Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Mr Mike Sowden
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Introducing Mike Sowden
Mike Sowden is todays guest ready for the latest Join Up Dots podcast interview.
Mike is a man who from the first moments of his life has been wandering the world.
Born on an RAF base in Germany, he grew up in Cyprus.
Then he was reluctantly brought to the United Kingdom by his parents as a teenager.
And what did he do?
The young Mike Sowden instantly complained about the rain…..get over it….that’s what we have in the United Kingdom.
Was the travelling a chore? Was the moving from country to country the thing that our guest dreaded.
No far from it.
The experiences, different cultures, and contrasting landscapes embedded a love of adventure.
Imagery and story combined as something he knew could take him on a path that was true to his unique self.
How The Dots Joined Up For Mike
Mike loved the idea of being a professional travel writer.
So even though he knew his path, and knew what he wanted to create, he still only focused on his dream as a side project, until after what he believed was a “heart-attack” he finally started the action that he needed to kick everything off.
Quitting his job, Mr Sowden is now at the time of writing a freelance writer of no clearly fixed abode.
We might find him in the UK, escaping to the Mediterranean, or as he says “even gallivanting across some bleak European hillside, bound for disaster” – which is how he finds material to write about.
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Mr Mike Sowden.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Mike Sowden such as:
How something that can seem like the worse thing in the world, might actually be a blessing in disguise!
How by confronting the thing that frightens you most is the thing you should always do!
How Russell Crowe is not the best actor at doing accents in the world!
How we all know our passions that can lead to the life of our dreams, if we only look closely enough!
How To Connect With Mike Sowden
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription Of Mike Sowden Interview
David Ralph [0:01]
Yes, hello there once more, and welcome to Episode 15 of join up dots. We’ve got a guest today that can only be described as a wonder Yes, he’s a wonder, oh, he’s I want to say that I shouldn’t have done it. Anyway, he is someone who from the first moment of his life has been wandering the world. Born on an army base in Germany. He grew up in Cyprus, and Ben was reluctantly brought to the United Kingdom by his parents as a teenager. And what was the first thing he did? When he instantly complained about the ryan he’s a teenager after all, so get over it. That’s what we have in the United Kingdom. What’s the traveling mature was the moving from country to country the thing that our guest dreaded no Far from it. The experiences different cultures and contrasting landscapes embedded love adventure, imagery and storytelling that he just knew was something that could take him on a path that was true to his unique self. He loved the idea of being a professional travel writer. So even though he knew his path, and knew what he wanted to create, he still only focused on his dream as a side project until after what he believed was a heart attack, he finally started the action that he needed to kick everything off, quitting his job. He’s now at the time of writing a freelance writer of no clearly fixed abode, we might find him in the UK, escaping to the Mediterranean, or as he says, even gallivanting across some bleak European hillside bound for disaster, which is how he finds material to write about. So let’s find out where he is today and bring onto the show the Creator, fevered mutterings, the inspired travel loving blogger, Mr. Mike Sowden. How are you today? Sir?
Mike Sowden [2:22]
I’m very well, sir. Thank you for having me on the show.
David Ralph [2:25]
We were talking just before sort of been pressing record for this show. We’ve done so many interviews recently with Americans. Yeah, she sounds strange to hear an English voice on the other end of the of the line. It’s kind of making me go, actually, where am I in the place? Where, who am I talking to? Well, I am I. So hopefully I’ll remain on track. And I won’t say anything like sidewalk when I should be saying pavement and things like that. And you’ll understand what we’re talking about. So in the intro, I said to you that we could find you anywhere. So where are you today?
Mike Sowden [2:59]
Well, I’m actually in the, in the north of Western US. If you watch Game of Thrones, you’ll you’ll recognize my accent because I’m from Yorkshire in the north of England. And that’s, that’s Sean beans accent. And he’s from South Yorkshire. But I’m in I’m in that area. And in Game of Thrones, the North, you know, was went to fail and the areas around that they’ve taken the Yorkshire accent and that’s become the, the accent all the actors have to adopt. And that’s that’s dumped the north of restaurants in the show. So how many Yorkshire I’m in the north of England, but if you watch on HBO TV, you might recognize my ex.
David Ralph [3:41]
So I’ve never seen Game of Thrones at all. Is it a good representation of your accent? Or do you sit back home? Oh my god.
Mike Sowden [3:51]
Well, there are there are actors who are American actors who are taking on this this this kind of go Yorkshire accent and it’s it’s really funny listen to them lapsing in and out it’s like listening to Russell Crowe in Gladiator when he’s doing that very, very kind of classical English accent and then he lapses there and you’ll just see this this bit of Australian in the background. So it’s it’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of like a an action archaeology when you’re watching the show and picking up the very simply Saxons because because Game of Thrones, that would be Song of Ice and privacy. The book series is actually based on George RR Martin’s looking at English history, in particular the War of the Roses. So there’s things in the show there’s there’s things like there’s a great wall of ice and and often the show and that’s based on Hadrian’s Wall, which is the landmark that’s its way up in the north of England. So if you watch if you watch Game of Thrones, you will be picking up quite a lot of English culture along the way, which is a
David Ralph [4:54]
lot of fun. It is funny that you’re actually talking about Russell Crowe because I was just talking to my son. He’s got the new film out and the moment Noah, and every time I’ve seen Russell Crowe in anything if you see him in Robinhood go, Whoa, whoa. And you see him in, in Gladiator row. I can’t understand a word he says he’s like a slightly aggressive Scooby Doo. In every single thing. You don’t understand a word he says in anything.
Mike Sowden [5:22]
You always ask that Russell Christ and it’s the it’s the Russell Crowe intonation and everything. All the work we do in life goes into eternity. And all of us. It’s just the same kind of, yeah, it’s really fun to say he’s one of those actors that seems to have transplanted his voice into every single role, but he’s done like Al Pacino, and it just he doesn’t he doesn’t very his voice and somehow he gets away with it.
David Ralph [5:47]
Well, we’ve had hundreds like that. Michael Caine’s another one isn’t a Michael Caine is is always Michael Caine.
Mike Sowden [5:53]
David Ralph [5:54]
You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. That wasn’t as good as London crow. But I tried my best. So you are a traveler? You’re a traveler, born and bred. So you you were based in Germany as a baby? Yes. Because you were born on on a base, I assume that you close yourself as British you don’t close yourself as German.
Mike Sowden [6:17]
Yes, I was born I was born in a British or a hospital in Germany. So so I am British. But I I feel I’ve got ties with Germany because my parents spend spent a great deal of time now and I, I recently got chatting to a travel blogger who was born in the, in the small town that I was born in. So at some point, I really want to go back and explore those roots. And it’s the same, it’s the same with Cyprus, I was born, I was born in Germany, we lived in a British area face, but I feel I’ve got these types of Cyprus, that that bothered me, because of the time I spend there. So even though nationally, I it’s very clear where I am, I’ve got these, you know, these these threads that pulling from various various points around Europe that I’m, I feel this constant tugging and I really want to go and explore and, and dig out my own my own personal history. That’s part of why why I started with all this really.
David Ralph [7:12]
So so it’s a real strong, almost physical need, is it to keep sort of moving and exploring?
Mike Sowden [7:19]
Yeah, I am. Unfortunately, the the amount of exploring that I’ve been doing in the last couple of years hasn’t been as much as I would have liked. But since well, over the last 10 years have this this kind of need to explore the world and really explore my own places over the last 40 years, has been growing and growing. And that’s that fed into me wanting to become a travel writer and also fell into my love of storytelling, because storytelling, storytelling, for me isn’t just confined to fiction, I think. I think that the storytelling permeates everything, it also permeates through way that you whether you see your own life, from the way that you live that life, and you have control over that story. And part of part of the story that you’ll be living is constructed from the story that you have been living. So the better you understand what you have been doing, the better you understand your place in the world up to this point, the more chance you have of having, having a direct influence, direct positive influence over the story that you’re building for yourself in the future. So and, again, that’s, you know, that that’s using analogies that that really has to do with archaeology and I studied archaeology. That was that was one of the things I that’s when I went to university I did I did four years of archaeology and that, that fed into that fit into everything else because it got me really interested in in, you know, okay, it’s this new project phase, but digging deep into things and really trying to uncover, look past the superficial sacrificial reasonings for everything and really, really do what journalists do really, really dig deep and try and find those hidden truths about, about yourself and about the world and about all the all the things that go on in it, and about people’s motivations. So all these things come together. And they’ve, they’ve led me into a state of being very, very curious and very, very passionate about going out and trying to find out new things. And it’s, yes, it’s a lot of fun to look back and see how all those things have come together to make me who I am now.
David Ralph [9:29]
Okay, the theme of the show is, of course, join up dots, and you summarized it brilliantly, there were, so few people do, do what you’ve done, and actually reflect on their life, because I’m a great believer on looking back, and finding your passions, finding your talents, finding the areas that you’ve had the greatest enjoyment, and that surely must lead you into pretty safe territory that you’ve got a future back is going to be better than the past you’ve had, which would you agree with that?
Mike Sowden [9:59]
Yeah, I would totally agree with that. I, I think as well, but one of the really, really most powerful things that you can do is to, is to go back as far as you possibly can, into your own history and pull out the things that you’re most passionate about. Before you became a, quote, unquote, adult, particularly childhood, because when you were a child, you do things because you don’t do things out of out of a sense of responsibility and do things because you feel you feel you should you do things because you want to you really, really want to do stuff, and you have these great ideas, and you often do them. And that kind of passion, is really, it’s it’s really important to discover those, those points, those things that will really set you set your life. And because if you’re if you’re throwing yourself into whatever you’re doing with that kind of obsessive passion. And if you’re being really smart about the way that you manage it, you will have the stamina to get somewhere with it. I always think I was trying to advise people, if you if you’re doing something, I think the the phrase follow your passion is a dangerous one. In some cases, if it’s used exclusively, if you’re, whatever you’re doing, whatever you you’ve chosen to do, if you if you do it in just a just in a bubble inside your head without thinking about that thinking about the rest of your life without thinking about commercial aspects without thinking about responsibilities you have around you, then it can be it can be dangerous. But if you are, if you are thinking about it in terms of trying to focus on avoiding things that you hate doing, I mean, that’s that’s the way I try and look at it if you if you’re doing things in your life, and they’re not. And they’re not kind of tapping into those things that that deep down, you always love doing right from when your child appear, you’re not talking to those things, that you’re lowering your chances of getting somewhere, because successful people successful people seem to have the stamina to get somewhere because they just they just stick in it longer than anyone else. And the way that you stick with something longer than anyone else is the you love it for what it is. So I really feel that the further back you can go, I mean, the more of these things that you can pull out of your, your history and more that you can metaphorically or literally get them down on paper so you can see them in front of you. And the more that you can, you can actually see who you are, and tap into those things, better chance you have of getting somewhere and doing something that you love.
David Ralph [12:43]
So let’s go right back. Okay, you were born in Germany. But when you grew up in Cyprus as a child, did you actually realize that you was in quote, unquote, a fallen country at that time? Or it? Was that just home to you can Can you remember the first time that you actually bought? I’m a traveler?
Mike Sowden [13:03]
Yeah, I never really
have the whole it’s it’s very difficult to pin down the point where I started to think about travel in a way of travel is travel being somewhere that’s separate from home because my home was shifting around. And so when I when I go to Cyprus, there’s a sense of, there’s a sense of traveling, because I’m getting into a different climate, and the language is different. But there’s also a sense of, there’s also a sense of homecoming, and I’ve only been, I’ve only been back to Cyprus. Once as an adult, I went to Greece. And I went around Greece, and I was I was, you know, hearing spoken Greek. And there was something in me that was that was really responding to it. And I really felt familiar. And also noticed, since I started learning Greek as an adult, I have the sounds inside my head. And I was looking at the I was looking at the Greek alphabet. And I was pronouncing things the correct way. And I was I was looking at Greek words, and I could hear how they, how they pretty much how they should sound even though I didn’t understand what they meant. So with with Cyprus, there’s a definite sense of definite sense of home. And I’m really interested to explore that in in Germany. I don’t know if I will have that in Germany, because I’m so young. And but I mean, how old are you when you left Germany? Oh, it was think about a year old at that point, year and a half some other. But, but I love I love Germany, and I particularly love Berlin. And I’ve had the good fortune to visit Berlin a couple of couple of times over the last couple times for a travel conference, but also just for some exploring and and Berlin is just this wonderful place. And I really, really, that felt like home even though it wasn’t, it wasn’t the kind of home that I remember, it was kind of how I discovered. So my sense of my sense of traveling my sense of actually being on the moon, it’s this this constant thing that’s in flux. I mean, sometimes I can feel like I’m traveling, and I’ve gone I’ve gone 10 miles up the road on my bike, and that really feels it. Yeah, it’s something that I have this this constant, constant tension with. I’m really interested in exploring as well, because I I don’t feel that people should. I don’t feel that people need to go somewhere exotic to feel like they’re traveling. There’s there’s a guy called Alistair Humphries. And he was National Geographic adventure of the year. And he’s got a project, which is called micro ventures. He lives just down the road from me.
David Ralph [15:44]
Oh, really? He? doesn’t he?
Mike Sowden [15:46]
Yes, he does. Yes, today,
David Ralph [15:48]
which is about 15 miles away from me ridiculous cross the river Thames, if anyone out there is looking at the map of the UK, you go up the River Thames to almost like 20 miles outside London, and then john the cross. And that’s that’s where I’m Mike’s talking about now.
Mike Sowden [16:04]
I’m a big admirer of his his work because he tries to, he tries to bring these these kind of, I mean, he’s been on some absolutely absurd adventures that are incredibly adventurous and cycling across across Europe and all sorts of stuff that he really, he’s trying to bring these experiences down to people who don’t have the time to travel, travel, you know, in the traditional sense of taking two or three weeks off work. So his micro ventures project is is an adventure that you do within a very short amount of time, a day or two days. And one of them that I that I did last year, which I had great fun with was I I went for a walk and I his micro venture was you have to go for a walk he has to be you have to cover 30 miles in a 24 hour period. And you have to go swimming and see the one point and you also have to sleep out under the stars in a baby bag. So I did this and I walked from where I am now in East Yorkshire a little town called Alton I walked up the coast and and I slept in a in a baby bag and if you’ve never seen the movie bag, it’s it’s it looks like madness to anyone who who is accustomed to the idea of when you go camping. You stay in something that keeps the elements off. A baby bag is essentially it’s like a bright
David Ralph [17:31]
corner Hotel by it’s called a hotel.
Mike Sowden [17:34]
Yes. Yeah, if you’re used to hotels, then maybe bagging looks like complete insanity looks like you were just you’re just sleeping in the open, you’re just sleeping inside a sack that will keep the rain off in the open and your face is turned up to the stars. And if it rains, well, then you you probably will get wet. But we’re what you do is you turn over. So the rain just slides off the back of the back of the baby back. So So you look
David Ralph [18:07]
human half Caterpillar basically.
Mike Sowden [18:10]
Yes, absolutely exactly like that. And it sounds it sounds ridiculous. And it also sounds, it sounds masochistic from the point of, you know, why is this person doing this, they’re just trying to get attention. Once, I was extremely skeptical of baby bag technology, because I was I got this thing through the post, I unpacked it. And it was so flimsy. And I just have this this amazing sense of doom. And then I went and did it and and it rained, it rained at two in the morning and it continued to rain itself six. And it rained rain really hard on me for about four hours. And I remained completely dry in this thing. And it’s it’s a baby bag is it’s like a crude analogy is like a condom, it goes over to the outside of your sleeping bag, and then you crawl into it. And it keeps the rain off. And it’s breathable. So so you don’t, you know, you don’t get horrible and sweaty. And it’s and it’s actually if you’re if you have something underneath and you’re sleeping on the beach, it’s actually quite comfortable.
David Ralph [19:18]
And I just doing this, there’s any kids out there at the moment they’re going mommy wants a condom, please point this over to where we put the contact details at the bottom of the show notes. And Mike will answer all those questions for you. I promise you Oh, boy.
Mike Sowden [19:33]
Well, I asked for that.
Yeah, I’m doing that was doing that was terrific. And it was something that I it really felt like it felt like a proper travel adventure. And I was I was, you know, I was 20 miles away from home.
David Ralph [19:48]
Because I’d been happier in the rain. Funnily enough, I think if I was doing that, my concern would be that it was a lovely night, but people would be out walking about and stumble across me, they do something to me, Well, I don’t feel unsafe at all.
Mike Sowden [20:04]
Not in the least No, I was, I was on the I was on the beach. And I was I was just in a kind of a hollow in the woods standing behind me. Or the cliff edge rather. And I just and I could I could see, you know, I had a either 270 degree view. And I could see the stars and it was and I could I could hear anyone coming from a mile off and you just felt perfectly safe. And I’m gonna i think i think that is also one of the great lessons of travel, when you start doing these things, you realize, you realize that there is this kind of self sufficiency that kicks in, and although all the things that that could go wrong in your head, just can just boil away into, into a kind of awareness, you know, your you don’t go out and you don’t search for things to go wrong, because you certainly don’t put yourself in situations that are inherently dangerous. Without without taking lots and lots of precautions. But when you do something, and you have the worries in the back of your mind, and lastly, you just go out and do it, you just see what happens. Most of the time. The worries that are in your head are completely unfounded. And this is, again, this is storytelling, because the stories that you have in your head, the stories that were around, the things that you worry about a lot of the time, they’re fiction, and we like to think that the modern world likes to think that we can recognize fiction from fact, when we see it. But really, once you get inside your own head, it’s the reality is very, very different. And in fact, there’s there’s a New York Times article by Bye, science writer called Eddie Murphy call and the article is called this is your brother nonfiction. And what she found was, she looked at studies taken off people as they were, as they were reading fiction, and they the studies were of a MRI scans of their brains. And those experiences and the books were compared with MRI scans of people actually having those same experiences in real life. So for example, somebody would read, she smelled a rose, you know, it’s spelt Rosie. And then that was compared with somebody actually smelling rose, and the same part of the brain lights up. So so what happens is when you when you’re reading fiction, and you’re really, really, really into it, your brain is basically having the same experience as its real life analog. So So our, our ability to differentiate between fiction, in fact, is very, very blurred. Because that I think that
David Ralph [22:55]
that doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Because if you think about anyone, the thing that stops anyone doing anything, is the fear of it not working in the first place. And we do we have these dialogues in our head all the time. Oh, no, it’s all right for them, they’ve achieved it before Oh, it’s not going to happen to me, it’s not going to. But once you actually start taking action, and you start to limit those fears, one of the biggest lessons I realized, and I kind of always knew this lesson, but it wasn’t until I started actually being very proactive, was, whenever something scared me in my head, that was the thing that I needed to go for. Because that was the thing that was actually keeping me in my comfort zone, and not allowing me to sort of develop and expand. And most of time, once you actually did it and you prepared and you work towards it. It wasn’t too bad anyway, because then you get another fear coming up. Oh my I’m to that next point. And I keep on going. And the people that do achieve great things, like you’re doing Mike Sowden because you must have fears. Kind of emotionally, financially, location wise, let’s over time, but by focusing in on those fears, and actually conquering them, generally you realize it’s not a bad thing, is it?
Mike Sowden [24:09]
Yeah, absolutely. I am, I was I was thinking as well that if you feel like you’ve conquered the fear, then it’s conquered you because they you know, always leaps out and surprises you because you have this kind of this this sense of sense of pleasure. But in fact, everything that you everything you worry about takes up takes up a part of your brain. And what you have to do, all you have to do is lean into it and and learn. Learn to accept it as part of you. And it it’s kind of training there’s there’s a there’s a terrific book by Jonathan fields, the American author, entrepreneur,
if you go to Jonathan fields.com, you can see his work he’s he’s a champion everything but in Good Life Project, is it?
He doesn’t date yesterday. Yeah, that’s, that is a terrific show, I actually download that, and I listened to it while I’m out for when I’m out for long walks. And yeah, it’s, um, it’s, it’s a great show. And his his book is really focusing on one particular aspect of, of living a good life as an entrepreneur, in particular, which is dealing with uncertainty and dealing with uncertainty and fear. And these things that traditionally are seen as, are seen as things that you you need to you need to kind of just eradicate from your life, and you need to need to either pretend they don’t exist, or you need to, you need to just beat them into submission, but really, the book is about the book is about managing them. And it’s also about recognizing what they mean. And as you saying, When something or something comes along, and you’re afraid of it, that’s that’s an emotional response to something that is pointing the way to something meaningful, because if it wasn’t meaningful, you wouldn’t be afraid. So I was exactly the same way you do. If If there’s something on it, it makes me nervous, or it just flat out scares me, then I feel this, there’s something there and it really needs to be looked at. It’s, it’s, it’s an indicator of, it may be an indicator of something I need to do. But it’s certainly an indicator, something that’s attention worth
David Ralph [26:19]
it. I read a stat recently where it says only 1% of people take proactive action, just 1% 99% of the people just generally reacted to what occurs near them at the time. Now, that’s a shocking statistic, isn’t it? Really, about we were born on this planet? Just once? unless you tell me otherwise. And we’ve got the chance to create the life that we obviously all want to dream for. But only 1% actually do anything about it?
Unknown Speaker [26:52]
Mike Sowden [26:54]
Yeah, I think I was feel as well that
it’s, it’s very easy when you when you’re looking at somebody up for the way that somebody else has carved out their career. And and it’s easy to look at that and assume that they had a plan. And then assume that because you don’t have a plan, you’re part of the 99%. But that isn’t that isn’t finding a path that is suitable for you. But I from from talking to, from talking to so called successful people, people, I would classes. Absolutely, absolutely putting the pieces together and doing doing some fantastic things. Everyone’s making it up as they go along, which I love. I love that. And by making up as I as they go along, I don’t mean that they’re they’re not putting planning in place, that they’re not thinking ahead, but they’re not thinking about the endings as well as their beginnings and middles. And I just mean that they are, they are there in this kind of balance of obviously reacting to things that come along with. But they’re also making making stuff happen. And they’re trying things out in their experiment, and they’re accepting the fact that the part of part of trying things out is that a certain amount of them are going to fail. And they’re accepting failure as part of the process of getting somewhere. So I think that, I think that it’s very easy to look at a phrase to label people as proactive retrospectively. When you look at the, you know, the success story, I mean, okay, an example. Good example is is Steve Jobs, who is who has been extremely, extremely open about his failures. And he’s been extremely open about the things that have gone wrong on on his path to, to status that he that he hasn’t, that he had. And I think the people, the people who are open about these things they other people can read, read them as that as a success, success story from start to finish. But they’re not not looking at the detail. They’re not looking at the actual, fine grained detail of how a success story is comprised. And most success stories seem to be comprised of our failures that didn’t get in the way of getting somewhere.
David Ralph [29:22]
I mean, we only see the highlights don’t we make?
Mike Sowden [29:25]
Absolutely, yeah. And, and if if somebody is feeling that, that they are bearing in that kind of 19 99% of just stuff happening to them, and they’re feeling that that sense of powerlessness? I would say, You’re not powerless, absolutely not powerless, there’s always something that you can do. There’s always a step that you can take towards taking taking control over, over what you’re doing and what you want to be doing. But the reality is that everyone has to, one has to deal with this balance of making stuff happen and ranting to stuff and nobody, nobody is 100%. Right? So um, yeah, it’s an interesting statistic, but i would i would i would temperate that way. Definitely.
David Ralph [30:14]
Well, I think it was a perfect segue, you bringing in the name of Steve Jobs into the into the conversation, because the whole theme of the show is based around a very simple conversation or an address, but not conversation that he made back in 2005. So um, as I normally do, but you’ve laid it on brilliantly, I’m just going to play that. And then we’re just going to reflect on his words and how his words have actually affected your life in any shape or form.
Steve Jobs [30:39]
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 leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [31:15]
I love doing what I’m doing at the moment having these conversations on a daily basis basis with people and in many ways, I think to myself, why did not do this five years ago, six years ago, whatever I couldn’t have done because I just wasn’t in the place to be able to pull it together or have the realization that it was available to me. Now listening to you speak your life almost seems from my point of view, to have been predestined all the way through. Obviously, it wasn’t. But it seems like that doesn’t it when you sort of look at those connections of being in Germany, going to Cyprus, having an interest in travel, wanting to be a storyteller, and just hearing you in conversation, it’s quite obvious that you can hold a pub, a table of people in in ratchet or basalt hours and hours and hours until obviously the Yorkshire Peter gets control of you. Do you do you feel that that those words are relevant to your life in any shape or form?
Mike Sowden [32:11]
Yeah, I am I looking back, looking back at things I can see that there is this there is this path has led me here. And I feel I feel a deep sense of obligation to that path. So it’s like everything that has happened up to now is, if I was looking at my life as a story, it would be like I have to continue this plot. And I have to do, I have to do the absolute best job I can with this character. And, and make things more interesting and ramp things up and make make things even more thrilling. But also, I’m aware that there are there are always different interpretations that you can take on, on looking back and looking back at the dots that led to where you are now. And I’m coming I’m taking one of them. But I’m that that is that is part of the, that’s part of the point of taking control of what you want to be doing you you make a choice, you look back at your, your, your personal history and your personal archaeology, and you collect all that data together and you make you make a choice. And you create something with it, and then you use that to define yourself. And if you’re if you’re online and you’re trying to build a presence, then you know that part of that is branding, you know, part of that is taking taking a particular story and using that to, to reach the world and get the world interested in what you’re doing. And, and to do that you really you really need to kind of need to own that story. And you need to accept that that story in in some respects is is filled with things that are that are challenges and difficulties. And, you know, I have challenges and difficulties and, and I I said times I sometimes get twitchy because I my ideal situation would be I’ll be traveling the world full time. And I would have a I would have a an income from what I do that is is absolutely astounding, everything that will possibly want to do and then you know that that would be that’d be ideal. And the reality is, I’m not yet at that stage, what I set out to do, when I quit my job, in 2012, I set out, I set out to first and foremost find a way to build up an income through writing, doing the kind of the kind of work that I really loved. And that I’m getting, I’m making considerable progress with that I’m absolutely loving it. And the more that I do, the more it feels my passion for it. And the other part of the puzzle is trouble. And I would I would absolutely love to be traveling full time and have the so called digital nomad lifestyle. Someone some our best friends have. And, you know, I, I know people who are working from the road and they’re traveling haven’t run around the world, every year, and they’re living a really good life, but they’re also living a life that they really, they really work out. And I I love the fact that they they are not resting on their laurels, they’re really, really working to get this lifestyle in place that they really want. And I i Yeah, I bet face the situation that I would, I would love to be in and so
David Ralph [35:36]
on. So that is that is the continuation of my plot and everything that all the all the dots up to this point, I love the fact that I can, I can now recognize that they are pointing to who I really am. And that I can I can leverage them, I can look at the different things that I love doing all the wrong things that make my make my writing unique in the way that is make my perspective on the things that I the things that I teach and things that I write unique. So I can I can actually just work on these things and get better at it. And that is, yeah, that’s that’s the value of that’s the value of this, this, this process up to this point. And it gives me the faith to continue it is so easy in one sense, because literally every single guest that I have spoken to have said, I didn’t know what I was doing, I stumbled around. But then I found the thing that was unique to me. And once I found that unique prospect that was in them over time, that’s when everything started to work. That’s when they found that passion as you were saying, and and that’s where where these conversations are so vitally important, because somebody sitting out there in a car, in Australia or wherever listening to us having these conversations, they are probably also having those internal conversations with themselves. But because they haven’t quite joined up both internal dots between between themselves in this conversation, they can’t quite see that it’s possible. But you’re saying to yourself, yes, I can do this, because I’ve seen other people doing it. And they’re going around the world for the funding. So I can do it, as well. And I think i think it’s it’s incredibly important to find that unique aspect of yourself and play on that, do you?
Mike Sowden [37:23]
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I also feel that it’s, it’s important to when you when you see other people doing things that you would like to be doing, it’s important to recognize that they are, they’re essentially presenting you with the right kind of rules. In writing, that there’s there’s a, there’s a phrase that the rules of writing about to be understood to not follow them. And, and I really feel and bite by saying that it’s it’s saying that the people who, people who break the rules in writing, when somebody comes along, and they’re completely new to writing experience, they look at something like, for example, just corrects on the road. And it can be very easy to assume that what he was doing was, was ignoring the rules, he was just saying, there’s rules that apply to me, the rules of writing, I’m going to, I’m just you know that they don’t work, I’m going to do something different. What he was actually doing was, he was understanding how the rules work of writing. And he was, he was choosing to do something different, because he believed he believed in doing something different, he could have a different input. So so I feel this, this applies to this very strongly applies to when you look at people online who are offering advice, in this case, for for traveling the world. And they’re putting the pieces of their life together what they’re doing, excuse me, what they’re doing is they’re offering, they’re offering set of choices. They’re not offering the rulebook that you have to follow, they’re offering a kind of a pick and mix, bag of advice. And if you are going to, if you’re going to make a make a path for yourself, that is going to be sustainable, but it’s going to fit you it’s got to be put together your way, and you could have all the advice in the world is, you know, all the advice that I read online I treasure because at some point, I find that there is there is usually some way to filter that into my life here has to be filtered. It’s very important to not to not look at what other people are doing, and assume you have to do it exactly that way. Because if you do that, you will probably fail. Because you are you. And you have to filter every single piece of advice that comes to you through yourself and make it fit you. And if you if you do that, you usually find that it will fit you in in your way. And that’s when that’s when stuff gets really really powerful. Because you are that you are furnishing your you’re not just taking somebody else’s took it for for changing the way that you do business of changing the way you see yourself. You’re you’re taking, you’re taking, you’re taking advice and you’re building your own toolkit. And I feel it’s very, very important with with everything that’s online, you know, just filter it for yourself.
David Ralph [40:16]
And find your unique self and play to your strengths. And when your passion will take it forward. Now, the interesting thing with you my when and I’ll be honest, I kind of laughed, and I this is gonna sound terrible when I when I say this to you. But when I read about your your heart attack, which turned out not to be a heart attack. Yeah, I actually laugh because I had exactly the same thing myself. And I felt that I had a heart attack as well, which just turned out to be stress. And I felt a bit silly about myself afterwards. But I’m white, what did it take up to that point when everything had led you to creating this path for you to then go? No, I need to do this. Now. I’m going to quit my day job. Because was it simply Oh my God, I might not have any time left? Was it your mortality suddenly became evident to you? Or was it just a wake up call?
Mike Sowden [41:11]
Yeah, it was. It was it was really it was a mixture of those things. But what happens when, okay, one of one of my, one of my trademarks online is I self self depreciating love of disaster. And I when I go travelling, I would always hope that something, something will go wrong enough for me to write about it when the last things I wrote about was going through in 2007, I was going through Paris, and on the way to Greece. And I’ve only just written this up for a website called map to an AP tia.com. And they they publish travel stories, fantastic site. But when I was going through Paris I am I got to garden all and i was i was i was in, you know, the main train station in Paris. And I knew that my train was leaving in an hour. And I just got complacent I just sat there. And then with a bit less than an hour ago, I was looking my tickets and I suddenly realized that the train was departing from a different station. And I had to get across Paris. I just made it because I was I was panicking the whole way. And it was an absolute, the time of the time, it was unbelievably miserable. And I was filled with such self recrimination, and I was cursing and I got, I got my suitcase stuck in the barriers and all sorts of stuff. It was just it was awful. But it makes a terrific story. And, and what that actually did, what that process did of being that, that panicky and scared and just just in total mortal fear of this wonderful holiday that I had set out and for me, just falling apart in front of me at just woke me up. And I spent the rest of that journey, which was, it was a journey by train all the way down to Italy, and then across on the ferry to Greece. I was just woken up, and I saw the whole journey. And that is that that is really the value of having these experiences that, you know, ideally, you would have an experience that is so magnificently wonderful that it wakes you up that sometimes sometimes the experiences that are that are negative can turn into positive as well. Because they wake you up. And that was I think that was that was really that was really why this this this ha scare that I had was so important to leading, leading me to where I am now because it just woke me up to how much I cared about the writing that I was doing. And how much I wanted to give it a go and see what happened and, and, and fashion a lifestyle for myself where I’m not, I’m not stuck in a job that I I really am not getting anything at all, except money. Just it made me It made me more adventurous and it made me want to take more risks. So I feel that when when these these things happen when these these kind of life events happen. They raise the stakes for you. And they make you they make you think, you know, what am I? What am I? What am I really doing? What am I really caring about here? Deep down? What is what is really the main plot? And are my strength from
so yeah, that was that was how he worked on me.
David Ralph [44:29]
And unfortunately, it wasn’t a heart attack. It was like a muscle spasm or something, wasn’t it?
Mike Sowden [44:34]
Yeah, indeed, it was. Yeah, I mean, I’ve also had something similar since so it might be just, it might be just a thing that comes back now and again, but it’s not hot related. I was sat there on a settler on the table, and they attached all sorts of stuff to me. And then they came back and they said it’s absolutely fine. And at that point. At that point, it was like, it was like a key to unlock something a lot better adorned with light flooding out. And I just thought I can do these things, I can have a go. And and most of these things, most of most of these things will, you know, most of these things will will work out some of them will fail. But I feel like I can really throw myself at this. Now,
David Ralph [45:16]
I have a real strong connection to you, as you’re saying that because it you know, this, this show is about you. But you’ll be wrong for me not to just share my experience because I had a similar similar one. And I had what I thought was a heart attack, it turned out to be stressed. And I’ve always been somebody that never ever looked like extra stressed at all, I just thought like go into my work and sort of float around. But of course you don’t know what’s going on inside. And I was a trainer and I was doing a training course. And I look back on it now. And I think that was really fascinating and slightly weird, really, because it’s the newest iPad kind of out of body experience. Where I was doing my arm training, and I was up on the whiteboard writing away can’t remember the subject I was doing it was insurance base. So it’s probably the Data Protection Act or something about and suddenly I had this pain in my heart like it almost doubled me up. And I thought, Oh my God, I’ve just had a heart attack. Because as far as I’m aware, any pains in your heart was a heart attack. That was End of story. But looking back on it now the sensible thing would have been society classroom, excuse me, I think I’m unwell. I’m going to have to stop this course. But I didn’t I carried on doing it. And my my body split into three parts. There was one that was doing the training still. There was another part of me that was going, Oh my god, I’m having a heart attack. What’s the symptoms of heart attack? Is it a pain down your left arm or your right arm Have I got a pain in my left arm, I haven’t got a right. And I was kind of sort of diagnosing myself. And then the third part of me kind of this is the outer body bit kind of went, this is amazing, this, you’re still managing to train, you’re still doing your job, but you actually diagnosing yourself, you know, and it was like three dialogues going on at the same time. And I sort of went out, finish off the class went out. And my manager said, you know, you’re right. And I said, Yeah, he said, You look a bit power. And I’m an older, so I’m just a bit tired. And then bang, a number one hit within about 10 minutes. And that was the moment I thought, oh my god, I’m not going to see my kids grow up, I’d really thought it was not the end of my life. As I say they put me on a monitor for a few days and all that kind of stuff. And it just turned out to be stress, I had to sort of relax myself internally. But that was my wake up call. Really when I look back on it. I think that was the moment when since then I quit my job. I’ve started doing this business. And I decided that if I’m only going to last another five or 10 years, hopefully that’s not the case, I’m going to try and make bows as authentic to myself as possible. And it’s not worth going into doing a job. But you’re just doing for a paypacket, and it doesn’t really fulfill you anymore. And I look back on that and actually think No, that was a good thing that that brought me to my senses and took me off on a path that wasn’t fulfilling me in any shape or form and actually was detrimental to my health.
Mike Sowden [48:08]
Now this fascinating story. Yeah, I am, I feel these things when they come along. They are obviously very difficult to deal with at the time. But but they’re all they’re always these repercussions that wake you up to yourself waking up to the things and the things that you you don’t think about when you’re when you’re in a comfortable state. And, you know, companies companies, obviously something that if you’re not interested in being comfortable, then you’re a little bit crazy. But at the same time, if you have too much comfort it it actually it files the edges off of your, you know, your, your, your true ambitions. Yeah. And, and you you, you forget yourself. And I think that I think listening to yourself and remembering who you are, is really important. Ne Ne that trick is not is a good thing very much.
David Ralph [49:04]
Well, that’s a part of the show. And once again, you’re you’re doing you’re doing a better presenting job than I am, because you’ve done a perfect segue there of saying you need to remember yourself. And this is the end of the show where we call it the Sermon on the mic, or as I like to call it today, Mike on the mic. And this is the bit where I’d like you to basically go back in time and speak to your younger self, about your experiences, about your challenges that you’ve overcome. And really, it’s your opportunity to give some advice to them on how they could make life If only you could point them in the right direction. So the music’s going to play. And when he fades out, Mike Sowden, you on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [49:49]
We go with
Unknown Speaker [49:52]
Mike Sowden [50:08]
Mike Sowden, your a nerd. And that’s great. And I know I know that you’re you’re feeling a little out of place at the moment. You’re you’re spending most of your time reading. You’ve got all those copies of National Geographic found out on the floor via picking through every day instead of being out playing football. But that’s fine. That’s exactly what you should be doing. And I okay, I’m talking to my my, I would say myself when I’m in Cyprus, this point, and myself back then I am Yeah, I was I was very much a nerd. But I was a nerd before. Before the kind of computer generation nerds came along. And then I became the computer generation nerd. I got fascinated with how computing, I played video games, everything that that everything that a particular generation that is now very successful on the internet will recognize. And back then it was, it was it was, it was weird. You know, I was I was weird. And I felt weird. I felt weird because I was doing things that weren’t the norm. When I when I left school I wasn’t interested in, I wasn’t immediately interested in learning to drive, I didn’t plow lots of money into learning to drive because it just didn’t. It didn’t help me the same way as getting up my bike. That was weird. And I think that as you’re, as you’re going as you’re going through life, and you’re finding these things that you’re very passionate about very, very easy to feel that those passionate, the things you’re passionate about are weird, in a bad way, but down the way in a good way. Probably weird in a way that will become incredibly cool. some point later on, this is the wonderful thing about the internet just turned neediness into a benefit into a positive force in your life. And, and it is unlocked an incredible amount of creativity from a generation of people who have gone gone into themselves who’ve gone going internally and and explored a lot of explored a lot of passions that they have for technology. And for fiction and for you know, things like Dungeons and Dragons. You know, I mean, if you think if you think back 20 years ago, about the whole fantasy fiction d&d thing that was a nerdy as they come. And now, Game of Thrones, and now Lord of the Rings, and all these things. And look at the 17 computer games, computer games have informed this current generation of technology, you know, apps use, apps use the same kind of triggers. As compute again, he used the whole leveling up thing, you know, this is this is normal business for humanity. And I feel that if you’re looking, if I was talking to myself back, then I would say that the things that you’re really, really interested in things that you’re really passionate about, you need to hang on to those, you need to do more of them. And I feel really lucky that I wasn’t dissuaded from doing these things, an early age, but I could have done more than I could have, I should have been writing a lot more back then. I should be writing a lot more now. But, but that’s, you know that that is part of the ongoing challenge and do more of the stuff you’re good at. And that you can get better. And if I was also if I was looking back to myself, about about five, six years ago, I would say when I started looking at advice online, and I started thinking about possible ways, I mean it when I when I when I started writing for money, and getting paid of the internet for money back in 2008 my mind, I have no idea that you can do you can make money from this, what.
But back then I just I I got addicted to reading stuff about life hacking, essentially reading stuff about business and about people using all these different ways to, to change the change their futures and do the things that they love and make money, doing stuff that fulfills them in a deeper sense, than the work that they’re currently doing for other people. And I got, I was just reading a lot of this, but I what I was doing was I was excited, I was looking at these things as well. And as I said earlier, if you do that, then you will feel powerless because other people, other people are doing these things with a different set of circumstances, different resources that may have, you know, it’s not, it’s not just about money, they may have more money to do things, but they are doing things with, you know, they have different brains, they have different skill sets. But what they are doing is when they’re putting this advice online, they’re showing you that they’re showing you how you can take some of what they’ve said, and then change it to fit to you. They’re not telling you how to live your life. And I unfortunately, spent rather too much time assuming that they were telling me how I should live my life. And in doing that I was I was getting fed up because I wasn’t living my life. And I was I was reading this advice the wrong way. And as soon as I started realizing that almost all this advice is is nothing but advice is just things that you can try out. And things that work for other people may not work for you. And that is fine. And the process of doing the process of trying out and having it fail on you will teach you something valuable. So the may have five, six years ago, I would say, you know, keep reading this stuff, keep keep keep working your way through all the old stuff that is coming out of Okay, copy blogger is a great example. If you want to learn to write, you want to learn to write effectively, if you want to learn to tell stories in effective way that really hooks people, then you need to read, you need to go back and you can say it too, when I think copy blogger have something called mind copy blogger, which is where you sign up for the newsletter. And it’s mine copy blogger.com I believe it, you sign for a newsletter and you get access to repurpose content from the last the last four or five years. Under the ebooks is a bunch of 13 and 14. And if you’re learning to write these ebooks are invaluable, they’re absolutely fabulous, the beautifully written the modern that they’re you know, they’re really smart about learning to like effective copy that really works on people. But all these all these books are doing is giving you advice, give me things that you can try out. And as soon as soon as I got into my head, and I started trying things out, instead of just accepting that I couldn’t do these things because I love them. I just tried stuff out my way. And this thing started to work. So I would say to myself, like then, you know, try out more things. And just experiment. And experimenting is experimenting is everything. You’re making stuff up as you go along. Because you experiment. And when you experiment and things work out, you unlock more and more of the future that you would want a future that excites you. So that would be my boss,
David Ralph [57:43]
Mike Sowden, it’s been an absolute delight to have you on the show today. You’ve been so generous, open and of course talkative. And you really wish you the best for the future and just listening to talk, I know that you’re going to go on to be an absolute, you know, legend in writing, I don’t know if is going to be blogging, or it’s going to be novels or what it’s going to be. But I just I just know that you’ve got a talent for that and it comes across on the mic, you’re just going to put it on the page and shine a light over the literary world. So thank you so much for being on the show. And as I say to all our guests, you’ve always there’s an open door here. If you have ever got anything you want to share, or any sort of successes you want to sort of add on to your connection of joining up the dots. Just give us a call. We’ll get you on the mic, because joining those dots is the only way to build our future. Thank you very much, Mike Sowden.