How a Podcast Changed My Life

When I wrote about leaving my job and starting a publishing business in 2017, there was one detail that stood out to people:

“You read 66 books??”

I was asked for book recommendations and tips on how to read more in 2018. So, here’s my answer, in the form of a podcast episode:

Listen to the episode on the TMBA site here

Or Download | Stitcher | iTunes

I’m this week’s guest on Tropical MBA, a podcast about building a business to achieve personal and financial freedom.

It’s funny that this episode is coming out today, Feb. 1, 2018, because it was Feb. 1, 2016, exactly two years ago, that I listened to my first episodes of TMBA. I know the date because I was boarding my first-ever long-haul flight, moving to literally the opposite side of the world, from Chicago to Vietnam. I had no idea what to expect when I landed.

The company I’d been hired by had something to do with people selling products on Amazon. They’d provided me with a blog post about bootstrapping your business from Saigon. But I wasn’t really sure what the whole scene was about.

By accident, a friend of a friend guessed I might be working for people related somehow to Tropical MBA. I didn’t think so, as I’d never heard of it, but I downloaded a bunch of episodes of the podcast anyway, hoping I had enough audio to entertain me for the 36-hour journey.

Thirty-thousand feet in the air, I felt cracked out on nerves, excitement and adrenaline. I didn’t sleep at all. I dove into episodes of the show, hoping to get some more clues about what I’d find in Saigon. As the seconds ticked down to my arrival, I felt like I was cramming for a test.

As I listened, I realized everything in the podcast was exactly what I had been looking for when I’d quit my job as a journalist with a vague idea that I could “make money online.”

I pictured in my mind the other way it all could have gone. I might have found the podcast first, listened religiously, lived with my parents, saved money, and finally gotten out to Asia and the community maybe a year or two later.

But I lucked out, and it happened in reverse.

Once I landed in Vietnam, I forgot about the podcast for a while. I was having too much fun living the “lifestyle” half of “lifestyle business,” though as an employee. But when I left that job in 2017 and set out to work for myself, I listened to several TMBA episodes a day, working my way through a lot of the back-catalogue of more than 400.

I devoured stories of how the hosts Dan and Ian built their own business, and how other people discovered this community. I relished the topsy-turvy narratives, how people never went from A to Z cleanly but jumped all over the alphabet, things only making sense later, when looking backward.

I received reassurances that, yes, this journey is often lonely. I took on board the business book recommendations I received, a category I’d barely read in my previous life. I listened to the advice of those much further in the journey than me, considering what was possible.

It was the job that brought me to Saigon, but it was the podcast that showed me how to, well, make money online.

Exactly two years ago, I settled into my window seat, put in my earbuds, and learned how my life was about to change.

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business or wanted more freedom, start with these episodes:

If you’re not ready to start a business but want to get your foot in the door of a lifestyle business as an employee, like I did, find jobs here: