How to Earn Passive Income with Lisa Johnson

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Incredibly, we’re already on Series 3, welcome! This year is just whizzing by, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast so far. We actually launched out on Stitcher last week, so we’re now available to listen to on Stitcher, iTunes, Spotify, and of course right here as a written blog. We’ve also decided for series three to move the podcast into video, for two reasons really; one being that we’ve had some feedback from some of the listeners that they like to see video interviews, so you can see the guest being interviewed face to face. From the viewpoint of an interviewer, I believe the way you have discussions on video is a different than over audio. So it’s been an exciting experience for me, and I had to think about how I could adapt my interviewing skills. We just recorded the podcast for today and that will be accessible on YouTube as well as here, and all the usual podcast channels I listed above.

We’re going to focus on how to make money in series three. Series one was an introduction to money coaching, and some of the topics I spoke about were about generating expenditure plans and getting true clarity about your finances. Series two was very much focused around investing and how to get started with investing, understanding all the jargon, and understanding what your different options are.

Moving forward, Series three will focus on business professionals, especially how their businesses have grown and the lessons they have learned. Really getting some of the raw truths around what it’s like to build and run a business. Now when it comes to making money, the series first guest specialist is the incredible Lisa Johnson. Lisa Johnson is a multi six figure business coach and she specialises in teaching others how to earn passive income and semi passive income.

Lisa spends half a year travelling around the globe with her spouse and two children, twins aged seven, and was recently featured in Forbes, Psychologies, and the Guardian. She’s so genuine, and I love that about Lisa. She speaks entirely directly as a business coach, and she is well recognised as the queen of passive income. So I thought it would be amazing to hear about some of the things that she has done to build her very successful business, but also some of the challenges that she’s come across as well.

We will break down these interviews into two episodes in series three. I understand you guys have a very busy life and often it’s much simpler to listen to or read a 20 to 30 minute podcast than a one hour podcast. So the focus of this specific episode is on the personal journey of Lisa. Some of the things we talked about were closely linked to her early experiences and how that had an impact on her business. In episode two, which will be released next Monday, we will focus on sharing her knowledge, abilities and advice about how to earn passive income and semi passive income. And with that I extend a very warm welcome to Lisa Johnson.

A massive welcome to the In Her Financial Shoes podcast. Thank you so much for joining us Lisa.

Really happy to be here!

So Lisa, could you talk to us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today?

Yes, my childhood hugely influenced me. I grew up in council housing, so we didn’t have any money when I was growing up. But I didn’t really realise that we didn’t have any money and that it was a problem until I got a scholarship to a private boarding school. I didn’t board, I went as a day pupil, but it was the most prestigious school in our area. So I got this scholarship and I went, and then I realised that I wasn’t the same, and other people really made me realise that I wasn’t the same as them. I ended up being bullied the whole time I was there just for being what they classed as poor. They were all picked up in their Bentleys while I was always picked up on the back of my single fathers motorbike. We also grew up as Mormons, and so that was just another thing that made me a little bit different.

I think that when you have any differences about you at that age, you just get picked on and it’s just something that you stand out for. So it wasn’t a great time for me and it’s definitely made a big impact on how I act now. When I started as an entrepreneur, I wanted to make sure that people that  didn’t come from a silver spoon background, people who didn’t have money handed to them by mum and dad, could still do what they wanted to do in life and could still follow their passion, because it doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go.

And so because I had that background, it resonated with other people who also had that background. I was able to teach them how to not let that money mindset hold them back. Especially if you’ve had any adversity in your life, life such as bullying, how to make sure that helps you succeed rather than holding you back because it very easily can. Even as an adult, I’ve been bullied online in the industry many, many times. And if I hadn’t have worked on my mindset because of what happened to me as a child,it would’ve been a massive block to me as an adult. So I like to help people with that.

Tell us about your money mindset as a child.

It was really bad!I left school very early because of the bullying. I didn’t really do very well in my GCSE’s, didn’t do A levels or anything like that. And then in my mid to late 20’s, I’d had office jobs and small factory jobs and those kinds of things. I didn’t know I was smart. I decided one day after being bullied in my job that I needed to do something different, and I needed to prove to myself my own worth because I just thought I was stupid, and that I couldn’t do anything and I’d never make money. I truly believed that people where I came from never made money because of all the things I’d heard; money doesn’t grow on trees, you have to save money, and it’s a really helping to come by. I then decided to test myself; while I was working full time I started a law degree just to see if I could do it.

I was one mark away from getting a first in my degree. I was the highest in my cohort and it made me realise that actually not everything I’d been told was true necessarily, which meant that maybe the money thing wasn’t true either. I started to question myself. I had lots of different jobs, and I worked my way up into investment banking. I was an analyst in an investment bank. I was earning okay money, but something kept stopping me from earning my full potential. And in every job I was never quite earning my full potential. When my twins were born, I decided to become an entrepreneur and went through that journey.

In the first couple of months, I had enough knowledge that I knew I could make money, but I kept telling myself that people like me don’t earn six figures. I then did some money mindset work with a coach and anybody that knows me knows I am the least ‘woo woo’ person in the world; I don’t believe in the Law of Attraction or anything like that, but with the money mindset work, it was all very scientific. If you think of money in a negative way, why would your subconscious go out and try and make more of it?

I realised I’d definitely been thinking of money in a negative way. When I was younger if people who were smartly dressed in nice cars came past, my friends or family would say things like ‘they’re bad people’, ‘they’re not good people’, ‘look at them trying to show off’. I didn’t want to be thought of like that, and I didn’t even know rationally or consciously that was even going through my head. So I started listening to myself. I did some money mindset work. Two weeks later I hit six figures. Six months later I hit multi-six.

Wow. So your mindset about money really kept you back. When I speak to business owners, I hear this every day. I believe sometimes just knowing what those messages are is enough to behave as a trigger when you get some awareness of the messages you’ve grown up with.

Absolutely; it’s thinking about what messages you heard as a child? What kinds of things did you see? When I think back to being a child, the first things that I witnessed about money were my parents arguing. So there was all this negativity around money that I didn’t even know existed and I certainly didn’t think it would make a difference to me. In fact, I thought if I didn’t have money, surely I would just want to make more money. But it goes deeper than that. You have to do that work to get there.

We should stop hiding money; it’s not a subject we need to hide.

Lisa Johnson

I think there are a lot of ‘woo woo’ ideas around money mindset. I really want to explore that in episode two with you, and around passive income. Money mindset is really about bringing awareness to some of the messages that we’ve heard growing up. And then thinking about what evidence there is to support those messages; what evidence is there that people who drive Bentleys are posh and horrible people?

Yeah, exactly. We just take these things as a given, because everything we’ve heard between zero and seven are what makes us, so if we’ve heard those things as a child we wouldn’t challenge them at that age. It’s only as an adult that we might challenge them, but we don’t know what we’re challenging then because we can’t remember what we were told. So it’s really interesting to go back and think about the things you heard and the things you saw, and just become more aware of what you’re telling yourself on a daily basis.

How does that have an effect on how you raised your twins, your school experience and your mindset on money?

Well, first of all, I was very glad they were twins because I thought there’d be less of a likelihood of them being bullied because they’d have each other’s backs! But with money mindset, I will admit it’s a very difficult balance to get. I want them to realise that anything is possible, but I don’t want them to be precocious spoiled brats! I want them to know the value of money. So sometimes I say no, we don’t have enough money for that, or you haven’t earned that money to be able to buy that, or don’t waste that money. And then I catch myself saying the same things as my parents said, and I need to change that. But what I don’t want to do is say you can have anything you want, because then that causes a completely different issue. With both of them I try to always get this balance, and I struggle with it every day.

I agree; you’ve got to get that balance between educating them that you have to work, but being careful not to make it seem as though you have to work extremely hard for money.

It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself you have to work hard, you will then have to work hard. If you tell yourself you have to work smarter, that’s different. So we play games with the kids and I caught them upstairs once playing a game with each other; they were buying houses that they were drawing, making them look better and selling them on for a profit. And then I knew that my work was done!

That’s fabulous, I love that! Has your experience at private school impacted your choice on schooling for your children?

I don’t agree with private school because I think it’s elitest, and I think that everybody should have the same opportunities in life. So I don’t think I would’ve sent them anyway, but I did think about it for a little bit, because you can’t help but think of the opportunities that are there, but I realised quite quickly that it doesn’t necessarily give you those opportunities. It could actually be a bad experience, like mine was.

I did move when I was 15 from private school; I was taken out because I was being bullied so badly and went into a mixed grammar school. So I went from a girls private school to a mixed grammar school and got bullied there anyway because I was the new girl, and they believe me for coming from a posh school. So I’ve realised that it isn’t the fact that they had money that made them like that. It’s just anything that makes you different. I was different in the second school as well, and that wasn’t a private school. So when we came to deciding whether we would private school or not, it was very much a case of ‘will it make enough difference to their opportunities?’ and ‘is it fair?’ I’m very much about fairness, integrity, and morality, and we decided it wouldn’t. 

How to earn passive income with Lisa Johnson

Do you think that you were susceptible to being bullied because of the type of person that you were? When I look back at my own bullying both at school and at work, I didn’t stand up for myself because of a lack of self worth – I wonder if your experience is similar?

It comes from a lack of self worth and no self esteem. I had no self esteem growing up. I didn’t grow up with a mother, and I had nobody to teach me about how to look, or how to look after myself and build social skills. My Dad’s Maltese and he didn’t speak very good English. So I think there’s definitely something around low self esteem. I didn’t feel like I looked good. I didn’t feel like I had much to say. And I was very timid because that was just my personality. Once I knew I came from a poor background, and once I realised that actually I ‘wasn’t good enough’ because I came from a different background to everybody else, that affected my self esteem and I didn’t stand up for myself.

If I could go back now, I would obviously do things very differently. But saying that, I believe the bullying that I’ve experienced throughout my life; at school, work, in my first marriage; has contributed to who I am now and I wouldn’t change who I am now. So I think you can use that bullying as a reason to lay down and give up, or you can use it to stick two fingers up at them and say, well look what I can do!

Yeah, I love that. I was having a conversation recently about what is it that makes somebody who’s had a really difficult childhood so resilient? What do you believe makes somebody so resilient?

I think at some point you stop caring what people say because you’ve heard it so many times and it almost becomes water off a duck’s back. Even now as an adult, I am bullied much more online than most entrepreneurs. And I’m aware of that. But I think it’s now because I stick up for myself, because I call people out on, and because I won’t stand for other people being bullied. And so the bullies out there don’t like it. It really makes them reel back, because I talk about integrity, morals over money, and authenticity. That triggers something a lot of bullies; they don’t want to hear it because it shows a mirror to themselves.

Yeah. And I think that’s important to remember, isn’t it? You know, if anybody listening to this is being bullied or has been bullied, it’s often a reflection of them, not you.

Always. It’s always that they are projecting what they feel about themselves onto the things you’re saying. So if you’re saying that you believe only in authenticity, the only people that are going to bully you about that are people that aren’t being authentic. For instance, I talk about money a lot online and I’m very transparent with what I earn. I show bank statements and that kind of thing, mainly because I believe that we should talk about money. We should stop hiding money; it’s not a subject we need to hide. And also because I believe that so many coaches lie about what they earn. I don’t want people to think that of me, so I prove it. I then get people that aren’t earning what I’m earning having a go saying ‘these coaches that talk about earning multi-six figures, who do they think they are?’ I’ve never had anybody that is earning what I’m earning have a go at me about it.

I was talking with someone about setting financial goals in business, and being realistic with those goals. If we’re aiming to match what we think others are achieving and setting unrealistic expectations in our first year of business, it can end up with us beating ourselves up for not achieving what everyone else apparently is.

And what we earn is so unique to our own businesses, so why don’t we focus on building whatever success means to us personally rather than what everyone else thinks success is. Some of my client’s success is spending two days with their kids at home and not working, and that’s not a monetary goal, but it’s still success to them. I think it’s bizarre that people always go for these big numbers very quickly. Some people want that. My biggest goal was money, but not everybody’s goal is. There’s no point copying any one else’s business models either, especially because half of the stuff you see online isn’t true. We’re all striving to do something that isn’t even true, trying to be somebody that’s actually only giving you a highlight reel of their life.

I’m passionate about freedom. I think you only get one life. And I think that we spend that one life sometimes doing what we think we should do.

Lisa Johnson

Yeah. And we’re going to do a deep dive on that in the next session, Lisa, tell me what are you really passionate about? So putting the business to one side, from a life perspective, what are you really passionate about?

I’m passionate about three things. Stopping bullying in the online industries as adults and children. I do a lot of fundraising for bullying charities, including Bullies Out, which is a really good charity in Wales. I’m passionate about that and that’s why I do inspiration days and things like that for people who have been bullied. I am passionate about travel. I didn’t see any of the world until I was 23 when I went on my first trip abroad, and now I’ve been around the world and I love it and I want my kids to see that. And so I’m passionate about having enough time to travel and to see things. And I’m passionate about freedom. I think you only get one life. And I think that we spend that one life sometimes doing what we think we should do. I realised quite early on that I wanted an extraordinary life. I didn’t want the same life that everybody else had told me that I should have, and that I should be happy to have. Now that I have that, people now come to me because they want something extraordinary. And why shouldn’t they? It means different things to different people, but we can get that and we have to try because we get one chance.

How do you balance that freedom with having two seven year olds?

I take them with me whenever I can. So they travel for around nine weeks during the summer with me, wherever I am. If they’re on any kind of holiday or half term and I’m away they come with me. My husband left his nine to five last year to work with me, so he’s now able to do all of the kid things. So if I’m on a one-to-one in New York, he can take the kids out and spend time with them. So it’s actually quite an easy balance for us because I have him and I have a massive support system. I do have a great support system in place to help with the kids, but I like to be with them as much as I can so I take them with me. They get to see things and sometimes that means I break the rules and take them out of school.

They were learning about Pompeii at school and I was travelling around Europe so I took them to the actual real life Pompeii. They were talking about the tallest buildings in the world so I took them to Dubai so they could see it. I don’t think teachers can have a go at me for that!

So you mentioned that your husband gave up his nine to five job. How did that conversation come about?

In the first year of my business, my business coach at the time told me to write a list of all the things that I really wanted. I humored her because I was still at that point thinking I can never get these things. She was like, go big!

On that list was I want my husband to be able to leave his job and work with me because he didn’t love his job. The year finished and I’d ticked off 19 of the 20 things, but there was this one thing left and so Sam handed in his notice seven days later. So we were late by seven days!

We really always wanted to work together. He started by taking over another business I had, and then the coaching just went stratospheric very quickly. So he started working for me in that business and now he’s set up his own copywriting business because he found that he was actually brilliant at it.

Wow, that’s incredible! I find it so interesting how couples come together successfully in business.

It kind of had to go that way because my whole thing is I wanted to travel. I’m a big believer in life design before business design. So I sat there and designed the life I wanted first, which included travelling all the time but that was never going to work because I wanted to travel with him and in his previous job he got 4 weeks a year holiday.

Amazing! The last question I want to ask you before we go into the next episode, which is going to focus very much on the business and passive income; what would you say to your younger self if you could have a conversation with her now?

Well, I would say to remember that other people’s opinions of you don’t pay for the lifestyle that you want and therefore they don’t matter. There’s too many people that are so worried about being bullied online, worried about being judged online, worried about putting certain messages out there because they’re a bit Marmite and might cause controversy. I say don’t worry about what other people think. Follow your own path, do what you want to do and the right people get attracted to you.

Wonderful. Thank you very much, Lisa. I’m really looking forward to speaking again next week on the next episode of in her financial shoes. I’ll see you then.

I really hope you’ve liked learning a little more about Lisa’s personal story and some of the difficulties she encountered and succeeded in turning around to make her the resilient, powerful woman she is today. Next week we’ll be digging really deep into Lisa’s business, how she’s become a successful six-figure company owner and how to earn passive income. Thank you so much for reading, and next Monday we’ll be back with you.


Catherine Morgan

Catherine Morgan