Have you ever dreamed of living life on your own terms? A life where you aren’t shackled by only two weeks of annual PTO and are able to do what you want, when you want, and with who you want?
Most struggle with the idea of leaving something already good for the possibility of something great. This is exactly what Brian Luebben did, leaving his six-figure sales job to build his own business, all while traveling full-time around the world.
What would motivate a person to suddenly quit a cushy job, where they were slotted for promotion after promotion? That’s the American Dream, right?
As it turns out, Brian Luebben did have something better lined up, an opportunity to redesign the concept of “work” at its very core and outside of the corporate world.
Over the last eighteen months, Brian has traveled to 33 countries while building his own business around his life, not the other way around. I interviewed Brian in depth to learn about the wins, the losses, and the lessons along the way.
Brian Luebben’s Life in Corporate America – A Success Story All its Own
Brian Luebben grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a middle-class family that “didn’t dare to talk about money”.
His first job out of college involved selling uniforms to businesses, a position he held for four-and-a-half years. During that time frame, he rose up to become the eighth highest-producing sales rep in his company out of thousands in the same position. Winning the awards associated with this accomplishment slotted him for promotions and a fast track up the corporate ladder.
After he had made it to the “corporate mountaintop” Luebben found himself in a state of confusion. Instead of being happy with the results of over four years of work, he instead could not see himself continuing down this path.
“Our current VP was in town for a week, so I was assigned to shadow him for two full days,” Luebben explained. “I entered the conference room to see him on his seventh Zoom call that morning. He was scheduled back-to-back all day in 15-minute increments. I walked out of that room thinking, ‘Oh my God…If I work harder and get promoted, I’ll have less daily freedom?’”
Higher position yes, more money, certainly. But the price would be paid with a loss of time and freedom.
“That sent me down an emotional spiral,” Luebben recalled. “I felt lost and began to feel that I no longer had control over my life. I know that a lot of people right now are in this exact same position.”
Does that sound familiar? It’s the kind of conundrum that drives many corporate success stories to strike out on their own. And that’s exactly what Brian Luebben set out to do.
Brian Luebben’s Climb Out of His High-Six-Figure Corporate Job
While Brian was becoming increasingly restless, he stayed because he knew he had an ace in the hole. About a week after shadowing the regional VP, he knew he would receive a bonus check totaling almost six figures for maxing out his compensation plan in the previous quarter. He already had mentally invested this money, planning to put it into additional rental properties that he had been analyzing.
But then something shocking happened, something a lot of us are unfortunately familiar with. It came in the form of a mandatory company-wide conference call Brian would join on his commute home.
The conference line opened with this:
“It is with sincere regret that we have to void the additional bonuses for Q4. The effect that the COVID pandemic had on our bottom line has since made it impossible to issue these bonuses in this climate, we sincerely apologize.”
The pay, the promises, and the investing plans were gone in about 60 seconds. This check was double Brian’s annual salary, so of course, it stung.
“That was the day I made it my absolute mission in life to leave corporate America, once and for all,” Brian tells us. “These experiences aren’t just happening to me, but to people all around the country – every day. In 2023 and beyond, nobody is safe in this environment. Nobody. That is when I decided I wanted my freedom now, not at hopefully 65 years old.”
Luebben also stated a philosophy that was especially interesting, “I knew that what happened wasn’t personal. Of course not. It was a company-wide decision, made from the top. I just realized that no matter how secure anyone thinks their job or their paycheck is, that can all completely change with one event, one change in management, or one company-wide decision.”
Knowing it was time to make an exit, Brian Luebben left the job in March of 2022. He then spent the next eight months traveling the world as he planned his next move.
The Plunge into Real Estate Investing
The bonus check may have been voided, but Brian Luebben’s plan to invest in real estate wasn’t. Fortunately, he had already begun buying rental properties several years before he quit his job.
His core strategy was to replace the six-figure income from the corporate job with cash flow from his rental properties.
“When it comes to cash flow, a lot of people get discouraged when they realize how far away they are from fully replacing their current income, especially when it’s six figures,” Luebben cautions.
His strategy involves utilizing three levels of cash flow to make the process easier:
- Survive = the amount of cash needed to cover fixed expenses, like your house payment, insurance, food, and recurring bills.
- Arrive = the amount of cash needed to cover variable expenses, like dining out, a gym membership, and recreational spending.
- Thrive = the amount of cash needed to cover your entire life and to replace your income completely.
For Brian, that translated into dollars in the following amounts:
- Survive = $4,000 per month.
- Arrive = $6,500 per month.
- Thrive = $20,000 per month.
House Hacking to the Rescue
He reached the “Survive” level through the house hack strategy.
“I bought a primary residence with 5% down,” Luebben recollects. “I lived in one room and rented the others out. I’d buy 5-bedroom houses in North Atlanta. I bought one in 2019 and then the next in 2020 for a total of two properties with six tenants across them (including me living in one room).
This produced $3,600 in monthly net cash flow, after expenses, capital expense, vacancy, repairs, etc.”
To reach his Survive income level, Luebben rented his car out on Turo full time (with a friend managing it for 50% of the profit), immediately after leaving his job. That generated an additional $400 per month to bring his cash flow total up to the $4,000 level. Equally important, the $4,000 represented true passive income.
With his basic survival expenses covered, Brian Luebben was ready to move on to new adventures, and a whole new lifestyle.
Crossing the Goal Line from the Corporate Cage to Financial Independence
In 2020, Luebben created what he refers to as his “Vivid Vision”. He visualized what his dream life would look like three years from that day, along with how much it would cost.
“I knew exactly where I was headed towards,” reports Luebben. “I knew I wanted to wake up in Greece, in Spain, in Brazil, and all around the world, without needing to take paid time off from a job.”
That was a full two years before Luebben left his job. Every decision he executed during this time period was towards that crystal clear goal.
By the time he quit his job, Luebben had accumulated six months of living expenses in cash, had cash flowing from real estate, and had developed a podcast business generating between $12,000 to $19,000 per month from “affiliates” from his show, The Action Academy.
“I did everything correctly,” Luebben declared. “I walked into the manager’s office and turned in my two weeks. They escorted me out to my car and I was officially unemployed for the first time in my life.”
Luebben has since sold the two rental properties in Atlanta and has relocated to Austin, Texas. He’s currently sitting on the cash from those sales and plans to invest it in commercial real estate in 2024.
Brian Luebben Launches The Action Academy
The podcast Brian created came to be known as The Action Academy. He bills it as “Millionaire Mentorship for Your Life and Business”, and designed it to take you from working a job you hate to living a life you love. The business was launched in 2021, the year before Luebben left his corporate job. He jokes that he documented the entire journey of quitting his job “live, on air.”
The Action Academy centers on a series of podcasts in which Luebben interviews multi-millionaire entrepreneurs to learn how they achieved their success. The podcast and community behind it currently draws about 67,000 listeners per month and is on track to generate $612,000 in revenue for 2023, after taking in $167,450 in 2022.
Brian discovered a way to monetize the podcast in 2022 through the affiliate marketing method. Whenever someone would sign up for a service he would recommend, he would make a 10% cut.
But despite the rapid success of The Action Academy, Luebben didn’t begin the business the way many founders do.
“A lot of people spend months planning their business model, but I just put it up there and let it happen,” Luebben confessed. “Instead of reading more information, you need implementation. Release your message to the audience and pivot as needed. ”
This advice resonates from other sources as well:
“Don’t just ‘read the book’ and put it back on the shelf,” adds Ayanna E . Jackson , Founder: Lead Career & Leadership Coach at AEJ Consulting LLC. “Do the actions and suggestions being proposed to you by your coach. It will be uncomfortable, but that’s where the growth in your career and business happens for you to thrive.”
Over the last two years Luebben has released 489 podcast episodes, two every day, across 33 countries. He used the podcast to intimately learn about his audience, and the specific problems they were facing.
How Brian Luebben Monetized The Action Academy
Brian told me, “The best business strategy is to start by giving out your best information for 100% free. You can charge on the back end for implementation.”
Brian made an offer on the podcast where he would coach other people wanting to leave Corporate America, for free, for 15 minutes.
After hosting one hundred free calls and taking detailed notes, he then had what he needed to build his new business. Brian then created a 52-hour online course covering in depth solutions to the problems that came up across the many calls. He emailed everyone he coached for free with his first paid offer. He smiled as he told me “I sent one email offering the course for $1,500, and asked if they wanted it. I made $100,000 in revenue within 48 hours of launch. From that one email!”
What happens a month later is an even crazier twist to the story, he shut the course down.
He quickly realized that the greatest source of value to the customers was in the attached Facebook group that he was adding them to. They were becoming friends, holding each other accountable, and partnering on deals together. He figured out that people didn’t want more courses, they wanted more community. This is where he completely pivoted his business model to where it is today, a thriving community where that original 52-hour course serves as the free thirty-day on-boarding.
The Transition From Employee To Entrepreneur Is NOT A Smooth One
Brian details that after he had a recurring $17,000 in monthly cash flow and six months of cash in the bank, he still experienced panic attacks while trying to leave his job.
He recalls, “I almost went to the hospital three separate times. The only thing that kept me out were my friends and mentors that had already left their jobs telling me that everything was going to work out.”
Luebben jokes, “Cash flow gets you out of your job. Community keeps you out.”
This has led Brian to focus on what we may call the three rules of business success: “Clarity, community, and cash flow.”
“As a high performer, most people are terrible at answering the question ‘What do I want?’ Most people never even think to answer this question at all. They continue to work aimlessly until they experience stress, burnout, sickness, depression, anxiety, divorce, and chronic fatigue. And we call this The American Dream!”
Where Brian Luebben Plans to Take The Action Academy
Brian Luebben is on a mission to use his business to cure people of that kind of thinking. “The most important thing that people can do is set their destination,” he recommends. “What does freedom look like for you? What does winning look like for you? Answering these questions will give you the ultimate edge to happiness and success. We all keep pushing to get there without ever pausing and considering where there actually is.”
This is the message Luebben repeats to himself, as well as to his listeners and clients. He also mentions: “Winning for me is traveling the world, winning for you may be being able to travel to pick your kids up from school every day. We all have our own versions of ‘the good life’”.
To that end, Luebben has built his business from the beginning to be operated anywhere he has access to “Wi-Fi, a Mac, and a Mic”. He’s also hired what he refers to as “rock star team members”, who can operate the day-to-day affairs of his business so that the business can run no matter where in the world he happens to be.
His mission is to help one million people replace corporate with cash flow to build their own businesses around their passions – what he refers to as “Passionate Income”. Luebben details how he spent over 1,137 hours this last year writing a book on the very subject titled “From Passive To Passionate – How To Quit Your Job – Grow Your Wealth – And Turn Your Passions Into Profits.”
“Our mission statement is We Unlock Entrepreneurs,” Luebben declares. “We believe that entrepreneurs aren’t created, they’re unlocked. They’ve been square pegs trying to fit into round holes their entire lives until they finally reach the breaking point and leave to do their own thing.”
My guess is if you have read Brian Luebben’s story up to this point, you’ve probably already contemplated crashing out of Corporate America. If so, you’ll do well to remember Luebben’s realization that information is not the answer, implementation is. And if you do, it’s good to know there are communities of others that are in the same boat, available to support you.