Change Interview - Jan Koch

Today we're pleased to highlight Jan Koch as our #Humansofchange. Hear his #Storyofchange and how he moved through.  

1. What major change has happened in your life?

The first drastic change in my life was quitting my job at November 31st 2013 and starting to work as freelance web designer and business coach. Before I was working as business consultant for a small IT company, managing the implemention of ERP systems for our clients.

Another situation that really changed my life was a health problem that occured just a few weeks ago at the end of February 2014. I was at the regular table tennis training, which can become quite intense when you`re playing for 17 years. During that training session I suddenly felt a strong pain and pressure in my chest. While I had dealt with the pressure a few weeks before the event and treated it as a stress-related issue, that situation felt like I was having a heart attack. I called the emergency, got to the hospital and went through lots of medical checks to check what was going on. It turned out, that I had a locked vertebra in my thoracic spine and luckily no heart attack. Even though the end result was quite benign, thinking I could probably die in that situation brought everything in my life back into perspective. From now on, I`m devoting more time to myself, my family and just enjoying life. Building my business is important, yet not to important as family or health.


2. What happened during this period of change?

To explain how I came to quit my job as business consultant, I need to back up a bit. After I finished my integrated degree in Business Informatics in 2011, I was working for a ridiculously low salary compared to my fellow students. To get an increase in salary, I started studying for a masters degree in IT Security while I was employed, which costed around 14,000 €, a part of that was paid by my employer. During that time I was working and learning around 65-70 hours a week, both in fields that didn`t truly resonate with me. I got frustrated, annoyed my family with my bad moods, almost lost my girlfriend and finally broke down from the pressure - all within six months of studying. I decided to quit the studies, screw the invested money (around 4,000 €). My desire to take control over my life grew massively in that time. I`d never let someone or something else determine how I would spend my time.

So I started a web design company in 2012 and used that as a playground to gain experience in being an entrepreneur. That company never really took off, but it gave me the opportunity to learn. In the end of March 2013 I started engaging in Internet business, started a blog and just tried to learn as much about Internet business as I can by joining several training programs and implementing what I was learning daily. I spent my free time playing around online, testing different strategies, getting my hands dirty and building a worldwide network of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Within seven months, that business generated enough income to support my lifestyle, so I finally quit my job as business consultant on November 31st 2013.


3. How did you navigate yourself out of this change period? (Any tools, resources and advice that you may have used or read)?

It all started with following Pat Flynn from A friend of mine living in the US recommended the blog to me and Pat proved to me, that Internet business actually is a viable business model - if done honestly.

I joined a training program called Internet Business Mastery and worked through their content within weeks, trying to implement something new every single day. I knew that I`d need to get my hands dirty, that I`d need real-world experience and so I decided to start blogging about it. That blog pretty quickly attracted a few thousand readers monthly and held me accountable on taking action.

Besides being open about my learning progress and trying to share my experiences with others, so that they didn`t make the mistakes I`m making, I connected to countless entrepreneurs all over the world. I wanted to grow a network that could give me answers to any questions I had and thus I did interviews with people like Andrew Warner from Mixergy, Pat Flynn, Jeremy Frandsen from Internet Business Mastery and others. Today I`m in touch with some pretty well-known people, so that networking definitely paid off.

I also read lots of books on the topics. Some of the best were Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Caldini, Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port and recently The Eventual Millionaire by Jaime Tardy and Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker.

Probably the best advice that I`ve gotten in the early days came from the founders of Internet Business Mastery, who said that growing my business would be a marathon, not a sprint. So I`m making sure to take at least three action-steps per day, that grow my business.


4. Has the change impacted the way you approached life and work today? 

The change definitely changed the way I`m approaching life and work today. As employee, my life was boring, I wasn`t happy with my situation and I was frustrated because I didn`t know how to change it. I was in complaining mode and annoyed everyone around me with my behavior.

Being an entrepreneur taught me to believe in myself and to sometimes just stop worrying and push through my fears. I learned to treat my fears as signs that I`m on the right track and I started to trust that things just work out. Taking action and working hard for my dreams became my daily routine and since I`m now leveraging my natural talents and passions in business, it doesn`t feel like work for the most time.

The heart-attack situation taught me, that life is too precious to waste it spending your time in a way that isn`t fulfilling. If I would have died from the heart-attack at that evening, I would have died knowing that I`ve done work I loved and that my work is helping people all over the world. Of course I was scared as hell in that situation, but on a strange way I was calm, knowing that I didn`t waste my life with being an employee doing what I was told to do.


5. What one thing do you wish you had during this time - or what one thing was missing during this time that could have helped you?

I wished that I was living in the US, so that I could connect to the real influencers in person. Living in a small town in Northern Germany didn`t make it easy to build up connections and I didn`t have money to travel to the US or to even live there.


6.  What are your 3 main take aways from this change period?

  1. Always believe in your abilities and try to leave a legacy your grand-children can be proud of.
  2. Don`t let anyone tell you that you can`t do something if they didn`t do it themselves.
  3. Fear is no limiting factor, but an indicator that you`re on the right track with what you`re doing.


7. What one piece of advice would you give to someone going through a similar point in their lives?

Go with your gut and make one small step at a time. Overnight successes are a myth, because almost all of them require years or even decades of background work. Get your hands dirty with what you want to do and grow your experience over time. Don`t let anyone pull you down, just take one small step at a time - don`t risk too much by investing too much money, just focus on small steps to get going. You can always make bigger steps later.


8. If your change could be represented by a colour, what would it be?

(We're using the idea that colour represents the different changes that an individual would go through - you can choose one or two depending on the change that you feel was strongest).  Some individuals go through change in a slower process than others and deeper, for others change happens faster and brighter.  We hope that through using colour to represent change we can see the different ways change occurs within individuals. 


Red. My change was (and is) very emotional for me and I pour my heart and soul in the process.