Multithreaded Income Podcast

In this episode, host Kevin Griffin chats with Michele Hansen about her journey in business and publishing. Michele shares her experience running Geocodio, a geocoding and data-matching SAAS, and provides insights into her journey towards self-publishing her book 'Deploy Empathy.' Valuable lessons include the importance of multi-threaded income, risks, and insurance in business and writing a book's strenuous yet rewarding process.

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Creators & Guests

Kevin Griffin
♥ Family. Microsoft MVP. Consultant/Trainer focused on #dotnet #aspnetcore #web #azure. VP at @dotnetfdn @revconf Mastodon: - He/Him
Michele Hansen
Co-Founder @Geocodio, an indie SaaS. Wife of @MathiasHansen. Author @DeployEmpathy. Spending my free time fighting ruinous new taxes on the software industry

What is Multithreaded Income Podcast?

In the "Multithreaded Income Podcast," host Kevin Griffin navigates the nuanced landscape of generating multiple income streams as a technologist. Aimed at professionals who wish to diversify their revenue while maintaining a focus on technology, this podcast dives deep into unconventional strategies, untapped opportunities, and actionable advice.

Kevin Griffin: Welcome back to the show.


I am joined today by my good
friend, Michelle Hanson.

How are you today, Michelle?

Michele Hansen: Hi Kevin, how are ya?

Kevin Griffin: Good.

So it is bright early where I
am, but it is, is it bright and

late where you are right now?

Is it a nice day?

At least

Michele Hansen: It is bright and early
afternoon and for December we are

pretty lucky to have sunshine, so.

Kevin Griffin: you go.

Cause for everyone who doesn't
know you live in Denmark and you

probably, I actually don't know
what village or town you live in.

It's a, uh, it's probably
something I can't pronounce.


Michele Hansen: It's a very small village
about an hour south of Copenhagen,

which in American, North American
terms is the equivalent of like five

or six hours outside of a major city.

So we, uh, have a seven acre
property here and, uh, like you,

we actually built a headquarters.

Kevin Griffin: Oh,
you're part of the club.


Michele Hansen: You inspired us.

Kevin Griffin: I think the shed
quarters is a great thing for

people who have to work from home.

And we, we saw a lot when, when
COVID started that folks were

moving into spare bedrooms or they
were working in their living room.

And my origin was.

It's 2023 right now.

I think it was 2011.

I started working from home and I
worked in a room over our garage.

It was great.

And then we had kids and my wife wanted
to homeschool the kids and do kids stuff.

And she wanted to take over
the room over the garage.

So I just kind of in passing
said, well, I should just

build a office in the backyard.

And she looked at me and
went, that's a great idea.

You should totally do that.


So one thing after the other, I ended
up getting a prefab shed delivered to

my house and I finished the inside of
it, drywall, insulation, heating and

air, which is very important right now
and I've been working out here for.

Years and years and years and
your shed quarters though is

far more fancier than mine is.

I think yours has a bathroom, doesn't it?

Michele Hansen: No, it doesn't.

It is, it is legally a shed.

So it is a shed

Kevin Griffin: Legally shed.


Michele Hansen: Yeah.

Kevin Griffin: So what was
the, y'all had a nice home and

why, why the shed quarters?


Michele Hansen: Well, so we actually,
we, we moved here a little over three

years ago and we bought a farmhouse
and with the plans to renovate that

house from when, the time we bought it.

And we also really wanted a shed
quarters, really wanted a bit of

separation between, uh, personal and life.

Um, and especially, you know, when we.

We're first living in the house.

Um, the room we use as our office was
the extra bedroom off of the kitchen.

Um, and since we live in Denmark,
but still, you know, 99 percent

of our customers are in the U.


and Canada, that meant that we
were very often having meetings

at 4, 5, 6 o'clock at night.

And so one of us would be in a meeting,
The other one would be making dinner

and it was like really loud and
it was hard to keep the noise out.

I mean, podcasting was basically
impossible during like US overlap hours.

And then if I was podcasting
at night, I was actually right

underneath our daughter's bedroom.

So I couldn't do it until like
nine 30 at night until she

was like definitely asleep.

Um, and it just.

Cemented our desire to have a shed
quarters, which we had always wanted.

But when we lived outside DC, you know,
on a, you know, 10th of an acre lot,

like that just wasn't really possible.

Um, so, so yeah, we, we got the shed
quarters about a year and a half ago.

Um, been pretty awesome.

Kevin Griffin: think it's been a
while since you've, you've shown

me and other folks pictures of
the Shedquarters and I forgot.

So you and your husband work together and
you work together in the Shedquarters.

Do you have separate isolated areas
of the Shedquarters or is it kind

of like a co working open space?

Michele Hansen: So we have the main area.

Um, Where there's my desk, and then
our dog actually has a little perch

in between us and his little dog
bed, so we can be standing at our

desks and reach over and pet him.

And then on the other side of
the dog bed is Matthias desk.

Um, and so that's overlooking our little
pond and so the dog can be looking at the

birds and whatever and you know, we're
working and then we also have a, uh,

little room off to the side that we call
the zoom room, which is what I'm in right

now, where we put in a soundproof wall.

So that we can do recordings or meetings
and the other person can be working in

the other room and not be disturbed.

And it's not like, oh, you
can't come in the room right now

because I'm on a call or whatnot.

Um, actually there's even, we hold
our team meetings and one of us

will come in here and the other one
sits in the main part of the office.

Kevin Griffin: Now, how does
Shedquarters translate in Danish?

Michele Hansen: It does not.

It just, it, like, even in English, I
think you say shed quarters to people, and

it, it kind of like takes them a minute,
and then they figure it out, right?

Um, We tried in Danish and
it just really didn't work.

And so actually, when we had bought
this house, there was an old hen house.

Um, that's a, that is
actually the footprint of

our, um, of our shed quarters.

And we're like, Oh, we could
totally renovate this, you know,

120 year olds, uh, brick barn,
you know, to be our shed quarters.

And then we had an architect look
at it and a contractor look at it.

And they were both like, uh, no, No,
that's not like structurally sound

enough and, uh, full of decades of, you
know, waste from chickens and stuff.

So, um, we ended up tearing that down
and then built the Shedquarters from new.

Kevin Griffin: it was gorgeous.

I've seen pictures of it
and I'm super jealous.

And so the reason I'm jealous, if I
turn the camera around, you would all

understand why I'm jealous because
I just have this mess of junk over

there and off the camera and you all
have this like beautiful custom setup.

And I'm so envious of it.

Uh, but that's not what we're
here to talk about today.

I could actually talk about
Shedquarters all day long, but.

What we want to talk about is the
stuff that Michelle's working on.

Cause Michelle does a lot of
really interesting things.

And I guess let's just start
with what you're working on now.

So you have your company Geocodeo
and for people that don't know what

that is, we give us kind of the spiel
of what Geocodeo does and maybe a

little bit of the origin story, how
you got started with that project.

Michele Hansen: Yeah, so Geocodeo
is geocoding and data matching

software for North America.

Um, so it's a SAS and basically
what that means is that we convert

addresses into coordinates and
coordinates into addresses because

Computers don't understand an address.

They only understand coordinates.

There's also a lot of pieces
of data that you can only get

if you have the coordinates.

So, for example, if you want to
figure out someone's congressional

district or their time zone, you need
to have the congressional district,

sorry, the coordinates first as
the sort of key that unlocks the

door between those pieces of data.

And so that's what we do.

Um, we actually launched it 10 years ago.

January, so I'll coming up on
on 10 years of launching it.

Um, but it started as a side project.

We both had full time jobs working
at a web development agency and.

When, well, I mean, if we really go
back to the beginning, when, what

started us to get us working on side
projects was that, um, we found out

just how expensive daycare would be.

Um, and I think for a lot of people,
you know, going into it, that daycare is

going to be very expensive, but you don't
realize quite how expensive it is until

you actually start doing the research.

And then you're like, oh 25, 000 a year.

And this is 10 years ago, um, that's
more expensive than, you know,

state college tuition in a majority
of states for infant daycare.

And we're

Kevin Griffin: Were you
still in the DC area at

Michele Hansen: yeah, we lived in D.


proper at the time.

Um, so very expensive.

And We were like, you know what, we
have talked about having side projects,

now is the time we have to get going
on that, because, let's face it, like,

we can kill it at work, but to expect
to get, you know, raises and bonuses

of an extra 25k a year, like, for
us, at that point, was not, you know,

really, um not guaranteed, let's say.

So, um, we're like, all right,
we got to start launching stuff.

And so we'd had some ideas.

We started launching things.

We had a mobile app that brought in a
couple hundred bucks a month in revenue

that, you know, that we, um, got out.

And for that, we actually
needed geocoding for it.

And at the time your options were either
get 2, 500 free per day from Google

or pay them like tens of thousands
of dollars a year for an enterprise.

plan to get 100, 000 a day.

And we're like, we need 5, 000 a day.

Like there isn't anything in the middle.

Um, and so that's where
Geocodeo came from.

So we built it originally as a building
block for another project we had

just to keep the lights on there.

And as we talked to friends about it, they
were like, Oh wait, like we need that too.

Like we have the same problem.

Um, but I have that problem at work
and we're like, Oh, that's interesting.

Um, and so, so about six months
later, um, in January of 2014, we

launched it as a very simple API.

Um, our daughter was four months old.

And we made 31 that month, and
we were ecstatic because we

didn't expect to make anything.

And our definition of a wild success was
that it makes more than its server costs.

And we had two tiny little
DigitalOcean droplets running on it.

Um, so we had a profit of 10.

Um, yeah, that's how it started.

Kevin Griffin: So, and then it just
kind of built and built from there.

Um, how long did it go as a side
project until I guess you had a

couple of milestones in between.

So you, you made a 10 profit and was
there a point where I started paying

for the daycare and were you still
working on full time job at that time?

Michele Hansen: Yeah, so So
we, we kept working on it,

you know, nights and weekends.

Um, we actually didn't take any
money out of the company for a long

time because, you know, we had this
combination of, well, you know, Google

could just introduce, you know, like,
you know, pay as you go pricing, right?

And then that's going
to knock us out, right?

Nobody's going to use us compared
to Google or, um, we just felt like

the, the, the income was like, we
didn't trust the revenue, I guess.

And And so that really took some
time for us to be able to trust it.

We also added a subscription plan.

So at first we were just pay as you go.

About five months in, we added a
subscription plan um, on the high end.

Um, that really helps with,
with the uh, revenue from it.

Um, and I think it, it got to a point
probably Within like a year and a

half where it could have paid for
our daycare bills, um, but actually

instead of paying for for daycare, the
1st thing we ever used the money for.

Uh, our air conditioning broke
in the middle of, uh, Virginia,

July, which is hot, hot.

And and I remember it was like
8, 000 for a new air conditioner.

And we were like, okay, that is a
lot of money, but we have to, like,

we have to get a new air conditioner
because it's a hundred degrees outside.

And we're like, well, like we have like.

We have the money in the company.

Like technically, you know, it's an LLC.

Like we can take that out.

Like we haven't taken anything out yet.

And it was like, and that's gonna, you
know, I think our bank balance was like

20, 000 in the company at the time.

And maybe, maybe a little
bit less, maybe like 16.

And we were like, okay, so
that brings that balance down.

Like to the single digits, like,
I guess we're okay with that.

Like it's making enough to sustain itself.

Like we don't, you know,
it's, it pays for its expenses

every month, like the revenue.

Like, so, so that's fine.

Um, okay.

I guess we just had, we actually do
have 8, 000 lying around and we don't

need to do the installment plan.

And that was kind of, that was a
big inflection point because it

was both terrifying because we
didn't trust the revenue, right?

Like we didn't have it.

Any way of trusting whether our
revenue would our bank balance would

ever get back up to 20, 000, right?

Like that like that we were like this
might be it You know like because we

still felt like we could just be wiped
off the face of the earth the following

day if Microsoft or Google or whomever,
you know made a decision that was

You know That that didn't
favor us in our business.

Um, but it was also hugely liberating.

Like it was hugely liberating because
if we had had, you know, just our

full time jobs, which were pretty well
paying tech jobs, like my husband's a

developer and I was a product manager.

So, you know, we made a good income,
but like, we still would have had to

go with a payment plan and that air
conditioner would have cost us, you know,

15, 000 with interest rather than eight.

Um, So, so that was like a huge moment.

And then I think after that, we
kind of got a little bit more

comfortable with using the revenue.

From the company, you know,
you know, taking owner's draws.

Um, we started paying down my student
loans because then it started being

a conversation of, okay, well,
like, when can we go full time?

Like maybe this, you know, the, the,
the more time went on and the more the

revenue kept showing up every month,
of course, we kept doing the work.

Um, but the more the revenue kept showing
up and the more we saw huge companies, you

know, make product or pricing decisions
that we thought were going to kill us.

And then they didn't, um, The more we
started to trust it and start talking

about going full time and then so it
started being conversation of okay What

has to happen before that and a big one
was my student loans have to be paid off

like any other debts have to be paid off
first and And so that's what we started

using it for So we technically started
it so we could pay for daycare and we

never actually used it for daycare.

Kevin Griffin: But it sounds like
it was this hidden insurance policy

that you just kind of had going.

It was building and when you needed
it most, that's how insurance

is supposed to work, right?

You needed it the most.

It was there.

You could use it.

And sure it probably saved a bunch of
anxiety and just stress from having

to now deal with this huge expense.

So the stuff that comes
with home ownership.

So did.

Both you and your husband both go
full time at the same time, or was

it kind of one before the other?

Michele Hansen: No, so
I went full time first.

Um, so this is about three and a
half years in after we launched and

we had been having more and more
conversations about going full time.

Um, and You know, eventually it got to a
point where, um, you know, I, I had been

very, very happy at my job, but then the
company kind of went through a transition

and I decided to leave and at first I
didn't actually know whether I was going

to work on Geocodeo full time or whether
I was going to go take another job.

And I had a bunch of interviews and I
remember one of them, just one of the

developers on the team, like kind of
like looking at my resume and being like.

Wait a minute, like, if you have
this successful side project, like,

why are you applying for a job?

And that really got me thinking about it.

And then, you know, talking to
friends being like, ever since I've

met you, you wanted to run your own
company and now you have the chance.

So, why aren't you doing it?

And I was like, but I don't know.

I don't know how, like, how
safe is that income, right?

Like, um, and.

But I think it really helped that, um,
you know, we were able to, um, switch over

to my husband's works, health insurance
at first, um, like, like that really

helped, um, because, you know, in the U.


that's, that's a huge deal, um, And
that's that can easily be 30, 000 a year.

Um, I mean, premiums alone, you're
looking, I mean, we were looking

at least 18, I think 18, 000 a year
in premiums alone, not including

deductibles and all the other things.

And so, so I think actually the point
when I went full time, I, we waited

a lot longer than I think other
people would, but it was making,

I want to say, like four times
my salary when I went full time.

But that's because I look at that and I'm
like, okay, well, you take off, you know.

Let's say take off a
third of that for taxes.

Plus there's, you know, the
expenses associated with a business.

And so that's not, you
know, free money, right?

Like there's, you know, so there's
taxes, there's, you know, all of the

expenses related to the business.

Then you, you back out health
insurance, you back out all of the

other benefits I would have been
getting if I had been working full time.

Like, you know, there's no HSA anymore.

Like, like, just like all
of these, like, I don't have

retirement contributions anymore.

Um, but that ended up being around
the time that I was comfortable, um,

going full time, but that, that math
will be different for other people.

Um, I think it was probably partly
because my dad was, um, a contractor when

I was a kid, like a software developer.

And, you know, I remember we always
had like terrible health insurance.

And I remember the company was called U.


Healthcare and my mom and dad called it U.


Health Scare because like they
wouldn't pay for anything.

And like you were, you were never in
the HMO or the network or whatever.

And it was just like, they were
constantly complaining about it.

And, um, And so, so I wanted to be
100 percent certain when I went full

time that financially it would work
out because you just felt that huge

responsibility of it's not just my
happiness at stake here, even if I'm

happier working on the side project.

Like, if this is more unstable,
that didn't feel like a

choice I was allowed to make.

Um, and yeah, But I think, you know,
a point people made was that if I'm

happy you're doing it, then I will
do the work to make it work, um,

and, and that ended up being true.

But it was a very, very big, uh,
leap of faith for somebody who

was very financially cautious.

Kevin Griffin: So you
went full time on it.

How long after you went full time on
it, did your husband go full time on it?

Because I feel like I was probably, I
feel like based off what you just said,

that was probably more stressful because
you're cutting off the health insurance.

You're cutting off the,
the full safety line of.

Having a full time job.

Michele Hansen: Yeah, so that was
about, well, oh, actually, well,

no, it's kind of a funny story.

So I went full time in October of
2017 and we were hoping, and it

was I think November of 2017, like
I took a month of applying to jobs

and people like looking at me weird,
um, to finally go full time on it.

And, and we're like, you
know what, this is great.

Like I can handle more
customer support stuff.

I can handle stuff during the day.

Like there won't be as much traffic,
like there won't, you know, we won't

have to deal with as much of it at night.

Like, you know, things will be calmer.


If I'm working on this full time.

Um, and then it turns out that
when you make a product better,

uh, more people want to use it.

So, we actually had an increase
in traffic, increase in sales,

increase, like, like everything is
actually going up and like we're

getting more busy in our support.

And it was like, okay, well that was good,
but that wasn't exactly what we hoped for.


We were happy with the
level that it was at.

Um, and it eventually got to
like January of that year.

And we're like, you know what?

Like, it was like, Matias really
needs to go full time too.

And we're like, you know what?

With health insurance, like
we can do Cobra for what?

Like six months or nine
months or whatever it is.


For health insurance.

Like, so we can at least stay on.

The company plan while we figure
out buying our own insurance

and and so we even did a pull
cash forward in the business.

So January 2018, we offered an
annual plan for the first time,

gave people a small discount.

Um, a couple people took us a.

I saw up on that.

Um, and, and then in early February
of 2018, Matthias went to his boss

and said, you know, I have the
side project is going really well.

I never intended to go full time on it.

Um, but it's just, we're just too
busy and I need to, so I need to quit.

And his boss said no.

And we're like, well, this is an
interesting negotiating position to be in.

Um, so what he ended up
doing was he went part time.

So he went to three days a week on
partial salary, but full benefits.

So he's kept his health
insurance, kept his like

retirement benefit and everything.

Um, but three days a week, you
know, three fifths of his salary.

Um, and so we did that from February
of 2018 until September of 2018.

And over that summer, it really became
clear that we needed him working on

it full time because the more time we
were spending on it, you know, the more

higher end customers we were getting.

And like, we couldn't
have a situation where.

Servers went down on an enterprise
customer and they, they needed

it working during working hours.

And if he can't take any phone
calls between nine and five, can't

do anything on it between nine
and five, that became a problem.

Um, and so it was around September of
that year, August or so, I think it was

like August of that year that, that we
decided he really had to go full time.

And that point he kind of sat down
with his boss and they were like,

yeah, we know this is coming.

And then he had, you know, six.

Eight weeks or so of transitioning out
and training other people and stuff.

Um, but yeah, so it was about a year
later, um, that he went fully full time.

Kevin Griffin: And fast
forward to November, 2023

to Codio doing, doing great.

Michele Hansen: was a month ago.

Kevin Griffin: Um, you have employees,
not just you and your husband anymore.

Michele Hansen: Yep,
we have two employees.

Both of them are in the U.


Kevin Griffin: So you're a real company.

Michele Hansen: Yeah.

Kevin Griffin: A real big
company and you're dealing

with real big company problems

Michele Hansen: Yeah.

At four people.


Kevin Griffin: I love your success story.

And that's exactly what it is.

Cause it started with just a, a hobby
project, but it's a hobby project that

people needed and it's just naturally
grew into the thing you're, you're doing

every day, but I think that's exciting.

Uh, I used Geocodeo a couple times.

Um, it is definitely a great API.

I recommend anyone out
there go use it if you need.

Um, the big thing for me has
always been looking up time zones.

If I know a city or address, like
getting a time zone for where I

am, that's always been a big deal.

But let's fast forward a little bit
because I guess throughout those years

you also found time to write a book.

And I want to talk about your book a
little bit, which if you're watching

the video version of the podcast, it's
right behind Michelle, it's deploying

empathy, and let's kind of start with,
uh, first, what is deploy empathy?

What's it about?

And then let's talk a little bit
about what led you to write the book.

Michele Hansen: Deploy Empathy is
about customer interviewing, um,

and it is written for everyone.

For people who are just starting
out with interviewing to people

who've been doing it for a while.

The idea of the book is to teach people
how to use empathy for, um, things

they might be wanting to get done.

And so whether that's getting more
customers, getting better customers,

figuring out what you should be building
in the first place, figuring out why

your customers stick around, all of
these questions are really important

when you're running a business.

And your numbers and your metrics and your
spreadsheets and your analytics dashboards

are only going to tell you so much.

They're only going to tell you
what is happening, but they are

never going to tell you why.

And that is where Qualitative methods
like interviewing come into play.

And so when I was working, I guess not
for myself, I was a product manager and

I was focused on product development.

And in my career as a product manager,
learning about interviewing was a.

Pivotal step, um, because it unlocked
so much and I didn't realize how much

we were guessing based on quantitative
numbers until interviewing and in a very

structured way of doing it so that it
doesn't just feel like you're kind of

just asking random questions, you know
exactly what you're asking and how you're

asking them in order to get it right.

So, um, yeah.


the outcome that you want.

Um, and so that's what the book is about.

Um, and that came about because so after
I went full time, um, and you know, was

working for myself, I definitely felt
a lack of community, um, missed being

around other people who are interested in
similar things, um, hadn't really got into

the whole microconf bootstrapper world.

Um, actually because I thought we
weren't successful enough to be there,

which is hilarious because when we
showed up at microconf 2019 for the

first time and talked to people about
our business and we're like, yeah,

you know, we're on a SAS, you know,
revenue is about a million a year.

People are like.

Where have you been?

Like, wait, what?

Like, so to them, we were like
showing up out of nowhere.

And we thought we were like, oh,
we're going to be like the least,

you know, successful people there.

Um, so, but anyway.

So I found myself really missing
community and talking to other people

who are excited about similar things
and learning from other people.

And so I started getting involved
with meetups and giving talks,

actually started organizing a meetup.


Mostly for me around product development
jobs to be done, um, UX type stuff and

then slowly sort of started getting
into, um, investing in some funds

aimed at early stage bootstrapped
companies like tiny seed and calm

fund started mentoring founders there.

Um, and you know, had more
friends in the community and.

People knew that I was a product person
and knew that I knew things about

using interviewing, uh, to figure out
problems in your business and would come

to me with questions about doing it.

And I noticed that I would send them this
kind of really jumbled email that was

like, well, read this chapter here and
then these two chapters from this book.

Book, but that's written for like
these other people, but ignore that.

That's fine.

Like you don't have to
have all those resources.

This blog post is really good.

Also like this podcast here, like if
you started at like 30 minutes, there's

like a really good thing and it was just
like super jumbled and really hard to

follow and also took me a lot of time
to compile this and, and so at a certain

point I was like, um, I should just
start like writing all this down and

then I was like, I should write a book.

And then I was like, I
should not write a book.

It is quarantine.

I live in the Scandinavian countryside.

It is dark and lonely to begin with.

And it is COVID.

I do not need any more
loneliness in my life right now.

Um, because you know, everything I've ever
heard from people about writing a book is,

you know, you have to lock yourself in a
closet with a typewriter for six months.

Um, and I was like, I just, that's not
going to work with my life right now.

Um, and I was like, you know what?

I'm not going to write a book.

But I can write a newsletter.

I can write all this stuff is newsletters.

And then when I need to refer to this
stuff, when I'm talking to someone, I can

just link them to my newsletter and like
that has, you know, my sort of commentary.

And then there's like a couple of
sources they can go to for further

exploration, like I would in an email.

Um, and so that's where it started.

And then, um, Started writing the
newsletter and people responded

really well to it And then I started
writing more and more newsletters To

the point where I had them going out
almost every other day and people

said please stop sending so many
newsletters You're overwhelming my inbox.

I want to read all of it,
but I don't have time.

Can you like make this a PDF or something?

so slowly but surely came back around
to the idea of it being a book.

Um, and that was a, a pretty, pretty
wild, uh, five months going from starting

the newsletter to getting it, getting
it published, um, getting it out there.


Kevin Griffin: And it, it seems like
going the newsletter route took a lot of

the stress off of, of writing the book.

Uh, I've heard that from a couple.

People before where they don't write
the book right away, they write blog

posts or articles and in your case,
newsletters, and eventually you just

write enough content that you have
80 percent of a book and you can take

that and format into something else.

Did, so you, did you take the newsletter
articles verbatim or did you take them

as kind of a source and then mold it
into something else that was book like?

Was the newsletter already in the
order of the book or did you, you

have to do a little bit of extra work?

Michele Hansen: No, I actually started
writing an outline at one point after

I had about like five, ten newsletter
articles out and I found that kind of

draining and I think One thing that
was important that got me close to

the point of having that 80 percent
done book was because I was writing

a newsletter, I wrote everything out
basically as if it was a rough draft.

So previously when I had written
blog posts and articles, I would

spend a month working on it.

I would send it to one or two
friends or coworkers for feedback.

I would just really, you know,
go down to every single comma

and try to make it perfect.

And then it would get, you know,
five views and that was it.

Um, And so instead, I published
everything out as fast as possible,

and I just wrote a rough draft.

Like, I'd kind of walk around all
day, you know, go walk the dog, figure

out, okay, what did it, what is the
thing I want to write about today?

Or I'd have a conversation with someone,
being like, you know what, this should

really be a newsletter, um, too.

Bang it out, get it out as a rough draft.

Um, people knew it was going to
be full of typos and whatever.

But the thing is, is that then I would
send them out and then people would

be like, Oh, this is really cool.

Like, you know, I love this.

Or like, here's how I've used this.

Or like, this isn't really clear.

Or like, how would you apply
this in this situation?

Like, I would get all
this feedback from people.

And for me, making the process
social was so important.

I never would have gotten it.

done without that because that gave
me the motivation to keep going.

That gave me positive reinforcement that
helped me refine my ideas as I was going.

Um, even just having somebody say,
Hey, like this is super helpful.


Um, that made a huge difference in
the writing process and really gave

me that momentum that I would not
have gotten had I been able to lock

myself in a closet for six months.

But I.

think I ever would have even gotten
it done had I had that opportunity.

Um, now it did take a lot of wrangling
from it being newsletter articles to even

just organizing those newsletter articles.

Actually, Benedicta Ray, she got the first
PDF draft of it and, um, It was a mess.

Um, it was, uh, it's yeah, there
was a month where I basically

felt like I did open heart surgery
on it and did a complete whole

book edit every week for a month.

That was a really hard
part of the process.

Um, but thankfully at that point I had.

Um, I had two friends and two or three
readers who were also going through that

with me, giving me a ton of feedback.

I'd gotten a ton of feedback from
people by using Help This Book, where

people could highlight sections they
really liked, highlight things that

were confusing, or they wanted more
of, or, you know, thought were slow.

Um, so that really helped.

I continued getting feedback that way.

Um, but really having that community
support to get it done and I had

that community support because I had
written it as a newsletter and because

I had talked about it on my podcast.

Um, even though I hadn't really gone
into it with that, but then I could

ask people, Hey, like, so how do you
actually publish something on Amazon?

Like, how does that work?

Like nuts and bolts.

Like, what do I do to go
from Google doc to Amazon?

Um, and so.

So that really helped to be able to ask
a bunch of people and, and, and to make

what, quite frankly, it sounds like
writing a, you know, if you work with

a publisher, you have, you know, your,
your agent, you have your editor, you

have other people who are involved, but
it sounds like a really lonely process.

Um, and for me, it
wasn't, it was, it was a.

Social process.

It was a community process.

Um, we all birthed it together.

Kevin Griffin: Now you
decided to go self publishing.

Did you ever consider approaching
a publisher and trying to it into

more hands through a publisher?

Or were you from the beginning, like
this is going to be self published.

I'm going to control a
hundred percent of this.

Michele Hansen: So I did talk to people
who had publisher published books and

I also talked to some people who had
self published books, um, around the

time I was, you know, getting serious
about getting, turning it into a book.

And for me, I think so with the publisher
side, I decided to not go that route

because even though you would have more
resources, it Though many of them you're

paying for yourself through your advance.

Um, and, you know, you have a, you
have a, you know, a PR department

that can get you talks and whatnot.

Um, I decided not to go that route
because I knew that I didn't want to

be an author as a full time job, and I
think I was coming, this is all sort of

in the middle of that open heart surgery
editing process every week, and I was

enjoying it, but I was like, but you
know what, I, I like running a software

company the most, and, um, and I did not
want to feel like I was sort of at the

whim of the publisher, because people
said like, if the publisher says like,

You know, you need to be giving a talk
in, you know, Elkhorn, Iowa tomorrow.

And then, you know, you're in Albany
the day after you just have to go.

Like, and I was like, My life is really
just not set up for that right now.

Like, I don't want to be traveling a ton.

Um, I.

I, I can't really have somebody else's
expectations on top of this, right?

Like, I, I just, I don't feel like I
want to, like, fulfilling a publisher's

expectations right now is just not
something I can add to my plate.

Um, and it was also
always a labor of love.

Like, the point of the book was to
just Get it all out there in one piece

so that I didn't have to be writing
jumbled emails to people anymore.

Um, and so that was fundamentally
what the book was doing for me.

Um, that was better achieved
through self publishing than

it was traditional publishing.

I'm not opposed to traditional publishing,
but for what I was looking to do and where

I am in my life, it just wasn't a fit.

Kevin Griffin: So you publish
deploy empathy, it wild success,

Michele Hansen: Uh, reasonable success,

Kevin Griffin: reasonable success.

It seemed like you already
had a customer base, just.

Predefined with your newsletter
that you could just go to and

say, Hey, my book's available.

And now all these people flocked to
buy the book because they, you've

already built that trust with the,
with the audience and showing,

I know what I'm talking about.

You know, you have the articles.

Now you can go get the book.

Michele Hansen: yeah, definitely.

You're doing the newsletter really
helped having the podcast really helped.

Um, I think in the first month, I
want to say I sold like 200 copies.

Um, so for context, I believe the
average book, the average The average

published book, I believe, sells
400 copies in its first year, and

the average, and then declines after
that, the average self published

book will sell 400 copies lifetime.

And so mine is already over 3, 000
or so, or 3, 500 last time I checked.

I'm not quite sure.

Um, so from that measure, it's a success.

Um, I think for me, It was just
I always knew that there was

a book within me somewhere.

I didn't know what it was about.

And so, um, so, so that
felt like a success.

Um, but really, I think a big motivation
for writing the book for me was

that, um, it was a form of insurance.


And being married to a developer,
I know that developers are getting

10 LinkedIn messages a day from
recruiters, um, about job offers.

And as product people, you
don't really have that same kind

of pull from the job market.

Now, it's generally, you know, you
know, when I was looking for jobs before

I decided to go full time, like, I
definitely, you know, I had offers, I

had options, but I think the thing about
being a developer is that Any developer

could decide today that they want to
pick up freelance work and then have

it today, basically, like, immediately
be pulling in, you know, income of,

you know, 50, 100 an hour or more.

And I always felt a little
bit financially insecure.

Because if an asteroid hit my life,
and all of a sudden, um, I was the

sole breadwinner and Geocodeo didn't
exist anymore, I could not go out

and start making income the same day
or tomorrow at the drop of a hat.

Um, and so for me, um, in addition to
it being a passion project and something

I'd always wanted to do and all of those
great things, blah, blah, blah, you

know, um, It was a sort of professional
insurance policy, basically, that people

have asked me, am I doing consulting?

Am I doing talks?

Am I doing, uh, you know, paid talks?

Am I doing workshops?

Am I doing coaching?

And I've said no, because, you know,
we're running Geocodeo and we have

a family and that keeps me busy.

Um, but if I had to, I could, like
now I have that newsletter list.

I have, um, you know, lots of
conference talks I've given.

Um, Now, if I said tomorrow that
I'm going to start doing consulting,

um, I would be able to start
pulling an income right away.

And so yes, the book has sold
thousands of copies and I think it's

made about 25, 000 total, which is
definitely nothing to sneeze at.

Um, but for me really the big value of
it is as a professional insurance policy.

And now I'm not doing a ton of
promotion on it, but I did I give

one talk, you know, conference
talk this year related to it.

I feel like I just need to keep paying
the premiums on it, so to speak, um, and

just maintain it from here on out, um, in
order to maintain that insurance policy.

Kevin Griffin: Is there a second edition
of deploy empathy out there anywhere IP?

Michele Hansen: There isn't, there
might potentially be in the future.

Um, I have, I

Kevin Griffin: Did you just get everything
you wanted to say out in the book?

Is there, or was there more that
you didn't put in for, for reasons?

Michele Hansen: Well, there's a lot
more I didn't put in, um, I wanted to

focus it on just the kinds of things
that were hard to find all in one place

elsewhere, or that I didn't feel like
were adequately covered elsewhere.

So I intentionally very narrowly
focused it on just interviewing,

even though there are a lot of other
types of, you know, user research.

There's a lot of other ways of
even qualitative research, um,

I, you know, I run a, you know,
a company in the data space.

Like I could write a ton about,
about using quantitative data.

Um, but I intentionally haven't because
there are already books on that.

And I didn't, there wasn't
really a hole in that.


Um, but there will be a second edition
at some point, like people, um, you

know, I, for example, I did give
some paid workshops and I realized

like, wow, I am really not a teacher.

Like, I am not energized by this.

Like people had good things to say after
the workshops, but I was like, Oh my

gosh, I am, I am exhausted afterwards.

And like, I just, I
didn't really enjoy it.

Um, and so, but I think people want
to be able to do workshops for it.

So I want to add a chapter on how
people can run their own workshops.

And I've actually talked to readers who
ran their own workshops with the book.

So I have a lot of the material for that.

Um, there were a couple of other.

chapters I wanted to add.

Um, so a second edition might be
coming at some point in next year,

but, um, still haven't really
put pen to paper on that one.

Kevin Griffin: Well, as we start to
wrap up, we, we talked about successes.

Has there been anything along
the journey that you've started

and said, look, we don't.

We don't need to work on this anymore.

It's not, it's not making the money.

It's not worth our time.

Anything like that.

Michele Hansen: Oh, for sure.

I mean, I think of all the
side projects we've done, most

of them were not successful.

And I think that's normal.

Um, And, you know, I mean, the,
the app we initially built, um,

you know, it, it ended up, I think
that the most we ever got from it

was like 400 a month in ad revenue.

And then it declined from there,
but then kind of Geocodeo was

picking up at the same time.

And so that one sort of died out after
a year or two, we, we built another app

too, that never really went anywhere.

Um, there was another company
that never really went anywhere.

Um, There were definitely other
projects that just didn't take

off as much as we wanted them to.

There were also ones that petered out.

Um, so, for example, during early
quarantine, we built an app to help people

find, uh, grocery curbside pickup slots.

And, uh, because it was something we
needed ourselves and our friends needed.

Um, but then, you know, after You
know, six months or so, um, grocery

stores finally had a better process
in place for curbside orders, and it

wasn't a problem to find slots anymore.

Um, And we never made money from it
anyway that we didn't intend to, um,

Kevin Griffin: of a scratch
your own itch project.

Michele Hansen: yeah, for sure.

I mean, that was just more of a public
service project, um, but it got covered

by Lifehacker and a couple of other
news like we've done a kind of a variety

of sort of more civically minded side
projects, um, We built a map during

Hurricane Harvey to like, cause people
were like tweeting out their addresses

and their locations if they needed
to be like rescued from a rooftop.

Um, so we built a map of like
scraping that from Twitter.

Um, there are a whole bunch of other
smaller things, but most of those were

for the joy of building them and the, and,
um, because there was a real need for it.

But they weren't really anything
that was income, um, motivated per

se and never really made any revenue.

Kevin Griffin: Gotcha.

Michele Hansen: Think for us, we, you
know, we, we get a lot of satisfaction

about building out of building
things and out of creating things

and seeing people react to them.

And I think you learn a lot
from those projects, even if you

don't make any money off of it.

I think that's.

I think it's totally fine to pursue
that and have fun building something

and or scratching something that,
that, you know, serves your own need

or is a need that you see in the world.

Um, because you learn a lot from
that, that can then be applied to

future projects that, that maybe
do have, um, a revenue potential.

So I think there's still a very good use
of time if you're purely only thinking

about them from a revenue potential
perspective, not to mention all of the

other social benefits there might be.


Kevin Griffin: Michelle, if there's
someone out there saying, I want to

be just like Michelle, when I grow up,
I want to, I want to run my own SAS.

I want to write and self
publish my own book.

What's a piece of advice you
would give to that person?

Michele Hansen: Walk through
the doors that open and make

your own doors when necessary.

And then

Kevin Griffin: There you go.

Michele Hansen: And you kind of
never know where those things

are going to lead you, but,

Kevin Griffin: Great advice.

Michele Hansen: I would think about
multi threaded income as Not just income,

but also as financial planning and
thinking about things that might be an

income source for right now, things that
might be a full time job in the future.

But also, what are the other
parts of financial planning?

Um, there's insurance.

Um, there's other things
to think about and.

Think about how a side project
or a project you might have going

on might be valuable from a, from
another angle of financial planning,

um, beyond just the revenue.

Kevin Griffin: That's awesome.

Yeah, I always, I like
to say the same thing.

Multi threaded income isn't
about just bringing money in.

It's about insuring yourself against
whatever happens in the world.

And I see people left and right losing
their jobs who thought they had pretty

secure jobs, but the industry said, no,
they have to go find something else.

Michele Hansen: Yeah, I mean, I
originally actually, I started

an MBA part program part time.

When I was employed full time,
because I was like, this is a

professional insurance policy.

If I ever lose my job, like it
looks like most places now require

an MBA for product managers.

Like I like my job.

I don't want to leave my job, but I need.

I need some insurance just in case.

And then lo and behold, nine months later,
I ended up quitting to run my own company.

Um, but, but yeah, I mean, I,
I feel like you can, you can

never have too much insurance.

Um, it is always worth it to,
to pay, to cover downside risk.

And sometimes that is literally insurance
and sometimes it is figurative in the

form of side projects and, or degrees
or however else you might frame that.

Kevin Griffin: Michelle, it's
been a pleasure chatting with you.

I know I, I learned a ton.

It's fascinating chatting
with you every time.

Cause, uh, you're such a
lovely person to talk to.

And thank you again for hanging
out with us and everyone else.

Thank you for tuning in and we'll
see you on the next episode of

the multi thread income podcast.