Remoter Podcast

Finding your why with Mandy Fransz of Make the Leap Digital

Episode Summary

Recorded on 02/2020 in Breda, Netherlands. Mandy’s home. Remoter visited Mandy, founder of Make the Leap Digital, and documented her story from the beginning (while eating stroopwafels). Make the Leap Digital helps companies worldwide with LinkedIn branding, marketing, and sales. She helps small business owners, freelancers and other solopreneurs create profit-driven businesses that allow them to work from anywhere.

Episode Notes

Recorded on 02/2020 in Breda, Netherlands. Mandy’s home. Remoter visited Mandy, founder of Make the Leap Digital, and documented her story from the beginning (while eating stroopwafels). Make the Leap Digital helps companies worldwide with LinkedIn branding, marketing, and sales. She helps small business owners, freelancers and other solopreneurs create profit-driven businesses that allow them to work from anywhere.

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Episode Transcription

Josephine Tse  0:00  

It's time for season two of the Remoter Podcast. I'm your host Josephine.

Josephine Tse  0:05  

As a continuation from season one with Alex and Andres, I had the opportunity to interview some remote work leaders, ranging from companies, consultants, advocates and more to add to Remoter's stash of free resources and human-centred stories, enriching our educational platform about remote work. This podcast is sponsored by Torre, a new kind of professional network that automatically connects talent with opportunity. Founded by Alexander Torrenegra, our goal is to make work fulfilling for everyone find the job of your dreams by visiting That's T O R R E dot C O.

Josephine Tse  0:44  

I ended up spending a lot of time with Mandy during my week in the Netherlands. Not only did she participate in the Remoter Project, but we also co-hosted a speaker/network series event in Rotterdam. And I also don't know if you guys have been listening to every single episode in this season. But if you have, then maybe you've realised that I only talk about the weather and food. And speaking of food, I believe that a lot of the strongest bonds are established over meals. I had the pleasure of eating sea salt, caramel stroopwafels and a traditional Dutch lunch, as Mandy told me her story from the beginning to what she wants to do down the road as she continues figuring out her remote solopreneur journey. If there's anything to take away from this, it's that making the leap, the very first one is the most difficult.

Josephine Tse  1:33  

Oh, wow, it's already 10:30. Okay, not it's nothing bad. I'm just like, Oh, it's 10:30 because I woke up so early, and I was like, I'm gonna run to the train station and not be late for my train.

Mandy Fransz  1:46  

And then you weren't.

Josephine Tse  1:47  

And then I wasn't. Yeah, and then it was all cancelled. Today, there's a lot of track work going on, for listeners for context. Ah, what a day. I'm here with Mandy Fransz from Make the Leap Digital in her home in Breda. How are you today?

Mandy Fransz  2:04  

I'm very good, thank you so much, despite the weather in Breda and in the Netherlands this week. It's been... it's been a good week, yeah. This is actually the first year in six years that I'm here around this time. And wow. So yeah.

Josephine Tse  2:17  

So you're like, man, get me out of here.

Mandy Fransz  2:20  

I want to go back to Colombia. I was there last year, and

Josephine Tse  2:23  

I bet it wasn't raining.

Mandy Fransz  2:24  

No. Well, actually, it was rainy season as well. But still rainy and 30 degrees. So

Josephine Tse  2:30  

Okay, okay. Did it rain all day, though? Or was it like...

Mandy Fransz  2:33  

Started around three o'clock in the afternoon? But but yeah, like I said, beautiful weather outside of that. 30 degrees, so I don't mind as much.

Josephine Tse  2:43  

And so, Mandy, could you tell, tell us a little bit about yourself?

Mandy Fransz  2:47  

Yeah. First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to the Remoter Podcast today. 

Josephine Tse  2:53  

No, no problem. Thank you for joining like it's why, one of the reasons why I could come to the Netherlands so I am thankful for that.

Mandy Fransz  3:00  

Yeah excited for you to come to my home country as well. And to show you a bit more about where I'm from. So I am the founder of Make the Leap Digital. Been working remotely for the past two years now. So I've been travelling quite a lot in my life, I would say. So I help small businesses worldwide with LinkedIn branding, marketing and in sales. 

Josephine Tse  3:20  

So how did you get into remote work? 

Mandy Fransz  3:24  

So I did an international business administration in Rotterdam. And that's really where I started working with people from anywhere, from a lot of different cultures. So my studies was in English as well. And I always knew that I either wanted to work abroad or do combine work and travel that I could further explore like different countries and cultures. So that's why I've been travelling a lot during my studies and also when I graduated, so I did marketing management as a master. And I, when I graduated, I just didn't want to apply for a corporate job, what most of my fellow students did.

Mandy Fransz  3:59  

So after graduation, that was back in March 2015, already, I decided to travel instead. So I went to South America with my sister and best friend. And somehow I wanted to combine work and travel. I didn't have a clue about what how it was going to do that. Back then I started just a blog. I thought everybody who, I've heard of this term digital nomads of course. And I thought digital nomads are bloggers, travel bloggers. So that's what I did and I didn't earn a single sense back then. But luckily for me, I was approached for a job at LinkedIn at the time, for their European headquarters. And that's actually how I started my career in a corporate job in technology. So I moved to Dublin, Ireland, lived there for two years and worked there, I had a lot of fun as well. But I, the travel bug started itching again after two years. And that's actually when I decided to make the leap of faith as I now call my company Make the Leap Digital. I didn't have single plan again, I just wanted to figure out what way how to work remote. Booked a ticket to Bali, that's actually where it all started two years ago actually now.

Josephine Tse  5:05  

Wow okay so having worked for like one of the biggest players in the career job HR field and then going solo with no plan, going to Bali. That's that's scary actually. 

Mandy Fransz  5:18  

It was yes. 

Josephine Tse  5:19  

Yeah, that's frightening. I think everybody remembers like, the first big job they quit and like handing- handing in a resignation letter and like having that conversation with your boss and them being like, wow, what are what what else can we do? What what is happening and all that? I think that's definitely like a, like a like that milestone thing that people usually remember. I remember mine.

Mandy Fransz  5:44  

But yeah, you're in the same boat. Yeah, yeah,

Josephine Tse  5:48  

I feel like it I can relate. So now talking about make the leap digital, two years in the making, how are you finding the process of being a solopreneur, a remote solopreneur? And I wanted to talk a little bit more about your company's three core pillars that that you write about on your website as well.

Mandy Fransz  6:06  

Yes, of course. Okay. Yeah. So it was like quite a transition going from corporate environment, especially the environment I was in. We had a free gym and meditation session every day and free rooftop barista bar.

Josephine Tse  6:21  

All the benefits, everything. 

Mandy Fransz  6:22  

Exactly yes all the worlds plus perks and benefits and making the jump to working for yourself. So I wasn't planning to start my own business from scratch. But it was, when I went to Bali and just dove into the world of remote work. When I started meeting all these kinds of, you know, freelancers, people that work for themselves, solopreneurs, as I like to call them, and that's when I started working from co working spaces to just, you know, be surrounded by like minded people. I just received tonnes of questions about what I do about my background, about LinkedIn. And that's how I kind of transitioned into being a freelancer or solopreneur. So I wasn't actually planning to start to start an own business. But I just transition into it and it's been quite a ride. So for the past two years, so beginning the first couple of months, it's all about figuring out not only how to work remote, but also how to start our own business, which are two different challenges, I think.

Josephine Tse  7:18  

I would imagine that the switch, like the learning curve is quite huge to be tackling the own business thing and the remote thing. What were some thoughts that were running through your head at that time? 

Mandy Fransz  7:29  

I think working remotely alone is already a whole adjustments. So you really have to actively find communities, like minded people if you want that social aspect as well in your work. I remember the first Monday morning after when I quit my job, working from a co working space. I was like, where's my team? So those are all things and I guess only after like one and a half years, that's when everything kind of started to come together and the first period is definitely learning, learning curve.

Josephine Tse  7:57  

The solopreneur and setting up your business and learning for the first year and a half. Is that kind of how you got to your three core pillars like how you got to identifying what your business is focusing on?

Mandy Fransz  8:10  

Yeah, definitely. So at some time as well, I kind of lost my motivation because I didn't start my business intentionally. And then I started thinking about what makes you know, what makes makes me want to get jump out of bed every morning. And I think every, every business starts with purpose. So I think for me, really, I had to go back into thinking what is my purpose? Why, why do I want to do this? And what how do I want to help other people? And for me, my purpose was helping other freelancers and solopreneurs and small businesses live the life with freedom and flexibility that they deserve, which is in my what I believe is remote work. And that's why the three pillars so starting with purpose, and then having the right processes in place, so for me, that's LinkedIn branding, marketing and sales, and then of course, you know, having a profitable strategy that that makes it sustainable as well to to maintain your business.

Josephine Tse  9:05  

I think your core pillars, they resonate with a lot of other business solopreneurs and people who are trying to start their own projects as well. I see on your site defining your missions and values. Can you talk a little bit more about that? 

Mandy Fransz  9:18  

I think my core belief really for starting this business and also maintaining this business and also, you know, wanting to help other people achieve success is that I believe future of work is remote. And that's why I was I had the courage kind of to make the jump, hoping to inspire and help other people as well. That's really my big driver behind my business.

Josephine Tse  9:39  

So I want to dive into three categories that you will probably know best. The future of work is remote- in terms of a business/financial perspective, from your personal experiences as a strategist with your clients, what are some, I guess, pros and cons that you've seen, discussed or topics being thrown around?

Mandy Fransz  10:01  

For me it all started with just sharing my experience. So my company Make the Leap Digital started out as an Instagram account, just sharing my experience going from corporate to remote work. And I also started sharing my experiences in a blog series on LinkedIn, the Rise of Remote Work. And there's one article that I did about, you know, the business and financial benefits of remote work. And that's really what I think is super interesting. So, you know, one, if we're talking about financial gains is not only for employees, so for me as an employee or freelancer is saving money on commutes, but also companies save a lot of money by saving office space. So real estate is something that's really big, as big as well, a big financial saver for companies. So for example, when I used to work in corporate there was only one office building when I started out and two years later, there were three office buildings. There's tonnes of investments going into having employees in inside the office also what I noticed now working remotely for two years, productivity goes up so much. So office chit-chats - some people hate it, some people love it. I actually really love being inside the office and talking to people. But my productivity went down so much. So sometimes I was talking for hours with people, right? Yeah, just, you know, catching up about the weekend and working remotely helps people be more productive. That's something that I really believe in as well. That's in terms of business gains and financial gains, I would say,

Josephine Tse  11:34  

Have businesses or clients ever come to you and ask about the cons that you've heard about or experienced?

Mandy Fransz  11:40  

Yes. So definitely, in terms of business perspective, I would say I've had a lot of questions by people wanting to make the leap into remote work and being concerned about, isn't it lonely, for example. So loneliness is one big parts. That's definitely something that I think that businesses or people trying to go into remote work or thinking about remote work that's kind of that they're doubting about. But like I said before, I think there's definitely some solutions that that can help having online community. So I also manage one of the LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups for remote workers, which has grown from 2000 to currently more than 30,000 members worldwide. We're all quite active in the community as well. So that's something that's pretty helps to have a like minded community and to not feel that alone in your remote work environment.

Josephine Tse  12:29  

Have you been able to share your learnings and help educate some businesses to go that route? I'd love to hear some of the stories with your clientele.

Mandy Fransz  12:39  

So now I mainly focusing on solopreneurs people that are coaches, consultants, freelancers that either you know want to go remote, start their own business or like myself, rather than working for a company. For example, this week, I've helped clients, she just quit her job, corporate job as well couple of months ago and her big dream is to work from Bali for a couple of months. She now currently works mainly from home with her husband, and she's pregnant with her second child. For her, it was also the decision to quit her job. And she hired me to help her, you know, make her business, have the right processes in place, and to make your business profitable.

Josephine Tse  13:19  

Have there been any interesting challenges that you never thought you would have encountered?

Mandy Fransz  13:24  

For myself? I've had some challenges into, you know, for example, what tools to use when you go remote. And I remember last year when I worked from Colombia, I still didn't know... So I did a remote master class for a group of 20 to 25 students. They asked me like, can you also do it online? And I was surprised because it was quite a big group. It was a one hour workshop. And I was just surprised that they didn't mind me working remotely. So we did a master class all remotely and I back then didn't even know you know, what tools do I use to do this masterclass. So for me what I think found challenging was, you know, feeling the audience, you know what's do they think? Do they like the session or not? And that's way different than when you're actually in the room.

Josephine Tse  14:08  

So how did you make it interactive? Or did they set it up on their end to...

Mandy Fransz  14:13  

It was via Appear.In, it's called? 

Josephine Tse  14:15  


Mandy Fransz  14:15  

And I just heard about this tool from other remote workers in Medellin at that time. I just remember feeling really awkward and I remember at the end of the session that I was thinking like, Oh my gosh, this is the worst my worst presentation ever. They'll never hire me again. And actually, I went there last month again, but then on site, okay, because now I'm in Rotterdam. Yeah, but they apparently they liked it. So that's when I noticed, you know, working remotely and doing these video sessions, especially with more people on the other side, there's lack of feeling of the connection. So for me, it felt a bit awkward but apparently for them they they liked it.

Josephine Tse  14:56  

I'm guessing that you never would have thought that you'd be doing these workshops as well, doing more of like the educational parts with a group of people, a big group of people in front of you. 

Mandy Fransz  15:07  


Josephine Tse  15:07  

When you start it Make the Leap Digital. 

Mandy Fransz  15:09  

No, no, definitely. And I think I'm still learning along the way. And I think the beauty of this whole online atmosphere is also you know, all the possibilities you can do so much online. So, you know, I recently wrote a whole ebook as well that I published okay so it's on my website available so I you know, once it's available on my website, and I can just keep keep selling it and keep promoting it. And the same for so what I learned from this master class that I did last year is when you know when I record is I can just sell it again on my my website so and scale it as well, right? You don't have to do it live for one group of people or one clients. 

Josephine Tse  15:49  

I really like to knock and try to get deeper. And you had said that you know, this was a... it was a big learning curve trying to do both that once and all that, but if you were able to go back and talk to yourself two years ago, you know, at the point where you quit your job and you had no plans, what would you say to your to your past self?

Mandy Fransz  16:13  

Okay, so it's a fun fun question, because so I always say, I will only regret the things I never tried. So I'll never regret anything that I did in the past, although I could have definitely done it like a lot faster, a lot cheaper, whatever. Basically, for me, I was just free freewheeling first year, I would say, but I would definitely you know, if I can share any advice with people that that are also thinking of quitting their job without any plan. You know, really trust the process like in the end, you know, it might seem scary. So I think like I said in the beginning, making the leap, like making that first step is the hardest part. That's what I really believe in so if you're thinking about you know, making that same step, I would tell myself, you know, you know, don't be don't be scared, we'll all be fine. There's always scary decisions. It's not as bad as it seems on the other side. So that's one. Number two is like, don't be afraid to invest in yourself. Actually, when I started doing so, in the beginning, I was like, oh, I have to figure out everything by myself. You know, I have tonnes of skills that I have right now that I didn't have in the, in the beginning, which took a lot of time. And also, that's why, you know, took some time for me to build my business. Yeah, don't be afraid to invest in yourself. So in fact, I myself invested in a coach as well last year. And that's actually when I kind of turned around my business. I rebuilt my website again. But I think having this mentor or kind of support partner really helps you as well into yeah, having a faster track into remote work, being motivated to you know, build your own business, etc. So, during the past few years, I've definitely had a couple of times where I'm like, oh my gosh, is this really worth it? Should I, you know, apply for jobs? Maybe I should go back. But then we take everything into perspective. I'm always super happy still, that's, you know, with this whole journey, and I still believe that remote work is future work, but realising that there are challenges and accepting them, and yeah, working, working through them is something that I would tell myself.

Josephine Tse  18:23  

So now that you mainly work from home, you have your set hours and all that. Do you find it hard to motivate yourself?

Mandy Fransz  18:29  

Oh, yes. Yes, that's, I think a big part. 

Josephine Tse  18:32  

What are some things that you do to stay motivated and keep yourself going?

Mandy Fransz  18:37  

Yeah, very good questions. About half a year ago, I really lost motivation. Like I said that I then really started rethinking my purpose. 

Josephine Tse  18:45  


Mandy Fransz  18:45  

So every morning I, first of all, start off with a gratitude journal or journaling, and then write down you know, things that I need to do that day. So I start with my top three priorities that day that I need to have accomplished and I just can't stop, stop my day without having done them. And also three things that I'm grateful for just to, you know, come into a positive mindset. And then also your intention for thr, for the day.

Josephine Tse  19:11  

I admit it, I try to do the same thing. I have a journal as well. It's like the Five Minute Journal. I'm sure you...

Mandy Fransz  19:17  

Oh, yeah, I use that as well. Yeah.

Josephine Tse  19:19  

I have my meditation app, but it's just so hard for me to stay on it, I guess and not skip a day. And sometimes I'm just like, uhhhh, like, that's the part where I'm, I'm personally struggling with right now. 

Mandy Fransz  19:30  


Josephine Tse  19:30  

Only if this is okay with you. Also, I've never done this before. But would it be okay with you to share what you wrote today?

Mandy Fransz  19:36  

So, so this is actually an mindset practice that I that I learned from my coach, Sabrina Phillip, it's called the three times three. Everyday I start my morning with writing down three things that I'm grateful for today. So talking about this morning's you know, hosting a successful first live online master class that we talked about as well in this podcast. So I mainly reflect on like, past, past week. Um, receiving positive feedback, so sometimes you're it's really hard to, to focus on the wins and just focus on the mistakes. So like I said, with uh, with a presentation with a client in Medellin last year, I was just focusing on, aw this felt so awkward. So this helps me to focus on the positive. And then lastly is taking an easy Friday. So I that this was last last Friday, and I just had such a busy week. And I think it's so important to just give yourself some time to rest as well because it can be so difficult to, to set boundaries for yourself when you work remotely and when you work for yourself. So I took the Friday afternoon off, and that's what I was grateful for yesterday.

Josephine Tse  20:42  

And everyone, to everyone listening. I'm looking at the journal right now. And it's just, it's just journal. I mean, it's just a notebook and anyone can do this. So it's a healthy practice. And I think if anyone listening out there is looking for a way to kind of be, be more reflective and stay motivated and maintain their remote work journey in a healthy way, this is a really good way to do it. 

Mandy Fransz  21:08  

Yeah, definitely. So it's just a one euro or $1 small piece of paper and I bought it at the local local supermarket here, but it definitely helps me so as you can see, there's a lot of pages already filled out and this really helps me to start my day in a positive way being motivated and ready to kick start today.

Josephine Tse  21:28  

Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Yeah, I have to actually start and stick with my routine if anything I've learned it's just that man, okay, let's be more self discipline and strict with myself. Make sure I do things like this.

Mandy Fransz  21:42  

Yeah. Well, I'm actually also looking into... so I also write down the things that I need to do today to be successful. And one thing that I wrote down here is a nice morning workouts because you know, it can be super attractive as a remote worker to get out of bed in the morning, not jump into your work outfit but stay in your pyjamas and then directly jump into work. And this is like the worst that I noticed for myself. So what I tend to do now is really try to motivate myself to go to the gym in the morning rather than the evening. Okay, so that you're you know, active in the morning. The gym is here around the corner, so that's great. Start your day, like more active and then start with a nice morning workout and then you know, get showered, get dressed and then you're ready for the day. Whereas, if I don't do that, then I tend to stay in my pyjamas all day. So that's a quick trick that I do for myself.

Josephine Tse  22:40  

Yeah, I have that issue. I mean, oh my God. Now I'm just sounding like the worst remote worker trying to like make your Remoter library like that. I'm actually I believe I'm a little bit better than that. So yeah, I'm working on it. I'm working. So now that we've gone through all these lessons and talked about you and talked about what you do and how you are working towards improving the future of work for people who want to go remote and for people who are interested in for people who just need that extra push? I want to know if you think that our conversation and you telling Make the Leap Digital's like story will help encourage or enable more maybe our listeners to explore this future of work path. 

Mandy Fransz  23:27  

Yeah, great question and what I really eventually hope to accomplish in my business or you know, with Make the Leap Digital, it's not really about, I'm not motivated with you know, having a big successful business and scale this to like, thousands an employee business, but I really, if I can just inspire one person to have, you know, the courage to make the leap of faith whether that's if you want to work remote as a freelancer or work remote for a business, then my day's already successful and that's, that's actually also what has been motivating me in the past two years is by sharing my story on both Instagram and LinkedIn and just receiving tonnes of messages from people, you know, saying that I did inspire them and did help them make that leap you know, working for themselves or, or anything like that.

Josephine Tse  24:18  

So I just wanted to thank you very much for joining me on this episode of The Remoter Podcast and yeah using you know, our platform to share your story again and add your voice to what we are trying to build.

Mandy Fransz  24:34  

Thank you so much as well for inviting me today and I'm looking forward to see more of your Remoter journey as well. So thank you.

Josephine Tse  24:45  

Remoter Podcast season two is recorded, produced and edited by Josephine Tse. It is mixed and mastered by Stephen Stepanic and Vanesa Monroy. Graphics and visuals by Valentina Castillo. The music track used is Skip by OBOY from SoundStripe. Follow and subscribe to us on Spotify, Apple podcasts wherever you listen to your podcasts. Don't forget, we've recently made our Founding and Growing Remotely online course completely accessible and listed on our site. Visit us at, that's R E M O T E R dot com for more relevant content. Follow us on social media @remoterproject to stay up to date with our latest initiatives and collaborations with other remote first companies around the world. We'd also love to hear your thoughts about each episode, so feel free to tag us on socials anytime. And remember, we're here to make work fulfilling, so what part will you play in shaping the future of work?