In this episode with Rob and Danica Nelson, a dynamic entrepreneur, marketer, financial educator, and international nomad, Dani shares the raw and unfiltered story of her burnout in what she once thought was her dream job. Following a necessary stress leave, she found herself in a mass layoff when she returned. Despite these setbacks, Dani unfolds a story of resilience and reinvention, transitioning from her corporate role to emerge as a content creator, initially in the realm of travel and later in the dynamic landscape of personal finance.
As a second generation Jamaican-Canadian, Dani unveils the profound sense of responsibility she carries—a commitment not only to her individual success but also to the well-being of her family. Her narrative transcends conventional boundaries, offering a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs that have shaped her path. Prepare to be inspired with Dani Nelson, and don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to the podcast.
"I called it a liberty leave because it's like stepping away from what doesn't bring you liberty for what does." - Dani Nelson
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Episode 23 - Dani
[00:01:00] Episode is with Danica Nelson. Dani is an entrepreneur, marketer, financial educator, and world traveler. In this episode, Dani shares her experience of becoming completely burnt out at what she initially thought was her dream job. Dani went through the required steps to take a legitimate stress leave, and upon returning to work was part of a mass layoff A few days later, aside from all this, Dani shares how she became a content creator, first in travel, and then in personal finance.
[00:01:35] She discusses how being a Jamaican immigrant has made her shoulder the responsibility to be successful, to support not only herself but her family. Dani is truly an inspiring woman, and I hope you too, feel inspired after hearing her story. Please enjoy my conversation with Danica Nelson.
[00:01:52] Rob Pintwala: Hi Dani. Thank you so much for joining me this evening, your time now that you are in Spain and I am on the west coast [00:02:00] of Canada, so thanks so much.
[00:02:01] Danica Nelson: Thanks so much for having me. I think there's a nine hour difference between us, but look at technology.
[00:02:06] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, this is awesome. I. I was just saying before we started recording that I fell upon your content and I thought it was super original writing about, getting laid off, writing about burnout, writing about taking stress leave and documenting it on social media and just really, I think being a leader amongst, I think like our generation of, workers who are experiencing this huge surge in. Burnout and just like loss of, uh, yeah, any sort of purpose at work and finding that, and yeah, just love seeing you take it into your own hands and be very excited to ask you all about it. So first, maybe I can just ask, where are you now and how did you get here? To this point, as far as yeah, moving overseas.
[00:02:54] Danica Nelson: Absolutely. So I am currently living in Malaga, Spain, which is [00:03:00] south of Spain. I've been here for six whole days so far and how I got here, so I've always had this dream of wanting to live abroad. and it's just not something that I could afford. When people often graduate from post-secondary, they get to do these cool fancy gap years that just were not in the finances for me at the time.
[00:03:19] Danica Nelson: After many years of working and saving and figuring it out, this is like my gap year or year abroad or what I actually call a liberty leave. I'm a marketer, so I just brand everything. I called a liberty leave for two reasons. One, because I actually left my home in Liberty Village, Toronto to make this happen.
[00:03:38] Danica Nelson: And two, I call it a liberty leave because it's like stepping away from what doesn't bring you liberty for what does. And for me, liberty is exploration and travel and really just immersing yourself in completely different cultures and places.
[00:03:55] Rob Pintwala: I love how clever that is. I also used to live in Liberty Village, so [00:04:00] that's great. So as like a gap year type mentality, like what sort of expectations are you putting on yourself? So are you a full solopreneur now? What, what does your work look like for you?
[00:04:14] Danica Nelson: Yeah, so I am a full solopreneur now, which is something that is very new to me. I, for the first, this is the first time in my life I've ever tried the entrepreneur thing. Before that, I worked your typical nine to five corporate job . I had a very consistent income that I can depend on every two weeks, and that doesn't look like that anymore.
[00:04:33] Danica Nelson: So yeah, a whole new world for me.
[00:04:35] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible and it sounds like a little bit. lIke that was not fully intentional at the time. And maybe you can just let folks know about how you got to this kind of solopreneur, entrepreneurial, uh, state that you're in and what kind of happened most recently, I guess, with the last company you were working with.
[00:04:56] Danica Nelson: Yeah, absolutely. So I right now am a [00:05:00] solopreneur. I am a creator in the personal finance and travel space, and also a marketing consultant. Prior to this, my entire career has been in marketing slash marketing communications slash product marketing. I. So at the last company, I was working there for a year and a half and it was my dream company.
[00:05:17] Danica Nelson: I did everything I could to get an interview. I made friends with the company IS, stocked their job board and pretty much did anything I could to get the job. And I did and I landed it. And very quickly into that role, it became apparent to me that this is not my dream job. I was burning out very quickly.
[00:05:37] Danica Nelson: It was a very stressful environment. It was just really hard for me to thrive the way that I wanted to. And I think about it a lot. It almost broke my heart in a sense that it wasn't my dream job because I. I thought it was going to be, I thought it was the place that was gonna, make all of my dreams come true and I would, experience all of this career fulfillment [00:06:00] and that just wasn't it for me.
[00:06:02] Danica Nelson: I pushed through for quite some time. I was there for a year and a half, but towards the end of it, I really started to realize I need to listen to my body. And this is more than just stress at this point. This is flat out burnout and probably some of the worst burnout I've ever experienced.
[00:06:19] Danica Nelson: I wasn't sleeping properly, I wasn't eating properly. And the big, the biggest red flag that I guess got me to my breaking point was my partner and I were working for a month in Portugal at the time and he got a front row seat to how I operated in my burnt out state, which was me, you know, being on calls from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, skipping meals and him having to like force food and water on me.
[00:06:48] Danica Nelson: He just really expressed his concern once he saw me live and indirectly, because we don't live together, but we were in Portugal and he's the one who really sat me down and said, you know what? Like you have to do something. This [00:07:00] isn't working. And that's when I realized, oh crap. Like, Like, Yeah, now that I think about it, this is probably not healthy.
[00:07:07] Danica Nelson: So once we got back from that trip, I spoke to my doctor about my options and she . Approved a stress leave or a short-term disability? Originally for six weeks. By the end it was eight weeks and she just told me like, I really needed to focus on my physical health and my mental health. And for me, what that looked like was, you talking to a therapist, figuring that stuff out, making sure I'm eating properly and just Calming my nervous system because my nervous system was truly a mess. So after that eight week stress leave, I went back on what they call a gradual return to work plan, which means that, rather than jumping in, a nine to five seven days or five days a week I. I did four hours for three days a week or something like that.
[00:07:53] Danica Nelson: It was just very gradual. And on the fourth day back to my job, I got the email that [00:08:00] said, Hey, you've been impacted and you are a part of this mass layoff of the company of 2000 people. Today's your last day. So I, after eight weeks of being off and then four days back at work, I was out of a job and. For a lot of people and a lot of people that I know that was very devastating to them and they, of course, had a sudden stop to their income and didn't have to figure out what's next.
[00:08:25] Danica Nelson: But for me, I felt really relieved because this is the first time in my life where all the stars aligned for me to pursue entrepreneurship and solo entrepreneurship. It's something I've always wanted to do before, but something that. I was afraid to do it because walking away from a consistent tech income to solo entrepreneurship is no easy feat.
[00:08:48] Danica Nelson: But it worked out. I got laid off and forced into solo entrepreneurship, and here I am. I'm officially five months into my journey of being a solopreneur
[00:08:57] Rob Pintwala: I love everything about that story. I have [00:09:00] so many questions about so many different pieces. I just wanted to say that first. I have an interesting parallel. I have worked for these high growth sort of venture-backed software companies since graduating university. anD then I was chasing the shiny opportunity and moved to a new company and that only lasted six months.
[00:09:20] Rob Pintwala: And then what happened was, I actually, it was more of a firing than a layoff, let's say, and I just remember you had like a. Feeling quite relieved. Like I was, I don't know if I was burnt out, but I was just miserable and I was so disappointed because I had this expectation of what this job was gonna be like, and it was just so not like that.
[00:09:40] Rob Pintwala: And I had moved my partner across the country for this job and I just felt so much guilt for that because I'm like, I hate my job. And. We just moved to a new city. We're closer to my home and a lot further from my partner's home. And I was just like, wow, this is terrible. And my partner clearly saw me just so miserable over time and it was six [00:10:00] months.
[00:10:00] Rob Pintwala: But yeah, it took that to get me to start something on my own as well. And it's so interesting that so much content out there is trying to be like, oh, just do this entrepreneurial, like side hustle, whatever gets going. But sometimes it really just takes a catalyst and likes listening to your intuition and body.
[00:10:18] Rob Pintwala: I just find that so interesting for you. I wanna talk a little bit about the expectation part around you thinking this company was like, like the perfect company. I just find that in general, in life, that expectations, high expectations can lead to disappointment quite often. I'm sure you're not alone. Like how, what have you learned now from that experience in terms of just having that expectations? Like Are you trying to keep your expectations to the, so entrepreneurship. Very open-ended because of that experience, because of that disappointment? Or walk me through a little bit more about the expectation and disappointment.
[00:10:54] Danica Nelson: For sure. I think . One of the things that I say to myself often is, you know [00:11:00] how they say, don't meet your idols because your idols will disappoint you. For me, that's not working at your dream job or at your dream company because it's probably gonna disappoint you. A lot of people when they share their experiences on LinkedIn or social media from working at these amazing tech companies that have very high salaries, they don't necessarily show the low lights.
[00:11:19] Danica Nelson: They focus on the butterflies and rainbows, and honestly, that's. A lot of the reason why I became a creator is because I like to be transparent and share the lows along with the highs, so people really do so people are able to manage their expectations accordingly. I have learned that while working at these shiny companies can be fun and it can be cool to drop the company you work at and your title and tie up a lot of your self-worth into your job, which is not healthy.
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[00:12:26] Danica Nelson: I've also learned that. You can burn out very quickly, and burnout sometimes is inevitable at these companies because these places can be very cutthroat. Sometimes when you have, when you're told over and over again that only the best of the best are hired to work here, you are often trying to prove yourself, and that means you are going above and beyond, which can often lead to burnout.
[00:12:48] Danica Nelson: So I have learned that managing your expectations is really important. Honestly, for me, at this point in my career right now, I feel like solo entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship is the [00:13:00] only way that I can be fulfilled in my career because I'm only focusing on the things that truly bring me joy.
[00:13:06] Danica Nelson: I'm not working on a creative idea that has to go through 10 different layers of executive approval, so it's not even mine anymore. Things like that. Being able to manage my own projects and my own day and my own work. For me right now is the only way that I can really reach that fulfillment.
[00:13:23] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. That's incredible. I want to ask you a little bit more about you. I guess being in touch with your body as you referenced before, and just understanding your nature of hard work leading to burnout, was that just brand new for you when that happened or had you ever forwarded with that burnout in the past?
[00:13:46] Rob Pintwala: Or I just, bigger question is more like, have you always, have you been a self-reflective person throughout your life or was this more of just everything shutting down and you having to like shift gears and be like, okay, I'm important too.[00:14:00]
[00:14:01] Danica Nelson: Yeah, I wasn't new to this. Unfortunately. I am a type one perfectionist, INTJ, and really my whole life and my whole career has been me going above and beyond often to my own detriment. I think maybe this was just on a. Bigger surface or it just was more intense because I was marrying perfectionism with being at my dream company and wanting to stay at my dream company and then wanting to prove that I was valuable enough to maintain employment, employment at that dream company.
[00:14:40] Danica Nelson: So it was really the perfect storm for burnout, to be honest. I also come from a family of immigrants who often, you know, depend on me financially to support them. So that was another layer that's kind of added into the mix. Often it's called the black tax, where you know, you are [00:15:00] often, you know, paying for your family to survive, or at least helping support them financially.
[00:15:05] Danica Nelson: Whether your family here or your family back home in whatever country they immigrated from. . And that just is another layer of complexity into working hard, making sure that you can maintain employment so you can make sure everyone's happy and healthy.
[00:15:17] Rob Pintwala: My goodness. I wanna talk more about that. I. Interview a lot of therapists, or at least I have now, I'm getting refreshed by having conversations like this, but I've talked to a thousand therapists and especially, know, in the Toronto area, in Canada just being so diverse interviewing therapists who are maybe immigrants or second generation Canadians and talking to them a lot about. The expectations for immigrants. I guess I'd be like a third or fourth generation immigrant. But just the guilt that comes with being, like showing a new opportunity and maybe your parents worked so hard to get you over here, um, and then just like living with that. And they're just such heavy expectations. Tell me a little bit more about [00:16:00] how that looks for you and how that had looked and what the current kind of status is of that.
[00:16:06] Danica Nelson: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, You don't wanna let them down because like you said earlier, they worked so hard to get here. My parents are both from Jamaica and they just weren't able to go to college, university post-secondary school. I. My sister and I are the first in our families to actually do that and have these high paying jobs in, in corporate.
[00:16:28] Danica Nelson: So yeah, it's something that absolutely like weighs on us because you know, when when your parents don't have jobs that pay that well, that also means that they didn't really have retirement savings and they don't have the RSPs and all the savings accounts. So in a way you are maybe not directly expected to support them, but they're your parents.
[00:16:46] Danica Nelson: So it's kind of just something that you choose to do. So that'll always have an impact on my work because I will always want to be able to be there for my parents and support them whenever they need to. But again, that will always [00:17:00] weigh on us because it's like if you rest or if you take a break, the money's not gonna be made.
[00:17:05] Danica Nelson: So not only are you gonna not be able to support yourself, you're not also not gonna be able to support your family here or back home if they need it.
[00:17:12] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, that sounds to me like the scariest thing ever for entrepreneurship, especially starting from scratch.
[00:17:18] Danica Nelson: It sure does for sure. I will say though, that for me specifically, I, as I mentioned earlier, I left Liberty Village and I was very lucky in the sense that I bought my home in Liberty Village in 2015 and to be able to pursue this move to Spain, I sold my home earlier this year I, like I said, if you, if anyone is familiar with the Toronto real estate space,
[00:17:38] Danica Nelson: Buying a home in 2015 and selling in 2023 like I did well. So you know, there's always a kind of backup savings that if I do need to support them, it is there. If I'm not bringing in consistent income in the early stages of my entrepreneurship journey.
[00:17:54] Rob Pintwala: I actually saw you write your writeup about your reasoning for selling your home, and I thought it was so clever [00:18:00] and so well thought out. And let's talk about the financial side of what you do and . How did that originate? I mean, It's, I, my guess from talking to you right now is that I originated out of necessity, right?
[00:18:13] Rob Pintwala: Like you're feeling this pressure to be financially successful. What's your perspective on would you call yourself a financial expert
[00:18:21] Danica Nelson: Yeah, . I struggle with the expert part, the, but I will say I definitely am a financial educator and Exactly. It came out of necessity. It came out of seeing how my parents and grandparents and past generations had access to money and managed money, and me realizing we're not doing that again.
[00:18:39] Danica Nelson: That's just not happening. It stops there. We're gonna build financial freedom. We're gonna build generational wealth. We're gonna figure this out. And a lot of the time, or back in the day, I used to think that. Financial education, financial literacy, investing in the stock market. That was kind of all reserved for rich white men.
[00:18:59] Danica Nelson: But then [00:19:00] I started seeing people who looked like me being successful in the finance space and flourishing. And I'm like, oh wait, I can actually figure this out. So, During lockdown when we all had a lot of time on our hands, . I took my investment, learning how to invest and just improving my financial literacy very seriously.
[00:19:17] Danica Nelson: It's something that I've always been passionate about, traditionally more with saving money or finding ways to budget and things like that. But when I had time to learn to invest and when I started having access to tech, job money, that's when I realized, oh, you know what? I need to make my money, make money, and to do that, I need to invest.
[00:19:38] Danica Nelson: I. And that's when I started taking it seriously. That's when I started learning and that's when I started inviting my community along on the journey with me because my community is predominantly made of black, indigenous, and women of color and we're all trying to figure this out. So I'm like, you know what?
[00:19:51] Danica Nelson: Let me share my trials and tribulations together so we can all get access to wealth and financial freedom.
[00:19:58] Rob Pintwala: It's just so badass. I [00:20:00] love that how did
[00:20:01] Rob Pintwala: Has this community come about? When did you start to realize that you had a community or when did you start investing in building a community?
[00:20:09] Danica Nelson: Yeah, so I actually only started being a creator or even having an Instagram account in 2019. I went through a really bad breakup in 2014, and I just deleted my existence off the face of the earth. But then in 2019, I did my first liberty leave where I took a five month solo trip around Asia. And that's when people started following me.
[00:20:31] Danica Nelson: They started becoming very interested in my content and they were following me for the trip, but then a good old pandemic showed up and I obviously could no longer focus on travel and actually had to come home as an emergency from my trip. And I pivoted into finance content. 'cause finance content because I'm like, okay, we can't travel right now.
[00:20:51] Danica Nelson: Let's figure out how to make and manage money so we can travel more when we're able to.
[00:20:54] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible. So when you were doing these trips before were you completely off work [00:21:00] at that time or were you still working?
[00:21:02] Danica Nelson: yeah, my first Liberty leave, I was working at a company that I was at for 12 years, and it was at a point where I'm like, okay, well I need need to take, I need to experience long-term travel, and literally, if you don't approve it, I'm gonna quit. So you choose. And they did. So I asked them for six months off.
[00:21:20] Danica Nelson: I took a sabbatical, is what the actual terminology is. They approved it, and I went on my solo trip to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and had the time of my life. That was my first experience with long-term travel. It was my longest experience with solo travel. . That's where I really started stepping into the digital nomad and remote workspace before it became popularized because of the pandemic.
[00:21:48] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah, that's amazing. I'm curious about just building your community there. Yeah. And coming back to that, what do you think it is about like you mentioned seeing folks who [00:22:00] look like you maybe giving you maybe some of the permission to think in that mindset around, financial success and actually like thinking that might even be a possibility. Do. Do you find that the folks who are following you in your community, can they relate to that as well or, yeah.
[00:22:18] Danica Nelson: A hundred percent because it's when I share, my background child of Jamaican immigrants came from a low income background, really had to hustle my way to be where I am today. Those are the things that they need to see in order to believe. Kanye West has this line that has always stuck with me.
[00:22:40] Danica Nelson: He said, the things that we see on this screen are not ours, but these people are from the hood, so these dreams are not far. And that resonates with me so much because I'm from the hood and I am learning and figuring out how to achieve financial freedom.
[00:22:55] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. And bringing so many others along with you, it sounds like
[00:22:59] Danica Nelson: Absolutely. [00:23:00] We lift while we climb. That's the goal.
[00:23:02] Rob Pintwala: Just hearing you speak like I, I get You're not entirely just like I. Super highly, like sure of everything you're doing, but you're speaking in a very confident way in my opinion. And, but you're just like, you're stating almost like errors and mistakes and disappointments and things like that.
[00:23:20] Rob Pintwala: But I can imagine like, I just get the sense that you are someone who's just learned to follow their intuition and take these calculated risks. And so many folks have. Really hard time with that. And yeah, I'm just curious, like if you have an explanation of where that might come from. Do you have, for example, mentors or people that you can look up to that are older or just, maybe more experience that may help you, encourage you to make some of these decisions and when you. Took that sabbatical the first time. Even that, even though you've been working outta that company for so long, like that's not something a lot of [00:24:00] folks would have the courage to do.
[00:24:01] Rob Pintwala: Like where does all that come from?
[00:24:03] Danica Nelson: It is a good question honestly, because I am traditionally very risk averse because of, know, the background I shared earlier and the responsibilities that fall on my shoulders. But I'm starting to believe now that it's a risk if I don't do the things that I have these burning desires to do,
[00:24:19] Danica Nelson: I have everything that I need to move to Spain. I had a visa that was applicable for a partner that was willing to come with me. I am no longer working a job, so I don't need to get any sponsorship from a company to make it work. The stars have literally aligned for me to do this. I don't know if I'm ever gonna be able to do something like this again in my life.
[00:24:40] Danica Nelson: Why not? I think a lot of what I do is me saying what if I don't? Do you wanna live with regret? I think my fear of regret is what fuels a lot of my decisions.
[00:24:52] Rob Pintwala: That's very powerful. I'm also curious how you, with so much like motivation, [00:25:00] like almost intrinsic motivation it sounds like. Just based off, I. Feeling of needing to be the provider. Have you ha, have you learned to be a little bit more with yourself or just , does, is there any point in time where that kind of pressure just gets so exhausting that you you just, how do you deal with that?
[00:25:26] Danica Nelson: I am not the most patient person in general, and definitely not with myself if I'm being honest. But working through therapy has really helped me with that. My therapist really does. Really drive home the fact that you need to be more patient with yourself, and you need to follow your intuition and you need to understand that you can only do what you can and that you can't pour from an empty cup.
[00:25:50] Danica Nelson: So I try to remember all of those things with how I move forward and it's working for me so far.
[00:25:56] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Is therapy something that you started to do? [00:26:00] Take advantage of or tap into? Like when you started getting sort of corporate benefits or how did, what was your journey with therapy like.
[00:26:08] Danica Nelson: Yeah, so I once in probably 2019 got access to a therapist because I. My doctor in Liberty Village referred me to this place in Parkdale where they actually offered folks free therapy. So you could do one session a week for eight weeks or something like that. So that was my introduction because at the time my salary just was not enough to be able to pay for therapy or afford it.
[00:26:32] Danica Nelson: And then, yeah, once I moved to my newer tech job that I was at for a year and a half, we had very generous benefits there. And one, obviously I wanted to work through anything I was experiencing and wanted to have access to a therapist. But two, I am always of the mindset that when you work for a corporate job, to me it's a game to empty out all of those benefit accounts.
[00:26:53] Danica Nelson: All of them, like zero. I want to use every single thing accessible and available to me. So that was another reason why I'm like, okay, I'm [00:27:00] definitely using all of these therapy sessions. I think I had $1,500 coverage for that.
[00:27:03] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible. And for folks that maybe aren't as experienced or haven't had the same, what sounds like maybe benefits from therapy and seeing a therapist, like what kind of, if you have friends or people that ask you like, what should they look for? How should they start? Do they have to be really struggling to see a therapist?
[00:27:22] Rob Pintwala: Like what's your opinion on all this and what would your kind of guidance be for these folks?
[00:27:27] Danica Nelson: For sure. . So for me, and honestly pretty much everyone I know who's in therapy, it's important to have someone from a similar background as you. That's not mandatory, but for me specifically, I needed to have a black woman therapist . Who was also a child of immigrants to really understand my struggles and where I come from because as I mentioned before, having to support family members, that is a huge load on my shoulders that needs to be worked through, and I need someone who thoroughly understands that experience.
[00:27:57] Danica Nelson: So that was one of the main things for me. [00:28:00] I don't think that you need to be at a place of burnout or depression or anxiety to see a therapist. We all have things that we can work through. We all have things that we can overcome. I think if you have access to a therapist, if it's accessible to you, everyone should go to therapy a hundred percent.
[00:28:15] Rob Pintwala: I love that. Of course. I love that. Yeah, and I totally like just what you said, just having someone who can Understand your background, right? Being a child of an immigrant of immigrants, and just not only does that kind of save time for explaining your situation and like money because it costs money to go to therapy. There's also no guarantee that a therapist without that background will even understand that even if you explain that to them. Which I think that's so clever that you like, just realized that in the first place. So yeah. Props to you. I want to ask you about how you. We're recovering from the burnout. And how much of the[00:29:00] kind of doctor's advice actually worked, or like, how much of it was just you figuring out what worked for you in terms of like self-care and there's some like stuff going on right now and social media saying self-care is not always the answer. What's your take on that and what worked for you and is there anything in there that you still do just to maintain your wellness?
[00:29:21] Danica Nelson: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that really helped me is . Doing, first of all, just going to a naturopath. That was a huge thing for me. Again, making sure that I get those benefit accounts on zero and use everything accessible to me, but going to a naturopath and just seeing an alternate perspective for what's going on with me, whether it's mental health, or physical health.
[00:29:45] Danica Nelson: One thing that I really struggled with when I was working was mornings. I've never been a morning person and I just happened to be in a role where I was the only person working in Eastern time. While my entire team was based in Europe, so my entire team was six hours ahead of [00:30:00] me and I was waking up early to try to just meet with them, but they were also a whole day ahead of me.
[00:30:05] Danica Nelson: And it was really difficult for me to just be able to digest information and be helpful and productive in meetings when people are five hours ahead of me and it's at a time that, I don't really do my best. So one of the things that I did was working with my naturopath and doing a test that actually
[00:30:22] Danica Nelson: Verified medically that you are not a morning person. Your levels, you've got some things going on that just in the mornings are just not for you. And I just felt so reassured and validated by that, and that's really helped guide me in this part of my life now where I'm doing the solopreneur thing, where I don't force myself to wake up early anymore.
[00:30:42] Danica Nelson: I will not wake up before 10:00 AM Don't talk to me before 10:00 AM and that is me being my best self. It's . Not forcing myself to do something that I'm not good at, and that for me, that's waking up later. It's also knowing when to shut down and not working till two, [00:31:00] three ams to make anything happen anymore.
[00:31:02] Danica Nelson: I am not working in the medical space. I'm not saving lives. I create content and I can go to sleep at 11:00 PM if I'm tired. It's not pushing through anymore. It's also letting go of me. Unhealthy relationship with perfection. I think, honestly, this is something that I will always work on because while I'm not an only child, my sibling is 10 years different than me, sorry, 10 years older than me, so it just always felt like I was an only child and a lot of only child.
[00:31:33] Danica Nelson: Have perfectionist tendencies because you're trying to make your parents happy, you're trying to do all the things. There's a lot of expectations set on you. So letting go of those unhealthy tendencies to try to do it all, and just knowing what to do enough, I would say those have been really my main guiding principles to making sure that I stay healthy.
[00:31:54] Danica Nelson: And one other thing is, even when I was let go from my job back in May, [00:32:00] I didn't start my entrepreneurship journey right away. I think I took the entire summer off actually, and just committed to doing nothing. No work, no trying to develop things, no thinking through what my processes are gonna be when I do start the entrepreneurship thing.
[00:32:15] Danica Nelson: Just nothing. Just being in the sun as much as I could, spending as much time with my loved ones as I could and just focusing on me and happiness. . A really good foundation for stepping into entrepreneurship, and I'm so glad that I did it and didn't force myself into thinking, oh my gosh, how am I gonna make money?
[00:32:32] Danica Nelson: How am I gonna make this work? I need to do this now. No, I just listened to my body.
[00:32:36] Rob Pintwala: There's so much wisdom there. I find it, it sounds so easy when you say it, but like taking a, even just taking a summer off with that kind of pressure is so challenging. gOod for you for doing that. wondering if you can share which a little bit more about like that time and did your like mind get [00:33:00] quieter? Over the weeks that you forced yourself into doing nothing as you said. Because a lot of people will try to take a week off, right? And they like to have trouble decompressing and then they go back to work or something like that. What have you learned about that?
[00:33:13] Rob Pintwala: How long does it take you to like quiet, these stress and thoughts and things
[00:33:18] Danica Nelson: Gosh, it took me months, literally months. Funny enough the liberty leave that I mentioned that I did back in 2019 where I took five months off, it also took me months to be able to just chill and not try to do all of the things and go back into overachiever mode. One term that I learned when I was filling out the short-term disability slash stress leave paperwork with my doctor is keyed up.
[00:33:45] Danica Nelson: Are you familiar with that terminology Keyed
[00:33:47] Rob Pintala: No.
[00:33:47] Danica Nelson: I didn't know what it meant, but it just meant like you're always fidgety, you're always thinking about something. You can't really sit still, you can't relax. I was keyed up for months, maybe, probably four months before I could actually [00:34:00] relax and chill and not just think about, okay, what am I gonna do next?
[00:34:03] Danica Nelson: What's on my to-do list? Do I need to start writing things down? It took a really long time. Four months I would say.
[00:34:10] Rob Pintwala: Wow, I, when you referenced that term, keyed up, is that like, how do you spell that?
[00:34:17] Danica Nelson: K-E-Y-E-D is what she wrote down, and I'm like, oh, I've never heard of that before. Keyed up
[00:34:23] Rob Pintwala: I've been there and I've known a lot of friends that are there. And yeah it's, I'm glad it's a medically recognized state, but no, maybe we should do a whole series on that. It sounds like a blog post opportunity.
[00:34:35] Rob Pintwala: I wanted to talk a little bit more too about, again, your courage.
[00:34:39] Rob Pintwala: And you shared about this on Instagram a little bit. But your courage to go ahead with the stress leaves and just walks through more. So just like the feeling of shame and guilt, were other people at your company like doing it? Have you seen it done? How did that, how did you just pull that off?
[00:34:59] Danica Nelson: [00:35:00] Yeah, no one at my company was doing it, and that scared me because again, I believe that we feel comfortable doing things when we see others doing it. I think either people weren't doing it or they were doing it in silence, so I didn't know they were doing it, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be very public with mine.
[00:35:18] Danica Nelson: Once I came back and developed this whole series about it, because I wanted people to see that. People do it. It's possible it helps and there shouldn't be any shame or stigma around it. I figured out that it was an option because as I mentioned earlier, understanding your benefits is really important and just, really being familiar with everything in your compensation package.
[00:35:42] Danica Nelson: It's something that I pay for. Every time I get paid, there's a deduction for short-term disability. So I decided to read up more into it and you know what it took, how I would get there. And then after reviewing that and speaking with my doctor and just reviewing some internal documents, I realized, wow, I am actually a perfect use case for this.[00:36:00]
[00:36:00] Danica Nelson: I am going to pursue this. I did. I went to my doctor, talked about what was going on, and right in that session she helped me with the paperwork I filed with my insurance company, Sun Life. And I handed it in to my manager at the time and also my HR team and said, it's done. Like the paperwork is being filled right now.
[00:36:23] Danica Nelson: I'm submitting it. See you in six weeks. And one thing that actually I think is really important to mention. because I've had a lot of people reach out to me once I published that series. They asked if I asked permission to take the leave and no, I did not ask permission to take the leave. Like for me, this was very much, I.
[00:36:45] Danica Nelson: A must have. It was not nice to have, and I think people often treat mental health as a back burner. Not as important, not as imminent. But I tell people, you should treat this as if you were in physical pain [00:37:00] as well. If you need to take this to be able to work or operate and just survive and take care of yourself, then it's what you need to do.
[00:37:07] Danica Nelson: It's not asking permission. You are prioritizing your health, you're prioritizing your body, and you're doing this for you, and it's the ultimate flex. When you realize that your body needs to chill or your body's telling you that you need to chill and take a step back, then that's what needs to happen.
[00:37:21] Rob Pintwala: So powerful. And just, yeah, I'm just still Yeah. In awe of how you can articulate this and how you're talking about it, and it's just, yeah, it's. Just seems very courageous, but also like I love that you're just leaning into it and you're like, this is you and this is what you're doing and this is what you're advocating for.
[00:37:38] Danica Nelson: I was gonna say I was in the beginning, like I was afraid to talk about it publicly because there is a lot of shame associated with accepting the fact that your body needs a break and you're not thriving in the way that a lot of people think you're thriving. But at the end of the day, for me, it was a mindset shift in the sense that it is a flex to take a step [00:38:00] back and prioritize you and your health, and no one can tell me otherwise.
[00:38:03] Rob Pintwala: If you ever think about if you were still at this company and you didn't get laid off where you might be.
[00:38:10] Danica Nelson: I do. And then I often think, would it be awkward for me to speak to my coworkers when they ask are you okay? What's going on with you? Are you having a mental breakdown? And honestly, I think I would be transparent all the same. I should also mention that I was the only black woman on a team of a lot, and I'm often the only black woman in the room.
[00:38:35] Danica Nelson: So I'm kind of used to being the outspoken, abnormal one. I guess in a sense, I think I would probably still be transparent and talk about what I went through all the same. I just don't care about what people think of me in that sense.
[00:38:49] Rob Pintwala: I love that I wanted to talk a little bit more about your entrepreneurial journey too, as we're starting to wrap things up here. It strikes me that you've really just leaned into [00:39:00] authenticity and, I imagine you have a lot of folks that are like stuck in a corporate job or maybe, just in a job in general that they feel like they can't get out of, and even just hearing you speak about your entrepreneurial journey, I'm sure it's like you're not even, maybe we can save a bit of time for the struggles so you can share a bit of the struggles. And that's probably a good idea. I'm just curious if there's folks that are, how can I do something like this?
[00:39:24] Rob Pintwala: And, did you. Did you, and I know like a lot of people have a hard time figuring out, myself included, like what your kind of superpower, what you're really good at and what you might want to, tap into if you could have the opportunity to even experiment with something on the side. How did that come about for you? Did you have some external validation? Did you get some folks kind telling you're really good at this? Or was it like people messaging you or some of even Instagram from traveling? Like how did you. Build this sort of at least awareness or conviction that, okay, like [00:40:00] I'm good at this, or I'm gonna try to, I'm gonna try to turn this into something.
[00:40:07] Danica Nelson: Yeah. So I have a degree in media production slash radio and television. Arts and storytelling has always been my thing, and I know that it's something that I've always been good at. But then when I married storytelling with being super authentic and transparent, that's when I found that people really started to follow me and engage with my content and just feel safe being in my community.
[00:40:33] Danica Nelson: So I think I just leaned into what I saw was working based on the response from my community. Just kept building. And to be honest, I'm still trying to figure things out. I'm only five months in now and trying to figure out, okay, what are you good at? What are your superpowers? But also what makes you money?
[00:40:52] Danica Nelson: So how are you going to eat? So I'm still trying to figure out all of those things, but I feel like I'm definitely moving in the right direction. [00:41:00] And for anyone who is at that place now where they're trying to figure out, okay, what's next? What should I do? I always recommend ikigai. Are you familiar with Iki?
[00:41:08] Rob Pintwala: Little bit I love the concept.
[00:41:10] Danica Nelson: Yeah, it's this cool Japanese concept where you figure out, okay, what are you good at? What does the world need? What can you make money from? Or how can you monetize this? It's just like a cool exercise to figure out if you were to step in the direction that I'm in, what would you focus on?
[00:41:24] Danica Nelson: And that's what I always recommend for folks.
[00:41:26] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. That's incredible. What are some of the challenges that you've already experienced with running your own business or trying to make something from nothing? What might not be so clear when someone reads your newsletter, watches an Instagram reel. I. Of the kind of finished product, like what's going on behind the scenes, where your emotions have been, have there been any really difficult parts already, or let's hear it all.
[00:41:53] Danica Nelson: Yeah, for sure. As I mentioned earlier, I am a perfectionist and being a perfect, a recovering perfectionist, excuse [00:42:00] me, being one of those takes a lot. It takes a lot of time and energy to create content. Whether that is writing a newsletter, whether that is creating the videos that people see or just anything creative.
[00:42:12] Danica Nelson: It takes me a really long time to get from concept to publication, and I think a lot of people don't see that. Those newsletters, I love them so much, but I can only do them once a month because they suck the life out of me. They take so long, but I enjoy doing them and I don't ever wanna outsource that work because I feel like the magic is in me writing it and me just being transparent and expressive the way that I am.
[00:42:36] Danica Nelson: So that's definitely one of my challenges that I'm working through to just figure out, okay, how do we step away from perfectionism? How do we manage time and energy? Do we need to bring on a contractor or something to outsource some type, some parts of the business that, you I can still be, I can still focus on what's personal to me, but at least I could get some help along the way.
[00:42:55] Danica Nelson: So that's a major challenge. The second major challenge. [00:43:00] I really miss a consistent paycheck. I miss getting paid every two weeks at the same amount of money, knowing what to expect, having my benefits deducted, having my taxes taken care of. For me, that was a beautiful aspect of full-time, traditional work that once you're an entrepreneur, you kind of gotta figure all of that out yourself.
[00:43:20] Danica Nelson: So that is something that I will probably always struggle with. And then the third thing is my scarcity money mindset that I'm recovering from. Sometimes I feel like, is this working for me? Is this gonna work long-term? Am I gonna, am I gonna make enough money to sustain myself? Is it, am I ever gonna make the amount of money that I made when I was working my full-time tech job?
[00:43:48] Danica Nelson: That paid a lot, but also made me miserable and burnt me out. I think about that often. And I think anyone with a scarcity of money mindset or someone who comes from a family or a [00:44:00] background that just, you didn't have a lot of money, it's very difficult to believe that you can achieve that abundance. And it's something that I think I'm always gonna have to work through and work on to truly believe that I can achieve financial freedom.
[00:44:16] Danica Nelson: Even if it's working for myself, rather than working for a company that may look cool and flashy, but burns me out and makes me miserable.
[00:44:24] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, the concept of slowing down to speed up or just slowing down to Reconfigure your life as you're doing is just so challenging. I've flashed this concept of opportunity cost before, and even though my, my, some of my family are entrepreneurs and. And they've worked really hard. But when I was starting this business, the concept of for every year I'm doing this business I'm sacrificing a good salary somewhere else or like whatever salary I was making, right? And I, and so it's not [00:45:00] only that, like I'm not making money or whatever during that time, but I'm actually losing money.
[00:45:04] Rob Pintwala: And it was just like this concept that was planted into my head. And it's just so stressful to think about it that way. And it's really are you going for it or are you not? Because a thought like that is sure, holding onto a thought like that for me was not valuable. My whole mindset was, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna sacrifice the short term to really try to create. Life and ideally financial freedom, as you mentioned for yourself, but aligning it with impact and things like that, it just takes so much courage. So props to you for doing that. It's super hard. And thank you for sharing some of the struggles as well. What are some of the exciting things that you have on the go?
[00:45:41] Rob Pintwala: And also I'm just curious 'cause I'm a little bit in the business world, like where do you see some of the opportunities for someone with your take on content, your community? Like where if there are other folks who have a community or something like that and they're thinking about like, how do I make money?
[00:45:55] Rob Pintwala: Like, where do you look first? Or do you have sponsors like knocking on your door and things [00:46:00] like that?
[00:46:00] Danica Nelson: Yeah, so I've been really lucky that a lot of the brand partnerships that I have had people knocking on my door. And with what little time and energy I had when I was working at my full-time job back in the day, I was creating this content, even if it was just one weekly post, one Money Monday post to help folks with financial literacy.
[00:46:19] Danica Nelson: I've been keeping that up for the past three, four years now. I. And that has made brands notice me and recognize me and wanna work with me. And that's probably one of my largest streams of income right now. So just being consistent and, showing up for your community, I think is a really good way to, first of all, build a community, nurture your community, but also have brands knocking on your door if, partnerships are something that you're looking forward to in the term, in the sense of, content creation and things like that for the next year,
[00:46:50] Danica Nelson: I am focusing on two, two streams. The first and most important stream is really diving into this [00:47:00] time that I have while living in Spain and really soaking up every moment of it. I don't need to work and make a lot of money right now to just make ends meet. One, because where I'm living in Spain compared to Toronto, the cost of living is 40% less.
[00:47:16] Danica Nelson: So that's already a huge win. two, I recognize that I don't know if I'm ever gonna have a time and experience like this in my life again, where I can live in another country and just take it all in. So my two primary goals are taking Spanish classes multiple times per week. So I can leave here conversational, hopefully.
[00:47:34] Danica Nelson: And being healthy, going to the gym, exercising, taking in the fact that I have a real beach with real sand right up the street. Like I really need to soak all of that in. That's tier number one. Tier number two is continuing to build my community, help 'em with financial literacy. I would love to build courses and more content that can help folks.
[00:47:55] Danica Nelson: I. Achieve financial freedom, learn about how to make and manage money. [00:48:00] And then of course, educating folks on travel as well as I figure that out and travel more now that I'm in Europe and things are a lot more cheaper and accessible. And yeah, just enjoying life. I just really wanna take it easy, enjoy things and not burn myself out ever again.
[00:48:16] Rob Pintwala: That's wonderful. That's so wonderful. Where can folks follow along with you and we'll be sure. . Were to add these places in the podcast show notes as well, but where are you posting your content?
[00:48:29] Danica Nelson: Absolutely folks can follow me at Danika s Nelson, D-A-N-I-C-A-S, Nelson on TikTok and Instagram and LinkedIn as well. And I hope to be able to start a YouTube channel as well in the new year. Only if I can do it in a sustainable way. That does not burn me out though, so TBD, on how that looks, but I am very hyper aware that YouTube is a lot, so figuring out how I'm gonna make that work.
[00:48:54] Rob Pintwala: Good for you. That's amazing. And your newsletter, where can folks subscribe?
[00:48:59] Danica Nelson: [00:49:00] Absolutely. You can click the link in my bio in any of my social platforms or it's called the Liberty Letter.
[00:49:05] Rob Pintwala: It's excellent too. I really enjoy it.
[00:49:07] Danica Nelson: Thank you so much,
[00:49:08] Rob Pintwala: thank you so much. Please really enjoy your time in Spain. Appreciate you calling in and you're only like five days into your trip. I hope the few newsletters from now or I'm hearing about your adventures in southern Spain and maybe elsewhere.
[00:49:21] Rob Pintwala: So really appreciate it and yeah, wishing you all the best and I'm looking forward to following along.
[00:49:27] Danica Nelson: Thank you so much for having me on my show. This has been a good chat.
[00:49:30] Rob Pintwala: my pleasure. Thank you, Dani.
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