“I define success as somehow positively impacting other people and having enough time to do the things that are not related to money, that means having a lot of time to spend with my husband, my family, and friends, and just spending time out in nature.” – JENNIFER SZAD
S2-EP005 – In this episode, Jennifer and I discuss the risks she took by leaving the corporate world and her journey of building a multiple 6-figure business. And she did this all while living with ADHD.
Highlights from this episode:
[1:32] Why did you want to leave your stable corporate role and dive into this world of entrepreneurship?
[7:55] From being a full-time entrepreneur, are you happy with the decision? Or could there be a disappointment?
[12:18] What kind of mindset sets you up for success?
[22:10] For those who are thinking of going full-time or stepping into entrepreneurship, can you share with them the technical things that you did that set you up?
[28:46] You made the jump from corporate to full-time right away. You didn’t do a side hustle, at all right? Why was that?
[37:03] Have you gone through burnout? And what does that look like?
[46:35] How do you define success?
Connect with JENNIFER:
A little bit about Jennifer:
Jennifer is the fourth person in my weekly mastermind group, The Wednesday Wonders. Jen dared to leave her stable corporate role five years ago to pursue a full-time role in business. And since then her business has made multiple six-figure years. And she does that while being diagnosed with ADHD.
E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Small Time Operator by Bernard Kamoroff
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Mahrukh Imtiaz: Today’s guest is the fourth person in my weekly mastermind group. The Wednesday Wonders Yes, the group I met at a conference in 2017. Jen you see has had the courage to leave her stable corporate role five years ago to pursue a full-time role in business.
And since then her business has made multiple six-figure years. And she does that while being diagnosed with ADHD, which was very recent. But you see, that’s not why she’s here today. Jen is here, because every time she says anything, every time I feel like it’s the best way anyone could say that particular thing.
Now that’s talent. Welcome to the show. Jen.
I know you should honestly I don’t think I did justice. Because I feel like in my head, you’re a lot like I put you on a pedestal. I’m sorry. I’m like hitting my mic. But you know, like, I literally put you on, like, you can sense the energy, right?
And it’s because I think so highly of you. And it’s like, I’m like, oh my god, Jen’s this amazing person. And I think I’ve said that to so many times, like in our personal conversations, and I think it all comes down to like.
I never understood the stress of being a solopreneur till this last year, even though I’m a side Hustler, and I’m just like, oh my god, Jen has been crushing it in that field for five years and you’ve never come on to our weekly mastermind calls as like flustered as sometimes I can be or some of our other people can be like.
But you’re just always calm and collected even when you’re really bad days. It’s calm and collected. Yeah, shit going wrong. There are things hitting the ceiling, but it’s okay, I’ll be fine. There’s that piece but before we get into all of that, I want to ask you what’s your story. Why did you want to leave your stable corporate role and dive into this world of entrepreneurship?
Jennifer Szad: Okay, yeah, so there’s a lot of different ways that I could answer that question. But I would say I kind of like to think about it as there were some certain like, certain things that I was running away from, I hate to even phrase it like that.
But there were certain things that I just like wanted to not have in my life anymore. And I’ll get into specifics in a second. But then on the other side, there were definitely things that I was not getting in my corporate job that I was running to.
So it was definitely sort of like a push pull happening. In terms of like what I was running from, I think my story is honestly no aren’t that different, I think that a lot of people that go right into the corporate world right after college, where you spend all these years with idealism and kind of this idea of like, what the world is like, and what your career is going to be like, and all these exciting projects that you’re gonna get, you don’t have a chance to work on.
And, you know, lots of expectations, I think, and I really enjoyed the years that I spent at my corporate job, honestly, I mean, I not not even just on a professional level, but personally as well, I’ll never be the same person just just by nature of like, the people that I met there and the connections that I made.
Yeah, you may have been there, my husband there, so I’ll definitely never be the same. One good thing came up out of it. So yeah, I mean, it is. So all of those were great. But I think also, again, my story isn’t that different. I think that a lot, a lot of people isn’t that like, once I kind of got in like the day in day out, I quickly realized that a lot of the things that I guess I just kind of naively thought I would get personal enrichment wise, like from a corporate job, or just from my career in general, I really wasn’t getting.
And that was that that changed over the years, you know what specifically that was, but a lot of it was kind of this pervasive sense of no matter how hard I work, there’s always going to be so many things that might prevent me from like, having a vision come to fruition in this company, right, there’s so much red tape or, you know, different people’s agendas, the Miche. I mean, you know, depending on who’s in leadership, at a certain time, priorities might change.
I just realized that, like, the pace of change is incredibly slow, like painfully slow. And I also just wasn’t getting a lot like on a on a personal enrichment basis, I felt like, you know, I enjoy the work that I did, but I wasn’t, I didn’t really feel that I could really use my agency, I guess, and in a, in a great way, or in the best way, I think there was probably also a little bit of that ADHD, which hadn’t been diagnosed yet, at that point, you know, looking back.
I definitely think that I do have a tendency to be interested in a lot of different things and like, want to pursue a lot of different things over time, and to the environment that I was in at my corporate job, it just, you know, there, it just really wasn’t practical, you can’t just jump teams and jump projects all the time, not that you can really do that in the business world either quite as much.
But you know, at least I, you know, more of the captain of your own ship, you know, in your own business. So anyway, there was a lot of that, that that I was running away from, I would say, and, and really on the other hand, like the stuff I was running to, you know, I really felt like I was intended for so much more and had so much more potential.
And although it was really scary to think about kind of having my own business, my own thing where basically success or failure all came down to, to me, you know, ultimately, that that took a while to get used to that idea. But I think that over time, it was definitely not an idea came to it a short period of time.
I mean, I worked at my various corporate positions for most 10 years before I bought this business. So had some time to kind of mull it over and figure out like what I may or may not want to do, but But yeah, ultimately, I just really wanted something that I would have a little more control over and just have a little more ability to kind of experiment and be creative and, and maybe have you know, just different pursuits basically kind of put myself more myself into the world.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Yeah no, and that makes a lot of sense. Like, you definitely have to think a lot. And so a lot of content creators, that’s what they go through, right? Like they’re they start creating content, sometimes it’s a hobby, something that it becomes like a passion and then they start monetizing.
And then they have to make this leap of like, okay, well, can I do it full time? So that’s like, a question that they always come through is okay, is this the right time to go and the reasons you mentioned personal enrichment, not getting a lot of that corporate is a lot slower in general.
Those are some of the reasons that people actually start doing some side hustle things because they’re like, You know what, I’m not getting enough for my corporate role. I want to see where where my creativity lies, also multiple sources of income because can you really depend on a certain income anymore?
I don’t think so. But you said a few things that I want to dig deeper into. It’s one thing you said was personal enrichment is what you are not getting from corporate would you say you’re getting that from being a full-time entrepreneur and will like, are you happy with the decision? Like do you feel like you’re getting everything you wanted? Or could there be a disappointment? This is just wanted to talk about that a bit
Jennifer Szad: Oh, that’s such a I love that question. Yeah, it’s it’s kind of a two or three parter, honestly, but I I would say yes, and no, you know, and it might depend on what day you asked me that as well.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Today the day
Jennifer Szad: Today, for sure. Today, I would definitely say for sure. You know what it makes me think of I know you and I, earlier this week are having a conversation in the in the Wednesday wonders group about that book. What is it called?
The E Myth revisited. Yeah. And honestly, this is a topic like a concept that I come back to all all the time, the idea of these different roles that you play in your business, and it resonates with me so deeply. There’s like the technician role, the manager role. And then I forget what it’s called in the book, I think the visionary or the basically the CEO, just kind of Yeah, just say,
Oh, maybe Yeah, I think there were a couple of different names for the same thing, depending on the version of the book. But yeah, so the idea is that, you know, the more that you’re down in the weeds and actually doing the work, so content creators, you know, that would be like, you’re actually creating content. I mean, that sounds kind of obvious.
But you know, any business that you’re in, it’s within the times that you’re actually working like heads down, like working on the product. That would be like you being in that technician role. I say all that to say that, in terms of like personal enrichment and feeling as though I’m kind of getting the things that I was seeking, you know, the the things that I was like running toward mostly Yes.
And I would say mostly where that comes from, is the opportunity to get out of the technician role and to really, like embody that CEO role. And even the manager role. To some extent, you do get at least I personally get a lot of fulfillment out of that more so than the management roles that I was in at my corporate job.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Why did you say that? I know, we’re, you’re answering another question. But I’m curious.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah. I guess the simplest answer would be I feel much more of a sense of ownership around it now, for right or wrong, I think in the corporate environment, the way that capitalism is set up, a lot of it just really does come down to money not to, like turn this into an econ discussion, or these are all relevant things to think about, right? I mean, we’re all kind of operating in that system. So for right or wrong, you know, even when I was managing projects, and people in the corporate world, I always in the back of my mind knew that I really was working towards somebody else’s goals.
And that goal really did revolve around money overall else. And so although I cared about everybody, as people, and I really did feel like there were certain things I could do to help them grow as employees or, you know, whatever potential that I saw, there may be some opportunities here and there.
I never really felt that I could really step into that ownership role of kind of helping them develop as people and not just in relation to me within the business, you know, like so much more than that, for me personally, and again, this is really just my journey, I feel like there probably are corporate environments where people do kind of feel more like holistically connected to their co workers and stuff.
I was not blessed to necessarily feel that all the time in my corporate life. But anyway, so in my capacity now, I definitely feel although Yeah, I mean, we only know each other in the context of the business like that’s what brought us together and yeah, you’re gonna be doing work for me and so on.
But also I really do feel like I have much more of an opportunity and a chance to kind of help people if you just identify like needs in their life that maybe that could help with that are totally outside of the business you know, kind of connect with them and more of a personal level, which is ironic since everything’s virtual you would think that it wouldn’t be like that, but it but it’s true.
So I think you know, as I’m as I’m describing it, I almost feel like it it probably really does come down to just a mindset shift the circumstances may not look that different from you know, my my life then to now when it comes to just the fact that I’m, you know, managing people and working with people and so on.
But my mindset, I think around it has changed a lot, right? I do feel an ownership in pretty much everything that I do, where I didn’t before.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: You speak about mindsets. What I want to tap into that right now.
Jennifer Szad: Of course you do.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: I’ve heard you talk a lot about like money, mindsets, entrepreneur mindset, just mindsets in general, what kind of mindsets set you up for success? Like what do you think really happened in your mind that makes you the successful entrepreneur you are today.
Jennifer Szad: So a few. One of them is and this is actually one that I have to work on a lot, because it doesn’t come naturally to me. But all good things need a little work, I feel like in this world, and that is quite simply abundance. And that is obviously nothing new. So many people have talked about it over the years.
But I think that it’s really important for your, for me, for all of us, you know anyone listening to try to really figure out like what abundance means for you. Because I think that it’s really easy to say that you have an abundance mindset mindset that you’re shifting from, you know, scarcity to abundance, but to really like embody that like to really kind of sit with that and really like feel that and actually adopt that as a mindset.
That’s your default. I don’t know if I’m speaking for everyone, but for me, that is a difficult thing, because it seems like a lot of the evidence that we see around us flies in the face of that, you know, so abundance is so important and to me abundance is not just or just not simply about money, right? Like I think that’s the that’s the direction a lot of people take and there’s nothing wrong with that. You know, money is money. Everyone loves money, but
Mahrukh Imtiaz: But what is money, how would you describe it?
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, exactly. So beyond money, I would say abundance is simply just knowing that there’s always enough of whatever is that there’s you can take as much as you need of something, and there’s always going to be more like more coming back to fill it.
So that could be an abundance of quite simply within like the business world, I often think of it as like abundance in, in clients or an opportunities out there just this mindset of my perfect customers or my perfect people, if I’m looking to hire someone, or just kind of this perfect like partnership that I want to do, it’s out there already, and there’s probably way more than I could even take advantage of.
It’s really just a matter of me finding them, you know, they’re like waiting for me to find them. So there’s always going to be, there’s always enough and and I think that also applies to people as well. So whether you’ve got like just one person you work with, I don’t know how relevant this is to content creators, but I can imagine a lot of people.
If not now, you might be thinking, you know, down the road, like bringing some people onto the team and stuff. And I think that that definitely applies to that whole, like hiring people, you know, hiring the perfect person opportunities for them, you know, if you kind of go into a work relationship thinking that like, you know, with that abundance mindset, what that means is that you’re always hopeful, you’re always optimistic, you always, you know, maybe can, I don’t want to say like inspire, I guess inspire could be the word for it. But you, it can be like a very contagious sort of mindset. And it can really like shift things within the team. So that’s a huge one. I think abundance is oh my gosh, that’s another thing you could talk about. Yeah, we could talk about all day.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Sure. How you’re saying you’re working on it, how are you working on it? Like if someone’s listening to this? And they’re like, I would love to have that mindset, how can they start? What can you do?
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, so I’ll say what works for me. And I think it does take a little bit of experimentation. For me, it’s pretty simply about coming back to it as often as possible, at least like once a day, if not more.
So I know, you talk a lot about like morning routines and the elements. So you’re and I think this directly applies because I imagine a lot of this is woven into your morning routine, too. But you know, for me, it’s meant different things over the years, but meditating for 10 minutes, or five minutes, or even two minutes kind of getting just very still.
And meditation could mean like sitting in the corner on your meditation pillow, it could mean going out for a quick five minute walk in silence, like leaving your headphones behind. Whatever meditation is for you, whatever it takes to kind of get to that quiet place.
What I have found is that when I’m in that place, even if it’s just fleeting, like a moment or two, what I always experience is the the only way I could describe it is sort of this like stillness and this sense of abundance, like there isn’t scarcity and the stillness, it feels like this, I don’t know this almost like just like this well of like energy that I can feel. And I get that with, like through meditation is the fastest way to get to that point to me.
So when you sort of glimpse that, or you feel that feeling of abundance over time, it’s almost like you can tap into that almost at will, you know, or kind of remind yourself of these moments where you felt that and the fact that like that really is the reality, all this other stuff is trying to cloud what the reality really is.
But like I’ve experienced that reality before, and I can get back there. So meditation for me is probably been the single biggest way that I’ve like, brought that mindset into my life.
And I don’t even like to say created the mindset, really, I almost feel like it’s more about discovering it like it’s there. It’s available for everyone, like anyone that wants to experience it, you just have to set up the right environment to experience it. So meditation is huge.
And I think going along with that, too. Journaling, for me has been really helpful. I know people have different experiences with it. And I’ve kind of had like a on again, off again, relationship with journaling over the years, we’ll say, it’s like the Facebook status. Like it’s complicated.
Like that’s how I feel about journaling. But yeah, so with journaling, there have definitely been seasons of my life where I just feel like when I come out of a meditation, I kind of have this rush of like things that I just want to record and remember. And for me, that’s probably the times I’ve been most consistent with journaling is when I’ve done it like right after meditation are kind of like in my habit.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Yeah, totally, totally. So it’s funny because you’re saying you want to have things where you want to just record them for me, I just journal to just get my thoughts out of my mind. You know, it’s like for me, I don’t I actually write it in a way that even if anyone ever reads it, they can’t really know what is written.
Like, I don’t want anyone to ever read my journal. But I do want to like I have all these thoughts that I want out of my mind. So it’s like it’s not I don’t want to record them. I just want these thoughts not in my mind anymore. So it’s kind of different than I think what you do so.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, you know, but that I almost feel like there’s it’s two sides of the same coin to because there’s something about like when I I was talking about that stillness that’s there. Oftentimes those thoughts are in the way of getting there.
So it’s almost like they come up, I feel like they’re irrelevant. They’re coming from somewhere, I need to get them down. But then the additional benefit of it is that afterward, you kind of, you know, it kind of clears the way for that, like, they’re not once it’s on paper, it’s not, you know, up there anymore.
That’s true. And so I agree. You know what, that is a side point. Totally different topic. But when you were just describing your, your notebooks with all the stuff I always think about, you know, one of my random passions is like true crime and stuff like that, and I love like police investigations and stuff.
So I’m just imagining, like, if anything happens to you, or you go missing or something, and someone goes to your house, and they find all these notebooks like, yes, we’re gonna get the secret for what happened tomorrow.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: And that’s why like, write it in a way that even if people want to, sometimes I go back and actually want to read it, and I can’t, like, it’s horrible. I’m like, I’ve no idea what I’ve written. It’s like one of those things where you’re like, I don’t want people to know who I really am.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, it’s interesting that you keep the journals.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Yeah, I do know, I do. Like, it’s funny, because I can’t read them. But I liked them. It’s like, oh, this is a record of what’s what was, in my mind, let’s say back in 2017. Yeah, I mean, I love journals. And I agree, and I think it has had an impact in terms of abundance.
Because when you meditate, and you think, and you get into this mode of gratitude, and then you start for me, I also have to do abundance affirmations to start off, because it just wasn’t coming easily to me. And it was just like, Alright, I’m in this mode, I can do this.
And then I’m gonna write about this, because I want to stay in this abundance mode. But as you write, like, it takes so much practice, and it’s still like a work in progress. Because I don’t know, it just happens to there’s, I’m at a point where I have abundance in some areas of my life.
And I’m like, Oh, I’m killing it. This is awesome. I have a lot. And then there are some areas in my life that I’m like, Oh, my God, that scarcity mindset again, damn it, like, you know, there is that?
Jennifer Szad: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not 100% Of course, perfect and evolved in all areas? Of course, you know, yeah, yeah, I relate to that. And I also feel like it’s, you know, like I said before, it’s kind of a, it’s something that I’m working on all the time, you know, it’s not something I don’t, I don’t want to say that I’ll never get to the point where I just kind of, like embody it all the time.
But I am under no illusions, I feel like it really is a lifelong thing. And really, the work itself is meaningful, I think, at least to me that, you know, there’s something about that ritual of like meditating every day and like reconnecting with that mindset and kind of consciously like working on it and feeling like you’re,
I guess, like, stepping into, like, what you what your potential is, you know, like, all the all this knowledge is out there that you can, or these things that are available to you, I guess. So yeah, there’s something about the journey. And the work.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: There is there is and that’s the exciting part, you’re constantly at least and like, even just as a side Hustler, or like, you know, someone who’s currently calling myself an entrepreneur, and that’s taken me a while to do it just you’re always challenged, you’re actually always growing.
And it’s this feel of you are in control, as you said earlier, like I am in control of my failures, and I’m in control of my successes. And I like that, because that’s kind of like the mindset stuff, but I really do want to tap into the technical stuff. Like what are some technical things that you did that set you up?
Or, like stepping into the entrepreneurship? Like someone’s thinking about it? What are some things that they should be thinking about even as like a side hustler? Or someone who’s going full time? What are some things that them.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, yeah, so there’s a lot the biggest thing for me, why don’t I want to say the biggest thing one of the huge areas for me was money that I was worried about. So as much as I had all these like ideas about like, what kind of person I wanted to be in and potential and creative expression and all this stuff, like
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Be my own boss, girls got to eat too, right?
Jennifer Szad: Like, pay some bills. So yeah, so I think a lot of this is kind of knowing yourself as well, like some people do really well with making lists. I’m one of those people, there’s something about like getting all of my thoughts on paper and just being like super anxious, or at least being able to figure out what things are actionable.
One thing that I would recommend is is literally just making a list of all of the things that you can think of that would possibly be preventing you right now to like, like starting a business make like leaving whatever starting a side hustle or going full time with your side hustle.
Because if you’re anything like me, um, some of the things that kept coming up over and over and over again when I started making those lists was stuff around money like things like as small as you know, insurance like how does insurance work?
You know, when I leave or retirement savings? I say small those are actually very big. Yeah, those are very Yeah. Oh, am I gonna make money? How am I going to pay for groceries? And yeah, kind of all of those questions because what I found is that it can seem like really scary at least in my head.
I just kind of had this big like cloud of things that I called just like the money fears, but when I actually figured it out, or when I actually got it down on paper, I realized like okay, basically this is just like a to do list of things to tackle or at least to learn about and I tend to be like a researcher, I just love I guess this.
And again, this was pre ADHD diagnosis before I realized that the term or like, had heard the term hyperfocus before. And it’s one of the superpowers of ADHD. So if any of you guys out there have ADHD or suspect you do, and one way to tell yes. One way to tell like, like, can you hyper focus on something for longer than the average bear, when it’s something that you’re really interested in, you know, we’re talking like five, six, sometimes more, you know, hours at a time.
So for me, what that looked like was I probably spent, I don’t even know how many hours just kind of researching all these different questions that I had. And through that journey, one thing I always recommend to people is, you know, find your tribe, like find other people that are kind of trying to do the same thing that you’re doing, which is probably the reason that you’re listening to this podcast right now. So you’re, you’re on the right track of who it like.
Yeah, exactly. So like, there were a couple of Facebook groups that, that I had joined, where I got some really actionable advice about, for example, like, these are different retirement accounts that you can set up immediately, you don’t even have to, you know, really be like full time on your side hustle yet, this is how you can calculate your what your budget should be, you know, in your business, like for fixed expenses, you know, it depends on the business that you’re thinking of doing, obviously, like what that looks like.
So yeah, for me, I definitely made sure that I had like a plan in place somewhat of a plan. You know, like, nobody can know all the eventualities, but really worked on having a pretty healthy savings account where I knew that I had at least like six months of expenses, that if worst came to worst, you know, I’d still be able to survive, if I made like, $0.
That was also the time and this is also what I recommend to people, you know, if you depending on your living situation, like if you’re married, or if you live with your parents, or you maybe with live with other family members where you know, that like you have other people to rely on, like Now’s not the time to keep all your thoughts to yourself, like have a conversation with them, you know, kind of keep them posted about like, what you want to do and talk about options for support, you know, like, is it going to be a big deal, if you don’t bring in money for X number of months, you know, is there a minimum that you should be striving for all of that,
I think is really important, because that lays a lot of fears, and also helps you think a little more, I guess, kind of big picture about the business, it kind of helps you get out of the weeds a little bit. So it’s a long answer to your question. But I would say like the money thing is, is super important.
Really, what that boils down to, again, is like making a list of all the things that you can think of that that you would need to resolve or find out about or whatever, and then connect with people, like find groups, like groups are probably the easiest way to start just kind of Google like or search for on Facebook, you know, for example, like small business owners or new business
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Creator Instagramers.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, there’s tons of people out there just like you that probably know the answers to the questions that you have. And then talking, talking with your tribe. Oh, no, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Go ahead. You were I was thinking you’re even things like what I did with you guys is go to conference, realize there’s somewhat of a connection with some people and reach out to them on Facebook message and say, Hey, would you like to create a weekly mastermind group? So, totally
Jennifer Szad: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, yep. And then the other thing I would say, too, because you’re, I think your question was originally like, what should people be thinking about? Right? If they’re looking to make the leap, or expand their side hustle full time, it really depends on what part of the journey you’re in. Like, if you kind of already know what you want to do.
So if you’re a side Hustler, and you basically just want to take it full time, then a lot of your work is already done for you. Because you’ve kind of figured out like, this is what I’m passionate about, or this is what I know, I could be passionate about, I really, you know, feel like I can build the skills in it and become passionate about it, or whatever the case might be.
So yeah, your work is already pretty much good in this area. If that’s you, if you were like me, where you’re in a corporate job, or maybe doing something completely unrelated to what you could see, you know, doing as a business or as a side hustle or whatever, of course, like take some time to figure that out at least a couple ideas.
You know, obviously, it may sound really obvious, but I have seen people, you know, quit their jobs. It’s kind of this vague, like, I’m starting a blog, you know, or like, I’m gonna be a creator. We’re like, Okay, well, how many posts? Do you have? You know, like two or three?
I don’t know. All right, and, uh, figured out, you don’t have to have it all figured out. But I think that really taking the time to kind of know like, what what you’re doing, you know, if you’re buying a business, like where are you?
You know, what are the steps? Are you going to buy it before you leave? Are you going to kind of transition um, so thinking through what you really want to do, at least for your first business venture? You know, I think is really important to
Mahrukh Imtiaz: You made the jump from corporate to full time right away. You didn’t do side hustle, pardon at all right? Yeah. Why was that?
Jennifer Szad: No, yeah, I didn’t. So I had considered it. It was something that I kind of went around the block with, with my boss at the time, because he was willing to be really flexible about it, too. You know, he was like, Hey, if you want to just go like halftime for a few months, like that’s fine.
So I really considered it mostly because of money. But ultimately, I decided I Couple of reasons. But I would say the biggest reason is that I knew myself enough to know that if I were trying to split my time between both things, I would probably just burnout.
You know, it could go one of two ways, I could either just do kind of like a half assed job, I can say that on here. And both things and just feel really terrible about myself every day, because I felt like I was just like, phoning it in on both things, or on the flip side, I would really burn myself out trying to do 100%.
And so I had to be really honest with myself, and like, you know, why? Why am I leaving? Like, what were the reasons that I had to leave to get into corporate or I started to get out of corporate to go into business.
And it’s that saying, like, leap, and the net will appear. That was that was when they actually had it written like on a sticky note on my desktop for like, on my desk for months before I made the leap. And like really decided to go it would that was kind of my mantra for a while.
So when I was making the decision about like, Okay, should I go just part time? Or should I really just leave, I just realized, like, you know, there’s only really one way to do this where I won’t regret it later on, you know, so short term pain, possibly, you know, at least just like financially, but for long term benefit. So yeah, and I don’t regret it, I would do it all over again that way.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: And I love that because I think the important piece is making the leap when you don’t have the answers. And that’s the thing with any business being a side hustle or going full time or being someone who’s just going from corporate to full, full time, business, it’s making that leap, you have to have some faith, you talked about optimism as well earlier, like you have to be optimistic about it.
But you also have to be practical, like I’m putting everything just because I want to be blogger with like zero posts, and I’m gonna figure it out. Cool. Sure. But if you don’t have bills to pay that works, I mean, you might move into parents that that would, that might work completely, but don’t do it if you have rent to pay, and grocery bills to pay.
So yeah, I agree. There’s a bit of like practicality and love, you have to kind of do that. You said you went down a lot of rabbit holes, when you were researching you said you had and then you had a lot of rabbit holes, like when you were researching, you just went on a few and then you kind of just were hyper focus for a bit.
What were some resources that you use to books or maybe articles like what were some resources that were really, really helpful?
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, so there were really good questions. So there were two books in particular that I found extremely helpful. And I can give these I guess, if you have episode notes or something, yes, I do. Links to these.
Yeah, there’s one called smalltime operator. And there was another book that I forget the actual title of it. But it basically was like a very dry sounding name is like the tax and legal something or other. But those particular books kept popping up over and over again, in the Facebook groups that I had joined with people that were like, really similar positions to me. So I definitely I bought those right away. And I can’t say I read them cover to cover, because..
Mahrukh Imtiaz: I don’t think it ever happened to me,
Jennifer Szad: You know, Yeah Yeah, yeah, exactly. But I am I even to this day, they’re on my bookshelf over there, I still consult them, even though the, you know, the information might be, it’s a few years old. Now, you know, I’ve had the business almost six years, but a lot of the topics are still extremely relevant. And they could just be like, the smallest little things, you know, are like, wait a second, use it. Like, what would this expense be?
Or just kind of like little things that might come up? So I yeah, I think you lose a lot. Or the US only? Yes, well, they are, it’s definitely written for us audience. But I think that there, there’s some information that’s relevant to other audiences, too. But I would definitely check on that there’s probably similar again, if you find a group, you know, in your local area, or in your country online, they’ll be able to kind of point you to similar resources.
So there’s that one, there’s a couple of websites, too, because a lot of my questions up front, we’re very, very much in the sort of like legal money taxes, like all that stuff, like, ah, it sounds so scary. And you know, the thing that makes a lot of people, you know, too scared to make the leap, honestly. So a couple of the websites where we’re really just specific to legal issues.
So and again, I can send these to that we can put in the in the Episode Notes as well. But yeah, there were a couple of those sites that were super helpful. And I would say beyond that, not to beat a dead horse, but just asking questions in those communities where it was great, you know, it’s kind of the the thing where you can just sort of stream of conscious, like, if something comes up, you can, you know, shoot a question out, and there’s usually someone that can just answer you really quickly about it
Mahrukh Imtiaz: So they’re really good in those groups as well. They’re really hopeful. They want to help. Yeah, that’s why they’re there. Right? It’s a very, like, self selecting awesome group of people usually, so yeah, yeah.
And then you also mentioned like, you had a lot of self awareness, you know, you knew that you didn’t want to do both because you’re gonna burn yourself out.
So at first I want to touch on the self awareness piece, like, what got you to be that self aware? What did you do that helped you get to that stage where you’re like, Alright, I know myself enough to know this.
Jennifer Szad: Oh, that’s such an interest. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about you know, you know, what’s funny about that question is that if I if just on any day, you would come to me and be like, Hey, how self aware are you on a scale of like one to 10? I’d probably rate myself really low, like two or three.
Yeah. Because I just kind of had it could, again, I feel like I circle back to ADHD all the time. But since my diagnosis, I just it has shone a light on how much it affects everything like how my brain works, how I see everything.
But anyway, yeah, so I think the ADHD in me what that has meant a lot for a lot of my life is just never being able to be in the present moment at all, even more so than the average human, I feel like, because everyone struggles with that, but there’s always something shinier and you know, more interesting to look at or whatever.
So who knows, it could be as I’m describing it, maybe just that process of like realizing that about myself over the years and really trying to do something about it. Maybe that’s brought me to a point where maybe I am a little more self aware, because I can like recognize, like, where my thoughts are going, you know, where my feelings are going and stuff.
So, so yeah, I wouldn’t recommend years of like self criticism to anyone. But if you go through it, I don’t know why I’m getting some better. This is not recommended. There are probably easier ways of getting there. But beating yourself up for like two thirds of your life. That’s one way of doing it. Yeah, let’s change you.
Yeah, and I’ll say one other thing, too. I know that people have different opinions about things like cognitive behavioral therapy, for example. But for me personally, even if you don’t want to call it that, maybe just call like thought work or something that, for me has been really instrumental, the last few years, especially of getting me to the point where I can like, kind of see my thoughts and realize that, like, my thoughts are not necessarily me, you know, they’re kind of like things that are happening.
And sure, they feel like they come from me, but I can choose to sort of look at them as separate and figure out how I want to react to them. Not that that’s easy, or that that comes naturally. But I think I had think so going through and you know, people you know, anyone listening to this, you may have encountered maybe different flavors of that.
So if you’ve been in maybe therapy, or maybe you’ve worked with like a spiritual leader that, you know, was, like, you know, taught a lot of these things. There’s lots of different ways to encounter these ideas. But I think kind of actually actively, like not only learning about them, but really trying to practice them really helps because because ultimately what you are doing is becoming more self aware, right?
Mahrukh Imtiaz: And it all goes back to taking control, right? It’s just like you’re taking control, you’re taking ownership. And we spoke about that earlier, too. Like you’re in control of your successes and your business and you are in control of your failures. What that could also mean is you can be very hard on yourself.
You talked about burnouts earlier. You know, you were like, Okay, I was very aware. I didn’t want to burn out. But have you gone through burnouts. And what does that look like? And
Jennifer Szad: Oh my gosh, yeah, yeah, yeah, it was kind of the burnout queen for a lot of my 20s. So my cycle, I would say probably from the time I was, we’ll say like 14 or 15, through probably like early high school through mid 20s, maybe even later.
20s was basically like a cycle of working really hard, like nose down. Usually a lot of it related to like procrastination and stuff. So I’d like wait, I have like a million things going on, you know, like, pull some all nighters, whatever that looks like, and then go through it. Like once everything was turned in, or whatever it was that I had to get off my plate was was off my plate, I would just crash. Like, I would just like come like as though
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Relatable
Jennifer Szad: It was not. It’s not cute. Like don’t would would not recommend that again. So yeah, so that was my siglos just kind of life and not that I enjoyed it. But it was very, like predictable. In a way.
I think it was just sort of expected it was sort of like my comfortable way of doing things like I really had not like learned how to do work in advance or, you know, plan better or whatever. So yeah, so I think that probably really for what two decades of my life when you asked about like overwhelm and stuff that I kind of lived in like a low grade overwhelm all the time, like that was just sort of the norm.
And it’s funny that people that knew me back in my undergrad years, like Aaron, you know, one of our other Wednesday, wonders mastermind group members, they would always laugh at me because I would have oh my gosh,
I would go nights at a time like days at a time, maybe only sleeping like two or three hours. Like, especially when I was working on my senior thesis like I would just and so I found out years later that Aaron and some of the other people that I lived with in the house there on campus, they would like not really like take bets but they would have conversations about like, when is Jen gonna crash like when you know, when’s it when’s it gonna happen when she gonna burn out?
And I never got to that point, thankfully, like I never actually had like a breakdown but it was definitely like, an unhealthy cycle to be in. Right. So yeah, I even to this day. So I mean, I would say I kind of you know, when I said that, like, Oh, that was my cycle until my mid to late 20s. It’s not nearly that bad anymore at all.
But I definitely still know that about myself that I have the potential to kind of fall back into do that if I don’t like take care of myself and, and kind of, you know, keep those rituals like the morning routine, just the staples of like a little bit of meditation at least every day, you know, a little bit of like physical activity, you know, outside fresh air, whatever it is,
If I if I don’t take care of those fundamentals, and I don’t make sure that I’m doing things every day that kind of fill me up and take care of myself that I definitely have the potential to kind of get back to those places.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: And that’s the important piece. I think it’s, for me also, like when you’re in a corporate role, and also doing side hustle and creating content, I feel you are, the biggest thing that gets out of our hands is our health. You’re like, oh, I can I can work out later, I can eat later. I don’t have to meditate today.
And I think in the past few years, where I think I’ve done it differently, it was like, if I don’t meditate today, I won’t be able to produce as much as I want to. So it’s like almost like changing the mindset around it. It’s like, No, I have to work out because if I work out, I’m actually going to be more productive.
So that half an hour will turn into four hours of productivity. So I almost like bribe myself like No, no mark, you have to eat well, because if you don’t eat well, then you’re gonna eat junk. And then you’re gonna go into that crash of like, oh, shit, I want to sleep now, because I have this carpet.
So I think it’s also like tricking your mind. And then it goes back to self awareness, right? Like, being aware that that those are things that will begin going into run, who wants to do that really, you know, every day.
So you’re like, oh, I can I can I can miss that today. It’s too cold, or you know, or it’s too warm. Or maybe I’ll slip or God knows every every type of excuse my brain has given me and it’s just like, No, if I don’t go for that run, I won’t be able to work today. And I love working on this XYZ stuff. So I think yeah, we’re very, right. It’s so important.
Take care of those fundamentals, and finding ways where you can like how if some people are really good at it, and some people just need to trick themselves, or find accountability buddies, like, you know, finding your tribe asking for support.
I know you’re very good at that, like, hey, you know, keep me accountable to my walks this week. keep me accountable to meditations this week. So it’s it’s that kind of support. And again, going back to self awareness, realizing that you need that, then that’s a very, very big..
Jennifer Szad: Yes, yeah, no, that’s yes. All of that is huge. And I what you said there it kind of reminded me of so the question you had asked before about preparing, I guess, to go like, full time, I think that that’s a really important key. I didn’t even think to mention this before, because I had been working remotely before I made the leap.
So like that part of my life was still pretty consistent. But I would definitely say, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, like how much of a change it can feel like to work from, you know, go from working in like a office environment or like having, you know, kind of another place to go to transitioning to working from home, which is usually what people do when they make, you know, not necessarily but I would say the vast majority of probably content creators and solopreneurs and stuff. I mean, we’re all and of course,
Coronavirus, like we’re all working from home or we were for a while, but I think that anything and of course, everyone’s situation is going to be different. But anything you can do to try to kind of take that for a test drive. Like even if that means maybe trying to work from home, if you work in an office now maybe trying to work from home, negotiate that, maybe do that one day a week, or just try it once or twice or something and kind of just like see yourself like what that would actually look like because you know that that initial zest and momentum and stuff when you first leave, or you first go like full time
I mean that’s gonna carry you through and give you momentum and kind of give you that motivation to, to sit down and like grind it out and get get done whatever you need to get done. But you can’t sustain that level of motivation.
So you have to have like good processes, and a good environment setup and all of that, like supporting structure that’s going to help you, you know, maintain being productive and actually like working on your business and all those things you need to do. So yeah, thinking about all of those things like how am I going to keep up my health habits, you know, what is my workspace going to look like?
How am I going to am I going to follow a schedule, you know, are there certain activities that I can like plan into my week just to like get out of the house and give myself some socialization or whatever.
So thinking through some of those things, I think is really a really good use of your time because you can kind of plan for maybe those days where you’re not super focused or like what if you have errands to run and stuff where there’s things that are going to come up that you can maybe like pre planned for a little bit or at least sort of like you know, think in your in your head like how am I going to deal with that or like maybe what are some options?
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Yeah, that reminded me the first time when I went for mode that was like way before Coronavirus and I was doing that for corporate. I went from like being in the office to remote and it was like well this is amazing.
I can wake up like really late and I don’t have to be fully dressed and I remember like taking naps in the afternoon and then within a couple of weeks that got to me I was like oh my god I cannot do this. I cannot take naps in the afternoon. I cannot wake up late I need to do my morning routine.
I know so different because you when you’re going on a train and there’s that that’s your cue to do your meditation then you have to Come back to your desk and you’re just like, oh, it’s not different. I’m in my room. And then I’m in my room and I’m in my room.
So that is a really, really good point. It’s kind of testing how working from home works for you. Because honestly, it doesn’t work for everyone. I know people who are like, I can’t wait to go back to the office. Like, I don’t like it. I want to be in that environment. And that’s where you can test before you make the leap and go like, Oh, fuck, yeah, I hate this shit.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, it’s like, what can I do? I mean, and that’s why frankly, I mean, before Coronavirus, you could any like Tuesday afternoon randomly, you could go to any like Starbucks or library or something and see a bunch of people sitting there with their laptops. And who knows what they’re doing. They could be corporate workers, they could be solopreneurs, there are a lot of people that just cannot work from home, and they have kind of sought out environments where they know they’re going to be more productive.
So yeah, it’s the luxury now is that we live in times where so many people are in kind of in that same boat that people are, there’s so many more solutions to it, you know, like co working spaces or like meetup groups during the day, you know, the sky’s the limit. So once we’re all vaccinated.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: I will say Yes, once. Yes, once
Jennifer Szad: I’m saying it’s gonna still be around into that thing, it’s gonna be probably evergreen content.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: That’s true. That’s true. 2045 the fuck are they talking about?
Jennifer Szad: You’ll be some celebrity and people are gonna dig up your old like podcast episodes to listen to.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: So I love that this is manifestation happening. It’s not happening, just throwing it out there. And it’s like, that’s the thing. We even just like talking about manifestations. There’s so much about, you know, success we want.
And when you are an entrepreneur, you want more and more success. And the thing is, you are the only person responsible for that success. So how do you define success? And how do you make sure that you are holding those boundaries for yourself that once you do reach those marks, you’re not like, oh, I want to do more. Because I know I’m guilty of that.
When I get to that certain mark. I’m like, oh, I want to still do more. Because I I can do more I can meet more clients, I can make more money. How have you been able to maintain that balance? And what is the definition of success?
Jennifer Szad: Very bold of you to assume that I’ve maintaining that balance, too. Yeah, so this is actually one area that I probably redefined myself or kind of have like a lot of different ideas about over the years.
And also just honestly, from like, week to week to just like we talked about before, like, depending on the day you catch me on what I will define as success might be a little bit different.
So but I would say the by and large, I define success these days as feeling as though my day made a difference to someone, the fact that I’m out there working like impacted someone like in a positive way, their day was better, or their life was better, even for the fact that I lived that day.
So that seems like a really like airy fairy way of looking at it. But it honestly, it really does get me always thinking about my success in terms of how it relates to other people, which is really where I again, it goes back to like self awareness, I realized over the years that like if I’m just kind of acting in my own self interest all the time, it’s not a bad thing.
But it can only be that because it just kind of leaves me as like kind of empty, like a little unfulfilled. So yeah, success is somehow positively impacting other people. And that can mean a lot of different things. And it also just ultimately, like doing having enough time to do the things that are not related to money, like earning money or spending money.
So for me personally, that means having a lot of time to spend with my husband, with my family, you know, immediate family, extended family, friends, and also just spending time out in nature. Like if a week goes by, and I get to the end of the week, and I’m like, I have not really had any time just in green this week.
Like I was not money green, but like leaves green should clarify. If I really feel like I haven’t had like a really good conversation with my husband and Chuck, you know, with, with anybody else in the family that I kind of like would have liked to that week. That’s for me, that’s a red flag.
So for me success is like having time for all of that other stuff that adds meaning to my life, like way beyond work. You know, there’s that old, like, do you work to live or live to work kind of thing, which I don’t know, I don’t really like that in some ways, because I feel like you can kind of do both.
But anyway. Yeah, I have to have that balance. So yeah, for me, in terms of like actual tactical stuff, I mean, I kind of live and die by my calendar. And if you you there’s some people that have said and I think you could argue this but I think there’s a lot of truth to it that like you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar and looking at their bank account.
So whether spending money on whether they’re spending their time on so for me again, ADHD time blindness, like if I wanted to, I could spend eight hours a day just doing a task that should probably take like 30 minutes, you know, orally just researching something that doesn’t even matter. Oh, really? Oh. And I don’t feel good after about eight hours. I haven’t gotten anything done.
Yeah, so I as much as and I’m still I’m very imperfect at this, but I really made an effort to like put everything on the calendar so that I can like visually see, okay, like, this is my time where I’m going to be doing certain work things, whether that’s more like creative space, or this is when I’m going to be meeting with people or whatever is like, all the things are actually scheduled in.
And then everything else too, like I need to have a lot of white space in the calendar, I need to see that I have maybe like calls set up with family or like visits, you know, with family coming up or exercise, like all that stuff, that’s a priority, like has to be in the calendar.
So that to me is sort of my ritual every week, and even daily, you know, some weeks that like kind of rejigging things to make sure that I have that balance. Because if I if I don’t like really pay attention to it work ends up seeping into all the little corners of my life. And yeah, I just end up really unhappy and kind of questioning like, Am I doing? No, yeah,
Mahrukh Imtiaz: It turns very, like, existential very fast. Yep, yep. I don’t do that at all. Gee, no, of course, have no idea what you’re talking about. Yeah,
Jennifer Szad: Reel it back in right away. That’s mark.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: Exactly, exactly. Now, it’s the truth. It’s like, you know, we were making these leaps. We’re trying content creation, we’re trying our message in the world, we’re doing these side hustles we’re going into entrepreneurship, because the whole point is to for it to fulfill.
And so many times people forget that that was the actual point. And they get so into the work of like making more money, getting more sales, getting more followers getting more likes, if they forget that, the only reason they went into that was to get more freedom to be able to do things they like, and then they forget what the actual point was.
I think that’s a really, really good segue into honestly, before we get into our final question, because I think I love that we’ve talked about making the leap into entrepreneurship. I love that we’ve talked about burnout, because that is such a common thing, especially when you’re juggling multiple things.
I love that we talked about abundance mindset. But before we ask her final question, Where can people find you online?
Jennifer Szad: Well, I would love to have you come hang out with me and a couple places. So right now my two most active places are Instagram and Facebook. So you can find me on Facebook under my name, Jennifer Szad. And the last name is S Z A D or you can probably find me in Mahrukh’s friend’s list of your friends with Mahrukh as well.
And then on Instagram, which I’m a little more active on Instagram, but my my handle is thisisjzad. So you can either find me by my name, I think or this underscore is underscore jszad. I do have a website jenniferszad.com. I really don’t do much on it right now. But probably by the time you listen to this, there’s gonna be more stuff up there. So yeah, so jenniferszad.com. And again, j e n n i fer szad.com.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: When she says Jen, she only does that with one end.
Jennifer Szad: It depends on who you ask. But yeah, some people are stubborn in my life. And I just some people use let them wallow in their wrongness.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: People use brackets to put the extra N Okay, some people do. Yeah, right. Final question for you before you were starting this journey of entrepreneurship. What advice would you give that young Jen?
Jennifer Szad: Oh, man, so many things? I would I would probably say, think about this for a second. Because I think a couple of things are actually combined. I would, you know, I would probably tell the young Jen that planning is good. And being prepared is is great.
However, usually you don’t trust yourself enough. Like you really need to trust yourself that you know the answers and and even if you don’t know the answer, you have the skills to go find the answer. I went through a lot of questioning and I think probably that’s where some of that over preparation comes from to like coming from a place of feeling like.
I don’t know enough, something’s gonna go wrong. And then I’m going to end up you know, homeless under a bridge or something, right. It’s like catastrophizing. So yeah, I would definitely tell the younger Jen like you, you’re on the right path, and you’re not going to know everything, and you’re probably going to fuck up a lot of things to let’s be honest. But that’s part of the journey.
So don’t be afraid of that. Like, trust yourself. You’ve lived this long and been really successful in everything you’ve done and you have the ability to learn and to grow and to find the answers to questions that you can’t even think of yet. You know, when the time comes, and I think everything falls into place from there.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: I love that. Absolutely love that. It’s self trust. Always, always always believing in yourself, because you’re right, you’ve survived 100% of the days that what was the quote again? Sorry, I forget. This is my ADHD claim play.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, I was thinking about it when you started to say like, yes,
Mahrukh Imtiaz: That’s exactly why because you survived 100% of the day so far, right? Something like that.
Jennifer Szad: Yeah, you’ve survived 100% of the Yeah, the challenges so far. You figured it out or something or you’ve survived 100% of the time.
Mahrukh Imtiaz: I mean, I’m sure the listeners have gotten the most of the advice you’ve given me. Forgive me on my trying to get that quote right. But yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being on here today and super for relief that we got. Yes, no,
Jennifer Szad: I just said it was super fun. Go ahead.
Mahrukh Imtiaz I think I lost a lot for sure. Thank you. Thank you again for being on here to everyone that’s listening. If you’re inspired by anything Jen has said today, please go and follow the podcast and share this with your friends.
And if you’re thinking of taking the leap, just like Jen said, like, just trust yourself. And I’m not gonna say that quote again. Because God knows nobody needs to hear that again. But just trust yourself. Planning is good. Having your ducks in the row is good, but self belief is way more important.
Until next time, you got this beautiful