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(Literal) Text Transcription of the video :
Olivier Roland: So, by the way Johannes, I have a tradition in my videos, in my interviews: can you do the sexiest clap this camera ever saw in his life?
Johannes: The sexiest clap.
Olivier Roland: Alright. Okay, it’s a double clap. Watch yourself, ladies, alright.
So, hello, hello my intelligent rebels, I’m actually with Johannes. Hello, what’s up, man?
Johannes: Hi, how are you doing?
Olivier Roland: Great.
So, we are actually in Brasilia, in Brazil and I met this gentleman a few days ago at LaunchCon, the event of Jeff Walker. And, you shared with me this amazing story that you basically stopped to work for 6 months and roam the world especially in the US. So, I wanted you to share the experience with my audience.
So, first can you explain briefly what you’re doing? What is your business?
Johannes: I have an info product business in the Spanish market and I started 5 years ago with a speed reading course. Basically, back 10 years ago, I read Tim Ferris’ book “The 4-Hour Workweek” and he started off with the speed-reading course. I don’t know if you remember that.
Olivier Roland: Absolutely, I remember that but he didn’t sell, he couldn’t sell it.
Johannes: Yeah, he did like a seminar and he couldn’t sell it but,
Olivier Roland: On tapes
Olivier Roland: And then, he asked his mother to destroy the tapes 10 years after.
Johannes: Exactly. But, that was where the idea came from and I was at a point in my life where my daughter was born and I wanted to have more time and flexibility but keep my lifestyle. So, I was looking for options and I found out about the whole info product world. I didn’t know what to do and I remembered Tim Ferris in the speed reading and I started investigating and saw that there’s not much going on in the Spanish market.
Olivier Roland: Because you’re German but you live in Barcelona.
Johannes: In Barcelona, yeah. It’s actually funny because this book has been read by millions of people but there was still nobody doing that. So,
Olivier Roland: It’s always the case. Most of the people, they read or they consume the content but they don’t do anything about it.
Johannes: Exactly. So, I had that idea but I didn’t have an author and I wasn’t ready to put my face in front of a camera at that moment and be the personal brand. But, I had a friend at that time who didn’t have a job. He studies history and was always reading a lot. And then, I thought he might be a good author for the course. I went out and bought like a stack of books about speed reading and gave him these books and I paid him for three months so, I could learn that.
Olivier Roland: Really.
Johannes: Get good at it and then create the course.
Olivier Roland: So, where did the money come from? Were you already an entrepreneur at this point?
Johannes: Yeah, I was working as a consultant before, as a freelance consultant or as a project manager for big companies. So, I made quite good money and that was also a reason why I looked for business that I would be able to maintain my lifestyle, I was flying around the world. Basically, I was flying every week. So, from Monday to Thursday, I was never at home and then…
Olivier Roland: But you want exchanging your time from your money as a consultant.
Olivier Roland: So, you have money but not time, so you paid a guy to read the books. That’s a very smart strategy.
Johannes: Exactly. So, I got a guy to read the books and not only read the books but actually sit down with the books and train that and really get good at it because I didn’t want to just create a summary of all these books, I wanted him to really get good at it and then based on his own experience creating a course and he actually is good like he reads over a thousand words per minute and that’s…
Olivier Roland: Wow.
Johannes: like a usual reader reads between 200 and 250, I think it’s about the average and he got to a thousand words per minute. So, he got actually good at it and he created a course over the last five years, we have sold several million euros of that, of that product.
Olivier Roland: It’s amazing and you train the guy and you paid him to read the books.
Johannes: He trained himself. But, I paid him to train himself and then I helped him to create the structure for an online training, for an online course basically. And, I trained myself in copywriting, in traffic and finance. So basically, I spent one year learning and I flew over to the United States several times and then, I trained myself in all aspects regarded with info product businesses and online marketing.
Olivier Roland: Wow. So, it’s the first big takeaway, I mean for people because that’s amazing. Most people who will have been stuck in the “I don’t have time”, you know, but you could solve the problem really creatively by paying a guy to consume the content. So, he could be the expert, I mean there was a risk that the guy would be paid to do nothing, right? Or that he wouldn’t like apply or he wouldn’t get results.
Johannes: Yeah, he wouldn’t get result or he wouldn’t be good at it but he was. So, we were lucky with that, so that worked out. And then, two years later like my community, the speed-reading community asked for memory trainings. So, I thought about creating a memory training as a second product but I wanted to do something different.
I didn’t want to have the same person and create the memory course because I didn’t want to depend so much. I didn’t want my business to depend so much on one person, that’s not me. So, I chased down a guy Ramon Campayo, he is Spanish and he’s 9 times world memory champion,
Olivier Roland: Good.
Johannes: And I went after him for quite a long time.
Olivier Roland: He was a star so he didn’t care.
Johannes: Yeah, he was a star. I sent him an email and he didn’t answer. I tried to find out his phone number, there was no way. I sent him a postal letter; he didn’t answer.
Olivier Roland: So, what work in the end?
Johannes: So, I did his course like he did a collection of courses. So, I signed up for his course and I paid for his course, I did his course. And then, I approached him during his course and we had lunch together, and I proposed him the idea to go online with the stuff he’s doing. And then, somehow convinced him. So, we started a second business, the memory training business. That’s why I started using the Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula for that product.
Olivier Roland: Ok, all right. Again you solve very creatively a problem. If you really want to connect with someone and you can’t, usually, you have two options: either you go to an event he is organizing where you’ll be, you know, like a guest speaker and you try to corner him in a way, in a friendly way of course; or, you buy his course if he has the course which is also a great way to connect with people especially if you apply the course and you have results and you give him a great testimonial. Because immediately, you are on his radar, you’re not just the random guy trying to spam him about something he doesn’t understand.
Johannes: That’s true.
Olivier Roland: Great. So, the business grew but you were like working a lot or…
Johannes: I was working a lot the first two years probably and then, I started building a team and I started working less and less. Actually, one of the reasons I created the business was having time, freedom and money. So, I set up the business since the beginning in a way that I would have that. So, I did work a lot the first two three years to get it off the ground but I designed it in a way that I could step back then. Actually, I saw an interview with Dean Jackson, you know Dean Jackson?
Olivier Roland: No.
Johannes: He’s one of the… He’s an American marketing guy. He has a product about real estate investing I believe or for real estate agents. And, I saw an interview with him right at the moment when I was starting my business and there was one key takeaway I took from that interview. And that was that: when you create a business that one of the first questions you have to ask yourself is “which lifestyle do you want to live?” And that, so many people create their own business because they want freedom but then, they get into a business that doesn’t give them freedom.
Olivier Roland: Absolutely. That’s a common story.
Johannes: Exactly, that’s a common story. So, that was like a key thing for me to see that interview in that moment. So, I designed my business in a way I could do that. And last year was the first year where we made over a million euros with. And that year, I only worked for half of the year and the other half of the year, I travelled the world with my family basically.
Olivier Roland: That’s amazing. So, that’s what I want to dig deep down into because it’s really important and interesting. The other 6 months, how much did you work? Did you work a lot or…?
Johannes: It really depends.
Olivier Roland: Ok.
Johannes: I have not been working Fridays since like ten years. Also as a consultant and as a freelance, I worked really intensely from Monday to Thursday but I usually don’t work Fridays. Although unless we are like in a launch or like there’s an exception. So, I did work the other six month, I did work like normal working hours but four days a week, not five days.
Olivier Roland: Ok.
Johannes: Then, I took the 6 months off. That was last year.
Olivier Roland: How did you do that?
Johannes: Having a good team, having a good team. I mean, one thing is…
Olivier Roland: So, you had a team before you decided to have this goal of going out 6 months?
Johannes: 6 months.
Olivier Roland: Out of the country and,
Johannes: I set the goal like a year before, year and a half before. Actually, our idea was to go for a year but then after a year, we decided to go back but we could have done a year probably. I set the goal and then I worked on it. But, I already had a team but what I did is to make the team more independent through processes we implemented and getting the right people in the right places. And actually, there was one problem I really through the 6 months and that’s something I still feel bad for like I really burned-out one person, she was my assistant at that time.
Olivier Roland: She did a burnout.
Johannes: Yeah, not like a medical burnout but…
Olivier Roland: She was exhausted.
Johannes: She was exhausted and she’s not working with me in that position anymore because she just couldn’t do it anymore. So,
Olivier Roland: Do you did a mistake in the management?
Johannes: I did a mistake, that was one person I gave too much responsibility to. She basically was the communication point. So, she was my assistant at that time and she was the only one on my team who was allowed to talk to me during these six months. So, everything had to go through her and actually we had a very structured approach: I only had a call with her on Mondays and that was all the communication I had with my office basically during these 6 months.
Olivier Roland: Wow. So, a call of how long? It depends?
Johannes: It depends. Between 10 minutes and 45 minutes probably.
Olivier Roland: Okay, but I mean on paper, it seems like an amazing process to be sure that you will not be bothered too much by the business, right? And, how many people were on your team at this point.
Johannes: 12, 13, something like that.
Olivier Roland: Okay, so it’s already like 13. Employees, freelancers?
Johannes: Half partly but the freelancers are like full-time freelancers, basically. So, like 12 full-time resources. Some of them are in Columbia so that’s difficult to do a contract. So, I pay them through like a freelance website but then for me, it’s not so important. Like the type of contract they have. It’s more about how committed they are to my business, it’s my business, their job. Yes, that was the case.
Olivier Roland: Okay. So, you put in place this process and you said to your team “okay, I’m going to the US for 6 months, and please, don’t bother me.”
Johannes: Exactly, basically.
Olivier Roland: When the business…
Johannes: Basically, I did that. And as I said, there’s one person that was like the key person between the team and me. And, that was too much for her. But if I look at the rest of the team, and everybody else is still on my team now, there was a before and after.
So, they grew a lot as a team and as people. Having this one simple responsibility and not being able to come back to me and not having to come back to me to solve problems, right. So, it was actually really good for my team. It was not easy but it was really good for my team and a really good investment in my team and my company as well.
It wasn’t just, like for me, to have vacation; that was also part of the purpose why I did that. It’s like the best team-building exercise you can do. I think, it’s just to give the team all the responsibility and let them do it. There’s obviously a risk that they screw up your business but, luckily that didn’t happen. My business survived as I said it would. And, continue growing and in that year, we jumped a million-euro mark. So, it worked out.
Olivier Roland: Awesome. And so, I’m curious. When you said to your team “I’m going to travel, I’m not working for 6 months”. I mean, a lot of entrepreneurs will be afraid to share this with their team because they will be afraid to be judged by the people like “Oh, so, the boss is having a vacation for 6 months and he will make money and I will do the work”. So, how did you handle this?
Johannes: I didn’t think about this so much and there was no problem. I think probably these things if you think about it and you’re worried about it, then somehow you start to communicate that and then your team will think like that. But I think if you don’t… I didn’t think about it.
And then, people were actually happy. They had the opportunity to grow and to take more responsibility. It’s a way of how do you communicate it? Are you afraid? And to communicate that and they know that or how are you actually communicating it? It’s an opportunity for the team to grow and to take more responsibility.
Olivier Roland: Okay. And, do you also give this opportunity to some members of your team if they want to travel and maybe continue to work a little bit?
Johannes: Yeah. There are actually people from my team that have done that, not for 6 months but I do give the opportunity, yes. There’s one person on my team who has been traveling the world for the last four years. He does work but he…
Olivier Roland: He travels a lot.
Johannes: He has spent a few years in Japan, a few years in India, a few years in the Caribbean and then a few years… No, a few months.
Olivier Roland: A few months, ok.
Johannes: But, he’s been traveling for around four years and then, other people do that as well, so…
Olivier Roland: Alright. And so, the experiment was great for you but you mentioned that you did a mistake which to create just one way for your business to communicate with you.
Johannes: No, I don’t think it was a mistake, I think it was the right thing to do. And the way we set it up is on Monday, the team had a team meeting. It’s a virtual team, so it’s a virtual but we had a zoom call and that’s something we also did when I was there like a meeting to organize the week and look at what we did last week. What are we going to do this week? Are there any problems, any decisions we need?
So, now the team made that meeting without me. After that, my assistant called me and told me what happened in the meeting. And if there were any decisions I had to take or any questions I had to answer for them to keep going, and I gave her that answer and then, she communicated that back to the team.
Olivier Roland: Ok.
Johannes: That’s basically the process we did.
The mistake was not… I don’t think that was a mistake, the mistake was that it was not the right person for that job. And I have somebody doing this job now or a similar job because I’m a little more involved in my business right now.
But, you need a person who has really the capacity to manage the business. And in that case, she was like just my assistant. She did a great job but, in that role, she wasn’t… like just my assistant who was communicating my voice, that’s what I thought when I set that up, but she really got into the role what she was managing the business and she was not the right person to do that.
Olivier Roland: Okay. So for example, what happened that made you think that? Like, what were the problems you encountered?
Johannes: No, the problems were that when I came back, I saw her… She was pretty much burned out and demotivated.
Olivier Roland: Okay, that’s a problem to be burned out…
Johannes: There was not a problem, these 6 months worked well, as I said that business grew
Olivier Roland: Ok, she did the job right but she worked too much and she was completely disgusted by it.
Johannes: She went too much out of her natural abilities.
Olivier Roland: Interesting, ok.
Johannes: She was not disgusted; she was not like blaming me for anything but I saw that she was at her limit and she started rejecting… Once I was back, rejecting tasks that involved any kind of responsibility. She basically wanted to do just for me here to delegate very specific tasks but she didn’t want to have any kind of shit. So, she started being allergic to taking responsibility for anything. And that doesn’t work because my… like the philosophy I built my team is that, everybody takes a lot of responsibility.
So, that didn’t help but we found a good way. I helped her to build a business on her own and she’s still collaborating for me for specific things as a freelancer. So, we found a really good way for her to have something now. The solution is softer, but a more personal thing for her.
But, it did work for the 6 months, yes.
Olivier Roland: Alright. And so, you’re really happy with the experiment except these small things.
Johannes: Yes. I was happy with the experience. Honestly, if I had been there, the business would have gone faster. I’m sure about that. And, the growth we did, we made more that year than the year before, but these were things I had already set up before. And also, we did a launch right when I was back after six months, we did quite a successful launch as well.
So, in these 6 months, basically what the team did was to maintain the business. They were not able to grow the business. And also, like new projects or change projects, I had told them they should do in that time, did not get off the ground in the way they would have gotten off the ground with me. But what they were able to do is to maintain the current business, customers were happy, saying “we’re not stagnating”. So, that’s what I’ve seen.
But, that’s probably also part of the person like. I’m actually right now doing a similar experiment again. I’m not traveling but I’m currently working on a new business and I’m involved a little more like I have two meetings a week with my team now. And, they can also contact me in between if there’s like something urgent but I’m not spending a lot of time in my business right now. They have other people in place to lead that team.
Olivier Roland: Okay. So, it was also a great way for you to make sure your business could run without you. Now, you have this bulletproof process.
Johannes: Yeah, exactly. Now, I have other people and they’re higher-level people from the current skill set
Olivier Roland: So, it’s more shared among multiple people instead of one.
Johannes: Yeah, it’s two people, we have one for operations and one for sales and marketing basically. So, we shared operations and finances and all this. On the other hand, we have sales and marketing, so I split the responsibility because I currently don’t have a person who could do all of it. And also, the people that are in place are different kinds of people that are really able to manage the business. And right now, we are growing without my involvement.
Olivier Roland: All right, cool. That’s awesome.
So, last question before it’s completely dark and we don’t see anything: how did you fill the void? Because Tim Ferris explains very well in his book that the biggest problem for entrepreneurs, it’s not like to be more productive and, you know, to make sure you do more things in less time. It is to fill the void outside of work because if you don’t have anything to do, nobody wants to be bored and just, you know, look at the sky.
So, what did you do to fill the void?
Johannes: I mean, I didn’t have a big void because it was just 6 months. It’s not…
Olivier Roland: But 6 months without working at all I mean.
Johannes: I mean, they are two part of questions. It’s what did I do the 6 months and the other thing what I meant doing now.
The 6 months was not a problem at all. I have a small daughter; she was 5 years back then. And so, while we were in the US, we spent 6 weeks or little more, almost 2 months traveling with one of these huge caravans through California and Arizona as a family and I just enjoyed the time with my family. And then, we spent four and a half months in New York, in Manhattan and then, she went to kindergarten but just a few hours in the morning. So, I basically really focused on my family and on my daughter. I did photography courses; I discovered all the museums in New York.
Olivier Roland: So, a lot of passions, you explore passion and culture.
Johannes: Exactly. I had time to explore passions and things. I like to do, like photographing something. I was really into photography early in my life and I didn’t have time for many years, so that’s something I really went deep back into photography again during that time, I went to museums, I spent a lot of time with my family. So, there was no void in these 6 months. And, right now…
Olivier Roland: Because you don’t work too much also right now, right?
Johannes: Here right now, on my current business, I just work basically a few hours a week. So right now, we talked about that earlier at lunch like I’m in a process of defining what my next step is. I don’t want to just travel the world and also have my daughter now. So a place I have to be, in Barcelona, Spain. And I’m not ready to retire.
Olivier Roland: Alright. You’re 37, right?
Johannes: So right now, Exactly. So, I’m defining my next business and there are a lot of very interesting opportunities right now and I’m working on that… And, that really motivates me and I’m creating my own business and partly, it’s going to be a personal brand. And that’s something I was not ready to do back then. This is why I look for the authors and created these kinds of courses. That’s a challenge for me and I’m looking forward to that.
Olivier Roland: Awesome, cool. All right. So, can people follow you somewhere right now? You don’t have any presence for yourself?
Johannes: Not yet. I mean, I have an Instagram. It’s more like a personal Instagram but people can follow me because I will start. I’ll start building a personal brand, it’s Johannes Lahde, it is my name on Instagram.
Olivier Roland: Okay. So, I’m not sure most French speakers can spell and write that, so we will put the link in the description, absolutely.
Johannes: And currently, it’s a private Instagram like it’s private except for some people and there are like pictures of me and travels and my daughter.
Olivier Roland: Ah, it’s a private, so it’s not… I mean, Ok. You can click the link and…
Johannes: But, you can follow me, I will accept you and your friends, I will accept you and I will make this a public Instagram and start building a brand. So,
Olivier Roland: Alright.
Johannes: …you’re probably.
Olivier Roland: And I mean, we also publish these on the English YouTube channel so you will have people from all over the world.
Olivier Roland: All right. Thank you, Johannes, to share that and I hope it inspire you guys. So yeah, I think you can take a few takeaways from him like, when you have a problem like I don’t have time, I want to create a new product but I don’t have the skills, I don’t have the time to learn, you can pay someone to do it or find a solution.
The same thing, if you see someone who has a potential but doesn’t know marketing, you can partner with him and bring to him like the skills he needs…
And of course, another example that is totally possible to have a business that is in service of your life, to make a lot of money, to help a lot of people and to be free to do whatever you want. It’s not easy but it’s possible and he did it, I did it, I’m doing it, we’re doing it and a lot of other entrepreneurs are doing it and you can too, right?
Johannes: Yeah, for sure. Everybody can do it. And don’t feel bad about thinking you don’t work and your team doesn’t like that. Like if you approach it the right way, your team is happy to take responsibility.
Olivier Roland: All right. Thank you my intelligent rebels, see you soon for the next video and in the meantime, don’t forget be intelligent, be rebel, be free and be part of the people who create businesses that are in service of their lives instead of the contrary. Ciao.