Lydia Lee is a 34 year-old corporate escape coach from Canada, who has spent the last 4 years living in Bali and traveling the world as a digital nomad, while at the same time making up to $100,000 a year helping people repurpose their strengths into meaningful careers.
I was extremely excited to talk to Lydia, because most digital nomads have quite conventional careers working with online marketing, web design or software engineering. However, Lydia is a personal coach, which is something not many people have heard of, yet she’s totally crushing her game.
What made her move to Bali and live the life of her dreams, while helping other people repurpose their careers?..
A nervous breakdown during a work trip.
From an Emotional Breakdown to The Life of Her Dreams
Back in 2013, Lydia was earning a 6 figure salary as a business development director for an international education company that promoted educational programs in Canada to international students from all around the world. That job included a lot of traveling, except Lydia spent all of her time attending conferences as opposed to actually exploring the surroundings.
As years went by Lydia became more and more successful working for that company, however, she was also becoming more and more unhappy with her life, since she didn’t have any time to do the things she really wanted to do.
This culminated in her having a breakdown on a business trip in Moscow. At that point she hadn’t taken a holiday for two straight years, because she was too busy with work. This led to her having an anxiety attack in her hotel room: “At that point I had a truthful moment with myself and realized I didn’t really enjoy my work and didn’t want to do it anymore. I realized that money, prestige and status was not what I was seeking for in my life. That’s when I decided to start a side business and once it would make enough money for me to get by, I would quit my 9 to 5 job that brought me so much stress.”
With years of experience and strong determination, Lydia established her own educational agency which would send Canadian teachers to teach abroad, as well as bring in international students to Canada for work and travel programs, work and study programs and also high school programs. Once she secured a few partners and contracts for educational projects, she felt safe enough to quit her job.
It only took her 9 months to go from working a miserable 9 to 5 job for someone else to being her own boss.
How to Acquire Customers as a Personal Coach
When Lydia quit her full-time job, she didn’t have any entrepreneur friends to hang out with and thus she decided to meet them online. She joined dozens of different Facebook groups, where people were talking about entrepreneurship, being a digital nomad, starting an online business, being a personal coach and other related topics.
There she started participating in all the different discussions related to repurposing your career, quitting the job you hate, becoming your own boss and others: “My goal was to simply share my story with other people who faced similar situations and help them live happier lives. However, some people found my blog and my discussion answers so useful, they started reaching out to me for personal coaching.”
At that point Lydia realized that even though she didn’t know much about coaching, she could help hundreds of other people repurpose their careers and feel much happier about their lives. That’s when she set out to become a professional corporate escape coach: “In the beginning I devised this 30/30 strategy, where I would provide free coaching services to my potential customers for 30 minutes and after that I would spend 30 minutes “picking their brains”. I would ask them what problems and obstacles they were facing in their professional lives, what sort of solutions would make them happy, how much would they be happy paying for personal coaching and stuff like that.”
This not only taught her a lot about professional coaching, but also helped her build a community of raving fans, who would recommend her services to their friends and thus most of Lydia’s new customers would come from word of mouth or her blog.
4 years later Lydia lives in her dream home in Ubud, Bali, makes up to $100,000 a year (before her business expenses) doing what she loves and feels completely satisfied with her life: “Based in Ubud, Bali, I have a home office and a co-working space I belong to. I facilitate group programs and conduct one-to-one coaching sessions with clients from my laptop. Day to day activities to build my community are filming videos for my YouTube channel, running webinars, and facilitating my Facebook community through discussions and support lessons. I block off a lot of time for wellness and socialization. Being in Ubud, this makes it easy to do yoga, hikes, and spend time with like-minded people I know call my family in this beautiful island.”
To help her business grow even more, she posts a lot of useful content on her blog, e-mail newsletter (that has over 3,500 subscribers) and Facebook group. One of the things that has worked really well for her was to conduct interviews with people who have escaped the 9 to 5 (which she calls “corporate escapees”), where they talk about how they discovered their passion, how they dealt with fear of quitting their job and whether they’re happy with the lives they lead right now.
There are many types of other content Lydia produces for her audience, but whatever it is, it has to be extremely useful: “The way to sell your services as a personal coach is to honestly want to help people and solve their problems. Seek out ways to offer value to your target audience without selling anything. The more value you provide for free, the more likely people will be to buy your products and services without you actively selling them.”
Create a Business You Care About
For Lydia, a distraction-free work zone is an essential aspect to productivity. She uses project management tools like Asana to help manage day-to-day priorities, and usually spends 6-7 hours working.
Speaking of being an active digital nomad, she found that constant distractions was the biggest challenge to this lifestyle: “I had to learn to stop going to co-working spaces on different parts of my startup stage. They are a great way to find new friends or to brainstorm ideas, but once your startup is up and running, you need to focus on doing work that helps your company grow.”
When I asked her for useful advice on how to become a digital nomad, she came out with three really strong pieces of advice that everyone should read before living this sort of lifestyle:
- Focus on how you can give value and be of service to others. Business is about solving problems, so figure out what meaningful problems you want to solve, where you can use your best skills and strengths most efficiently;
- Don’t get swayed by the ads you see out there for the messages of “make money while you sleep”, or “hang out by the beach with a passive income product”, as real work should be done when creating a business you’ll actually care about;
- Build and test a business idea before you quit your 9 to 5 job, so that you are easing your way into confidence, and doing it while you’re still funded by a full time job.
Interested In Following Lydia’s Footsteps?
Here are the top 5 books that helped Lydia quit the 9 to 5 job and become a digital nomad:
- 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss;
- The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday;
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson;
- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillabeau;
- Choose Yourself by James Altucher.
If you want to take your learning one step further, check out this online course.