SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi Ettenberg

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi Ettenberg

 

Today’s guest is Jodi Ettenberg. Jodi has an amazing story. 

I met her about five years ago at a conference for location and dependent entrepreneurs in Bangkok, Thailand. Everything that she has done up to that point and since has been very, very impressive. I’m excited to have her on the show. 

She left behind a profitable, lucrative career in law to take a one year sabbatical that transformed into an accidental business that would change the course of her life forever. We’re going to hear all about that today.

I also have a really deep admiration for Jodi, that she spent the last 10 years traveling the world, exploring new foods, and putting together incredible content based on it. She’s recently run into some health challenges and had a very critical operation go wrong about a year ago. She hints at this story a little bit in the interview, and I’m going to include some links where you can learn more about her story and what she’s been going through.

 

What You Will Learn On This Episode


  • The Appropriate Times to Monetize 
  • The Journey of a Legal Nomad
  • The Art of Facing Your Fears
  • Accidental entrepreneurship: Finding Your Calling

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


Legal Nomads

The Legal Nomads Shop 

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Cure by Jo Marchant

Spinal Tap Story

Celiac Cards

Shop Food Maps

 

Transcription


Kyle Gray:

Hello, and welcome to The Story Engine podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and today on the show, we have Jodi Ettenberg. Jodi has an amazing story. I met her about five years ago at a conference for location and dependent entrepreneurs in Bangkok, Thailand, and everything that she had done up to that point and has done since then has been very, very impressive, so I’m excited to have her on the show. She left behind a profitable, lucrative career in law to take a one year sabbatical that transformed into an accidental business that would change the course of her life forever. We’re going to hear all about that today.

 

Kyle Gray:

I also have a really deep admiration for Jodi, that she spent the last 10 years traveling the world, exploring new foods, and putting together incredible content based on it. She’s recently run into some health challenges and had a very critical operation go wrong about a year ago. She hints at this story a little bit in the interview, and I’m going to include some links where you can learn more about her story and what she’s been going through. But I just have so much admiration for the strength and courage that has brought her to this point. So without any further ado, let’s hand it over to Jodi.

 

Kyle Gray:

Jodi Ettenberg, thank you so much for joining me on The Story Engine podcast today. I am so excited, because I’ve known you and admire what you have been building and creating for a long time, so it’s really exciting to get a chance to chat with you today.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here.

 

Kyle Gray:

So Jodi, I want to introduce you properly to the audience, and the way I love to do that is by asking you this question. Can you tell me about a time or a moment in your life that’s defined who you are and how you’re making an impact in the world today?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Oh, that is a very good question. I think the most important point for the trajectory I’ve taken was probably when I gave notice at my law firm and quit my job to take what I thought would be a one year sabbatical and travel around the world. I remember shaking I was so nervous to give notice, thinking that this was sort of this wide open nothingness before me, and I had no idea what would happen next. But in all of the options I thought of, staying and traveling and building a different career outside the law was never even on my radar. And so I definitely think that’s one of the big points in my life that changed everything going forward.

 

Kyle Gray:

And tell us what happened. So you mentioned you thought this was a one year sabbatical. What were you doing? What were you up to, and how did it become not that?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Right. So I went to law school in Canada, and I applied when I was actually 18. And I got in, and so I started law school quite young. And I never really wanted to be a lawyer. People I see in my family really wanted me to be one, or there was some sort of other influence. But the reality is, they thought I was nuts for going to law school really young. And Quebec has a system where they take some people straight out of CEGEP, which is grades 12 and 13, and put them in with everyone else who, like in the States, has done a three year or an undergraduate degree or master’s or whatever, and then applies to law school. So I was very, very young. I remember my first day of school someone telling me to go back to high school where I belonged, which did not start things off on the right foot. And they also told me never apply for a job in New York because you’ll never get one.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And to me, I figured going to law school would be a great education. It was at McGill University in Montreal. It’s a wonderful school, and it would teach me how to think in a different way that must be useful I thought. Tuition in Canada, much lower than in the States, so I could afford to make this kind of obnoxious decision to go on a bet. And when I got a job offer at a firm in New York, I figured I would work for a few years and then take a sabbatical to do something I always wanted to do, which was to visit Siberia. And that was sort of percolating in the background for many, many years after seeing a documentary about the Trans-Siberian trains when I was younger. And over the years, as I was working, it sort of grew into, “Well maybe it’s not just Siberia. What if it’s a round the world trip?”

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

At the time, there were very few travel bloggers. I didn’t know what that was. There was just a site that I followed, it was three women who quit their jobs in New York to do a round the world trip. And I decided this would be something that I also wanted to do and I basically saved up money while everyone else thought about more, I would say, adult things to do. Buying a house, settling down. I was excited to put money aside for this big trip that I was slowly putting together.

 

Kyle Gray:

And so this trip became the foundation for your blog, Legal Nomads.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

My accidental, yes, my accidental entrepreneurship is what I used to say.

 

Kyle Gray:

Really?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yes. My blog, Legal Nomads, was not started with anything other than a place to share stories for my friends and family and my former clients. The S in Legal Nomads was another lawyer. So I worked in New York for about five and a half years as a corporate lawyer, and I met, on one of the last deals I worked on, this opposing counsel, and she and I ended up grabbing dinner with someone else on the deal team and we talked about travel. And I said, “You know, I’m really thinking of a longer trip,” and she was too. And so we actually started out together, and the S was her in Legal Nomads. So it was two lawyers. Our original slogan was, “Two lawyers, one world,” which was a terrible, “Two girls, one cup,” joke. And we basically just figured we’d share what was going on for the people that loved us and thought we were nuts for leaving the law and doing something quite extreme.

 

Kyle Gray:

So when you created this, you were out on your journey, and you’re accidentally falling into entrepreneurship. Was it a one year sabbatical at first, and you were like, “This is what this looks like,” and at what point did it become something else?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

So she did what we both planned to do, which was to take one year and then go back to the law. She works in-house. She had several jobs after. It’s been now quite a few years. I left in 2008. And she actually said she was not surprised that I never went back. I was, but she said she saw it coming. Essentially, I started out on Blogspot. I traveled with no smartphone. Well, I had my Blackberry still for the first year. Once a lawyer, you have your Blackberry with you at all times. And I would just stop at internet cafes with her and we would write updates, and we had different posts. We’d alternate.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

We split up because I got quite sick and I had to take some time to recover. And she kept going on the plan that we had sort of put together on an open track ticket. And I got to Asia and through the trains, through my beloved Siberia trip, and went through Siberia and into Mongolia and then came into China through Erlian and I just figured out that I wanted to stay as much as I could in Asia. And at the same time, I realized I had very much over budgeted for this trip. I had never really spent the time traveling in developing countries. I didn’t eat street food much before. I wasn’t in countries that had too much of it. And I also truly had no access to the kind of budgets and spreadsheets that are really readily available on the internet today. It was much less of it at that point.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

So we sort of made this rough budget based on this average of daily spend, and when I got to Asia and southeast Asia, I realized I was very much over budget and I could continue for longer than I realized. And as I kept doing that, what happened is I started writing on the site. Jess went back to the job. She wanted to continue as a lawyer. I kept writing, and with her blessing, took over the site, although I kept the S. I probably should have changed to the Legal Nomad at that point. And what happened is I was living in Bangkok for some time and was offered to write for CNN Travel, which was then CNNGo, to start doing some freelance work for them based on some pieces I wrote on my blog about Myanmar. And it was probably the first time I really thought, “Wait a minute. I can get paid to do the work that I’m already really enjoying doing,” that wasn’t work, right? It was just me sharing because I really enjoyed it.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And at that point, the blog had been voted best new travel blog for what was very few travel blogs out there at the time. And so it was kind of gathering its own readership. And from that point, I basically moved onto WordPress and started treating it more like a business. I actually picked up a laptop, for example, which I didn’t have before. I got one I remember in Kuala Lumpur going to the electronic supplies and being like, “I should get a laptop because I’m going to actually think of this differently now.” So it really was serendipitous, it was organic, it was I think very lovely. I look back on it thinking I was pretty naïve about it, but in that it never occurred to me to think of this as a springboard for something board. But I loved so much the act of writing. I enjoyed storytelling. I just was enthralled with this idea that through communicating different aspects of these countries, people could think differently about them and the fact that it wasn’t just my mom reading any more was a shock to me.

 

Kyle Gray:

When you started getting some of that first feedback from your audience or listeners and readers, how did you start to define, “Okay, this is really my voice and this is the message,” or, “I’m a great writer and so I’m going to really focus here.” How did you find the style within that really started to connect with people?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

It’s a great question. I don’t think I ever felt like I was a great writer. I think as a writer, it’s always important to keep learning and honing your craft as much as you can. Most of the writers I know have some sort of imposter syndrome going on. I mean, not from that perspective, but I did feel really great about this idea that there was maybe something here that could be an act of creativity. When people asked why I quit my job as a lawyer, I would say that the kind of private practice I was in, I didn’t like what it did for my brain. You’re being paid to catastrophize. You’re being paid to mitigate catastrophe ahead of time. And now knowing what we know about the science of story, about the brain and neural pathways, that’s really encoding some negativity in there. And being paid to do it didn’t make that any healthier for your brain.

 

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi EttenbergJodi Ettenberg:

So from my perspective, to have this real joy about what I was doing was exciting enough that I never had the kind of sit down and write out a goal in terms of my messaging. It was, “Whatever I do, I’m going to maintain the integrity that I feel is important as a reader.” And that was probably the most important constant throughout the years as my writing has changed, as my destinations have changed, and my story has kept going as we all do by living. It really, the aspect of integrity and respect for whatever readers, be them two readers or 20 or 2,000 or whatever, 20,000, it was a matter of, “I’m not going to take sponsored text links. I’m not going to take advertising on my site. I’m going to use the blog as almost a CV for what I love, and look to other ways to make money.”

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I think the most important thing for me from the get-go was if I ever built out a community, which thankfully and amazingly to me I did, which at this point is bigger and more wonderful and more so than I ever anticipated. I never wanted to offer them something for sale first that wasn’t from me. And so the first thing I really sold to my audience was my own book, and that was important to me from the very beginning, possibly because I spent quite a few years working in advertising law. So I was just like, “I’m out.” Maybe that’s where it came from. But I really wanted to start with what I felt was important at a time where the few travel blogs out there were very much taking sponsored text links that really were not contextually accurate with the content they were putting out-

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And so it stood out.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s a real challenge to be able to hold to your values, to be able to be so clear on what it is that you’re doing, that some of these things like, yeah, sponsored links, or yeah, lots of other different products or different ways to try and sell things or monetize your content.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And there’s nothing wrong with monetizing content, right? I mean, your podcast is speaking to that audience in part. What’s wrong, what I saw was wrong as the travel blogging industry evolved was that people were, I felt, monetizing content in ways that weren’t really authentic or it wasn’t organic to the content. And I preferred, if I had the privilege of having an audience to really be judicious about how I sold things. I was accused for sure at the beginning of being sort of snobby about it, but the way I saw it, I worked really hard as a lawyer to save up money and build this site that sort of was becoming a new business, and I wanted to be cautious, because there was no undoing a lack of caution on that front.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s true, and I think it’s very tempting to monetize too quickly or to attempt to do that too soon or like you were saying, in a way that’s inauthentic. And things like with this podcast, for example, one of the most common questions I get is, “How are you monetizing it?” How are you monetizing your blog? And really, I see this as a platform to have great conversations with people and to connect with people like you. And there’s certainly monetization pathways, but it’s more of a creative outlet. And I see your work primarily coming from that. But as you were resisting these temptations Were you still able to kind of continue with your savings that you had? Or you mentioned you had put together a book. When did this blog become a business for you in its most authentic way?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I would say probably around 2010, 2011. The book was published in 2012 I believe. I definitely looked through the industry and like you said, there are various different ways to sort of leverage the audience you have to be involved in the work you do, and it doesn’t necessarily require a direct sell. I had put aside a certain amount for my trip, and I was committed to spending it in a way that I continue to do with my travels. And I said, “If I get to the end of that amount and the business hasn’t turned into something sustainable, then I will go back.” That was sort of the deal I made with myself. And the initial work that I got was through freelance writing, starting with CNN. I worked as well as a travel ambassador for a company. I had one ambassadorship, and it was a Canadian company that I would send, recommend to friends and family before they approached me, and it was a really good fit. And so I would do trips with them occasionally.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

But for the most part, the book and then public speaking and moving through different ways that I could fix pain points in my community became the way the business moved. So I would say 2011 was when I started doing public speaking. That was at the first World Domination Summit. And it was the first time I actually ever spoke in public to an audience like that. 

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s a pretty big stage

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Oh yes, it was

 

Kyle Gray:

Your first time speaking.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Here’s the fun part. Chris Guillebeau didn’t ask me to be a keynote speaker. He asked if I could help with his conference, and I actually said this when I did the talk on stage because I was shaking like a leaf, my first public speaking endeavor, and I said, “Of course Chris, whatever you need. I’m happy to help.” And he put me up as one of the keynotes. And it wasn’t until other people were emailing me being like, “Jodi, why didn’t you tell me about this?” And I was like, “What are you talking about?” And he like, “Well, you know, people are excited now, so are you going to back out?” And I was like, “No.”

 

Kyle Gray:

What a sneaker, Chris Guillebeau.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

So it was a sneaky move, I know. Beautiful move though, and frankly, that also really changed my life because as sick as I felt to my stomach, I threw up before I got on stage to give you an indication. I won most easily embarrassed in high school, so talking in front of 500 people, which was the first speech I did, was just not really in my wheelhouse. But I did basically use it as an opportunity to face something I was afraid of, which many of us are, which is public speaking, and I vowed to take any gigs that came my way in the coming year to try and get over this crippling fear. And I spoke I think at 12 different times in the next year and a half. I pretty much threw up for all of them, but that sort of ended the throwing up. 

 

Kyle Gray:

Not bad, alright.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Got used to, yeah, so. Trial by fire. But I saw speaking as simply another extension of what I did with writing, which is, how can you affect change in the minds of the people that you’re interacting with, and doing it in a true voice, be it podcasts or talking. It really is a different mechanism, and it’s a wonderful way to affect change. And so it was important to me. I don’t think of myself as just a writer, right? I just try and communicate, and that includes all of the media that that’s available, and that includes speaking. So it was a tough year Kyle, but I’m excited that I was able to give it a shot.

 

Kyle Gray:

I can imagine. And it’s one of the most valuable and powerful and I think authentic ways to connect with people and to really get your message across. 

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yeah, I agree.

 

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi EttenbergKyle Gray:

In front of people is worth hundreds of blog posts in some cases.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yeah, I would agree with that, very much so. And throughout the years, I started doing more keynotes. I started moving into talking about storytelling and how it affects the brain and speaking to groups of educators. It really has been a wonderful way to share messaging in a way I, again, I never anticipated, right? I didn’t do litigation. I’m not going to court. That wasn’t the kind of lawyer I was because I was terrified of speaking in front of people, so. I’m grateful for what it has helped me evolve as a person as well and not only get this messaging across, but from a very personal level, I’m very grateful for it.

 

Kyle Gray:

So one of the things that’s really powerful that you’re exemplifying with this story is actually the power of kind of storytelling and your own identity and who you are and how that impacts your brain and the possibilities you see, the opportunities you see. Can you share with me, alongside this going from very timid to keynote speaker, what are some of the other transformations in your story and your perspective and your identity that you underwent, had to undergo, as a result of growing Legal Nomads and accidentally becoming an entrepreneur?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I think that it’s really remarkable, right, how business can affect change through story, and that’s part of why you do what you do. From a personal level, the biggest changes were probably this pathological compulsion to face the things I was afraid of, not just the public speaking. But I almost drowned as a kid, and so sailing in open water was something that terrified me. And so I took a multi-day sailing course in New Zealand, and I wrote about fear and neurobiology of fear and how our nervous system takes over when we do things that we’re phobic of. I tried to use the personal evolution as something to write about that people could feel understood by perhaps, hopefully, right? If their comments are any indication, then yes.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And for me and the journey that I’ve taken, I don’t think I ever would have thought of myself as brave or fearless growing up. I was quite shy, and I look back on the last 15 years and the choices I’ve made, and I think I am the same person I was, but I definitely feel prouder of how I’ve confronted the things that I’m afraid of. And it’s hard to do that for anyone in life, right? It’s not easy. When I quit my job to travel, it wasn’t easy. And I remember laying in bed in New York thinking, “What, am I just insane? What if I arrive somewhere and I don’t have anywhere to stay, or don’t speak the language?” All the normal fears that everyone has. But like anything, By slowly confronting in a compassionate way, I think I've evolved as a person the way we all do as we get older. - Jodi Ettenberg Click To Tweet But I look back on the trajectory, and I’m sort of astounded that I was able to do it based on how shy I felt growing up.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s really, really cool. You’ve mentioned a couple of times your study of the brain and storytelling and how they interact, and I would love to know some of the most interesting or useful things you’ve learned in your studies, or maybe something that with your clients or your community that you’ve mentioned that is some of the most useful for that.

 

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi EttenbergJodi Ettenberg:

I think there are wonderful studies that really go into using FMRI machines, how our brains can be tricked by really good stories into actually thinking we’re going through actions that we’re not taking. We’re just reading about them. A good, good narrative has the ability to put our entire brains to work and really pushes the confines of what we know is possible in how we interact with things, taking, inspired, let’s say, by Humans of New York. A lot of us have followed his amazing feed and allowing storytelling to affect change, storytelling to bridge gaps between understanding of where we are and where others are. How I’ve used that in my work is less important than how it’s just asking people to do the same.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

A 10 list can just be us explaining to them, or it can be this illumination of what we take as this universal truth, that we’re all more connected than we realize. And in the context of travel, which was the world I really was in, that travel can change lives by doing that, by showing that connectedness from disparate points in the world in ways that we never really thought possible.

 

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s beautiful. I believe we met in Bangkok.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

 

Kyle Gray:

At a conference there. But I agree with you on that. I’m just really feeling your statement there, because yeah, traveling to me, yeah, definitely brought forward and showed me just yeah, that humanity everywhere.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yeah

 

Kyle Gray:

And within everyone.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

A lot of the keynotes I gave were to travel writers and photographers, and I would try and speak to encourage them to include a concerted effort that of narratives elements that were important to build sort of a remarkable business that was sustainable online. So on the one hand, that’s the stories that affect change and create this kind of emotional response in readers and in your community and allows your readers to reframe the way that they see the world. And in another, much like I’m sure you’ve discussed on this podcast and in general, it includes the narrative loops in your own life, in your own business, that your community can seize upon and sort of amplify and encourage that helps you stand apart.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

My readers all know that I hate olives because I hate olives, but also because there was this ongoing problem where everyone kept trying to feed me olives and find the one olive that I would love. It’s something innocuous and small, but I get tagged in hundreds of olive photos over the years. When anyone sees a group of olives, I don’t think there’s an official, like a murder of crows. But someone sees olives in a supermarket or on their travels, something so small, right? But people associated it with me.

 

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi EttenbergJodi Ettenberg:

Same with the soup. I’ve written and talked a lot about soup as a gateway to understanding food and culture. People sent me photos of their soup over the years and their recipes.  Not everything needs to be leveraged into a monetization opportunity. There is and there may be, or down the pipe, a way that those things can turn into something more. But even just have that foundation of connection with the community. I was gleeful at the amount of interaction, and I didn’t set breadcrumbs necessarily on purpose at the beginning, but when I saw just how interactive things became, it really formulated part of how I continued to write, because it was that beautiful exchange. It wasn’t just a megaphone. There was a back and forth, and part of that included the parts of my story that they, my community felt they could seize and amplify themselves.

 

Kyle Gray:

See, that’s funny, and I think a lot of the things that I try and bring out of the people I work with is, just those funny little quirks. It’s hard to stand out, to be whatever you’re doing. I’m the best coach or service or expert out there on anything. Because I will happily join you on the no olives, please train.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Sweet.

 

Kyle Gray:

Or, yeah.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Wonderful.

 

Kyle Gray:

I’m with you on that. But those are the little things, those are the little details that help connect us. And finding those and sharing those and creating that deeper, funnier, more personal connection with people is really I think the magic and the-

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yeah, for sure.

 

Kyle Gray:

That we all are really going for and yeah, trying to create. Another key element that I see along with transforming your story, which can be an uncomfortable and uncertain process, is on the path, a lot of us have to make investments of one kind or another, maybe time, maybe energy, sometimes money, that at the time when we set out to do it, it’s scary. You feel like a sink in your stomach and then you have to go. You make the move. But it turns out to be a really good investment for you, for your growth, for your business. Do you have any examples of that in your own path?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Sure. I think way back when, when I was still on Blogspot, moving to WordPress and then hiring someone to help build a site. I didn’t even really know what WordPress was at the time. That was a big investment back at a time where I had no real business yet, right? It was just my Jodi eats the world narrative. And that sort of felt like it could be a huge waste of my time and energy and money. But I wanted to give a fair shot to what I was excited to build. I think it’s the same for big infrastructure builds.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I have a Shopify store for maps of food that I had drawn. I didn’t personally draw, I designed them and drew them so terribly that when the artist I did hire said, “I can see why you hired me to actually ink them.” She’s lovely, she was just like, “I get it.” And so building a Shopify store for me was a big investment, not knowing if there was as much of a market as I had hoped for the products that I was building, that they were unique. They were one-of-a-kind, and I felt passionate about it.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And then I think as a writer as well, investing in the craft is very important, and good writing workshops don’t come cheaply. But they’re very important, because that is the tool, right, the big tool that I’ve used the most, writing, and speaking. And it’s a really invaluable amount of instruction. So I think the investments come at a time where you’ve hit your kind of leverage point. You’re like, “I can’t do this myself. I need an expert, and I am going to pay for that expert.” And those are the big investments, regardless of what part of your business that looks like.

 

Kyle Gray:

Absolutely. And yeah, the writing workshops inspires me. I haven’t invested in a workshop around that skill recently, but I can see a lot of value in continuously developing and honing and maybe even developing parallel kind of skills of the craft. I’ve started practicing writing a little bit of fiction, just as a challenge, or just as something a little bit different to inspire different creative parts of my mind, and hopefully improve new areas of business.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Yeah, I think that’s great, the creative spark that comes from that, right, when you’re really indulging in a part of your brain that you’re not usually activating. You don’t really know what emerges, and oftentimes it’s something really wonderful that comes back later and connects beautifully to something you’ve already put together, or just a new project that emerges out of that instruction. I’m very suspicious of writers who say, “I don’t need to learn more,” because I think we’re always learning. That to me was the best part of what I did when people say, “What are you doing?” And I was like, “I’m being paid to learn as much as I can every single day,” and how insanely beautiful is that? And how wonderful of an existence is that, that I have the privilege of building a business that allows me to suck up information-

 

Kyle Gray:

Absolutely.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

And then put it out into the world and somehow, it connects with people. It’s just, it’s been an honor, truly, to have a community, and one that’s super engaged. And I know we haven’t touched on my current situation, but for those listening, at the moment, I’ve been on bedrest for quite some time. I had a medical procedure go awry, and sort of stopped my life, my nomad life, in its tracks after 10 years. And my community and how incredible they’ve been, how supportive they’ve been, the amount of emails I received where people wrote me when this first happened to explain how my writing changed something for them was just astounding and the sort of feedback we don’t often get when we’re alive. It’s the thing eulogies are made of. And to get sort of this living eulogy, for me, I was thrilled with the business I built. I loved what I did. I was just always looking for ways to fix problems my readers had and make that part of my business.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I’m celiac, so I would get sick when I traveled using translation cards that were available. And so I started building my own that were more detailed than what was out there using local food names and going through two rigorous translations, because it was something my readers struggled with, not just me. So to have this kind of digestible feedback from my community saying, “We appreciate what you’ve done,” was just really amazing and humbling.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s beautiful. I have to remark on the excellent word choice of digestible feedback in that specific context. Jodi, it’s so inspiring to hear your story and how it’s unfolded, and it brings a huge smile to my face to see the community that you’ve built and that you’ve created over many years. And yeah, honing yourself, honing your craft, improving, challenging yourself, and see if come forward and continue to support you and as your story develops and unfolds. Thank you so much for joining me. I want to, if you have a closing through to share with us, and then let us know where we can connect with you and learn from you.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Sure. I think I’d close by saying, you had asked at the beginning whether I wanted to chat about what was going on now, and I mention it because I think one of the biggest continuous sets of questions I receive is from either lawyers or other professionals seeking to travel and afraid to take that leap. And I always say, “You should figure out what skills you’ve got, figure out your plan B if this doesn’t work out.” Not just to blindly jump into the void. But to have then watched my life shift in the way it has where right now, I’m not capable of really working or walking or traveling, I’m so grateful that I did what I did. And life really does change in an instant, but to have built a location independent business as well has been a huge, amazing thing, because my business keeps running, parts of it. A lot of it cannot, but parts of it keep running. The celiac cards keep selling, my food maps keep selling. And I set it up that way based on the kinds of principles that you and I have learned in entrepreneurship.

 

SEP Episode #55: Digestible Content from the Legal Nomad Herself, Jodi EttenbergJodi Ettenberg:

And generally, I think if someone is really wondering whether there’s something that can bring them more fulfillment in their work, it’s important to sit down and think about, if life changes tomorrow, will you be happy with what you’ve done? And that’s a question that I had to reckon with unfortunately, but I was so grateful that when I looked back at the last 10 years of life and then my legal career before that, I don’t have any regrets.

 

Kyle Gray:

That’s so beautiful, and it leaves me both inspired to continue to live my best life, but also feel really grateful for my own path and my own journey, and I really appreciate that.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Thank you. It’s a privilege, right? I acknowledge and want to make that clear, that it is a privilege to be able to make those choices.

 

Kyle Gray:

Absolutely.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I didn’t have the school debt. If you have the privilege and the ability to make those choices, then that is a question that you absolutely need to be asking yourself.

 

Kyle Gray:

Definitely. So, and Jodi, tell us where we can find you, connect with you, and check out some of these awesome food maps.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Sure. So the web site as you said is Legal Nomads, and that’s just legalnomads.com. The shop is shop.legalnomads.com, or it’s on the home page of my site. And I’m on that same name, Legal Nomads, on Instagram. I use Twitter the most these days, because I’m reading a lot since I’m on bedrest, and Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook of the same name.

 

Kyle Gray:

Any book recommendations since you’ve been reading a lot?

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

I just read a book called Cure, which is by Jo Marchant, and it’s about mind body medicine. She’s a scientist from the U.K., goes into how we can manipulate our immune system using conditioning and things like drinking a very strange-tasting liquid while listening to the same song, and then taking a medicine that you’re taking to eventually train your immune system in ways that we never thought possible. And so it’s sort of fascinating forefront of mind body medicine, and I really enjoyed it.

 

Kyle Gray:

Awesome. Well thank you, and I do want to check that out myself. Jodi, this has been an inspirational, very fun, and just an excellent interview, and I want to thank you again for joining us on The Story Engine podcast today.

 

Jodi Ettenberg:

Thank you so much for having me.

 

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.