Episode Number: 247

Episode 247- How To Become A Side Hustle Pro With Nicaila Matthews Okome

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Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:00

Not only did I have the sponsorship revenue streams, but I'd also started my own program. So I was able to garner income from that as well. So having a few different revenue streams, not 10, but one or two to three, where you know that, "Okay, if this one is slow, like, if a sponsor doesn't pay me on time, I have my own services. I have my own products that I could sell." That will give you that peace of mind as well and that security, that financial security.

Intro 0:28

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:56

Now a word from today's sponsor, DCU. What's the point of paying off debt and reaching your financial goals if the journey isn't fun? There's a way to enjoy your life and have fun now, you just need to create a plan that leaves room for the expected and unexpected things that are bound to happen. Finding that balance so you can feel good about your life and your long term goals is essential. You need a financial institution that gets you and works with you to accomplish your goals. at DCU, Digital Federal Credit Union, you're not just another customer, you're a member who matters. DCU places an enhanced focus on providing financial education resources to members by offering learning modules on key financial topics like budgeting, saving for the unexpected, building credit, and much more. DCU also offers a secured credit card that helps individuals establish or improve their credit by borrowing securely against their DCU savings account. To learn more, check out dcu.org.

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned, and so much more. Also, whether you are An OG Journeyer or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a FREE Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Hey, Journeyers All right, so finally, I get my... I always say my podcasting sister, because like we're in a group together, but my podcast sister on this podcast, Nicaila Matthews Okome, who I find, has been a trailblazer in this space, as a black woman podcaster, talking about side hustling and then just entrepreneurship and in general, interviewing a host of other really notable entrepreneurs in this space.

So Nicaila Matthews Okome is the founder of Side Hustle Pro, a podcasting and media company that shines a light on untold narratives. In 2016, Nicaila debuted the Side Hustle Pro Podcast, the first and only podcast to spotlight bold, Black Woman entrepreneurs, who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business. And we're going to talk all about the Nicaila's journey into how she became who she became today. Doing Side Hustle Pro full time as a podcaster, but also as an entrepreneur, and then we're going to get into some tips for all my people who are working full time jobs right now. And trying to side hustle, trying to find time to make that extra money so they could potentially maybe go into something full time that they want to do or maybe keep that side hustle going, right?

So welcome, welcome, Nicaila.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:58

Thank you for having me here! I'm so happy to be here! And yes, chatting with my podcasting sister. I can't believe we haven't done this on your show yet. It's like, I'm so happy we're finally doing it. And I'm happy to share, because I really want more women to be able to just kind of create a life that's on their terms, with the flexibility that they need.

Jamila Souffrant 4:18

Yes, yes. And yes, I-- you know, this is a personal finance show. Sometimes I think I need to change that, like, people consider it just that. But it's bigger than that. I honestly think this is a life show. And money is a tool and we have to be focused on some of that, but really, I like to talk about the experience and the expertise, all these things that create and cultivate a life that allows us to be people who we want to be living those lives. So with that, Nicaila, I want to go just a little bit back, because I just read you started your podcast in 2016. And fast forward now to 2021, you've been able to do a lot with your podcast and your platform. And so I want to talk about starting Side Hustle Pro from the first, like, episode that went out. Like, how-- and I know that's gonna, like... It's a big question to answer. And then we'll go back to details. But how, like, what do you think is one of the reasons, or a few, that has allowed you to withstand and, kind of, get above the noise when it comes to a side hustle-- podcasting and doing this full time?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:15

Well, you know, that is such a good question, because it really does take a certain kind of tenacity to keep doing something, even when there's a lot of noise around you and you want-- you're tempted to look at that person and say, "Oh, they're doing this and that's working for them." So I think the number one thing that has helped me is always being laser focus on my lane. From the minute that I started Side Hustle Pro, I defined side hustling for myself, I defined what I wanted my show to be about. And that was about Black woman entrepreneurs who started as side hustlers, because at the time, I was toying with the idea of long term being an entrepreneur, starting my own business. At the time, I thought, "Okay, maybe I'll start my own marketing consultant, like, boutique agency," because my background is in social media marketing. That's where all my jobs have been in over the past several years. I have 10 years of marketing experience. So I was toying with that idea, but like most people, I was intimidated by it. And I knew I was not the type to just jump out there and start something and just, you know, be willing to grind and be hungry while I was grinding, and all that stuff. I knew that wasn't my type of life. That wasn't the experience I wanted. So I started thinking like, "Okay, I know women personally who are doing stuff on the side while they work. I want to hear more about people like this." And so that's what inspired me to start that podcast, start my podcast. And a lot of people when they think of side hustle, they think of something more hobby based. Something-- and when I say hobby, that's not to knock hobbies, but when I'm talking about side hustle, I'm talking specifically about you starting a venture on the side, a passion project, that you hope to turn into a moneymaker. That you hope to grow into a viable business. Now you can explore different side hustles, all of them don't have to turn into your full time business, but I take a more serious approach to side hustling then what you hear in society most times.

Jamila Souffrant 7:16

And actually I think, so, Journeyers, people who are called on this journey with me to financial freedom and independence, I think, ultimately, winning the game of life, or this, this whole journey that we're on, is actually finding something that you love to do, and being paid to do it, where the option isn't trying to run away, retire or quit a job. Like you literally would wake up and do this, even if you didn't get paid to do this. And so I love that you approach it from a way of, your, if you're still working full time, which a lot of people who listen to this art, but starting something which eventually can become your full time thing, maybe, maybe not maybe you try different things and figure out what works. But the whole goal is to then pivot into something that you do love. Because I know, as we know, a lot of people doing this full time thing, entrepreneurship and are not happy. And it's like another prison that they've created for themselves, just like their job.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:04

Yeah, absolutely. I'd never ever, ever want to romanticize entrepreneurship. And so that's even why sometimes I toy around with how I phrase it, you know, so I'll say, "side hustle a profitable business,." sometimes more than "side hustle to full time entrepreneurship," because entrepreneurship itself isn't the goal. It's a profitable, viable legacy, wealth building businesses, and, and life enjoyment businesses. It's businesses that give us the flexibility, like, both of us are mothers now. And we have found ourselves creating a life where we have the flexibility to, if we need to, pause life, pause business for a bit, take care of what needs to be done and on the home front, but then we can also still tap into our business when we need to. So that's the kind of flexibility I want for everyone, whether you want to be a mom or not, you know whether that applies to you. I just want people have options. So yeah, it's really not just about starting any kind of business to be an entrepreneur.

Jamila Souffrant 9:00

Yes. And so what-- let's go back, because you talked about having a 10 year experience in marketing. But talk about that experience and how you are using that to help you now become successful in your business.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:13

Yes, you know, it's so funny because we all know that when we're in the moment of any experience, we don't know why we're going through what we're going through. So to backtrack a little bit. When I graduated from college, I worked in PR for a little bit and I discovered that I hated public relations, specifically the type I was doing, working with television, like, kid actors who were just brats and I was like, "This can't be my life. No, no, no."

Let's just say I was working-- I was working at Nickelodeon, so I'll let y'all get from there. You know who, who the kids were, but anywho, I was like, "I don't know. I don't know if this is for me." So I actually took a step back. I ended up leaving my job without much of a plan and moving back home with my parents. Shout out to my parents for allowing me to do that. So I was working odd jobs for a little bit. And then I started to freelance write on the side. And while I was freelance writing, this was when Twitter was really starting to become a thing. So I was sharing my articles on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram wasn't even around yet. And that led me to apply for a role as social media assistant at a company, at the time an e-Commerce startup. And that role would propel me into this world of social media marketing. So when I started that role, that was one of-- that was early days, like 2010, you know, what was it? 20? Yeah, 2010, right? And that was when people started taking social media seriously. Like brands started hiring people to do their social media. So it sounded crazy at the time, because I'm like, "Yeah, you know, I do the Facebook and the Twitter posts and everything." And people are like, "That's a job?" But it was a job. And little did I know that, that was laying the foundation for what I do today, because everything that you do, at the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you have, you have to know how to market your business. You have to know, aka, you have to know how to talk to customers about your business, and to help them understand the value and why they should tune in to your business, why they should buy from you, why they should, you know, pay for your services. So from there, all of my roles, I've gone on to work in academia. I was at Georgetown executive education for a bit, working in social media marketing. Marketing actual executive education programs. So I got to dabble in a few different areas. So I went from Georgetown to Google, working within the online marketing space. With that, went, took some time off, went back to business school, and now, coming out of business school, starting on this path into the world of online marketing, and getting paid online when I started my own business.

Jamila Souffrant 11:52

Yes. Okay. I'm glad you-- because I was gonna ask when you went to get your MBA during that timeline, because also what Nicaila is not saying, but we're gonna get into like, she's--

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:01

I feel like my story is so long, too. I'm like...

Jamila Souffrant 12:08

I like dailing back a bit, because-- so we have a couple things in common. You are Jamaican. Your family's Jamaican. So am I.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:16

I came here when I was six.

Jamila Souffrant 12:18

Okay. Yes. And you you went to school in New York?

Unknown Speaker 12:21

Yep.

Jamila Souffrant 12:21

And you're very smart, because you went to Bronx Science?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:24

Oh, yes. The Bronx High School of Science.

Jamila Souffrant 12:26

Let me tell you something, people. I did-- I did not get into Bronx Science. I took the specialized tests. If you're from New York City, you take a specialized test to get into these high schools. Bronx Science is like one of the top high schools to like academically to get into. Still is. So Nicaila's smart, y'all. She got into this and, so you went on. And I'm asking all this and going back, because I'm highlighting, kind of, your immigrant experience. And then, also your education, because when you say you're working in social media marketing to your parent,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:55

Oh my gosh.

Jamila Souffrant 12:56

How was that? You know, because even now like saying certain things to certain people who are not within this world, but just like, "You have a what? A podcast? What's that?" They still don't know. So how was that? Explaining that to them?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:07

It was hard, because they didn't really understand it. Sometimes I would try to point to "Hey, you know, I put up this post for my co -- my brand, like, this is my brand's Facebook page, you know, I write these posts," and things like that. And they're just supportive. So shout out to my parents for just being supportive, because even to this day, you know, it took a while to explain to my mom what a podcast was. And you know, she'd go to church. And-- because people on church, who are more socially savvy are friends with me, and they'd congratulate her. And she's like, you know, "So and so congratulated me. I'm not really sure what they meant... what they were talking about." But, it's like, i think she finally gets it down, but it is hard. My dad is more technology. He's more onto it. He's on my email list. So he gets it a little bit more.

Jamila Souffrant 13:53

So when it-- but when you went back for your MBA, what was the focus? Were you still intended to stay in marketing? Or were you trying to pivot to do something else?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:00

Yes. So, okay. I went back to get my MBA after I'd worked at the e-Commerce startup and worked at Georgetown. And so while at these programs, because social media marketing was so new, I was doing a lot of guessing. Which worked in my favor, because, you know, by the time I got to Georgetown, I got this fancy schmancy title, like Assistant Director of Marketing. I'm like, "Okay, boost up the resume," but I don't know what I was doing. I was doing a lot of guessing. And because of the fact that it was still so new, like the Wild Wild West, I was able to do that. Without them doing too much like digging, like, "Oh, does she really know what she's talking about?" You know, I was just speaking confidently. But what I recognized is I didn't love just being the person who would come up with ideas, but not really knowing how to prove that my ideas were effective. I didn't know how to say, "Is this money that we're spending on this these ads? Is it an effective way to spend your budget? Is an effective way to bring students into the program?" I didn't know how to prove those things. And so I wanted to get more of a, of a framework about around things like marketing. I never studied marketing, because I shied away from numbers in undergrad. So I said, "Okay, now's my time. I want to finally stop being afraid of business. Business terms, money, numbers, all of that." So that was really the impetus for me to go to business school. People go to business school for different reasons. There are a lot of people who did study finance and did do business undergrad, but they still go back for their MBA. But I know for me, personally, I was always the creative person. I studied communications in undergrad, and I wanted to finally pair those two, because I knew if I did, I would be unstoppable. And you know, I am glad that I did it. And it really paid off. But one thing I want to mention, for sure, about Business School is I went to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and they're part of what's called, "The Consortium." So they actually offer scholarships. They offer consortium grants to people of color, people who support underrepresented minorities and, and show and prove that in the work that they're doing. So I was able to get a full, full scholarship to go to business school. So that absolutely informed my decision to spend two years of my life getting my MBA, because when we're talking about-- since this is a show where we talk about money-- the decision to step away from an income, and also pay for a degree is a huge one. So as much as possible, all my Journeyers out there who are listening, please look into "The Consortium," and schools that are in "The Consortium," if you're interested in pursuing your MBA.

Jamila Souffrant 14:27

And we'll link all that. I have that in the episode show notes, we're able to do more research. But what I'm hearing too, and this is what I love about the journey and why everyone is so unique on their path when they're traveling it, because you-- there's no way you would have known, right? Like, that Side Hustle Pro would be your thing. At that point.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:47

No way, no way I would have known.

Jamila Souffrant 16:47

You were just following, like, the next, logical, smart step. And it sounds like you knew that you were lacking in this one area. And what I do love too, sometimes people go just for, like, the name of something or just to get it done. And I've done that before. It's like, "I'm just gonna do this to get it done. Just because that's what I know that the people want me to do."

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:14

Right, right. Right, right. Or it's gonna look good on the resume.

Jamila Souffrant 17:17

Right. But you are actually going for the right reasons. which was to learn and to round out, you're almost, like, your tool-- toolbox. And so I think that's really important for people who are considering and thinking about maybe their next move, or if they should add on a skill set or degree, it's like, is this adding on to your toolbox, because you really are going to take the time and, like, absorb this information and learn it? Or is it just, like, a notch on the belt? Which is fine, too. But is it a notch that you can afford? And that will actually pay off? So I think that's just something for people to consider.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:34

Is it a notch that's going to propel you, for sure, because sometimes we feel like we need all these credentials before we can get started. And you know...

Jamila Souffrant 17:17

No, but you know what too? It's also, probably, based on-- and that's why you should know yourself really well, because I-- what I can tell from you is you're very, very practical and logical. And that you like wouldn't probably jump in, like you said, like, even if you do jump into like something that you don't know, like, you kind of like then go home and like make sure you know it all. And I mean, I can tell because you got into Bronx Science in high school. Whereas, like, my personality, honestly, it's like, I learn when I need to learn it. And I'll just jump in, even if I don't know what I'm doing. I learn while I go, I don't need to be as prepared. So it's another thing for people. If you're thinking about what is your personality type? How do you learn best? And how do you thrive? Because if you tried it my way and you keep failing, maybe you need to do it differently. But if you try it my way, and it's like, "Oh, this actually is working," right? Like, then you can maybe continue to do that. But I think it's important to know thyself when it comes to picking your path and/or the additional things you're going to do to help round yourself out.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 18:52

Yeah, and I love that you said that, too, because a lot of times with entrepreneurship, people think that you're supposed to be this risk averse person... not risk averse, what is it? You're gonna have a high risk tolerance. And I don't consider myself to have a high risk tolerance, whereas some people might because, "Hey, I took the leap and I quit my job and started to focus full time on my podcast." However, a lot, a lot of work went into that beforehand. So this is why I love side hustling ,because you don't have to have a high risk tolerance, like, you continue to collect-- the goal is to continue to collect those full time job checks, invest that into your business and keep working at it until you feel secure enough and you are secure enough to leave. So I'm all about, I guess it's like a measured risk tolerance. Calculated risk taking.

Jamila Souffrant 19:41

Calculated risk taking Yeah, I'm similar in that way too. Well, let's get into your side hustling part where you are working in and building Side Hustle Pro, because there are people right now listening who have an idea, haven't started doing it. They don't think they have the time and/or they started that thing already, but they're still trying to figure out, like, how to dedicate money and time to it. Like, how much should they put towards a side hustle? What are your thoughts? And how did you do it?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 20:04

The way I did it, now, I've always been a side hustler before I realized what it was or, you know, had Side Hustle Pro. It started back in when I was working at Nickelodeon, NPR, I actually started my own PR agency on the side. I was trying to represent my college classmates who, like, wanted to be musicians and all different stuff, like, right? I was testing out the PR waters, because I wanted to see for myself, "Okay, do I just not like this job? Do I still like public relations? Or what?" So that was my first dibble dabble. Then with the freelance writing. It's like, okay, I was looking at journalism. I even explored journalism grad school before I looked at MBA programs. So me writing was a way of exploring what I like doing this full time? How does this feel? And through that, I discovered, I actually can't do this full time ,because I hate writing on deadline. Like, it just gives me anxiety knots in my stomach. So when I graduated from my MBA program, I actually didn't have a job right away. I moved back to DC with my then boyfriend, now hubby, and I tapped back into blogging again, because that's when I realized, "Okay, I don't know what I'm doing. But I'm hearing about this whole world of personal branding. And I know one thing for sure, no matter what job I have, the personal brand of me, that's gonna withstand the test of time. That's what's going to get me new opportunities." So that's when I really started investing in myself and put up a blog, started writing, and I was writing with the goal of attracting employers to see how my mind works. To see, "Hey, this girl is smart. She can do marketing analysis. She can do social media for her own brand." And it worked. I ended up getting, you know, a full time job at NPR and I used my blog as part of my portfolio to show, "Hey, this is what I'm doing. This is how I promote my posts. I can do the same for you." So I ended up getting hired by NPR to be their social media manager for their, their own external blog, and all that good stuff. And then while I was there, that's around the time, like, it started happening at the same time. I got hired shortly before I switched my blog to start interviewing, like, women who were side hustlers, because I found myself being drawn to those stories. Really wanting to talk to more people with that interest. And so I got, I got hired, and I said, "You know what, I'm not going to make the mistake of no longer working on my personal brand just because I got a job." Because I made that mistake before with other jobs or with grad school, I said, "I'm going to keep working on this. I don't know where it's gonna go. I'm not pressed for cash now that I have a job. So I have the freedom to do this for fun and to work on it and make it creatively what I want it to be without feeling stressed about the paycheck." So that's what I did. And I was starting to realize that I don't think people are really reading these interviews as much. So maybe I should explore this whole audio format, because hey, I just started listening to podcasts. And I worked for a Podcast Producer and I was always surrounded by podcasts. So it was just screaming at me, like, "Start a podcast. Start a podcast, girl!" And I was nervous. I was definitely nervous. I sat around the corner from Guy Roz, of "How I Built This." So... talks about comparison, right? Talk about like imposter syndrome. I'm like, "Hey, like, what is my podcast about to sound like?" I could get a mic, but I don't have this studio. I don't have all of this, all of that. But I got out of that zone. I said, "You know what, I'm just gonna start. I'm gonna see where it goes. And we'll take it from there." So I started out with a microphone and a laptop in my living room, I then moved to our bedroom, and kept going from there. And as soon as I started, Jamila, because I approached it, I still approached it with seriousness. I still approached it-- because if I want to do something, I want it to do well. So, I, you know, had a marketing plan for my launch. That came out the gate, taking off, you know, points of the marketing plan, like, this, I'm gonna do this road to launch, we're gonna we're gonna launch with the bang. And that's what we did. The podcast launched in the top 10 in marketing. Top 15 in business. I told my entire network about it. I had already started changing over my social media channels. So I was promoting it on social. And it just, it took off, because-- but it didn't just take off. It took off as a result of the pre-work I did, because I wanted it to take off. Once I saw that-- once I saw that my bet on myself and my bet on the fact that other people want to hear this content was right. That's when I decided, "Aha, okay. I think I want to monetize this." And I started working on that from there.

Jamila Souffrant 24:52

Yes. Oh, my gosh! So many things to unpack there. It sounds like --so you tryed-- and I think this is what people should hear, is that you tried to different things. And I love that you said you actually tried it to see if you would like it, like, as like long term, like the writing thing, like ,you thought you want to do it. And so, like, do it on the side and see how that works. Give yourself deadlines. And I think for a lot of people who are thinking that, that thing they want to do will be the ultimate answer. It's like actually try that. Try that first on the side. And see how that works for you, because, honestly, and sometimes, you can, and this is not to discourage people, but you can also try things on the side. And once you try to monetize it, it also changes the dynamic relationship that you have with it. You may not like it anymore, either. But the point is, that is what you're supposed to do. I was in yoga, I did yoga this morning. And I love that the teacher said you're not, you're not supposed to not fall out of these moves. Like the whole point is to fall out of the moves, you just get back. And I feel like that is what a lot of people need to understand about if they're trying side hustles or things that they want to do. It's like, it's okay to try it and not like it, it's not a waste of time it then it just informs you to maybe move in a different direction.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 25:57

I love that yoga teacher. I love it. That, that's that's what I remind myself over and over again, because I think we hear that lesson and we get i,t but then life makes us, kind of, forget it. Life makes us start to feel again, like "Oh, no. We're supposed to do this. We're supposed to that." And we have to relearn, like, there are no rules to this thing. Like life is about the experience.

Jamila Souffrant 26:20

And what's even more important. So also sounds like leaning on your experience in marketing, you literally use that to help you with your side hustle. But I also loved that you're taking this risk, but you have a full time job, which is what I tell people all the time. If you have a full time job, let that be your primary investor, because once you're out here in the streets by yourself with no standard paycheck, it's a different type of hustle or life.

So with that, you now launching the podcast, you said that part of it was intuition. You felt like no one was reading it and probably also just part stats. You seeing maybe not as many people coming to the, to the blog, but how did you make and have the imposter syndrome? Like sitting next to Guy Roz?

Yeah. Around the corner. Around the corner.

Around the corner. And he's, he's having all this, like, production, probably support and money behind him. And now you're like this independent podcaster. How did you get over that? For people who are trying to compare themselves to you or me and they're just starting their podcasts or thing, and it's like, how did you get past that for yourself?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 27:26

Yeah. When I started at NPR, which was, like, fall, December 2015. He hadn't started "How I Built This" yet. But he started it during the time that I was at NPR. Once that began, like it's an awesome, awesome show. But to cut down on comparison, I actually don't listen right now. And I would tell people, like, if you are finding yourself comparing yourself to someone, don't look, don't watch, don't listen. I know it's gonna hurt my-- it's not gonna hurt my feelings, but, I, of course, want you to learn from other people. Learn from myself, but if it's hindering you in any way, like, take a break. Take a pause, and focus on yourself. Focus on your content, you know, do what you need to do as far as competitive research wise, like, you know, listen to episode say, "Oh, I like the way they structured that. I like the way the flow of their questions. I like the fact that they you know, building questions that they probably know the answer to, but it helps us to learn the guest stories," like, do-- take a weekend, do all that, write down everything you love, and then stop listening. Apply what you need to, to your show and just focus on your show. And as a matter of fact, I find that, as people who interview others write in or who have a business, finance entrepreneurship podcast, it's not helpful to listen to other podcasters in the same niche as much, because yeah, you do start finding yourself, kind of, like, unintentionally adopting things that they're doing. So it's more helpful to listen to other types of niches, like, listen to podcasts that make you laugh. Listen to narrative based podcasts to see how they build suspense. I love listening to how people are using music, and, and background music to help build a story. And you know, I started implementing that more in my show. So listen to different types of things. Like, read magazines, read books. That helps more with your creative process. When you are doing something like a podcast, rather than, like, listening to people directly in your niche consistently. So again, listen for research, you know, and get all of your notes together. But then as far as like weekly, daily consuming, try to stay away from content that gets you into that comparison zone.

Jamila Souffrant 29:35

That's such a smart gem, guys. That she just said. Because it's that intersection. It's finding the intersection of these common interests that you have and proven. I actually just tweeted this the other day too, about like, yeah, there's a proven path to success for a lot of things. But oftentimes when you take a detour, you do something a little bit different or you and it doesn't have to be podcasting. It literally be maybe you starting a beauty brand or a candle business and you're looking at another industry and how they promote and/or what sticks. And if you can find the essence of that emerging it together, you'll be surprised at the kind of success that you'll see because of that. So I love that you actually said that. And you know, this goes for social media also. Again, it can be just parenthood, right? Like mom-hood. Like, and it's not the person's fault.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 30:20

Yeah, Mute. Mute is your friend. The mute button is your friend. It's not their fault. They're not bad people.

Jamila Souffrant 30:26

But you have to listen anything that's hindering you from feeling good about yourself, or moving forward. Even if it's yes, some things internally you can work on. Why, Why give yourself, like, it's like sitting and, like, I have to like this. Like, why can't I feel good watching this person? I'm gonna sit here and, like, and watch them until I like it. No. Don't! Oh. So I love that. I love that you said that.

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When it comes to that listening to what other people kind of are doing after a while, and now you're creating your own thing. What about how much money you're putting towards that. So I'd love to know how you started to fund, like, Side Hustle Pro. And then, I know eventually you quit your job. So also leading up to that big transition to know when that was the great time or the right time to do that?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:36

Yes. So as far as funding is related. So around the end of the five month mark, or so, I started really exploring podcast sponsorships as an avenue. That was the first revenue stream that I explored. And I said to myself, "Okay, I know I have a good, a good show. And I think that they're also brands that make sense to promote on Side Hustle Pro, because side hustlers do need resources." Like, they're things that I use every day. As a matter of fact, the very first sponsor that I approached was a tool, you know, a software tool that I use for my business. Invoicing software. And so I said to myself, "Alright, well, the worst they could do is say no, so I'm going to put together my very first cold pitch." I think before that, yeah, before that, I paid and invested $1,197, and two day event sponsorship intensive. Now, this was not podcasting specific. It was just somebody I knew who put on sponsorships. She had a,at the time, was a huge brand, all around bloggers, and branding. And she produced this huge blogging conference every year. And it no longer exists, but at the time, she was doing it every year. And so she was getting brands to sponsor these, this conference and all of that. So I said, "Okay, she probably knows her stuff." And you know, it's not gonna be apples to apples for podcasting. But let me learn how to even approach brands. So I, at the time, that was like, the largest investment I'd ever made into Side Hustle Pro. Like, "Oh, my goodness, blah, blah, blah," but I decided it was going to be worth it to me if I made the money back. I was like, "If I, if I, just make back $1,197, then this will be worth it." So that was my goal. Like, take this course, learn some stuff and then get back that money. So after taking this course I said, Okay, or it was a two day intensive. I'm going to start cold pitching sponsors. So I took what I could from the lessons. Again, not everything was apples for apples, but I approached the cold pitching with that lens. And so I reached out to sponsors that I actually used. [roducts that I actually used, that I would be able to speak to and do you know that the first email-- you might know this, because we've talked about this, but the very first cold pitch I sent, they responded. And I didn't even have an email address, Jamila. I Googled, and I sent it to something like info@. Like, no person, nothing. No brand partnerships team, nothing. I reached out and I shared my what my show was about, my stats, probably too... definitely too much information in that first email, but the person on the receiving end in, the customer service department, actually forwarded it on to the marketing team, who reached out to me and from there, you know, we got the ball rolling. And so that first sponsorship contract was $4,000. And I was like, "Okay!" I was like, "I think I could do this! I, if I can get, you know, $4,000 with my first cold pitch, imagine what would happen if I really went hard." So that's when I made like a list of 100 brands that I want to reach out to. I, you know, would Google and look up emails that I could potentially reach out to, and then every day, or on my sponsorship days, because I was heavy into only doing certain tasks on certain days. So every time it was a sponsorship day, I was banging out like 10 to 20 emails, just cold pitching, cold pitching, to get more sponsors. And that was my first revenue stream. Now I didn't quit my job right away. I made sure that I could do that consistently. That I was starting to get long term contracts, before I even thought about, "Oh, wow, could this be my full time job?"

Jamila Souffrant 36:17

Yes. And you actually just dropped a really great tip for people side hustling, and this is just for entrepreneurship too-- that you had focus days. So one day you focused on just sponsorship, and I'm sure then there were other days that you focus on another thing. And so even if you only have an hour or two after work, or on that lunch break, right? Like, if you can focus and get into something deep, deep work into something, like, you'll be surprised how much faster you go, versus all over the place, spreading things around.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 36:44

Yeah, and it can be so hard, because you feel sometimes like, oh, I only did this, like I only focused on this and you have everything else that you want to do in the back of your mind. But it's deeper work. So it's deeper work. And the one thing about when your side hustling is, you do have to remember that this is your side hustle. So at the end of the day, the main thing is the main thing. Your job is was providing and investing in the side hustle. So you have to give the bulk of your attention to that. All you should be thinking about for your side hustle is starting with one hour a day. That's how I used to do it, like, then I moved it up to two hours. So I would work on my lunch break. And then I would do work after work. I was never a morning person. So I could not get the mornings to work for me. But the lunch break, I will go to a coffee shop at Union Station in DC or you know, anywhere around that area. That's where I used to work and just bang at one hour. Like, I was literally on the clock, one hour of work, and then after work as well. And then I was able to optimize those hours by, yes, having focus days. So I always knew "Okay, this is Tuesday, I'm going to go to the coffee shop and work on pitches to sponsors," or "This is Wednesday, I'm going to work on you know, the social media and show notes for tomorrow's episode," and so forth and so forth.

Jamila Souffrant 38:02

Yeah, and it's just don't underestimate the power of 20 minutes. 30 minutes. Or an hour. Okay?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:08

Yes, set that alarm on your phone it really really helps.

Jamila Souffrant 38:11

Right. Yes. It's cumulative, the efforts that you see. So with that, you're starting to get some money. For you, though, how long did it take before you realized that this could potentially be your full time thing?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:24

So I realized it could be my full time thing, I think, probably, early on, but I did not feel comfortable leaving for I would say, another year after that realization.

Jamila Souffrant 38:37

So then what were the things that you put in place to be able to take that leap? So for someone listening, they're like, "Okay, I'm making a little bit of money." So for you, was it that your income from your Side Hustle Pro podcast was replacing your current income? Or what, what were your measures of, "This is the right time or I'm ready to take the leap?"

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:53

So as far as measures. So I'll break that question down into two things. So as far as measures that I put into place, so I think it was once I started speaking to that sponsor, and I realized that, "Oh, I'm going to be getting money for this now." I put in place the actual, formalized the business. So you know, I set up an actual business entity, I set up a business bank account, I got my ducks in a row, in that sense. Then, as far as knowing when it was time for me, it did not replace my income completely. It got close, but it was inconsistent. So that was the hard part with deciding, you know, "Oh, is this gonna replace my income?" Because there were some months when it was like, the check would hit, right? Like, if a brand pays after 30 days, it was like, "Oh, this month, I got $5/7,000! That's awesome!" But then other months, it's like $0. So you start having to do averages. And what I realized was one, I needed to save. So I started putting aside my quit fund, my-- you know, backup savings fund, and I also started to look at it this way. And this came through talking to some of my Side Hustle Pro guests as well, because as I started to contemplate more and more like, "I think I want to leave at the end of this year. I think I want to leave at the end of this year." This was 2017. You know, I was talking to different guests. And I came, I realized that I know, I'm going to take this seriously. I know I enjoy doing this, I know that I feel that I'm adding value to the world. And so I know that, you know, this is what I want to do. And I know that if I can earn this much as a side hustle, imagine what would happen if I made this my full time job. So once I had that mental shift, I knew that, compiled with the savings that I had, and compiled with the revenue streams that I was putting into place, I knew that I was going to be okay. And for everyone else, that's different. So I can't tell you when you're going to hit that moment where you know you're going to be okay. But I will say having money coming in. And knowing that you have some savings, definitely helps. And that's where that calculated risk comes in handy. But then also, I did feel, should I run into trouble that I knew I was going to be able to get another job. So I know that's a privileged statement, but that that is how I felt, I felt that if for whatever reason, I calculated wrong, and this is not working out. I'll give myself this much time. And then you know, I'll start looking for a job, but that that didn't end up happening and my calculated risk and my assessment was correct, because once I left my job, not only did I have the sponsorship revenue streams, but I'd also started my own program. So I was able to garner income from that as well. So having a few different revenue streams, not 10, but one or two to three, where you know that, "Okay, if this one is slow, like if a sponsor doesn't pay me on time, I have my own services, I have my own products that I can sell." That will give you that peace of mind as well. And that security that financial security.

Jamila Souffrant 41:57

Yeah, that's a good point to make. And I love how you, kind of, just also said that you started to explore and implemented products and services for yourself, because there's so many ways that you can make money online, you know? Like, I didn't realize you can, you know, even just from podcast sponsorship or brand partnerships.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 42:14

I was just thinking that today. I was like, you know what I realized? Like, I want to teach women. Not like I want to start a program for this, but I think my ultimate goal in life is to teach us to get to the bag in many different ways. And there's a lot of money to be made online. And that gives us flexibility. So that's what I like about online, because I'm huge on flexibility right now. I just realized just how much money is a tool. And it's a tool that allows you to be able to structure your life in the way that you need. Whether it's you know, you're a caretaker, and you need the time to be able to work and still earn money while you're taking care of a sick loved one or what have you. It's so, so important. So, it literally, I was walking in the neighborhood today and that, that epiphany came to me, so I'm still working out the details of of how I will do that, but I think that is part of my life's mission.

Jamila Souffrant 43:08

Yeah. And I think we, you know, we are definitely talking it's, like, you know, from, from a perspective of two people who have taken the leap, and have seen what, like, the bright light. We're, like, like, we went to the bright light of like, "Whoa. Like, what! This is insane!" Like, like, the kind of freedom and money and again, not to paint everything as roses, like, you know, there's definitely-- there's a lot going on this side too, but I could have never-- I was thinking to myself the other day. Like, I can't, I can't even begin to imagine Jamila 10 years ago would not begin to imagine how much-- how well I'm doing for myself in terms of just flexibility and money. Just by using my voice.

Yeah, that's it right there. Just by using our voice. Like, Nicaila 10 years ago would be so proud of me. The Nicaila who, you know, cried in the bathroom stall, because of a boss was disrespectful to her or just, like, made her feel like crap, because she was you know, a young girl who was still figuring out things as she was, you know, getting into corporate America. Like that Nicaila would be so so proud of me today.

I feel like hopefully we're talking to someone right now who that is us 10 years and it doesn't matter your age, you can be like, you know, the 50 year old us listening or 40 year old us but like literally like you are a few decisions away. And you won't always see the end goal or the end vision, but just a few decisions away from that life that you don't even know is waiting for you. So I just want to encourage you guys that are listening, that whether you're like still figuring out your side hustle or doing it in slow that if you follow the next feel good and logical steps. There's something else for you out there.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:42

For sure.

Jamila Souffrant 44:43

Okay, so I'd love-- Can we just talk a little bit about now with your services and products that you've created, what your strategy is, you know, I'd say like growing forward, right? Like, so, in terms of like sponsorships and brand partnerships, like, that's one lane or a couple lanes, but now there's this way of now selling your own products to your, to your people, to your audience. Talk about just for you the decision on where to focus and focusing on more than one, how that's working? Because I know a lot of people to also struggle with where to go when it comes to that.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:12

Right, right. So when I was leaving, you know, because it shifted. In the--, so I left my full time role in December 2017. So I was at NPR for exactly two years. And you know, it's about to be five years, next year. And when I was leaving, I, at the time, was already earning money via sponsorships. And I was getting ready to launch my signature program, Podcast Moguls, which is an accelerated program for aspiring podcasters to learn how to launch, grow, monetize their own podcast, right? And I knew that I wanted podcast moguls to be a big part of my revenue stream. And I wanted it to be a big part of what I was doing in 2018, when I initially launched. And so now when I think about how to approach having different revenue streams, I think it's always about, you have a pie. And then sometimes different things take up a bigger percentage of that pie than others. So whereas I may have put 60% of my time into one revenue stream, one year, maybe for another year, or 2022, it makes more sense to do 50/50 70/30, what have you. What also helps me think through it is, there are certain things that when you put systems in place, they start to kind of run on autopilot, a little bit more. So for example, now I have a brand partnerships manager. So whereas before I was going out to pitch a lot of sponsors, so that took a lot more of my time on the outreach side. Now, a lot more brands come to me. And then I'm also able to have my brand partnerships manager step in and handle that for me. So with that bandwidth freed up a little bit, I can spend more time developing different parts of my program, which is what I want to do more of in 2022. And let me know that that's answering your question. If I I hope I didn't go off on too much of a of a tangent.

Jamila Souffrant 45:15

It is, it is. I mean, it also shows that you don't have to try to do it all at once either.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:32

No. And that's another part that goes back to comparison. So, sometimes you can start to compare what you're doing to other people. And you're like, "Well, this person has a conference and this person has, you know, a masterclass every week, and this person does this isn't this, or has a membership program," and you have to tap back into yourself and say, "Hey, but what is it that I want? And what does-- what makes sense for Nicaila? aAnd what makes sense for serving people in the best way? Like, what makes sense for really making sure that this is something that is high touch beneficial?" And then a lot of things aren't apples to apples, I'm helping people to build a podcast, which is a longer lift, right? You don't just come out the gate and start making $100,000 or launch and you know, make $15,000. So I'm not going to compare what I'm doing to programs that, as our friend Art likes to say, "Sell on money," right? Like, I'm not selling people money, I'm not selling people Hoop Dreams, I'm selling, I'm telling you, and teaching you exactly the steps that I did. And you will see how long it took me. Like, it took me six months to ever land my first sponsorship. It took me a year and a half to be able to build and grow my show to a point where I could do this full time and even still, then I was growing it right. So with that, you know I do a smaller groups and fewer times throughout the year.

Jamila Souffrant 48:36

That makes so much sense. And it's also like the talking about comparing I know social media somewhat tries to equalize things, where it's just, you know, you see someone and you automatically think like, from the outside looking in, that you have a lot in common and you maybe do, but you don't know the behind the scenes help that they have, or support, or just even where they are emotionally and mentally, right? Like to be able to handle things. Because, you know, like, it's I just think it's important.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:03

Or what's important to them? What their values are.

Jamila Souffrant 49:06

Right. Right. And so it's also important, like, if you are side hustling, not to compare yourself who is full time doing this for 5/10 years. Like that's not the same thing, you know? Because that comparison can be deadly and, kind of, stagnant you on this journey.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:19

And we're often comparing on the wrong things. Like, I know people always hear the whole, "Oh, don't compare your day one to someone's day, whatever." But it's so true, because it's easy to forget, like I know, I have recently started doing more content creator work on YouTube. And it's so easy to look at people's awesome content. And then, you know, one of my favorite YouTube girls, as I like to call them, she started a lot of the people I watch now, started in-- started 10 years ago. And it's so easy for the brain to, like, forget that and say, "Oh, they're so they have such a great audience blah, blah, blah." 10 years of work, you guys. 10 years of work. So you just have to keep that in mind. Like, for me, for Side Hustle Pro. For, Jamila, like, we're five years old now, you know? So of course it's gonna look different than, than when you start now. The whole podcasting landscape is also different. That doesn't mean there's, there isn't room for you, but it's gonna look different. So don't even bother comparing it to the past. Because that's the past.

Jamila Souffrant 50:14

Yes, yes. Love that. All right, so I want you to share more about your Podcast Mogul. And then you also do have this product that apparently people love, like it helps them manage their time and get through goals. So talk about that a little bit for people who want to learn more.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 50:27

Okay, so let me kick it off with Podcast Mogul. So again, that is an accelerated program for aspiring podcasters and serious podcasters, who want to grow their show. So whether you are at point zero, and you're still fleshing out your ideas, or you've already started, and you, you know, have under 1000, downloads, or your downloads have plateaued, I walk you through everything from your road to launch. From how to market your show. How to use social media platforms effectively to actually grow your listener base, and therefore grow your downloads, because what happens when you grow your downloads, is that's when you open yourself up for opportunities, whether that's brand partnerships, whether that's speaking on stages. Many of my Podcast Mogul students have gone on to be featured at conferences, to be featured in publications and are now also able to start their own programs to set up their own revenue streams, because the platform that they've built, by using their voice, has afforded them that opportunity. And I want that for everyone. I want everyone to be able to go out there, have an impact, and then reap the rewards of helping others, because, you know, I believe in paying it forward. And I believe that we all have value to put out in the world, just by sharing what we've been through. And also allowing ourselves to be that conduit so that other people could share their stories as well. If we choose to do an interview show. To learn more about it, you can head over to podcastmoguls.com/join and I know, Jamila, you'll link to that also.

Jamila Souffrant 52:01

Yes, I'll definitely link that in the show notes and to the podcast. As you know, I do have a few people who sometimes will reach out about podcasting. And I even like I know people just starting in the space like social media, they have businesses. And I'm a I know your advocate. Obviously for podcasts. I'm a big advocate for podcasts. And so some people think is a too late to start? There's so many other shows like mine, or the same topic. And I'm just-- I just want to say that I think it's not it's, you're definitely not late to the game. I still think it's actually early within podcasting. Nicalia, you may have different thoughts.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 52:34

It's not too late. It's not too late at all. So you know, it's so funny people say this about podcasting, because it's like podcasting is no different than television and movies. That's like saying it's too late to launch a television show. You know, no one would ever say it's too late to launch another movie. Like there's so many movies out there. So I just have to remind people, it is just another medium, okay? It's just another medium and it's never too late. Like, it wasn't late for for Issa Rae to start insecure. It's not, like, there's so many ensemble comedies, there's so many medical dramas. Do you think they'll ever stop creating a show about doctors in the ER? No. Will they ever stop creating a cop show? Or a firefighter show? No. Okay. So literally, it's all about your angle and your perspective and your secret sauce, which is really you putting in your experience into it.

Jamila Souffrant 53:24

And just sticking with it. Consistency, perseverance, like I know, that's what both of us have. So when people talk about podcasting, I'm like, listen, like you said, this is not a just you're gonna go in and hit the ground running. Especially if you have no audience. Even if you have no audience, by the way-- like even if you have a big audience, by the way, podcasting, that doesn't mean you have a podcast success.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 53:44

Oh, talk about that, because a lot of people get really surprised by that. Like they have a bigger audience for something else that they do, another brand, and they think, "Oh, let me just start this podcast and people are going to listen." No, that's not how it works. And the reason why it doesn't work like that is because people who listen to podcasts are a specific type of person. So you are no longer just trying to market to your broad audience, you're trying to market to the people in your audience who also love listening to podcasts. Not all people do. So that's just something to keep in mind about why it can be tricky.

Jamila Souffrant 54:21

Right? And I just want to say it's consistency too. Its perseverance and sticking with it and not giving up after 5/10 episodes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 54:27

And another thing about consistency too, you know, I think the reason why I forget to mention consistency is because, you know it can seem trite, right? Like, something people say all the time. Well, what consistency means for me, it's not like you're gonna wake up every day or you're gonna release an episode every week and you're never gonna fail or forget to do it or just, you know, life is not gonna happen. It just means that you keep going, right? So there are days when I wanted to upload and I didn't get to, and there are weeks where my episode was supposed to go out on this date and it wasn't ready, so I released it later or I had to do, you know, more rewind episodes, what have you. That's what consistency means: Just keeping-- just keep going, even when it's not perfect, but don't stop releasing episodes because you miss three weeks, like just get back up. That's still consistency. All right. So don't beat yourself up, you just have to keep going

Jamila Souffrant 55:16

Be consistent in getting back up. Love that! Okay.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 55:19

Yes, be consistent in getting back up.

Jamila Souffrant 55:21

And then, okay, then talk about your other your other offer or your other product that helps people.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 55:26

So the very first product that I ever offered. And when I say product-- it's a online course, it's a short course that walks you through my productivity system. So basically, to really get the ball rolling with Side Hustle Pro was, I started doing these 12 week sprints, where I would go after my goals hardcore, in a block of 12 weeks, like I would treat the 12 weeks, and I do treat the 12 weeks like it's a year. So I break down that program and what I call the Goal-Getter Action Plan. So I'll walk you through how to set up your goals. And then how to get back on the wagon, like, how to consistently get up, because I build in room for you to fall off. Because I know we do. We're all you know, we're imperfect. So I just walk you through how to devote one hour a day, how to set out your action plan and ways to get back on the wagon when you fallen off as well as resources to help you stick to your goals. So you can check that out at sidehustlepro.co/goalgetter and I'll link to that as well. I really love that system. I still, to this day, abide by that system. Like, it's the truth. It's the truth. Like, the 12 week sprints...I don't know. If you're not doing 12 week Sprint's I don't know. I just don't know how you can side hustle without that, that process, because you really-- what happens is we make these huge goals and they linger over our head, and we say we're going to get to them or we're going to get to them. And then it's December and we're like, "Alright, 2022. It's on." So when you do 12 week spreads, it's like alright, January through March it's on. So now you've shortened the timeframe. And you also take the daughntingness out of it, because you're not just having it looming over your head, you've set a specific window when you want to accomplish it.

Jamila Souffrant 57:10

Yeah, and you're making the best use of your time, which is important, especially if whether you are side hustling or doing it full time. So, Nicaila, last thing, tell everyone where they can find about more about your podcast and you.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 57:22

So you can find Side Hustle Pro on all of your podcast apps: Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud. Just search Side Hustle Pro. You can find me online at sidehustlepro.co. That's side hustlepro.co. And then on social media on @sidehustlepro. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. @sidehustlepropodcast on TikTok.

Jamila Souffrant 57:43

Yay. All right, so I'll be posting all that in the episode show notes. Thank you so much to Kayla for coming on and sharing more of your story.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 57:49

Thank you for having me. Thank you so much. And if you guys have any questions after this show, just hit me up over on Instagram. I can't wait to chat more with you.

Jamila Souffrant 58:02

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your Jumpstart Guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show: One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple Podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple Podcasts, rate, review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you. Sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.

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Nicaila Matthews Okome, founder of Side Hustle Pro, a podcasting and media company that shines a light on untold narratives, joins the podcast to discuss how she has become a boundary- breaker and trailblazer in the podcasting and entrepreneur space.

In 2016, Nicaila debuted the Side Hustle Pro Podcast, the first and only podcast to spotlight bold, Black Woman entrepreneurs, who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business. In this episode, we’re going to talk all about Nicaila’s journey and how she became who she is today as a full time podcaster and entrepreneur. 

If you’re a full time employee looking to make extra money or potentially turn your side hustle into a full-time gig, this episode is for you!

In this episode we discuss:

  • The passion and mission behind Side Hustle Pro 
  • Nicaila’s career history and how she  was able to get her MBA to elevate her career
  • Entrepreneurship misconceptions + how calculated risk taking is key
  • How to practically stop comparing yourself to your peers + more

Episode 247- How To Become A Side Hustle Pro With Nicaila Matthews Okome Click To Tweet

Other related blog posts/links mentioned in this episode:

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