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Wellbeing / Lifestyle business

Jody Ekert: Winner of the 2015 Flying Solo Workstylist Award

Every Monday in February, we’re profiling the category winners of the 2015 Flying Solo Awards. Today, we’re featuring our Workstylist Award winner, Jody Ekert from Jody’s Guesthouses.

Jody Ekert

What is a ‘Workstylist’? Well, in the context of our 2015 Awards, we stated:

“Flying Solo is all about building a business, and a life you love. This category is for those who’ve succeeded in creating the ideal work/life integration.”

And we have to say, the entries in this category did two things:

  1. They blew us away.
  2. Strongly demonstrated it’s possible to successfully integrate work and life in a way that suits individual lifestyles – which is everything we stand for at Flying Solo .

Which brings us to the winner of this category. What exactly made Jody Ekert’s entry stand out in such a high quality field?

Well, moving one of our judges to tears certainly helped. But it was also the way she clearly demonstrated how she has singlehandedly and very intentionally wrangled Jody’s Guesthouses into supporting three very key aspects of the lifestyle puzzle for her.

We’ll let Jody tell you what those three aspects are in her own words:

  1. A desire to be actively involved in my son’s day to day life

The five year aim with my business was to have the guesthouses in such a place that when school started I didn’t need to worry about before or after school care, vacation care or sick days for my son. I wanted to be able to help out in the classroom and to be relaxed in parenting.

Well, my business dreams did come true. I volunteer to read once a week to his class and I get to walk him to school and pick him up and have got to know his classmates and teachers well. I have attended assemblies when he gets an award and sports days to cheer him on.

  1. Manage my own mental health

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. At times I also suffer mild to moderate depression along with this. I’m currently medicated, although I still have moments where I can’t work to capacity. I have been very careful with my business to make sure I can manage my own mental health as a priority. From a very open profile on booking websites about why I work for myself, through to a very clear set of expectations sent to guests in advance about what to expect when staying in my guesthouse, I make sure to let them know it’s a small business with only myself as a full-time employee and that I am not always available.

As well as managing guest expectations, I can control the amount of work through increasing or decreasing rooms on offer, prices of minimum stays in my guesthouses so that on a bad week I can look after myself. Of course, when I am feeling great, I can then increase the business flow to grab as much money as I can!

Jody Ekert

  1. Follow my heart exploring hobbies, travel and other business ideas for fun

Since running the business I’ve discovered I can travel up to two months at a time working remotely as long as I have wi-fi. I can pay cleaners and contractors or live-in managers for short periods to give me a break. After about two months profits and standards dip so it’s good to go home and manage in person.

In the past five years my son and I have travelled everywhere from the simple trip to Dubbo Zoo, to the very complicated and long trip to Iceland to watch the Northern Lights at Christmas. We’re always on the move.

Best of all, we are so flexible that often we can organise to be free to meet with friends and family who do work full-time and have limited annual leave. We took Grandma to Hawaii and a close friend to Sri Lanka in the last twelve months alone. Next up is Philippines for Christmas and Chile for Easter.

How has Jody made all this happen? She suggested it was burning out trying to inject herself into every aspect of her guesthouses that taught her to create systems and processes that allow them to run without her. This then allowed her to control her hours and maintain some kind of life balance.

But we think there is a bit more to it than that.

If someone’s personal brand is ‘what other people say about you when you’re not in the room’, these two testimonials show that Jody’s personal brand is very resourceful, driven and resilient.

Barbara Adam, Chief Taster at Saigon Street Eats had this to say:

“Jody’s amazing life-hacking skills, which I’ve observed from afar via Facebook, inspired my husband and I to dip our toes in entrepreneurship when I lost my job in 2013. I’m constantly gobsmacked by the way she can finagle a financial angle out of things she’s doing anyway – like a trip to IKEA [Ed note: Jody has turned her regular trips to IKEA into a delivery service for Tamworth locals]. I will never be in her league business-wise, but she’s taught me to look at life – and work – a little differently. She is not only a solopreneur but a solo mama, flying without any safety net. And she’s not just flying, she’s soaring.”

While Bas Smits from Pixel Bits said:

“I’ve known Jody for more than 20 years to be a great entrepreneur who can handle non-everyday situations like a pro. She has the ability to successfully create something from nothing and sees opportunities in all sorts of situations I would run from. She combines her charm, Craigslist, Gumtree, outsource websites and Facebook into a workforce at her disposal when needed. If writing novels [Ed note: yes, she’s also written a novel!], running several Bed and Breakfasts, keeping visitors happy and raising her boy Elliott isn’t enough, she also has the time to start several events like a single-women-date-night and profitable group buy-ins.

Flying solo? Yes, she’s flying this plane alright … and we’re in the back enjoying the trip!”

So, to summarise, Jody has ticked all the Workstylist boxes by having:

  1. A very clear idea of the lifestyle benefits her business needs to deliver for her.
  2. Creating systems and processes that allow her business to run without her needing to be in control of every aspect.
  3. Bringing an attitude of resourcefulness, open-mindedness and resilience to everything she does.

We love that she’s leading the way for all those in our community who have the same aspirations as she does: a business that delivers a huge range of lifestyle benefits that few salaried positions ever could.

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