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Ep149 Transcript: Interview of Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie
Andrea Vahl: What do you do if the pandemic completely blows up your business? Well, my guest today, Kwadwo, had an amazing story about how he thought he was on vacation with his family and ended up having to move there permanently. He had to restart everything from scratch in his forties, and now he’s got a successful business and is the co host of an exciting long-established, successful podcast.
Listen in to today’s interview.
Intro: Hello, dreamers. Welcome to the late starters club, giving you the inspiration, mindset, and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Andrea Vahl: Hello, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl, and I’m super excited to be joined today by Kwadwo. We just met at podfest or podcast movement two weeks ago. And it was so serendipitous. I’m so excited that you are coming on the show here.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me.
Thank you. Thank you.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. So let me just give you a little bit of background. Kwadwo has done so much, and actually I’m not going to even get into his last name because we’ll just have that in the show notes. It’s enough for me on the first name and we’ll talk about that a little bit.
But, Kwadwo is a Facebook Ad strategist for established online course creators and coaches. And unlike most ad managers, in addition to bringing in quality leads, he specializes in fixing funnels and giving business strategies so his clients can work less, make more and enjoy the life they were meant to live.
Ah, that sounds beautiful.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: It is beautiful. It’s a good thing.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. So we were, we just happened to be sitting next to each other in a session and struck up a conversation and realized how many cool things that we had in common. But also I just love your story, where you come from, like just the twists, the turns, the ups, the downs.
So I was like, we’ve got to have you on the show. So I’d love to get into like, kind of, how did you get to this point? And where were you recently? Because just, the pandemic kind of blew up your life. So let’s talk a little bit about that and give us, give our listeners a little bit of the history there.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Sounds good. I’m going to do the super short and concise version. When you want me to slow down and just expand on something, you just tell me. So where we got to this point, running this business actually started back in 2018. I was a teacher at an international school in China. Teaching English as a second language to a bunch of little Chinese kids in second and third and fourth grade and Korean kids.
I had lived in China for 12 years and read an article and jumped ship to start my first true online business. And that’s why if you, if you can figure out how to spell my name and Google me, you’ll see a lot more about me speaking Chinese and teaching people Chinese and people. End up, when they finally meet me, they’re like, are you sure you run Facebook ads?
Cause all I see is Chinese this and Chinese that, the social media was strong on that business and things were growing. I was a paid member of, Rick Mulready’s Accelerator, a mastermind for established online course creators, which is how you and I know each other. But we’ll get to that later.
And so the business is growing in 2019. I live in China and I decide to take a vacation to Mexico with my wife, with my two kids, one was nine months at the time. The other was four years old at the time. And we took one luggage, like check in and a couple of carry ons and we go to Mexico January 13th, 2020, right before, well, the pandemic happened.
And, yeah, that’s when it all fell apart. I basically, I tell people I walked into the Great Wall of China, like, hit my head, fell over, cried a lot, and I didn’t even, couldn’t even pull myself back together. And so, we know what happened pandemic wise, but my own story was, at first, I was happy to be, I mean, we were happy to be quarantining in Mexico, because…Tacos and guacamole. Right?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah.
I mean, that sounds amazing.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: I’m still doing my online business teaching Chinese online. Then what happened is we realized we did not want to go back to China. I guess no matter how you or maybe a listener feels about the whole quarantining thing in the U.S. Just like factually.
It was a lot worse in China. We’re talking one family member per household could leave once a week to go to the store. And like, the security guards over here would put tape on the outside of your door so they could track who was like breaking the quarantine. It was nuts. So we didn’t want to go back to that.
So we stayed in Mexico and the three week vacation from January 13th became like a three to four month deal and we’re still happy. I’m quarantining in a quaint Airbnb in a courtyard, yellow Mexican walls. But then what happened was China shut down its borders. We got a week’s notice that we could not reenter China unless we dropped everything and flew back in under a week.
And if you’ve ever flown anywhere internationally, four tickets last minute, it’s just not happening. So we decided to wait it out. And well, the end of that story is it’s now 2023 in the fall, September, and China only just recently opened its borders in January. So what happened is, imagine your home, we lived there 12 years with no plan to leave, but we had our current place at the time for maybe five years.
So we had to sell everything. With, if you’re watching the video, you can see my cell phone, iPhone, FaceTiming with friends that went over and got the keys to our place. And through the little screen, we had to pick six luggages worth of things that we could keep and everything else had to be garage sold.
And, we were only reunited with our luggage a year after that fact. So about a year and a half without any belongings, except for one check in luggage. I had to shutter my business, the Chinese business, because it was incorporated in China, but our visas were tied to that, so we literally could not go back to China.
And, that was the end of everything I was working toward for 12 years. One of it, I couldn’t pivot the business that business held, Andrea, I tried, I tried.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. There’s really nothing. I mean, that is a government mandated shutdown with you guys out of the country.
That is just so, so crazy.
So at that point you just had to think of something new. It’s not like you’re going to, I mean, it’s not like you’re going to teach Chinese, I mean, I guess you could teach Chinese in Mexico. I don’t know. So crazy. So how did you come to decide the next step?
I mean, obviously you had some time, were you doing some, you said you were doing some online teaching, but what was that process like? Deciding that next path?
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: It was, we’ll see if I can hold it together and not cry on the podcast. The process, I would like to say I had a process.
I went through the phase where, I thought I would just look for a job. I didn’t mean to swear on the podcast, sorry. But I thought I would look for a job.
Andrea Vahl: Light swearing’s encouraged.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Right? Okay. So I thought I would look for a job and, that only lasted like a month. I mean, basically I had nothing.
I was in Mexico on a tourist visa, only lasted six months. Then we were at our in-laws. But what does that mean for the husband to be at the in-laws? And these are in-laws. I mean, I love my in-laws. They’re from Michigan and they’re part of, plenty of the populous of the United States, not necessarily happy with China taking so many of the manufacturing jobs.
So I was in their basement for two and a half months and all I had was getting up in the morning and praying in circles in the basement because every day with them was like (They won’t listen to this podcast) but they’re like, you wasted 12 years in China. You shouldn’t have went there in the first place.
And, you can stay here. We love you, but you need to be gone. We’ll give you like three months and they did it lovingly, but I still had to hear that. At the same time we’re burning through cash, like in our savings. Thank God we did have savings and my wife. Thank God for her. She was very, very, very supportive and she could have made it a lot worse, but she really helped me out.
So like my plan, what got me through, like I had no plan. I was 39. I had to reinvent everything. And looking at it from now, honestly, it was just lots of tears, lots of prayer. And I applied places. And one of those places that I applied to was to be a coach with Rick Mulready. Who, how did you guys meet again?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, we met through the Facebook ads world. We were on a panel together at, I believe it was at social media marketing world. And we’ve met a couple of times since then with our paths crossing at different conferences or whatever. But it’s funny because, you follow people’s journeys. I listened to his podcast and it’s kind of fun to see how he has also evolved his business and, change things up and pivoted a little bit. And, so that’s awesome. So you applied to be a coach with his business and that’s where that piece started.
So you started coaching and now the cool thing is, I’m gonna spill the beans. The cool thing is that just got announced, just got announced. You are now going to be a cohost on his podcast.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: And it’s such an honor, such a privilege and it’s super exciting. But yeah, fast forward to now I’m cohosting with Rick, like the Rick Mulready.
I turned around and I saw you, Andrea. And Andrea, when you said you did Facebook ads and you wrote the book, Facebook ads for dummies.
And then I’m like. Oh my gosh. I’ve been the presence of greatness. And Rick is like, oh, I know her.
Andrea Vahl: Super fun. Super small world. You just never know who you’re going to be sitting next to at a conference and very cool. So I love this story though. I love how you just made such a huge leap from teaching Chinese. And now you just grew your business. I’m sure it took a lot of education and learning along the way.
What other obstacles would you say you’ve had along this segment of your journey? Obviously you had tons in the others. What obstacles have you come across in this segment where you’re building this new business? How has that come to be here?
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Lots of peaks and valleys. So super short coached with him for the better part of three years.
That’s where I learned everything. Right? I also had to have a part time job working inside of a Facebook ads agency, which is where I picked up those skills.
Then I started this business, with his blessing in fall of 2022. And so, geez, the one challenge you want to know is I didn’t have many marketing channels.
It’s definitely a blessing to have Rick Mulready sending you clients, right? And to have his trust. But there was one point where I didn’t have an influx of clients and it was actually January and I’m right after launch season when everybody finishes launching, you know? And so, a handful of clients decided to hit pause.
And I, of course, had just passed that phase where I went from an overwhelmed solopreneur to hiring three people, two people, sorry, like an online business manager and another ads manager to work with me. And then I found myself with half the income and that was, have you been there before?
Andrea Vahl: Oh yeah, this year has been a rough year.
I’m going to tell you that. And I’m. Made no secret of that. This is, this has been a rough year. So yeah, I’ve had to scale back my team as well. So it’s really, it is scary. It is scary. It’s hard. And especially I’m sure very hard with the new business and hiring, that’s why it’s scary to hire, because now you’re like, Ooh, I’ve got responsibilities and payroll to hit and they get paid first and I get paid last.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: And the kids are getting bigger. And so that was the first time and it happened twice this year. To make a long story short, it happened twice this year. And what you read in my bio, basically helping people make their businesses work so that they can live the life they’re meant to. Well, I live in Mexico.
And so, it’s always a lot of pressure when things aren’t working out the way you want to. We’re looking at the location we live in and thinking, Oh, no, do we have to move back to the States? We really wanted to live first overseas and then abroad. We really enjoy just being integrated here and speaking Spanish and all the different cultural experiences we have. And our kids are growing up bilingual and so it really was I mean, it’s always like your life is on the line, right?
When there’s not enough income coming in and you’re like, what am I going to do? But our lives, not our wellbeing, I guess, but our, our lives, the vision we had for our lives, it really was at stake. Like everything we came to know and love.
Andrea Vahl: Right, right. Yeah. Because you make decisions and sometimes there’s things that are already in place and especially with the family too, it adds just so much pressure. My kids now just, I’m literally just an empty nester as of this weekend here, like true empty nester. So it’s like, and I’ll tell you right now, it’s like harder than I thought, but it does make this kind of, Ooh, I’m really location independent now.
It’s just much easier, but at the same time, there’s still things in place and you’ve got, bills and commitments that you’ve made. And so when the business is, scaling up and down, it’s a challenge. So I think it’s nice when you can have that cushion and that savings, cause the life of an entrepreneur is definitely a rocky one and not always for the faint of heart.
Yeah. So awesome. But along the way you had talked about the support you’ve had. What kind of support have you had? Obviously you had the support from your in-laws for a shorter time. You’ve got the support of your wife. And what other support have you had along your journey that has really helped you?
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: With this business?
The biggest support would be from Rick. It just got announced, I’m the cohost, we were recording two episodes this past week, and at the end they were just good, and at the end, I’m just starting to choke up a little bit. I’m just like, thank you, Rick. Thank you. Because every step of the way, when business wasn’t going well, he’s giving me advice. He’s a coach and I think that really helped. But the kind of support I got from him mentor wise was also when I misstepped and when things weren’t going well, having somebody to process those things through and just having somebody who trusted me inside of their business, still encourage me and tell me that they believe in me and they know that I’ll make it through, that meant… it meant a lot to have somebody who could see behind the curtain of my business, so to speak, literally and look at things and just tell me that I could go through.
I’ll say it like this. One vision that I shared in the announcement episode, I guess if somebody has heard it and they’ve already heard it, but like, I want the segments that I do on that podcast to be the motivation that I needed. When life was super dark and I wasn’t sure if any business endeavor could make it another two weeks, let alone turn around and it’s like when you get knocked down and you’re not sure you can get up or even if you want to give up, like I want my segments to bring that kind of motivation so people can get up again and then take those strategic steps that they know about because we’re all well read.
Right? And we all listen to seven podcasts statistically. But before you can take those steps, you got to get up. And that’s, that’s how I want to help people. I want it to be the kind of segments on the podcast that I needed at those times. So.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, yeah, that’s incredible. That is such a beautiful mission to keep in front of you and how cool that, you have such a great mentor to be able to, give you that support because I think that is just so key. We look at other people’s outsides and assume that everything’s been pretty good, especially with social media posts, everything’s looking great. But behind, behind that curtain, like you said, it’s sometimes really, really challenging.
And, and it’s so heartening to know that other people who are at all kinds of stages of their business can, have this amazing rise, but also, sometimes have to declare bankruptcy or something like that. I was just talking to someone, a couple of people on the show recently where they had, multimillion dollar businesses and then things just fell apart and they had to, scrap everything. So it can happen. And, and it’s just nice to be able to know that we’re not alone, you know. Things could be challenging, but lots of people get through it as well. And great to have someone who had such great experience to be able to guide you.
So that’s awesome. Awesome. So what has, speaking of low points, like what, one thing I think all of us, especially I think is people starting later in life, you maybe thought you were on this career path or this path and all of a sudden you’ve had to make this huge change and it can be overwhelming.
So what things have helped you get through some of that overwhelm or get your mojo back when you have had some of these big challenges, especially this year. I know for me, I was kind of taken by surprise by some of these challenges that popped up that I wasn’t expecting. So how have you, how do you get through?
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Me as a man of faith, Christian faith, I got through by prayer. And that is a cliche in many different circles and among many different worldviews. But for me, especially when I had zero, nothing, these weren’t rehearsed prayers. They were very raw prayers. Like Jesus, I need help. If something doesn’t come through in one month, I’m going to have to start eating less, savings is almost gone. I see no prospects.
Like, oh geez, so I got diagnosed with anxiety. I wonder why, you know? But, and so part of my, half of my body was freaking out and the way this doctor was describing it to me is that sometimes the brain does not want to accept stuff that is happening to it. And so it just does weird things.
And so, jeez, I was going from doctor to doctor. I mean, I could name sevenologists that I’ve been to trying to figure out what’s going on. And finally, I think I went to a neuropsychologist and she’s like, Oh yeah, this is textbook anxiety. I’m like, Oh, anxiety. Dang it, I don’t want to admit that I’m suffering from this, but my body is like, you better do something.
And so to go back to what I started with, it really was, it really was prayer that got me through. Like I remember getting up in the morning and deciding before I go to work and do the practical things, like I’m just going to have to go outside. It’s kind of cold where I’m at in Mexico. People think I’m living like the baller life on the beach, but where I live in Mexico, it’s high and dry in central Mexico, kind of like Phoenix, Arizona, if you’ve ever been over there.
And so, but yeah, hours, yes, on the one side of things, like prayer does help you or any kind of meditation does help you like center yourself, so to speak, and like get into a quiet spot. But like, for me, it was, literally pleading, like, God, do something. I need something. And then, like, I guess being a Christian looking at various scriptures in the Bible and saying, look, Jesus, if you promise this to me, and I’m going to trust you, then where’s the other side of that?
I’m going to wait. I’m going to do these things that are practical. And I’m going to wait for you to deliver on your word. And he did in so many different ways. And, that’s what got me through the very, very, very hard parts and the parts that weren’t so hard. And all the way till now, like I can look back and I didn’t understand it when I was in China.
I can connect the dots now, but I had no idea back then. Successful business paid to be in the mastermind of Rick more ready. Then the pandemic happened who nobody saw coming except. Maybe the Chinese government. All right.
Andrea Vahl: We won’t get into that.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: He offers me a job and I take it and then I get another ads management job. And then a couple of years later, he encourages me to start my own business, which I do, and then he allows me to be the cohost on his podcast. Like. I mean, you just can’t make that stuff up. I just have to look at that and say, thank you God for directing my steps.
And that’s, that’s the short of it, you know?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. And it’s hard to even comprehend and I think there’s been a lot of people on the show who have been people of faith as well. And it definitely is, it’s almost freeing, right?
To say, you know what, I actually don’t have to worry about this. Someone else is, I can set that burden down. Life is mysterious and amazing and beautiful and, it all works out.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Sometimes it just plain, sometimes life just plain sucks. Let’s just be honest. Sometimes you’re like, can I get back to the fun part?
They say the rain falls on everyone. That’s an ancient proverb. The rain falls on everyone. And when it’s raining, even though I was born and raised near Seattle, I don’t like rain. I want the sun. You know?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. That’s awesome. That is awesome. Well that, that is just super, super exciting that you’ve got this new podcast ahead of you.
You’ve got your business rolling. You’re in your forties, you’ve got a long time of business ahead of you, that’s the thing that’s amazing. And that’s always the thing that I like to tell people is that, sometimes people think it’s too late to make a big shift.
You went, you made a huge jump, huge leap. And I don’t know if you’ve had any, did you have any marketing training before this, or has it all been through the courses, the programs, the online job training? Have you had anything that you’ve?
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Oh, plenty, plenty. Let’s see the very first business I did was a multi level marketing business, right.
Which also seems to be a swear word like the J O B. But if you’re looking at marketing, what happened was I did that and the organization, they told you to read a lot of books. They’re like, you are only going to attract the person who you become. So I read a lot of marketing books. Do you remember in the airport circa say 2006, those kiosks with the yellow language boxes.
They taught you how to learn a language. Very first sales job was with Rosetta Stone. So I learned a lot about sales and marketing. Actually I was horrible at it, but I loved language like in my heart. And then I saw somebody who was like quadrupling conservatively my sales. So I took a day off and went to go meet this guy.
His name is Joe Kunkel. He may not be with us anymore because he already was like seventies then. And this man didn’t care about language at all, but he was the first person to tell me that sales is a system. It’s a process. And as long as you learn that system and process you can sell and I was like, yes, sir.
What do I do? Buy a book, studied the book and like stayed up all night studied. Went back the next day and sales are up 30%. And I went on to train some people and have a nice little salesforce. Inside of that company. So yeah, I’ve had many different jobs over my career.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that is awesome. I had had, before I started my job, I had had no marketing training. So, I think that’s amazing, you can take pieces from things that you’ve done in the past and translate that into something new.
I was always interested in entrepreneurship, but I was an engineer in the background, so again, my message to people is that, just because you haven’t had a degree or a PhD in something, it doesn’t mean that you can’t launch something new. And that’s what I did is just read a ton of books.
It’s just been like, I read millions of books, and studied. And I think if you’re curious, if you study and you apply yourself, then that’s where things can really, be amazing for you. And obviously that’s been your key to your success. I think in even just obviously having Rick say, I see someone who is curious, who is learning, who is growing, who is, taking on more and able to grow a business. So that’s awesome.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Can I get a recommendation? Very selflessly, selfishly. I’m reading. 10 X is easier than two X by Dan Sullivan. Is there a book that you’re reading that you would love to tell me about?
Cause I’ll buy that.
Andrea Vahl: You know what I also, one of the other, one of the other things I like with entrepreneurs is, and the entrepreneurship game is just, our money mindsets, our mindsets around who we are as people. So I read a combination of marketing, but then also, mindset type books. So one of my books that I’m reading right now that I’m loving is, The Illusion of Money.
It’s really good. And then I have in my Kindle, but haven’t read yet is Donald Miller’s new sales book. I think it’s about, it’s called piloting or something like that. I will, that’s terrible.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: No, that’s fine. I’ve never heard of that before.
Andrea Vahl: We’ll put it, yeah, Donald Miller’s new book. We’ll put it in the show notes, everyone, we’ll put it in the show notes.
So, awesome. Well this has been so amazing, so great and and we’ll get to where people can find you and connect with you. But first I like to ask everyone for one of their favorite quotes or inspirational sayings. ’cause I am just such a quote junkie. So I’d love to hear one of your favorite quotes or inspirational sayings.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Okay, so one that I heard in the past three months, and I’ll just read it from my notes for you. It says, we have to learn to let our work work on us until we become the person for whom it can work. Don’t play at your work, work your work. We have to let our work work on us because We’re going to work regardless, right?
Either we’re going to work and we’re going to have success or we’re going to work and we’re going to have failure. But if we don’t let that failure work on us and sort of work away or work out the things that need to be worked out so that we can be successful at the thing we were meant to be successful at, then we’ve wasted that failure.
Right? So don’t play at the work. Work the work. Either way, it’s good work.
Andrea Vahl: That’s awesome. I love that. That’s so cool. I haven’t heard that. I haven’t heard that concept or idea before. So I like, I love that. So awesome. And why don’t you, let people know where they can find you, your website, your new podcast co hosting. What tell us a little bit more. And we’ll have these notes in the show notes, of course, have these links to the show notes.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Okay. Well, come on over to the podcast. It’s called the art of online business.
Look it up. Anywhere podcasts are including YouTube and you’ll see my face along with Rick Mulready’s. And it’s especially for you. If you’re an established online course creator who wants tips and tricks and strategies to scale your business from low six figures up to say $900,000 in annual revenue.
That’s what we’re talking about. Marketing, sales, team dynamics. And like, I’d love to have you over there. Listening. And you’ll hear a lot more from me. My website is Kwadwo. com. That’s a q u a y j o. com. And that’s where you can find me and reach out to me too.
Andrea Vahl: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Kwadwo, thank you so much.
This has been great. I know that. Our listeners are going to get a ton out of this. So, thanks for your inspiration and continuing to inspire people out in the world and tell people it’s not too late to change completely.
All right. Thanks everyone.
Kwadwo Sampany-Kessie: Thank you.
Outro: Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at late starters club. com and let’s turn dreamin
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