This week’s interview is with Brendan Baker, founder of The Start Of Happiness and Grad Recruit. Brendan is an incredible Goal Achiever who quit his high-flying six figure career to end up with nothing but a laptop and a desire to help others make a difference and an income doing what they love. He believes in the power of the mind, and that everyone can make the choice to be happy, successful and pursue their passion.
Brendan and his work has been featured in publications such as: Lifehack, Tiny Buddha, and Pick The Brain.
The Achievers Story
Tell us who you are, where you’re from and something that people would find interesting about you?
My name is Brendan Baker and I am from Sydney Australia. Something interesting about me is that I help people make a difference and an income doing what they love.
Give us a brief overview about the goal you achieved and why it was so important?
I was in the corporate world for a good 7 to 8 years and then realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I wanted to do something that would allow me to manage my own time and wake up every morning feeling motivated. My goal was to start an online business that makes a difference and an income doing what I love. I haven’t reached the same level of income earning yet but it’s on a positive up trend.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; where we’ve been, where we’re going, and everything in between. Give us an example of what your life was like before achieving this goal?
I had a great career and income but it came with a high price tag. I had long work hours, a lot of stress and I didn’t feel as though I was making an impact. I was working 12 hour days and during the weekends, at times. I remember seeing that flashing red light from my blackberry while laying in bed. I just couldn’t detach myself from the corporate world.
Help us understand what caused you to move in a different direction?
It came to a point where I said enough is enough. I was working on this presentation for our directors. I had to pull together all these different statistics that took 3 to 4 weeks to complete. During the actual program, they just skimmed over the numbers and didn’t take any interest. I can remember thinking that for 3 or 4 weeks this had consumed my life. I spent my time making sure these numbers were 100% accurate and then, to have them not take an interest felt like a huge waste of my time. It felt like what I was doing was not making a difference or an impact. That was the catalyst for me saying enough is enough.
I really wanted the freedom to spend my time on something meaningful. I was also doing a lot of soul searching and stumbled upon blogging. I’m sure I had read a thousand blogs before then but never really knew what it meant, I just thought they were websites. I didn’t really see blogs as a business opportunity, a way to build a brand or grow a business. I started researching that avenue and felt drawn to it. The way the world is shifting, it started to make sense.
Back in the corporate world, I had a lot of coaching experience because my background is in learning and development. I always wanted to use that coaching experience aligned with personal development because I managed to learn a lot about leadership, management, working with people, and conflict resolution which is closely tied to personal development principles. I felt like that was a good avenue for me and started this online business called The Start Of Happiness.
It started as a blog with the intention of teaching all these learning and development principles. My first articles on The Start Of Happiness were in depth tutorials around how to do different things. So, for example, a really common one which people find my site by is called the wheel of life. Basically, it’s a tool that you can quickly use to determine how balanced your life is and where you might want to be spending more time.
The impact you can make is phenomenal. What I love about this space is that you get to reach out and connect with so many different people. People openly share their knowledge and experiences with others. Everyone is willing to help each other and that’s what creates this kind of community environment. It’s something that I absolutely love.
You will start to experience that more as you grow in the online space if you haven’t seen it already.
I launched The Start Of Happiness on the 1st of September in 2012. That’s when I started to put up the tutorials I mentioned. It wasn’t until 12 months later that I actually left the corporate world. In my first month of launching The Start Of Happiness I made $17 through affiliate marketing, which isn’t a lot of money but it proved to me the principles of online business.
A few months after that I launched my first product because that was an affiliate product. My first product was a program called the Change Your Life program that I sold for $47. It was simply a 150 page book with worksheets, exercises and tutorials on how to live a better life. I managed to sell about 20 of those which gave me about $1,000 just a few months after starting. Again that wasn’t much but it kind of proved to me the principles of online business. At this stage, I was still working in the corporate world so I had that security
So, I had The Start Of Happiness up and running and decided to set up another business called Grad Recruit. Grad Recruit is an online job board for Australian University graduates and students to help them find employment. I decided to monetize this by selling advertising packages to corporate. I used to be the person back in the corporate world receiving these types of calls so, I knew what they were looking for, how much the market rate was going for and how to reach out to them.
After leaving the corporate world in August 2013, I actually made $4,000 in my first month reaching out to corporate through Grad Recruit. Again that proved to me the principles of online business and providing something of value. Since then, it has been progressively building these things up over time.
Give us an example of what your life is like today, since achieving the goal?
I have successfully broken free of the corporate world. Now, I am really focused on my own time and how I can spend that time better. I’ve learned so much more about business. I found this journey with absolutely no business experience. None of my family or friends have a business background. I have discovered a love for marketing. The biggest thing is knowing that I am making an impact and a difference in the world. I can see that through my subscription list numbers as they grow. I can see that as my blog traffic grows. I can see that through a number of people purchasing my programs and coaching.
The biggest benefit is knowing that when I am on my death bed, I can look at this stage of my life and say yes, I have done what I had hoped to do and achieve in terms of making an impact on people’s lives.
Overcoming The Obstacles
If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that obstacles like fear, time and money among other things can prevent us from or motivate us towards achieving goals. What are the top 3 obstacles you faced, why were they obstacles to begin with, and how were they conquered?
No income – when I first quit the corporate world I went from a great six figure salary to absolutely nothing, starting over with a laptop and an idea. To conquer this obstacle it really comes down to hard work. I was trying to learn as much about online business and business in general as I could. I had to learn how to make sales, who my audience was, who my clients were and just tried to create value that made a difference.
Another obstacle was no business or sales experience. I conquered this by learning along the way; reading books, taking courses, speaking with other people.
The third obstacle was Family & friends questioning my motives. My family and friends don’t have a background in business or sales so, for them to see me leaving such a great career to start over with nothing, was difficult. Obviously, they were concerned for me and just wanted the best for me. That said, they were really questioning my motives and that was probably one of the hardest things.
To conquer this obstacle I had to remind myself of my “why”. I would look at other bloggers who had done something similar and listen to their story, pick up what I could learn, how they were doing things and really just trying to communicate that to my friends and family. I had to go into detail about the potential outcomes of what I was doing in terms of a better lifestyle, more time for family. It’s a longer term gain but more energy, motivation and happiness in my life.
These are all things that I am still conquering. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered these things because it takes years and years to master but through continual application it gets easier to do.
The next part of the interview is the Triumph. The triumph is all about taking the success of achievement to the next level of personal greatness. The idea of greatness can be different for everyone. For me, greatness is all about the pursuit rather than the destination. What does greatness mean to you and how has achieving this goal contributed to that idea?
For me, what greatness means is leaving a legacy in this world. Launching The Start Of Happiness is one of the best things I’ve ever done just in the way of impacting more people than I ever thought possible. For example, I don’t have any kids yet but when I do, I can share with them this content that I’ve been creating on The Start Of Happiness. They are just good life principles, personal development principles that I’m proud of and I think those types of things are great in terms of leaving a legacy.
Roadmap To Goal Achievement
What is the best advice you ever received that helped you clarify and/or achieve this goal?
I think the best advice I received was when I took a course on how to start a blog. Something that was really stressed was to focus on list building. When you are talking about list building, that means capturing email addresses so that you can regularly communicate with those who have opted into your content, provide value to them and ultimately sell them products of value as well. I think that has been a key thing for me and I would say that’s a key thing for others. So, build out an email list that then becomes your community and your audience which you are then creating value for.
What are some of the resources or tools that helped you achieve this goal?
What did you do to stay motivated throughout the process?
The big thing for me was focusing on my “why”. My “why” was very strongly not wanting to continue going down a path in the corporate world. When I look at my life in 40 years from now, I’ve had two choices: one where I could create my own destiny and challenge myself so that when I’m on my death bed, I know that I did everything that I really wanted to do in life or one where I could go down the safer route which leads to a great lifestyle with high security but doesn’t really challenge me. That’s a big thing for me in terms of keeping me motivated. It’s just really focusing on my “why”.
Another way I’ve stayed motivated is by having an accountability partner. I have a mate who I catch up with on a monthly basis. We go grab a cup of coffee and talk about our goals; what we have achieved in the past month, what we are focusing on in the next month and share different resources such as books and different online programs we have taken.
I am continually learning. I am always reading other blogs, researching my industry, speaking with other people, reading books, and taking courses. In the first 12 months from launching The Start Of Happiness to when I broke free of the corporate world, I was investing in different programs.
All of these things have really helped keep me motivated and focused on my goal.
What is your favorite book and why?
I have a goal this year of reading 24 books. I’ve read about 5 books this year so far but I would say the best book I’ve read that is most specific and relevant for this journey that I’m on is The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice by Brendon Burchard. Brendon Burchard is from the states, he is a guy who is really leading the way in what we call the expert industries (packaging up your knowledge and expertise and sharing that with the world) the Millionaire Messenger is the book he wrote to share how to go about doing that.
What blogs and podcasts do you recommend?
There are heaps. I tend to read 2 or 3 for a few months and then move to the next. It just depends on what is relevant for me at the time. When I started out in the online space a couple blogs that come to mind are:
Personal Excellence by Celestine Chua. She is now a friend of mine but was somebody that I didn’t know and who was running this personal development blog. I was just completely inspired by what she was doing. Back then she was a 26 year old girl over in Singapore earning 6 figures from her blog and I thought WOW that is absolutely amazing. I was very impressed and looked at what she was doing. She was very much an inspiration for what I started to do on The Start Of Happiness.
Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend was another. He does something similar but is more about how to share your passions and talents with the world, surround yourself with the right people and build an income from it.
What I look to now is more around marketing. A couple blogs I am really into at the moment include:
Backlinko from Brian Dean which is all about SEO and getting traffic to your site.
Another one is from Mathew Woodward from the UK. He is all about internet marketing, SEO and getting traffic/subscribers to your blog.
If you were advising someone on how to achieve the same goal or something similar, what specific steps would you have them follow?
Get very clear on the niche that you want to serve and then go out and do something very similar to what you’re doing now. Reach out to experts that are already serving that niche and interview them. I would interview roughly 10 people in 2 or 3 days and then I would spend the 4th day putting together a sales page where I would put all 10 interviews together into a product of some sort and sell It for $47. Then, I would let each person that I interviewed know I had put this together, get them to send it to their list, build my email list and make my first sales doing something like that.
The #1 thing I would have done different is get one on one coaching. Having another pair of eyes on the business rather than doing it all myself. I think that would have made a significant difference in terms of speeding things up but also making things more effective from the get go.
What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Is there anything else you would like to share before we conclude?
If people are interested in going a little further with what I’ve done and also looking at building a life based on their passions they can check out the Launch Your Life Academy.