In his interview, Caleb Wojcik talks about how he went from a financial adviser at Boeing, to a blogger on his own blog “Pocket Changed”, to creating a partnership with Corbett Barr on Think Traffic and Expert Enough. Caleb shows us where the path of hard work and persistence leads.
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- “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
- Have you ever tried a business venture with your best friends? Caleb did, and it just plain didn’t work out. Did their friendship survive?
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- I can help people and make money! How Caleb realized this startling fact.
- Caleb has a lot of exciting things going on right now. Make it Rain may be a game changer for many. Find out more!
- Caleb has a great answer for our last question and divulges the actions he would take if he had to start completely from scratch.
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- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
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John Lee Dumas: Hire Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I’m very excited to introduce my guest today, Caleb Wojcik. Did I say that right, Caleb?
Caleb Wojcik: Yes. Wojcik or Wŏjcik. Either way.
John Dumas: Wojcik. Okay. Caleb does a ton of cool stuff in the online world. He personally runs the blog, Pocket Changed. He has a super cool podcast called Cubicle Renegade, which I’m actually a subscriber of, and he works with Corbett Barr at Think Traffic and Expert Enough. He’s actually also launching a new product called “Make it Rain,” which is an all-encompassing personal finance guide for the aspiring cubicle renegade. I’m seeing a little bit of a theme here. On the side, he also does wedding photography and videography with his wife in San Diego, California.
Caleb, that’s a lot of stuff. We’re trying to inspire entrepreneurs here, not exhaust them [Laughs].
Caleb Wojcik: And not overwhelm them with how many different things. Well, really it’s just I’m interested in all these different types of things. Pocket Changed is what I started with, and then I started working with Corbett. Now in San Diego, my wife has her own business, so I dabble in that as well. So it stays interesting and it stays busy.
John Dumas: Well, it’s a lot of cool stuff, so I just kind of threw it all out there. Let’s kind of take a step back now and let you kind of go through this and give us a little more of an overview about exactly who you are and what you do.
Caleb Wojcik: So I graduated college back in 2008, right before the economic downturn, and I landed a job at the Boeing Company, working in financial advising. I worked there for about three-and-a-half years and I got my MBA. I just didn’t really feel like that was what I should be doing for the rest of my life.
A few years into that, I started dabbling in entrepreneurship, reading thought leaders on it like Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Fields. People like that. I started studying blogging and online branding, personality building and things like that as a potential business model.
So I started Pocket Changed in late 2010 as a way to test whether or not I would like it and whether or not I could build a business around it and things like that. Through that site, I got connected with Corbett Barr and I started working with him part time, and then fulltime in 2011. I’ve been working alongside him for about a year now.
John Dumas: Well, so all encompassing, how many hours would you say you’re putting in a week to all these different ventures?
Caleb Wojcik: I mean it really depends because I do have weeks where I completely disconnect and go on vacation, but a typical week, I would say anywhere from 50 to 60 hours, but I enjoy every aspect of all the things that I do. So to me, it doesn’t feel like work. Work to me was getting dressed, packing a lunch, commuting to work, sitting at a desk for however long, and then driving home.
I actually billed hours when I was at Boeing. I had to keep track to the tenth of the hour how much work I was doing. Now, I don’t track it at all. I make sure I have at least one day that’s completely off each week. Other than that, I keep a typical Monday through Friday during the day I work, and then one of the days in the weekend I usually spend focused on a specific project I’m working on.
John Dumas: So you successfully became a cubicle renegade?
Caleb Wojcik: Yes. Yes, I did [Laughs].
John Dumas: [Laughs] Well, that’s great. Here at EntrepreneurOnFire.com, we start every show off with our guest’s favorite success quote. It’s kind of our way to get the motivational ball rolling, so to speak. So Caleb, why don’t you give us your favorite success quote?
Caleb Wojcik: So my success quote is from Thomas Edison, and it’s “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
John Dumas: I have definitely heard that before. I read his biography, so that was front and center. What drew you to that quote specifically, and how do you apply it to your everyday life?
Caleb Wojcik: I think specifically in this online make money on the Internet kind of niche that’s been created over the past 5 or 10 years, a lot of people are looking for the quick fix or how to make money the fastest, and not necessarily for like which strategies and tactics they can just put into work and have long term growth on.
So this is something that I always work with. Someone that wants to be like a cubicle renegade or any other clients that are just starting out, this kind of encompasses my theory of you got to put in the work and the effort if you want the results in the long term. There’s not going to be any quick hit strategies that you really had much control over that are going to pay off.
You might get lucky. You might get someone popular to link to you or be featured on a high traffic website or something like that, but almost every example that I know of of that happening to people, they have months and years of hard work leading to that point.
John Dumas: No, absolutely. When you brought the word “luck,” it kind of brings to me another quote that I like to go back to, which is that luck is when effort meets opportunity. What that kind of means to me is that if you’re not putting in the effort and opportunity, you’re not going to have that luck. So they all really do tie together.
Caleb Wojcik: Yes, absolutely. I completely agree with that quote as well.
John Dumas: So at EntrepreneurOnFire, we’re a different type of podcast here. We tell the full journey of our spotlighted entrepreneur. In this case, that’s you. For entrepreneurs, somewhere in their journey lies failure and you can learn so much from that failure moment. What would be your failure moment that you’d want to delve into at this point?
Caleb Wojcik: So going back in my journey a little bit, I graduated with my MBA in I believe May of 2010, and I didn’t start Pocket Changed until December of 2010. So in that timeframe, I was doing a lot of introspective reading and decision-making of where I was going to go next in my career. One of the things that I decided that I wanted to try was to create a video game app with three of my friends. One was very much into the app creation and design process and he was going to be our technical programmer. Then the other two were great personal friends. We had played video games growing up, so we figured we could just make it happen because we had like experience and knowledge about the topic, but not necessarily the skills to do it.
John Dumas: Right.
Caleb Wojcik: So we worked for a month or so to try to get our whole idea on paper and have the processes in place for creating this thing, and it just kind of fell through. Everyone had their day jobs and it was something they wanted to do, but they weren’t entirely passionate about having it become a fulltime gig.
So what I learned from that failure was that maybe I needed to try something that was solo at first. Maybe I need to try something on my own so I could push it myself. I guess that would be the biggest takeaway. It was really if you’re going to have a team working on something, everyone has to be at least vested to a certain level.
I wouldn’t say everyone has to be equal because there’s no way that everyone’s going to be working the same amount. But you at least need to have the right personnel with the right skills set before you get started, instead of having one person that has the proper skills set with three people that are just really interested about it and would have to learn like on the job.
John Dumas: Now it’s always everybody’s dream to gather your group of buddies, get together every day, work and come up with something that hits it big. Then the next thing you know, you guys are all on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine. Obviously, that was something that you guys potentially envisioned at some point. Now, when you made that decision you had to move away from your group of friends, was that difficult and what challenges lie there?
Caleb Wojcik: I think we all just kind of understood that it wasn’t the best thing that we should be focused on and we all just kind of moved on. We were all virtually meeting too because we weren’t in the same location.
John Dumas: Okay.
Caleb Wojcik: So I think that probably hindered it. It was hard to get the momentum going, and we really didn’t have one person that was kind of “in charge.” So the accountability probably fell through a little bit in that way. So there were a lot of things that led to it not happening, but obviously, we were seeing people that were having success in that space, and so that was an option that we wanted to try out.
John Dumas: Absolutely. So at that point in your journey, after you moved away and you started doing your own thing, you had some form of an aha moment where a light bulb came on and you just knew that this was the direction that you were going to move into passionately and put your heart and soul into. Can you describe the events that led up to your aha moment?
Caleb Wojcik: Yes. So like I was saying earlier, I was reading a lot of people that make a living from their blogs and from their personal brands, and speaking and writing and things like that. So I really got introspective about what I would be able to help people with, and the thing I latched on to was personal finance. Then I just determined that I could potentially build a brand along personal finance as other people had, as long as my take on it was a little bit different.
So during that aha moment, it was all about deciding how to brand my site. How to make it more personal and have my personal journey involved with it as well, as opposed to just articles about frugality and investing and things like that.
So the actions that immediately followed with that were initially doing branding and planning and stuff for my blog. Then starting to blog and getting into the habit of blogging. So I blogged every single day. I put out a post for the first 50 days because I knew if I was going to stick with it, I had to get some momentum going. There, I had very low visitors in those first 50 days, but it got me in the process of blogging and sticking with it.
I was making investments in blogging. You have to pay for hosting. There’s other services you have to pay for.
John Dumas: Absolutely.
Caleb Wojcik: You paid for coaching. That’s how I actually first met Corbett, was I took his traffic school course. I mean that was hundreds of dollars that I invested in that and took that very seriously and went through the lessons when they were planned and I networked with people in the course and was in multiple mastermind groups. So I was putting in my nights and weekends in this course, and in my blog for the first six months, I was very, very serious about it because it was my escape plan.
John Dumas: In talking with so many entrepreneurs, I continue to hear the theme “mastermind” come up over and over again. Can you just touch on that point real quick and kind of get into how you found the masterminds, and then what you felt that you got from that mastermind?
Caleb Wojcik: Yes. So to me, it was being able to talk openly about all of your business ideas with people that were either at the same stage as you or fairly close to where you’re at. Getting that feedback was really powerful. I mean I could talk to my friends or I could talk to my wife about different ideas, but it’s just getting more and more perspective on those ideas and other people having ideas and bouncing them off each other.
Then another piece of it is definitely the accountability. So the groups I were in were fairly formal, and so we’d have timing of when we meet every week. Then we also had to pick something that we would accomplish by the next week. So just having that big, audacious goal that we were telling people we were planning on doing would always motivate me to at least focus on that one thing if I couldn’t get to anything else.
John Dumas: How did you go about finding this first mastermind that you joined?
Caleb Wojcik: All of them I believe have reached out to me, but it was after I had already been emailing with them and connecting with them through social media or on forums within traffic school. So most of them had reached out to me, but I would just encourage anyone that’s not in a mastermind group that wants to be one to find other people either in your niche or that you just think you’d be a good fit with and just reach out to them because I think that even if it’s just a half hour every other week or something, you’ll see the results from it and you’ll make up the difference of that time you spent interacting with people.
John Dumas: Just to emphasize a point that you made, accountability is so key, and if you’re in the right masterminds, nobody is going to keep you, is going to hold you accountable like a mastermind is going to because you’re all on the same boat and you all have the same potential excuses to make. So you’re not going to sneak by with an excuse like you might get by with say with your wife or with a friend that doesn’t quite understand the online world as much as your mastermind does.
Caleb Wojcik: Yes, exactly, or excusing yourself and just making up excuses for yourself when you have to get on stage. My current mastermind group that I use, we actually use Google Hangouts so we can see everyone on video. So it’s a little more intimidating. I mean you can’t really just hide behind a microphone and not talk for a session. It’s like you’re on camera and so it’s a little more personal, and I think that helps.
John Dumas: Yes. That’s great. I’m actually in a mastermind with Cliff Ravenscraft with the Podcast Answer Man, and we do the same thing. We have a webinar where everybody’s face is onscreen. So you see the 10 people surrounding the chat room and you know that you need to be serious and put your game face on, so to speak.
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely.
John Dumas: So at some point, you actually had to look in the mirror and say, “Wow, I think I may have made it,” or at least, “I think I’ve made some serious progress. I’m now out there. I’m being recognized by other people.” Corbett Barr of Think Traffic and Expert Enough is a huge blogger with a huge following and has great products out there. At what point did you actually say to yourself, “Wow, I’m in this to win it. I’m here, I’m going to stay, and I’m really successful”?
Caleb Wojcik: I think that that maybe is not a moment that I’ve had. I feel like I’m always pushing myself towards the next level and I think that there are times when I look back to when I worked in the job that I didn’t feel fulfilled by, and it’s at those times that I feel like I’ve made a major step.
But in the day-to-day, it’s not something that I’ve really considered because I’m always pushing towards that next thing. How can we impact more people with the work that we do? How can we encourage people to take this leap and to try to make things work on their own? Then how can we at the same time grow our revenue and our group of people that are working on this so that we can continually grow that reach as well?
So I think it’s something that I haven’t really dwelled on, even when I’ve thought about it. So I don’t consider it to be something that I think about all the time.
John Dumas: Those are great answers and great advice. So now we’ve talked about a failure you’ve had. How you transitioned that failure into a success of some sort. How you had your aha moment. Now take us past that aha moment where you started seeing yourself as relevant in the online world, and then continue to move forward into your current business today.
Caleb Wojcik: So I think how that transition occurred was I kind of made the leap from working for someone else in the way of a corporation with 150,000 people to working for one person in a company of two people.
John Dumas: [Laughs] Right.
Caleb Wojcik: So that was a huge transition for me, emotionally and financially, and all those different aspects. So that was a step that I took that is different than what other people might be trying to take. I think the traditional way is you potentially build up your business to a level that is at the same level of your current job or close, and then you kind of transition and jump ship then. But I like to call it entrepreneurship where you’re working alongside an entrepreneur that’s doing things that you’re passionate about as well and I really think there’s power in numbers.
John Dumas: Absolutely.
Caleb Wojcik: So when you have someone that can help you take the reins, it gives you time to disconnect. It gives you time to take a vacation and not worry about the ship sinking. Then at the same time, the things that you can create together can be bigger and bolder, and you have that mastermind group right there with the two of you.
So I think that my journey is a little different than what a lot of people anticipate will happen, but I think that it’s a great segue, it’s a great step. I don’t know where things will lead in 5, 10 years. I don’t know what I will be doing. But I always look at, is today better than yesterday and is this closer to where I want to be? I have been able to say that for at least a year now. So I think that that’s a really important question.
John Dumas: That is a great question. So now let’s get into your current business. Let’s really take the cover off and peer into what you’re doing with your various ventures. Let’s get into Pocket Changed, let’s get into Think Traffic and Expert Enough. Then let’s get into your new venture, which I’ll leave for you to explain.
Caleb Wojcik: So my big time spent each week is definitely on my work with Think Traffic, I would say. A lot of it is on content creation and course creation, and the projects that we work on that we launch to people, because we really want to focus our best hours of each week on creating things that impact people and encourage change and progress in their life. So the number one energy spent each week is definitely on Think Traffic.
Pocket Changed for me has always been a nights and weekends project, even when I worked at my fulltime job, and even now when I work at home. So on that, I always have had it on the side, and it’s kind of like a hobby for me. It’s kind of just something that I enjoy doing and I’ve mainly been doing all that for free. I make enough from the site to pay for itself, and a little bit on top to help invest in things for that site, but my sole income mainly comes from either Think Traffic or web design work or blog consulting that I do on the side.
With the next step for Pocket Changed, it’s to put out some of those sources and courses and things like that that will really impact people’s lives that will also help the bottom line at Pocket Changed. So the next thing I’m doing for Pocket Changed in mid-September is I’m launching a course called “Make It Rain,” which is a personal finance course that’s geared towards people that want to be entrepreneurs.
They want to, whether it’s quit their job or be location-independent and work for themselves, or do something like entrepreneurship and work alongside other entrepreneurs or jump into a startup career. Something along those lines. It’s really focused on getting your finances in order so that you can take that leap.
John Dumas: So you have said that Think Traffic takes up most of your daily activities. What would be two tasks within that day that you really seem to be finding yourself spending a lot of actual time with?
Caleb Wojcik: Well, content creation is definitely the biggest one, I would say. We’re very picky about the things that we publish, whether that’s stuff that we’ve written or stuff that other people have written. So things will go through multiple revisions even if someone else writes something for the site. So it’s usually not a one and done email of a [guest-posed] proposal.
John Dumas: Right.
Caleb Wojcik: So time is spent on that. Then the other part is really connecting with our readers and the people in our courses and helping out as much as possible. We get a lot of email and I put as much effort into each one of those emails as I possibly can to help people with what they’re working on. So I would say that those are the two major tasks for the day. But then I always make sure to carve out time each day for our bigger projects and the next things that we’re working on. So I would say that those are the three main tasks of the day.
John Dumas: Those are some serious tasks, and I will say that I’m a huge lover and subscriber of Think Traffic, so I know the content that you guys put on there is phenomenal. So I have already preemptively signed up for Make It Rain as well and I can’t wait to see what direction you take that in.
Caleb Wojcik: Fantastic. Yes. I’m working on that on the weekends and I’m excited to bring it to people and see what they think. It’s my first product that I’ve launched on my own and I’ve been through launches with Corbett and I’ve watched tons of other launches. So I think it’s just another step in my career as well to take things to the next level and for me to learn even more.
John Dumas: Awesome. Awesome stuff, Caleb. Let’s now enter the last part of the interview, which is actually my favorite part. It’s called the Lighting Round.
Caleb Wojcik: [Laughs]
John Dumas: The Lightning Round is where I’m going to give you a series of questions and you’re going to have about a minute, give or take, to answer each of these questions because we have about five minutes left for the show. What you’re going to be doing is providing us with answers and secret inside tips that’s going to make us all rich. Can you do that for us?
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Caleb Wojcik: [Laughs]
John Dumas: Okay. So a lot of our listeners are aspiring cubicle renegades, as you would put it, and it’s a term that I love. So when you were in a cubicle yourself, what was the one thing that was holding you back from making that leap into entrepreneurialism?
Caleb Wojcik: For me, it was that I was providing not just for myself, but I was engaged and then got married in 2011. So the thing holding me back was finances. I wanted to make sure that I had enough money saved up before making that leap. So I planned accordingly and we had a certain amount that we were saving towards.
When we reached to that point that we could take a leap, an opportunity presented itself to work with Corbett. The timing was wonderful, and that’s when I took the leap. So that was the number one thing because I had a comfortable job and I wanted to make sure that we could still sustain the lifestyle that we had, even if it was a simple lifestyle, without having to risk it all and having to go back and work in the same position. I wanted to make a clean transition.
John Dumas: Okay. So you would basically say money was a big reason that you were holding back from launching?
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely.
John Dumas: Now, just hypothetically, and very quickly, say you had a million dollars in the bank at that point in your life, but you knew that you wanted to move forward, what would have held you back? Did you have any fear of success that like you may not have actually been good enough at your chosen profession or your chosen passion, or was the confidence always there for you?
Caleb Wojcik: I knew that my wife and I could make it happen. So I don’t think fear was the issue. I think it was more of the fear of letting go of something that I’d work so hard to get. When I was in college, I had internships each summer. I worked each semester to get strong grades and to network with the professors and to have a strong resume and work in organizations and things like that because when I was in college, I thought that having a desk job that paid well and had good benefits was the end all and be all.
John Dumas: Absolutely.
Caleb Wojcik: Then when I got it, I found out that wasn’t it. So it was kind of that fear of letting go and the fear of what other people are going to think about me leaving a comfortable job when unemployment was 9% or whatever.
John Dumas: Yes. Thank you for sharing that with us. We really do appreciate that. Now, moving on to the next question – we got to pick it up a little bit here – what is the best business advice you ever received?
Caleb Wojcik: I would say the best business advice I ever received was from one of the first people that I worked for when I was in college. I did an unpaid internship at a sports studio. That was the ABC station that I worked at. He was the sports director and I did website design for him. Then I went on to do other things, and then a few years after college, he came back and I did some more work for him.
He said, “The best advice I can give you is to say no to clients that are rude to you and that you don’t want to work with because especially in the beginning when you just need money and you just want some traction, you’ll be taking clients that you don’t really care for what they do or how they act or how they treat you, and you need to say no to those people because they’re just going to harm you more than the money will help you.”
John Dumas: I love that, and one thing that I always say to myself is all we have is time. Don’t let anybody take that away from you.
Caleb Wojcik: I love that.
John Dumas: So what is something that’s working for you in your business right now?
Caleb Wojcik: I would say one thing that’s working really well is the amount of feedback we get from our customers, at Think Traffic especially. We ingrain surveys and feedback loops in the products that we create that are automated. So partway through the course, they’ll get an email that’s like, “Hey, how are things going? Then have we missed anything? Would you recommend this course to someone? If you wouldn’t, why not?” Things like that.
That sort of feedback loop really helps us stay in touch with all the customers that are actually involved with the course because we’ll then go in and individually respond to all of them. At the same time, it helps us get feedback for the next thing we create. So if they don’t like how something is functioning, we won’t create it that way in the next course.
So building those feedback loops in with your customers automatically without having it be something you have to think about and consciously do every time has worked really well for us.
John Dumas: Great. Great stuff. Before we launch into the last question, why don’t you just give us a quick book recommendation? Something you’ve read in the past month or so, or maybe six months if you’re not much of a reader, that you would recommend to the audience.
Caleb Wojcik: I read a lot of business books, so I could recommend a ton of them. I would say if you’re just looking to make that leap, a good book to read is “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau.
John Dumas: I love that book.
Caleb Wojcik: It’ll help you brainstorm and think about some of those crazy ideas that other people have been able to make money off of and you’ll start to see how you could do the same.
John Dumas: It takes down a lot of roadblocks that people put up for themselves because he interviews so many entrepreneurs in that book that have had so many different situations that you can pretty much line yourself up with at least one or two of them, and if they can do it, there’s no reason you can’t.
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely. I don’t think that you can start businesses for $100.00 in every sort of situation, but I think it’s the principles that are really key there.
John Dumas: Right. OTrakay. This is the last question. This is by far my favorite question. It’s kind of a thinker, so let’s see how you handle this. If you woke up tomorrow and you still had all the experience and knowledge that you have today, but everything you’ve done in your business has completely disappeared – basically putting you in the same level as a lot of our listeners who have not started anything yet – but you still know everything that you know, what would you do?
Caleb Wojcik: The first thing I would do would be to launch an online platform in some form. So a blog or just a static website and raise that up to social medias, even if I had zero followers in all of them. Then I would just start writing and sharing content that would be helpful for people and that would solve their problems. So I would think of problems that I’ve had in the past and write blog posts and create videos and podcasts that would really answer people’s questions and help them with that.
Then the first thing I would do after I got that set up would be to start offering services, because I think services is one of the easiest ways to start earning money online and to start offering your services and expertise. The way you prove that is by the free stuff that you offer and the free content you create and help people with. So I think that would be the first thing that I would do.
John Dumas: But still be picky and choosy with who you’re offering those services or who you accept to give those services to?
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely.
John Dumas: Caleb, awesome stuff. You’ve given us a ton of actionable advice. We really appreciate it. Your time is valuable, so just a big thank you from EntrepreneurOnFire nation. Do you have any last piece of advice you can leave us with?
Caleb Wojcik: Just don’t give up. If you know it’s something you want to be doing long term, it’s going to take a lot longer than what other people might tell you. So just don’t give up.
John Dumas: Don’t give up. Caleb, we really appreciate it, one more time, and we will catch you on the flipside.
Caleb Wojcik: Absolutely, John. Thanks for having me.