Encore Episode with Freelance Writer and Author Susan Lahey #122


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Susan is Marc’s co-author for the Repurpose Your Career books. Susan Lahey is a freelance writer who is driven to taking on new challenges, whether they’re writing about the nature of meaning, the scary adventure of changing your career, or truly death-defying acts like jumping out of airplanes and parenting. Marc was her first real Austin client.

Listen in for an update, where Susan discusses her upcoming move to Portugal.

Key Takeaways:

[1:09] Marc welcomes you to Episode 122 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.

[1:40] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues.[1:58] Regular listeners probably have noticed Marc has stopped talking about the next edition of the Repurpose Your Career book. Between last week’s episode about the Miller’s trip back to Austin and starting the resident visa process and this week’s episode, it is evident that the Millers have gotten busy but are getting back on track.

[2:23] Marc’s current plan is to release the third edition of the book in September of this year (2019). He will continue to release preview chapters starting in a couple of weeks.

[2:35] Next week, Marc will read one of the pre-release chapters of the next edition. Stay tuned!

[2:42] This week, Marc will share an Encore Episode of Episode 54, where he interviewed Susan Lahey, who is the co-author on the Repurpose Your Career books. Marc shares Susan’s bio.

[3:33] Marc is excited to present this episode. Susan is a freelance writer and a lot of the listeners want to become freelance writers.[3:55] Susan is always tempted to stay home with her adult children and watch Netflix, paint, and hide out from everyone. So she makes herself go do stuff, instead. She just got a tattoo that says “Life is Short” to remind herself to push past whatever fears and barriers she has.

[5:12] Susan was a newspaper reporter for the beginning of her career, at the Kansas City Star, from age 17 through college and as her first job out of school. After several years she got a job as an associate editor of a business lifestyle magazine in KC. She left there to raise a family, freelancing from home.

[5:57] At age 42, Susan was divorced. She took the children and moved to an off-the-grid house in New Mexico, taking what work she could get. The Taos News wanted her as a freelancer but didn’t move on it.

[6:58] She started working as a community liaison for an EPA technical assistance group for a Superfund project. That was tough since she did not speak Spanish and was new to the community. She also did substitute teaching. She was broke.

[7:29] Susan and her children volunteered at a food pantry for the food. Finally, she got on as a freelancer with the Taos News, for maybe $100 an article.

[8:19] Taos was challenging in being far behind the times. Susan was out of touch with the times as a freelancer. She wanted to give her children a better opportunity.

[9:41] After a trip to Europe they were motivated to change their lives. Austin had “a similar vibe” to Taos, a University, and a lot of intellectual capital. Susan rented an apartment and drove the family to Austin to start over. She sold the house in Taos for “five dollars.”

[11:02] At first in Austin, she wrote eHow articles but that was unsatisfying for her. Susan met Marc and attended networking events. She met Jenny Magic. Susan learned how to market herself online with blogs and web content and how to network. Susan used EMDR psychotherapy to help her overcome the fear and stress of networking.

[15:38] Creatives are typically introverted so selling themselves as “a creative” is really hard for them. Confidence is essential for approaching clients.

[17:31] Marc was Susan’s first major client. Then she got some blogs. Through a contact recommended by Marc, she started writing articles for a tech news startup, Silicon Hills News, and finally got paid reasonably. Susan has covered SXSW for the last six years and she went to Thailand and Norway to see their technologies.

[19:41] Susan got an article in Wired and is hoping to write more for them. She had also written a profile for bootstrap guru Bijoy Goswami, who works people through the psychological risks and fears of starting your own business.

[20:14] Bijoy introduced Susan to his best friend, Danny Gutknecht, and Susan worked with him on one book and other writings. They will write more. Most of her work is with Danny. When Susan has 'bandwidth,' she looks for freelance work online (at GlassDoor and MediaBistro) and she networks.

[21:20] Susan mentors and one woman she mentored hooked her up with a gig of writing for Zendesk. She still does journalism.

[21:45] Susan was an old-school journalism person. Her idea of journalism came from All the President’s Men. Her sister was a journalist. She never imagined journalism wouldn’t be there for her. Most of her friends who were journalists are out of jobs. Journalism is dying. Journalism can’t find a business model that works today.

[22:41] Susan never imagined she would be a tech writer or a business writer, and she is so glad she pursued both of those because that’s the direction the world is going. She never thought she would get to travel the world for tech writing.

[23:31] When Susan was asked to find her ‘why’ she had never thought about it. She realized that she loved writing about people who were doing scary, brave things. She uses Marc as an example. When he started his business, it was scary new for him, but also, scary new for the job pivoters he is helping. Her children encouraged her career.

[24:46] For the most part, Susan’s career pivot has turned out amazingly. She’s definitely not rich, but she’s supporting herself, doing what she loves. It fuels her as well as paying her. Ninety-nine percent of what Susan writes fits that category.

[25:11] Marc is proud of Susan. In spite of her hard times, she has survived. Her three great children have gone to college on full scholarships, and are doing well. Her oldest is teaching English in Tangier, as Susan continues to enjoy her career.

[25:54] People tell Susan she’s brave but they have no idea how hard she has to work to be brave. She’s sometimes afraid but she just makes herself do things. She recommends people examine why they act a certain way or go in a certain direction. They need to examine their self-limiting ideas. People need to steer their own ship. [27:24] Susan hopes to move to Morocco in the next year or so. Marc mentions his plans to move to Ajijic, Mexico. Marc thanks Susan for telling her story.

[29:04] Marc welcomes Susan back after the interview for an update on her career since this episode was recorded.

[29:16] Susan is now planning to move to Portugal. She just got back from there. She was planning to move to Morocco, originally, but her son cautioned her that as long as she doesn’t understand Arabic, she would not be safe in the street culture.

[29:45] She started looking at other options, such as Portugal, that have a visa for self-employed people who make a moderate living. The Netherlands has a similar visa. Susan settled on Portugal because the Netherlands is cold and expensive and Portugal is warm and cheap.

[30:10] Everyone Susan mentioned it to told her Portugal is so beautiful she wouldn’t believe it. She wanted to apply for the visa before visiting but she needed an actual lease on an apartment and a tax number before that was possible. Rather than hire someone to do that, she went herself, to set things up. That was a really good idea.

[30:57] When Susan’s youngest graduated from college she felt free to do what she has always wanted to do — move to Europe. Until she moves, she and her son have moved in with her daughter. They all get along really well.

[31:56] Susan’s youngest son will go to Portugal with her on a visit, to check it out. He might also move to Portugal. Susan’s daughter just went with her on her recent trip, and she loves it!

[32:28] Because Susan is single the prospect of being an empty-nester was terrifying to her. For the last twenty-something years her purpose had been to raise her three children. Now she has to find out what is important for her. She doesn't want to fill time taking spin classes or doing Soduko. She has always wanted to travel.

[33:27] She decided she needed to find a place where she could live and see the world more inexpensively. It’s hard and expensive to get around the world from the U.S.

[33:54] Susan has talked to several of her clients and told them her plans. Since she works remotely with most people, anyway, no one was concerned. Susan has never met some of her clients in person. While she might work with some Portuguese companies, it is simpler to just keep working with her U.S. clients.

[34:37] Susan has “sort of” figured out the technology she needs. She got an apartment, and a SIM card, so she now has a Portuguese phone number. She almost made an illegal and costly mistake with an apartment contract.

[35:15] She ended up hiring an advisor or consultant who took her to the local tax office for a tax number, to the bank for a bank account, and recommended a fantastic real estate agent, who hustles. The agent took Susan to several different apartments.

[36:38] Susan was considering two apartments. Both the owners backed out because Susan was not from Portugal and didn’t have a co-signer. Her agent found her another apartment but Susan is waiting for the contract. Every contract is drawn up by a lawyer; they don’t have boilerplate contracts for apartments. Each contract is bilingual.

[37:37] On Facebook, Susan was looking at a group for the area. Fabiola, Susan’s real estate agent, who will live in the same neighborhood, had put a post on the group talking about what internet provider she would use. Susan believes she will go with the same provider.

[37:53] If nothing else, Susan will go to a café for the internet.

[38:00] Marc is very proud of Susan for having made this leap. Marc comments that in Mexico, ‘mañana’ does not mean tomorrow; it means not today.

[38:14] Susan thanks Marc for all the help getting ready to go. She finds Portugal to be very chill and relaxed. Someone there told her she should move there. Susan felt she could really do this. She loves Portugal. It’s stunningly beautiful, the food is very good, and everything is affordable. People are insanely nice. It’s going to be great!

[39:18] Marc thanks Susan for giving us an update on her experiences. Susan appreciates how supportive Marc has been while she has been preparing to go. Marc says he talked Susan off the ledge before she went.

[39:42] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode. Susan has done a lot of research on her move. Marc was afraid she would move to Portugal without ever visiting there.

[39:55] In Episode 119, Marc interviewed Queen Michele, who moved to the North Shore of Lake Chapala without having ever visited. Queen did a ton of research and even walked around the town using Google Maps’ Street View feature.

[40:13] Marc “talked Susan off the ledge” before she went, and she’s doing quite well.

[40:20] The CareerPivot.com/Community website has become a valuable resource for more than 50 members in the Beta phase of this project. They have crossed the 50-member threshold! Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort in a few weeks.

[40:33] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.

[40:48] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.

[41:12] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.

[41:33] Please come back next week, when Marc will read a chapter from the next edition of Repurpose Your Career.

[41:39] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.

[41:43] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-122.

[41:56] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.

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