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SPI 713: The Most Inspirational Business Story Ever with Deanna Cooper Gillingham

Hustle culture has tricked many of us into sacrificing our personal lives for financial success. But do we really have to choose business over everything else to reach our goals? Does building a brand have to be difficult? Instead, what would our journey look like if it were easy?

Today’s conversation with Deanna Cooper Gillingham of The Stay At Home Nurse and Case Management Institute will blow your mind! You’ll pick up incredible tips, strategies, and mindsets for building an online business — all while creating more freedom in your life.

Deanna is doing amazing work. She helps case managers in the healthcare industry grow in their profession through education and training. Her trajectory actually mirrors my own Green Exam Academy origin story. In fact, the book she self-published to help people in her niche pass an exam has now generated over a million dollars in profit!

In this episode, we look at how Deanna pulled it off. She started from scratch with no audience and is now playing in the big leagues while traveling the world full-time. We dissect the essential systems that support her lifestyle, discuss mentorship, events, and public speaking, and get a glimpse at her community of superfans.

Listen in on our chat to get a massive dose of inspiration. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Deanna Cooper Gillingham

Deanna began her nursing career in 1994 and worked in various settings, finally ending up in case management in 2011. She landed her dream job as a work-from-home case manager but it still did not give her the freedom and flexibility she desired.

So she started a side hustle helping other case managers get their certification. In just a few short years she was able to leave her job and take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship; she hasn’t looked back since.

Being an entrepreneur has given her the lifestyle she only dreamed of before. She is able to make a difference while working from the beach in Mexico or traveling the world.

Her deepest desire is to help others to do what she has and live the life of their dreams. She now provides coaching, consulting, workshops, and masterminds with her business and life partner Abi to help others define and create their dream life.

You’ll Learn


SPI 713: The Most Inspirational Business Story Ever with Deanna Cooper Gillingham

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Part of me didn’t think that I deserved or that it was possible for it to be easy. You know, it was always you have to work hard to succeed.

And I honestly think I was making busy work for myself. So It was really a relief to say, I don’t have to do this because I thought I had to choose, like, have my business grow and succeed or have a life. And I didn’t want to choose. I wanted it all.

So a lot of it for me was asking myself, when I want something, does it have to be hard? What would it look like if it was easy?

Pat Flynn: Sometimes, you know, when you record something like an interview or a video, you just know that it’s going to make a huge impact. And I got to say, out of 700-ish podcasts that we’ve had here on the show, this may very well be one of the most inspirational conversations I’ve ever had. We’re talking with Deanna Cooper, and she is the host of the Stay At Home Nurse Podcast, and she educates in a very similar way that I educated architects about a particular exam to pass, and her story very much is in parallel with mine.

However, what she’s done with where she’s at and what she’s now doing is going to blow your mind. And I want you to listen all the way through and if you are not inspired by this I don’t know what’s wrong. But you’re gonna pick up some amazing tips. You’re gonna pick up some amazing strategies and mindsets around scrappily putting something together and then transitioning into becoming the CEO of a company while still having the freedoms in your life.

She travels throughout the year now, is able to help tens of thousands of people at the same time. How does she do it? Well, she’s about to tell you. Here she is. Here’s Deanna.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host. Houndoom, Miltank, and Gengar are his three favorite Pokemon, Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Deanna, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Thank you for having me.

Pat Flynn: You know, I’m really excited that you had been a person that a few other people have recommended that I interview because you have a story that sounds apparently very similar to my own in several different ways.

So I would just like to dive in and ask you, like, what are you doing now? And then we’ll kind of time travel back to the past to see where this all started. So if somebody were to ask you now, Deanna, like, what is it that you do? How do you answer that question?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So I usually tell people when they ask what I do that I help to develop the case management workforce, which I know unless you’re in case management, you probably don’t know what that is, but I provide education and training for case managers to help them to grow in the profession.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So case managers, you help provide information. How do you do that? What’s the website and sort of what can we do there?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Our website is Case Management Institute. And there we’ve provide training for new nurses that want to become case managers. And we provide the very first thing that we did, which got our business started, was providing education through books first, and then online courses to help current case managers pass a certification exam.

So that kind of mirrors your green exam academy that you did way back when.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, so, you know, my story is I had gotten laid off, and that’s what, even my dogs are excited about it, actually, I had gotten laid off and started that business. What, why did you start that? Where did this all sort of begin?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah, so, it was actually 10 years ago in September.

That I was just at a really, really low point financially. I had just gone through a divorce, so everything was just like kind of crumbling and I started listening to podcasts mainly because my house was so quiet in the summer when my kids went to visit their father, I was used to having a house full of kids, you know, I have four children of my own, they had friends over all the time.

So to get rid of the noise, I would listen to podcasts. And somehow I came upon the Read to Lead podcast and you were on there and Dan Miller was on there. And then when I heard your story, I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like a real person. And I just started listening to everything. I started listening to your back catalog and all of your, I think at the time you had about 80 episodes out. So I went back and binge listened to all of them.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, it was much easier back then to binge listen to all of them. Cause now we’re at, you know, approaching 700. Of those 80 episodes, like what were the, what were the kinds of things, cause I remember when I first started too, I had gotten inspired by another podcast.

It was called the internet business mastery. And I remember hearing a few things here and there that really made me believe that I could do this too. What, from what you were listening to for myself and from others, what, what made it? What, what made you go, you know what, maybe I could do something.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: I think it was honestly, first of all, I didn’t even understand that you could have an online business. And I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you know, and then the Cashflow Quadrant, he talks about the four quadrants and my mind couldn’t even, I couldn’t wrap my head around how you could make money if you weren’t actually working in trading time for dollars.

So when I heard how you had had this ebook and you sold it it’s like things started to click for me. I’m like, Oh, okay, that’s what they mean by making money in your sleep. I now have a visual that I can kind of look at and understand what that means. And I also enjoyed just listening to all the various ways that people were making money online.

You had, you would interview various people and they would talk about different ways that you could make money online. So it wasn’t like there was this one trick that was, you know, that got you success. It was, you know, you could pick and choose from this a la carte menu, right?

Pat Flynn: That was very similar to my story.

I heard other people’s stories and this is why I love the podcast because I can capture stories like yours and hopefully this will make ripples for others out there who might be wondering whether this is possible for them. So, of all the different business models, I mean, there’s a lot. You could create software, you could do this, you could do that.

When did you start to connect it to something that you potentially could, could offer? What was that sort of a kindling idea for you?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So I actually had to take a certification exam and I wanted to start a business. I wanted to continue working because I had to, and I wanted to pass the certification exam so that I could continue working.

It was a condition of my employment. And I was actually mowing the grass and I heard this podcast where the person said, if you can’t find a solution to your problem, maybe you need to create the solution. And I couldn’t find a book that it to study from. In fact, I had delayed taking the test because I couldn’t find a good book.

They were all regurgitating the same information. Nothing was specific. It just wasn’t good material. And I heard that podcast and then I heard about your experience with the Green Exam Academy. And it just kind of all kind of came together like this, like aha moment where it’s like, well, that’s what you need to do.

You need to create the book that you’re looking for.

Pat Flynn: That’s so great. And it’s so true. And so at that moment, I remember what it was like to get all this excitement about something new, a possibility, like the what if, the what if, the what if. What was the other side telling you, you know, the devil on the other shoulder, if you will?

Was there any of that kind of voice telling you that, like, I don’t remember how I even figured out how to make it happen, and that was a lot of what was keeping me back was, I don’t even know how to do this, am I even qualified, do I even, would people hate it? Like, what were some of the voices?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Oh, wow. So that is, that’s a very real struggle that I had.

First of all, for people that aren’t familiar with nursing, there’s like different degrees you can get. I had an associate degree, which is a two year degree. They were really pushing bachelors and most people who wrote books had so many initials after their names. I had RN, that was it. So I didn’t have all the initials after my name.

I didn’t think anybody was going to listen to me and I didn’t know how to write. So nurses write in nurses notes and they’re very, you know, fragmented.

So, when I had to sit down and start writing sentences, I honestly could not figure out how to write a sentence. I actually had to take a course to figure out how to write again.

Pat Flynn: Oh, wow. It’s cool that you were like, Hey, I, I can’t do this. I need to find somebody who’s done this and can teach me how to do it, which is which is really proactive of you, actually.

I mean, it’d be very easy for you to just go, well, I guess I’m not meant to do this. But was the drive that kept you going? A lot of people when they come to that roadblock or brick wall, they consider that a sign that that’s not the right direction. But what made you keep going? What was that drive for you?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So at that time, my children were all, like, growing up and leaving the house. Like, my oldest had already left the house, my next one was in college, and I had two more after that. And I had this, this fear that they were going to go and scatter to the four parts of the country, and I was going to get two weeks of vacation, and I was going to have to choose.

Which of my four kids I got to see for a week. And so I decided I needed to do something where I was location independent. And I actually moved into a position where I worked from home. But even that, I’m like, so I go to their house and I work all day. And I also had this very strong desire to travel the world, visit different places, live abroad.

And that was another thing I couldn’t do with all the jobs that I was looking for. So this seemed to kind of solve all those problems for me. If I were for myself, I could decide when I wanted to work and where I wanted to work. And so that was just looking at those kids and like their them as adults and being able to visit them wherever.

That was like the big thing that I was, my big motivation.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Or the consequence of not trying and figuring this out, right? Like, what’s at stake here? And I remember for me when I had gotten laid off and I was trying to figure this out and I didn’t know what to do. And I was questioning everything. It was, I’m starting a family.

I have to do this for them. And I don’t have kids yet, but I want to someday. And I want to be there and support them. And I don’t want to, you know, be in an office all day and all these kinds of thoughts about the future were really important to drive motivation. Now, or back then when it was all happening, so what were your first steps?

You had this idea to, you know, help with this exam and in a very similar way to me. But what was your first step? Was your first up actually writing this, this book and, you know, getting your hands dirty there?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: I pretty much listened to everything that you did. I figured, okay, there’s a blueprint out there.

Pat’s done it before, so he created a website. I created a website. Actually, I didn’t even create it. I had a friend who was very much pushing me to do this. And she emails me one day, well, she texts me and she says, look at your emails. And she’s like, sends this email that I got you a website.

Pat Flynn: Wow.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. What a gift. Yes. So, and everything I had been listening to said, you know, you have to have this WordPress website and all these plugins and all this. Well, I looked at it and it was on this other platform called Weebly, which was like a drag and drop. And I said, well, thank you so much, but I really needed it on WordPress.

It goes. Yeah, I couldn’t figure that out. So I just went with this one. And so for the 1st year, I was on a Weebly website and it worked perfectly. I just every day I would get up at 5 a. m. and I would write before my son got up, my youngest was like the bear to get up for school, like once you got him up, that was it.

The day was shot. So I got up at 5 wrote from 5 to 6, then everything happened during the day. Then in the evening, I would research for the next day and then just kind of start that again. And I would put my notes up on that. I did the day before. And sometimes I would average about 2 to 3 new articles or blog posts a week because it would take time to research and write and then you also had said the one thing that you wish you had done sooner was start an email list.

That’s right. Yeah. So I listened to that and I started an email list right away. And my whole offering my lead magnet was get an email with all my updated articles. So every week I will email you with any articles that I update and believe it or not, people signed up for it.

Pat Flynn: Wow. That’s incredible. So how did, how did people end up finding you in the first place?

I’m curious.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Just SEO, because I was, I had the exam blueprint, so I knew exactly what was on the topics that were on the test. And when I would go in these books, like I said, they all covered the same thing, but there were these obscure topics that nobody was covering. So I would research and cover those.

And honestly, just people searching just like I was for those topics would find me. So it was just good old fashioned SEO when I really didn’t know, didn’t know what I was doing.

Pat Flynn: Good old fashioned Google. That’s what helped me initially as well. Writing articles about the lead exam and then people finding them.

And then I found out that people not only found them and read them, but also shared them. Like, yes, because that information was scarce. They were sharing it with other people. Did you find the same thing was happening with you?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Absolutely. So people were sharing this information with their friends, which helped a lot.

Pat Flynn: And so you’re building your email list. And so at this point, you have now essentially an audience or even a following, if you will. So what was that like for you to see that you were making an impact and able to reach other people around the world just from the convenience of a computer at home?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: It was amazing to me because when I started doing the blog posts, you know, you could go back and look at your analytics and like, Oh my gosh, there are people on my website.

And they went from one page to another to another. So I was like, Yeah. Yeah. This is actually working. And it was kind of scary because the way that I was able to write my first blog post was to tell myself, nobody’s ever going to find this and read it anyway.

Pat Flynn: And now you have loads of people and by loads of people, like, tell me if you remember in the beginning around that time, like how many people were coming to the website?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah, it wasn’t a lot. I mean, it might, it started off probably look like maybe 20 and then it moved to 30. 30 and then 60, and it kind of went a little more exponentially towards the end. It took me a year to write it. So by the end I might have like 300 people a day at the most sometimes, you know, that was if I wrote, wrote a new article and my email list was only, I think at the time that I published the book, I think it was around 60 people.

It wasn’t huge, but it was very targeted because there was no other reason to be on that email list other than you wanted to read these.

Pat Flynn: So tell me about the book. When did that come into play? And how did you launch that?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So this was a big learning curve. You know, I had listened to you had Jeff Goins on, you had Michael Hyatt on, you know, I would listen to everything.

And what I was learning from them was if you want a traditional publisher, it could take 12 to 18 months to get your book published. And the test that I was teaching people to pass changed every five years, and it would’ve changed before I had the book published. So I was forced into self-publishing, which was a whole new set of skills I had to learn.

I just went out and researched and googled and found out, you know, learned about ISBNs and learned about, I found an editor, I found a somebody to format on Fiverr and put it all together and uploaded it to create. Space, it was. Before KDP, it was CreateSpace.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. So CreateSpace. And this allowed you to have the book print on demand, essentially, right?

So it was there, it was uploaded when people bought it. That’s when Amazon or CreateSpace would print it and then send it out. Versus what some self publishers do is we buy bulk, like, a certain number of copies and then we like, you know, keep it in our basement or, or, or garage and then send them out when the orders come in.

So Create Space, you put it out there. How did you announce the book to your people? I’m curious.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Right. So I kind of had a little bit of a strategy to where I sent everybody a PDF copy of the book before it was edited. I sent it to everybody on my email list. I’m like, Hey, if you want a copy of this book. I’m going to send it to you for free. And I want your honest feedback. And a couple people would give me feedback and basically everything, every, there was nothing that anybody wanted changed. So that gave me a little bit of, okay, I can do this. And I also had a friend at the time who, a coworker who wasn’t able to pass the exam and I gave her my notes and she passed.

And I was like, okay, we got some proof here. This is, this works. So at that point, I put it up on Amazon. And I asked everybody that I sent a free copy to, I’m like, look, this is the same book, only it’s actually better because it’s been edited professionally. And would you leave a review for the book? And I, and I marked it down at a really low price.

And I was like, if you want to buy a hard copy, so you don’t have to read the PDF, you know, for the first week, I’m going to have a, at a lower price, leave a review. And then from there, it just kind of took off. The Amazon magic worked. I don’t know exactly how, but the first check I got for them was for like, I think four or six hundred dollars.

It was like, wow.

Pat Flynn: Wow. That was real money coming in.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. And I didn’t spend the money. I didn’t spend the money for like, I think it was three months before I would spend it. Cause I thought people were gonna return the book and I was going to have to give it, send the money back.

Pat Flynn: So when they didn’t return the book and you started to see more sales come in and you’re right, like, it’s just like, sometimes we don’t even know how the Amazon algorithm works.

It just kind of, you know, one day it just gets in front of the right people. Same thing happens with YouTube and even our blogs with SEO. It’s just you, you did the work by putting it out there and making it great. You know, and I think that the, the shareability of something like this, especially with how useful it is.

I mean, similar to my exam stuff, it’s like it has a direct impact on a person’s career. The moment people put it into use and to see that. So what were the results of the book being out there on Amazon? Like, what did you start to see happen with, with your brand and just, you know, the interaction with your people from there?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. So I was getting really good feedback, which was great. People were sharing it. They were telling their friends. I would get emails from the people that were on my list. They were like, I just sent this to everybody in my team on my team. I talk, yeah, so it was really exciting for me to see that people were.

Actually being changed by I was getting, I mean, it was like, sometimes it would just bring you to tears because they’re like, you would hear people saying, I’ve been trying for forever to pass this. I’m going to lose my job. I was finally able to do it. So it made me feel really good. One other thing that I did was when you sell something on Amazon, they’re Amazon’s customers. They’re not your customers. So I spent like a weekend at the beach on a woman’s retreat with the church and I would get up early in the morning and I took my book and I took like some paragraphs out and I took some more important words out and filled in like a blank line and I made a companion workbook.

So it went with the book that you read along with it and you fill in the blank and to get that you had to go to a landing page that I created and give me your email address so I could email it to you. So now I was capturing not all, but I was capturing a nice chunk of the Amazon customers. And then I was able to email them, provide them additional support, you know, talk to them, find out what they wanted.

And then eventually, when we had a course, I was able to sell them the course. It got really scary there for a little bit because I started to get recognized as an expert. And I didn’t feel like I was an expert. Tell me more. So like when you write the book, they’re like, you wrote the book on it. So everybody thinks, you know, everything you wrote.

And so they ask a question. I’m like, let me go look at my book. I know I wrote about that and then have to go find the page and then give them the answer. But then I was probably about a year in somebody reached out to me on Facebook messenger and I was at the South Carolina County Fair and I get this Facebook messenger from this woman who I don’t know, but she looks very professional.

And so I stopped and I’m like looking and here she was. I Googled her to find out who she was and she was like, a past president of our professional organization. She won a lifetime achievement award. She was like, Okay, this amazing person, and she sent me a message and said, I like what you’re doing. Let’s talk. And I was like, is that good? Is that bad?

Yeah. And I’m like, I’m at the fair. There’s like all this noise in the background. He goes, call her because she’s going to drive you crazy until you do. That’s the truth. Yeah. So I called her and she’s like, She was so sweet and so nice. And she’s like, Oh, enjoy the fair. Call me back. I just wanted to, let’s set up some time to talk.

I really like what you’re doing. I want to see if there’s any way I can help you. And honestly, she became my mentor and just like blew my business up.

Pat Flynn: No way. That is so cool. Wow. So. Tell me about her and what she was able to kind of help you with how she helped to amplify what you were doing.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So it started off where a lot of people were asking me for a course, and I was like, okay, I’ll create a course.

But I knew it took me a year to write the book. It probably would have taken me a year or two to create the course. And when I told her that this is what people were asking for, she’s like, Oh, I have a course that I do all the time live. We can just record it. And I’m like, Oh, okay. So we actually created our first course in conjunction with her and we still have that course.

We updated every time the test changes every five years and we do a revenue share with her on that. And that’s been a huge gain for us financially. She also introduced me, I’m a very shy introverted person. So the idea of me going somewhere and putting myself out there in person, it was, it was hard enough online, but in person It was even harder.

So she told me that she thought it would be good for my career if I went to our professional organizations conference and I had actually just had surgery on my foot and I was not allowed to walk on the foot. I’m like, I’ll go next year. I can’t walk. And she’s like, I have foot drop from chemo and I’m in a scooter.

And if I can go, you can go. And I was like, oh, yeah, I guess so. So she’s like, there’s people I want to introduce you to. I think you should go. And then she hung up and I was like, I need to go to this conference.

Pat Flynn: And so what is, what is shy Deanna thinking at that point?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: I’m thinking, well, I couldn’t get out of this the way I wanted to get out of it.

And I was actually petrified of going somewhere and I’m like, I don’t like to go places where I don’t know anybody. And she’s like, well, you’ll know me and I’m like, yeah, but you’re going to be speaking and you’re going to be, and I’m going to be left alone. Yes, I was really afraid of being left alone, but I also told myself if I was going to spend the money on the conference and get a plane ticket across the country that I had to put myself out there.

I had to sit next to people that I didn’t know. I had to start conversations with people that I didn’t know and introduce myself to people that I didn’t know. So those were like my three rules of if I went, I had to do those three things.

Pat Flynn: And so you went, what happened?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So she introduced me to some really amazing people.

Some of them now work for us, which is really funny. Yeah. What it did was it set a new goal for me. So when I saw people standing on that stage and talking, I’m like, someday I want to be one of those people. But then that little voice was like, you can’t even talk to the stranger sitting next to you. How are you going to get up on stage?

And talk in front of the whole audience, but actually last month, I did that. I, last month, last month, oh, my God, I got up on stage and I did my own presentation.

Pat Flynn: Congratulations. That is a huge milestone. I mean, I 2011. I remember no 2013 at Fin Con. I have vivid memories because I was so scared of my first talk, but it was game-changing. It was life changing. It opened up so many more doors and opportunities and I know it’s only been a month, but Tell me about the presentation and how you felt and has anything happened since then?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Well, it actually, when you do it and nothing bad happens, it makes you realize that, okay, this wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.

I had a lot of people Tell me how wonderful they thought it was, even though I thought my voice cracked through the whole thing. I thought I was so nervous and they’re like, no, you did fine. And I’m like, really? Yeah. So it encourages me now to want to share more knowledge and help more people through this platform.

And we’ve had I’ve had some people that are interested in other things. We we also started publishing other people’s books. I decided I didn’t want to be the one writing them all. And there’s a lot of books that are needed in our industry. So there are so many again and introduced me to so many wonderful people.

And they all have these, this experience that would really help others to mentor others. So we, I had people come up and talk to me about publishing their books, and it’s really just opened up a whole new avenue. And one of the things it did was we’ve always sold our courses, unless a company has reached out to us.

We’ve never done B2B. It’s always been B2C. So we’ve always sold to directly to the consumer and never to a business. A company reached out and said, Hey, we have 20 people we need to get certified. This has actually had more people now know what we do and reach out to us and say, Hey, we’re interested in, you know, your your services and your products for our teams.

Pat Flynn: That is incredible. You don’t have to share specific numbers, but you had mentioned your first check from Amazon when you, when you first started to put this into a form of monetization was like 600 bucks in that first check, give us a sense of the scale and so like how, how well the business is doing now with what you have going on.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So that first book is now in its third edition and that book itself has earned us, which means after Amazon takes their cut over a million dollars.

Pat Flynn: Are you kidding? After Amazon gets its cut, that single book, that one book has earned like profit a million dollars for the company. Yes. All right. Mic drop.

I know. That’s the mic drop moment right there. And that’s just the book. You have the course is now tell me about what is the price of a course that you offer or do you have multiple courses or is it just one?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: We do. So we have all of our CCM prep stuff, which is the certified case manager. Anything to get our nurses certified is 397, 397 dollars.

And we do live online courses, which I have teachers do because I don’t like to have anything on my calendar where I have to be a certain place at a certain time for you. Yeah. So I have these wonderful instructors that I met through our professional organizations, people that have retired, but still want to do something for our community.

And so they give back by teaching this course. And of course we compensate them for it. And then we also started, I found out that people were using my certification prep book to onboard and teach new case managers and it, it freaked me out because I was very specific on writing a book that was like, this is for an advanced case manager who needs certification because all the other books out there was like, Oh, we can, we can help you to become a case manager and we can help you get certified.

Like, those are two different levels. You’re a beginner and advanced. So I went back and I wrote a foundations of case management book and I did a foundations of case management course. The course to me is much more, all right, meaningful, because they get a certificate of completion, which now, if they’re going from a bedside nurse and trying to get into case management, they show that they’ve taken the time to actually learn.

They get continuing education credit, and they have instructors, again, are wonderful. We have the most amazing instructors. And so, they help them, there’s a process that they go through so that they actually understand what they’re reading, what they’re learning, and how it will eventually help their clients to have better care.

And so those ones are like anywhere from 897 up to, I think, 1200 for those courses.

Pat Flynn: I mean, you’ve, you’re playing in the big leagues now, Deanna, like this is, this is such a stark difference from where we first heard you start. Tell me how life is for you now that you’re at this point, like, sometimes we hear these stories and it’s like, okay.

Lots of money coming in. That’s great. But there’s a lot more going on. Is, are you, are you at all overwhelmed from, from any of this? Are you losing any freedoms from time as a result of where the business has now arrived? Tell me, tell me what your thoughts are on that.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: I love that question. I absolutely love that question.

I can’t remember what year it was, but it was probably around 2017 or 2018. You had opened up some like coaching things and I had reached out because I was so overwhelmed. I was just I was living in this so we in in 2016, like, so the business was only about two years old, two and a half years old, we moved to Mexico.

So I got that freedom where I could work from anywhere. So I’m like, okay, let’s do it. This is why we did it. And we moved to Mexico. We’re living on the Caribbean sea, beautiful location. And my head is down working all the time. In fact, our neighbors who I love, they’re like our family down there would walk by and they’d go like this and just kind of like hide their eyes because they knew I was working and I couldn’t be disturbed.

And I was total overwhelmed and I knew I had to get out of that. So I wasn’t selected for your coaching, but I did find some coaches and I am now at the point where I have systems and processes. I have a great team and I have freedom. So last October, last year, I traveled, I think every single month of the year.

I still work because I love my job. Like I absolutely love what I do, but I want to do it when I want to do it so that I can enjoy it instead of feeling like I have to do it. So in October, I actually took, I think, almost three weeks off and my assistant was able to handle everything. And not only like, did I take the time off, but I came to Sedona and I was hiking.

So I’m out like no cell phone for six hours a day. I’m out in the wilderness, no contact. And I’d come back at the end of the day, and I’d text her and say, what’s going on? She’s like, everything’s good. Or she’d say, there’s one email I need you to look at. I started it’s in the inbox. And after that, I realized we really can, like, we’ve, we’ve made it.

We’ve crossed through that what I call the messy middle where you’re trying to, just where you’re overwhelmed and we made it to the other side, so we actually decided that we were going to travel full time and June 1st of this year, 2023. We left Mexico and now we’re traveling full time.

Pat Flynn: Wow. Okay. So where are you

right now?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So right now I’m sitting at the Sedona Public Library.

Pat Flynn: Oh, you’re in the library. Because our

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: internet is not very good where we’re renting, so I rented a room at the library so I could record this podcast.

Pat Flynn: Okay. Maybe that explains a little bit of the sort of semi whisper that we’re getting, but also it’s just…

Anyway, so where to next after this?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So after this, I have another conference in Las Vegas. I’m going to be speaking again by myself. This time a four hour workshop. I know, four hours by myself. And actually I did this workshop several years ago before COVID. And I had Anne do it with me because I was afraid to do it by myself.

So now I’ve grown up. I’m a big girl. And I’m going to do the conference by myself and we’re also going to do actually, we, we started doing, I’ve had this desire for a couple of years now to where, like, I feel like I’ve made it and I want other nurses. Nurses are, they’re having a hard time right now. The jobs, they’re just, they’re overworked.

They’re burned out. They’re having moral distress. It’s, it’s a really. bad place for a lot of them. And so I really want to inspire them. And I started a podcast a couple of years ago and took your course, your, your podcasting course, which made it very easy. It was like, step by step do this, do this just the way I like it.

And my goal was to inspire and equip nurses to like, think outside the box, whether it was in the career or in starting a business. So I feel like I’ve taught them everything I could teach them about their career and trying to find something that really fulfills them and doesn’t just drain them. And now I feel like I want to help others now that we’ve made it to this side of the business where we’re like, okay, there is another side.

You don’t have to work day and night 12 hours a day, seven days a week at your business. You can have freedom. I’m now Helping nurses to find that freedom So I took on a couple coaching clients last year and now I’m gonna take a couple more on this year to help them to make it to the other side.

Pat Flynn: So similar to how and was sort of a mentor for you and you got started you are now passing that forward and becoming a mentor for others, which is which is an incredible story.

This is so inspiring, and I think it is the same for those of you listening. I have one final question here before we wrap up, because I think everybody’s going to be motivated to, you know, get things done after this for sure. I know I am. The transition from sort of scrappy beginner entrepreneur to CEO of your company.

This is often times a big hurdle. Some never get through it. Tell me about your thoughts about Now being sort of like the head of your company and managing people and now you have a team and now you have like, how are you able to still stay in a great place mentally and what was that like for you to transition or are you still like, I’m just curious about where your head is at with the business because it doesn’t sound like you’re scrappily putting things together.

You’ve, you’ve, you have systems and processes in place now, but it takes a certain mindset to get there. Yeah. Your mindset as CEO, what does that mean to you in the kind of business that you have?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: That was a big hurdle for me. It really was because I was working in my business all the time and not necessarily working on the business.

Right, right, right. So, it was a big shift, a lot of reading, a lot of really good books. In fact, you just mentioned the other day, 10x is Easier Than 2x, and I just devoured that. It’s great, right? That was really good, yeah. It’s so good. Yeah, so it was a lot of that, but then I also had a lot of coaching. And that is something I don’t know that I would have ever achieved on my own if I didn’t have people, coaches, mentors, helping me to go from working in, you know, just to start working on the business.

Like, what does it I didn’t even again, just like I didn’t understand with the cash flow quadrant with that business looked like I didn’t understand what being a CEO looked like, and I had to have people that modeled it for me, taught it to me and helped me with the mindset change the mindset shift that occurs.

Pat Flynn: Who are your mentors now? I know oftentimes our mentors when we begin are different than those who are now where we are, and I’m curious, who is inspiring you today?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: So I actually, for the last, I think almost two years now, I’ve been coaching with somebody, you know, Cliff Ravenscraft. Yeah. And his mindset, like he doesn’t, he doesn’t play around.

Pat Flynn: He does not. Oh my gosh. And he, he’s had a like, I remember when he shifted from podcast answer man to Cliff Ravenscraft the coach and the mentor and the guide, like, he is in his zone of genius, as you know, he says all the time that that term zone of genius. He is, he has found it and he’s owning it and he’s so great at it.

And I get to chat with him every week and I feel very blessed. So how often are you chatting with him and what did he really unlock for you?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. So it’s a once a month we get on a session and a lot of the things I didn’t even realize I was saying that were holding me back a lot of the words that I was using.

And he’s one to really call you out and say, wait a minute.

Pat Flynn: Oh, he calls us out all the time.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I guess part of me didn’t think that I deserved or that it was possible for it to be easy. You know, it was always work hard, play hard. You have to work hard to succeed. And he really challenged me on that about, do you have to work hard?

And I honestly think through part of that messy middle, I was making busy work for myself because I felt like I didn’t deserve the success I was having, so I had to earn it by being busy.

Pat Flynn: Wow, that’s a huge realization. And so what happened when that was called out? How did that impact you? What were you feeling?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: It was a relief. It was really a relief to say, I don’t have to do this because I thought I had to choose, like, have my business grow and succeed or have a lot, you know, have a life. And I didn’t want to choose. I wanted it all. And, you know, he’ll really push you and say, well, why can’t you have it all?

What would it look like? So a lot of it for me was asking myself. What if it was easy? And I know I’ve heard other people on your podcast that asked that mentioned that. So that was part of it, too. So I have to incorporate that into things and think, you know, when I want something, does it have to be hard?

What would it look like if it was easy?

Pat Flynn: Such a good question. It’s one of my favorite questions. Tim Ferris asked me that question and it changed my life. And I think it’s a perfect way to end here. Deanna, where can people go to find more of your work? Where should they follow up? I mean, thank people are going to be inspired after this.

I’m inspired after this. How can we stay in contact or follow along?

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Yeah. So I have a podcast now. It’s not out every week, but it does have frequent updates and it’s called The Stay At Home Nurse. So you can look for that’s on all your podcast players, The Stay At Home Nurse. I have a website, the stay at home nurse, and I also have Case Management Institute.

You can look for me on Facebook. I didn’t mention we have an awesome Facebook group with, again, from community, which I learned from Pat, 25,000 case managers now. It’s an awesome group. Everybody in there supports each other. If there’s a question asked, people are answering it. It’s awesome. So I want to thank you that and Superfans helped with that. Yeah. But LinkedIn and Facebook.

Pat Flynn: Amazing. Dana, you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story and opening up to us and congratulations on all the success that you’ve had and all the success to come. I appreciate you so much.

Deanna Cooper Gillingham: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview. Was that not the most incredible conversation ever?

I mean, I am, I just finished recording this episode with Deanna, and I just had to come here again separately to record the outro immediately because I have so much energy right now from hearing Deanna and her story and what she’s been able to do. And I gotta say thank you, Deanna, because you always are giving credit to SPI in my story and the podcast.

And thank you for mentioning Power Up Podcasting, which is getting actually revamped here in September of 2023 to the 3.0 version. It’s going to include some video podcasting stuff, which is really amazing. So thank you for that plug and for SPI Pro looking forward to more conversations in there as well.

Just thank you. And I’m so proud of you. I had mentioned this after we hit end on a recording just like this was one of the most inspirational conversations I’ve had in a very long time and she reminded me after we ended up finishing the recording to remember the impact that SPI is having on people I forget that like I honestly forget that because I am so into the content and wanting to help you and move on to the next thing and so Deanna I appreciate you and for that reminder you are amazing, absolutely crushing it. And I’m so proud of you and thank you for bringing this on the show here because it’s going to inspire so many other people too. I hope you were inspired by this. I truly hope you are. Deanna, you’re amazing.

For all the links and mentions and resources, and if you want to find Deanna and we can drive you to the things that she’s doing, head on over to To get all those links and resources on the blog, I also love the shout out to Cliff Ravenscraft there as well. Cliff, I love you, man. Thank you for what you’re doing. You are blessing so many hearts out there. For those of you listening, thanks for getting over here to the end.

I appreciate you. Hit the next episode when you can and of course make sure you subscribe because we got a lot of more great content coming your way. Cheers. Thanks so much. And I hope you’re as inspired as I am. Hit me up on Twitter or X as it’s now called at @PatFlynn or Instagram at @PatFlynn. Let me know how you thought about this.

I look forward to hearing your story and how this podcast episode is going to make an impact on your future. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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