Tarzan Kay is a copywriter that also teaches other people how to write better copy, specifically for emails. I asked Tarzan to join me on the Former Lawyer Podcast after I listened to an interview with her on another podcast.
In that interview, she spoke about leaving law school during her third year. Her story is unique in terms of the fact that she realized that law was not for her before practicing law. She dropped out of law school with only a few classes left.
After leaving law school, it took her three years and some additional motivation to find her way back into the world as a copywriter. Keep reading to hear more about Tarzan’s journey in leaving law school and how you can find an alternative career to law.
Life Before Law School
Tarzan describes herself as an artist, by nature. Not only does she write, but she also sings, dances, and plays piano. She regards art as a deep part of her identity, so much that she pursued music before she even thought about law.
While she enjoyed her years studying music, she quickly realized she didn’t want to make music her career. She had passion, but didn’t have the drive of a professional musician. That’s when she started thinking about pursuing law.
At the time, she saw the pursuit of law as the antidote to an unpredictable and low income. She craved financial stability and thought that she would genuinely enjoy pursuing law. So, she enrolled in a French-Canadian law school.
Pursuing Law School
Pursuing law school proved to be difficult for Tarzan. Law is hard on its own, but Tarzan also had the burden of a language barrier as a native English speaker in a French school.
She survived through the first and second years, but by the time she was halfway through her third year in law school, she started to spiral. It spilled into other areas of her life, including relationships and her mental health.
At first, she thought her difficulties in law school were because of the language barrier and culture mismatch, blaming her English Canadian roots. But she soon realized that it was her deep roots as an artist that were triggering her intuition to leave. Eventually, she started seeing a therapist that helped her explore the idea of leaving law school.
Taking Some Time Before Leaving Law School
Tarzan’s therapist offered advice for her to finish the semester and then take some time away from it, saying, “Why don’t you finish your semester? Then, you can decide in the fall if you want to take a semester off. Just give yourself some space.”
So, Tarzan finished her semester and worked throughout the summer. She planned to visit her sister in September and to come back at Christmas time to go back to law school.
During her time in Australia, she wrote a book about her experiences. She told her story about going to law school, escaping to Australia, and her journey to the next phase of her life. The book, entitled “Belly of Oz“, is the first of one of her first works in writing.
Years later, Tarzan returned to Canada, got married, had a family, and then started her own business as a copywriter. Looking back, she reflected on the gifts that pursuing law gave her.
How Pursuing Law Benefitted Tarzan’s Alternative Career
What you learn in law school will serve you for the rest of your life. If it’s not in a legal career, it directly applies to almost anything else. So, don’t think that you can’t transfer your skills to an alternative career.
When pursuing law, Tarzan crafted a passion for words and the skills to use them in the right way. It also helped her develop strong research skills and the ability to work hard, exceed expectations, and convince people of something, which is mandatory for her current career in copywriting.
She also became resilient, which plays a huge part in starting a business. A business will not survive unless you have an enormous amount of resilience and grit.
Advice To Those Thinking About Leaving Law School
Tarzan’s main advice to those thinking about leaving law school is to listen to your intuition. If something is already not sitting right, you owe it to yourself to look at it, explore it, and listen to your intuition.
That doesn’t mean that you have to leave law school or leave your career. Maybe it’s something that isn’t sitting right in your life. What could it be? Is it how you’re working? Is it the field that you have chosen? Take some time to think about it.
Therapy is also a wonderful option if it’s available to you, especially when you’re having trouble with a life choice. Having that support from someone objective and who can provide a different perspective is helpful in weighing your options.
Are You Ready To Leave Law School? Former Lawyer Can Help!
If you don’t know what path you’d like to explore next, grab my free guide: First Steps To Leaving The Law to help you discover all the skills you offer the world and how you can choose the right path for you.
We also have a secret pop-up podcast exclusively for podcast listeners called The Simple 5-Step Framework To Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actually Like!). It starts September 6th, and the last day to sign up is September 8th, so get your spot ASAP by signing up here.
Connect With Tarzan:
Get on the Email List: www.tarzankay.com/email
Mentioned In This Article:
Tarzan’s Email Copywriting: www.tarzankay.com\email
Pop Up Podcast: The Simple 5-Step Framework To Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actually Like!): www.formerlawyer.com/popup
Sarah Cottrell: Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. On this show, I interview former lawyers to hear their inspiring stories about how they left law behind to find careers and lives that they love. Let's get right to the show.
Hello everyone. First of all, this is super important. If you're listening to this episode the day that it releases, September 6th and you haven't downloaded The Secret Pop-up Podcast yet, you still have a couple of days that you can do it. The Secret Pop-up Podcast is titled The Simple 5-Step Framework To Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actually Like!). This is content that I have previously taught in a masterclass earlier this year but I wanted to try to bring it to you in a different format for those of you who want a refresher or who weren't able to attend the Masterclass. It's three very digestible episodes that will all download to your phone. When you sign up, you'll get a link, you'll click the link, and you can add it to whichever podcast player you use. You should go to formerlawyer.com/popup, and you put in your name, your email, and you will get the link to the podcast. I just wanted to make sure that I reminded you up front because like I said, today, September 6th, the Pop-up Podcast is only available through 5:00 PM on Wednesday, the 8th. You have just a couple more days to listen. If you've been thinking about joining the Former Lawyer Collaborative, pro tip, there is a special link that you will get when you sign up for the podcast, which gives you a special offer to use if you want to join us for our guided track, which is starting in three days. September 9th, Thursday is our orientation call. So Pop-up Podcast, formerlawyer.com/popup, sign up there, get the link, and you can listen to The Simple 5-Step Framework To Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actually Like!).
Today, I'm sharing my conversation with Tarzan Kay. Tarzan is a copywriter. She also teaches other people how to write better copy, in particular, better emails. The reason that I first ran across her is that she has been talking a lot in the last couple years about ethical copywriting, which is something that's very important to me. I actually am just now wrapping up a course that Tarzan teaches about how to write better emails that are also ethical and align with your integrity. We're going to drop links in the show notes but she has a couple of programs opening up. One opening up this month in September, then another round of the program that I just participated in November. If you have any interest in copywriting or online business, you can go check out those links.
But the reason that I asked Tarzan to come on the podcast is that I listened to another interview with her on another podcast. In that podcast, she shared about how she dropped out of law school in her third year with just a couple of classes left. That was a story that I really felt that people needed to hear because I hear all the time from people who are in law school, who are questioning whether they want to continue, and of course, in the interviews that we do for the podcast, there are so many people who have talked about being in law school and realizing like, “Oh, this is not for me.” I really wanted to have Tarzan on to talk about her experience, how she made that decision, and what she's done since then. I'm excited to bring you this conversation with Tarzan. Let's get right into it.
Hey, Tarzan, welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast.
Tarzan Kay: Hey, Sarah. Thanks for having me.
Sarah Cottrell: I am really excited to have you share your story. We were chatting before this and your story is a little bit unique in terms of the fact that you realized, before you started practicing as a lawyer, that in fact, law was not for you. We were talking about the fact that so many of my guests on the podcast share this experience of being in law school and realizing like, “Oh, this doesn't really seem a fit,” and just ignoring that feeling. I'm excited to talk through your story but let's start with introducing yourself to the listeners.
Tarzan Kay: This is me today. I'm Tarzan Kay. I have a business, teaching online business owners how to use email marketing to make sales and nurture relationships with their audience. I've been doing this for six years. I dropped out of law school about nine years ago. It took me three years to find my way in the world. It took me some additional motivation. I also have two children. I support a family of four. My partner is the stay-at-home dad. I also had to find some additional motivation to actually do something. I'm really looking forward to telling my story.
Sarah Cottrell: I love that. The way that I found you is that one of the things that's really important to me in terms of running Former Lawyer is first of all, I have zero background in sales and marketing so all of the typical online marketing tactics to me are just very bizarre and don't feel normal. I'm always looking for people who are teaching how to do various things related to online business but also have integrity and respect the people that you're selling to. In particular for me, with lawyers, I find that many lawyers have at least some amount of trauma in their background. It's really important to me that I'm not exploiting that when I'm talking about what I offer because I think that for many lawyers, they ended up where they are because of some amount of exploitation of their trauma or fear and whatnot. All that to say, for listeners who are wondering, I heard Tarzan on a podcast talking about the fact that she dropped out of law school. The way I had come across her was that she teaches how to write emails without doing all of those icky things that I just talked about.
Tarzan Kay: Let's just use a concrete example for your listeners. Thank you for bringing that up, Sarah, because I forgot to mention that is a key part of what I do because in the online business game, there's just a lot of teaching about how to use persuasion, how to get sales, and there is a lot of training. People don't realize this is what they're being trained to do but they are being trained to sell in a way that causes the potential customer to bypass critical thinking. So just buy this thing, without thinking about it too much. The way we do that is by layering on urgency, limited time offer, scarcity, only five spots left, all these principles of persuasion, which were introduced by a man named Robert Cialdini. Copywriters use these principles to get people to buy things. They are not inherently bad on their own. When you have a scarce amount of something, it's okay to say it. I want to know as a consumer, if there's a scarcity, then I will make my purchasing decision early.
However, it's when all these principles are layered on top of each other and you have a big red font, and all caps and a flashing countdown timer. People who have some level of trauma, they're already in their pain and now, we're layering on more pain and we're saying, “By my thing, it could make the pain go away.” What happens is we cause people to buy to make the pain of your sales pitch go away and not actually solve those underlying issues. This is something that I've been thinking about quite a lot for the last two years or so and really trying to figure out what would it look like if we did marketing differently.
Sarah Cottrell: This is part of why my program is open all the time because one, as a practical matter, just having been a lawyer for 10 years, I know that when you decide like, “No, I really need help figuring out what to do,” you need that help then. You don't want to wait a couple months or a year, whatever but then also, I really want people to feel like they are able to get the help they need when they need it, not because I'm saying, “Your life is terrible but I have all the answers.” I think that is a very dangerous place to be. I also will always tell people that if you have to choose between joining my program and going to therapy, then please, please go to therapy because everyone, all lawyers should go to therapy and all people. But anyway, awesome. I just wanted to touch on that briefly because I think it's really important. Honestly, if you're someone who's not in the online business space, I think it's a whole weird world. I don't even know how to describe it. I've learned a lot in two years about this world I guess is what I would say. Let's just jump right in to talk about your story. How did you get to the point where you decided to go to law school?
Tarzan Kay: Like many law students had been told, all these things about myself from when I was a teenager like, “Oh, you're great at arguing, you should be a lawyer.” I've always been someone who's very into words, reads a lot, likes to pick apart the way something is said. It drives my husband crazy. But that seed was planted quite young. However, I am, by nature, an artist. I sing. I dance. I write. I play piano. That is really a deep, deep, deep part of my identity. I went to music school. I studied jazz piano for four years in college. It was an incredible experience, like wow, I feel lucky to have had that experience. Then at the same time, I was seeing my friends who were a few years ahead of me, graduating. I was seeing what it would be like to be a professional musician. I right away saw that I didn't have the drive to be a professional musician. You need to have the drive and you also need to have a high level of talent, which I do have but not like my peers. Coming from a small town, going to a city where there are so many more people, the best of the best are there, I was like, “Hmm, I'm not really the best of the best in this city,” which would be totally fine if I had the drive to really go after it and build that career but it just didn't seem appealing to me.
I enjoyed those four years but I realized I didn't want to make music my career, then I started thinking about law school, which is very common with music students. It's also very common with copywriters but maybe we'll circle back to that later. I started thinking about law school. I saw it as the absolute antidote to the unpredictable generally low income. I was very indoctrinated by the whole starving artist story, which I do think is a story but at the time, I didn't recognize that. I didn't have any examples in my life to show me that it could be different. Putting myself through college, I didn't have any parental support, I just had student loans piling up. I just was so deeply craving financial stability. I also thought that I would enjoy law. I read a lot of John Grisham. I thought that meant something.
Sarah Cottrell: I'm sure you are not alone.
Tarzan Kay: Yeah. I decided to apply to law school. I was very particular about the school that I chose. I was living in Quebec at the time. In Canada, we have this really weird legal system. Most of Canada has a common law system. Then in Quebec, we have a civil code, which is based on the French system. If you get a law degree in Quebec, you can only practice in Quebec, your skills are not really very transferable. I chose to do that anyway because I was very committed to the place where I was living. I also was very committed to Quebec culture, honoring that culture, and really immersing myself in it if I was going to choose that as my place to live for my life potentially. I chose the most Quebecois, most Francophone university that I could.
I went to law school in French. My French was so-so at the time. It was okay. It was passable but I certainly wasn't reading legal textbooks in French. I often wonder like, “Would I have been very successful at law school if I had done it in English?” I don’t know, It's probably just hard. All my life, I’ve been an A student. I didn't do quite as well in music school but still near the top of the class, then here I am in law school, treading water constantly. I had to borrow people's notes. I had to join study groups with someone who actually had the answers. I barely knew what was going on. It's very, very alienating. It definitely gave me so much more sympathy, so much more compassion for international students and what they're really dealing with when every conversation is such a job. Just to understand something like, “Go to the registrar's office and have your photo taken for your student ID,” that's such a mission. That's one small thing you have to do as a university student. Everything became a thousand times more difficult plus it's law. Law is quite complex. It's not an easy subject.
I was okay for the first year or so. I was like, “Okay, I'm doing this.” Then the next year, I think I was probably still okay, then midway through my third year, I really started to spiral. My relationship with my boyfriend at the time was really going south. I actually was mentally ill. I started to develop a quite serious eating disorder. I just was behaving in ways that were not healthy for me. I started seeing a therapist. With my therapist, I started to explore the idea that possibly, I might drop out. Bless her, she was a great therapist. She said, “Why don't you finish your semester? Then you can decide in the fall if you want to take a semester off. Just give yourself some space.”
I think it's different in different places but normally, a law degree in Canada would take three years. However, because I was working, I didn't always have a full course load. At the end of my three years, I still had maybe one or two light course load semesters left before I would actually have a law degree. But I was also starting to see I really don't share the same values as these people that I'm studying with. Initially, I was like, “Well, that's because I'm English-Canadian. I come from a totally different culture. This is very Quebecois. Probably, this is just a cultural mismatch.” Then I started to see it as I went on, I was like, “No, I have this artist identity.”
I made one really good friend in law school. She was a Belgian woman. She also shared a love of music. She was married to a painter. We had that in common but for the most part, I felt like that was a value that my peers really didn't share. Then I started to also see, because it was my third year and a lot of people were graduating, they were going on to bar school, some people were failing bar school, some people were struggling to find jobs, and I was just realizing there's a lot of work ahead of me. It's not just finishing these last couple courses to get my degree, like bar school passing the bar. That's a whole thing in itself like, “How am I going to get a job? Who's going to hire me, my French is still not that great?”
Anyway, my therapist is seeing me deteriorate and is really helping me to make this decision to leave law school temporarily. I literally went as far as I possibly could. I booked a ticket to see my sister in Australia. The semester ended in June or something. I think I worked for the summer to save some money, then I went out, I booked a ticket in September, then I would come back at Christmas and presumably go back to law school. I got to Australia and it probably took a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two before I was like, “I don't think I'm going back. I don't think I could go back.”
As I started to get healthier and just get more perspective, like that bird's eye view of what the last three years of my life had been and what I really want for my life, I thought that my time in Australia was me figuring out my next thing. But this is actually really important for people who are thinking about leaving their legal career or thinking about maybe leaving law school, like I needed a full year just to do nothing, to not have goals. I worked. I had to support myself. I worked and I drank. This drink, I don't think this is a universal term, it's called a shandy. It's an Aussie thing. It's beer and lemonade. My sister and I would buy beers, pour some lemonade in. I would drink shandies on the beach. I got a job singing at this boat club. That's what I did for a while, just taking space, not even trying to figure it all out yet. Not trying to figure out what happened there, what's my next move. I really don't know, “I'm not even going to try and know right now. I'm just going to have this distance.”
I canceled my ticket back. I stayed for a year. I actually wrote a whole book about it. I'm like, “Should I recommend this book?” It's about five years old. My writing has gotten so much better since then but it's called In the Belly of Oz. You can get it on Amazon. I told my story about law school and going to Australia, and making my way to the next phase of my life. It was beautiful. I fell in love. I went all up and down the coast. I had all these weird jobs. I did have an incredible adventure. I almost needed to be pushed to my limit to be able to do that for myself. Just take time out of my life, go disappear on the other side of the world, and just not try and get ahead. I'd been in university at that point for seven years. To bring you up to where we are today, eventually, I came back from Australia. I discovered copywriting as a career and had some children, then started the business that I have today.
Sarah Cottrell: There are so many things that you shared that I think many, many, many lawyers can relate to. I would love to talk a little bit about this whole idea of sunk costs. One of the things that many lawyers and law students, when they're thinking of either leaving law school or not practicing law or leaving the practice of law, one of the big struggles is, “But I've put in all this time. I put in all of this energy.” Often, like you described, people who choose to go to law school are like the gold star getters, the people who are good at school, then they get into school with a bunch of other people who are also good at school. Everyone tends to be working even harder than they did previously, which typically, they were hard workers previously as well. There's this sense of like, “If I walk away from this, am I just throwing all of this in the trash?” Did you have any experience with that type of thinking? If so, how did you process it through?
Tarzan Kay: Oh gosh, sunk cost. I feel like I need to say again, that I really was at my limit. My body was at my limit of what it could handle. Probably, that idea of sunk cost did keep me there for a while. Honestly, one thing that really kept me in law school was that my mom was so proud of me. I remember telling her that I was leaving law school and her saying what will I tell my friends. That hurt so bad. It was not just my own investment of time and all the people I had told that I was doing this. There's all these family things on me now too. But there's a few things happening in my favor. In Canada, law school costs the same as any other university degree, plus I was studying in Quebec, education is heavily subsidized. My three years in law school cost me $18,000, which to be fair sounded an enormous sum of money at the time. I couldn't even fathom $18,000. But still, I do think it's very different if someone has maybe several hundred thousand dollars invested in their education because that is a real problem that needs to be solved. I couldn't have just run off to Australia with all this debt dogging me.
I was able to apply for loan deferrals and all these things. I had all these beautiful mechanisms in my favor. But the one thing that I really want to say to this is it really took me a lot of years to appreciate the value of me going to law school, like, “Wow.” I picked up another language. I still speak French. I had this incredible immersive cultural experience. Me going to law school and dropping out, and “failing” at that was incredibly important for me to figure out the next step in my career. Like so, so important, fundamental. It showed me what my values really were and what I really want out of life. That is something you do have to figure out. This might be a resource heavy way to figure that out but it is valuable. I want to say that to people who are considering this as a move and they're like, “Oh, but I've already invested so much.” You may not see yet what the value of that time and resource of that investment is but it will become clear at some point. Getting back to me just running off to Australia and not really figuring things out yet, these things take time. You may not understand it right now. You may not understand it five years from now but eventually, you will look back and see that no effort is wasted when you are learning. Educating yourself, like having a rich experience of life, you cannot regret that.
Sarah Cottrell: I think that's so true. I think for those of us who chose to become lawyers, it can be so hard to believe because I find that many people who choose to become lawyers are very outcome focused. In many ways, near-term, outcome focused, like, “Okay, well, if I get a law degree but then don't get X type of job, then I'm a failure,” or whatever. A lot of that I think is some of the narratives that get played and replayed over and over within law schools and what law students are told that they should be pursuing, and what matters and the often overwhelming focus on prestige, getting a prestigious job, going to a prestigious school, and all these things, which on top of the personality of many people who choose to become lawyers, which can be very perfectionist, and often, people who struggle with anxiety, it can be very toxic to break out of that messaging.
You were describing meeting with your therapist, then just the fact that for you, it really got to the point where I just cannot be doing this anymore because people will ask me about how I made the decision to decide that I wanted to leave my job in Biglaw. I'll tell them, “I had to leave.” I just got to the point where I was like, “I can't do this anymore.” I think hearing that can be very helpful for people who are in a similar situation. There's nothing wrong with you if this is what you're experiencing. Your body is telling you that it needs something else. But then I think that there are other people who are like, “Well, I'm not that miserable. I don't actually feel I'm having a literal nervous breakdown, maybe that means I should continue.” Do you have any thoughts based on your experience for people who are listening and thinking like, “Oh well, it's not that bad for me”?
Tarzan Kay: I've heard my husband speak on this several times about how, when you need to learn a lesson in life or life is trying to give you a message, initially, it's very quiet. It sounds like a whisper. You could just listen to it and act on it but we choose not to because certain things are uncomfortable. Maybe that voice is wrong. That voice gets louder and more uncomfortable. If you're feeling it now, it's never going to be easier. It is never going to be easier. That call might come to you in a more inconvenient way like, “Learn this lesson. Are you listening to this thing knocking a little bit louder?” Until finally, your whole life is blowing up around you and you're like, “Oh okay, I get it now. I have to make a change.” If you're feeling that already, do you want to wait until you get to that moment or do you want to just listen to it right now?
I'm not even saying one way is better than the other. Maybe people do figure it out, maybe the voice is wrong, I don't know, but it's such an enormous commitment of more time and money to build this career. If something is already not sitting right, at least to look at that, explore that, and listen to that voice, it doesn't mean you're listening to the voice saying, “Drop out of law school or leave your whole career,” but at least the voice that's saying, “Something's not right here.” What could it be? Is it the way that you're working? Is it the field that you have chosen? Is it the people you're surrounding yourself with? Because I do believe there are probably ways to have a legal career that are beautiful, satisfying, and rewarding in a multitude of ways. That would be my number one thing. Just listen to that voice and explore that.
Sarah Cottrell: I think that's so helpful. One of the things that I just want to emphasize again from your story, and if anyone listens to the podcast, for any length of time, they hear this all the time but the pivotal role for you that your therapist was able to play, part of why I'm emphasizing that is I think that for some people, going to therapy was a normal part of their environment, in their upbringing, whatever but for a lot of people, and especially a lot of lawyers, if you come from families who have certain expectations about performance, there is often this sense of, “Oh, going to a therapist, maybe that's okay for other people. We don't really need that. It's fine.”
One of my personal goals is just for people to hear getting that support from someone who really has the capacity to provide a different perspective and who is trained to do that. It is so helpful. Because you may be in a situation, Tarzan, you were talking about where you talk to people who love you but they have their own interests in the situation and will potentially say things like, “What am I going to tell my friends?” Needing some impartial person to speak into it and help with that because the issue of either parents or significant other or just general family of origin, and their opinions about people staying or going when it comes to legal practice comes up all the time.
Tarzan Kay: Yes, yes, yes.
Sarah Cottrell: We're saying therapy is good.
Tarzan Kay: Yes. I'm fortunate that seed was planted early. I didn't come from a wealthy family but somehow, my mom had figured out how to get me a therapist when I was a teenager. It was really helpful. It was only for a few months or something but I just remember really being so grateful for my therapy. When I was in law school, I would walk in a cold Quebec winter, 25 minutes to school, 25 minutes back in the bitter freezing cold because I wanted to save $35 a month on my bus pass. Yet, I got to the stage where I was like, “I need therapy. I'm just such a mess.” I got into this subsidized program that I applied for, which meant that my therapy cost $35 per session but still, I think about those numbers, like the bus pass was $35, my therapy was $35. I did what I had to do because I knew that I just had to have that. That has been a theme throughout my career.
I have so much support in the business that I have today. The highest level of support for me that a business owner can have is working on their mental game. Like I saw my therapist today this morning before this call. Sometimes, it's therapy and sometimes, it's more coaching but just getting my head in the right place. I never have stopped and will not stop doing that work because it is the most important work to get me to the next stage of my career or feeling the way I want to feel or my family have the dynamic that I wanted to, all those things. Therapy is always a good investment.
Sarah Cottrell: Yes, it really is. Woo-hoo therapy.
Tarzan Kay: Woo-hoo therapy.
Sarah Cottrell: You touched on this previously but you mentioned that there are a lot of copywriters who went to law school. I would love for you to talk a little bit about that, then also, you had mentioned the fact that you do look back and appreciate many of the things that you got from the law school experience, and that those things do still carry forward. I’d just love to hear from you about those things.
Tarzan Kay: I am a writer. Officially, I am a person who teaches email marketing to online business owners. That is how I make money. That is what my business is but actually, I am a writer. That is my work in this world. For some reason, a lot of legal people, law students, do seem to be writers. We do have a passion for words. The difference between someone who can appreciate how different it is when you put a word here or you put it over here or you choose this word instead of this word, lawyers know that. People who love words know that. Copywriting, it's the exact same scope. It's like if we choose this word, if I use this thing, I have some voice of customer data here, if I put it in this word, this is more likely to get people to buy as opposed to saying it this way. It is all the same work.
I definitely can see how my legal education helped me develop that ability to use words in a very discriminate way. But also, there's a lot of intangible things, like being able to work that hard and to meet the enormous expectations that are on you as a law student. I think about my music degree as well, same thing. I have the degree but I also don't have a professional career as a musician, however, I'm so grateful for that degree, the experience that I got. Even just learning how to meet deadlines and write a paper, I think we possibly underestimate because people who are in law school just think that everybody has that. The skill that you have developed so well to be able to research, debate, construct an argument, and actually write it down and convince someone else, those are hard skills that most people do not have. They're not necessarily things that you can even put on a resume, however, that will serve you those skills, throughout your career. Even just the sheer grit that you need to make it through, that is the same skill that entrepreneurs need. Your business will not survive if you don't have an enormous amount of resilience and grit.
I've been thinking a lot lately about resilience. Fundamentally, during my years in law school, I gained so much resilience from that experience. Even though at the end of it, I felt like a totally broken person, it took me so many years to get to where I am today, which is like I have a successful business. I have several employees. I make far more money than the average lawyer does in terms of my personal salary. Perhaps not as someone who works in Biglaw but I look at the law offices around my house and I'm like, “Oh, I wonder, is that really even a very profitable career? Does that person get to work four days a week like I do?” Once again, I'm going to bring it back to you may not know yet. That’s only for me, what I took away from law school and what I see as the value in it, however, for one of your listeners, it could be something completely different. It may take 10 years to figure out what that is but I am certain that it is there. The value is there.
Sarah Cottrell: I think it's so true. In particular, we've talked in the podcast a few times about the fact that it can be so hard to see what those things are when you are just surrounded by law students or lawyers who all have developed those particular skills. When lawyers come to me and they're like, “I don't have any transferable skills,” it's because they're in the lawyer bubble as I call it. In the lawyer bubble, everyone has a certain set of skills. You don't see it as unique because it's just like, “Well, this is just the bare minimum for functioning in this environment.” But as soon as you step outside of it, you realize, like you were saying, “Oh, I have all of these skills and abilities.” Like you said, just like grit that people really underestimate. They think, “Oh, this is just how everyone is. Is this how everyone is?” It’s very much not.
I also think, to your earlier point about writing, so many lawyers—I've told people many times, a big part of why I went to law school is that I like to write. I think I perceived it as a safer path. I know I'm going to be able to get a job and make money in that job as opposed to taking a different path related to writing. To be clear, I did not have this level of self-awareness at the time but I look back and see like, “Oh, I could have been happy in many different types of careers that involve writing.” I did not need to go to law school in order for that to be part of what I do, and even now in my current business in Former Lawyer, one of the big things in online business, people are like, “You need to email the people who are on your email list,” as you know, Tarzan.
Tarzan Kay: Yes.
Sarah Cottrell: Pretty much from fairly early on, I have emailed two or three times a week minimum, as people who are on my list and listening know. There are often conversations about, “Oh, how do we do this?” I’m like, “I think I have the opposite problem.” Everyone knows if you're on my list, if you reply to an email or you send me an email, I will respond to you because, writing.
Tarzan Kay: Yeah, this is great. I feel like it's extra important for those of your listeners who are thinking about starting an online business because online business in the early days, but in the old days was so much writing, like constant content creation. Those who struggle to write, it's such a big hurdle that they have to cross over. Being someone who already is comfortable with words and can sit down, and write, you just have an enormous head start. It's like you started 50 yards ahead of everyone else in the 100 yard dash.
Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I think it's so true. I did not anticipate how much writing there would be. Of course, it makes me happy because I really like writing. Tarzan, we're getting towards the end of our conversation, is there anything else that you would like to share that we haven't had a chance to talk about yet?
Tarzan Kay: Not really. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to explore this because now, it's been nine years since I left law school. I hardly think about it anymore. I'm just enormously grateful for that experience, like wow. The more I look back on it, the more distance I have from it, the more I see that was a hard thing that I did. For your listeners, you might forget it because you only look at the students who got a better grade than you or got a better job than you but wow, that is a hard, hard thing. The level of determination, intelligence, and just sheer determination, wow, that is a rare quality. It will serve you for the rest of your life. If it's not law school, if it's not a legal career, it is directly applicable to almost anything else.
Sarah Cottrell: I think that's so true. That's such a good reminder. Tarzan, for people who are interested in learning more about you and what you do in your business, where can they find you online?
Tarzan Kay: I would recommend joining my email list, tarzankay.com/email. Just join to get the emails because they are enormously entertaining. They're fun, they're full of stories, and they talk about the real, real of being an online business owner. Especially who's using a digital course based business model, I share a lot about that. I share a lot about ethical marketing, what I'm doing, what decisions I'm making. It's pretty broad. I also talk about random stuff, like building my business, working with psychedelics, and how that changed my business. I really love to share from the heart and share things that are sometimes controversial. That's what I'm doing on email. That's my primary channel. You can also find me on Instagram, tarzan_kay. It's generally me in my DM. If you want to reach out and talk to me, that's the best place.
Sarah Cottrell: Awesome. We will put those links in the show notes. Thank you so much, Tarzan, for sharing your story today. I really appreciate everything that you were able to share with us.
Tarzan Kay: Thank you so much, Sarah.
Sarah Cottrell: Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven't yet, I invite you to download my free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.
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