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Review: Spark & Hustle by Tory Johnson

A few weeks ago I had an idea. It popped into my mind suddenly and it will mean a complete career change if I decide to go through with it. I had just started doing some research when an invitation to review Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle came my way. Part of my research includes how to start a business so I took the opportunity to read the book. I’d never heard of Tory Johnson but I couldn’t turn down a free book that might have some good advice.

 It turns out that Tory Johnson worked for national television news shows until she was fired and decided to start her own business networking companies with job-seeking women. From there she started the Spark & Hustle series of conferences to help women start their own businesses. Johnson is a contributor on Good Morning America and to Success magazine.

I admit that the mass-market look of the cover turned me off at first. The writing is full of cliches and the kind of motivational-speaker language that I find silly. (Johnson is a motivational speaker, after all.) Many of the testimonials and examples in the book come from businesses that I don’t understand, like social network consulting. Also, many of the real-life examples seem to be full of the business owner’s own marketing copy rather than Johnson’s writing, which makes the overall quality of the book seem copy-and-pasted rather than smoothly written.

But I also admit that my little idea of a new career opportunity kept growing as I read. Johnson carefully explains the nuts and bolts of starting a business, which is exactly what I was looking for. I mentally filled out the worksheets and figured out where I need to fill in the gaps of a business plan. I honestly feel like now all I have to do is decide when to pull the trigger.

And that’s the tricky part. We don’t know exactly how much longer we’ll be in India but it will probably be about a year. We don’t know if we’ll be in the United States between assignments for a long enough amount of time for me to get the training required of my career idea. I can do a lot of reading from India but I can’t complete the necessary training. I have more than one plan in mind, depending on the where and when of our next assignment.

Many expat partners know how I feel. We know about the importance of the “portable” career but continuing one or starting a new one overseas presents even more challenges than starting a business in the United States. We have different labor laws, tax issues, and work permits to contend with. (We have to figure out internet access in countries that don’t have electricity running twenty-four hours a day.) This book won’t help with those issues but it does give a good foundation for getting started. I feel like I know what questions I have to ask.

I have my “spark” but it feels like my “hustle” might be on a treadmill for a while until we have solid answers on our next move. Until then, I’m reading like crazy and taking a few more courses toward my master’s degree. One my plans is to finish that so I have it in case we end up with a domestic assignment and I need it for getting an office job – then work on the side career in preparation for an overseas assignment after that. So many options and possible outcomes.

You can order Spark & Hustle on Amazon: Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now  (affiliate link -- paperback and on Kindle) and see more about Tory Johnson and her events at the Spark & Hustle website. Johnson is going on a national tour this summer, so if you're looking for inspiration for your starting or growing your business, check it out.

(I received a free review copy of this book. I was not compensated in any way for this post.)


Dani said…
Great to hear we are in the same boat! Would love to hear about your career changes and business idea as you get going. You know, in the US there are all of these biz woman groups that get together for happy hours and seminars. Would be nice to have a virtual group for FS women. :)

Congrats on working on the masters! Can you share your secret for doing it from overseas? I've been looking into how to start mine and many of the programs I'm interested in require at least a year on campus before they'll let people telecommute, but maybe that's just what they say before you actually apply and get in? Would really love to hear about your experience. You can also email me at if that is better. Thank you so much!

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