Back in January at our annual company retreat, the Editorial team decided that, in order to stay true to one of our core values, “Openness and Transparency”, we wanted to open the curtain on the company to give you a chance to see how things really work behind the scenes – hence the “Inside Firepole” series.
When we were trying to decide what to feature this time around, we bounced a few ideas back and forth… and then it hit us. Why not ask our audience exactly what they wanted to know?
So we did… and you did not disappoint!
When first envisioned this post, we imagined that it would be a single post answering all the questions that people asked, but we ended up getting so many great questions that we’re breaking the answers into multiple posts.
So what was the most pressing question that came up?
First up: who are the members of the team, really? Not just in our day-to-day at Mirasee, but what do we do when we’re not working for Mirasee?
The two questions we’re answering today are:
- What private projects are you working on when you’re not helping students with their businesses?
- Why do the student advisors work for Mirasee instead of dedicating their time to building their own businesses using the ABM method?
Our audience didn’t pull any punches, and so today we’re laying bare the stories and side hustles of some of the people behind the scenes here at Mirasee. From freelancers to small business owners to bloggers and everything in between, we run the spectrum of online business types.
Truth is, there are quite a few of us who are working on building our ABM (Audience Business Masterclass) and CBL (Course Builder’s Laboratory) businesses behind the scenes. You just don’t hear about it because as a full-time job, Mirasee is our main priority.
We’re just like any of you who are working a full time job and doing your best to build your side hustle. Luckily, we have a boss who understands, and who has created a company culture where it’s not only understood, but supported!
Christina Gunn – Christina Gunn Design
Our resident graphic designer has a few clients she has met over the years, and often has a side project that she is working on for one of them, on top of her work for Mirasee. These clients will start working with her on a logo design, and then come back to her for other design projects as the need arises.
Christina finds that she often ends up working for people that she knows, who have similar interests, and on projects that she also finds interesting.
She explains that having the additional work “helps me exercise my skills a bit, work on different sorts of projects and also work more one-on-one with the end user, which I don’t do as much with Mirasee.”
Right now, she’s working on a logo design for a client, and also on a booklet on raw food for dogs. The logo is for a non-profit in Cape Breton, where she is from, so the project has many cultural ties to her home – and the book on raw food ties in to one of her other passions, which is taking care of dogs.
She was doing volunteer work at the SPCA in Montreal and started reading everything that she could find about dog training. Now, as well as training her Shepherd-mix dog, she does in-home dog boarding for a local company.
Her design business was already running when she came to work for Mirasee, so she was never an ABM student. Introverted by nature, Christina realized that she hated chasing work and finding clients, and that it wasn’t one of her strengths.
Working at Mirasee allows her to be by herself and to fully immerse in the design process – she still gets to do the work she loves and have the flexibility that she wants. For Christina, it’s the best of both worlds.
Oleg Starko – Freelance Copywriting
Before he came to Mirasee, Oleg was doing freelance copywriting work, and has continued consulting and writing on the side in addition to the copywriting he does for Mirasee full time.
He doesn’t have a lot of free time on his plate these days – something that’s familiar to many of the Mirasee employees – so right now he is only running two small projects on the side.
One is a consulting and copywriting job for his favorite client, who runs a thriving consultancy for ecommerce businesses. The other is pro bono, helping out a friend who has created a course for freelancers, and is already halfway to growing the business to six figures this year.
If you ask Oleg how he finds the time, the simple answer is – he doesn’t. He says, “I make the time in the evenings or during weekends to work on those two projects. I really want both my friend and my client to succeed, and the 4-5 hours a week I can carve out for them go a long way.”
Rocky Kev – Freelance Web Design
One of the newest members of the Education team, Rocky also does freelance work as a web designer/video editor/multi-tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
He chooses his clients carefully, and his participation in projects is completely driven by passion – not one for taking on work “just because”, Rocky’s goal is that once the freelancing job is done, he can take off the freelance hat and turn the working relationship into friendship.
The challenge that Rocky has faced while creating his own successful business is similar to the challenges any of our students face – validating his niche and putting the work in to build his audience.
He explains that working with Mirasee has given him more opportunities to grow than he ever received at any previous job. “I get to work with the smartest people in the industry. I get to learn with the best. I get paid to teach and inspire!”
From his position as a student advisor, he is able to discover the challenges that our students face, walk them through the fire, and be their biggest cheerleader. Rocky enjoys his work so much that he says it would be very hard to give it up.
Small Business Side Hustle
Christy Campbell – Black Bear Ink
When Christy isn’t interfacing with our incredible students and hanging out online with the Mirasee team, she runs a boutique communications business.
While they support entrepreneurs in their copywriting and editing (including a hilariously wide variety of books), her favorite part of the business is coaching those visionaries to build a brand worth paying attention to, and then brainstorming ways to communicate their passion.
They have intentionally decided to keep the business small, and to take on most of their new clients by referral, which helps them attract businesses and organizations that are a good fit, and also gives them a chance to build long-lasting relationships with their clients.
She had been running the company for a couple of years when she joined the Education team at Mirasee. But, she absolutely loves the opportunity to be part of a larger team, operating within someone else’s structure, and learning from her co-workers on a daily basis.
Since she has never intended to grow a business to the size that Danny has, it is a lot of fun to show up to work every day and to be part of someone else’s big vision (including all the fabulous people involved in making that vision reality)!
Blogging, the Audience Business Way
Jerome Stone – Minding the Bedside
Jerome is busy on many fronts, the first and foremost being that he holds the title ‘dad’ to an incredibly energetic 10-year-old bike racing, myth-reading son, and ‘husband’ to a wonderful woman who has a thriving massage practice. If you hadn’t guessed already, family is very important to him.
Professionally, he is an RN (registered nurse) with over 33 years of experience. At the moment, the content that he creates for his online audience at mindingthebedside.com is mostly free. Jerome created the site as a platform for his book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, a book on meditation and compassion for nurses.
Related to the subject, Jerome also teaches groups of nurses and other non-healthcare professionals practices in mindfulness, meditation and situational awareness techniques, and also writes for a number of other sites on the side.
Working at Mirasee provides him with the opportunity to share what he’s learned in his time as an ABM and CBL student with others – namely, our students.
He finds that he’s able to mentor from a place of trust in the process, and from an experience-based rather than solely theoretical basis, because he has personally used the methods that we teach our students.
Jerome muses, “sure, I could devote my time solely to my own business, but I find that working with and supporting the students of Mirasee helps me to keep balance and allows me to continue to fulfill my passion for working with people and helping them to achieve their vision for life.”
Jessica Glendinning – Rebel Yogi
After freelancing for five years as a graphic designer, Jessica decided that she wasn’t doing the kind of work that she really wanted to do, or having the impact that she wanted to make in the world.
On top of that, having spent most of her career working in the education field, with non-profits, or in the startup scene, she had watched far too many of her colleagues burn the candle at both ends and eventually burn out.
The product of working with a business coach for the year that she lived in Portland (and a second run through ABM), Rebel Yogi was born from the desire to help social entrepreneurs create a sustainable work-life balance so that they could change their trajectory from heading toward burnout into long-term positive impact instead.
When she joined the Mirasee team, she did so with a sense of dual purpose: by becoming a student advisor, she would be able to work closely with an entire community of positive changemakers – the student body and audience at Mirasee – and also expand her own education (and her bank account) at the same time.
Her biggest challenge has been making the time to work on her business, but every day she is inspired by her students who are also working full time while building businesses of their own.
She has (slowly but surely) come to the realization that life is made up of priority choices, and her current work priority is the student body at Mirasee, where she can create the biggest positive impact.
When asked how she feels about the project taking the sideline, she replies, “right now, I’m content to put my focus into building a strong foundation for the business. Rebel Yogi is still alive and well, growing slowly and being nurtured one small step, one breath, and one side-hustle-hour at a time.”
Lesley Taylor – DrLesleyTaylor.com
The big picture behind Lesley’s private projects mainly focuses on helping people successfully take action on what they really want out of life.
After coaching and mentoring young people for more than 20 years, she realized that the biggest benefit she could give them was to help them find a way to make their unique contribution to the world while sustaining their message and increasing their influence.
Her tribe is made up of mostly home educators – a niche she knows well, as it was not only the focus of her doctorate and a subject she has spoken on, but also a large part of her life. She home educated her seven children, and also the 20 other kids who came to stay with she and her family for extended periods of time over the years.
Lesley found Mirasee when she was starting to build a business of her own, and when Danny made the call for hiring a student advisor she jumped at the chance.
“I knew Danny worked at the cutting edge of things and I love to be right there too. Having been in Silicon Valley way back when they were inventing the personal computer and around Apple as a Stanford Grad student looking at interface design, I tend to adventure where the ground-breaking action is.”
While she knew that working for someone else would necessarily curtail some of her private business adventures, she also knew that it would strengthen everything else she did, and also give her the opportunity to work with students across the globe, in all different industries.
Lizzie Merritt – Making Peace with the Imperfect Body
Also one of the newest members of the Education team, Lizzie had just run her first pilot course shortly before becoming a student advisor at Mirasee.
The pilot was for women who wanted to feel more comfortable in their own skin – and Lizzie admits to learning a lot from the experience. While she validated that people would pay for her expertise, she figured out that her messaging was too vague, and that she hadn’t defined the desired outcome clearly enough.
Lizzie writes posts on her blog periodically, and she is also considering writing a book about emotional eating – if she can find the time to actually write it!
When asked why she chose to work at Mirasee instead of continuing with building her business full time, she had a few reasons.
The first was that she likes helping people, and joining the team was a way for her to get some “instant gratification” in the people-helping realm. On top of that, her time feels purposeful – she feels like what she is doing really matters.
And you can’t beat the learning experience that comes from being immersed in this culture.“If I were trying to get to the top of a 100 story building, working at Mirasee is like taking the elevator instead of the stairs.”Click To Tweet
At the end of our conversation, she added a PS – “I really love the people I work with. They are freaking awesome.”
Maureen Lauder – Finger Lakes Wine Weekends
About three years ago, Maureen started her site as a guide to finding the best wines and wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, where she lives. Like many areas in the United States, the region is home to a slew of new wineries and breweries, with more popping up each year.
When she started the site, Maureen didn’t know much about wine – or Internet marketing, for that matter. She put in a solid six months of hard work into building the site, and then decided that pursuing a freelance copywriting business would be more financially sustainable.
Somewhere along the way, she signed up for ABM and admits getting distracted by several other business ideas, as well.
Now that she’s working at Mirasee, her hours are more consistent than they were when she was freelancing (and her income is much more consistent), so she’s taking the opportunity to reboot her wine website as an audience business.
She spends about an hour every morning working on the business before she jumps into her workday at Mirasee.
Following a combination of the ABM and CBL programs, she plans to gather ideas for a pilot through paid traffic, and is reworking her current First Impression Incentive to line up with the audience she hopes to attract through guest posting.
Having the full time job at Mirasee limits the amount of time that she can spend working on her side business, but one of the things that she loves the most is that she’s always learning new things and mastering new skills. Her hope is that she can eventually translate these skills and experiences to her own project.
At the very least, she says, “working at Mirasee has shown me that everyone makes mistakes in their marketing. When we do it at Mirasee, we pivot quickly and move on. I’m trying to do the same with my own audience business.”
Walking the Side Hustle Talk
It’s been fun, digging in and seeing what everyone here at Mirasee is working on, and getting the low-down on what it’s like to balance working at a fast-growing company like Mirasee, a side hustle, and the rest of life!
And you may have noticed that quite a few of the team members are passionate about working on projects that create positive change in the world – something that you’ll get an even better feel for in the inaugural “Behind the Scenes” episode of Business Reimagined.
We hope that this glimpse into the projects of the people behind the scenes at Mirasee has been enlightening, or at the very least, entertaining. What questions came up as you were reading? Are there takeaways that you want to share? Leave us a comment below and let us know!