Olly Richards Is Our Guest Today On The Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Olly Richards
Olly Richards is todays guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots podcast.
Today, we’re delving into the captivating realm of language learning and storytelling and reveal how you go from Jazz Musician to English Teacher to $10M online education business.
Join us as we explore the how one mans unexpected passion for languages has ignited a global community.
We’ll take you on a voyage through Olly’s remarkable story after discovering the power of learning through stories after a terrifying near-death experience on top of a mountain.
As the founder of OllyRichards.co, he empowers language enthusiasts with innovative techniques, making learning enjoyable and accessible.
As he says “i’m building a business (storylearning.com) that works on my terms…
An education business that generates millions of dollars every year (with an eye-watering profit margin), that gives me near total time-freedom, reaching millions of people every month, and that I’m proud to call my own.
But here’s the thing…
99% of business advice is intended to answer one question – “How can I make more money now?”
How The Dots Joined Up For Olly
But here’s the thing:
“More money now” can very quickly take you out of alignment with what you truly want, leaving you with a business you don’t want to wake up to every morning.
Business decisions taken in alignment with your true self lead to a stronger, more profitable, and more valuable business over time.
From humble beginnings to prominence in language education, Olly’s journey epitomizes dedication and creativity.
His immersive storytelling approach redefines how we engage with languages, fostering connection and cultural appreciation beyond communication.
So join us as we delve into Olly’s insights and experiences, unveiling invaluable lessons he’s gathered.
Whether you’re a language enthusiast, a storytelling aficionado, or simply intrigued by the fusion of education and creativity, this episode promises fresh perspectives and sparks of inspiration.
So with the world learning languages everyday what made him stop and think that he could add something new to the pool that would work for him.
So, grab your favourite beverage, find a cozy spot, and get ready to join up some dots with the one and only Olly Richards.
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Olly Richards such as:
Olly shares the route he went through to find the happy place om his life, which was an expected to him as anybody.
Why so many people make the mistake in life of throwing everything at their work hoping for something to simply magically occur.
Olly reveals his total belief that commitment, passion and turning up everyday are the corner stones to making the success that you want.
Olly tells two powerful stories that you simply have to hear which are packed with amazing business insights.
How To Connect With Olly
If you enjoyed this episode of Join Up Dots business coaching podcast, then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as David Kadavy, Dan Lok, Sophie Radcliffe, or the amazing Ben Guttman
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Olly Richards Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock. And start getting the dream business and wife you will, of course, are dreaming of. Let’s join your host David route from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:40]
Yeah, good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Welcome to another episode of Join Up Dots. This is an entrepreneur interview show and we’re going to be delving into the captivating realm of language learning, and storytelling and reveal how you go from a jazz musician to an English teacher to a 10 million online education business. And we’re going to explore how one man’s unexpected passion for languages has ignited a global community and we’re going to take you through his remarkable story after discovering the power of learning through a terrifying near death experience. On top of a mountain, it was after a bit of booze as well. So you know, don’t don’t go too hard on it. He basically is building a business that empowers language enthusiasts, with innovative techniques, making learning enjoyable and accessible. But also, he says I’m building a business that works on my terms, and education business that generates millions of dollars every year, with an eye watering profit margin gives me near total time freedom reaching millions of people every month, and that I’m proud to call my own but here’s the thing 99% of business advice is intended to answer one question, how can I make more money now, but here’s the real thing. Don’t tell anyone. More money now can very quickly take you out of alignment with what you truly want. Leaving you with a business you don’t want to wake up to every morning business decisions taken in alignment with your True Self lead to a stronger more profitable and more value business over time. So whether you’re a language enthusiasts a storytelling a fishy Ardo, or simply intrigued by the fusion of education and creativity. This episode promises fresh perspective and sparks of inspiration. So with the world’s learning languages every day, what made him stop and think that he could add something new to the pool? That would truly work for him? Well grab your favourite beverage, find a cosy spot, and get ready to join up some dots with the one and only Mr. Olly Richards. Good morning. How are you?
Olly Richards [2:46]
Good morning, David. I’m much better after hearing that intro. That’s a very well done intro. I have to say,
David Ralph [2:51]
well, it’s a fascinating story, because one of the things I like on Join Up Dots, and I don’t see it very often I get 1000s of guests pitches, is that clarity of understanding that all money isn’t good money. And I bang that home time and time again on Join Up Dots. But you can create a business where actually becomes a nightmare, no matter how much money you are bringing in. So I just want to focus in on that. First of all, because it really is sort of the mantra of Join Up Dots. When did you realise that all money wasn’t the right money?
Olly Richards [3:28]
Too late? I think I think I realised that far too late. I mean, it’s, it’s a very difficult pill to swallow. For someone who hasn’t actually experienced that yet. Because I think, you know, the truth is when we start as entrepreneurs, we Yeah, but yes, they’re, they’re, you know, we’re doing it to, you know, build a business for ourselves, we’re doing it for freedom, but we also want the money let’s, let’s, let’s be, let’s be real, and, you know, almost all of us, myself included, grew up with, you know, living month to month, you know, not having even with even with a good job, you know, you’ve got your financial scarcities all around you, you’ve got, you’ve got mortgage payments to make, you’ve got, you know, all these all these things to look after. And so we live in a society where money becomes the, this the altar at which we kind of bow down and worship. And so that’s what we that’s what we that’s what we chase and, you know, unlike a regular job, being an entrepreneur, you have the ability to work harder, and make more money. That’s what’s so exciting about it, right? You’ve there are no caps. And it’s incredibly exciting when you first understand this, that there are no caps to what you can earn. So if you can just work a bit harder or do things a bit differently, then you can earn more money and if you earn more money, you’ll solve all those problems, right? And so in my case, you know, I, my business story learning is is 10 years old, and you know, in the first few years I built it up longside a, a full time job. And then eventually I quit when my daughter was born, and I wanted to make make a go of it. And you know, from there the pressure of having to provide for a family and all of that stuff meant that I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing and more and more and more. And it got to a point. You know, if, I guess 345 years ago, where, you know, the business was only millions, annually, by any estimation, you know, I was very successful. But I, I just wanted, I was extremely dissatisfied. And I wanted more. And what I realised subsequently, was that nobody ever tells you, when it’s time to stop, yeah, they tell you when it’s time to start, but they never tell you when it’s time to stop. But you have to, you have to grapple with that yourself. When you wake up. And you realise, man, I’m not sleeping well, because I’m thinking about, I’m waking up in the middle of the night and feeling like checking my email. Or I look at my calendar for the next week, and I don’t want to do anything on it. And so it was a very gradual process of realising Hang on, I’m making all this money. But this lifestyle is not working for me.
David Ralph [6:12]
I went through a similar thing, which I’ve referenced many times on, Join Up Dots, and I look back on it, and I can say purely, I was so eager to provide great customer service. I hadn’t set any boundaries. And so with a sort of global podcast, I was open to every single timezone. And because it was a personal brand, people generally wanted to speak to me, and I felt that I should speak to them. And I hear acute burnout almost died. And Bane had to go through a realisation of exactly as you’re saying, the wrong money. It’s just not worth it. Now, this morning, I’m doing two podcast episodes, I’ve already been through a mile swim, I went through an all day breakfast in the caf, some afternoon, I’m gonna see Barbie with my daughter. And that’s my day. And I,
Olly Richards [7:03]
my day sounds very similar to what
David Ralph [7:05]
I do. And I look at it a lot of the times and I think to myself, am I being lazy now? Or am I being productive in the right way? I’m still rooted into the corporate hustle and the grind in my head. I can’t shake how I feel about floating around doing a bit of bit and a bit of that. Is that something that resonates with you? Yeah,
Olly Richards [7:29]
well, the thing is that, so the simple version of this of this conundrum is when you have a lot of work that you don’t want to be doing. So you know, your story of of, of extreme burnout is very, very common among entrepreneurs. I’ve never had a really extreme case. But I’ve had multiple cases where it’s just taken me two weeks of lying on the sofa to recover. And it’s not not a nice thing. But see, what I found is that that’s the part that’s going to easy as it is easier to contend with. If if you are doing jobs within your business that you don’t want to be doing. You’re bored with that. Have you working too hard, you can always delegate, you can always build a team around yourself. That’s one of the easier problems.
David Ralph [8:07]
I knew at the beginning only when you’ve got no
Olly Richards [8:10]
beginning. No, you’ve got to do it yourself. But then, but then at the beginning, you know, I think most people, adrenaline and necessity will work will go a long way. At the beginning. The issue comes I think, what do I mean? Certainly for me, it’s when I realised you know what, I could make an extra 100 grand this month, and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to my life at all. And yet, I still have a I still have back to back meetings today. So what the hell’s going on? You know, so I mean, it again, it’s a difficult conversation this because it does depend on the, the entrepreneurial so this the stage of business of the person listening and at the beginning, for the first three, four or five years, five years always seems to be the magic number. There’s no way around the hustle you as you just have to it’s you know, it’s it’s it heads down. It’s It’s hard work. But when you eventually start to get this mismatch, where you realise the amount of money that I’m making, now, it’s going to make no material difference to my lifestyle. And so what does that mean for how I want to be working. And this can take you down a darker path of starting to get disaffected with your business in some this hasn’t happened to me, but many people report starting to dislike their customers. And then you have these these other questions around ego. So you know, it’s, it’s one thing you know, what you bought, you described there about feeling that you’re lazy in the ego is a difficult thing. If everyone around you on Twitter is saying that you have to figure out the 10x, bro, it’s difficult for you to say actually, you know what, I’m good with how things are. And then you’ve got the financial security elements, so you can be making money now, but what if the business disappeared tomorrow? Could you would you still be okay? So, a lot of more existential questions come into play that no one’s ever taught you about and that’s the difficult thing and this is what I write to That’s so much in my in my newsletter, Olly Richards Dotco. It’s a read a lot of this mindset stuff because it’s this this kind of existential mindset dilemma. That’s that that not you just you can’t prepare for
David Ralph [10:12]
this what I love about your business and one of the one of the things I see that people fail in business is too much breadth. And instead of focusing in on something incredibly value one thing, and then rinsing it and repeat. So when I was looking at yours, I thought I like this, you don’t just teach somebody to learn a language, you can teach them to speak multiple languages, you can teach them to speak in a way that is interesting for them, but speeds it up. And it’s the same thing in a sort of funnel to your product. It just keeps on building, building building. So you have to make that product once and then find more and more hooks that make people want to have your product. And that is, that’s how successful businesses are made. I see so many people doing this course and that course and this product and that product, and it’s so diluted that customers come across, they don’t really know what they should be looking for, should be asking for. Now, when you started yours, Ali, did you do that same throw everything at the wall and hope that something sticks? Or did you look at it and go, No, I know exactly what I’m providing here. And we will talk about your your fascinating breathing issue at the top of the Argentinian mountain because that, to me is once again, everyone that has a really successful business seems to start from the point of the darkest dot, where they kind of go, that was the worst time in my life. But thank God for that. Thank God for that I would not be able to get there. So let’s talk about the first question. Did you throw everything at the wall and hope something could stick? Or did you have total clarity about what people basically wanted was to be able to learn language in a non boring way fast?
Olly Richards [12:02]
Yeah, so I threw the spaghetti, the rice, the couscous. Everything was
David Ralph [12:10]
fine. Do we do that?
Olly Richards [12:11]
Well, we do it because finding product market fit is nobody’s birthright, we have to work hard to get there. So when we first when we first started, There’s generally two ways of, of, of starting a business. It can be a product first business or an audience first business. And the which the one that you choose makes, in a very much determines, you know, how you need to go about growing, in my case was an audience first business, meaning that for the first couple of years, I just started by blogging, all I was doing was was blogging, growing an audience growing an email list. And and then when it came time to actually want to, to monetize was a word word that I hate. But but it’s well understood to to monetize the blog or the or the audience, then you got the question of well, what actually what should I make? And that puts you in the, in the in the question of a product market fit of what is the product that I can make, that the market or my audience in this case, is going to want and is only successful businesses figure this part out, most people get it wrong, they never really figure it out. And where businesses really get into trouble is where they they have this sort of spaghetti against the wall approach, like you say, and then they try and scale that. But all that you’re doing, they’re escaping chaos, and disorganisation. And which is why, very often the source of the kind of burnout that we were talking, talking earlier, because you have to work 10 times harder than the person that has figured out a very tight product market fit or product audience fit. And it’s and then goes to scale, something that that that they know work. Now, in the case of of my business story, learning where we are now we were 10 years old now. And we have scaled something that has found product market fit. That’s why, you know, we’ve been lucky enough to do do quite well, because we found something that was very unique that resonated with the market, and we scaled that. But it was only in 2019 or 2020 I believe that we actually rebranded to story learning.com Before that, we were called something else it was much more of a personal brand in my case. So I like to tell the story because even though now the business is very, very coherently organised around the theme of stories and all the products are based around stories, it all seems very, very well thought through. It took me seven years to get to that point. And through over the course of those seven years, there was iteration after iteration at published books, I made courses I did webinars, I did it you name it, I did it membership sites. And it was it was only once I realised that the story element was resonating and vibing so well with my audience that I follow. To breadcrumbs and eventually made all the products about that, and then eventually took the step of rebranding, doing a 301 domain redirect to story learning.com, which was terrifying. But I knew that the power of that of the power of the clarity in the brand name was what was going to lay the groundwork for actually scaling the business because it’s so clear. So it took a lot of time, a lot of attention. And a lot of, you know, seven years of back and forth, intimately getting to understand my audience and how they like to learn.
David Ralph [15:31]
Now, I think it used to be called I will teach you a language I understand before it became this, right. Yes, storytelling, learning learning language through stories. Now, when when I when I was reading about it, I found it fascinating because I always want to learn Indian waiter language, because it’s the one language in the world that really annoys me about when I’m in a curry house. The waiter asks for me in English, to tell them what they want, and then a turn instantly to their mate and, and use their own language, which is perfectly acceptable, right, because I’m buying their food, I always want to know what they’re actually saying, in case they don’t like me, and they’re going to spit in my carry or whatever, you know, that would be my fascinating language to learn. So when I was going up and down your, your, your website, it took me back to when I had to learn French at school many, many years ago. And there was a family called the Lafayette, I always remember them. And it was Professor Lafayette and his wife, Marie Lafayette and their kids. And it was like, little stories. But it was boring stories. It was that Professor letter A Lafayette has a breakfast and I used to be half don’t care, you know. But through your stories, it seems to be that there’s more of a hook to make me want to find out more. But Professor Lafayette is having an affair with a next door neighbour and a murders Marie lap is overly petty dasion A and and moves on? Is that how it actually works when we want to actually find out more is that when languages come to us quicker?
Olly Richards [17:03]
Yes, while is that there’s so much in that question. But generally, I mean, so with it’s a little bit like entrepreneurship, really, in the sense that, you know, if you tried to start a business, but your heart’s not really in it, you know, you’re not gonna get very far with languages, you’ve got to the person who dabbles gets nowhere, essentially, whereas the person who can commit to it and do consistent daily work will will get far and almost irrespective of the method just because you need to bring commitment and character to, to your learning. So the reason that so many people struggle with friends at school is because they just couldn’t care less about it, you know, 14 year old and this was this was me, too, you know, a 14 year old doing, learning about the Lafayette’s from a textbook just couldn’t care less. And when you have no know why, when you have no motivation, you it’s impossible to learn your brain, your brain won’t take it in. So when it comes to, to adults learning languages and and that’s what storytelling, we do serve the adult market, we’ve got to find this balance because we so we teach through stories. And the stories are, as you say, we tried to make them as interesting as possible. We, we often employ employ that kind of murder mystery approach, actually, in some of our paperback books for this, but so we, we we very carefully construct the stories to be interesting and applicable to somebody that a wide range of people can read. But at the same time, there is a fine line to be walked because when you’re a complete beginner, you also can’t process too much information at once. And so we need to simplify things so that they that the stories can actually be accessible. So it’s, I guess, in short, it’s, it’s a bit of a balance. But as you get past that beginner stage and you can start to understand more of the language yet then we very quickly introduce a lot more, a lot more stories with with more, you know, appealing plotlines with, you know, with cliffhangers and all of that
David Ralph [19:15]
sexy stuff, that’s what we want is it is a sexy stuff. He said like 50 Shades of French and whatever.
Olly Richards [19:22]
It is not because we have to walk a few fine cultural lines. But we go as we go as far as we can. And
David Ralph [19:30]
I generally do as well. And it’s not very far. I’ll tell you.
Olly Richards [19:34]
Yeah, I mean, you know, the world’s changing we were kind of we are we’re always we get into trouble. Sometimes I’ll leave it at that. So
David Ralph [19:43]
it fascinates me this because you kind of answered the question. But I thought to myself, right, okay, I’m gonna learn some languages. I’m gonna be an expert in Spanish. And I always say to my kids, Spanish Spanish is like a foreign language. You know, and what I mean by that is, when I go to France, I speak in a kind of slower flow Tia. And I can kind of pick up words I remember from my past, but Spanish is spoken at 100 miles an hour. And it’s just I can’t get anything. You know, even if I asked for directions, I might as well have just closed up the window and driven around if I can’t get anything at all. So am I starting off with a Spanish book for like three year olds? Or is it going to be like an adult version of what I would want to read but simplified? So one
Olly Richards [20:29]
of my favourite pieces of language learning advice that always gets people in a tizzy is that children’s books are terrible for adults to learn languages. And the reason is that, that the children’s book is aimed at them the mind of a three year old or a six year old. So, you know, if you’re an adult trying to learn Spanish, and you’re reading about a Hungry Caterpillar, of course, you’re not going to be interested. So no, it’s absolutely not about about about taking a children’s approach at all. It’s about finding an approach that you yourself can get behind that may be story learning, it may not plenty of people don’t, you know, if you don’t like reading and you don’t like stories, our stuff is horrible for you. You know, you may, you may find that you get on better with an app, you may find that you’re like a traditional textbook, the real secret is to just is to find something that you like that you feel that works for you that you enjoy. And then just to stick to it like anything else, that’s the most important thing. And then as for the Spanish being a million miles an hour, I mean this but the Spaniards, they do speak quite quickly. But then honestly, every language sounds like gobbledygook. When spoken by native speakers at the beginning, the reason that you find it so difficult is because simply because you don’t know any of the language, as soon as you if you had the same Spanish that you had done. If your Spanish was the same as the French that you’ve done at school, you’d be hearing it very, very differently. So it’s simply a question of, of exposure, it’s unreasonable to think that a language should be easy. It’s unreasonable to think that you can listen to people on the street and should be able to understand that languages are hard, they take years to learn. And so, you know, I think you have to kind of approach as such and not not get discouraged when, when you first try listening and find it difficult.
David Ralph [22:18]
Let’s listen to Jim Carrey. And we’re going to be back with Ali,
Speaker 4 [22:20]
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 [22:48]
Now, the reason why you bow on literally every episode, because it’s it’s that love piece. But people are sitting in their cubicles, they’re sitting there on the bus thinking, everyone says, go for the passion, not the money, go for the passion, but you can’t find the passion. But I’m hearing it from you. I’m hearing it big time that actually you love this. And you wake up every morning, and it’s more than a business. It’s something that has really tapped into something that was within you. But did you know that you were going to love it? Or was it through the story that I read? Certainly something that took you by surprise, even though you had a lot of the kind of elements to build this beforehand? before? So is it something that the labs come to you? Or did you find the love first
Olly Richards [23:38]
ad I mean, I’m still, I still can’t believe it every day of every year that goes past is still still amazing to me. But But I think, you know, I don’t know, if this stuff is for everybody. I said I can say for sure that anybody can do it. And you’ll see why in a second one I kind of showed to help how I did it. Anyone can do it. But the thing is, I don’t believe everyone has got the desire and the willpower to actually see through I was listening to a podcast, just the other day, very successful YouTuber was talking about how he has a lot of friends who are who are, you know, mid career and other during the 30s You know, successful jobs making a lot of money. And sometimes they come to him and ask him, you know, how, how can I start my own business. But the truth is, they’re so comfortable with their cushy job and then on salary, that they just don’t have a sufficient pain, to motivate themselves to do the work that’s required to build a business. And so in my case, so my background is I’ve had a series of seven year careers. So my first seven years I was a jazz musician. That’s when I went to music College in London, spent four years playing jazz piano was great fun, and then played professionally for a few years. I eventually got got tired of that. And then I decided to train as an English teacher. So I did a course on that I went to live in Japan, I lived in Egypt and Qatar where the World Cup just was, and spent seven years teaching English and travelling the world. I spent the last seven years building story learning the business itself. And right now I’m at the beginning of another another sort of seven year period where I’m actually writing about business and teaching this stuff. But see, when I first started, the reason I started was simply because I, I needed some kind of creative expression, I was living in Qatar at the time, I was in middle management, this English English teaching school. And I was I was very stifled, I needed some kind of creative outlet. And the thing that I’d always love to do in the background is learn languages, I’ve learned eight languages, and I just love the process. So I just read a book, it’s called the $100 startup by Chris Guillebeau. And inside that book was a story about a guy called Benny Lewis who is a friend of mine, and what he’s now it wasn’t it wasn’t at the time, who was making a very good living and travelling the world by blogging about languages and I thought, well, I can do that. So I’d literally just that you know, that day just put started up a free WordPress blog. And I started writing about a blogging about my ideas about language learning. I then started listening to podcasts, when people talk talks about how to grow a blog, and I just educated myself and I just kept doing it. But it was super fun. You know, David, it was like it was it was so fun, just to write about the stuff that I loved. By by luck, or, or charts or skill, whatever you put it down to, I kept it up. And then after a couple of years, when I ended up quitting my job and my daughter was born, and we moved back to the UK, I had an audience of, you know, 30 40,000 people a month coming to my blog, and that was the, that was enough to actually make a form of viable business. But it was my, the knowledge I had about language learning, the willingness to create and to publish, and then the sort of the stick to itiveness to keep it up for long enough, that kind of created that that two year period, when I built the foundation and my audience, I think I got lucky in a way because I was predisposed to do all of those things. I’m a bit like that. If I turn around to Joe Bloggs on the street who enjoys drawing, and say to Joe, look, Joe, if you just make like little drawing diagrams and explanations on Instagram for the next two years, one of that one a day, you could probably quit your job and start a business. That is that is true, it’s true information that he can act on and, and, and make a reality. But that it’s all going to depend on Joe, whether he actually does that or not, and sees it through and has the emotional sort of fortitude just to kind of stick to it even when he’s busy. And he has other things to do. So I think this passage to building an audience based business, which is what we’re talking about here, is objectively true. And it’s as easy today, as it was in 2013 when I when I first started. Now, the part that I can’t account for is how you then make someone actually do that or not. And that’s I think, I think that’s never going to be solved really it just comes down to the individual.
David Ralph [28:32]
I think you hit to two words that really all about three or four words, I see you but it really struck home. First, I can do that. Now that that is so powerful. And if you’re being told to do something, it’s like the kid who gets told, I never had a chance to learn piano you’re gonna learn it, but I don’t want to learn it. So they’re just bored stupid. Now I can play the piano and never adolescent in my life. But it was just turning up every day and plinking and plunking and all that sounds a bit like that song and getting back on it and keep on going. And so is that kind of I can do that that that sudden realisation bat. Yeah, I think I’ve got the skills exactly the same with podcasting. One afternoon I listened to free podcasts back to back and on the third one, I just had those thoughts in my head. I can do that. Now, the other bit is stickability. That is the key thing. And that’s what I want to talk about now that that willingness to keep going and I tell you I’m in a moment of stickability. I’m in that early stage of difficult stickability when the motivation for something has to be embedded. And I decided I was going to start swimming seven days a week. And so I kept on thinking and it kept on thinking about it all day and then I thought why I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna get a membership. went the first day went the second day. On the third day I was laying in bed all nice and warm and fun. I don’t really fancy this, but now I will go, I will go. And I’ve done about two weeks. And at the end of the swimming pool, there’s a big sign that says motivation is what gets you started habits is what keeps you coming. And I look at that all the time. Now, I’m kind of lucky that I’ve got that bloody minded stickability. But yeah, is that something that you can learn as well? Do you think in the same way that people can learn languages? Do you think there’s sort of neuro pathways and stuff that you can learn to be stickable? Or is it just you’ve either got it or you haven’t?
Olly Richards [30:33]
Well, I mean, listen to me this kind of personal development is a huge industry the how many books are we all read on on habits and there’s BJ Fogg tiny habits, there’s atomic habits by James clear, there’s a there’s 100 new books a year on this stuff. So I assume that it works for some people. You know, I think, in my case, I’m, I’m very, I’m very stubborn in certain ways, and not in others, right? If I could go to the gym with the same level of stubbornness that I write blog articles I’d be, I’d be absolutely shredded by now. But I can’t this is not my it’s not my thing. And doesn’t matter how much I forced myself, I’ve just been programmed, you know, not to, not to be not to be strong in that area. But interestingly, what I’ve what I found to them, what totally changed, changed my life and in a healthy way, was actually walking. So I don’t, I’ve never been able to go to the gym every day. But I can go for a one hour walk around the hills of Hobbit Shire, where I live every morning, for every single day, and I’ve have a streak of god knows how long now months and months and months. So what that taught me about myself, and you know, so much of the way that I think about business is about played your own strengths and your own preferences, to find your own unfair advantage is that you’re just going to be strong on certain things, and not on others. And the sooner that you accept that and choose the things that you know, you’re going to enjoy and vibe with, the more success you’re going to have. Because when it comes to when it comes to business time, and consistency is pretty much the name of the game. You know, if all you do is write one blog post a week, for two years, and don’t miss a week, you will have a substantial audience by the end of it. But if you don’t like writing, then don’t try and force yourself instead, podcast or do Instagram or make YouTube videos, even though there’s a lot of options out there, you know, get big on LinkedIn, so many different things you can do. So what I tend to encourage people is like, know your strengths and play to them, not against them.
David Ralph [32:54]
Now, I know that I ever kind of fu aren’t going to prove you wrong. And that that’s goes through my life, I can see it all the way through every time somebody says to me, Oh, you won’t keep up on that. I’ll go like, okay, and it’s like a fire but burns in me. And I particularly like it I cycle everywhere on my bike. And this was this happened in the pandemic, I said to my wife, I’m not using our third car a lot. It’s my she’s got a car, my daughter’s got a car, and I had my car and I get them jumping in the others because it saved my fuel. And I said, I’m gonna get rid of it. And she said, Oh, well, what are you going to do? I said, just get a bike. Now I found that when the white the rain was the worst, and the weather was kind of, you wouldn’t want to go out onto a bike. That was the days I actually enjoyed it most because that kind of fu world sort of came to fore even more. But of course, that’s peaks and troughs. So how do you deal with the kind of the troughs when you’re waking up and you know, it’s Barbie on and you’d rather go and save, then then Ben doing it, because those troughs can kind of take control Cantlay and one day off, and then it builds into a week.
Olly Richards [34:04]
So what I’m going to say works for me on the business side, I’m, like I said before, don’t take advice from me for any other aspects of life, such as exercise or nutrition, because I’m not good at it. But what I found has always worked for me is to be very, very clear on the core value drivers in the business and what your output is in order to produce that right. So I’ll give you a good example of what I’m doing right now. So in my in my Olly Richards Dotco newsletter which have a business newsletter. It’s new, right? I started it in January this year. And it was very interesting experience for me because it’s 10 years since I started something new that I was determined to stick to. And starting from zero is a humbling experience. You know, no one on Facebook, no one on Twitter, literally zero, no website traffic, nothing. And I had to just I’d write, I’m doing this with a with a two year timeframe. Alright, so I’m still running involved in many, many different businesses. My intention was to build this, this business business newsletter, slowly over a period of about 24 months, by which time I calculated I would have an audience that would make it a viable seven figure business. Now, what I knew that I had to do, I decided at the core drop that we were going to be three ways I was going to do that. One was a weekly newsletter. And I felt like I could write a weekly newsletter that was quite unique, because not many people, with my type of business write about stuff. The second would be social, because social is pretty important for growth, especially in this niche. And then the third was going to be newsletter sponsorship. So I’ve been buying sponsorships in other newsletters as a way to use use capital to influence growth. So all those three things, I hired someone to repurpose to do my social, so they would repurpose my writing for my social newsletter. Growth, basically, and newsletter sponsorships are basically doing batches. So I’ve just identified bases I want to sponsor and I sponsor those out for the year. So there’s not much not much to do there. And then all that I focus my time on is daily writing, it takes me between six to eight hours to write a newsletter and publish it because I put a lot of work into them. And so I know that basically, I need to be writing every day for two to three hours in order to maintain a schedule and also be getting ahead. So when I start my week, I have one thing that I do. And that is I will write from 9am till 12pm Dawn and till midday three hours. I bought, like everything that’s going on else in my life, and everything else is going on in my life and running running story learning to, to greater empires, my other my other business, all the other things I do, I set aside nine to 12 in the morning, and all I do during that time is write my newsletter. And every week, I’m going to get one newsletter ahead. So I, I know that’s the core value driver, I know that’s what’s going to be responsible, it helps that I have that conviction, because I’ve done it before. And that’s what makes it difficult for people who are new, right that you hadn’t done it before. So you don’t necessarily know what those core value drivers are. And then I just make it that simple. I block it off in my calendar. And I’m not allowed to do anything else during that time. So that’s how I approach it simple as that.
David Ralph [37:33]
I podcast three days a week as three days a month. And that’s all I do. And basically, I’m always about five months ahead of schedule. And I will come into my it’s funny today I’ve only got two which is which is lovely. But generally I will come in and I will start at seven o’clock in the morning. And I’ll finish about nine o’clock at night. And it’s a hard day’s push talking to 12 or 13 individuals and being focused on it. But in that one day, you’ve done three or four weeks work, you know, and then you can sort of step away, I always found it difficult Ollie, the people that would say, Oh, I’ve got a business meeting. And then I’m going to record a podcast, and I’ve got this and then I’m gonna end it was like squeezing it in. I believe that you’ve got to get you’re not just your focus, but you’re kind of your inspirational drive to go write today. I’m a blogger. Today, I’m a podcaster and get that head on. It’s just like Worzel Gummidge when we were kids that used to have different heads, and would put them on, I think having that batching process is the key to business and I can’t understand people that savour that jumping from one thing to another, how did they do it?
Olly Richards [38:46]
Well, you know, I it works for me, but I I’ve been around long enough to know that it doesn’t work for a lot of people. And I can’t tell you why I think I think people just entrepreneurs are scatterbrained, we all are, it’s really more rare than not to have to do the kind of batching that you do with your podcast, and that’s very impressive. I couldn’t do that. So I think it’s just it’s just reality that people work in different ways. And you know, some people will be able to train themselves to time block like I do on my morning writing. Other people just not gonna be able to do it that too scatterbrained. A lot of people who struggle at school or have ADHD become become entrepreneurs. For them, they you know, they had their own their own considerations. And and I think, you know, ultimately it comes down to just knowing how you work best I mean, for the two years that I built storytelling when I was still working as a as an English teacher. I didn’t have time to batch anything and I was working, working full time. So I would come back in the evening, after work knackered sit there and spend an hour or two writing a blog post. And then I probably spend most of half of the weekend doing it as well. That’s just what I could do in my in my time. So I would worry personally, I would worry less about the precise process, but more about the kind of blanket consistency, you know, if you can only do two hours in the evening, that’s cool. But do it, like, whatever it is, like you got to stick to it is that consistency over time? And I think what you do is sort of probably less important than actually actually making sure you keep it up.
David Ralph [40:28]
Yeah, I built my first business and it’s still running today. And I built it in my lunchtime when I used to be at work being paid. Right. Cool. So I used to have an hour lunch, I used to stretch. How long is your lunch break? Oh, it was an hour. But I used to stretch it to an hour and 20 I was one of those lucky people, but nobody really knew what he was doing. And I you know, I could float here and float there. So um, yeah, so I sometimes I stretched it to two hours. But I used to do that every single day, just sit on the sofa with my laptop, turn it towards me, and then sort of bash away at stuff. And it does come to something. But I’m going to play the words of Steve Jobs. And then I want to take you back to the big story. Because I find this fascinating of how story learning really came about here, Steve Jobs.
Speaker 5 [41:10]
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 [41:46]
Now your dot seem to join up when you stopped breathing at three o’clock in the morning after having a bit of a boozy session with your mates. Which I’d love to know more about that story. But also, I’d like to know that if you could see it as when your new path started at that time, just like Steve Jobs says, was that something that was just a eureka moment for you?
Olly Richards [42:09]
Nothing? Nothing of the sort. I mean, I if you heard of narrative fallacy, David? Yes, I hope. Yeah. So now it narrative fallacy is the idea that you make you make sense of something retrospective? Yeah, I do. Time. Yeah. But but it didn’t necessarily was not necessarily Thus, you know, so it happened. Those are the way things happen to work out. So people will often tell, you know, you see this a lot with very successful entrepreneurs, they kind of, they tell tell. Yeah, they tell you the story that’s successful. I did this. And then this happened. I told it as if it was inevitable, but inevitably, nothing’s inevitable. And we often got to make that make sense of things retrospectively. So there is I it would be very easy for me to sort of spin that the yarn. Well, in fact, I do spin the yarn, let’s be honest. So I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you the story. And then I’ll tell the whole
David Ralph [43:04]
conversation with yourself, then it was brilliant to see.
Olly Richards [43:07]
I’m gonna tell you the story, the way that I tell it in the language business, and then I will I’ll put a slightly different light on it through the business lens, because I think it’s instructive and it’s been very powerful actually articulating the story. So So what happened to I was mid 20s. Pretty just, I wasn’t a travelling mode, travelling around a lot, trying to learn Spanish been trying to learn Spanish for a couple of years, fairly unsuccessfully, I was still going to a rusty or Roby intermediate level. And I was travelling around Argentina with a couple of a couple of friends who I had met while backpacking there. And we went up to the mountains in the northwest of the country on the border of Bolivia, beautiful part of the country. And we went to this little village called Edo show which is right up in the mountains it’s 1000s of feet high. And you know this kind of very narrow, mountainous path that we had to kind of traverse on a 50 year old bus it was terrifying staring down the side of the cliff. And then we got the fantastic place we went out one evening and did our usual trick of ordering a huge Argentine steak in a bottle of Malbec. Great evening, we went back to the little hostel place where we were staying and about two o’clock in the morning I woke up from nothing and I couldn’t breathe I realised later that we was because of the altitude we were so high up but I’ve never had this happen before and no work I was a bit bit bit foggy because of the the evening we just happen I couldn’t breathe and it was mildly terrifying as you can imagine. So I jumped up and I ran outside onto the balcony I thought well maybe maybe if I move around a bit, you know get get some breath into my nose, but it didn’t work. I was standing on this balcony looking looking over this kind of haunted Valley in under a foot Learn it was quite a sight. And I was really, really struggling to breathe. The oxygen just wasn’t coming to me and I really I was I was miles from any any help and I would have been in big trouble. Now obviously, it worked out okay in the end, after a couple of minutes of, of panic. I started breathing, but I was so scared that I couldn’t go back to sleep because I thought well, it might happen again. So I sat down. And this is before the days of smartphones. So I reached for this Spanish novel that I’d picked up in the vague hope of reading a few couple of weeks earlier because it never touched it. So I picked it up as all I had. So I started reading this Spanish book and it was quite difficult for me it was a it was a story by Garcia Marquez a very well known Colombian author. And it was a story that it wasn’t so I started reading the book, it was quite it was too difficult for me. But I kept going because I was too scared to go back to sleep. I could pretty much follow the plot. I couldn’t understand everything, not by a longshot. But I could follow the gist of the story. didn’t think anything more of it stayed up for a couple of hours, eventually kind of went back to bed and everything was fine. But the next day, as we were wandering through the village, looking for some breakfast, I found these words popping into my head, the Spanish words popping into my head. And I thought well, that’s strange, because normally, it’s very difficult for me to remember vocabulary in Spanish. But then suddenly, we’ve got all these words popping into my head. I was like el obispo, which means bishop in Spanish, not a word I would have known otherwise. And why is it all these words are coming to me and then I realised, well, it’s because of the book that I was reading was because of the story. So I carried on reading the story kept travelling around Argentina reading the story, and my Spanish just transformed over the space of a couple of weeks, I had learned loads more words, I could suddenly understand what everybody was saying a lot more easily when I was speaking it was a lot more fluent. So that was the point that I realised that reading really is the key to improving the language because that’s what brings everything together. And from then on, I use reading and stories as the foundation for Lenny every other language that I went on to learn.
David Ralph [47:12]
I find that fascinating that you couldn’t call that a eureka moment. To me, I’m sitting there going Of course, it’s a bloody eureka moment. You’ve just untapped something but is waiting for you.
Olly Richards [47:27]
Right? So the here’s where I Iroko has caused myself all kinds of trouble. In reality. It wasn’t the eureka moment that I made it sound like in reality, it was more like Oh, I think I’ve that’s interesting, I learned a few more words than I did otherwise. And that’s interesting. I can I feel like fiddling a feeling a little bit more confident. Now with my Spanish I can I can express myself a little a little better. It wasn’t that giant leap. It wasn’t the Neil Armstrong moment. It was much smaller scale. Because language learning is so complex, you don’t really get these big eureka moments. Some are just more like Join Up Dots to quantum freight. But years later, when I was actually when I had my had my blog, and I was I was starting to, you know, to create things I thought back to that moment. And I realised Well hang on, I’m actually using a lot of these foundations now in the way that I’m teaching. So that would make for quite a good story. And I had and I had learned the importance of the origin story from from when I first started learning from Russell Brunson back in the day, you always talks about the origin story or the the epiphany bridge, as he calls it. It’s the idea that if you want to convey your method, or convey the philosophy about what you teach, that is best done in a story because stories, anything complex he wants to explain, explain it, tell it in a story, it will be remembered facts. This is a well disputed statistic that says that facts in a story are seven times or 14 times more memorable than facts presented as facts. Now I think that’s probably BS. But but there’s a there’s there is some substance that stories, you know, we are hardwired to remember stories. And so the origin story for an entrepreneur is very, very important. Because it serves to encapsulate what’s important in your business in a nutshell. And this story does this does this, this is very, very well. So I essentially dramatised I overdramatized it slightly for narrative effect. But I tell you, the number of people, you know, in today’s today’s a case in point, you know, they’re the reason of all the things you could have asked me about you honed in on that story. And this happens to me all the time, people come up to me at conferences, and say, Oh, I just I just want to go I just loved your story on the mountain and it blows my mind every time that of everything that I’ve ever written all the blogging, I’ve done the YouTube channel that I’ve grown the podcast, that is the story this story is the one thing that people remember And so, you know, it’s, it’s really this this this concept of the origin story in particular is is extremely important to, to, for everyone to implement,
David Ralph [50:11]
it is a key thing to understand. And this is really the message behind Join Up Dots. But everything you do on a daily basis is either teaching you something, or shaping that moment when you suddenly go, Oh, I’ve got all the skills, I’ve got the knowledge, I’m going into something at the moment now, which is coming at a rate of knots, and I couldn’t possibly it was so far away from any knowledge base that I had, until I got to a dark point in my life and had to start to solve it. And once I solved it, I realised that loads of other people have the same issues. And I started thinking, Oh, blimey, okay, if this could be something I wasn’t thinking of doing. And it’s now taking shape really well. And that is, the key thing is if you hadn’t put yourself in that position, if you was just sitting in an office in London, you probably wouldn’t have had breathing issues. And vain, you wouldn’t have had that book you wouldn’t have, you know, it does all join up, doesn’t it? Do all join up, but it comes down to taking some kind of action. And once you start taking action, you get the good and the bad. And that teaches you?
Olly Richards [51:23]
Well, you know, I think I told you earlier about my various seven year careers. I mean, I don’t think I could be wrong, I miss it could be it could be narrative fallacy all over again. But, but I don’t think that I would have been able to start that blog about language learning. Back in 2013, had I not spent seven years as a musician, learning about creativity and art, and then seven years as a teacher learning to teach and communicate information, you know, I felt I feel like, you know, you really do write your own, write your own story, in advance, by the, by the things that you choose to do in life and the experiences that you have. And, you know, I’ve been very, very fortunate, I’ve been able to do lots of different things, although it came at a cost when I made no money, I had no money. And you know, I was 34 when I quit my job as an English teacher, my salary was 800 pounds a month. And there was a there was a cost to the, you know, the 14 years or so of meandering around the world. But, but you know, it’s the experiences that you have and the things that you choose to do. They all like you say they do. They do form they do paint a picture, they do create something bigger, and you know, at the end, like they were like they say, you know, you make your own luck and it’s frustrating phrase, but it’s absolutely true.
David Ralph [52:40]
Most frustrating phrases are true, that’s the problem. That’s you know, you but you can’t see that until you you hit that moment. Well, we’ve hit a moment on the podcast that we called a sermon on the mic when you get the chance to go back in time and speak to the young Ollie and advise him helping him turn those dots into stepping stones and if you could go back in time and and give him some advice what would you share? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the theme and when it fades, he’s sure time to do just that is the Sermon on the mic
Speaker 6 [53:16]
we go with the best of the show doesn’t remain on the mind the sermon on
Olly Richards [53:33]
Wow, the pressure the expectation. Okay, here we go. So, when I look back to myself as a as a as a teenager in my 20s I see someone who was ambitious, who wanted to do stuff who believed in writing his own story writing. It didn’t like rules didn’t like didn’t like conforming but had no idea how to do it. I remember reading Rich Dad Poor Dad and thinking this is great. But I’ve got no idea how to start a business. And what I’ve learned since is that almost everything in the world of work, professional life, your career is all a construct. It’s all been put together by big industries and big powers with vested interests, who want a conveyor belt of people to come through and fulfil certain roles, what is what is a salary, what is it? What is a salary cap, what is the salary range, who decide how the concept of having one person’s entire value being pegged within a 2000 pound salary range? Sounds crazy and that’s because it is. Now what has changed since the internet is that you are the one person that single person can connect to many and there is no limit. Previously one person could only connect to one other person. In the case of of work is to employ one person can be you employed by one employer, maybe two if you work extremely hard. But what has changed with the internet is that one person can connect to literally millions of people. And in my businesses, we connect millions of people a month, you can connect more than that. And so the whole dynamic has changed. The next thing to understand is that people want to learn from other people. Yes, there is a role for universities and schools and books and things like that. But human beings fundamentally want to learn from other people like them. Now, not everyone wants to learn languages from a 42 year old white guy, but some people do enough people do. And if I can be myself, and I can, I can make my I can be not afraid to, to put my personality forward to say what I think, then there will be an almost unlimited number of people who want to learn from me. And so when you combine that with the fact that you can reach millions of people through the internet, then what you have is a dynamic in the world that’s been completely upended, you are no longer at the behest of a company that decides your value is between 30 and 30,000 pounds a year, you can quite literally write your own value. And the Internet gives you the means to do that. All you need to be able to do is to build an audience of people who like what you have to say, who are interested in help follow you. So my advice to you young Ollie, is to set out and build an audience of people over time, who like what you do, who know you who trust you, because then you will be able to write your own paycheck for the rest of your days. Yo, man.
David Ralph [56:49]
Right advice. So, Ali, for the listeners out there that are interested in story learning and learning new languages, not just Indian weight language, like I would love to learn, what’s the number one best way that they can connect with you?
Olly Richards [57:03]
Absolutely. So the business is story learning, you can go to story learning.com. And that is the language learning business. You can also find us on YouTube, if you just type in Olly Richards on YouTube, you will find me there.
David Ralph [57:16]
And you’ve also got a personal blog as well that I will add to the mix by going over there, there was a lot of interesting business insight onto that one I was looking at.
Olly Richards [57:25]
Yeah, so my, my bio, my whole business brand is where I write about the kind of stuff we’re talking about today, really, and that is Olly richards.co. And what’s what’s probably most relevant for people is I’ve written a very large case studies, 117 pages. And that just breaks down exactly how my language learning business works from top to bottom, including the marketing, the organisational structure, our USPS sales price, and how we do emails, and some thoughts on lifestyle and mindset as well, all of this, it’s completely free. And you can get it when you join the newsletter. So I would head over to Ollie richards.co and sign up to the newsletter. And you’ll get a free copy of that case study which has been very, very popular. So yeah,
David Ralph [58:08]
don’t I can imagine value all the way. Ali, thank you so much for spending time with us today sharing your story. And of course, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build our futures. Ali, thank you so much. Well, thank
Olly Richards [58:28]
you so much. That has been great. And thanks for asking such interesting questions as well.
David Ralph [58:33]
Mr. Ali, Richard from story learning and.com Yes, so you can go over there. And as they say, stories are most basic form of human communication. So why don’t we use them to make our brain naturally learn that way we’re engaged, we’re more infused to find out more and, and to change our learning styles. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there nowadays, which is just rubbish. It really is. But um, that one really resonated with me because it’s backed up by a story. It’s backed up by science. And it’s backed up with practical examples of what works so I fully go behind that story learning.com And for anybody out there, go across and do a course on Ali’s personal blogs or the Richard stock code, get that arm 117 page book of how he’s converted his business into a 10 million online education business and I’ll be honest, I’m gonna download it as well never lost a little look as well. Until next time, my friends you look after yourselves and thank you so much for listening to this episode of Join Up Dots. We’ll see you again. Cheers. See ya. Bye bye.
That’s the end of Join Up Dots. You heard the conversation. Now it’s time for you to start taking massive action. Create your future create your life I’m busy only you live we’ll be back again real soon Join Up Dots during the gods Join Up Dots Gods Jolina Join Up Dots