How to build a “service-driven content” business
Jordan Raynor sits down with Glo Atanmo, a world-class travel blogger, to talk about how she turned $500 after graduating college into a hugely profitable travel blog, the important difference between “learn from me” and “look at me” content, and how to stop comparing your “Chapter 1” to others’ “Chapter 20” when you’re starting up.
[0:00:05.3] JR: Hey everybody, welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work, for the glory of God. and the good of others. Each week, I host a conversation with somebody who is following Jesus Christ and also pursuing world-class mastery of their craft. We talk about their path to mastery. We talk about their daily habits and routines and how their faith influences their work.
Today, I’m introducing you guys to my friend Glo Atanmo. She is a world-class travel blogger who has built a crazy profitable, multi-six figure business while traveling the world, going to more than 80 different countries. She's been featured on Oprah, Forbes and the BBC, just to name a few. We've become really, really fast friends over the last few months.
Glo and I recently sat down and we talked about how she turned 500 bucks after graduating college into this hugely profitable travel blog. We talked about the important difference between learn from me and look at me content. We talked about how to stop comparing your chapter one to other people's chapter 20 when you're starting a business.
By the way, quick technical note, I don't know what happened. Something went wrong with my microphone in this episode, so I had to record this through my laptop mic. Apologies for not bringing you guys the typical studio-level quality that we typically have on the Call To Mastery. I hope you guys can forgive me.
Please enjoy this great episode with my friend, Glo Atanmo.
[00:01:49] JR: Hello my new friend. I’m so happy you're here. This is going to be fun.
[00:01:52] GA: This is going to be – Yeah, I’m stoked. I’m excited.
[00:01:56] JR: I got to start here. You and I have had many conversations over the last few months, but we've never actually talked about this. You've traveled to what, 80 countries. Is that right?
[00:02:07] GA: 80 countries across six continents. Yeah.
[00:02:09] JR: That's nuts. All right, I’m going to put you on the spot and I know this is an impossible question, but top three places. Go.
[00:02:15] GA: Top three. Japan, Norway, Sri Lanka. Of course, I’ve been asked –
[00:02:18] JR: Oh, my gosh. Easy. Okay, but specifically within Japan – I’ve never been in Japan. I’ve always wanted to go. I was planning on going to the Olympics this year. Obviously, that did not pan out. Is Tokyo the spot? Should you take a tour of the whole country? How do you do Japan well?
[00:02:37] GA: Yeah, that's a good question. I was very fortunate to have been invited by the tourism board. I was there for two weeks and we toured pretty much the whole country, but definitely Kyoto was one of the highlights. Hiroshima is obviously, lots of history there. Tokyo is insane. I don't know if you're a Mario Kart fan.
[00:02:54] JR: Yeah, of course.
[00:02:55] GA: You can get the actual Mario Kart mobile cars and drive with your friends in Tokyo.
[00:03:01] JR: What? Like actual Mario Kart cars driving around?
[00:03:07] GA: That's what I love about Japan. Anything is possible. You're 10 years in the future.
[00:03:11] JR: Oh, my gosh. I’m all in. Just for Mario Kart, I’m in. One of the first episodes I ever recorded of the podcast was with Horst Schulze, the Co-Founder of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group. I love talking to him about just his favorite hotels. I’m curious, do you have a favorite hotel in the world?
[00:03:30] GA: Ooh. Now that's something I’ve never been asked before. I think, because I love to switch up between Airbnbs and hotels and just villas. It's really hard to pinpoint a chain. I’ll say, I tend to lean on the Airbnb villas, especially in Bali, Southeast Asia. Yeah, because it's just so – just serene and just different.
[00:03:54] JR: I still have Horst's recommendation on my list. It's this hotel in New Zealand. I think it's called the Huka Lodge, or something like. Again, it's the greatest hotel in the world. I’m like, okay. If the co-founder of the Ritz Carlton says the greatest hotel in the world and it's not a Ritz property, I’m in. Tell us your story. Obviously, I know this. I want our listeners to hear your story and the path that led you to building this pretty significant business around your travel blog.
[00:04:22] GA: Yeah. Okay, I’ll give you the I guess, 60-second version, 2-minute version.
[00:04:27] JR: No. Take as much time as you want. I want to draw this out. It's such a great story.
[00:04:31] GA: Well, gosh. Let's say, it starts in kindergarten and not to break out. Here's the first time I realized I was an entrepreneur. I was sick, and so my mom gave me cough drops. I took it to school and all of a sudden, I saw – everyone was – as a kindergartner, you see a red candy-looking thing and you want a piece of it. I’m like, “No. This is for me.” I’m seeing the demand. All of a sudden, here I am learning supply and demand as a kindergartner. The next day, I brought the whole pack of cough drops and I sold them for a quarter.
[00:05:02] JR: I love it.
[00:05:04] GA: My kindergarten teacher found out, called my mom and we had a discussion. I saw nothing wrong with it. As I grew older, my hustle I guess advanced and evolved. I was selling AirHeads in high school. I was burning mixed tapes on Limewire and Frostwire. I was like, whatever people needed, I was like, okay, I got you. I got you. I can make it work. Because one thing about Nigerian culture, so both my parents are Nigerian, born and raised in Nigeria, had me in California, but there's no such thing as allowance.
I saw my friends asking their parents for money, like just candy money and weekend money. If a Nigerian kid tried to ask their parents for allowance they're like, “I allow you to live in my house. That is your allowance.” It's like, I have to make my own allowance, so I’ve always figured out how to be an entrepreneur and meet my own needs. When I created my first blog at 11-years-old on Xanga, a platform that's been –
[00:06:07] JR: Oh, my goodness.
[00:06:09] GA: - archived, like doesn't exist. Yeah, that was my first of six blogs. A lot of people see my travel blog now and they're like, “Oh, it's so amazing. How did you get all this success?” I’m like, actually it's my sixth blog. You didn't see the first five, because they pretty much failed. One thing about me is people – I’m not just consistent. I’m consistently experimenting with my talents, with what I want to talk about, with my hobbies, with my opinions and my perspectives and what I want to share with the world.
At 11-years-old, I saw the power in being able to publish words and own a corner of the Internet and connect to the rest of the world. I was just obsessed. Since then, I’ve created a blog. When I traveled abroad and studied abroad in 2013, that was the birth of theblogabroad.com. It's going to be eight years this year, which is insane. It's been that long. That blog has funded, I mean, at least 60 of the countries that I’ve been to. It's been a blessing and a journey to see where it's gotten me. Yeah, it's just surreal to think about.
[00:07:10] JR: Yeah. I want to go back to the idea of experimentation in a minute. But first, tell the story, tell the founding story of how you got started traveling around the world, like that first trip. I think it was to London, is that right? You had 500 bucks to your name. Tell that story.
[00:07:25] GA: Yeah. When I studied abroad, the first – oh, man, there's so many layers. Okay, I’ll tell the one where when I realized that I wanted to travel after coming back from a semester abroad. I was a pre-med major. With Nigerian households, again, you're a doctor, a lawyer, or a disappointment. I literally was a pre-med major for four – well, for two years and then I told my mom the fifth year, like 10 days before graduation. I was like, “By the way, I changed my degree to communications and marketing in mass media.”
10 days after graduation I was like, I went to school in Kansas, so it means I would have to go back home to Arizona after graduation. I was like, “I got to get out of the country, because I have nowhere else to go and I just want to be as far away from her wrath as possible, because she was so upset with me. I had about $500 of graduation money and I booked a one-way ticket to the UK. Thankfully, I was able to get an internship that held me down for at least four months.
When I was in the UK, my Visa was expiring and then I was down to a 100 bucks. I was just looking on Ryanair. Ryanair and easyJet. They're budget airlines in Europe. I saw a 15 euro flight to Spain and I was like, “Okay. I guess I’m going to Spain.” I was like, “I don't know Spanish. I don't know what I’m doing,” but I’ve always been the person where if I have a phone, if I have Wi-Fi connection, if I have a laptop, I have a camera, I’m already so privileged with these resources. Glo, you're going to figure out a way to use this to make money.
I get to Spain. I’m hostile hopping. I would literally go into hostels and be like, “Hey, here's my Instagram. Let me run your page. Who works at reception? I’m a native English speaker. Let me run your reception for you. All I ask for is a bed in return.” I wasn't asking for much. I think that's something that's super important for people to understand starting out. There's this level of entitlement that I think a lot of people have, because maybe they have a lot of skills, or maybe they have certain tools, but I was so humble in my approach, because I was like, look, I’m already so fortunate to be seeing the world.
If I’m going to be broke and starving, let it be in Paris. I was okay with – There were many days where I just didn't eat. I lost a lot of weight. My early travel pictures, I was so thin because I wasn't eating. I was creating and building the brand. One thing about Nigerians as well is that if you ask your mom for money, or you ask your mom for help, you will take that to your grave. You will never hear the end of like, “Gloria. I told you. You were just supposed to be a doctor. You could be a lawyer. You wouldn't have this problem.”
I was like, “Nope. I’m not giving my mom that satisfaction. I’m going to figure it out.” I hustled and I built and I posted and I took pictures and I wrote. Even when I didn't have the energy, even when I was tired, even when I was broke and I went broke several times. It's one of those things where if you do something long enough, just the longevity and the persistence of the pursuit is what will get you to the top.
[00:10:26] JR: Yeah. I talk about this in in my book Master of One, so three keys to mastery that seem to come up in every interview I did for that book. The first is apprenticeships. The second is purposeful practice. Not naive practice, but purposefully practicing your craft. The third is connected to that and I think it's the rarest key. It's just discipline over time. If you stick with something long enough and the Lord has gifted you with the raw talent and gifts to cultivate there, yeah, I don't know, you can figure anything out. For you, it's just a lot of grit and a lot of time, I mean, six blogs starting at the age of 11. That is the very opposite of an overnight success, right?
[00:11:16] GA: Exactly. People are so quick to compare their chapter one to my chapter 20. I’m like, “No, no, no. I’ve never archived any of my Instagram posts. Please go back to 2008 and see the footage that I was recording back then when I, yeah, was just starting out.”
[00:11:31] JR: That's really interesting. You've never archived Instagram posts. Do you do that for your audiences good like, “Hey, look. I’ve been working at this for 12 years, 13 years.” Or is it for you? Or is it a little bit of both?
[00:11:47] GA: I think a little bit of both. Now that I’m on the coaching and teaching side, I think it's so important for people to be able to contextualize my journey, because it's so easy to feel discouraged if you're just starting your blogging journey in 2020, where it now feels very saturated. In 2013 when I was pitching my first campaigns and jobs, influencer marketing wasn't a thing. Working with travel bloggers wasn't a thing. Literally, one of the brands that I pitched, they were like, “Oh, my gosh. We would never pay a travel blogger.” They almost insulted me for pitching it. I could have easily been like, “Wow. Who am I to think that I can get paid to travel?” I could have quit right there and then.
I was like, “Okay. They don't see it. That's all right.” One no is closer to my next yes. I stayed in there and I think, I also tell my students this as well, but a lot of the most successful bloggers today aren't even that talented. I don't say that as a slight, but I mean, it's just they stuck around the longest. They just stopped giving up, because six months is the average lifespan of a blogger from start to finish of buying their domain and then quitting, because they're not making money, six months. If you were pregnant, you wouldn't even bring a baby to full-term. You guys. Come on. I try to remind people, you got to be in it for the long game.
[00:13:05] JR: Not just for bloggers and content entrepreneurs. I think this is true of any entrepreneur. It's discipline over time. Here's the other thing that sticks out to me about your story that I don't know that I’ve ever talked about this in the podcast, but I think about this a lot.
It's this, why not me quality. I think this is, I don't know, just ingrained in you at an early age. I know it was for me. I can trace it back to at least the eighth grade. It's not arrogance, I don't think most of the time. It's just this idea that yeah, if that person can do this, why can't I? If Glo can build a multi-six-figure revenue stream off of a travel blog, why can't I do it? No offense to you. It's having that, I don't know, that gene of vision and ambition for your life that doesn't spill an arrogance. Does that resonate with you? Does that make sense at all?
[00:14:00] GA: A 100%. I think you said it exactly. Being a visionary and not being intimidated by the size and the goals of what other people have been able to accomplish. I think it's this idea of favor as well.
As believers, we say in the church, like favor ain't fair. When God has favor over your life, there is not a single door that a man can close that God can't open back up. I think I’ve always gotten like, “God, you got my back.” I’ve seen what God has done in my life in the past, so I’m like, there's nothing that can happen that would ever make me feel like God can't rescue, or save, or put his hand in my life to get me back on my path in some way. I have a lot of favor in my life and I’m very bold in proclaiming that. God has been such a massive part of my journey, and so I’m just really thankful.
[00:14:48] JR: I love that. I want to go back to this idea of experimentation. You say, you're constantly experimenting. I feel like I am too. I was just telling you about a project that I’ve been experimenting with that I’m not going to talk about publicly yet, but I love this idea of experimentation. How do you manage the tension between always experimenting and focusing on the thing that's driving results today?
I know Google talks a lot about the 80-20 principle there. Spend 80% of your time of the business focusing on the thing that's generating 80% of revenue and spend the other 20% experimenting. Is that roughly your breakdown? How do you think about that?
[00:15:31] GA: Yeah. If I just look at other bloggers and content creators, a lot of them are just stuck on the hamster wheel of just churning out content, or turning into a brand junkie, where they're just constantly promoting other brands. I started to veer out in 2017 when I saw other bloggers just only working with brands. I was like, okay. What's the long-game here? Why don't I build my own personal brand and start creating my own products, courses, services, retreats, summits. That way, I don't have to rely on brands needing me, or having a campaign in order for me to make money.
I started doing that before a lot of other bloggers and I was able to get just a head start. When I look at the blogging courses, if you look at the travel blogging industry, any travel blogger who's getting ready to start it, they will be bombarded and say, “Oh, my God. Take Glo’s course. Take Glo’s course.” That's because I put my foot – I put skin in the game early on. One thing that I try to do with just everything that I’m doing, I always want to do – I’m always going to be producing, so I think relevancy is important and I do believe in service as well. Very service-driven with my content.
As long as I’m doing something that serves my audience and serves my community, that will never change and that's the one constant. Behind the scenes, the things that people don't see are me planning out my six, nine, one-year strategy, sorry, six-month, nine-month, or one-year strategy of what's to come. That's me experimenting with something different. When you think of musicians and artists, with every album they drop, they have to reinvent themselves.
If you keep coming, you keep producing the same type of music, let's say Adele, if all of her albums were the same type of content, same type of songs, people would get tired of that. Every artist has to reinvent themselves for their next album, for the next project, because they're evolving, they're growing, they're learning and they want to bring their audience along for that journey.
[00:17:21] JR: Yeah. No, that's really good. Taylor Swift talks a lot about this. Her perspective is – I just think she's a brilliant brand manager. She's like, “Yeah, it is especially hard for women.” Women are forced to reinvent themselves, in her opinion, more than men. I do think it's a challenge across the board for any creator to constantly be reinventing yourself. With the next book, with the next podcast, with the next whatever that product is.
One thing I wanted to ask you about is I think a lot of people fall into entrepreneurship, because they were just following something that they love. For you, that was travel. Try to think of another example. The guy who loves motorcycles. Falls into owning a motorcycle repair business. He didn't really want to be an entrepreneur. He just loved motorcycles. You just loved to travel. I think it's hard when you're in that position to stay in love with that thing once it becomes your primary source of income. I’m curious if that's been a challenge for you and how you've managed that.
[00:18:25] GA: Yeah. I would always tell people, do what makes you happy and then do what makes you money and then repeat the cycle until the latter does both. When you're chasing the joy and chasing fulfillment and chasing happiness, people say it's not supposed to feel like work, but when money does get involved, it does complicate it. I’m very cognizant about making sure I don't monetize everything that I’m good at.
I recently did the interior design of my new apartment and I got so – I’ve been teasing some of the décor, because I don't want people that much into my space, I realized. People are just like, “Oh, my God. You should start a home decor business.” I was like, “No. Please let me have something that I can just do for fun, that brings me fulfillment.” Like playing the piano. I’ve been playing as a teenager, but I stopped for a few years. I’m picking it up again, not for any monetization reasons, or brand building. I just want to do something that's a hobby. It's so healthy as entrepreneurs to have hobbies. If you monetize everything, you're going to go crazy.
[00:19:29] JR: Yeah. No, that's exactly right. You reminded me of a conversation I had on the podcast with Joel Manby, the former CEO of Sea World. He was saying that he went through a pretty dark period of his career that we talked about the podcast. He went through a really painful divorce. One of the things that he pointed to was just a lack of play, a lack of hobbies that had no intention behind them.
Actually, ironically enough, he talked about piano. He's like, “Yeah, I used to play piano at the end of the day to just unwind when I was at my healthiest.” I think there's a lot of wisdom there, not in the piano specifically, but about having something to which there's no purpose other than pure joy and feeling the Father’s pleasure behind it.
[00:20:17] GA: Yeah. This year, I literally wrote down – as I was setting my 2020 goals, I just wrote in big bold letters, “I want to have more fun.”
[00:20:27] JR: Yeah. I’ve been there.
[00:20:28] GA: It wasn't that I wasn't having fun. Obviously, traveling the world and getting paid to do it and hosting luxury retreats, it was amazing. I felt it was 2019, there was a lot of growing pains and it was such a blur that I really wanted to slow down and take in the moments more and really do things on my own terms, which is it's almost like 360. Because now, I turned down a lot of travel – not now-now, but in the beginning of the year and late last year I was turning down travel jobs, because I wanted to now travel my style in my way. It's ironic. I was so desperate to get paid to travel and now I’m like, “No, no, no. I prefer to pay for my own travels, because I want to do it my way or my style.”
[00:21:07] JR: I want to go back to something you said a couple minutes ago, this idea of follow what brings you joy and then follow what people will pay for. I want to challenge you a little bit, because I don't think that's purely what you've done based on what I know of your story. I think you have really prioritized following what will serve people well. You talk about serving through content. I think that's what you're doing. You understand your audience really, really well. You're serving them really, really well. As you do, I think that brings you joy. Would you agree with that?
[00:21:43] GA: That's such a great observation, honestly. I think, as you're building a brand as an influencer and as a blogger, I think it is a little bit of a selfish pursuit. I think it was Clay Hebert that coined this phrase, but he was saying that a lot of influencers post a lot of look-at-me content, instead of learn-from-me content. Once you can really start prioritizing to learn from me, versus look at me, that's when you're getting more service-driven in your content.
[00:22:12] JR: Yeah, that's really good. Going back to experimentation, you have been experimenting with some new content over the last few weeks. I think one of the marks of – I think one of the marks of a great content creator is that your audience will basically consume whatever you publish on any topic and you've proven that with this recent experiment in the wake of the global outrage over the murder of George Floyd.
You run a travel blog, but you've used your platform to create a lot of content around this issue and how we can be better allies of the black community. Can you talk through your thought process as you decided to make that, I don't know if you would call it a pivoting content temporarily, but from the outside looking into pivoting content?
[00:22:58] GA: Yeah, definitely. I remember back in May, when Ahmaud Arbery happened. I was so emotionally overwhelmed that – Okay, so in 2020, the promise I made to myself and to my audience was that I would post every single day of 2020. That's just my way of showing up and serving. When May happened, Ahmaud Arbery happened, I was like, “Do I break this commitment that I’ve made to myself and my audience in order to take care of myself?” Obviously, it's a no-brainer. Of course, take care of yourself.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in the service of others that we forget to serve ourselves. I did take a step back from social media for a month. In that month, I was pretty much in monk mode. all I was doing was reading and meditating and praying and just wasn't – I disconnected from my phone so much that I had an app track it. They said the average weekday usage was 17 minutes per day on my phone, which was just so insane and beautiful to think about.
When I came back to social media in wake of George Floyd, because obviously being disconnected, I’m not watching the news, I’m not on social media, I’m not hearing about anything, but I am still coaching my students. During my mastermind call, a lot of the women started breaking down and I was just like, “Oh, wow. I think I need to come back. I think I need to check back in and see what's going on.” Getting back on and just seeing – I came back on social media during Blackout Tuesday. I don't know if you remember that, but it was –
[00:24:24] JR: I do. Yeah.
[00:24:25] GA: Okay. Yeah. June 2nd, I think, where everyone posted a black square to show solidarity for the black community. That was such a humbling and powerful visual thing to see, because for me I was just like, “Whoa! This many – Okay. Whoa, whoa! People are dialed in. People care.”
It's this rare sense of permanence with this movement, because every time this happens, usually it trends for the weekend and then it's done. I felt this calling and this tug on my heart to occupy a lane that not many people would be willing to drive or walk in. It's really hard to do allay education, because it takes a lot of levels of just patience and humbling yourself and taking a step back and saying, “Okay, if I was the person on the other end trying to learn and digest this information, how would I want to receive it?”
I would just continue to ask God, to speak through me with love and speak through me with compassion and kindness, because I do understand the anger, the frustration, the stress, the emotions that are coming from the black community. It can be overwhelming for someone who is trying to do better. I really just wanted to find a way to be a part of this movement in a way that I think would move the most people.
I think a 130,000 new followers in a month and just millions now of impressions across my posts. It's insane. It just goes to show that when you do something that it's bigger than you and it feels like a God-sized assignment, lean in.
[00:26:01] JR: Yeah. I think, and we talked about this. You're a member of my master collaboratory for redemptive entrepreneurs. We talked about this recently. I think sometimes as Christians we are called to say things that are “off-brand,” right? This was pretty off-brand for you, that usually talks about travel. You felt the lord saying, “Hey, you got to speak into these issues and call out sin and fight for the kingdom.” I love that. I think that's a really great example of an act of obedience on your end.
Hey, go back go back to this period of May where you disconnected from news and social media, you listen to this podcast, you know we talk about habits and routines. One of the, I think most valuable habits of my life over the last few years has been, I basically consume zero news, literally. I hear about big stories, because people tell me about them. I consume almost nothing. For that one month period in your life, what was the effect on you from just totally disconnecting from the kingdom of noise, as C.S. Lewis put it?
[00:27:09] GA: Wow. Yeah, that's a powerful way to put it. Peace, freedom, I felt this just, the ability to check back in with myself, because when everyone is always telling you what to feel, how to feel, what to care about, you lose track of what's going on in your heart and what's going on in your brain. Connecting those two organs and saying, “Wait, why do I feel off base here?”
I really got to just check back in with myself, check back in with God, started reading the bible from front to back, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I really just got to take ownership of my life again, which felt really powerful.
[00:27:42] JR: Yeah. I’m a big fan of that habit. All right, let's talk about daily routines for you. I’m very curious, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, what's the tick-tock of your day look like?
[00:27:53] GA: Oh, man. I am obsessed with my routine.
[00:27:56] JR: Yeah, me too.
[00:27:57] GA: To the point where I’m just like, “I think I want to be single forever, because there’s so much to impose on this routine. I don't know if I can make it work.” I’m just kidding. As soon as I wake up, I have to –
[00:28:08] JR: Half kidding. Half kidding. Yeah. Let's be clear.
[00:28:15] GA: I want to first disclaim that I have two beds. I have a day bed in my living room and then I have the bed in my bedroom. I’ve been sleeping in my day bed, because I have the ceiling and the floor windows. Waking up to just a starry sky, sometimes I sleep on my balcony, or waking up to a blue sky is just the best thing. If I do that, I have my incense right next to me. Immediately, first thing I do when I wake up, I have my glass of water on my nightstand and I’ll drink that. I don't know where I read it, but they say it’s 16 ounces of water first thing when you wake up.
[00:28:46] JR: Interesting. What time are you waking up?
[00:28:49] GA: Gosh. When I was doing a consistent routine after reading The Miracle Morning, I was waking at 4 a.m. on weekdays, 5 a.m. on weekends. Now it's closer it's about 6 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. on weekends.
Yeah, so then I’ll light my incense and then I use the app Calm for my meditation. I’ll open up Calm and start playing some soundscapes, usually ocean waves or something. Then I’ll go to the bathroom, I’ll brush my teeth, wash my face and just freshen up for the day, come back to the living room, meditate, journal, pray, read the bible. Then usually, I’ll have a book that I was reading the night before. I’ll read that.
Mind you, this is probably in the span of maybe an hour, hour and a half has passed. I have not touched my phone yet. I’m awake for at least two, two and a half hours before my phone gets touched.
[00:29:38] JR: Same here.
[00:29:40] GA: After reading, doing some learning that I’ll do a little light workout. I have these home stretch training material stuff. After working out, I’ll take a shower. I’m playing some music, or I’m listening to a podcast in the meantime, then I’m coming to the kitchen, I’m making some either – now I’m into macha, but usually it's coffee or tea. I’m just getting into macha now. I’ll have that, take my morning vitamins and then I have my content for the day that I’m getting ready to post on social media, which was usually created the night before. I try not to create and publish the same day, because I like to give myself a night to sleep on the material.
[00:30:15] JR: Yeah, that's smart. Yeah.
[00:30:16] GA: Yeah, because you'll always have a download overnight. God always speaks to me. He'll say something to me. I’m like, “Oh, no. Got to add this in. Got to fix this. Add this in.”
[00:30:27] JR: By the way, let me stop you there. I think there's a lot of genius doing this right before you sleep. There's a lot of good research in Matthew Walker's book, Why We Sleep, about how our subconscious is actually processing and working out problems as we sleep. That's happened to me before. I’ll wake up and I’ll figure out the outline to a chapter that I was thinking about the night before. Anyways, sorry. Continue.
[00:30:50] GA: No, a 100%. I also think that reading before bed is helpful in just processing your thoughts and getting yourself to yeah, just work out those problems. Okay. Then I usually spend about an hour engaging. I’m posting the content, because right now especially getting thousands of DMs a day, I am not going to give myself that pressure to respond, or to read all of them. I spend about an hour engaging, talking, commenting, DMs and then I shut off for the day. Log into my e-mail. I do about maybe an hour of e-mails in the morning. I also have this block in my schedule, where I have the power up, power on, power down, power off. That's how I segment my day.
Power on is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. That's when I’m taking my coaching calls. That's when I’m doing my e-mails. That’s when I’m creating content, editing videos, working with – doing any brand consulting. Then from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., my next shift, I do intermittent fasting as well, so that's when I’m probably having my first meal of the day. That's when I’m doing some reading, doing some more journaling, maybe writing something for content for the next day. Yeah, fitting in anything that I didn't finish in the first power on block.
Then from 7 to 8 p.m. now I’m trying to go to bed at 8 p.m., so 7 to 8 p.m. that's the power off. That's when I’m doing my final reading for the day, doing any final check-ins. Maybe I’m checking social media to see any roundups from the day that I missed. Usually, the last thing I do before bed is definitely read, or journal something, because I want to be disconnected from any type of electronic right before going to bed.
[00:32:22] JR: Yeah, I love that. Yeah, I put my phone to bed about an hour, hour and a half before I go to bed. I love that you go to bed at 8:00. I get so much flack for going to bed at 8:45. I’m like, and now I can point to Glo. Glo goes about 8.
[00:32:38] GA: I told myself like #grandmaglo sometimes. I have grandma habits.
[00:32:44] JR: Yeah, whatever. I’m all about it. Hey, you know we talked a lot on this podcast about how the gospel of Jesus Christ influences the work we do in the world. I want to talk about something in your journey personally and spiritually is pretty significant. About a year and a half ago, you had this huge medical scare while you were traveling. Can you talk a little bit about that, and specifically how that shaped your view of your work and the Lord's plans for your life?
[00:33:16] GA: That was the most traumatic, but powerful things ever happened to me. I look at it as such a blessing now. Basically, I had a 28-centimeter ovarian cyst that had been growing probably over the last year and a half. Even though, again, this is why ego is so important to demolish and dismantle, because we all have an egoic state that we live in, that we feed off of, compliments, whatever. Things build into that.
As my travel blog was growing and I was getting these press features, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, of course my head was getting big, and so I’m just like, “Oh, nothing can stop me.” I’m feeling this sense of just being unstoppable. Here I was though behind the scenes, growing something – something was going on. I knew something was wrong, but I was so afraid to get it checked out, because I thought it would stop me from traveling that I literally was just like, “Oh, I’ll just ignore it. It'll go away on its own.” The just most ignorant thing to think. Until I found myself in Malta crying myself, just in pain. It felt like someone was just tearing my insides apart and it was just so excruciating that I had to go to get it checked out.
Basically, they gave me, I think, 24, 27 hours before they needed to operate. They're like, “Okay. I don't know how you've been – If we didn't know any better, we would think you were seven months pregnant. We don't know how you've been walking around like that.” I was like, “Yeah, I was shopping in the maternity section, to be honest.” I was literally trying so hard to hide it, but not acknowledging the root of the cause. In hindsight, it's unbelievable the lengths that I went to pretend it wasn't there.
Flew my mom out to be there for the operation. It was so traumatic, because they're here asking me all these questions. “Do you plan to have kids? Because we're operating on your ovary, and so there's always complications. If things don't work out, what's your medical insurance to fly your body back?” I’m like, “Wait.” This is in the span of just – I’m already getting drugged up and I’m trying to get myself – my body ready for the operation. I’m here just hysteric and I’m just in disbelief that this is where I was in my life.
Thank God, six – I think it was a six or seven-hour operation. Everything went well. Everything was fine. In that post-recovery, I was on a no-fly list for four to six weeks. I was miserable. I remember being in my Airbnb and going days not leaving my couch. I wasn't eating. I just remember, I was on painkillers, so of course I’m not in my right state and I’m just so pitiful and I’m just – When you get so low, of course, the suicidal thoughts come and you're just in such a deep and dark place.
I remember reaching over to my devotional. For that day, I hadn't picked it up and I’ve been traveling with this devotional for three years. Hadn't picked it up until that day. I turned to page February 11th, I’ll never forget the date. It said, “Thank me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still.” I still get emotional thinking about it, but I remember in that moment just feeling God's presence, just being with me in that room and just telling me this was the plan. I needed you to slow down. I need you to really take a look at what you're doing and what you're building. Is this what you really want? I was hanging with the wrong people and I was chasing the wrong things.
It was such a humbling and necessary moment. It's just such a blessing looking at the complete 180 that my life has been in the last 16 to 18 months. It's amazing the way God works. Obviously, we always look at things as a setback, or a downfall, or just, we look at the situation for what it is, a very negative experience. In hindsight, it is the most beautiful and transformative thing to ever happen to me.
[00:37:07] JR: Thank you so much for sharing that. I mean, it's such a beautiful testimony about, I don't know, just the unique perspective Christians can have in suffering. We can genuinely look at things, even an ovarian cyst and say, blessed be the name of the Lord, because he's going to use this for his glory, for my good, for the good of his purposes, for your sanctification. If that's what it took, man. At the end of the day, that's a good thing for you. It's a good thing for the kingdom and for the Lord getting glory through your suffering. Obviously, nobody wants to suffer, but that's a really, really beautiful testament. I’m curious. Did your perspective on your work, did your ambition for your work change after that? What did that look like?
[00:37:59] JR: A 100%. I feel like I got more clear. As someone who is a recovering people pleaser, I think we talked about this. I’m just always like, “Oh, what do other people want? Let me make sure everyone else is happy.” I wasn't looking after myself, or looking after just the legacy that I was building. If you're a people pleaser, you are pretty much a doormat. You will get walked over left and right. I had people use me and I had situations come and I was like, “Well, yeah, Glo. You walked into that.” I got razor sharp with my boundaries. I got super clear about who I was letting into my circle. I got really clear about the type of work I was willing to do and just what I was building.
My platform became more, I don't know, I just felt there was just a shift in my energy and I just stopped focusing on things that were no longer serving me and worrying about vanity metrics and things that influencers and bloggers honestly get really caught up in, because it becomes this popularity contest of who can take the most glamorous shot in their dress in the green alps. I’m like, “Glo. Who cares?” I’m still producing good content, but what are you really after? Are you really about the impact, or are you just about the vanity metrics?
I think I got really clear about what I was really doing and building with my platform and reminding myself, “Okay. God, gave me all of these people to serve. Am I really serving them to the best of my ability with what I’m posting?”
[00:39:21] JR: I got to be honest, I couldn't do what you do. Part of the reason is you've just touched on. Let me backtrack. I love to travel. If you go back on my Instagram feed eight years ago and you'd see me posting all the time, like all these magnificent places. Me and Carol were traveling. Over the years, I’ve just grown much more cognizant about what I’m posting on social media. I basically never post on social media anymore personally and really never post about travel, because there's such a dark side to it.
I just came to a place where the Lord just really convicting me of why I was doing these things. I wasn't doing this to glorify him, or to serve people well. I was doing this so that people would think I was cool and that I was going to these amazing places. It's really easy for it to become a form of self-salvation. I’m looking to likes to prove that my life as a worth and to prove. Honestly, the darkest part of it is to refine better than you, on my darkest. You never think about that consciously. In your darkest heart of hearts, I think a lot of people do that.
I’m really curious, if you've struggled with this. Am I on an island here, or have you struggled with this? If so, how do you wrestle with the good thing of revealing God's beautiful creation. I think we can all agree that's a good thing, but also not making it that form of self-salvation functionally day-to-day.
[00:40:51] GA: Yeah, that's exactly it. I think it goes back again, to Clay Hebert's quote is the learn from me, not the look at me type of part that you're posting. I just think when I look back on it's such a competitive field, especially female travel bloggers. There's so so many. There's a lot more women bloggers than there are male bloggers in the travel industry. I think a lot of us were trying to compete for the same jobs, or trying to take the most glamorous and exotic shots.
After a while, yeah, you get to a point you're like, “Wait. Who is this really helping? Who's this really serving?” Society as well, you start to learn that people start to correlate the glamour of your life based on the frequency of you posting. You could actually be living just as well offline. If you're not posting, people think that oh, you're not doing anything worth posting. You're not doing anything meaningful.
The month off of social media, the amount of people that were checking in like, “Glo, you haven't posted and it's been three days. Glo, it's been a week. What's going on? Did you die?” I was like, “What the heck?” It's amazing how dark people will go when you take a take away from social media, because I didn't announce that I was leaving. I just took a step back. Of course, when you set the precedence of posting daily, then that's something as well.
People automatically assume the worst, because I wasn't on social media. I think it goes to show with our society that we put so much pressure and so much clout in the fact that if you're posting something, whether you're traveling or not, the fact that you're posting means that life has to be amazing for you.
I tell my students a lot, show up messy. Share your story in real-time. Talk about the behind the scenes, because Instagram does feel like a curated highlight reel. If people are constantly seeing that, they're not seeing the truth. You got to give them all the layers. I think the reason I have such loyal support with my life and the things that I’m doing now is because I talked about, “Hey, guys. I’m traveling on $10 a day. Hey, guys. I ran out of money. Hey, guys.” I would share those stories not for pity, not for sympathy, to let people know, hey, this stuff is hard.
I would talk about all the times I failed as a travel blogger, all the things that I wish I knew, so that emerging travel bloggers would be able to learn from my mistakes and not make the same ones.
[00:43:04] JR: Yeah, that's good. All right, Glo. Three questions we love to wrap up every conversation with. First, books you recommend, or gift most frequently to others.
[00:43:16] GA: Yeah. Definitely High Performance Habits just changed the way I structure my day. That's by Brendon Burchard. The next one I would say is The Invitation by Oriah mountain dreamer. That book is more spiritual, but it literally – after I read that book, I broke up with my boyfriend, so be careful. It gave me a courageous push.
The next book I would recommend is The Essentialism, or Essentialism by Greg McKeown. That one is just disciplined pursuit of bless. Helping people just really fine-tune just all the noise that they're doing and master one craft. Then I would say, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. A lot of times, we have these big ambitions and dreams and goals and we keep pushing it off and that book really gets you to focus in on why now is so beautiful and powerful and the best time to do anything.
[00:44:09] JR: I love that. I was talking with my assistant and her husband last night just about in in startups, my mentality is like, yeah, you're planning for long-term, but in reality there's no such thing as long-term. There's only tomorrow. We're talking about the context of hiring. Sure, you want the person who's going to be great today, but also going to be great five years from now. All you know is your needs right now. Maybe you could see a couple months down the road, but when things are moving so fast in a startup, it's like, you just got to hire the right person right now. A lot of beauty in that.
Obviously, you guys listening can find all those books at jordanraynor.com/bookshelf. All right, Glo. Who would you most like to hear on this podcast talk about how the Christian faith influences the work they're doing in the world?
[00:44:57] GA: I would have to say and maybe this is an obvious choice, but Tim Tebow. I remember watching his rise to stardom and how he has always been so open and honest about his faith. I remember as a pastor's kid, religion has always been in my life and faith has always been in my life. I always remembered being ashamed of it until I found my own relationship with God. When I would see him on TV just thanking the Lord and writing scriptures on his, what do you call it? The black –
[00:45:24] JR: Yeah, yeah. I have no idea. Yeah. A lot of space. Yeah.
[00:45:29] GA: I was like, “Man, that guy is just so bold. I wish I could be that open about my faith.” Now of course in the last decade, I’ve been very open. I remember just him being a compass of sorts to what it should feel like to be in such a comfortable position with your faith and with your relationship with God, that you just want to yell it from a mountaintop and tell everyone about it.
[00:45:53] JR: I don't know that I’ve ever heard Tim Tebow as an answer to that question, which is crazy. I feel that's such an obvious one. Even though I’m a Florida State Seminal, we'll try to get Tim on the podcast. That would be an interesting conversation.
All right, last question. One piece of advice, you've given such great wisdom already, but boil it down to one thing you want to leave this audience with; some of whom are content entrepreneurs, some of them are different types of entrepreneurs, a lot of them aren't entrepreneurs at all. They're just marketers, or sales executives, whatever, but what they share is a deep-seated passion to do their most exceptional work for the glory God and the good of others. What do you want to leave them with, Glo?
[00:46:34] GA: Yeah. Someone sent me a message the other day and I thought it was so powerful. She said, “Your mentorship, Glo, is like a token to what humanity can accomplish.” I think if everyone had that idea within themselves that you can be such a light and you can show people the extent of humanity's beauty when you just lean into your light and you just speak with love and speak with kindness and compassion. I think we're all walking around really traumatized and really triggered and we're all searching for meaning and we're all pondering our existence.
A lot of times, we forget that in our search, try not to step on other people's shoulders and hands. You can walk your lane and recover from your past trauma, but also discover the beautiful aspects of life and yourself and what you can contribute to the world. This journey of life is so messy and complex, but if you lean into the beauty and you lean into a service-driven mindset, it's amazing what this world can become.
[00:47:34] JR: Yeah, if there's ever a time that the world's craving the salt of the earth and the light of the world as Jesus said, it's right now. We do that when we serve with the ministry of excellence. Glo, I want to commend you for the exceptional work you do, serving your audience through the ministry of excellence. You're one of the most talented bloggers I’ve ever known. Thank you for showcasing the beauty of God's creation in every square inch of that creation.
Guys, if you want to check out Glo's blog, you can find her at theblogabroad.com. On Instagram, she's @GloGraphics. I would encourage you guys to go visit allyresourceguide.com. Glo, tell us a little bit about this product. I’m loving this thing, so I want you to pitch it real quick.
[00:48:20] GA: Yeah, thank you so much. It's been a labor of love, honestly, especially again with this movement, I noticed how many people just wanted to learn, but they didn't know where to start, and the overwhelm of I want to do better as a person, but where do I start? I wanted to create this 30 days and 30 ways to be a better ally to the black community. Whether subconsciously or verbally in your everyday life, there might be certain behaviors, or thoughts, or actions that you're taking or not taking that could be harmful to the black community.
I break down resources, myths, personal stories and just my experience as a black woman growing up in the US and ways I’ve had to navigate being on teams, being in spaces. Yeah, I just really wanted to create something that was a safe space for people to learn in their own way and at their own pace how to be a better ally. Yeah, it's been amazing the feedback so far and I’m really proud of it.
[00:49:15] JR: Yeah. I bought a copy as soon as you released it. I’m loving it and I would encourage everybody to go click the link in the show notes and go pick up a copy as well. Glo, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. This is a lot of fun.
[00:49:28] GA: Thank you so much for having me, honestly. This was amazing.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:49:31] JR: Man, I love Glo. I really, really enjoyed that episode. I hope you did too. Hey, by the way, if you want to be collaborating with other Christian entrepreneurs like Glo, make sure you head on over to jordanraynor.com/cfre to sign up for our community for redemptive entrepreneurs.
Hey, I hope you guys love this episode. If you do, make sure you tune in next week. I’ll see you then.