The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Ep 15. How to Start Your Own Business ft. Mel Bruce of The Leveraged PhD

March 02, 2022 Carmela Season 2 Episode 15
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Ep 15. How to Start Your Own Business ft. Mel Bruce of The Leveraged PhD
Show Notes Transcript

Thinking about launching your own business? Mel Bruce of The Leveraged PhD shares insight and expertise on academic entrepreneurship + actionable advice to get started leveraging the skills you already have to start building your dream business and lifest6yle.

Connect with Mel at @theleveragedphd on Instagram. Or, at

Don't forget to rate & review The Millennial PhD podcast wherever you are listening! It really helps the show reach as many people as possible.

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Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at

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Speaker 1 (00:09):


Speaker 2 (00:10):

To the millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmella Munio Domani, and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram. And to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page, I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

Speaker 1 (01:13):

Welcome to episode 15 of the Millennial PhD. This is your host me. In this episode, we're talking with Mel Bruce, who is the founder of a company called the Leveraged PhD, and she's gonna be talking a little bit about entrepreneurship, specifically for early career academics or recovering academics, but also shares a lot of tips and information for anyone who's looking to start their own small business or get into entrepreneurship. For me, this was something that I had not considered at all. Um, it seemed kind of antithetical to the work that I was doing on my route to becoming an academic as a PhD student, and then as a dancer and a creative. But, uh, <laugh>, I've recently come around to this as being a way to work with people and to do some of the same kind of social impact work that I was hoping to do as an academic, um, and have economic and creative freedom in a way that I hadn't really thought possible before. So I was fascinated by this conversation. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, stick around and check out this great interview with Mel Bruce. 

Speaker 2 (02:24):

Welcome back to the millennial PhD where we've been talking about creative survival in academia and beyond. Today I'm talking with Mel Bruce, the founder of the leveraged PhD, whose mission is to empower PhDs to turn their knowledge and passions into income and impact without sacrificing their wellbeing. Mel, welcome to the millennial PhD. Thank you so much for being here. It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I'm so excited to talk to you, um, because it sounds like we're responding to a lot of the same issues and having some similar conversations about academia, potential exit strategies or even side income strategies for academics. Uh, and this is, this is now season two of the millennial PhD, where in addition to artists and creatives, I'm also shining a spotlight on entrepreneurs and some other industries I didn't really touch on previously. So it's really wonderful timing to have you on. Uh, I read some of your bio and story and website, um, but instead of me trying to talk through your story, uh, I'd rather invite you to share it yourself. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and then maybe how did you come to found the leveraged PhD? 

Speaker 3 (03:37):

Yeah, absolutely. So if we start right, right back at the beginning, I grew up on a farm in rural Australia, and I was the first one in my family to head off to university, and I loved it so much. So I stuck around all the way through and got my PhD right. And the plan was never to be in academia, but I just, I got caught up in it and I, and I loved it. There was so many things as everyone listening is sure has their own reasons and can probably resonate with that idea of just being swept up in the whole idea of academia and what it could be and the impact that I could have. And so, yeah, I stuck around, I went to the US and I was assistant professor there for six years, did the tenure track gig. My PhD is in marketing, which will come out as we talk today. And how that has helped me and supported me in, in doing what I'm doing now. So I loved being a professor. I loved helping my students doing my research. And I guess the question is, well, okay, so how did you end up out of academia and how did you end up running? I don't just run the leverage PhD. I have my own business as well, Mel if anyone wants to check it out, and I'm happy to talk about that as well today. 

Speaker 2 (04:51):

Oh, amazing. 

Speaker 3 (04:52):

Yeah. So how did I, how did I end up here? Well, it all, the, the catalyst was when I had my first child in, I was in still an assistant professor on the tenure track at that point, had to negotiate my own maternity leave, which blew my mind because in where I'm originally from, from Australia, it's all legislated and there's, there's rules. It's not the best in the world, but there is actually maternity leave rather than having to negotiate for myself. And so I thought that I'd negotiated some maternity leave with my definition of leave, but I came back and was punished for having not done enough research while I was on leave. And yeah, so it all kinda just blew up and became this big thing that it didn't really need to be. But that was this moment where I stepped back and went, Wait a minute. 

And it shown a light on all of the things that I didn't love about academia that for so long, because I'd been so goal orientated of, Alright, I'm going to get my PhD, I'm gonna be an assistant professor, I'm going to get tenure, I need to publish this. And I was so on this track that I didn't have time to look around and say, Wait a minute, who am I? What do I want? How can I make an impact or, or have that wellbeing, joy? I talk about prosperity a lot with the leverage PhD, which I define as being successful and thriving. And I assume that I was doing that in academia because I was hitting all of the, the milestones, the goals that I'd set for myself. Oh, you know, I got my PhD by, by this age I had X amount of publications every year, and I was on track to, to get to where I wanted from that goal perspective. But it took that moment of pausing and just kind of being slapped in the face to go, Wait a minute, I haven't actually considered what I want <laugh> and what would actually light me up and be best for me and bring me prosperity. So yeah, that's kind of my story in a, a nutshell, but a little bit of detail. So feel free to ask me any questions about any of that, and I can go into any more detail if you feel like lists would be interested in it. 

Speaker 2 (06:52):

Yeah, definitely. And there's so much that I think resonates in what you just said for me personally, and I'm sure for a lot of other <laugh>, other people listening. But I mean, the one thing that, uh, that's set up in academia, the one goal post to the next mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, situation where it's like, well, if I just get through, um, I've, I have almost left at multiple junctures myself, but there's always this sort of luck if I can just get through the coursework. If I can just get the degree, get the PhD itself, or get through the exams, or if I can just get out, you know, the one peer reviewed article, like, then I'm, then maybe I'm gonna get the job. Um, and then you were talking about this idea of not just surviving, but also thriving, which really resonates because in some ways, um, you had the tenure track job, which is an academia land, like the gold standard. 

Speaker 3 (07:44):

Um, I'd made it and yeah, <laugh>, it's, its 

Speaker 2 (07:47):

Hard, but so many people still find this, the, the major issues there. Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off going 

Speaker 3 (07:53):

On. No. Yeah. So it's that so mean, like, it, it made it, but it wasn't the right fit for me. And I'm really not anti academia. I think it's amazing if you're in the right position, if it aligns with who you are, you can be successful and you can thrive in academia. I just, with the change in my life and what was, you know, what I was going through it, it wasn't the space that I needed to be in anymore in the certain situation. Yeah. The context that, of what was going on in my life and academia itself. 

Speaker 2 (08:25):

Yeah, sure. And can I ask just real quick, what, So I, I didn't realize actually that you have another, maybe, maybe it's even your primary business, I don't know, but just mm-hmm. <affirmative>, can you tell me a little bit about what that business was? 

Speaker 3 (08:37):

Yeah, so that's the original business that I started when I left academia. I had, it's, it's a very, uh, complex story, but I had the leverage PhD in a different format. It had a different name at that point because I was teaching marketing at university, and I wanted my students to be able to see the back end. So I was teaching, teaching digital marketing, online marketing, social media marketing. And I wanted my students to be able to see what the back end of Instagram looked like, what the back end of a website looked like, so that we could say, All right, here's a post and let's look at the analytics. Let's see why this worked, why this didn't. Because no, at that point, the students all understood social media, but they had never looked at it from the perspective of a business. So I started what is now the leverage. 

PhD was a blog, and I had social media, and it was just an opportunity for my students to be able to experience what a business looked like online. Over time, it really evolved and I was writing content and creating stuff that resonated with people, and people kept following me, and it kept building, even though it was just something I was doing on the side. And I turned it into a business last year after I realized that so many people were on a similar journey to me, and particularly with the pandemic. And it's still, you know, going on. That was a, a spotlight for a lot of people on the fact that academic academia was a broken career choice for them. So a lot of people, uh, just looking for a little bit of inspiration, some ideas, and even if it's not for them to go into entrepreneurship, just to see someone who said, I had it all from the perspective of what an academic career is, the tenure track position on track to be tenured, doing all the service and all, all the research and everything, that was all aligned for me to have someone who said, I have all that, but I'm actually gonna choose to take a different path. 

For me, that path is entrepreneurship. Maybe it's, you know, an industry job or working in, in some corporate function or something completely different administrative role in university, just to have people out there talking about it. So I podcast like, this is so fantastic just to have different perspectives that people can actually say. So I got off track. So let's go back all the way back to my other business So I am a marketing coach. I help businesses with their marketing. So I come in, I usually work with companies, or I shouldn't say individuals because the word company often implies that there's some huge thing. I work with people who've built their business to earn about a hundred, 150,000 a year, but they just can't get to that next step. And so I come in, I use so many skills for my PhD, I do, we do research, we do AB testing to see what's gonna work. So I use the theories that I have and the knowledge I have about marketing, and then we apply those and do some, run some tests and figure out what's going to get them over the line for their business. I love it. 

Speaker 2 (11:15):

That's amazing. And it's, it was also a perfect lead in <laugh> to my next question, which was, um, one thing that's, that's interesting in academia is that we become oftentimes kind of hyper trained in a variety of skills. Um, not always, but often. Uh, and we're also sort of taught that those skills are not valuable if they don't yield the very narrow kind of academia stuff. The peer reviewed publication, the tenure track job, et cetera. Um, what are some of the skills you feel lend themselves to, either to being an entrepreneur or maybe just to pivoting, um, you know, into other work that academics may be interested in, um, that a lot of academics already have and may or may not be identifying as, as these super 

Speaker 3 (12:03):

Skill sets? Yeah, I mean, I have a, I have a whole list. We could, we could talk about this for a whole hour, but let's just pick out a few that I know that pretty much everyone who has been through the PhD process definitely has, and, and through acade academia, whether that's postdoc or whether it's on some type of, uh, assistant professor lecturer position, the number one thing that I think makes PhDs really great entrepreneurs is that they have, they're, they've had failure and they've learned from that failure. Every, I don't even have to ask a PhD student, did some, did something go wrong with your PhD? Did you not be able to get some data? Or your program crashed or you lost some, lost something along the way, or you randomly found someone who'd done the exact same thing that you had done. You had failure at every point of your career as a PhD student candidate, and an further from that. 

So it really sets you up to have a growth mindset and to say, you know, I made this mistake. I'm going to learn from that and I'm gonna make better decisions. I remember when I was doing my PhD, it's 10 years ago now, so there was no cloud cloud backups back then. Well, not that I know of. Maybe, maybe in some, some, um, really techy spheres. And I had all my data on a USB stick, on a jump drive, I think in, in America, and I lost it. All my data, everything <laugh>. It's like, Oh, no way. This is it. It's over. I'm giving up. There's gonna be no, there's no, there's gonna be no Dr. Bruce. This is, this is not happening. And did I learn from that? I did find it. I found it in a pocket in my handbag. So congratulations. Prices averted after two days of tears and crying and talking to my now husband who is, who's my boyfriend back there, just like, uh, it's over. 

I'm, I'm not doing this dot, Did I make better decisions after that? You better be. I saved that in three different places every single afternoon after I was running my analysis. I learned from that, and I never had that happen again. Even though USB drives love to get missing. So learning from failure, I'm sure everyone has their own story of something that really went wrong and they got back up. And that really ties into resilience and getting back, getting knocked back and picking yourself back up and having those moments. Cause it's not about not crying, it's not about not going, I'm gonna give up, but it's about waking up the next day and saying, All right, I'm gonna do this. Now. I've had the same in my businesses where maybe someone didn't like it the way I was doing things or something just didn't, didn't land. 

You know, I did a, I produced a new pro a product early on and I made five sales. It's like, alright, well I could give up now or I could come back and I can build something better. I can do more research, get some feedback and come back from that. Even just the expert knowledge that you have. So a lot, lot of people will turn that into their business idea. So I work a lot with knowledge based businesses, so turning in knowledge into some type of offer. There's, within entrepreneurship, people often say, I'll get these emails, and they'll say things like, It's okay if you don't have a PhD. You can learn like, well, I do actually have a PhD and so do you, you have this instant status of expert because of that PhD. And I asked to have a, a Facebook group for PhD entrepreneurs, and I asked in the group the other day, Do you use your title in your business? 

And most people said, I don't use it really overtly. It's not in every conversation, every message they put out there, but it's, the majority of people do have it there somewhere either on their about page or in the introduction to who they are. That instantly gives them that credibility in the area that they have that knowledge in. The other thing is that you know how to find answers. So if you don't know, you can very quickly find the answer to things. You, you know, you, if you come into entrepreneurship and you're from a discipline that's outside of, I was in marketing business, so for me it's, it was a really natural fit and I had that knowledge. You, you, you know how to research, you know how to go out and find answers. So if you say, You know what? I actually don't know how I'm going to get people to buy my product, my service I'm offering, or I jump on the internet, find either a free resource or a program and dig in. So I have a program that people go through and the best, the best clients to have because they take the information that I give them, they absorb it and they apply it, and then they build on that they want more and more, more, okay, what's the next level? What's the next level? Because they're so used to doing that, their training has allowed them to constantly be taking those problems that they have, the gaps they have, and filling that with the knowledge that's out there. 

So that's a few reasons I could go on forever, but I know we have other, 

Speaker 2 (16:50):

Those are, those are great. No, those are, those are so great. Um, and you're the second person I've talked to in two days that has talked about the resilience piece, which is really fascinating. Um, because of course I'm always have expecting people to say something like, oh, like writing skill, like editing skills or like project management skills. And I think lots of PhDs do gain those, or people who dip into academia gain those. Um, but it's fascinating to hear the way that you framed, um, these three kind of skill set, uh, skill set expertise type or just ways of moving. We could say that 

Speaker 3 (17:30):

Some, for me, it's much more about, yeah, like the resourcefulness, those skills that are, they just set you apart and they allow you to succeed as an entrepreneur because the, the biggest reason people fail as an entrepreneur is that they give up or they don't have the knowledge. And even if right now PhDs don't have the, the knowledge, they have the ability to do it, it being in academia because you're surrounded by everyone else, it's exactly the same. You can sometimes forget that other people don't know how to go out and find information. They don't know how to ask questions in a way to find that solution. And so while, yes, things like being able to, to write and, and think critically, the, those are important and they're helpful, but not as much, I think, as the resilience of being able to solve those problems, to be resourceful and to learn from, from failure. 

Speaker 2 (18:22):

Amazing. Um, so I'd like to pivot here slightly because I always like to ask guests, uh, what I call some kinda like nuts and bolts questions. Uh, just cuz I think sometimes a lot of different industries, um, that guests are working in are kind of shrouded in mystery, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's helpful for people to hear folks talk through kind of the day to day finer points. Um, so one question I would love to, I always have, and I would love to hear your response, is, as an entrepreneur, uh, what would you say a typical day looks like for you? 

Speaker 3 (18:59):

Alright, so I would consider myself as a established, uh, entrepreneur in that I have, my business is all set up. I have my offers, I have, let's say my products that I'm selling, which are, for me, it's, it's coaching and courses and speaking. And I have what I call my marketing funnels set up. We're getting a little bit deep into marketing here, but I have all of this set up so that now I'm in a stage of it's really predictable. My days and my weeks look really, really similar and what I'm doing. But I did have a period of about, I'd say it was about three months of setting all of that up in and building out what my business actually was and stood for. The schedule that I have hasn't changed as in the, the number of hours and the days that I was working. 

But now it's just filled with clients, it's filled with, with that kinda work. So I'll talk through what it looks like now, um, and I'm happy to talk to anyone at the say, wanna reach out and be like, How do I get started? Like, what, what are the beginning steps? We can go back to that as well. So I work Tuesdays to Fridays. I have two young kids, so I have an almost one year old and a three year old. And so on Mondays I hang out with my kids and that's, that's my day. I'm, it's me on mom, Judy. And then on Tuesdays I start work at 8:00 AM I'm an early riser. My whole family's up at five. So by the time 8:00 AM comes around like, All right, I'm ready for my morning tea or my lunch and I'm ready to get stuck in. 

And so I start my morning with what I call my rocks, which are the things that are the most important in my business. And I have three things that are in my rock list, that's my clients. So usually I meet with my clients, I work with a lot of American clients, so, um, and Canadian. So lots, lots of people from North America. And so I'll start with usually one or two client calls if I don't have clients. So on a Wednesday that's my content day, I will do writing. The number one thing that I do wanna do is write an email to my list. Cause I'm nurturing them from people who don't know me, to people who trust me so much and believe that I can support them in their journey to get to where they need to be. So I send out an email to my list to nurture them and pot leave, lead follow up. 

So those are people who are interested in my services and they, they want, yeah, so they want to, they're interested. So I'm reaching out to them and nurturing them, but usually in more of one-on-one, seeing if they wanna book a call with me or if I can send them any resources to help them to get to where they need to be. So those are my rocks and I do them first thing in the morning. Writing is a thing that even though I did it so much in academia, and even though if I'm being really honest with myself, I am good at it. I have a lot of mindset shifts around that, that are needed. And so that's something that I like to get outta the way really early, whether that's writing an email or a blog post or something for social media. And then I do what I call my pebbles. 

And this is everything else that moves my business forward. But if I didn't do it today, it would be okay. And then I move on to my sand, which is everything that just kind of needs to be done. But if I don't get to it this week, it'll be okay. Things like getting my email inbox down to zero or uh, reaching out to, to cold leads, things that, yeah, they don't necessarily move my business forward that much. I take lunch at 1115 every day, <laugh>. I know, right? My life is really, really scheduled. That's cuz my husband's working from home with, um, because of Covid, not with Covid. He doesn't have it at this moment, we hope. Uh, and so we go for a walk around the block just to get out of the house. Sometimes we'll go down to the beach. Um, I live pretty close to the ocean. 

Um, just get outta the house, have a chat, talk to someone, a human being. Then I just come back and get back to work and just be working on any of those. I call my pebbles on my sand and I have my list there. So there's never this time where I'm thinking, Okay, what do I need to work on next? I'm a very structured and organized person. So there's some days when I finish up early, usually around two o'clock or three o'clock, I have a nap. My daughter's still waking up at night. And so usually I'm like, You know what? I need a nap then. So I'll go and do that. Or I'll maybe just do something around the house, go for a swim in a pool. So like go, go for a swim just to get a refresh. And then sometimes I'll come back and maybe do another hour of work or just pack up for the day. 

It's something that I really like to do and I, I encourage this for anyone, no matter what you're doing in your, for your work is to shut down for the day. And so I'll come and I'll make a list of this is what I'm gonna work on tomorrow. I pack away my desk, I shut down my computer and I walk away. So at three 30 I finish work, usually spend about half an hour just doing some stuff around the house getting ready, and then I go pick up my kids two nights a week. I work, uh, I work because I work with European clients. So I've chosen two nights a week once my kids go to bed. And that time is just client calls and doing some, some stuff for, for them, providing them with feedback on their work, whatever it is that they're, that they're doing. 

So yeah, that's really my week. Friday afternoons I don't work. I usually use that to go and do either personal kick or get my head on or go do some shopping or whatever it is that I, that I need to do in my life. And so that means my weekends are completely free. I don't ever work on the weekends. Sometimes I will check in when my kids have their nap just with my clients. Just if they've sent me a little memo, a message just to say they're freaking out about something, I'll, I'll jump in and get back to them. Or I'll just say, Look, don't worry, I'll send you this on on Monday or Tuesday where it's, so yeah, it kind of sounds really boring, doesn't it, when I, when I put it that way. But 

Speaker 2 (24:31):

It does not sound boring. I 

Speaker 3 (24:33):

Love it 

Speaker 2 (24:34):

<laugh>. Um, it does not sound boring. It, it, it sounds great. And I love the rocks, pebbles, and the sand piece. That was, that was great. Um, and it's interesting because I asked those questions to a lot of folks in different industries and a lot of people say, Oh, well it's different every day. So, um, and that's always a fascinating conversation to have. I love that too. Um, but it was interesting to hear you say like, well, you know, you're at the stage where it is pretty, you are able to kind of set this particular schedule. I think that's really appealing. Um, 

Speaker 3 (25:03):

Yeah, and it's like, that's a big myth I think about entrepreneurship. It's something that I, that comes up with with people I chat with either on social media or on on people who are interested in becoming an entrepreneur from academia. But they, they worry that me working 24 7 and I work less than I did in academia, and I have less guilt, there's less anxiety and guilt. Because when I was in academia, it was always like, Oh, I need to, I need to be writing, I need to do more. I need, I need to get this done for this committee that I'm on. Or, Oh, we've got this coming up and I'm, I'm gonna be really busy so I need to do this now so that then I'm free later. And I always felt like I, oh, I should be, I should be, I should be, I need to be doing more. 

I was always felt behind and I never felt on top of things. And you, I kind of made the assumption of, well, entrepreneurship is going to be the same surely because you, you're doing all of this yourself. It's all you and everything that everything relies on you. But because you cut out all the crap, cut out all of the, the stuff that isn't important, all the administrative stuff I cut out. Anything that doesn't bring me joy actually have more time <laugh> and feel a lot less guilt. I don't, Okay. I wouldn't say I, I never feel guilty or I never feel anxiety about my business because it's my business. Everything relies on me. The income coming in, if I stop, then yeah, it's, it's not, I'm not gonna be earning the money. But it's just so different too. <laugh> to academia what I felt what, for me, you know, I had a, a very anxious personality <laugh>. 

And when I was in academia, it, it just did not support that because I always felt this crushing us from not having achieved enough and not doing enough because there's always someone else that's being published and someone else that's achieving at this level. The administration always wants more publications for accreditation or they need this or need that. And so it just felt like I was constantly just being pulled from, pulled from, pulled from. And even though in my job now as a business coach, I'm, I'm constantly giving to my clients and I'm an introvert. And so after I have my days with my clients, I do feel really drained, but in an amazing way <laugh> that, you know, I've given them so much support and joy. I'm supporting them on their journey to live their best life. And so I don't feel like, yeah. Like I did in academia where I was just constantly drained and constantly thinking I need to be doing something more and more and more. And that's something I, I kind of mentioned that in my, in my schedule there on Wednesdays. I don't do client calls Wednesdays in my free day and that's my day where I get to work on my business and yeah, the bigger picture and be a little bit creative and not, not be in someone else's business helping them, but doing my own stuff for me. 

Speaker 2 (27:55):

Great. Yeah. Um, and that's very, you know, a lot of the feelings that you were describing about academia, definitely very familiar. Like I said, for me and I'm sure for, uh, folks listening cuz you, you, I mean, people are talking about it all over, um, right now for sure. Um, may I ask, what is a rose and a thorn for you right now? So something that you absolutely love. You've been talking a little bit about the things that you love about what you do. Um, so you can, you can say something again, it doesn't have to be no, but something you love and something that is a challenge, um, that, that comes up real. 

Speaker 3 (28:35):

So something I love about this journey that I've been on, and I call it a journey because it's not, I've shifted so much from being really goals orientated to being about my life purpose or living to my values. And it's made, making decisions a lot easier. And it, that feels kinda counterintuitive because I went from saying, this is what I'm trying to achieve. Okay, I know exactly where I need to go, let's work towards that to saying, no, I'm gonna live to my life purpose, which I have found to be that it's about pursuing my dreams and encouraging others to do the same. And you can see that coming through my, both my businesses that I have, but obviously particularly the lot PhD that we're talking about here today and my, my life in general. And that has allowed me to make decisions that are closer, I guess, to my heart rather than with my head. 

Because when I was goal orientated, it was always, Oh, I have to do this and I have to do that. Whereas now I say, what is going to allow me to pursue my dreams? What's gonna allow me to encourage others and, and help them to pursue their dreams and live their best life? And so I can make decisions with less, less anxiety, less guilt, because I, I'm, everything that I'm doing is aligned with with me. So yeah, that's the rose in my life. It's so empowering on, in everything that I'm doing, how I'm interacting and being there with my family. It's meant that I can feel really good about leaving academia in the journey and the path that I'm on because it's still aligned with my life purpose that I had to define after I left academia because huge personal development that was needed. And that's probably my thought as well is the, the personal development that I have had to go through in, in leaving academia, in losing my identity because I had my whole identity was that I was an academic, that I was a professor and leaving. 

It wasn't until I left and I had multiple things going on in my life at the same time I left the United States, so moved back to Australia and in Covid, so everything was shut down. I couldn't connect with anyone, I couldn't make any new friends. I'd left my whole life behind in America. And even though that life in America had changed so much because it was onset of covid, I had to grieve that life. And I had, I hadn't realized that I would need to go through that process and I had to grieve losing who I was, even though now I am in, I'm a better version of myself, the best version of myself, and I'm con but I'm continuing to, to grow and to, to go through that process. And so yeah, it was tough. It was hard to <laugh> to figure out who I was without academia. Huge tho. But still, still a little bit in there. We still working on it. 

Speaker 2 (31:19):

Yeah, for sure. Thank you for sharing. Um, so final kind of big question. Um, you mentioned this before, uh, when you were talking about your every day, um, to, to circle back around and think about early steps, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if somebody turned to you today, um, which I assume your clients often do, <laugh>, um, when someone turns to you today and asks, um, kind of how to get either how to get to do what you do or how to get to whatever their next step is mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, what is some advice you might offer, um, in terms of those kind of first, second, third steps and especially I guess keeping in mind for academics who are starting to think about making a transition to something 

Speaker 3 (32:04):

Else mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. So if I'm thinking about the really, really early steps, to me it's about a mindset shift, about opening up to possibilities, about thinking there isn't just one way to succeed that you can be successful in, in a different path that you, that you wanna take. And when I think about entrepreneurship, it, it's not as rigid as academia. Academia, you're successful if you have a tenure track position or a tenure position or the equivalent wherever you are around the world. Whereas in entrepreneurship, you get to define your own success. And I encourage you to think about that, even if you're thinking, I'm gonna stay in academia, just break down some of those old thinking because academia can change and it needs to change in my opinion. And so even if you're thinking, I'm not going, I'm not going to leave, I'm just looking to, to change a little bit and say, you know what? 

I can take a different path and be successful. So yeah, there's different ways to be successful and, and getting your head around that idea is one of the first steps. Another thing that I think is really important, and I talk about this a lot in, in the content that I put out, is shifting from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. In academia, there's so much scarcity. There's only so many scholarships when you're doing your PhD. There's only so many stipends or teaching positions. There's only so many postdoc positions. There's only so many tenure track positions. Whereas when we step outside of academia, there is so much abundance. There is the possibility for you to, to succeed, to thrive because there's so many more opportunities and, and options and paths. 

Another thing to think about with mindset is, is what I touched on before about your identity and, and figuring out what your identity is outside of, of being an academic and academia, because your worth is so much more than than just an academic. It is, it is a part of your worth and it can continue to be so, but your identity is not that you are an academic. And if you want it to be, you can be an academic outside academia too, or a scholar as some people like to say it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. There's also that mindset of leaving academia being a failure. And that's something that I know that you've touched on before in the podcast and that takes a little bit more, I think, hammering in to, to think about. Because if you've spent that long on that journey and only been surrounded by people, it can be hard to think that it's, it's not failing to, to say, Well, I've spent all this time doing this. 

Oh, I've wasted my PhD because I'm not using it in a traditional way. As we talked about the skills that you have, the experience of doing a PhD and your time in academia are going and it's not wasted. You're just using it in a different way. So just shifting that mindset around what success looks like, what your identity is leaving and what that means. I always tell people, if you decide to leave academia, it's not failing. It's a really smart decision if it's not a great fit for you. If you've looked and you've said, this is not gonna work for me. I've tried different things and I I'm looking at it from different perspective, but it's still, this is not a good fit, then leaving is smart. Leaving is the, is a good decision. It's not a failure. It's one of the hardest things that you can do because you've been so aligned with that goal for so long. Breaking apart from that is tough, but it's strong and it's brave. 

Okay, so we've got the mindset. Let's talk about a little bit more. Okay, so you've decided you're done. You, you've made some shifts. You, you understand that this is gonna be a big change, lots of personal development, you're ready for all of that. If you wanna start a business, the next step is to think about the ideas that you have and assessing those ideas to see if they're going to be viable. I'm a big believer that pretty much any idea can be a business. Some are just a little easier and faster to get off the ground. So you wanna look at your own personal circumstances and situation, look at your finances and the support system that you have around you to know whether or not some ideas are gonna be better than others. There's paths that you can get into academia and then switch, um, into entrepreneurship and then switch over. 

So for me, when I started my business, my, my other business, mel, I started by doing done for you of, um, was my service. So I did social media marketing for companies, They paid me the money to do that. It was one of the easiest ways for me to turn this knowledge and skills that I had into a business. But over time, I knew that it wasn't gonna be what lights me up long term. And so I've since evolved that into, I'm still doing marketing, but now I'm doing it in a much more of a coach or analyst type role where I come into their business and consult and look at what's working, what's not, and moving on from that. So just an I just an example of how what you start doing doesn't necessarily have to be a hundred percent. What lights you up and what brings you brings you joy. 

And when you are looking for ideas, you don't have to have this great big grand idea. It can, most of the great ideas are really simple and sometimes people think, well, someone else is doing it already. There's someone out there that's really successful doing this. And I say, Great, that's the best thing that you can find in the market because it means someone else is out there making money doing it, therefore there's room for you. You're gonna bring a different perspective. You're gonna bring a different combination of skills and knowledge. It's like when someone chooses a business coach, I'm not the best fit for everybody. Some people, they look at my content, it's, and they say, Yeah, she's the one, I need her. I'm gonna like find my money. I'm gonna pay her and she's gonna help me. Other people are like, eh, I, I like her kind of ideas, but her personality doesn't, I don't, I don't, we don't get along or we don't, um, her perspective or the thoughts or her experience is not gonna be a great fit for me. 

And so they'll move on to someone else. And the same thing for you and your business that you were there. Some people are going to be really attracted to you and what you're putting out there and others are not. So having competitors out there is a good thing. It's a great sign. I call it abundance analysis rather than a competitive analysis. You obviously don't want the market to be completely, completely flooded and be really, really competitive, but if there's a few people out there who've been doing it for over a year, that tells you they're making some money and there's there's room in that market potentially for you, we can get deeper into, you know, the next steps, next steps. Honestly, if you get to that point where you've got your idea, then Google is your friend. It's, um, you know, the place to go. Actually, I do have a resource if people are interested. I just, um, realized I shouldn't mention this. I have, it's a free, it's a free resource. It's 17 ways to turn your PhD into income, and if you go to the leverage, you can download that to help you Yeah. Come up with ideas of, of what you could do for your business with a PhD. 

Speaker 2 (39:11):

Yeah. Um, and I took a look at that and it's, it's, it's a super useful resource. Um, so definitely check that out if it sounds like something that would be useful to you. Um, before I ask you to kind of, uh, give me all your social media and, and all of the, the website information, is there anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to say or put out into the universe? 

Speaker 3 (39:37):

I guess we touched on it a little bit through everything that, that I've talked about, but why I think entrepreneurship is a really great fit for PhDs. We talked about the skills, but let's talk about, let's take it away from, you know, what you can give to the world, but what, what are the reasons why I think entrepreneurship is a good fit? We touched on the flexible schedule. It's one of the main reasons, you know, if we think about why did you get into academia, a lot of people got into it like, well, I'm gonna love this flexible schedule. Academia, uh, and entrepreneurship have that in similarity. And by flexible schedule, I mean, you're still gonna have a schedule like I do, I have my hours and I work those certain days, but I chose those days and I chose when I work and how I work and that structure. 

I also think it's a great fit because of the lifelong learning. You went into academia because you love to learn, you love to research and read and, and entrepreneurship is the same. You have that opportunity to constantly be upleveling and learning more about your craft and about business and how to put yourself out there and how to succeed. To me, entrepreneurship, particularly when we're talking about this, the style of entrepreneurship that I do, and I think that the majority of PhDs go into teaching, helping, mentoring. If that was one of the big draws that you wanted to get into academia for, then it's a great fit again, because no matter what you're putting out there, whether it's a course or a, a digital download, some type of, uh, product that's helping people get from where they are to where they're being, you're teaching them, you're helping them, you're mentoring them, I also think it means, it, it allows you to have a huge impact or to make a difference. 

That's one of the reasons why a lot of people choose to leave academia. It was one of the deciding factors or the the things that, that helped supported me leaving was that I felt like I wasn't making a huge impact with my research because it was being published in peer review journals. It took two years to be published and then no one, one was reading them because particularly in my field, I know in some fields it's a little bit faster than that to get information out there, but I was, I'm in social media marketing, even if you know nothing about social media mar marketing, you know that social media changes a lot. I used to teach a class and I would, the night before or the day before, I'd planned for the class, have everything ready, and then I'd turn up to class and students would start doing an activity and it wouldn't work because Google had changed their algorithm. 

They'd updated something and so we'd have to, I have to scramble in the middle of a class and say, Okay, so we're not doing that anymore. Social media's changed. It's evolved. They've reduced. And so my research that was two years in the pipeline was not having an impact, was not having a difference. So that was a big draw for me. And, and maybe that's something that listeners can resonate with as well. You get to create knowledge, you get to explore new ideas and you get to work on something that you're passionate about. All of these things you can do in academia and you can do those in entrepreneurship as well. So that's why I think it is a really great fit for a lot of PhDs. 

Speaker 2 (42:36):

Great. Well thank you so much. That's, that feels like a good kind of parting thought. Where can people find you, connect with you, et cetera? 

Speaker 3 (42:46):

So I am at the leverage PhD on Instagram is my favorite platform. I am on Twitter, but I don't really like it. So if you write to me there, I will respond to you in a week or so. Uh, you can find as well where you can find, yeah, all my resources. I have a blog there with lots of free stuff to, if you're just starting to dig in and think about this idea of entrepreneurship, then jump on there, read some blog posts and download some, some of the re free resources that I have. But please feel free to reach out. Feel free to DM me and yeah, we can chat and support. I love getting to know people, finding out where they're at in their journey and supporting them because that's my mission in life. <laugh>, that's my, my purpose is to encourage other people to pursue their dreams, whatever they might be. 

Speaker 2 (43:35):

Well, great. Thank you so much again. This was such an helpful, wonderful conversation. Uh, I appreciate you taking the time all the way from Australia 

Speaker 3 (43:44):

Across Yeah, 

Speaker 2 (43:45):

Multiple times, 

Speaker 3 (43:46):

<laugh>. No worries at all. I love doing this sort of stuff and I hope that someone out there has been able, been inspired by this and, and helps them to, to get to where they need to be in life. 

Speaker 2 (43:57):

All right, we're done. That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.