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a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

I'm Stacy Ennis,

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Episode 132 | Debt-free college, with Jeannie Burlowski

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy


I talk a lot on this podcast about location freedom. Financial wellness is part of the location independence equation, and if you’re a parent, your financial life may include paying for college. With two kids myself, I’m especially excited to welcome this week’s guest.

Jeannie Burlowski is a past client and full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Jeannie is the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward. She helps parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, USA TodayParents magazine, US News and World Report, and CBS News.

In this episode, we discuss her work—and her author journey. You know I had to ask about this! Specifically, we cover:

  • How people can build a life of financial freedom from student loans
  • How she got into this work and why she’s so passionate about helping families
  • How publishing a great book completely revolutionized her professional life and helped her step fully into her big vision
  • What it was like working with a book coach

Listen to this insightful conversation, and learn from Jeannie’s expertise!

Show notes:

Learn more about Jeannie:

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To submit a question, email or visit and fill out the form on the page.

Transcripts for Episode 132

These transcripts were generated by robots, not writers.

Jeannie: If we really want students to be in jobs they love, I love for parents and students to clarify the bullseye before students take aim and shoot. And in my world, here’s what this means. No more are we going to say to kids, let’s take random college classes to see what you’re interested in. And if you don’t like your economics class, then maybe you shouldn’t be an economist. List that’s not logical. It’s too expensive to take random college classes only to find out you don’t like the subject. So I am a big fan of students taking three specific, high quality, gold standard career assessments that have to be administered by a certified professional. These three gold standard career assessments, they are not the ones offered at the high school that tell you should be a bartender or a lumberjack.

Jeannie: These are some that when we converge them, they tell you about here’s your personality type, here’s your interests that we can see on graphs. Here’s your top five strengths based on Gallup research. When we converge these, it often becomes really obvious what might be an amazing career for this kid. And students who do this are able to go all the way through college or job training or technical school very quickly with not one wasted dollar, not one wasted class.

Stacy: Welcome. I am so excited this week to get to talk about something that’s been on my mind personally. I have an eleven year old. She is getting into college age. We talk a lot about money and location independence on this podcast. But we’ve never really talked about some of the particulars of how you plan for big things, like college, for example.

Stacy: And so I’m excited this week to get to have a conversation all around that aspect of finances. I sat down with my financial planner a few years back, told him the school that my daughter wanted to go to, she’s always had these big aspirations, and he told me I had to plan to save over $120,000 for her to be able to go to college, which just seemed astronomical at the time. And our guest today is going to tell us how you can actually get your kids through college into jobs they love, afterwards, into careers they’re really passionate about, and not have to save up that gigantic, huge amount of money. So let me tell you a little bit about today’s guest, Jeanie Burlowski. Jeannie is a full time academic strategist, podcast host, and speaker for students ages twelve.

Stacy: So just past my daughter’s age, twelve to 26, their parents and the professionals who serve them, as well as the author of the book launch how to get your kids through college Debt free and into jobs they love. Afterward, Jeannie helps parents set their kids up to graduate college debt free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents magazine, US News, and World Report, and CBS News. Janie, welcome. I’m so excited to get to talk with you today.

Jeannie: Stacy, what a privilege to be here with you today.

Stacy: I wanted to start with your passion for this work. You and I met quite a long time ago, actually. I should have looked at them. How many years ago was it, Jeannie? Do you happen to know?

Jeannie: Oh, it was like 2015, and now we’re in 2024.

Stacy: Okay. Yeah, I had eight or nine years in my mind, so. Yeah, that’s exactly right. So we met quite a long time ago. When I met you, one of the things that struck me about you is how much you care about the work you do. You really see this as your mission in the world. And I’d love to hear a little bit about what led you into this work. And then I’ve seen you become more and more passionate over the time that I’ve known you. So that speaks volumes in and of itself. What’s helped you also maintain that care for the families that you serve through your work?

Jeannie: So what led me into this work? Well, I am a full time academic strategist, so I’ve spent 25 years helping students apply to law school medical school, graduate school, business school, and in that time, because I’m a strategist, I help people clarify the bullseye on the target before they take aim and shoot. One of the things I have to talk to my clients about is debt and money. I have to ask, how much student loan debt do you have right now? If we’re looking at the cumulative, because if you have $180,000 in student loan debt from undergrad and you think you’re going to lay $300,000 worth of medical school debt on top of that, sometimes I have to tell kids, you could not pay that back on a doctor’s salary.

Jeannie: By the time you’re looking at capitalization and interest, you would have to work in the emergency room during the day and deliver pizzas at night just to make ends meet. So sometimes I’ve had to have heartbreaking discussions with people where I’ve said, we have to find something else for you to do where you can still see patients, but you don’t have to be a medical doctor. Now, I didn’t sign up for this work so I could break people’s hearts and tell them that their dreams were not going to come true. A lot of times I’ve said to people, how did this happen? How did you get $180,000 in debt from undergrad? And students would tell me, oh, my parents or my guidance counselor or this one really burns me.

Jeannie: A very expensive educational consultant hired by the family for thousands of dollars told me, you better go to the fancy college. That’s not giving you any help, because then you’ll have a better chance of getting into medical school. And that’s not even true. And I know it’s not true because I help people get into top 20 medical schools who went to Joe Blow Podunk drinking school, and it’s not even hard for me to do that. So this is the heartbreaking side. You talk about what makes a person care so much. It’s one thing to read about student loan debt in the newspaper, and it’s another thing to see it live in person on the face of someone in tears that you really care about. Now, here’s the really happy side of this.

Jeannie: In 25 years, I have had some of the most brilliant, strategic kids in the country coming through my office. So sometimes I would say, how much student loan debt do you have right now for looking at the cumulative? And they would say, I have zero. And I would say, you have zero. How did you do that? And they would say, oh, my mom figured out that we could take college classes in high school for real college credit. And in the United States, our state would pay for that. And so I walked across the stage at my high school graduation with two years of college already done at state expense. And I’m like, this is brilliant.

Jeannie: And I’m a very good person to vet all these debt free college ideas because I can tell you whether it’ll hurt your future law school application or your future career aspirations or your med school application. So that’s the beginning. That’s the start of how I got going on this journey. And then, Stacy, you were very much a part of my next step.

Stacy: I love so much about all that you want to. I’m going to loop back around to what part of that next step was because I know we’re going to get to talk about your book, which I’m so excited to get to talk about. But I would love to hear before we kind of get into that conversation, what is some of the kind of high level things that you teach when people come into your ecosystem? I know you have your tribe membership, you have your book. You are sending a newsletter where you are teaching all about how to get through college debt free. What are some of those core things that I know that there’s so much. Of course, having experience with your book, I know how much detail heart research you put into that.

Stacy: But just at a really high level, what are a few of those levers that parents and students can pull other than the college credit piece, which you mentioned? Or maybe we can talk a little bit more about that really can help set them up for a life of financial freedom.

Jeannie: Yes. I love how you put that. Financial freedom. That’s what we’re after. And we want students, the kids that we love, who are between the ages of twelve and 26 right now. We want to see them thriving in jobs that they love and that they’re energized by things that give them a mission in life. And so I’m going to just cover, let’s talk about three things that are just at a very high level. What are some things people can do to get their kids through college debt free and into jobs they love afterward? People are always really interested in the money piece. Like, really, is there something else that you can do other than financial aid in the United States or applying for scholarships? Many people tell me my kids don’t want to apply for scholarships.

Jeannie: And besides that, I don’t think their grades and their test scores are high enough. So my ecosystem is, I don’t talk that much about scholarships. I talk about other easier, more low hanging fruit ways to get college paid for. Can we do this without saving up $100,000 in advance? People who are watching this on video saw my face when your financial advisor tried to tell you that you had to save up over $100,000.

Stacy: Oh, they have the fancy calculator that’s so convincing, right? That you put in your college name and your kids age, and then they calculate all of it out. And I remember sitting there and just being like, okay, so I have to save for retirement. We need to save for a house. We have to put our kids through private school, and now we are going to have to save up this much money. It’s overwhelming.

Jeannie: It is overwhelming, and it’s completely inaccurate. There are so many creative things that you can do to bring that cost down. Just simply looking at the sticker price is not helpful for anyone. I talked about college classes in high school. Don’t anyone discount that? That is really powerful. And in chapter nine of the book I wrote, launch how to get your kids through college debt free and into jobs they love. Afterward, I really explain that and I talk about, oh, you might have to go into a guidance counselor’s office, and you might have to advocate for your child, that your child should have this.

Jeannie: When the guidance counselor might be quietly instructed to discourage your family from doing this, and they’ll say things that sound convincing, like, oh, if she gets a poor grade in one of these college classes, it could follow her, and then she might actually have that dogging her when she someday goes to apply for medical school. I’m not worried about this. Why might a school district quietly tell guidance counselors to discourage this? Could it be that the money leaves the school district and it goes out to the college when people take real college classes in high school? So I want to just make that really clear. That’s a powerful lever for parents. I want everyone to know about this.

Jeannie: So even if you’re deciding not to do it, at least you’re deciding with full knowledge of what the truth actually is before you decide not to do it. Okay. A second thing is, how about tuition reimbursement? I’ve had students come to me and I said, how did you get through college completely debt free? And by the way, usually it’s a combination of things. It’s like there’s a vast buffet of ideas, and you can just say, I’ll take a little bit of that and a little bit of that. And I’m constantly telling people, if you don’t think you got to do everything I say. This is not like a cake, or if you leave out the flour, it’s going to flop. Just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Jeannie: So some people throw in a little tuition reimbursement, and this is where students will work part time for a company like Anne Taylor or Gap or bank of America or UPS is a big one. And so they’ll work part time and they get a paycheck, which they cash and enjoy, and then the company takes maybe $5,000 or more a year and just chips it in to pay for a student’s tuition, their college tuition. So students said, I work for this company or I work for Home Depot and I got $20,000 extra to help pay my college bills. Wow, that’s stupendous. And by the way, for anyone who thinks, oh, my kids shouldn’t work while they’re in school, we need them to spend all their time studying.

Jeannie: Actually, research shows that students who work for real money part time while they’re in college, they get higher grades than students who don’t. And I think it’s partly the reason for that, is that students who work have to keep a calendar. They have to keep track of their crazy little college student work shifts. And having a calendar is highly correlated with greater academic success. You have to work your studying in around your work schedule, so you’re traditionally going to do better. And then what I love, because I’m all about getting these students into jobs they love afterward. So what I love is when the students have developed professional confidence, they know how to deal with managers and applying for jobs and interviewing for jobs and workplace politics. And they know all of this.

Jeannie: So when they go to apply for real jobs after college, they are confident in that process. Contrast that with a student who’s never held a job because their parents just thought that they should play sports and study, and that was all. And sometimes these students have very little confidence when it goes to applying for jobs after college, going after big things that will really make their dreams come true. Okay, now, I’ve talked about two things. College credit in high school. I’ve talked about tuition reimbursement, and we are just skimming the top of the iceberg here. This is just a few of the strategies available for parents and students. I don’t want anyone thinking, we can’t do those. So we’re not going to pursue this. There is more. A third one is if we really want students to be in jobs they love.

Jeannie: I love for parents and students to clarify the bullseye before students take aim and shoot. And in my world, here’s what this means. No more are we going to say to kids, let’s take random college classes to see what you’re interested in. And if you don’t like your economics class, then maybe you shouldn’t be an economist. That’s not logical. It’s too expensive to take random college classes only to find out you don’t like the subject. So I am a big fan of students taking three specific, high quality, gold standard career assessments that have to be administered by a certified professional. Now, I don’t do this myself. I refer out for it. And we can talk a little bit about how people hear that referral from me.

Jeannie: But these three gold standard career assessments, they are not the ones offered at the high school that tell you should be a bartender or a lumberjack. Not talking about those. These are some that when we converge them, they tell you about. Here’s your personality type. Here’s your interests that we can see on graphs because you took the strong interest inventory. Here’s your top five strengths based on Gallup research that we can see because we just gave you the Clifton strengths assessment, which was formerly called strengths Finder 2.0. When we converge these, it often becomes really obvious what might be an amazing career for this kid. And students who do this. I love it when they do it in 10th grade or as soon as possible after that, as soon after turning 15 as possible.

Jeannie: Students who do this are able to go all the way through college or job training or a technical school very quickly with not one wasted dollar, not one wasted class. And these kids tend to get up in the morning, they’re excited and energized about going to class because they have a purpose. And it’s students who have a purpose who are excited to go and apply for internships and get more professional confidence. And these are the ones that are coming out of college and they’re defying that stereotype of kids who get out of college and they can’t get a job, and so they go work at the Starbucks. We don’t want that. We don’t want students working at Starbucks. $180,000 in debt from a degree they’re never going to use. It makes no sense.

Jeannie: So what we’re going to do is be very strategic about this. Clarify the bullseye on the target. Take the fastest, least expensive route to get there. Not one wasted dollar, not one wasted class. And I just have to keep coming around. I’m looking at your face here, Stacy, as we’re recording this, you helped me so much to get this message out to the world. And now, in the nine years or whatever it is since I’ve met you, now I have story after story of people who have followed these steps and done these things and had extraordinary things happen to them. In the beginning, when were starting this, we knew it would work, but we didn’t see the fruit back then.

Stacy: Oh, I love that. I’m going to loop around and ask you to maybe share a story, but I want to piggyback on what you said because I was just thinking about some of the principles that you shared and connecting it with my own journey. When I was in, I didn’t do the credits ahead of time, but I did test with the act. So I was able to get basically a year of my english program was included. I got those credits going into college, which made it, and plus with math. So those made a huge difference for me. I also graduated high school early, so I started working and earning money before I started university. So that helped me save. But I took a semester where I took 21 credits. I worked 70 hours a week.

Stacy: And I think to your point, I didn’t have time to go out drinking. I had to keep my calendar organized because I had work. I would have liked a little more time and space in my life. That was very intense and actually very difficult in a lot of ways. But to your point, when I moved into my professional life, I did tuition reimbursement at a bank. So I had already had this professional environment that I was in and moving into my career, I noticed that I went a lot faster into the professional world than most of my peers who were stepping out of college and now trying to find their professionalism. Because I graduated high school early, I actually got a full time receptionist job before I started college. So then I was in this web design firm and developing that side.

Stacy: And not that we want our kids to grow up early, but I’m not sure how much more value having time to go party would have really added, whereas I’ve been able to use that experience to build this life that I have now. And I think that’s part of what you’re saying is like these foundational pieces of teaching our kids responsibility, but also then setting them up to have a life that’s not burdened by deep debt. Those conversations that you mentioned earlier, too, I have a lot of physician friends, attorney friends, and what I have heard from them is exactly not every one of them. Some of them have been able to go through it differently, but I’ve heard similar things like, I don’t know how I will ever get out from under this debt.

Stacy: I’ve accepted that I will never be able to pay this off. It just becomes now a part of their life. So I’d love to hear from you a counternarrative to that. And then I want to dig more into your book, and I’d love to talk through the framework and how you kind of did all the research and got that together because I think that’s so interesting. Can you share a story or a couple of stories of a family or a child who’s been able to use what you teach to be able to go through their college experience and then move into something after that’s really deeply fulfilling and meaningful for them?

Jeannie: I want to piggyback on a couple of things that you said. One, did you just tell me that you had 21 credits, you worked 70 hours a week? I do not want anyone to think that’s the goal we’re aspiring to here.

Stacy: Not very fun.

Jeannie: I will say it is a good idea for students to take heavy credit loads, and students who follow me learn about how to be very strategic about their study so they get their study done in much less time than most people do. So they have time to take extra credits and they have time to work. But I would never really recommend. If I had been there, I wouldn’t have recommended working 70 hours a week. Usually we think that 15 to 20 hours a week is plenty enough. And that along with taking a heavy credit load. Not your first semester. Oh, no, first semester. We want a light credit loads because you’re just getting used to everything. You’re just hitting your stride with what your structure and your strategy is going to be.

Jeannie: But after that, heavy credit loads and working, but probably not more than 20 hours a week. I don’t want to drive anyone to a place where they shouldn’t be. Then I also want to say something about the people who are feeling like they’re under a tremendous pressure with their debt and they feel like they’re never going to get under it in the United States. There are some things shifting right now with student loan debt, and so people who follow me, I release articles every week that are on various up to the minute topics.

Jeannie: And if someone googles my last name, which is Berlowski, and the word student loan debt, you will find an article that I’ve written that talks about what you can do if you feel like you’re under suffocating student loan debt, and you feel like you’re not going to get out from under it. I update that article on a regular basis, so when something new comes across the landscape, I incorporate it in there. So people are googling that all day, every day.

Stacy: We’ll link to that, too. We’ll be sure to link to it in the show notes.

Jeannie: Yeah, that’s a good resource. Now you’re asking for a story. Okay, so I’m going to tell you a story about a young woman who is very hard for her parents to raise. Very strong willed. And, boy, she had her mind made up when she was going to do things. And a lot of times she was pursuing things that were not a good idea. So her parents are just like, we’re worried to death, but we can’t wait for this girl to get out of the house, because hard, it’s just difficult. She’s so strong willed. And so they used the advice that I suggest and they sent her. They actually had to pay her because she didn’t want to cooperate with anything her parents were saying. So they paid her $50 to go to the certified professional that I recommend.

Jeannie: And they had her take these three career assessments, including the Clifton strengths assessment, formerly strengths Finder 2.0. And it was so interesting what came out of that, her personality type with her extroversion and her strong. Lots of different things about that personality type and her interests in constantly wanting to be talking to people, influencing people, persuading people. But then the real key was when we looked at her strengths on the Clifton strengths assessment and saw that her top five strengths were winning others over communication, strategic positivity, and activator, which. Let’s go, let’s go. Let’s get this show on the road. Let’s get things started. And it was like she was living as a teenager, living in the dark side of all of those things. She was a person who had strong, persuasive influencing ability.

Jeannie: But she had this strategic ability to have a goal and figure out the fastest, least expensive way to get there. So she was using living in the dark side. She was lying a lot, because you’ve got communication and you have a goal, and you want to get there fast, and you can lie to people and manipulate them and get to your goal fast. It’s just no wonder her parents were pulling their hair out. But her certified practitioner said, honey, have you ever heard of what a job in sales is? She said, what’s that? Well, a job in sales is where you talk to people. And sometimes you take them out to dinner or you plan events, and then you sell them on big, expensive things. And when you sell them on a lot of big, expensive things, you get extra money for yourself.

Jeannie: The girl’s eyes just got this big, and she, 15 years old, she had a sense of purpose, a sense of destination. And when her parents couldn’t get her to study, her parents couldn’t get her to pay attention to school. She went to the University of Cincinnati.

Stacy: Because it’s a, that’s my alma mater. Yes.

Jeannie: I did my master’s.

Stacy: I did my master’s there.

Jeannie: Yes. One of the things that’s just remarkable about the University of Cincinnati and several other colleges around the United States, and I write about, this is the co op college model where students are in college and they’re taking classes, and then at the same time they’re out working for real money in their field, getting professional experience. And University of Cincinnati, Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. These are places that really specialize in this. So she went there, she did internships one right after another. And when she decided she’s going to apply, okay, went through the business program, had a minor in professional sales. And when she went to apply for jobs, she went to the big gun. She wanted to work for a technology company in sales.

Jeannie: So she went on the Oracle website and it said new grads, and she went and got herself the interview for being working at Oracle, and she is in sales for the technology company Oracle. And she’s right at the top of her team. I mean, getting, closing more deals than anybody else. So the story that I’m sharing here is not just a story of somebody got through college debt free and got into a job they loved afterward. But I want to empathize here with the parents, the poor parents. That thought, is this girl going to end up on the street? She won’t do anything we say. But a real turning point was having these assessments so she could know herself and she could have vocabulary for describing what she wanted, who she is, what she’s going to be amazing at.

Jeannie: And she did indeed go like an arrow straight toward a bullseye. And that’s just one story you can believe. Those parents are really relieved.

Stacy: Oh, my gosh, what an amazing story. I think one of the things that I’m noticing about this discussion I’m kind of taking from this discussion is as adults, we do all these things to understand ourselves better and help ourselves grow and make informed decisions. And basically you’re suggesting the same thing for our children. I know you mentioned the strengths finder assessment, and I understand you want people to work with a practitioner. Can you share the other two assessments that you typically recommend that people.

Jeannie: There’s this. We talked about the Clifton strengths assessment. Anyone can get that by just going on Amazon, and you look for a little book called Clifton Strengths Assessment. And the little red envelope in the back of that book will tell you how to go online and take it. That’s only, like, $25. Then the second one is the strong interest inventory, and then the third one is the Myers Briggs type indicator. I have had so much good luck with that. But that one, because of restrictions with its publisher, CPP, it has to be administered by a certified person. And I really recommend that families go that route. I don’t want to have a bootleg one off of Facebook that may not be accurate, because if you don’t have the real thing interpreted by the certified professional, you might label yourself as an extrovert.

Jeannie: And actually, you’re a beautifully wired introvert, and we need your gifting. But you might end up in some kind of a career that requires wild extroversion, and that might be really harmful to our goal of a thriving, happy life. So we want the real one. And that’s why I say interpreted by a certified professional. And again, I don’t do that. I refer out for it.

Stacy: I think that’s really important with these kind of things, especially when you’re making potentially life altering decisions. Jeannie, I want to talk about your book, and I want to specifically talk about the process of writing your book. One of the things that I got to see from the inside view is how much intention and effort you put into shaping the book, creating a journey for your reader, organizing it in a way that families can really use, that’s useful for them, that’s not fluffy or wasting people’s very precious time. You were very adamant about that when you were crafting the book. I want to talk about the content, but I’d love to first hear about your journey.

Stacy: So you had a sense that this book was going to be a really critical part of how you were going to show up for your families going forward. And I’d like to know a little bit about that knowing and then kind of the journey of writing the book. Would you be willing to share a bit about that experience?

Jeannie: Yeah. So I mentioned earlier in this interview that I was getting brilliant ideas from my own clients who I would say, how did you get through debt free? And they would say, I did this. I did this. And at the beginning I just jotted ideas on a piece of paper and stuck them in a desk drawer because this is what consultants do. We get brilliant ideas from one client, then we charge the next person by the hour to hear that exact same information. So after a while, I had a whole desk drawer full of ideas and I’m kind of a pattern person. So I pulled out this giant pile of paper and I could really see how doing some steps over time would be very helpful.

Jeannie: Like, if a person were fortunate enough to start this process when their child is twelve, what are some things that we could do at ages 1213 and 14 that would make everything exponentially easier later? But at the same time, I didn’t want to leave out people who were only hearing about debt free college for the first time when their kid was a senior in high school. So how can I structure something that works and is helpful and it’s nurturing and it’s exactly what you need, whether your kid is twelve or a senior in high school. And so you really helped me with this.

Jeannie: And I just have to say, anybody who has the privilege of being able to work with Stacy Ennis in any capacity, any program that she ever has, you want to jump on that because she will be able to take you further than you just could ever dream possible. And you sat with me and helped me to figure out this structure. So I actually have a copy here of my table of content. So you can see how it’s carefully laid out according to your kid’s current month and year in school. So you’re right, I was adamant. This absolutely cannot be overwhelming to people. There can’t be fluff in there. It has to be straight to the point and exactly what you need in as few a minutes as possible. So people read a chapter about every three months as their kids are growing up.

Jeannie: This is page one of the table of contents, and then this is page two of the table of contents. So you can see how every time it’s time to read another chapter, you’re fresh and you’re ready to hear some new information. And every chapter opens by saying, don’t worry if you can’t do all this stuff. That’s okay. Here are just some things to be aware of right now. So right here’s an example, Stacy, right at the point where I’d love for parents to start thinking about could you possibly do college classes in high school, could we elevate your kids academic confidence so that they feel ready to take a college class in September of 11th grade, could we start thinking about that nine months ahead of time.

Jeannie: And I’m able to reach parents right at that point because they’re reading a chapter labeled with that current month and year in high school. So when I want parents to see chapter nine is the one that talks about the career, it’s the one that talks about the college classes in high school. And you’re scheduled to read that in February through April of 9th grade. And we do it then because that’s when kids are signing up for 10th and 11th grade classes. So we want the parents to be armed with all the best information when that is happening. So we structured this, I did this with your help, structured it according to a kid’s current month and year in school.

Jeannie: But as some reviewers have said on Amazon, it’s beautifully designed so that you can jump in when your kid is in 7th grade or earlier, or you can jump in when your kid is in 11th or twelveth grade and you won’t feel like you’re behind. You just jump in where you are and then you proceed forward from there. And in the years since I’ve known you, Stacy, a really key thing that I’ve done is I have ten minute training videos that are right on the top of my website that teach parents how to use this in the most effective way. And they’re organized according to a kid’s current month and year in school. So there’s one for parents of 7th and eigth graders. There’s one for parents of 9th and 10th graders.

Jeannie: There’s one little ten minute training video for parents of 11th and twelveth graders. And essentially it’s me kindly saying, don’t worry about any chapters that you missed. Jump straight to this chapter, that’s where you should be, and then just move forward from there. And then I give a few extra tips and helps in there as well. And it’s free training. Anybody can find it by going to my website, which is Jeannie And if you don’t know how to spell that, you can also get there by Debtfreecollege us. That just takes a little longer to load.

Stacy: That’s such a smart URL, though.

Jeannie: Debtfreecollege us yeah.

Stacy: Jeannie, one of the things that I think has been such a cool thing to watch with your platform, your impact is, well, first of all, you did a lot of work to understand the right sequencing and way to deliver this information to parents, and you kept parents at the forefront of your decision making as you built this. After that, what I think is so neat about the level of work and energy you put into that process is that I’ve just watched that introspection organization and book be this launch pad for so many other things that you have grown. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Stacy: And I think, importantly, writing a good book that gets good reviews, that really has become, like, this shelf stable support to the work that you’re doing out in the world, can you talk a little bit about that journey and how that’s impacted you?

Jeannie: Yes. So the book sales were wonderful. I was very happy with that. But that was only the beginning. And for anyone who’s thinking, I’d like to have an independent life where I can kind of set my own schedule, be my own person, possibly have location independence. This is a great way to go to start with a book. But a book may only be the beginning. So here’s what happened to me. I wanted more people to hear about this book because I put all this work into it. I wanted to help more people. And to this day, that is the passionate drive of my heart. I don’t want to just help 10,000 people. I want to help millions of people.

Jeannie: And so I have a website, and I write blog posts, and I send out a free weekly email newsletter, and I have an assistant who posts my blog posts all over the place and social media, et cetera. But here’s the most interesting thing that I’ve done. Someone came to me and said, jeannie, I know you think that you can write a book that is so clear that no one could ever have a question. You stroll for clarity. You think that no one’s going to have a question about their individual situation because you’re such a great communicator. But they said people are going to have questions, like a really nitty gritty question, like, I have one child that has autism, and then we are also divorced. And then we had this situation where a fire burned our house down.

Jeannie: Now, how is this going to affect these three things in the future? I can’t fit that into a book. And also, more and more things started coming across the pipe. Things that I could not fit into a book of only 344 pages. Things like, how do we handle anxiety for kids? This is really important. And so what I did is I started a tribe membership, and I did this with the help of Stu McLaren, who teaches a graduate school level online class about how to start a tribe membership. His help was invaluable to me, and so now people join a membership with me. For currently, the price goes up every six months, but currently it’s about $33. And they get special classes with me that cost, like, $899. But the classes are free to all of my members.

Jeannie: And then they also get to meet with me online and ask me questions, like, eleven to 13 times a year. So it’s never overwhelming. It doesn’t feel like, oh, I’ve got a whole bunch more stuff to do. No, what it is that when you’re hungry, Jeannie has provided a restaurant for you to go to. Just go and use it when you’re hungry. And this has been a huge help. And this is where I’ve actually been able to hear from families about, here’s how this is impacting us. And they’ll write me emails and they’ll say, we had this amazing thing happen. One family said, you saved us $250,000 because went the way you said rather than going the way kind of that the culture and our school was saying, and our kids are in thriving jobs and they’re happy.

Stacy: That’s beautiful, Jeannie, just to know that work is out in the world and you’re able to build these things on top of that, think, you know, I talk a lot about the book being fertile ground from which to grow so many other things. And importantly, you did the work on the book that’s enabled you, one, I think, to show up with so much clarity, a clear framework, a reference guide, but these other things that you build on top of it. And I really hope anybody listening to this who has a business, who wants to start a business, who’s growing a brand or even a nonprofit, or they’re doing something that they really want to grow their impact in some way, that they hear this, that book needs to be created. Number one.

Stacy: A book is one of the best ways to be able to flip that switch that’s going to take you to that next level. But also that book I like to talk about. There’s like a journey that you take within the book, and you need to be thinking about how you are serving and supporting people beyond the book, because people can google, they can read books, they can find any information they want. What they usually need from us as humans in the world is accountability. They need to be able to be validated in their. Oftentimes, people know the answer already, and they simply want a sounding board and validation. They want to be directed if they’re off track, like they need that human piece. And so you’ve been able to build that on top of this really stable base. And I think that’s really important.

Stacy: For people to hear that level of work that you did on that book has allowed you to be able to go and build all these other things.

Jeannie: Exactly. And when I was writing the book and when you were working with me on it was really overwhelming because it’s engineering a child’s whole life from age 18. So at that point, if someone had said, and someday you could have a membership where people meet with you on Zoom meetings and ask you questions in group settings, I would have been like, I can’t even handle that. Don’t even talk to me about that. This writing right now is all I can manage. However, I think it would have been inspiring to me back then, and this was before memberships were even popular, that I was writing this book. If someone would have said to me back then, there’s a chance for you to build a lot of other things on top of this. I mean, I knew I could build consulting on top of it.

Jeannie: You can always sell consulting if you have a book. I can’t tell you how many doors a beautiful book has opened for me because people are like, oh, you’re the author of book. We want to have you on this tv show. We want to have you on this podcast. And so that helps me to get my message out more. So I don’t want anyone listening here today to feel overwhelmed, like, oh, I’m going to have to do all this. Instead, I’d like your listeners to feel inspired that there might be more to this book idea than just write a book, put it up on Amazon and don’t look back at it again. You may be able to springboard off of this to serve your people in better, bigger, more powerful ways.

Stacy: I think that journey of opening up to possibility is one of my favorite things about the author journey, because I think often even saying I want to write a book feels like people have a hard time even fully stepping into that sometimes. I think that there’s a lot of it is this questioning of, is this ego, but not with the work that I do. It’s service, right? And I think when we can really orient to how we are serving people in the world, that’s when we really do profound, meaningful, impactful work. I’d love to ask you about the book coaching experience, if I may, and what your experience was like working with a book coach. In that case, it was me.

Stacy: And maybe what you can share with others about what that experience is like and how it can help just kind of journey through that whole process, kind of in the same way that you guide your families.

Jeannie: Yeah. I had this idea of what an editor was before I met you. And I thought that an editor was a cruel person that would take a giant knife and slash it through your manuscript and say, you have to cut out this and you have to cut out this, and this is too wordy and this is too long. And that was the image I had, maybe from reading the book Little Women, where Joe said she felt like the editor made her take her baby’s legs and cut it off to make it fit in a cradle. That is what I was expecting. And what I got from you was so completely different. And then I just have to tell the story of how I found Stacy Ennis. I’m never going to do anything halfway. So I googled the words best editor.

Jeannie: I knew I needed an editor. I’m writing this book, and Stacy’s name came up on the first page of Google. And this is partly because of your book that you wrote called the editor’s eye. And so I reached out to you and said, would you take another client? And Stacy’s very careful back, very careful about what she would take, because I know you’re offered many projects for every one that you take. And she said, well, tell me about what you have. Tell me about what this is. And so then you vetted me and you decided to accept me and work with me. And, boy, my experience was so completely 180 degrees from what I was expecting. As far as the cruelty, there was no cruelty.

Stacy: I’m glad to hear that.

Jeannie: I know you go for cruelty free editing help and book publishing. That’s what you’re after. But what surprised me is that she was telling me to add in extra things, even though the book was already long. She was saying at the beginning of every chapter, we need to hear your voice reassuring us and saying, you’re doing great, what you’ve done so far, you should be so proud of yourself. And that my nurturing, caring, loving voice was going to be really an important part of this. And I was stunned every time I was sitting at your direction putting in extra things.

Jeannie: And I have thought many times since, I have friends that would like to write books, and I have wished that more people would be able to work with you and be able to have your, I call it macroscopic book structuring, where you help me to figure out how to chapter everything and how to organize it. And now that I’m hoping that for the sake of my followers who are going to be listening to this interview, I would love for you to just talk about your idea to draft six month program that people can enter where you help them the way you help me. But you’re doing it in a group setting and your author influence circle, that’s a new thing that you’re doing. Could you just tell us about that for the sake of my followers that are going to listen?

Stacy: Jeannie, did you just take over this interview and switch? Are you in the seat now? Don’t worry.

Jeannie: You have an editor that can edit this out.

Stacy: I have to say, you also used chapter as a verb, which I have never heard before, how to chapter this out. And I love that so much. I’m going to have to use that in the future. You and I worked together a while ago. I had a different business and a different way of working at the time.

Jeannie: Right.

Stacy: And much like you, I wanted to build something where I could serve and support more authors on their journeys. I reached a point where there’s only so much of me and there’s only so many books and calls I can be on. At some point, I have to also be a parent and a spouse and a friend and a daughter and a sister and a Stacy and all those things. So in the last few years, I’ve built out programs to support authors. One of those is my six month idea to draft program. And I smile when I talk about it because it’s interesting. I wonder if you’ve experienced this in your business at all, Jeannie. But I built an earlier iteration of this program that was ten weeks, and I loved that program so much.

Stacy: I loved the authors that came through it, but I was missing a core component of that for me personally, which was journeying through the whole experience with them, from idea all the way to that first draft, and then feeling that I was providing what they needed to keep that momentum going from a next steps perspective. So they had the education, making a warm connection for them, helping them really make decisions on how to keep going and get that book out into the world. And so when I expanded it into a six month program, I really feel like I stepped into real integrity in how. Not that I didn’t have integrity before, but there’s like a deeper level of integrity for me in being able to really support people through that whole journey.

Stacy: The author influence circle, which is my online community, arose from wanting to keep supporting people because my core expertise is really in the writing process. But I’m so well connected. I’ve been in this industry for over 15 years. At this point, I know all the people for everything, and I really am a relationship builder I’m a connector. So to be able to bring them in and continue to support the authors that I serve. Plus have, like, you have office hours where people can come and ask questions, those nuanced questions. And I really love being able to serve in that way. So that is what that circle is about.

Stacy: And I think that being in business for as long as I have and working with incredible authors like you, it’s been really cool to be able to learn and serve better with every single project that I go through. Just like you said, you learn from the families and then you’re able to take that and you can teach the next family. It’s kind of the same thing with the work that I do.

Jeannie: I’m loving hearing you say the word momentum. And I think maybe some people hear about a book coaching or a book coaching program, and I think they might worry that this is going to be a huge download of information that feels overwhelming to me. And then I’m expected to just go and sort of plot my own course and plot along on my own, like taking a college class and then having to use that information all alone by myself afterwards. But the fact that this is six months means that it’s not overwhelming. It’s little by little, it’s teaching. And it’s someone walking you through the process so you can avoid costly, time consuming missteps. You’re being walked through the process and then you have a mentor and a guide that you can be accountable to. Like, I’m going to be here.

Jeannie: Take my big advantage of these six months. I’m going to get as far as I can in these six months. But if I have things happen with my kids or I’ve got aging parents, it’s okay. I can do this while I’m doing my life. And I’ve got a coach and I’ve got a guide for the journey and I got a person helping me. Do I understand correctly? People might finish the six month program and then they enter the author influence circle after that. So they have ongoing help and support. And am I right? They hear not only from you in the author influence circle, but are they able to hear from each other as well?

Stacy: I think is so important. And I think also just the type of people that I tend to support. They’re people like you. They’re doing good in the world. I think that’s one of my number one vetting steps, actually. You mentioned me asking you questions, which I do. Every single person that reaches out that one of the top things that I am looking for is does this book put good into the world? And that is an absolutely no negotiation for me. If it’s not making this world a better place in some capacity, it’s not the project for me. It’s not that I don’t also read books that don’t fit that criteria. But for me, I want to wake up in the morning and I want to think, I get to go to work today. I get to serve today.

Stacy: Not ever feel a sense of dread or, like, I never want to feel that. And I’m sure with your work, this is where we can bring this around full circle to the first question I asked you, that is part of maintaining your passion and your love for the work that you do. I was actually at a party yesterday, a birthday party for a friend, and somebody asked me, how did she say it? She said something like, what do you do? Normal chitchat. We just met. And she goes, and, do you like it? It was like she was expecting me to say no or something. And I was like, yeah, I love what I do. And she was like, oh, okay, well, that’s great. I think people are just so.

Stacy: It’s such a weird response to people sometimes when you’re like, this is what I do. And I love what I do. I love just. It’s atypical. That’s part of what attracts me to your work is, know, when we worked together, Jeannie, I was like, you need to read this book, and you need to read this book. Because I knew that it was coming from such a pure place and from an area of expertise. Maybe we could come around with that as a final message for our listeners, our viewers today. What is that secret sauce for you in just waking up and continuing your mission in the world and showing up and continuing to do this work that is not always easy. Right? It’s a lot of work.

Jeannie: Right? It is a lot of work. And sometimes people say to me, well, are you going to stop? Are you going to retire? And then I will say, no, I’m not going to retire. I’m changing the world. I’m going to be typing on a computer from my assisted living bed because there’s still more people that I have to reach and help. So let’s talk about that thing about passion and momentum and how can you keep passion going for nine or ten or 15 years while you’re doing this? I actually teach a class to my tribe members. That view from the top of the mountain. It’s a three session online course.

Jeannie: Session two is all about helping kids identify career goal, and it’s about helping them to identify a career goal that excites and energizes them and puts them in a position where they’re really top of the heap in whatever career they’re entering, whether it is electrical repair or being a sonographer that does ultrasounds, or whether it’s being a special ed teacher or whatever it is. And in that class, I actually talk about special sauce for passionate career. And I quote a Harvard study that was done. This has been over ten years ago. A Harvard study set out to try to determine what makes people really good at their jobs. And so they identified people in all different kinds of fields that were just thought by their peers to be exceptionally good at their jobs.

Jeannie: So they looked at people who were really good police officers, really wonderful CEOs, really wonderful special ed teachers, wonderful entrepreneurs or restaurant owners. And then they set out to try to determine what’s the common denominator here among these people that are thought to be great at their jobs. Is it that they had Ivy League education? Oh, not by a long shot. That was not the thing. They looked at several different factors. They gave them IQ tests, and here’s what they came down to. That what made these people exceptionally good at their jobs was one word, and it’s caring. C a r I n g. When they really cared about the people that they served, they poured it out. They did more than what’s expected. They would stay late. They would show up early.

Jeannie: They would make all their personal decisions not based on what’s good for me and what’s going to help me, financially or otherwise. But they would make their decisions based on what is going to be good for this person and good for these people and good for this world. And so I talk in that class about having that sense of meaning, significance, purpose, and mission. Even if a person has lower grades or test scores, any one of us can care about the people that we found. And I know, Stacy, this is what you have found as well. You start out with this ground, this base ground of caring. And then when you start to, more people start to enter your orbit, and you start to see their lives thriving and growing, and you see beautiful things happening, then you start to care even more.

Jeannie: It becomes even more energizing and more exciting. So probably, if anything, you’re looking at me after nine years going, this lady is even more on fire than she was when I met her nine years ago. And it’s because now I have so many people’s stories, and now when I see people that don’t have the benefit of debt free college help and they’re kind of doing it the old fashioned way from 30 years ago and their kids are struggling and anxious and not getting jobs after college and sitting on their parents couch into their 20s, something just rises up in me like, we have to reach these people. We have to help more people because we don’t want to see any kid in a life that is not thriving and full of joy and meaning and significance.

Jeannie: And I’m convinced every single one of them has the potential if they could just get a little bit of help.

Stacy: That’s so beautiful, Jeannie. I just love all that you’re doing. It’s been such an honor getting to talk with you today. I know we will be sure to link to the Debtfreecollege us and to your website as well, which I think they go to the same place, but we’ll just put both in there. And of course, share about your tribe membership, which sounds so incredibly valuable. And now I’m getting to the age where I’m like, I need to get in your membership. I’ve had it on my radar for all these years, all your work, and my eleven year old is not too far off from getting in our own debt free college journey. So, jeannie, thank you so much for joining me today. And thank you for sharing your wisdom and your passion and your heart with our listeners and viewers.

Jeannie: And I’m so grateful for being able to be here today and share with your followers. Kind of where I ended up after nine years. And if there’s one call I have for people, I hope anyone who’s thinking about writing a book, Stacy’s idea to draft six month program and the author influence Circle. This is really something to just give yourself every possible shot at being able to achieve your dreams by getting someone to walk with you through this process. I could have never done what I have done in this world without the help of Stacy. Here’s all my gratitude. I’m so thankful. And by the way, I am location independent largely because of you. I can work from. Woohoo.

Stacy: Oh, I love it. I just think thank you for those beautiful words, Jeannie. It’s so cool to get. We’ve stayed in touch. We connect multiple times throughout the year. I’ve gotten to watch your journey and to your point, getting to really see people thrive through something. I didn’t write the book, but I was part of helping shape that right and help bring that in that birthing process into the world. And it was such an honor and also just so honored by your words. So thank you so much and thanks for being part of this conversation today.

Jeannie: Great to be here.

Stacy: And thank you to you, the listener, the viewer for joining us today. I hope that was really helpful. Whether you have no kids yet, but you plan to or you have a one year old or you have a 16 year old, at any stage, her work will be very helpful for you, and I highly recommend you check out all the great resources that she has to offer. Thank you, as always to Rita Domingues for producing this podcast. I would absolutely not be able to do any of the things that I do without her support, so I am very grateful. If you found this episode valuable, I would be deeply indebted if you would take just 30, 60 seconds to rate hopefully five stars and leave a review of this podcast.

Stacy: It really makes a difference in helping me reach more listeners with the message of beyond better, and I will be back with you before you know it.

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