Ep. 27: Freelancing gave me family and religious freedom with Gaby Silver

Ep27 feature image

Working From Home: Episode 27: Freelancing gave me family and religious freedom with Gaby Silver

Nelson is joined by Gaby Silver to discuss how being let off forced him to make the shift from employee to business owner and how this empowered him to live his best life for himself and his family.

Topics Include:

  • Being rewarded for the value you create as a business owner
  • Living a values-first lifestyle
  • The uncapped earning potential of a business owner
  • Flexibility in schedule and in life

Resources Mentioned:





[1:18] – Gaby’s transition from his dreadful day job to starting his own business.

[11:52] – Gaby discusses his religious beliefs and observations, and how working from home supports him in living his best life.

[23:21] – Gaby shares how his relationship with his children changed after making the transition to working from home.

[35:35] – Reflections on the freedom Gaby has found running his own business and how it has empowered his family to live from their deepest values.

[38:09] – Earning potential as a business owner.

[45:16] – Reaping your true value as a self-employed person, and the relationships you build.

[53:37] – Nelson shares how his flexible work schedule allows him to do better work and live more meaningful days.

[01:00:19] – Turning it on and off. Capitalizing on your most productive hours.


Nelson: Today I’m here with Gaby Silver, who is the Founder and President of Genesis Digital. They’re a boutique marketing and content agency based in Melbourne Australia. Gaby, Thank you so much for joining us. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while. So today you’re going to be talking about freelancing,  how it impacts family. 

How as an observant Jew religion is all kind of role rolled up into this in terms of lifestyle.  But just to get listeners on the right path and up to speed, would you be able to give us kind of the story of how you actually went freelance?  

Gaby: [00:01:19] Sure. So I had been working in an agency environment for a number of years. 

 I was in a particular role that I was desperately unhappy and it was quite, it wasn’t a particularly healthy environment. And I sort of felt that the people that I was around weren’t contributing to me professionally or just healthy from a, you know, just a personal perspective.  And I also found that in that environment, it was hard for me to sort of get my income to the point where I felt it was going to be able to support the lifestyle that my family and I had. 

And to give you a bit of background, obviously we have six children. So at the time that the agency job sort of fell apart, my wife, we had five and my wife was pregnant with our sixth. So as you can imagine, that sort of requires a reasonable level of income just to support that many people. There’s a lot of humans in one place since  you need space and they all need to eat, you know, they’re the amazing thing about kids is they have to eat like every day.  So you can’t just eat like once a week they come back multiple times during each day, it’s like, I just fed you earlier, now you need to eat again. So we’re done, you know, so basically it got to the point where I felt like I was really spinning the wheels and I wasn’t going anywhere. I was working as hard as I could and just things weren’t happening.  And I think that really impacted also the environment that I was in. 

There were a lot of pressures regarding sort of my lifestyle. Obviously, as you mentioned, I’m an observant Jew.  That impacts sort of  my participation in the workspace on a regular basis. There are a lot of times that I think we could probably get into a little bit later, but with a lot of times where I have to leave work earlier, I have to take time off due to religious obligations and things like that. 

So it was a bit of a pressure cooker and it got to the point where the relationship sort of broke down to the point that I was let go. It was a Friday, it was about the middle of the day and the head of the branch manager sort of called me in and he just fairly brutally just let me go. And I remember just driving home numb thinking that I, you know, I’ve got all these mouths to feed, I’ve got another child on the way and I have no job. That you’re in that point where you need the income, you almost, you’re addicted to the salary, because if you don’t have the salary, then what are you going to do? 

You sort of have to keep spinning the wheel, but you’re never really going anywhere. So I remember I got home and when I got home, my wife who was pregnant, was sitting there putting our fifth child to bed for her afternoon nap while she’s sitting there, sort of like this, and I sort of walked into the house and she got a shock and looked at me and she’s like, Oh no, what’s wrong. 

And I’d said, look, you know, they let me go. And we spend about 15 minutes just panicking. What are we going to do? Like, what are we going to do now? How are we going to live? And then after about 15 minutes, it was really, my wife who turned around and said, Gaby, this is the best thing that could have happened to you. You’ve been talking about starting your own business. You’ve been talking about doing your own thing. This is the push that you need.  And you’re going to do it and you’re going to be successful. And this is great. I’m so happy for you. And it was really, it took her presence of mind to be able to, for me to have that little moment of introspection to say, yes, this is what I want from that, from every angle, whether it’s you know, just lifestyle in terms of professional and just, you know, obviously from a financial perspective, it was clear that the opportunities were going to be outside of the regular work environment, especially given our lifestyle  and the obligations and the requirements on us from a religious and cultural perspective, this just made a whole lot of sense. 

So that was a Friday. I gave myself a few days to just take it easy, on Wednesday, I think the following Wednesday evening and leading into Thursday, I made a few phone calls and by following Monday, Genesis Digital was operating and I had a business with clients and we were away. 

So that’s really how it happened. And I think that I’m sure it’s not uncommon where you’re recognized. You know, I really recognized what I was doing was never going to get me to where I want it to be. It was never going to provide the lifestyle that I needed for me and for my family and for me to be able to be fulfilled in every aspect of my life. 

But I simply couldn’t break out of that until I had the push and the push was the best thing that ever happened to me.  

Nelson: [00:06:52] Cool. Yeah. I think that’s right. That external impetus sometimes is what’s really needed to force us into this, right. There’s, yeah, I think there’s so many people that would like to work from home or, you know, at least part-time. I hear that from a lot of people and it’s like the flexibility and the freedom aspect for lots of people and yeah, like there’s a difference between kind of knowing it on I suppose a logical level: Yes, if I do want to eventually work from home, I might need to start my own thing. I might need to put that in motion. But there’s a difference between knowing that on a logical level and understanding on an emotional level and actually taking action on that. And I think there are times when things like that have happened to me as well, where I’m like, yeah, I should really do this. 

And I knew this for a long time. My example is last year, when coronavirus was first kind of on the table, I suppose a few weeks into that, I lost my biggest client at the time. And I did not like working for them.  I did not enjoy that experience. I won’t say anymore, but it was not the most fun I’ve ever had. 

And it took that happening for me to actually say, okay, why isn’t this an enjoyable experience? Is it because of the clients? Is it because I’m working on the wrong thing? Is it a combination of both? How do I adjust that? And you know, it, I didn’t have to do some fancy repositioning, you know, I could do it.  

I didn’t have to manage that kind of, okay, well, how do I change this bit by bit? I could jump straight to it because you know, my biggest client was gone. So I could just kind of take a step back, which I did very similar to you, and then kind of go, okay, well, what do I really want? What’s going to make me happy there. 

And that again, best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. Like if you look at where I am, you know, that was probably, I think that was actually there maybe a couple of months into COVID actually thinking about it. I think it was around May.  So really that’s not been that long since May and my business has completely changed, completely grown. 

I love doing that, I tend to work kind of six days a week because I enjoy it. Not necessarily work full days for all of those days, but I do enjoy getting up and doing that. So that’s fantastic.  

Gaby: [00:09:38] So did that change what you do as opposed rather than how you do it?  

Nelson: [00:09:45] yeah so changed both. Which was really interesting. So at the time I was mainly concentrating on paid traffic acquisition.  So still working with clients, I was still a freelancer, but I was managing the Facebook, Instagram, Google ads, campaigns and I thought, okay, well, it’s still kind of an income need at that. 

So what I kind of transitioned was from doing it in on a freelance basis to moving into more of an agency model. So I spent a while bringing on new clients for that, putting the right people in place and then very much a hands-off role. So with the clients that I take on,  they’re all e-commerce clients, but for the pay traffic acquisition stuff. But I have somebody else managing the work day to day. And then I just kind of take my cut and, you know, for being the agency owner. And then I probably spend maybe an hour on each client per month, just making sure everything’s right. Checking in with people, sorting our invoices and that sort of stuff. 

But these days the stuff that I do on a freelance basis is completely different. It’s all around content strategy and content creation.  And that’s the stuff that one, I’m really good at, and two, I really enjoy. I just couldn’t really see a few years ago how to make it into a proper career and it took lots of trial and error, you know, I kind of started out with copywriting first and then actually found that content marketing just made far better use of my skillset. But  anyway, well, I want to get back to you cause you’ve got such an interesting story and I think, you know, with you family and religion is so kind of interwoven and you mentioned kind of the lack of flexibility at your previous workplace and that’s something that’s opened up for you now. 

So could you talk about what it means to be an observant Jew in terms of what’s expected from you on certain days and holidays and things like that.  

Gaby: [00:12:03] So just to preface that the place that I was working, they weren’t inflexible. They were actually quite accommodating, but it was written into my contract. 

 So I don’t want to sort of give the wrong impression there, but I think what that shows is the fact that I had to have allowances from my religious observance written into my contract, kind of illustrates the fact that it’s quite, the demands that are placed on a religiously observant Jew on a day-to-day basis are quite weighty. 

So essentially we have times where we are basically just unable to work. And in addition to not being able to work we’re unable to utilize most technology. So, we are unable to drive when we don’t, we wouldn’t use phones, computers, or anything electronic. And so, and that’s on a weekly basis. 

So we have the Jewish Sabbath, goes from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. So completely off the grid at that point. But obviously you can’t, we can’t just sort of go until sundown and then done. There’s a preparation that needs to be done; we all need to get ready. We’ve got to get our kids ready. 

We’re going to get the house ready and there’s no more after sundown, there’s no more cooking. There’s no more anything. It’s just, everything is done. And we just switch off out and we’re in the moment. And it’s a wonderful experience, like getting to that point. It’s quite involved.  

Nelson: [00:13:39] So can we talk about some of that, the preparation for a second, because that’s something that I wouldn’t have thought of. So yeah, I’d love to hear more about that.  

Gaby: [00:13:53] Like everything Jewish, most of it has to do with food. And we were talking about Hala earlier, so my wife’s cooking Hala now because it’s thursday night here.  So  tomorrow’s the night. So a lot of it is just, you know, just getting the food ready and it’s one thing as a Jew, we have like a really elaborate Friday night dinner and then Saturday afternoon lunch every single week. 

It’s literally Christmas dinner and Christmas lunch every single week. As Jews we look at non-Jewish people freaking out, like in the lead up to Christmas about running about and we just laugh because we’re just like, we do this every single week. It’s hilarious. But you know, that everything is relative. 

So for us, there’s a huge preparation, but also that the house needs to be clean. All of the, you know, ourselves and all of the children need to be showered and, you know, in Sabbath clothes. Just so when I say we can’t use any technology, we can’t switch lights on and off. So for example there are lights that are gonna remain on for the full Sabbath or the holiday. Then they need to be on, the ones that need to be off, they’d be off. Once the Sabbath hits, we can’t switch anything on or off.  

So there are prayers that need to be said, and there are candles that the women light candles to usher in the Sabbath. And there’s a blessing that’s made over the candles and some prayers that are said at that point and they need to all be set up and there’s just, you know, marshaling six children and trying to herd them, you know, to get everything done at the right time can be a stressful and really involved experience. 

So you can’t just rock up if sunset is at such a such time, you can’t just rock up five minutes early and just assume that everything’s going to fall into place. And that’s particularly difficult in the winter when the Sabbath comes in quite early because the sun is setting at say five, four forty-five, five o’clock. And you know, in the UK where you are it’s even earlier in the winter.  

So practically what that would mean is that I I’m essentially leaving work at midday on a Friday in winter and maybe sort of two, three o’clock in the summer. So what that would mean for me is that it was sort of like every Friday afternoon, I would have to do the walk of shame through the office where everyone else is still working and I was sort of like sauntering off and trying desperately, you know it’s open plan office anyways. So, you know, as much as I’m trying desperately not to be seen, and it sort of just got to the point where if everything’s going wonderfully at all times, then you can kind of get away with it. 

The second that things aren’t going as well as you would like them to then it’s kinda like, “Oh, there goes Gaby again. He’s off with his little, you know, his stuff.”   

And so obviously it just got to the point where it created a tension and it created a pressure on me that I felt every Friday that, whether it was just psychosomatic or – psychosomatic is the wrong word – whether I was projecting or not, but I felt that everyone was looking at me and being in a critical way. And certainly, it was certainly brought up a number of times “well you’re only actually working four and a half days a week, you know, that” and that was sort of used as kind of leverage to not get a raise or not pay commissions or whatever it was. It was just, there was always that you’re only working four and a half days a week.  

So in addition to the weekly Sabbath, we also have festivals that occur throughout the year. And on those festivals, I would have to take time off. Now we have two/three periods of the year where we have festivals that last for eight days, of those eight days, four of them are like the Sabbath in that we can’t work at all and the other intermediate days we can work, but it’s better not to. And it’s involved. And then there are other festivals as well. So we’re talking about Rosh Hashanah, which is our new year; Yom Kippur, which is the day of atonement; Passover; and then there’s another festival called Sukkot, which I think is called Tabernacles in in English; and then another Shavuot, which is, I think that one in English it’s Pentecost. There you go, and so it’s a lot and I would have to take those days off every single year.   

Nelson: [00:18:47] You were saying as welllike that some of these holidays as well, there’s this preparation needed for those as well, right? 

Like a bank holiday in the UK, right for us, it’s just an excuse to have a jolly for, for lots of us in the UK. They started off obviously as holidays, Holy days, tut these days, for me, all of my friends, all of my colleagues I used to work with, that was very much an excuse just to go out in the night before, and then we do something during the day 

Gaby: [00:19:23] And for us it’s just so intense and it’s so involved and most of the time it’s not a break at all, even though we’re supposed to rest.  We, especially when you have so many kids and you have to entertain them and you don’t, you know, there are no devices, so you kind of entertain them by sticking on a computer and having them watch videos, it’s all active and which is wonderful and it’s one of the best parts of these traditions, because it forces you to interact in an active way with your children and really form close bonds that don’t involve any external electronic devices or passive stimulation. Everything is active stimulation and it’s interactive, which is, which is a wonderful thing. 

And we’re forced to do that. And it’s a blessing, but at the same time, It’s not a break. And, you know, the greatest example would come on Yom Kippur, which is our day of atonement. Now this is a day where we do not eat or drink anything for approximately, works out to be 25 hours or so.  And the day leading up to Yom Kippur, we have a ton of stuff that we need to do and prayers need to be said and all kinds of just involved stuff. 

So you would have to take the day off, the day before off, and there’s no possibility of working the day before Yom Kippur, and then Yom Kippur you’re basically spending of the 25 hours, probably 14 of them praying, like literally in synagogue from nine o’clock in the morning until Yom Kippur finishes at say seven or eight, in addition to the previous night where you were there for probably two hours, three hours with maybe a 45-minute, one hour break at some point during the day. 

And that’s it with no food.  

Nelson: [00:21:13] Okay. 

Gaby: [00:21:17] Yeah. Right to the end of the day. And then you’re supposed to sit down and have a meal and then you wake up and go to work the next day. And all of these people who are looking at you funny when you crept, sort of skulked out of the office two days earlier, like, “how was your holiday?” And it’s just like, no. 

Everyone was looking at me, like there goes Gaby skiving off to take more time off. Right there he goes, you know, whatever. And then I come back and I’m exhausted from all of my holiday and then everyone’s just like, “Oh, how was your day off?” Cause there’s not a frame of reference, right? So you can’t blame anyone for thinking that. As you said that you think, well, when we get a day off, you know, Christmas, Easter, these are religious holidays. What do we do on Christmas or Easter? We hang out and we relax. We do whatever, we fight with our families, you know, whatever it is that people do on Christmas. 

But you know, it’s theoretically relaxing. There’s nothing relaxing about any of the Jewish holidays.  

Nelson: [00:22:24] No, I mean, it sounds like that the very kind of intensive and there’s lots of preparation involved. 

Gaby: [00:22:32] Sure, and by the time you get to them, you’re exhausted. But the point is that they’re not for us, the holidays aren’t for us to just sit back and on the couch and just chill there. These are times for spiritual introspection. Spiritual uplifting, prayer, focus, focusing on our connection with something that’s greater than us.  And obviously to instill those values and teach the values that we have to our children and inspire them to connect with their own spirituality as well. 

And so, as I said, it’s one of those things, it’s a wonderful blessing. Its just hard work as well. And we do that willingly and lovingly. 

Nelson: [00:23:21] Given that you’ve mentioned your children and your family there. So you’ve transitioned from working for somebody else to working for yourself. 

It was quite interesting because you had obviously, was it four or five kids before that, and some kids afterwards. So you had the kind of experience of you doing the nine to five and then get the kind of experienced view kind of being at home all the time and having more time, less commuting, that sort of stuff. 

Has there been any kind of noticeable difference in their lives at all?  

Gaby: [00:23:59] Very much so. So, as you point out, I’ve four children that their experience was dad gets up, goes to work, comes back in the afternoon. Our fifth child was a baby. She was, how old was she would have been not even 12 months old when my wife fell pregnant with our sixth. And so she never knew any different, so there’s absolutely no question there’s a palpable difference in the relationship that I have with number five, numbers five and six who are two beautiful little girls. 

Nelson: [00:24:44] I was going to say I’m sure they do have names. The difference in the relationship. We call them by numbers. These last two, five and six. 

Gaby: [00:24:54] Right so they’re Hannah and Menuchah. So that’s sometimes difficult, but yeah. So with Hannah and Menuchah, you can see in them that there’s just this total acceptance of the fact that their father is always there. And there’s almost, for example, I mean the easiest way that I can explain it with a practical example is that if one of them were to fall over and scrape their knee or hurt, moreso Hannah than Menuchah as Menuchah is a bit of a mommy’s girl, but the natural instinct of a child is to run to their mother. Hannah will go to whoever is closest. It’s just absolutely no mommy, it’s just who who’s closest. And so that’s something that I wasn’t used to having had four kids, that if they hurt themselves, their natural instinct is to just run to their mother. I could be standing right there. They’ll go to their mum because their mother is the one that’s always constantly there, comforting them. If something goes wrong.  

Nelson: [00:26:10] how did that make you feel?  

Gaby: [00:26:13] Which way.  

Nelson: [00:26:14] Both ways, like the fact that you suddenly had Hannah kind of opening up to you with kind of a different frame of relationship, did it, and I don’t want to kind of almost transpose my thoughts onto there, but I think for me that perhaps there’d be an element of guilt, I think I’d feel joy that I had this relationship with Hannah, but perhaps like, Oh, but why don’t I have that with the others. Have you ever kind of experienced that with the first four? 

Gaby: [00:26:50] I think there was nothing, it was never really not something you considered. Cause that’s sort of the natural way of things. You know, when my wife had a business, she had a business that she was running from home anyway, food business. 

So she was always present and that’s the way she wanted it. She wanted to do something that allowed her to be at home because she considered herself to be a mother first and foremost and someone who works in the food industry very much, you know, down the pecking order.  So it didn’t really occur to me, but I think you’ve hit on something there that when I noticed this very distinct difference in the connection between Hannah and the other four, it was an absolute revelation. 

It highlighted something that I hadn’t really paid any attention to previously because it was just baseline and having that revelation from Hannah did highlight the differences in the other four. And that’s not to say that there’s a qualitative sort of inferiority in the relationship, with the youngest it’s just different, you know, it’s not better or worse, it’s just very different. I don’t love them any less and they don’t love me any less. It’s jus there’s just an instinctive difference in the way they connect with us. And that’s true of all children, each child connects differently with each parent and with each other. 

So, cause they’re all individuals.  But yeah, I mean, I suppose there is a part of me that maybe felt that you know, we have boy, boy, boy, girl, girl, girl. And if anything, I’ve probably felt that wouldn’t it have been great to have this experience with a boy.  Because the boys naturally is a different kind of connection between a father and a son and a father and a daughter, and also with a mother and a son and a mother and a daughter, it was just a different kind of connection. 

And I guess for me, it would have been, I kind of feel like that’s something I missed out on a little bit, was being able to have that same kind of intensity and closeness, physical closeness with a boy and kind of experienced that and how it works, but, you know, that’s the way everything fell into place and I have no regrets whatsoever, but I kind of get it more as a blessing that’s being given to us, to me for Hannah 

Nelson: [00:29:37] Definitely. So I’m curious though, because obviously I don’t have any kids of kids of my own yet. But what do you think the difference would have been if you’re able to kind of have that relationship with a boy?  

Gaby: [00:29:53] Really good question. I mean, I frankly don’t know, because as I said, each child is completely the different and as it is even with Hannah and Menuchah, there’s still a difference in the way that they are. Menuchah is still very attached to her mother, and there are times where, you know, if she does want she’ll run to me, but there are times where she definitely just wants mum. You know, I suppose with a boy, you, you share something that’s a little more intangible. 

 You know, obviously males and females, we’re all human, we’re all the same on many, many different levels, but we do process things a little bit differently, our emotional and intellectual responses to the same set of circumstances can be different. Men approach things one way, women approach things in another way. And that’s a massive generalization to say about, you know, like three and a half billion people on either side, you know, in the world. But I mean, I think anyone who’s been in a relationship will understand that with men and women there are certain differences between the way men and women respond to their environment. 

Nelson: [00:31:19] So, I mean my wife and I probably fall into quite a stereotypical kind of assumption of traditional gender kind of roles, I suppose I would describe her as , if there was going to be like an emotional one and logical one, she’s the emotional one and I’m the logical one. Like she helped me process a lot of my emotions almost like… I don’t want to say that I outsource my emotions to her, cause that’s not true. Well, there is quite an interesting thought. But I do almost lend what I’m going through to her for her to kind of interpret it and then almost kind of pass it back to me. 

So I would kind of agree with that. And she does the same with like her logical decision-making, obviously she’s fully capable of that, she has her gut, but I’m better at being able to unpick the different points and take a step back and do that sort of thing. So I think there’s definite truth in what you’re saying,  

Gaby: [00:32:36] That sounds like a really healthy relationship, to be honest with you. 

Cause it sounds like you’re both leaning on each other for each other’s strengths. And rather than there are times where that can be a source of conflict, it sounds like you’re actually utilizing each other’s strengths to actually grow both as individuals and as a couple, which is wonderful. 

And in our case, we have a little bit of gender reversal at times because I’m a monumental snag and snag means sensitive new age guy. Right.  

Nelson: [00:33:13] Explain that I’ve not heard it.  

Gaby: [00:33:16] Okay all right. So basically sensitive new age guys. I guess the stereotypical image of the man is sort of is more, as you said, more practical, more nuts and bolts, less emotional, whereas women are traditionally far more empathetic, far more emotionally driven and more caring and will approach and see things in a more, you know emotional and I guess nurturing light and then men. There are aspects of our personalities and our response to things where that actually gets reversed. I’m sometimes the one that says “But this is how I feel” and my wife is uber practical. She’s amazing in terms of how she’s always, what needs to be done, how does it need to be, what’s the best way of doing this? And I don’t think either of us have a monopoly on either of those things, but there are times where we look at them and just like, Hey, who’s the dude and who’s the chick in this relationship. And sometimes I’ll sort of express that kind of feminine aspect of my character. And she’ll often express the masculine side of her character and it just works. It’s fantastic.  

Nelson: [00:34:40] Amazing it’s great everyone’s able to find their strengths and when that is able to happen. 

I think in terms of the owning your own business, bringing it back to that, obviously you’ve had the freedom aspects that we’ve talked about, which is great and the impact on your children and your relationship with them, your relationship with your wife as well, which is just amazing. 

In terms of the earning potential for your work and how that relates to your family, obviously, as you said, six kids is a lot, that’s a lot of mouths to feed.  So what’s the impact been there.  

Gaby: [00:35:25] We, my wife and I, will frequently, we’re constantly evaluating how are we going in all aspects of our lives, whether it’s our children’s education, whether it’s our financial situation, you know, et cetera, et cetera. We frequently will just look at each other and go, how could we have possibly managed to do this if I was still working in the agency> Like I don’t understand how we survived. I genuinely have no idea how we survived at the time. Looking back on it, I can only just say that obviously as a religious Jew, my first impulse is to say that God just made it happen, and I have no other logical explanation. Cause it’s just the numbers don’t… 

Nelson: [00:36:17] They don’t seem to add up. 

Gaby: [00:36:19] Yeah and even to this day, I never look at my accounts, ever. I won’t, because it’s not in my hands.  

Nelson: [00:36:32] That’s an odd thing. I’m just going to point that out as an odd thing. I think that I’ve never heard that. Yeah. 

Gaby: [00:36:39] No because there’s so many times where I just look and I go I don’t understand that, there shouldn’t be enough in here to be able to cover the expenses, but somehow there just is. And so I just feel like there’s some kind of something happening there that if I was to actually sit down and go the line by line, I’d break the spell and it all come crashing down. 

Nelson: [00:37:06] You’d see something that you missed before, right? You’re like, ah, I forgot to account for that.  

Gaby: [00:37:13] It’s not even that I forgot to count it, but it’s just like, as you know, we have a very firm belief that there is a higher power that directs and controls everything in our lives. And part of our spiritual mission is to let go of our egos to some extent, and to put ourselves in God’s hands and just trust that he’s got it under control and he will, whatever happens is for the best, even if it appears to us to be negative, it’s for the best. 

And we can’t necessarily see how it happens. That’s exactly what happened when I lost my job, it seemed like the world was crashing down. It was the worst possible thing that could have happened, but ultimately it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. And you couldn’t have convinced me on that as I was driving home, but you know within a very short space of time, it became quite apparent that it was the best thing that could have happened. And that’s just a good example of that.   

But certainly in terms of my pure earning potential, I just can’t compare. There’s no, as I said, we look at it and we just don’t understand how. There’s no way we could have made our lives work in the way that we currently are, if I was still stuck to or tied to a salary that was just not increasing at the rate that we needed it to increase.  

I think most importantly, it’s not just like, Oh, I’m making more money. It’s that when you’re running your own business, you’re in control, and if you have some skills and you understand how to utilize those skills, and if you’re passionate about what you do, and if you’re able to work on yourself to the point where what you have to offer is valuable, you can then set your income to some extent by demonstrating value, and then simply asking to be compensated at a level which is commensurate with the value that you’re providing, right? 

That is not something that you can necessarily do if you’re on a salary, especially if you’re in a relationship where there relationship was quite toxic and it doesn’t matter what you do, the person on the other side of the negotiating table is always looking to basically nickel and dime you down, to point out what you’re doing wrong, to pick holes in your performance and you know that you’re going into it, you know you want to maximize what you’re getting out of the relationship. They want to minimize what they’re putting in.  And so as opposed to, “hi, I’m Gaby from Genesis Digital, this is what I can do for you. This is what I did for somebody else. I can do the same for you. This is what it costs.” And if they go, “that’s too much”, like, oh well, okay, fine, good luck. 

But it’s then who goes, well, that’s amazing and you can demonstrate, well, if we do X, Y, and Z, then you can expect return, you know, then they turn around and go, well, that’s, that’s a good investment. 

And so it’s all about I just find that that ability to value yourself or I should say attribute    value to what you can contribute to the client, allows you to simply just open up the door, that if I do a good job, I will get paid. I will get paid and I’ll continue to get paid. And then they will refer me to other people.   

A classic example of that is there was one client with who I had on the hook when I was at the agency. I hadn’t closed it yet.  And then they let me go. And then I call, I don’t know whether this is ethical or not, but I called the guy and I said, “Hey, look, I’m going out and do my own thing now. I’d love to just have a discussion about whether you’d like to continue with the discussion with me as Genesis rather than with them” and he was just like, “yeah, I mean, I’m talking to you and whatever”.  

So, I ended up closing that, they still are one of my largest clients, and then that gentleman who I was dealing with moved onto another organization. Within two weeks of moving to that organization he called me in to his new one and then I had them as a client.  Then he then referred me to an old high school friend who became a client and then another work colleague who became a client. 

So through this one connection, I ended up with like five or six different clients simply because he was happy with the work that I had done. The impact on my personal income from that is I get 100% of the impact. If that had been part of the same flow of word of mouth and recommendations, et cetera. Then the company that I was working for would have benefited and I would have received a commission of a little bit, which I rarely got my commission because there was always a reason why it couldn’t get paid that month or something like that. And so the impact on me personally, from a financial perspective would have been minimal. 

So, you know, it’s really about if you’ve got a game that you can bring to the table and you can execute and deliver results for the client, then you can essentially, the impact that you can have on for yourself personally is monumental.  

Nelson: [00:43:18] I mean, there’s so many great things you said that I’m not sure which one that we’re going to approach first, but just in terms of like the referral thing, I think this is so common and sometimes it happens naturally that without you asking the client just refers, you. They say, “Oh, by the way, do you mind if I send your details on to so-and-so my friend or I’ve got a colleague or I’m in this group with somebody who I think that would really benefit from you.”  

So, it’s the same thing that happened with the agency side. I’ve got the agency business, I’ve got my freelance business and other businesses as well, but the agency side that’s exactly what happens. You know, I brought on a client in August maybe last year, I think it was. You know, really great, really enjoyed working with them, produced great results for them. So they owned multiple businesses. So they also transferred one of their other brands over to us as well. Then they said, okay, do you mind if we, a few months after that, after we kind of proved ourselves again and they said, okay, well, can we refer you to this person? And now they just refer us without asking. 

And we’ve closed, they gave us two referrals, we’ve brought one of them on two weeks ago, actually.  There’s another one that should be coming on later this month. And then another one that we’re in conversations with at very, very super early stages. And so you get into this situation where your business looks completely different to what it did six months ago, just because of one strong, good relationship where you’ve proven yourself. 

People want to be the one who is the recommender, right? Like, Oh, you should totally check out this. This person did great for me. People love that. 

Gaby: [00:45:16] Yeah. That’s sometimes what I explain to people is that in the way the persona that I try to project I think is sort of the guru persona, if that is a thing.  And I guess if I can put it really simply it’s like, when I want to be the guy that when one business person is talking to another business person, and this one says I need X and this one’s goes, “Oh, I got the guy”, I’m the guy. Yeah so I think part of it, as you were speaking before, I think something that struck me was that there’s something qualitatively different in the relationships that I’ve made just to build as a business owner compared to when I was an employee and I think, if I think about it, when I was an employee and I was in business development, I would do all the work to close the deal. And once I closed the deal, I then handed it off. And my relationship with that client essentially ended. Now that I’m building the relationship, there’s not an end point, it’s not a goal, I’m not trying to get this over the line so then I can just run off and step onto the dais and receive my metal and walk off. Right? The end point is continually moving on because you want to retain that client. So the relationships that I have built and maintain with clients are far deeper and far more meaningful. And at the same time, also, if I stuff it up, then it’s far more, it hurts far more. 

Nelson: [00:46:59] The incentives are just aligned more closely aren’t they really. You get the benefits, but you’re also taking the risk. Like if it doesn’t work out, then it’s your name, it’s your business at the end of the day, you’ve no salary coming in. 

Gaby: [00:47:19] And I’ve stuffed up plenty cause I’m still learning on this journey. And I was certainly when I started off I was learning  

Nelson: [00:47:27] Gaby was there a time that you ever thought, you know, “Oh, I can do this, I can make my way as a freelancer. I do have the skillset and the experience and the confidence to do it”? 

 Gaby: [00:47:42] Yeah and that happened really early for me.  And I think I mentioned to you earlier that creating those relationships with clients has been, there’s a real palpable difference in how I interact with the clients. And for me, one of the turning points was very early on when I was dealing with a potential new client and this was actually a client from the agency and I called them to say goodbye and say look we’ve parted ways and best of luck. And really they turned around and said, “Oh, we’re coming with you”. And I was like, “really?” and  the lady said to me “our relationship is with you. We want you, we bought you essentially, we’ve got no particular connection with the agency. We closed this deal because we wondered the impression that you were going to be dealing with this because wave impressed with your knowledge and your expertise. And we want to continue with that.” 

And I really had no intention of bringing up, doing anything other than saying a courtesy call to say goodbye. And then when I realized that this organization saw me as an authority and saw me as an expert and believed enough in my capabilities to say, well, you know, we were coming with you.  It was sort of my own Jerry, Jerry Maguire moment. So that made me feel that, oh wow okay.  Maybe, I can do this. I was really fortunate that happened quite early.  And I think from there, they gave me a lot of confidence and just. Also having some connections within the industry and being able to have people with whom I still work today, and being able to bounce stuff off them, lean on them to get advice  and get them their feedback and have them sort of also boost me a little bit yeah and point out what’s right about what I do, and refer me clients all made me feel okay well you know, if they’re referring me and we have mutual clients then that they’re doing one aspect of their marketing and I’m doing their SEO. They don’t want me, they wouldn’t refer me, them to me if they didn’t believe that I was going to do a good job because that then reflects poorly on them.  So that’s sort of made me feel quite confident, very, very early on. And that’s how my business started. I was able to gain enough traction to sort of keep it going in the earliest stages. 

So, yeah.  In terms of, you know, I guess the corollary of that, of thinking, you know, maybe I could go back, as opposed to maybe I can make this work or maybe I should go back. For many, many reasons, it’s not something that has ever crossed over my mind. So it’s not, I guess for me, there was never any point of if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just go get the job again. Do you know what I mean?  

I think taking away that safety net has me to just throw myself in and try to improve myself and work on my skills as much as I can to be as competent and as authoritative as I can possibly be and continue to improve. Because I can’t see myself going back. I mean, we go back to the discussion we had about the religious requirements and the pressure that I felt constantly having to juggle the requirements of my family and their requirements of my religious observance, and in some cases, those are intermingled. So just to give you another example, we have morning prayers and I would go to the synagogue and have to come home and we have four children, and then five children, and my wife has as an infant and is then is pregnant again and that’s physically incredibly demanding of her.  And then the house is just a tornado and then you get the older kids to school and then I felt I could see my wife physically struggling and so I felt I really needed, she’s my priority, I really needed to help get the house in order and so by the time she got back, I’m trying to get the house in order. And maybe, maybe, just maybe we could actually sit down for five minutes and have a cup of coffee together. So what was happening due to all that, my prioritizing my wife, I was constantly 10/15 minutes late because I had family and religious requirements and everyone else is rolling out of bed, brushing their teeth, put some clothes on, going to work. When I wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and by the time I get to work at nine o’clock, I mean, I’ve had half a day already, and then to have to be constantly available: “you’re supposed to be here at 8:45. Well, now it’s nine O’clock why are you late.” I’m like dude, no idea, so to go back to that kind of pressure and feeling that there’s a time I must be there and from this time till that time, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It’s not, I don’t know that I could ever go back to that environment. 

Nelson: [00:53:37] Yeah. I kind of feel like in a way there’s certain ways that I feel like freelancing has made me soft. It’s nothing related to skillset or anything like that, because like my skills and what I’m actually able to achieve have gone on leaps and bounds from where they were a few years ago, even. 

But there’s certain things that I’m like, I just don’t think I could do that anymore. Like, I don’t think I could sit in a face-to-face meeting anymore and you know, have to make nice. We had these ridiculous, at my last agency, like half or full day meetings with clients, maybe once every six months, or it’s the plan for the quarter or annual reviews. And they were like endurance events, you had to prepare and fuel up and get the right carbs on to survive.  I just don’t think I’ve got it in me now. I tend to get up between seven and eight, just because that’s when my body wants to get up, but I most of the time I don’t start work until 8:45/9. So I just kind of roll downstairs, this is where my office is, to start. And depending on a day, like on days like today, when I’m recording podcasts, I purposely keep it quite light because I need my energy for these. And I also find like I don’t write and record podcasts very well on the same day, so I just don’t do it. And it took me a little while to figure that out, but now I just don’t do it.  So today’s going to be a really light day, but yesterday and the day before I kind of started writing at half eight and I didn’t stop writing, like with the piece that I was working on, probably till one or two, I just worked all the way through and then I had like a two-hour lunch and then I put in three or four more hours in the evening just to catch up a lot of the admin and the email and that sort of side of things.  So I’m still working, but I’m very much like  

Gaby: [00:55:49] a hundred percent  

Nelson: [00:55:50] There are days that I just don’t want to work. 

Like it was a day like before Christmas, when it was like a Wednesday and I just didn’t feel good. And I knew that if I sat at my computer, nothing was going to happen and it was a waste of a day. I just knew that.  So I didn’t try and force it. And actually, because I didn’t try and force it, I managed to do some work which felt good to me in the evening. I just sat down for a couple of hours, actually had quite productive couple of hours, but my brain doesn’t work on this regimented 9-5:30 and freelancing for me, there were so many times when I was at my agency when I was playing with something for a client in my head and it was like one in the morning on a Saturday or something like that, and I was like, I’ve really got to stop, I don’t get paid for this, and it’s inhabiting my brain space purely because that’s how my brain works. Mull things over and stuff. I can’t just suddenly give you my best work because it’s between the hours of nine and half five. 

Gaby: [00:57:03] And so for me, just because of the way my life is, I don’t quite necessarily have that sort of freestyle ability. But what I do have is, I wake up around five in the morning and essentially I’m engaged in religious obligations until I have to leave the house to go to synagogue for prayers. 

And then by the time I come home, I would walk back in the door, say around 7:30 and then, there are kids and things that need to happen, et cetera, et cetera. And then by the time I’ve dropped the kids off to school, I normally do the school run and then I come home and then my wife and I will try and remember the number of the license plate of the truck that hit us and then we’ll sit down and have a cup of coffee and some breakfast at that point in time, it’s like nine o’clock. I mean, I’ve been up for four hours and I’ve been nonstop for four hours before I even have a cup of coffee and breakfast. So it’s  intense. And so I’ll start a little later. I’ll normally have a bit of time, maybe 9:30, 10 o’clock I’ll start. And then I’ll just work my way through the day as required. But then four o’clock, the house gets invaded by hoards of hungry, noisy children.  And so there’s not much that can really happen. And then from there, it’s just the battle of dinner, bath time, showers, get to bed, the whole thing. And so that normally winds up at around nine, at which point I’m back on. And so I’ll open up my computer again, and then I’m working sometimes until two, three in the morning. Sometimes it’s just light. Just depends on what I’m cooking.  

Nelson: [00:58:49] Yeah, I know. I like I’ve had calls with you before where we were just catching up and I looked down at my watch and think like, hang on, what time is it for you? And it’s been like one or two in the morning and we’ve been speaking. Yeah. And that’s just…  

Gaby: [00:59:03] That’s just the way it works. And then I’m up at five o’clock, you know, four hours later. And I’m very lucky that I can get by on very little sleep periods of time. I probably, recently I think just my general wellbeing, health and wellbeing has sort of hit a point where my body has told me you need to just take it a little bit easy.  And so I’m recently been taking it a little bit easier, but for example, right now I’m in the Southern hemisphere, it’s the middle of summer, my kids are on are on summer holidays. Our eldest is a gifted cricketer, he and his team were basically selected for his associate cricket association representative side. And they were playing in a tournament for the last couple of weeks now.  Yeah, he’s 12 and I’m following him all around Melbourne as he’s playing cricket and every day I’m just sitting there laptop up just sitting at the cricket, watching him working as much as I can. And there were days exactly. Like you said, days where I turned around and said, all right, you know, crack on and, and was able to get a whole bunch of stuff done. There were days I turned around, I said, either the matches too interesting, or I’m just not feeling up to it just yeah not going to happen today. And I think that knowing yourself a little bit and understanding when you’re going to be productive when you’re not going to be productive and then having taken the responsibility that if I wasn’t productive, then I’ve got to find productive time somewhere else and being in control of that. 

As opposed to having the pressure of, as I sort of mentioned earlier, you must be in the office from this time until this time, and you must be productive during that time. And you know, those are the parameters under which you need to work as opposed to no, I’ll find the time when I’m going to be most productive and I’ll be productive then within whatever my mind, my body, my soul is telling me at that point in time. 

And I think it’s just a better way to live and it’s a better way to work and I think it makes me a better practitioner of what I do professionally, it certainly makes me a better father and it makes me a better husband.  And I feel like just everything in my life is improved from breaking out of the shackles that salary imposed upon me. 

 And the environment that comes with that salary and believing in myself enough to have the courage of my convictions, that when pushed into that situation, I could just make it happen. And with obviously some help from above in my line of spiritual work, we can’t take full credit for everything. Everything happens for a reason and with some help. And I think that’s why I could never really go back because I don’t think I could be the best version of myself professionally, privately, in any sphere of my life in that environment. And I see it and, you know, we were talking a little earlier offline, I’m fully confident that I could walk into a job. I see jobs advertised and I can walk into them paying double, triple what I was earning previously. And I’m confident I could walk in there and land one of them, but I would never want to do it.  

Nelson: [01:02:55] Cool. Well, I think that is a fantastic place to leave the conversation for today. 

I’m really, really happy that you found a situation that works for you and for your family and that they get you around more as well. So that’s fantastic. So for anybody who wants to follow up and talk to you about content and SEO and marketing in general, where can they find you? 

Gaby: [01:03:21] Well, I am the only digital marketing company on the planet that doesn’t have a website. Sorry, I’ve got to still get a landing page that I’m working on. But best place to hit me up is on LinkedIn. So I’m Gaby Silver, Genesis Digital. So if you look me up there, then you will find me and feel free to be in contact and here I am happy to answer any questions you might have.  

Nelson: [01:03:50] Amazing. Thank you so much, Gaby.  

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