Heather Thorkelson and Leah Kalamakis

For Life on Purpose Episode #21, my guests are Heather Thorkelson, a location-independent business strategist, certified life coach, occasional Antarctic expedition guide, and founder of the Republic of Freedom and Leah Kalamakis, a location-independent freelance web designer & developer and the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project.

Heather and Leah join me to discuss making the LEAP to self-employment and freelancing (which we’ve all three done); the joys and challenges of self-employment; and their helpful LEAP Guide, which includes “everything you need to know to start and grow your freelance business so you can quit your soul-sucking job and start living life on your own terms.”

About Heather Thorkelson:

Despite seven years working for a pharmaceutical company that she’d rather forget, Heather Thorkelson left the golden handcuffs behind with no plan and still managed to do all kinds of grown-up things like buy a house and get a dog and travel the world while building an awesome passion-fueled business where she gets paid to help people. (She’s still in disbelief about that.)

43 countries traversed, 7 continents visited, and 7 countries inhabited outside of her homeland (Canada), Heather is an entirely self-made woman who knows fear, uncertainty, adventure, and personal responsibility (plus a few languages) like the back of her hand. She can often be heard waxing poetic over a craft beer, “It ain’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.”

To learn more about Heather, visit: http://heatherthorkelson.com.

About Leah Kalamakis:

She spent years in a corporate job because that’s what she was supposed to do, but was only thinking, “This is as good as it gets?” Leah Kalamakis decided to learn a new skill (web design) after discovering you don’t need a 4-year/$40k degree to do so, side-hustled to build her business and surpassed her corporate income 3 months after her LEAP.

Along with running a rockin’ web design business, Leah now helps freelancers take their skills, escape their soul-sucking jobs and start living life on their terms. When she’s not hanging out online, you can find her eating popcorn, riding her scooter along the French coast, or taking le apèro on a terrace in Biarritz.

To learn more about Leah, visit: http://freelancetofreedomproject.com.

The Leap Guide

About The LEAP Guide:

You’ve long dreamed about what life is like on the other side of the fence. You’ve probably even spied on websites of freelancers and fallen in love with their business, wishing it was your reality. But leaving behind the ‘security’ of a regular paycheck is holding you back. Yet that tiny voice in your heart keeps asking what you can no longer ignore: Is THIS as good as it gets? You know better.

The LEAP Guide features 5 mega comprehensive modules with over 25 topics in a convenient online classroom — plus 24/7 instant access to all material and continued lifetime access to all future updates and additions; access to the private Facebook group, The LEAP League; super actionable, downloadable PDF worksheets, checklists & scripts; Motivational videos for when you hit a slump; and the ultimate list of freelance resources you need to start, run, and grow your freelance business.

To learn more about the LEAP Guide, visit: http://www.leapguidetofreelance.com.

Episode Summary:

In JUST the first 15 minutes of our in-depth conversation, Heather, Leah, and I discussed:

  • The opportunities, work-wise, that our parents or previous generations didn’t have.
  • Heather: “Even people who are 10 years older than me say, ‘We didn’t have that option in my time’ and quite frankly I didn’t have that option. I’m 36 and when I was at University, I had no idea there would be a time in the near future where I could choose a non-9-5 job. It’s THAT new!”
  • Heather: “Unless you grew up in the Internet age and since people have had online businesses, you have no clue and you still have this fear instilled in you of going outside the norm because that’s what everybody did. My Mom still says, ‘Maybe you should think about getting something steady. And I’m like, ‘This is as steady as it gets!'”
  • The challenges people face, on a variety of levels from financial to emotion, from the ups and downs of running your own business.
  • Leah: “I’m definitely too down the rabbit hole as well, even after just two years. I think what you realize eventually is that you don’t need that any more. It doesn’t need to be a crutch, going back to a traditional work space. There’s always something you can do differently. You can adjust your services, you can start a new side project like I did with the Freelance to Freedom Project. There’s just so many avenues and we all have so many skills that it doesn’t have to be just one thing.”
  • How much of the population actually like their jobs?
  • Leah: “I can only think about my surroundings and my family and friends and people I run into and honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s happy in their jobs. Or they like what they’re doing, but they don’t like their environment, their colleagues, their boss, so it completely ruins the activity of what they’re doing.”
  • Why is that the case in our society today? What is work? What should it look like?
  • Heather: “Why are people staying in these jobs? Leah and I are mostly exposed to people who are really dissatisfied and leaving their jobs, which are the people that we help with our LEAP Guide of course. I agree that most people aren’t really that happy, but what I see personally is everybody rationalizing the heck out of it. They’re not happy, but they’re telling a really great story… to themselves, to me. And it’s very transparent. It’s sad, but I think people need that narrative as the crutch because they’re either too afraid to consider the alternatives or they’re quite frankly not the type of person to go out and do their own thing anyways.”
  • Heather: “Because I do think there is a difference. I think there are people who do really well outside of the 9-5 system. They’ve got the skills and the resillance or the ability to learn that or become that. And then there are people who are really better at being employees. Why resign yourself to being a miserable employee? Why are they staying?”
  • Various ways to LEAP from quitting your job soon to moving to a half-time gig to crafting a long-term plan while keeping your full-time job.