Figure Out What's Next

#38: Business Opportunities for Midlife

with Pat Flynn
August 17, 2023 | 51 Minutes



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On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Pat Flynn

Pure gold. Internet success guru Pat Flynn talks about business opportunities for people in midlife trying to figure out what's next in their life and career. Practical advice abounds from Pat's personal journey of being laid off from his dream career to becoming one of the most influential business teachers on the internet.

Do you want to know what's possible in midlife? Do you think you're too old? Think again. Pat elaborates on the advantages of being in midlife, the wisdom, experience, grit, and determination that people in midlife have to reinvent themselves and transform their lives. This is not theoretical advice. Pat teaches the how to. How with just 1000 true fans you can make a good living.

In our conversation, we talk about…

  • why there are so many opportunities for people in midlife who want to be entrepreneurs,
  • and how obstacles can be viewed as opportunities,
  • why starting out small just helping one or a few people solve a problem is a great way to get started,
  • how to test business ideas without putting your future, family, or finances at risk,
  • why empathy is a superpower for success,
  • why one of the most valuable skills to have for teaching is storytelling,
  • how having a side hustle being an entrepreneur can add more money for retirement,
  • and how having 1000 true fans can result in a six-figure income.

About Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn is a father, husband, and entrepreneur who lives and works in San Diego, CA.

He owns several successful online businesses and is a professional keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and YouTuber with 100M+ views.

He also hosts the Smart Passive Income and AskPat podcasts, which have earned a combined total of over 80M downloads, multiple awards, and features in publications such as The New York Times and Forbes.

And he is an advisor to ConvertKit, Circle, and several other companies in the digital marketing arena.

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Connect with Nicola & Peter

Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode

    A special THANK YOU to Cliff Ravenscraft who connected us with Pat Flynn!

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Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]

About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast

This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?

Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”

They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.

Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.


Pat Flynn  00:00

There's a lot of cases of entrepreneurs who you hear back to their first dollar that they made and how important that was because it really opened up their eyes to, wow, maybe this is possible. Let me keep going. And through our journeys, not just in business, but in life we always need a reminder of those things to keep going or the things to look forward to or the things that can be and then we got to work toward that.


Nicola Vetter  00:21

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Inside-Out Career Design podcast. My name is Nicola Vetter, and I'm here with my co-host and husband, Peter Axtell, and our guest today is Pat Flynn. Pat is one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the internet today. He's a professional keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, host of the Smart Passive Income, and Ask Pat podcasts, and a youtuber with over 100 million views.


Peter Axtell  00:59

Pat knew that after being downsized as an architect during the housing meltdown of 2007, he had to become a master of his own ship and became an entrepreneur, his story is inspiring.


Nicola Vetter  01:12

That's why we were so excited to talk with Pat. And in our conversation, we talk about why there are so many opportunities for people in midlife, who want to be entrepreneurs, and how obstacles can be viewed as opportunities, why starting out small, just helping one or a few people solve a problem is a great way to get started, how to test business ideas without putting your future, family, or finances at risk, why empathy is a superpower for success, why one of the most valuable skills to have for teaching is storytelling, how having a side hustle being an entrepreneur can add more money for retirement, and how having 1000 true fans can result in a six-figure income. And now, it's time to listen and learn from Pat. Okay, welcome, Pat. You probably don't remember this, but about nine years ago, we sent you an email offering to make a WHY film of you. We didn't know you already had your wonderful videographer, Caleb Wojciech back then. But what we do remember was that kind email you send us, you have an enviable reputation for honesty, transparency, and ethics. So we are really happy to have you on today.


Pat Flynn  02:55

Oh, thank you both Peter and Nicola, for having me. This is very special. And I love chatting about, you know, a lot of the journey that I've had in life and hopefully helping others by sharing it all. So thank you again for having me.


Peter Axtell  03:08

Great. So Pat, you know, you're one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the internet. And your success almost seems like a Cinderella story, which of course it's not. And so to set the stage for people who don't know, you, tell us a story about how you had your career all mapped out, and then got whupped up the side of the head. And that's when you had to sit down and had no choice but to figure out what's next for you. That's what we call those What's Next moments.


Pat Flynn  03:38

Yes, I love it. So I was set to be an architect. I went to school and got perfect grades. As I was taught. I went to an amazing college, I went to the University of California, Berkeley, and I graduated from the architecture program there. Magna Cum Laude. I got a wonderful job in the bay area here in California, working for a renowned architecture firm and I was working on... Some of our clients were Apple and GAP, and, you know, restaurants and it was exactly what I wanted to do. I was contributing to my 401 K. I was planning to have a family. I had a girlfriend, and in March of 2008, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. And so life, life was great. Everything was happening the way it was supposed to, as it was supposed to because I had gone and done everything the way I was taught to. And then in June of 2008, my boss calls me into his office, and he sits me down, he says, Pat, like you are great. You've done everything we asked you. But unfortunately, because of the economy, we just cannot hold you on any longer. We have to let you go. And that was a huge blow for me. I had no idea what I was going to do next. I didn't have a plan B because again, I had done everything the way I was supposed to. And I got very sad. I got very upset. I got very confused. I didn't know what to do next. And I went into a small state of depression. I kind of just was sitting in bed all day watching movies because I just didn't know what to do next. And it wasn't until I stumbled upon another podcast called Internet Business Mastery. There were a lot of these other internet podcasts that were out there that were telling you how to get rich quick, and all these kinds of things which were attractive to me because I was desperate. But this one was a little bit different. Because every story that I heard that was told on this podcast seemed a little bit more realistic, like, Hey, this is going to take some hard work. And here's some examples of that. But you can make something happen and take some knowledge that you have, take some experience, put it on the internet, and have other people see it, enjoy it may be even pay to get access to it. And there was one particular person his name is Cornelius Fichtner, who was helping people pass the PM exam or the project management exam, just online, just using his website. And he was making six-figures a year doing that. And that story aligned with me, and really was my spark that I needed. Because I had taken several exams on my way to becoming an architect. And there was one in particular, that was very difficult, I remember not having any resources to help me with, so I decided that I was going to create this resource. And I did, and you could find it at that is still alive today. And in October of 2008, I ended up putting a PDF file on the website for sale. I was just using PayPal, again, I had no idea what I was doing. And I sold it for $19.99. And in October of 2008, that book, that little PDF file, it wasn't even a physical copy, made $7,908.55. And it changed my life forever. It blew me away. But here's the thing, although that was successful, I immediately started worrying. I immediately was like, wait, wait, wait, like this can't be right. Like how did this happen? The FBI is going to come and arrest me because this just doesn't feel real. And little did I know I was starting my entrepreneurial journey at this point. Because the next month after that continued to grow into five figures a month, I even got to the point where I was making $35,000 a month just from this architecture website. And so what ended up happening was a lot of people started ask me, how did you do that? We're in a recession right now yet you are blossoming like this is insane. Show me how to do it. So I built a website called It's called that because I want to build businesses in a way that don't require to work on it all the time, it still requires work. But I'm at a point now and we have the internet to enable us to create something and then have that thing continue to work for us while we can go and do other things, it doesn't mean you can walk away forever. But this is the passive part of it, you can set it and have it continually work for you. And so I've taught 10s of 1000s of people since 2008 how to do that. And it's led to books that have been published a Wall Street Journal bestseller called Will It Fly and several other publications, it's led to me being able to speak on stage, including the stage of Dave Ramsey and his entrepreneurial entre leadership convention. It is allowed me to travel all over the world. And most of all, and the most important thing to me is it's enabled me and my wife to both spend as much time with our kids as possible at their young age. And this is why I don't have a giant building with a bunch of employees. That's why I don't have physical products, for all the books that I have and why I just, I'm so grateful that we have the internet to allow us to amplify these messages and help a lot of people just like you're doing today with this show. We're in our respective homes or studios. And we can blast this out and help a lot of people who can listen to this from this point forward, which is amazing. So that is how I came to be where I am today.


Nicola Vetter  08:47

Absolutely. So we build out our garage here.


Pat Flynn  08:51



Nicola Vetter  08:52

Now, I would like to take you step back and see after you lost your job, your father made a suggestion about what you should do. But you didn't follow it. So tell us the spark that came. Tell us about that, why you didn't follow it.


Pat Flynn  09:11

So my dad being who he is he always seems to know all the right answers. He always has. He came to me after I got let go and I was feeling down. He said you should go back to school. Go back, get your master's degree, which on paper was the right thing to do. Right. I couldn't get a job. I actually tried to get an interview anywhere, I called every architecture and engineering firm I knew to try and beg for a job and they weren't having it. Nobody had money to spend at that point. So let's go back to school. And he was right. I could have done that. But I was already kind of upset and almost gutted by the fact that Well, I had followed the rules before and yet I still got let go. I didn't have control of what happened to me. And that was the spark I needed to discover that wow, I can maybe have a little bit more control over my life and what happens. And if I were to fail, I want it to be because I failed, not because I did everything right, and then somebody else or some other external factors would consider me a failure. So this is what gave me that spark. And although my dad did not agree with that move that I made, he was supportive and the fact that he knew that, you know, I knew that he would always be there for me, and, you know, support me at least have a home for me to stay in if I needed. And I did, I actually moved back home with my parents for a while, which is not really what you want to do when you are about to get married. And that was kind of rough. And that also gave me a lot of inspiration and motivations, like, being in my childhood home with my parents, trying to build something, I had every reason in the world to make it work. Right, I needed to make it work. So that was very motivating. The other thing was the fact that I didn't have a safety net, I couldn't go back to architecture. So I really, you know, I feel like if I did get an interview, and I was offered a job around this transitional time, I probably would have taken it and I wouldn't be where I am today. So I'm grateful that nobody was hiring at the time. And it's interesting to think about it actually.


Nicola Vetter  11:16



Peter Axtell  11:17

You know, Pat, I'm so curious. You know, people talk a lot about having a vision. And when you made your first sale, I thought you said in your book you made $1.08, maybe that was PayPal charges, I'm not sure.


Pat Flynn  11:31

A dollar and eight cents came from... So when I was learning about all this online business stuff, I had learned that you could put a little code on your website, to have Google place advertisements on that website. And then you can earn money from the companies who spend to pay for those ads. And that was my first, my first taste of literally any money generated online, it was from an ad that had made $1.18. And I remember that, because it was like, it almost felt like it came out of nowhere. Now, of course, months were put into this website, and from $1 per hour, you know, calculation. I mean, that's fractions of a penny. But to see that I had done something, and I was rewarded for that, from a monetary perspective, was a big driver for me to go, Whoa, this can actually work, like this could actually work. And I needed that. There's a lot of cases of entrepreneurs who you hear back to their first dollar that they made and how important that was, because it really opened up their eyes to wow, maybe this is possible, let me keep going. And through our journeys, not just in business, but in life, we always need a reminder of those things to keep going, or the things to look forward to, or the things that can be. And then we got to work toward that. And, you know, the other thing I learned in this journey early on was that I just couldn't do it alone, I needed help. I needed support, I paid for that support. I also relied on mentors along the way to guide me. And this is why today I offer a lot of mentorship and have communities of people to connect with each other because that was so vital to my start as well.


Peter Axtell  13:13

Did you have a vision when you got that first bit of money? Did you have some kind of internal vision of what your life could be like? Did you have some insight?


Pat Flynn  13:23

No, I was in survival mode at that time. Right. So it's similar to you know, being out stranded somewhere. And finally finding a piece of meat to eat, like because I just need this meat in my body right now to stay alive. Like there was no visions of I'm going to start the farm and I'm going to have a family and we're going to have like crops everywhere. It was just, I just was thinking about it from a day by day or week by week basis, like I didn't even think about the future beyond a month from now, just because I just was, I need to survive. Now, of course, when the business started to actually take off a little bit that's when I started to realize like, wow, I'm actually now close to the point where I'm making money that is the equivalent of what I was going to make as an architect. And then it surpassed it. And that's when I started thinking more about the future. I transitioned from survival to thrival, if you will, to then go okay, well, where do we go from here? And it got to the point several years later, where the income generation was much more than I ever needed that I then started to get into philanthropy and building schools in Africa and other things and working with organizations to go there and to like to go from not even thinking I could help myself to now being able to help you know, 1000s of other people around the world who will never even know my name, it feels so good. And again, to think back that none of this would have happened if I didn't get let go is pretty crazy. So I'm very grateful for the layoff and you know we're at an interesting time now in our world. Were with the pandemic, a lot of people had experienced very similar stories and layoffs and you know, just really big bumps in the road. And what I've learned is to take these things and ask yourself, what now does this make possible? And it took me a while for me to figure that out back then. But it's always the first question I ask now, when something goes wrong, or something seems tough. I always ask myself, well, now what does this make possible? We had a person in our company leave who was a very important person. And it was of course tough, and they had a lot of responsibilities. But we asked ourselves, what does this make possible? We were able to find somebody who could fill in that role and do even better. And so there's always a positive possibility out of something, even in the moments that are its darkest. However, sometimes you need other people to spot those spotlights for you. Because you can't read the label when you're in the bottle. That's another thing I learned. I need other people to read that label for me.


Nicola Vetter  16:00

Oh, yeah, it's very helpful, I think, to have the support, and to know what keeps you going when the going gets tough. So Pat, the main question we are seeking to answer on this podcast is, is it possible to find an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? You got the successful part covered for sure. What about the meaning or purpose? Did this now come for you later?


Pat Flynn  16:38

It did. And it came actually, pretty quickly after I started the business because my wife got pregnant. And the birth of our son changed a lot of things for me, you know, before my son was born, this was 2009. It was hustle, hustle, hustle, get this business done, like do everything I can make as much money as possible. Like I need to just work until 2am In the morning, and then just figure it out. But when my son was born, that's when meaning really started to matter. It's like, well, WHY, what's the WHY here? I was just doing the WHAT, the WHAT other people told me to do, the WHAT I thought was the right thing to do. But I never even when I think about high school. It's like, why though? I just did what on paper I was supposed to do, but I never slowed down to consider why. And when my son was born, it was really like that was my first big eye-opening experience of a WHY, a WHY opening experience, if you will, to go with the dad jokes, which I think everybody here is cool with. But sorry, they come out sometimes. I'm still very much a father and those jokes just come out of nowhere. But like what happened was, time started to matter. Right? I started to see my son every day growing bigger and bigger and milestone after milestone and realizing that this was not going to be forever and so time management and what I do with my time was really important. I didn't mean I dropped everything, and no longer worked on the business so I can be with family all the time. And the opposite was obviously not true either. Where I'm always working on the business and spending no time with family. But now it's the idea of well, when I'm working, it got to matter or else it's a waste of time. I need to prioritize, I need to know that at least I'm getting this work and I'm honoring the work and time I'm putting into work because if I don't, if I'm falling into a Facebook rabbit hole, if I seem to be learning about things that literally don't matter to me right now, but are just, you know, seemingly drawing me in for some reason, then that's actually time I'm taking away from my kids. And that's not okay. So having a baby definitely got me to be more productive and more intentional. I'm not saying a strategy for growth is have more babies. But when you find what matters to you, then your time becomes more important. And you start to learn how to say yes to the right things and also say no to the right things. And that was another big lesson that I've learned over time is, you know, knowing when to say no, is really important. And the fact that you know, and I used to say yes to everything because I'm a people pleaser. I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities. But when you say yes to something, you're also saying no to something else. And this is I've very much realized this, especially in business, I'm saying yes to this new opportunity. But then I'm saying no to that other thing I committed that I haven't even finished yet. And many people go into this sort of yes chain where they're saying no to the previous thing and it just nothing ever gets completed or finished. And like in golf, you have to follow through. Even when you hit that ball with the club. If you just stop there the ball might go anywhere, and you're not going to have enough force behind it. But if you keep following through with that stroke all the way above the shoulder, you're going to have a much more likelihood of that ball flying where it needs to go. And it's funny because the ball is not even in contact anymore. But it's the motion and the follow through. And so that this is why they call the fortune is in the follow up, as they say, and as I've learned, so that that matters in business, same thing with kids following through is really important. And so having, having the baby did it, and, again, just intentionality. And that's the key. I see too many people living automated lives right now. And that's where I was, I had to get kicked out of the matrix to realize and will snap out of that, if you will, that maybe I wasn't leading the life that I wanted to live, I was just leading somebody else's life that they wanted me to live or a society told me to live, or what was on paper, the right thing to do. I never really thought about the why until I had a baby.


Peter Axtell  21:05

In our program, we call it the Should Life, leading the Should Life. And we're glad that you followed through and said yes, to have a conversation with us today. And I want to segue into who our audience is. They are people in midlife, they're about 45 to 60+, some of them dream about being entrepreneurs. I want to know what possibilities do you see out there for entrepreneurialism in midlife?


Pat Flynn  21:35

So many, I mean, you have so many advantages being at this part of life, so many more experiences, so much more wisdom, so many more relationships, hopefully relationships are key as well. And I mean, I think it was the person who founded Home Depot was over 50. There, I mean, there's, there's lists online that you can look at, of people who started these big things that we all know now they're a part of our everyday lives, who were who were at your age. And that A is very inspiring. But be the other part of this is you don't need to create the next Home Depot, you don't need to create the next eBay or Tesla or, or Uber Eats or whatever to be successful. In fact, success can come with finding a small little world, not the whole world, but it's finding a small world and being the go-to resource for them. And we like to call it the 1000 true fans. If you think about 1000 true fans, there's actually an article that was written in 2006. That was a huge inspiration to me. And it doesn't matter what age you're at, this will hold true. This idea of a true fan meaning somebody who really enjoys what it is you're offering, or what you do, whether you are a musician, an artist, or an entrepreneur, or creator or an inventor, whatever it might be. You don't need a blockbuster hit to win. You just need 1000 true fans online. And the reason that's cool is because if you imagine 1000 People who love your craft, love your work, love your information, whatever it might be 1000 people times $100 a year, just 100 that's less than $10 a month, right? That's two coffees at Starbucks per month. That's a that's a six-figure business already. 1000 people times $100 a year. And I know fans of things who pay way more than $100 a year on stuff. I mean, some people go insane, like I do with Star Wars. So this should hopefully open up the possibility that you don't need a ton of people, you just need to find something that you know that you care about, of certain group of people that you want to serve, and just serve them. And it's hard because we hear the headlines in the news articles about people who have millions of subscribers are these 20-year-olds who have tiktoks with 50,000 viewers and a million viewers per video. It's just like, okay, that's them, let them do their little dance. Like, we have so much more wisdom to share, we have the ability to connect. And I think that's as I grow older, I just turned 40. What I find more valuable than anything, are finding other people who will support me, and I want to support them back. And a person a leader can step up in an online space in a social media platform on YouTube or on a podcast like you guys are, and be a voice be able to be a voice to connect with and when you create that little community. I mean, that community grows itself because people bring other people like them in it. So you know, I wrote about this kind of stuff in my book superfans where people want to connect with other people like them. And there's so much opportunity out there. I think the biggest struggle is which lane do I choose, and which one do I pick? And the truth is, the riches are in the niches, pick a niche, start small. In fact, if you wanted a very specific strategy for getting started to pick and find a group of people that you care about, that's very important. A lot of people start businesses just because, oh, they need help, I'm going to help them and then they end up, you know, they end up like shoveling dirt, just because there was an opportunity there. But you know, hey, there's money in shoveling dirt. But that's not going to fulfill you. That's why I think starting with what's something that you care about where you feel like you can offer some service or offer some help or help something become more convenient. Start there, find one person in that community, just literally one, whether it's an online community or a local community or meetup that you go to find one person in that group who has a problem, and solve that one problem for them. You might not know how, but just figure it out and work with them. This helps you find those people this helps you talk to those people, this helps you figure out what they might need help with. This helps you figure out how to work with them. This helps you figure out what their obstacles are all the things you need to know as an entrepreneur to learn the language of the people you're serving. So that when you scale this later, then you'll know the words to say or what to put in an email or what to write on their blog, or whatever. But the best thing about this is when you help that one single person, not only do you now have a testimonial, right for the things that you now can help others with to and they say, oh, have you helped anybody with that before? Oh, yeah. So I've helped Jim over here and look at look at where he's at. Now, he had this problem before, I was able to, with my experience and guidance, help them here and look where he's at now, not only will you have that testimonial, but you will have unlocked in your brain that you can do this. And I'll tell you, when a person unlocks that confidence just takes one person again, you almost begin to start to feel a sense of responsibility, almost an obligation, like you have now a cure for a person's "disease," whatever that metaphor is for them, you're going to do everything in your power to get that cure out there. I mean, that's how it feels when you know that you have this ability now and it's a beautiful thing, because I love marketing and business and entrepreneurship where everybody wins. Right? You win. Because sure you might be getting paid or if you found your calling or your you're fulfilled with that service. But your customer, your student, your mentee wins because they've now transformed because of you. And that is a huge advantage that we at the sort of, you know, middle part of life have over those who are just starting out we have we have way more experience and guidance that we can offer, for sure. So use that to your advantage.


Peter Axtell  27:34

I never heard it... I knew this would be an amazing conversation, of course, but I never heard it put that way. That's exactly how we feel when someone says, You changed my life, You did this. So I never heard it put that way. That's how we feel, that really keeps us going. And also for our audience, it's so good to know, Kevin Kelly's famous article on 1000 true fans, when you broke it down to 1000 true fans around the world at $10 a month. And that makes it achievable because we get so influenced by it's this and this and it looks so big I think for many people, particularly people in midlife, who... we encountered this all the time, they feel stuck. They don't know what to do. They're looking at the second half of their life, how am I going to spend the second half of my life? All these decisions that need to get made. That's absolute fantastic advice.


Nicola Vetter  28:29

I'm wondering, can you share some more skills that you suggest someone in midlife who's considering being an entrepreneur needs to have?


Pat Flynn  28:39

This one might feel like it comes out of left field but for where in the world we're at now you might think it's like, be the expert or have the right information. Here's the truth. We are in an information buffet right now. And everybody's bloated information is not the problem anymore. It was back when I started, it was like there was a lack of information. So if you have the information, that is what was valuable right now, we're all stuffed, we're actually there's too much information is too much. Oh, it's overload, right. So the way that I like to think about it is instead of like just adding another plate to the buffet that everybody's at already, right? We think that's what it is. Let's create more content. Let's do this. Let's do this. I want to create the room in the back of the buffet that I want to invite all my friends to, and we're going to have a chef come by and I'm going to I'm going to treat my people with like the good food, the secret menu, the ones that not everybody else has. Right. So that's kind of the analogy or the metaphor that I like with that but the skill that I think beyond learning how to connect people together is storytelling. And storytelling has become in a way a lost art it has become for a while storytelling with your voice was literally the only medium right before tablets. I'm not even talking iPad tablets. I mean Like writing tablets back in the day, you know, stories are things that people are just fine tuned to pay attention to, to immerse themselves in. And that's how we experienced transformation is through those stories that we learn about. And if you can master storytelling, whether it is you are on a microphone, or on a camera, or with a written word, in a book, perhaps you can guide somebody anywhere with a story, you can help them feel like this is relatable, you can help them feel like it's achievable. And this is the one thing that I try to tell a lot of my students with this world that we're in with how crowded all the facts and information are. It's the story that surrounds those, that will be the differentiator, it's the story that allows a person to connect to you as the creator. And so if you're good at telling story, you're going to be that much more ahead of the game for sure. Because two people can share the same piece of information, but the one who tells it in a way that is emotional or makes the person laugh or makes a person cry or smile, that story is going to get remembered and not only remembered but often passed forward. And then now your brand is getting shared through that story as well. I mean, we started this with you remembering the story of me getting let go and the story of my dad telling me to go get my master's degree instead, you know, these stories are the things that get passed forward and remembered about a person. If you don't include that, then you are just a Wikipedia article.


Nicola Vetter  31:34

And in stories, there lies wisdom.


Pat Flynn  31:37



Nicola Vetter  31:38

Wisdom is really what people are craving for these days more than information, as you just pointed out.


Pat Flynn  31:45



Nicola Vetter  31:47

I also would like to know, what helpful personality qualities do you think, are good to have on the path to entrepreneurship?


Pat Flynn  31:58

You gotta be a good listener. You know, we talked about story, that's you saying things, but at the same time, you also have to learn how to take things in. And especially as a creator, sometimes that's the hardest thing to do, because your job or what you love to do is to tell or to share or to film or to record or to podcast, but listening to who it is you're serving is going to be really key. And so that can be a number of things in a conversation, taking the spotlight off of you, and putting it on the person who you're speaking to is been one of the best strategies and characteristics that I could say, you know, has helped me and has helped others. My one of my mentors, James Schramko, said, Stop trying to be so interesting, and start getting interested. Put it back on the other person. In fact, Tim Ferriss who many of you might know, a very famous author in the entrepreneurial space. And if you don't know him, it's doesn't matter for the story. He came up with a book called The Four-Hour Workweek in 2007. And this book, hit the New York Times bestseller, like unlike any other book that ever had before it so fast. So quickly, it grew to number one. And when he's been interviewed about how that happened, I mean, he was sort of a nobody before. And this is his first publication and bam, it's a New York Times bestseller. How did this happen? Well, he used to go to conferences, where influential creators and bloggers and podcasters were, and he wouldn't go and say, Hey, guys, I have this new book coming out. Let me tell you about it. It's amazing. And it was an amazing book, for sure. But he went, and he wanted to learn as much as he could about everybody else. He wanted to see what other people needed. And he would want it to help them he tried to provide as much value into those people as possible, putting the spotlight on them to a point where they finally would go, man, Tim, you've been so helpful, and just, I really enjoyed. You'd never even told me anything about you, what do you have going on? Oh, by the way, I have this book coming out. And then they get interested because now they have a relationship. So I always come from a place of serve first, that was a mantra of value that my team and I have, we actually have it printed on T shirts for our team and even for our audience serve first value first come from a place of service put the spotlight off of you putting it on to those who you serve. And that actually then in turn grows your own spotlight. It's really amazing how that happens. It just the world has this incredible way of rewarding those who help others. In fact, it was Zig Ziglar, who once said, you can have anything in the world you want, so long as you help other people get what they want. I absolutely love that. And I believe it 1,000%. So that's number one serving, serving and that is to go along with that the other component is empathy. It's not it's one thing to listen to a person and to give them what they want. But when you can feel what they feel when you put yourself in the shoes of somebody who is challenged or struggling with something or is inconvenienced in some way, you are more likely to now better serve those people. and you have that empathy. And this is why when I started teaching business, a lot of people wanted to hide behind their keyboards, like, just let me write the blog, I don't really, you know, I'm scared to talk to my audience in person, I just want to talk to them through the medium of a blog or a video or podcast, it's like you are doing yourself and your audience a disservice. If you do not pick up the phone, or get on Skype, or zoom, or wherever, and have a legitimate conversation with somebody who is in your audience, you will soon discover the exact kind of person that you are creating as for and not only that, their stories are going to resonate with you. And when you create, you will now have a real life person to think about not a made up person who's 37, who has two and a half kids who, you know, whatever, like this statistic, say, it's a real person who has a real name, because every person on the other end of that email list every person on the other end of that YouTube view count, or Twitter count is an actual human being. So talk to that human get to know them. And that will guide you I promise.


Peter Axtell  36:03

I think you're absolutely right, that empathy is kind of a superpower, particularly in this day and age, which are there's a lot of lacking in empathy. We won't go there. But it is a superpower and two stories come to mind. The first one is how we started this conversation. I was telling someone you know, Pat Flynn, nine years ago, we offered to do this, WHY film for him and he very kindly said no, but he sent us an email, and he responded to us. The second one was, Seth Godin came to Denver, we went to a conference. And we offered to make a WHY film and he said no. But he sent a one-line email, said, I like your show reel. That's when we were doing films. I like your show reel. That story and your story, that kindness that is a story embedded in our minds that people remember.


Nicola Vetter  37:02

It keeps people going.


Pat Flynn  37:06

I mean, it speaks to a few things. Number one. I mean, how long did that email take Seth to write back, probably two seconds. But a little bit of a time intention go a very long way. And just recognition, just this handshake was not left out there kind of awkwardly, you know, when you go in for a handshake, and then nobody shakes it, you're just like, kind of, okay. That's how we feel sometimes. But if somebody's extending a handshake, and maybe you just have a quick handshake, and you leave, it's still much more than most people will give. And in this day and age where everybody's so me, me, me, a little bit of giving goes a very, very long way. So I appreciate you bringing that up. And you know, I always, I always remember moments like that, too, especially when they're unexpected. And it's sad that those personalized moments are what is different. But I also think that that's what's the opportunity for all of us out there.


Peter Axtell  38:03

How do you think somebody can test being an entrepreneur particularly in midlife without risking their family or their future or their finances? How do you think someone could test?


Pat Flynn  38:14

Yeah, start small, right? I think a lot of people think entrepreneurship is okay, I got to get a loan from the bank. And then I got to, you know, get a building, then I got I need an office, and then like, okay, now I gotta figure out how to help people like, no, it's actually very, very low risk. In fact, there is imagine the risk of not doing this. That's the first thing I would say, what are the consequences of you not doing that? What will the regret be like by not even giving us a chance that can often feel way more heavy than at least giving it a shot? And then at least getting an answer will this work or not, that is so much more beautiful, and in most cases, you will get an answer. Either way, whether it works or not, is still valuable, because you can take that knowledge of that mistake or failure and put it into the next thing, or learn to go a different direction, you cannot possibly move into a different direction. If you're not moving at all, the object at rest tends to stay at rest. We got to get out of rest. But you don't have to go 90 miles an hour out of the gate. I kind of already gave the structure for how the best way to start would be to find that one person help them solve one problem. Many people come to me and they go, Pat, I don't know what I should do first. So they create an online course. Should I write my book? Should I do coaching? Should I do? I don't know. And I'm like you're asking the wrong question. Who are you going to serve? And what's one problem you can solve? Solve that one problem, even if it's very manual. The cool thing about this is you can do it in your spare time. You can do it without a website needed. Not even really anything technological needed that you need to know now you can figure that stuff out and help solve that problem along the way with that person. And now you have a structure for how that might be done with the next person and then the next person and the next person. So you can start small, help one person, and then figure it out from there. I think we grew up with the idea that a business needs this business plan multiple pages with forecasting and a loan from the bank again, and all this other stuff. Most businesses that start today don't quite go down that route. I just, I just wanted to help people pass an exam that I knew a lot about. So I put that information online. And Google did its thing it found it and what ended up happening was people found me through Google, and they loved it so much that they shared it with everybody else they knew. And they shared it with everybody else they knew. And lo and behold, I'm, I'm here now. So you know, it could it could start small, you can start with some people, you know, you can start with communities that you're a part of, and just ask around that. That's it. I know, some people who started their businesses by simply asking their friends like, an example of this would be like, Hey, you know, I build websites for people, if any of you need a website built, I'd be happy to do it for you. And you know, we could talk about price later. But if you need help, I'm there for you. That's it, not even in anything formalized is no plan. They've never built a web a website for anybody else before except for themselves. And lo and behold, they had one person say, Yeah, I need a website, can you help me, they didn't know exactly how it was going to go down. But they knew they wanted to get this end result for this person, and they figured it out. And now they have a testimonial. And now they're like a world class web design company. So you know, this, this stuff can happen. At the same time, you don't need to be a world class design company, for example, in that in that metaphor, maybe you just have two clients. And that's it. Like, that's all you have an extra couple $1,000 coming in per month, and allows you to take those vacations or add to your I know, a big reason why a lot of people at this age start businesses now is because they want to supplement the retirement that they maybe were a little bit late to sort of contribute to, and having just an extra 500 to $1,000 a month with one or two people per month that you're helping, that adds up. And that will help speed up that retirement account. Big time for sure. It makes up for lost time. And so think about that, as far as like motivations as well, and what the endgame is for you there too, but it doesn't need to be huge. You don't need to, you know what, at your whole lifestyle for it, it could just be added on top of what you're already doing. And you know, the beauty of this age in life as well as typically at this age, the kids are starting to get a little bit older if you have kids perhaps, and they're starting to move out of the house. And you might actually have a little bit more time back and have a little bit more freedom that you didn't have when your kids were, you know, one in three, minor, 13 and 10. So we're starting to get a little bit of time back. But I also know that teenage years are gonna be a little interesting. So we'll see what happens. But yeah.


Nicola Vetter  42:54

So, one of the huge problems that people have with starting an online business is limiting beliefs. And you write in your updated version of your fine book, which we will have in the show notes, Let Go that although you look like you have it all together, you're always meeting new challenges and limiting beliefs, even at this point in life. So how do you work on your limiting beliefs?


Pat Flynn  43:21

Yeah, as they say, new levels, new devils. It's getting help from others. Like I said before, it's hard to read the label when you're when you're inside the bottle. So I have two groups of people, we call them mastermind groups, you can call them whatever you want. But this is very popular in the entrepreneurial space is to be a part of a mastermind group. And these two groups each have four to five people. Each group meets every week. And we've met every week for over a decade. And every week, we're there to support each other to share what is going on, to share the wins in our lives, and to share where we might be falling behind and to expect brutal honesty from the other members of the group. Knowing that you will get that brutal honesty back when needed. And so there have been several times in my life when I've been overworked or burned out. And I've gotten direct counseling from these people who I trust so much. And it's like the in the totem pole of like people who are important to me in my life. It's my family. And then my mastermind group and they feel the same way about me as well. And so we are always there for each other and can rely on each other. Although we started this specifically to help each other with our businesses. I would say 75% of the time most of the conversations are not even about business but about life and navigating the life that we're in. And in these groups, one of them I'm sort of the younger person in the group and another one I'm sort of mid-range but it doesn't even matter the age. It's just, we all support each other. We all share the same values and what we're doing and you trying to do. And we all want to inspire each other. So that's been really key. Again, the biggest thing I've had to learn over time is when you grow and your business continues to be successful, you will get more opportunities than you can handle. And for a while, I was saying yes to every single opportunity, every single speaking gig, every single partnership, I wanted it all because I was just in this hoarding mentality. And it was my first time experiencing this. So like, what if it goes away? What if this is a one-time thing, but I think it was Richard Branson who said like business ideas and opportunities are like buses, as soon as one leaves, another one's just gonna come and be ready to pick you up. So I feel like that I feel now when I say no to something, I feel empowered. I feel like that is me expressing my freedom of time, and space. And so I opt out of things to re opt in to the things that are important, right? Probably the biggest example of this was I was offered a CEO position at a hosting company a number of years back. And I mean, what they promised me was incredible. I would have had to move to a state in the middle of the country, which wasn't that favorable for me, in particular, being in San Diego, but the money and the prestige, and what it would do for my career would have been incredible. But because I knew where I wanted to go and what was important to me. I didn't even hesitate. There was no, there was no reason for me to say yes, it was a quick No, even though it was potentially an eight-figure opportunity for me. No, like, okay, so I have the money like, no, it like that doesn't change, like no, it didn't like it was it to me, it's so obvious that that's something to say no to. And I think a lot of us don't have those parameters, or even filters in our lives to guide us through. And so a great exercise for us at this stage in life might be to reassess what our goals might be, we maybe had goals when we were in our 20s, because we're hustling, and we're doing things we're working hard now that we're, you know, in our 40s 50s 60s, now might be a time for a great reset of the goals that you have in life. And to understand, Okay, well, what are we working for now? What's the what's the why here in this stage? And how might a business kind of support me with that? And what will delineate what a yes is and what a no is, right? You know, for example, I can imagine a lot of us at this age might say, you know, we don't want to be locked down to a location that we want to, we want to have a little bit of freedom with, where we go and when. So that can then help you with the business decisions that you make. Okay, maybe I'm gonna build a business, but it's not going to have an office, and my team is going to be remote, so that we don't have ever have to worry about having a specific location. Or maybe you've always had this dream for a building and in a corner office will go make that happen. So I think every person is different. And my final piece of advice would be find a mentor out there, who is living that life that you see yourself living to, and just learn about them, learn from them, figure out what they're doing. There's a lot of great people out there, very open and honest and transparent about where they're at and where they're going. I have a lot of people in my life that I look up to Michael Hyatt being one of them. He is somebody who is in his 60s who had been the CEO of a company but has since then removed himself from the company to spend more time with family. His companies are still growing. But he's a very renowned author, and I appreciate how he values and where he puts his family amongst his business. And that is something that I want to strive for when my kids get older as well. So I look to him for advice, I follow his work, I pay for mentorship from him, those kinds of things. So that like, there's great people out there who are willing to help and obviously Peter and Nicola are here, in the same fashion too. So yeah.


Nicola Vetter  48:57

Well, thank you so much, Pat, I think we are at the time. And I would just like for you to give us a website or where can people find out more about you that do really want to move into the direction of entrepreneurship?


Pat Flynn  49:15

Thank you so much, both of you for having me here. And for everybody listening, I appreciate you. These are exciting times. These are amazing times and although we are sort of heading into the second half of our lives, if you will, the games are won in the second half. Right? Take any sports analogy, games are won in the second half. This is your time to win and to shine. You could find me at smart, passive My team and I are there to serve you in many different kinds of ways. You can listen to the podcast if you'd like and we do have programs and books and other things if you wanted to dive a little bit deeper. And we have a lot of people from all different age ranges. Shout out to Dr. B who's nearing 70 who started her podcast recently to help people with ADHD and she's crushing it she's in multiple countries all around the world now with her show, and we were able to help her and we can potentially help you too. So Thank you both so much.


Nicola Vetter  50:09

And all of that will be in the show notes. Pat, thank you so much. That was a blast.


Pat Flynn  50:15

Thank you so much.


Peter Axtell  50:18

We hope you enjoyed this conversation. If you did, could you do us a favor and hit the like button and subscribe to our YouTube channel? What's It will help the channel grow and get more amazing guests like Pat Flynn. To learn more about Pat, head to, where we share links and more. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  50:48

Thanks for joining us today. And please share this episode with someone you care about someone who's thinking about entrepreneurship, and how to make those first steps safely. And if you are trying to figure out What's Next for you. Join us for one of our live online workshops where we teach how to successfully transform your life and career in midlife to save your spot in our next workshop go to We'll see you there or for another episode here.