215 Create Freedom and Adventure in Life – Suitcase Entrepreneur Natalie Sisson

What You Will Hear:

  • Running a business while traveling the world;
  • Blogging your way to a new business;
  • Create freedom and adventure in life;
  • Don't like to be restricted by corporate environment?

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More about our featured guest

On the show today is the amazing Natalie Sisson – affectionately known by many as The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

She has taken her love for variety, adventure, online opportunities, and new experiences and has blended them together in such a way that she's able to put her business in her pocket and run it from anywhere in the world.

Living out of a suitcase, she traveled just about halfway around the world, sixty eight countries so far, has bank accounts in four of them, a passport for the UK, is from New Zealand, and currently lives in Canada.

This lady is an absolute delight.

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, the best show you'll ever hear for career changers, difference makers and those with a dream. And if you are a daily listener to this show, well, welcome back. If you are new to the show, well, welcome and know that you are among friends. Hi, my name is Joel, I am the number one Amazon best-selling author of “Finding Your Voice”, an expert in counseling psychology and personal growth, and I am the creative genius behind ReLaunch. And with me, is my beautiful co-host, who just happens to be my wife of 13 years who makes all of the bells and whistles work. Hi, honey!

[00:44] Pei: Hi!

[00:45] Joel: How are you today?

[00:46] Pei: Good to be here.

[00:47] Joel: Did you have a good day so far?

[00:48] Pei: Yes, and excited about our guest today, too.

[00:52] Joel: Absolutely, you're having a good hair day. So, I'm pretty excited about that.

[00:55] Pei: Oh, you mean my ponytail?


[00:58] Joel: Joining us on the show today is the Suitcase Entrepreneur, and by that, I mean, that she took her love for variety, for adventure, for online opportunities and for new experiences, and blended them together in such a way that she was able to put her business in her pocket and run it from pretty much anywhere in the world that she wanted to. And, that's exactly what she's done. She's traveled about halfway around the world. She's visited 68 countries so far. She has bank accounts in four of them, a passport for the UK, is from New Zealand and that's where she lives right now and also has a passport for Canada, as well. So, I guess she makes that commute every once in a while. And there's only one woman I know that gets around as much as she does. Of course, it is the suitcase entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson. Natalie, welcome. Welcome to ReLaunch.

[01:56] Natalie Sisson: Thank you so much for having me.

[01:58] Joel: Absolutely, been looking forward to having you and we originally met you at Podcast Movement 2014 and from that day, we just knew that we needed to get you on ReLaunch. Thank you for coordinating schedules and making that happen.

[02:15] NS: Well, thank you so much.

[02:16] Joel: You bet, you bet. This show is all about the relaunch, Natalie and we generally ask people to kind of zero in on the relaunch that has been the most significant for them or that has been the most transformational for them. It can be the launching of a business. It can be moving into a new land, a new country maybe. Or it can just be the next phase in your business growth and development. I know you've done a lot of things in your life personally and professionally, but how do you think we should get into today's show talking about Natalie's relaunch?

[03:00] NS: Oh, I think, maybe just the “A-ha” moment that day, that everything fell into place. I finally realized that I was probably going down the wrong track and what I should be really focusing on. ‘Cause I think, as you probably have with all your guests on here, there's usually one defining moment where everything comes together for you and you're like, “Ha! Now I know what I'm supposed to be doing with my brand.”

[03:20] Joel: Gotcha. So, before that happened, back up just a little bit, if you would. And you started like most people start, in the professional career, in the general corporate environment, correct?

[03:34] NS: I did, indeed. [laughter]

[03:35] Joel: Okay.

[03:37] NS: Yeah, eight years actually in the corporate world. So I did out of university, did my double degrees, thought I wanted to go into the corporate world, worked my way up into high level management and marketing. And did that pretty well for eight years until I realized that I absolutely hated all the bureaucracy and the office politics and the back-stabbing, and the environments that… Well, it taught me a lot and it was fantastic, and I was part of some great teams and management roles and had some great managers. In general, I really hate being restricted. I don't like people telling me what to do and I certainly don't like being in an environment where you don't have leverage or the opportunity to really make an impact. It's always down to other people's decisions or egos and politics. So, it was great for me to branch out of my own but I really had no idea what my own was gonna be or what that was.

[04:27] Pei: So, when you were in college, getting a double major at that time, you definitely planned a life of being in the corporate, like a lot of people, right?

[04:39] NS: Yeah, I really didn't have any ideas around business back then. I don't think there was even a degree in entrepreneurship at that time. Or if there was, I didn't know about it. And, I wasn't exactly surrounded by entrepreneurs either. I think the thing was very much to go into a great job and do well, and work your way up. So, in some ways, I wish that I'd been influenced or open to it or maybe considered it at that time. But I think the jobs that I were in were always tended to be more independent, where I could manage my own part. And I should've probably looked to that sooner because every single time, I was in quite an independent role where I had a lot of scope. So, maybe that was a good sign.

[05:19] Pei: How long did you feel uneasy about being in the…

[05:25] Joel: It must have been a build up 'cause if you were there for eight years…

[05:27] Pei: Right, right.

[05:28] NS: Yeah. Well, I wasn't in one job for eight years. That's the funny thing. I jumped all over the place and I fast tracked myself up the ladder. So, I would… I mean the longest I ever almost had a job was almost two years. And that was a fantastic national brand management role for Schwarzkopf Professional. It taught me a lot. There was quite a bit of traveling. It was great in terms of the scope of that role. And, but, I think the fact that I quit jobs as readily as I got them was probably a bit of the sign. I usually do a job, do it to my best ability, do it really well, and I'd get bored, quit, go traveling, run out of money, come back, repeat.


[06:01] NS: And so, I guess they were all signs that maybe I should have taken it a little more seriously and that probably wasn't the path for me. But I actually really liked doing interviews, I'm a bit strange like that, and I really liked battling to get roles that were well above me, which was pretty much the way I leapfrogged all the time. Or if somebody said, “No, you can't possibly do that, you're not qualified enough”, that was a great challenge for me. So in hindsight, I think it was great to be able to have those opportunities to play with other people's monies, to build brands, to do launches, to understand the principles of marketing and working in teams and customer service, and every aspect, and then actually be able to take that and apply it to my own business. So I got to see what they weren't doing well and what they were doing well, and then apply those things to my own venture.

[06:40] Joel: Fantastic. So catch me up to the “A-ha” moment of when you punched your last time clock, so to speak, and you decided that, “You know what, I'm ready for this next phase and chapter.” And I'll call that… Yeah.

[06:57] NS: Actually, yeah, those are two different moments. So when I left my corporate world, I actually flew off to Canada to play World Championship Ultimate Frisbee. I always think if you're gonna do something, you might as well do it big. So quitting a job, going to a country I'd never been, heading off with no plan, aside from Ultimate Frisbee, which is a game and sport that I love. And from there, just went about trying to figure out who I knew or didn't know. I literally knew nobody in Canada. Making friends, going to networking events, and ultimately, finding the co-founder of a business that we eventually set up, a technology company. So I was pretty lucky in that, over a big board of cheese and wine, I managed to meet my business partner. And he was a very experienced entrepreneur and had started several other companies. So I really just threw myself into the deep end and learned everything I could about launching a technology company, particularly developing an app on Facebook with zero customers, zero budget, and zero base, and using social media to do that. So I am pretty thankful for that.

[07:54] Joel: “Fundraiser” is the app, correct?

[07:57] NS: It is indeed, and it's doing incredibly well now. I think it's the number one or if not, one of the top two fundraising apps on Facebook. But it was really difficult when we started out, because as you know, Facebook changes constantly and it's like building a house on quicksand. And with no budget to try and market it, it just tested my every single skill in brand management and marketing that I'd learned, and business development over the years.

[08:18] Joel: Okay so you…

[08:19] NS: And it was… Yeah, go for it.

[08:20] Joel: Sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead, I wanna hear what you had…

[08:22] NS: Well I was gonna say it was during that time I think that obviously having to use social media 'cause we had nothing else really with no budget, when I started blogging for the company, and then also for myself. And as many people know that blog is today my entire business. And I wouldn't recommend that you start a blog to start a business, but it certainly helped me cut my teeth and build a community and find my voice. And I'm happy to tell you about the moment when that kind of came together, but I think you had a question on that.

[08:49] Joel: Well actually go ahead and, 'cause it sounds like you're about to segue into this next moment where it all came together. And then I'll back up if I need to, but go ahead.

[08:58] NS: Isn't it funny sometimes how things work out? So yeah, I started the business blog, but I also started my own blog. And honestly I would say in a couple of months I realized that I just adored blogging. I was figuring out everything I could about how to build an audience and a community for both the business and myself. And that blog just became something I was really passionate about, and my business partner thankfully, and to his credit, recognized that I was more passionate about it because our business has been struggling and I loved it, but it just wasn't going anywhere. I wasn't happy with the product, and it's really hard for me to market something that I don't believe functions well. These days, it's brilliant, but at the time, it was a piece of crap. And so he actually said, “Look Natalie, I think you love your blog, and I honestly think you have a talent for it, and I think you should develop it into a business.” And I was like, “Oh, great idea!”

[09:44] NS: So we had a really amicable split, and I still have sort of invested in that company to this day. But I went off and started my own blog, and went, “Oh my goodness, what am I doing?” Like, literally all I have is a blog, and no idea of how to monetize this or what it's gonna become. So straight forward to about six months of just hustling and growing a community and building an audience and guest posting and interview, and all this stuff and it was going great but I wasn't earning any money from it. And I got a free ticket to Ali Brown's Shine Conference in Vegas and also BlogWorld. I met a bunch of people there in 2010, I thought were great, yeah 2010 and every single person asks you the same question, don't they, in networking?

[10:24] NS: Well, luckily these days people are more creative, but at the time it was like, “What's your name, where are you from, what are you doing?” I was like, “I'm Natalie Sisson, I'm from New Zealand, this is what I do, I help… ” I was very broad at the time… “I help women to grow great businesses” or something ridiculously non-niche. And then they're like, “Well where do you live?” And I was always like “In my suitcase.” And it was fascinating to people, 'cause they're like, “What do you mean, you live in your suitcase?” And then we'd have this whole discussion about how I lived nowhere and I travel the world, 'cause at that time I was, I'd really just started out to do that, and I literally had no home and I was off to Argentina. And it was really great because it was through all those conversations that I started getting a bit tired of explaining why this was so different to people.

[11:03] NS: And I was chatting to one guy and he said, “Oh, so you're like a traveling entrepreneur?” And I was like, “Yeah, I guess I am.” He's like, “So you're like a suitcase entrepreneur?” And I was like, “Ah, that's brilliant! I am!” And he's like “That is brilliant!” He's like, “You should buy the domain.” I was like “I will”. So I remember literally we finished our conversation, full credit, and I just ran off to buy that domain, and it really helped for so many reasons because finally I had a name to put to this. And even though “suitcase entrepreneur” probably brings up quite a few different things for other people, generally, you get the gist. It's either mobile working or it's business in a suitcase, or it's digital nomad aspect, etcetera, etcetera. So people suddenly got it. And everything became clearer in my brand around that time, so I relaunched my website, I relaunched my tagline, I set a new mission to help 100,000 people to create freedom of business and adventure in life. I suddenly knew what my offerings were gonna be and it's just grown and grown and grown from that very day, 'cause finally, I had clarity on what I was meant to be doing and who I was. And have since sort of lived and breathed that brand very fully. So, I probably immersed myself into it too much by literally becoming the suitcase entrepreneur.

[12:11] Joel: And, that's what you do now. You train men and women through out the world, doing retreats on the beach and in foreign countries, helping people…

[12:20] Pei: Fun, fun.

[12:21] NS: Yeah, exactly.

[12:22] Pei: You know, I really… Sorry. Go ahead.

[12:26] Joel: Go head. I wanna hear what you have to say.

[12:26] Pei: Oh, okay. I really appreciate you sharing that journey, especially the beginning part where you weren't sure and you were struggling in a way because that is, no matter how successful you were with the corporate, launching your own brand, finding out what works for you, for your lifestyle, for your business, it takes some time. And even for us, our ReLaunch show, a lot of people actually didn't know… They thought, “Okay, you guys had just so fast success within the last few months”, but actually, this is our seventh year doing it and we had other branding, other names for… We were playing with different ideas.

[13:18] Joel: It takes a little practice.

[13:19] Pei: Mm-hmm.

[13:21] Joel: It's like a pair of shoes.

[13:22] NS: Oh my goodness, yes!

[13:23] Joel: You put on a pair of shoes and walk around. And if they don't feel quite right, then you slide into another pair. Okay. So Natalie, I'm looking at your website. So I'm seeing pictures of scantly clad people. I'm seeing people on the beach. I'm seeing… What exactly is the Beach Ultimate Championship in Brazil? What was that?

[13:52] NS: So, Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport. Just for those of you listening out there. It's played by men and women around the world, not with a dog on a beach. There's grass Ultimate and there's beach Ultimate. And beach is my favorite because you can lay out. You can dive for the disc. It's a little bit easier on your body. It's a shorter field. It's a shorter game time and it's just so much fun to be running free with no shoes on and flying around, throwing and catching discs, and every four years they have the world championships. Countries from around the world have to put in a bid to compete and then they get chosen and then you play men's, women's or mixed and there's all sorts of divisions, from juniors right up to masters. So, that was in Brazil. Fantastic place to play on the beach. It was very hot from memory. Very, very hot on your feet even with sand socks. And I played for the British women's team 'cause I have a British passport. My father's from England, and we won that year. We beat the US ladies' team and many other teams and got the gold medals and just had a fantastic time and I've been playing ever since 2004. So around a decade now. But that was the first kind of major, major tournament that I won a gold medal at, so it was pretty fantastic.

[15:06] Joel: So, that picture that I saw was for the Ultimate Frisbee team?

[15:12] NS: Mm-hmm. That was a British women's team that year. Yeah.

[15:14] Joel: Okay, and then above there, I saw a front picture of you and then a picture looking at your back of a body sculpting contest? Now what…

[15:24] NS: Exactly.

[15:25] Joel: What possessed you to do that? Is that just something you needed to check off your bucket list or…

[15:31] NS: I have no idea. Who'd wanna eat that much chicken and broccoli for that long and get that lean? It was just an interesting challenge. I've always been into sports. I've always been going to the gym and I noticed that my body wasn't really changing shape and I wanted to change things up a bit. And I hired a personal trainer for the first time to actually get in to triathlons and she looked amazing. She was really lean, really sculpted, but still feminine. I was like, “Wow, what have you been doing?” And she said “Oh, I was training for a body sculpting competition but I pulled out because I couldn't give up sweets.” And I just thought that seems so silly to get that far and not do it. So I looked into what it was. I thought this was a weird and ridiculous sport, but you know what? Maybe I'll just set myself a goal of training towards a competition. And I really just wanted to use that 'cause I'm pretty good with goals and working towards them. I just wanted to use that to try it out and went on this personal journey of understanding better about your body and nutrition and exercise and ended up competing because I'd worked so hard at it and didn't wanna give up and it was down to like 10% body fat. So I decided to enter this competition and won it.

[16:34] Joel: Oh wow. Congratulations.

[16:34] Pei: Very cool.

[16:35] NS: Pretty awesome.

[16:36] Joel: Yeah.

[16:37] NS: Yeah. Then I went on to nationals. I would never do it again. I enjoy food too much and it was a huge amount of sacrifice, but also fascinating to see your body, what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. It was probably one of my most successful years in terms of focus. I was into Anthony Robbins. I was feeling juiced. I did an extramural degree in exercise prescription and got like all As. It was just one of those years where I just was like determined. So really appreciate that year. So much personal growth.

[17:06] Pei: Well…

[17:06] Joel: Yeah, go ahead, Pei.

[17:07] Pei: I'm just curious, Traveling so many countries, is it a culture that you love so much that you wanna experience? Or, is it a food that you mentioned? You know you love food. [chuckle] So what do you think that you enjoy so much, going from country to country?

[17:25] NS: That's a great question. I do enjoy food, but I'm not a foodie. I went on a trip to Japan this year with about eight to 10 people. And normally, I travel by myself and I noticed that we literally were going on a food tour of Japan, because everybody was so excited about the food. I mean, I was, but I was just wanting to see the country. So for me, I just love experiencing new cultures, new ways of doing things, languages, food, just being in an environment of change where I feel out of place. I like that travel makes you very humble and makes you appreciate and respect other people, and I think it teaches you so much. I think it's one of the best educations you could ever have. So for some reason, I just love the challenge and the newness of experiencing different things that you just don't get in your every day world.

[18:07] Joel: Sure.

[18:08] Pei: I totally agree.

[18:09] Joel: I can very much appreciate that. So I'm curious here, Natalie, as you've launched and relaunched in several different ways, different countries, different activities and different businesses, different jobs even, what have you learned about yourself or what have you relearned about your own potential possibilities?

[18:34] NS: Great question. So much, I think, over the time. I think that you are capable of way more than you can ever imagine. I think that change is a good thing and that I wish more people would embrace it because it certainly stretches you and makes you have to really think on your feet to come up…

[18:55] Joel: Could you talk to that a little bit? Please, 'cause I agree with you that people are much more capable than they give themselves credit for. Yeah, so can you take that about one or two levels deeper?

[19:11] NS: Yeah, definitely. So a lot of people are scared of change. They often like the status quo and they like being settled, and I appreciate all that. It's quite nice to have a house that you love, and a routine that you enjoy. But every so often, I think you do need to change things up. You need to get right out of your comfort zone. You need to get out of the space that you're used to working in. You just need to use the different hand sometimes. You know how people talk about brushing your teeth with a different hand? Just to spark that creativity in you, to elicit different movements in your body, to use different sides of your brain. Because life is short and I feel like to become the best people that we wanna be, we have to put ourselves in environments where we're gonna be stretched and learn.

[19:52] NS: And you've got all of your life to spend sitting in front of a TV if you'd really like, but I feel we're put on this earth to be our best self and to make as much impact as we can. And it doesn't necessarily need to make you go off and travel around the world and live out of a suitcase. I'm sure for some people that sounds like a terrible idea. But even just getting out and exploring your own city, having conversations with strangers on the street, trying to understand somebody else's point of view, a different religion, eat some food that you normally wouldn't. All these things just, I don't know… They just really spark different sensations in you and make life a much more rich and rewarding experience. And when that comes back to a brand and a business, I think it's invaluable for allowing you to see it from other people's perspectives and to just have a point of difference in what you do. So those are just some of the reasons why I think it's really important to have change and try different things.

[20:40] Joel: Pei, did you have your hand up over there?

[20:42] Pei: I love it. I absolutely love that, yeah. What's your next venture? What's coming up that's so exciting for you?

[20:50] NS: Such a great question because talking about relaunches, I feel like I'm morphing into another relaunch for myself as I've felt…

[20:57] Joel: I never would have got that feeling. Never.


[21:01] NS: Well, if you think I've actually been doing the Suitcase Entrepreneur for… Been in business for four and a half years now, which blows my mind. And the Suitcase Entrepreneur is being almost three and a half, four of that. And I love it and I think it's a very strong brand and I love my community. But I'm really fascinated by freedom. And I'm wanting to develop a framework around different levels of freedom around the world and how that relates to your personal lifestyle, obviously your business and career. So it's not that I'm moving away from that, but I feel the digital nomad space, the lifestyle entrepreneurs, I think that space is getting very crowded. I'm not all about the make money online. I'm definitely about living your best life and having a business or career that supports that. And that we want more true freedom to really enjoy our lives and make the biggest impact, which I know I go on about a lot. But you've got to have purpose in your life. So I'm morphing more towards that, the future of working, monetizing your brand in a way that makes sense to you with purpose and a mission and also how we can achieve more freedom across the world as well. So I'm looking forward to that and just developing that and stretching myself on all those fronts. ‘Cause that's like a big body of work and something that's scary and could go on forever. But I think it'll have great meaning and hopefully, be really relevant to a lot of people.

[22:14] Joel: Indeed. Okay, coming in for a landing here. Definitely wanna respect your… I wanna respect your time here Natalie, 'cause you've been so generous and giving to us. A couple of questions to end it up. What are you the most proud of?

[22:32] NS: Ooh, great question. I'm actually just really proud of having started something from scratch. And as I said, four and a half years later, it's doing incredibly well and that sometimes I have to pinch myself that little old me managed to make something work just based on a lot of passion, persistence, determination, and a desire to really have true freedom.

[22:54] Joel: What would you say to someone who is at their final straw, either in their relationship, in their career, or in kind of a mixture of things and they're just looking for some kind of hope or some kind of inspiration to cling to, what words can you give to them?

[23:15] NS: Do you know what? It may seem really simplistic, but I adore Yoda and he drives me every day when I feel I'm procrastinating or I'm not taking a chance or I'm stuck in a bit of a rut. When… “Do or do not, there is no try.” So there is no better time than now to start on and embark on that endeavor and to live your best life, and it just starts with one simple step of doing.

[23:38] Joel: Can you do Yoda? Can you do your best Yoda for us?


[23:43] NS: Okay. Oh wait, I always get this quite wrong as well which is very funny.

[23:48] Joel: Give it a shot. It will be fun.


[23:50] NS: Alright. “Do or do not. There is no try.”


[23:55] NS: It's not my best. It'll do for now. I'm probably better with Chewbacca, actually. But we won't do that.


[24:02] Joel: Oh, come on. Do Chewy. Might as well.

[24:04] NS: No, I'm in a co-working space. I think they'd probably think I'm crazy if I start.

[24:08] Joel: Well, they probably already do. They probably already do.

[24:10] Pei: Right.

[24:10] Joel: But it's good. Natalie, thank you so much. Suitcaseentrepreneur.com, that's the place to go. Of course, we'll have all of the social media hotspots in our show notes of where you can go to connect with Natalie, plus you definitely need to pick up “Suitcase Entrepreneur”, the book, and we will have that link available to you, as well. Natalie, this has been a pleasure. I'm so glad we got to meet you at Podcast Movement 2014. Hopefully, we'll be able to bump into you again at 2015 and it's been a pleasure to have you on the show. You're welcome back on ReLaunch anytime, Natalie. Thank you.

[24:49] NS: Aw, thank you.

Follow Natalie on Twitter, Facebook, and visit her site.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

1 Comment

  1. Joyce Kaiser (@Driftseed) on January 15, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Holy Smokes Batman!

    While my dream isn’t to live out of a suitcase, it is to have mobile business. That has been my goal for three years. To get my businesses launched, residual income, passive income the whole kit and kaboodle… to allow me to sell my house, buy an Airstream, and then toddle around the US visiting and working and sightseeing and exploring… unanchored. The plan has modified to also include a small land based home base for summer months and a life partner, but …

    I am going to need to stalk Natalie. Thanks again Joel and Pei for the resource!

    And the Yoda reference. Awesome!

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