A personal update from Lee
Today we get personal. Lee shares what’s been going on in the Jackson household over the last couple of years and how the community and his businesses have helped him through some very dark times. Bear with us this week, it may seem dark, but there is light and encouragement at the end of all of it. The purpose of this episode is to help inspire change in peoples lives by learning from real world experiences. We often work in an untouchable bubble, then life throws it’s curveballs. Our businesses are not there as a chain, but as a support to help us do life.
Please do get in touch if you are affected by any of the messages in this weeks episode.
Dan Gissane – The ADHD Entrepreneur Community
Dave Toomey – ATL speaker profile
Imogen – Umbrella Digital Media
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Lee Jackson: Welcome to The Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This is your host Lee and on today’s show it’s you and me again. Now, it’s not that nobody wants to talk to me, it’s just that I want to talk to you and this is very much been a podcast where I’ve got other people on and interviewed them, which has been fantastic, but a lot of people have been wanting us to tackle very specific subjects and it’s felt right for the last few weeks for us just to focus on conversations between you and me. So you listening, remember this is a two way conversation so I would encourage you, if you want to talk about any of this, come and join us in the Facebook group or email me direct if anything that I talk about today or in any of the previous solo episodes over the last few weeks has effected you in any way, firstname.lastname@example.org.
So now that that’s out of the way, I want you to contact me if you want to have a conversation about any of this and let’s talk about what’s been going on. So a lot has happened since we started the podcast and we’ve got so many different points of connecting with me and with the brand that I figured that it was probably about time, that we gave you all an update in a single place so that if people want to know what is going on in the world of Agency Trailblazer and what’s going on around us then you can just grab this episode, sit back, relax, get a bit of history, and also get a bit of what is happening right now and also some encouragement for the future. Now if you’re new and it’s very possible you are, the podcast has continued to grow so I know we’ve got a lot of new listeners who probably don’t know much about our history. Let’s first of all go into a little potted history about the company in general.
So I launched Angled Crown whilst I was running another agency. It was about seven years ago. I ran an agency with some business partners that was focused in the events industry and we were providing digital services and also design. Essentially I’d come into a design business and added the digital wing to that company, which was a phenomenally exciting time. What I did on the side was launched Angled Crown as a business to help other design agencies add digital wings to their business. I’d learnt so much by doing that in the real world that I was able then to help others and I actually started to provide services like custom development, consultancy, etc. So that was about seven years. That means we’re at the seven year itch.
About four years ago, we then launched the podcast and that’s what really catapulted the personal brand of Lee Jackson, which is still a kind of a weird thing, but we launched that podcast and that then started to feed more and more opportunities for the Angled Crown business. So not only were we becoming more and more well known just as a team and as people, but it was also sending agencies our way who wanted either consultancy or who actually wanted to use our services. Then about three years ago, me and Tim moved the digital aspect of the original agency out into its own company called Event Engine and that now runs as its own software company in the events industry. What’s the original agency still services the design aspect in the events industry as well.
So that happened about three years ago and if we fast forward to kind of, now we’ve got, both of those agencies are growing at a nice manageable rate and they allow us to have a good work life balance. So with regards to the podcast, like I said, that was launched about four years ago and that started off with just a few downloads a week. So I would launch one episode a week, I would ask the same questions of the guests and people would share it, it really slowly grew and probably the first episode had say 10 downloads. We were then averaging eventually 50 downloads an episode, which back then felt amazing. Nowadays we get tens of thousands of downloads every single month, which is insane. I can’t believe it’s got to this, but it has been four years and turns and turns of people over the years have connected with us as a result of that podcast, be that leads be that thank you’s, be that presents be whatever that is. In fact today we had a card from Dan and thank you Dan, if you listening, it was a very heartfelt message where he sent a card saying thank you for all of the content that we’ve been putting out on the podcast over the last few years because it’s really helped him in his personal life and he shared some personal things and also in his business. That’s one of the reasons we’re here. So Dan mate, thank you so much. You are a legend and folks, Dan has his own podcast. I’ll make sure we put a link in the show notes for that.
Now in 2017 we launched our YouTube channel and that recently has been growing from strength to strength because I’ve been putting a real effort into that. 2017 I kind of did the Vlog 30 days in a row thing and launched a few videos here and there. But for the last few months now we’ve been doing a series for YouTube where we’re trying to give inspirational spots for agency owners. We’ve got Motivation Monday, so that’s kind of to get people motivated for the beginning of the week. We have What’s Up Wednesday where we’re sharing a little bit of what’s going on in that premium community that we have, but we also share some free value for people to action if they want to use that free nugget of wisdom. And then we also have Frank Friday where we talk about some of the things that other people talk about and make assumptions about and we like to challenge those assumptions. So that’s Frank Friday. So I would recommend you go ahead and check that out. But we’ve launched that because that has enabled us to carry on having really important narratives beyond just the podcast, which very often feels like one way communication and also beyond the Facebook group that launched with the podcast. The Facebook group, if you’re not a part of that agencytrailblazer.com/group is a great place for conversation, but it’s all in one space and we really want to get our message out there and I’ll talk a bit more about our message later on.
Now I mentioned the premium community that launched in 2018. So that really was an extension of the free Facebook group, but we wanted to add a whole load of workshops in there for people to be able to manage their agencies more effectively. We also wanted to do regular mastermind calls as well with our premium community so that they could deep dive on particular topics. That’s actually now morphed to the present day where we actually do weekly calls and we have a full 30 minute deep dive into something and then a further 30 minutes of conversation on top of that. So the deep dive is the recorded element and then we have kind of an off the record conversation with people live and then we even record certain snippets of those conversations with permission obviously if people want other people to benefit from some of that conversation that had been had.
So we launched that premier community that again has grown from strength to strength and it’s wonderful to have a group of people that we can jump on the telephone. Sorry it’s not a telephone, it’s a zoom call, let’s just say telephone,I’m still old school but we can all jump on a call together and we can see each other and we’d get to have a good chat. There’s lots of banter and some people have been members now for nearly two years and thank you guys for your support because you are absolute legends and I’ve really, really loved growing the community together and I absolutely live for our weekly calls. We have so much fun. Even on the days when I’m so exhausted and don’t feel like getting on a call when I get on with our community, I’m just lifted because I’m able to share some help, some advice, etc. We’re also able to just bounce off each other and have a really good laugh and that’s what I love about it.
We also earlier this year, launched our event and that was the Agency Transformation Live event, which was really scary. There is an entire episode on what I learn about that. There will be a link in the show notes for that. We just wanted to further again our message. I’ve talked about the fact we have this podcast. We have this YouTube channel, we have a Facebook group. So there are all these separate elements to our brand and ways of helping people, but we wanted to find a way that would disrupt people’s lives and inspire them to make a major change in their business. To make major change in your business, you actually need to make lots of small actionable changes which build up to that big major shift in the direction of your business so that was what agency transformation live was all focused around. We set out the five pillars for your business, the five pillars, the five stages of the transformation of your agency. And that was a wonderful event. We had over 80 people live in my hometown in Wellingborough, which is amazing in its own right because people from all around the world came and we worked through what those five pillars were. People then worked with us to work out where they were on those stages, and then they consumed the information that they needed to and started to make the plans to get to that next step of transformation in their business. It was an amazing time, wonderful speakers, and I’m ever so grateful for everyone who was involved and also grateful as well for everybody who has already bought tickets for 2020. We’re already gonna have over 80 people in the room and we’ve not even finished selling tickets yet.
So next year 2020 is going to be even bigger than I could ever have possibly imagined. Thank you to everybody who has already grabbed tickets for 2020 folks. You can find those over on agencytransformation.com and there is a link there where you can grab right now there are some early bird tickets. The super early birds have all gone, I’m afraid, but there are some early bird tickets if you want to get yourself in there now and save a bit of cash for agency transformation live 2020. But like I said, that was another way and now we’ve created this movement of agency transformation. All a part of our message is helping people transform their lives. And I’d like to now kind of go personal for a bit. That was just what’s been going on in the business as a whole, what’s been going on in the community and what projects we’ve launched, etc.
I’d really like to just share what’s been going on in our personal lives. This is going to be hard to share, but I think it’s important that I open up a bit and share some of this stuff. Some of you will know what’s going on in our lives. Some of you will be aware, you may have heard snippets, etc but I want to make you aware of what’s going on so that we can then overlay what is going on in our lives with what is going on in our businesses and then help you to see how Agency Trailblazer is very much a key part of my life and my mission to help you the listener.
So let’s jump in the time machine to 2017 ish. The first kind of kick in the gut was a, a fallout with my eldest daughter. She is now 20 but back in 2017, she decided that she would wanted to cut ties basically and didn’t really want to talk anymore and we’ve not been able to talk now for nearly two years and it absolutely breaks my heart every single day. I would love the idea if you are listening ever Bethany and you just want it to have a conversation,, a phone call would be so good or reply to any of those texts. So I still send Bethany texts now and again just to check in. I don’t get a response but I just wanted to know that I love her, I care for her and no matter what it would be amazing to be able to reconcile that relationship. But that was the first, that was the first kick in the gut for me especially it is literally like a death in the family because you can no longer talk to that person and the people around them as well don’t want to talk to you either. So you are completely cut off from that person and it’s really hard. I know there’s a couple of you guys in the community that have lost contact with children and thank you for those who have talked to me about this and, and given me some advice. I really appreciate it.
The next kind of big kick in the gut was just a few months later we realised there was something wrong with our younger daughter and we could see by her back that something didn’t look right and she was often complaining of pain. We then discovered that she had something called scoliosis. Now the great thing about it is it wasn’t wasn’t deadly or anything, but it was certainly very uncomfortable for her. So scoliosis is a curve in the spine and Ella had a very severe curve in the spine that was absolute shock when we saw it on the scan at first. Long story short, my wife for about a year had been saying, I don’t think there’s something right with Ella’s back. If you look at her shoulder blade, it doesn’t look right, etc and I would be like, oh, I think she’s okay. But you know, mum’s intuition, you can’t argue with it guys. She eventually got the doctors to do a proper investigation and we were all shocked at what we found out. Poor old Ella, she does suffer with anxiety and for her for the last couple of years, it’s been very, very hard for her to cope with and manage the pain and she’s doing so amazing. I’m so freaking proud of her. Um, but equally, you know, she’s always had the pending operation.
She’s got a major operations she has to go through in a few weeks time now and that’s looming and she’s very scared of it. She knows the benefits. She knows that the, her spine is going to be corrected, but she’s also very, very scared and has very big concerns that you can understand. Especially for a young girl, she’s not even yet a teenager and she’s already got this to cope with. So as parents, it’s absolutely heartbreaking as well to see our little girl in pain, to see her in bed at night, having to move around, trying to sleep, trying to get comfortable. It’s also scary as the idea of this operation that she’s got to go through because we know that there are risks. However, we have had lots of encouragement from the doctors, etc. That yeah, there are risks. The risks however are far outweighed by all of the benefits because of her age cause she’s younger and she can have this operation now. It’s better to do it now than it would ever be if this was something that was discovered later on in life. So, you know, yes there are risks. Yes it’s scary but at least this is something that can be corrected and that she won’t have some form of disability for the rest of her life because this can be corrected. Thankfully again, because of this community, you guys are freaking awesome. There are people who have had experience of this who’ve been able to connect us with the right associations and the right support and the right people to talk to. We’ve been able to get so many elements of support, so many pieces of advice. Ella now has some friends who also have or have had scoliosis that are also supporting her through sending messages through comparing scans. The amount of spines I’ve seen over the last couple of years. It’s amazing and I’m squeamish folks. I really am. I nearly pass out every time we talk about this stuff. But you know, Ella has had so much support and Dave Toomey as well. I want to give you a shout, especially for a lot of your compassion and just being able to talk me through stuff and helping me out as well. It’s been phenomenal. You’ve been a great support to the family, mate.
I’m sorry, this is not all meant to be a downer. You got to hang on with me. I want you to know what’s going on. This is all very personal, but you know, I trust you all. I want you to know what’s going on. There is a reason for this and please don’t feel sorry for me cause we’re all good. Now about a year ago now, while it was actually a year and a half ago, me and Kate had been trying for another baby for a very long time, about eight years. We had some amazing news that we were gonna have one. So, you know, being the excitable guy, I am, we did the tests, got all the positives back, went to the doctors, got the thumbs up, got our pregnancy packs, all that sort of stuff and we even told Ella which was wonderful and she burst into tears. She was so happy that she was going to be a big sister. We went through the motions and everything was exciting and we started planning, we had a name, we’re calling the baby bean and we would often talk about being and what we were gonna do and all of those exciting dreams that we had. Unfortunately though a couple of months in, on one of the scans that we were at, we received the bad news that the baby baby was no more. Kate had miscarried and we were absolutely gutted because at the same time, Kate’s mum, who’s been battling cancer for over 25 years was just getting worse and worse and worse. We’d had the news that she only had months to live. So it’s just felt like a double whammy here. Not only were we dealing with the most wonderful woman on the planet, who was dying in front of us and in severe agony but also after so many years of trying, we’d lost this beautiful little baby and I’d never knew how hard a miscarriage would be. But oh my gosh. I mean, I love that kid even though I never met him. It’s hard. And again, I just want to thank you all the community, you know, Imogen, I had a great chat with Imogen and she was so helpful on this and talked me through essentially how to manage some of the emotions, etc and all the different people in the community that have been through this sort of thing. Just thank you so much for helping us out, for talking with us, for being so generous with your time, listening to me get things off my chest and then giving me such great advice and support. You’ve been absolutely wonderful and I meant it earlier when I said email me if you’ve never ever connected with me. I am very approachable. I mean it email@example.com. Connect with me or add me on Facebook. Just send me a message when you do add me on Facebook otherwise I won’t know if you’re a spam account or something. But you know, add me on Facebook as well and I’d love to get to know you and because I want to be able to help people but also thank you for everybody that’s helped us in the community.
So anyway, we lost bean and we were absolutely devastated and then within a month then Kate’s mum passed away and that was devastating. She’s this amazing Yorkshire woman. My favourite way of describing Leslie would be always look at the bright side of life no matter what was going on in her life she always looked to the bright side of life. She always had patients for the kids when I don’t, she’s got patients for the grand-kids. She always had patients for me or for Kate or whomever who just wanted to talk to her. She was a listener. She would listen, she would be supportive even though she was going through 25 years of sometimes debilitating pain. She was having pieces cut out of her all the time. She had over 50 different operations, etc. She had so much to be negative about so many things that she could have just been grumpy and grouchy and, you know, why and yet she was one of the most patient, kindest, positive people I have ever met on this planet. And Leslie, I know somehow this will get to you I love you to pieces and I miss you like crazy. Leslie went and that was so hard for everybody. I’m one of those lucky guys who get some mother in law that you absolutely 100% fall in love with. I know people have mother-in-laws that frustrate them and they can’t stand and they get into arguments with, I lucked out guys, I had such a wonderful mother-in-law. I loved her to pieces. I still love it to pieces. I don’t like to talk about her in the past tense really.
That for us was just heartbreaking. You know, obviously distraught wife, distraught daughter, the whole family were completely bowled over by it. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for the passing of a loved one. It’s not really the plan is it for somebody to go, the plan is they are going to be there forever and I don’t think there is any part of our brain that can possibly prepare yourself and cope for loss whether it’s expected or unexpected because you just can’t talk to that person anymore. You know that that feeling of I can’t talk to you anymore is heartbreaking. We struggled on through that for a few months. Her funeral was the day before my birthday. My birthday we kind of just didn’t celebrate either cause we really did not feel it, like celebrating got some presence. You know, we went through a few of the emotions but you know, we just, we just pushed on.
Now that’s a few of the things that have gone on over the last couple of years. Things have been pretty bad. However, I tell you this because if we look at the business, I don’t mean this to seem callous, but the business has remained. Both businesses have in fact remained stable and that’s been because of the lessons that we’ve learned in the past. That’s because we’ve created businesses that have processes that have procedures, that have good cash flow, that have money in the bank, that have a good solid client base because we know how to serve those clients because we know who our target audiences. I preach this a lot guys, but you need to know who it is you’re serving and what your superpower is that you are serving those people with because if you have a business like that, then that business is also going to serve you. So when and if you go through your 2017, 2018 cycle like I did where so much is falling apart around you. You can have a business that still is stable, that allows you to take the time off. Now let me kind of focus on, on what this has allowed us to do, these two businesses being stable, having these processes, knowing their own identity as businesses has allowed me to take so much time off. I’ve been able to take off time with my wife to support her through the miscarriage. I’ve been able to take off time with Ella to be able to take it to countless appointments and procedures with regards to her back. I was able to be there for my wife when we went through the surgery as well that she went through during the miscarriage I was able to be there. When we lost Leslie and I’ve spent countless hours with Leslie as well, supporting her, taking her out and making as many memories as we could. That’s because the businesses are in a position finally where me not being in them does not affect their operation. If I need to take time out to have a work life balance that supports me spending time with my family, that has just been phenomenal for us. It’s been a massive positive in a world where many years ago when I was not in a happy place, I would have had a breakdown. I would not have been able to have coped with all of the sorts of things that have been going on around us.
What I want you to take from this is not to feel sorry for me because like I said earlier, we are all good. In fact, again, thank you everybody has been so supportive in the community. What I want you to take from this is that frankly life is too short. Life is too short to be building a business where you are trapped, maybe trapped with clients that aren’t treating you right. Maybe you’re trapped financially. You can’t escape from your agency because you have debts, you have bills to pay, etc and you are stuck. Life is too short to be working too many hours to fall out with family, to not be able to have time with your loved ones to miss out on those special moments with family life. Life is way too short. If you listen to episode 200, I share a little bit of what happened five years ago when we also lost my dad and that just shocked me to the core. There’s a guy there who’s worked, he died aged 62 he died an hour after finishing working of a major heart attack again, sorry, this sounds like a downer but remember that life is just too short and no matter what stage you’re at in agency life. Maybe you’ve been doing this for 20 – 30 years, maybe you’re also getting on a bit then it’s never too late to change that. It’s never too late to change and to transform your business and that is why agency trailblazer exists. When I started this podcast four years ago, it was to help agency owners to create a business that worked for them and that was because I too had been going through the very same journey after dad died of building a business that would allow me to take time off, that would allow me to have time with my family. As you’ve heard through all of the horrible things that have happened and the sad things that have happened, i’ve been able to do that. I’ve been able to have time with my family and the businesses haven’t fallen apart because we’ve been able to build something that works for our clients and also works for us as well and that is why agency trailblazer is here for you. It’s here to stay and it’s here to grow because we want to help agency owners all around the world to develop a business that supports them, it supports their families and most importantly makes them happy.
So if you are an agency owner and you’re not happy with your business, if you’re struggling with your work life balance, can I encourage you, if you’ve not been listening to any of the past episodes, go and check out some of those past episodes. If you are struggling to understand how to form and set up your business, maybe you’re looking at say web design etc then go and check out some of the amazing courses that are available online. I’ll put some links to some of the phenomenal content that’s out there from other third parties such as Troy Dean’s WP Elevation their blueprint for business there is phenomenal. So things like that. Go ahead and check out. I’ll put a whole load of notes in the show notes. I’ll also be linking to episodes to encourage you in your life, no matter what stage you are at, you can make change. You can build up your business to allow you to have a good work life balance and to serve the people that you care about. That’s your family as well as your clients.
So I want to wrap up this vulnerable podcast, me sharing some really personal, private things that we’ve not talked about fully before with a call to action. If you don’t do anything else, join our community and it’s a free community. I’m not trying to sell anything to you. First and foremost, Agency Trailblazer is here to help other people and to build a community of people that can help each other. Me Getting paid, me generating income, etc, is not the main focus of this episode nor of agency trailblazer. Of course, it does need to generate money to continue and thank you for everyone who does support what we do. But first and foremost, join our free Facebook community because that is where you’re going to find some wonderful people who will be able to help you in your journey. Don’t do this alone as an agency owner, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a team of 50 people, it can still be lonely at the top when you own your own business or where you feel trapped in your own business. So join our free Facebook group agencytrailblazer.com/group that’s gonna redirect you to our Facebook group. And like I said, there’s a whole load of crazy cool people in there. We have lots of good fun, but equally we’re also vulnerable and honest and we share in there and people support each other.
So go and plug into the community because if you think back to everything that I’ve shared, all of those times that we’ve struggled with, it’s actually been the people in that free Facebook community who have been able to support me and my family personally through some really tragic times. So plugging into community is so freaking important so that is your call to action today. Obviously check the show notes. If anything that did inspire you to go and make some change, then check out the notes. There’ll be links to different courses that you can go and check out, as well as things like mindset courses as well from other people. There’s also a link to the Agency Transformation Live event if you’d like to come along to that next year, that’d be wonderful to see you there. I will just wrap up with saying please do contact me personally if you would like to have a conversation. I mean it, I want to be able to hear from our listeners. You’re all awesome. I love you to pieces. If I don’t see you in the community, if I don’t see you on email, then we will see you in the next episode.
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