Permission to Kick Ass

36: Alix Penning

Episode Summary

They’re baaaaacck! My good friend, Alix Penning returns to the podcast with more harrowing tales of entrepreneurship. Most sequels aren’t as good as the first one — that is NOT the case with this episode. How can you make it through the trials of freelancing? Listen now to find out.

Episode Notes

Alix taught us to be the hero of our own stories the first time they were on. This time we take a closer look at what your hero’s journey actually looks like. Turns out, it’s a lot of circles. Or as Alix likes to call it, “this horrible wreath of pain and learning and human experience.” Don’t worry  — we lighten the mood with plenty of Disney (and singing). Listen to get the tools you need to make the most of your journey. 

Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:

This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Alix’s Bio:

My name is Alix, and I love helping people see how fricking cool they are. P.S. You're awesome. 

I've kind of always been like this... Quirky, weird, a whole lotta left field. Recently I've learned that this authentic me is actually a pretty cool person. 

And what's more, I've learned there are a whole lot of other people out there like me. Quirky, awesome, and completely unable to see how that makes them the coolest people ever. 

So I developed a framework that helps each person tell their authentic story, as the hero. 

Now I work with the coolest people I know—people like you. Business owners and entrepreneurs who are tired of feeling like they can't be themselves and still be successful.

Resources and links mentioned:

Come kick ass with me:

Download this episode

Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:02):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey everybody. And welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today for their second appearance on the podcast is Alix Penning. Say hi, Alix.

Alix Penning (00:31):

Hi, Alix!!

Angie Colee (00:31):

That never gets old. I think about half of people that I invite on the show, I say, "Say hi, name," and they go "Hi, Name!" And it's fantastic. That never gets old. Um, so I loved that your episode was one of the highest, uh, like in, in the first seven days, it had the most downloads out of all of the rest of the episodes at the time. Uh, and so I wanted to bring you back for a follow-up and we had a great discussion right before we hopped on the call about your experience, like when you first dipped your toe into the freelance world, which was kind of a, a weird hybrid of being an employee and being a freelancer, like we called it permalancer. Other people would call it being on like a permanent retainer with a company, but let's talk a little bit about that experience today and how it shaped your career.

Alix Penning (01:17):

Oh, okay. Okay. That's um, that's an interesting one, because like you say that it was this weird hybrid, like employee freelancer thing, and I just employee-d so hard there. I had no idea how to do the freelance thing. How to do the contract thing, how do, how to be someone who was not at the beck and call of a million other people, which was absolutely a recipe for disaster. Completely and totally. Um, I had, I mean, all I wanted to do was make people happy there. So I absolutely set myself up for the worst possible, ever way to treat a contractor. You know, it was obviously the answer to my, to my prayers at first was the thing that came through my mind, you know, that, that I was finally going to get paid to write, and that, that was going to be wonderful. And, you know, people were finally going to respect me and like-

Angie Colee (02:24):

I'm laughing, not at the fact that you said that, but that, that was like almost word for word, the narrative that popped into my head too. The first time I got paid for writing contract, like, "Oh my God, I got paid to write, they're going to respect me. I'm a writer." Like, it's so funny how much overlap there is. Even as we all kind of sit in our, you know, separate silos, our computer terminals and think that we're all alone in this business and we're having nearly identical thoughts.

Alix Penning (02:50):

Exact conversations that happen in your head. Uh, but yeah, I mean, like, I, I just, I was so tired being an employee for a very specific type of employee. And I guess I thought that freelancing would be like being an employee, but in comfortable clothes. Like that's the best way that I can talk about what I, I mean, I, I still thought that people were going to tell me what to do, which they did. I still thought that it was my job to do what they said, which it's not. I still thought that, you know, I mean, like beyond, beyond the obvious trappings of the self-employed person's taxes and you know, how to, um, how, how to budget for profit and how to figure out what your hourly rate would be if you were doing an hourly rate instead of a project rate, like most freelancers would think of doing.

Angie Colee (03:52):

Yeah, so much of what I rant about. I get super ranty about this because I fall into this trap myself, which is, you know, using an employee filter to deal with an entrepreneurial challenge or an entrepreneurial situation. And first of all, if you're hearing me say this, I don't want you to feel bad or like you're being judged or anything like this. If you've been an employee all your life, and you're trying to start a business, the only filter you have is as an employee! It totally makes sense that you would jump into this business building field and use the experience that you've got in your background to help you make better decisions. This is how you fall into a trap as an entrepreneur though, because we have to learn to think differently, not just because of taxes and profitability to keep your company afloat and all those other things. But, you know, I know one of the cause, so, okay. Interesting background. This place where Alix was doing the permalancing and was becoming a writer for the first time was actually onsite at a company where I also worked. Uh, so we wound up working together. Alix as a freelancer and, and I as an employee. And so it was a really weird and interesting dynamic. Like they treated us almost exactly the same, but I'm going to let you speak more to like what a contractor's role is as you learned it.

Alix Penning (05:13):

Um, yeah, so it was, it was, it was crazy because I had, like, I had this expectation, um, that, you know, my senior, my senior copywriter, you, would be the person who would be in charge of telling me how to, what, what to do more importantly, how to do it and how to think about it, which is like, so the opposite of what you really want when you hire a freelancer, you know, generally when, what, what, what I get hired for now is the way I think about things, right? Nobody, nobody thinks about these things exactly the same way. Um, but I absolutely had to learn that. I mean, when they brought me on, I didn't know what a freelancer was and they never really treated me like one anyway, it took me a while to figure out that I was the only contractor too, in the entire company that was getting treated the way I was at the time. A lot of it was because I was just accepting it, you know, but I can remember.

Angie Colee (06:13):

Because you didn't know what you didn't know. Right? And.

Alix Penning (06:15):

I had no idea. I had no idea. I remember, I actually remember the time that you told me about, um, another contract writer that was working for us, who was working remote from home, who was getting paid four to five times more than what I was getting paid on the hourly, who didn't really track their hours. Didn't have to work the same hours as anyone else. And, and later that day getting called in, because I wasn't following dress code. And like, I lost my shit.

Angie Colee (06:47):


Alix Penning (06:47):

Absolutely lost my shit. I remember sitting in that office and talking to our copy chief and him saying, "You know, Marsha's told me that, um, people have started talking about the way you dress at work. Um, and we'd just really like to make sure that, you know, you know, about the dress code and that, um, you know, when you're, when you're here, you know, your shoulders are covered and we can't see your bra straps"

Angie Colee (07:19):

Those dangerous seductive shoulders, you temptress.

Alix Penning (07:25):

Right? Weapons of mass seduction. That's what my shoulders are, weapons of mass seduction.

Angie Colee (07:30):

And whatever I want you guys to hear, right. Is that, you know, some freelancers wind up contracting onsite and that's okay. You get to decide whether you want to do that. Some freelancers contract offsite, which is okay, you get, decide whether you want to do that.

Alix Penning (07:45):

As long as somebody tells you you're allowed to make that decision.

Angie Colee (07:48):


Alix Penning (07:48):

Because if you've only been an employee before, you don't even know that that's an option. Like they, they provided my computer. Of course I was going to use it on their site. You know, I needed to talk to the people. No, no I didn't.

Angie Colee (08:00):

Well, the funny thing about that too, is, so guys look, if, if, if you're starting freelancing and people want you to come onsite and they want you to use their computers and they want you to go to all their team meetings and stuff like that, and they want you to adhere to a dress code, they're actually opening themselves up to employment liability. Now obviously consult an attorney for, cause I don't even play one on TV, but basically what they're doing is they're blurring the lines between an independent contractor and employee when they treat you as if you're an employee. And when they treat you as an employee like they did with Alix, they have you onsite at an assigned desk. They have you going to team meetings. They have you there for a certain amount of hours. They're trying to hold you accountable to like company policies, even though they technically don't employ you.

Angie Colee (08:45):

And what I mean by they open up themselves up to liability is what they're paying Alix as a contractor. And they're not paying benefits or sick time or any of that other stuff that the protected employees get, but they're still expecting that employee level of dedication. And I'm not saying like turn into an asshole and be like, "No, I don't work for you. Like F this place, burn it all down." Although I did threaten to burn that place down. I threatened to burn that place down at a time or two, it was, it was toxic. Like in retrospect, we both learned a lot from working at that place, but that's like, I don't know. Cause I wound up contracting for them for a time after I quit too. And this is the toxic day job that I talk about a lot when I talk about deciding to leave and become a freelancer. So I don't know. That that was an eye-opener in a lot of ways.

Alix Penning (09:38):

That's okay. So one of the things that I talk about a lot is the "Heroic framework." And it's like magical woo woo woo shit. But like this, this is one of those things where you, you never know where you are on the framework. You only know where you've been. Right. And, and, and that makes it really hard to take a look at it until you realize that you're always in the same place on the framework. You're always in the road of trials, sorry. Yeah. You're learning shit over and over and over again. As soon as you learn it, you stop having to learn it and hurray, you get your reward. But during the time, when, when you're on this journey to figure out who you are and if you want to get really morbid and shitty about it on this road to finally die. Cause I mean, let's be real. That's what life is. Uh, but like you're on this journey, learning in these epic ways over and over and over again, who you are, what you know, what you need to know and how to get along with it. Right? That's not fun!

Angie Colee (10:47):

No, no. It never is. And yet we often convince ourselves that somehow like we work hard enough or if we do well enough, or if we impress enough people that will somehow cross this finish line into magical, happy lands. And you know, I ranted about that with somebody else on the show too. But like guys, the finish line is death.

Alix Penning (11:06):

Exactly. Exactly. Nobody gets out of this alive. You don't get to keep your toys. You don't get to keep your money. You don't for all, you don't get to keep the knowledge of what you have done for all we know. I mean, I've never heard anybody complain about forgetting shit that happened to them.

Angie Colee (11:24):

In a past life. We're going to get metaphysical on you.

Alix Penning (11:28):

But like, like, but, but at the same time, the only thing that we can share with other people is what we've learned and what we've accomplished. So we have this view of everyone else as having already made it.

Angie Colee (11:41):


Alix Penning (11:42):

Right. Because they have the knowledge that they can give us. They're like, "oh, this beautiful, shiny thing I made it, I'm a freelancer. I, I made it. I'm a coach. I made it. I'm a mom. I made it. I'm a doctor", you know, it's like, okay, cool. You're a doctor and you have a doctorate and you have all of these, you know, degrees and whatnot. And you know, sometimes when you, um, diagnose you do it wrong. And sometimes when you try to help people, they still die. And you know, you're a freelance copywriter. And sometimes, you know, you're, you're, you're out there and you're getting paid and you're making money. And sometimes the launch bombs.

Angie Colee (12:20):


Alix Penning (12:20):

There's nothing you can do about it, except for learn, tweak and keep moving.

Angie Colee (12:26):

And this applies to every industry out there too. Cause like I've, I've had my mom on the show. My mom is a baker. Uh, my mom tests, recipes on us whenever I'm home. And they aren't all winners guys, not every recipe. She's a genius. My mom is a certifiable genius with baked goods. Alix can verify this and has had many of the mom's baked goods over the last 20 years that we've known each other.

Alix Penning (12:51):

Oh my God. Dirty chocolate chip cookies.

Angie Colee (12:54):

Oh yes. Dirty chocolate chip cookies. Those are chocolate chip cookies with little crushed up Oreos in them. And my mom sells them in a half pound size. All right, diversion over. I'm going to start drooling if we keep talking about cookies.

Alix Penning (13:05):

We can't talk about your mom's baking.

Angie Colee (13:06):

Never, never, but like that's the point you're going to fail. And then I loved the thing that you said that really stuck out to me was having to re learn these things because that's another trap that I think that I see people falling into in business is like, I already learned this. All right. I can move on to the next thing. And if anything, I almost see like my business knowledge as cyclical, more than linear because -

Alix Penning (13:33):


Angie Colee (13:33):

Oh yeah. Like I have a mastermind that I've been in for years and years and years. And usually like when I'm struggling with a problem, I go to the group and it's like, "oh, you know, I need to make more revenue. I want to stabilize my business so I can do this project." And they're like, "okay, well, how big is your email list?" And I'm like, "Fuck, that's right." I know this. I know I need to be growing my email list, but I haven't been doing anything with it lately because I was distracted by all these other things. So now I've got to go back to list building, which for me as an expert marketer is kind of like super 101 level. Um, but that just goes to show you how you can get like so high up in the clouds. Once you get a little bit more advanced in your freelancing career that you forget the foundation.

Alix Penning (14:14):

That's actually another, another wonderful part about the framework. Sorry, going to pimp that a little bit more here.

Angie Colee (14:20):

Go for it.

Alix Penning (14:20):

It's, it's circular and cyclical. You know, there's, there is no time when you are not on the journey and when you get closer into it, it's actually made up of a whole ton of other smaller circles. You have all of these little journeys that you have to go on to get through this big cycle. The only time when you're ever really not on the journey, quote, quote, is when you're in between the reward and your next journey and what happens there because we're people is another road of trials. You have all these other things that you have to learn before you can get the call to adventure to go back on the journey. I mean, I really wish the people on the podcast could see what I'm doing with my hands.

Angie Colee (15:02):

I know! Like you're drawing all these circles in the air.

Alix Penning (15:08):

And gesticulating wildly. I'm getting flappy, happy over here.

Angie Colee (15:12):

I know .You've got, you've got all these great gestures and I've got my brand new sign in the background, which is beautiful hand painted thing that says "Fresh out of fucks", um.

Alix Penning (15:20):

Right out of them. And it's just like, this is, this is a beautiful visual, that we're never gonna share. Damnit.

Angie Colee (15:32):

I know I was going to say that earlier, too. This is normally the Disney podcast whenever you and I start talking, but for some rates, for some reason today, it's the Death Podcast.

Alix Penning (15:43):

Okay. There's there's Disney songs about death.

Angie Colee (15:52):

Be prepared!

Alix Penning (15:52):

Um, and what's the there's, there's a, Hade's one from "Hercules" there's um.

Angie Colee (15:58):

I mean, that's a heroic journey.

Alix Penning (16:01):

All of them, I mean, oh my God. All of the Disney movies. Jesus Christ.

Angie Colee (16:04):

Oh yes. Let's do a Disney breakdown of Heroic Journey.

Alix Penning (16:07):

Oh, cool!

Angie Colee (16:08):

Tie it to freelancing. Let's see if we can figure that out on the fly.

Alix Penning (16:12):

Okay. Let's do it pick a movie. I don't, I don't even care. There's there's they all, they all do. I'm not even kidding. They all do.

Angie Colee (16:21):

Um, oh God. I'm trying to pick one. Well, my instinct was going to have you do "Raya the Last Dragon," since you've just watched that, but I also don't want to do spoilers since it's such a new movie. So let's do, let's do "Lion King" since I'm singing Scar songs here.

Alix Penning (16:33):

Okay. So, um, the first step on the heroic journey is the introduction of the norm, right? So this is your everyday. This is when you know, Scar and, um, not, not Nala. Sarabi, when, when like Scar and Sarabi are having conversations and you know, Nala and Simba start off on their journey and Mufasa's all like, "Everything the light touches" you know, like all of that, all of that is the establishment of the norm.

Angie Colee (17:12):

The circle of liiiiifee.

Alix Penning (17:12):

Exactly. Uh, and then what happens is call to adventure, which is what I like to call shit goes south.

Angie Colee (17:20):

I like that.

Alix Penning (17:21):

The call to adventure here is that moment where Scar tosses Mufasa, right? It's it's..

Angie Colee (17:27):

Spoiler alert! Sorry, you should've seen it by now.

Alix Penning (17:34):

"Run and never return." You know, that's and then give him, you know, that's, that's the call to adventure. Refusing the call is what happens next, which is you trying to make it work anyway. So that's Simba running and crying and hiding, trying to stay on the Savannah still, you know, he hasn't really gotten this whole like "Shit. I really need to leave" bit. What happens after that is meeting the mentor, which is like rejecting the norm. Or me, you know, what, what I would say is like spicing shit up. This is Hakuna Matata, right? This is, this is Hakuna Matata. Um, it's also during finding allies and using the tools in your toolbox. So that's what usually happens next. You get a couple of friends who are on a similar journey who are ready to move forward with you or in this case, you know, run around in circles and eat bugs. Yeah, that's fine. Um,

Angie Colee (18:35):

While singing catchy songs.

Alix Penning (18:37):

Exactly, exactly. Um, then what we have is we have facing the first threshold and exiting the initial setting, right? So this most people would assume that this is when Simba leaves and goes on his happy grow up journey. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Cause this is when shit gets hard. Right. And all of that time with, with, with Pumba and Timon has been happy. It's been singing and bugs and waterfalls and you know, like.

Angie Colee (19:07):


Alix Penning (19:07):

Flashing colors and vegan fucking insectivore lions, whatever.

Angie Colee (19:14):

That's how he got that luxurious flowing mane.

Alix Penning (19:16):

Oh exactly! Insectivores! Note to self eat more crickets. There's a really great bar in Alameda. Talk about it later. Anyway. Uh, so, and then this is, this is the road of trials now, you know, once, once, uh, once Nala comes and finds him and says, "Can you be the king?" You know, Rafiki comes and says "smack, oh, it doesn't matter. You have shit to learn. You know, like there's, your father is within you." All of these things, you know, you have this moment of realization and then you have to go back and go through this pain of learning. Right.

Angie Colee (20:02):

That was one of my favorite lines from the movie actually like when he swings the stick at Simba's head and is like, "yes, the past can hurt" smack, but "you can either run from it or learn from it."

Alix Penning (20:13):

Exactly. Exactly. So that's a super quick road of trials and then they extend this next part of the arc, which is approaching the cave. Right. Um, this in, in, in my vernacular is facing up to your shit, right? Yeah. This is, this is my actual favorite reference for this is Star Wars, but it's, it's when it's when Luke is literally in the cave and there's the image walking towards him and its Vader and its Vader and it's Vader and it's Luke and it's like, "who are you? What's going on? What is this?" Um, what happens at that point is the ordeal. This is, this is the big learning, proving what you learned experience, you know? Um, or as I like to call it the worst day ever, it's like, like that's, that's really what it is. I mean, if we want to talk about it in, um, you know, in, in Lion King, it's literally when Scar's telling Simba "I killed Mufasa."

Angie Colee (21:33):

And everything's on fire and everybody's fighting and like, yes, worst day ever is accurate

Alix Penning (21:39):

Worst. Day. Ever. Um, but that's the moment where Simba is suddenly like, holy shit. Well, here's what I've learned while I was out on, on this journey. Here's what I've learned while I was growing up, eating bugs. I learned how to be strong and, and jump, you know, here's what I learned when, um, when I was out eating bugs and waterfalls, I have friends who are here to pick me up. Here's what I learned while I was out there eating bugs and waterfalls and, you know, being swung sticks at and learning from my pain. You know, I learned that, um, that I'm a lot more than this. I'm gonna use that. I'm going to fucking sacrifice you to your own issues, hyenas you know? Um, and I'm going to take my rightful great place at the head of this pride.

Angie Colee (22:32):

Yeah. And then it repeats again, like speaking of circle of life, like now there's a whole new set of challenges because again, not death still alive, still got things to do.

Alix Penning (22:43):

Exactly. Like, so, so if we, if we put this in the freelancers journey that, that, that you and I went on right. Worst day ever is clearly that day at Disneyland for me.

Angie Colee (22:53):

Oh yeah. I think I've told this story before, but I'll give like a quick synopsis. So like I had just started on my freelance journey and, and quit the job. Alix had stayed on and wanted to work with the copy chief to get even better at writing copy. And I think that was fantastic. So like I'm working for several months as a freelancer and, um, you know, slowly running out of money and freaking out a little bit as one does. Uh, and Alix goes on vacation a well-deserved vacation. Cause trust me, this company was fucking toxic. It doesn't exist anymore. So I don't have any problem talking shit about it. Um, that's, that's how toxic it was. It ran straight into the ground,

Alix Penning (23:29):

Oh, it's actually more toxic than that now because they, they opened like a ridiculous, like,

Angie Colee (23:35):

Oh, the knockoff version of that store?

Alix Penning (23:37):

Our copy lives on.

Angie Colee (23:38):

Oh Jesus Christ.

Alix Penning (23:40):

I got, I got a club invite the other day.

Angie Colee (23:43):

Oh, we got ripped off. Fantastic. Well, lovely to find out on the podcast, um.

Alix Penning (23:48):

A cease and desist against yourself.

Angie Colee (23:48):

Uh, thievery is the sincerest form of flattery, uh, in, in the copy world. They keep stealing my shit. Um, so I, you know, I'm getting desperate for money. It's about four months out, Alix goes on this vacation. So who would they call in to the office other than me to fill in for Alix while they're on vacation. And on the fifth day, uh, basically got told to pack up my shit and leave by one of the HR people, the aforementioned, uh, Marsha, uh, and it turns out the entire creative team got laid off that day. So then I'm, I'm doing this waffling dance about like, well, shit I got, I got fired from a job I didn't even have, which already feels really fucking strange and weirdly emotional. Do I tell my best friends that they don't have a job to come back to? Do I let them enjoy their last day of vacation? And then like, I think I mentioned it in a slack channel that you were a member. And I was thinking that you weren't going to sign in, but see, when you're on vacation, don't sign into slack. That's the moral of the story.

Alix Penning (24:46):

I have ADHD, what do you want from me? I need constant stimulus. We had just had like, rocket pizza. And I was like, I haven't had stimulus in 25 seconds. I'm going to turn on my phone.

Angie Colee (24:59):

Yup. And then finds out, oh shit, I don't have a job to come back to. And that was like, it, it was, it was that like come to Jesus moment for me too, because then my safety net is gone. I think I always had in the back of my head, I can always come back to the job coming in to fill in for you was like my validation of that thought that like, okay, well, if things don't work out, I can always go back to the job. Not anymore, motherfucker! You don't have a job!

Alix Penning (25:26):

No job for you! I killed your job muahahaha. And, and that was, I mean, that was the worst day ever that, uh, and, and that was my ordeal. That was when I had to have the moment of, okay, well, what do I fucking do? What do I fucking know? How can I handle this? What happens now? I've got to start pulling ideas, got to start figuring out how these things work. I can get myself to the next step on this road. And right now that's all I need to do. And holy fuck do I need to do it! Like that was, that was so much.

Angie Colee (26:12):

I'm so glad you mentioned that too. Cause I think a lot of freelancers, especially folks like us that are coming from a day job, you know, don't necessarily have anybody in the family that's entrepreneurial that you can kind of like model for inspiration. So you're kind of new to this world. You've got the employee mindset going for you. Uh, and then you're thrown into this opportunity, I guess, disguised as a, as a really big challenge,

Alix Penning (26:40):

All challenges are opportunities, every single one of them, there's absolutely nothing out there that is giving you shit that cannot be turned into a wonderful opportunity.

Angie Colee (26:50):

Absolutely. And all the best stories, like listen to all the stories that we've been telling today, start with like conflict and turmoils that nobody loves hearing a story like, "so I woke up and it was a perfect day."

Alix Penning (27:00):

Yeah. Can you imagine Lion King? It's like, if it had just been like Mufasa's fine the whole time?

Angie Colee (27:05):

Hakuna Matata would've gotten annoying after about the 50th repetition. Like, alright, is this even a movie? Um, not at Disney, not actually at Disney world, but as a movie. Yes. It would get very annoying. Um, and.

Alix Penning (27:20):

I guess we're boring. At Disney World, I could watch those dancers for like hours.

Angie Colee (27:26):

That is true.

Alix Penning (27:27):

Get me some of those nuts and we'll be good. Cracked nuts!

Angie Colee (27:33):

Oh God, we're not going to get off on that to the Disney world. Cause we're both Disney World nerds.

Alix Penning (27:44):

We're not gonna go out on cracked nuts? That doesn't sound like us!

Angie Colee (27:44):

But anyway, to pick up this, like there are so many folks that wind up, you know, they're uncomfortable going on this freelance journey unless they can sit down in a chair with their pen and paper and like map out the journey from start to finish. And it doesn't fucking work that way.

Alix Penning (28:02):

It really doesn't.

Angie Colee (28:02):

Not in life, not in the movie, you have a plan, but you can pretty much set it on fire and throw it out the window as soon as you've written it down because it's never going to go according to plan. The act of planning is important, but yeah, definitely don't wait to move until you've got the entire thing mapped out from start to finish because in the meantime, everybody else has started their business and you're just like losing money sitting on the couch in your underwear.

Alix Penning (28:24):

I mean, like I was perfect, perfect example, right? Like I spent so much time. Uh, and even though I knew, I knew that the answer to getting money was not having a website. I knew that I knew it wasn't business cards. I knew it wasn't like meaningless emails to people I don't know. I knew that wasn't what was going to get me business. And yet I still paid for a website for a whole God damn year before I even put anything on it. Um, like I still went to Vista print and got shit printed on business business cards that made absolutely no sense with what I do. I look at them now and I'm like fuck.

Angie Colee (29:09):

I think I had like thousands of business cards that I wound up throwing away. Cause I probably gave out like 20 over the time that I had them. But like, listen guys, those things cost money. Are they making you money?

Alix Penning (29:19):


Angie Colee (29:20):


Alix Penning (29:21):

Nope. And, and, and I mean, I saw this the other day and it's so true if you don't have money coming in, but you have money going out, the problem is that you don't have money coming in.

Angie Colee (29:31):


Alix Penning (29:32):

Like that's, you don't have, you don't have a spending problem. You have a non-earning problem.

Angie Colee (29:38):

Yeah. You have a cashflow problem. And cashflow is like, cashflow problems are easiest, easy, easily the biggest business killer, especially for new freelancers new businesses. Like if you can't figure out how to get the money coming in, then you're, you're in serious danger. Cause there's always going to be expenses. Even if you don't have the money coming in. Um, and I don't say all that to scare you because all of this is figureoutable. We've all like Alix and I are here to tell you that we both failed at our freelancing careers very early on in the journey and then figured out a way to make it work. Right?

Alix Penning (30:17):

I mean like I've, I failed. I failed at like 17 things before I have breakfast. And at least five of them are remembering to eat breakfast.

Angie Colee (30:24):

Failure is part of the process. You cannot avoid failure. You cannot avoid pain. You could turn it into a very awesome Disney movie. If you just go out there and fail hard enough and find yourself on your own heroic journey here.

Alix Penning (30:40):

I mean, we are, we are, you're always on your own heroic journey. The question is what are you learning? Because if what you're learning is to sit still and do nothing, then nobody's gonna buy your book.

Angie Colee (30:54):


Alix Penning (30:54):

I mean.

Angie Colee (30:56):

You, you can't just like create it and then hope like one of my mentors called that hope marketing. Like I created some, if you build it, they will not come. That movie is a liar.

Alix Penning (31:06):

Yeah. That's one of the, that's, we can, oh God. Now I'm trying to apply this to Field of Dreams. And I'm like,

Angie Colee (31:15):

I know. When you first mentioned the Disney movie, I was like, how many Disney movies could I get you to go through this on? And then like, we tie it into free and then maybe you share your freelance journey. And I share my freelance journey, but then I was like, this is going to get really fucking complicated really quick.

Alix Penning (31:29):

We can do it with Mary Poppins, but whatever. It's actually really hard with Mary Poppins. Now that I've said that I'm like, shit who's journey are we following?

Angie Colee (31:37):

That's true.

Alix Penning (31:37):

It's about Mr. Banks.

Angie Colee (31:41):

That is true.

Alix Penning (31:41):

You follow the kids!

Angie Colee (31:44):

Side note, uh, "Saving Mr. Banks." Also a very great movie. Very good movie.

Alix Penning (31:50):

I have not seen that. I want to, that is on my list. Um, but yeah, so like you're always, you're always on this journey, right? You've always got things that you're learning. You've always got challenges that are actually opportunities. You've always got pain. Um, sorry. And it just kind of gets more physical as you grow up. That's all.

Angie Colee (32:12):

Everything aches. God I'm old. Um, and then you, and, and while you're on this journey, it just has a way of looping back to the beginning and like knocking you flat. Rafiki style, knocking you flat on your ass and being like, "Hey, remember this thing, apparently you forgot."

Alix Penning (32:26):


Angie Colee (32:27):

You need to learn it again.

Alix Penning (32:28):

You've got this great lifecycle, right. But when you get in close, there's all these tiny little journeys and it's like fucking Audi sign and a big loop where all these tiny, little, tiny, little heroic journeys intersecting with each other, having little moments of learning crossover over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And I'm doing the thing with my hands again. Yeah.

Angie Colee (32:50):

And they can't see any of it!

Alix Penning (32:54):

Now you all know what it's like to be blind.

Angie Colee (33:00):

Oh, that was morbid.

Alix Penning (33:03):

Side note. I'm blind. Um, but like circle, circle, circle, circle, circle, like just a million of them all linked in this horrible wreath of pain and learning and human experience. And that's really, I mean, that's really the point. Right. But you never, you never get to see the end of the journey until you're on your next one. Um, so that's, I mean that's.

Angie Colee (33:28):

Yeah. I mean, that's like the very definition of hindsight is 20/20. You can't see it while you're, while you're going through it. You have to be able to like get past it and then look back on it and then figure out what you can learn that'll help you move forward through the next part of it. And then there's a reason that I said all of this stuff is cyclical because like, even at the stage that I'm at more than a decade of doing this now in different iterations. I still have instances where like, if somebody asks me to do a consultation or a side project, I'm like, "fuck what do I charge?" I know this. I've done this work. And it's just because I haven't had to quote in a while, like, I've, I've got a couple of steady retainers and things that I work on. I haven't had to quote in a while. I'm rusty on that skill. Okay. Now that loop swung back around, I got to figure out the pricing thing again. Um, we were talking about this before the call, because like I did a launch project and all of those old fears that I thought I dealt with kicked in, you know, I've, I've been doing launch copy and sales promotion copy for years and years and years. And for some reason, working on this new project who, for somebody who is also a friend of mine was just like, "Fuck! do I actually know what I'm doing? Is this gonna bomb?" Like all of those old fears kick in, but then so do the skills that I've picked up over the years. And then of course my friend messaged me and was like, "Hey, we made like 200 sales on the first day." Okay. As it turns out, I do actually know what I'm doing. Okay. Forward motion again. None of this ever really goes away, no matter how far you get along this journey, you just, you develop better and better tools for dealing with it I think.

Alix Penning (35:06):

Exactly, exactly. And the only way you can do that is by analyzing where you've been. I mean, that's, that's all you've got, you've got analyzing where you've been utilized. You know, you've got the road of trials in your background. You've got that mentor. You've got your friends and allies. You've got your toolbox.

Angie Colee (35:26):

So now it's time to figure shit out. Figure shit out! Um, I really side note too, for those of you who are unfamiliar with storytelling, like there's this, hero's journey, Joseph Campbell, like all, all of the storytelling greats. I like your version a lot more. Shit hits the fan! Worst day ever!

Alix Penning (35:47):

I mean, my, my mine is kind of, I mean, it's based on, on Vogel's introduction to gamble as a little, a little different, there's actually a secondary arc in which you go and you share your knowledge. And, um, usually where I help people go compared to where they are, you know? Uh, but yeah.

Angie Colee (36:07):

All that to say I, like, I resonate with your story framework a lot more than, than some of the, the quote unquote greats. Shit hits the fan! Worst day ever. It's easy for me to understand where I'm at on the scale. Like, okay, all the shit just hit the fan. Oh, Hey, here I am on my journey. Awesome. So people want to find out more about the heroic framework and then hopefully see videos of you doing little circle things with your hands, where would they go to find all of that?

Alix Penning (36:37):

Um, they would find that at and I am fancy as fuck so let me spell that for you.

Angie Colee (36:42):


Alix Penning (36:44):

A as in alpha, L as in Lima, I as in igloo, X as in x-ray penning, like writing a letter, cause I'm fucking fancy. So And then if you just go like forward slash the framework it'll take you there. Or you can just go to and click on the button at the top that says "The Framework."

Angie Colee (37:10):

Of course I'll make sure that they have clickable links to both of these things in the show notes. But, uh, I can foresee, like, I almost want to do just like a sideshow of where we just break down Disney movies and then like compare them to freelancers we know.

Alix Penning (37:25):

I'm so down for that. Oh my God, can we make it a musical?

Angie Colee (37:30):

We sang more in this podcast than I have in all of the other ones combined too like,

Alix Penning (37:36):

I wanna be where the journeiers are.

Angie Colee (37:40):


Alix Penning (37:41):

I wanna see their road of trials. Uh, but yeah. No. Okay. So yeah, You can get the framework there. Uh, I have an email list where I tell stupid stories with lots of swearing.

Angie Colee (37:57):

Same. That's my favorite pastime incidentally. Right. Thank you so much for coming on the show. We're going to have to do our Disney follow up apparently

Angie Colee (38:07):

And I will talk to you soon.

Alix Penning (38:13):


Angie Colee (38:13):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to That is all one word together, Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.