It takes many hands to keep the SPI ship running. Meet Team Flynn: the full-time team that have officially joined Flynndustries LLC as of January 1!
Today on the blog, I'm going to introduce you to each member of Team Flynn—the team that has been helping me these past few years from behind the scenes on the blog, the podcasts, my book projects, all the online courses, overarching strategy (business, creative, and otherwise), and so much more.
But today, Team Flynn will no longer be behind the scenes. They're taking center stage!
First though, some context. Smart Passive Income is my baby. It's the brand and company I built from the ground up more than 10 years ago now. For the first six years, I was on my own. I was a solopreneur. I did everything. I bet you know what that feels like.
But then I realized that I needed help in order to grow and continue challenging myself as an entrepreneur, which would allow me to best serve my audience. I'm grateful that the success of SPI afforded me the opportunity to begin working with hired talent.
So six years ago, with the first version of Let Go (Amazon link), I began working with Matt Gartland as my editor and project manager. That relationship quickly bloomed into much more than just a single publishing project. As Matt grew his editorial and creative agency, Winning Edits, I took advantage of the talented team of creative professionals that entered Matt's orbit. And so “Team Flynn” began, a unified squad of people I would grow to love and trust that began helping me with the day-to-day support of running the SPI business. It was exactly the right move at the right time to facilitate my vision.
Gradually, over the years, as I grew and evolved from “soloprenuer” into the CEO mindset, I began to see new opportunities for myself and “my team” in ways I hadn't perceived before. We were all growing, and growing together, but a barrier still remained: I was their client; they weren't really, officially, legally, my team. We were doing great work together, providing great value to you, my amazing fans. And yet, it felt unfulfilled.
We could do more . . . if we were truly unified.
That brings us to today and some very exciting news: Flynndustries (my company) and Winning Edits (Matt's company) have officially joined forces as of January 1, 2019.
It's a major moment for me, for Matt, for the team, for everyone—including you—because now we have the focused, unobstructed opportunity to channel all of our time and energy into SPI. I truly cannot express in words just how excited—and, if I'm honest, nervous—I am. We're really leveling up our capabilities and commitment to serving each and everyone of you in bigger, higher stakes ways. But like before, when I first began working with hired talent on my Let Go memoir project, I know this move now is the right move at the right time to realize the bigger, bolder vision for the future of SPI.
We call ourselves “Team Flynn” because Flynndustries (the legal entity) is the name of the company. I'm so proud to say that the team is now officially Team Flynn (no quotations necessary!). And I'm equally proud to use that same term with all of you in the audience, because we're in this together. I truly consider all of you extended members of my amazing team. While the core of us are “in house” professionals fully committed day in and day out to SPI, all of you contribute valuable energy and feedback that propels our ideation and forges our resolve to keep delivering value to the community.
It's now high time for all of you to meet the team. Let's introduce them, shall we?
Meet the Team
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Matt’s Job at SPI:
I’m a husband, soon to be dad, brother, son, and business leader. I specialize in such functions as strategy, operations, finance, and content. My greatest joy is working hard to unleash the full potential of teams, groups, and organizations through servant leadership. I also adore teaching others, especially if it involves a spreadsheet. At SPI, I serve as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), which simply means that I make sure the business works and grows in concert with developing the team and serving the community.
I began my career in Johnson and Johnson’s (J&J) information technology leadership development program. During my enterprise career at J&J, I built and led a high-performing software product team that pioneered solution development using innovative user experience technologies and workflow philosophies such as Agile.
I left enterprise life to launch my first startup company: Winning Edits, an editorial agency specializing in books, blogs, and digital publishing. Over seven years, Winning Edits grew and evolved into a digital media agency working with bestselling authors, category-leading brands, and influencers. Winning Edits joined forces with SPI in 2019 through a strategic acquisition.
During my agency career, I was also partner and COO of Rocket Code, a leading e-commerce agency that was a top Shopify Plus partner. I am also a co-founder (along with Pat) of SPI Labs, creator of Smart Podcast Player.
Fun Facts About Matt:
- I’ve visited over 10 countries on three continents.
- I met my wife on an airplane.
- I love to cook and eat a paleo-esque diet.
- I’m committed to functional strength training for life.
- I’m an unabashed Harry Potter and Marvel fan.
- My #1 personal core value: have heart.
What Matt Brings to SPI & Why He’s Excited:
I bring strategic business planning, organizational leadership, culture development, content strategy, and financial excellence to Team Flynn.
SPI is the most authentic, humble, and generous brand in the space. It’s a privilege to serve as a guardian of that brand as it enters an exciting new generation of innovation, influence, and growth.
Ray’s Job at SPI:
I’m an editor and writer. (Boom! Concise!)
Industry-wise, most of my background is in market research, consulting, and ecommerce. I also have experience as an editor working with independent authors in the health/diet/nutrition/fitness fields.
Fun Facts About Ray:
- I was born and grew up in southern Africa (Zambia and Botswana) and moved to the States when I was 18.
- My other main passion is movement education; I’m a teacher and practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of movement awareness.
What Ray Brings to SPI & Why He’s Excited:
I’ll be touching a lot of the written content that forms part of the fabric of the SPI universe—blog posts and other web-based written content, ebooks, landing page copy, emails, you name it.
Our team has worked with Pat and SPI for a long time, and we’ve always felt a kinship with Pat and the mission and focus of SPI—to serve and help others. Becoming Team Flynn is the super-natural (supernatural?) next step in that relationship!
Janna Marlies Maron
Janna’s Job at SPI:
I’m responsible for developing strategies and plans for all of our content and publishing projects, from ongoing content production like the podcasts and blog posts to digital publications, courses, and books. I manage and oversee the execution of all content projects and programs, as well as special projects like FlynnCON, our first ever large scale conference.
I have 18 years of experience in content and publishing, both print and digital. I’m a veteran of the industry and of storytelling in a variety of mediums. I’m the founder and publisher of the literary arts magazine Under the Gum Tree. My experience includes time as a newspaper staff writer and photographer, magazine managing editor, freelance writer and editor, community college adjunct professor, editorial director for Winning Edits, and now content director for SPI.
Fun Facts About Janna:
- I became an English major in college as soon as I discovered I would have to take not one, but TWO semesters of Shakespeare.
- I love superhero TV shows, especially Supergirl and The Flash.
- I’ve been an Airbnb host for more than four years, which means that, yes, my husband and I let strangers stay with us in our home.
- I’m an extrovert through and through, and hate spending time alone. And yet, some of my favorite things to do are solo activities: reading and writing.
- I’m working on a book and set a goal for myself in 2018 to take 4 weekend writing retreats, one per quarter. I completed this goal and wrote 36,000 words toward my book.
- I’m the cleanest eater you’ve ever met, and I’d put money on that. I have maintained a gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and sugar-free diet for more than six years. It’s how I manage MS, which I was diagnosed with in 2012.
What Janna Brings to SPI & Why She’s Excited:
Most everything I do can be summed up with two words: authentic storytelling. I strive for sharing my own true authentic story and helping others to do the same, which has driven me to pursue the type of work that I do both professionally and independently.
My work continues to give me the opportunity to work with others to help them tell the best version of their story as they possibly can. Whether that story takes the form of a book manuscript, a blog post, email newsletter, podcast episode, or a live presentation at a huge event, I’m excited and honored to continue pursuing this mission with Pat and the rest of the SPI team.
Karen’s Job at SPI:
As Marketing Manager I plan and implement marketing campaigns, email sequences, affiliate programs, landing pages, and various other marketing-related tasks. I’m also a writer and editor and contribute to the creation of the SPI content, as well as lead projects related to special events like FlynnCON.
I have a BA in English and an MA in Journalism. Throughout my career I have held various editorial and marketing positions, including associate editor for two magazines, senior copywriter in the marketing department of a Fortune 500 corporation and various creative agencies, and most recently as the writing director of a digital marketing agency in Chicago. I’m the author of two books and many articles and essays that have appeared in various magazines and journals.
Fun Facts About Karen:
- I’m the mom of a highly-spirited and awesome 9-year-old girl who my husband and I adopted through foster care.
- I have published two books, Rock-Bottom Blessings and Book of Grace-Filled Days (both published by Loyola Press).
- Pope Francis and I have the same book editor!
- I’m working on my third book, which will be a memoir about being a transracial family and the convergence of two family histories: One black, one white.
What Karen Brings to SPI and Why She’s Excited:
I have over 15 years of experience in content creation and marketing that I bring to the team. I’m always in awe of Pat and his talent, passion, energy, ideas, and generosity. He inspires me and I’m excited to use my skills and experience to enhance the mission of Team Flynn, and to work for a leader who I respect so much. I’m honored to be a part of a team whose mission is to serve others first.
David’s Job at SPI:
I’m the go-to guy for all things podcast and audio-editing! I also lend a hand with written content, editing, quality control, and anything else that I can get my hands dirty with.
I’ve worked as a grant-writer, barista, prep cook, waiter—I’ve had a varied career to be sure.
Fun Facts About David:
- Music is one of my biggest passions and I compose for a variety of settings: films, ensembles, podcasts, performance . . . I also did the theme music for Non’s awesome podcast, You, Me, Empathy!
- In 2016 I flew a weight shift trike across America as part of a documentary; hoping to have another plane one day soon!
- I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and my specialty is making things from scratch. I roast my own coffee, brew my own kombucha, and can my own jams.
- Don’t try to reach me on the weekends—I like to hike and I leave my phone in the car 😀
What David Brings to SPI & Why He’s Excited:
I’ll be offering any tips and tricks I can related to audio: editing, recording tips, and more! I’m stoked to help entrepreneurs create top-notch, professional audio content that makes a difference for their audience.
Mindy Holahan Peters
Mindy’s Job at SPI:
I am the Solutions Manager, which means that I’m in charge of figuring out the technical solutions for all of the work we want to do. It’s my job to be our in-house expert on the platforms we use like ConvertKit, Leadpages, and Teachable, and when we identify a new platform we’d like to try—most recently we’ve been exploring RightMessage—I will spend a lot of time figuring out how the platform works and the ways in which it may be useful to us. The best way to describe it is that it’s my job to take new technical ground for the team.
Once I’ve learned these systems, then I teach the relevant team members how to use them. The technical complexity of Smart Passive Income is rapidly increasing; Non and I work closely together to keep it running as smoothly as possible. Non and I also make up half the Smart Podcast Player team, along with Matt and our developer Eric Eelkema. I function as the Product Manager, making decisions on new development and giving guidance on support issues. I previously edited AskPat; I’m the Mindy who Pat mentions in those episodes. I’ve been working with Pat since the launch of Breakthrough Blogging.
I have B.S.B. from the University of Minnesota in Marketing and Environmental Horticulture, but what really matters is that I was a band nerd, just like Pat! I played flute in the U of M Marching Band and trombone in pep band.
After college I went into the meetings and events industry, working first in association management and then as a part of the sales and administration teams for a meeting and events center company in Philadelphia. While there, I was our LEED educator (one of the locations was LEED-CI Silver). I learned a ton about sales, reporting, and the complexities of running a small business (i.e. cash flow management is king). Most crucially, I learned how to quickly teach myself to use software that others found intimidating.
Fun Facts About Mindy:
- I am a Minnesota girl: I like wild fluctuations in weather, food on a stick, and living near lakes. My coworkers think I have an accent, which I am only too happy to play up.
- My true passions are building blanket forts for my three cats, throwing parties for my friends with my husband John, and making elaborate projects with the materials I have on hand. I am very good a whipping together a costume, prop, or game at the last minute.
- I love podcasts and YouTube, and I'm a long-time Nerdfighter.
- I have ADHD, and I think that it has a lot to do with why I’m good at my job. My older brother has autism and Tourette’s syndrome, and that has had a huge impact on my level of empathy and patience.
What Mindy Brings to SPI & Why She’s Excited:
You’ll see the Solutions team work any time you go to register for a course or webinar, read a sales page, or sign up for a PDF download. I also love a good screenflow tutorial, and I’m excited to contribute technical training ideas into our editorial calendar. My biggest value to Pat is that when he has the idea of “I wonder if we could do X…” my response is “I’ll figure out how.”
I am excited to be a part of Smart Passive Income because learning to run an ethical online business is truly challenging. I’m excited that the skills I learn can be passed on to the whole SPI audience, so that it’s a little easier for you to make an ethical living doing what you love.
Sara Jane Hess
Associate Business Manager
Sara Jane’s Job at SPI:
I’m a regular Swiss Army Knife in the SPI world as the Associate Business Manager. I manage everything from operations to HR and culture to finance.
Sara Jane’s Experience:
My work background includes project and operations management at digital agencies and working as a technician for Apple.
Fun Facts About Sara Jane:
- I love to always be making things—food, sewing projects, drawing letters and maps, woodworking, anything.
- When I was a kid I kept a packed suitcase by my bed in case anyone asked me to go on an adventure. Not much has changed. (Hong Kong and Japan are next!)
What Sara Jane Brings to SPI & Why She’s Excited:
My biggest contributions will be to help to bring operational organization and strategy to the business.
I love the idea of a service trickle down effect. Even though my work mostly happens in the background, by serving my coworkers who do produce the things that directly get into the hands of the SPI audience, I am in effect still serving the larger community, which is super exciting and rewarding.
Non’s Job at SPI:
I work with Mindy on the Solutions team, where we operate as platform /software /technology adventurers, spelunking head-first into environments like ConvertKit, Teachable, and LeadPages to find solutions (hey, there’s that word again!) for Pat and the SPI community. Mindy and I pride ourselves in our comfort starting from a place of “well, we have no idea what we’re doing” to “heck yeah, we figured it out!”
I’m also the lead customer experience person for the Smart Podcast Player, where you’ll find 60 percent of my interactions happy-face emojis and puppy gifs.
I’ve never worked well in large, traditional corporate environments, and as a result I’ve had a cornucopia of odd jobs, from campground manager in a tiny Alaskan town to commercial salmon fisherman to barista to lifeguard to 15 years of freelance writing and editing in higher education, marketing, advertising, and for local small businesses.
Fun Facts About Non:
- I love a wayward trail run, wherein I just let my mind wander, commune with prancing deer, and remind myself that I am a speck of dust on this awe inspiring pale blue dot.
- I’m an animal person. We have a black Labrador named Scooby and two half-draft horses, Paladin and Tessa. Empathy machines, the lot of them.
- Speaking of empathy, in January 2018, I created and launched my podcast: You, Me, Empathy—a safe space for sharing our mental health stories, for embracing vulnerability, for making it okay to share our emotions, our struggles, our place as feely humans.
What Non Brings to SPI & Why He’s Excited:
I like to think of myself as the weirdo or black sheep of the group. I am 100 percent sure the team loves it. 😀 With that, I bring different perspectives, and certainly a lot of heart. I love to serve and help people. I’m an Enneagram Type 2 after all.
I’m honored to be a part of Team Flynn. Pat has a huge heart, and I just think we as humans need to surround ourselves with huge-hearted people, and to bring more compassion and empathy into the world.
Jess Lindgren (who you may already know!)
Jess’s Job at SPI:
Hey friends! If you've been part of the SPI community over the past five years, it's likely we have met, either virtually or in person. I've been Pat's Executive Assistant since 2014 (I was featured on SPI Session 115), and this year, I'm transitioning to be the in-house Events Manager, while continuing to support Pat's travel and speaking needs. Any SPI experience (live workshops, FlynnCON, and meetups) will be directly within my purview.
I came to SPI with 10 years as an Executive Assistant behind me. If you've ever had, worked with, or been an EA, you'll know that we wear a lot of different hats on any given day. Every executive is different, requiring varying degrees of personal and professional support—I've done everything from taking a family pet for a checkup at the vet, to running quarterly board meetings, to developing company-wide employee appreciation programs, and many things in between. I know 10 percent about nearly everything, when it's worth my time and interest to learn more, and when it's worth the money to hire it out. My specialties are gift giving, personal assistance, and high-touch events, so my new role as Events Manager feels like the perfect transition out of a more traditional EA role.
Fun Facts About Jess:
- I never go anywhere without my Nintendo 3DS, and I'm always on the lookout for more friends to play with via StreetPass. Animal Crossing, Zelda, and Ninjatown are my favorite 3DS games.
- My husband and I moved to San Diego with our three cats about a year ago, and our new home has a fireplace! We love a cozy night in by the fire.
- I love to travel, and have spent a significant amount of time in Europe and Mexico over the last five years. Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii are on my dream vacation wish list.
- Mindy and I met in Minneapolis in 2012, and when Pat needed an EA in 2014, I was the team's first call. Also, my husband was in the U of M marching band at the same time as Mindy—what a small world!
What Jess Brings to SPI & Why She’s Excited:
I'm so excited to step outside of Pat's email inbox to be more hands-on with the SPI Community! If you've ever attended one of our live workshops or met Pat in person, it's likely I've been involved behind the scenes. The opportunity to devote more of my time and energy to making those events memorable experiences for our community is absolutely thrilling to me, and I can't wait to meet more of you in 2019 and beyond!
I hope that helps you get a sense of the type of team I’m bringing into SPI, and how they’ll play a role in 2019 and beyond. I’m excited for the future—and I hope you are too.
Thanks for being here!