Nick Jaworski on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast

NICK JAWORSKI transitioned from being a music teacher to being a business owner through the use of online platforms like Upwork. His modus operandi: building authentic relationships with his clients. He believes that human touch enables a great remote connection.



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His tips for working remotely:

  • Invest in your client relationships.
  • Word of mouth is a powerful way to build your business.
  • Focus on movement every day.
  • Schedule some unfocused time; it’s healthy for productivity.
  • Take time to look back and appreciate how much you’ve accomplished.

Podcast production by Podcast Monster

Graphic design by Alfred Boland


Original transcript


Lisette:                    Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Hello, and welcome to episode number 128. It’s the first Monday of February, and I hope you’re here is off to a great start. I’m super excited about today’s episode because I finally took the opportunity to interview somebody who I’ve been working with for the last few years. And all of you know him. It’s Nick Jaworski, the producer of this podcast and the owner of Now I’m excited to be able to interview Nick in particular, not only because we’ve been working together and I’ve really enjoyed our collaboration, but because he has a very interesting story about transitioning from being a music teacher, an in-person music teacher, to a business owner. And in his business, he is producing podcasts for people remotely.

Before we get to his story, I’d like to give you guys this week’s one-minute tip. This week’s tip could be for people who are co-located or remote. But I’ve really found that as a remote freelancer, this is an especially good tip for me, and that is hire people with expertise to help you. For example, graphic design is not something that I’m particularly good at. So when I wanted to make Collaboration Superpowers look good and once I had traction, I hired Alfred Boland who has mad graphic design skills. And I knew this because I worked with him at another company years ago. And of course when I was starting this podcast, my goal was to get interesting interviews on the air on a podcast for him. I didn’t want to become a podcast producer or an expert for how to do that kind of stuff. So I went on to Elance, which is how I found Nick. I hired an expert. And I think that the quality really shows in this podcast. You can hear it in the intro music and in the sound effects that he produces.

So that’s been this week’s one-minute tip. Hire people with specific expertise to help you.

Now let’s get on with the interview. I really enjoyed talking with Nick as I knew I would. But as I said before, he transitioned from being a music teacher to being a business owner. And he did that by starting on online platforms like Elance, which is where I found him. And I really related to a story because I too started my career over again at one point. And I used Elance (which is now Upwork) to do that. And basically, what happened was the company I was working for went out of business overnight, and I needed to find a new job immediately. So I went on to Elance, and I signed up, and I just started taking any job I could. And I say this in the interview, but I got one particular job that was advertised as being £7 an hour. It was a company in the U.K. And at the end of the interview, he needled me down to £6 an hour. So that’s how bad it was. But you know, it was better than £0 an hour. So I took the job. And I just sort of crawled my way back out of the situation. What’s interesting about all of this is that it’s now possible. I was able to (as an American living in the Netherlands and not speaking the language) find a remote job and work my way into owning a business with these online platforms and meeting awesome and interesting people like Nick all over the world.

So this week’s interview is filled with great tips about freelancing, productivity, health, taking care of yourself, being social, setting up a great home office, and doing what you really care about. And the thing that I like about Nick so much is he really focuses on his clients and he focuses on building the relationship with his clients. He totally doesn’t have to, but he goes the extra mile. And even this Christmas, he sent me a mug, a Podcast Monster mug, to say thanks for being a client of his. I mean really, that is going the extra mile. And he has my devotion and enthusiastic referral.

Okay, but before I get all gushy, let’s get on to the interview. Here’s Nick Jaworski.

Nick:                         I am very happy to be here. I think that nobody, including you (well, uh, maybe you) has heard as much of this show as I have.

Lisette:                    [laughs] That’s true.

Nick:                         And that includes the whole episode. But then also going back, there’s a lot of re-listening to segments. So I am ready to go.

Lisette:                    So, Nick, let’s start with, as you know, the first question. What does your virtual office look like? What do you need to get your work done?

Nick:                         What do I need to get my work done is just a laptop, of course, and a decent set of headphones. I’m wearing currently a pair of reference headphones which take the place of like larger speakers because I do sound editing. So you think about a studio. You think about these big speakers. But you can buy open-eared headphones which sort of mimic that idea. But the problem is they’re very loud to everybody else. So going into a café and playing them is sort of obnoxious to people.

Where I currently am is my home office and studio. I’ve got my old sound panels up. And I’ve got my standing desk and my ultra wide monitor and then some mikes and [inaudible – 05:03]. And about 80 percent of my work happens standing here [inaudible] Christmas tree [inaudible]. So most of it happens here. And a lot of that is just because [inaudible – 05:15]. But their ways [inaudible – 05:16] around that sometimes.

And the other part is really an ergonomic thing. I get so uncomfortable if I go out anywhere else. I love to go sit at a coffee shop all day, but my body hurts too much doing it that way.

Lisette:                    Right, I can understand. So where do you spend the other 20 percent of your time?

Nick:                         I go to a coffee shop. I mean I will do it, but I have to really sort of focus on that time. Like I may go out for 20 percent. That’s about a day a week, and about somewhere. I’ll walk to a coffee shop. So I’m like moving.

Lisette:                    So I want to ask about your journey because you used to be a music teacher. And you have transitioned into a business owner. In fact, I met you on Upwork. So I’m assuming that Upwork has something to do with your journey. That’s where I found you. And I got so lucky. I mean there were so many other… There were so many people who responded to my ad. And really, I was looking… It’s interesting because this is always a big debate on Upwork, which is people think, “Oh, but there’s always somebody cheaper out there.” But I wasn’t looking for cheap. I wanted somebody who could do the job. And you were so clearly qualified, and the prices were reasonable. [inaudible – 06:23] yeah, why don’t we do this?

Anyway, we can talk about that. But I’d like to talk about your journey through that.

Nick:                         Yeah. My journey was as a… I have two degrees in teaching music. My Masters is in Music Education. And I was teaching on the South Side, Chicago. And really, it was just… I mean miserable is a fair term for it. And it wasn’t like… I mean I love my kids, and I do love teaching music. But there was something about the hours that really compounded. And I had taught a lot of… I did a lot of like marching band and lessons, so I’ve been teaching for [inaudible – 06:57] time. But this was the first time I was doing a lot of driving and I was by myself all day. The band room was located on the second floor, behind the [inaudible – 07:05]. I just wouldn’t see adults all day. So by the end of that year, even I had a great… it was kind of a dream job for me, actually. I ended up [inaudible – 07:14] just without a plan, came back to St. Louis and sat around for a bit, went through all my savings. [Laughs] And one day, it was like, “Well, I like podcast,” and so went on to what was then Elance (which is now Upwork) and started editing shows for very, very cheap and figured it out from there. I really had no plan. I wish I could say I had a plan but no.

Lisette:                    Were you scared?

Nick:                         Oh, yeah. But I’m also very good at avoiding my own feelings [laughs].

Lisette:                    You became compartmentalized.

Nick:                         Yeah. So I was like… I just wasn’t thinking about it. And I had some great support. I lived with my friends. And this might be too dark or too deep or whatever. But if they had been harassing me about what the plan was, I don’t think I would’ve ended up here. It had to happen sort of organically because I didn’t know. So I really locked out in the long run. But every day, they’d been like, “Did you apply for a job? Did you do this?” I would’ve ended up in another job that I would’ve hated. There’s no other way around it. I would’ve been somewhere else, maybe on a teaching job, which I may have liked, but this is a better fit for me.

Lisette:                    Yes. Sometimes we just know that we’ve got to get out before we know what the next thing is going to be. [inaudible – 08:26] you’ve got to get out. Yeah, I totally can relate to that feeling, indeed.

So when you decided you liked the podcast and you want… So you got on Upwork. Why Upwork? And did you try other platforms?

Nick:                         Well, again, it was Elance back then. But honestly, I just googled around. I had no concept of what freelancing was like. I just knew I wanted to edit people’s shows. And there’s this weird thing. When you start… And I don’t know what your experiences are as a freelancer. I don’t know how that works. But there’s a period of time where you’re like, “How the skill set…?” And I used to teach music technology to undergraduate students at the collegiate level. So I had this skill set but also no experience on those platforms. And there’s this weird game where you know you could do a job, but you’re constantly being undercut by people from… who don’t need as much money as you or they’re living in other countries with different costs of living and other stuff like that. So there’s this period of time where you’re really [inaudible – 09:25] low [inaudible] get that score up so that people like [inaudible – 09:30].

Lisette:                    Right, because the reviews do matter on those platforms. If you have prior work experience and good reviews and you’re going in there, you definitely have an advantage over people who are brand-new on the system. My experience was I had to also go very, very inexpensive in the beginning to get my foot in the door just to get some marks on my profile. And then from there, people would trust me more.

Nick:                         I remember I was editing this two-hour, tabletop gaming show with three to four people, individual tracks. It would take me like seven hours for $20 [laughs].

Lisette:                    Right.

Nick:                         And I was like… I have a Master’s degree. I think it’s part of the process. I’m not saying it’s great, but…

Lisette:                    I had the same experience, actually. My first job on Elance, the guy had advertised it for £7 an hour but then said that then I was being interviewed along with somebody else. And in the interview, he says, “Well, this other guy is going to do it for £6 an hour. And would you be willing…?” And I was like, “You’re needling me down from £7 to £6 an hour. Are you kidding me?” I had no choice. I needed the money. I was like, “Well, £6 an hour is better than £0 an hour, so I’ll take it.”

Nick:                         Yeah, it’s [half – 10:43]. And that process of… I’m a teacher. I come from a line of teachers as well. And that process of understanding value for yourself as a freelancer is very hard because you think you want to find that price that is good for clients but also makes you feel valued so that you don’t hate every moment. I remember. I would do edits and be like, “I hate this. I hate doing this.” And then I realized that’s not healthy. So accept a price and spend all that time on a thing that you can’t get everything to… like you’re just sort of angry about it all the time. Again, it can only happen once you’ve done a bunch of jobs that give you a score on Upwork or whatever. And I haven’t had to use Upwork in years now.

Lisette:                    So how did it progress? How did you build your business? Because you have a very successful podcast. I mean amongst podcast… A lot of podcasts that you edit, you have your own, very successful podcast [inaudible – 11:32] smoke. So how did that all come about?

Nick:                         That’s actually kind of a funny story. But I locked out. I got one client, Shelaine Johnson. I love Shelaine still. We don’t work together but [inaudible – 11:44] whatever. We use different agendas for ourselves and our businesses. But you needed help editing and podcast. I was still in that low-priced era of edits, like low, low, low-priced era of edits. And she wanted… Have you ever heard serial, the podcast serial?

Lisette:                    Oh, yeah, of course.

Nick:                         I did this call with a call that we did. And we started where [inaudible – 12:05]. But she still was a very popular podcast, still, the Shelaine show. But I thought it sounded like she hired me. And then I was like, “Shelaine, your show sounds like crap. Let me fix this.” So then we did a meeting where we talked to [inaudible – 12:16] stuff. And then I was telling her about what was popular in podcasting. And I was like, “Oh, the serial [inaudible – 12:21] right now.” And then she wanted to make her own serial episodes. And so it was that process of here are skills I have that no one could afford. I mean it takes so much time. We’re talking like this music and these narrative cuts and there’s lighting. But it was an opportunity to be like, “I will do this for you.” We did two episodes of that. And then I got [inaudible – 12:44] through her huge network. So that was sort of a start of… Like I did a lot of health podcasts and lifestyle podcasts. I still kind of do. And then [inaudible – 12:53] smoke came because Brett heard that show at the same time that I responded to an ad on Elance. So he emailed me and I messaged him within 12 hours of each other, not knowing that we were the same people [crosstalk – 13:06] each other. And again, where the smoke is, it does well. I mean I don’t make… We make some money, but we don’t spend any money on ourselves. So it’s still a show that I do creatively because I like the challenge of doing a show, and we try this [inaudible – 13:19] process [inaudible] in the world. It’s nice to be able to do something for myself that is creative in the space, not that I don’t like [inaudible – 13:26] people’s shows, but you’re the boss.

Lisette:                    Sure. Your own show is the best.

Nick:                         [inaudible – 13:30] these shows. It’s nice to be able to be like, “No, I want to do this now [laughs].”

Lisette:                    Totally.

Nick:                         I don’t know. That was kind of a weird way around that story. But really, it came from being there at the right time for the right client and then getting lucky.

Lisette:                    I hear this story over and over. On Tim Ferriss’s podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire, all of these big podcasts, people say, “One of the main things in terms of making it as a freelancer is showing up because so many people don’t show up and so many people aren’t willing to take the crappy jobs that those of us who are willing to just hustle for it eventually do get lucky.” And if you’re really confident, I believe you will eventually get paid for your competence because people value competence. So when you’re good at what you do, I don’t know. Maybe it’s idealistic, but I believe that.

Nick:                         I think that’s very right. And I think if I learned anything, I think that one of the things – and you can tell me if I’m wrong; I think it comes from my teaching background – is I really do prefer to enjoy my work with people. So I really try hard to develop relationships with my clients because I like it. It’s not a business move, even though I think in the long run, that is what happens. I really like my clients. I hope that they feel like I have their backs. And I think that in the long run, that has helped me a lot too because over a couple of years, people go like, “Oh, you should work with Nick. He’s going to make sure your show happens.”

Lisette:                    Totally, totally.

Nick:                         [inaudible – 14:55] for something that I think comes from being a teacher but has worked out as like a “business person”.

Lisette:                    [laughs].

Nick:                         [inaudible – 15:05] worked out. That commitment to relationship, I think, is something that probably a lot of freelancers don’t do, I would imagine.

Lisette:                    Oh, absolutely. I mean I’ll say that you’ve definitely gone above and beyond in terms of things that I’ve asked you to do for the podcast. People don’t know. But the one-minute tip that you’ll hear on the beginning of this podcast and also that you hear on other interviews I do, you’ll hear this cool, funky, jazz music behind the one-minute tip. I did not ask Nick to do that. That was inserted. That was Nick showing his creative… Of course, and you don’t have to do that. It’s extra work, extra time, extra everything for you.

But those are the kinds of things where when somebody says, “Hey, do you know somebody who could do my podcast?” I’m like, “Heck yeah, I know somebody.” Refer with confidence and also enthusiasm. And I think it makes me more excited to do the podcast because it opens up the possibilities and makes me see what it could become or what else I could do if I wanted to put more time in it. So it makes it better for me just as a more fun thing.

So we’ll pull it back in because I want to talk about as a freelancer, you seem like an extrovert to me. At least you have a very gregarious personality when we speak. So I’m wondering has it been tough for you to switch from being in an environment where you’re around a lot of people, albeit children or I’m sure there are adults. But you’re around a lot of people too, working from home on your own. I mean you say you go out to coffee shops. But is it hard to be alone?

Nick:                         I am what they would call [inaudible – 16:29] really call it an ambivert [inaudible] could be wrong. So you give me a couple of hours. [inaudible – 16:37] on my game with people. But then I have to like go away from you for like a week [laughs] [inaudible – 16:43] by myself.

Lisette:                    Yeah.

Nick:                         The schedule of being a freelancer, no, it doesn’t really bother me. I mean I have looked in the co-working spaces. And if I could find a reasonable price for a place that was a bit more social, I would do it. The client doesn’t bother me at all. I usually leave the TV on for company.

Lisette:                    Yeah.

Nick:                         And it is a fun fact [inaudible – 17:01] show. There needs to be a place that I can just live-stream a coffee shop and then Chromecast it to my TV because that’s all I need. But I have looked hard and cannot find that. I just want to hang out and be amongst the people. But I’ll need to talk to them. I don’t need to have any relationships with them. But mostly, I am okay being by myself. I don’t know if that sounds lame or not. It doesn’t bother me.

Lisette:                    Yeah, I know. I have the exact, same reaction. I know that people really struggle with it. And I cannot relate. I can’t even imagine what that feels like because I’m totally fine being on my own – also fine being up on stage but then I’m the same. I have to go recover for a while.

Nick:                         For me… And I’m [inaudible – 17:41] for you. Is there a point where… There was a point where I go, “I have to go out.” There’s a limit to this where I go. Now I need to [inaudible – 17:50] the world.

Lisette:                    For sure, absolutely. I think we all have different levels of what we need in terms of social interaction, but we all need some level of social interaction. So you cannot hermit out completely. I don’t think it’s a healthy human habit to be really hermited for long periods of time. It’s just sort of ingrained in us as humans to have contact.

Nick:                         What’s interesting is I would say (and I don’t know about you and other people in this space who are working from home or wherever) that it is interesting how quickly it can catch up to you. One of the challenges is from working from home or from wherever is that you’re kind of always working. And I hear this on your show a lot. And it resonates to me because I know it’s true. If I’m 10 feet from my desk at all times, it’s very hard to stop working (which can be a grind), or even feel like you’re like… Even at home, I feel like I’m always just taking a break from work as opposed to I am home from work. So it’s interesting how quickly… I have had days where I have been like, “Oh, I haven’t seen anybody in two days,” because it got away from you, not because I wanted that. And so [inaudible – 18:55] somehow getting out the door is that harder. Then the [inaudible – 18:59] spirals where I’m like, “Oh, Nick, you should go. You should go outside.” And there’s like this thing. And I don’t know if everyone does that. I don’t know what it is, but that’s how I feel. So I’m really trying to force myself to be out more because it’s so easy just to be here.

Lisette:                    Oh, yeah. And I hear this (as I’m sure you’ve heard on the podcast too) all the time. People really have to have… because the only thing keeping us from our work is the boundaries we set for ourselves. And when we love our work, it’s very, very difficult to hold to those boundaries. So I hear people struggling…

Nick:                         [inaudible – 19:31] boundary behind [inaudible] stay up when you’re not on calls.

Lisette:                    No. No, no, no, no. This signifies I am work and I am at work with other people because when I… People that are listening, I have a room divider behind me to separate because right behind me is a bed. So it’s very unprofessional. But it also does signify like, “Okay, I’m up and working with other people on video [inaudible – 19:53].” And I like it when it’s down. It makes me feel more relaxed because then I’m just hanging at home. I’m just hanging out [inaudible – 19:59].

Nick:                         When you are working, it’s up.

Lisette:                    Right.

Nick:                         Like all is.

Lisette:                    When I’m working and I have video calls. So what I do for myself is I schedule all of my meetings on two days a week. And then I leave the other two to three days completely free so that I can have that free… I just need that time. I can’t be boxed in every day. It just makes me a little bit crazy. So on the days when I don’t have my meetings, I don’t put the screen divider up because then I’m just at home alone in my room, hanging and just doing the work that I need to do by myself.

Nick:                         Yeah. You’ve got this more figured out. I feel like I’m constantly trying to figure out what I need.

Lisette:                    I think it’s an ongoing process. Our boundaries change over time. And what we need change is on a week-to-week basis. So it’s hard to have one, hard, steady rule that works all the time. I think things need to change. Like your diet. Diet needs to change up all the time too. If you just do all the same things, nothing happens, so… [laughs]. Well, let’s talk about that. As a home worker, you say you need to leave the house. And you seem like you’re in relatively good shape. What are your health…? How do you keep healthy as a remote…? This is an upcoming podcast, by the way, so I’m kind of fishing for answers here. I want to talk about health and remote working because I think it’s important.

Nick:                         I don’t know if this is true for everybody because from the teacher path to this path is different because as a teacher particularly, your entire day is spent on your feet and talking to people and engaging with people [inaudible – 21:24]. And then, suddenly, I went from that to sitting at a desk all day or sitting at my computer all day. And I had [inaudible – 21:33] just like attaching himself to every part of my body. [inaudible – 21:37] possible [inaudible] larger [laughs]. Everything sort of falling apart. So I had to really… Last summer it was like… There came a point where I couldn’t fit any of my clothes. Or the clothes I had bought to replace the clothes, I couldn’t fit. So I was on my like third cycle of like, “I need to close.” And then I had to really commit to, “No, Nick, you need to move your body every day outside.” So that has been very helpful for a couple of reasons. May have lost weight, fine. But also, just getting out every day. So I try to walk four or five miles a day. And then I also tried to keep my movement like in my arms going more because I had a lot of back issues, and so standing here on my desk is tiresome. So really focusing on just movement every day has been a huge benefit, and it just keeps me focused on work too. So even though I’m losing in time to go walk [inaudible – 22:29], I feel like I gain it back because I’m just more efficient here at the desk.

Lisette:                    Yeah.

Nick:                         So win, win.

Lisette:                    Yeah, indeed. It’s hard to get out. But once you’re out, it’s hard to imagine having been in all day. That’s the struggle of it. So what about productivity tips for you? I mean getting out clearly increases productivity. But what’s your routine? What do you [inaudible – 22:50]?

Nick:                         Because I’m of a firm belief (and I ask people this all the time) that people who work 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever (8:30 to 5:30 and they go to an office), I always ask them, “Could you do the same amount of work in 60 percent of the time?” And unless you’re a nurse or teacher or a service-oriented job… if you’re just like somebody who’s doing [inaudible – 23:14] computer or whatever, always, everybody says yes. Of course, I could do my job in 60 percent less time. I bring this up because I could totally do my job in (I’m going to say) 40 percent of the amount of time that I spent doing the job.

Lisette:                    Oh, really?

Nick:                         I waste so much time, Lisette [laughs].

Lisette:                    Doing what?

Nick:                         I do not know. Honestly, some of it I acknowledge is probably fine. Some of it is just unfocused time. So [inaudible – 23:43] productivity because I don’t think I’m particularly productive. I think I waste a lot of time. So I don’t know how helpful I can be. And there are things I do. I can’t think of anything right now. But I think there’s an awareness of you mentioning that [inaudible – 23:57] days a week is the thing that I keep meaning to do but of course never do [laughs].

Lisette:                    I mean you’re getting the work done. Whether or not [inaudible – 24:05] 40 percent or 20 percent.

Nick:                         Yeah, but I’m talking about… Productivity means like efficiency. Maybe it’s not the right way to think of it. I mean that’s the thing. If you’re your own boss and you work from home, you’ve got these compounding problems that you’re accountable to yourself and the clients. And you’re also always next to your TV or your kitchen, which I’m [inaudible – 24:26] to, or whatever. So always, these things are sort of nagging at you. And you’re the one that gets to decide your own schedule. And so the thing for me… I know the things that would be useful, right? Like I think that keeping your day within a certain, allotted number of hours, and that is it. It’s probably the most important thing I could do. So if I were to wake up and say, “I have done it at 3 o’clock today, I’m waking up at 8:00, I’m starting at 8:00, I’m done at 3:00,” I will probably rock it. But for some reason, when [inaudible – 24:50], that is very, very hard to do for me. And I think that someone like you, I am assuming. And for other people, that’s like an easy thing to do, easier to relate to, to like set boundaries and then stay to them. But for me, it’s not a strength that I have. That’s why you told me on several occasions via email that I’m very organized and I like [inaudible – 25:09] hysterically over here.

Lisette:                    Uh [laughs]. You seem very organized.

Nick:                         And make sure the work gets done. None of this should impact my clients. But I wear a lot of the stress, and I create it for myself. I hope it does not transfer to clients. I don’t think it does. But I wear a lot of it for myself needlessly.

Lisette:                    I think a lot of freelancers that will be listening can relate to this. At least I’m assuming so. So if people are listening and calling, I’d love to know. To me, this seems like a normal situation, especially going to business owner. Would you be able to go back? Could you transition back to teaching or into that environment where you’re not location-independent?

Nick:                         I don’t know. That’s hard. I don’t know how anyone does it [laughs]. At this point, I would love to be… So I’ve looked at co-working spaces, and I would like to be around people more. But when I think about jobs, I go, “But then I have to be there a certain time.” Right now, I can just go to lunch if I want. I mean I wouldn’t [inaudible – 26:09] morning. But I can schedule my day how I want and do the things I want. I can shuffle things around like I want. I can have a bad week. I can get sick, which I’m doing now, and then just shuffle that to a weekend, and it’s unnoticed. I’ve got all the flexibility, and that’s great. So I could, for the right amount [laughs]. But I know that [inaudible – 26:29] back, this just came up in a recent episode. You went back to the office for a bit (partially, it sounds like) because the pay was good.

Lisette:                    Yeah, that there was more money I had ever made in my life. And I really needed a job at that time because I wasn’t making ends meet with the remote working thing, so I had to. Now I’m making ends meet with what I do. But yeah, I took a day job because I had to. And I think most entrepreneurs or freelancers will find themselves in a position at one time or another where you’ve got to take the job you don’t like.

Nick:                         At this point, it’s interesting. For client work, what I am learning (I mean [inaudible – 27:02] I’m doing this) is how quickly [inaudible] like losing a couple of clients like hurts. That is a thing that 2017 has brought. People stop and start shows. It’s not something that… I think I initially took it very personally because I just didn’t know… You’re like, “Oh, but what?” And then it’s like everyone has reasons for the things, for running the business the way they run their business. As a freelancer/business owner/whatever, being able to internalize [inaudible – 27:26]… they have their own agenda and I have mine. And then being able to plan ahead for losing a client and then gaining clients is tricky. But if I worked for somebody else, that wouldn’t be my problem.

Lisette:                    Right.

Nick:                         So that’s a little bit of a ramble which I’m going to [inaudible – 27:43] up. So it’s good.

Lisette:                    [laughs] Yeah, you could edit to whatever you want. That’s funny.

Nick:                         So smart [inaudible – 27:49].

Lisette:                    [laughs]

Nick:                         [inaudible – 27:51] guy…

Lisette:                    [inaudible – 27:52] record all your answers [inaudible].

Nick:                         I’ll put music under all of them [inaudible – 27:58].

Lisette:                    [laughs] Sounds effects. It’s going to be one, fancy show, I believe. So we’re reaching the limit of the time. But I do want to talk about how you work with your clients. I mean I know how you work with me, but I’m assuming you’re working with all of your clients remotely. They’re finding you remotely or… So for the most part, are you always using email? Are there certain things you use? How do you keep that relationship fresh?

Nick:                         People underestimate, I think, the power of a good email. I like to receive emails from people that are fun. I usually use email. Skype is my personal thing. I know Zoom is big right now. We’re talking on Zoom. Skype for me is great because it integrates a level of call quality and recording that I can use for other things. But I try to… Again, because an investment in client relationships, which is not… I don’t want to make it sound like I am intentionally… like Lisette, oh, it’s time to work, talk to my client, because that’s what you should do. But organically, I like… I get sad when clients develop a show and then I never talk to them again. There’s this pre-production period where you’re like, “Oh, we’re making a show. We talk on Skype. We do these things.” And that happens for a few hours over a couple of weeks. And then they make a show and then I never talk to them anymore. I get a little sad. So I spend a lot of time just because I’m at my desk all day and I see things or I read things, just like sending out emails to clients just because I like to touch base with them to make sure that they’re okay. And I thought this was funny or I saw this thing, and I heard this thing [inaudible – 29:26]. I think honestly, I put as much stock into client shows as I think they do sometimes, which honestly has caused some problems [inaudible – 29:35] for some clients that I have put up a fuss over because of content, which is done because it’s not my show. But also, that’s [inaudible – 29:45] that I get.

So [laughs] that’s like the double-edged sword of getting so invested with the relationship and with the product.

Lisette:                    Sure. So what I like about… What you’re saying is, one, you keep it really human between people. You pay attention to what they’re doing and your interactions with them. And it shows you care. I mean maybe they’re annoyed. They could be frustrated. But I think underneath that all, they could at least… I mean you could not care and let things go through, but I think at least you’re putting up a fight. I mean in the end, they have final say. It’s their show, I’m assuming.

Nick:                         They do. It’s interesting because there are clients I’ve refused to take because of content and things that they want to do. So there is a part of me that led me to be a teacher, but also, it’s still in the space. I have to feel good about the work that I do. And there is a perfectionist streak, I didn’t realize I had, until a couple of years ago. I don’t know how. I didn’t notice that. And I don’t want someone to look at… they’re paying me money to do this thing, and I don’t want someone to go, “Why am I spending money on this?” That would destroy me [laughs].

Lisette:                    Yeah, because they’re basically saying you’re not worth what they’re paying.

Nick:                         Yeah. At the end of the day, if somebody may decide that… We didn’t even talk about podcasting, why and who. But at the end of the day, if somebody decides to stop podcasting or whatever, I would want it to be because they just realized it wasn’t what they needed to do for themselves and not because of something that we had done over here.

Lisette:                    Right.

Nick:                         So that’s always my goal. At the end of the day, they can listen to the show and be like, “This is a good show,” and then feel good about it. And I can feel good about it.

Lisette:                    I think you hit on the crux. I think of what makes freelancers and entrepreneurs successful. I think one of the cruxes of it is keeping things human, keeping the relationship strong, showing caring for what we do, and feeling good about the work that we do. It has purpose. It has meaning. I mean its our own purpose and meaning. Nobody else really cares about the stuff that I do. But at the end of the day, I can feel proud.

Favorite tools, you said Skype. Is there anything else? Skype and email seem to be the predominant things that you use, and Libsyn for hosting podcasts.

Nick:                         Yeah. The tool that I find very useful (and I totally did not edit this part in) is a Web app called It has allowed me to schedule without hassle because I hate going back-and-forth. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. This is because I feel like there’s a weird value thing where like I should wake up early or I should do this. But instead, every week, I just set a morning block and an afternoon block, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then people just choose their own times.

Lisette:                    Right. And it’s just that block. Nothing ever gets scheduled on Mondays and Fridays. So then you’re clear. Yeah, yeah, yeah, brilliant.

Nick:                         Important time where I have to [inaudible – 32:32] Mondays a lot where there’s no production time. I always wish it were Friday, never is [laughs]. But it’s always Monday. Show goes out on Tuesday. So then I’m able to flip that stuff around without [inaudible – 32:43] myself.

Lisette:                    Brilliant. Well, you’ve convinced me. That’s for sure. Now I really need to do that. I need to get a personal assistant myself. But on the revenue side, I am like right on the edge. And it makes me nervous to spend more money until I know for sure.

Nick:                         That’s the thing. There’s a point where you hit where probably spending money would encourage growth. But then you’ve got to… For example, I should probably hire another editor, for real. But the problem is if I were to hire another editor, I’ve got to make more money to pay them, which means to get to that point, I’m going to be burdening more work than I could [inaudible – 33:21] sort of like ethically, kind of, where I feel like I can’t give the shows the attention they need.

Lisette:                    Right. It’s almost like you have to take the risk. You have to take the leap and do it in order to make more money because you’re already… As soon as you’re… You’re already maxed out, so you can’t max max for months at a time, actually. You have to kind of invest and take the risk. And that is the scary part of being an entrepreneur.

Nick:                         Yeah. The term entrepreneur feels crazy to me because I just feel like I sit here [inaudible – 33:48] podcast. But I do think that that is… I think you’re right. It’s a weird moment to balance when do you grow and what risk can you take. And it’s terrifying and it’s very different for me sitting at a desk in the basement editing a two-hour long, table-top gaming podcast for $20.

Lisette:                    [laughs]

Nick:                         But the journey… the story circles as we need to start… we need to end or restart it. So that’s my attempt to bring that back narratively. So the same person who’s editing that show, that tabletop gaming show, [inaudible – 34:18] another whole set of questions [inaudible] business which I never thought I would need to actually answer.

Lisette:                    Right. And yet here you are, running a successful business.

Nick:                         Well, I’m running a business [laughs].

Lisette:                    You’re making a living. I mean that’s why… You know, I wake up every day and I think I’m actually making a living on this right now, and I feel really proud of that.

Nick:                         Yeah. You should be. I should be. But when you’re in it, it’s hard. And this is a

  • show for you. It’s hard to emotionally accept the things that you have done sometimes. You have constantly been training yourself to like do more, do more, do more, and to get to this place where you feel like eventually, you’ll feel comfortable with the thing you’ve built. But because the mechanism that has gotten you to this point requires you to never rest, it’s really hard to take the time to realize that you actually have built a thing that a lot of people [inaudible – 35:07] about. I have friends who tell me that a lot like, “Nick, look what you’ve done.” And it doesn’t feel that way [laughs].

    Lisette:                    Right. That’s the sort of force field that in some ways… And what I’ve done is I took one of Tim Ferriss’s tricks where I… And I can just show you really quick. I took… He does it with a jar, but I did it with… I had a coffee press… I didn’t use it anymore. But in this coffee press, every week, part of my process is I have to write down one thing that I’m proud of or grateful for that happened in the last week. And once a week, I put a little… So there have only been three weeks in January. Once a week, I put a little sticky note into the jar or into my coffee press. And at the end of the year, I’m going to open them all in, read all the cool things that I’m grateful for.

    Nick:                         The thing I did this week is I remembered to do this.

    Lisette:                    [laughs] Some weeks are better than others. In the next week, you get a million-dollar deal or something. You just never know what the weeks are going to bring.

    Nick:                         What happens was that we were going into the podcast…

    Lisette:                    For sure, for sure.

    Nick:                         We’re going to make us investigative…

    Lisette:                    We’ll have some fun.

    Nick:                         [laughs]

    Lisette:                    [chuckles] For sure. I’ll start my own serial podcast now. Easier said than done. Well, great, super fun to hang out. Finally get a chance to actually hang out and talk.

    Nick:                         I enjoyed the time to get to chat. Do I get…? I’m going to plug stuff. Can I plug my stuff?

    Lisette:                    Yeah, of course. I mean I was going to apply… I’ll tell you at the end of every podcast. But yes, Nick, where can people go to find you? And what’s the best way to contact you?

    Nick:                You can go hear things and go see what’s up. If you’re interested in making a podcast, of course. I’m a really bad salesman for myself. So if you want a podcast (I’m not saying you need one, but if you do), you can talk to me.

    Lisette:                    For sure.

    Nick:                         We make your podcast sound awesome is my current tag.

    Lisette:                    It’s true. And it takes the hassle out of it because (for people who are listening) all I do is record the intros and the outros. I send everything to Nick. You put it all together. And on Monday mornings, I just get up and start listening. It’s as easy as that. This is because I didn’t want to be an actual… there are people that go into podcasting because they love the process of creating and editing and all of that. I didn’t want to do that.

    Nick:                         The goal is to… with all my clients. They don’t always do it, but the goal is so that they never worry about the final products. That is the goal because [inaudible – 37:24] people like listen to edits. And I was like, “That’s why you’re wasting your time. I’m going to do it. It will be better than you would do it [laughs].”

    Lisette:                    For sure, yeah.

    Nick:                         But [inaudible – 37:33]. I mean I edit out the things. If I have questions, I will ask you. Otherwise, once I get it, you’ll never think about it again. That’s the goal.

    Lisette:                    Yeah. And that’s what I like about it. Let’s be focused on what I’m interested in, and let the pros do what they’re good at.

    Nick:                         That’s right. [inaudible – 37:48]. We’re the pros.

    Lisette:                    We’re the pros, right.

    Nick:                         [inaudible – 37:51].

    Lisette:                    Thanks for listening, everyone. I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, I hope you hire Nick. You can hire him to make you a star at If you want to hear more stories about remote teams doing great things, then please visit And if you want to show your love, if you love this podcast, then please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. I know it’s not a fun thing to do, but it totally helps us out and puts a smile on both my and Nick’s face. And it helps others to discover the podcast too.

    And since I’ve gushed all over Nick the entirety of this podcast, I’m going to go straight to thanking Alfred Boland, the dazzling graphic designer for Collaboration Superpowers. I totally could not look this cool without him. And if you want to hire him to make you look cool, go to All right, everybody, until next time, let’s put some care into our relationships with our remote colleagues and be powerful.



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