Happy Accidents #015 - Justin Welsh
From burnt-out executive to massively successful solopreneur
From burnt-out executive to massively successful solopreneur
This week we're diving into the incredible story of Justin Welsh and the happy accident that changed the course of his life forever.
If you're on LinkedIn or Twitter, you've likely come across tons of Justin's content (unless you've been hiding under a rock). I was blessed to have him share the details of his journey with me for this newsletter.
So what's his story? Let's dig in and see...
SETTING THE STAGE
This is the part of every Happy Accident story where we see every successful outcome starts with the person putting themselves in a favorable position. They work hard, they try new things, they meet new people. They're not just sitting around 'hoping' to be successful some day.
Rewind the calendar to 6 years ago and you'd see Justin as a successful hard working executive at a startup company (PatientPop) in Los Angeles.
Prior to PatientPop, Justin honed his skills and experience in various sales roles in other SaaS companies like Stryker and ZooDoc.
He'd put in tons of hours and learned a lot about sales as well as growing and scaling businesses.
In fact, in his role as SVP of Sales, he'd helped grow PatientPop from $0 to over $50M in ARR (annual recurring revenue).
From the outside looking in, he seemed to have it all. By societies standards, he was a success!
But something wasn't right.
There was the constant pressure, the travel, the busy lifestyle, the lack of quality time with his wife and close friends...
Justin was starting to burn out.
THE HAPPY ACCIDENT
This is the part of every success story where there's a chance encounter, a serendipitous moment, an unintentional discovery (or Happy Accident) that paves the way for the next steps. In some cases, a Happy Accident can even be disguised as something bad in the moment.
Let's see what the Happy Accident was in Justin's case, shall we?
As we saw, Justin was living a hectic lifestyle. It was hustle culture on steroids. No wonder he was starting to burn out. But it was getting worse than he realized.
Something else was at stake. His health.
On December 16th, 2018 Justin had a massive panic attack.
Although he describes it as one of the worst days of his life, it was also a wake up call for Justin (a Happy Accident in disguise). It forced him to come to terms with how he was treating himself. The anxiety related to his job was destroying his mental and physical health.
So, he decided he needed a break. Right in the middle of a successful executive career, he gave notice that he was leaving. Crazy, right?
The decision to step back equipped Justin with an immediate sense of relief. But knowing he was going to leave his job put a new type pressure on him.
How was he going to make a living?
Just like Happy Accidents don't just fall into your lap (you need to set the stage first), they also don't turn into anything if you don't recognize them and take action. This is the part of every success story where we see people capitalizing on their Happy Accident.
So what did Justin do?
One morning he booted up his computer, logged onto LinkedIn and started sharing tips for how to grow a SaaS business.
Little did he know it then, but this was the beginning to his career as a social media creator (a career that's now almost 5 years strong).
In the beginning though, it didn't really lead to much. Not many people paid attention to him and his posts.
As he learned to write more effectively, however, CEOs started to read his content. They began to offer him consulting and advising gigs. He built his own advisory firm and within a year or so, he'd already matched his previous income level.
And then something else happened...
His posts kept getting more and more attention and his follower count was skyrocketing.
After a few years, people seemed to care less about his SaaS expertise and more about how he was growing on social media. So like any successful entrepreneur, he paid attention to the signals and started writing more about how to write content effectively and grow a following.
It paid off huge!
Posting on LinkedIn about how to write and grow on LinkedIn struck a massive chord. His content started getting even more attention and his audience grew even faster!
Then, in October of 2021, he decided to add Twitter to the mix and went all in on being a creator, shutting down his advising business (smart move!).
Today, Justin has a social following of 800,000+, a newsletter with 100,000 subscribers, he sells multiple digital products and sponsorships, and spends most of his days writing.
His business has generated about $4M so far and is on track to generate another $2M+ this year alone!
Who knew a panic attack could lead to such a life altering course change with massive success waiting around the corner? All due to a Happy Accident!
To see how Justin might be able to help you on your creator journey, head to www.justinwelsh.me
To read more about the 3 part anatomy of every Happy Accident story, check out this thread I posted on Twitter where I break it down.
Some fun facts:
On LinkedIn, posts with images receive an average of 98% more comments than those without. Yet Justin’s posts are so popular, he only rarely posts images. He relies more on his solid copywriting to engage his audience.
In 2018, Justin had approx. 700k impressions (views) of his social media content. In 2023, he's projected to have over 400 million!
Justin applies the strategy of "Moneyball" to his social media content. At one point he'd posted for 548 consecutive days on Twitter, gaining 341,000+ followers, writing 18,800 Tweets, and 200+ threads
Justin’s popular LinkedIn OS course has been purchased by 11K+ users while his Content OS course has sold 4K+ copies.
The lessons here:
Prioritize your well-being: Justin's burnout experience taught him the importance of taking care of himself both physically and mentally. He emphasizes the need to prioritize self-care, exercise, and mental health practices to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Take calculated risks: Justin left his corporate job to start his own consulting business, taking a calculated risk. He encourages others to take risks and pursue their passions, but to do so with a plan and a safety net.
Build meaningful relationships: Justin's success as a solopreneur was largely due to his ability to build meaningful relationships with clients and peers. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual benefit. I’ve been blessed to have several interactions with Justin. He’s as genuine as they come.
Embrace failure and learn from it: Justin's journey has been marked by various failures before he found success (he was once laid off 3 times in 3 years!). He encourages others to embrace failure as a learning opportunity and to use it as a chance to improve and grow.
Focus on providing value: Justin's approach to business is focused on providing value to his clients and audience. He emphasizes the need to prioritize the needs of others and to focus on creating meaningful solutions to their problems.
Everyone's Talking About Luck!
And hey, check out this post on LinkedIn from best selling author Matt Watkinson where he gives an interesting take on the role luck plays in Happy Accidents on the road to success.
Meanwhile, over on Twitter, I asked people "In 3 words or less, how do you create luck?". Tons of people chimed in with their thoughts. Check out their answers here.
Looking to increase your luck surface area? Here're a few ways I can help:
If you're looking to start your own one person coaching or consulting business (like I did), here's a couple of resources that might help:
→ The Accidental Solopreneur This best selling book brings you a gripping parable along with a playbook for leaving corporate and starting your own solopreneur business
→ The Solopreneur Playbook This 90 minute video course brings you a 6 step playbook (and workbook) for finding your niche, packaging and selling your offer, and building your audience.
Having trouble establishing or gaining credibility as an expert in your niche?
→ The Author's Playbook Establish yourself as the credible expert by publishing a great book. This 90 minute course teaches you everything I've learned about writing, publishing, and marketing best-selling books.
Need to work through some challenges in your business?
→ 1:1 Coaching Call Book at 60 minute coaching session with me. Together we can work through your niche, your branding, your marketing, your offer, or various other challenges you may be facing in your business.