A Life On Her Own Terms.
Updated: Feb 8
By Moving Forward Guest Contributor, Denise Mills.
Hard work and persistence pays off, right? As entrepreneur and author Kate Erickson explains: not always.
Kate Erickson is a partner at EOFire, a 7-day a week podcast featuring today’s most inspiring entrepreneurs. She’s also the host of her own podcast which falls under the umbrella of EO Fire called Kate’s Take: The EO Audio Blog, and her book, The Fire Path: A beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Online Business, has received 5 star reviews.
Kate’s story starts at the age of 15. While most of her friends focused solely on their schooling and sports, which she also was involved in, Kate was equally focused on whatever job role she had at the time.
“I always had a job. I’m really grateful for that because I feel like it’s really help shape my work ethic, my motivation and my drive to do amazing things.”
Struggling to find that ‘one path’ in the corporate world which would provide her with a future, she committed three years of dedicated service to a HR position within a bank. She was waiting for the formula to kick in – ‘work hard, get a pay rise and get promoted’.
“It was a great department, I was surrounded by some really amazing people, but I never felt like I was making any progress. I entered in one position, and for three years I sat in that position.”
Kate received what appeared to be her lucky break just past her three-year work anniversary, when her boss approached her with “an amazing opportunity”.
“I thought ‘oh my gosh, this is my big break. This is me climbing the corporate ladder and finally feeling like I’m being successful, and doing something with my career.’ I interviewed for the position which I was told was just a formality.“
The hiring manager told Kate how good she felt about their conversation, but just had a couple of other people she had to interview for legal purposes; “so people don’t think we’re giving you preferential treatment because you work for the company.”
Kate did not get the position.
“It was at that point – that day – that I decided I was going to leave my job…I thought to myself ‘there just has to be something else.’ ”
For Kate, that ‘something else’ was teaching.
“I wanted to teach in some capacity. I really enjoy connecting with people. I feel like engagement and connection are such a huge part of our experience as human beings.”
She soon discovered becoming a teacher was a “ridiculous process”.
“My only way into a teaching career would have been as a substitute teacher, which is not dependable income, and it’s totally random. You have to just basically be always available, and maybe not make any money for weeks or months at a time.”
Despite having no entrepreneurial knowledge or background, Kate started planning towards creating a business of her own.
“I stayed at that (banking) job in order to build a financial runway for myself. I leveraged that time to continue earning an income, to continue learning what I could…and I started thinking about what I was going to create a business around.”
Like many first time businesses, her initial venture failed.
“I went back to corporate America because I needed money. I started working in advertising and marketing, and at the time my boyfriend, John Lee Dumas, was working in commercial real estate.”
While Kate returned to some much needed stability, John came up with an entrepreneurial vision of his own. He wanted to quit his job, and start a podcast.
“I was very supportive of his idea because I could tell how passionate and excited he was about this. My job at the advertising and marketing agency was a really great position, very steady…and I was learning so so much. And so I told him ‘yes, you should totally do this.’ ”
John launched his podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire (EOFire), in September 2012, interviewing a new entrepreneur every day who had already become successful, and sharing their journey with his audience.
“A few months into his journey it really caught on. He started having thousands of listeners…he actually had people starting to reach out to him and ask him ‘can I hire you as my coach? I want to know how to start a podcast, too’ or ‘I would like to have your knowledge and advice on how I can get started in my business’. He started generating revenue.”
It was that point John asked Kate, “What if you came on board the EO Fire team?’ “
John stayed the face of the business, while Kate took care mostly of the backend, creating content and campaigns. Kate’s audio blog, Kate’s Take: The EO Audio Blog, falls under the umbrella of EOFire, and evolved as a natural progression from the written content she was creating.
“I was spending so much time writing content for the (EO Fire) blog, really trying to nail down actionable advice for people…they’d come and they’d listen to EOFire and felt really motivated, but they needed actual direction on how to make things happen.”
After writing copious amounts of content, an ‘ah ha’ moment came when Kate realized that her written blog was not the best way to reach people.
“I took a step back and thought ‘what the heck am I doing? We talk all the time about how powerful podcasting is, and we’ve seen in our own business how powerful it is to reach this worldwide audience…why would I not repurpose this content I’m creating into a podcast?’ ”
Kate’s Take: The EO Audio Blog became a platform where Kate could break down the wisdom of EOFire guests into actionable steps. Amazingly, she’d landed smack-bang in her passion: she was teaching people. It was in a different way than she originally anticipated, but a way that combined the freedom of entrepreneurship.
She puts her success down to ‘letting go’, which allowed everything she wanted to come to her in an unexpected and amazing way.
“To be able to let go of control, and trust that the journey will lead you on a path that will get you where you want to go – maybe in a much different way than what you expected. That’s really hard to do.”
It’s a great example of how doing what you love, rather than having a specific outcome in mind, can actually lead to better things than you’d ever imagined. Perhaps the universe has our back?
Listen to the full podcast here: