Dyllen Nellis is the Founder of Dyllen’s College Essay Advice, an award-winning online course where Dyllen empowers students to discover their sense of self and effectively communicate their personal values, experiences, and potential in well-crafted college essays. In addition to being a young entrepreneur, Dyllen is an undergraduate student at Stanford University.
Today, Dyllen joins the show to discuss what inspired her to launch her business and the resources that helped her curate her course, the importance of highlighting the growth journey in a college essay, and why having a commitment mindset is so critical to success as an entrepreneur.
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00:59 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Dyllen Nellis, who joins the show to share her earliest memories of money, the inspiration to launch Dyllen’s College Essay Advice and her journey of self-growth
08:42 – Resources that helped Dyllen curate her course
10:24 – Why a college essay is critical to getting accepted
13:15 – The biggest fears of college applicants and how parents can help
16:45 – Two pieces of advice Dyllen would give to college applicants and one thing to not worry about at all
20:10 – Dyllen’s entrepreneurial journey
24:03 – Revamping and restructuring her course and the biggest challenges she’s faced as a young entrepreneur
30:25 – Having the entrepreneurial mindset of commitment
32:58 – What’s next for Dyllen
36:00 – Another resource that has been critical to Dyllen’s success
36:57 – The last thing Dyllen changed her mind about and one thing that he would like people to know about her
40:40 – Jonathan thanks Dyllen for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to connect with her and learn more about Dyllen’s College Essay Advice
“It’s really funny, the first thing I ever ‘innovated’ was this thing called a ‘Joy Leaf,’ where I walked outside of my house and there was a leaf on the floor from our tree. And I took it and painted the word, ‘Joy’ on it and I thought, ‘This is my product and I’m going to put it in all of my neighbor’s mailboxes so that they will feel more joy.’ I was trying to help people in that way.” (03:27)
“For me, it was an experience of self-growth. It was a whole journey that I went through, and I learned about myself in ways that I never thought was possible.” (07:32)
“There are always going to be students who have the same exact scores as you, the same activities as you, the same achievements as you, and some people who are way better than you in all those categories. But nobody has your specific story.” (11:38)
“And it’s something that, I feel, students have the most control over, especially when they reach the beginning of their senior year. They’re thinking, ‘Oh no. Am I good enough? I’ve done all these things, but I don’t know if it’s enough to get into these schools.’ Ok, well those things that happened, that’s in the past. Unfortunately, you cannot change those things. But you have the control and the power to write your college essays and make them amazing.” (12:40)
“I learned for myself that the story is not the main experience or that challenge that you faced. Sure, that can be your starting point, but that’s not the main story. The main story is your transformation. It is the growth journey that you went through to unlearn those false beliefs, to become a better person, to strengthen your skills. All the things you learned along the way, that is the story.” (18:48)
“If you have a passion or idea, it’s one thing to have that idea; it’s another thing to do it. The ‘doing it’ part is a lot of work. And so, if someone wants to do that, they better be committed. They better be fully committed to doing that work and learning on the fly.” (31:01)
“I am really into personal growth and the whole mental health and well-being lens. And I think that bleeds into everything that I do, especially in my own business.” (38:30)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Hello. Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Dyllen Nellis. She’s the founder of Dylan’s college essay advice, and she’s also an undergraduate at Stanford University. She’s going into her third year. In a world where students are applying to 1215 colleges to be sure they get into one. She was accepted everywhere, so she’s going to tell us that story today. She started out, uh, sharing her strategy on YouTube and today works directly with students and has created an award winning online course that teaches her college essay system, as education is the cornerstone of earning. I asked Dyllen to be a guest on this podcast. Dyllen welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Dyllen Nellis: All right. Thank you so much for having me.
Jonathan DeYoe: You bet. Thanks for being here. We’re excited for this. So where are you connecting from now?
Dyllen Nellis: I’m in Los Angeles, California, where I was born and raised.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. Um, but you’re a student at Stanford, is that right?
Dyllen Nellis: Yes. So I haven’t moved back to Stanford yet. I will go back September 20.
Jonathan DeYoe: Do you know how people from Berkeley feel about Stanford?
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah, there’s a huge rivalry, but honestly, I’m not all caught up in that.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s good. I won’t treat you poorly because you’re a Stanford student. I’m also not a cal grad, so I’m not quite as hung up on it as many in the Berkeley area. So what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship growing up?
Dyllen Nellis: Well, I grew up in a family of artists, so my mom is a dancer and an actress, choreographer, and pilates trainer, and most recently actually became a financial professional. So that’s an interesting story there. My dad is a digital media artist and a filmmaker, so I didn’t have a lot of business going around in my household growing up, so I didn’t know a whole lot. So I’ve actually had to learn most of it on my own by creating my own business. But they were always very encouraging of me to shoot for the stars and think big. They’re all about endless possibilities and having big dreams and doing what it takes to achieve them. And I’ve also just really been fascinated by the topic of innovation ever since I was little. I remember I asked my mom, what does it mean to make something new or to be an entrepreneur or something? I just remember her teaching me that word, and I was like, oh, I want to do that. So it’s really funny. The first thing I ever quote unquote innovated was this thing called a joy leaf where I walked outside of my house and there was a leaf on the floor from our tree, and I took it and I painted the word joy on it. And I was like, this is my product, and I’m going to put it in all of my neighbors mailboxes so that they will feel more joy. I was trying to help people in that way, and I don’t think anyone noticed, but it made me happy.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, if I got a leaf with joy printed on it or written on it or in marker or paint or whatever, I think I would have noticed. They noticed. They had a smile. They didn’t know where it came from, probably, but they were like, oh, this is kind of cool. Did you have any? Well, your parents are both artists, digital art and dancing. Did they hustle a lot or did they have regular gigs?
Dyllen Nellis: Oh, um, lot of hustling, for sure. Because in the art and entertainment industry, work is not always consistent, and it’s all based on the gigs that are available and the projects going on. So there was that sense of inconsistency, and I think we were all very aware of money and finances and the need to have that sort of stability, but we didn’t have much education on how to do that until recently.
Jonathan DeYoe: So do you think the hustle growing up with people, really trying to work hard and make ends meet and get the next job and do the next thing, do you think that helped in launching your own business?
Dyllen Nellis: Uh, absolutely. Because in the way that I approach my business, I am constantly working and striving for more, and I have to stop myself, even sometimes, and go, you need to practice self care. You need to give yourself a break. That’s what all my friends tell me, because I’m so driven to reach my.
Jonathan DeYoe: Goals it’s interesting that, and this took, uh, many years of therapy for me, but I’m a business starter, business investor, business person, entrepreneur my whole life. And I used to think less of that as an art, but I think starting a business and running a business and tweaking a business and figuring out how business works and maybe starting another, that’s very artistic. And for some people, that is artwork, figuring it out, and I think that sounds very similar. Resonates what you’re saying.
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah, I agree. I mean, you’re literally designing systems.
Jonathan DeYoe: I want to start it off. We’ve gone a little ways here, but tell us about your college application story, just as a preface. I have a 17 year old son who’s going through the college application process right now. He’s got great, uh, coaches and all things to help him out, but you got in everywhere. And when I read that, I was like, no way. So tell us how that worked and how you made that happen.
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah. So I applied to college in 2018, and I had these big goals. I wanted to get into top ranked colleges, but I didn’t have any idea how and didn’t have any assistance either because I went to a public title, I high school in downtown Los Angeles. I couldn’t afford a private college consultant, and there was just a lack of guidance at my school. So I was like, well, what do I do? So I took it in my own hands and I taught myself everything, just searching articles and books and videos online and reading tons of information just to educate myself on the entire college application process. And that took a long time, but it was really fascinating. And I’m so glad that I put in that work and did that because my perception of what college applications even were, it completely changed because I suddenly understood that applying to college is not just about or, uh, college applications isn’t just about getting into college. It’s about using very specific strategies to effectively convey your values, your experiences, and your potential to colleges. And for me, it was an experience of self growth. It was a whole journey that I went through and I learned about myself in ways that I never thought was possible, especially being what, 1617? When do you have to think about, who am I as a person? Why do I do the things that I do? What are my values in life? What do I want to do? What are my goals? These students don’t tend to think about these questions, oh, and especially how does their experiences and their upbringing and society influence all of those things, their values, the way that they think, their identity. And so by doing that, self reflection process. I learned so much more about myself, and I was able to better convey that in my own essays and create essays that I felt proud of and then submit them with confidence and fun. Like, I started actually having fun with the process, even though it was very stressful. Once I had that strategy, I felt good, and that’s why I was so fascinated with it, and I wanted to continue working in this space and helping other students.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I don’t know if you remember, but can you recall one or two of those resources you found that really were helpful? And I know that the prime resource, we’re going to put it in the show notes, is the link to the course. Right. But what were some of those core resources you discovered that helped you write your course and develop your process?
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah. So the college essay guy was instrumental. He has a bajillion resources on the Internet, and I read his book, and that was really transformative for me. What else? I think that was honestly the main, main resource that I found so much value from. But I’ve done a ton more research ever since, and looking at all these different college consultants who do similar things and watching tons and tons of videos of students who actually did get into these schools. Um, to complete this story, I was accepted into every school that I applied to, and I applied to eight schools, so not as many as some other students who applied to, like, 20 plus. But I was very specific in my applications and in terms of what I wanted out of a school. So I was accepted into Stanford, USC, UCLA, NYU, UC San Diego, Fordham, Marist College, the College of New Jersey. I think that’s it. Yes, and I ultimately committed to Stanford.
Jonathan DeYoe: Are you happy? You have to pretty much have to say yes because you’re still there, right?
Dyllen Nellis: Yes, I’m very happy. I love it there. It’s definitely a high pressure environment, but I think it’s good for me, and I really enjoy the types of people that go there because they’re all very inspirational and have a very unique way of viewing the world.
Jonathan DeYoe: How much do you think that the essay in particular. I don’t know. If you put a weight on the essay versus sat scores, versus which aren’t as important anymore, versus grades, versus extracurricular activity, how important is the essay?
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah, I would say it’s extremely important, especially for these competitive colleges. Very important because, although, first of all, they do a holistic process in college, uh, or admissions, where they take several factors into consideration. So it’s not necessarily like there’s specific weights on everything, but that they are taking into account your GPA, your scores, your achievements, and your personal qualities, like leadership, intellectual vitality, emotional intelligence, and seeing how those things work together, and, of course, comparing you to the other people applying in your applicant pool, and then that’s how they make a decision. So it’s a lot more complicated than this. Matters more than this. So you can’t necessarily say that, but I do think the personal essay is incredibly pivotal or incredibly important because it sets you apart from other applicants. There are always going to be students who have the same exact scores as, uh, you, the same activities as you, achievements as you, and some people who are way better than you in all of those categories. But nobody has your specific story. And your story, through your college essays, is a way to connect the dots from all the other parts of your application and create something that is very cohesive and really conveys your passion and your values and who you are on a deeper level rather than just numbers on.
Jonathan DeYoe: Know, I can’t pull it out right now. It’s in the deep recesses of my mind. But do you know the Dr. Seuss quote on it’s truer than true. No one is youer than you. Do you know that? That just. It just seems like that’s the only thing you can be unique with. I’m just summing what you just said. The only thing you can really, truly be unique with is with your essay, with your personal story. Everything else, everyone else can mirror. Everyone else can be just as good or better.
Dyllen Nellis: Interesting. Yeah. And it’s something that students have, I feel the most control over, especially once they reach the beginning of their senior year, and they’re like, oh, no, am I good enough? I’ve done all these things, but I don’t know if it’s, uh, enough to get into these schools. Okay, well, those things that happened, those things that you did, those grades that you got, that’s in the past. Unfortunately, you cannot change those things, but you have the control and the power to write your college essays and make them amazing. And so that’s what I train my students to do.
Jonathan DeYoe: So when you’re talking to a student about the application process, are they really nervous about the essay? Are they really nervous about the whole package, or what’s the biggest fear you run into?
Dyllen Nellis: They are incredibly nervous and stressed and overwhelmed about everything. I think everything in terms of the college applications, but especially the essays. I think a lot of students, one, they don’t feel like they have time to do the essays because if they want to apply to a lot of schools, they’re going to need to write a ah, lot of college essays. And just knowing that is so scary for a lot of students and enough to make them shut down and procrastinate, which makes it even worse. And they just don’t even know where to begin. They don’t have any strategy. No one’s teaching them how to do it. And so that adds to the stress. And then because they don’t know what to do when they try doing it and they try writing their college essays, it just never sounds how they want it to sound and it’s so bland and they don’t know what’s wrong with it and they don’t know how to fix it, but they keep trying over and over to revise and rewrite it, but it’s just not improving. And that’s just because they don’t have the correct strategy. It’s not because they aren’t smart or they don’t have potential, because they definitely do. It’s just they need the process, they need that strategy and without it, they’re wasting their time. And they might start to think that they’re not even good enough or unique enough to get into their schools and that’s really damaging on their own mental health.
Jonathan DeYoe: I have to check myself with this question. So, uh, as I said, I’m a parent, I’ve got a kid going through it right now and we’re very involved in the process. And so when it comes to the essay, I think my son was told, don’t read your personal essay to your parents. Don’t let your parents read it. It’s not about your parents, don’t let them edit it. So how true is that? Should we actually be pretty separate from that process of them creating their future, their essays, or should we be meddling?
Dyllen Nellis: That’s funny, that’s a really good question. I think it honestly really varies according to what kind of relationship you have with your kid, because all families are different. I know a lot of students choose to write really personal essays about the hardships that they face in their families and sometimes they do not have a good relationship with their parents at all and it’s really hurt them and they’ve had to parent themselves in some way or another and that’s really hard. And so they pour that into their essay. So of course they don’t want to share that with their parents and hear what they have to say. But in other households, students aren’t facing those difficulties and maybe their parents are, or they know more about writing, or they know especially if they’re like english teachers or whatever, they can provide a lot of insight. And if they know their kids personal values and strengths, then, um, parents can definitely help them strengthen it and make sure that they’re showcasing the best parts of themselves. So, I know for my essays, I definitely had my parents read it over, and my dad was very much helping me through the editing process needed to make sure that what I was saying even made sense or was effectively conveying the story that he knew that I was talking about, because he went through that, too. We were going through this family experience together, and that’s what I was writing about, so he definitely helped.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s neat. So I want you to, just for a second, pretend like you’re talking to a 17 year old that’s applying to college. What’s, like, two really important pieces of advice you would give them, and then maybe one thing that you know that they’re worried about, but they should probably not worry as much about.
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah. So the first thing, and this is something I preach, is that you should not start drafting and writing your essays without doing proper brainstorming first and writing a complete outline for your essay. You have to write an outline and a structure for your essay before you start writing it because this is going to save you so much time and so much stress. Because if you just go with the first topic that comes to mind, then you may not be writing about the best topic. That would give yourself a competitive edge. And you also may not have done that deeper self reflection to even know, what are those deeper qualities about you that you want to convey to colleges or even just do that analysis on yourself? Like, a lot of times students write about challenges, but if they don’t do that deeper inner work to be like, okay, where does this really stem from? What false beliefs or experiences in my life did this come from? Then their essay just isn’t going to be as strong because they don’t even know that for themselves. So they have to do reflection, and then they have to structure the essay. Because if they do not structure the essay, what I always see is that they focus so much on the negative parts, like the beginning of their story, the challenge, and they rarely leave any room for the growth, which is the most important part. That’s, like something really key that I even learned again last year when in a college class for story crafting, I learned for myself that the story is not the main experience or that challenge that you faced. Sure, that can be your starting point, but that’s not the main story. The main story is your transformation. It is the growth journey that you went through to unlearn, um, those false beliefs, to become a better person, to strengthen your skills and all the things that you learned along the way, that is the story. And so that’s what students really need to hit home. And if they don’t write a structure first, they’re going to have writer’s block also, and they won’t even know where to go with the essay. And it’s just going to be very scattered. And that’s not what we want. We want it to really focus around a very specific theme.
Jonathan DeYoe: I mean, this is such good advice that applies, I think, everywhere. I mean, the podcast is the Mindful money podcast. And one of the things we talk about is reflecting first on where you want to end, uh, up, what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s applying for a job or applying to colleges or starting a business, or that whole idea of self reflection and really getting your best self down, really figuring out what those values are, what that purpose is first, before you start writing the essay, uh, or before you start writing your business plan, or before you start whatever the thing is. So this is great advice that actually works pretty universally. So I want to turn the page a little bit and talk about starting a business as a 1617 year old was inspiration. Why did you think I just wrote my essays? I think I can turn this into a business. Where’d that come from?
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah, so it didn’t exactly work out that way. I never had the intention of turning this into a business. When I got into all my schools, I was very proud and very excited about sharing what I had learned because I was like, whoa, this worked. This is stuff that I found so valuable. And why does nobody know this, or at least nobody in my high school, I need to teach this to people and put it out to the world. So I had watched all those youtubers, college youtubers who make videos about this. So I was like, okay, well, I’m going to put my own videos out. And I only ever intended on putting out three videos. I was like, three videos with all my advice and that’s it, I’m done. Uh, well, what happened is they took off. They did very well on YouTube and so many students found so much value from it and that was really heartwarming. And I thought, wait a minute, I actually have a lot more I can say. There’s a lot of stuff that I can pull out and teach people. And so then I kept making videos and I kept researching the process to make sure I was saying the correct things. And even since I started, I’ve learned so many new things and things that maybe I don’t even fully agree. I don’t fully agree with some of the things I’ve said way in the past, but I’m learning more and more as I go on. And so I kept putting out these videos, and this was after I graduated, so it was the summer before my freshman year of college. And so at this point, I was 17. And then students would ask me all the time, can you edit my essay? Take a look at my essay. I want some feedback on it. And then at that point, I was in college already. So I was in my freshman year, and I was just bombarded with work from college and just trying to adjust to life being different. So there was no way I could fit editing essays in. So I turned everybody down. I was like, I’m sorry, I just can’t. I’m so busy. But then the pandemic hit, and we were all sent home, and I just lost everything, lost all my friends at school, and was just back home and didn’t even get to finish my freshman year. And finances, there was a strain on that, for sure, in my family. And we’re like, okay, how are we going to pay rent for this month? And so I was trying to make money in any way that I could. And at the time, I was trying to freelance, like, graphic design and photography and art commissions, stuff like that. But then I kept making videos, and I realized I could start editing essays because I had time now. So I started charging for that, and it became a business. I created my own website for it, then started doing consult calls where I would meet with students one on one on Zoom and work through their essays with them or help them create a structure or an outline for their essays. And then I started developing my own process for it, and I really fell in love with it all. And then in September 2020, I came out with the college essay course, which is called the Ultimate Guide to craft your story. And it combined all of my learnings across all time into this very simplified and comprehensive, step by step process. And every year since, I have continued to iterate on it and make it stronger and better. And now I think it’s honestly the most valuable resource that I offer.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you said a moment ago that, and I think this is beautiful to admit this and to actually preach this, because I think this is true of everybody. You said that there are some things that you said earlier that you no longer believe, and those were probably not, right? And you’ve reflected and you’ve changed that. So how do you do that? Do you redo the course or do you edit a subset of the course? Because I have a course, I know that redoing an entire course can be very complex. So how do you do that?
Dyllen Nellis: So before this year, the course was written, so it wasn’t all filmed videos got it. So that made things easier. And I did that on purpose because I knew that things were constantly changing and I was learning more and constantly going back and changing the course and editing parts. But this year or this summer even, I created everything into videos because I think I’ve really solidified what the process is and it makes sense. And I still will probably, definitely have things that I want to change here and there. And I’m open to refilming videos, but I also just add videos. Like I’ll film myself doing a workshop for 20 minutes or so where I take a deep dive into a topic and then I upload that to the course so people can access this growing library of content. But for my YouTube videos, those are still up and I honestly cringe at the old ones. It’s really hard for me to watch them, but I still keep them up because I know that that’s how people find me and there is good information in there. But if there is something that I said that I don’t agree with anymore, I’ll put in the comments. Like, actually I write a little correction or I say, watch this updated video here to steer them in the right.
Jonathan DeYoe: Direction and it’s totally okay to learn new things. I mean, changing your mind, you make a mistake, change your mind, do something different and just own it. I think that’s one of the things that people find challenging, is to, oh, I made a mistake. I have to cover it up or have to. No, just own it. I made a mistake. Next thing, that’s totally fine. Exactly what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve had? You’re going college, you had pandemic, you were starting it. Actually, the work you were doing was becoming a business. It was not as intentional as, hey, let’s start a business. So what’s the biggest challenges you’ve had? Being, ah, a very young entrepreneur.
Dyllen Nellis: Yes, I’ve had so many challenges. The first being that I had no idea what I was doing. I had no guidance. Like I said, I didn’t grow up in a household of entrepreneurs in a business sense. So I didn’t know anything about pricing or product management, product design and marketing. All of these things I had to learn on my own, and it took a lot of trial and error and time, but I’m so glad that I did it. And I’m, um, also so thankful that I chose to take a gap year after my freshman year because that was the heat of COVID So I said, you know what? I’m not going to online school. I’m going to take the year off. And this is what I chose to do with my year. And it was really hard trying to learn everything on the fly. And I think I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot about owning my worth because that’s something that I really didn’t have a grasp of when I first started out. And another thing that was a challenge is time. Once I went back to school this past year, I went to Stanford again as a sophomore, and at this point had hired several essay editors to help me with the essay editing work, which was good. And so I’m glad that I did that. However, my fall quarter of sophomore year was complete, hell if I’m honest, because we had so many orders coming in and just not enough people to take them on. And so I ended up doing majority of the work. But at the same time, I’m trying to be a manager, and it’s hard to be a manager and a college essay editor and a marketer. And just, there was a lot of errors also going on with orders. Like, students would submit an order, but the link that they submitted to their essay was not editable, and so I had to email them, hey, can you fix this link? Or they didn’t send the right payment or, uh, just all these little things that I didn’t know I would have to be dealing with, I was forced to deal with. And it took up a lot of time, but more so stress that I just wish I didn’t have because I was dealing with a full course load and college life in that experience as well. So how I went about fixing that was this summer was pretty transformative, actually. I automated almost all of my systems in the business, especially for the essay. I also hired more people, so that was helpful. But I taught myself how to automate with this program called make. Uh, it was previously called Integromat, and it’s really, really useful. So I can automate the entire process of a client purchasing an order and then populating all that data into our task management platform and then taking a look at the editor’s availability and assigning it based on that. So I’ve created an algorithm that does all of that on its own, so I don’t have to manually be there to push that button. And that has saved me so much time. And it’s honestly one of my proudest accomplishments. On top of the course, of course.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I mean, it’s really interesting to hear you talk about what I think every small business owner ever encounters. Like, we have to, oh, I’m going to start this business or I fall into this business. And then you got to figure out accounting, you got to figure out marketing, and you got to figure out integration. How do you stay on top of your customers? How do you make sure you deliver? If you’re hiring people, how do you manage those people? These things are incredibly difficult to figure out because you’re wearing 1000 hats at a time and you did it while you were a student. So total kudos to you. And I’m just wondering, do you think anyone can do this? Uh, if you have this idea, you had an idea. College essay courses around that, helping people in that process, you had a passion for it. So if somebody lines up a passion, something they love to do, they find interesting, that they’re good at, with a desire to make some money or to turn it into something, do you think anybody can do that? Or what are the special skill sets or special abilities you brought to the table to make it possible for you?
Dyllen Nellis: I think it definitely requires some level of, um, skill, but not even skill, but like mindset. If you have a passion or idea, it’s one thing to have that idea, it’s another thing to do it. The doing it part is a lot of work. And so if someone wants to do that, they better be committed. They better be fully committed to doing that work and learning on, um, the fly. And one of the qualities that I think is most important is resourcefulness. Being resourceful to go out and find the answers to your problems. Because like I said, I didn’t. An advisor or business consultant or whatever, like telling me, here’s what to do. Oh yeah, you need advice on this? Okay, here’s m what you should do. So I had to go on YouTube and look up the answers to all my questions, and I’ve learned so much just from doing that. And then I found youtubers I really liked. I found podcasters. And then just this summer, I joined a course for mostly female entrepreneurs who are selling online courses. And they want to learn how to earn passively. So setting up like evergreen systems, I honestly did not know what that word meant, like four weeks ago. And now I’m like okay, I’m setting it up. I’m doing it. So having that grit also, grit is the next one, uh, to be able to stay in the game and keep working, because to make income, especially passive income, it’s not magical. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere. You have to put in a crazy amount of work in the beginning to be able to see those benefits.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think you probably know this. If you’re on YouTube, you probably know Gary Vee. He talks about passive income as like, 99% of the talk about passive income is just the crappiest, no good garbage in the world. And then 1% is the true meaningful stuff. And it’s just what you said. Passive income comes from incredible volumes of effort and work and pain in the front, and then it becomes passive, uh, ten years down the road. But it takes time and effort and energy to make it happen. And you’re starting so early that you’re going to be pretty set. I’m curious, you have all this knowledge about business now. How do you build a course? How do you sell the course? How do you automate the process? What’s the next project?
Dyllen Nellis: I think right now I’m really trying to grow this one that I have. I’m not ready to move on just yet because, uh, this is a little baby, this business, and she’s going to grow, and I want her to get as big as she can. So I’m putting in that effort and investing in this business, my time, my effort, my money, to make it the best it can be before moving on entirely. But I am also simultaneously working on a startup. It’s a parenting startup called nurture, and I’m working on it with a team of students from Stanford. We were all in a class together, and so that’s another project we have going on.
Jonathan DeYoe: Very fun. So how do you balance all these projects and being a full time student and running a business with sort of personal time, know, getting out there to see some of your friends, do you still see friends?
Dyllen Nellis: Oh, yeah. I make friends a priority. So I’m, uh, not one of those people that doesn’t have any friends and just stays in the room all day. Well, I do stay in my room all day, but I will set days where I go out and see friends like I did yesterday. So that’s good. But how I balance it, it’s really tricky. It’s really hard. I’m not so elegant in how I balance it, so I’m not going to pretend that I am. I think the summertime, anytime I get a break from school is where I go hard on my business and fix up anything that needs fixing up. So that’s why I’ve been mentioning all this stuff about this summer. This summer I have put so much work into this in automating these systems and putting the systems in place so that when I go to school, I won’t have to deal with it. That’s how I balance it. So then when I’m actually in school, I’m honestly not going to be doing too much work on the business. I mean, I’m praying that I can find some time to make videos and continue marketing and creating valuable content out there. But none of this system stuff like building systems, I’m not going to do that during school. And also during school, I’m very, very diligent in terms of how I run my calendar. I put everything in my Google calendar. It’s insane. I’ll even put, like, take a shower, do laundry, like little things like that I will put in my calendar because I need to, need to know exactly how I’m spending my time. So that way I’m getting my work done for school and getting my work done for work and seeing friends.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right. So I just want to say, uh, I think this has been eye opening for me. I’m definitely going to have my son watch this, uh, when it goes live. I wanted to see if you had the course resource. Your course is going to be the resource we put in the show notes for how do you write a better college essay? But I wonder if you’d like to drop a name for the course you’re taking for women in business entrepreneurs. So another resource that we can throw into the show notes for people that want to start a business or want to scale a business.
Dyllen Nellis: Yeah. Okay. So I love her. Gemma Bonham Carter. Gemma spelled, um, G-E-M-M-A. She has two courses. One is called course creator school, which is to help people create online courses. And I’m not enrolled in that, although that’s, like, her main course that she sells. And then the other one that I am enrolled in is called the passive project. Passive, like passive income. So that is the one that teaches entrepreneurs who already have a course, how to grow and scale. And I love it. It is wonderful. So rich in content and value.
Jonathan DeYoe: Awesome. Thank you for that. So a couple of questions here as we get close to wrapping, and they’re more personal in nature, so buckle up. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Dyllen Nellis: Okay. The first thing that came to mind is my need to hire managers because going into summer, I thought that I needed to hire managers to help me with all this work that I was explaining about, bombarded with orders while doing school, and so I needed people to help me with that part of the process. But then I realized I could just automate it. So that’s exactly what I did. I still held on to a couple of people. I was thinking about hiring for manager positions, and I had to honestly be frank and say, you know what? I actually have looked at this, and I don’t think that there’s that much work that I actually need done because I’m in the process. And now I’ve actually finished the process of creating these automations. So I don’t need someone to copy and paste information from a spreadsheet. They can focus on more valuable work, like editing essays and improving the quality of the work of my editors. So that was a huge thing to realize. I actually don’t need managers because I automated it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Beautiful. That’s a great learning lesson. So is there anything people don’t know about you that maybe you haven’t told them, maybe you’ve told them they forgot. But is there anything that people don’t remember about you don’t know about you that you really want them to know?
Dyllen Nellis: I’m trying to think of things that they don’t know because I feel like I’m pretty open. Or maybe I could just reiterate it. I am really into personal growth and that whole mental health and well being lens. And so I think that bleeds into everything that I do, especially in my own business, because I’m not like, I know other college consultants and people who help with this whole process. They’re very focused on, like, let me get you into Harvard. Let me get you into, like, let me get you the results. And like, okay, cool. Yes, I’m all about those results, too. But what matters more to me is that you are going to come out of this process a transformed human being. You’re going to be elevated. You are going to have a stronger understanding of who you are at your core and gain more confidence. Because I’ve noticed all of these students, especially this year, applying to college, almost all of them are writing their essays or are thinking about it around some mental health issue, um, which isn’t necessarily advised to do. So I have to kind of reroute them and make sure they’re focusing more on the growth than the challenges. But it’s eye opening to see how much these kids are struggling with mental health issues because they were the ones who had their entire high school experience in the pandemic. So it’s a no brainer why they have all these struggles. And I think that we really need to approach everything with a, uh, more mental health well being lens because these students are, uh, going through something very real. And so I not only want to get them into college, I want to give them some of these tools to be able to improve their self esteem and confidence and understand how to do this self awareness work.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s beautiful, and that’s advisable. People that all need more self esteem all need some support in this kind of area. And yeah, mental health is real. It’s a serious issue. I’m thankful that my kids are both seem pretty stable. But I know that the environment is very, very difficult. Coming out of high school just right now, it’s really tough. So on that note, how do people get in touch with you? What’s the best way to reach out and, uh, say, hey, I need your services or consulting or what have you? How do people get in touch with you and where are you active on social media?
Dyllen Nellis: Yes. So you can find email@example.com. That is where everything is. My course, my free resources, my essay editing resources, my consulting services, all of that. Collegesayadvice.com I am on YouTube, as uh, we’ve discussed, it’s just Dyllen Nellis, my first and last name. And on TikTok, Dyllen Nellis as well. And on Instagram, it’s college essay advice as well. And yeah, just to clarify for everyone, my business’s name is Dylan’s college essay advice. So if you just search those words, I’m sure you’ll find every link that I just mentioned and we’ll make sure.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’S all clear in the show notes so people can click right through for sure. But yeah, for listeners, just google the words. Dyllen thanks so much for being on the show. Um, I very much appreciate you being here, and I think that we made a difference and are going to help people earn more. I appreciate that.
Dyllen Nellis: Thank you so much. This has been wonderful.