Author and Top Medium Writer, Niklas Göke, based in Germany, joins Kristin to talk about the journey of becoming a self-made entrepreneur and making a living from your creativity.
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Author and Top Medium Writer, Niklas Göke, based in Germany, joins Kristin to talk about the journey of becoming a self-made entrepreneur and making a living from your creativity.
He shares valuable insights on how to balance and prioritize work, your personal life, and relationships. Then, he highlights the business management tips and tools he uses to manage his remote team and grow his online business, Four Minute Books.
Plus, Nik shares the secret behind how he was able to summarize one book per day for an entire year and shares his best advice for people who want to write their own book.
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Niklas 00:00:00 And I was like, oh, I think I really wanna write, I wanna have a blog. I wanna, I wanna build some kind of business around that. I had no idea how any of that was gonna work. I just saw these people basically writing online and getting paid for it. And I was like if they can do it, then there must be a way for me to do the same thing, right? Somehow.
Kristin Wilson, Host: 00:00:35 Hey there, Kristin from Traveling with Kristin here, and welcome to episode 191 of Badass Digital Nomads. My guest today is one of my favorite internet friends who I've yet to meet in real life, but he's such a great guy, such an inspiring person. I love talking with him. I love emailing with him, I love communicating with him and I love reading his work. And this is Niklas Göke, who is one of the top writers on Medium and a great writer all around. He has been writing consistently since 2014 and his writing has garnered over 50 million views online. He also has a huge following online of nearly 100,000 email subscribers, 600,000 social media followers, and half a million monthly readers. His work has been published in all of the places, Business Insider, CNBC, Fast Company, and many others. He's also an entrepreneur and the founder of Four Minute Books that brings to you more than 1000 book summaries to 200,000 readers each month.
Kristin: 00:01:52 He is a writer, an editor, an author with a new book out on Amazon that is so inspiring. It's called Two Minute Pep Talks, 67 Jolts of inspiration for more hope, comfort, and love in any situation. He's also the author of The Four Minute Millionaire: 44 Lessons to Rethink Money, invest Wisely and Grow Wealthy in four Minutes a Day. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of Nik and I'm so happy to have him on the podcast today. This has been a long time in the works and it's an extended interview, over 90 minutes long, so I hope you enjoy it. We're getting into lots of topics from motivation to mental health relationships, working online, all of the life skills, including what he's learned when starting his company, and also after doing book reviews and summaries for seven years. He's someone who has read so much, he's written so much.
Kristin: 00:02:57 And I also recommend checking out the show notes and his blog at Nik –N I K A R T and he writes a short blog post every day, so it's always great to get an update from him. I'm on his newsletter list, so I always love to see what he wrote during the week, and I really hope that you get so much value from this conversation. And also just for some context on how the interview started, I wanna apologize to Nik that I didn't actually welcome him or introduce him onto this show because we just started talking and catching up. You know, when you talk to someone you haven't talked with in a while, and we started recording, but there was no specific, okay, now we're starting the interview. So it was just kind of chitchat.
We were talking about books that we had read recently, and I mentioned that I had just gotten this book called How to Steal Like an Artist.
Kristin: 00:03:56 And so I started asking him about his perspective on that, given that he writes book summaries that are about other books and has created this business about it. So we kind of just get right into the nitty-gritty and conversation about creativity. And that's very important, especially at this time when it seems like everything has been done. Like, how can you be original? How can you stand out when there's billions of people on the planet? And then also how can you be successful in business when there's so much competition and there's so much attention in different places on the internet. So that's kind of some reference for how we start that interview.
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Kristin: 00:07:53 After having written, how many blog posts have you written?
Niklas 00:07:56 Like a thousand plus if you count the Quora answers and whatnot, it's like well over a thousand I think.
Kristin: 00:08:02 Okay, so over a thousand blog posts, two books. You're writing your second book, but you have other books in draft, you've done all these YouTube videos, I don't know what other kinds of stuff that you do. Like what is your perspective on how creativity works?
Niklas 00:08:19 Oh man. I was gonna say, I have so many things to say about the stealing part.
Kristin: 00:08:22 Oh yeah, let's do do that first. Yeah,
Niklas 00:08:25 Now I treat it like my day job. It's four-minute books, which is his website. We have three book summaries of nonfiction books and we get a lot of traffic from Google and then we just monetize via affiliate marketing sponsorships, where we have our own little lineup of products and so on. But with book summaries, that's a huge point of contention with book summaries, right? Like is it stealing? Like do the authors actually like it? Do you have to get permission and so on. It's like this legal gray area to some extent even where it's not clear like what is the transformation of the content, content that counts as like creativity and what is just ripping off and so on. So there's so much there. By the way, I think the legal status that enables businesses also like blinkers or big book summary businesses, companies to do what they do is that what's protected I think is the text exactly as it is. So basically, the exact order of words, not the idea itself. So if you read a book or a chapter of a book and you write about it in your own words, that's legally fine. You just can't quote And that's plagiarism, right? Like you can't quote without properly attributing.
Niklas 00:09:29 And things like that. But I mean, it's so helpful, and that was one of the first things I started this, this business, and it was so helpful in just keeping the whole thing going and just writing more and creating more because I didn't have to think about my inputs all the time, right? Like, where am I gonna get the idea from? It's like every day I had a different book and I could just draw on these things and I still do this to this day now on my blog I do this a lot, like I see a quote in a movie somewhere and I just take that and I was like, oh, I have some thoughts on that and I just expand on it. And sometimes that's the best part of creativity that like you can take something someone said 200 years ago and you can expand on it today and that makes what that person did 200 years ago valuable and more valuable.
Niklas 00:10:06 So I think it's actually really cool and I feel like a lot of people, they keep their stuff locked up because they're afraid of the consequences or potential repercussions from this. Like, oh this is too close to something else. Whereas actually that's exactly what we kind of need, right? Or people need to maybe contextualize this for right now because it's been, you know, 50 years since that idea was popular or relevant or something and now it's relevant in a different context. Yeah, I have a few friends where they have good business ideas but they shelved them because they're so afraid like, oh someone else is gonna do it, someone else is gonna copy me and so on. And so I'm always like not just do it and apologize later basically. Yeah, usually you can also work things out. And we've never had copyright issues by the way of four minute books. Like once, I think once I had to take down a summary of a book where the person managing the author's estate, cuz the author had already passed already was telling me to like, they don't like it and they don't wanna do it. And I was like, okay, let me just take down the summary. It's not worth risking like some kind of lawsuit over. But otherwise, we've never had problems. Most of the time authors are actually happy cuz it's free promo for their book unless you give it all away.
Kristin: 00:11:09 Um, yeah and it looks really good. You have over a thousand book summaries?
Niklas 00:11:13 Um, yes at this point, yes. I'm not writing them anymore, but yes we have over a thousand.
Kristin: 00:11:18 And you must have found in this process that so many of the books you read have similar ideas, right? What did you find under when you were reading all of these books and writing all of these book summaries? Because I've read a lot of stuff in books that I thought was original ideas from those authors, and then I then found it later that it came from someone else 50 years ago, which probably came from someone else a hundred years ago, which probably came from a philosopher 2000 years ago. You know? Do you see these patterns in the books that you read?
Niklas 00:11:53 Yeah, especially in the whole self-help section basically you always end up in Ancient Greece, right? With some like Aristotle or like one of these guys basically. You often end up there when you go back. Far enough modern authors do, they're more casual about it. Cause Ryan Holiday writes about stoicism now, right? And if you take books like the Daily Stoic, he borrows in there all the time, and he just quotes it, he quotes people, he attributes stuff but then he just combines it with his own thoughts and that's pretty cool, actually. It works I think. So I think the better authors, they're more upfront and transparent about it and they just do it. They don't excessively do it and they don't do it to the point where it makes the book look like they're just ripping off other people. So they still have enough original ideas or thoughts or they just put enough of themselves of their own story of their own ideas in there.
Niklas 00:12:37 But then they just supplant those things with other people's ideas who are necessary and needed and relevant. Yeah. And so now it's pretty common that if you buy a book for example on Amazon, if you buy, especially the self-published ones, right? There's also a lot of bad ones out there and then those people usually try to sell you the idea as their own. But then if you know your stuff and if you're familiar with that whole space or marketing right? You're like, I'm pretty sure that like Gary Vaynerchuk said that like 18,000 times already and you're just trying to pass it off as if you came up with it play not true. So I think it works and I think it'll always be to some extent also necessary to do this in the sense that old ideas, they changed how they are relevant changes right?
Niklas 00:13:18 Over time. Because I don't know, we had a pandemic going on like this past two years, so there's probably some stuff in there about patients and isolation and loneliness and so on. But now it's different. Now we have all this technology, right, that we didn't have hundred or a thousand years ago. So the way we handle these things is gonna be different and it really helps if we have people translate maybe old ideas, maybe ideas that have been around for millennia but translate that to that more in context in a way that helps us right now.
Kristin: 00:13:47 Yeah, it kind of makes me think of just how our personal lives tend to unfold with these patterns of challenges or problems, or issues that we face over and over again at different points in our life. And I think of it as a circle or a spiral and I've probably perceived this idea from someone else, but you know how everything is in a spiral, like the golden ratio and the universe, the way that the planet's orbit the sun, everything is in a spiral and it's kind of like that in life. Like we kind of go through each year it's like a ring on a tree, the the age rings where we're re-experiencing the same things that we maybe need to learn from. Like we have certain lessons we need to learn and we have this recurring theme throughout life or these situations and patterns that repeat and it's almost like life is giving you another chance to deal with that a different way or to see something from a different perspective.
Kristin: 00:14:47 And it kind of happens on this microcosm of your own personal individual life. But then it happens on the macro scale as well just in history, the way that conflicts happen in wars and in economic phases and patterns. It's like everything is kind of a pattern and and something to repeat and something to see with fresh eyes. And I guess that's how change happens too, is repeating a conversation over and over as a collective and then coming to these decisions where you know, we think this is the best way to move forward as a country or as a global society. Do you kind of see it in a similar way?
Niklas 00:15:31 I like that you said the word spiral because I think it was on medium. Someone wrote I think something about time instead of thinking about time in a circle because clocks are a circle, right? Mm-hmm, So we always think about and seasons and so on years like everything repeats, but I think the person on medium said something to the extent of you should look at time as like this upward spiral. You're always changing, you're always going forward. That means also you always have a chance to do something again but do it better.
Kristin: 00:15:59 Mm-hmm, Yes.
Niklas 00:16:00 So there's no need to worry, there's no need to be so hard on yourself and so on because time is not like a flat circle. It doesn't just go round and round. It can go somewhere different, it can go up or it can go down depending on the spiral. So I think that's really cool and this is a cool idea and I agree like history and everything, like it works the same whether it's on your individual level as a person or for society as a whole. And that's when big shifts occur also, right? Like cultural shifts, like the civil rights movement or L G B T rights or these kind of things, right? Yeah. It's like we come to different understandings at different points in time and it was like the globe is ready or like certain countries or certain nations a certain culture, certain people are at some point ready to embrace like a new direction and that's when the spiral moves up and over time human society as a whole keeps going up. Basically.
Kristin: 00:16:49 I went down the rabbit hole last night, like somebody mentioned something to me a few days ago, and I opened this tab on my phone like do you ever, ever open tabs in Google or Safari where you're like, oh I wanna look something up or I wanna read about this later. It was not just me. I have like 50 tabs
Niklas 00:17:07 On my Yeah, yeah. <laugh>. Yeah.
Kristin: 00:17:08 Yeah. So for some reason, we were talking about something that reminded me of this movie 1917 where the director shot the whole movie. So it looks like a single shot. And you saw that one?
Niklas 00:17:22 I saw it in the cinema. Yeah. It was the first movie I saw in the cinema with my girlfriend. Uh,
Kristin: 00:17:26 Your current girlfriend? Yeah.
Niklas 00:17:27 Yeah. When we started dating basically I think it was even the first weekend I was there in London to visit her, and we went to see that in the cinema and the cinematography is amazing on that one.
Kristin: 00:17:35 Amazing. Yeah, I saw it twice. That's funny how it's like with music and movies, you remember where you were or what was happening in your life when you saw it or listened to the song and I was like, how did they shoot that movie? And so I started reading about it and I watched all these YouTube videos of made by other directors and people that were explaining how that movie was made, which I do recommend people look into cuz it's pretty incredible. And it really made me see the echelon of attention to detail and work that goes into making a movie like that. And it made me think like wow, I'm really not working that hard <laugh>, these people are like rehearsing this scene for four months so that they can film it all in one shot. And it is just like the level of complexity was mind-boggling.
Kristin: 00:18:23 But on the note from what we were just talking about that World War I, it reminded me how much technology shifted during that war where it started off with the old way of war using horses literally as their technology and by the end they had tanks. But all of that technology was building up over hundreds of years for it to shift so quickly. And then how much has changed in the last hundred years of society and modern day warfare and everything to bring us to like let's say 1917 to 2022, 2023, about a hundred years later. And we're experiencing another shift with the remote work revolution that has brought us to this place where I'm from the US let's say the allied side. You are from Germany, you're in Munich right now, CORS. And we are having this conversation over Zoom in my home office and your co-working space that looks like
Kristin: 00:19:27 Or your office. And those are the kinds of things I think about. But also the director of the movie, he wrote that movie based on a story that his, I think it was his grandfather told him like his grandfather was in World War I and was a messenger in World War. I told him this story of how he had to deliver messages and then he had this idea for this movie, he was looking for a movie to make and he was reading all of these scripts and couldn't find one that he liked and one of his friends was like, why don't you just write your own movie? And he was like, well I don't know, I'm not a writer. Like I don't know how to write movies. And then he did it <laugh> and then he made this incredible movie that took like many years to make and like probably thousands of people to do it.
Kristin: 00:20:15 And that's kind of like the magic of how things can come full circle with creativity I guess to bring like that point back around, we have so many thoughts per day, like thousands and thousands of thoughts and one thought even about someone else's story, like his idea about his grandfather's story then created this movie that has impacted so many people around the world than you saw with your girlfriend. And now we're talking about it on this podcast because I was interested in how they made the movie in one shot, or to look like one shot. So I don't know what this question is for you, but I don't know, I just kind of think of all of that stuff, how we got to where we are today and also even how we met, which was both of us writing on Medium. Do you even remember how we met ?
Niklas 00:21:05 <laugh>? I was thinking about this the other day and I was, I think it was on Medium and I think we were commenting on each one's articles or something along those lines. Then we were chatting on email, exchanging ideas and then yeah at some point started talking about the travel, and then we realized okay, we're both running a business basically on our own right? So that's also, that's another similarity and we're trying to do it with all this technology and we're trying to not completely go nuts over it in terms of how much we work and things like that. This is the kind of connection that wouldn't have happened like even 25 years ago I guess.
Kristin: 00:21:36 Yeah. And we were commenting just before we started recording that we've known each other online since probably like 2018. I started on Medium like 2016 and then dropped off and got back on 2018. So probably that's around when we met. But we've never actually talked in person or on a video call. But we just like pick up where we left off as if we're just friends who've known each other for so long. And I love that about this time of history and like that I know so much about you and your travels and your business and your personal life through your blog and through writing on medium and everything and these are important relationships that you can have with people these days. Well let's talk about your journey and why you decided to start down this entrepreneurial path. What prompted you to start writing on Medium in the first place and how did that lead to the idea for your company?
Niklas 00:22:37 So when I came out of high school I was interested in business because we didn't have any business classes, any economics stuff, none of that In high school it was all just languages sciences and so on. I was already interested in that and then I just started learning more about it. But I went to college, I started a bachelor's in business administration and engineering and I talked to my uncle at the time and asked him for a bit of career advice. He was a partner at a consulting firm. He was still is, so that was sort of the path I was going down. But I knew I was interested in these various new things that I didn't know anything about at the time. And the more I looked into it, the more I was like, okay, I think I want to like do something for myself.
Niklas 00:23:16 You know, you start reading online, you read books like the Four Hour Work Week, it was big at the time, James Ether's blog and so on. And then I was studying abroad in the US as part of my studies and I had some more time there to just think and reflect and maybe it's also the different setting sometimes prompts that. And I was like, oh I think I really wanna write, I wanna have a blog, I wanna, I wanna build some kind of business around that. I had no idea how any of that was gonna work. I just saw these people basically writing online and getting paid for it and I was like, if they can can do it then there must be a way for me to do the same thing right somehow. And it didn't really do much until I graduated with my bachelor's degree and then I said I'm gonna be self-employed.
Niklas 00:23:55 You can tell I'm, I mean I had a very sheltered childhood, right? Everything was good. Small village in Germany somewhere, high school, everything is very safe, very sh very sheltered, somewhat privileged also of course. But that's where you could tell, cause I was like, I'm gonna be self-employed and I don't really know what I'm doing but I'm just gonna do it and do it for like a year or two and see what happens. And to even be able to have that kind of opportunity, I realize now in hindsight is actually is kind of big. You can even do that. Um, but yeah, so that's what, that's how I started and I started translating cause I always had an neck for English. I love English, the language, I think I like it more than German actually to this day. It was really, yeah. And so that's how I got started. And then very quickly I realized no one needs translators, no one wants stuff translated but everyone wants content, wants articles, wants ideas and so on. And I started writing on my own blog as a like side project to just get better in practice. Then I also found Medium. I found Medium through Coach Tony, Tony Stubbe who's now the CEO of Medium as of very recently. Um
Kristin: 00:24:52 Is he really? I didn't even know
Niklas 00:24:53 That. Yeah, yeah, yeah he is. Yeah, yeah, yeah. As of a few weeks ago,
Kristin: 00:24:57 Um, oh that's great. Congrats Tony.
Niklas 00:25:00 He had a company called Coach Me where they did online coaching, digital coaching was all one of the first company. I think I did this at Scale. Oh I was working with them a bit and they had a publication of Better Humans on Medium and they said that that's an outed for their coaches to share their expertise, to refine their thoughts on certain topics, what they're coaching. So I wrote some articles for that publication and that's basically how I got started on Medium quite early on. It was like two years after Medium was started or something. And yeah, I just stuck with it. The writing was always fun. The writing was fun for me from day one and so that part remained consistent and then what I did and how I monetized and everything kept changing. But yeah, I think that's how I got to writing into Medium in the first place.
Kristin: 00:25:40 So have you ever had a traditional job or you just went from a university to working for yourself?
Niklas 00:25:47 Yeah, I never had a job. Yeah, I did some internships during college, some part-time jobs, things like that. But I didn't really formally apply to any full-time jobs after college and nothing like that cuz I did the self-employed stint and I wasn't making a lot of money. I think the first two years in a row I made something like $20,000 or something, which was enough to get by in like on this cheap student ran student departments, things like that. But I was like, and I was like okay, I think I can make this work but I probably need more time. So I went back to school cuz in Germany school is free for the most part, education is for the most part free. So I went back, uh, I came to Munich, did a masters and I kept working all the way through with trying to make my business work and eventually ended up working. And so after the masters, after I finished I could just keep working on the business rather than getting a job.
Kristin: 00:26:33 Okay. And that business was just your writing career or had you started Four Minute Books yet?
Niklas 00:26:40 Yeah, I had started Four-Minute Books. I started four books in January 2016 basically. And so that was basically the second year I was being self-employed and by the end of that year I think it made probably a few hundred bucks a month or something and by the end of the second year I think it made maybe $2,000 a month or something. But it was enough to sustain myself and so I went into college with that in hand, basically. And I just kept trying other things, also kept trying to grow that and just sort of paid my way, like my living expenses and everything through college through that. And yeah, just kept growing it and doing other stuff. But yeah, I had that basically already when I started my master's.
Kristin: 00:27:23 Did your family want you to go in a different direction or were they supportive of your cobbled together writing career <laugh>?
Niklas 00:27:34 They were, I mean at the time I always felt like I know they would be happier if I just got a normal job, but I have to give them so much credit. Like they were so extremely supportive. They always said that they want me to do something that I want to do and so on. And so every time I came and I had like some asinine idea, I was like, some I wanna try this or I don't think I, I wanna go down this path, I wanna do that. They're always like, we just want you to be happy. We think you should be doing what you want and doing what you love. And of course now in hindsight seeing that it has worked out and I made some money and it's going well and I'm extremely motivated every day and now they're like so happy and they're okay.
Niklas 00:28:12 Yeah, it's really good. But back then of course it wasn't obvious that any of this was gonna work, right? Like it never is. So yeah. I think they would've slept a little more calmly if I had just <laugh> had a job and in hindsight I may have actually gotten one. It depends how you do it. But for me, because I was already started and done so much work in these first two years where I was self-employed, it didn't really make sense for me to go back to spend so much time on something else when I just saw the results slowly compounding for my business. So I was like, yeah, I probably could get more money if I switched to doing a full-time job, but it would also just make everything else so much slower. And so I'm glad I did end up sticking with the business cause the time was just right. If I had started at zero after my masters, I would probably have gotten a full-time job and then just try to do it on the side.
Kristin: 00:28:55 Yeah, I thought of doing that when I was transitioning from real estate. I knew I wanted to do something else and I started my relocation company and it went well. But I still had that idea of oh like maybe I should also get a part-time remote job or something like that. But then I was always afraid that if I got a job then I would quit doing my business or I would get wrapped up in the other, the salary job and so that I would never go back to it or that it would just take longer to build my business. Especially when I started creating content which we can talk about how you've been able to make a full-time living creating content that is something that can take a couple years to ramp up. So I think it can be– be scary to do that full-time, but it's also kind of sink or swim and that can sometimes be the impetus to succeed faster because it's a matter of necessity more than wanting something or having a goal that can feel like a little bit farfetched. But before we talk about that, I was curious, where did you live in the us?
Niklas 00:30:02 Oh, I went to UMass Dartmouth, which is one of the public schools in Massachusetts. I think it's New Bedford, it's towards the south of Massachusetts. Very close to the coast. I think the first weekend or something I was there. We actually went to the beach second hour south of Boston basically.
Kristin: 00:30:18 What was your perception of American culture coming from this tiny village in Germany?
Niklas 00:30:24 The first thing is, I have to say is it was super international because, well they put all the international students together in terms of the orientation and everything. That was really cool because then on top of just getting to know US culture, you also got to know people from Asia, people from the Middle East, people from wherever and, but what they did, the administration, which I think was really smart is I think we were six Germans or something like that. And they put us all in different houses and it was these junior year houses where it's like, uh, one side of the houses like six girls, one sided houses, six guys. And then we were all in separate houses with five American roommates. That was really cool
Kristin: 00:31:02 Actually. Oh yeah.
Niklas 00:31:03 So
Kristin: 00:31:04 That's Well we organized
Niklas 00:31:05 <laugh>. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were actually living together with Americans and for me I spent two semesters there. I extended, it was like a whole thing, but most of my German friends left around Christmas, around winter break. And then I was basically the only German left. There was still some international kids there. But then I realized that the second year first my English got a lot better cause I was speaking more English all the time and I ended up with a small like clique of American friends, a lot of which were like half Puerto Rican, like half Haitian or something. So it was so multicultural. I was like man, how many countries can you pack into five people basically? I was like this is so cool. Yeah, that's amazing. Um, it was really good and we did some trips. We went to like various parks. We went to New York for the weekend and so I think that second half, the second let's say four months of my nine months month stay, that was really the more immersive experience.
Niklas 00:31:54 So if anyone does this kind of thing exchange, I would definitely recommend if you can afford it, if you have the time, if you feel like you would benefit from it, stay longer. Don't try to just like, you know, jam in three months, get your credit and put it on your resume. Just try to stay longer and also try to not just hang out with the people from your country or people who speak your language. I know it's comfortable, I know everyone does it, but try to limit it somewhat and just be where you are and it changed a lot for me and yeah, it just made everything more interesting, more rewarding. So it was really cool. So I don't think I actually got like a prototypical American culture kind of any stereotype. Of course there were frat parties and things like that. We did that kind of stuff <laugh>. But I never felt like this is exactly what you would expect us to be if you from the movies you know, from which you come from the other side of the pond is more multifaceted cuz I met so many people from so many different backgrounds and I think that is ironically kind of us, right? Because it's a country of settlers and immigrants, and pioneers and that really showed in how that played out. So that was really cool.
Kristin: 00:32:54 That's awesome. I'm happy to hear that. And I do think that's a great advice for staying longer in a place. I mean there's something to be said for doing day trips and experiencing places in small doses. But I remember when I moved to Australia to study abroad, I had just come off one semester living in Costa Rica and then went directly to Australia. I think I stopped home to change my suitcase maybe. And when I got there my best friend had already been living there for a semester. So we were at different schools. She was in Byron Bay and I was north on the Gold Coast. And I remember seeing her for the first time and like six months or something and thinking already that she was different. She had a slight Australian accent, she seemed local to me and she had already gone through that awkward adapting to the culture phase cuz she'd been there for six months and she was just kind of in her daily life like surfing, going to school, had a boyfriend, had her friends and I felt like a fish out of water cuz I had just come straight from Costa Rica.
Kristin: 00:34:04 I ironically felt more comfortable talking to Spanish speaking people than Australians. And I remember at the first day of school at orientation I was sitting with a group of guys from Spain and I just felt like that was my comfort zone cuz I had been speaking Spanish for six months and I was like culture shocked by Australia. But yet I felt more at home with the guys from like Venezuela and Spain and Argentina and was like hanging out with them. But then of course by the end of the first six months, I was feeling super at home in Australia and then I didn't wanna leave and then I had to leave cuz I had to graduate <laugh> to go back to the real world and graduate. That's Cool.
Niklas 00:34:43 On that note, I'm wondering cuz you've done so much travel, you've done like what, like 14 years of basically consistent travel or something like that?
Kristin: 00:34:51 Yeah, a long time. I, I started, that was 2003 that I was living in Australia. and then basically came back for a year, maybe two years to graduate and go to grad school. And then I went back to Costa Rica in 2005 and then I really didn't live in the US again until the pandemic. I mean I came back a couple times for like three months here, six months there. But yeah, it wasn't until 2020 that I came back.
Niklas 00:35:20 But based on that and your whole experience, what would you say now is sort of an ideal time to stay in a place if you want to do this? The more immersive one that you want to start feeling at home in that place? Like how long do you have to stay in a place maybe to get that feeling but also to enjoy that feeling for a while before you have to leave? Because often, right, if you stay six months it's like, oh now I'm really at home here, it sucks, now I have to leave. What would you say that is now having done both sides? Right? Like the long-term travel and being back in the US for a while now?
Kristin: 00:35:52 I would say the answer maybe people won't like, but it's one of those things where two opposing forces are both true and it's like if you go to a place and you only have a short amount of time there and then you leave, you can get a good experience there as well. If you go to a place thinking you want to stay there long term and then you do, you can also have that good experience and it will be different. There's places that I've gone where I didn't think I was going to stay for a long time and I ended up staying and I ended up liking it. And then there's also been places where I was there and I didn't want to leave and I had to leave because my passport or my visa were running out and it's like those Nancy drew books where there's multiple endings to the book.
Kristin: 00:36:48 You can kind of see like if you were to stay in that place that you would continue on that trajectory, having that experience, but for whatever reason life is taking you in a different direction and then you also have a good experience that way. So it's like both decisions are correct but you have to pick one or there's one that's chosen for you in the case of your tourist visa running out. And so you just take that and run with it. Like I remember not wanting to leave Bulgaria when I was there in 2018. I had been there for three months and I just felt really comfortable and I was in my routine and rhythm and I had like a good community around me and I really like genuinely did not want to leave. But then I had already booked a trip to Portugal and was meeting a friend there and I ended up inLisbon and at first I was very resistant to being there.
Kristin: 00:37:46 But then once I just accepted, okay, this is where I am now and I'm, you know, gonna continue where I'm going in life, then I'm really glad that I went there and actually my video about living in Lisbon, that was the first video that went viral on my YouTube channel. And yeah, then from there I ended up going on Nomad Cruise and going to I think Argentina like I went on all these other places after that. And so I was thinking, oh if I would've stayed in Bulgaria I would've still had a good experience but it would've just been different. And I think of that at different phases in life that people can think about. It's a struggle I'm going through right now with deciding when or if to leave Miami. Like I know if I stay here, here life goes on but then if I leave life is gonna go in a different direction.
Kristin: 00:38:40 And I felt that in Costa Rica too. I was like, well if I stay here and I buy a house and I get residency, then my life will take this certain angle and then if I leave this house that I love and this neighborhood that I love, I will be out of my comfort zone. But then life will go in a different direction. And so I think it's a complicated answer, but each place that you end up staying longer, you then have more of a reference for the next country that you go to where you can think like, okay, well if I stay longer I'm gonna start seeing this place in a different way and I'm gonna start meeting more people and I'm gonna start feeling different. And I'm happy that we get that opportunity now with more countries opening their doors to international tourists and remote workers. Where're an uncharted territory that I've never been in either. Like I've never lived in a world where you could just go to a country for one or two or three years and stay there.
Niklas 00:39:41 Yep.
Kristin: 00:39:42 So it's really exciting. But as an EU citizen, you guys have already sort of had that within Europe where you can live and work in different countries. Yeah. So from your perspective and of your friends and your personal network, how is the mindset like over there knowing that you can go to any one of these like 20-something countries to live and work?
Niklas 00:40:08 Okay, first I wanna say two things. The first thing is that I think it's amazing that you have this ability to project what your life is gonna be like in a country when you stay. I think that must come from doing it a lot of times, right? Because I don't think I have that and I think most people don't, especially most people probably have never left their country right? Still. So I think that's like a hard one. I think that's a hard one ability, but it's really, really cool and it makes sense to me, right? That you can start projecting out at some point. Um,
Kristin: 00:40:33 I never thought of that, actually. It does become just through practice, it just becomes a part of who you are I guess. Like a skillset.
Niklas 00:40:41 Yeah. The fact that you said you know it's gonna be a good outcome either way. Basically I think that just shows if you can choose where you want to live, if you can choose where you want to travel and even try to stay and so on, you are already winning. Like you already have so much going for you, right? Because you have these options. And then to realize actually probably both ways it's gonna play out in a way that I'll enjoy and it's up to meet to make it so that just shows like travel in itself is like such a, I don't wanna say luxury, right, but like an achievement. So I think that's also really cool and just, yeah, remarkable.
Kristin: 00:41:11 I think it is a luxury cuz like what we were talking about 19, 17 movie , I mean there were no luxuries there. Like if you got drafted to the front lines, that's where you were going. And this is happening now in other countries around the world. Yeah. And you know, like in Ukraine especially, but people don't have freedom of movement or freedom of choice. How they live their lives in a lot of scenarios. Yep. Depending on where you're born and that's not fair. Yeah. And so I think we're starting to open up those possibilities and this generation and hopefully, in another a hundred years from now, people will think that it was crazy. Yeah. Yeah. That you couldn't just live in any country you wanted to. Like that is the utopia that I see in the future. So anyway, tangent. But yeah
Niklas 00:42:01 <laugh>, I think it's relevant, right? Because we had a class, it was European business law or something and we went through the history of the formation of Europe and how that all worked. And the professor always said like Europe is the best thing that has ever happened on this continent and we don't realize it and we don't see it and we take it for granted and we're actually reversing with things like Brexit, right? And States becoming more nationalistic again, everybody's more looking after themselves, looking inward and so on. And he said we have to watch this, we can't throw this away because it's the best thing that has happened. And as a European citizen you don't really think about it because you just think about your life in your country and this is where you're at. And most people do the same thing, right?
Niklas 00:42:39 Like they grow up in one town, most of them stay and the people that do leave go to the next town that is like an hour away or something like that. But once you do and you come back and my girlfriend also, she's from Malaysia, she's Chinese heritage so she has a Malaysian passport. Uh, she went to the UK to study which was very hard to get there, to get the visa, to get all of this approved. And she's been there now for 10 years and she recently got her citizenship and it was huge. And now of course a lot more doors are open and we've had like we've been traveling back and forth between London, Munich, seeing each other and so on. And this is the first time I ever felt borders cuz I have the German passport, it's like one of the top three passports worldwide or something in terms of how many countries you can go to very freely.
Niklas 00:43:21 And I had never run into these things before. But then with my government I started seeing it like one time she got rejected for example, during the whole covid restriction thing. Cause it was not clear if you're not a married couple but you are a couple but you know this person has a Malaysian passport but lives in the uk, has a residency there and goes to Germany and how does all that work? And so it was very humbling. It was just humbling to see like, okay, borders for people, it's real, but it's not real for me and it's like something, it makes me feel bad, right? It makes you feel guilty almost sometimes. Cuz I can walk through any passport control and it's like the automated thing where you just put the passport, it blinks, the door opens and you go through and that's actually, it's becoming a more surreal experience to me.
Niklas 00:43:59 And I'm also just becoming a lot more grateful for it and just realizing it more that it's actually a thing. So in that sense, I think yeah, if you're in Europe you should definitely use it the most I've used it as a child was to go to France because it was literally 30 minute drive and we can just drive from my house to France to buy fish or fresh goods or whatever. But we never really realized how big of a thing that actually is. And yeah, so now I try to do it more. I try to like visit friends in Barcelona and so on and do little trips every now and then and also just explore more around Europe, which is where I am rather than looking further away. But yes, it's a huge privilege and often we're taking it for granted but we shouldn't and we should definitely make use of it because it is a very good thing this whole open border system that we have.
Kristin: 00:44:42 Yeah, it, it's kind of like history repeating itself again, the way that things started to become more individualistic, more nationalistic. So we'll have to see which way things weigh out in the end or at least in our lifetimes. But just as you were mentioning that, you reminded me of an interview I did with the illustrator for Digital Nomads For Dummies who she has her own freelance business and everything. I just found her online and asked if we could use some of her art for my book. But she's from Vietnam and so I interviewed her for the podcast and we'll link back to that one in the show notes for people who missed it. But yeah, just hearing her stories of how she planned her life based on where she could go with her passport. And she ended up getting stuck in Malaysia during the pandemic, which was a blessing in disguise.
Kristin: 00:45:32 You were talking about with living in the US for nine months. She was only planning to go there for a short period of time and she was able to stay for over a year I think. But the number of countries she can go to visa free is so limited and probably your girlfriend can relate. Being from Southeast Asia, it's a lot different compared to if you come from Germany or the US But the weird thing about having a US passport, I'm not sure what the stats are of how many US citizens have a passport. But in a way it's the US is the land of opportunity, but many people are also trapped in the US because it's such a big country. Yeah. And so whereas from Germany you can just drive 30 minutes to get to the next state. In Florida, if you live in south Florida, it takes six to eight hours to get out of the state and there's no real public transportation.
Kristin: 00:46:28 Maybe there's a bus system, but it's expensive to travel in the US and it's expensive to get off of the continent and so many people aren't even able to travel internationally. And so I think that really affects the culture too because it's so far to get to Canada, it's so far to get to Mexico unless you live in San Diego or something and you live near a border town. And so I think that really has like a big impact on the culture of the people and hopefully with travel getting cheaper and like the cheap flights and airlines that are, you know, Norwegian air and I think wow Air went out of business, maybe the Icelandic one, but there's all these like cheap flights in Europe that even to fly from one state to another in the US it can be $400. Yeah. So that's quite a bummer. But hopefully things are changing. Well how did you meet your girlfriend?
Niklas 00:47:21 Through Tinder. When she had a business trip to Munich, I knew the company she was working for and I knew the company was in Munich so I assumed she was based in Munich. But then she turns out she was based in London and they went for a skiing trip through work. Yeah. And then we just started chatting and we also had like our first date was basically a video call. Right. And she thought it was so weird cuz she had never done this sort of thing before and also met someone for the first time on video in that context I think. Whereas for me, I, I didn't had, didn't even have to think about it cuz I do it all the time for work. So I was so used to meeting people online and people I met on Medium or elsewhere and to talk to these people because they're so far away only through things like Zoom. And so I didn't even think about it and she thought, oh wow, this is kind of a weird setting. But of course like what else are you gonna do? Right. If you live far apart. That was really interesting.
Kristin: 00:48:11 Yeah. You've been together for a few years now?
Niklas 00:48:13 Yes, two and a half years.
Kristin: 00:48:15 And do you plan to move to the same place at some point?
Niklas 00:48:18 Yeah, we were thinking about Switzerland for a while cuz my girlfriend has been there and she loves it. My godfather lives there. We have some family friends and so on there. But it's actually hard for two people to move to sort of a third country together if you have different backgrounds besides the fact that it's like the most expensive country in the world or one of the top something. And the rent and everything is totally insane. But then we were like, okay, let's try to do, do Munich as an intermediary thing cuz she works in a big tech company and so she can just basically hopefully move somewhat seamlessly from one office to another. And Munich has an office here and we hope that that works out sometime in the next six months or so and then we'll try be in Munich together for a while, live together, see how that is and just take it from there basically.
Niklas 00:49:02 And then can still together go to Switzerland or something like that. But it takes a lot, awful lot of admin. It makes it easier cause I know my way around here I can introduce her, I can try to introduce her to help her build friends here and find a community here and so on. So yeah. And for Switzerland, Germans and Swiss, there's actually a language barrier. Like you wouldn't believe it but there is cuz Swiss. Swiss German. Yeah, Swiss German is very different from German. German. So there is somewhat, like when I go there I have a lag <laugh>. So <laugh>. Yeah, it's, it's interesting. But that's the plan for now. Let's, let's see how it goes.
Kristin: 00:49:36 What do you think has made your long distance relationship successful? I mean, both of you didn't really plan to have a long distance relationship, but how have you been able to make it work? Especially during the pandemic?
Niklas 00:49:48 We were lucky in the sense that London and Munich or Frankfurt, if I'm, uh, I have two options of like, depending on whether I'm at my family's house or mine, those flights used to be very cheap, like under a hundred bucks to go back and forth. So that was still very doable. The first half or so of the pandemic, the rules and everything, the regulations were slow and rolling out. So there was this window that we had where we could just spend a lot of time. And then also my job, it goes back to like me being self-employed and I can just work from wherever I want. I spent more time in London than she spent initially in Munich because just natural, right? She, she has a job. She goes to an office three days a week. They also have a hybrid, hybrid model. It helps.
Niklas 00:50:28 But I spent more time there and sometimes I would spend like four weeks in a stretch or something. So, and if we didn't have that, if we both had separate jobs, it would've been really difficult. I think especially with the whole pandemic thing coming about now, it's becoming more trickier. Flights are getting more expensive with the gas prices and everything, but now we have a better rhythm and we're just plan in advance and so on. So, so we always make sure, okay, when's the next thing? When's the next time we're gonna be spending time together? And so on and so forth. And you also settle more into your rhythm in your routine. But yeah, I think in the beginning it really helped that there was this Europe, basically like this fight Brexit, it was still Europe. Like this cheap, Yeah, flight and easy connection between the two cities.
Kristin: 00:51:08 Hey there, Kristin here. Did you know that I have a weekly newsletter? You can stay in touch and receive an email from me every Friday by going to travelingwithkristin.com/subscribe. You'll be the first to know about new projects, videos, and opportunities for attending meetups live streams, and more. You'll also get a lot of travel and remote work tips, insights, and thoughts that I don't share anywhere else. Sign up today at travelingwithkristin.com/subscribe. And now back to the show.
Kristin: 00:51:45 Well, let's shift a little bit into how you make money online. And something that you do that I, I really love is you write on your blog. I think you've been doing this for a long time now, like since you've had the blog maybe like what I'm doing now. And you put your three priorities and right now it says your three things are your daily blog writing, your second book and running four-minute books. And you've also published on your personal blog about how you prioritize different life categories at different times. So right now I'm sure your girlfriend and your relationship is a big focus, but your friends and family time had dropped at the time of writing that blog down to like 5% of your time. So can you give us some insight into why you choose these three priorities and how you manage your time being self-employed?
Niklas 00:52:46 Okay, the first thing I have to say is that I totally stole that from Direct Server. I think he started this whole now thing.
Kristin: 00:52:52 I love him.
Niklas 00:52:52 Yeah, he's great. So you just make this page slash now on your website and you just tell people what you are working on right now and you try to update it somewhat regularly. So people can always have an easy reference if they wanna know what you're up to bigger picture is–
Kristin: 00:53:05 I'm gonna do that too. <laugh>.
Niklas 00:53:06 Mm-hmm, <affirmative>. It's really cool. So both the Daily blog and the books are sort of long-term strategic shifts for me. So the first five, six years of my business I was doing a lot of stuff. I was trying a lot of stuff, I was trying to see what worked. Initially I would make money every way, whichever I was freelancing, like consulting people on marketing, like doing all these unrelated things basically. And then with Four Minute Books with Medium, it got a little more focused towards writing. And so Four Minute Books became this consistent project. And then I was writing on Medium, I was writing on Quora, I was writing on my blog and I continued to, kept trying to make money writing but writing what I want. So I started with freelancing and writing basically for other people. And I didn't like that from the beginning. I wanna write what I wanna write and I realized it's way harder to make money that way than just writing whatever there is a demand for.
Niklas 00:53:55 So I've been on that train for a while and I was writing on Medium and using their partner program also for a while. And then somewhat two years ago I was also running a publication there as an editor and sort of the trajectory medium, the algorithm, the payments, everything, it slowed down, it went down. And instead of, usually I would lean into it, I would try to work harder, I would try to compensate for it. But at that time, I don't know, it just felt like a good time to start writing, getting into books because I was also getting a little bit bored of myself and myself and my stuff. And so I was like, okay, books is kind of, if you're a writer and if you actually are like a writer's writer or whatever you wanna call it an author, then that's kind of the end game. That's kind of where you have to go anyway. So why not do it now? There's never a good time to write a book by the way. It's always a terrible time to write a book. I'm sure you would attest to that <laugh> book.
Kristin: 00:54:40 Yeah, no, you never have time to write a book. But one thing Ryan said was that you don't actually have more time when you're not writing a book. Like you just kind of waste the time that you wouldn't spent writing the book.
Niklas 00:54:53 Oh, that's a good point. I love it. yeah. So I was like, okay, you know, let me try and do this. And so I was like, okay, I need this mark shift in focus. And that's also why I started writing daily on my blogs. Like, my WordPress website is about a whole ownership thing, right? I mean now this whole decentralization and so on is is getting bigger and bigger. But I've been on so many platforms, Medium, Quora and so on. And sooner or later I feel like they've somewhat let me down. They've been very good to me, I've had very good opportunities there, lots of followers in some cases made some good money and Medium and so on. But over time I'm like an animal grazing in like the Savannah and as long as the grass is green, it's all fun and games. And then when the sun comes, and it dries up, it's no longer fun and I have to go somewhere else.
Niklas 00:55:37 And I really felt like going home, like doing my own thing. And so saying, okay, I'm gonna ride a daily block, just a short thing every day to make sure I keep riding, keep practicing, that's gonna be my baseline. And then I'm gonna do books. And the books are obviously are gonna take long. So the Daily Blog is kind of the counterweight to that to keep me sort of anchored and make me less anxious by shipping things actually like every day, like posting a little something and so on. So that's why I chose those two. And that's my main focus. That's the first thing I do every day. Like I spent my mornings on that kind of stuff. And then Four Minute Books, that's basically just the one thing that has worked very consistently over the years. And so I've gone on and off in terms of worked very little on it or I spend a lot of time every week working on it.
Niklas 00:56:18 And now I do it somewhat regularly, but it also, it it's a bit of an ebb and flow. Some weeks I do a lot, lot, some weeks I don't. But that's kind of my day job. And I'm also fortunate enough that that provides enough income that I can take some money out of there, live off that, reinvest some of it into growing our YouTube channel or whatever else we might wanna do, and then use the rest of my time to write books and write my blog and just try to make that whole thing work, which is probably gonna take a few years. But yeah, that's fun.
Kristin: 00:56:43 I have so many questions about how this works because we'll tell people what Four Minute Books is because I've haven't used it before. Like I always knew that you had it, but I was like, I'm too busy to read books in four minutes, you know <laugh>, right, right. I'm gonna sign up now because the lifetime membership is only $39. So yeah, tell people whatFour Minute Books is and then we'll get into behind-the-scenes of how you do it because it is a staggering amount of content on there.
Niklas 00:57:12 Okay. So Four Minute Books is essentially a collection of over a thousand at this point. Free book summaries, which you can read in roughly four minutes, give or take. And with each summary,, you can learn three lessons from a good non-fiction book and that's about it. So we have a very simple format, an intro, three lessons, a short review, some bo, some pointers at the end, and that's the base. And we provide these summaries for free and they rank quite well on Google. That's where we get like 95% plus of our traffic from. And people come to the site, they search for summaries and then they find other summaries. And then we are affiliates with companies like Blinkers, Instead, Uptime, like various places we do sponsorships, we have ads on the site. So yeah, we just monetize in in various ways. And we have our own little membership.
Niklas 00:57:57 We don't have an app, it's literally me in a bunch of freelancers. So we don't have like a whole team doing a super smooth app or anything like that. It just, when you get the lifetime membership, you get audio for almost all of the summaries, like well over a thousand audios that you can just download on your phone or put in your podcast feed. You get all the summaries in PDF, you get like this Evernote notebook where you can customize bits and take it out and sort it for yourself and use it for your own knowledge management and a whole bunch of other goodies. And so we also sell those on the website. But yeah, the main part is basically it's like a huge catalog of free book summaries of nonfiction books. And then yeah, we just monetize the traffic and everything we get in a variety of ways.
Kristin: 00:58:35 What would you say is your biggest source of revenue for four minute books?
Niklas 00:58:39 Right now it's ads. I'm pretty sure it used to be blinkers, and we used to only do blinkers for a long time, but then we were also highly dependent on blinkers. And so over time we just diversified. And right now the ads are doing well. It's also quite seasonal, like Friday early towards the end of the year, New Year's Resolutions goals, things like blinkers work really well cause people use it. I wanna build a learning habit, I wanna build a reading habit. Whereas, yeah, ads are doing better in the intermittent time or spring especially. And then summer is always a bit of a reading lull, right? Because everyone's outside and doing things and so on. So it fluctuates. But right now I think the ads are probably the biggest and then Link is or a a few yet in general is probably the second biggest, but it's not super far apart. It's not like one is 10 x the other, so it's relatively close.
Kristin: 00:59:24 And then how do you get the advertisers? Do they come to you or do you do outreach?
Niklas 00:59:30 We use a company called Mediavine. I think it's also SF based startup and they're using tech to do it, the placements. So it's sort of like this plugin you install, you have to satisfy a bunch of technological criteria. But once you have it installed and set up, it's really cool. You just basically you decide where you wanna place ads and where you don't wanna place ads. And then the company has a software tool that does it and I think it's an auction model, right, where they tap into other advertisers programs like Google Ads and so on. And then everything gets placed automatically and you get paid out based on I think impressions.
Kristin: 01:00:02 Okay, that's cool. And then I would think that Blankest would be a competitor, but does it compliment your business to be an affiliate of them because they also provide book summaries?
Niklas 01:00:14 Yes. It was one of those things where, what is it? You can't see the forest for the trees <laugh>. Uh, so it was one of those where in the beginning I always thought what are we doing? Like are we just cannibalizing ourselves or what is this weird relationship like how does that work? But actually, and I spoke to blinkers about this at some point also it's quite beneficial cause we do something that they can't do, which is share the content for free because all of their content is in their paid app. And so if they were to just post these summaries on their website or whatever, like they couldn't make any money from them, right? Cuz they charge for the subscription mainly. Whereas we use the summaries themselves to attract people to get distribution and then we monetize in other ways. And they also said like it's better for them to have a partner like us doing something like this and then referring people to them than them trying to do something like this themselves and potentially ruining their business model or something where people are like, what should I do now?
Niklas 01:01:07 Should I go with the free one or the paid one Or like whereas this is like okay, I'm doing this for free. And also because of the format, the format really helped in that it's three lessons, it's an excerpt, it's a teaser for a book. It's not always, sometimes books have three main points and they summarize really well in our format. It's a thousand words roundabout, but most of the time you just give a snapshot, you give a preview. And that was one of the goals why I did it also in this way is to get people interested in the actual book and to read more books. If you feel like you don't have time, if you feel like all you can afford is these three, four minutes, then come to our side read a bit and hopefully by the time you're done you're hooked and you actually order some books on Amazon or you get a blinky subscription or you do something where you double down on your reading. So that's really the ulterior motive.
Kristin: 01:01:50 Yeah, I love that cuz there's so many books in the world that you know you can't read them all and there's so many I have on my list and I'm like I really wanna read this book. But getting this preview or summary of the book can help you decide if you wanna invest the hours it takes to read the whole book. And so I think that's really valuable. You mentioned before we were in the interview that you almost sold the business, so I wanna ask you about that. But first, how did you build four-minute books? You wrote on a blog post that you did one book summary per day for almost a whole year. How did you do that? Did you read all of those books and then summarize them, one per day? <laugh>, what's your secret?
Niklas 01:02:37 No, so when I started it, it grew out of my writing habit and I was like, I wanna write more regularly, I wanna publish very regularly, I wanna make sure I keep practicing writing. And so it became this kind of in and out system where I was like I can take one book as the input, put that in and I have one output, which is a book summary At the end of the day I don't have to think, I know I'm gonna learn how this structure works and I'm gonna get better at it, but I don't have to think a lot about which idea am am I gonna come up with and so on. Which now is a little bit easier with the daily blog after I have years of experience but it wasn't in the beginning. So this whole having like this setup where I'm gonna publish one thing a day and it's gonna look like we have a whole team, but it's basically just me doing it.
Niklas 01:03:19 That was super, super helpful and I would recommend something like that. I have a write like a pro, like an online course about writing where I just, after four yearsyears, I just put everything together that I knew at that point. And one of the things is like, it's like the in and out content system. I'm like pick one input for every output that you wanna create and then make a 30-day plan and then say 30 days, this is what I'm gonna write about and pick it in advance and just make sure every day you read that one article you watched that one YouTube video, whatever your source is and then you try to talk about it in your own way, expand on it, whatever you do. But you have one clear output that's tied to one clear input and it's gonna make it so much easier to just get started basically.
Niklas 01:03:58 So the way I did it there is that I started with 30, 40 plus non-fiction books that I had read. I just went back to those and I tried to extract it and in the beginning I tried to summarize the books in full and I realized it's never gonna work cuz it takes way too much time. And then I just actually went on Blinkist and other apps like that and I just read across the whole thing and I tried to pick some like specific examples or peculiar bullets from that book in particular. And then I try to add my own creative lessons. Sometimes the lessons are very meta, sometimes the lessons are about the structure of the book or the background of the author or like the added creativity. I think it actually helps people say they really like our summaries because they are creative and they have these unique examples.
Niklas 01:04:36 And we also ask now the writers, I tell them, use your own life as if you have an example from your own life. If it's talking about running and you love running, by all means, talk about it, right? We're not trying to stay super close to the book, we're trying to get the essence of the lesson, like the point that's important. And if your story like we are probably gonna do a better job selling that lesson. If you use your own story then if you try to emulate the author super closely. Yeah, so it started like by summarizing summaries basically that was what helped get it rolling. I did that for the first year and that sort of set the base of the traffic and everything. Uh, I think by the end of the first year we had around 10,000 visitors a month and a few months in it was making like 5, 6, 700 bucks a month. And I remember I had some guest posts or something on, on Reddit and people were just telling me it's stupid and I should shut this down immediately. Uh, <laugh> that, it's like never gonna make any money basically <laugh> like the usual. But after a year it was reasonably on track and I think I dropped the frequency to once a week at that point. And I did that for two more years and then I started hiring people slowly to help with adding more summaries, monetizing in other ways and so on.
Kristin: 01:05:38 Who were the first people that you hired? Like a freelance writer?
Niklas 01:05:42 I think initially I made a little training for how to write the summaries based on what I knew, like a little video course. And I just emailed the email list and people that we had and I said it's open applications, you can go through this training, you can write a demo summary if you want and if it's good we'll get you work and if not we'll tell you what it needs, how you need to improve it so you can get work. And I hired like six, seven people to write these summaries and also post a bit more. And then eventually I ended up settling on one, Luke Rollie is his name, I think he also has, he has a block called gold engineer I think. And eventually he came on and did a lot of stuff on top of just the summaries like managing the whole back end of the site and so on. And so for a while I was working exclusively with him and now I have I think two VAs and one person doing YouTube and one person from an agency that a friend has that's doing content that is writing the summaries. So it's about four or five people all doing part-time. Yeah, freelance taking different responsibilities in part-time.
Kristin: 01:06:39 That's incredible. And how do you manage them as a team? You're the CEO, right?
Niklas 01:06:46 <laugh>? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically, it still feels weird like this whole it's is a bit of a odd title for this kind of business I think. But that's what I am doing. And we just used Slack, I set up a Trello board two years ago or something. I started this a Trello board with all the processes. I made video tutorials, I made the exact checklist step by step, this is how you upload a summary to WordPress, this is how you upload a video, this is how you write a summary and so on. I was like, if I'm gonna hand this off at some point potentially if I might do that then this needs to be in place. And also for me to just, if someone you know leaves and we have to replace them, we just need processes. So I was working on that a lot like two-ish years ago.
Niklas 01:07:22 But then the day-to-day is really just Slack and everybody know needs to know. I try to train people really well when I onboard them so that they know what they need to do and then it's just rotations and I try to keep people's tasks contained also. So like at some point I realized that okay, it makes sense if this one VA is helping us with scheduling the summaries and scheduling our newsletter. And that's sort of a big enough task pool that she can repeat it weekly and it works really well then don't temper with it that, don't mess with it, don't throw 10 other tasks that are like these one-off projects that we wanna do into her lap. Then she's gonna drop some of the regular stuff of the routine stuff like okay, can we get another VA from the same agency? We have another VA, Josh, who is doing more one-off projects like updating the structure of a summaries, deleting buttons, fixing things on WordPress, whatever else. So I wanna say compartmentalization helps a lot and just having documentation and training and just setting that up. It takes a lot of work to do it upfront. It's not fun but uh, you'll be so glad you did it afterwards and then you just, you can send things to people at any time in terms of instructions and you just need a few Slack messages every week to manage what you have.
Kristin: 01:08:29 Did you use Loom to record yourself or how did you record your videos of how to do everything and then where do you store those documents, like your systems and processes?
Niklas 01:08:40 I use Camtasia. I think I got Camtasia in like some kind of AppSumo deal or something years ago. And so that's working really well. You can record your screen and your camera and microphone input and you can record everything at the same time. But most of the time I just do a screen and voiceover and just post those on YouTube. Now that we have our own YouTube channel, I just post them as unlisted. So it's sort of in the backend of our YouTube channel. We have all of our tutorials and documentation internally if someone needs it and it's tied to the business YouTube channel. And so I put them there. And the rest is I have Google workspace account or, or business, I dunno, G-Suite, what it used to be called. We use Drive Excel. We use Dropbox and Evernote also, which are part of the lifetime membership, what people get there. So we mostly use free tools and almost all of it is cloud-based. And then we use a Trello board for the processes where the sort of the workflows are stored but then they have attachments to the cards and things like that.
Kristin: 01:09:37 That's super helpful. Yeah, because for people who haven't checked it out yet, you've got, for each summary there's a YouTube video that goes along with it. There's sometimes like an interactive stuff it looks like or Yeah, the Evernote linking and it's really impressive the amount of content you make for each book. And you mentioned that you plan everything in advance, so how far ahead of your content schedule are you?
Niklas 01:10:04 So in terms of the planning, I think a year or two ago I started doing it almost yearly. So at the beginning of the year I spend a lot of time picking the summaries that we're gonna do. Right now we're doing three a week. We have gone up and down in terms of cadence, but right now we're doing three a week that seems to be working well. And so we're just sticking with that. So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 2:00 PM Central European time, we're coming out with a new summary on the website. Every Friday we upload a YouTube video that's once a week and where the summaries are basically just animated, it's an animated format, some music, some audio obviously reading it. So we settled into that rhythm and that works well. And so it's also not too much to do the planning in advance because I need to come up with like 150 titles.
Niklas 01:10:50 I just do research for like two days or something, what people are searching for, what are new best sellers, popular books that have come out in the last year. And then sometimes I'll update one if, if something comes out that's like this mega bestseller, the next atomic habits or whatever, then I can always change that and say, okay, you know what, instead of two weeks from now we're gonna do that one instead of another one. Because the company I'm working with is working uh, week to week and we have a backlog of I think 12 or so titles. So we have some backup buffer basically in case we need it. But the rest is pretty real time. So it's not super far. It's not like we have all the summaries super far in advance. It's just that we have planned everything. We have mapped out everything quite well in advance so we know what we need to do, but then we mostly do it in real time and we have some buffer in case of emergencies, vacations, whatever else.
Kristin: 01:11:35 Yeah, it's really important to have a buffer <laugh>. I've had a ranging buffer that deleted down to zero when I started writing my book <laugh>. I ran out of buffer. But that's really important for any content creators. I would say at least like 4, 2, 12 weeks of buffer time. I think a lot of people do like between four to six weeks ahead. or even if you can get two weeks ahead, like just having some buffer in case you get sick or you wanna go somewhere or you just need a week off or something like that. But I wanna just commend you on what you've created here because even from the beginning of this interview, talking about how you started writing posts for other people and you started just kind of doing everything, like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. And then now you built your site to 10,000 views per month and now 300,000 plus views per month. That's really, really cool. So congratulations on that. And it just shows how doing a little bit of work every day and being consistent, how you can create something super impactful in just a few years. You mentioned that you thought of selling it. Is that your exit strategy or why did you think of selling it before? And then why did you change your mind?
Niklas 01:12:53 Thank you first of all. Yeah, it's definitely a really good example of compounding and how it just works and how it adds up. And also I think that that gave me some perspective in terms of how does compounding not work when you go on a platform and cause after I did that in 2016, the book summary a day thing, I went on Quora and I did the same thing for nine months. I answered a question every day and that also compounded, but eventually, it didn't really translate into money cuz Quora didn't have any monetization at the time and they added some later, but they monetized questions instead of answers which I was writing and and so on and so forth. And so like when you trust yourself, when you do the thing you wanna do monetizedand you sort of build it for yourself, even if it takes a long time, it's probably gonna be more fun.
Niklas 01:13:33 When it's more fun, you're more likely to stick to it and then in the long run it will compound. And uh, we're saying the same thing now with our YouTube channel. We've been doing it for two years. We got I think around a year ago. So the first year was like all investment basically the second year still mostly investment. We haven't made back remotely what we spent on it, but now you can see the curve is ticking up. We just passed like 10,000 subscribers and, and you saw this also right with your channel like at some point something goes viral and you get a lot of people in Mongo and it does work. Like you can't have faith in these longer run curves, especially if you build it for yourself. If you do something sort of you believe in and you're like, okay, this is my corner of the internet, this is is my place where I'm building everything, that's kind of the best, the most comfy place I think to do it.
Niklas 01:14:15 In terms of the sale and the selling it, yeah, it was around the time when I started doing less on Medium. I stepped on for my role as editor for a Better Marketing, which a Medium publication. And I knew I wanted to do books and I was thinking about just doing books full-time, like whether I was gonna try to do that and just solely focus on that part and my creative writing and and so on. And also sell four-minute books to just sort of have that off my back of my mind. And then ultimately, so I was talking to several companies, several interested parties about selling it, but I basically couldn't find someone for whom it was such a good strategic fit that they would've paid a very high multiple on it. So I think at the time the revenue was probably, I don't know, maybe $80,000 a year or something.
Niklas 01:15:03 So not all profit but we have a very good margin cuz we don't have that much in costs. And I think the highest I could get was probably around 200 something thousand in terms of for it. And I was like if you pay German taxes on that, if you pay like half or whatever in taxes depending on how, how your bill ends and then there's not that much debt to invest and you need to live off it and how long does that last and so on. It was also my baby, right? It is my baby and but business is kind of like a child I think. And after like five, six years it's finally maturing. It can sort of walk on its own a little bit and you can leave it alone for a few minutes. And so I would want a lot more to walk away from this.
Niklas 01:15:37 Like I, I don't feel comfortable like letting it go. It feels like just not the right thing. So that was the main impetus why I didn't sell it at the time and now I'm thinking it's actually good. I still, I'm open to selling it down the line. This is not something I think I have to do for the rest of my life, but I can see a lot more ways we can do good things to make people read more and to just bring reading to people in fun ways. So there's so much more I think we can do. It has so much more potential to grow. And it also is really beneficial for me writing books because I can just promote my books through my own website because every time I have a new one I'll be like, hey, I got another book. And it's not like I have to sell it by any means. I'm no longer superfast about that or or trying to get rid of it or anything like that. Yeah, it's grown on me since then a lot more. And so now I'm just open to whatever comes.
Kristin: 01:16:20 And you start to benefit from that uptick in the curve. It can start kicking in after five years, after 10 years, 8t and a half years. Like you don't know when you're gonna get those exponential gains and returns. And if you look back at where businesses sold and then what they're valued at now, it's pretty interesting. Especially when I think of things like Instagram and WhatsApp being sold to Facebook and at the time the price tag seemed so astronomically high and ridiculous and you had the media out there saying like this was a horrible investment and blah blah blah. And then Mark Zuckerberg is like, yeah, yeah, whatever <laugh>. You know like they don't care what those people think. Just like you didn't care what the people on Reddit thought saying that your idea was stupid or whatever. You just just can not care what people think and then they're gonna go on and be internet trolls about the next topic that the media puts in front of them and just let them go down their downward spiral while you jump into the upward spiral. That's the way I see it.
Niklas 01:17:23 <laugh> nice, the way to tie it back to bring us all the way back to the beginning. Very good.
Kristin: 01:17:27 Yes, <laugh>, that's the way that things go without planning. Like we were talking about before this interview, I was like, I have a lot of things to ask you about. We don't know where this interview's gonna go but we have faith in the creative muse <laugh> and the process. And also this kind of reminds me a bit of philosopher's notes, I'm sure you know about
Niklas 01:17:46 Oh yes, yep. Yeah I know. Yeah.
Kristin: 01:17:48 I used to look get their emails back in. It had to be 2007, 2008 and I think it's like massive right now and the guy who started it, I forget his name, but it just goes to show that if you do a thing it starts really small but if you keep doing it, it gets bigger.
Niklas 01:18:07 Yes. Uh,
Kristin: 01:18:09 Don't Give up.
Niklas 01:18:09 I think now they uh, I was looking at it recently and Brian Johnson I think is his name and I think he rebranded and they're shifting. Yeah, the company's called Heroic Now I think. And the philosophers notes to optimize this program. It used to be a pay program and now everything is free cause they raised a lot of money and they have a B Corp I think. So it's a charity, like a charitable for-profit business, something like that and I think they raised like the most money, any business of that kind has ever raised like 50 million or a lot of money. To basically build a lot more education still you never know where it goes. Right. Like it started as this, okay, he was doing it for himself, he was learning, he was summarizing, he started selling it. People really wanted that.
Niklas 01:18:48 He made it into a whole learning community, paid membership, like this more lifestyle kind of business where live really comfortably offered at some point. And then now he came back down, he's like, wow now like I wanna give back, I wanna make this a lot bigger. The original stuff is all free and then you can pay for higher price training or educational things and so on. But it's a different direction. But it all compounds. It still compounds. And for me also to see like the synergies between all of the stuff that I have been doing, it's not always obvious, it's not always like a very massive overlap but usually, it's there and that's also a really cool thing to see. The stuff you stick to for the longest is gonna set up all your other stuff and make it slightly easier over time. Just like once you see that kind of feedback, it makes it a little easier also to stick. Stick with what you have.
Kristin: 01:19:37 Yeah. And it's all writing-related. It's like the blog. Yeah. Writing on medium and you can publish your blogs on Medium too. Writing a book and then summarizing books. It's all re related to writing. Yes. Um, what is your next big Goal?
Niklas 01:19:52 It's actually easy to name the goal, not to accomplish the goal by the way, <laugh>
Kristin: 01:19:56 <laugh>,
Niklas 01:19:57 I want to publish a non-fiction book that sells a hundred thousand copies or more. I definitely wanna write fiction at some point. I used to govel up fiction as a child and thankfully I'm reading–reading more of it again now. And I think that's where I'll really come into my own eventually. And I'm using a lot of fiction. My non-fiction writing already. People who have read myself on Medium over the years know this. I always wrote about movie scenes and Superman and Heroes and whatever else and I just pulled from all kinds of sources. But nonfiction is what I've done all these years. It's what I know and I also really like it. And I think there's a bunch of cool books I can make there. So I'm starting now with some book summarizing stuff. That was kind of the first book that I did.
Niklas 01:20:36 So it was based around Four Minute books. The ones coming out now very soon. I ordered the first proof copy today, so Fingers Crossed is gonna be out in like four to six weeks. It's gonna be short pep talks basically. So it's more of my creative writing on, but the shorter ones, I'm gonna do one with more of my longer form essay. So right now I'm just working with what I have to learn this whole process of how to publish a book and yeah, just learn basically. But then eventually I wanna do one that has this big idea and that can be just a big seller or even like a back catalog bestseller, how they say. I think that's actually, I really love those, you know the books that they're always around, they're always selling like that book you mentioned, right? How to Steal Like an Artist, I think it's been out for 10 plus years or something and you're just consistently selling. It's not something that's gets thrown in your face all the time, but it sells well. It's consistently there. So something like that, that will be really cool. And by that point I'll probably say, okay, yeah, now let's try fiction and start from zero again and like try to make this work.
Kristin: 01:21:31 Yeah, yeah. And I had never heard of that before. I think part of it is living a travel lifestyle, you miss a big portion of pop culture from your own country. Like I missed a huge, the whole rise of YouTube because I didn't have internet at my house in Costa Rica <laugh>. So like I just didn't watch YouTube, I didn't really know it was a thing. And my ex-boyfriend used to reference videos that went viral on YouTube that like everyone saw back in the cat video days. And I would be like, I have no idea what you're talking about <laugh> or like gifs and things like that. And it's like this book, I just saw it sitting on the counter and this indie bookstore and I'm like, oh what's that? And I bought it just literally at the counter in Full Buy. But then I was in Barnes and Noble and I saw a stack of Atomic Habits books on the table and I'm like, this book is never going away. <laugh>
Niklas 01:22:21 <laugh>.
Kristin: 01:22:21 Yeah, this book is gonna be here forever. And I've bought that book and like given it to other people too. Ryan Holiday has a good book called Perennial Seller that is good for that. You've probably read it and summarized it for anyone who wants to write fiction. And also for you a tip just in case one day I was listening to a random podcast by Tim Ferris. And he was talking to Steven Pressfield and Steven Pressfield was encouraging him to write fiction because Tim was like, how the hell did you write this book? I actually think it was Gates of Fire. That was the book they were talking about. Amazing book by the way, like incredible book. And Tim was like, I've always wanted to write fiction but I didn't know how how to do it. And so Steven Pressfield was challenging him to do it and it's kind of what you said at the beginning, it's just learning the process.
Kristin: 01:23:11 Like there's a structure behind everything and the more mysterious something is when you just look behind the scenes and see how it's done, it's not that impressive. It's just a framework or a process for doing it. So that's why when you know how magic tricks are done, they're no longer impressive. Yeah. But learning how the 1917 movie was filmed, that was actually very impressive. But now if I watch it again I can see how they built those scenes, how they lit the scenes, it's just all stuff that happens behind the scenes. It's the same process that you used for figuring out how to summarize a book. You look at the people that are doing it the best. You look at Blankest, you wanna write a fiction book, start listening to Stephen Pressfield's interviews <laugh>, figure out how to do it. And so I'll link to that one in the show notes and send it to you as well so you can get a glimpse into that and and just plant the seed for your future as a fiction writer. But I wanted to ask before you go, what is something that you're struggling with right now?
Niklas 01:24:13 Since I started with the books, the problem has been finishing books <laugh>, that's really hard, just turns out. So it's very easy for me to start things because I used to just write an article every day or even if I wrote on sometimes my medium articles took longer to write like a few days or a few sessions over a course of a week, but never that long. And now I have something where I know this is not gonna come out until in a year, half a year at least. And so it was very easy to start cuz I have a big pool of articles where I can draw from and I can start from, I have lots of new ideas also that I wanna do. So I think I've probably started drafting 6, 7, 8 books or something already. But I then went from one to the other to the other. And because there's always a point when it gets hard, I've also learned that structuring it helps a lot. And I mean Steven Pressfield talks about that and he's another good book. Nobody wants to read Your shit I think it's called. And that one has like the turnkey structure, three x structure and different turning points of how any story should go. And it applies to non-fiction as well supposedly. And
Kristin: 01:25:19 I need to read that.
Niklas 01:25:20 There's a lot you can do and it's helped me a lot with the Four Minute Millionaire, which was the first book to just structure it, to just spend a lot of time upfront on the structure. Because once I knew first chapter to last chapter, this is what I need to cover, this is what I want to do, it was much easier to plow through it and write everything and then start the editing. Then if you have a half-baked structure or even not a structure at all and you have just have a bunch of chapters and you try to go from there because then you're like left, right, where am I going? And then you realize at some point you're climbing up a hill and it's really steep and you can't really see the peak yet and then that's the part where you're very likely to quit and do something else.
Niklas 01:25:56 So yeah, okay I gotta pick one book, I gotta stick with it, I gotta write this thing until I get over that bump on the hill, wherever that is, whether it's in finding the structure up front or actually getting through the writing part or the editing. Self-editing is also super hard as anyone would probably know who's done it cuz you can't spot the big holes in your own stuff. You never can, but you end up fiddling with commas for hours. So there's also that. So yeah, I wanna get a little better at that. On the plus side, I have a bunch of drafts that I've pushed quite far so I'm confident that I can start releasing more books, especially of these earlier easier, I wanna say more casual ones where it's like a collection of my past work. So I hope I can release let's say like two to three books over the course of the next year. But let's see how it goes before I go to something bigger. But yes, definitely the whole starting book ideas, that was easy. But finishing one, like focusing enough to drive one book home, such a long-term project, that's really hard.
Kristin: 01:26:51 Yeah, I would say that writing a book was the hardest professional achievement I've ever done. And the thing about it, in case anyone else is doing some big project that they feel like they're not gonna finish, I kept waiting to get over the hump and I never felt like I got over it. Like I felt like it was equally hard the entire time. There was never really like a part where I felt like, oh, I'm finally going downhill and I'm getting momentum to finish this book. Because as soon as I finished it, the review process started and then I basically rewrote the whole book and I didn't feel like I had enough time to finish the book. Like there were so many things, like points that I got to where my brain wanted to go down the rabbit hole like, oh on this topic I really think I should read some more books about this topic of this chapter <laugh> of this book when like, you know, I wrote the whole book basically like out of my head, uh, because it's been percolating for so many years, but then there's so many things that you need to research and cite.
Kristin: 01:27:55 And that book could have taken me another three years to finish it if I, if I would've done it the way that I wanted to do it. But what really helped was having a publisher and a deadline and a team of people that didn't let me take longer to write it. So I know most books are usually past their deadlines, and mine was too, like I literally can't finish editing it in time to get it in. So I asked for an like a two week extension and I was working on it so much and I know that if I didn't have that deadline I wouldn't have worked that hard on it. Like there were days that like I spent the whole day from when I woke up to when I went to bed just on the book. And I'm sure if I wouldn't have had that deadline, if I would've made my own deadline, I would've just worked on it for one or two hours a day instead of 12 hours.
Kristin: 01:28:42 Some days there were like days where yeah, I'm just like, I'm not even going to eat or I ordered food, you know, a meal plan cuz I'm like, I don't have time to scramble an egg right now. Like every waking moment is going towards finishing the book. And so I would say having an external deadline or team that you can't control. So these are like putting in forcing functions to finishing the book, which you might be at a disadvantage when you work and you own a company that already does this. So I would say to bring in like an external maybe editor, I don't know. Well you've already published books so you already know that you can do it. It's just a matter of finishing it, maybe setting a publishing date or deadline or making it public and then working backwards from that and putting some constraint in place that you cannot move it. Like even if you want to move the deadline, you can't <laugh>. That's what helped me finish the book.
Niklas 01:29:42 Yeah, I agree. I usually don't do super well with the, in terms of the external deadlines, I'm usually good at meeting them. I would always do my homework on time and things like that. But I also realized at some point for all this writing stuff, I often don't care. I know if I like set the deadline for me it's arbitrary and I'm still outsmarting myself, right? Yeah. So I went into it blank, I went to it without this external accountability and I realized, I think in October last year or something, I was like, man, like I've been working on these books but I got nothing to show for it, so I need to do at least one book a year or like one book this year. So that became the thing. And that also, it was just so important to me, I think like it grew out of my values or whatever you wanna call it, right?
Niklas 01:30:21 Like it was so important to me to do like at least one book that year that really helped, like that worked, that probably worked better at that point than any external thing. But I was also like, yeah, at some point you definitely need to get an editor. Like it's always better to have another pair of eyes looking at your stuff than you are looking at your stuff again, especially if you're trying to publish it fast. If you don't let the manuscript just sit there for six months because you can afford to do that or whatever you're trying to ship books, then definitely at some point I want to get an external editor or something, maybe also do one or two with a publisher, see how that goes. If I can get one on board, we'll see. And now I'm more into, okay, like at least one book a year. Like I'm more driven towards that. That helps. And now also, like you said, after you've done one, it's a huge blocker result because you know you can't do it. And then now it's a bit easier I think. Let's see if it keeps getting easier, I would hope. But I don't, I, I don't expect too much. Like you said
Kristin: 01:31:11 <laugh>, that is the conundrum of life is when you haven't done something yet, you're not sure that you can do it. But then when you do it, you have proof that you did it and then that becomes part of your identity moving forward. But one of the things that I think we have to remember as humans is that we didn't know how to do anything at the beginning. Like everything we've ever done, there was a moment where we hadn't done it yet. And so we just have to remind ourselves that each new thing that we have in front of us, we can do it. It's just a matter of time, effort, figuring it out, getting help from people, you know, having an editor help with the book or something like that. So even I was on a phone call with a, a girl from another company who wanted me to work with them on a project and she's like, well this is not in my job description, I haven't done this before. And it made me think like, yeah, she can totally do it. Like I've seen her do other things that were along the same lines, but everyone has that insecurity that they're not sure if they can do it until they've done it. And that's just the brain trying to protect you. So everyone do the thing that's the secret of life. Do the thing <laugh>.
Niklas 01:32:21 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Also like Steven Pressfield, the whole resistance thing, like in the world of art, right? It's the same thing. It's like he wrote a book about golf, the Legend of Beggar Vance, which is also a fun movie by the way, if you wanna watch the movies. I haven't old at this point. I think it's quite well made because he said it's super hard to make an exciting book or a movie about golf because <laugh>, right? Like it's not like football where people get tackled all the time. But he has a thing in there. He has another book actually called The Authentic Swing, which is almost more interesting than the War of Art cuz the War of Art gives you this resistance concept. But the authentic swing is about how he wrote the legend of beggar bands and what it took to do that and how there's so many analogies between golf and writing.
Niklas 01:33:00 And at some point in the book he shares a story of like some famous golfer playing a tournament or something and let's just say the golfer's name was Higgins, I don't know. And he said basically the guy ended up losing on one of the last two holes by just mucking up for no reason. Basically, he just screwed it up for no reason at all. And he said it's not like the other guy beat Higgins. Higgins defeated Higgins. Like he just defeated himself. He beat himself because he got into his own head. And with writing, that's also the thing that most of the time or all of the time, basically, that's the thing that pulls you back and yeah, so there's so much there, but it's like he said, you can't do anything whether you have done it before or not. The cool thing about doing something once and then using that same thing like a book, like a YouTube video, whatever content you wanna make, using that same format where you know you can do it and just doing new stuff inside that format.
Niklas 01:33:50 That's sort of the, I think where you find a good balance, where you hit your stride in terms of, okay, I know I can do this thing, I'm gonna do it again, but this time I'm gonna do something different. I'm gonna make an album that is pop instead of country or write like a book about fiction than a non-fiction one and and so on. So I think that's really sort of, you gotta jump into the cold water once, at least once, but once you have something where you feel comfortable with the medium, with the format, you can explore all kinds of things and keep doing it and you know you can, but you have to be risky in sort of in terms of what you choose to talk about, what you choose to share, what, what kind of stories you tell. But that's also the most fun part where yeah, you just feel like you're rolling with it, you're having fun and you're enjoying the work, even if sometimes it's hard.
Kristin: 01:34:34 Yeah, you learn that skill, you do that thing, you integrate it as part of your skillset and then it becomes automated by your brain. So instead of being awkward and difficult and frustrating, it's just a thing that you know how to do on autopilot and then you can branch out into the next thing, you know, 1% harder, go in a different direction and that's how you evolve. So
Niklas 01:34:59 Yeah, the first time it was super hard. I think the last month or so I just spent on marketing, planning the launch of the book, getting it on Amazon, formatting for paperback, getting the cover and so on. It was fun to learn that process, but it also took quite some time and so many revisions and now I'm doing it much faster. I think I spent like two days or something or three days on it and I've already done most of the stuff and I know what it takes to get the book to where I can order a proof copy, a paperback copy and actually look at it and so on. It is fun when you have a new skillset, you have a bunch of new skills and you know next time you can rely on them and it's probably gonna go a little faster. It's a cool stage to get to. But yeah, you've gotta start somewhere.
Kristin: 01:35:36 I have a business idea for you for later, you know, keep it in your back pocket. You could actually become a publishing company for other medium writers and other authors that are self-publishing.
Niklas 01:35:50 Ah, I almost don't wanna admit this because it's probably gonna make me look like someone who just throws away money. I swear I have never spent this much money on a domain, but this week I bought a domain for like a publishing company and I spent like $2,000 or something cuz I've been eyeing that same domain for like forever and it wouldn't go down in price. It did come down in price actually from where it used to be, but my blog domain is Nik.org so I got really lucky with that one. It was really cheap. I was like, oh man, I'm was so happy when I found that cause it's short and it's memorable and I wanted the publishing company to have the same and it's uh, 365 pub, so it's gonna be 365 publishing. Uh, and I don't really know what I'm gonna do with it exactly, but I have this idea of like writing books that are kind of like the Daily Stoic where it's like a daily journal, like a page a day kind of thing.
Niklas 01:36:36 And I was like, I think that's a cool concept. You can probably do a lot of books in that concept and I'm probably not the only one who can write that kind of book and especially not on all the topics cuz I don't know too many topics on that level of detail, but it would be really cool to do it. So I was like okay just you know, bite the bullet by the thing. Hopefully it's a 10 year, 50 year career decision. Like that's what I told myself anyway. Yeah, let's see how uh it goes. And I think that's a great idea. I need to figure out how to do it. I haven't done it but this would be fun I think to have like a little indie publishing company and yeah just write cool, provide cool non-fiction books for people.
Kristin: 01:37:08 Amazing. You can, I'll publish a book with you someday. I think that's so cool that I just perceived that that would be a thing you could do and you're already doing it. I probably picked up on it that you had already bought the domain <laugh> <laugh>, but yeah that's amazing. Congratulations. And I think that's a perfect, that's like right in your wheelhouse for your skillset, and it's then the next echelon, like the next level of what you can do in life. So congratulations and thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. We're making this a double episode cuz we talked for two hours <laugh> we can probably talk for a lot longer. I wrote down so many notes from the tips that you offered today, the resources, the books that you mentioned, the software, software tools, everything. So we'll have a really action packed show notes and awesome.
Niklas 01:38:01 Yeah, thanks.
Kristin: 01:38:01 Thank you so much for being here, Nik.
Niklas 01:38:02 Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was a blast and I agree. I think we could probably keep going and yes, if there's follow up questions or we didn't cover something in detail, um, happy to be back anytime and try to have like a focus agenda or something. I'm totally game, but this was also fun. I love this whole the broad, just you go from one spark to the next and you just see what you find. I hope people also yeah, just find value in the random nuggets along the way.
Kristin: 01:38:26 Oh for sure. That's how our brains work anyway. Everything's very random, but I've had people on the podcast that I had them on two years later and it's been really cool to see how their lives have changed. one guy, he had a baby since last time I talked to him and then I just had Ayo back on the podcast Ayo Awosika and it had been more than two years since he had been on the podcast too. So we'll have you on in another year or so and we'll see what happens.
Niklas 01:38:56 Yes, hopefully, please. Like, let me say I have more books out. <laugh> <laugh>, that's,
Kristin: 01:39:03 I hope I do too. <laugh>.
Niklas 01:39:05 <laugh>.
Kristin: 01:39:06 Okay. Bye
Niklas 01:39:07 Nik. Thank you. Bye.
Kristin: 01:39:10 I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Nik, today and you know, I think this is one to bookmark and come back to because I always find his tips to be very grounded and practical, yet aspirational and inspirational. And so he has this just really down to earth manner of talking through high level concepts and helping you realize that you can actually do what you want to do. You can follow your dreams and you can do it at any time in life. So thank you Nik for coming on this show today, and thank all of you for listening. We are getting close to the 200th episode of Badass Digital Nomad.
So it's a very exciting time and I am so happy that you're here for the journey. And remember to go ahead and protect your online privacy. Sign up for an account with Private Internet Access VPN using our link in the show notes or piavpn.com/badass and get four months free plus a 30-day money-back guarantee. Save yourself some money on that online shopping too. That's at piavpn.com/badass and see you again next week.
Writer & CEO of Four Minute Books
Niklas Göke writes for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. His work has been featured on Medium, Quora, CNBC, and Business Insider and has attracted thousands of loyal readers. He also runs Four Minute Books, a website with over 1,000 free summaries of the world's best books, each of which you can read in 4 minutes or less to learn 3 valuable lessons.