Todd Wente – Write Your Way to Life Unchained
6 months ago · 1:02
This on-location episode is the story of Todd Wente, a former 9-5’er who is living proof that a person with a job and a career can transform into an opted-out master of their own domain, who lives anywhere they choose. Even if that choice is a tiny Swedish town.
Todd didn’t launch a venture funded company, sell a business, or get a big payout. He’s a regular joe, whose living the opt out life abroad. A lot of people dream of writing a book. Well, Todd did it, and he’s built a new career as a successful self-published writer.
Listen to his story now.
Todd Wente: 00:00:00 When you look at just business in general, and the toolkits, and the platforms for communication that are out there today, there’s really I see less and less reason for people to be getting in their cars every morning, and driving, and taking that commute to a physical office.
Nate Broughton: 00:00:14 This episode of the Opt Out Life podcast, from the Opt Out media network was recorded on location in Sweden. And is the Opt Out life story of Todd Wente.
Speaker 3: 00:00:26 Welcome to the Opt Out Life podcast. The no BS guide to living the modern good life. Hosted by subversive millionaires Dana Robinson and Nate Broughton. The Opt Out Life podcast explains exactly how creative hustlers are turning side gigs into real income, and taking back control of their time. From their studio in sunny San Diego, the Opt Out Life welcomes guests who are solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs, travelers, and creatives, who are proof that you can choose a lifestyle over money, but still make money too. If you feel like you’ve been chasing your tail, running the rat race, or are stuck in a system that’s rigged against you, we’d like to offer you an alternative here on the Opt Out Life podcast.
Nate Broughton: 00:01:08 There’s a saying that goes something like this, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you’ll excuse the rhyme, well that just isn’t true. This episode is the story of a guest who is living proof that a person with a job and a career can transform into and opted out master of their own domain, who lives anywhere they choose. Even if that choice is a tiny Swedish town, where the birds chirp from the Cyprus trees, and gulls hover above the coast of the Baltic Sea in a little place called Horvik. Horvik? I can’t even say it. Dana?
Dana Robinson: 00:01:40 Horvik. And our guest is Todd Wente. He’s long time friend of mine hailing from San Diego and Lexington, Kentucky before that. He’s sharp witted with penchant for fancy words and fancy tequila. He’s an engineer by training and a marketer by trade. And yeah, he decided to move to this little unknown town called something I can’t pronounce. Where there’s one business in town, smoking salmon, and one restaurant in town that serves, you guessed it, smoked salmon.
Dana Robinson: 00:02:07 Todd didn’t launch a venture funded company, sell a business, or get a big payout. He’s a regular Joe who’s living the opt out life abroad.
Nate Broughton: 00:02:14 They say everyone’s got a book in them. And several of our guests have admitted to having unfinished books. Dana’s written a book of course. It was the inspiration for launching this podcast. Though most people who dream of writing a book face a dilemma. It’s hard work. It’s painful. Day after day, they dream that if only they could quit their job and move to a quiet place, they’ll finish that book, and make their mark, and maybe make a living as a writer.
Dana Robinson: 00:02:37 Our guest today did just that. He wrote is book. As we’ll learn, he wrote it before opting out. Over nights and weekends, his work lead to a self published novel that earns him passive income every month and freed him to make the leap, to the idyllic life of Horvik. This episode is a great story for anyone with a creative idea. It’s proof that today’s creatives have the power to publish and promote their work at will. Location doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. Background doesn’t matter. Everything is at your fingertips, and that’s good news, and it’s bad news too. Because you’re out of excuses.
Nate Broughton: 00:03:11 So bake your cake. Have it. Eat it. Eat it all. It’s really just up to you.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:20 We are on location in the town, and I will mispronounce it, of Horvik?
Todd Wente: 00:03:27 Horvik.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:27 Horvik. And there is in the distance the view of the Baltic Sea. Always nice. In the distance we’ll hear birds a’chirpin, a chainsaw maybe or the neighbors taking advantage of this warm summer day. It’s light from about four in the morning until almost midnight. What brought you to this little town in Sweden?
Todd Wente: 00:03:58 Great question. So the short answer is, a Swedish wife. But that’s probably a bit of a cop out because I think I was the one more wanting to be here than she was at the time. So my wife being Swedish, she like so many Swedes at some point decided she wanted to see how the other half of the word operates. So she moved to California, which is where we met. And obviously a lot of different things come into play when you decide to make a big move overseas or somewhere else. And a lot of it was about the fact that I’m a vagabond, I love to move. I love to see new places, experience new things. And Sweden, in the few trips that I had taken with my wife up until the move was just a really captivating place. And a society that seemed to be doing a lot of things right.
Todd Wente: 00:04:42 Just the fact that we had the opportunity to own a place on water and have it at a very low cost. Have a really simple lifestyle. Have a lot of the institutions that you would normally have to worry about paid for by coming into a Swedish society, and joining into the social democracy. Which is a little bit of an ironic thing. But it afforded us an opportunity to come here and kind of try a completely different life.
Todd Wente: 00:05:08 So there were a lot of different things. At the time we were also looking at how we wanted to change our lives moving forward with maybe having children or doing other things. Focusing away from the career minded focus, to more of a lifestyle focus. And we were both in a position to do that, because of steps we’d taken, both career wise up until that point, I think. Why we chose Horvik, specifically was because looking at the map, looking at Google, we were trying to find the sunniest and most San Diego-esk place in Sweden that we could find. And this was supposed to be the sunniest place, closest to the water, that was always going to be affording us the chance to feel like we were somewhat near California.
Dana Robinson: 00:05:45 And I’ll say, it feels a little bit like Bodega Bay. If anyone has seen The Birds, or maybe been to Bodega Bay. But for most people that have seen The Birds, that beautiful sort of bay where the birds attack everybody from the Alfred Hitchcock movie. This feels a lot like that actually.
Todd Wente: 00:06:01 It does, doesn’t it?
Dana Robinson: 00:06:02 It sounds a little bit like it. I hope that the mics are picking up the birds around us. The ones not attacking us.
Todd Wente: 00:06:07 Yeah. When the starlings start really appearing in fall, you actually do worry about that a bit. Because there’s these massive flocks of birds here. But yeah, it has that feel. And I think that feeling that we like is that sense of that it’s still a bit like going back in time. Like you’re going back to this time when everything is actually very clean, and simple, and beautiful here. Unspoiled. But we picked this place because of the sun. We picked it because it was close to my wife’s family, but not too close. Everyone thinks it’s good to have family close, but you want to make sure you have a little padding there too.
Dana Robinson: 00:06:38 A little buffer.
Todd Wente: 00:06:39 And I think they appreciate that as much as we do. But yeah, I guess that’s the not so short answer. As to why we chose here.
Nate Broughton: 00:06:45 So Dana, I have to tell you. This is kind of fun. These ones you did on your trip to Europe. Because I wasn’t there, right. And now we’re back in the studio. You’ve handed these things to me and said, “Listen to my stories.” And I’m like very excited to listen to them for one. But this one out off all of them hooked me right away. Because I can picture this guy, you and Todd, sitting out on the veranda in the summer in Sweden and we’ve got the sounds of birds in the background and it’s a great scene.
Nate Broughton: 00:07:11 But the story’s cool too. I think it’s very opt out. So I think that’s why were pushing this one out first too. And you can help fill this in for me. But he’s an American guy who was in California at one point and was working in a career, whatever, whatever. But now he’s in Sweden. He’s opted out. He’s got this new life over there with his wife who is Swedish, in a small village. And it’s just like, this dude made a leap that a lot of people kind of wish they would have. It’s very romantic, right?
Dana Robinson: 00:07:38 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:07:39 That’s who Todd Wente is.
Dana Robinson: 00:07:40 Yeah. He was a guy that really did work pretty traditionally for a while, while he was slamming away at a sort of, called the nine to five. He’s spending long hours, evenings and weekends cranking out this first novel. By the way the book is called Ice Man Cometh. It’s the first in a trilogy. He’s got the first two done. But the first one really was the one that hit. And as a self published author, made him enough revenue that he could say, I think I want to quit the day job. Maybe they’ll have me consult. But I want to quit the day job, and I want to go finish these other books. And he’s got a whole line of things once he’s done with the trilogy. So this is every authors dream. And his wife is Swedish, so she speaks Swedish. She had no compelling desire to necessarily move to Sweden. But for him to be free to be in the US when he wanted, but have a home base in Sweden sounded really sexy.
Nate Broughton: 00:08:35 I love that it was a conscious decision to kind of make a lifestyle change. Outside of the work stuff, he’s saying no, my wife and I want to live in a place with a different vibe. A different lifestyle. And I think a lot of people have those inclinations. That’s probably part of the reason they listen to the Opt Out Life, or see this thing and say “I want to listen to what that is.” But I love bringing people on who have made that leap. And that is a big leap, across the pond as they say. Kind of cool that his wife was Swedish and could make it, a little bit of an easier transition. But to have the gumption to do that, to look over at the ravine and say, I want something a little bit different, and to be able to pull it off is cool.
Dana Robinson: 00:09:11 Yeah and it really, I think, set him up be the the author Todd. He’s got entrepreneur Todd, and marketing Todd, and inventor Todd, and guy who can like redo and build a bathroom or a kitchen Todd. But I think he wanted to spend more time being author Todd. And this sort of Bodega Bay setting was perfect for that. I mean it’s gorgeous. They’re like one house back from the water on the Baltic Sea. I’m not sure how strong it’ll come through in the audio but you can hear the seabirds chirping in the background while we’re doing this interview. So yeah, he really made the leap that so many creatives, entrepreneurs, people that want to vagabond, people that want to be digital nomads. And here’s a guy that set himself up for that.
Nate Broughton: 00:09:57 Yeah. And it is one thing to have the desire to do it. It’s another thing to make that leap. And what makes making that leap realistic, is setting up your life to be able to do it. So let’s hear a little bit more about how Todd set this up.
Dana Robinson: 00:10:10 Yeah. So you said you both did some things with your lives that enabled you to make this decision. What were some of those things?
Todd Wente: 00:10:17 Yeah, so if you go back in time to what I was doing through my early career, most of my focus has been in marketing and advertising. Most of my early career was the nine to five job going to an office. I worked in small agencies, large agencies. I started my own agency doing web and digital marketing, back when I was in my mid 20s, with a partner. And grew that into a business of about 30 people. Sold it to another firm. Watched them kind of take it and do with that what they wanted with it.
Todd Wente: 00:10:46 And at that point in time, I was actually in the midwest, I was in Indiana. And some other life changing events led me to decide I didn’t want that anymore. I just wanted to move on and take everything I learned from both the nine to five job, and the entrepreneurial side of starting my own business, and apply that in more of a consulting firm approach going into my next phase of my career. So I decided to move to California. Opt out of the midwest life, you might say, in the sense that everything was a little bit too boiler plate for my sensibilities.
Todd Wente: 00:11:15 I saw where my life was going. Getting out of college, getting the career, buying the first house, wife and kids. All these things that kind of were the standard in the midwest. And I needed something that was a little more interesting for me. I needed more, like I said, the travel, new experiences. So I moved to California. I had focused on a marketing consulting gig. And that led me to have the opportunity to do what I wanted to do, without having to follow the normal rules of engagement with a business where I needed to be physically located somewhere. I needed to be at an office.
Todd Wente: 00:11:47 So, even though I was working full time practically with a company I was still acting as a consultant. The fact is, is that I was working as an independent contractor and that allowed me to have flexibility. On top of that, I also had at some point after moving to California decided I wanted to pursue another career, which was writing. And so I would work pretty much eight hours a day on my consulting. And then I would come home at night, and write. And I was focused on fiction writing. So I had been developing a novel for, I think it was five years developing the first novel that I published. And that self published first novel was really the gateway into a whole new opportunity for me.
Todd Wente: 00:12:28 Because I was really trying to take advantage of the fact that you didn’t have to follow the standard. You didn’t have to go out and find an agent. You didn’t have to find a publishing house. With Amazon and all these other new publishing platforms, it dove tailed really well into what I was doing. I was focusing on developing a story that I wanted to write. I didn’t want to worry about finding a publisher, or an agent to carry it and I just decided after it was done to go ahead and self publish and it was immediately seeing a lot of attention, and starting to develop revenue. So what I realized was, I had multiple incomes, multiple revenue sources coming in from between the consulting and the publishing and as time went on published a second novel. And at the time that my wife and I decided to start looking around at other options it was very comfortable for us to do that because I wasn’t tied down.
Todd Wente: 00:13:19 So I had those multiple revenue sources, and I had the opportunity to carry those over to wherever we were going to go. So whether it had been Sweden, or Hawaii, or somewhere in South America, it really wasn’t going to be a problem to take that revenue and that job, and everything we were already doing. For my wife, she was working in retail. But she was also doing jewelry design so she had the opportunity to take that business obviously and apply it and carry it over whatever we’re doing as well. So for both of us, we were in a position to say, we can do this. It’s not going to interrupt our lifestyle. It’s not going to be a situation where we have to find a place based on a job jor an opportunity for a job. We had that freedom.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:59 Yeah. So you could’ve stayed in California. You could have moved to Indiana. You could have gone to Kentucky. You could have gone to Peru. So this was just a cool place that you actually had a passion for and a built-in translator.
Todd Wente: 00:14:12 Yeah exactly. Yeah, the wife has certainly saved me many times when it comes to Swedish. But the other great thing about the Swedes, is the fact that once you start to try to butcher their language, trying to speak to them in Swedish, they see that you’re English or hear that you’re English, and just immediately transfer over. And they peak English better than most of us do from the US.
Dana Robinson: 00:14:29 All right. So, they say everybody’s got a book in them. You had a book in you. Many books. And you actually got through the process. So I think there’s a couple things I want to touch on. One is, what does that process look like? Because there’s so many people that are looking for the opt out life are people who have a thing they want to do and it’s something they want to write. And the other piece to that is, monetizing. A lot of people just want the accomplishment, like I finished that book that was in me. And so there’s a certain amount of like exercising that demon, and getting it finished. But I think people would be interested to hear how you managed to get through that.
Todd Wente: 00:15:06 The most important single factor in writing a story, is just having that discipline to do it, though. As you know too, when we’ve talked. You talk to people that say they have a book in them. And there’s a big difference between having that book in you, and being able to pull that book into something tangible, and bring it to life. And that key thing that I think most people don’t recognize is the need to absolutely have the discipline to do it on a regular basis. And to treat it not only with the passion of a craft, but with the discipline of a job. And to do it day in, day out, whether you want to or not.
Todd Wente: 00:15:38 Because you get into it, because you have a passion, a love for it. But there’s days where it’s just not fun. There were days, when as I said, I would work my consulting gig for eight or ten hous, and then I knew that if I didn’t pick up my laptop and write for two hours, I would find and easier excuse the next day to not do it. So it became the need to make it habitual, and to do it every day. And to see, even if it was a paragraph that was on the page by the end of that night, it made me feel like there was always forward momentum. And that’s key. You’ve always got to see that progress I think to make it happen and to carry it though to the end.
Dana Robinson: 00:16:11 Did you use software to track your outlines, your characters? Like mechanically-
Todd Wente: 00:16:17 Yeah. There’s a lot of things that you can buy. And just like with anything else, there’s always a tool. If you think that you need a tool, you can find the tool. For me, I was fairly minimal in my complexity of writing, as far as my toolkit. I worked from and outline that was just in MS Word. And then I just took that outline and compartmentalized it into what I thought were the most sensible chapters. And then I tested that by writing the chapter, maybe adjusting. Finishing a chapter and going back and adjusting the outline accordingly. If I took a little turn in the story that I had not anticipated from the outline phase, I would adjust that back into the outline after I finished a chapter. But it was very simple from a toolkit standpoint.
Todd Wente: 00:16:54 Just working within Word. And the reason for that was because I wanted to mobile. I wanted to work from a laptop when I was writing. I didn’t want to have multiple screens of different tools or different software components up analyzing what I was doing with a character. There’s amazing software out there that can help you do anything from writing novels, to writing screen plays. And give you the formatting and giving you all these back components to help ease the process. I think in some ways, those are good. But I think those are better for the people who have already gone through the process, have the discipline, and now they’re looking to augment and speed up the efficiencies of doing it in the second or third book. I think for a first time author it’s really key to go simple. And go with as minimal on a number of tools as possible. Just put yourself in front of the laptop. Whether you’re using Word, or whatever word processing format or platform you like. The key is just to keep writing. Everything else gets figured out later on.
Nate Broughton: 00:17:47 So Dana, Todd’s told us a bit more about the process of writing a book. That he went from a job, and he had to grind at night, every night and set a routine to write. And set early milestones to make this something that he did, for it to even become reality. And I think it’s very instructive for anyone who’s trying to start something to change their life. Not to use kind of a lamer term. But you want to opt out, you got to have the inspiration, the goal, the thing that drives you. But the real work behind it is starting and doing. And the only way that us humans can do that is to commit to something that’s a little bit painful, that becomes routine. And I think that what’s cool about Todd’s story here. And is also cool because you went through that exact same thing with your books, sir.
Dana Robinson: 00:18:34 Yeah. I loved Todd’s story because so many people that are looking for the opt out life have got a book in them. They say everybody’s got a book in them, and maybe that’s true. And the difference between somebody who gets that book done and who doesn’t, is really simple. Doing. It’s this discipline. I mean the books about writing, Anne Lamotte, Bird by Bird, one at a time. You just have to do it. You have the same story from Stephen King and his book on writing. Todd’s a shining example of that execution. You have to just keep doing this. And I think it applies to, if you think of our lives, it applies to getting a side gig off the ground. You and I have published websites where we know the content won’t publish itself. And you won’t get a single dollar from an ad until you have published content. And the sooner you get it up, the sooner it gets into the mix. And the sooner you’re making money.
Nate Broughton: 00:19:29 Yeah, you’re right. In the Blueprint, our course that is coming out, I talk about one of my side gigs, which is akin to your free legal aid website side gig. But I run a websites. One of them is like sellmybusinessatlanta.com. Kind of cute one off idea I had. And it ranks and I can lease it out to people and make some side money. And I won’t go too far into the details, but what it illustrates is, I can remember very specifically the night, sitting at my house where I had to spend two hours writing content about selling a business in Atlanta. That was the one pain I had to go through in that scenario, to get this monthly side income down the line. Every single one of these side gigs, while we illustrate why they’re great, why they shouldn’t be stressful, why they should have low capital outlay. Like all these things that we’re like side gigs are good. Side gigs are not businesses. But they all start with a little bit of commitment and pain to happen.
Dana Robinson: 00:20:22 Yes. And if you’re doing your first side gig, then you need to treat it like Todd treated his book. Or like I’ve treated my books. And that is, every day you need to move the ball forward. And eventually those things pay you, while you’re sleeping. Todd makes thousands of dollars a month from royalties, on book sales for a book that he spent years writing a long time ago.
Nate Broughton: 00:20:44 Yeah. I love it too because if you’re listening to this and you’re like “Oh, I don’t have a book in me. Writing’s kind of boring. This guy sounds little too scholarly.” I get that a little bit. But just pretend that he’s talking about something else. Like this could be applied to anything. It doesn’t have to be writing a book. It could be, building a studio in your house that you lease out for audio production, which is another great example that’s in the Opt Out book. Like don’t get tripped up on the writing thing. There’s principles here that you can apply to any interest.
Dana Robinson: 00:21:11 Side gig, business, learning a language, preparing to travel.
Nate Broughton: 00:21:15 Real estate investing.
Dana Robinson: 00:21:16 Real estate investing. All of the things that give you the opt out life, require this sort of discipline.
Nate Broughton: 00:21:22 And one more opt out thing, is how he self published this book, which is an interesting angle to take that’s there for anyone who actually truly is into writing. It’s one that Dana has taken. And let’s hear a little bit more about how he did it.
Todd Wente: 00:21:34 It’s something that everyone should do. And as you said, when someone has a book in them. I think the key is, is that they have to always be saying to themselves, why am I doing this? Because you will get to that point, as I said. A block in the plot. A block in just your writing, in the energy level. And you have to always remind yourself, why is this important to me? And that’s part of what carries you through. Because you just want to see at the end of all of this you want to see that book in your hand. And you want to know that you’ve accomplished that. And you know it’s something that other people are going to want to have. They want to read this story at the end too. You’re so excited to get this out to the rest of the world. And that’s a great feeling when you finally can do that.
Dana Robinson: 00:22:14 So, you get it out to the world. That’s actually something that until recently would have been really difficult for people. Because if someone would have done this five years of writing, finished that book, and feel great about it. And then you think JK Rowling got rejected by almost every publisher in the world before one of them picked her up. And you just had to read that first book once and go this is amazing. But they didn’t see it. In today’s world, you can bypass the entire publishing industry, and you pulled that off. Now talk me through that.
Todd Wente: 00:22:45 Yeah. And I will say, that some of it was my intent, and my strategy. And some of I think a little bit is luck, as so many times it is. But here’s what happened. So I finished the book. And I decided, as you said, the barriers to getting into the publishing industry through the traditional manner was very difficult. I had already sent emails and letters to agents, and to publishing houses. Asking, begging for interest in the book. And you know, every single publishing house, every single agent had a different formatting requirement. So you would spend hours, just going through the process of getting those things packaged up in the hopes that you could get someone to respond in two to three weeks saying “Great, yeah, we’d like to know more.” But inevitably, just like with, what you said, with JK Rowling, everyone that I had written to, sent letters to, said “Thanks, appreciate it, not interested.”
Todd Wente: 00:23:34 And I think that at that time, for me, most people might say, okay, gosh, I guess there’s nowhere else to go. For me, realizing that Amazon and the publishing platform they had, and these other ones. These other publishing platforms online were coming into place. I thought, great, this is the time to explore it and see what happens. So it didn’t take me very long at all to pivot from the thought that I might go through a traditional publishing, to just going a had and self publishing. And the more I researched it, the more I realized that was not only where the industry was going, but the industry itself was starting to look at what was happening in self publishing and seeing who was doing well in self publishing and that was their vetting process for finding talent.
Todd Wente: 00:24:11 So at that point it was kind of like I was all in on self publishing. I went through the process with Amazon. And I very quickly had the book available for sale there. As far as all the mechanics of getting it ready, I did most of that myself.
Dana Robinson: 00:24:24 Formatting, book cover, ISBN.
Todd Wente: 00:24:25 Yeah. And that was a great advantage for me having a design background. I was able to do all of that fairly quickly and get everything to my standard and my liking. Up, finished, book cover, as you said, all that packaged up and ready to go. When it came to the marketing and the advertising aspect of it, really getting the word out on the book, I did a couple of things. The first thing I did was obviously communicate to everyone I had ever met, or ever knew, friends and family about the book, and it was now available.
Todd Wente: 00:24:50 And then I started really looking for ways to find critical, objective feedback on the piece, on the work. Because I think that was the one thing at the time that I first self published. That was the one thing that self publishing didn’t have, was a sense of credibility in the marketplace. People, particularly the publishing houses I think, because they were threatened by it, said “That’s just not good quality of work out there. The self published stuff, is self published because we decided we didn’t want it.” And I think that was the stigma.
Todd Wente: 00:25:19 So for me it was about making sure that I could find ways of legitimizing my first novel. And so one of my first actions after telling everyone I knew about the novel and trying to get them to buy it, and obviously review it, and put positive … Actually I asked them, like it or hate it, give me a review. Give me a qualified review so people know what they’re getting into. And most people did that. But the other thing that I did, was to reach out to some critics, and find a way to get critical review of the piece.
Todd Wente: 00:25:50 And the easiest way for me to do that at the time was through Kirkus Reviews. So Kirkus is a review house and they have a long history of providing critical review for fiction, nonfiction, and for literary work. And so they had a pathway for me to join into their process. Where essentially I paid to have time with a known editor, and critical reviewer, a literary reviewer. And essentially I just submitted the manuscript. And even though paying for the review was something that gave me the pathway to having that, it didn’t mean I was going to get a good review. It meant that I was just simply having a platform for allowing someone with the credibility to say whether they liked or disliked my work. Fortunately, they liked it.
Todd Wente: 00:26:33 So I got a great critical review form the Kirkus reviewers. And I think one of the things that also really helped me with the first book, was that they actually published it in their monthly publication. So they get hit with a lot of review requests. And they have two formats for putting those out there back to the public. One is through their website, and one is through their monthly review publication. And I was lucky enough to have my book, and the review and the cover of it, all captured on one of the pages in that month’s review. And I think what that immediately did was create and establish the credibility for me and it also created a path for libraries and other institutions to see the book. To see that someone that they trusted had reviewed it. And that really helped. Because from that point on, it was kind of month over month growth in terms of sales, both through the ebook and through the print version of the book, the paperback. I mean it was-
Dana Robinson: 00:27:23 Substantial, like you’re-
Todd Wente: 00:27:24 It was substantial and-
Dana Robinson: 00:27:26 You don’t need to talk about the numbers, because it’s none of anyone’s business, but there are authors that are published by publishers that are lucky to make $20,000 a year for say a five year period on a book.
Todd Wente: 00:27:35 Right. Yeah. So my first year, I was amazed at the number of people that were purchasing the book, that were reviewing the book, and it opened up my eyes to the fact that self publishing was completely legitimate, and was a valid revenue source. And it was a true way to make a living. And I think the key is, in self publishing, as in any form of producing work like this. The key is to continue to do it. And to build upon what you’ve created. Because especially in the case of a new author. Once you’re in the door, so to speak and you’ve established an audience, and you’ve got that readership, it’s much easier the second time, to come out there with a book. Because now they know what your style is. They know if they like your work. And you’re recognized, in my case the second book that I wrote was the second book in the series. So-
Dana Robinson: 00:28:23 So there’s a motivation for the reader to buy into the second book. I’ve frankly been waiting for that book, and finally got it.
Todd Wente: 00:28:30 Yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:28:31 And now we’ve got the third somewhere in your head, and maybe partly on your computer.
Todd Wente: 00:28:36 Exactly. So it’s in the head and partly on the computer. Along with some other pieces, some other works that will be off of that series. But I think, again, in self publishing, talking with editors, and talking with people in the industry, and there are a lot of people that help you with this process. There’s a lot of people out there, they can assist you through the process of knowing how to market and advertise. But I think the key is to still follow a lot of the rules for a standard traditional writer, in the previous traditional publishing world.
Todd Wente: 00:29:01 And that is to continue to develop that backlog. And have that library of prior work that people, no matter at what point in time they discover your work, even if they read a book in a series and it’s book two, or it’s not even a series of books that you’ve written, they like what you’ve done here. They’re going to go back, and they’re going to buy the other books. And I think that was exactly the case you saw with Dan Brown. One of the most successful fiction writers of all time.
Todd Wente: 00:29:25 He had written, as I understand it, reading his biography, he had written several books. Fiction books that had seen moderate interest. He was scraping by as a writer. But then he wrote, I think his fourth book, was the first book in the Da Vinci Code series. And once he did that, and once he established that best selling status, what you saw was he immediately got this influx of interest in his prior work, in his backlog. And that’s what really, is what ever author want to see happen. You want to see success in one book. Whether it’s your first book, or your fifth book. Because what that does, it brings everyone back into the fold and let’s them see the full library of what you’ve created. And that’s when the revenue opportunities really explode I think.
Dana Robinson: 00:30:09 Right. So your first book may not be the thing that you make a lot of money from. But given what you’re talking about, you can make your first book a substantial enough income by positioning it, getting great critical reviews. Now also you can pay to place your book in Amazon so that it appears with books you think will be similar. So yours is geo political intrigue.
Todd Wente: 00:30:29 Right.
Dana Robinson: 00:30:29 So you did some of that right?
Todd Wente: 00:30:32 I did. So I did that and I will say that all of those things work. I think it’s hard to always understand how well those actions play off in terms of actual sales. But I do know that the one thing with working with Amazon, is that they understand their customers so well. And they understand and recognize the patters of behavior that when they would recommend things like that. And for an author like myself, even with a marketing background you might say, I never thought of that. I never thought of that tool being a successful way of marrying my work with other readers. You start to realize, these guys have understood the behavior of their customers so well, that these marketing initiatives really help you to establish those opportunities that you don’t normally get.
Dana Robinson: 00:31:13 Right so you’ll get some momentum. For example you could pay just a little for a daily placement next to a Dan Brown book. And that will maybe help trigger some sales that associate you and then their algorithm will actually pick that up and start recommending you with the people who bought this, also bought your book for example.
Todd Wente: 00:31:31 Exactly.
Dana Robinson: 00:31:32 And that’s going to help other people make that choice.
Todd Wente: 00:31:34 And the other thing you can do is obviously being in control of your own destiny, is also looking at the promos. And you can setup promotions with your book. If you’re on an online platform like Amazon you’re self published and you’ve got, obviously your standard price point for the ebook, or for the hardback, or for the softback, for the paperback book. At that point you also have the opportunity to setup a series of promotions. Reduce the price of the book for three days, or four days, or a week during a time when you think that maybe people are just coming out. There’s summer break, there’s summer vacation. They want to get a great summer read. So put the book on a promo half off for four days over the memorial day weekend or something of that nature.
Todd Wente: 00:32:12 I started doing that and I started to immediately see the opportunities coming from that. Because what you would see is that increase in just the … Particularly with the ebook. I would see the volume of sales in one day just go up, maybe 10 fold from those kind of promos. And again the great thing about that is, once you do that, now your rankings on the Amazon selling list move up. And I remember one day looking at it after a promotion, and I had gone to the top five on Amazons eBooks.
Todd Wente: 00:32:45 And I was there for about three days. And that changes everything. Again the paradigm shift there was the fact that now I’m on the radar of everyone that’s looking for a good read. They’re looking at the top selling books, and I just opened myself up to an entirely new audience that wasn’t seeing my work. Just because it was buried a little lower on the list of … Maybe it was in the top 200, maybe it was in the top 150. But putting you in the top 10, being on that page, was just an incredibly great thing for me, because that then perpetuates more sales, which keeps you at the top level ranking.
Nate Broughton: 00:33:17 All right Dana breaking in again. Kind of nerding out on writing here and publishing. But I think that’s okay at this point because there’s a hustler story here. And there’s an example that’s being given to us that is telling anyone out there that this is an approachable way to put out a book to be successful with it. He’s given us some tips that I hope you and I are listening to for the Opt Out book. I think you’ve already taken some of these to heart and how we’re marketing it. But it’s cool, because you can self publish. This is a normal thing now. The avenue is there. And people like Todd are successful authors, self publishing.
Dana Robinson: 00:33:53 Yes. In the opt out life I talk about side gigs being in the publishing business. So even if you don’t envision yourself writing an amazing tale, like Todd’s novel, people who have information that they want to get out can self publish short booklets and still follow this approach to self publishing, self marketing and generate real revenue from publishing, even if you’re not the person that’s like oh, I have a book in me.
Dana Robinson: 00:34:20 So the opt out people that are listening to this and thinking man I want ways to make money. You could certainly publish content on a website like you and I have and you run ads and you make some revenue from that traffic. But you can that same information, if you’re like an urban gardening expert. You can have a website, make some ad money, that’s cool. You can publish a booklet. And put that up, and promote that. And market through keywords. And use the tools that Todd’s telling us about to make meaningful money as a side gig, from being a published author. And it’s not as daunting as a lot people believe. That they need to like go get a publisher, and have this beautiful perfect book.
Dana Robinson: 00:35:00 I’ve just reread my book and found a couple of new typos. I mean the publishing business would’ve caught those. But I’m delivering a product that is really good for the public, at a great value. And I’m responsible for marketing that, and for ensuring that I’m delivering that and placing that in the right place. And Todd did the same thing, and he’s done that to great advantage. Made a lot of money.
Nate Broughton: 00:35:24 And I think I should also qualify too. I haven’t written a book. And thinking back on my business life, we’ve actually leveraged self publishing or our own marketing in different ways where it’s like the book becomes a credibility piece. And it could be a credibility piece for a consultant, for an executive, for someone who has eyes on being a thought leader as they transition out of a role in business. But the way we’ve used it, is like, you know what’s our business? Our business was VA loans. We wrote the book on VA loans. We called it The Book on VA Loans. Like straight up dude. And it took a while to write. We did a good job with it. One of my journalist buddy’s came in and wrote it and become an employee. But no one else had put out a book on our product. And I bet by now that that book has been printed 400,000 times or something.
Nate Broughton: 00:36:11 That probably is not an exaggeration. Because we’d give it out to all the people that are customers of the business. And there’s different ways to leverage that, and self publishing makes that like attainable. No matter who you are. You could be a dentist. You could write a book on something about dentistry. Like you know that stuff. It’s inside your head. You could record it on audio. Transcribe it. Get it put into a little booklet. Publish it. Now it’s on Amazon. Now you’ve got a differentiator between yourself and the tens of thousands of other dentists out there. This is a marketing tool and a marketing asset that anyone can leverage, even if they’re not writers.
Todd Wente: 00:36:45 And I think that’s one of the big things that people don’t understand going into this industry, is that they assume anyone that “makes it as an author” is generating huge revenue, even through the traditional means. And that’s just not the case. Because as you said, the publishing houses take the majority of that because they’re taking majority of the risk. And unlike the self publishing platforms, they make commitments to producing large volumes of inventory for a book. Banking on the idea that it’s going to sell.
Todd Wente: 00:37:15 So they take the risk, and of course they’re going to take the majority of the reward as well. In self publishing because your print on demand or ebook requires no investment in hard costs before the person decides to buy it, you have the opportunity to take the lion’s share of the revenue. So the royalty format is so much more in the favor of the self published author. And that’s the key thing too. You have all the risk, but you have all the reward. Because the risk is, spending the time to generate the book. And the reward is, marketing it effectively and using a platform that lets you take your best marketing strategies and applying it and seeing if it’s working. But when it does, you’re the one that’s sitting on the revenue. And that’s the great thing.
Dana Robinson: 00:37:57 Ultimately if you’re creative, whether it’s art, or writing, you need to make money at it. Certainly, there are people out there that have made money from something else. And so that empowers them to be unfettered and not have to worry about commercializing. But for most of us, whatever we’ve written … If you’re creating art for example I know you do, that can be a passion. But if you want to make a living from it and live the life you want, and continue to empower yourself to have the freedom to keep writing if that’s what you really love doing, you do need to make money at it. Even though you had some background in marketing, it isn’t as if you were and expert in book marketing. You had to learn this from the ground up just like anybody who’s listening.
Todd Wente: 00:38:38 And it’s a completely different industry. There’s a lot of things you have to learn as you go. And the best way to do it, I think in this case is to simply know that you have a book you’re wanting to publish and market and finding out what is it that’s working for me. Because at this point in time particularly, the maturity of the industry is such that, there are so many, again, there’s so many tools out there. There’s so many things that can be useful. But you have to find what works for you. Because unfortunately as there are a lot of tools out there, there’s also a lot of people trying to take advantage of people that are just trying to publish a book, and hopefully they find the ones that are legitimate. They can actually do the right things for helping them establish a readership and an audience and not be the guys that are just looking take some money, and say “Hey, you know what, you have a book out there, good luck.”
Dana Robinson: 00:39:28 Yeah. So there are self publishing houses that can operate for the good, right?
Todd Wente: 00:39:32 Right.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:33 But because they’re taking no risk, self publishing houses might take just about anybody and not actually help them make a better book because they’re more interested in maybe just keeping the cash flow coming in. So if someone’s in your position they could find great tools, in the self publishing industry. But they also might get taken for a ride.
Todd Wente: 00:39:51 Yeah. I think it’s akin to the gold rush. And I think once people saw that there was an easy path towards publishing a book then you obviously see that a lot of people who are just doing it for the purpose of trying to do it, a quick easy revenue opportunity with publishing something, that may or may be worth publishing. Because it’s wide open, there’s going to be certainly a lot of people that are going to come after you and say hey, here’s what you need, here’s how you’re going to do it. And essentially do it for the purpose of just generating revenue for themselves. So it’s been a great experience for me and I think the key is, as with writing, you have to stay on top of the discipline of not only the writing and the publishing, but understanding how the publishing industry continues to change and take advantage of the tools that are working.
Todd Wente: 00:40:33 And look at what’s not working for you, and quickly pivot. Because I can say it from experience also, when I first published outside of doing Kirkus, outside of telling everyone what I was doing, that I had the book out, going through every networking event I could to find out how I could get the book out there to new audiences. I was spending money on other marketing channels. Like AdWords and things of that nature, just to experiment and see where was the revenue opportunity going to come. And a lot of those worked out, and a lot of them didn’t. And I think the key is you really have to stay on top of your marketing plan and you really have to continue to adjust to what you think is working and what your seeing is working and what’s not.
Dana Robinson: 00:41:10 The result is, you end up with revenue that lets you move to Sweden if you want to and live on the Baltic coast and enjoy the life that you want to live. Now you also ended up contracting back to the people you used to do consulting to. I suppose you could probably live a simpler life, and live on the revenue that you’re making form your royalties. But you were able to actually pull off consulting back to a US company as it’s kind of within your expertise.
Todd Wente: 00:41:41 Yeah. So to that point I think that one thing I’ve … Right or wrong, one thing that I’m afflicted with is a need to continually do new things. And so I love writing, I spend time writing. But I also enjoy the work I was doing prior to working full-time as a writer. And that was marketing and working with small to medium size business and developing the marketing strategies, and helping them establish an audience in their respective markets. Whether it was with consulting, whether it was with manufacturers. Whether it was software or other digital focused companies. And I had the opportunity to, after the second book was published, kind of reinvest myself in terms of some time that was available back into consulting to some of the firms and companies I’d worked with before.
Todd Wente: 00:42:22 And the great news is with that was that they saw the value in what I could provide and without having to be in the office, the value is still there to communicate with the team, to set strategy, and utilize the tools that are available today to do all that remotely. And still do it really effectively. You know I think the key is, just like in looking at the new self publishing platforms. When you look at just business in general and the toolkits and the platforms for communication that are out there today, there’s really I see less and less reason for people to be getting in their ares every morning and driving, and taking that commute to a physical office.
Todd Wente: 00:42:56 While you’re seeing that more and more, you’re also see a resistance to it. Because so many businesses feel like there needs to be a physical presence in the office to be effective and efficient. And I find it’s just the opposite. I find that the efficiency levels of working with a team, whether located in the same building, or across the world are actually improved when you have the discipline to just set strategy and set the processes in place. And for everyone to go off and do what they do best, and then to communicate, whether it’s over Skype, whether it’s over net meeting, whether they want to see themselves through a video camera in a video chat, video conference or just have a Skype audio call for five minutes. Everything that you’re doing in that capacity can still be done very effectively, if not more through those new platforms.
Todd Wente: 00:43:43 So for me moving to Sweden, reinvesting some time and reengaging with these clients that I had previously, was very easy. And I think it also taught them that they could work very effectively with someone across the world. And not miss a beat when it came to what we were doing with initiatives and projects and still meeting deadlines and still accomplishing the end goals that we were setting with a guy that was never physically in the office. And so its been exciting to see that. Its been exciting to still do that work. And exciting to see that we are able to do that because of these great new technologies, that still aren’t being fully leveraged I think in today’s world.
Nate Broughton: 00:44:21 Dana, I was glad that your conversation drifted back towards Todd’s lifestyle, his time in Sweden, and living there. And I thought it was cool to hear about him still doing consulting with US clients. Almost kind of being surprised that moving to Sweden didn’t really change a lot of for him on a business side. He loves the technology that we have now to make this all realistic. And not only realistic, but sometimes even more efficient than sitting here in an office. I’m kind of a proponent of that. I think that offices can be distracting. And that if we all just get together, strategize and go off and do our thing, that’s better. I feel like the world’s kind of shifting a bit towards that. I think that’s part of the reason why The Opt Out life, what we’re doing here, and what we’re calling it, is timely. Because you can do these things. The gig economy the people that have four different consulting gigs. They’re no longer going to an office for the nine to five. This is the way the world is going. And Todd’s a shining example of that.
Dana Robinson: 00:45:17 Yeah. I think it’s pretty cool. When he first went to Sweden, I think he basically said to the company he was consulting to, I’m moving. I’m an author now. And I think he needed the space. And what you realize when you’ve built good relationships with people through either work, or consulting, is when they need you, they really need you. And the cool part was, at some point, once he’d finished a certain amount of writing. I think they kept bugging him. Like we really could use you. And we don’t care where you live. And we’ll fly you when we need to and you can work from home on your hours.
Dana Robinson: 00:45:50 So he’s been able to enjoy the opt out life from the perspective of like, hey I’m a writer, take the time he wants to write. And then be able to consult back and control his time still. And in fact, his wife actually has a similar story that we didn’t incorporate into this. She’s a certified gemologist, does cool jewelry designs, sells jewelry, I guess as a side gig. Because she had invested in her career for a long time. Eventually people needed her. So she’s been able to consult and also work essentially remotely from this cool little town and not have to worry about clocking in and clocking out.
Dana Robinson: 00:46:28 So you have a couple, at this point, that’s living the ultimate opt out life. Not really digital nomads, but they have this sort of same kind of freedom that people want and they’re getting it in unexpected ways.
Nate Broughton: 00:46:41 Yeah, I think that’s kind of an important qualification just to remake that they’re not vagabonding the van lifestyle. That’s the picture you get in your head, because that’s the pictures you see on Instagram of people doing this stuff. It’s like oh, well I’m a graphic designer consultant and we live in a van. You don’t necessarily have to do that. And you don’t even necessarily have to move to Sweden. That’s important too. Not a lot of people are going to want to do that. I kind of want to but I’m probably not going to do it either. I’m not putting on a front here that I’m going to sell my house in San Diego and go do this stuff either, but I certainly can work independently of location for any number of projects or things I’m into.
Nate Broughton: 00:47:19 It should be inspirational to people. And hopefully it’s inspirational to people who work inside jobs to maybe push to say “You know, do I really need to be here all the time? Can I not work from home two days a week? Can I not break out and just become a consultant and still do what I do?” I mean, if you’re valuable to your company as the way Dana’s describing Todd and his wife being to some of these places where they’re consultants, why not do that? We had guests who’ve come on who kind of broke out of their nine to five by doing just that and they’ve become happier. They’ve become more successful financially and I think they’re recipients on the other end.
Nate Broughton: 00:47:53 Their coworkers and the businesses that were hiring them are either just as happy or perhaps even happier.
Dana Robinson: 00:47:59 Yeah, so you’re location independent even if you didn’t have the book. And being here in Europe puts you a $50 flight from just about any place in Europe. Last week your mom visited and you went to Vienna.
Todd Wente: 00:48:15 Yeah and the great thing is I can do that, as you said, the European community is so easy to get to. I can be from our home in Sweden on the coast of the Baltic, which seems in the middle of nowhere at times, we can be at the airport in 30 minutes, depending on which airport, or an hour, and from there an hour to two hours I can be anywhere else in Europe. So it’s a beautiful thing.
Dana Robinson: 00:48:35 And you’re back in the U.S. for your consulting clients on a regular basis, so you get your taste of Philly cheesesteaks when you need it.
Todd Wente: 00:48:40 That’s right. East and west coast every year for a few weeks and the fact is is that it’s a very relaxed thing to do because it’s not generally based on a certain requirement of time other than to come back and meet with guys and get the chance to see each other’s faces. And I think that’s the one thing that’s nice about still being in an office at times. Just the physical closeness helps you understand that you’re developing relationships beyond just the business side of things and that trust building is sometimes enhanced by the fact that you can come in and see everyone and get this chance to just sit down, meet each other face to face and reengage on that level.
Todd Wente: 00:49:15 But it’s been a great opportunity for me because I still have the opportunity to be wherever I want to be in the world and whether it’s for vacation or business, the line is so much less defined now. Even when we went on a four day trip to Vienna, I’m still doing a little work at night, whether it’s five minutes or two hours. It’s obviously still an effective, easy thing for me to do and I never have to leave this beautiful city in Europe while I’m doing work for a company in San Diego or in Florida. So it’s really an incredible thing and I think that’s the key is to continue to leverage those technologies to be able to do the things that you want to do and to take your skillsets and say I don’t need to be anywhere at a specific point in time to leverage them. I just need to find an audience that wants them and show them how I can give them the tools and use the tools to use my capabilities and work all this out.
Dana Robinson: 00:50:10 A lot of people think if they do this version of the opt out, this sort of like location independent, digital nomad thing, that they can’t have real estate. You and I’ve been talking actually. Because you’re income comes through the US. You file US tax returns. You actually are talking about maybe buying a threeplex, a fourplex. You’d have rental income from that and you’d have a unit that yours in the US that you’d furnish and then you could go back and forth, Airbnb it when you’re not there. So you actually might end up in a position where you’ve got the ability to kind of float back and forth. Get out of Horvik. I’ve said it wrong again.
Todd Wente: 00:50:45 Close enough.
Dana Robinson: 00:50:47 When the winter is here, and it’s freezing you might end up in San Diego for three months.
Todd Wente: 00:50:51 Yeah. And I think the key is, everything my wife and I do, when we talk about what our next step, and our next plan would be is to look at it from the standpoint of lifestyle. And I think that’s the key philosophy is that everything we’ve done has come from the belief that we know that what we’ve done by moving to Sweden is a good thing. And we know that everything, most of what we came here to accomplish and experience has come to pass. But we also miss the US.
Todd Wente: 00:51:19 We miss San Diego. We miss California. We miss that weather. Especially as you said, here in the winter time. So for us it became a question of what’s the lifestyle we want? And the lifestyle was, we love Sweden and all the things it gives us, particularly in the spring and the summer. But come winter time, we’d really love to go back to the US. And so I think that set motion, the plan of how do we do that? And as you mentioned, we always … If you look at it from the old school way of thinking, you could say, well now we have to invest in another property. And obviously there’s a great expense. And what is it that we would have to do to make that successful?
Todd Wente: 00:51:52 Well, you turn it around and you say, how do we take another property and make it a revenue generating opportunity for us. And then it’s a place where we can live, when and where at that time we want to live.
Dana Robinson: 00:52:03 It can support your lifestyle instead of being that expense, that you need to make harder to make more money for. It makes its own money.
Todd Wente: 00:52:10 Yeah, and I think to your point, it’s looking at things and turning it from a burden into an asset. And so for us we said yeah, we want a second place. We want to have a place in California. Hopefully we can find a place in San Diego. And so instead of thinking of it as, what’s that single residence home that we could find, that we could afford, it was instead, gosh, let’s look at something like a fourplex. Where we can generate revenue for us. We can at least cover the nut of the mortgage, and the cost of that property.
Todd Wente: 00:52:37 And now we’ve got the place that we can utilize when we want to go back, and have a place that’s essentially ours. But when we’re not there, whether it’s a full time rental or Airbnb it becomes a place that we are essentially getting for free. So yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. Obviously there’s the initial costs that are the upfront costs. But once you mitigate that, by saying we can set aside that money, and we’ve got that out of the way, it’s just a question of finding the right property and it’s about timing.
Todd Wente: 00:53:07 And for us, we have the luxury of saying, we’re very comfortable here. Whether that was six weeks from now, or six months, or even two years, when we find the right place we’ll be able to move on that. And then that’s the next phase is to bring that second property online and make it instead of a burden to us, it’s a new revenue generating opportunity. And now we’ve got our place in San Diego when we want it.
Dana Robinson: 00:53:28 On top of that. I think what’s cool about the property we’re sitting at right now, we’re in your backyard, there are kids playing next door unfortunately for our listeners, there’s birds nesting in these Cyprus trees here, which are beautiful. Little yellow belly’s hopping around, making a lot of noise. But right behind me is a separate little house that you’ve been working on, that will be a rental. In this little seaside village In the summer, people are booked for the entire summer for their like side houses, a year in advance.
Todd Wente: 00:53:58 Yeah. We learned that the hard way. We were trying to bring some family over that we couldn’t accommodate in the main house and we started asking neighbors if we could rent their little cottages for just a few days. And I think the first couple of them politely laughed at us. Said “Yeah, you should have asked up last year, because we’re booked up for three months straight.” And that really, again that opened our eyes because we said wow, that’s just a completely lost opportunity for us. This cottage is sitting empty when it should be generating revenue for us as-
Dana Robinson: 00:54:28 10, $12,000 a year and it’s only rented for the summer months. Its got its own entrance.
Todd Wente: 00:54:33 So as you know now, we’re actively working to get the cottage finished. And the key was we also did a little investigation with the Swedish government, who as a social democracy, does like to take a lot of taxes generally, from the home owner. But because our interest rate is so low here, our monthly cost is extremely low. It’s a fraction of what we were paying for a home in California.
Dana Robinson: 00:54:52 For a condo in California.
Todd Wente: 00:54:53 For a condo in California and our home is three times the size of our home in California.
Dana Robinson: 00:54:56 It’s a huge house.
Todd Wente: 00:54:57 Yeah. So the cottage, if we choose to rent it, we get almost essentially three months of revenue tax free, by renting it out. And for whatever reason it’s something that the Swedish government has put out there, probably just to get as an incentive for people to have cottages that are on their property already, fixed up and actually using them for something of good purpose, as opposed to just letting them sit dormant.
Dana Robinson: 00:55:20 That’s amazing. Tax free and you might pay half in taxes if you were running a business.
Todd Wente: 00:55:23 Yeah, exactly. So there’s nothing but up side in doing that.
Dana Robinson: 00:55:27 And that’s cool
Todd Wente: 00:55:27 And it’s great. And again it’s looking at these opportunities and at first you probably look at them as a challenge. Gosh how do I get this thing fixed up? What do I have to do? And then you realize, all of the pieces are there, you just have to put them together in the right order. Instead of it being a burden, now it’s another revenue opportunity for us.
Dana Robinson: 00:55:43 Another project that I think you can talk about since you filed a patent. But the cool thing but your version of the opt out life is, gives you some mind share. I know in the winter it’s quiet. And you probably have plenty of time you could be watching TV. But you’re inventing something.
Todd Wente: 00:56:01 Again, I don’t know if a good personality trait, depending on the day or the hour, my wife might say it’s an asset or a liability, but I have a hard time-
Dana Robinson: 00:56:09 A disease.
Todd Wente: 00:56:10 Yeah. I have a hard time sitting still, and just turning my mind off. So as you said, the long winters here do give you a lot of time to reflect and think about things. And I tend to have another passion, which is part of tapping into my creative side, is industrial design and product development. So in my previous pre-writing career, some of the work that I did involved product development with teams that were developing communication systems for retail environments. And the latest example was developing a technology for sports industry, for golf.
Todd Wente: 00:56:39 So I’ve worked with engineers, and I’ve worked with the development of products, and I’ve always really been fascinated by them. And it’s always been a real interest to see products come to life, just like writing a book, or painting a painting. Just to see the inventive process that you go through. And the fascination I’ve had for years, was in developing a product that took an old, well established idea, and kind of turned it on its head a little bit, and made it something completely new.
Todd Wente: 00:57:05 And so yeah, recently filed a patent for a new methodology, and a new style of stove-top coffee brewer, which sounds completely strange. But essentially what I realized was that there is an established methodology and process from brewing coffee on the stove-top for espresso coffee, like a Bialetti coffee maker. And yet, what you don’t have the opportunity to do with these coffee makers, is to actually create true espresso coffee. And to do that, you have to achieve nine bars of pressure in the brewing process. Which is fairly difficult to do without creating a bomb, you know, and blowing people up.
Todd Wente: 00:57:41 But, as you said, long winters here, I had time to really think about what would be the process and the methodology for doing that? And I got as far as I could go with my own intellect in establishing the ideas I thought that would make sense and then I started utilizing some other channels, some online channels in fact. There’s a platform called Upwork, that allows you to connect with engineers from around the world. So just as I did with self publishing, I started trying to look for pathways and platforms that I could leverage to help me understand, where are the knowledge gaps? And what is it that I don’t know, that’s dangerous that I need to fill in?
Dana Robinson: 00:58:13 And you just pay someone, a contractor who freelances to help you through that process.
Todd Wente: 00:58:17 So I essentially wrote up what it is I was looking for assistance on, I put it out on the Upwork platform, and within hours I was getting experts telling me, you know, engage me in your project and I can help you with that next phase. And so again, it was really plugging these people in at the right moment to help me do that. So move to present day, we’ve got a first prototype getting ready to be built. The patent for the brewing methodology is done and filed, it’s provisional. So knowing that there’s going to be changes over the next year as we finalize the prototype and get everything working. If everything goes as expected and hoped, a year from now we’ll have the final patent submitted, and we’ll be looking at a great product for allowing people to brew true espresso style coffee on their stove-top. So, very excited about it. And for me again, I’m excited about what the end goal’s going to produce. But I’m also, I just really love the process of doing these things.
Dana Robinson: 00:59:07 Yeah. Getting through this you’ll have a sense of accomplishment, the same as someone who finishes a book.
Todd Wente: 00:59:11 Right, exactly.
Dana Robinson: 00:59:12 And if you can use some of the same intelligence to commercialize it, a moderate success would still mean another revenue source for you that empowers you to continue to live the free life that you’ve got.
Todd Wente: 00:59:22 Exactly. And I think you have to look at this. You know when I look at this kind of project, I always look at both the excitement of doing it, but also try to step back and say what’s the end game here? What is it that I want to get out of it? Best case, you create a new viable product, and that generates a new viable product company. And then you have to obviously look at all the things that go with that. Manufacturing, marketing, supply chain, all the things that make a company work. And that doesn’t always sound fun. But then you realize again, there are people that you can plug into this process to take on the things that you don’t want to do. So that you can do the things that you’re best suited at doing, that you enjoy doing.
Todd Wente: 00:59:58 Let the other people do the things that you don’t. Because the fact is, that this day and age, there’s no reason to take on the things that you’re not knowledgeable at, or best suited at doing. There is always a network, there’s always a platform, there’s always a community out there that you can plug into to help you do the things that you’re trying to accomplish. Do them faster, do them better, do them cheaper. And to make the process more enjoyable for you. So whether this becomes viable or not, the thing is that I’ve learned is that, I have been given every opportunity to make it work, because there is a resource and community out there that helps me. I just have to find them. I just have to establish a relationship with them. And then I have to just carry it through.
Todd Wente: 01:00:35 So it’s really fun. And I think that this process and doing this has opened my eyes just like with self publishing. To the fact that there’s really nothing you can’t do. There’s no set model for anything. It’s really starting with understanding what you want to do, what you want to accomplish and then figuring out how does that play into your lifestyle? And what is the end goal that you have in front of you that you want to see come out of that? Whether it’s making money, whether it’s gaining more time. Whether like you said, it’s moving to another country and having the opportunity to do that without either sacrificing everything or making a total shift in every other aspect of your life. It’s just starting with an understanding of where you want to go with it. And then you just find the parts and the pieces you plug in to get there. And I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to do that.
Dana Robinson: 01:01:17 Todd, that was a great finish actually.
Todd Wente: 01:01:20 Thank you. Yeah, absolutely.
Dana Robinson: 01:01:21 Thanks for coming on the Opt Out Life podcast. Finishing up a live recording from Todd’s backyard in the Baltic village at Sweden’s Horvik.
Todd Wente: 01:01:33 That’s right. I think you almost got it right on that one. Thanks Dana I appreciate it. Thanks for putting up with the dog and the children next door. But you know, that’s part of the Swedish life huh?
Dana Robinson: 01:01:42 It’s part of the Swedish life. Love it. Thanks Todd.
Todd Wente: 01:01:45 Thank you.
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