Bernie Borges [00:00:00]:
Jan Ditchfield, welcome to the Midlife Fulfilled podcast, a maximum episode.
Jan Ditchfield [00:00:06]:
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here, Bernie. So I I it’s just a treat to talk to you.
Bernie Borges [00:00:11]:
Oh, thank you so much. It’s a treat to talk to you. I’m glad we put this together. I know we worked on it for a little while to get it on the calendar. And I wanna tee tee up your experience, your expertise for our listener. You say, Jan, that you are on a mission To create a movement of industry leaders who own their expertise. And I love how you frame that up, own their expertise and have the grit to build Highly profitable businesses. You have a fascinating background.
Bernie Borges [00:00:39]:
I wanna hear more about it where you spent 20 years in corporate, but specifically A nonprofit where you are responsible for more than $20,000,000 in revenue, so you you have what it takes to to make a business successful. You were an award winning professional fundraiser, and and now you share that knowledge helping others grow their business, mostly an online business. And I love how you say that it’s not a one size fits all approach, that it’s about customized advice and customized strategies. You have a podcast. I listen to your podcast. It’s called the No BS Business School podcast. You share actionable step by step tips, And they really are actionable. I mean, you I could tell you, like, you map it out.
Bernie Borges [00:01:22]:
You have it all right there in front of you. Right? How to build the online side of your business, sell programs and services, And I just love your your podcast. And I wanna I wanna say for the listener, Jan, that our conversation is not gonna be just all about In online business. So if you don’t have an on online business or you don’t even have any interest in online business, what I invited Jan here to discuss is How to turn your real world expertise into a new career after age 40. Jan, that’s what I invited you here. So let’s begin with your backstory. Tell us that backstory of your nonprofit career.
So I think it’s always interesting because I get asked the question, did you plan on becoming a fundraiser? And I didn’t. It wasn’t my calling. It wasn’t what I originally thought I was gonna do for, for a career. I wanted to be a writer, and, specifically, I wanted to write for the Rolling Stone. That was my always my dream was to be able to be a music journalist. And I graduated from university, and I quickly discovered that I had to pay bills. I and paying bills and writing did not necessarily go hand in hand at that time. So I had to, got a job working in the restaurant industry, and I started in hospitality, and I quickly discovered that I was very, very good at budgets.
And I was very, very good at sales, and it just kind of led from there into building restaurants and working in different pubs and running different targets and doing different marketing campaigns until I realized that I felt a bit empty in what I was doing. I was very good at it, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t fulfilling me. I so I got a job in the nonprofit sector. A friend pulled some strings and said, you know, I think you’d be really good at this. And my very first job was to find $8,000,000 of missing revenue. And I found dollars of missing revenue. They came to me and
Bernie Borges [00:03:16]:
said, we’re missing $8,000,000, Jan, to go find it.
Yeah. And they said good luck, and they handed me a stack of a big stack of folders and said, good luck. And that was how I cut my teeth. So, it really for me, everything there was about finding money, raising money, understanding how to be able to fix businesses, in a way that helped be able to still make sure that the mission was accomplished, but we were being profitable while we were trying to change the world. And it just kind of became my calling. And I did that that career for a very, very, very long time. Worked with some huge names. Worked with some little names as well and won a bunch of awards in the meantime while I was doing it, but it was my I was basically kind of like a gun for hire where I get brought in to to fix the problems, raise the money, and then move on to the next project, and that was my career.
Bernie Borges [00:04:04]:
Wow. Okay. So isn’t it interesting how we can summarize 20 years of career in in, like, 5 minutes.
Bernie Borges [00:04:13]:
I I I did a kick out of that. Anyway, I’m I digress a little bit. But I At what point, Jan, did some light bulb go off for you? At what point did you say, I know how to do this, And so I’m gonna do this in my for myself, for my own business, and teach others how to do it.
It wasn’t I I don’t know so much a light bulb moment as it was a moment of pure burnout. I think sometimes many of us, you know, who’d make big career decisions and big career moves later in life, there’s usually a catalyst for it. And I find the women I work with, there’s always some reason why they’re doing the same thing, whether walking away from careers or changing directions later in life. And for me, it was burnout. It was be doing what I had done for so long. I became a mom later in life, and I realized that I the things that once fulfilled me professionally were not what filled me fulfilled me anymore. And I got tired of fixing other people’s problems. That’s kinda what it came down to.
And so I I took a step out, and I walked away from my career with zero backup plan. I just I walked out the door, Bernie. Did everything that people say stuck a plan. I just I walked out the door, Bernie. Did everything that people say not to do. I put my purse on my shoulder and clipped my heels down the hallway and, found myself trying to figure out what to do next at this stage of life, and that was early I was in my early forties when I did that. No. Yep.
Early forties. Almost 45. Was, like, just just before I turned 45 when I made that move.
Bernie Borges [00:05:39]:
So when you did that, Jan, what did you feel like you had under your belt? You you you must have done it with some level of confidence. Although, you know, maybe because you’re human, there was confidence and nerves at the same time. But I’m sure you had confidence. You’re you’re a confident individual. I mean, I know that about you. But what did you feel like you had going for you at that point?
I believe that everything was capable of being figured out. And I also believe that there’s always opportunities to raise money, especially in situations where you think it’s hopeless. And I think that’s because that was my career of working with organizations that were always right on that brink of of bankruptcy or failure or very scary things were gonna happen if I didn’t show up and and find money. So I always could believe in myself. I bet on myself a lot in my career. I believed in my abilities, and this was an opportunity for me to actually be able to say, I’m gonna do what I know how to do best, but for myself for the 1st time. And that’s what I walked in with was I just really was let me show me what I can do. I was really curious to see how far I could go.
Bernie Borges [00:06:45]:
Interesting you say that. So you set out to prove something to yourself.
Very much. I think it was very much about proving to myself how good I thought I was at what I did and also being able proved to people who said, you know, you can’t do it without us. And I was kind of it was my watch me moment. I always like to say that I have the lot of these I a belief system that women have their hold their purse moments where you kinda hand your purse to somebody and say, hang on to my purse. I’m gonna go work the room. And for me, that was my hold my purse moment. I was walking into the middle of that room, and I was gonna find the checks come heck or high water, and I would figure it out as I went. And that’s what happened.
Bernie Borges [00:07:21]:
That’s great. That’s great. So the whole premise of our conversation is exactly this topic right here, Jan, and that is How does someone harness their experience, their real real world experience? And I I I wanna also expand this a little bit because I know that your focus is is helping women, but I’m one of your fans. I listen to your podcast. I listen to your advice, And I’m not even sure that I can think of one moment where you said something that was really uniquely for women only. I can’t really think of anything. Right. Unless you start talking about menopause, which, you know, at that point, like, okay, that doesn’t apply to me.
Bernie Borges [00:08:00]:
Other than that, I really can’t think of anything that I’ve heard you share on your podcast that doesn’t apply to anyone. So what do you say to someone, man or woman, who is thinking about, like, I’ve got all this great experience. Just How do I turn this experience into a new career after 40?
One of the things that I don’t believe is spoken about enough, especially in the online world, is how experts from the real world have an advantage in business. And whether it’s a business you start on your own or whether it’s a business that you you move into a different corporate career, there’s an advantage that we have that comes with knowing how to negotiate in the real space. And that ability to form real relationships and to understand marketing and sales conversations and sales funnels differently than what’s taught online puts us ahead of the game because we understand how people work. And that that really leaning into what makes people’s hearts function, how their heads think about things, why people respond to certain messaging, an advantage that is not talked about enough in my opinion.
Bernie Borges [00:09:07]:
And I know that you talk a lot about process as well Because one of the things that I have heard you criticize, and by the way, I think your criticism is fair and accurate, and that is I So much advice that’s out there. You know, as you say, you know, feeding your your or on on the on your Instagram feed. Right? Just A lot of advice around, you know, do more of this and do more of that. That’s mostly around marketing. And, of course, marketing and sales is hugely important in running a business. But you talk a lot about processes. So why don’t you speak to that a little bit?
Yeah. I’m a big believer in the boring parts of business, and I’m a big believer in process and systems. And I found that when even when I came and I started my business and I was trying to understand the online space and how do I fit in? What I’m supposed to do? The advice that’s given to me was always very superficial and not necessarily pragmatic enough for my approach to things. And I feel that a lot of people also feel that whether, you know, just do a reel. Do another reel. Do another Instagram post, and your business will take off, and all you need is 1 viral thing. But I my belief is, well, if you get the viral thing, that’s fantastic. But what happens if you don’t have your back end system set up to actually take care and help protect all that influx of business.
That means more refunds, very unhappy people in your world. Your business will not stand on its 2 feet. It’s gonna start to crumble underneath you. So leaning into more of the boring parts of business and learning to love systems and learning to love process and learning to really be a bit more pragmatic about how we approach business is beneficial for us. And that, again, comes from the real world of it being my whole career being focused on systems and processes. And the reason why $8,000,000 went missing, there was no system and process in place for that. That’s exactly what happened.
Bernie Borges [00:11:00]:
Mhmm. Okay. I’m gonna ask you a question that you didn’t know I was gonna ask you, but you’re gonna love this question because you can speak to this all day long. And that is tell us, what is the messy middle?
Oh, yes. So the every entrepreneur will go through different I like to say there’s 5 stages in the journey of entrepreneurship, and stage number 3 is the messy middle. And this is the stage where most people end up in business, and is also the stage where most people quit their business. Because it’s really hard. This is where everything feels tough. You feel like you’re trying to push a stone up a mountain. You’re getting a little bit of traction, but it feels like the more attraction you get the more your footing starts to slide and you Doubt everything you do most of the time, you’re having trouble figuring out how to make sure that you’re profitable. If you’re paying yourself, you’re lucky.
But most times, most entrepreneurs in the messy middle are not even making a profit at this point. And it’s just it’s a mess. Like, this is this where your mind races. Everybody’s, like, thinks that there’s something wrong with them, and they’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. And this is the stage of business that I specialize in. This is the stage where I show up and say, I wanna show you exactly what you need to do to get out of the mess so we can get you into the next phase where you’re gonna start making real money. And, but it’s really it’s a challenging little place to be in.
Bernie Borges [00:12:27]:
But let’s unpack that, Jan. Let’s talk about the why. Why do so many people get stuck in that messy middle?
So the main reason why people get stuck in it is, again, because they don’t learn how to become entrepreneurs. And when you’re we’re experts in what we do, we’ve spent so much time mastering our our skill set. So we’re really good at what we do. We’re really dialed in on it. And then we think that we can just kinda transpose that expertise into a business, and it doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. What happens, we think like experts in business, which means that we don’t know how to sell effectively. We don’t know when we’re selling too much or not selling enough. We have no idea what processes we should have in place or what systems should be there, and everything we do is just very tactic driven.
And tactics will only get you so far in business until you actually have to start to professionalize what you do. And professionalizing entrepreneurship is something that’s not talked about enough. We think of it still in the that it’s so much fun, and everybody sits on a beach and makes 1,000,000 of dollars because that’s what shown to us by the people who teach the tactics. And so when you get so far and you don’t know what the next step to take is, that’s what gets you stuck in the messy middle is the lack of professionalism in your business. And so that’s when I come in and say, let’s rip it down, look at it all over again, and set it back up so that you can be successful. And still, you have to do some tactics, but mainly at that point, what we’re doing as we’re we’re running a business at that point. So we’re you’re taking the passion, and it’s still there, but we’re gonna put in all of that very boring stuff to support a passion so that you make money.
Bernie Borges [00:14:08]:
I love that you call it the boring stuff. What what do you encounter most often when You’re dealing with this with an entrepreneur. Is it a mindset issue, Jan, where they just want need to kinda break through The concept of putting processes in place, or is it that they simply just don’t know what the processes are and then teach and you show them what they are, and then they go do that. What what’s your experience?
My experience has been the hardest hard for most people, especially experts in understanding how to put the those processes in place is that because it’s not talked about and because the way that people are marketed to, and, you know, that I generally just say women are marketed to, but people are marketed to a lot of the time, is that it’s very superficial. So when I come out and say, no. Don’t do that. What you need to have is actually you need an operations plan and a business plan, and I wanna teach you how to be able to understand, you know, rinse repeat systems and retention rates. I’m the only person out there talking about that. So when you’re 1 voice trying to talk about something in a very large market space, and I’m competing with people who are saying, no. It’s just a reel you need or your, you know, your YouTube channel is gonna take off for you or it’s just your email sequence you need. It’s it’s hard to believe it.
That’s what it comes down to. Why is she saying something that’s so different than what everybody else says? And the reason why, I wanna say it’s very humbly. The reason why people say the other things is because it makes them more money, because it’s faster and easier to believe that it just takes one thing for me to be successful, instead of saying, I actually need to do the work on this. Like, I have to do the work. I have to approach this the same way I approach my degree, my career, all you know, my my life up to this point, I need to put that same level of effort into my business if I want it to take off. So it’s really it’s just not as fun. It’s not as sexy what it is. And I think that’s what it comes down to is is hard in marketing and I know to to fight messaging that is so prevalent when you’re coming out and saying something that’s so remarkably different.
Bernie Borges [00:16:13]:
You know, you read my mind. You actually, you stole my thunder because you said it’s not as That’s exactly what I was gonna say is that, you know, what you’re competing against is, like, the sex appeal of, you know, create more reels, work on the beach, that kind of thing. Right? That’s sexy. And you’re teaching the boring stuff, but it’s so necessary. Do you find that Some people, once they understand the importance of it, that the the the dots connect for them as you’re connecting the dots for them. And then do you begin to see sort of accelerated pros, progress
with those people? Absolutely. My favorite thing that I hear from the women I work with and is when they say they’re like, it’s a system. And I’m like, it’s a system. Look, I can do this again, and I’m like, yes. And you can make more money the next time you do it. And so having that that’s the light bulb moment, I think. Because, like, there’s the sexy part of business is when you make money, it feels great. Like, that’s a lot of fun.
But those systems and that rinse repeatable methodology that I teach. Once you get it in place, then it’s just really everything becomes very automated and very rote. We get to do the fun things again in our business because everything’s supporting the fun parts of the business now. Just, again, it’s it’s a plug and play, essentially, is what it is. All successful businesses are plug and place.
Bernie Borges [00:17:36]:
So it it reminds me of the the classic book, The E Myth. Right? You’re familiar with the E Myth?
I’m not. No.
Bernie Borges [00:17:43]:
No? Okay. The E Myth was written many years ago. Michael Gerber, I think he’s written another version of it called The E Myth Revisited. It’s a story of a baker who loved to bake. And so I don’t remember who’s a man or a woman. So they they opened up a bakery because they love to bake, but then they realized the head of business, and there’s all these things that go into running, especially a retail business. Right? And it took them away from the thing they love to do, which was baking. I So so Michael Gerber wrote this whole book, of the e myth, meaning the entrepreneur’s myth, which is this concept of I’d I have all this expertise, and I I’m good at it, and I love it.
Bernie Borges [00:18:20]:
So business should be easy and fun, right, when you’re saying, Well, it can be, but you need to build processes and systems so that you can rinse and repeat and and do it in an efficient way and certainly build your business. So it really is the principles of of the E Myth. So I love that. That is that is awesome.
Yeah. I’m definitely gonna find that now read that because I’ve never heard that’s because it’s exactly what it is. It it we we think that entrepreneurship is so romantic, and it’s been so romanticized. That idea of, you know, what I did. You know, I’m gonna throw my career to the wind, and I’m gonna walk out on my own. And I’m gonna have this successful business, and I’ll never look back, and it’s gonna be all worth it. And my journey from going from walking out the door to where I am now, it was hard. There were so many bumps and bruises along the way.
And I talk about it a lot on my podcast because I I want to really start to break down this myth around the fact that being an entrepreneur is easy because it isn’t. It is not easy. It’s just like any other career. It takes a lot of work, a lot of, hard knocks. You know, you you fall down. It takes a tremendous amount of resiliency to be able to get through this. And when we choose to do something as a career, which often is very isolating, and we don’t necessarily know other people who do what we do. Our partners or spouses think we’re a little bit crazy for taking these risks.
You have to really develop that grit and become wildly resilient at what you’re doing if you wanna be successful. And I think that’s what I’m most passionate about it, is helping the people I work with find that fire in their belly and keep it so that they can have the good, happy ending to the story while they’re working through that messy middle to get there.
Bernie Borges [00:20:08]:
Right. Right. You know, you said earlier that you were unfulfilled in your your corporate world, And so you, you know, you became a mom. Your values changed, etcetera. So you just felt the need to do something that was more fulfilling to you. Do you find that to be common with the people that you work with? Is it is it less about I wanna go make money on my own as an entrepreneur and more about I wanna do something that fulfills me, or is it more about I I’m tired of working for corporate. I wanna go make money on my own or something to that effect.
I find that most of it is about, with the women I work with start, having a chance to create a legacy on their own terms. So it isn’t really usually about the money. The money, yes, it’s there. That’s a part of it. I’m I’m the person who’s like, you need to make the money, so it tends to be me lecturing about the money more than anything else. But it’s that desire to have fulfillment in the legacy bucket. And I know you talk a lot about that on on the podcast as well of the importance of looking and figuring out. Like, if we’re running at an 80% fulfillment level across the board, we’re doing great.
And most of the women I work with, when we look at that legacy bucket, it’s pretty empty. So for them, this is why they’re doing what they’re doing. For me, it’s why I did what I did. I I wanted the legacy I was creating was not the legacy I wanted to leave, and I wanted to reshape that and be able to, you know, narrate my own story and be able to be a role model to my daughter so that she could see as well at the end of it, I can do whatever I wanna do because mom just showed me that’s possible. And entrepreneurship is one of the rare parts of life where there is no glass ceiling for women, if we learn to do it properly. And that’s the big difference is that, you know, there we’re still so much further behind as women when it comes to success stories. Only 12% of women ever get to 6 figure businesses. I’m determined to see that change.
About when you learn how to run a business and you master those skills, you’re unstoppable because you can make as much money as you want. You can do whatever you want when you want it. You can create your own terms. You can leave the legacy you want, and, you find film it in areas that normally have been, not not accessible to us when we were in corporate careers as women.
Bernie Borges [00:22:26]:
Yeah. What do you say to the individual, man or woman, who is at that at that stage in their midlife? They’re over 40, And they’re unfulfilled, but, Jan, they say they don’t wanna be an entrepreneur. They they don’t really wanna go out and start their own business. They wanna take their expertise and maybe take a left turn and and and stay in corporate, but maybe in a different industry. And just somehow do something different that is gonna give them some fulfillment that for whatever reason, they’re not experiencing now. So they don’t wanna go down that entrepreneurial path, but they know they wanna do something new and different in their career.
I I think this is a great question. I love this question. I think the most important thing, again, is to be able to identify what makes you uniquely different than other people in your area. And regardless of whether you wanna be an entrepreneur or you wanna change careers and move into something different as a corporate, career, finding your special sauce, the that thing that you can do that makes you tick or or really excites you. Like, the I always thought, like, get your hair standing up on your arms when you talk about it. Identifying that, to me, is the thing that you can use to tap in to do whatever you want in your career in the next stage of that. And for me, what that came down to was really loving systems and processes as much as I did. And and I can make money because that was my career.
My career was to make money. That was my job. I was brought in, and they were said, here’s a target. We need you to hit it, and I had to hit it. If I didn’t, it was not a good thing for the organizations. But that skill set can be transferred into a 1000000 different things. Thought the systems and the processes and my passion for watching boring things turned into really exceptional opportunities for in the world around us. That’s unique to me.
So I think everybody has their own way of of leaving a fingerprint on the world, and and I truly believe we’re all put here for a reason, is identifying what is that reason and getting to know what it is, and then leaning into it and and embracing it. Because what makes you different is what will make you successful in life.
Bernie Borges [00:24:41]:
That’s great. Thank you. You know, Jan, I had a thought right now. This is in the moment. So here it is on the recording. I’m gonna share this thought with you. I think your new tagline should be, I make boring exhilarating.
Oh, that’s a good one. I like that. Yes.
Bernie Borges [00:24:58]:
Because you you’ve embraced it. Now, obviously, the context here of boring is systems and processes, Which, as we said earlier, are not considered to be the sexy aspects of a business. So to give it the proper context, that’s what we mean by boring, say in this conversation. But I think it’s really a key thing that you’re hitting on, and that is helping entrepreneurs really understand the importance of those systems and processes. And then even back to someone who’s gonna stay in a corporate setting, but maybe do it somewhere else, still those systems and processes are still very important. Right? Because just like the business that you got brought into, right, that lost $8,000,000 was because they didn’t have systems and process place. So whether you’re doing it for yourself in your own entrepreneurial business or you’re doing it in a company where you’re employed, it’s still boring but necessary things to do, systems to put in place to to be successful.
It is. And the thing again that I I really hope one day that will be the message maybe that people remember about me is learning, like, all of the good things that come from the boring things. And so we we tend to try to rush down the path in life a lot. I think it’s something we’ve been trained to do a lot in our life. We’re very fast paced, and, you know, we need to do it today, and we have to be able to figure out, like, we’re always chasing the win. Where’s the win? Where’s the win? Where’s the win? And instead, when we slow down and get very strategic about the decisions we’re making and the actions we’re taking, I’d like to call them intentional actions that we should be making. So many doors open up to us that, otherwise, we would have just blown past, and we’re missing out on seeing all of those really beautiful things that are waiting for us on the journey that we should slow down to take part in and appreciate intentionally. And so that’s what I hope that people it’s the same building a business or a career or, you know, deciding that you’re gonna start a podcast or you’re gonna you know, a passion project of some type, whatever.
Regardless, however you want to celebrate that next stage of your life, enjoy the process of the creation of it just as much as the outcomes because there’s so much there to be able to to enjoy and celebrate along the journey.
Bernie Borges [00:27:13]:
Wow. What a great point to to wrap on, Jan. That is a fantastic point. Thank you so much. Before we actually do wrap it up here, please Tell tell us where can people learn more about you, connect with you, your podcast, your your business, etcetera.
You can find me everywhere at janditchfield dot co. That’s jandigital.co. And my podcast is, No BS Business School, and you’re welcome to tune in and take a listen to that. I talk about, the boring things, business, a lot on there, but it’s very action based as you said before. And, the best place to hang out with me on social is on Instagram at janditchell.co.
Bernie Borges [00:27:49]:
Fantastic. Well, as I said earlier, I am a fan. I listen to your podcast, and I’m gonna continue to listen to your podcast. Thank you for being a listener of the Midlife of Phil podcast, and thank you For joining me on this Maximum episode and sharing some of your just terrific wisdom and expertise on this important topic. Thank you so much, Jan. Thank you,
Bernie, thank you so much.