Don’t Keep Your Day Job – Cathy Heller On Turning Your Passion Into Profit

Cathy Heller (@cathy.heller) is a bestselling author, business coach and host of the podcast called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job”. She joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about how to turn your passion into a full time job, what she learned from interviewing people like Matthew McConaughey and Tony Robbins, how to overcome imposter syndrome and much more!

On where the journey begins of someone to live in their passion:

“It’s such a great question isn’t it? I once heard from my rabbi that the opposite of unhappiness is not happiness, but it is in fact purpose and meaning. A friend of mine Emily Esfahani Smith did a Ted Talk called There’s more to life than being happy. It was all about how she went to Harvard and asked them about the most wonderful moments in their life. It turned out that is wasn’t when they were in Disney World, but moments of tremendous meaning and purpose. The reason why I started the show Don’t Keep Your Day Job is because I believe that if you are hare then you are needed. It is like a puzzle and we are all like a piece, if you don’t do your assignment, then a piece is missing. If just one piece is missing, it doesn’t feel good. I think on some level, each of us has always known that.”

The meaning behind the show’s title:

“I called the show Don’t Keep Your Day Job because it is not about having a job, it’s about having your life’s work. So what is that about and what does that mean? I think we all have this incredible amount of purpose and potential, but we stop ourselves with these two lies, I’m not enough and it’s not possible. If Elon Musk thought it was not possible, we wouldn’t be going to space. If John F. Kennedy thought it was not enough, then man wouldn’t have landed on the moon. We are not supposed to make decisions with our eyes, but instead with our imaginations. So I often say to people that if you want to wake up to a sense of purpose, then make a list of 5 things that would feel so fun. If you secretly could do whatever and not be responsible for how it is done, it comes so fast. People say ‘Oh I want to be a travel writer.’ Or ‘I want to open up a bed and breakfast in the south of France.’ Then I will say to circle the one that gives you goose bumps, and then we start from there. What if we allowed ourselves to do that? What is stopping us?”

On where to start:

“If you want to start a business, there’s 3 steps. You’re gonna test it, sell it and scale it. So test it, you need to give a sample of this. Whether you will teach a class or make granola or paint cars, you need a beta. You need a focus group and you need to test it. You might say that your sister in law needs her car painting, so you will do that in exchange for a testimonial or for feedback. Everything that has been sold, whether it’s an iPad or peanut butter, they love data. We want the feedback, that is the answer key. So if you have a job you can’t stand, you don’t need to quit right now while you are testing. The job right now is the investor for my dreams, and after work I will find 5 people I can offer this to and get the feedback.”

On the selling steps:

“Once we test it, we can see if people are satisfied with the cheesecake or the work that we have done on their car. Now you say ‘Can I sell one of these? Can I sell one cheesecake?’ If you can sell one. You can look at the market and decide where you want to be. You can get a bangle from Cartier for thousands of dollars or go to Target and get one for $18. So decide where you want to start out and work towards the lower middle if you need some confidence. But there is already a market and you are not making it up. You see if you can sell it one time, and here is what is cool, and when you sell it to one person and they are satisfied, you are done! Here is how we know. When you go to Target or Starbucks and they ask you to fill out a survey, they are looking for the 9’s and 10’s. Anyone who says a 1 2 or 3, they are not interested. If you are a satisfied customer, you will be compelled to sell someone else.”

On being a niche and scaling it:

“I also want people to hear this thing that Seth Godin shared with me. He asked me ‘Would you rather have the popularity of Taylor Swift or The Grateful Dead?’ The Grateful Dead never had a number one single, they were not radio songs. Most people say they are building this business and they have to be vanilla ice cream, they have to be Taylor Swift, they have to be the thing that people talk about. But here is what people don’t realise, Taylor Swift fans will say ‘I’ve seen her 3 times, she is so good.’ Grateful Dead fans will say ‘Are you joking? I have seen every show. I’ve seen them 49 times and have 65 records, all the b sides.’ One really likes it, and one is obsessed with it. People are shooting for vanilla, but if you make gluten free, kosher, vegan ice cream, and only a small portion of the world loved it, you would quickly be a phenomenon. It’s the depth and the intimacy, you don’t have to worry about the width. If you establish that, you can keep scaling.” 

On not quitting your job right now:

“There’s so much cool stuff you could get started with right now and work on for 90 days. At the end of the 90 days you could sit down and find go ‘OK, I had this many people in my yoga class. How many yoga classes at 15 a piece would I have to do to quit my job?’ People say that they have no time, but we know that people are spending several hours a day on their phones. So there is no excuse, you do have the hours.”

On growing the podcast:

“I love podcasting so much, it is so much fun. There is a line that words from the heart enter the heart immediately. I think that we are so highly refined that we can do something from a  genuine place. People crave intimacy, and intimacy is velocity, and advertisers have noticed that. There used to be a Colgate commercial in the middle of a Thursday night episode of Friends, but that model doesn’t work anymore, no one is watching through the ads. We see that people have a connection with people too. If someone hears Joe Rogan and they are like ‘This is my dude.’ Then he says ‘Oh Casper Mattresses…’ Then there are loads of sales, because they trust that person, the intimacy is unreal. With podcasts, people are self-selecting that they want to hear you while you are at the gym or on a commute, it is part of your day. It is so big for your business, because if people like and trust you, they have the connection, so they are in. When I started, I tell people that if you want to start a podcast, you will want to batch record 10 episodes so you won’t have to scramble. I would do one a week, and before that just put up a 3 minute trailer. One thing that is really important with a podcast, you are doing it for the audience. I would bring them in by thinking that I am their ambassador, what is their greatest pain point? This audience has that pain point, and quite often, their audience is you before you had that breakthrough.”

On what Cathy Heller is grateful for:

“The people in my life, health and the opportunity to do this.”

Featured image: Don’t Keep Your Day Job

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