect it was having. It wasn’t until I got a really kind of a rude awakening from those I love that I was I realised I was kind of, at least for me going down that wrong path.
David Ralph [6:36]
It’s very difficult not to go down that path. Oh, isn’t it because I know that I’m kind of where you are now or I’m trying to get to that point where when I started this show, it literally took over my life. And I was barely seeing the family at all. It was everything that I had to do to get it going. And I kind of justified it by saying to them, you know, I’m working towards something, you know. He’s trying to build a future dad. He’s trying to do this and that. And I look back on it now. And I think, did they really care but that he was trying to build a future? Or were they more concerned about he wasn’t putting us to bed and he wasn’t watching films reverse like he was previously. So did did you have that kind of mental battle going on? Did you have those dialogues with your family? Were you going out again, when you’re back and all that kind of stuff
Brennan Dunn [7:25]
all the time. I mean, there would be last minute trips I need to take, I’d be missing out on, you know, school field trips that I promised to go to. And then a client call or client would want to take that time slot, and I would kind of default to saying, we’re trying to justify myself, Well, you know, the client is the one paying the bills, I really should just accommodate that. And, you know, I know that I know, the girls will be disappointed, but that’s, that’s, that’s, unfortunately, we’re licenced right now. And I think, in retrospect, a lot of that was more kind of like an internal justification. I was using I don’t think that I, you know, I wanted to, it’s hard to see what’s going on around us and not want to be not want to be catching up to that, right. So, you know, I see on my Twitter feed on Facebook online, all these people I look up to you who are always seemingly like knocking things out of the park, creating new content, doing new things, bigger things, better things. And it’s kind of hard to, you know, you don’t want to don’t want to fall behind. And you might, you know, I know I’ve used for my own sake, and I don’t, I’m not proud of this, but I used to say things to my wife even, like, Well, you know, so and so they’re off during this in that they’re off at this conference, they’re doing that. I should be too because I feel like I’m falling behind. But in reality, I really wasn’t. I was really using that I think is more of a justification for what I was doing. And on top of that, I really love what I do for work. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a really hard, at least for me, it’s really it’s a it’s a delicate line to walk
David Ralph [9:00]
So so if I took you back, and obviously we do bound, Join Up Dots, we go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. But if you went back now, would you do things differently? Or is that the only way that you’ve managed to get the life that you’re getting? Now the fact that you can take Friday’s off and you stop at about half past three in the afternoon? Do you have to sacrifice in a business just to get it off the ground?
Brennan Dunn [9:22]
Or you don’t I mean, I went into entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, not really knowing what I was doing outside of knowing how to be technically very good. So I knew how to build websites for clients. But I didn’t really know how to run a business credit, business culture, manage, manage balance and everything. And what ended up happening was I ended up creating a really a job for myself. And it took me a really long time to realise this, but it wasn’t until to be honest. It was the way to conference and I was talking to one of the one of my employees back home, and he was telling me that a lot of people internally we’re not happy that I was travelling, you know, travelling quite a bit to these conferences and everything because They said they want they, they’re working for me so that they can work with me. And what that meant was nine to six meeting in my office, which is a 30 minute commute each way from home. And really I swapped a corporate job that I was an employee at to another job that I was happy to be the company on paper least. And it was really hard for me, you know, it took me a really long time to realise is this what I want to be doing is did I go out to start a company to just switch? Who am I what my employment status right? Like I’m still doing the same kind of stuff I was doing when I used to work in Miami, which has been an hour commute each way and same hours. Is this really what I want to be doing and I determined that it wasn’t
David Ralph [10:46]
what I wanted to do, you can almost go from having one boss to 50 bosses Can’t you trap yourself and I hear that time and time again. But that is one of the big dots on the Join Up Dots timeline when you realise The you have the power of making these decisions, nobody else and it’s your decisions that either hold you back or push you forward.
Brennan Dunn [11:08]
I think the issue and I’ve written about this before actually the issue is that we go through life realise or under the understand with the understanding that there are certain gatekeepers who allow us kind of to go to that next step. So you know, you want to go to university, you need to be admitted by some admissions panel, you want to get a job, you need to do job interview, get admitted by somebody, we always think that there’s something external that is kind of that roadblock that until that external thing allows us past. You know, we’re not we’re not able to do that. And it wasn’t until I realised like, you know, I own this company, these are, this is my business, why am I doing something that is counter to everything that I wanted to do in building this business and what you know, took me years took me three plus years to do this, but I finally realised this for me at least, this isn’t working and I Then with the new business, I said, What do I want my lifestyle, my life to look like? And then how the formula to get there kind of came from that. So I didn’t think what kind of business do I want in the life part would be just kind of like a side effect. Instead it was what kind of life Do I want in this business is now a side effect of that.
David Ralph [12:21]
I think, honestly, I think that is the key way to go. And I’ve certainly done that from creating this show, making sure that ultimately, I am closest to the door and I talk about this a lot, because I will not deviate from it. And I get a lot of opportunities now. That is really good money. And I look at it and even my wife said, Why don’t you just do a couple of them, that’d be great. And I got note because I don’t fancy doing it. And if I if I don’t want to do it, then I’m not going to be on full steam. I’d rather work towards my ideal life as you’re saying but the way that I want my life to be because otherwise it’s very easy, isn’t it, and you’ve yourself on the wrong track?
Brennan Dunn [13:01]
Oh, absolutely. I mean, unless you’re deliberate about kind of the life you want to have and how that affects whatever business, you want to start everything else, you just kind of travel by inertia, you’re going to start saying yes to everyone, you’re going to get well over your head, and, you know, and work and responsibilities and so on. And after a while, you’re going to burn out and you’re going to feel pretty miserable. And, you know, I’ve had this happen to me, it’s happened to a lot of really good friends of mine. Because when you’re when you kind of control your own destiny, and you, you know, you know that if I just said, You know, I say yes to this, this opportunity, I say yes to this one, I go to this conference, I do that, you know, if you kind of get into that too heavily. For most of us, at least I don’t think it’s a very sustainable thing, especially if you like us, you know, we have families, we have other people who are, you know, it’s not just about us right anymore, it’s about them. And for me, it was really hard to kind of step back and put You know, not accelerate so quickly in the business and just say, well is what I do is what I’m doing this week actually getting me closer to that life goal I have or is it just business busy work?
David Ralph [14:11]
So so if we took you back in time, right to the sort of the younger you, and I said to you, Brennan, this is what your life is going to be when you are and I’m going to be nice to you. You’re in your 20s I’m guessing, but 3030 Okay, very nice. You’re in your 30s would you have gone? Yeah, that’s what I want. Or would you have said, Now I want to be, I don’t know, third baseman for some baseball team or whatever.
Brennan Dunn [14:38]
Good news is I was really never that interested in sports. But I did. Actually, I did always have these dreams of building a really big branding company. Not big isn’t like a Coca Cola.
David Ralph [14:50]
I had that.
Brennan Dunn [14:51]
Yeah, I mean, I was I always loved travel. I always loved. You know, you go to the airport as a kid. We’d be going on a family trip somewhere, and I’d see these Business guys with their back then they’re old, like palm pilots and their suits and everything. And, you know, I’m just fascinated by, you know, where are they going? What exotic, you know, destination are they off to and, you know, that was always, to me it kind of the way I looked at it was well that that, you know, I love to travel a lot being in airports sounds strange, but I do. And that’s one. That’s one way to do that. And actually, my life looked like that for a while, you know, I wasn’t in the suits, but I would be going to Asia to go to Europe, I’d be going all over the country in the US. And it you know, that was my life and then I started to realise Wow, it was you know, maybe if I were single, maybe if it was just me, that could that could be okay. And I know I don’t want to you know, I know a lot of people who that is their life and that’s fine. But for me at least where I am now I’m more content. It’s kind of like you know, it’s the whole grass is greener thing where you know, I’ve been there now at least so I know what that side of the grass field looks like. And for me in my own kind of my own temperament, being able to kind of be more in control over, you know, I love reading, I love writing I love just, you know, being with people I care about. And what I’m doing now is, for me at least the way to do that. And what I was doing isn’t but what when I was younger, I did kind of look up to and kind of idealise the life of the businessman, I guess.
David Ralph [16:28]
So, I’m fascinated. But as a small child, you you wanted to build a business because I can imagine a small child would want to build a skyscraper or something, you know, tangible, but you actually could see the sort of financial element that you wanted to build.
Brennan Dunn [16:44]
Well, my dad, I mean, my dad owned a business and he was pretty successful. And I think a lot of it was I remember, you know, all these anecdotal experiences. I remember. You know, I played baseball as a kid and you know, my dad was able to come out to every game of ours every practice far as during the middle of the day. And all the other kids, their parents weren’t really able to make it because they had to work. And same thing applied for, you know, school functions or just being able to travel as family and everything. And I mean, I knew we were, we were lucky, you know, for lack of a better way of putting it. And it was it was funny. I looked at the business side, but I didn’t really look at really what he was doing back then is what I’m doing now. Yeah, that’s my daughter’s. Yeah, I mean, yesterday, I went to my daughter’s ballet practice. I was the only person there who really wasn’t a stay at home mom. You know, it was gonna be awkward, but I mean, that’s, that’s how it is for me. Right. And I think it’s better. I mean, I think it’s better for better for kind of them. It’s better for my kids. It’s better for it. I mean, it was very beneficial for me growing up having that kind of upbringing. I think just being able to have my parents really heavily involved with everything. And I’ve seen I’ve seen one that It’s done for me. And I think a lot of that is kind of rubbing off on what I’m doing now.
David Ralph [18:04]
Well, I think you’re not mimicking, but I do think that you are inspired by your father’s success and not just his business acumen, the control of these time. And I think that’s, that’s what everybody wants, isn’t it? Cool. We want time freedom.
Brennan Dunn [18:21]
Right? And that’s, you know, he’s a very big beach volleyball player, he always hasn’t, he loves the beach. So he built a company that allowed him to go into the office for about an hour day, find out what was going on, you know, talk to a few people then just go to the beach all day. I mean, that was what he wanted. And he did it. And he’s always done that. And, you know, I don’t really have any any interest in becoming a beach bum. But I have other things that I that kind of time freedom is is obviously for me, and I think for all of us very attractive, and it’s just, you know, it’s played out differently for each of us.
David Ralph [18:55]
I remember hearing an interview and I’ve heard it numerous times. Just recently. Funnily enough, I started talking about in the early shows with Billy Joel. And I said, you know, Billy Joe, you’ve sold 100 million records, 200 million records, you play Madison Square Garden 15 nights on a truck, blah, blah, blah. And all these accolades, they sort of laid on him and I said, you know, what has success given you and he just said, time, he said, time if I don’t want to talk, I don’t. If I don’t want to release a record, I don’t. I just wake up every morning and I do what I want. And I thought, Yeah, and I thought that is success. And that really hit home that that was key to me. Time and choices is more often than not more important than money. And finally, enough, now, I believe that if you’ve got that time, freedom and choices, you’re gonna make the money anyway, because you’ve got time to do what you want, instead of being told what to do.
Brennan Dunn [19:49]
And you’re able, I mean, for me, at least now, since I work less hours, I’m able to work a little smarter. I think that I don’t, you know, when I work, I work I get the stuff I need to get done. Done and I think there’s so many people who are successful on paper, and they drive nice cars, they do this map, they house, whatever it might be. But if you really I think we’re to look in their interior life, you know, a lot of these people are kind of on this, this hamster wheel. And I mean, we all we call the rat race for kind of that reason, right. And the rat race doesn’t need to be kind of like you’re sitting in a cubicle on a dead end job, it can be a very, you can be an ambitious executive, still in that rat race. And I think a lot of us don’t always remember that I think we focused so much on the people on these positions, instead of thinking of, well, you know, their higher ups are oftentimes in just as much of a dead end is there?
David Ralph [20:44]
Well, obviously we’re going to touch on this at the end of the show when we play the words of the whole show that Steve Jobs have mentioned back in 2005. But what do you think about the the theory now, but if you create your own path, actually, it’s less risky. Because you’re creating your own income, and ultimately you’ve got more, less competition, because you’re doing something that’s unique and authentic to yourself, you’re not just going, I’m going to get a job at Taco Bell and 100,000 people go for that same job, you’re actually going off on your own path. Is that a valuable message to get out to say your daughter’s growing up?
Brennan Dunn [21:21]
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think, you know, I’ve, this is actually something I’ve written about also, but the idea that, you know, a lot of people say entrepreneurship is risky, it is, you know, it is there, there are a lot of risk elements, being an entrepreneur and own, you know, kind of owning your own business. But when you think about it, if you’re an employee, you have one source of income, and you’re dependent on that source of income. If you are, let’s say, a freelancer or a consultant, you have maybe three or four clients, you’re a little safer. Now you have four sources of income. If one fires you, at least you’ve got three quarters of your revenue still there. Now what I’m doing now is I have thousands of people paid A little bit of money. And I tell, you know, I tell people this all the time about how, to me that’s the ultimate job security, I can’t get fired, right? Like, I can’t lose my revenue. And the funny thing, I want to give you this quick little example, I remember I had a business loan from when I had my, my bigger agency that had to be renewed. So I went to the bank, and they were, you know, I was talking to the underwriters and they were asking me about my business and how it changed. And I told them, Well, you know, we went from having maybe three, maybe four active clients a month, total, you know, cumulatively paying us 100,000 a month in revenue for my business. And you know, a lot of that was overhead, I had to pay payroll, and that was expensive everything. And then I’m looking at my new business model where the revenues aren’t as high. I mean, they’re they’re not anywhere close to six figures a month, but they’re from a lot more sources a lot more customers and, and they’re, you know, to me at least a lot lower risk. But to the underwriter was strange to the bank underwriter. I don’t know if it’s just because they’re Play it. I don’t know what kind of metrics they use. But they remember that thinking that that was higher risk and like how, what on what planet? Wouldn’t you rather have a lot of people paying you little versus one person paying you a lot?
David Ralph [23:14]
that that does seem bizarre to me, you got that one person who walks away, bang, you’re gone. But you got all those other people you’ve got multiple eggs in your basket, that’s got to be the safer route doesn’t it?
Brennan Dunn [23:27]
It picks up but to me though, it’s it’s really it’s really nice having this diversification, you know, not only in customers, but also in products that bring in the revenue. And it took a while to build up to I mean, it’s not a lot of us, I think want to go into it kind of thinking I’m going to have a job today and I’m going to have a lot of business revenue from products tomorrow, but typically, that’s that doesn’t really work ever. So you know, just finding finding a way to kind of make that transition and make it gracefully as I think you know if anyone Listening wants to ultimately kind of get to that point where you have lots of people paying little, you know, it’s don’t expect to overnight anything, it’s just, you know, you just make steady and consistent progress and you can get there.
David Ralph [24:14]
Well, I think it’s a key point and it’s a key message to get out to the listeners that instead of sitting there going, Okay, I’ve got to cover my my bills and all my expenses on a month. How much do I need? Okay, I need $2,000. Okay, I’ve got to find $2,000. And what you don’t need to do is find $2,000 you need to find 100 times 200 or whenever the map is, and you can ultimately do that if you break it down into those bite sized chunks. And you say to anyone, could you could you arrange $2 could you get $2? And most people go Oh, yeah, I could possibly do but it’s just that that multiplication, isn’t it? It’s that that is the state the route to do.
Brennan Dunn [24:57]
What’s about me for now, my business is really magical. You know, I have growth and I have churn or cancellations, or whatever you want to call it. And as long as growth outweighs churn, it’s you know, it’s mathematically pretty, sir. You know, unless the whole internet explodes tomorrow, that would be kind of bad for me. But in general, it’s, it’s a lot more, it’s a lot safer. And this is actually to be honest, one of the reasons that I’m so big on kind of teaching freelancers how to be better businesses, because I see a lot of freelancers who are kind of like I was in a way where I’m, it’s still, I’m still an employee, I’m just an employee in a different legal relationship with my employer. You know, in one case, it’s a actual company that I’m a salaried employee. And another case, it’s a company where I’m a, you know, contractor to them or a freelancer or whatever else. And I think the biggest the biggest lesson that I think anyone should learn is how to how to mitigate risk. You know, I don’t like risk. A lot of people say well, no, the sign of a great business person is somebody who, like, loves risk and loves it, you know, the adventure of it all. And there’s a lot of truth in that. But I also think a really successful business person is also going to know how to mitigate and hedge that risk as much as possible.
David Ralph [26:17]
I think the thing that holds so many people back and I’m going to play some key words in a moment, but I think that the the main thing is the unwillingness to invest in their future. I think at the beginning, it’s all about keeping what I’ve got, I must keep what I’ve got saved. But actually, if you throw that mindset off and go, Okay, if I do lose this, I can go off and do something else. No matter how bad it might seem at that time, I can still sort of bring a certain amount of income in that is the mindset that starts you going, isn’t it that the fact that you can actually, as you say mitigate those risks and think Well, what’s the worst case that can happen? I leave my job today, or no, I won’t leave my job. What I will do I will work for six months with the slider Fight the side hustle like you did, until I get to that point, then I can look at another what’s the worst that’s gonna happen and then move on from there.
Brennan Dunn [27:08]
Sorry, a lot of small small little milestones
David Ralph [27:12]
follow? Well, I’m gonna play some words now. And I love these words, I don’t think I’m ever gonna drop these from the show might do. But at the moment, they’re still begging my my daily burst of motivation. And this is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [27:26]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [27:53]
Now, I always asked this question now. Did you start taking a chance on doing what you love or have you thought Found the thing that you love just because you’ve started taking a chance.
Brennan Dunn [28:06]
I think, I think, you know, I didn’t even have that kind of goal post in the background, which was this is the, this is the life I want to let this is the way that I want my daily life to look. And I think a lot of us we just kind of go in blind, right? It’s going blind is something new. And you do a lot of things and kind of that room that you’re in now gets a little brighter with each experiment, you run, you know, maybe you fail, maybe you don’t fail. Failure is usually not binary. So maybe you halfway get to what you want to do. Or then you just iterate on that. But for me at least, having that kind of goal and knowing this is where I want to be and using that to kind of, you know, everything that I do is what I’m doing today is that get me closer or further from the goal. And that to me, that was probably the number one thing Going into this that made it okay for me to start this new business that I would now run and okay to do. You know, today for instance, once once I’m off this discussion today, I’m picking up the whole day and we’re going, my wife and I are going just hang out and go have lunch and just relax a little. So being able to do that. I mean, that’s, that’s what I wanted. That’s what I think a lot of us one. And to do that you just need to have a realistic milestone and not some like far, you know, yes, you should have a goal that’s very far fetched or very, maybe a year or two from now. But you should work backwards from that to come up with what what does that mean this month? What does that mean for the next three months, and kind of, you know, put together smaller
David Ralph [29:46]
steps that get you there. I remember on episode two or three of Join Up Dots A while back now having a gentleman called john nasta, who is an entrepreneur and he said that he actually wrote down on a piece of paper. How he wanted his ideal day not an ideal life, but he’s ideal day to look. And one day he suddenly realised he was living it. And he said it was it was so shocking to me that all the decisions I had made and almost forgot, but I was making towards this actually led me to that just because I clearly defined what I wanted. And he said, From then on, he said, I haven’t always had my perfect day every single day, he said, but more often than not, because I made those decisions leading towards bad I’ve got more than half a chance of getting that.
Brennan Dunn [30:34]
Right. And that’s now his anchor, read it. Yeah, you’re going to have stuff come up. I mean, that’s, that’s life. Right. But having knowing what you want to model your days, like or knowing, you know, I think the issue is a lot of us whose goals are so like, you know, I want to be a millionaire, right? Like, that’s the goal. But that doesn’t actually that’s not an actionable goal. Like how do you take action on that, right? So you need to deconstruct that into well I want to have 1000 people pay me What would that be? $100 a month. Now I’m doing, or 1000 people maybe 100 year? I don’t know, I’m bad at math. I don’t know that equals a million. But something like that, right? Where you you come up with? Well, what is the formula that needs to happen to get to that outcome? So we know we had the outcome, but until we know what that formula is, and we work for that, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s hard because you kind of like, you’re either not a millionaire, or you are a millionaire. And if that’s your goal, and it seems like such an uphill battle that you think, Well, you know, I just need to do the business lottery system, maybe I’ll build something that will be an overnight success, and then I’ll have a million dollars in my bank account the next day. I think if you talk to anybody, like 99% of successful people, that’s not how it works, right? Like that’s not the overnight success thing. There’s no, there’s like the overnight success story that’s 10 years in the making sort of thing, right? We don’t we don’t focus on those previous 10 years. We only focus Well, they created this blockbuster product and look how well they’re doing and everything, but we don’t actually look at the context. And the to me that that that’s the biggest problem that I see. Because I talked to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs, and a lot of them are just so focused on, you know, that outcome. And they don’t actually think well, what what are the components that go into that?
David Ralph [32:22]
Because I got to a point on the show that I totally, totally forgotten, but I was supposed to be making money from it. It was just but I loved doing it. And it became like a kind of all encompassing hobby, that I was just loving the conversations and delivering the content. And that was the moment funnily enough when I started making income from it. When I stopped thinking about how am I going to monetize this? It just kind of happened by magic, and it sounds a bit whoo, whoo. And I would like to say, yeah, you structure it and you plan accordingly and I’m whatever, because that will make it so much more better. Both of our listeners out there who are on their commutes to work. I mean their cubicles listening to this conversation. But for me, it did seem the right time. It seemed the time when I stopped thinking about the money and just thought about the value and the enjoyment was when it come together. Now, can you see that or do you think that’s a simplistic view?
Brennan Dunn [33:20]
No, I think I think it’s I think it’s a good view because I think until it’s like that you precaution that right. It’s not you just don’t do what you’re passionate way then forget about the money money will come. Yeah, I mean, yes, but there still needs to be that kind of, because I see a lot of people who are who say I’m going to start a blog and or start a podcast or whatever else and like, you know, I can I can figure out the business model later. It’s kind of there the idea right, but um, yes, you don’t want to be focused on the money like I don’t do I don’t think today like, how is this email I’m ready now. Going to You affect my income, or how’s this whatever I’m doing now and affect my income. But in the back of my mind, I have a business model. It’s a value exchange model, right? Where I’m producing content that’s valuable to people. And I’m pricing that. And to me, that’s, I mean, that’s my business model. At the end of the day. It’s not anything, I don’t have a business plan. It’s just something in the back of my mind, I know, well, I can produce what I love producing this content that I love these courses that I love grading these blog posts, whatever it is, and they will give me the revenue I need. Give me the money I need, because I’m doing it in such a way that I’m focusing on kind of people’s businesses and helping them be more successful. And you know, that’s, to me, that’s my focus. But yeah, I think you’re, I think you’re right.
David Ralph [34:44]
So so when you had those family health reasons that we mentioned in the introduction, and you had to step away from your brick and mortar agency that you built up, was it a liberation that you were doing that did you feel like you come naturally to the end or Was it a punch in the stomach that you were having to leave what you built up?
Brennan Dunn [35:05]
I mean, it’s hard because you build up, you build up a company. And then when you intentionally accident now, I didn’t just shut it down. I mean, I basically delegated out the running of it to one of my employees, and I was still making money for well over a year on its kind of residual effects. So it wasn’t like I just flicked off the lights one day and left. But the it was because I built up this brand that we had. I mean, there were big companies that work with us. We were very well known around town. And now here, I was kind of retreating to my little suburban enclave to start something new. And I was out of that picture. But, you know, one part of that was bittersweet. The exiting what was doing, you know, exiting the thing that I built for the last few years. But I need to admit though, it was exciting start for starting something new, right. I mean, it’s it’s now that I think kind of look at it as every business that I’ve started, I’ve started quite a few. There’s been a lot of failures, even before that agency, I started to startups, all these different things in the office well, but with each of those, I learned a little more, right? I quit myself a little better. To me. It’s like I look at that as my, my MBA, you know, this back experience? And yes, it was successful. But there were things that in retrospect, with hindsight, I would say, Well, you know, I would really focus this time on making sure that that business was not as dependent on me. And that now I know how to how I would do that nowadays. But back then I didn’t. So all this experience has accrued I think, to me, like I don’t think I could be doing what I’m doing. Now. Having that done, the agency had I not started those, those two small startups had I not even, you know, worked at that interactive agency that I was the technology director out in Miami, like all these things, compiled into where I am now and that’s terrific. Well, it’s been a while I know it is for all of us, right, our our past compiles into our present and So you know that’s why I think a lot of us we we get frustrated because what we’re doing is working. We’re spending a lot of money on ads and you know paid advertising for some new product and it’s not getting getting us anything and we get it we get discouraged and quit. Instead of it looking at looking at it well, you know, I’m paying money for data, or I’m giving up this time for data and an awkward experience and I’m going to recycle what I learned into something bigger and better next time.
David Ralph [37:28]
He is fantastic and and that that really is the message of the whole show. And I don’t think when I started the show, that was the true message of it, but it is now that no experience is wasted. And whatever you’ve been doing leading up to a point has set the foundations for you to move on. Now is what you do after that and the decisions you make but it’s it’s awful when anything goes wrong in your life because you don’t want that but he’s a true but you learn more from Bose when you do your successes.
Brennan Dunn [38:00]
Went to excel because I think a lot of us we were not as critical of our successes. You know, I just I did a product launch last week. And it didn’t hit the number that I wanted, but it was very close. And, you know, it took me like, at least now I think I’m I’m able to better be more critical of it, even things that are going well, like what could I have done to make it hit those numbers that I wanted? Or what could I have done differently? But when with a path with a past, quote, unquote, failure, you’re more likely to do that. And I think you’re more likely to be analytical about what happened. And you can, you know, I think somebody’s the smart thing to do from failure is to say, what didn’t go right, what went wrong? And why? And how can I use that experience to make it so I’m less likely to you know, again, quote, unquote, fail next time around.
David Ralph [38:51]
And so so do you think me leaving but we should be more critical of our successes and our failures. We should look at both of them. But with the successes Instead of opening up the champagne and going, whoo, whoo, should we look at it and go, right? Okay, this has gone really well, how do we then take what’s made that go well, and replicate it? Or maybe even crank it up? Are we missing a trick in life because I rarely celebrate anything. And it’s a big failure of mine, where I hit something that I’ve been working towards. And for a nanosecond, I kind of go, brilliant. And then I’m right, what do I do now? And people kept saying to me, did you ever celebrate those to go out like, Oh, well, I’d like to, but I just kind of steam on because I’m focused on the next thing. Is it the successes that are the ones that we should stop and reflect and analyse and be critical of?
Unknown Speaker [39:44]
What’s funny I am.
Brennan Dunn [39:47]
I mentioned I did this new launch last week. And what I’m doing now actually, this week, and it, you know, I talked to my peers about this is a new post mortem on it, and you would think that a post mortem is typically what you do. When something when like a server explodes or your business flops or you know that it has a very negative connotation to it right like post death, right? But I’m doing it in the sense I’m treating it like anything else and I’m just saying okay well let’s look at total What did I do? What How did I launch this product what emails that I send How did I price it? How did I write the copy? And I’m really analysing it and this was on paper a my biggest success yet but I’m not looking at it as a you know, well now I’ve earned it since I’ve done all this stuff in the past like I’m I’ve earned the success I think we need to always be very not critical like not critical as in like a what went wrong because obviously nothing went wrong. But what I’m what how did this success happen? Was it just due to the fact that I’ve got a big audience now and you know, I’ve been doing this for a while but it just it’s like second nature to me because it is a It’s just you know, I’ve learned a lot and everything I’ve learned up until this point, went into that launch. And now I want to learn even new things. So the next time I do it again, it’s, it’s even, it’s even better. I do love this, it’s it
David Ralph [41:14]
is so important to reflect, isn’t it and give yourself I was that moment that quiet time to actually look at the decisions that you’re making. And I am actually going to play some words that that really touch on this, but what you’re doing is just disconnecting yourself from the momentum forward, just to look at what’s caused that momentum on you.
Brennan Dunn [41:35]
Yeah, I mean, I think I used to do this when I had my agency, we used to do retrospectives, where we would say, let’s all sit down and talk about what what’s going well in the business, what isn’t going well and what’s just kind of met, like, you know, okay in business, and we would, we would do this exercise we would take time out of our day to day life, and do this once every few weeks on a Friday. Get it mapped out, figure out what’s going Wrong. And then we would, um, we would try to make sure that with anything that isn’t going right, we would come up with actionable to do items. So they are no longer an issue the next time we do this, and I, you know, for me journaling and reflection is probably been the number one thing that I’ve done, that is allowed my business to keep pushing forward, because I’m looking at like, when things are bad, like, say, I have a really bad week, a lot of people cancel, like, whatever, I can look back in that journal and say, well, in the grand scheme of things, we’re moving up into the right, the business is getting bigger and better. But when you’re so focused on right now, and you don’t have the data to kind of, to kind of like, you know, assuage you otherwise, right, like you can get very caught up in the moment. You just kind of get driven by that that inertia that I think it’s so, so damaging when you just get stuck in the moment and you’re not actually looking at the big picture, or not thinking, you know, where am I in the grands journey of this business or this life? And I think a lot of us You know it’s hard because we don’t you know a lot of us can’t even remember what we did yesterday you know so i think i think the more data the data is powerful it’s taken me a while but I’ve gotten pretty good at reflecting at least on but what went well this week you know what what what did I do this week? What effects have it hasn’t had on my business on my life? Am I happy you know one of the things I actually tried to do now as I beginning the day and my my kind of work journal, not only the factual stuff but I’m also putting you know like a little motor contacting that I’m drawing out on like, how do I feel like my my optimistic this morning my happy and I did I end today on a damn down note and try to you know, try to engage emotional stuff to
David Ralph [43:47]
you and that truly happy person man because I hold my hand up but I’m generally the glass is full. I rarely sort of dip down and it kind of winds my family up. Certainly once my daughter Abby says, I will Do you have to be singing first thing in the morning and I got this, this is the best part of the day, you know, if I start happy, then the bad things will just bounce off and I try to sort of draw back into them. Are you naturally a sort of happy person? Are you walking around singing show tunes and doing jazz hands and things.
Brennan Dunn [44:16]
That’s why I’m I’m more introverted so I’m tend to be a little quieter, but internally I would say that I definitely am. I’ve always been I’m the I’m the really big optimist family. I’m always you know, even when things are down, I’m like, I remember we’ve had a lot of years ago, a lot of financial trouble just because I had this one person company with a huge payroll. And back before I knew how to really sell well, there’d be times where I, I had to admit to her like, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to pay the payroll that I need to make along with pay ourselves like I don’t know if I can do that. And, but I always looked at it as you know, yes. Things are getting Now, but that trend is moving in the right direction,
David Ralph [45:03]
which is the only way you can operate, isn’t it? Right? Let’s play the words or the whole theme of the show we’re getting near the end of the show now. But as always, we’re bringing Steve Jobs into the mix. This is Steve.
Steve Jobs [45:15]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [45:50]
So can you look back and connect your dots Can you see moments that really made Brendan done who he is today?
Unknown Speaker [45:59]
apps Absolutely. Wake up with every, every, every stumble every, you know, on paper failure, all of that I mean that all was actually just talking last night over dinner with my wife about this. We were talking about, you know, my business and everything and I was saying that so much of it because we were talking about how there were times where really bad things happened early on in the business, you know, four or five years ago. And at the time, they were like, maybe want to just give it all up and go back to the safety of employment. Going back to the safety of steady paycheck, just show up, sit down in the cubicle, give them my 40 hours a week and I’ll get paid like clockwork every two weeks. And there were a lot of those times. And we were talking last night we were really celebrating we’re celebrating the launch I had last week and we had a nice dinner out. And the big. I think the big takeaway from that discussion was This wasn’t done in a vacuum. I didn’t get lucky and have a really successful product launch last week. All of this, all of these components, women went into it. And, you know, I leveraged it all. And, you know, it wasn’t if you look at my business, I mean, you know, I made
Brennan Dunn [47:19]
it without giving any hard numbers out. You know, in the last week, I did what I used to make in five years in one week. And that wasn’t an accident. I mean, there were there, it was very systematically done and I think I’m more systematic as I you know, I’m an engineer, and that’s how I think about things but looking at things looking at those dots that led to it. It was very, I couldn’t have done what I did last week, without without the last eight, nine years of just walking, falling down and scraping my knees getting back up to me again and scrape my knees getting back up and so on, you know, over and over and over again.
David Ralph [48:00]
is a brilliant message, isn’t it for everyone, if you’ve got that idea, if you’ve got that dream, if you’ve got that concept or whatever, start working towards it. And more often than not, it won’t end up what you wanted it to be, but it will end up somehow better. And it’s because of all those failures, all those moments when you think they’re not remotely related. But that’s what build it up, build it up, build it up, I keep getting these people say to me, and I like this, but nature spends more time growing under the ground when you can’t see it. And then when it suddenly shoots up, and without those bits, you’re not going to get your tree you’re not going to get your flower or if you do is going to just fall over because it hasn’t set up the foundations but somehow that’s not sexy. Is it Brennan somehow we like the fact that our it was easy for Brennan, Dan. Yeah, you know, he’s, he’s got the brakes. I’m never going to be like that. But of course, you’ve been building those foundations. You’ve been under the ground for years.
Brennan Dunn [48:58]
That’s right, and I I like that example you just gave because I’m I’m kind of an amateur gardener. And it’s it’s so true how we all want those ripe strawberries, but we don’t think about what goes into getting them, right, we don’t think about everything that needs to all the cultivation, all the weeding or you know, everything else that needs to go into getting that fruit. And, you know, you talk to any any gardener and they’re like, Look, you know, you know, we live in such a fast paced society where everything is immediate, immediate gratification, everything, and I think, now might sound odd. But I think getting into gardening is has been very, very beneficial for my business. In that sense. It’s learning how to be patient.
David Ralph [49:38]
I think that that brings us perfectly to the end of the end of the show. And this is the part that really takes you back in time because this is the part we call the Sermon on the mind where we’re going to send you back in time and have a one on one with your younger self. And maybe the younger Brennan wasn’t that patient but we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [50:06]
We go with the best bit of the show.
Brennan Dunn [50:22]
So Brennan, it’s what what year would this be 2008 you have just really quit your job to go full time freelancing. You’re doing, you know, you’ve got your clients, you’ve got this kind of you look out and you start seeing what could happen if you had instead of one client paying you, you had five clients or instead of five clients, 10 clients, and you’re thinking well, you know, I just want to grow for the sake of growth. I want to have the brand I want to have the, the the being able to tell people Oh, well, you know, with my office and my employees and my team Having having all these like features that go into what you define as success, but ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s taken me a lot to learn and what I would tell you in this little time portal that we’ve opened up, you know, at the end of the day, what matters is kind of building a business to live living, or will it be fun to kind of come up with a good way of putting this basically, businesses a tool that allows us to build a lifestyle in the life that we want to live? versus business being an engine itself? And I know, you know, right now you’re looking at all this opportunity, all this potential growth, all these things that could happen, but you’re not actually looking and thinking, you know, well, what’s going to happen when I’m in a big way disconnected from my family, let’s see what’s gonna happen when I don’t have when I come home, and you know, I hardly see my kids, you know, this is such a foundational time of their life. And so that that is what I would say I would say, you know, if you’re going to build this agency, which you’re thinking of building, do it in such a way that you enables the life that you want to live versus it being something that on paper looks very successful or you have staff and a building and blah, blah, blah. And you can do it you just need to focus more on, on on that versus, versus the the features and all the stuff that we usually associate with a successful business.
David Ralph [52:41]
Brennan, how can our audience connect with you, sir?
Brennan Dunn [52:45]
Best place is my website is double your freelancing. com. There’s actually a lot of things about I try to focus on the business of freelancing. So if you want to if you’re at the point where maybe you are or you want to go full time, freelancing You shouldn’t do is you shouldn’t just go out there, blind. So I’m basically trying to what I just did in that little time capsule. That’s kind of what I’m doing now. And that’s ultimately what I love doing is teaching people to not scrape their knees as much as I did. And so don’t worry, your foots not calm is the best. Twitter, I’m running down on Twitter theory.
But those are the best places to
David Ralph [53:24]
go. We will have over links on the show knows. Brandon, thank you so much for spending time with us today and joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Brennan done. Thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker [53:41]
Thank you, David.
David Ralph [53:44]
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of Join Up Dots brought to you exclusively by podcast is mastery.com. The only resource that shows you how to create a show, build an income and still have time for the life that you love. Check out podcast mastery.com now,
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