Our guest today: Joey Korenman
Joey Korenman is the CEO & Founder, School of Motion, who wakes up every day “to help thousands of aspiring Motion Designers learn their craft and develop the skills necessary to have a career in this magical field of ours.”
Previously Joey was a Creative-Director at the awesome Toil in Boston, MA, he also taught at the Ringling College of Art & Design, when he first packed up his bags and moved his family from Boston to Florida.
After spending years running his own ad agency, hours each day on his commute and clients who’d surprise him with new deadlines nights and weekends, he decided to pursue a new way of life and left Boston.
As a creative director who was working for top agencies in Boston at the time, things look great on paper.
“I was at the top of the mountain, but then I realized I climbed the wrong mountain.” – Joey Korenman
Instead of waiting for another 10, 20 years, Joey left everything he’d built, an unthinkable decision for most.
Working as a college professor taught Joey quite a few things. He had a steady paycheck until he decided to go solo and pursue his journey as a creative entrepreneur. In this episode, he reveals the secret to how he was able to launch his first successful online course without marketing dollars.
School of Motion wasn’t built overnight, but it’s still considered a quick success story. Joey committed to developing content consistently for 2 years, including a 30-day daily tutorial creation marathon that drove massive attention to his website.
Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics. Nuggets can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have non-interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help deep dive into topics such as freelancing marketing, even indie filmmaking that will benefit creators like you. Show notes, links and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now on to the show. Hey guys, it’s Fei. And welcome back for another week of our interview episode, and this one’s quite special. Since the start of the freelance miniseries, I became obsessed with finding people who have relatable stories and who have succeeded in ways that still allow them to live life on their own terms. This is the essence of a freelancer’s life or an entrepreneur’s life. I’m excited to be introducing the next guest to our show and his name is Joey Korenman.
He’s the creator and founder of School of Motion. After spending years living in the greater Boston area, working for agencies and consulting firms as a creative director, he decided that he no longer wanted to live a life like that, where he commutes 3 hours a day and barely gets to see his kids on the side. He began his side Hustles, which was the very beginning of School of Motion. And here’s what they said on their website. At School of Motion, we’re trying to reinvent the ways students learn online. How? By combining the best parts of a traditional brick and mortar school with technology that allows our students to live anywhere in the world and receive the best motion design training on the planet. There are about 50 people that I could see and count on their website who are actively involved in working for School of Motion, plus additional contractors, which Joey has mentioned. School of Motion is a machine that delivers world class courses to thousands of engaging students from around the world. But the crazy thing is, it hasn’t been that long and Joey hasn’t had his business for decades. He didn’t have the extra cash when he launched this first course.
In fact, he was on his last paycheck as a teacher at a university in Florida. He tells a detailed strategy on how he made it work. It was a thrill for me to hear this firsthand self made success story. Joey is living his dream life now with his wife and three kids in Florida. They homeschool their children and spent weeks traveling to different parts of the world each year. He still loves biking around town, owes an average car, and not noticeable by people who don’t know the creative empire he built with his bare hands. This perhaps is in the end game many people had imagined no fancy car or house. What’s the point? While these entrepreneurs are way ahead of where Phase World is right now, I already echoed so much of what they’ve said and shared with us. The freedom to enjoy your work and your life without permissions from other people is an incredible feeling, even if it doesn’t come with a shiny object, because at that point it’s not necessary. I hope you enjoyed this episode and give us a review on itunes.
Better yet, share with other friends and family. These acts may seem insignificant, but they fuel me and keep me going, especially on the hard days. So please keep showing up for your work. Please welcome Joe E. Corman to the Phase World podcast.
The moment I found you on LinkedIn, I got completely sucked into the fact that I know you’re motion designer and then you’ve written this book, Freelancers Manifesto, but I kind of like skipped over your company part. If you could give me a sense of what you do, how long it’s been and all that jazz.
Sure. So my company is called School of Motion, and it’s an online school for motion designers. And so, like, when I still lived in Boston, I ran a motion design studio and I ended up sort of burning out. All of our clients were ad agencies and I just got completely disgusted by that world and didn’t want to be in it anymore. So I moved. My family and I, we just like blew up everything and moved to Florida. And I taught for one year at an art school called the Ringling College of Art and Design. And I learned a lot from that experience. And then I left and I sort of focused on my blog, which that’s what it was at the time. And I ended up developing this online class using kind of like a hybrid format. There’s not really other online classes that do it the way we do it. You have like the drip fed kind of class that lasts for twelve weeks, but you also have homework and we assign teaching assistance to you. So you’re getting critique, like on your work. And there’s like private Facebook groups and so there’s this life feelings.
Anyway, so we do that and we run these classes and we teach people how to design and animate and do three D and stuff like that. And I started it technically like the blog, when it was just me and my blog was like 2013. And then a couple of years later when I was in Florida, I ended up because I was reading through some of your stuff on your site. Like, I know you’re into this world of mastermind groups and all this. I fell into that and I got a business coach and that was like rocket fuel. And so then I ended up launching a class and it’s grown and so now there’s 14 employees full time. Wow. Like 30 part time. And it’s turned into this giant thing that I never could have imagined. So anyway, that’s the business. It’s an online school, but it’s actually gotten pretty substantial in the last few years and it’s been really fun.
Oh, my goodness. What a pleasure. I mean, I really didn’t imagine this, but I love where you’re going. You’re so disgusted by the advertising world. I feel like I haven’t really dared to use that because, number one, I did learn things. I made a lot of really good friends. Thank God. I’m just like you. I woke up feeling headache. I mean, like, literally, I was probably also exhausted from the day before, but just something like you feel in your gut, I’m like, I don’t want to be in this anymore. And I started making that shift. But what was it about advertising, marketing, and that kind of traditional approach that really bothered you?
Yeah, so for me, specifically, it was actually just like the ad agency culture that I kept running into. And there’s a story that I tell sometimes that this was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was running a studio on Boylson Street with a roof deck, and we were working with Arnold and Hill Holiday and all the big agencies. Everything I’d ever wanted. Right. It was like, on paper, I’d made it. And I’ve actually written an article about this because it was such an eye opening thing. Like, I got to the top of the mountain and then I realized, oh, shit, I’m on the wrong mountain. I climbed the wrong one. And there was this moment where I was a creative director, and so I had a team under me, and it was Easter weekend, so it was like the Friday before Easter. And I’m Jewish, so I don’t celebrate Easter. So I wasn’t really thinking about it, but I knew everybody else was really excited because you have Easter egg hunts and family and stuff like that. And we got a call that day from one of our clients. This is like, one of those clients that doesn’t do, like, super cool work, but they always bring us lots of work and they kind of keep the lights on.
And so we sort of have to like, whenever they say jump, we have to jump. And they had Owen video that they wanted and it had to be done Monday. It had to be done Monday. I’m sorry, I know this sucks to ask you, but we need you to get this done over the weekend. And my business partners asked me to go tell my team that they needed to work over the weekend, and it was Easter weekend, and I said, no, tell the client we can’t do it. Just turn the work down. And my business partners are like, we can’t do that. If you do that, then they’re going to find someone else to do it and they’ll never come to us again. And I believed him because I had seen that happen, because that ad agency culture in Boston anyway, maybe it’s different. Other cities is take as much as you can, always ask for more. There was no such thing as work life balance that I saw. And it all starts to seem so silly after a few years. And so that was kind of like for me, that was the final straw where I said, I’m getting out one way or another.
Yeah, sometimes I think sometimes it’s a good thing. And I really wasn’t either. I started off working in consulting and to be honest, I feel like it was just very similar with the fact that the type of work that you do is different. But I almost feel like in some ways consulting was even more brittle and cut through.
Like we have something like whenever you have a workshop to kick off a new client, I remember those days of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I don’t know why they picked those. Usually those three days and you literally just go all out. You start the session at like 738 in the morning and the client leaves around 607:00. You have these really unhealthy dinner, get together with them, get drunk, then you go, everybody from your team goes back to the office and work until midnight or 01:00 a.m.. And the second day you start all over again and you watch people getting sick and not being undercover. I am so glad you got out. I would love to hear like sort of whenever you talk to someone and I got really good at not comparing myself with other people and that’s why I feel like I have the guts to talk to you guys. I too started off with a blog, with a podcast and expected to go anywhere, and it did. What was it like for you to start your blog? When did you see the very beginning of some traction? If you still remember those days, you’d be like, this isn’t expected to whoa, this is a business, right?
Well, the traction came pretty early. Although what I considered traction back then was like a blip compared to what it is now. I started School of Motion as my own sort of personal blog. And the reason I started it was because I think I had already had that experience of sort of cracking under the pressure and realizing this is not the way I describe it to people. Is there’s this maybe you’ve heard of this. There’s this exercise you can do called the perfect day exercise, where you just imagine your perfect day. Five years from now, it’s Tuesday, you wake up and you describe your whole day and then you just say, doing what I’m doing now, does my path end up there? And it was so clear that it didn’t. And so that’s when I read The Four Hour Work Week and I discovered Seth Godin and all of that stuff. Pat Flynn right. So I ended up starting School in Motion because there was another guy in my industry who had had a similar story, and his name was Nick Campbell. He worked at a really great studio in Chicago and kind of decided that that life wasn’t for him.
And so he ended up leaving and starting a blog and just teaching and just sort of showing people stuff he picked up, stuff he learned and he was really charismatic and everyone liked it. And I watched as over a few years his website blew up into this full fledged business and he was giving speeches and selling products and I was like, that is so cool, I want that. So I just tried to copy it. So I started a blog and what I did was I just started making video tutorials because that’s pretty typical in my niche, like you’re using software, Photoshop, After Effects, things like that. And so there’s lots of video tutorials and so I just started making them. And I’m very lucky because what was different about me was most of the people making those tutorials were tutorial artists. And I was actually a working creative director at a studio, so I had a slightly different angle on things. And so pretty quickly people caught onto it. And I also was lucky that I discovered halflin, frankly, because I listened to every episode of his podcast and learned basically on the fly, how to market.
And so I started telling people on Reddit about my blog and I had a Vimeo channel. And I remember waking up one day and 100 people had watched the tutorial like I put out, I put it out and then the next day 100 people had already watched it. It’s like 100 people, that’s crazy. And then those numbers kept going up. A lot of things happened. In the meantime, I ended up leaving Boston, moving to Florida, and teaching for a year at the school and then leaving that. And so basically, I think like two years in I had this blog. I had an email list, maybe like two 3000 people on it, but I was doing nothing with it. And I decided I have to kind of like make a run at this. If I have any hope of this turning into my business, like my full time job, I have to try. So I was really lucky. That when I left ringling. So people may not know this, but if you’re a teacher, and this is true for, I think, almost every teacher in the US. You typically get paid on a normal pay cycle, so you get paid twice a month for twelve months.
But you’re not working during the summer either, the summer off. So you get this paycheck during the summer when you’re doing nothing. That’s one of the main reasons people go into teaching. I’m convinced I had quit my job. I had left, but I was still going to get paid for three more months, and I had nothing to do. So I took advantage of that and I spent the entire summer doing this marketing blitz. Do you know who John Lee Dumas is? On fire. Yeah. So my business coach well, I have a different business coach, but like, my first business coach, Jamie Masters, was his business coach. And so I listened to her podcast and I listen to his, and I knew that one of the things that got him traction, probably the thing that got him traction, was that he did this crazy thing no one else had done, which was he did an everyday podcast. Right. And his podcast is good. In my opinion. There’s better ones out there, but his is every day. And so that was enough. That was enough. And then it got a ton of traction and blew up in this giant success now, so I said, I’m going to do that.
So I came up with this marketing thing of I’m going to do a tutorial every day for 30 days. It wasn’t literally 30 days because it was actually just weekdays, so six weeks, but 30 days. And I gave myself like a two week head start. And I started telling everybody I was doing this. And it became and kind of surprised me. It became this thing because people were like, oh, my God, this guy’s crazy. There’s no way he’s going to be able to do it. And I got interviewed on this blog, this huge industry blog interviewed me. And so I did it. And I survived it. Barely. And at the end of it, I had six or 7000 people on an email list. I had all this attention on me. The site had blown up. Our traffic had quadrupled in six weeks. And so that’s when I hired a business coach. And then I ended up developing this class that I wanted to teach. And I guess the interesting story there, and you can actually you know who Pat Flynn is, so he has a book out there called Will It Fly? So School Emotion is a case study in that book.
Yeah, because what I did, and this was like something my coach really pushed me to do was I had this idea for a class, and we were talking a little bit before about how our classes are different. They’re very big and complicated and there’s live elements to it, not to mention the fact that they’re generally between 20 and 30 hours of video lessons, among other things. So they take an insane amount of work to do. And I was thinking, this is going to take me at least three months to put together, and I need to charge hundreds of dollars for this to make any sense. Seems like a crazy risk. And meanwhile, my wringling paycheck stopped. So I was freelancing like to pay the bills while I built this. And it was really hard. And so my coach said, well, what you need to do is presell that class. So like have a webinar or something and describe it and try to get people to buy it based on your description of it. And then if enough people buy it, take that money to support yourself while you build it.
Yeah. And so that’s the whole concept of will it fly? Is how can you validate business ideas? That’s what I did. I had a webinar and I gave this whole kind of pitch, this is the class I want to make. This is how it’s going to work. This is why you should take it. And at the end of it I posted this Buy now button and I had 20 spots open. I think at the time I was charging $250 or something. So 20 spots, $150. And they went for granted that it was like three minutes gone. And then right as soon as that happened, my inbox just filled up with all these people saying, oh my God, you have to open more spots. I need this class please. So I did another webinar and I had another 20 spots. And at the end I opened up 20 spots and it was like less than a minute gone.
I was hoping that you say you open up 500 spots.
It’s funny because now the scale of it’s gotten crazy now because we have this class that we launched, I think six or nine months ago we launched a new class, super popular. The guy who teaches it is like this rock star motion designer that everybody knows. And the first time it went on sale I think we had 200 spots open and it sold out in like a minute. Like $800 a pop or something like that. Anyway, but that first experience of that happening where it was like, oh my God, I just made $5,000 in like a minute. This is crazy.
And now of course that 5000 had to sustain me to make the class and all of that and support it, do it. But then once I had built the class and I had run 40 students through it and I learned so much and it was so much work and then I rearranged the class and changed things and rerecorded. And then the class was done and I had testimonials and everything and I released it. And I think the next the first time we launched it, I think it made like 30 grand or something like that. And then it made 50 and then it made 70. So it was like once the formula was kind of figured out, it was like this hockey stick. Yeah, there was like a few years of this and then.
Hey, it’s Faith from Faze World today I’m joined by Joey Cormann, previously as a creative director working in Boston, moved his family to Florida and became a university teacher. There, he continued his side hustle and created School of Motion, an incredibly successful online learning platform for motion designers. But most importantly, he’s living an incredibly free and joyful life with his family. If freedom is what you’re aiming for, this is the episode for you. See you at the end of the show.
I guess it’s to break down what the formula is. It’s a different type of question. A lot of people challenge, oh, it’s your formula. It doesn’t necessarily work for me, but now that I’m developing, my God, like, two courses at the same time, one is basically marketing to overseas Chinese people. You know, I feel like there is a formula that actually works. It’s like, what are you selling? How do you address the pain points? Do you acknowledge the pain points? How do you tackle it? Yeah. So what is the formula, I mean, at a high level, before people buy your course to learn how to develop profitable course, would you say on your formula?
Okay, so there’s kind of two questions I’ll kind of point out. So one is, how do you develop a profitable course or a course that’s worthy, I guess, of being sold? The other question is, how do you sell that course? So I’ll start with the first one. So my philosophy is very much Seth Golden all the way. He was on the Tim Ferriss Podcast a while back, and I think they just rereleased that episode.
Oh, I heard that again. Yes.
So towards the end of the episode, I think, like an hour and a half in, tim asked Seth about his philosophy of making classes. And he said something that when I listened back and I heard it, I could not stop smiling, because it just described perfectly my whole philosophy about this stuff. He said he did a class on skillshare, and it was very successful. But what that means is 80% of the people who take his class don’t finish it. That’s success, right? And so he flipped everything on its head. Instead of an easy class, it’s a hard class. Very hard. Instead of inexpensive, it’s very expensive. Instead of requiring only an hour or two a week, it requires more time than you have. You have to, like, sacrifice for it. And instead of letting thousands of people in, you cap it. And it’s small class sizes. And that’s exactly our model. I mean, look, some people get totally blown out by the workload and what we expect and stuff like that. And personally, I’m okay with that, because the ones that suck it up and accept the pain that we give them and deliver have ridiculous results, right?
So ridiculous results, and at a price point that is so much less than Northeastern, for example, where you went, or Boston University, where I went, or Wringling, where I taught. So I think that to make it today in today’s internet. The thing I don’t really think is you can still make the traditional video class that you then put on Gum Road or just charge PayPal or whatever you do or put it on teachable or something. You can still do that. It’s just way harder. There’s so much competition. You have to be really good at marketing to make that work. However, if you take the time and you spend six to nine months and build something really, really special that isn’t easy to build and is painful and hard, then it’s a lot easier to sell it. And the students who take it are going to get results and it becomes a selfsustaining thing much more easily. So that’s the part one. The second part, how do you sell it? I mean, the way that I’ve always kind of approached it is just tell the truth. I think that’s one of the things when you asked me to come on and talk about freelancing, that’s kind of the main point of my book too, is that sales is not what people think it is.
People think sales is like Glen Gary, Glenn Ross, Alec Baldwin getting up and put the coffee down, coffees for closers and all that. And that’s not how I see it and that’s not how Seth Godin sees it. It’s about telling the truth to your tribe. If you understand your tribe, you’ll know what they are asking for and what they want. And so when I sold that first course, and this is in Pat’s book, I actually gave him the original email I sent to my list and he reprinted it in the book. And there’s almost a formula to it. I used to suck at animation, which I did. And because I know that my audience, a lot of them feel that way, I’m not good at this. I got better by doing this. Oh, you got better. And I did get better. And I proved that by showing my work and all that kind of stuff. I want you to get better too. Here’s my plan, right? And there’s a lot of nuance. There’s a lot of things you do to kind of come off the right way. Like a good tip is start by disqualifying people.
This is not for you if you already know this stuff, so just quit reading. I’ll save you five minutes, right? It’s just having like that open honesty about what it is you’re trying to do. Don’t try to pretend you’re not selling something, but also don’t pretend that you’re not proud of it. You know, like, don’t feel gross selling the thing you just worked for nine months on.
This is incredible. Do you have your own podcast? You say you do, right?
Yeah, we have the school motion podcast. I interview artists and studio owners and stuff like that.
Oh, wow, wonderful. I’m going to have to check it out because I was wondering how has that really changed your perspective, the trajectory of your life right now, sitting where you are six years after 2013 when you started that blog? How do you enjoy your lifestyle right now? How do you reach that Tuesday five years from now? How would you describe it then? How would you describe it now?
It’s really funny. I wish I don’t know where it is. It’s around here somewhere. When I hired my business coach, Jamie, for the first time, one of the things she had to do, which at the time I thought was so stupid, was a vision board. Right. Do you know what that is?
Oh, yeah. I haven’t done one.
Yeah, I had to do a vision board. And in case you use this and someone doesn’t know, a vision board is just I mean, there’s a lot of ways to make one, but it’s essentially like a piece of paper or a poster board, and you put pictures of things that represent things you want your life. And so I’m a designer, so I got into Photoshop, and I made this collage, and it had a nice house on it. It had a hot tub on it because I’m like I have this weird obsession with hot tubs, and I’ve always wanted one. And a family at the beach because I have three children. They’re young. They’re like eight, seven and four. And we love going to the beach and a glass of wine. And the Eiffel Tower, which represents travel to me. And a marathon runner, because I’m a runner and I wanted to be in better shape and running more. And it was like and I would keep it on the wall and look at it. And two years later, I had all of that. It took two years. It was that fast. It was crazy. Well, I had the kids already.
I had the kids already. Yeah. So putting, like, the picture of the happy family on there. So the reason I put that on there, just to clarify for everybody, when I was in Boston and I was running the studio, I had two kids at that point. I have three now, but I had two then. My wife had just stopped working because she was a social worker. And social workers, despite the fact that she has an advanced degree and I don’t. Social workers make no money, and living in New England is expensive enough as is. And then you throw in, like, two kids and daycare and all that, and it just makes no sense for her to go to work financially. So she’s at home all day. We’ve got two young kids. I am commuting on the commuter rail from Westborough, which is near Worcester, in the middle of the state, an hour and a half each way every day, and that’s only if it’s not snowing and the train gets delayed. Then it could be 2 hours. And so I’m just not. There, I’m not present like I want it to be. The only time I saw my children was really, like, right in the morning as I was leaving.
I’d get home, they’d be in bed, and then on the weekends, but on the weekends, it was, like, so hard because it’s trying to cram so much into those two days. And then my mind was preoccupied. So that really, for me, meant I want to be able to be present for my family. So moving to Florida was a big part of that. And teaching at a physical college for a year really enabled that, because the lifestyle of an instructor at a private art school is awesome. It’s really great gig. I can’t speak for everybody, but I can speak for people who teach at Ringling. I mean, it’s a sweet deal. Like, you teach classes three days a week, maybe two days a week, depending on your schedule. Maybe you have a meeting once a week. I mean, really, it was like, at most a 30 hours week kind of deal. And you get so many days off and stuff like that. And then what I realized that was kind of like that experience taught me something really important, which was kind of what you were talking about. Everybody else in my life around me at that point, I didn’t have any friends who are entrepreneurs.
Everyone I knew, everyone I knew had a full time job, and most people I knew had a full time job they really didn’t like. Right, even if it’s the thing they wanted to do. The classic case is lawyers. All of my friends who were looking forward to being lawyers, and they got into law school, and now they’re lawyers. One of them is happy.
Suicidal, almost. It’s scary.
You have to really talk to them. Yes. No. I’m like one of my best friends. I worry about him. And so I feel like all of a sudden, I had this glimpse behind the curtain where I was like I’m actually like when I moved from Boston to Florida to teach at the school, I cut my pay by 70%. I took a huge pay cut to do that. And we got rid of we downstairs everything. We sold our house, we were renting. Now we had two cars. We got rid of one and had one car. I got a bike so I could bike everywhere, so I didn’t need another car. It was so awesome. I have never been that happy. And it made me realize, wow, I’ve been chasing the wrong things. And really, for me, it’s all that, like, just time, freedom, and, you know, gosh, I’m happy riding my bike to my office, coming home, going to the beach, opening a bottle of wine. I’m a simple man. I don’t need life. So starting school in motion, my goal originally was all I want is that I just want a business that can be kind of passive, right?
That whole illusory dream of passive income, which is not totally realistic, but it’s definitely not passive. I was aiming at that. I was like, if I can I had this conversation with a friend of mine right around the time that I started to get serious about it and make classes. And I said, if I can generate 30 grand a year of income with school motion and then I can freelance, I was like, I could freelance and I could make thirty K a year passive off school motion, and that’s all I need. And I aimed at that and it just blew past that. And so now there were many years in between that and where I am now, and a lot of coaching and growth and stress and building a team and learning how to be a CEO and all that. But where it is now, my business is very close to the point where I mean, frankly, it’s at the point where last year, for example, my family and I went to Europe for three weeks. We also home school our kids, so we’ve set our whole lives up to be free. Basically. We went to Europe for three weeks and we just traveled.
And the company kept going, kept running itself. And this year we’re going to Japan for three weeks and the company will keep running itself. And so my goal is by next year I want to be able to be gone for three months. Not that I would leave for three months and not touch the company, but just I want to be able to do that. And so, to be honest, that’s sort of now my North Star is like, how do I engineer my life so that I’m not required to do work, right? I love what I’m doing, but I also recognize that I won’t always love what I’m doing because I’ve had that experience. And so I’m trying to build a machine that enables other people to keep the party going. And then that gets into all kinds of tricky things. Well, you can’t just build a machine to service you. That’s really stupid and selfish. So obviously, if it’s not also like helping everyone on the team with their careers and it’s fulfilling for them and all of that, the whole thing is pointless. So this is a really long winded answer, but in terms of my lifestyle, everything, there’s not one thing about my lifestyle that I would change.
Everything is exactly what we aimed at. And I think that that’s kind of the important thing. I always try to like, when I talk to people who aren’t happy in their position or their job or their life, I find a lot of times it’s because they didn’t aim themselves there, they ended up there. And it’s kind of like this thing, it’s like the secret that no one talks about. You can actually aim yourself at things and it may take three years to get there, but if you don’t aim yourself there and start going that way, it just won’t happen. And so that’s what we realized, my wife and I, and we’ve sort of done that. And so now everything about our life is basically engineered. We sat down and said, do we want our kids in public school? Because that creates this set of trade offs and this set of benefits. And we decided to home school. We still have one car. We decided we liked it. My company is fully remote, by the way. There’s no one else in Florida but me. Everyone’s remote. That was a decision based on this sort of guiding principle of I don’t want to have a building where I’m going to feel guilty if I’m not there and 14 other people are there.
Ten, $20,000 on rent alone, right?
Yeah. So I don’t want that. So I’m not going to have that. And maybe that means we’re growing slower, but I don’t care. We don’t have any investors or anything. That whole principle has really guided almost everything.
Hey, it’s Faye from Faze World Today. I’m joined by Joey Corman, previously as a creative director working in Boston, moved his family to Florida and became a university teacher. There, he continued his side hustle and created School of Motion, an incredibly successful online learning platform for motion designers. But most importantly, he’s living an incredibly free and joyful life with his family. If freedom is what you’re aiming for, this is the episode for you. See you at the end of the show.
This is exactly the type of stories where you want to hear the step on step by step. You want to hear what the truth is, because so much so, you listen to whatever news outlets and websites, and they’re trying to just condense the information. And just like, 2013, he became a millionaire. And you’re like, how exactly did that happen? But also, I think there’s an opportunity, perhaps, whether you like it or not. You and your wife together, raising three kids, you moved, you made all the business decisions. You might not notice this, but to me that’s also, like, a rare thing because so many couples, like, even if the wife or the husband don’t need to be in the business, making these decisions together is a real challenge because I’ll tell you that I already have the freedom, but I don’t have free kids. And I pretty much make decisions. Well, I have a partner, but I make a decision. All the decisions pretty much on my own, more or less. And he’s very supportive. So I feel like there’s either a course or something that you can maybe address and teach other people. Because I also say this, that I know when people go to work, and I used to really do my one and a half hour commute, and I was completely miserable.
But also, like, so many other people come home and they face sort of the judgment, and they face just all the misunderstandings that accumulate, all the anger, anxiety, and stress accumulates at home. And you seem to not to say none of it, but you seem to navigate a manager really well.
Yeah. It’s a tricky thing, honestly, because I’ve gotten better at this. But I used to have a tendency, I think, like a lot of people who sort of go down this rabbit hole of self discovery and self improvement. And then you start applying these things, and it starts working, and then it works more and more and more. So you learn more and you read more and you get into Tony Robbins, the whole thing. And then at the end of it, you’re like, you have this life that you’re happy with and this business, and you love what you do, and I’m very aware of how fortunate I am. And so then when I see someone like a family member that’s not in that position at all and is doing all the things I used to do, chasing more, right, like, oh, well, I got a promotion, so now I got to think about the next thing, that whole mindset. I want to just say the right thing so that they snap out of it. But I also know that I don’t know that there was something that you could have said to me that would snap me out of it.
It literally took years, and it was driven by me. I became obsessed with this. I’m sure you’ve gone through this where you just cannot stop listening to podcasts, and then you start listening to them on one and a half speed so you can get more. And then you start reading every book. You go binge on this stuff and you start using it, and then it works and it’s addictive. There’s no shortcut, I don’t think. And so when I see, like, my friend who’s the lawyer who, if you wrote down his life on paper and you showed it to someone, they’d say, wow, super successful and beautiful wife, beautiful kids, huge house and great salary, partner to love him on paper, everything looks great. When you meet this person, he’s not happy. So what can I say to cost him to undo his entire life and redo a different way? There’s nothing, right? So, like, the idea of a course or something that teaches this. I’ve thought about that, honestly, because I’m not religious, so I don’t like this word, but blast. I don’t know of a better word to be in the position I’m in and to have the life I have.
But I also know that it took 7000 steps and realizations and stumbles and all those things. I think you have to do all of that. I don’t think I can be a trailblazer or anyone can and then reach back and just pull everyone else to where you are and say, See? I’ve tried that, and it just causes frustration, because I think there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance where you say things to people and they know what you’re saying. It feels true, but it also just it’s too painful to acknowledge. That very true. Yeah. One of my best friends, he hates his job. He just tells me every time I ask him, he hates it. It’s awful. But he’s been there a long time, and he’s got golden handcuffs, as the Term. Right. So he makes so much that it’s now hard to leave. And he’s got kids and a wife and stuff, and it’s like, okay, so what I did because I was in that situation exactly. I was making over $200,000 a year as a creative director and had a house at a mortgage, and we had two cars, and my wife wasn’t working, and we had two small kids, and they’re in ballet.
What we did was we unspooled everything. We literally just started undoing our life and then starting a new one. And it was hard and scary and painful and all of that, but at the end, it’s so much better on the other side. I don’t know how to get other people to see that. I’m not sure there’s, like, an easy answer to that.
And it’s so true about what you said. And for me to make that shift, as of 2017, I was working from my life. In 2017, I started freelancing. January 2016 had a fantastic year because it was a little bit wasn’t slow, but it was just enough. I was operating at 50% capacity. Again, no kids. I want to claim that I passed down to anybody who’s raising two to three kids or more, but I had a lot of freedom. I had a client who literally it was like a five minute drive. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t even get on the pike. It was just right over in Watertown. I live in Newton, and they were lovely. A tiny little office, and there’s, like, a workout room. They do zoom, but there it’s just perfect. And then I had other clients in New York, so I was working from home. But 2017, it just completely dialed up for me. I was working 60, 70 hours a week for agency well, smaller agency clients. They’re lovely. They’re nothing like what you had described. Right? And then there was, like, individual clients I loved. They’re all from sturd to Soleil and all that was, like, 8100 hours a week.
I love all my clients. I wasn’t working out, completely burned out. I was making well over 200K, which was doubling my full time income. Then I made a conscious decision to say, really, like you said, money isn’t everything. What is the point, with all the money I make, to give a third of that back to the government and not being able to do any of the things I love working out. You’re miserable, and your body is telling you, giving you all the signs way before then, you know it. So, 2018, I did the documentary, I traveled to China, came back, and the con is like, okay, the type of work becomes less, I have more time to connect with more people, start developing courses. And now I go to Zumba twice a day, once in the morning, once at night. And it’s just like, nobody you’re right. Nobody is able to kind of snap you out of it. Only you can. And along the way was hard because for me, people, as human nature, it’s so easy to look back, to say, 200K is. The next year should be 250. The year after should be 300.
I’m just me. I don’t even need all that much money. So I love what you said, and it just resonates with every ounce of me. Like, right now, it’s vibrating. It’s awesome.
The trick is that if someone listens to this or people I talk to, most people are not making $200,000 to begin with, and they would love to. And probably it would, like, eliminate certain financial stress in their life if they were making that much. It’s impossible to imagine making that much and not being happy as a result of that. It’s almost like I don’t know if you’ve ever experimented with psychedelics, but you can’t explain what it feels like to someone who hasn’t done it. You just have to do it. That’s it. I can’t tell you what it feels like when you eat psilocybin.
I haven’t tried it.
If you listen to Tim Ferriss, it’s like a matter of time before. But that’s like an analogy. I’ve tried it, and I know what it’s like, and I can try to describe it to you, and I will fail. That’s it. And I think it’s the same thing with making $200,000 plus, right? And on paper, it’s like, oh, my God, I’m freelancing. I’m making more than $200,000 a year. I have all these clients. Circus delay. Five years ago, that version of me would be like, so psyched that this is happening, right? But I’m so unhappy. And that was me. I was making that, and I was very deeply unhappy. It was the only time in my life I’ve ever been on antidepressants was that period. It was also winter in New England, which is awful. It’s horrible. So that’s the thing. It’s like, you can’t like, I wish I could take that experience and bottle it and let people have it so that they don’t have to go through it. They can just skip that and get to the good part. But over the years, I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that I think maybe you have to do every step.
I don’t know that there’s a shortcut.
This episode of the Phase World Podcast is brought to you by Phase World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up and create a profitable brand. Face. War podcast.
Our chief editor and producer, Herman Sevillos. Associate Producer, Adam Laffert. Social media and content manager. Rose De Leon Transcript editor Alina Ahmedova And lastly, myself, the creator and host of Phase World. Thank you so much for listening.
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