What’s up, everybody? This week, I’m joined by Lydia Lee, founder of Screw the Cubicle and creator of 90 Day Launch. She’s here to share how she transitioned from the corporate world to living a life of purpose and doing work that matters, and how she’s helping her students do the same. Stop trying to look good in your business, and start being good. Six years ago, Lydia had hustled her way up the corporate ladder and landed a comfortable six-figure job. Despite her success, she knew she wasn’t happy. After a realization that this wasn’t the life she wanted -- and a bit of a breakdown, some therapy, and coaching -- she quit and started her own business. Screw the Cubicle is all about helping people transition from corporate shackles to satisfying work, and the freedom to do it on their terms. Lydia’s course, 90 Day Launch, guides her learners to map out their processes, craft the framework of their offer, and launch their next big thing that matters. Episode Quotes "Remember not to burn bridges when transitioning from employee to entrepreneur." "Sometimes staying small strategically, and making enough to afford the life you want, is enough." "The future of work is in small business, is in everybody in their communities creating an impacting change through what they do best." "The world is much bigger than our zip code... when you travel and are able to listen and learn from other cultures, you are a much better human." Listen to Learn 00:53 - Getting to know Lydia Lee, Rapid 5 Questions 06:14 - Lydia's entrepreneurial journey 11:31 - How to safely transition from employee to entrepreneur 17:43 - How Screw the Cubicle started, and customer discovery 26:05 - 90 Day Launch - What it is and who it's for 30:27 - 90 Day Launch - How it started and transition process 42:08 - Scaling strategically 44:00 - Awesome things coming up from Lydia Connect with Lydia 90 Day Launch Sign Up for her Upcoming Webinar Check out her Coaching Experience Weekly #ScrewTheCubicleTV Episodes ScrewTheCubicle.com Follow Lydia on Twitter! Looking for the Transcript? Episode 114 Grab the bonus segment! Find out what it means to create a body of work, and how you can create a work vision that fulfills you. Grab it here: https://get.zencourses.co/extra
What’s up, everybody? This week, I’m joined by Lydia Lee, founder of Screw the Cubicle and creator of 90 Day Launch. She’s here to share how she transitioned from the corporate world to living a life of purpose and doing work that matters, and how she’s helping her students do the same.
Stop trying to look good in your business, and start being good.
Six years ago, Lydia had hustled her way up the corporate ladder and landed a comfortable six-figure job. Despite her success, she knew she wasn’t happy. After a realization that this wasn’t the life she wanted -- and a bit of a breakdown, some therapy, and coaching -- she quit and started her own business.
Screw the Cubicle is all about helping people transition from corporate shackles to satisfying work, and the freedom to do it on their terms. Lydia’s course, 90 Day Launch, guides her learners to map out their processes, craft the framework of their offer, and launch their next big thing that matters.
"Remember not to burn bridges when transitioning from employee to entrepreneur."
"Sometimes staying small strategically, and making enough to afford the life you want, is enough."
"The future of work is in small business, is in everybody in their communities creating an impacting change through what they do best."
"The world is much bigger than our zip code... when you travel and are able to listen and learn from other cultures, you are a much better human."
Listen to Learn
00:53 - Getting to know Lydia Lee, Rapid 5 Questions
06:14 - Lydia's entrepreneurial journey
11:31 - How to safely transition from employee to entrepreneur
17:43 - How Screw the Cubicle started, and customer discovery
26:05 - 90 Day Launch - What it is and who it's for
30:27 - 90 Day Launch - How it started and transition process
42:08 - Scaling strategically
44:00 - Awesome things coming up from Lydia
Connect with Lydia
90 Day Launch
Sign Up for her Upcoming Webinar
Check out her Coaching Experience
Weekly #ScrewTheCubicleTV Episodes
Follow Lydia on Twitter!
Looking for the Transcript?
Grab the bonus segment!
Find out what it means to create a body of work, and how you can create a work vision that fulfills you.
Grab it here: https://get.zencourses.co/extra
Lydia Lee: The audience that I get the most are people in their beginning journey, right? The guys that are like, I don't know what to do with my life, or I'm still employed and I'm trying to launch something while I'm working full time, right? Or I'm pivoting my career transition right now. Now people in this stage are so deadly afraid of everything.
Janelle Allen: Welcome to Level Up Your Course, where we pull back the curtain on what it takes to create learning that transforms lives. You will hear stories from business owners like you who share their success and their struggles. This is not where you come to hear passive income myths, friends. This is where you learn the truth about building a profitable learning platform. I am your host, Janelle Allen. and this is today's episode.
Hey everyone. Today I am speaking with Lydia Lee, founder of Screw the Cubicle, and also the creator of 90-Day Launch, which we are going to discuss today, and a bunch of other great stuff that Lydia does. Lydia, welcome to the show.
LL: Thank you so much for having me, Janelle.
JA: So we have a tradition on the show called the rapid five -- five quick questions to help listeners get to know you. Are you ready?
LL: Ready to go, shoot them at me.
JA: Number one, what did you have for breakfast?
LL: I am on an avocado train these days being in Mexico. I'm in Mexico for the next four months actually, so avocados are what I have every single day with eggs and whatever else concoction of recipes I can find on my Pinterest board for avocado recipe.
JA: I just had some 'cado myself. Yeah.
LL: And they're cheaper, a lot cheaper here in Mexico than they are in North America or Bali, where is my other basis.
JA: We're not even going to talk about how high avocado -- they're starting to go down, but it was like 2.50 for an avocado for a minute.
LL: I know.
JA: I'm like what the hell.
LL: Yes, Janelle, I will tell you that I paid 50 cents per avocado in the market.
JA: Just interview is over now. Now I'm just depressed. All right, good to know. Number two, what is your favorite movie of all time?
LL: Ooh, that's an interesting one. Vanilla Sky. I'm not sure if I'm, I'm a huge Tom Cruise fan (inaudible) after the Scientology reveal of his life, but Vanilla Sky's the one movie I keep coming back to that I probably watch once a year. It's just such a good movie. I love the director. I love Tom Cruise in it. I think he did an excellent job and yeah, if you haven't seen it, you should definitely watch it.
JA: Okay. Vanilla sky. I've never seen it, so maybe I'll check it out based on your recommendation.
LL: It's a goodie.
JA: All right. Number three, zombie apocalypse has hit. This is serious, Lydia. This is serious, okay?
JA: Okay. Are you serious?
LL: I'm ready. Yes. I'm going to think of my serious answer.
JA: Okay. The zombie apocalypse has hit and you have six minutes to grab three essential items to help you survive. Your people are okay. You don't have to worry about grabbing them. What three items do you pick?
LL: Oh God. The first one is one I'm looking at right now, which is my inhaler.
JA: Oh yeah.
LL: When I get panicked or I have anxiety, and I'm assuming zombies will give me some anxiety, I need my inhaler. So that's the number one thing I need to breathe.
LL: What is the second thing? I'm assuming in a zombie apocalypse your electronics may not matters so much, but I will say the one electronic I would bring with me is my Kindle, because I literally can't live without reading, so I feel like hopefully, you know, I will be able to keep that one with me and that I could charge it up and read books during an attack of a zombie apocalypse. And then my third one. Oh God, I'm trying to think of something practical again, but nothing really comes to mind except my phone. I know this is so bad because I love to listen to music. Like I have a lot of downloaded music -- I travel a lot, Janelle, if you've seen sort of by life on the road every single year, even if it's offline on my Spotify is like my right-hand best friend. That has downloaded music. So I'm hoping again there'll be charging stations somewhere that I can at least listen to music as I massacre the zombies on my path.
JA: I love that we think we're going to have charging stations. I love that, that was so hilarious.
LL: It's like what do I bring? Oh my God. If you were to say, you know, what I would bring if I was based in my usual home base in Bali, I would say it would be a knife because you would need to drink lots of coconuts because that’s what's available naturally there. And I'm assuming that you would need something sharp and some tool that’s going to allow you to survive and I think then I would bring my sort of, okay, this is probably the wrong word, machete, but it's like that that I have in my front lawn that I think would be really useful in cutting down coconuts from palm trees and maybe decapitating zombies.
JA: Okay, okay, that’s better. Oh, society. When I ask that question, it's always my air pods.
LL: What? No.
JA: And I'm like you're fighting zombies! All right. No, judgement-free zone. Judgment-free zone. Okay. Number four, fill in the blank. When I was a kid, I wanted to be blank.
LL: A talk show host.
JA: Huh, okay. Okay, cool. All right, last one. What is the hardest lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur so far?
LL: One of the biggest things that I've learned is to feel good enough to put things out there when things feel imperfect. As a recovering, perfectionist and overachiever, this is an ongoing struggle and a challenge that I've experienced. But also I know that, you know, as an entrepreneur, it's all about putting your great ideas out there to feel validated in pursuing them rather than holding it close to your chest and no one gets to see them. So that's been one of the biggest lessons.
JA: Yeah, so true, so true. You have to put it out there to learn and to, like you said, so people can see them and so you can get better, you know?
JA: I love all of those answers, even your zombie apocalypse answers. I'm still showing you with love for that one.
LL: I redeemed myself with the machete, okay?
JA: You did, you did. All right, so let's talk about your entrepreneurial journey or story. How did you get here? Where did you start and how did you get to where you are now?
LL: Yeah, so you know, Screw the Cubicle isn't my first business actually. That was kind of an accidental business and I'll tell you why. The original self-employment pathway I chose was consultancy. So I used to work in the international education industry where I worked as a business development director for a school, at sort of international locations in the United States and in Canada. And I got to fly a lot and travel and I think I got bitten by the travel bug from that job. But let's just say traveling for work for a corporation isn't as sexy as it may sound like. I was -- literally six months of the year I was on the road living out of hotel rooms, working way more hours than a regular 9:00 to 5:00 person and feeling pretty burnt out.
And, and I had a very massive breakdown in Russia. Basically it was 2010 and I was on my maybe third month of travel where I was doing a trade mission with the embassy of Canada, going to Ukraine, Turkey and Russia. And I ended up in Moscow in the dead of winter, like January 2010 worst time to be there. And I had just sort of not had a holiday for about two years. I kept getting paid out for my holiday time to opt in to work more.
JA: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. What is this? You wait -- explain what is that? That sounds horrible. What does that mean?
LL: It meant that I was so driven to make more money and put myself in it. I was 20 -- how old was I then? 27 at the time and I was really vying for a partnership position in that company. And as a 27-year-old, being dangled that carrot of partnership felt like, Oh my God, this would never happen to me again. And so in my again, right mentality of working hard to get where I need to go -- I mean I'm from Malaysia, Janelle. My mom is a tiger mom, Asian mom. I don't know if you'd know about those, you know.
JA: Yeah, I do.
LL: You know, you're able to do 150 to 200% of your effort if you want to get noticed in the world. And as a woman of color and as a woman in general in the corporation I was in, I was one of the few young women that were actually being promoted or recognized in any capacity in such a sort of traditional, you know, academic background, you know? And so I felt that I had to sacrifice myself by proving myself in order to, right? Go after that partnership and working myself to the bone in order to feel like I deserve that partnership. And so when it came time, every year, where I was supposed -- you know, the HR lady will say, are you taking your holidays, when are you going off? And I would always say, well, do I have to take my holidays? Because I knew the minute that I came back from a holiday, my inbox will be full.
And so I will be working anyway on a holiday, right? So I did not take one day off except for maybe a couple of sick days in two years. Which at the time I didn't know how much it affected my wellbeing, not having rest, you know? I just didn't understand what it -- to be honest, I was just such a go getter, right? Like my level of normal was someone's like overburnt out level of normal, you know? So you know what happened in that hotel room in Russia was that I had a full on panic attack before going out to eight of my appointments with agencies that day. I developed a semipermanent agoraphobia, which meant that I couldn't leave the hotel room from fear of God knows what. It lasted for about 48 hours and I had to fly home from Russia.
And that was the worst thing that happened to me and also the best thing that happened to me, because it sort of was the, you know, I'm a tough cookie to crack in a sense that I would never give myself any sense of wellness unless I was pushed to the ground. And that was body saying enough. If you're not going to stop, I'm gonna force you to stop.
JA: It's funny how that works, right? The body will take what it needs.
LL: Oh God, it does. And I wasn't listening to it. I mean, I've been exhausted for years, but I didn't listen to that until it literally took my health away from me. So I had to take a sabbatical. I had to take time off. And of course, what do you think you do when you think you've lost your shit? Right? You see a therapist, something's wrong with me. I have a six figure job. I have a, you know, partnership coming on. Why am I unhappy? I feel like I have everything I need in my career.
LL: And thankfully the therapists I was seeing didn't shove a bunch of pills down my throat. You know, she asked me some important questions about, was my career deeply fulfilling? How was I spending my time? What wasn’t working for me? You know, when it comes to the balance that I need and was I living out the values that I said was important to me in the way that I was working and earning a living, you know? And it -- and the answers were pretty obvious what they were. And obviously the journey too, get out of that mindset of working harder to achieve more is something that I had to learn all the way to my pathways of entrepreneurship.
But in that journey it allowed me to test out different ideas while I was working full time, which we can obviously talk about how I did that here, if you want me to reveal that journey too. But I started off really as a really easy self-employment pathway in consultancy, because I was already good at what I did in that industry. So I figured why give up all the years of my experience? Why don't I start being my own boss by offering my strategic advice to my current company? So I negotiated a part time consultancy to have, so for safety net, you know, before just quitting fully, and allowing myself to take over certain projects and then training someone else to replace me. And that sort of felt like a great, what's the word? Like a great transition, right? A safe transition and I -- for a risk tolerance like mine were just not very risky. At the time.
JA: Okay, so you negotiated part-time consulting with your employer?
LL: Exactly, yeah. And this is again something that I just thought, Oh, they'll never go for it. I'll just do it anyway because I felt bad leaving them to begin with. And I just sort of said, I'm unhappy here because I don't have autonomy over my work and I'm overworked. And I know that this is just the way this industry is. I mean, everybody was either divorced or cheating on their spouses on the road. Like this is what's going on in the industry. And I didn't want to be that person. And I said, but I believe in the products. I believe in what you do and I can still support you. And one of the big projects I was working on then was bringing on new schools and new agents from the territory's in Taiwan and China, which is as, you know, have you work with Chinese people, they're all about loyalty and who they knew from the beginning of time. And someone if they were colored helps as well.
And so I thought that was the best project to pitch, because I started the project, I have relationships there and it would be a win-win situation for me to continue to help them with that and push that project forward and then have someone replace me for them more day to day operations of my other position.
JA: And also, I mean as you said, you had been grinding so you were recognized and I'm sure that made it easier for them to say yes, as opposed to --
LL: That's right.
JA: --if you hadn't had those accolades in that respect within your employer. Totally.
LL: And I think a lot of times we have to remember not to burn any bridges when we're transitioning from right employee to entrepreneur and to maintain that level of professionalism because it's a small industry, right? People talk about you. There's some six degree of separation of contact, right? Whether it's on your LinkedIn or your physical community. But social equity is an asset that we forget about. We go out there, you know, I work with a lot of consultants and freelancers and you know, solopreneurs, but they always say things like, Oh I gotta go some were brand new to find my clients to find partners. And it's like, why? Why aren't you in your inner circle of networks that you've already built social equity with that can vouch for your word that you don't have to explain why you're the bee's knees because if witnessed your brilliance and those are the people you should be pitching to, especially as a consultancy.
And so that worked out really well for me to try to negotiate a type of consultancy that benefited their company, but also I had to sell to them how we would save the money by them not having an office space for me and unnecessary meetings I would have to attend that wasn't useful to the bottom line, and how I would actually be really in charge of one key thing in this project that allows me to be less distracted, right? With the other day to day stuff and just do this really, really well, you know? And that really sold the cake for them. And actually that's the strategy lot of my clients and I do now for them, because about 70% of my clients that tried the negotiation transition with your current employer works extremely well, especially if they've already done an excellent job in their position.
JA: Yes, yes. I did the same thing. You know, my journey into entrepreneurship, at least the second time around, was coming from my employer who is Pearson education at the time. But it was a little bit different in that it was a healthier culture. I wasn't, you know, I didn't end up in the hotel room just, I didn't, I didn't have to go through your struggle Lydia. But -- but they started restructuring and you know, if you've ever been part of a corporation, you know when you hear that word it's like get your stuff ready because some people aren't going to make it.
And myself as well as one of my colleagues, we were the two who said, you know what, we're going to go out on our own. And it was nice because my employer ended up becoming my biggest client. And so it was a great transition. It was good and it was not good. It was good in that it made that transition very easy. It was not good because I didn't really have to sell. They were asking me to take on projects. So that's a whole other story of when I finally had to learn how to sell. But it's a great way, you know, it's a great way to get started and you're right. Positioning the value, communicating that, letting them know how you're saving them time and just looking at the skills that you've built and seeing how you can then turn that into self-employment or which was my case with Pearson, what are they outsourcing?
For me, I had been in the role where I was outsourcing the very same projects that I ended up taking on. So I knew, yeah, okay, this is a need. It just made it so much easier. So.
LL: That is such a great way to look at it because I mean, I think more and more companies are warming up to the fact of that they don't need full time employees with benefits. Right? To have a really talented team player.
LL: Outsourcing actually very specific projects that have specific goals in mind, gets them a lot more talent in a way. And rather than someone that has, I don't know, a job that has eight different roles under that hat, right? Which is the jobs we don’t want to do. The general. So I think that's an excellent way to start. And one of the things I learned, and I'm glad you said this, is that learning to transition to sell yourself, which I think is one of the hardest things to do, when you're an introvert or when you're someone that isn't used to being in a role like that, it can feel kind of icky, you know, to talk about your work and talk about how great you are.
JA: Yeah, definitely can.
LL: But then I think as a beginning tester out like what you did and I did, it's like, oh, let's just use someone we're familiar with and then build our tolerance for change and build our muscle to sell, you know, by learning softly.
LL: You know, and in a non pressure way. And I did the same thing. It's like learning how to pitch to international clients, right? With that job sort of going, hey, I don't hate working for someone. Still the fact that I could sort of use this almost like an internship for my own business to sort of strengthen the muscle of sales and talking about my work and doing all that. It really helped me to, I think transition to my second business, which is Screw the Cubicle, which was actually a blog when I first started, to document the identity crisis I was feeling. Because after six months of being a consultant and having that first business, I felt depressed again and that was actually what caused me to realize that, okay, actually the kind of work I'm involving myself with, whether or not I'm making money or people think I'm good at it, there's gotta be this area of meaning for me.
Not everyone is built that way. Like I have a partner that they don't need something overly meaningful to make a living -- they find meaning elsewhere. But I'm kind of built where I can't get out of bed and do a job unless you're, it's like a cause or a something I can stand behind and it's something meaningful for me to contribute to. And that consultancy, the jobs that I was given there didn't feel like that. And that's what instigated my, almost like a diary as Screw the Cubicle of what it felt like to change careers and what it felt like to navigate all these different changes I was feeling, you know, when you change careers and change your life and what to expect. And, and I didn't at all meant for it to turn into a business until a lawyer from Toronto who read my blog for a few months messaged me and said, I love what you've been writing and I'm wondering if you did coaching.
And literally Janelle, I had no idea what coaching was. I thought a coach was someone that just, so I had to like Google it. And then thought, Oh, I'm already advising for free. I'm already giving my insight and I'm wondering what this whole thing is about. And that's what set me to beta test a very small coaching exchange for free for two months to eight guinea pigs of corporate people to really see where I stood -- if I liked coaching or not, what the hell it was all about, what kind of problems do I really want to solve if I was to coach and what was my style? You know, I'm kind of a very tell it like it is reality check kind of girl in real life. So the thought of being kind of more therapeutic and kind of, you know, gentle just wasn't my style.
So, I was like, can I coach with the kind of tone I have because this is who I am? And do people pay for that? And you know, I had to pick and choose the right audience that felt right with that rather than the more therapy style sort of coaching. You know? So yeah, that was the first ever, you know, that was what allowed -- planted the seed for me that there could be an alternative career for me that I was already kind of doing and leaving and breathing, except I never thought could be a business.
JA: Yeah, just putting yourself out there, which is something that a lot of people struggle and I love how you said for you, you, you weren't thinking of it as a business. You were just kind of journaling online and sharing value. Did you have an email list?
LL: I didn't. I didn't know what the hell that was. I just had a website. I had a blog and that was it. When I sort of saw it more like a business, then I started to implement the gathering of email lists, but to be honest, Janelle, probably the first three to four months of the blog, I just focused on having some real conversations with people. So someone messaged me on an email, I wouldn't email them back. I would say, what's your phone number and let's have a chat. And so that became a bit of a market research call for me. Right? It was getting me closer to my audience that had a problem and I couldn't actually like a human ask them some questions that I probably couldn't have done in an email, you know? And I think that allowed me to really pinpoint where I stood with my expertise and what I was willing and not willing to solve problems on.
JA: I love that. I mean I think that, so that's something that I help people do in my group program and I call them customer discovery interviews, for the process of creating their online course -- just connecting to their audience. So I love that you innately did that because two things you said. One, it's just connecting on a person to person level, which is something that's so important. And oftentimes we forget that as online business owners. But also learning about their problems and pain points. You just get so much data and you're able to sit back and say, Hmm, and you can find patterns and themes and it really helps you to pull things out.
So, I'm wondering, let's put some timelines around this, so what was the year that you started Screw the cubicle as a blog, not even as a business. Just that you started documenting?
LL: Well, I celebrated my six year anniversary of the blog this September.
JA: Okay, cool.
LL: So six years ago, it was about -- six years and a bit ago is when I started the blog and that I really didn't start fully coaching or charging for my services probably until six months after it was launched. And so I had a bit of a transition to close down their inaugural business, which was my first consultancy business, to focus on doing the coaching services. But I really tested and I actually built almost my own self-created internship for coaching first before I even ended up charging. Because that was something I was important to me to not only build my credibility but to understand my own framework of how I coach. It wasn't just about getting on the phone and just, you know, rapid fire of solving problems. I needed to understand my philosophies.
I needed to understand my concepts. I think very similar to how you would, I think mentor people to do courses is really the same thing. To do anything, right? Of value, to be of service, you have to understand how you bring people to the understanding of the different concepts and different milestones of learning. You know, whether it's courses or coaching. I think that is the one thing people skip out. They go straight to like marketing. They go straight to creating a bunch of content without speaking to their audience first and really understanding what the problems they solve and then that's when they reach a moment of disappointment, you know? And no one buys your course or you know, hires them.
JA: And well, let's just be honest. Part of that has to do with the hype around in my world, online courses. And it's something that, you know, it's constantly grating in my soul because I think that there are a lot of people who buy into the result and the hype that they want and don't realize this journey, fundamentally, it comes down to connecting with your audience. And you have to be willing to do that ultimately to have a sustainable business.
LL: Absolutely. And the one thing I always say is like, stop trying to look good in your business and start being good and being good means deep work. It means involving yourself to master the skill you're charging people for. I mean, we didn't argue with this concept of when people told us we need a university degree or college degree to go get a job, we happily paid $100,000 for tuition, you know?
JA: I think one of the things it comes down to -- I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so I'm so happy to be talking with you today -- is for a lot of people who want to create an online course, it's an escape from a situation that they don't want to be in.
LL: That's right.
JA: I have found that, you know, for example, my best customers and clients, it's about teaching and delivering value. But for those where it is truly about escape, that's where the temptation to buy into the hype and you know, have quote "passive income" which --
LL: Yes. Sometimes it's a complete mess.
JA: It is a complete, yes. That’s where it comes from.
LL: And that’s because we're being bombarded with Facebook asset, say six figures in six months, you know, make a seven figure business. And first of all, who the hell said six or seven figure is the only way to measure success for business.
JA: Exactly. Exactly.
LL: You know, and so the hype is there and people do buy into it, unfortunately. And they're out there. And I think the people that are doing great work are quieter. You don't hear from them as much.
JA: Yes, yes, yes.
LL: You know, they're not on Facebook apps, they're doing the work. And I have the same thing, you know, my brand name is Screw the Cubicle. So as you can see right away, people are drawn to the idea of potentially escaping a life they hate. But I'm kind of built like you Janelle, I only love working with people who actually want to do good work, they want to create good work. They're not trying to escape work, they're trying to reinvent the way they work so that work doesn’t feel like a dirty word.
LL: You know, it's a very different audience that I just want to quit my job and put my middle finger to my boss, you know? It's a different intention, a different motivation.
JA: I totally agree. So, when we come back to the bonus segment, I want to dig deeper because there's so much more, and I want to talk about having a work vision, having a vision of what work looks like for you.
JA: Now let's jump back into talking about your course 90-Day Launch. Tell me, give me a high level overview of what it is and who it's for.
LL: So the 90-Day Launch is really for people that are in the stage where they already, they do know, they may not know the details, but they know the path of the work that they want to pursue. So they're not in that question mode of like, I don't know what to do with my life. If you're doing that, you probably want to take my intro course Work Reinvented, which is a very inaugural beginner reflective cores on how do we utilize and repurpose the skills you already have into a new direction for work.
LL: Okay. But 90-Day Launch is basically my primary offers where I can do my most impactful work, which is helping people launch their next big thing. And their next big thing has to be something service-oriented that -- these are the main audiences I work with. So they're either course creators, mainly coaches, consultants, freelancers, anything that requires you to be in more of a human to human kind of relationship. I don't do eCommerce and I don't do passive income products. I do something that requires you to work with a real person, right? Or a small group of people.
LL: And so you've got to be in that first stage of I have an idea, I know what I want to do, but I'm unsure of how to package this into something sellable and how do I even know how to sell what I do and how, what do I really talk about when I'm building and launching this offer? So a big part of what I do in 90-Day Launch is we start with foundational work because I really, I don't know if you find this as well when you teach people with courses is people will start going into creating the offer, but they have no idea why they're creating what they're creating and who it's for.
LL: And so the foundational section of 90-Day Launch is a non-negotiable starting point because it's almost like we need to build the house that your business is going to sit upon that has a solid foundation, so that if like a gust of wind comes and not going to fall down the cliff. You're not going to feel threatened by other businesses that look like yours. Because you understand your own approach and what you would do differently, right? To solve that problem with the skills that you've got. And where do I honor and own the right skills that you can actually represent yourself in a way that people get to know you really specifically for that way of doing things. And then we really talk about purpose, like what is all this for? Because people can sell different products that are similar to yours, but the ripple effect and the transformation that you provide with your product might be different.
And that would attract a different value-based customer. It could attract the different goal, it could attract a different motivation. Just like what we just talked about. Different people are motivated by different things. So that story needs to really align with the product that you're actually creating. And then the secondary piece we do really big there and what I like working on the most is helping people craft the framework for their offer. So not just about how much should it cause and how many sessions there are or you know, all that sort of obvious questions. I really helped them to map out their processes. Like how do you really bring people, if you look at a map of what you do -- what are the milestones, mini milestones that people need to accomplish along the way? And what techniques and modules and systems or philosophies and concepts that you teach in order to bring understanding to that concept so that they can move on in that process.
And that's a pretty powerful piece, I think, that a lot of people like working on because they start to recognize what it is that they do that is worthy of the exchange of money. It's not just only thinking about, Hey, here's the results of what I get you too. But it's like, how do I get you there in a way that's very specific to my knowledge, my approach, right? And my way of getting you there that doesn't feel like anyone else's, you know? And that I think is really important to also bring pleasure to your work. Because if you're doing, I don't know, a course or a coaching program that is someone else did it that way and you think, oh you have to be like them in order to succeed, work will feel pretty difficult to show up for.
LL: So for example, my courses Jenelle they're mainly video based cause that's the easiest thing for me to do. The minute you get me to do exercises and curriculum I take forever because that is just not how my brain thinks. I'm just better on video, I'm better at teaching in this format. And I think realizing that helps us to build a better outline and a framework for the work we want to do.
JA: So yeah, I absolutely agree with everything that you've said. You shared something when we were communicating via email, you shared that this program has taking its own journey. Right? So it, it started off as something different and you transitioned it. Can you talk about how it started and what that transition process look like?
LL: Yeah, for sure. I think it's a great learning lesson to whoever's listening that are looking to scale, you know, a service based business. Because I think I learned a lot in the last two years. So two years ago I decided that because I was making really good money on my coaching programs and my retreats in Bali, so this is sort of my primary focus of work about two years ago or from, you know, 2013 to two years ago where my primary money making programs were one on one coaching and my retreats that I run in Bali. So a lot of intimacy.
And then as I started to make more money, I certainly look to look into ways of scaling cause that's what they tell you to do, right? It's like, Oh well you're gonna replace yourself. You gotta scale your time. And so I sort of started to think about ways that I could make more money and an impact a bit more like all good motivations, to be able to turn what I knew from a one on one level to a one-to-many concept. I launched a tester sort of inaugural group first for a school called the Academy of cubicle Crashers.
And so initially the concept that I had for that community based learning program was too, I don't know if you're familiar with like Montessori style schools.
JA: Yeah. Faintly.
LL: Right? Yeah. So my idea was like I wanted to put a small community together of people that were, you know, in the beginning part of their journey of like, Hey, I want to start a business, but I'm not sure where to start. And I want to be inspired to do something I love, right? With a group of people that have worked with me in the past to launch something, but to have them in the same group so that the students that were sort of ahead of the inaugural students could teach backwards and they would feel validated that they were teaching something to someone else that didn't know what they knew, and also, right? Be better at their own knowledge. And then for obviously the inaugural students to learn from people ahead of them.
And I wanted to do something different than sort of like a linear way of learning, like module one, module two, module three, to really start to produce information that was sort of general enough that would affect any level of learning got. And so this is again something I tested out to go will it work? Would people get along, if they're in different levels of learning. And I sort of did this experiment to see if I could get people to join for a whole 12 months. I've never ran a program for this long before, but I thought, you know what, if I was, to be honest, when people say how long does it take? How long does it take for me, it's from ideation to launching something and being good at what I do in charging for it and having my first few customers? Like how long does it take? And the honest truth is that it takes anywhere between 9 to 12 months. Especially for people working full time.
JA: Yeah, absolutely.
JA: If not a little longer. For some people it's 18 months. Yeah.
LL: But of course it's not a sexy message.
JA: Yeah. You can't go over that year mark. It's like, nah, I love you Lydia, but I'm not doing --
LL: Yeah, but I knew that was if I was to be honest and truthful, and I just really wanted it to be honest and truthful. So I really handpicked people. I didn't do a big launch where I just told you know, strangers about this. I really went to people that I thought, Hey, I'm handpicking you inviting you formally to come into this community. It's not going to be more than 20 people. I just really want to see if this works. But either way, you know that I'm available and present to make any pivots and changes as we go, but know that there will be pivots and changes. You are the founding member if you will, of this Academy, and I will be spending a year together. We may offer it again for a year. We may not. But hey, we're going on this ride together and I'm going to make it affordable for you to pay by installment or give you a really, really good deal if you were to pay upfront. And 80% of people paid up front.
JA: I love it.
LL: And so I charged about like, I think it was 2,800 USD for the whole year.
LL: And so what I did, I didn't have any courses in the backend. I just taught organic content that were voted by the community every single month. And I would hold coworking sessions, I would hold hot seats to really do coaching in front of people so that people can learn from a case study. And it, I facilitated that community together. Now everything kind of went well. And what I learned from that Janelle, is that the kind of audience that I attract now, I think it might be different for people in different stages of business. And this is what I sort of found out.
The audience that I get the most are people in their beginning journey, right? The guys that are like, I don't know what to do with my life, or I'm still employed and I'm trying to launch something while I'm working full time. Right? Or I'm pivoting my career transition right now. Now, people in this stage are so deadly afraid of everything. They're not in the entrepreneurship mindset. You know what that feels like. I mean, it was who I was in my first year of business. I was like, everything's shiny. I was jumping on, right. I did trust myself. I had no idea what I was doing. And so when you put a group of people like that together and you expect them to teach each other something, it doesn't work so well.
LL: So this whole idea that I wanted me to not be the only resource, you know, not to be the only brains of the operation, I'm not sure it worked as well, my kind of audience. But I can see that working for a little bit more of a senior audience, like, you know, maybe two, three years in business where people can't teach something because they've gone through it already.
LL: But I sort of like didn't think about that deeply when I decided this was the format because it was almost like I hope this work. And I think life would be better for these people if they would actually trust themselves and teach each other. But unfortunately sometimes your audience just tells you exactly what they're prepared for, what they're ready for, and they're not ready to teach each other, because none of them trusted themselves just yet.
JA: I've seen that so many times.
LL: Exactly. And the second thing I found out, not only were they not going to step up, you know, the teaching each other, which meant that I had to do it every single time, is that the needed more structure. So even though I knew that a better way to learn at the stage of their journey was to be more holistic for me to be involved in what move they need to make next, depending on their business or depending on their question or problem, it's the best way forward. Rather than like, I don't know, a pain by numbers or everyone goes through this one course, you know, kind of style. I really wanted that to be more of the premise of like ask better questions and then you can know better on what to focus on rather than just investing into a modular course that may or may not help you right now. You know in the position you're in.
But what I learned was that people, again in this beginning journey, they do need structure. They do need to log into a course and feel like they're taking some boxes.
LL: Moving ahead with mini problem to mini problem. So, at the six month mark of the Academy, I decided to launch a backend course, which is actually what 90-Day Launch is now. So I decided to take a six-module phase learning to help people go from ideation to launch mode of their service based business. I recorded that sort of month by month, which meant that I told them in June that Hey, we're going to try something new for the rest of the Academy is to learn and I'm going to have a sort of backend course that you can go into. We'll still have our regular month to month discussion, but for people who are craving more structure, I listened to your problems and here it is. And so I created the course month by month and it was a lot of work for the last six months. But I knew in my head at the end of the Academy, this could then be a really great product that will require more, more of my time to teach.
I would just be facilitating the conversations but not teaching the modules.
LL: So after the Academy ended, I sort of had a break to think about what worked and what didn't work. And what I discovered is that to be honest to people that are in my audience type right? Again, beginner's working full time, one year is just a huge investment of time.
LL: So much happens there. I was a part of people's divorces. I was a part of their depression, their breakdowns, right? People go through emotional turmoil when they transition and I was just a part of that the entire time. And I think that exhausted me as a facilitator. I, myself also needed almost like a break. So I really thought about like, you know, in university for example, you would have, you know, chemistry 101, chemistry 102 you break it down.
And so I found that the best programs that I usually run that gets the most attention and the best results and also people just like, you know, signing up for it freely is when it's no longer than 90 days. There's a specific outcome that comes from that. You know? There's things I don't do on there and it's like very specific start and stop boundaries for a course like that. Whereas a whole year opened up myself to a lot of different changes that could happen. And I think people tend to not value something that they need to show up for all the time, if they have a whole year to just show up whenever they please.
JA: Yep, the procrastination and all of the bad habits really come forth. Yes.
LL: That’s right. And so when I transitioned to using the content in the back end of the Academy, I decided that, okay, here's what I know. I know that people need shorter courses, 90 days. I know that I felt disconnected as a coach when people were just doing the self-guided courses but weren't showing up for calls. Okay. Or they felt that they could show up whenever they waned. And also people told me in feedback forms that they really missed having intimate time with me, that they didn't get enough of that one on one connection. And because they were high achievers like me, they prefer to pay more for something that gave them my entire attention and got them to specific results that are specific for their needs.
LL: So I had to find a balance. I had to go, how do I scale my time? And go back to some intimacy of coaching that allows me to bridge this gap that maybe isn't being filled out there where everyone's automating everything and everyone's going on self-guided courses, where -- what do I do best? And to be honest, like my love of coaching comes from actual coaching when I can be on the call with someone or very, very small group of people and then do what I do best in specific to their plan, and their goals. And so that was sort of how this hybrid course came about with 90-Day Launch where there's now four phases instead of six. I sort of even summarized it even more.
They get discourse as a lifetime access, but every month they have two calls with me. And so this allowed me to get them to watch the course and do the homework before they come on a coaching session, which allowed the coaching session to be so much more valuable because those questions weren't really specific. They did the work first and then they came for extra mentorship, rather than using the coaching session to teach the concepts, if you know what I mean.
JA: Yep, absolutely. One of the things I love about that story is just all of the different ups and downs and learning moments within that journey because that's exactly what it is. It's something that I feel like I'm saying all the time, but you just illustrated it with a very real life example of there's no such thing as this mythological you're going to create the course and it's going to be perfect and you never have to touch it again.
There's always going to be things that you learn. And for you, part of that was also learning who is your best target learner? What are you enjoying and what do you do best and what is the structure to allow not just learning to happen or transformation to happen, but also for you to have joy and enjoying, like, what it is that you're putting into it.
LL: That's so important, isn't it? I mean, that's the whole point of us getting into business is to be able -- like, we need to feel some pleasure from this. You know? And, and I think sometimes in the idea of scaling and, and you and I are in the same industry where we have this noisy environment of people telling us, hey, once you start making a certain kind of money, you should do this. Yeah, you should do that. You should go bigger. You should hire a team, which I did by the way, hire a big team. And you know what? I lost so much money and so much energy of my own to train that team, when I figured out I hate managing people.
JA: Same. Are you my clone Lydia? Are you my Malaysian clone? Is that what --
LL: Totally. I mean now here's the difference, I love working with people.
LL: I hate managing people.
JA: Same, same.
LL: What I do now is I do have a team in the sense that I outsource and contract out projects to really high level people that know what they're doing. I don’t have to babysit, I don’t have to mentor, I don’t have to do any of that, and I pay them good money to do something that is a very specific rate and it's over and done with. It's not a month by month salary.
LL: Which is awesome because I don’t feel pressure to feed somebody, right? Like if my business was going down or slowing down, right?
LL: And the other thing is I think that it allowed me to run a business in conjunction with the lifestyle I want to lead. So I travel a lot. I like my flexible lifestyle. I don't want to have to go on meetings and worry about being on Slack to manage the day to day, you know? So sometimes staying small strategically and making enough of what you need to make to afford the life you want and you don't invest in your future is enough. And that might mean that you're a solopreneur. That might mean that sometimes you have a team and sometimes you don't. And it might mean that you focus on one product at a time and do that really, really well and not try to go and scale when something is working.
JA: Yes. That's a great segue into the bonus segment, which we're gonna hop into right after the final three questions, which is where we're at. Lydia, this has been so informative and I can't wait to talk more about work in the bonus segment, but first, what is next for you? Anything exciting coming up?
LL: Well, I am traveling a lot this year to find my second home base, that is out of Bali and into something closer to North America. Because one of the things that I want to push myself to do in 2020 is to be more available and feeling ready enough to be on stage. So one of the things that I know I've been avoiding, even though I've been on stages and I, you know, have enjoy being on stages, I've never looked at speaking and marketing in way as something I could really do. I don't know, seriously. And so I think that kind of goal scares the crap out of me because the idea of being so visible and even though a lot of people think of me as an extrovert, I have a lot of introverted qualities and I'm better with a small room than I am on a big stage.
However, I want to challenge myself to be able to spread the message that I'm passionate about in a bigger stage without hiding behind a laptop the whole time. You know, being location=independent has been lovely. Like, you know, I get to talk to you from Mexico right now, right? And usually I'm in Bali across the other side of the world and it's afforded me an amazing experience in life. But what I really have been craving lately is to step away from the laptop and build better connections in real life. And I think being able to be a speaker and be able to share my story and share my insights in a much more physical environment feels right for me in sort of the next stage of my work. And what's exciting me about the work I'm going into like, you know, Screw the Cubicle, as I said, just celebrate it as six year anniversary and I've changed a lot in six years.
So, originally the message for Screw the Cubicle was about quitting the 9:00 to 5:00 right? Conventional pathway, and building your own freedom, right, through self-employment. And where I'm evolving into is actually the specialty of helping people build their next chapter of their body of work. It's a little different than quit your job and just do your business, which can attract all kinds of people. Looking to escape and you know, just leave something and it's a very negative energy I find sometimes, you know, quitting your job. But I'm really ready to work with people that are actually transitioning to a new body of work. These are entrepreneurs as well. They don't have to be just professionals. These are people that are at any stage of a business building journey that just sort of go, you know what? It's time for something new. I've grown into someone different and I need to understand where my body of work is taking me. What is my body fork telling me to build next and how do I do that in a way that doesn't feel super hustley? And it feels a lot more natural and authentic to my way of expressing my business.
So this is sort of where my work is transitioning into at Screw the Cubicle. So hopefully in due time I'm known less as the girl that helps people quit their jobs and more towards the girl that helps people build the next big thing.
JA: I can't wait. I think that's just a very natural progression. So you've mentioned Screw the Cubicle. Where can people find out more about you and your work? What's the actual URL?
LL: So screwthecubicle.com is the URL. You can find me online. I'm on Instagram a lot more than I am on Facebook these days. But the biggest educational tool that people can find me where I'm there actually more often is you my YouTube channel.
LL: So I'm a huge believer in education, not about scrolling, scrolling and liking my photos. I don't care too much about fake love, but I would love to help you learn. And so the teacher inside me does really well on YouTube and I produce new videos every Wednesday, every single week. So if you want to learn anything about transitioning from a corporate career to entrepreneurship or you know, building a new body of work, right, and the new future of work, you can definitely find me on YouTube as well.
JA: Okay. We'll be sure to get all of the links into the show notes. Last question, Lydia, what's your why? Why do you get up and do this work?
LL: Yeah. My why I think has been quite the same in the last six years, except it might change in the way how I talk about it, but my why has always been about helping people discover the gifts they have to change the world with the gifts that they have. I think that the world is filled with a lot of people that have something to share, that have world-changing ideas, that are sitting silently in their bellies. And I think the future of work is in small business, it's in everybody in their communities creating an impacting change through what they do best and how they want to change what they see as a reality in their communities. So for me, for example, my work is not just about quitting your job, it's about building a completely different type of life for people so they're not struggling to pay the bills and only think that there's one pathway to a pension. You know? I think the world is much bigger than our zip code.
I think when you travel, when you're able to be a global citizen, when you can listen and learn from other cultures and languages, you are a much better human because of it. And so that's why I do what I do is to instigate some freedom for people through self-entrepreneurship. But in a sense that has a ripple effect to getting out there and seeing the world as a bigger place than you think it is.
JA: Lydia, thank you so much for being on the show and sharing so much. I think your journey is just going to resonate with so many people and thanks for keeping it real and being my clone. I appreciate that. The affirmations and we'll see everyone in the bonus segment.
Hey, everyone. I hope that you enjoyed that interview with Lydia Lee. I had so much fun talking to Lydia about work. It's something that I've been thinking a lot about lately and, as I said, work is so important and it's so personal. We really need to talk more about it. So speaking of talking more about it, if you want to check out the bonus segment that Lydia and I -- we just got into how to create a vision of work and what it means to create your body of what does work look like for you, how to figure out what you want out of work. So if that sounds of interest to you, you can check out the bonus segment two ways.
One, if you're on your phone, just text the word extra, extra, E, X, T, R, A, E, X, T, R, A, all one word to the number 44222. If you're on your computer, simply had to get.zencourses.co/extra, once again, get.zencourses.co/extra, and enter in your info. You will get a link to watch the bonus video and you'll also get access to all of the previous bonus videos. You'll be added to my list as well and you'll get free content, updates and all of that good stuff from me, okay? If you don’t care about the bonus and you just want to get the show notes and find all the links and how to get in touch with Lydia, you can do that too. You can head over to zencourses.co/114. Once again, zencourses.co/114 for episode 114. That’s my time, talk soon.
All right, my friends, that is my time. Remember before you can level up your course, you must first level up your mind. As always, thank you for hanging out with me for another great episode. I do not take it for granted. I am Janelle Allen and this has been Level Up Your Course. Peace.