systematic excellence



If there is just one metric you should be keeping an eye on, it’s your business’s profit margin. Why? Let our expert guest Angie Noll tell you all about it! She’s the founder of Reconciled Solutions, a company where they help high achieving small businesses advance toward profit acceleration and work-life sustainability. Listen to this episode to learn how to make the best decisions that will maximize your profit!

Show Notes

What is a good profit margin for my business? What’s the most efficient way to track my company’s revenue streams? 


Keeping an eye on your business’ profit margin does more than simply monitor your company’s financial health; having a healthy profit margin allows your business to sustain itself while helping you focus on what really matters: running your business, creating ideas, and serving your clients.  

We invite you to listen to this episode where our guest Angie Noll answered our questions and shared with us great ways to determine your profit margin. In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we talked about:

➡️ How to evaluate if your margins are healthy or not

➡️ Tips to improve your profit margin

➡️ Making better decisions based on your profit margin

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Angie Noll

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:00)

Going to record now. Okay. Welcome back to another episode of the Systematic Excellence Podcast. I’m Amalie Shaffer, and I’m really excited. We have a special guest today and we are talking about margin health. So we’re continuing our series with the business hierarchy of needs. And I have Angie Noll here today, and I’m really excited. Because we’re going to talk about margin health. So I’m sure people get really excited about talking about this. So Angie, I appreciate you being here with us today. Angie Noll is the founder of Reconciled Solutions where they help high achieving small businesses advance toward profit acceleration, operational efficiency, streamline technology and work life sustainability. Reconciled solutions, they focus on two areas, business advisory services focused on profitability, acceleration bookkeeping an accounting support through QuickBooks online products for Angie. This means being keeper of the calendar in her world means visibility and clarity to manage a flourishing business and a home with three kids, two pets and one sweet husband. What kind of pets do you have?

Angie: (01:10)

I have this awesome goldendoodle he’s about eight pounds. His name is Patriot. I love him. And then, we have a cat Cassidy. Our neighbors who have no pets say that we must be pet charmers because our pets are very well behaved.

Amalie: (01:29)

Nice. Nice, nice. So, we’re, I’m a dog person, so I have a dog. So I appreciate that. And I mean, not that I don’t like cats, cats are great, but I’m more of a dog person. So anyway, I am really excited that you’re here. Thank you for being with us today and we’re going to be talking about margin health, which obviously I feel like the fight, the only people that get excited about talking about financial stuff are people that that’s where their expertise is.

Angie: (01:56)

Yeah. I love talking about this stuff. It makes me, it hits my happy spots.

Amalie: (02:01)

Yeah. And for me it makes me sweat a little bit, so let’s be done anyway. So we’re going to make it easy. We want to, we’re going to talk about, you know, the importance of it because I think that having profitable margins not only helps someone have a sustainable business or lets their business sustain itself, but it also helps the business owner focus on serving their clients because if they’re worried about money and not making enough and not being able to pay the bills and not being able to pay the team and all those things, they’re not really going to be there and be fully, you know, a prison in the moment of running their business or being the creator of the ideas and all those things. So I think it’s really important topic, even though it makes me a little uncomfortable. So, let’s just dive in. So the first thing I want to start with, how do you evaluate if someone’s margins are healthy or not?

Angie: (02:53)

So, when we get a client at Reconciled Solutions, we usually start with the numbers. We’re starting with their QuickBooks online file. That’s been our expertise for years is looking at that and our clients are small business owners. I would say they’re typically selling half a million dollars in revenues on up to $10 million a year in revenues. And so the first thing I look at when I am analyzing a file is their profit and loss. Okay. And in the profit and loss, what I’m looking for is not necessarily what total income is. Although I do look at total income, but I want to look at how the income is expressed in comparison to the cost. So I’m looking at silos of income and what I seen a lot of small business, is that they dump everything into income from services or consulting income or sales of products. Okay. And there’s no differentiation in their books. And so from the first point, we have to see differentiation in their books. So if you’re a lawyer, for instance, you’re going to have litigation, you’re going to have flat fee services. Maybe it’s residential, real estate closings, maybe it’s insurance, subrogation, what it is, but each one of those is a separate way that you go to market because this ties back to your market and how you position your brand. Okay. And then within that, the expenses for each are varying. So if you have a large piece of business as an attorney and it is based on flat fee, residential closings, you’re going to have different expenses for that than you would have for an insurance subrogation case. And so I want to see if the expenses are split between the different income streams. So that’s very important for me to be able to see that we have multiple different revenue streams and that there are expenses that tie into each of those revenue streams, because one might be a loss leader for your company. Another one’s going to be, you know, it’s going to be the bread and butter of your company. And the third is going to be something where you’re like, “Ooh, this is the really juicy deal. This is where we make some really good margin.”

Amalie: (05:32)

Right. And it also probably helps them to see maybe where they should invest marketing money too. Right. Because if one of them, you know, they can see, “okay, this one’s working out really well. We have a great profit margin on this one. Let’s spend some money to boost it up” or if one’s not doing well and they’re losing money on it, “well, what can we do to improve it?” Where can we kind of plug the holes or can we raise the price of this to make it profitable? Or, you know, whatever, but you can use it for a lot of different evaluations, making decisions on how you’re going to grow the business, where you’re going to spend your money, all those things. Right?

Angie: (06:07)

Yeah. So it’s not only just tied to the margin and the profitability of the company, but it’s also tied to how we make our marketing decisions. You’re absolutely right, Amalie. So, the thing for me, that’s really important is that not all clients are created equal, right? We don’t love all our clients the same. And so when we are setting out our marketing strategy, not only do we need to measure where we make the best margins, but where it’s easiest to get the business where there’s opportunity and how to fine tune that, where do we love doing business? Where are we finding repeatable processes? So, you know, we want to go for the low hanging fruit. So if you’re in a situation where you want to improve your gross margin, when you’re looking at your different silos of income, you need to think about, “okay, where do I have capacity to grow easily so that I’m not struggling to make that operational side and deliverable difficult for my firm?” That’s where I need to spend my energy because we’re delivering efficiently, we’re delivering accurately and without pain, hopefully people are also enjoying their jobs while they’re doing it.

Amalie: (07:27)

Right. Okay. So with that said, what should a business owner track to ensure that their margins are healthy? If they don’t have someone like you or supporting them, what should they track? What can our listeners, if they don’t have outside support right now, which we do highly, highly recommend having outside support. But if they don’t, what are things that they should track? I mean, what should they be looking at?

Angie: (07:55)

Yeah. So, you know, you’re an expert in business. You’re not necessarily an expert in your accounting system, but you need a good accounting system that is telling the story of your business. So what I said earlier about setting up your accounting system so that it is tracking the different streams of revenue, so the different income streams, as well as matching it up to those different expenses. And so that you can see that the gross margin on this revenue stream is 50% where the gross margin on that revenue stream is 10% is really critical. And so that’s all done through your QuickBooks file and that is just measuring the cost and the gross margin against the revenue stream. So having that set up I’m also a big believer in setting up if you’re using staff or contractors, it doesn’t necessarily matter. But when you are using employees, I often see a lot of companies that report all their wages paid under just that category. It’s called wages. And that is not telling the juicy story of your business, if you put it all under wages. So what I want to see is that if I’m a physical therapist and delivering physical therapy services, there’s going to be an office assistant. There’s going to be a biller. There might be an office manager, those are different than the person who’s actually doing the physical therapy. So I want to see wages for the physical therapist, separate from the office staff and separate from the owner, because it’s critical if you’re measuring your profitability, that you’re separating out the owner’s wages from the rest of the staff. So that would be another thing that is very important to me. Any time that that pay is changed in a direct relationship to revenue incoming. So you’ve hired a contractor to deliver against a project, then that really is considered a cost of good or, materials and contractors expense. And we want to be able to call that out separately, according to the revenue stream. And from that, then if you have that lined up that way in your accounting file, the last thing is utilization of staff. And you can calculate your utilization of staff just by taking your total revenue and dividing it by the number of full time, full time equivalent employees that you have so that you can get idea of how you are utilizing based on a day to day basis, week to week basis, month to month, year to year, how ever you want to track that. How frequently.

Amalie: (10:59)

Great. Awesome. Well, that’s great. Okay. So let’s talk about raising prices. So it’s, I think it’s really important because in order for the business to continue growing, I mean, prices need to continue growing too, probably, right. So, let’s talk about when to raise them, what to raise them to, what are some things to keep in mind and to take into account when business owners are making these decisions?

Angie: (11:25)

Yeah. So costs go up all the time. And that means that we need to reflect that in our prices. Now you can assume, you know, regular inflation, but then things get thrown at you like a global pandemics. You might have to buy a whole host of PPE. You might have to do work from home because you can’t go into the office. It doesn’t matter if it’s a global pandemic or the next thing that’s coming down the line. You know, it’ll be something else. There was a housing market crash a few years back, right? We all remember that. So in a 10 year span, there’s going to be two really bad years. And so you have to be ready to survive them. So that being said, I’m a big believer in regular and systematic price increases. If January is your time to reassess your contract, then everybody’s price goes up in January. I do think that the percentage of price increase or how you want to, you know, do that is subject to going back to your margin health on the different revenue streams, and where your company is focused on. So what I mean by that is that if you’re getting tons of business in one area at a certain price point, and you’re not getting very much business in a different area that has a different price point, but it’s so hard for your company to deliver on that revenue stream, that you don’t need to do a standardized 5% price increase across the board. You can do it by revenue streams. You can do it by looking at where your opportunity lies, where you want to get more clients. And also I think it’s really, really important. And I will say this from a call I had just yesterday with a mastermind group, to pay attention to the price, not to charge too little, a lot of people under charged themselves. And it doesn’t necessarily translate to value for the customer. So, we had a client in my mastermind group yesterday, one of the business owners was offering something at a very low price point because people are in pandemic, economics are hard. A lot of people are out of work. And the first thing I said about that was, “I think your price point is too low. You’re not showing value at that price point. People don’t think it’s worth it.” And it was worth it, it was full of juicy offerings and things that were going to be favorable for the client. So charging what you’re worth is very important. If you want to offer a discount because people are hitting hard times and there’s economic, something like a payment plan or a discount during this difficult time. But the initial price has to go out at a value proposition price, meaning I’m providing high quality for a price that is commensurate with that.

Amalie: (14:52)

Yeah. And one of the things that in my experience, being an online business, excuse me, people will not take into consideration the programs that they have to, that they have to run their business. So like their CRM, or if they’re a designer, the Adobe suite or whatever they have. And not putting that in as part of the package, right. When you give a price of something, it needs to include those things that you buy or spend money on in order to serve clients. So I mean, you’re really just hurting yourself by not including those things. So if you have, you know, if you’re paying for a service in order to maintain, you know, your business, manage your business, your project management tool that you bring clients into to manage their projects, all those things should be part of part of what it costs to hire you. You know, and I have found in my experience that a lot of people don’t take that into consideration when they’re coming up with the prices, they’ll come up with a price, but they don’t take into consideration all those things that, cause if the client is accessing your project management tool and you’re paying monthly and a higher monthly fee for them to be part of it, I mean, ultimately they need, you know, that needs to be part of your price that you’re charging them. If you don’t include that, you’re really just hurting yourself and you’re paying out of pocket for something that really it’s part of the service that you’re providing. Right?

Angie: (16:30)

Yeah. So when you initially set your prices, it does need to include all those different, you know, subscriptions that you need to go to market. They might be a fixed cost, but it still needs to, you still need to figure out how those impact your bottom line. And then if you’re doing regular and systematic price increases those subscription fees, as they go up over time and inflation happens, they will be accounted for. What won’t be accounted for as is again like when a global pandemic hits and all of a sudden your in-person offering needs to go online and you have to buy technology to support that new way of doing business. And in those cases, then you can increase the price out of cycle, so to speak. And if you’re increasing the price out of cycle, it shouldn’t be considerable because you’ve been regularly managing your price increases and building it into a systematic approach.

Amalie: (17:40)

That makes sense.

Angie: (17:41)

And another example of that is gas prices. You know, a lot of people are, charging a surcharge for delivery and whatnot and gas prices fluctuate all the time. And it’s out of the business owner’s control, right? That’s a global market event, right? So when gas prices go up and down, if there’s a huge increase, there might need to be a surcharge to the client as it relates to the field.

Amalie: (18:11)

Right. Awesome. Well, did we miss anything? Did I not ask you something I should have asked? So we make sure that everyone gets the information they need. Is there anything you want to add we before we wrap up.

Angie: (18:27)

You know, the only thing that I want to add is, as we talked about from the beginning, it’s all about measurement, right? You can’t find your way if you can’t see the runway. So the plane is not going to be able to take off if there’s not a runway there and measurement starts in your accounting file, that accounting file needs to tell the story of your business. It needs to tell the story of your business health, as well as the unhealthy parts of it. Because that’s the story that helps you build funding when you need it, sell it when it’s ready to be sold and pay yourself and put food on your own table. So I just really encourage people if they’re not, you know, great with their books and accounting and understanding those concepts, hire somebody and invest the time to figure out how to read those financials. They will give you a path, a runway to work with.

Amalie: (19:23)

That’s awesome. And thank you so much. People want to connect with you, where’s the best place to do that?

Angie: (19:29)

Well, my website is probably the best place to do that That’s a reconciled with an ed and a solutions, plural, and then it’s dot net.

Amalie: (19:42)

Awesome. And we’ll make sure we will put it in the show notes so people can have it. So thank you again so much for being here. I really appreciate it. And, you know, thank you for all the information. I hope that everyone listening, found it helpful. If you know anyone that would benefit from hearing this episode, make sure you share it, make sure you subscribe, and we will be back here next week with another episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast. See you then.


Susanne Mariga is the person you call when you need help in achieving your business accounting goals. Among the many amazing things she does, she’s a certified public accountant and certified tax coach who specializes in business and personal tax planning. Today we are talking about debt — specifically how to avoid it and easy ways to break the cycle. Listen to this episode and learn from one of the best in this subject!

Show Notes

One of the best things you can do for your business is paying down your debt as fast as possible. More often than not, debt can slow down your growth and the overall success of your venture. 

Fortunately, getting out of debt is not impossible. It won’t happen overnight, but rest assured there are ways to break off the cycle while allowing your business to flourish.

That’s exactly what our guest Susanne Mariga does: she helps business owners achieve their goals in smart, efficient ways. She’s also the host of the Profit Talk Podcast, has experience as a certified tax coach, and has worked for Big Four accounting firms, such as Arthur Andersen, LLP. 

In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we focused on a topic that makes a lot of us sweaty and nervous, but that simply needs to be talked about: debt eradication. Let Susanne tell you all you need to know about debt and how to pay it off!

In this episode, we talked about:

➡️ Should I choose debt to fund business growth?

➡️ 4 major steps to get rid of debt

➡️ Why implementing the Profit First system can be life-changing

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Susanne Mariga

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:01)

All right. Welcome back to Systematic Excellence Podcast. I’m really excited to be back here. I’m with JanineSuvak, of course, I’m Amalie Shaffer. We are systematic excellence consulting, and today we have a special guest Susanne Mariga and we are really excited. She is a certified public accountant and certified tax coach specializing in business and personal tax planning. Over the last two decades, Susanne worked for Big Four accounting firms, such as Arthur Andersen, LLP, and in our own firm has helped thousands of clients achieve their business goals. A certified profit first professional at the mastery level. She is also a charter global management accountant as designated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Susanne has served as a business advisor for the New Spring Houston Community College Business Plan Competition, and she is the host of the Profit Talk Podcast. So we’re really excited to have her here today and we’re going to discuss debt eradication. So I know that makes everyone a little nervous. I think it probably even makes her a little nervous because we’re going to learn her philosophy on debt in general, but we’re really excited to be here and Susanne, did I miss anything? Obviously you have lots of accolades that I wanted to make sure I include it, but do you wanna just tell us a little bit about how, you know, what you have going on and how you got started with, being a profit first professional?

Susanne: (01:28)

Yeah, actually this was probably one of the biggest reasons I got started as a profit first professional. Right, you know, I’ve been a practicing CPA for almost 20 years and, you know, actually grew up in public accounting. My dad was a CPA and he hired me when I was 14 to be a bookkeeper. So there are many, many years. And, you know, obviously I started my career with big four public accounting. I worked for Andersen and then later on KPMG, and then about 12 years ago, I started my own practice. Right. And I was going to focus on really super serving small business clients. And I remember when I first started my business, I remember I first got my office and my first client walked through the door and I was so excited to see my first client. You guys remember that when you open your doors and you get your first client, you’re like, “Oh my gosh,” you want to do a happy dance, but you have to like calm yourself down. It looks sophisticated. Exactly. And, he brought with him the shoe box, right? And it’s a shoe box of filled with receipts, you know, Oh my God, when they go to a gas station, you crumble the receipt and put it into your shoe box for your accountant at the end of the year. And he plops down next to me, he puts his shoe box on my desk and he says, whatever you do, I don’t want pay taxes. And I remember unraveling his receipts. And I remember getting to the bottom of this box and there was this PNL or something that he called a VNL right. And, and I said, “well, don’t worry. So you’re not going to pay taxes. Cause frankly, you didn’t make any money.” Right. And so a couple of days later, he comes back to get his return. He’s excited. He’s getting a refund, he’s getting something called earned income credit. And for you guys that don’t know, earned income credit, it’s like that welfare check that you get for, “Hey, you try to work. It didn’t work out, but what’s an hours end.” Exactly, exactly. It’s an honorable mission for just showing up, right. The millennial award. And he was happy. He was getting a couple of thousand dollars back for refund and he comes back the next year and he brings the same. He walks with more updated, crinkled out receipts and he pops down again and he goes, “whatever you did last year, do that same magic again this year, cause I don’t pay the taxes.” I unrolled his receipts. That’s at the bottom of his box and got to this crinkle up out. And I was like, “well, don’t worry, sir, you’re still not gonna pay taxes because frankly you didn’t make any money.” And then, you know, he comes back a couple of days later, he signed his return. He’s happy. He’s getting that earned income credit again. Right. And then he goes away and he’s happy, right? He’s thinking he’s had a successful year. And I’m thinking, “I didn’t do that bad myself as an accountant.” And then the third year he comes back again and he brings back the same shoe box and it’s crumbled receipts again. And this time is a little bit different because you know, this time I’ve got to know him better. He’s a little bit older. And you know, frankly, he just looks tired. Right. And he still managed to plot down in my chair. He still managed to say, “Susanne, whatever you did last year, I still don’t want to pay taxes.” But this time it’s just not funny because now I’ve gotten emails from him at 11 o’clock at night, you know, I’ve seen him get all these employees that, you know, they’re making more money than he’s making. Right. And frankly, I’m seeing that he has accumulated debt, he’s accumulated debt and he has nothing to show for it. He doesn’t own his own house. He lives in an apartment. He doesn’t even own his own car. He’s financing that car. He’s got no retirement. And frankly I’m worried about him, right. Because he has nothing to show for it. And when I looked at my client, you know, and I looked at a lot of my clients and I saw they were all in this same situation, the same situation of running in a spiral, not making any money and accumulating debt and really everybody around them was benefiting except themselves. And so, yes, I feel very strongly against that as a result of that. But that’s why I started my profit first journey.

Amalie: (05:06)

Understand. Awesome. So let’s just talk. So we’re going to talk eradication. So let’s start with one, your philosophy on that. And then let’s tell us in what situation is accumulating debt okay.

Susanne: (05:21)

Okay. That’s, that’s going to be a loaded question. I feel very strongly against that because one, you start to enter on a cycle, right? It’s a, it’s always a catch up cycle. And I grew up in a religious household. And one of the things that we were always taught was Proverbs 22 7. It says the rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a slave to the lender. And there’s a bit, a lot of talk about slavery these days and nobody wants to be a slave. And, but when you enter into a debt or a debt covenant, it literally is a cycle, right. You’re constantly paying. And if you don’t have the convictions, you will constantly be accumulating to pay. So, you know, my personal opinion, that debt is never really okay. I’d rather you grow slow and own your business versus constantly owing the man, right. As they say. Now, if you are going to get debt and it is something that you want to do. And sometimes, you know, if there are ventures that are bigger than us or, you know, we need manufacturing companies in the world, right. And they, they do have a need and we appreciate what manufacturing companies do. Right. I think the big thing is ROI. What is the guaranteed return on investment, right? Because they guarantee return on investment. And I’m not talking about going to Vegas and playing a slot machine. What is the guarantee that you are going to get if you accumulate debt? Right. So if you’re spending on marketing and you’re spending on advertising and you’re spending it on new startups, there’s a chance that you might not be getting that back. Right. And so return on investment is extremely important, especially right now, when you see people getting EDLs and other lines, what is the return on investment for every dollar that you’re taking out? What is, what is the amount of growth that you are going to see in terms of revenue, as well as profit.

Amalie: (06:59)

Right. And so if you are investing in something, is there like a timeframe that someone should see a return? And if they don’t see within that timeframe, you’re like, “okay, now I gotta watch it, obviously it’s not working” particularly like with marketing or something like that. Is there a timeframe you give? I know there’s guidelines that Janine and I personally follow and tell our clients follow, but I was just wondering what your opinion was about that.

Susanne: (07:23)

Well, the problem with debt, Amalie, as you’ve already spent it, right. We already spent it before you get it back. So, so you’re already paying in some ways, Russian roulette, right? So if you’re paying for marketing expenses, you’re already spending the money before you’re going to guarantee to get it right now. I know that marketing, we obviously want to see a 10 times ROI on it, but again, with that, you’re already spent the money. I would rather you take money from your retained earnings. I would rather you take money from your profit, right? Your routine earnings invest that back into the company is what I would rather see you do.

Amalie: (07:58)

Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we say is about 90 days, right? So if you think that you can see an ROI in 90 days, then we feel as though, I mean, that’s usually the gauge that we use when we’re making decisions about things and we advise our clients on things like that. So, Janine, you were about to ask a question.

Janine: (08:19)

I was just going to say that Mike Michalowicz makes that point about the different way of using the debt, right? I’m sorry, I just got a little off track, but that, because of what you were just saying, it’s like, I was thinking of an example. In my medical practice, I would send people out for testing and accept the smaller profit per patient and waited until I could purchase the equipment myself, even though there was mathematically a larger per visit profit. If I were to, even with the debt, you know, with the payment, buy the equipment, I chose to wait. And so I think I was just thinking of that as an example of small growth versus like what Amalie talked about 90 days, that kind of equipment was not 90 days. It was big amounts that made a difference. So it’s really interesting math, but look at it from those different perspectives.

Susanne: (09:13)

It is as, you know, I subscribed to Dave Ramsey. I love that man. He is so amazing. And one of the things that he says is that, you know, when you don’t take out debt, you make mistakes, but you make smaller mistakes. Right. And he gives the example of when, you know, he bought a huge amount of books, right? Because he thought he was going to sell those books. And while the books didn’t sell and he goes, imagine if I had taken debt to buy those books, you know what I mean? Now that I have books that didn’t sell and I would have debt on top of those books that are sitting in my basement.

Amalie: (09:47)

So let’s talk to the people who have debt, right? So they’re in a situation, they have debt. Let’s talk about what to do to get rid of it. What’s the best way forward if you have it. And you either want to avoid accumulating it or you’re in a place where, maybe you’re feeling a little bit, you know, like you’re barely keeping your head above water. So let’s talk to those people about how to manage that or what you recommend for people like that.

Susanne: (10:18)

You know, I think there’s really four major steps. Now there are like teeny steps in between, but there are four major steps to debt eradication really. And the first step is not an obvious thing, but it really is a thing that keeps you from getting into that and then quickly get you out. Right. And that is, first of all, when you’re in business price your service, price you’re offering. Price right. It makes sure there’s enough margins and profit in there to really be able to build, retain earnings. So you don’t have to go into debt in the future. And it needs to be able to produce profit for you. Right. Because if you’re not pricing your services right we’re not pricing your widgets right. That means that, you know, you’re going to rob Peter to pay Paul. Because you’re in and that’s exactly what happens. A lot of people, they get into debt because they don’t have enough money to support their operations. So they go to credit card, they go to line of credit, they call it working capital and they stay in that cycle. So the first thing is, make sure you are pricing right. Make sure there’s that margins in there that you can not only get a profit, but accumulate, retained earnings. Because if you build retained earnings, you don’t have to accumulate debt later on. Because you have money that you can reinvest in your company, if you’re pricing right. Now, the other thing I would say, as you know, with debt, it starts with a conviction, right. It starts with conviction, just like Janine says that I don’t want to be in debt. Right. There are ways that I can accomplish what I want just in slower gradual things. Slower gradual steps. And it’s kind of like, if you have a bad habit, if you’ve ever smoked cigarettes or you ever went on a major weight loss, right. When the first things that happens that makes people stop smoking, stop, you know, or lose a drastic amount of weight, you know, hundreds of pounds is they, they get sick of it. Right. They wake up one morning and it’s, I don’t want to live this way anymore. Right. And so the second thing is you have to have conviction. You have to have conviction. “That that is not for me. This is not how I want to grow my business. This is not the legacy I want to leave. You know, I want to be able to grow.” You have to have it. Cause even if you have a small window and you’re like, okay, debt is okay, right. If you say that small, you’re always going to, okay, wait a minute. I’m short this month. I’m short this month. I need to be off my working capital, or I need to get a working capital line of credit or, you know, or, this is project that’s coming up in a pipeline. It’s an amazing project. Right. I might just be able to win on this. Right. So again, it’s going to be tempted to go into that credit card, go into that line of credit. So the second thing you have to do besides price, right, is you have to have conviction that it’s not for me. And otherwise, you know, there’s always going to be a credit offering. There’s always going to be like, even in COVID-19, there’s always going to be a credit offering. So you have to say, you know what? I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want to live this way. Debt is not for me. I do not want to be a slave to the lender. Right. And then the third thing is, you know, you have to like, you know, they always tell you in debt management on the personal side, it’s just like the business, you got to cut the cards, right? You gotta cut the cards. You gotta say, you know what? Get rid of temptation, move it far away. Cancel those line of credits, put them in the freezer. You’ve heard him say it, cut the cards. Right? Because again, as long as those options are open, you will always be short one month, one day, it’s going to happen. I don’t care who you are. There’s going to be opportunity. That’s going to come by. And you’re like, Oh my goodness, let me go grab the card. Right. And so you have to say, cut the card. Right. And make it not assessable. That’s the other thing to resist temptation. Just say no. And then the fourth thing that you do, if you’re in debt, I highly recommend what we call the debt snowball. The debt snowball. Now I know you guys have been talking to a lot of our PFPs or profit first professionals and what that snowball is, it’s a lot like what Dave Ramsey talks about. Right? So what that means is. So what happens in profit versus, you know, we have the five bank accounts there. We accumulate money in this income account. And then we use these envelopes, bank accounts with like envelopes, right? We have the income account, the operating account, the profit account, the tax account, the operating, the owner’s pay account. And we’re literally allocating money to these by purpose. Well, that money that you’re putting into your profit account, what happens at the end of the quarter is if you don’t have any debt, we call it an owner’s distribution or half of it. It’s an owner’s distribution. Right. Then the owner can go out by his crews, go on vacation, you know, do whatever he wants with it. And the other half goes into what we call retain earnings. So say for those rainy days or those big investments that might come up through the pipeline later on, well, what happens if you have debt. So instead of rewarding the owner immediately, we have to delay gratification and we take half of that profit that’s been accumulated in that account. And we put it towards our smallest debt and, and every quarter we pay off our smallest debt, and then once that smallest debt is paid off, we then put it towards the next smallest debt. And so we keep putting it there until that debt is paid off. Right. And that’s our debt snowball.

Janine: (15:17)

God. That’s fantastic.

Amalie: (15:18)

Yeah. So, and one of the things I was thinking about when you were talking is also having a plan. I think that’s something that Janine and I have talked about. Like if we’re in a situation where we’re going to, you know, take on some debt or whatever, is to have a plan. We’ve not been in a situation where we’ve needed to do that. But if we were in the future, when we were going through Fix This Next and getting certified in everything, we had talked about this, like having a plan on how to pay it off. Right. So already in our mind, if we are going to do it, here’s the plan. Here’s what we’re going to need to do to our services in order to afford, to be able to pay it right. And already setting ourselves up, thinking about what will happen. And then if it’s feasible, if in our mind we think that that can happen, then it’s an easier, it’s an easier decision for us to make, if we can see the plan and have it, “okay. These are the changes we’re going to make in order to be able to afford,” you know, if we are going to take on the debt, obviously it’s not ideal, but in some instances it’s a situation, you know, it can happen. And then having that plan already in place, like, “okay, we’re going to raise our prices. We’re going to take on it. We need to take on this many clients, you know, we’re going to have the first part of the payments start here. We’re going to be able to do double payment.” You know, whatever that plan looks like, creating that before we say yes to taking the debt on. And if we can’t come up with the plan that we probably shouldn’t even be taking the debt on, you know?

Susanne: (16:44)

Yeah. That makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. And you know, that there’s those capital intensive companies, you know, those manufacturing companies sometimes require that to do that, but it’s, again, it’s just, what’s the return on investment and making sure that plan can be successful.

Amalie: (17:01)

Yeah, absolutely. And then Janine, did you have a question?

Janine: (17:05)

Oh, I just always have a question about sharing stories with maybe, you know, about how something with your clients with profit first.

Susanne: (17:16)

Oh. In terms of like how my clients apply it?

Amalie: (17:18)

Or just like any success stories or did you have a client that– I know Profit First has really made a huge difference in our business. I mean, I started profit first when I had my business by myself and it made just a huge difference. I mean, it really did. I highly recommend it to everyone. And I know when Janine and I partnered up, we do in our business. And I just think that, I mean, if you’re in a place where you’re overwhelmed with trying to figure out where the money needs to go, all of that, like to me, it just solves all the, it just solves all those problems because everything has a place, everything as a percentage. And it just goes where it needs to, like, it’s like when you have a messy house and like things aren’t in the place where it belongs with like, just put everything where it belongs and like putting all the money where it belongs, to me it’s just, I don’t know, to me, it relieves some of the pressure and overwhelm of having to deal with like, you know, with the financial side of it.

Janine: (18:16)

It’s kind of hard to describe the absence of stress, but it clears up so much head space to not have to have to worry about that. It’s amazing. I love that.

Amalie: (18:27)

About your clients, like before and after like profit first.

Susanne: (18:30)

Oh yeah. I mean, profit first, like you said, it’s an amazing cash management system. You know, I always clear clarify. It’s not an accounting system, it’s a cash management system. It gives you a framework for it. And, you know, lucky as a PFP, I’ve gotten to work with hundreds of clients and implementing the profit first system. I’m actually writing the next book with Mike Michalowicz. We’re going to release it in June, 2021. I’m not going to mention today what it’s about until we actually start to talk about it. But yeah, so it’s very, very exciting, but, and I definitely will talk about some of my clients there, but you know, one of the things that hit me a few weeks ago, as with profit first, we weren’t just changing people’s lives. You know, our, we thought we were changing people’s lives, giving them a cash management system. And it really occurred to me that we are changing legacies. We were changing people’s legacies. And I think that has been the most beautiful thing about profit first. Like literally I have worked with clients that were, you know, putting me in a house, the size of them, you know, right. I had a client, that was running a million dollar loss a year, but that’s what happens when you’re in a $30 million revenue game, right. If you’re in a $30 million revenue gain and you’re financing your business, you can run a million dollar loss. And literally within the first quarter to change them around, to have them have a 300,000 of profit, you know, it was significant for them, you know, and what we did was we restrategized, we retargeted who their customers were. We helped them niche and we raised our prices. And again, you know, and this has been one company after another that we do this with. And again, you know, we’re not just changing lives, we’re changing legacies because we’re giving their children debt-free businesses, right. We’re giving their children their first generation to go to college. Our children now have that opportunity to do that. And then when you mix tax strategy with that, I mean, it just’s compound impact. So that is, you know,

Janine: (20:10)

I got goosebumps when you said the first time I never thought about that that way. That’s huge.

Susanne: (20:13)

Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you think about a lot of these, these business owners, you know, you know, if they’re in a trades, right. Or if you’re in a staffing industry, you may not have gone to college, but now your children have the ability to do that because you have set yourself up for success by running a cash positive business.

Amalie: (20:31)

Yeah. That’s awesome. So where can people find you? What do you have going on? Do you have any offerings, anything that you want to share with us and where’s the best place for people to find you? So obviously your podcast Profit Talk Podcast. So that’s the first one. I know that we’ll make sure we put the link in the show notes, but where else?

Susanne: (20:49)

You know, we actually have a free profit first master class that we teach. And we have one that’s coming up in September and what they need to do to find this master class is they need to go to Facebook. And if they write profit first masterclass with Susanne Mariga S U S A N N E, spelled with an S not a Z, and Mariga is M A R I G A it’s a Free Profit First Masterclass, it’s a five day masterclass is one hour per day, one hour each, each day of the week. And we literally go over one core concept of profit first and how to implement that in your business. So that’s the easiest way, the best way to find that you actually get to interact with me on Facebook live at Profit First Masterclass with Susanne Mariga.

Amalie: (21:32)

Okay, well, we’ll include the link to that as well. And we’ll include your website link in the show notes so people can get in touch with you. Any last thoughts before we wrap up?

Susanne: (21:44)

You know, if you guys that are in debt, just take it one step at a time, right? Take it one step at a time, start with a 1% profit allocation. You know, the hardest thing about implementing profit versus just getting started. And literally once that boulder starts rolling down the hill, don’t ever get in front of a boulder that’s rolling down the hill. That 1% profit allocation start small, and you will get to the top of the mountain.

Amalie: (22:07)

Awesome. Thank you so much to them. We really appreciate it. And we will be putting all of the links that we mentioned in the show notes. If you know anyone that would be interested in hearing this episode, make sure you share it, make sure you subscribe and we will see you next time.

Susanne: (22:27)

Thanks. Bye bye.


Are you struggling to get customers to pay you? We’ve been there too! Micala Quinn joined us for this episode to talk about one of the most important parts of any business: collecting payments. Listen to this episode to discover some useful tips that will make this process easier for you!

Show Notes

Collecting payments from clients shouldn’t be a hassle. If it feels like a hassle then you’re doing something wrong…

Don’t worry, we got you covered!

In this episode of the Systematic Excellence Podcast we talked to Micala Quinn: wife, mom, podcaster, and creator of the online course “Overwhelmed to Overbooked”, about how entrepreneurs, who struggle with collecting payments or find it to be a time consuming process, can make it easier on themselves and their clients by improving their payment collection system. 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ Reasons your payment process is costing you business 

➡️ Tips to make your payment collecting process more efficient

➡️ Micala Quinn’s “Hire your next team member” and why it’s so great

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Micala Quinn

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

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Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:00)

Alright. Welcome back to another episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast. I’m here with Janine Suvak, just like every time. Hey, we’re excited. We have a special guest here today. We are continuing our series with the business hierarchy of needs, and we’re going to be talking about collecting commitments. So again, Janine and I are Systematic Excellence Consulting. We help business owners figure out what the next best step in their businesses to focus on so that they can grow and we help them build and form efficient teams. So today we have Micala Quinn. I’m really excited. Micala and I have been friends for a long time friends, I quote, cause we met online. She’s my internet friend, but Micala is a wife, mom, online course creator, podcaster, and work at home enthusiast. Her mission is to revolutionize what it means to be a working mother. Micala’s online courses, designed to launch working moms into the freelance world, prepared, confident, and ready to make their mark. To date more than 1000 moms across the country and world have enrolled in “Overwhelmed to overbooked”. In late 2018, Micala launched the Live Free Podcasts to spread her freelancing method and mission throughout the world. With more than 200 5 star reviews, the podcast has surpassed 100,000 downloads. Congratulations. Awesome. When Micala does jump off her work work at home mom soap box, you can catch her walking to the park with her kids, making cookies and watching a rerun of Friend’s for the millionth time with her cute husband, Collin. So Micala. We’re so happy to have you here today. Thank you for joining us.

Janine: (01:40)


Micala: (01:41)

Yeah. Thank you guys so much for having me.

Amalie: (01:44)

So today we’re going to talk about collecting commitments. So part of collecting, you know, you have to deliver, right? So that was the episode we had last week and now we’re going to be talking about collecting. So once you deliver what you are supposed to the client, you have to collect on it. Otherwise, why are you in business? Right. So, let’s talk about, you have a way of making sure that collecting on commitments is a smooth process. So how do you manage that? You can talk a little bit about how you do it in your business, but also with the people that you coach and mentor as well. What do you recommend for them and your team? I know you have a team, so what’s the best way to make it easy for you to pay them.

Micala: (02:26)

Yeah. So my big perspective is you want someone to pay you, you need to make it super easy for them. Don’t make it a, a headache. Don’t like make them go and reenter their credit card every time and go out to their garage to get their purse or wherever they keep it. So I like to tell the students that I work with and even the girls on my team, if you want to be paid on time, you need to set up automatic recurring payments on specific dates. And that is so important. One of the girls on my team just recently had an issue because I was Nuveen and inbox, transition staff. Some things were just automatically getting filtered out of my inbox and into trash and she didn’t get paid. I didn’t know. She didn’t get paid. Cause I never saw the invoice. And she was too timid to be like, “Oh no.” And, you know, she didn’t have her business systems all neat and tiny. And so it was the end of the month. And she was like, “Hey Micala, you know, I never got paid for June” or whatever. And I was like, “haven’t I told you a hundred times to get me on freaking automatic payments? It drives me crazy. I love you. I love working with you. You are awesome. But it is such a hassle for me to have to enter in my credit card each time.” I know that sounds crazy. I know.

Amalie: (03:57)

It is. I mean, it’s true. And let’s just take from that example, you can not be timid about asking for payment, like period. That is why you’re in business. And even though we did it in the order of talking about delivering commitments and then collecting commitments, we take payment upfront for a lot of things, you know, unless there’s like an added project, we might add that to the next month or whatever, but there’s some sort of exchange in the beginning. Starting work means there’s some sort of payment. Right. But you absolutely can’t be timid about that. I mean, you just did the work, so you need to get paid then. I mean, you probably need to think about why you’re in business, you know, cause it’s not like the people at the grocery store, are like, “are you ready to pay?” You know, if you have, if you work with someone or, you know, if you go to a business owner, you buy something, they’re not timid about asking for your money. So you can’t be either.

Janine: (04:54)

If you’re working with the right clients and doing the work well, they should be happy to pay you.

Micala: (04:59)

Oh yeah, absolutely. And I’m happy to pay her, but I just want it to be automatic, right?

Amalie: (05:04)

Yeah. And making it easier. Absolutely. I mean, it’s like any onboarding process or off-boarding any process you should make it as easy as possible for the client. And so doing automatic payments for sure. That would make the process smooth. So now did she put you on automatic payments?

Micala: (05:23)

She did.

Amalie: (05:24)

Okay. Good. Well, that’s good. So I do have a question. So in your contract, so you have automatic payments. Do you do anything that are like one offs, like with clients, I guess you have more course related, so, or when you were a service provider or with your service providers that you mentor, do you ever recommend having a late fee in their contract?

Micala: (05:53)

Well, yes, but in most cases, payment is done upfront. In advance. Now there are some times where there might be payment plans. And I would suggest that they set those up at specific milestones and you know, you’re paid in advance for the first portion of the project or the whole project. And you don’t really, if it’s a onetime thing or a onetime project, you don’t really start working until you’re paid. And if they don’t pay you, you don’t work. If they are on like a recurring payment plan or whatever, and maybe their bank card changes and it gets rejected or something happens, and they don’t pay you on time. You can have that late fee in your contract, but to protect you. But again, you would stop working if you’re not paid.

Amalie: (07:07)

For sure. And if you, so if anyone listening is in a situation where they didn’t get paid up front, they’ve done work. And in the contract, it says payment is due when work is done, which if that’s how you work, that’s fine. I think for me the most important thing, if you are running your business that way is that if you have a late fee that you stick to it, right? You can’t have a late fee just to have it in there and then not stick to it. Right? Like you have to charge that person. If they don’t pay, otherwise it makes you look kind of flaky. Right.

Janine: (07:42)

It changes the dynamics of any conversation you have with them after that.

Amalie: (07:46)

It’s like fake scarcity, you know, when people do fake scarcity, you have to make it real, right. It has to be real. Or even if you have, you’re selling a hundred of a thing that you actually have 300 of, but you have to show that you have a hundred and then stop after you sell the hundred, right? You have to actually live by the scarcity or also just, it comes off real sleazy and flaky, you know? So I think that’s important.

Micala: (08:11)

That’s my least favorite way to do business. If someone’s not going to pay you or if they don’t pay you, you shouldn’t deliver final goods until that payment is collected. You know, if it’s graphic designer, web design, you shouldn’t hand back over that project until you have collected payment because you know, in a lot of cases, if someone doesn’t pay you, what are you going to do? Are you going to go to small claims court for this? I mean, it could, depending on the size of the project, but is it going to cost you just as much to go through that process? Right. So I strongly advise against collecting at the end, if at all possible.

Janine: (09:01)

So I did mobile app development for a few years. I’ve literally had the standing on a street corner at night, holding the code in a USB drive in my hand and not letting go of it until the cash was in my hand. And it’s like, I would never see anybody in that situation, but you do not give it up until it’s been paid.

Amalie: (09:25)

And you know, if it’s like an add on to a project and all of that, but at least there should be some sort of down payment, you know, upfront and then, you know, maybe midway through and then upon delivery. Delivery, meaning they pay, then they get whatever it is that they’ve got whether it’s a physical product or, you know, digital, whatever.

Micala: (09:45)

Yeah. Once I get your final payment, we can set up a call to hand over all of your website assets and I’ll walk you through how to manage the backend of your website.

Amalie: (09:54)

Right. Like doing the offboarding process or whatever, you know, here’s the files. Here’s whatever. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Janine: (10:01)

Have you ever run into when a vendor has failed to fulfill their commitment to you after you paid?

Micala: (10:07)

I haven’t. I have hired all women from my program pretty much. So I’ve been really lucky. I mean, I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to kind of get to know them. I get to see their work ethic, their personality from like a bird’s eye view in the first couple of people that I hired, I didn’t post like, “Hey, I’m hiring.” I went to them and was like, “I see what you’re doing. I see what you’ve done. I see your work ethic. Can I hire you for X, Y, Z?”

Janine: (10:49)

That’s super genius.

Micala: (10:51)

It’s been amazing. I’ve been really, really, really lucky with the girls. I’m with the women that I’ve built my team with.

Amalie: (10:58)

And we always keep you in mind, when we’re hiring or when one of our clients are. So we did a podcast episode early on about hiring and we included your, maybe we’ll put the link to it. We’ll put the link. Well, we’ll ask you at the end, but why don’t you tell us now. Where can people, if they are looking to hire, where can they go to hire the people that are in your program?

Micala: (11:23)

Yeah. So we have a hiring form at If you put in, you know, details of the job description, what you’re looking for, you know, some people when they’re hiring, based on their business, they really want someone with a medical background or they really want someone with, care for animal background or something. So as specific as you can get, and then putting in there your ideal budget, so much narrow down, getting applications from people who specifically fit what you’re looking for and what your needs are for your business.

Amalie: (12:01)

In the episode where we mentioned your URL. We also said it’s important to know what your budget is when you’re hiring someone. So I’m glad you said that.

Micala: (12:12)

Well, your budget’s gonna determine if you’re looking for the expert, has all the experience, or if you’re looking for a beginner and you’re going to be willing to train them or provide them with some of that education, there’s nothing wrong with either option. It’s just your budget’s going to determine. And I see a lot of people, like, “I want an expert in click funnels and the best copywriter, and I’m going to pay $20 an hour and I just laugh.” I’m like, that’s never gonna happen. Right?

Amalie: (12:39)

Yeah. Anyway, Janine, did you have another question? Are you good?

Janine: (12:43)

No, that was it. I’m good.

Amalie: (12:44)

And Micala, any other advice for anyone listening about, that we didn’t cover? Just now for collecting on commitments with clients, do you have anything else that you wanted to add?

Micala: (12:58)

I think that’s pretty much it, make it easy for your clients.

Amalie: (13:04)

Love that, make it automatic, make it a system, make it a process that happens automatically, automate easier. It’s yours and theirs. Yes.

Micala: (13:13)

This is a huge problem. People that need this help, our local service providers like construction, painters, all of that stuff. Bug guys. We get our lawn mowed and we’ve had this guy for like four weeks now. And he has not invoiced me. I text him. I’m like, “when do I pay you?” I’ve asked them to pay you because I hate, I just don’t go for money. I want people to be paid. I want them to know that their work is appreciated. And I texted him again last night and I was like, have you sent me an invoice? I haven’t seen anything come through. Good Lord people. You’re going to go out of business.

Janine: (13:59)

I literally posed as the guys who give, sold me, installed my new air conditioner, I had to go and pose as his office manager to help him get the system set up so I could pay by credit card from my home, but they got me the best warranty ever.

Amalie: (14:17)

But anyway, Micala, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it and we’ll make sure we put the link to the hiring form in the show notes. And if you’re listening, make sure you subscribe. If there’s someone you think that could benefit from hearing this episode, make sure you share with them. We’ll be back next week with another episode, and Micala, thanks again.

Micala: (14:37)

Thanks for having me. Bye bye.


Fiona Wong is a spiritual guide who helps creatives understand and explore their purpose through Human Design. Through her experience, she’s created a process to provide exceptional customer service every time by delivering on commitments. Listen to this episode to find out about this process and how she mastered delivery and customer support in a few steps.

Show Notes

One of the most mistakes we see many business owners make is promising more than they can deliver. Failing to deliver as you promised can prevent your customers from coming back to work with you which means losing business..not just that person but anyone they tell about their experience working with you. 

You need to develop a process to ensure you are able to deliver on commitments, in a timely and consistent manner. Don’t know how to do that? We are here to help!

Fiona Wong joined us for this episode to talk about her experience as a business owner who initially struggled with delivery on commitments, but now, she’s mastered customer service, and today, thanks to her systems and detailed process, she is able to serve more customers than ever before.

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ Why delivering on commitment is extremely important

➡️ You’ll want to avoid this mistake when serving your customers

➡️ The main reason why consistent systems and processes are important for any business

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Fiona Wong

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

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Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:01)

Alright. Welcome back to the Systematic Excellence Podcast. I’m Amalie Shaffer. We have a special guest here today, but before I introduce her, just if you haven’t yet, make sure you subscribe. We are here, we talk business, operations, people management, process management, and, you know, anything business operations, and we are Systematic Excellence Consulting. And today, like I said, have a special guest. We have Fiona Wong and she is a spiritual guide who helps creatives understand and explore their purpose through human design. She takes a practical approach to the esoteric because in her words, if you can’t take this stuff and apply it to your day to day life, why bother? You can find her work at So we will include the link in the show notes, but I am really excited to have you here today, Fiona. So I had my human design done by Fiona actually. That’s how I know her and well, we were friends on Facebook for a long time. We’re like in semi we’re in the same circles and some good friends for a long time, but then, she started offering human design. I had it done. It’s actually very eye opening and it’s really exciting, but today we’re gonna talk about, well, first of all, did I miss anything in your bio that you wanted to add before I tell the topic we’re going to talk about today?

Fiona: (01:26)

That’s who I am. And then prior to that, I was basically a freelancer of all the sorts. So fitting for today’s topic.

Amalie: (01:34)

Marketing and stuff like that, right? Okay. So today we’re going to talk about delivering on client commitments. And so I’d like to start by, you have a story, so you were using some systems in your business, and then you switched to some other ones. So kind of tell us about the story and what the repercussions were of switching, maybe the positive and the negative. I’d really like to hear both, because in our business, one, shiny object syndrome is real and a lot of people have it. So you get these new things. You’re like, “Oh, maybe I should take advantage of that, but do I really need that?” And at the core of providing a good service and providing for your clients is delivering on commitments. And so understanding how that affects your relationship with your clients, your due dates and things like that, I think are important. So tell us your story and then I’m just going to ask you lots of questions.

Fiona: (02:29)

Yeah, sure. So one of the issues that I used to have is I was a tech VA. So I wanted to learn how to use all of these technological things. So when fancy things like Kajabi came out and things like Squarespace and ShowIt came out, I would literally just like move my whole website because instead of thinking strategically, “Oh, well I just need a landing page. I need a place to collect emails, things like that.” I made the assumption that it was technology to help me become successful. And a part of that is because of all the affiliates, it happens in our circles. A lot of the entrepreneurs circles, everyone’s an affiliate for something. So you don’t really know whether someone loves what they have or if they’re just getting a really nice affiliate cut, and then you have these copywriters who are really good at what they do. And they’re just like “the software, this one thing, this is what you need, your whole business. You just eat this one thing, here is the magic pill.” It exists. And of course, when I’m stressed out, what do I do? I scroll on my phone late at night. And I see, I see this free offer. I put my email and it’s like, “but wait for this introductory price, you can use our software before it goes up by like a thousand dollars.” So I sign up for it, spend the next couple of days, tinkering with it. So instead of serving my clients, or trying to communicate with my clients, I’m spending all this time, learning a new software, putting things together and the worst thing, and this is a problem I’ve had over and over and over is I will have to do something, reach out to their customer support. And, “Oh, well, that’s a great idea for a future feature.” And now I’m like, I canceled all this software. I migrated all this stuff. And like the last piece of the puzzle isn’t there. So, so I’ve had a lot of software that I’ve used as a bandaids and on the client. And it just looks bad because people ask me, “well, why are you changing things all the time? I liked your old website. I liked your old, this. I liked your old that.”

Amalie: (04:35)

So you have a client portal where they go to, and then you’re like, “Oh, it’s actually this one instead. We were using this one, but it’s this one.” Changing their stuff too.

Fiona: (04:44)

Yeah. Yeah. But then they get all these weird emails because you never know if you accidentally onboard him into a workflow or a sequence and it’s just like, it just looks terrible. It looks like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Amalie: (04:57)

So recently you started using a new system, right? You were using, what did you use?

Fiona: (05:03)

I was on Kajabi, yeah. I was on Kajabi for a while because, and here’s another weird thing, you never know in business who’s making what amount of money, who’s just parroting information. And a lot of people I followed were using Kajabi. So of course they’re like, you know, if you want me to use Kajabi and of course, lots of strong affiliates with Kajabi as well. And what I realized was I wasn’t there. They were making what, 10 grand, 20 grand a month. And I’m still at like the five to eight K a month type of income. And for me, I just didn’t need all of these bells and whistles. So when I was stressed out, you know how some people stress-eat. Some people binge-watch things. I stress play with my website and my automations and my system. So I’m stressed out. I was like, well, if I just need an intro, I made this super intricate like quiz that’ll drop you into like a specific funnel based on what you select. It was ridiculous. And I was stressed out and I was like, “Oh, let me play around with this and Kajabi.” And now I just wasted like two weeks of my life doing something that never really saw the light of day, because I was just too distracted. And I don’t know, I just had this revelation that I need to simplify everything because at the end of the day, if I can’t work with clients, cause my hands are in technology.

Amalie: (06:28)

Right. And you have to have offers that work with your lifestyle and what you’re doing, right? So like, if someone can’t commit to offering one on one service, but they still want to serve clients in different way, they need to come up with whatever that looks like. Like you do work with clients one on one, but you can only take a certain amount. And if you’re not looking to grow where you have people on your team that are also doing the human design, you’re going to be limited. So then you have to think of other ways, “okay, how else can I serve clients?” Because the most important thing in this whole sales section of the business hierarchy of needs is bringing money in, like bringing money in bringing people that you can sell to. And one of those things is to deliver on the commitment. So for you, like you have to provide a report, Janine and I do consulting and we provide a report and it can be time-intensive. And so we’ve simplified the process to try to take away some of that time intensive, or the time that we have to invest in it in order to be able to do more of them still provide the quality, but just be able to do more of them. Instead of it taking like five hours, we need to be able to do it in, you know, two or three hours, something like that. So that’s also something that you have to think about, but what happens with, you know, a client relationship or sales, if you can’t deliver on your commitments? You know, what does that look like for the client on that side? Did you have any issues with that? Like when you were kind of dealing with that, do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Fiona: (08:04)

Yeah. So, first of all, Kajabi didn’t grow with me at all because they’re so product-based and I still served one-on-one clients. So I was just like, “well, you know, this isn’t working either” and I had to figure out another way to even get clients to work with me. And when I did, I ended up using a program called MoonClerk to get human design clients. I ended up, I don’t know, charging too low or something. And I just, it was just an explosion of clients. People tell me that these are good business problems to have, but it’s also a great way to have like a panic attack, overwhelmed. And it’s like, “Oh no, I have to deliver all of these things and now I’m struggling to do it.” So then came be assessment of “how do I solve this problem?” And this is the type of problem that sometimes when I bring it up to people, they’re like,” Oh poor you, you have too many clients.”

Amalie: (09:01)

It can seriously affect going forward. If a client has a bad experience, like you don’t deliver on time, they might not come back and work again.

Fiona: (09:10)

Yeah. You know, all those referrals, all the people that they could have brought to you and, and things like that. So that’s kind of where I ended up. And I honestly, I’m almost embarrassed to say this. I tried so many different things. Because this is pandemic era. So I got a hotel several times a week and I was paying like $40 to rent out their room for a day. I thought maybe if I just worked more hours in solitude, I could deliver. That didn’t quite work. I thought, well, “maybe if I had my VA plug in some of the info, so all I had to do was log on and read, maybe that’ll help.” But then sometimes, a typo was made here. Something was not made there and I would have to redo it all over again. So what I ended up doing was really taking an inventory and an audit of my life and of my time and saying, “I can only do X amount of readings, but maybe there’s another way I can serve people and still be accessible to people without just doing the one-on-one all the time.” And when I was late on delivery, I was very on top, I’d tell people like, “Hey, like, I’m going to be two days late on this.” And I was giving people like a free call here, or I’ll give you like a free seven day follow up or something to kind of make up for it. But that was a very painful learning.

Amalie: (10:36)

Absolutely. Absolutely. But it’s good what you did because you, you looked at the situation and you tried a couple of things that didn’t work, but then you figured out, “okay, here’s my time. Here’s what I can do. Here’s what I can’t do.” And then figured out what fits in there, you know? And then when you’re ready to grow, it’s going to be another assessment. “Okay. Where am I at? What can I do? What can I not do?” Forward whether it’s financially or with my time. And you know, you’re going to continue. As business goes, you know, grows and continues on either you’re going to stay where you’re at. Maybe it’s perfectly fine. Or maybe you grow, like, who knows. But every time you do that, you have to think about, okay, well, how can I deliver to the client? Because it’s great. You can bring lots of people in and that’s fantastic. But if there’s like indigestion internally where you can’t deliver and give people what they’ve paid you for, like ultimately your business is gonna fail, right? If you can’t make that happen, if that process, whether it’s a one on one face to face kind of coaching, or if it’s a product that they’ve ordered and you need to deliver it, I mean, if you can’t deliver on your commitments, ultimately your business is gonna fail. You can have hundreds of people standing in line to get on a call with you to see you, to have a session with you to buy whatever your thing is. But if you can’t deliver on that, ultimately, I mean, you’re going to fail.

Fiona: (12:01)

A lot of people talk about that, cause what’s the hot topic, lead generation. And then it’s like, “Oh great. I have all these leads, all these clients” and now comes the difficult conversation of how do I manage all of this and how do I, and it’s not just delivery. It’s also the quality of what you’re delivering. You don’t want to give someone like subpar work that does not match what you pitched them on your sales page.

Amalie: (12:24)

Yeah, absolutely. I think for delivering on commitments it includes quality because like you said, if it’s on your sales page that you’re gonna hit these 10 top, these 10 things on it, and it’s going to be, you know, in depth notes and you give them five things with a one sentence explanation. That’s not delivering on commitments. Whether it’s on time, let’s say it’s on time, but you’re still not ultimately delivering on what they expected to get. Right. And so I think, like you said, I think it’s quality. It’s timeliness, it’s staying in communication. You know, if you’re going to be late, like not making a habit of it, but then, and explaining to them, “Hey, this is going on, but I will have it to you.” And then you were giving, you know, some, some additional things to make up for that. And I think that’s great, but ultimately it would be good to be in a place where you don’t have to offer that where you can say, “”okay, it’s a seven business day, turn around, you’ll get it by that time. And then, I like what you said, where you really just simplified it, just simplify your process. It’s something Janine and I did too. Let’s just simplify our process and just deliver to the client on what they want, you know, or what they paid us for, the quality of it, you know, and all of that. And then just assessing, “okay, what do I ultimately need? I need a way to do intake.” Right? I need a clear process. I need it simple, like write down the steps and then yeah, you can go out and find the system or the software, we use systems and softwares in our business and that’s great. But ultimately you just need to write down what that process is. Figure out, okay. Maybe give yourself like a four hour block of time to do some research, find something that works and then stick with it, you know? And not change it constantly, unless there’s a huge issue with what you have set up then, you know, just to begin with. But I like that you went and looked at it. “You’re like, okay, here’s the amount of time I can offer. I know I can do this many one on ones. And then I know that I need to figure out another way to serve clients.” And so you did come up with another way and what’s that. Do you want to tell us about that?

Fiona: (14:39)

Yeah. I ended up doing, cause I raised my prices by more than twice the amount that I was initially charging to kind of…

Amalie: (14:49)

Which is totally worth it by the way. So if you are, yeah.

Fiona: (14:54)

I’m doing a lot of readings and I’m trying to give a lot and I actually took your feedback. I do timestamps now make life easier for the people.

Amalie: (15:03)

I was one of the beta ones just so you know. And I gave her some feedback. Well, that’s just because that’s who I am. And so I was like, “I hope you don’t mind. I’m going to give you some feedback.”

Fiona: (15:11)

So I ended up, taking that to heart and it helped a lot of people. And what I ended up doing was thinking human design is something that the messenger who originally downloaded it. He said, it’s for everyone. This is for every single individual human life on this planet. It cannot be owned. And I thought to myself, well, I want to make human design accessible, but there’s only one of me. And I’m also a single mom and I’m a sleepy person. So I can’t, I can’t really do that. So I thought to myself, how can I make this accessible? And I noticed a lot of the people who came to me for readings, they would be like,” okay, well, but also what does this mean? What does that mean? “They were all people who wanted to learn more and even if I could take care of everyone, I can’t fit everything into a one hour recording. So I created a self serve process where I literally broke down my whole human design reading style, what I do during a reading. And I made little short five to 10 minute clips, put them in a library. So every time you look at your chart, you’re like, “Oh, I’m interested in learning this.” You could just open that.

Amalie: (16:22)

I purchased it, by the way.

Fiona: (16:25)

Did you like it?

Amalie: (16:25)

Yeah, I just started looking at it. But no, I think it’s great because, and I should have done this. Do you want to explain a little bit about human design? I don’t know why I didn’t ask you that to begin with for anyone that’s listening that doesn’t know. Let’s talk a little bit about that really quickly. And then we’ll explain how that new product helps because it’s about helping you analyze your chart. And I think that’s helpful because it’s a lot to remember too on that one call, but tell in briefly, tell us a little bit about human design and then we’ll go from there. Sorry.

Fiona: (16:57)

No, yeah. I assume everyone knows what this is. Human design is, it’s a mixture of five different systems, astrology, chakras, Kabbalah, quantum physics and I-Ching and that’s human design. And the way I explain it to layman is that astrology and Myers-Briggs were having an affair in the eighties and they snuck out somewhere and they had this baby and they ran away from the patriarchal, oppressive society. And they raise this baby with their friends, which is Kabbalah, chakras and all of that. And now human design is a little bit more grown up and venturing into the world, but it’s a little bit of their parents and all of their parents’ friends. So.

Amalie: (17:43)

I love that. That’s such a great explanation. And I feel like they probably raised like in the desert somewhere, I’m thinking maybe the desert or, you know, somewhere like LA, I feel like the hippie vibe.

Fiona: (17:57)

The country, maybe, just away from the big cities like human designs, like, okay, cool. Now I’m gonna, and it’s kind of like the strange kid on the block that people are kind of interested in, but not really sure about. But it’s like astrology, there’s a whole system involved and certain numbers mean certain things. Certain colors mean certain things, right.

Amalie: (18:18)

It’s understanding who you are, how you process information, how you come up with ideas. It’s a lot about your personality and it’s not, I feel like it’s, like you said, it’s a combination of all those things. So it’s more than just like reading your horoscope for the day. It’s about personality. It’s about how you process things. I think that was like the most important thing of understanding for me was understanding how I process information and emotion. And I think that was really important, but it’s a lot to read from one report. So having a way to go back and like look at it and understand what it means. And then trying to like go back to your video that you recorded for me and like rewinding and finding the place, you know, like, so what she did was put together this course that people can basically, you took your head, your brain and your process you use and put it into a course that people can refer back to it. And I think that’s great. It doesn’t take away from doing the one-on-one reading. The one-on-one reading is ultimately, I mean, it’s valuable. And I would say priceless because of your knowledge on how to do the human design reading. And even if I just go into that course, it’s not like I’m going to be able to get all of the information that you provided in the report. So I think that’s important, but it allows you to serve your clients and deliver, you know, it removes some of the time intensive delivery for clients. You can still serve people in multiple ways, which I think is really important.

Fiona: (19:49)

Yeah. And a huge thing I learned from human design, what human design taught me is that everyone, because it really celebrates who you are as an individual. That’s what I love about it. It’s not like, “Oh, you’re an aries, so you’re going to be a butthead” So you’re going to be like, you know, really out there, it’s really encouraging you to be that individual. And I’ve learned that there’s a type of person that is just like, “I don’t care, Fiona, here’s $300. Read my chart.” If the type of person that’s like, “no, I want to explore and play with my chart with my own hands and see it for myself.” And some people learn like that. So human design taught me that and I applied it to my business because I was like, “well not, everyone’s going to be able to afford a personal reading with me. Not everyone is going to be able, not everyone wants someone to just read things to them” and it’s surveying my audience on different loads. It’s deliverables just in a different form.

Amalie: (20:46)

Yeah. But it allows you to deliver on commitments that your clients are asking for. Right. It allows you to do that without, you know, stretching you thin, right. And you might take on a little extra, some extra one-on-ones, you might be stretched thin, but you understand what your boundaries are and what you’re capable of and what you have time for that along with your other commitments and so you’ve now worked it out, so that it works in your business and your lifestyle. And I think that’s super important because that’s going to allow you to deliver to your clients the quality that they are looking for, you know, the reports or the course that they’re looking for, you’re able to give them what they’re looking for. And that’s ultimately most important.

Fiona: (21:32)

That definitely is. And I know this from being a virtual assistant, I have worked with clients who priced customer support, literally just all the VA’s were on customer support during launch time, because they cared so much about pleasing their audience and making sure people were taken care of and delivering a great experience. And I’ve also worked for people who were kind of just like, “Oh, just ignore them or just file it away. And they can, they can take me to court” or blah, blah, blah. And now when I look back at some of those clients, five, six, seven years later, it’s very clear that the ones who prioritize delivery and customer support and just keeping their audience happy, they are still in business. And they’ve exploded. They are just all over my newsfeed sometimes. And like, yeah, it’s a longterm commitment.

Amalie: (22:24)

It is. Yeah. But it’s also problem solving and finding solutions. Okay. “How can I continue to deliver to my clients in the way that fits in my business with the services that I offer, what price point do I need to be providing them at?” And it’s all of that. And you did that examination and that evaluation to figure out how that’s going to work. And then when you hit a point where you’re, you know, you’re either ready to grow or you’re, you know, something changes or you’re going to add a new service, you’ll have to do that assessment all over again. And so I think that’s great. Anyway. So did you have anything else to add? I really appreciate being here today and sharing with us about delivering on client commitments. I think it was really helpful. Did you have anything else, did you want to, you’re welcome to plug your service, you’re welcome to plug what we’ve kind of talked about your course. So we’ll put a link to that and we’ll include the link to your website. And your readings are offered on your website. Is that right?

Fiona: (23:23)

Everything’s on my website. I think the last thing I would say is the biggest lesson for me is not about what the website looks like, what software you’re using, what things look like on the outside. It’s really what happens on the backend. It’s that connection. When you hop on the discovery call, it’s your client being pleasantly surprised that you delivered a day or two ahead of time, these are the things that ultimately were the most important. And that’s basically what I built my business on. People remember me, I’ve rebranded so many times, tried so many different services. And a lot of the people that I’ve known for years have told me, “I just like what you do.” And that is just that’s priceless and yeah, that’s why delivery is so important.

Amalie: (24:10)

Awesome. Thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it and we will include all of your links in the show notes. And just if any, you know, for anyone listening, it’s but again, we’ll put all the links in there. If you’re listening to this and you know someone that would benefit from hearing this, make sure you share this episode and subscribe and we will see you next time. Thank you, Fiona.


Renee Hribar, a sales professional with over 20 years of experience, made her first million before she was 25 years old; she has successfully trained thousands of people to help them become top sellers, and she even participated as a speaker at TEDx. Listen to this episode as we talk about the 3 easy steps every entrepreneur needs to follow to boost their client conversion rate and sell like a pro. Join us now!

Show Notes

Client conversion is insanely important. Regardless if you get 10, 200, or even 1000 people in — if you can’t convert them to actually buy from you, your business isn’t going to grow and succeed. We understand the pain of having to convince customers that your product or service is the best option. 

If anything we’ve said so far resonates with you, then you are in the right place to start! 

In this episode, we had Renee Hribar, a thriving sales expert since 1994 in one of the most competitive cities in America, join us to talk about some of the biggest and most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when they’re trying to convert clients into paying customers. 


In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ 4 mistakes you need to avoid when talking to clients

➡️ 3 easy steps to successful client conversion

➡️ How to keep your customers returning to your business (even after the contract is over)

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Renee Hribar

Our Website

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Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:31)

enee Hribar and she has been a sales professional since 1994 in New York making her first million before she was 25 years old. I mean, Jesus, that’s crazy. She has gone on to sell millions of dollars in products and services and train thousands to sell for the first time, including myself. She is known in her industry as a fun, energetic sales coach who leads with heart, TEDx speaker who offers training sessions at global conferences on demand courses and virtual workshops. She skillfully breaks down her decades of sales expertise. With her one of a kind laugh and learn teaching style, you will certainly gain a new view of the softer side of sales. So I can totally tell you the truth. She knows what she’s talking about. I learned from her and I’m really excited that you’re here, Renee. Thank you so much for joining us.

Renee: (01:22)

Thank you. That was a lot. I’m like, I gotta shorten that.

Amalie: (01:25)

Everyone has said that when I’ve read their bio. Yeah. It’s just really funny. Every time I’ve read it, people are like, “I really think I should shorten that.”

Renee: (01:38)

Really? That’s funny. There’s another interesting case study. I love it.

Amalie: (01:42)

I know, read your shit out loud first.

Renee: (01:46)

That was meant to be read, not written.

Amalie: (01:48)

I got you. I got it. Yeah, exactly. Anyway, so I’m excited. We’re going to talk client conversion. So big sales can totally make people uncomfortable. It totally made me uncomfortable. So I met you and we spent some time together, which I’m super grateful for. So let’s just first start talking. I mean, conversion’s important, right? Because you can get all the people in, but if you can’t convert them to actually buy something, you’re kind of screwed and your business isn’t going to grow and succeed. Right? So let’s talk about some of the mistakes people make when they’re trying to convert clients. And then we’ll talk about how to improve it. And I know you have tons and tons of stories from your years of sales experience. So share those as you find fitting.

Renee: (02:29)

I will. Absolutely. Thank you. So yes, I have done, I don’t know, hundreds of thousands of sales conversations and through getting my hand burned on the stove, if you will, I’ve learned the hard way. And then once I had my own sales organization, I’ve taught people how to do that. And so I was the one, like they would literally go in the bathroom, they were at a client call client location, doing a presentation. And they were like, Renee, what the hell do I say?

Amalie: (02:53)

I mean, I’ve done that. I’ve totally done that, right in the middle of a call I’m boxing you Renee, what do I say when they say…

Renee: (03:00)

And so I’m used to those in the moment, you know, “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?” And so I think the first thing that I want to share is you’ll never, this is a writer downer. You’ll never, ever lose time if you invest in discovery, you’ll never, ever hate yourself that you dated longer. You’ll it’s okay. Like you’re going to find, you want to find out as much as you can before you make an offer. That’s the first thing. And then with that, and I’m going to share a story about this, you will protect yourself and your ego and your good name by not going too fast, too soon, by not making an offer to somebody who’s just not that into you. And so I do a lot of dating and selling analogies. I think we’ve all gone through the pain of dating. And so we sometimes feel like, “Oh, geez, dating is different than sales.” No, it’s not. It’s really not, it’s people to people. So if we think about it, so I remember what some of my first sales calls, one of my big, first big presentations and I had done so much research. I had created, you know, just, I thought the best presentation ever. And it might’ve been, however, I didn’t, I walked in and I just started talking, I don’t think they’ve even said how they were. I was like, “hi, how you doing? Let me tell you everything.” And because I didn’t let them talk because I didn’t involve them in a conversation. It was literally a presentation by the end. They were like blown back. Like their hair was blown back their eyes. They were like, “Oh.” I lost them. Right. I lost them. I lost the account. And when we walked out of there, they were like, “wow, you can say a lot without breathing.” It wasn’t until later that I realized I didn’t do the right thing. I had prepared. I had, which as a woman, we really, I feel like, cause I sold alongside a lot of male counterparts and they wouldn’t even look at the dock until I walked in there. I was like, “you’re going to lose.” And then watch me prepare. And I prepared so much that I lost. I was like, “ah,” but I had to find that guard rail. And you know, I never recovered from that one with that one particular client, I’d be like, “Johnny is going to take over that account.” But the reality is, I think we come in, we get so excited about what we can do for someone. They’ve maybe filled out a form, they’ve expressed interest in let’s say five things that they really want. And then you start talking to them and they say, “no, I want seven things.” And you’re like, “okay, we can do them”. In your mind, as an agency or a service provider or coach, you’re like, “okay. “And you’re adding it up and adding it. Wow. That’s gonna be a big proposal. And then they’re like, “Oh, I don’t know if I can do that.” And so what I learned was you’ll never lose time on discovery. So what is discovery? Discovery is asking questions along the way. More importantly, qualifying them along the way. So I’m sure we’ve all done that, right? Like we wonder when we get to the offer, “why they didn’t say yes?” It’s because we didn’t qualify them along the way. So this is a great analogy with even just dating, and like my husband, when he asked me to marry him, he was 99.999,9%. sure I was already going to say yes, he didn’t ask. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I wonder what she’s going to say.” He knows his ass cause we had done the discovery. Right?

Amalie: (06:33)

I feel like that’s one of the biggest things that I had learned from you. And I kind of equate it to driving a ship or even driving a car because the faster you’re going and you’re trying to make a decision in the moment. You have to make these, the sharper, the turns going to be. But if you just slow down and see what’s happening, like in a car when you’re driving and you need to, you’re trying to figure out which direction to go. You need to slow the car down to make the turn or make the left or right turn, depending on which way you want to go. I mean, thank you. But in that way, like just slowing everything down. And, but here’s the key, I think that I also learned from you is that whatever amount of time that you put for the call, you keep that boundary and you just book the next call. And so that is something that has stuck with me. Whatever, if it’s 15 minutes, it’s 15 minutes. If you don’t ask, if you don’t get all of your questions asked that is totally fine. Book another call, book another call. Even if it’s 10 calls later, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, both the person you’re talking to and yourself will feel like you have gotten all the information that you need. They will feel like they’re being heard and then you can make the sale, but getting on a discovery call, it’s supposed to be 15 minutes and you’re on for an hour. One is, I mean, you’re just not even respecting your own time, which why would then they respect your time. Right? So in that discovery, I feel like those are the two biggest things that I’ve taken away and live by to this day.

Renee: (08:02)

That’s right. I think I made you put your hand on a stack of Bibles. Like I, Amalie Shaffer, will promise to always book the next call before this call is over. Even if it’s in a month or six months, they’re like, “I’m about to go on sabbatical to Nepal.” “Oh, that’s great. When do you get back?” “In six months.” “Great. Let’s, let’s book a call in six months from now.”

Amalie: (08:21)

Right? Right, right.

Renee: (08:22)

Because you can, it’s harder to revive the dead than continue the conversation. So we always want to have that string.

Amalie: (08:29)

Yeah. And just asking as many questions as possible because especially in situations where there’s consulting and packages, right. When you’re selling that it could look differently for everyone. Right. Unless you’re selling a cookie cutter thing that they buy and do that doesn’t involve your time. That’s fine. Okay. That’s always going to be a consistent price, but if you’re doing consulting, it’s all going to be different. And the only way you can know that even if you’re a good fit for them is to ask them a bunch of frigging questions, even if it comes off as kind of annoying. So just to make sure, and it’s okay to do that. You know? And I think that’s the biggest thing, because getting on and feeling like, “Oh my God, I need to like give them an answer right now. And I need to figure out and they want this, but I don’t know.” And it’s like, just slow it all down and just ask questions, and then tell them what you think is the best, you know, the best thing.

Renee: (09:22)

A hundred percent. But even like thinking about like the doctor-patient relationship, you know, if you were to put on the white coat and be the doctor, you know, you have to do tests, you know, you have to do discovery and as the patient you’re like “doc, I have a runny nose. Just give me, give me a Z pack.” And they’re always like, “hold on.” And they always start from the beginning. Is your heart beating? So taking on that doctor role, the patient may want a quick answer. But as far as the doctor, in this case, the seller, it’s our moral obligation to slow that puppy down to actually make sure we have the full picture before we give any kind of diagnosis. And this case a diagnosis is a proposal. And so on to your point, I had three points I wanna make: discovery, the offer and continuation support. I think those are three places that people leave money on the table. Discovery. They make the offer too quick and then they lose it. So they leave money on the table. With making the offer and you hit it so hard in the head, which is you buy whatever time you set for that call. You keep that time because that shows you value your time. And it is really, even if it’s subliminal to them, it is, it is an example of what it would be like to work with you. If you say it’s 15 minutes is only 15 minutes. If you say it’s an hour, it’s an hour. So you keep your word. It’s in there, it’s being ingrained. She does what she says. She’s going to write, which is vital, especially when working virtually. Cause it’s hard to really know, “is this person gonna like take my money?” You know, “are they going to do what they say they’re going to do?” And so now on to making the offer. So I’ve done this many times and I’ve been shut down and burned many times. I remember I almost lost my, one of my first sales jobs. Cause I made the offer and you know, I was taught, you know, make sure they know there’s a deadline. I’m like, okay. So I was like, “this offer is good until tonight.” I don’t know. So the offer is good till tonight and I don’t know, take it or leave it. And the guy was like, so I don’t remember exactly what I said obviously in the moment, but it was something to that effect where it was, I was trying to follow the directions of my sales trainer saying you have to give a deadline. And I went way too far. Right. And so I remember I literally closed the portfolio and I probably closed it a little harder than I anticipated. And it was like “slam” and the guy was like, “I’m good.” Or, you know, “I can’t make a decision by it.” And I was like, okay. And then I, Oh my God. So I made a little bit of too harsh of an offer. Slammed the book. Didn’t really think it was. And then like abruptly left. That was the potential customer that I lost. That was his rendition. When he called my company. Oh my God. It was like, “I don’t know who you have coming out, but you’ve got to fix it.” So I was like, it might’ve, it must have been 20 years ago. And I still am like, I can still, “Oh, that was bad. Wasn’t it? It was really bad.” So, I blacked it out.

Amalie: (12:38)

Those are the things you just gotta put in that compartment and just put them away and it’s going to be fine.

Renee: (12:44)

Yeah, exactly. I still have nightmares about it all. So at the end of the day, we all make problems for ourselves by trying to be the best thing, but it’s not authentic. So what I want to say is we’re going to give you some advice, but I want it to be authentic to you, the listener here. Because, and even because we can go too far and even if we do go too far, know that it’s okay, we’re human. We can always, apologies go a long way.

Amalie: (13:09)

And then shit happens sometimes, you know, it happens.

Renee: (13:12)

Exactly. So in that vein, so how to make the offer with a deadline, but still genuine and authentic. A lot of people will come back to me saying, “well, I mean, I could do it at another time.” And I said, listen, you know what? You’re only, it’s like, you’re only one person, unless it’s an offer like a scalable digital course. That’s a whole other thing. But if you’re a service provider and you’re customizing a service plan and you’re going to deliver something, you don’t have endless time. What you don’t want is them saying yes a month from now when you expected a yes on Friday. Right? So whatever that is, and I want to say more time does not a yes make. So make it within 24, 48, 72 hours, even if it’s a draft. So the way I get around this, oftentimes when sending proposals is I will put the proposal in draft mode and I’ll say, “what does that mean even, right.” It’s literally me just typing draft on the proposal. Yeah. It’s just, it’s like me just writing DRA. This is a draft. And me saying these words, this is a draft. This is what, based on what you told me, this is what I’ve come up with. And this draft offer is valid through 4:00 PM on Friday. And let’s set up a time to talk on Friday to see if there’s anything on here that needs to be edited so that you can feel comfortable moving forward. So that we can both feel good about doing business together. It’s just some phrases I might use.

Amalie: (14:39)

Which is all true. It’s all true. It’s not being, I mean, you are asking them, you’re just kind of giving it to them to say, “listen, no pressure, here it is. We want to make sure it’s right.” It’s just how you say it. So the person can feel empowered to make the decision. And you’re kind of giving them some room versus hounding them and hovering. Like, you know, it’s just a better way of saying it when all those things are true. It’s not like you’re being sleazy or lying or anything like that. It’s all very true. And it’s just how you phrase it.

Renee: (15:11)

Totally. Because they might need to go to the board. They might need to ask the partners. They might have other players in the realm. And I’ve of course I’ve uncovered that in my discovery. So either way, I still like to sleep on things too. And I’m a solopreneur I can make my own decisions, but I might say, “you know what, that’s a good offer. And I do like it, let me sleep on it.” And then I like to get back on the phone. But even if I don’t get back on the phone, I still know that by 4:00 PM on Friday, if it’s not paid, it’s withdrawn. Right. And so even if I’m a solopreneur and I’m in Google docs or dump Sato or something’s, you know, simple, I would literally, I’ve given them a link. So if they go to that link, I have control over what they see when they go to that link. And I can simply say, if it’s, you know, at 5:00 PM on Friday now, this time is over. This offer at this price is no longer valid. And I might just have the whole thing, you know, deleted or grayed out and say, “you know, if you want to discuss further action, or if you want to discuss more options, go to here”, that would just give him my email. So making the offer, having a deadline, having a demarcation point allows everybody to get off the hook. Easy. So if, if they don’t buy it, that’s okay. I still now have a way to go back in. “Hey, I was thinking of you. I’m so glad we had that talk” or whatever. I didn’t put my heart out there and be like, “Oh, do you want to marry me? Please, please, please, please” No worry over the weekend. “Oh gosh. Are they going to say yes?” And then they pop up two weeks later. “Oh, we finally had the meeting with Bob” and you’re like, “crap. I just brought on two other clients. I don’t even know if I can do this now.” Right? So having urgency and having that deadline are vital. And then when I make that offer to them, I just want to say this last, this one part is it’s. This is something that I just see all the time “high, low.” Do you ever watch like HGTV or any of those? Like two brothers? They go like, “Oh, I want five bedrooms and I want it on the ocean and my budget’s $300,000” and they’re like, “okay, let’s take it to five bedrooms on the ocean.” They’re like, “wow, this is amazing. It’s gorgeous.” They’re like, “this is 1.8 million.” They’re like, “Oh, so do you want to look inland a little bit? We’d probably get you the room you need, but it will have an ocean view.” Okay. Sure. So it helps them understand by the time it’s all said and done, they spent 500,000 and they got an amazing help. So how does that relate to sales and making the offer? We have to really like quantify and put a price on what people want. And then as individuals who are customizing something, give them a good deal on what they need, knowing that we’re still going to be able to do business after this. So for example, if they need four things, if they need a website and they want all their social media done and they want SEO and they want blog posts. Okay. So I might say, “let’s do one thing first.” Like whatever, the most important thing, maybe it’s the website we do first. Right. And ask them their budget. Right. So you know, their budget, you know what you’re working with, right?

Amalie: (18:11)

Yeah. And so that is like, I mean, it is a question. It is mandatory. It will be asked. And if they can’t answer, we will discuss it until we get an answer because I can’t help them if I don’t know what they can spend. I can’t exactly help you. I don’t know. I mean, I could give you something that’s going to cost you like $40,000. But if you can’t afford that, why would I even, you know, I just don’t know why would I offer? It’s not going to be, you know, but with the budget I can tell you, we can figure out what your problem is. And I can tell you how I can help you within your budget and then say all these other things that you want help with. I can eventually, but let’s just start. Let’s get you. Let’s keep it in your budget to begin with. Right.

Renee: (18:54)

Exactly. So getting exactly that whole HGTV analogy is about what is your budget? What do you want? And then finding a middle ground, because we’ve done our discovery and we made an offer that has a time line. And then we have also made sure that it’s quantifiable. So they’re like, “Oh, I see the value now. I understand. I see.” And so their yes is, it is a mutual understanding. It’s not us giving a presentation. That’s going to wow them or turning around their objections. It’s us. And you said earlier, empowering them. It’s giving them power in the decision. Even though we were the one driving the bus, but we’re not putting them in a car seat.

Amalie: (19:31)

You know, that was something I definitely learned from you is that helping them understand like the high and the low allows them in their mind to say, okay, when you come in with this offer, that is not exactly what they asked for. They understand why it’s not exactly what they asked for. Right? Because they understand that if everything that they asked for is going to be this much, but their budget that they’ve already told you is this much, you’re telling them based on what you said, this is what I can offer you. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to help you later, but let’s start here. Right. And that’s again, another thing that I learned from you is helping them see, because they might not understand how you priced things or what your price means. And so they need to be able to understand. So when you say, like with the house, that perfect house you have in your mind, well, it looks like this. It probably feels great. It looks great. But this is the price for that. So in their mind, they hadn’t imagined what a $500,000 house looked like. They imagined it to be this $1.8 million house. Right. And so that’s really, that was such a huge thing for me to understand. And it helped me to communicate with people better.

Renee: (20:42)

A hundred percent. And these are all learnable skills. That’s the beautiful thing. “Usually I can’t sell them.” You can, as long as you know the rules, right. It’s the rules of the road. Like I told you already, I went off, I went too far to one side. I hit the guard rail on that side. Eventually I learned kind of how to follow the two yellow lines in the middle. And then that white line on the side just kind of stay, stay there. Don’t go swerving. So the last thing that I wanted to talk about is discovery, making the offer, and then continuing support. What I hear so often in the service provider world is a “one off.” “Well, that’s just a one off.” Is it though?

Amalie: (21:18)

Why does it have to be?

Renee: (21:20)

Why does it have to be right? It’s kinda like, “Oh, she was just, you know, whatever. It was just a one night stand.”

Amalie: (21:25)

Yeah. This was a one night stand.

Renee: (21:27)

Okay. Well, yeah. I mean, you still are connected somehow. So at the end of the day, how can we turn clients that, that might be, I mean, think about the lifetime value of a customer, maybe they start off as a $5,000 client. How can they turn it into a $50,000 or $500,000 client by continuing to offer support? So a lot of service providers that I work with, they can do many things. They might start off doing one thing or three things, but they could probably help them with a buffet of services. But if you say all that upfront, it’s going to be A) super expensive and B) it might be too much too soon for anybody to understand. So what I always set up is mile markers. And I know we’ve talked about this a lot, okay, so don’t let too much time go by before you have a progress meeting, a meeting that’s outside of everything else you’re normally doing with them. But just to sit down with them, whether it’s every 30 days or it’s quarterly or it’s every six months, whatever feels right for you, make sure you set up those times in advance. “So listen, I’m going to have a meeting with you in 30 days and we’re going to check progress.” They’re usually pretty psyched about that. They’re like, “Oh wow. That’s different. Not everybody does that.” And so as a service provider, I’m gonna come in and say, “listen, this is what you hired me for. Look at all the progress you’ve made.” They’re like, cause they don’t always see the progress. And now it’s up to me to like take screenshots and really measure and you know, work on the KPIs, make sure that I’m looking for things and then say, “you know, there’s a lot of opportunities since I’m now working in your business in this way that I’ve actually noticed that I feel like I want to bring up to you. Do you want to hear what I see?” Yeah. Right. It’s things that even their best business coach can’t see because this isn’t working inside of their business. So we have a unique vantage point because we are in their business, in unique way. And then say, “well, you know, this is what I noticed. If you did this, it might look like this. Or if you did this, it would impact this number and this column.” “Oh, wow. Yeah. You know, we had brought that up at a meeting a while back, but you know, Johnny just wasn’t ready to move on it. And Paul was out of the office and it just got slipped down to the next meeting and it just never got brought up.” “Yeah. I noticed.” And I really see that you could probably, and you could speak intelligently to them using their vernacular because you’re in their business. Because haven’t, we all seen it as a service providers, seeing a client of ours that we’re actively working with, hire some other who-ha somebody else who we are like “that guy? No, not that guy don’t hire that guy.” Or just hire somebody else in general for five times what you’re getting paid. Cause you might see it on the inside. And you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I could have done that for you. “And even if you have the relationship where you can say that, they’re like, “I didn’t know.” So I gotta finish with this guy first. And then you’re like, oh, so now there’s bad feelings on both sides. So having these set progress meetings allows us to show the progress. So they’re like good feelings. “I noticed,” “Oh, you noticed” it’s kind of like a doctor: “So I see you look at your Epic health. I noticed a few things.” Oh darn. Okay. I’m listening. And so “do you want to hear what those things might look like in addition to what we’re doing now?” So when we notice those things, it’s not do them for the same price. It’s do them for additional service upgrades.

Amalie: (24:39)

And so the other thing, so that is, again, something I took away. And the other thing is that kind of goes along with that is even after if they’ve said no, and even after your contract has ended is checking in with them every few months, every six months, you know, every three months, whatever that looks like, and then just check in and just, “Hey, how’s it going? What’s new. What’s happening? How’s that thing I set up for you?” Is it working for you? Even people that have said no to our services, I will check in with them and ask them how it’s going with the person that they hired that wasn’t necessarily us. Like, how’s it going? And what it does is expand your network. They could always become referrals. Who knows if they’ll refer to you or they might become your client again, like who knows? You know? And so I think a good analogy for this would be when you have a funnel and you retarget people back into the funnel that didn’t buy the first time. Right. So if they didn’t buy the OTO, you retarget them through email and ads to go back into that and buy it. I mean, it’s the same exact thing. You’re just optimizing your sales process. Just like you would optimize the sales funnel. Right?

Renee: (25:47)

Absolutely. It’s the joy of my heart.

Amalie: (25:49)

You’re so proud.

Renee: (25:53)

I’m like, Oh yes, that’s okay. Because that alone will make every business more money. Just that alone. Just keeping in touch. Our network is our net worth. Every single day of the week. Never harm us from reaching back out and saying, “Hey, how’s it going?” Even if we’re already done with that previous relationship, but the idea here is the prime ideas while you’re still in it, look for more opportunities and yes, always book that next call or this one’s over. Even if you already had a paid relationship and go to sabbatical in Nepal.

Amalie: (26:24)

in Nepal or whatever.

Renee: (26:27)

That means no wi-fi. Clearly out of touch.

Amalie: (26:32)

You can send some pigeons or smoke signals or something maybe.

Renee: (26:36)

Yeah. And so a story that I have about the continuation support is I had one of my first clients when I first came to the online space. She was from New York. I was from New York. We met on an online Facebook group. We just started talking and hanging out and she wanted to launch a course. So I helped her write the sales page and launch it and you know, do some live streams and we just kept in touch. So she did the work. And when we were like, “okay, well there’s not really a lot for us to work on together,” but we kept in touch and she ended up hosting a TEDx talk like an actual TEDx. And I was the first one she called and that’s how I got my TEDx talk. So keep in touch with your people, everyone.

Amalie: (27:15)

Everyone let’s hoard all the contacts.

Renee: (27:18)

Because you never know. You never know. And I know, so it’s mutually beneficial.

Amalie: (27:23)

That’s awesome. Well, Renee, thank you. Is there anything else you want to add? I feel like we gave everyone, I hope it was helpful because I know that I have taken these same lessons with me and you know, I put them into practice every day when we’re, you know, in business. And I think they’re just so important and they make it a lot less uncomfortable and it’s just a conversation, two human beings, learning about what they need and then letting them know if you can help them or not. I mean, that’s really just, it just, if you think about it like that. So you said a lot. I hope people learn something. Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap up?

Renee: (27:55)

No. We talked about discovery, making the offer, and continuing that support. I think those are the main components.

Amalie: (28:01)

So where can people find you if they need help? Because they suck at sales. Where can they get help?

Renee: (28:10)

The best place’s my website. And that’s my So Renee, R E N E H R I B A R. There’s an H in there somewhere.

Amalie: (28:20)

Awesome. Well, we’ll make sure that we put the link in the show notes that they have done and they can find you and anyone listening, if you know anyone that could benefit from listening to this episode, make sure you share it and make sure you subscribe. We’ll be back next week with another episode of Systemic Excellence Podcast. Thank you so much for today. And I hope you have a great day.


Amelia Roberts uses her love of observing human nature as well as her marketing experience to help professionals stand out, articulate their unique value and “get first dates” in business so that they can become leaders in their industry. Join us for this episode as she gives a step-by-step guide to make yourself stand out and attract the right customers to your business. Listen now!

Show Notes

It is really exciting when you put your message out into the world and people start responding. It feels good. People are hearing you. People are resonating with your message. But some point you start to realize the people you are attracting are not your ideal prospects for any number of reasons. They are resistant to being sold to, they don’t have the money, they want something different than what you are selling, they want something free, they want to pick your brain, etc. 

If you have experienced a similar situation we are here to tell you that you are not alone. We have all been there. 

In this episode, we had Amelia Roberts, an expert in helping under-recognized professionals stand out and “get first dates” in business, share with us why entrepreneurs often attract wrong customers — and, most importantly, how to fix it! 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ How to recognize when you are not attracting the right people 

➡️ A step-by-step, sure-fire guide to attracting the right customers

➡️ The main reason why your plans are not happening (and how to make them come to life!)

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Amelia Roberts

Amelia’s Get in Front of Anyone freebie

Our Website

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Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:01)

All right. Welcome back to the Systematic Excellence Podcast. I’m Amalie Shaffer and I’m here with Janine Suvak. We have a special guest today, Janine and I are Systematic Excellence Consulting. We help business owners figure out where the next best step is in their business. And then if they’re looking for ongoing support with management, we place people our team members in long and short term contracts with them to help them get their business structure set up or standard operating procedures and managing of their projects and their team. So today we have a guest and I’m really excited. Her name is Amelia Roberts, and Amelia is a digital native who officially became a practitioner of online marketing 12 years ago with a role as a virtual assistant. Student loans from nursing school inspired her to put her love of observing human nature, showing empathy and previous marketing experience to work in new ways. As a result, she was able to pay off her student loans in under two years as a social media manager. I mean, that’s impressive. Now, along side other roles, you can find Amelia helping under recognized professional standout, articulate their unique value and get first dates in business so that they can become thought leaders in their industry while maintaining work life harmony. When she’s not optimizing human potential, Amelia enjoys planning, real and imagined food tours. I love that. I love that. I’m so excited that you’re here, Amelia. And today we’re going to talk about prospect attraction. So before we get started, did I miss anything in your bio? I just wanna make sure I got all that cause I just think it’s fantastic. And I love the imagined food tours. Is that post COVID?

Amelia: (01:42)

The normal question? The normal response, yes. That’s that’s post COVID, but no, it’s not.

Amalie: (01:52)

Yeah. Your vision board. So what’s your favorite imagined place to do a food tour?

Amelia: (01:59)

So, so imagined food tour. So it’s a long story, but Pinterest, thank you, Pinterest. I was quite the Pinterest addict. I had to go cold Turkey because it really has you feeling like you’re doing real work. You feel like you’ve done something and yeah, so that’s where my imagined food tours were placed, you know, different attitudes.

Amalie: (02:22)

And so where, so if you could jump on a plane today and go somewhere for food tour, where would you go?

Amelia: (02:30)

Oh goodness. On a plane anywhere. I’d probably go to maybe South Africa. Yeah. I was first introduced to that beautiful, beautiful country when I was like 19, 20 and didn’t stay long enough, but oh my goodness. The food was absolutely exceptionally great and of course the U S dollar went really, really far. So you know, they really, I mean just the level of the quality and the texture and blah, blah, blah. I’d probably go there. Yeah.

Amalie: (03:02)

Awesome. Alright. So today we’re going to talk about prospect attraction. So this is part of our series that we’re doing what as we go through the business hierarchy of needs. And so today we want to talk about prospect attraction. We want to talk about, so let’s start with, how do you recognize if you’re attracting the wrong people? So obviously it’s great, you got all these people coming in. It’s exciting, but then you figure out, “you know what, maybe this isn’t quite right.” How do you recognize if you’re not bringing in the right people?

Amelia: (03:33)

So it starts with having a goal of mine, you know, definitely having a goal of mine, knowing who you need to, how many of who you need to meet. So when you have an income goal or revenue goal that helps simplify a lot of stuff. When you have a specific service offering that you have at a specific revenue goal, how many conversations are you having about that thing, period. And also, you know, tracking those conversations, are they yes, nos, maybes, how many of the yeses are you getting? How many of the nos, how many of the maybes are you getting? And then if you’re not getting enough of the numbers that you need to support your goals, that’s an easy indicator that says, “Hey, maybe I’m not talking to enough of the right people.” With that said, you know, anytime you’re kind of thinking about or wanting to, you know, look at your funnel, no matter what sort of funnel it is, I mean, it could be the story that you’re telling it could be the offer and it could be the people, but, those indicators of like, “are these conversations happening the way that I’d ideally like for them to happen?” If no, then that’s a indication to start looking at the type of people that you’re attracting. Right? Yeah.

Amalie: (04:44)

Yeah, definitely. I also think that you know, when you look at, when you’re analyzing, whether your funnels work, you’re not kinda like you were saying, you look and see, okay, are the people clicking on the first page, going to the second page and getting off, or are they opting in, are they not opting in? And in that same way, you have to think about the conversations you’re having, right? It’s someone coming on a call with you, they’re booking a call and they’re not interested in what you’re selling or they were caught off guard that it was a sales call, to me, then, something in your messaging going off is, is often they’re not really understanding. So definitely agree 100%. Okay. So what goes into attracting the right people? So maybe we’ve realized, you know, we’re attracting the wrong people, but what goes into attracting the right people?

Amelia: (05:31)

So like attracts like says everybody, I don’t know originally, you know, where that came from originally, but it’s true. And so it’s really about, are you solving the right problem? Are you asking the questions that your ideal clients are asking themselves? Are you talking or speaking, something I highly recommend, especially when it comes to figuring out, topics, podcast topics, you know, people who want to get on podcasts, like what topics are you going to talk about? Make sure the topics are addressing, there’s no objections or the frequently asked questions of people who are along the buyer’s journey at a point where you want to talk to them, or what would it make sense for you to talk to them? 

Janine: (06:18)

What would you say to a business owner who has clients that basically they’re not the right fit. It drains their soul to work with them for whatever reason, but they’re afraid to let go of what they’re doing at the time.

Amelia: (06:35)

I invite people to lean into serving people better. Because if your clients aren’t getting what they need from you, there’s probably someone else who can serve them better. And likewise, if there’s a mismatch between you and your clients, there’s probably people that you can serve better as well. So, I am a matchmaker at my heart at my core. I even had something called “Get more first dates in business.” So anytime I hear relationship where, you know, two people aren’t both getting something amazing out of it, it kind of makes me wonder and people to be invited to be okay with, you know, blessing and releasing and, yeah.

Janine: (07:22)

I love that you relate your messaging to dating because I think a lot of times people get caught up in the, “I need sales” and forget the relationship aspect of it until after they’re into it.

Amalie: (07:35)

Yeah. And Janine and I just recently talked about what, even with employees or contractors, if it’s not a good fit for you or you stop working with them, you know, you can refer them out to other people too, because just because it didn’t work with you. So it’s the same with clients and you start to build your referral network that way, you know? And I just think it’s such a great way to do it. Right. “Listen, you and I are in a great fit, but I know someone that would be great for you or, you know, I think someone would be great to work with you.” And I just think that’s fantastic. I know you were just about to say something, sorry, go ahead.

Amelia: (08:07)

Yeah, no, it’s that idea of, sort of what you had said, Janine, like business is relationships, you know, the whole like and trust factor. And, people tend to, when it comes to going after larger contracts, you know, who can I partner with to go after a larger contract? We look at who’s around us. We look at people that we’ve seen work or, you know, do similar things in different capacities. And it’s all about relationships.

Amalie: (08:34)

Yeah. So, okay. Tell us a story about whether it’s you or one of your clients that was in a position where they were attracting the less than ideal clients and what they did to turn it around. What were the steps that you took or your client took, or you told, you recommended for clients to take so we can give the audience some actionable steps that they might be able to take with them if they are noticing or recognizing that they’re not attracting the most ideal clients.

Amelia: (09:04)

So this has happened recently. There was a client who she offers, well, I want to keep it vague because it’s like very recent, but long story short, she was giving services around web design, right. And long story short, the people she was getting on the phone with and they were having pricing objection. And I sort of like probed around, like what sort of content was she putting out? And the content that she was putting out was around what is a website? You know, should you have a website? Great things that websites should do. So she was answering. You can see it right away. So the questions and content and questions I encouraged her to start answering look more like, “how to prepare your website for a launch? How to prepare your website for JB partnerships?” So it was like a different conversation that would attract a different group of people who, you know, who are used to a certain pricing. They’re used to websites doing certain things. They don’t need to be explained that, you know, it’s important to make sure that you have your pixel place here, here and there. There is not a conversation that you’re having. Yeah.

Amalie: (10:28)

I think I would, it’s just popped in my head, but did you tell her how to hire or what to do when you’re hiring a web designer? Cause I feel like that would be really good.

Amelia: (10:39)

You know what I did suggest that she start to do lives on questions I think your web designer should ask you or how your web designer can mess up your project or something like that. Yeah.

Amalie: (10:53)

Do you want to like, just set yourself up because if the person that’s in the position to have the money to spend on someone to do their website is probably not looking for a definition on what is a website or explaining what a website is or the value of it.

Amelia: (11:12)

Yeah. And that’s not, I mean, for people who know that, I mean, there’s like a whole, that’s just not what my client wanted, with that said, there’s like a whole industry of people who are going after the local home service industry, the roofers, the carpet cleaners, who, you know, they’re a little, you know, healthcare too, to be quite honest. They’re a little behind the digital, you know, the whole thing. And you know, some, there are lots of roofers and carpet cleaners, and they still, you know, are word of mouth and I know notebooks and what not, but that’s the thriving, there are people who are literally seriously sending up your client.

Amalie: (11:56)

So, just, let’s just put it into steps. So the first thing you you recommended was for her to look at the content that you’re putting out. So your messaging, the content, your blogs, your videos, your Facebook lives anywhere you’re putting anything out as to examine that first, then think about, you know, even maybe before that it’s like knowing who it is that you want to talk to, where are they, what questions are they asking doing some of the market research? What are they posting about in groups or what are they asking about? Right. And so that’s like the first step is knowing who you’re talking to. Second step is then to examine and evaluate your messaging that you have on your website, anywhere that you put out messaging, making sure that it’s on point and answering the questions or covering topics that the people are interested in. Right. And then making those changes and then giving it time to work. Okay. So once you make the changes, let’s see if it works, are you attracting the right people? Are they coming in? Are they saying yes to your offers, but giving it some time, it might take some time to take, you know, to take an effect, right?

Amelia: (12:57)

Yes. And there’s an acronym that I was actually, I have to think, shout out to Jordan Gale of Systems Saved Me and helped me come up with an acronym, but it’s bond B O N D for browse, you know, browse the needs of your best buyers. You know, what are they saying? What problems and challenges are they saying they have, simple research can do this Facebook group, and then observe their buying habits. What are they actually buying in real life. And needs. What are they saying that they need more of in their life based on your observation and browsing and then D deliver, just deliver what the people are asking for.

Amalie: (13:37)

I love that. That’s awesome. I love that. Awesome. Okay. So next question. When it comes to attracting the right prospects, why do many visibility plans or goals never see the light of day? What happens? 

Amelia: (13:51)

Because they aren’t formed into a project. I think there are a lot of business coaches out there that says, “you know what? You just need to get visible. You need to get out there.” And it’s like, what does that actually mean? And I’m finding that a lot of us are process and project people. A lot of us are, it’s like, we need to know, okay…

Amalie: (14:08)

You are speaking our language. I’m like getting excited. Cause that’s our shit. Yes, it has to be a project and yes, it needs due dates. Yes.

Amelia: (14:17)

Yes. So, so you took the words. Yes. Task dates and people enrolled or tasks these roles and a lot of people don’t break down their projects like that or think about it like that. And so when people say like, “Hey, I want, you know, I have a book coming out or launch, I want to get on a lot of podcasts. I need to find JB partners or affiliates, or I just want all these people to come into my life and start giving my stuff to their people.” And, this is what a project plan could look like and it’s like, “do you still based on what the project plan looks like, do you still want to keep the launch date that you’ve talked about on this project plan? Or do you want to give yourself more time?” And then if, you know, I still want to compress or whatever, whatever we can go on from there, but, yeah, having a project plan.

Amalie: (15:09)

And so one of the things that Janine and I recommend is if you’re going to hire someone to manage the project is to bring them on before in the planning process, most people bring them on the plans, they’re “okay, just manage this.” We recommend bring them on during the planning, let them do, if you’re going to hire someone to manage it, let them do the planning, let them put it together, let them delegate, write out the tasks, do all that stuff. Because without that, nothing’s ever going to get done. You’re all just going to, everyone’s just going to sit there and your launch it’s going to come and go and that’s it.

Amelia: (15:42)

Yeah. And typically, and that’s another thing is like, people who enjoy, like I enjoy visibility projects, high casting, baby. That’s my little world. And I’ve done this before. So it’s like sometimes, you know, people who may have listened to an episode or a podcast where they described a launch plan and they said, you know what? That sounds like something I want to do, but just listening to it and deciding it’s, as you know, it’s a completely different thing of how this works in real life actually. So yeah.

Amalie: (16:16)

And all the details, like there’s a lot that goes into it. And if you were trying to plan a project, manage it and get it done on time. It can’t just be some overarching, like “we’re going to do this thing.” No, there’s like a hundred things that go into that one thing, you know. You’re speaking our language. That is like, that’s what we do, you know? So anyway, that’s great. So I love that. Okay. So next question. Why is it important to set the buying criteria when creating a marketing plan?

Amelia: (16:48)

So, so setting the buying criteria is a term, I think I have to thank Chad Holmes for that, right. Yeah. So I’m setting a buying criteria. What I mean is with your content or whatever topics you decided to talk about on podcasts or collaborations and Facebook groups, or, you know, webinars create the example of what it looks like, what an expert should look like, like you as a web designer person, you know, set the criteria. These are things to look for in a web designer, but these are things that you should ask. You know, this is either things to look for in a copywriter. This is what to look for in a project management person. You know, these are the questions you should ask. These are the questions that they should be asking you. And so, when you educate your audience about, you know, what to look for in the buying something, I mean, the next logical thing is why don’t I just go with you? Right. And you know, sometimes people say, “Oh, well, you know, I don’t want to give too much away, but as you know, when you share, you know, everything that goes into whatnot, whatever it is, your area of expertise is the right people with DIY wires, the tires, I shouldn’t say tire kickers, cause they’re a little different, but the DIY wires we’ll take that and go for a lot of us who offer the done for you. We’re not really trying to work with the people who just need a separate tool or template. Yeah. We’re not, that’s not how we eat, but it’s the people who want the fuller solution, a full solution, and people who feel as though they deserve to have that extra time and space and energy to do other things that they want. Those people, when they see that they’ll be like, “Oh, wow. Well, why don’t I just hire you to do all of that?”

Amalie: (18:33)

Right. Do you think that putting your prices out publicly is part of prospect attraction, like part of this, putting that out there. So not only telling them the buying criteria, like this is what to look for, but prices as well. I know, obviously we all have our opinions about it. I was just wondering what yours is.

Amelia: (18:50)

We do. And we all, so we do, and I say, go with the recommendation of whoever it is that you’re paying. A lot of business coaches have different thoughts on that. So if your business coach says, don’t put the prices up. If you’re paying them, probably do what they say. Don’t do it. The business coach that I’m paying, she has her prices out. So you just had her third, like a hundred K months that she has a price is very out there and open and it is a filter. And, so I’ve done the same. And I like the transparency. I don’t want to get someone on the phone and I don’t have it in my head. You know, if I hide the prices, by some words, Jitsu, I’ll be able to get them to be okay with it. I’d rather have no getting on the phone. You know, the numbers that we’ll be talking about. So, but that’s me. But again, if your coach that you’re paying says something else, don’t do that.

Amalie: (19:43)

Yeah, no, we agree. We think, I think if you don’t specifically put it in to maybe on the sales page or on your website, something like that, but if you have a form that someone fills out, letting them know that this is at a minimum, a five figure investment or six figure, you know, whatever the case may be, whatever you know, are you willing to make them answer a question? Are you willing to invest a minimum of 10 grand or, you know, getting that first layer in? I also like “starting at prices”. So starting at, because a lot of, you know, what we do is a customized based on whatever, after the consult, you know, whatever that plan is afterward, it really just depends on what that is. So if we can say, “Hey, starting at,” then they know that there’s a minimum that’s most likely going to be above that if they work with us. So, but I agree. I think putting it out in the open, I’m not saying that you need to put out an itemized list of everything, but giving people ideas and making them understand that there is an investment and that, you know, if you’re not looking for that, then you either refer them somewhere else or you have an option that isn’t as expensive. Right. But putting that out there so that they know what they’re getting into. Janine, do you need to, do you have a question?

Janine: (21:01)

Oh, I was just thinking that that’s just a further way to differentiate the kind of client that you’re looking for.

Amalie: (21:07)

Yes, exactly. Yeah. 

Amelia: (21:09)

eah. I like that idea of starting at, I might update my website. Yeah.

Amalie: (21:13)

So what that does is it doesn’t box you into, a specific price when, you know, everyone wants to order their meal, but it’s like, they want, okay, well, I don’t want, I want this on the side, but I want that and I want this. And like, so it’s hard to put everything into like, you know, a nice cookie cutter price. So I liked the starting at personally, I think it helps. And then on our form, you know, we do have a question that says, are you willing, you know, this is an investment of, and so that they know that there is an investment to make when working with us. So, okay. So how can, so, I want to ask this question, how could you be the most interesting person in the room and attract the right people? So are we talking like, I know you and I were kind of going back and forth in email before we got on the interview and you had sent me this and I like this question, but are we talking room as in virtual room or like physical room?

Amelia: (22:09)

So yes, yes, yes, yes. So it is possible to be able to work the room online. We all have our processes. I have a process for that as well similar to how you work with a room, the person, I mean, there’s stages of relationships. And when you first meet somebody or you first have an interactions with them, whether it’s on social media or you’re commenting on, or you’re on Instagram and you see somebody who responded to a post or something like that, and maybe they have a question and it’s just out there flapping in the wind, go and answer that question, you know, be of service to them. And, you know, as you’re talking to people and then you follow them back or whatnot, and you like, and comment, you know, you have opportunity to connect with them to friend them or whatnot. And then, you know, once you start to have conversation, once they connect with you, whether it’s on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, thank you so much for connecting. You know, I noticed that commonality. Long story short, how you’re the most interesting person in the room is by being interesting to them. That’s an adults’ thing. It’s like, people are always tuned into the station of what’s in it for me, Wii FM, we’re all tuned into that a hundred percent of the time. So when you dial into that for your practice spectrum, somebody want to do business with you. And when you’re really tuned into the what’s in it for them and asking them about what they’re looking on their life, that’s how you become the most interesting person in the room.

Amalie: (23:38)

I like that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. I think it’s so important when and I think that with conversations, there’s a fine line between some genuine curiosity and coming off as kind of little pushy, little, you know, maybe a little sleazy. And so when you’re going into a conversation, be genuine and about it, if you really want to find out about the person, go in and genuinely ask the questions and find out, but you know, don’t go in and just do it because like, because then that person’s going to know, they’re going to read the energy, they’re going to feel it. And then they’re going to be like, “okay, well I’m not even having this conversation. See you, bye.” You know, and shut you down.

Amelia: (24:24)

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s absolutely true because I personally let me just pre face it. I’m naturally, I’m a very curious person. I’m very empathetic. I’m a healthcare professional, so that’s in me to be curious and empathetic. So yeah. So you’re right. That does work for people who are sincerely curious about it. Or, if you’re not sincerely curious about humans, then I feel as though empathy is a muscle lead to learn to work. That’s a whole nother topic, but I just feel as though it’s a habit it’s never happened. That’s a better word that can be developed to be curious about somebody else, another human, but, yeah.

Amalie: (25:09)

Agree. Yeah. That’s awesome. Janine, were you about to say something?

Janine: (25:13)

Oh, I was just laughing at the empathy muscle. You can learn to work it and many people will see you. 

Amalie: (25:18)

I think, I mean, I think it’s a huge part of sales and the next episode that we have is on conversion on client conversion, where we will talk more sales. And so I think that’s definitely a part of it. But even with your messaging is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re trying to sell to makes you more attractive, you know, it’ll help you to attract them more because you are speaking their language, you’re talking to them. And, you know, I think empathy goes a long way with that. Well, do you have anything else to add before we wrap up the episode? Or did you have anything else that we missed or didn’t ask you about that you wanted to add in for all the listeners. Where can we find you? Let’s start there.

Amelia: (26:15)

Sounds good. So, yeah, I’d love to continue the conversation. If you are listening and you’re saying, “Oh, something that she said sounds interesting.” I’m over on LinkedIn, I spend time over on LinkedIn and I’d love to connect over there. I am slowly, slowly starting to do more over on Instagram. So at RN_Connections feel free to connect over there too. But yeah, definitely connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message. And, yeah, don’t be alarmed if I ask you for a quick five minutes.

Amalie: (26:47)

You might ask a bunch of questions. Did I cut you? I think I cut you off. Were you about to say something that you wanted to add to what we were talking about? I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry.

Amelia: (26:54)

No, I can’t remember if I left, you have the free gift link, but, if not, I’ll send it to you.

Amalie: (27:01)

Okay. We’ll include in the show notes.

Amelia: (27:04)

Yep. So I have a free gift, called “how to get in front of anyone.” And I just have a couple of tips there. I hope it will serve somebody.

Amalie: (27:11)

Oh, I love that. Thank you for that. We’ll put on the show notes and links to your social media as well, so people can connect with you. Janine, did you have anything else that you wanted to add?

Janine: (27:22)

I just wanted to thank you for being here. This was fantastic. Yeah.

Amalie: (27:28)

All right. Well, thank you everyone who’s listening. If you have anyone that you think could use this episode or would find it helpful, make sure you share with them and subscribe, and we will see you next time on Systemic Excellence Podcast. Thank you.

Amelia: (27:43)

Thank you.


Do you know what your company’s sales performance needs to be in order to support your personal comfort? Do you know how much monthly income do you need to maintain a basic lifestyle? We are talking about Lifestyle Congruence number, and if you don’t know what it is, this episode is just for you. In this episode, Jennifer Hanson, digital bookkeeper, online business manager, and owner of Blue Biz Ninja LLC, sheds some insight into everything you gotta know about lifestyle congruence and how to continue maximizing your business without risking your lifestyle.

Show Notes

What are you spending money on? Does it add to your own personal purpose? Is it something nice, but doesn’t help your business grow? Could you take a little break from buying that while you’re getting your foundation set? Or is it something that could go away completely?

Those are all important questions that every business owner needs to ask themselves throughout their career. 

If you haven’t done that yet… your business could be suffering! 

Establishing your personal lifestyle congruence number is important not only for your company’s growth, but also for your personal comfort. Finding this magic number helps you find out how much income do you, the business owner, need to maintain a basic but comfortable lifestyle.

In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we had Jennifer Hanson, owner of Blue Biz Ninja, an expert in helping clients design and implement efficient systems, talk about lifestyle congruence, and how to use it to help you reach your goals faster and fulfill your mission. 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The most important questions you need to ask yourself that will make your business grow

➡️ How to figure out what your lifestyle is costing you

➡️ Most common mistakes business owners make that you need to AVOID

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Jennifer Hanson

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Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:01)

Alright. Welcome back to the Systemic Excellence podcast. I’m super excited to be here. We have a special guest with us, and it’s the first day we’re kicking off our Business Hierarchy of Needs series. And we’re starting today with Jenn Hanson. I’m really excited. I’ve known her for a few years. And, Janine’s here with us, I’m Amalie Shaffer, we’re Systematic Excellence Consulting. We help business owners find the next best step in their business. When they’re feeling like they’ve plateaued or they’re not sure where they should be spending their time and energy, we help them figure that out. And then we help them with their operations, their internal operations, and managing their people, processes, and projects. So, again, we’re Systematic Excellence. We have Jenn Hanson here today, which I’m really excited about. Jenn is a digital bookkeeper and online business manager and head ninja at Blue Biz Ninja LLC, she helps her clients organize their data, design and implement efficient systems and create a productive financial mindset. Through Jenn’s defined focus and grow method, extra steps and distractions are identified and eliminated. Now with more time and equipped with the tools for strong repeatable action, her clients can build the business they’ve always wanted. And to find more out about Jenn and we’ll make sure we put this in the show notes, her website is and we’ll make sure we put that in the show notes. So Jenn, welcome. We’re so glad to have you here today.

Jenn: (01:33)

Thank you. I’m super excited to be here.

Amalie: (01:35)

Yeah. And so today we’re going to talk about lifestyle congruence. So let’s just start by kind of defining it. So we are working through the Michael Michalowicz business hierarchy of needs and how he breaks it down. And the first step is figuring out what your lifestyle is costing you. And so when we do that, let’s just dive in, start talking a little bit about, you know, what do people need to consider when deciding on the lifestyle congruence, and then we’ll talk about what they do with that number.

Jenn: (02:09)

Okay, sure. So one of the best… What are you spending money on now? Is it something that you absolutely have to keep doing? Is it something that is nice, but could possibly take a little break for a while while you’re getting your foundation set? Is it something that can go away completely? Is it one of those false enjoyment things, but it really doesn’t, if you look at it, really doesn’t add to your purpose, your mission for your business and for your life.

Amalie: (02:48)

And so you cut out a little bit right in the beginning, it like bleeped out a little bit. So you want to look at all of your expenses in life, your house, your bills, your kids, all those things. And you want to consider that. So taking stock of all those things, it’s going to help you come up with the number of what is the amount that you need to make to live comfortably, right? And that needs to take all those things into consideration. What are some things that maybe people wouldn’t think that they should include in that, that maybe with your clients, like if you had any experiences with your clients where, you know, they were coming out with their budget, but they left something out that is important to have, or to include in when they’re trying to figure out what that lifestyle congruence number is.

Jenn: (03:40)

Probably the biggest one is a savings or an “oops factor” kind of account. You know, life comes up, pandemics hit and it’s kind of one of those, “Oh my gosh, I wasn’t quite as far ahead as I thought”, you know, you’re trimming expenses. But just having that little cushion there gives you more breathing room financially and peace of mind if you’re like, Mike says, if you’re head down just in survival mode, you end up wasting so much time, so much resources, but having that, “okay, this is coming, I can take a minute and breathe.” That will end up helping you in the long run.

Amalie: (04:32)

Yeah, for sure. And something that we do in business when we’re looking at, especially with CEO’s or when we work with our clients to move them into that role is we look at what can they trim, trash, transfer? You know, we look at how can they all the different things that they do, and you almost need to do that with your financial investments as well. Okay. “What can, is there anything I can trim? Is there anything I can trash? Is there anything I can transfer? Look for maybe to lower the bills or something like that?” I think that’s important too. But I like what you said, you know, the emergency fund. I feel like that’s something that a lot of, in my experience, a lot of people don’t necessarily take that into consideration. And just thinking about this lifestyle congruence number, when you start out like that is so important, knowing how much you need to make to continue your lifestyle and understanding how that translates to the business, you know?

Janine: (05:34)

I was just going to throw in a couple of things, just the fun fact that the number one cause of personal bankruptcy is medical bills and nobody ever really thinks about what goes wrong cause they’re so busy chasing that dream that they have, you know, I think that’s important to mention, I know that was a big motivating factor in my life, because things didn’t go as planned and they were totally unexpected and preventable sort of thing. And the other is the different ways that people fall into going business, right. Literally accidentally developing from a hobby. Maybe there’s no plan at all, and then they deliberately go in and, they’re chasing the gazillion dollars, right. And they need to know this lifestyle congruency to know what kind of choice they’re making out the business they’re going into, because it’s one thing, if you’re doing some kind of, I dunno, SaaS platform that’s super useful and applicable, or if you’re going to cross sweaters for bearded dragons and there’s a pretty low market cap on that. What have you seen in that area, Jenn, about what affects your clients? So, are your clients, have you seen them have to go back and reassess their lifestyle congruence based on the business that they went into, does it affect the, where they want? Cause you can choose to plateau, right? So it’s not necessarily forced upon you, but what do you see in the difference between people? How does it help them when they forgotten that? And then they clear it up.

Jenn: (07:22)

Really going back to the fundamentals, like you said, to know why you’re in business helps, you know, it sounds silly, but it helps you achieve your goals. If you are just swinging at the fence, but without any kind of retrospection or introspection, you can end up just wearing yourself out. So, really taking the time to kind of regardless of why you got in, but why you’re still in is more important. So if you got in, because it was a hobby, but you’re like, “man, this is really my calling.” Then taking the time to really sit down and come out with steps and a plan will help you end up reaching your goals and fulfilling your mission.

Amalie: (08:16)

Yeah. I also think that with lifestyle congruence comes how much time do you want to invest as well? So not just money, like not just thinking about, what you need to make in order to fund your lifestyle or how much do you need to make from the business, but also how much time are you willing to invest? So what’s your time capital, you know, what do you have available, and being realistic about it, because that will determine some of the actions that you need to take in the business. And, so I think it’s not just a review of the money, but I like that taking. So if we were putting steps together as like step one, putting all of your expenses, all your emergency funds, things that you need to save for your investments, whatever you spend money on putting that into a spreadsheet or something. So you can really see what it all includes. And then coming up with that bottom line number and not like, you don’t necessarily want it to be bare minimum amount. You want to give yourself a little room. Okay. Maybe round up a little bit, you know, and then come up with that number. That’s your lifestyle congruence. So if we’re doing steps, I’d be like the first one that it’s like take stock of your time. What availability do you have? How flexible can you be in your schedule? Are you only going to be able to put in, you know, maybe four hours a week or are you able to put in 40? I mean, that’s a huge difference. Even 10 hours to 40 hours is such a huge difference. Are you willing to work on the weekends? Are you not? I mean, I’m pretty strict about my Friday afternoon. I’m not willing to work on Friday afternoon, so we don’t plan anything. Which means those are hours I’m not working, you know? No, I’m just kidding. But I think we’re doing steps. It’s like, step one takes DACA that then takes DACA the hours. And then once you have that, then it’s really “okay, how do you apply this in the business?” “Well, how much money do you need to make?” You know, where do you think that people struggle with kind of translating that into the business? So they might have a number. They’re like, “all right. I figured out this is how much I need to make.” With your clients, any experiences with your clients where they’ve had trouble kind of translating that? Maybe they didn’t consider the hours or something and they have a number, but then like when they take it to the business, they don’t know how to really put the plan to move forward when they have the number. They don’t know how to apply. I don’t know if I’m asking that clearly, but I think so.

Jenn: (10:47)

Well, we’ll try it, if I answer it right and then if not– so essentially just what you said, they’d come up with the number. Actually, the first step is coming up with that number. You know, a lot of people say, “I want a big business. I want X number of sales,” but then they’re still scraping to get by versus, you know, let’s take a step back and reverse it. You know, we’ve worked through what number do you need to make. Okay. Then what number, we looked at your history of your personal finances, let’s look at the expenses of your business. What number is that? Is there anything that we can trim? Is there anything that isn’t working a hundred percent? Can we get more out of that and then drop another expense? Is there anything that can share the workload and then the other piece to look at is, all right, “so this number breaks us up to what tax bracket.” Then we need to add it and you know, the taxes amount. So it’s just, it’s the same steps, but just in a bunch of different categories, different sections, and then give you the total of your minimum goal for, you know, monthly sales or yearly sales and learning your cycle. You know, every business has a cycle, even if you’re open 12 months of the year, right? Holidays, school, pandemic, you know, everything. It’s not, it’s not homeostasis all the time. It’s up and down and flowing. So planning out, if you have a lean month, then we need to make sure that you’ve got a buffer in your account so that you can keep paying yourself. Because if you yourself, fold, then your business is gonna fold. It cannot work without you, right?

Amalie: (12:44)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so once all those things are considered, I think it’s important that you mentioned about the business expenses, because when you’re figuring out like what your products are, the price of them, you know, of course you need to take into consideration your experience and all that, but you know, you need to figure out, “okay, well, how many of these do I need to sell in order for this?” Or is it a, “some of these and some of these, item A and item B, maybe it’s 10 of these and 12 of these” or whatever, you know, and then figuring out what that looks like. Okay. So then, you know, if you’re going to have team members and thinking about that, what’s the minimum amount of hours I can give them, especially with employees, you’re required to give them certain amount of hours. So that’s something that we have to take into consideration and then we have to figure out, okay, what are our prices? What’s our pricing structure? How many of them do we need to sell? And then, you know, taking that. So it’s like that number is the start of starting to create just the overall plan of action for your business. What do you need to be doing? Okay. So if you need to make X amount of money and you’re doing 10 calls a month, and it’s not bringing in that, well, you might need to make your goal more than 10 calls or so. Right. So then you start to build on that. So that first it’s like, that’s the base. That’s the foundation of building is that lifestyle congruence. And then you just build on top of that. Okay. What’s the business expenses, what do you need to be doing for sales? All of that. And through this interview series, we’ll actually go into some of those in sales and stuff like that. But this is like that first step. What does it cost for you to just live? You know, what are those things? And I was gonna say, I feel like a lot of people, I’ve noticed that some people don’t include like groceries. So, what are you spending on groceries, man, if you got kids, you might be spending a lot of money on groceries. You know, Janine, she’s got a lot of kids. I mean, they’re grown now, but she had.

Janine: (14:45)

But when they were teenagers, good Lord. Right.

Amalie: (14:48)

So that’s something that you have to consider. And what are your subscriptions? What are all the little things that just like your animals, your dog food, you know.

Jenn: (15:01)

Or emergency pet care.

Amalie: (15:03)

God, yeah. Talk about expensive. My dog’s got allergies. I mean, he goes to the vet more than I’ve been to the doctor’s, you know, it’s crazy. But all of those things need to be taken into consideration, especially when you’re taking the business on as your full time. Right? If it’s, if it’s your side hustle, it’s a little different, right. It might just be filling some holes or gaps where your main income isn’t filling at the time. But if that’s your full-on, your job, all of those things need to be taken into consideration and thinking about, are you willing to cut them or are they, you know, if you are willing, go ahead and cut. But if you’re not willing, then you need to make sure that that number is included. You know, cause all matters in the end. When you work with clients and do you find that people struggle to come up with this number to sit down or do you find that people don’t even do this part? What do you find as far as that with your clients?

Jenn: (16:04)

Probably the hardest part is getting started. They have an idea that things are bad, that things are scary, but then to sit down, put it all on a paper spreadsheet, you know, whatever. Then it’s right there in their face and that can get really, really daunting. However, the first step to resolution is just admitting there’s a problem. And you can’t admit the problem until you actually see what it is. And you know, one step at a time, what is it? You eat the elephant one bite at a time is just small little steps. There’s a ton of good resources out there. I’ve actually fallen in love with, I know this is the taboo word, “the budget”, budgeting app called YNAB. It’s just, it really helps.

Amalie: (16:58)

How do you spell that? I want to make sure we put that in the notes.

Jenn: (17:01)

Literally. YNAB it’s short for “you need a budget” and I know Janine loves it. There are other ones out there, there is Intuit who does TurboTax, they’ve got Mint. But YNAB does things a little differently where it, essentially, you don’t count the money until it’s in your bank account, which goes, I thought in line with Mike Michalowicz and Profit first, you don’t count that money until it’s there. And then you spread it out amongst the different accounts and YNAB is amongst the different bills. And that really helps keep at the forefront, what you have in your bank, how you can spend it. And so it’s just little steps to get going. And then, you know, it turns into this really nice snowball in a positive way.

Janine: (17:56)

It’s funny. Cause it’s work, it’s more work. There’s a lot of emotions tied into finances. So they are super scary if they’ve been neglected or set aside. But I always it’s like, I can’t not comment at on how much it brings your mind. It’s totally your ROI on that work and getting through the fear is totally worth it.

Amalie: (18:19)

Yeah. For sure. And working with a bookkeeper. Oh my God. I mean, if there is anything else. We’ve interviewed our bookkeeper we work with, Chris Mims, I think she was in COL too. So, but I mean just the relief of having someone that can support you in that. I mean, it just is, it’s a huge, it’s just, it’s huge. We’re getting the bookkeeper seriously. I would not, I would never go into business without having a bookkeeper. I just wouldn’t. I mean, you just don’t have the capacity to take all that on like, you know, you just don’t.

Jenn: (18:58)

Especially now with the pandemic and the new, you know, the idle loans and everything’s changing with the IRS. You really need someone to keep an ear on the ground. Who’s kind of an in-between, between the accountant and, you know, everyone’s hustling to make sure that they’re up to date on the information, but having that designated person in your corner is really, really beneficial to businesses.

Amalie: (19:25)

Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Janine, did you have anything else to add? Jenn, did you have anything else that you wanted to share with us, with the audience about figuring out their lifestyle congruence or anything like that? And then, if you have anything to add, then also let us know where else we can find you. Sure.

Jenn: (19:44)

I would say the only other thing is don’t go this alone. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone, and I do mean everyone has been in this situation before. That was something that I didn’t realize until I was in the situation and talking to people and they’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s nothing.” I was like, Oh my gosh. So, please reach out to someone. You guys are incredible assets. I know you speak very highly of Chris. If there’s anything I can answer, please feel free to reach out. Probably the best place is check out the website, there it’s got all my contact information, any of the social media platforms. So yeah. Any questions reach out.

Amalie: (20:29)

Great. And we’ll put that in the show notes so people can reach out and contact you. We’ll also put the YNAB the app. We’ll put that in there. And if you think of anything else, you know, let us know. And, if you’re listening to this, please subscribe and leave us a review if you enjoyed it. And if you know anyone else that would benefit from hearing this episode, make sure you go ahead and share it with them. We really appreciate you joining us today and for the series for the business hierarchy of needs series, we’ll be back next time. And I look forward to the next interview. So Jenn, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it. Thank you. I hope everyone has a great day. Bye.


If you are looking for assistance with your business, make sure you know exactly what you need. We get a lot of questions from our clients about the difference between consulting and coaching. Just because they seem similar, it doesn’t mean they are the same! Listen to this episode to understand what to expect from each and when you need to hire them.

Show Notes

Working with the RIGHT business coach or consultant can help your company reach its true, full potential. A good coach or consultant will help you create a profitable business, find weak points, and even overcome plateaus. They can help you figure out where you can save time and money. They truly are life-savers!

But… which one does YOUR company need? What are the differences between the two? What do they even do? 

Join us for this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast as we discuss the key differences between a coach and a consultant, and get an insight into how our coaching and consulting services can bring the best out of your business!

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The BIGGEST difference between coaching and consulting

➡️ Learning how to find out which one is best for your business needs

➡️ The main ways our services can help you build a successful business

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

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Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

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Episode Transcript

Janine: (00:06)

I’m here with Amalie Shaffer. How’s it going on, Amalie?

Amalie: (00:09)

Hi, I’m good.

Janine: (00:11)

We are Systematic Excellence Consulting and we help businesses with their systems, their operations. We help them find team members or place team members to structure their business for growth. And we love that stuff. Most people don’t, but we do, and it does great things for businesses. And here in Masterfully Integrated every week we share tips and tricks and hacks to help business owners run their businesses more efficiently so they can have more free time for their lives. Yay.

Amalie: (00:39)

Yes, we think that’s super important.

Janine: (00:41)

It is important. Life is a journey. So today we’re going to talk about, we’re going to share a little, we get a lot of questions actually about, we have some different services, the difference between consulting and coaching, because they are different things. And there are a lot of misunderstandings about that. And if you are looking for assistance with your business, you want to be sure that you’re looking for the right thing, and understand what to expect from the people that provide those services.

Amalie: (01:10)

And when to hire each one or engage with each one and how to leverage that. Because I think even sometimes, and I don’t want to be mean, but I feel there are times when I think people who call themselves coaches and consultants don’t clearly define their role. I think people that advertise it, I think sometimes confuse what the two roles should be doing, because I think they need to be engaged at different times. So we’ll talk about that.

Janine: (01:43)

Well, let’s talk about it from the business owner’s point of view then, so they need to be engaged at different times. And so what would you think is the most common situation that a business owner says, “Hey, I need help. I need ‘something'”. What would you say that is?

Amalie: (02:05)

Well, well, it would depend. So do they want the, I think where the line is drawn is, do they want someone to direct them and give them, I don’t know exactly what the word is, but coaching is more supporting them where the consultant is helping them find the problem and the solution. I guess if that makes sense.

Janine: (02:37)

Yeah. I’m sorry. I started this off on the wrong foot and I should have gone more with definitions to start with.

Amalie: (02:42)

Dennis is watching. So I just want to say hi to Sue. She said, hello.

Janine: (02:45)

Oh, hey Sue, how’s it going? So coaches are usually more focused on their role is more in development, whether it’s that leader’s development or the team’s development or them together in their interactions, where a consultant is more like a hired gun, a hired expert in a certain subject matter for a one off thing that they’re going to help you with in your business, whether it’s you, whether it’s a project, whether it’s a new vertical you’re adding on or something along those lines. So their roles. So a coaching role, it’s more ongoing, a consultant role can be over a period of time, but it’s usually within a well-defined project.

Amalie: (03:23)

And the coaching is development of, you know, the skills, the development of, so like a coach that does sales, right? It’s going to focus on developing the sales team skills. If you’re bringing a consultant in now, they’re the, the consultant and the coach can be the same person. They come in initially to do the consult where they do the kind of finding the problem, nailing it down, defining what the issue is, coming up with a solution and then coaching them through or helping them develop in their skills in order to solve the problem. Right. So I think that’s kind of where, that’s how I would define it and draw the line. Like you said, the development, so professional development. Something that we’ve done with clients is that CEO development, right? The executive coaching where we’re helping them learn their new role as a CEO, because once we move them out of being the operations person and managing all the pieces, there’s a whole another role that they need to fill that might be new to them. And so coaching them and doing that is helping them develop their skills in that. Okay. What do they need to focus on? What do they need to be doing everyday versus–

Janine: (04:38)

Yeah, they’re both leadership roles, but they’re very different. They feel really different to the business owner because they were usually the head of operations, doing all the things well aware of all the details and probably more too much, too much. So, and making that transition to CEO it’s like it’s still a leadership role, is still understanding everything that’s going on, but how your actual responsibilities and how you go about doing that is really different in that we’ve helped quite a few people with that. So what you were starting to touch on in the beginning was for coaching. So yeah, of course sports is a good analogy for coaching, but there are different styles of coaching. And so when you’re looking for a coach, whether it’s for yourself or for you and your team, or just for your team, there are different styles. There’s very autocratic where they just coming here, you know, the sports analogy “here’s the place. Here’s how you’re going to run them, do it.” And then they help you with accountability for that. There’s more, and that gets results faster, but, you know, there’s ups and downsides to everything. So that’s why you really want to make sure you’re getting what need for the situation that you’re in. It gets results faster, but it really doesn’t allow for personal growth of the team or professional development in terms of stepping into roles and being able to do what that coach just did the next time around as far as speaking up, providing solutions to problems when your team members are the one that are closest to the problem, and developing the plan and implementing it. So, you have to, there may be issues with buy-in. They just feel like they’re being dictated to where sometimes, you know, the flip side is they’re just relieved and they just want to get it done. So it’s not good or bad. It’s just very dependent on the people and the problem that’s going on at the time. So there’s autocratic democratic. I wrote this down, the coach kind of stepped there. They’re providing oversight. They’re watching what the team is doing. They’re stepping in as needed, but they’re more, guiding and pointing them in rather than telling. So there’s that. Holistic. This is more getting into the business and life balance and development kind of thing. They’re looking more of the team and the company as all the parts of the whole, and apply, their guidance and support more holistically. And the democratic ones are kind of similar. It takes longer to get to the same result than autocratic, but it involves, but your team and yourself are developing into that role. So you can end up with a more solid skill set within the team at the end of what you’re doing there. So that was coaching styles. What would you say about those coaching styles, Amalie?

Amalie: (07:37)

Well, I was thinking that for us, we do more of, I think the holistic, and what was the title of the second one?

Janine: (07:51)

There’s holistic, there’s democratic, the autocratic.

Amalie: (07:53)

Democratic. I feel like that’s the one because when we do the consulting, so the way that our process works is we do the consulting on the front end to really figure out what the issues are or where the holes are or where there needs to be some changes. And then we create the plan and then we help the CEO and the team implement those changes and we help guide them. Right. So, that word “guiding”, whereas it’s not so much like “we have to do, you have to do these things.” We’re there to say, “you know, here’s our recommendation. And then try it, let us know how it goes.” And then we get feedback from them and then we help them solve the problems as we go. And so it’s this kind of ongoing process. And then, you know, we’re also there to kind of like call them on their shit, because if they get caught in old habits, which we’ve definitely had clients do, and we’ve had to call them on it, you know, it’s our job to call them “Hey, you know, we talked about doing something different, what happened?” And figuring out where the issue came from, what happened to cause them to go back into their old habits of being a micromanager, whatever, you know, the issue is. So I think that’s kind of where our services fall. I was thinking, I mean, unless you had something else to say about that.

Janine: (09:16)

I just wanted to throw in about the calling people and stuff. I mean, it sounds mean, but actually they thank us for it. And the whole idea there is just, you know, it’s one thing to start doing something a new way and there’s another for the time it takes for that to get ingrained as a habit. And when you’re talking about not just the person changing their habit, but the people around them having to adjust to the new habit or the team may be also working on their own habits, it, just neurophysiology, it takes 60, 90 days for new things to become ingrained and less conscious thought and become the new habit. And so that’s why having that coaching or oversight role once things are put in place is so important it’s to help them stick.

Amalie: (10:00)

Yeah, absolutely. So let’s talk about when you can recognize when to hire one or the other. Right. And so my initial thoughts, the way that I think about it is the consultant to me, needs to come on the front end. That’s how we run our business, because what the consultant is, is the outside perspective, objective outsider, who can take it all in, analyze it and really drill down to what those issues are and provide recommended solutions, right? And then the coaching is what takes it and helps you implement it if you want that additional support. Right? So to me, that’s what it is. So if you’re a business and you’re making, you know, six figures, or you’re on just on the edge of almost making six figures and you’re ready to get to the next level, or you’re trying to go for multiple six figures or wherever, if you’re somewhere where you’ve hit a point you’ve plateaued, and you’re trying to get to the next level, but you just don’t know what’s stopping you from getting there, to me at that point it’s okay, stop. I need an outside perspective. And that to me is where the consultant comes in. And then the coach comes in to take you to that next level, you know, and help you implement whatever those changes are because a consultant can come in, give you an objective analysis of what’s happening in your business, talk to your team. That’s something we do. You know, when we go in and work with businesses, we talked, we interviewed the whole team, everyone, and figure out what’s going on. We asked them questions. We figured out and not just in the beginning, but we interviewed them at the end as well to figure out, “okay, what did you expect? How’s it going? Did we miss something?” Because our job’s not done unless that team and that CEO are feeling confident that we’ve helped them solve their problems. And so I think that that point–

Janine: (11:59)

And we want to see them, see our clients get the outcome.

Amalie: (12:04)

But it’s that point of hitting a plateau and you’re trying to get to the next level, but you can’t figure out what it is that’s going on. You just can’t, you’re just stuck because you’re too knee deep in the shit. You really need that outside perspective of someone to come in and give you the objective analysis of what’s happening.

Janine: (12:22)

It was just crossing my mind as you were talking that analogy for me, having been a flight surgeon in the army, it’s like, when you go and see the doctor, the doctor is a consultant, they’re doing the analysis. They’re diagnosing, they’re coming up with the plan. They’re handing it to you. And then off you go to implement it when your visit is done, right. Go get your prescriptions, do whatever you need to do.

Amalie: (12:41)

Or maybe get a health coach to help you maintain.

Janine: (12:44)

Or the nurses. And this is more like in a hospital setting, but literally nursing is caring for someone through their illness, right. And from day to day or hour to hour or whatever it takes. And so there’s the, you know, problem solver, plan maker, that’s the concern. And then there’s the help you actually get through it to the other side, and that’s the coach. And so online, something else I wanted to throw in here, not a monkey wrench, but another term that comes up on the coaching in the spectrum of things is mentors. So where do mentors come into play?

Amalie: (13:25)

I think… So we actually offer a program that we consider mentorship and where I think it’s a little different is the mentor is problem solving, like on the job training. So how we run. Okay. So I guess it, let me see if it, hold on. Let’s see if it.

Janine: (13:50)

We’re having a technical, just flashed, it’s saying we’re live still.

Amalie: (13:54)

Okay. Yeah. I was just checking the page to make sure that we were alive. Okay. It looks like we’re good. So hopefully we’re okay. Anyway, it looks like we’re good. It’s almost 14 minutes, I guess. We’re good. So what we do is we give our clients who are in this program with us, we give them, Voxer access to us, you know, during our business hours, to message us about problems. We do have a call once a week with them, where we talk about things, teach them. So, if they’re in a situation and they’re, you know, maybe they’re writing SOP and they’ve not written SOP before. Right. Let’s just say for example, but one of them do well. We would teach them how to do that. We’d show them, give them examples, give them templates and then show them what they need to do to do that. That would be something we do on the call, but the Voxer access are on the job training, kind of is being there to answer their questions. Like, “okay, hey, the client asked for this. I’m not really sure how to deal with this, or what should, what should I put?” You know, I can’t think of a really good example right now, but it’s like, they’re having a conflict or, “Hey, I’m really having an issue trying to manage the team. I’ve put the tasks out, but they’re not responding quickly” or whatever. And then what we would do is provide them, “Hey, here’s how I would deal with it.” And then, you know, have a discussion and then they’d go off and do it and then come back to us, let us know how it goes. To me that’s more mentorship. That’s like “follow along. Let’s do this together.” And yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s how I feel like I would define it more. Our Masterfully Integrated program is more of a mentorship versus, you know, the coaching or the consulting.

Janine: (15:38)

Yeah. I was looking at, I would agree with that too. I was looking at it in terms I’m traditionally, cause we live in this online space. Right. And with entrepreneurs, we’re mentoring more traditionally in the corporate world. It’s more someone who is ahead of you in your actual professional path. So, rather than that broader look or the problem solving, it serves more as a guide. We talked about, I just had a conversation recently with some people about this along the lines of, so when I first enlisted in the air force and went to my very first base, I was very blessed with our chief master Sergeant. The head enlisted person would take every new airman when they arrived there, sit them down and basically tell them how to become chief master Sergeant of the air force, which is the highest ranking enlisted person in the air force. And what he mapped out was it’s like, it’s not just doing your job and doing it well, you need to volunteer for sports. You need to volunteer for on base and off base activities. You need to pursue your education. You need to do… And he had a list for us and he was like, “you don’t need to do them all at once, but these are all the boxes you need to check during a year to show, to make set yourself apart. And then you also need to look for special duty assignments. You need to go to Washington DC and this, that” and he literally laid out, this is how you become the chief master Sergeant of the air force. And it just kind of blew my mind. I’d never seen that before. And I’ve very rarely seen a sense where someone’s taken that long view. And for me, it really opened my eyes because 75% of what he laid out there, it’s unwritten, it’s the you don’t know what to ask things. And that’s super important. And I think that’s a mentor can really help with that kind of longterm depth in your, in your path.

Amalie: (17:32)

Yeah. And not to say that coaches can’t do what mentors do. I just think of it slightly differently, right? Because I mean, sure coaches could be on call like we are, you know, with our Masterfully Integrated program, a coach could be in taking calls like that, or helping them problem solve. But I find it to be more like someone’s over your shoulder, like looking at like what you’re doing and then when you need help you look over their shoulder. So, and by shoulder, I mean get on zoom and I’ll share my screen with you. Right? So that’s something that we’ve done when, you know, when one of the people in our program is looking for support either we’ll be looking over their shoulder or they’re looking over our shoulder to help give them real life experience and say, “okay, here’s the issue we had and this is how we solved it, or this is what we did with it. Or we were trying to set this process up and this is how we do it.” And we give them the specific example of how to do that.

Janine: (18:33)

It’s definitely way more personal. Yeah. Well, that is pretty much it.

Amalie: (18:43)

Well, we hope that you enjoyed this episode. And we will be back next week, 11:30 AM Eastern. And we are, just to put a plug out there, although we have talked about our programs a lot today, but we’re starting a series with our podcast, where we’re actually breaking down all the steps of the business hierarchy of needs that we’ve discussed previously on a Masterfully Integrated episode. And we’re interviewing experts and, that help us break down the specific needs and how to solve problems if you’re stuck in that area of your business. So that will start, not next week, but the following week. We’re gonna start that and then we’ll be pulling a topic from that every Friday for Masterfully Integrated for our show here. So we’ll make sure we put the links to our podcasts. You can check that out. And then obviously if you want to check out the, where we drill down into one specific topic from the podcast, we’ll be doing that every Friday. So we will see you next week. If you watch the replay, give us a #replay. If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comments. If you have a topic you’d like us to cover on the on the show on Fridays, feel free to put those in the comments as well, or message us privately. And we will answer those questions. So thank you so much and we will see you next week. Have a great weekend.

Janine: (20:15)

Have a good weekend. Bye.


If you are looking to hire and delegate important tasks to take your business to the next level, but you don’t know exactly who or what you need; if you need help defining roles and responsibilities, or you don’t know the differences between a PM, an OBM, an Integrator, and a VA, this episode is for you!

Show Notes

If you are ready to grow your company and take it to the next level, hiring someone to help you manage everyone and everything is your next step. But deciding who, and what their responsibilities are, can be a tricky task for many entrepreneurs.

But… We gotcha! In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we will reveal important information on how and who you should hire in your business when you need an extra pair of hands. 

You get a behind-the-scenes discussion between Janine and Amalie as they determine how they will define the roles their team members fill in their business. 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ Project Manager, Online Business Manager, Integrator, and Virtual Assistant: What’s the difference between them all?

➡️ Key to a seamless hiring process for your project

➡️ Find out what’s the best skill-set for your business needs

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


Rocket Fuel

OBM Certification Program 

Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

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Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:01)

Alright. Alright. Welcome to the Systematic Excellence Podcast today, Janine and I, Janine Suvak, Amalie Shaffer. We are Systematic Excellence Consulting. And today we’re going to discuss the different roles that are on teams. So we’ll cover project manager, integrator, online business manager and VA. So the reason we’re discussing this now, is because we are figuring out, the different roles that we need to hire for as we build our agency and also just defining what those roles are. So we find that in the online space, people use terms or roles kind of interchangeably. And so we really want to put a definition to what those roles are. So we’re going to discuss that today, just kind of really openly between the two of us and what we think, and just our experience with working with those or being in those kinds of positions. I know personally I’ve been a tech VA, I’ve been an online business manager. I’ve been an integrator, you know, depending on what the person or the client was calling, what they needed, that’s the term I use, but ultimately a lot of the jobs I was doing or, you know, a lot of the positions, I was doing a lot of the same things. It just had a different name. So, alright, so we’re going to start by kind of defining what the difference between what we think an online business manager, project manager and integrator is. And I don’t know. So before we jumped on here to record, we actually stopped our conversation, like, “you know what, we should really record this because I think the discussion is really helpful and I’m sure other people, whether they’re trying to figure out what the term is that they should call themselves or, you know, what you should call yourself or a business owner or CEO, that’s wondering, what do I call the person I need to hire?” Right. And so I guess let’s start with integrator maybe and say, or where do you want to start as far as, where we can start to define that?

Janine: (02:08)

Well, yeah, I mean, just to go back to what we’re starting with when you’re talking about, so with our agency and we’re talking about dealing with people on both sides of it, the people in the roles and the people who are looking for people to fill those roles, I don’t like to make up my own definitions for things when they already exist out there, but there’s so much confusion around this. And when you have job platforms with AI screening and someone has to put a name to what it is they do, it’s really restricting because these things all lie along a spectrum, or some of them are even terms that have been popularized by books, but they’re a combination of other commonly known terms. And so that’s why there’s just so much confusion out there. I would say, I would start at the bottom with the VA. Because I think that’s the most clear one, right? And that’s usually the first person somebody hires.

Amalie: (03:05)

And I think that you can hire a VA to do a bunch of different things. And so when you are writing out a job description, you need to say a VA that does XYZ. So I was a tech VA. So I did, email integrations with funnels, making sure that everything was connected. I didn’t design the funnels. I didn’t even really put the funnels together. I connected all the things to make sure the payment processor work, you know, made sure all the emails were in the right sequence. And all the automations work, setting up Zapier, that’s where I did a lot of, you know, the tech VA. So I think when you define what it is that the VA does, so there’s some admin VAs and they do, I think that’s the most common. Write or email, going through email, being your personal assistant kind of position. The main point is a VA is a doer. They do the tasks that are delegated to them or task to them, depending on where you are in the level of delegation and tasking. And if you do have questions about delegation, tasks you can go back to episode one of the podcast where we discuss that, just to drop that in there.

Janine: (04:14)

Delegate, delegate.

Amalie: (04:16)

Right. And then, so if you are just tasking and that’s fine, you know, what the VA does is actually do the tasks. So they’re the doer, they’re the people that are doing the tasks. Now, I think there are some instances where someone in an integrator or project manager role will do things, will do tasks when they’re wearing multiple hats, because there aren’t enough people hired. And I think that happens a lot with smaller businesses where they’ll hire, “okay, I need a project manager” and they’ll have one other person on the team. So they have two people and the one person who’s getting all the tasks delegated to them can’t do everything. So the project manager or online business manager, or integrator, whatever they call that person that’s in addition to the VA will also end up doing tasks. I’ve been in that position where there just wasn’t enough people. The team wasn’t big enough, but I was brought in to manage the projects, I was brought in to manage, you know, the VA. But then it still left me doing a lot of things, which was fine because in that instance it worked. And then as the team grew, the less I did and the more management I did. So it kind of depends, but ultimately the VA, regardless of their admin tech, you know, whatever they are doing.

Janine: (05:38)

If you were going to put them in a defined box, they accomplished tasks.

Amalie: (05:42)


Janine: (05:42)

But I don’t think putting them in a defined box. It’s really, you know, I think that’s where the confusion begins because as your business grows, as your team grow, as people with you, some people will only be tasked doers for whatever reason and other people grow with the company. They take on bigger things as the company gets bigger too. And then it’s a whole different scenario when you already have the bigger company and you’re looking for a specific person to do things.

Amalie: (06:10)

And that VA might, you know, it’s something that we talked about in the episode, the last episode was you could make your VA a project manager as they grow with your business and their skills. If they they naturally have the skills of being the arranger and being a communicator and being someone who has attention to detail and can put all the resources and plans together to come up with a succinct, effective plan. If they have those innate skills, you can move them into it. You know, you can move them into a project management role or even integrator or, you know, whatever. So, but the main thing we wanted to point out is just the VA ultimately whatever roles that they take on whatever tasks they take on, they are a task doer. That’s the thing like a VA, isn’t going to be managing other team members. If that’s the case that term calling them at VA is not the right term. And I think a lot of people, I don’t want to say a lot of people, I have found in the online space that people will use the term VA so that they can pay less money for that person. And that’s unfortunate. So someone that’s like, “I need a VA who does website design.” First of all, stop, that’s a website designer, not a VA that does that. That’s not okay. And if you are listening and you are a VA and you do graphic design or website design or whatever, you need to drop the VA and call yourself a graphic designer period, that’s it.

Janine: (07:49)

And you probably need to raise your fees.

Amalie: (07:51)

Probably. But I have found that people have done that. They will say, “Oh, I need a, I need a VA that does social media strategy.” Okay. No, that’s not, you know what I mean? That’s not it. But so when you are looking for a VA, before we move on from VA, is define the actual tasks that you want that VA to do. So if it’s admin, that’s the kind of test you’re looking for because VA’s will do a bunch of different tests. There are VA’s that will do social media.

Janine: (08:19)

Well, by posting publications, those are tasks, you know, producing content is different, right? Planning the strategy is different.

Amalie: (08:32)

And that would be a project based thing that you go to someone that does that, that’s the specific thing they do. You know, they’re known for social media strategy for writing content, you know, whatever copywriter that writes content, something like that. You’d be looking for someone specific. Now there are some VA’s out there that will do that. And like I said, if you’re listening and you’re one of those people, I would definitely change your title from VA to whatever it is that you do, whether it’s social media strategy, social media content, production, whatever that is.

Janine: (09:02)

And we say that because the standard VA term is an entry level position doing very low skilled tasks and each of these other things are a required amount of skill and experience that just to be, you know, a VA won’t be able to do. And that’s why we’re saying that.

Amalie: (09:21)

Yeah. And not necessarily wouldn’t be able to do, but isn’t hired to do initially or doesn’t come on to do those in those two kinds of tasks. You might have the skill to do them. You just need to change your name. So people understand what it is that you do, you know.

Janine: (09:39)

Yeah, I mean, there’s a value to tasks in the market.

Amalie: (09:40)

Yeah, definitely. So then from VA, let’s, let’s discuss project manager, which we did in the last episode. So we don’t want to spend the whole time. We just want to kind of touch on it. Cause then I want to roll into the online business manager, an integrator role. Cause I think that’s really important. And basically what we’re also trying to do is establish our definitions. So that way, when clients come to us. So with our agency, we place people in short and longterm contracts, and we want to make sure that our definitions are clear for our clients to understand when we say we’re going to place an integrator, what does that mean? Or when we tell the client, “okay, based on what you’ve told us, we think you need an integrator.” We need to all be on the same page with what that definition means and what that role looks like. And same thing with a project manager. So one of the things I was saying was that when we use the word, when we use the term project manager, I think of someone in a short term project, managing the resources, the plan, the people, all the processes, everything for it, but reports to, now this all depends on the business. If the business has an integrator, they would report to the integrator, the integrator then reports to the CEO, the CEO. So that’s my idea of it. If they have someone that does, let’s say the business does launches every three to four months and the project manager’s managing each one of those projects, to me that becomes more of an integrator where you’re in the person’s business all the time, not just there for one project, then you leave. That’s what I was saying.

Janine: (11:23)

Yeah. And I don’t see that quite the same way. And I think that’s BS that the role of project manager has been around longer than the online space has been around. So that’s where I think some of the fuzziness comes from because the online space is what’s really way more dynamic as far as bringing people on for the one off thing and letting them go. I mean, that’s been around longer than the internet too, but it’s just much more prevalent in the online world. That’s the gig economy that we are on. Right? But I was going to say, that to me, rather than their role in the company being short term, it’s they have a highly focused role as managing a very discreet project that has a definitive start point and end point. Their role in the company, they could be a full time person and they do project after project, which is what traditional project managers do versus bringing them on incentives. Again, it’s the kind of thing. But, so yeah.

Amalie: (12:25)

And I see that. And then if that person stayed on long term and just manage each project that came up, then they would still report to the integrator in the way that we, you and I define the org chart. And then also with that said, if that person’s staying longterm, they’re an employee, not necessarily a contractor, which we did touch on in one of the episodes with Emily Baker talking about the difference between the two, but then what we’re doing with the agency is people can hire short and longterm project managers, VA’s, and integrators, without having to worry about all the legal and all that, because they are employees of our business. So we kind of take that away. That’s really why we’re trying to make sure we define all these roles clearly, because we want to be able to communicate with our clients who it is that we have on the team, what their role is and what they’ll do for them. And then we can help the client figure out what the issue is or wherever the hole is it needs to be filled or the whatever. And then we have people on our team that we can place there. 

Janine: (13:39)

And we do keep going back to the legal jeopardy part of that definition between contractor and employee, because for the longest time, honestly, even now, most people in the online space are doing it wrong. You know, it’s cheaper and faster and there’s no paperwork to do –well, there’s a little bit of paperwork– to do it the contractor way versus the employee way. And it’s, you know, and neither is there a lot of oversight where the jeopardy is a high risk thing, right? And most people get away with it forever, but… quarantine, COVID-19 and everything. When people, all of a sudden a mass number of people were looking for assistance for their businesses, assistance to pay the people on their team and the contractors themselves in their own businesses in order to. Looking for unemployment or some kind of assistance to get through that period of time was a huge, rude awakening for a lot, a lot of people, because if they weren’t doing it right, then they didn’t qualify for the kind of assistance they needed for either them or their team. And without being able to support their team, then they weren’t able to support their business through it and was, yeah.

Amalie: (14:46)

And I think, you know, defining that, I mean, with the VA’s, especially, you know, if they’re in your business, checking your emails, acting as more of a personal assistant than anything else, like that person should absolutely be an employee. If they’re doing social media and your business doesn’t do social media, but they’re doing a project for you of, you know, posting social media, something like that. And they’re working on a project that has a start and end date, you know, something like that, then they can be a contractor, but most VA’s, from my experience on what they do for people. They really should be employees, right.

Janine: (15:30)

You’re watching old movies and you have the executive. And then the little lady sitting at the desk, the VA is essentially the digital version of the little lady sitting, they’re not only that. I know that, but I’m just thinking from my analogy. And so the A in VA is “assistant”. They’re not just one traditionally, they are assisting you in the day to day, in your day to day roles with the little brunt tasks that don’t need your higher level skillset. So the reality is that most of them should be important. 

Amalie: (16:03)

Exactly. All right. So let’s talk about the integrated online business manager. Cause I feel like this is something that I see all the time. So at one point I defined my role as an online business manager. And then, I read Rocket Fuel, learned the term integrator and then decided that that was the role that I felt more aligned with. And I don’t, I can’t really explain why I felt like that. I guess it was more because it said that they partner with the visionary or the CEO. And it’s more of if you write on an org chart, you know, you have the visionary, if you haven’t read Rocket Fuel, I highly suggest reading it. It’s a great book. We’ll put the link to it in the show notes, but

Janine: (16:56)

By Gino Wickman and Mark Winters.

Amalie: (16:58)

Thank you. And so the way that Janine and I were kind of defining what the organizational chart would look like with a visionary and an integrator is the visionary and the integrator side by side versus on the visionary on top of the integrator. And then all the other team is underneath the integrator. That’s sort of how we were discussing it. And I think that’s why I felt more aligned with it because my role in so many situations was to be sort of the strategist and the sounding board. And I feel like that’s more of a side by side role versus an above and underneath kind of role, you know? And so for us, you know, I see online business manager a lot and, you know, looking at some of the definitions online to me, it’s very similar. And if I read the definitions from online, Sarah Noked has an online business manager certification program. And then if we look at Rocket Fuel, the main difference that I really see is that Rocket Fuel was focused more on larger businesses. And what I gathered from just reading online is that online business manager is for smaller businesses, maybe, you know, in the org chart on her website, it said business owner versus CEO. In Rocket Fuel, they talked specifically about CEOs versus just the business owner. And to me, that’s that definition using those specific words, to me define the kind of business or the size of the businesses, how influential they are based on how big, how many employees, how much money they’re making to me, those, those CEO versus business owner to be just using those terminologies is a big difference.

Janine: (18:45)

Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, I have to say so for me, the OBM when I first heard it, it kind of drove me nuts, first of all, because I don’t like acronyms and regardless of the industry, I always have to ask what that means. But just the fact that it’s called online business management, especially as time, I suppose, that was an important distinguisher early on, when you’re saying you’re managing a business and yet you’re sitting in your pajamas at home during the day. Right. And people wonder what you’re doing. You’re an online business manager, but with businesses going, you know, it’s like, you almost can’t have a business without an online presence. So over time it’s like, the meaning of that term is disappearing. So it’s not a distinguishing factor, but as far as the integrator roles, it’s like, yeah, for the integrator, you’re really serving as that interface between the visionary and the operations of the company. So you have to be able to live in both worlds. And so to me, that’s very much a split thing versus an operations person is someone, I guess, there’s still more, they’re getting a higher level of authority and responsibility delegated to them. But that’s why I met traditional org chart. The operations person is under the CEO, whereas the integrator, we see it more as beside it, because if you want a good integrator, you want someone who feels that vision with you there, they can translate it into the tasks and the operations and the everything else for you, but they are the sounding board and the feedback and they help you define that vision that’s in your head, but they’re able to turn around and put that into this great plan. 

Amalie: (20:32)

Do you think that if someone had a chief of operations that they could still have an integrator? They would have a visionary and integrator and they’d still have a chief of operations that ran it. Like, do you think that that’s a role that would be able to be filled or is that synonymous with integrator?

Janine: (20:53)

I think they’re synonymous. I mean, you’d have to have a really big company for those to be distinct individuals.

Amalie: (21:02)

And so I guess the kind of the conclusion that we’ve come to is that when we say online business manager, we believe that it is the same as an integrator, that those two roles are the same based on the definition that we’ve found. And what I have found though, in my experiences, when I first started calling myself an online business manager, even when I first started calling myself an integrator, people, clients, prospective clients put me into a, almost like a VA role, which then at first, when I wasn’t super confident about what I was doing, I said okay, even though that wasn’t really the role I was looking to fill, but I said, okay, because, I don’t know. I just, not that I didn’t know better. It was maybe I was afraid to say something cause I wanted the experience to be able to do it. And I guess my advice for anyone listening that is in that situation is to speak up for yourself. You know, I think there are situations where I would really like to have spoken up for myself or had someone I could talk to, to figure out how I can say it to someone to define those roles or my role. Cause once you sign the contract and you’re in the relationship with the client and starting down that project, it’s too late to define your role.

Janine: (22:40)

Because you’ve already signed the contract. You’ve promised them that you do those things.

Amalie: (22:44)

And so the time to do it is when you’re still in the kind of dating mode with the client, you know, where you’re just getting to know each other, you’re trying to figure out, okay, what does it look like? And you’re on that discovery call or that follow up discovery call. And you’re trying to define what that role is going to look like. That’s the time to do it. I will say in my experience, when I first started, I did not do that. And I took on roles where I was not comfortable because I was just doing things I didn’t really want to do. I know that kind of got off track by. I wanted to mention that.

Janine: (23:13)

I think it’s super important what you’re speaking, when you’re talking with a potential client, right. They’re describing all the things that they want and need. Right. And then it’s, it’s the point I thought that was really important about what you said was you didn’t want to say no. Right. And I think it’s important to understand that in these conversations, it doesn’t have to be yes or no. Right? That’s the whole point where you can say, okay, of all of these things, this is where I can support you and these other things. So in this case be like, okay, here’s where I can support you as a OBM or a project manager. These other things, these are actually, these are task oriented, more direct assistant to you thing that would actually take away my focus from this. But you don’t have to say, “no”, you say, “but because I organize things, I can help get these organized and find that person who can do these things for you. You’ll be more efficient, I’ll be more efficient. It will make the whole thing more cost effective.” And so you’re still solving the problem for them without serving in that role. And you’re not saying no.

Amalie: (24:17)

Yeah. And it’ll take me a while to get there. But once I did, then, you know, I was in a much better place. So I’ll just put a quick plug for us. We have a program that we call Masterfully Integrated that I don’t like to call it coaching. I find it’s just problem solving. And so what we do is we’re available to the people that are in that program. We do three and six month contracts for it, but we’re there to answer questions and help, you know, problem solving whatever issues you have in your business. And it’s, it’s something that I wish I would have had when I was starting out. So I could’ve called someone and, you know, got on boxer and been like, “Hey, you know, I’m struggling with how to figure out what to call this or do this” or whatever. And that’s something we do. So if you’re listening to this and it sounds like something you’d be interested in having Janine and I support you on a weekly basis to help you kind of problem solve with any client issues, you know, any businesses.

Janine: (25:17)

Sounding board devil’s advocate that outside I’m biased point of view, you know, cause you know, you’re deep in the thick of it and sometimes it’s hard to get that bigger, a different perspective.

Amalie: (25:28)

Yeah. And if you’re interested in the show notes, we will put the link to book a call with us, and you can get on and you know, we can answer any questions you have about the program or you can email us at So let’s move on from that. Cause I know I kind of deterred it from the conversation. So when we talk about the integrator, again, we really feel like they are the same as calling someone an online business manager because ultimately, even if we drop the online part, you’re a business manager, you’re managing systems, people, projects you’re managing. And ultimately that’s what the integrator does. The integrator. If you have five different projects going on, you have five different project managers, you know, working on those five different projects, the integrator is still managing all those projects, meaning, understanding what’s going on with each one of them. And my dog currently is trying to eat a fly and I’m just laughing cause he’s making some pretty good if you can hear them. But anyway, so,

Janine: (26:36)

And I would say, you know, whether you’re a director of operations would be doing the same thing too. And I think, you know, as we’re talking about these definitions, I know we’re trying to put a little container around this as well. Everybody does cause we look at it a different way and it depends on where we are in our business , it is in its growth. But I think the really important thing is if you’re looking for someone to help with your projects or with your operations, that the people you work with understand what you’re talking about is that we’re looking at these because like integrator was popularized by Rocket Fuel. You know, other people are looking for director of ops. Some people think they need an of staff or, there’s, you know, project manager, all these different terms, even if they use them mean different things to different people where they are in their business. And so, you know, you definitely want someone who is going to listen to what that means to you.

Amalie: (27:29)

I think actually this sort of just came to mind and maybe this is what the most important thing is after us just talking all of this out. So just so you know, this was us really discussing and working through, how we’re going to define this, how we’re going to move forward. So this was not planned in that and having this discussion. And now that we just said that what I’m thinking is maybe we don’t talk about roles. Maybe we don’t give a name to, or a title we talked about rules. We talk about here is your role spelled out like “Janine, your role is this.” We don’t give you a title. Maybe we just say, that’s your role. And then Janine is Janine that works here and does these things, right? And maybe that’s what we get away from because like who cares what you call it as long as Janine knows that she’s managing all the people that are on the team, right? 

Janine: (28:19)

I think about it is I couldn’t even name my dolls when I was a kid. So I struggled with names. It’s really important for me to know the definition because I am not going to get it right.

Amalie: (28:26)

So I think that that’s important. Maybe we don’t name it. Maybe we say, look, because ultimately what we do is pinpoint the problem and the biz in the person’s business, that’s our role, Janine and I in our business, we do the consulting, we find the problem and then we provide the solution to fix it. And then we offer support, continued support, regardless if they’re a VA, they’re an OBM. I mean, whatever you want to call it, we find the problem, define it and give the solution. And then we can place someone from our team in the role to fix the problem, regardless of what it is.

Janine: (29:01)

We also of course, are looking at what are your current resources who you have and who might be able to do that. So it’s not just the answer to every solution is it’s we have this person, right? If we have them, if that’s necessary to provide to that. But when we’re talking about this, like we’re when we’re looking at each– here’s all the things that need to be done. Here’s all the people that are around to do it. And here’s their capability of doing it, any one person, if you have that, whether it’s a business partner or a VA, but say they’re a full time person. It’s like, they may be doing task oriented stuff. Or I don’t know, a hundred percent of the time. They’re like, “Oh, they’re going to take on this project management.” But it’s literally only taking 50% of their capacity to manage the project. It’s like, “well, they’re not going to suddenly do nothing with the other half.” They can still do task oriented stuff. And so that can be very flexible. It can grow over time. It can be ultimately, they move up to that next level and they’re no longer doing the task oriented stuff. So it can be super dynamic.

Amalie: (30:03)

So I would say that going forward from here, that what we need to do is with our clients and in our own business, we need to worry about roles and responsibilities and not titles because who cares, what they’re called as long as the VA, if that’s what they call themselves, if the VA knows that they’re going to be managing the project that starts next month, and then they’re going to have to do tasks the next month, who cares what they’re called. Right. it doesn’t matter. So I would say, I guess the titles let’s just do roles and responsibilities and just write those out. You’re responsible for this. You’re responsible for that. And I will say, like, making sure that roles and responsibilities are listed out in the contract before you sign on to any relationship with the client or, you know, whatever, having that defined, forget the title. Just, I would focus on the details of that. 

Janine: (30:59)

The big break in that was in the tech industry. Right. Very much in the corporate culture, which is fine in oxymoronic, but how I’m trying to use it here, but that people very much wanting to differentiate themselves from traditional corporations, right. Even though they were massive corporation. So that’s where the jeans and the backpack and the work casual wear in the workplace came from their titles. You have this, you know, director of happiness, you know, and just wild things that are just like, “Oh, they’re super fun, and they love their titles.” But then they realize that nobody understood what that meant. Right. If they were talking to anybody outside the organization, it didn’t make any sense. So it’s like, so given that, it’s just important that we understand client to client, whatever they call it as fine and fitting it properly.

Amalie: (31:46)

And then with the client, we’ll just define the roles or responsibilities. They can call it like business manager. Maybe we call an integrator, but the most important thing is, are we on the same page with the defined role? What are they doing? What are they responsible for? What are the expectations? As long as those things are clear, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter what they’re called. I think that’s ultimately where we’re going to end up with that is that doesn’t matter. And then, you know, in our copy, when we’re writing to talk to clients, they understand that there is maybe to use all the terms. Do they understand that we cover all of them because if someone’s not, if they haven’t heard of the term integrator, but they have heard online business manager and we don’t mention online business manager, then we just mentioned integrator. They might think, well, maybe they don’t have that role, but we do. We just call it something different. So in copy wise, while we’re promoting, we need to talk in all those terms. But at the end of the day, we know that when we’re placing someone, it’s not about the title, it’s about defining the roles and responsibilities and expectations.

Janine: (32:50)

And that’s why I think it’s important. It’s like we do that. We talk to people, we get on calls with them. We’ll put a link here. So if you want to talk to us, if you have any questions about anything or ou have a need that you want to discuss, we do that because again, with the online job searches is like the, the AI it’s like they are screened by tags. And if you don’t put the right tags in there, then you’re going to miss the kind of people you need again, because there’s so much overlap and misconceptions and fuzziness between these different terms. It’s also a problem if you put all the tags in there, then you get so many things you have to screen, it’s a terrible task trying to take someone on. So those are just things around it. 

Amalie: (33:29)

When you’re writing out the job descriptions, maybe don’t put a title with it. Maybe just describe who it is you’re looking for. As if you’re describing your avatar, just describe and say, I don’t care what you call yourself. If you have these strengths, you know, if you have these personality traits and you like to do this, and you don’t like to do that, and you know, you list it out that way, don’t give it a title, just let the person identify themselves, bring them on, you know, do an interview, give them a test project and then go from there because ultimately you’re worried you want to focus on their strengths, not necessarily if they call themselves the same thing as what you call it. Right?

Janine: (34:12)

Fundamentally you want to work with someone you enjoy working with.

Janine: (34:14)

Their personality, their strengths, like, that’s something we talked about in the last episode was that it doesn’t matter if they, they might not have the experience or history of doing online business manager tasks or, you know, or not tasks, but being in that position or they don’t have project management experience, but they have the personality and the strengths, fundamental skills and personality for that type of role. And you want to give them a chance, let them do it, you know, let them try because just because they called themselves a VA before doesn’t mean that they don’t have those, those skills. And if you are wondering about the project manager if you listened to our last episode, episode 21, we talked a lot about that and hiring one and all of that. So anyway, do you have anything else to add for this? I feel like we kind of came to the conclusion. So we appreciate you guys kind of getting being here and listening and you got an opportunity to kind of listen into the kinds of discussions that Janine and I have. As we, you know, we grow in our partnership and stuff. So we appreciate it. We will be back here next week on Systematic Excellence Podcast. Make sure you check us out on Fridays on our Facebook page. Systematic excellence on our Facebook business page and we go live every Friday at 11:00 AM Eastern. And we usually dive into more detail from a topic that we talked about on the podcast. So you want to check that out every Friday, 11:00 AM Eastern. You can check us out at All of our other social media sites are Systematic Excellence. 

Janine: (35:54)

If you’re sitting in that corner of, “I know I need something, but I don’t know what” that’s, what our discovery calls for. We can help you figure that out and get you pointed in the right direction.

Amalie: (36:03)

And we’ll put the link in the show notes for that. So thank you so much for listening and we will see you next time.


Project managers are an essential part of a business. No matter how large or small, every project needs a project manager in order to succeed. But finding someone who has the skills, time, and personality traits to take on this role can be tricky. Come join us as we talk about what project manager’s role is, when it’s time to hire one and how and where to find a good one.

Show Notes

Skilled project managers are a valuable resource to just about any business. Good project managers provide the focus, direction, and motivation teams need to complete projects effectively and efficiently…and on budget.

Since a project manager plays a vital role in a business, hiring one might seem like a scary or overwhelming process. 

The good news is: We’ve got your back! 

In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we talk about the advantages of having a project manager, when is the perfect time to hire one, and how to make sure you’re getting the perfect fit for your company. 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The actual role of a project manager 

➡️ Why are they important and do you really need one?

➡️ The skills and strengths your project manager needs

➡️ When and where should you start looking for one

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:




CliftonStrengths Test

VIA Test

Enneagram Personality Test

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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Note: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

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Episode Transcript

Amalie Shaffer  0:01  

All right, everyone. Welcome back to Systematic Excellence Podcast. We’re so excited to have you here. And today we are going to talk about the project management role. So for the next few episodes, we’re going to go over some roles. We’re going to talk about job descriptions and strengths when you should hire these people. So today we’re going to talk about the project manager. We’re going to talk about OBM, and we’re going to talk about integrators over the next few episodes. But today, we’re going to dive in. I’m here with Janine, as always.

Janine Suvak  0:37  

Hey, everyone.

Amalie Shaffer  0:38  

And so today we’re going to talk about the project manager. So project managers are a crucial part in a business when it comes to bringing all the pieces together of a project or a launch or you know, whatever, you know, whatever you’re working on, and they are the person really that brings it all together, puts the plan together, and also makes sure that everyone else is doing their part. So we’re going to start by just kind of diving into what is a project manager, specifically what they do, talk about the strengths of that, then we’ll go into when you should hire one, and then we’ll talk about how do you find a good one. So, you know, right now, we really are talking to the business owners, the people that would be hiring a project manager. But if you’re a project manager, or a VA, or an online business manager, and you’re listening to this, this still can be really helpful for you because we’re going to talk about some of the strengths that people will look for when they’re hiring a project manager. And if you’re aspiring to do that, this episode will be helpful for you. So let’s go ahead and dive in. And Janine, let’s start talking a little bit about what’s the role of a project manager is. I kind of gave like a little bit of a synopsis of it. But let’s dive into you know, what are the kinds of things that this person is going to do?

Janine Suvak  2:06  

Yeah, typically in the evolution of the business, the first person you’re bringing on is the VA. And so we wanted to talk a little bit, that role can evolve, or you can bring on a set of Project Manager separately, depending on how your business goes. And that’s why we wanted to distinguish this role.

Amalie Shaffer  2:25  

Okay, so as a project manager, what are the things that they’re going to be responsible for?

Janine Suvak  2:33  

So types of projects and when we say projects, that’s obviously super, super broad term, right? But these projects, they can be an internal project for the company, something that they’re doing, developing on the inside or something for their audience or their customers, a new product or the upgrade or something along those lines.

Amalie Shaffer  2:53  

So you know, for me, the project manager is the person that is developing the project plan so they understand where they’re starting, and where they need to get to. And so they need to understand the resources, the budget, you know, timelines, the due dates, and then they take all of those things and put them together into a plan. And then they delegate to the people that are, you know, the copywriter, the designer, the tech person, and making sure that each of those people have what they’re responsible for. And then they make sure that everyone remains on the schedule, make sure that things are getting done on time, they’re staying within the budget that’s set, and then they set the goal, you know, they set the goal in the milestones and then they ensure that everyone’s going along with that, and, you know, they’re a leader. That’s their role. They’re really sort of the keystone of the overall project and making sure that everyone is involved, they understand the big picture, but they know what their tasks are. And then I see a project manager being like the person that’s waving in the planes like, “Okay, you go over here and then I need you to go over here and do this,” you know, kind of just directing everyone for the project. So they need to know every detail about the project, they need to understand what the deliverables are, they need to understand due dates, how to communicate with the client, I mean, everything that goes into a project, that ultimately is the project managers responsibility, and then to make sure that everyone’s getting done what they have to get done. So if the copy needs to be written first, the project manager needs to make sure that “okay, the copywriter understands that their task, someone else is waiting on them to get their piece done and they have to get it done on time so that the designer can start on their piece.” And it’s the project manager’s job to fit that all together and make sure it’s flowing well.

Janine Suvak  5:13  

Yeah, we didn’t say it explicitly yet. Because it seems obvious, but I think it’s important to leadership in your outcome that the outcome that you want is stated very clear, because the projects are often termed in phrases like, you know, “we’re making this something, we’re developing this something” but you want the outcome described very clearly, and have that where both the project manager and all the team members involved see that so they know what the endpoint is, and it’s super, super clear. And also that we’ve spoken all the time about delegating, for authority and the authority and the responsibility and the outcome. And ideally, to avoid that trap of spending your time with a lot of managing of your Project Manager, it’s like, if you’re spending a lot of time managing or interacting with your project manager, then you haven’t given them everything they need to succeed and do the project efficiently. The idea of having one is that, that if you give them everything they need, all the resources and the expected outcome, then they should be able to take that and run with that at that point, right.

Amalie Shaffer  6:23  

And just report back to you as the CEO, they should be reporting back on giving you updates. And there should be a schedule. And if you use a project management tool, you as the CEO should be able to go in and look at it and just be able to see what’s going on and get a glimpse of that or have the project manager provide a report to you. And then you know, you have to also set your boundaries and set your expectations. So if your expectation is to get a weekly update, the project manager then would provide you a weekly update. If you don’t need that maybe it’s just monthly, you know, you really have to set those expectations with the project manager on what you’re looking for. And then what that allows is that the project manager can work, do their job, and you can be secure, you know, release the reins, let the project manager do their job because you know, you’re going to get your update once a week. You know, if you don’t have that expectation set, you’re going to be wondering what the project managers doing, the project manager is going to be annoyed because you’re constantly asking them questions. And so in order to avoid that, you know, you’re just setting those expectations upfront and the project manager needs to remain flexible on based on what you need from them. So one of the things I want to roll into is Janine and I strongly believe in hiring people for strengths and not necessarily experience because none of us knew how to use ClickUp or Trello before we got our first free accounts with it, you know, we had to learn and we can teach people to do it, all those things that you know, using a system or software can be taught. But ultimately, there are some fundamental characteristics that people or someone needs to have in order to be an effective project manager that really can’t be taught. So we’re just going to discuss some of those and where we would suggest you using these is in your job description. So if them having experience as a project manager is important to you, then you need to put that in there. But Janine and I believe that they don’t need to have project management experience to be able to be a project manager. So some of the strengths we’ve gotten from it’s a test, it’s called Clifton strengths. And there’s a test that you can take, we recommend, you know, providing this test to the people when you are hiring, and we’ll go into that a little bit about how do you find someone so that’s one of the things is having them do some tests. So some of the strengths that we think that a project manager should have are someone that is taking on responsibility. So it is a lot of responsibility to take on as a project manager.  Adaptability, so the project manager has to be able to, they can’t be so set in their ways that they’re not willing to adjust or be flexible based on what’s going on. I mean, there’s going to be times when things go over the deadline, “okay, well, what needs to happen now? how can we make this work?” and they need to be able to adapt if you start to use a new system or a new software, they need to be able to adapt to that quickly and learn new systems and be comfortable doing that. And so the way you could write that out is saying like, you know, comfortable learning new systems, comfortable using new software, things like that in the job description. Another one is an arranger, so an arranger is someone who looks to piece together all of the resources and people, I guess people are considered resources too, and within the project to maximize productivity. So someone that has the mind to be able to do that is going to be an excellent project manager. The other thing is communication and connectedness. So for a project manager, they’re going to have to work with the other contractors or employees that you have. So they’re really going to need to be able to motivate those people you know, if things are slowing down they need to “Okay guys, we got it,” you know, they have to be able to talk to people. If your project manager is client-facing in customer service, you definitely need the connectedness and some empathy to be able to communicate with not just the team but the client, but also having empathy with the team and understanding that some things just aren’t always going to work out you know, there’s got to be good days and bad days and they’re gonna have to help pick up the slack and just, you know, motivate the people to stay on track with the plan. Janine, did you have any others? Those are the ones I wrote down that as I was kind of brainstorming on the project manager, but any other strengths that you think a project manager would need?

Janine Suvak  11:11  

Well, it’s just interesting those strengths, if you look at them, you’re like, “well, what if, you know, they’re lacking one”, it’s like all of those interact. So importantly, in a good project manager like you really can’t be missing one at all.

Amalie Shaffer  11:25  

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s not to say, you know, if you have someone else on your team that doesn’t have those strengths, they just need a different position, right, they just need to be doing something different. They have connectedness, but maybe they lacked the arranger or they were, they lack that kind of skill. They could be a good customer service person, but maybe not a project manager. But what Janine said earlier about the VA is important because if you recognize that your VA has already been in your business, for who knows how long you know, a couple of years, they’ve been with you from the beginning. If they have these strengths, it would be the perfect opportunity to put them into that position. Especially because they know your business inside and out, especially, you know, they’ve been there long enough. And you know, if any project managers or OBMs or VAs are listening to this, those things that I mentioned, are important for you to display in a way, when you on your social media or on your website, you’re hitting those points of saying “these are the things I’m good at, these are my strengths” is really important. Because regardless if you have the experience or not, if you have those, you can be trained on the person’s business. I mean, everyone has to learn someone’s business when they go in as a contractor or employee, you know, because everyone does things differently. That’s why standard operating procedures come in handy. But anyway, so go ahead, what were you going to say?

Janine Suvak  12:54  

Oh, I just was gonna say the flip side of that back to the VA, you know, and growing into that role is, you know, some people do plateau. And that doesn’t mean they’re not as valuable and an excellent employee in the role that they’re in at the time. And so you don’t want to judge someone, if you try to put them in a role, if you think they have those strengths, and they don’t rise to it, it could be, you know, any number of reasons why they can’t, it may just be something else going on in their lives or, and very often, for the first time when we’re talking about responsibility, that different level of responsibility can be anxiety inducing in some people where they’re capable of doing it, but how they feel about it, the responsibility level is something that they’re not able to deal with or they just need a little more help that first time with that and reassure, a little more reassurance that they can get trained into that role.

Amalie Shaffer  13:49  

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think that’s a good point. That, you know, even if you are looking at your VA and you realize that maybe it’s not a great fit, but there’s still something else that they can do. You know, like I said about the connectedness, if they’re good with customers and they can be customer-facing, then they could do customer service or, you know, whatever that role looks like it might not be a project manager, we’re just giving that as an example to be able to move someone up. Because hiring from within is so helpful because they already know your business instead of bringing someone brand new on, but if it doesn’t work, then that’s okay. So let’s talk about when you should hire one. So when do you think is the point when someone should start to look and start to hire a project manager?

Janine Suvak  14:35  

Well, I think what we see most often is the “Dang, I wish I’d hired one before”, it’s typically when do we see it? It’s like, “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t manage this and my project is falling apart.” Right? So I think doing that personal assessment. When you’re in the development phase, the idea phase of your project is being really realistic about how you intend your own bandwidth, your own time, and your commitment because you still have the ongoing operations of your business going on with that now you’re pulling in a new project. So, you know, again, it’s your role as the leader is not to be down in the details, doing all these things. That’s what I would say.

Amalie Shaffer  15:20  

Yeah, I would. When you’re planning your budget for a project, I would budget for a project manager. And what I would do is bring that project manager on while you’re planning it, so when you know, let’s say, for example, you’re getting ready to launch something, they’re getting ready to do a launch. I would figure out your budget, I’d figure out when, you know, generally like the wireframe or at least a general plan just very kind of just outlined. I would then start to look for a project manager. I would bring them on to help with the planning. Yeah, that’s what they’re good at, the arranger, like they can see the forest, they can see the big picture. But then they can also get down into the details. That’s something I know for me,  that’s what I’m good at, I can see the big picture, I can understand where we’re going. But I can also get down in the details to help plan it out. So my recommendation personally is to bring them on during the planning phase and put that in your budget. So you’re going to budget for, you know, a designer or you know, a tech VA or someone that’s going to create your entire funnel, you know, copywriter, whatever that is, I would include a project manager in that budget, and then I would bring them on during the planning phase. Because if you bring them on in the middle, when like shit has hit the fan, then they have to clean up all that plus, you know what I mean? And so it’s going to be really stressful bringing them on prior to I think is the best way to have a successful you know, to have a successful project or launch or whatever, you know, whatever the situation is.

Janine Suvak  16:59  

Absolutely as a business owner, then you’re staying in your role as the visionary.

Amalie Shaffer  17:03  

Yep, exactly. So one thing, the next thing I want to touch on. Oh, did you have any more to say about that? So the next one I want to talk about is how to find a good one. So I wanted to find something for– Janine and I were just, we were talking about this before we hit record, but when we talk about a project manager, for us, Janine and I, we define it as someone that’s going in on a one-off project, right, and they’re not necessarily going to be in your business long term. So in the case of a project manager, because we define it that way, we think it is fine to bring them on as a contractor. Now, if you’re looking for someone that is long term, that’s like managing your team, that’s something that we would consider an integrator where they’re going to be in your business long term. That is more of an employee position because they’re going to be in your business long term. And they’re going to be an integral part of your business, not just there for the project. So there’s kind of a difference. Now, if you have, I kind of also want to explain this. So you might have an integrator, and then you might have a project that’s special and you hire a project manager for that one project to do, that project manager would report to the integrator just so we can get the org chart clear. But so just because you maybe have a Chief of Operations or an integrator, you might still hire a project manager, they would still be a contractor because it’s a one-off project. Now, like I said, if you’re looking for someone to be in your business long term, that would be more of an integrator role, and they would be that would be an employee in order to stay within, you know, in accordance with the law. That would be an employee position. So I just want to clear that up, but let’s talk about how to find a good one. So I did mention the test, doing some tests. So Myers Briggs is one. And enneagram, I think is one that people I’ve heard a lot of people using that, we’ve not done that but I was thinking maybe we should do that, but see what it is. And then definitely the Clifton Strengths. So that’s the one where I was just describing the strengths. I think it’s important for the business owner to also do that because what you’re looking for, you know, in roles, when you hire your team is places where you have a weakness so you’re looking for people to be able to fill the gaps that you have, you know, no offense in that but being realistic about what you’re good at and what you’re not, helps you to hire a team that fills the gaps that you have or you know, helps to counteract your strengths and weaknesses by bringing those people on. So those are some of the tests. There was another one I found, called it’s VIA Test The Institute On Character, there’s a free test that you can take there too. So I would recommend as the business owner CEO, take the test yourself and give it to all the people that are on your team or that you’re getting ready to hire. So that’s the first thing is having them do those tests. And I want to say, I forgot to mention the beginning. So something that Janine and I are going to put together, we have a package now that’s Hire Your First Contractor that goes through the hiring process. It has Trello boards, broken down processes on how to do that. And there’s a checklist that walks you through how to determine who to hire first straight down to bringing them on board, but something that Janine and I are going to create is hiring a project manager. So we’re going to talk a little bit right now about what to do to find a good one, but we’re going to take that a step further and actually put together a package so that’ll be coming in in a few weeks. And once we do put it out, we will put it in the show notes. Because this show will this show publish next week. So we’ll go ahead and put that in the comments once we have that completed. But anyway, okay, so let’s talk. So I said about the test, which is important just so you can understand their personality, understand their strengths, especially because we believe hiring for strengths is so important. You need to know what their strengths are. So you can, you know, figure out if they’re a good fit or not. So what are some of the other ways, we talked about hiring internally, doing the test, what other ways?

Janine Suvak  21:31  

I just want to say as far as that supplementing where you are weak thing, it’s not just supplement. It’s like you really want to hire someone who is the expert that blows you away at that to have way better than you. And you start with your weakest weaknesses and you move all the way up and then you’ve you know, eliminated yourself as that single point of failures. Well, that’s really what you want to be looking forward, not Yes, men and not people that make you feel better because you’re smarter and better than them, then you’re hamstringing yourself in your company by hiring that way.

Amalie Shaffer  22:07  

Yeah, definitely. And I think also just having your team members understand their own strengths and weaknesses, helps them just be a better person in general, you know, understand between Janine and I understanding where one of us is weak in something and the other person that has a strength in something allows us to problem solve a lot more effectively, and us understanding our own team members and what their strengths and weaknesses are. So if we do come upon a problem, we can say, Okay, well, we definitely need to pull, you know, Monica and Karen and Alison to this because they have strengths in this area, and they can help us solve this problem, you know, being able to understand where those are, I think is important, so, and how to hire good ones. So, I mean, obviously, you can’t predict the future if we did, you know, we’d all be doing different things. I guess or whatever. But I think one of the best ways to do it is to reach out to people you know that have project managers and then ask them for referrals. And if that person can take on a project, fine, if they can’t, a lot of people in that space, me and Janine included, know other project managers, know other integrators, you know, that kind of thing. Janine and I alone, we are building a network of referrals with integrators, project managers, OBM. And so we just so that we can refer to if we can’t take the project on so but a lot of other project managers and integrators know other people that do the same thing. And ultimately, a referral, I feel has a lot of weight to it, because it’s someone that knows the person. I know personally, I would never refer someone that I didn’t personally know what kind of work they did. And Janine and I aren’t referring, you know, we have a referral list of people, we’re growing it and we’re not referring any of our clients to people that we haven’t worked with and we haven’t trained or worked with to understand what they’re good at, what they’re not and how they do work and all that. So I think referrals a good place to start if you know people that have project managers, ask them if they’re available. If they’re not available, ask the project manager integrator or OBM “do you know anyone that is that would like to apply to this position?” And then I think that’s a great place to start looking for someone.

Janine Suvak  24:33  

Don’t discount them as a contact for future projects, the nature of it is you know, often on projects, so they might not have it in their schedule for when you need something this time around but you’ll have that direct referral, you know, available for the next time around where you can plan contact them maybe a little sooner. And since they already know you they tend to you know, it’s like people want to work with who they work with. And for them, you are someone that someone they’ve worked for and had a good relationship has recommended to so they’re more likely to make room for you in their schedule when they’re looking at what project they’re going to pick up next.

Amalie Shaffer  25:11  

Yeah, and I just want to make a side note. So any project managers, OBM, integrators, VA is looking to move into an OPM or project management role. If you’re looking for possible referrals. Send us an email at Like I said, we’re building our referral network and so we will be able to take a call, we can do an interview and figure out if it would work, so if you are looking for that opportunity, feel free to shoot us an email and for the business owner, and CEO, if you’re looking you know, if you are in need of someone to be in a position, whether it’s a project manager temporarily or someone long term, as in OBM or an integrator, we, along with our referral network, we are building our agency where we have employees that we will place in long and short term contracts. So again, if you are looking for help on that you can also email us at One of the other things I just wanted to mention about looking for a good one is having a really good job description and putting those strengths in there and saying, “what are you looking for exactly?” and being you know, very specific about that having them do the personality or the strength test before you interview them just so you can get an idea. And then something Janine and I’ve mentioned before is having a test project. So what we’ll include in the package we’re going to build for Hiring a Project Manager is some ideas for test projects. So we’ll put that information in there. And once we have the package created, we will put the link to that in the show notes. But again, this is going to be published next week, and we probably won’t have it done for another two weeks, but doing a test project, you can really feel out, you know, where their skills are. I think the tests are important. And then, you know.

Janine Suvak  27:11  

It gives you a way to compare different applicants.

Amalie Shaffer  27:15  

Yeah, definitely. Well, you know, exactly. And so, I don’t know, did you have any other points about how to find a good one? So I think referrals is good. Going into Facebook groups and you know, of people that you trust and know that there’s quality people that are involved in that, Create Your Laptop Life has a form that you can fill out to hire. I think that’s a really great one. You know, and again, I really think I just think that the referral is so powerful that I would start there. Honestly, I would ask your friends or other you know, if you’re in some smaller Facebook groups where you trust everyone opinion, you know, asking them, “do you know any project managers?” and seeing what kind of referrals you get, obviously you can reach out to us. Like I said, we have an agency of people we’re growing that now have project managers, OBM, integrators, but we also have a referral network, where we’ll be able to do that.

Janine Suvak  28:23  

The reason we started doing that is because so many people just cringe at the thought of “Oh, dear god, I got to screen the whole process of finding that person and bringing them on”, it’s like, that is a huge pain point for a lot of business owners. And so it’s one of those, if you know us and you like working with us and the standards that we hold, then that’s an easy handoff at that point because we’re screening these people and training them and embedding them for you.

Amalie Shaffer  28:54  

Yeah, definitely. And if you want to hand off the interview process, that’s a service that we offer as well, where we help to hire the person, you know, the project manager, the integrator, the OBM, or the VA to place in your business. Now, they wouldn’t be our employee unless you were looking for a contract with us. But we also help clients hire their own team members. So we’ve helped place integrators with teams, VAs with clients. So that’s a service we offer. So if that’s something you’re looking for, if you really just want to get that off your hands, again, you can email us at, we get we’ll even put the link to book a 15-minute call with us to go over kind of what you’re looking for to see if we’re a good fit, we can give you the options that we think are the best fit for you. And we’ll put that link in the show notes as well. So you can have a look at that. So, again, we went over what we think is you know, how we define a project manager. When you should hire one. Let’s start just recap really quick. So a project manager, we think the strengths are really important that we mentioned. So the responsibility, the connectedness, the arranger, and being able to understand the big picture, but get down into the details and being able to delegate. And as the business owner and CEO, you have to delegate to the project manager so that they can go on and do their job. Then we talked about when you should hire so we believe if you are in the planning phases, that’s the perfect time to hire a project manager for that project. And to make sure you budget for that when you’re planning “Okay, how much money am I going to need? How much time am I going to need for this project?” include a project manager in that plan. Then we talked about how to find a good one, so referrals, we talked about the difference between the contractor and employee, if it’s a one-off project, then it’s a contractor, if they’re going to be in your business long term, managing your team and you know, ongoing projects and things like that you’re looking more for an integrator or even an online business manager and they would be more of an employee. And we’ll go into those other roles in our next couple of episodes. So, did I miss anything? Or you think I got it all?

Janine Suvak  31:10  

I think you got it. I mean, that was the whole point. Those are the most common questions business owners have about a project manager.

Amalie Shaffer  31:17  

Yeah, awesome. Well, if you have any questions, you know, please feel free to reach out to us. The email address, again is We’ll put the link to our 15-minute call in the show notes. Please subscribe if you know anyone that you think would benefit from hearing this episode, make sure you share it with them. And we will be back again next week. And we thank you so much for joining us and we will talk to you soon. Bye bye.


Alice Moore, one of our project managers with Systematic Excellence Consulting, has extensive experience leading people in the right direction. After working in the court system in the management and family law unit, she learned how important it was to have an efficient offboarding process that benefited all people involved. Join us in this episode to find out why offboarding is just as important as onboarding, and how it can create more exciting opportunities for your business when done right!

Show Notes

Most companies put all of their focus on the onboarding process, making sure the client is taken care of from the start or in the case of a team member making sure they are the right fit, understands company culture, has the needed skills, etc.

But what about when the client’s contract ends or the team member leaves?

If you’re giving most of your attention to the onboarding process but very little to your offboarding process, it is time to think about it. The offboarding process is crucial to continuing relationships between clients and team members.

In this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we had Alice Moore with us to talk about the big role offboarding plays in EVERY company.

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The right way to offboard an employee or client

➡️ How to make your offboarding process a win-win situation for everyone 

➡️ Steps to a flawless offboarding that will open doors for your company in the future

➡️ How to deal with offboarding someone under adverse conditions

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

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Episode Transcript

Amalie Shaffer  0:02  

All right. Welcome back. Today we are recording a session that we will have on our podcast, the Systematic Excellence Podcast and we’ll also be playing it on our Friday Facebook Live Show, “Masterfully Integrated”. We have a special guest today. We have Alice Moore, who I’m really excited to have on the show today. Of course, we have Janine, she’s here every every week, but we have Alice Moore. So Janine and I just recently started to transition to building our agency with employees and Alice is our first employee that we brought on, we hired her recently as a project manager, and I’m really excited for her to be here, Alice and I’ve worked together, I think, like over a year now, on a couple of projects, we did some mentoring together. And our relationship has just grown and now you know, we’re getting to work together even more and it’s really awesome. So we’re gonna, I’m gonna let Alice introduce herself. But then we’re going to talk about the off boarding process, something that you use with employees and with clients. And Alice is helping us build out ours. She’s built them out for other clients and things. So we’ll talk about, like what those elements look like. And if you’re watching this replay on  our Facebook business page, you know, leave us a comment, do a #replay, let us know you watched it. If you have any questions about it, you know, go ahead and put those in the comments. And if you need assistance with building out your onboarding process, we’ll put the link to book a discovery call with us. Basically, how we get you in touch with one of our team members is, you start by booking a call with either Janine or I, we get on the call, kind of figure out what’s going on, figure out if we’re a good fit and then we’ll fit you with one of our team members. We do work with some contractors, but like I said, we’re moving to more employees and contractors. So depending on what the situation is, we’ll partner you in the best way possible. So with all that said, Alice, tell us a little bit about yourself, you know, where are you from? What are you doing? What did you used to do? I think what you used to do, lends to being the helping us be a project manager on our team and things like that. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and and how you got to where you are today?


Alice Moore  2:29  

Sure, sure. My name is Alex Moore. First of all, though, thank you both for allowing me to be a part of your team. It’s really a great honor. Moving from California, I worked in the court system, so I was management and Family Law unit. And that really helped establish myself to become an entrepreneur. So once I moved, left the courts, I now live in Texas working for myself, more business services, and just providing remote support to entrepreneurs and small business owners, but again, as a manager in family law, it just really helped to pave the way for me, learning more about project management, people management and providing team support. So making sure I’m there available leading people in the right direction, helping employees when they knew that they wanted to promote, I was a great mentor for that aspect of employment with them. And then unfortunately, most times, in the court system off-boarding wasn’t as pleasant but still necessary. So that’s why I got some of the background for learning how to off-board employees properly and then now transitioning that to my business, when I have a client and we’ve achieved their goals that are for the process, to me is just as important as onboarding. So that’s kind of my background of how I got the skill set. And then what does lead to meeting Amalie and Janine and then being able to assist them and their clients with the same thing.


Janine Suvak  4:09  

Awesome. Yeah. Okay, great. So let’s talk about the off boarding process. Janine and I, we had a process in place, but it definitely needed some refinements. So why don’t you talk about the elements that are important to be included in an off-boarding process?


And the problems that arise without them.


Alice Moore  4:31  

Without them? Okay, well off-boarding kind of starts with onboarding as well. So when you’re first starting with the client, it’s important to know the aspects of what the project is going to be, what they need and what their desired outcome is. So when you’ve gone through that and you’re towards the end of your contract, is where you should start preparing to afford. So some of the elements are making sure you have a checklist in place, obviously. Ensuring that all deliverables are in a place to where you can hand those back over to the client because really they belong to them. Ensuring any contracts are firmed up that you may have put in place during your contract to ensure that anything that is not completed, that they are made aware of the status of that. And I also provide some feedback and assistance of how they can continue on to make sure that that still gets completed. So that may be links to tutorials or drafts of anything that I have that they may not have finalized before leaving. Some of the problems that could arise with not properly off-boarding is the client feeling like they really did not get their end of the contract fulfilled. So you split up, and then they’re left not knowing exactly “well, what was done? Or where do I go from here?”


Amalie Shaffer  6:08  

I think it’s important. I, actually, with one of our clients, I’m managing a project for them. And this website design is really intricate. And there’s a lot to it. It’s a lot. So one of the things that I mentioned to the client is when this website is done, for their client, the web designer needs to make videos to show someone else, like if they hire another web designer or something, how to use it. Not just the client how to use it, but another web designer, and I think that’s important in a lot of situations, especially when you’re handing over something like a website or a funnel, and they’re not going to continue to work with you on an ongoing basis, is to show them “hey, here’s how you make changes to it.” So they can be self-sufficient. And if it is a complicated thing, then here’s videos that you can give to another web designer if you decide to hire someone else in the future or something like that. So, videos, you mentioned tutorials. So, you know, I think that’s really important to provide someone you know, that plus the Google folder with all the things that you created for them, any kind of documents, whatever it is that was part of the deal, any notes, any recordings of calls, anything like that, that all needs to be delivered to them. I think the first thing is like compiling it in an email, here’s all the links that you’ll need going forward, you know, and then making sure that that’s together. And then my number one thing is always book a call down the road. So always, always, always book a call to check in. Because you never know what’s gonna happen in six months. And even if it is six months that might seem far away, but like you’ll blink and it’ll be here tomorrow, you know, so always booking a call is super important. When I start a relationship with a, you know, a prospective client or, or even, you know, working with a contractor, I always booked another call. So I’m always constantly in contact with that person. And we just recently had a follow up call with a client that we had, it’s been, I don’t know, three or four months since we talked to them. And you know, there’s always an opportunity for them to be another client, there’s always opportunity just to keep us in the top of their mind for referrals, anything like that. So always keeping that in mind and giving them the option to “Okay, this contract is ending, how can we support you, what kind of support you need going forward” as well giving them that option, it might not be something they need right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need it in six months.


Alice Moore  8:50  

Exactly. Exactly. And offering just maybe some team support as well. So they have already have a team in place, just being able to lend, you know some recommendations or some feedback going forward. And then like you said, those months fly by, so then have a follow-up call at the end of three or six months.


Janine Suvak  9:11  

I think you hit on a really important point when you made the comment about, did they get what they expected to get? Because you know, right off the bat, it’s like, well, how would they not know that? And yet, for a lot of people when something is being done, well, it’s out of sight, out of mind, right? Amalie and I were just laughing about how we often wrote our own evaluations in the military, because you just keep notes of your compliments or your accomplishments through the year, right. When you go back to your supervisor with that they’re like, “Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.” Right, because they don’t, they don’t think about it, right.


Even having a feedback form. So some way to do that. So the way that we do it is having a Google form that you can fill out and it helps, you know, prompt them to think about, you know, if someone was on the fence about working with us, what would you tell them and getting them to really think about what may help them make the decision to work with us, you know, and having a feedback form, and good and bad feedback. That’s important, like what didn’t work for you? What could have been better, knowing those on top of knowing what was good. And then of course asking for permission, if we could, you know, can we use this for marketing materials and getting permission from them for testimonials and things like that, but that’s also a really important part.


I have a question for Alice, when you’re wrapping up a project, you know, there’s there’s that mechanical part of it, that’s the systems and the processes and everything that you built out, what do you do for the team members you’ve been managing when you wrap up a project, kind of give them that sense of closure and high five and the people side of it.


Alice Moore  10:52  

Yeah. The people side I think is my most favorite part of having been a manager I think I really learned well how to connect with people in those types of environments, being a team player, you know, even in management sometimes you feel like there’s a like sort of a hierarchy where there’s you then them. And I never managed like that, it was us. So leaving the team with something good is allowing them the opportunity to say, nothing’s ever perfect. So let’s go through and run down what could have been better. So to make sure that they have some voice in the project, what would you have done different? And then making sure that you also celebrate what worked well. You know, it’s just as important as what did well, that’s how you kind of wrap up when there’s an actual you know, a team in place as well.


Amalie Shaffer  11:50  

So we talked about clients, but what about with team member? So team members might have a — I will mention one thing with clients is if they shared anything, passwords, login, you know all that, you get rid of those things. So LastPass clear that out. So you’re not getting on Facebook access.   I mean, there was a time when I had all these clients Facebook pages. I mean, of course, I was getting lots of notifications, which was great when I was working with them, but after I was working with them had to let that go, you know, but same thing. So with employees, or, you know, contractors, let’s talk about what that off boarding process looks like. So passwords is obviously one because we’re probably going to share passwords with those people. So let’s talk about some of the other elements that we need.


Alice Moore  12:34  

Right so with with your contractors, then it’s almost the same thing. So you want to make sure that you disconnect for them or they disconnect from you, to remove them from anything that they may have had access to. Still, feedback, that is the key in this environment is to learn what you did well and what you did not because we all have room to grow. To make sure that they are equipped to continue on to either work working for somebody else, themselves, or maybe even with you again, you know, just making sure that they understand, to make sure that they know like anything that you may have taught them during the process of them working for you as a contractor that they’ve learned that and they could have deliverables as well, even being a contractor, which could be somehow choose to move forward in the future.


Janine Suvak  13:30  

Yeah, awesome. Yeah. And, you know, even with writing, like the person who hires the contractor, or the employee writing them, you know, recommendation for going forward. You know, I think that’s important and even if they don’t necessarily ask you for it, provide that, you know, write support for them, even if they don’t specifically ask for it and helping them find new situations. If the project you have hired them for, especially contractors, if you have a project that’s ended, maybe there’s a way that you can help bridge the gap between the next project and then what that allows you to do is have a nice a good relationship with the contractor. Now with an employee, it’s a little different because there’s obviously, you know, you’re hiring versus, you know, letting go or firing something like that. But the main points to remember are any access that they have, deciding, you know, it, if there is an employee and there’s like disciplinary actions, making sure that those things are tracked. And then if you do decide to fire that person, you know, you have a letter that says, this is we’re letting you go, we will give, you know a recommendation for you or we won’t or we’ll confirm your employment here. You know, like those are specific things and there are templates for those things online. We use FormSwift, and they provide like fake letters like that, but it’s good to have kind of two, maybe three checklists like one for contractor off boarding, one for employee off boarding, and then one for client off boarding. Just because they all have a couple, you know, little details that are different.


Alice Moore  15:12  

Right, right, but going back to the contractor, you made a very good point with providing them with feedback or even a recommendation. Because in this online world that we’re in, you know, if it’s not on Facebook or Twitter or something that didn’t happen. So to be able to actually say that I have worked with this contractor, they fulfilled their contractual agreement, excellently or you know, the additional services that they provided or how they work well for you, and that you would recommend them. So that is really big in the space that we’re in.


Janine Suvak  15:48  

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And then you know, and continue to follow up with them again, just like the client, you know, keeping in touch with the contractor. So, if projects come up, “Hey, are you available? Can you work?” I think, Alice, that’s ultimately how we ended up where we are now is that you and I stayed in contact after we worked on a project together before. Just maintaining those relationships, I think are so important, not just with clients, but contractors, even employees once you know, if you do part ways or anything like that, that’s important.


Alice Moore  16:21  

I agree.


Janine Suvak  16:22  

If it’s all a team sport, we’re good, regardless of your role. Right?


Right. They know who the other person knows, right? And you never know who, like your client, if they’re ever going to need the services that the other person has, right? Even client to client, like if one of our clients has a service that one of our other clients needs, like you just never know, what kind of connections you can make from those people. So just maintaining those relationships, I think are so important, you know.


Alice Moore  16:46  

Right. And having teams in place is big, no matters their relationship. I mean, there’s been successful people alone, but how much more could they have gotten done with a team?


Amalie Shaffer  16:56  

If they had a team, right? Yeah, absolutely.


Janine Suvak  16:59  

I just wanted to ask something just touching back a little on the off boarding, is there anything in particular you recommend regarding when you’re off boarding somebody under normal versus adverse conditions?


Alice Moore  17:15  

There is, when it’s up versus just making sure that they still feel heard. And providing detailed feedback of why. So when it’s no conditions, we give praise anyways and say what they did well, but when it’s adverse, you know, could be a pretty sticky situation and some hostility, but still being that warm, open person, leaving them with an open mind as well with, this may have happened to lead us here, but we can bounce back. So, maybe again, always, tutorials and trainings are always they’re really good. So whatever that issue is, or was, provide them with some feedback and some links, some helpful tips, maybe even a book or so, that they can refer back to to kind of hone in on those skills and not make that mistake again. So what I’ve left them to be, you know, off boarded.


Janine Suvak  18:24  

And that’s all the way at the end of the whole managing and steering and back on track and corrections and feedback. I mean, I know we’re just talking about the end point, but it takes a lot to get to that route. Right.


Amalie Shaffer  18:40  

And also, I would just add in this because this is something that Janine and I have been talking about, but recognizing too, if you have a client that isn’t necessarily a good fit anymore for the direction you’re going in, being okay with off boarding and saying, you know what, this, but give them a referral of someone else who can better serve them. If it’s not a right fit for you, instead of kind of putting yourself in a situation that doesn’t feel like it’s running very smoothly, or if it’s not working, or you’re trying to go in a different direction, but you don’t want to give up on the person, the best thing you can do is like off for them and provide them, like make the connection to someone you know, that’s why having a strong network is important. Making that connection to kind of do the warm handoff like, “Look, this isn’t for me anymore, but they can help you, you know,” and doing something like that. So recognizing, even though they might not be the ideal client for you, you might have someone in your network that can support them. So I think that’s just another thing to keep in mind as well. Same thing with contractors, if your project ends, maybe there’s someone you know that could use that contractor, you know, a situation like that as well.


Alice Moore  19:48  

Right? Yeah, that is huge, too. Because if you stay in that situation, it’s really not serving either of you because you’re not putting your best foot forward and then from the clients perspective, they’re really not getting your best, which means that their product or service is not being represented well. So it’s best to, you know, off board them and give, like you said, some referrals of, “you know what, after working with you, and learning you, your business and your personality, I know the perfect fit for you” and make that connection.


Janine Suvak  20:22  

Yeah. Well, I love just your whole perspective on how you serve. Because that really parallels, Amalie and I have talked in the past about, if somebody quits, that’s really a failure of leadership, right? It’s like you still, whether it’s an employee or a client, you’re not serving them if you’re not helping them be in that place where recognizing something isn’t working.


Amalie Shaffer  20:51  

Well, Alice, thank you so much for joining us. You know, for everyone listening to the podcast, you’ll probably hear more if you decide that you reach out to us and you end up working with us. Alex is one of our team members and supports, you know, all of the projects that we work on. Same thing for anyone watching Masterfully Integrated. Again, if you’re watching the replay of this, give us a #replay, putting comments, questions in there, we’ll get back to answering. We’ll also put the link to book calls. So if you’re looking for support on setting up your onboarding process, we can help you with that. You book a call, we’ll discuss, figure out what the way forward is. And if it’s a good fit, we can make it happen. Our podcast comes out every Tuesday and our Facebook Live is every Friday at 11am eastern on our Facebook business page. Again, Alice, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. We really loved having you on the team. And yeah, I guess we’ll see you next week.


Alice Moore  21:49  

Great. It’s been my pleasure. Bye bye.


Chris Mims is a bookkeeper with plenty of experience helping businesses save money, plan their future, and prevent business failure by using the amazing Profit First Method. She’s been working with us here at Systematic Excellence Consulting so we know firsthand how awesome she is. Join us in this episode to find out why you and your business can benefit from having a bookkeeper!

Show Notes

As a business owner, you probably know how important it is to have current and precise financial information; and if your business is growing and you’re finally reaching a point where you are taking on more customers, taking a close look at your reports becomes imperative.

In fact, no matter the size of your company, having someone look at your numbers is important to ensure steady business growth. 

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? 

Join us in this episode where we had the amazing Chris Mims with us to talk about having a bookkeeper makes running a business easier and enjoyable, and the best part, keeping your business finances healthy! 

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ Profit First method vs traditional accounting: which is the best for me? 

➡️ Why is accounting important for businesses?

➡️ Things to consider when hiring a bookkeeper

➡️ Tips to keep your business finances healthy

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect With Chris

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie Shaffer  0:01  

All right. Thank you everyone for joining us for another episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast. We are super excited to be here today because we have the lovely Chris Mims who is our amazing MVP, VIP bookkeeper who was the very first person that I worked within my business. And when I was working by myself and then now Janine and I work with her, and we constantly refer her to clients because she’s amazing. But I’m going to tell you a little bit about Chris before we start asking some questions. So Chris is a QuickBooks Pro advisor and bookkeeper with 15 years of experience. Before she was a bookkeeper, she was a professional pet groomer and had owned a store and she is from South Carolina. Well, she lives there now. And she is on a quest to prevent business’s failure from bank balance accounting using the Profit First method of business finance and let me tell you Profit First is amazing. When I set up in my business it seriously changed everything. Now, hold on. I do want to say some interesting facts because when I asked Chris to send me her bio, she sent me some cool stuff. So let me just go through this one. You sing the national anthem for the Yankees game in the early 90s. Maybe I shouldn’t have said the 90s because that’s gonna tell your age but anyway, that’s pretty cool.


Chris Mims  1:34  

That just speaks to my life experience.


Amalie Shaffer  1:36  

That’s really cool. Your first job was selling sweet corn on a roadside stand which is awesome. You grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont. And you have two puppies which are adorable. So if you’re not friends with Chris on Facebook, you need to be, or Instagram so you can see her adorable puppies. Okay, so you have an RV parked and waiting for your next cross country adventure. That’s exciting.


Chris Mims  2:08  

Yes, yes.


Amalie Shaffer  2:10  

Awesome. So we are so excited for you to be here because I seriously love you. And I don’t know where my business would be without you. And now I don’t know where Systematic Excellence Consulting would be without you because you seriously are amazing. So did I miss any interesting facts? Or did I catch everything?


Chris Mims  2:28  

I think you got the gist of it. Thank you. Thank you very much for even inviting me to do this. This is really fun. And it’s just fun to talk to you and we rarely speak to each other on video, both of you as well instead of just texting or messaging.


Amalie Shaffer  2:45  

So now I normally call you and I’m like, “there’s a thing that went through and I’m not sure how to fix it”… and anyway.


Chris Mims  2:51  

And I’m like, “got it, don’t worry.”


But it’s been awesome. So I think I was a nomad when you hired me. We met in Chicago a few years ago.  And then, I kind of built this business out of necessity and, I was married at the time and I was following my husband everywhere. His job was taking him and you know, I kind of needed something flexible and a job that I could do anywhere. Bookkeeping comes naturally to me. So it just seemed like a good fit. And so I think when I started working with you, I was on a four-month trip. I think east coast of Texas. And so yeah, it was a great time. And yeah, I love the flexibility of this kind of work. And with Coronavirus, happening at the moment that we’re recording this, I’m so grateful to be able to work from home.


Amalie Shaffer  3:47  

Yeah, definitely. I agree. So let’s just start because I did mention that you use the Profit First method, which I think is amazing. So if any listeners haven’t read the book, get the book. It’s awesome, by Mike Michalowicz. Could you give us just a quick little explanation of what the Profit First method is?


Chris Mims  4:11  

Sure, sure. Profit First is, I like to call it a method as well as a mindset. And bank balance accounting is when you just spend money when you have it. You enjoy it when it’s in your bank account and you panic when it’s not there. And it’s that cycle of “I have money, I can spend, I don’t have money, what am I going to do?” And the fear that comes up in April 15 when it’s tax time and you go, “oh my goodness, do I have enough money for taxes this year?” That’s bank balance accounting. And it’s the way that I used to do business when I had my retail store and it gets to be Thursday and I was like “good grief, is payroll going to clear this week?” And it’s very stressful, very stressful. And as much as many systems as we can have in place, and as many procedures and good planning and good marketing, all those things fall apart if there isn’t good accounting. You have to keep track of what’s coming in and what’s going out and making sure that you have enough to cover the lean times. And over the next couple of months, there are going to be businesses that suffer just because their employees can’t work or trips have been canceled and they’ve lost deposits. There’s going to be a lot of change that happens over the next month or so. Anyway. So the beauty of profit first is as income comes in, you split it out based on percentage into four different accounts. And that way, you’ve got money for payroll and you’ve got money for taxes and you’ve got money for operating expenses and you’ve got money to pay yourself, which is the first thing people cut when they have a tight budget. And that’s not how you… I wrote down a quote, let me grab it.


Amalie Shaffer  6:15  

And that’s really not how you survive. I mean, that’s how the business initially breaks down. Right? And well, did you find the quote? I was gonna keep going.


Chris Mims  6:26  

There’s a quote from Jon Acuff and he says that, you know, you can be really great at your craft. But if you’re not good at your business, you don’t get to keep doing that craft. And so you can be incredibly passionate about your work and your purpose and all those things, but you have to be good at your business. And if you’re not, then you need to outsource it and that’s and that’s where a good bookkeeper, a trustworthy bookkeeper can come into play where they can just handle stuff for you. And then you can keep doing what you need to do and allow your brain to instead of being stuck on all those numbers and the tedium of bookkeeping you can then be creative and do what you are amazing at.


Amalie Shaffer  7:15  

Yeah, no, definitely. And like I said, you were the first person that I hired to work with my business. You were also the first person that Janine and I hired to work with in our business, because I think it’s so important. And the other thing about having a great bookkeeper like you is to help us understand the numbers and understand these things. And from your explanation, I feel like we’ve always run my business and how we’re running Systematic Excellence Consulting is almost to the extreme where I’m like, “save it all”, you know, “just give me this tiny little…” And I love the explanation the best way whenever someone asks me about it, I always say it’s like living off the tiny plate like, you know, where you live off this tiny plate and then you have what we like to call “the vault” where the money gets put in there and then once a quarter we get a bonus and it’s like Christmas and it’s amazing. But then instead of you know, it’s not that tight but I mean, I live tight. You know, I do I mean, we do we live tight. And then we get the bonus every quarter. And I think living that way, it’s been a change, but it is made such a difference. And Janine, were you about to say something?


Janine Suvak  8:31  

Oh, yeah, I just wanted to jump in. The saving of the brain space on the task itself is a small part of it, saving the brain space on the emotions around it, that is huge.


Chris Mims  8:43  

Yeah, there’s a lot connected to our stress and our money. And if you can just outsource a little bit and give yourself that freedom, you can save so much stress.


Janine Suvak  8:55  

Yes, yeah, absolutely.


Amalie Shaffer  8:57  

So let’s talk about it. I want to ask kind of two different questions. One, I want to ask, what should people be doing, you know, daily or weekly? What kinds of things do they need to be responsible for if they have a bookkeeper? Because I mean, really, let’s just be honest, we are advocates for having a bookkeeper. So I don’t even really want to address what it means to not have one because I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend having one and I really wouldn’t be having my business, I wouldn’t have it set up any other way. So I want to talk about like what people should be doing. You know, even with a bookkeeper, are there things that they need to do? What do they need to be aware of? And then I’d love to talk about, you know, kinds of things to look for when you’re hiring one. And then you know, we can kind of go from there, but I like I said, I’m an advocate for bookkeepers, so I don’t even want to kind of go into like, what it would look like is honestly, to me, that’s hell and I’d rather not talk about that. So.


Chris Mims  9:59  

it’s a really frightening thing because you need to have someone you can trust, that is the primary thing. So don’t hire the friend that you know that does bookkeeping because I made that mistake once and I can tell you that story if you want. But you need to hire somebody who’s got some qualifications. There’s currently no licensing for bookkeepers. So it’s not about finding somebody through your licensing board in your state, but you could contact your CPA and ask them for a referral. They might offer bookkeeping in house in their firm, but the rates are generally higher.


Amalie Shaffer  10:42  

What do you have? Do you have any kind of certifications?


Chris Mims  10:46  

Yeah, I’m currently QuickBooks Pro. I’m a QuickBooks Pro advisor, which is a certification from QuickBooks. I’m working on one through Xero Software as well, that’s spelled X e r o and that one is better for international business. And that’s the next level that I have service that I want to provide, because freelancers need to be able to do business, especially nomadic type businesses need to be able to work across international boundaries. So as far as finding one, QuickBooks does have a list of everybody who’s QuickBooks Pro advisors, so you can search within QuickBooks, if that’s your software, if you were using Wave which is a free software or Xero, which is another option. There’s another one called Patriot where every one of these programs has their own certification and will probably provide a list of vendors that you can hire, but I would encourage anyone to interview them. Have a good conversation about what their experiences and how they were trained and you know, you can ask how many clients do you have currently? Do you have time for me? Those kinds of things, because that’s going to change their level of service and how much time there…


Amalie Shaffer  12:10  

Are you currently taking new clients on?


Chris Mims  12:12  

I am. I’m going full time very soon. So I’m working temporarily with a CPA right now because I love to be in that environment during tax season, and I just get to absorb so much experience and education just being in that facility. But honestly, what I’m doing is processing tax returns, I’m not actually filing anything. I’m literally stamping and flagging for signatures and putting things in envelopes, but like organizing. So I will tell you that when I was a pet groomer, I would get a messy dog in the morning and give it a haircut, give it a wash, clean it up, clip its nails, do all those things. And then I would hand back this clean, pretty dog and it’s funny that it’s been consistent that that’s what I love to do in bookkeeping, give me messy books. And let me clean them up, let me organize it. And even at the CPA firm, I’m taking a stack of paperwork and I’m organizing it. So the W-2s are here and the 1099 are here and that everything is paperclip envelopes, and everything is ready to go. And I just love it. It just makes me happy. I love just organizing things. But that can be done digitally. So I had a client reach out to me, these are the kind of… Actually I’ve got a funny story. Let me, I can get ahead of myself. So forgive me. Do you remember a video a couple years ago and it went viral? And it was about this gentleman that was giving a news report from Hong Kong I think and he was sitting in his home office and his child walks in. And I remember the little girl in the yellow sweater, and she was just bouncing into the room. I was thinking like that is the perfect analogy of our businesses. Because, yes, we’ve got our suit and tie if you’re a man, you know, and then we’re wearing yoga pants on the bottoms because nobody can see that right? That’s below camera. And that’s the facade that our businesses are, it’s like, we got everything together. Our marketing is on point, our website’s gorgeous. We’ve got our books, calendar, everything looks amazing. And then something comes in from the back door. And that backdoor anything can happen. So I had a client who had a real estate transaction that came up. She had an opportunity to buy some property, and she needed her books done immediately. Good thing was we already had them done. So on a Sunday afternoon when I’m sitting in an outlet store, and I get her email that says “hey, I need my balance sheet because I’m trying to get financing for this piece of property we need to put an offer in like immediately.” I emailed her that balance sheet, she had it within five minutes. And that’s the value of having good bookkeeping ready to go at any time is not when that little when that child comes in and breaks into the facade. “Are your business books ready? Is your tax prep done? Are you on track?” Because just remember that woman that came in and just pulled the children back out of the room and close the door? Yeah, I think of myself as that woman. You know, you’ve got like crazy financial things that pop up and I just remove them from the room.


Amalie Shaffer  15:43  

You know, you’ve done that for me for sure, yeah.


Chris Mims  15:46  

But it’s just, that’s what it’s all about is that, you know, it’s one thing to have the facade of a great business model and everything’s going great, but underneath you have to have good accounting, so that you can continue to do what you’re passionate about and continuing your craft.


Amalie Shaffer  16:02  

Awesome. So I do have a question I just thought, so how would you recognize if you had a not so good bookkeeper? What are some signs to recognize? Janine, were you about to ask that? But so how would you recognize, and not that I want to like bash, I don’t, obviously I advocate for bookkeepers. But how does someone recognize that they don’t have a good one?


Chris Mims  16:31  

That is a challenge because there’s a steep learning curve for bookkeeping. So…  and let me tell you how this might go longer than 20 minutes. So my story was I had my retail store. I had nine employees at one point, so my head was in the game. I’m taking care of clients, I’m taking care of their dogs. I’m taking care of my employees. I’m trying to mop floors and all these things. I was not paying attention to the balance sheet and the profit and loss statements. That was the last thing on my mind. And I was totally doing balance book, I mean, bank balance accounting. So I hired a friend to do my bookkeeping. And I never checked credentials. He just, he was available. So I hired him. I would give him my laptop, in my bank statement, and he would borrow it for a couple of nights and then bring it back to me with the books done. I never looked at my P&Ls. I never looked at the balance sheet. All I wanted to know is are my books ready for tax prep. So when it came time to sell my business, I didn’t have a whole lot of notice that I was going to sell my business I had about six months. That’s not a lot of time to sell a business. And when someone was evaluating my books, and it took an outside person to evaluate them, they said “we don’t know how you’ve lasted.” And oh, and I knew how I was struggling to pay my mortgage and pay myself and my employees and everything else, I knew things were tight. I didn’t know how bad but the reality was is that he wasn’t putting things on the balance sheet that should have been on the balance sheet. The profit and losses are going to tell you about short term income and expenses. The balance sheet is going to show you the long term financials. And he was coding things for very short term, over nine years of business that meant that devalued my business, so I was trying to get a certain dollar figure for my shop, and there was no way I could get it. No way because of bad bookkeeping. I lost 10s of thousands of dollars. And that’s a painful lesson that I don’t want anyone that I’m associated with to have that experience. So I advocate that you should meet with your accountant in November, book an appointment with them every year. And just have them look at your books. And it may cost you 150 bucks, it may cost you 200 bucks depending on what they charge per hour. But just have them look at your financials to make sure that you are on the right track. While you can still make adjustments before the end of the year. November’s an ideal time because all the tax deadlines are behind them. And they’re in that low before the storm.


Amalie Shaffer  19:26  

Just a side note. So Janine and I have the CPA that we work with, and we do meet with him in November. So just good. Just as a side note, well, you know that but I was just making. We do do that.


Chris Mims  19:40  

But I’m glad you both do it because you guys have a partnership. So I think that’s a valuable thing not to let one person do it and not the other, I applaud you for that. That’s good business minded. That’s very smart.


Amalie Shaffer  19:54  

Yeah. Awesome.


Chris Mims  19:56  

You guys are an amazing team. Can I just tell you that?


Amalie Shaffer  19:59  

Oh, thank you.


Chris Mims  20:00  

The first time I talked to Amalie, I was like, “I don’t know, partnership? I don’t know.” There are so many horror stories, but you guys are an amazing team and it’s just, it’s wonderful to work with you. It really is.


Janine Suvak  20:12  

Aw, thank you. Thanks.


Amalie Shaffer  20:14  

So my next question is… So having a bookkeeper, what are things people should be doing? I mean, I know how I do things, which is like call you on the phone, maybe that’s not the best way to do it. But what are things that people should be doing? Even though they have a bookkeeper? That’s just responsible, obviously, one is meeting with an accountant in November to go over things just to have a second set of eyes on everything. What else can people do? And even if it means like bigger businesses and things like that, but what can people do on top of having a bookkeeper or while still having a bookkeeper?


Chris Mims  20:54  

Sure. Setting aside money for taxes is a good tip. Just automate it if you have to, just set it aside that way, you have money to pay the CPA, and you’ve got money to file the taxes and pay taxes if they come up because you can. You can just implode the business in one tax return. If it just drains all of your cash flow, and you have nothing to operate on, you’re done. And that’s, you know, so many businesses fail within the first five years and that’s often one of the problems is either they were noncompliant with their taxes, or they just did not plan for annual expenses. Another thing is something that I applaud you guys for doing as well. And that’s if there’s a subscription, instead of paying for it for 12 months, you pay for it annually and get the discount. Like if I see ways to save money, I will tell you, and I think I think you’re you guys have been doing those kind of things which is great. Another trick is when comes to getting QuickBooks or another software, whatever it is if it’s not a free bookkeeping software is ask either a CPA, an accountant, a bookkeeper, ask them what they can offer you because a lot of these software’s want to sell retail, but give discounted rates to professionals. And they know that if they give the discounted rates to professionals that are professionals going to be working on the books, and that means that business is less likely to fail, which means they get to keep the client long term out and they reward that with that discounted rate, but they charge a premium, they charge the retail rate for the software for folks that are going to do their own books because they know they’re gonna have it up.


And they’re the kind of folks who rush a set of bad books to an overwhelmed CPA and expect them to fix it and they won’t. They’re just going to draw the numbers out of the books and say, “Okay, here’s your tax return.” And they don’t have time to analyze your books on March, you know, today is, you know, it’s March, we’re three days away from a corporate tax deadline. They’re not looking at your books right now they are plugging in numbers and sending out tax returns as fast as they can.


Amalie Shaffer  23:16  

Yeah. And so we use QuickBooks in our business, and we use Square for payroll and both of them are I mean, you use them more than I do. So then we do stuff. But I think, as far as I know, you know, I like them, they seem easy to use. And we previously when I was working solo, I used Wave which is also really good. But QuickBooks I really like we use that in our business, for invoicing and everything and then also square for payroll.


Chris Mims  23:50  

And Wave is great when you’re getting started. Once you gain some traction and you’re generating some revenue, and if you want to switch to the profit first method QuickBooks or Xero are definitely a better choice just because Wave doesn’t handle transfers between accounts very well. It’s very confusing. And then you really need a professional to intervene.


Amalie Shaffer  24:10  

Right. And the thing about the profit first method is that it’s multiple bank accounts. That’s where the multiple transfers comes in. Just I don’t know if you guys can notice, but you see my dog, all up in my face? Anyway, Janine, did you have a question?


Janine Suvak  24:30  

Oh, I was just thinking back to when, you know, people bring in their messy things. What are the kind of things that leads you to think of that and when did you think this was a problem, right?


Chris Mims  24:43  

Yeah, so some of the messiness that I get and granted I love cleanup work when it comes to QuickBooks like give me a year’s worth of bank statements and I will fix it. The chart of accounts is the framework for bookkeeping. So it tells us where your loans are, where your savings are, where your checking accounts are, where the income is coming in where it’s going out, but it’s also the long term and short term. So the long term loans, let’s say you’ve got a leased vehicle, and you lease it for five years, that’s got to be on your balance sheet. That’s all on the chart of accounts. So recently, I saw groceries on a chart of account, and clothing on the chart of accounts, and I was like, hold up, those are not business expenses. And it’s like those aren’t, that doesn’t belong on the chart of accounts. And so someone had mixed in their personal banking in with their business banking, and that’s where it gets ugly really fast. But QuickBooks kind of it’s deceiving, but QuickBooks kind of leads you into that if you are a Schedule C filer and you’re filing on your personal tax return with your social security number, they kind of want you to put all your bank accounts on QuickBooks so that you can transfer money between the accounts and all these things. And it’s a terrible idea, like separating business from personal is the first rule of bookkeeping, keep them separate. Clothing and groceries should never be on your chart of accounts.


Amalie Shaffer  26:20  

And although it seems like a lot, having the separate bank accounts it’s so nice because you can visually see the difference in, “Okay, this is this pot of money, this is this pot of money.” If it was all together, I think it doesn’t allow you to really see the number right so I can go look at our operating expense account and know how much is there. Whereas if all of our money was sitting in one bank account, we wouldn’t really know because but visually being able to see the number do I have enough money for taxes? I can go look at that account and know exactly how much money I have in there. To me, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way, then, you know, I prefer to just be able to visually see, otherwise, you’re trying to like, subtract from the main number. And I mean, just that’s too much like being able to just quickly log into my bank account, or into like, the main account that has the multiple ones. I mean, it’s just, you know, it is it’s great. And I just, I can’t imagine doing the other way.


Chris Mims  27:23  

Yeah, I can’t either. Honestly, like to go back to the old way. It just, it would be too confusing at this point.


Amalie Shaffer  27:28  

Yeah, for sure.


So Janine, did you have any other questions?


Janine Suvak  27:32  

Nope. That’s all I had.


Amalie Shaffer  27:34  

Okay, so tell us what we now know. One, you are available to new clients and I highly, highly, highly recommend.


Janine Suvak  27:41  



Amalie Shaffer  27:42  

So where tell us like, what do you have going on? Where can people find you? We will make sure we share all the links, if you want to give us links for like QuickBooks referrals, Square referrals, so if people are doing payroll, Square is super easy, I know. We’ve been using it in our business for a long time you’ve been running it. So whatever links you have, we’ll make sure we put them into the show notes. People can find it. But where is it? What is the best way to get in touch with you if someone’s interested in working with you?


Chris Mims  28:12  

So I’m on all the socials with the same name. And it’s the same as my website. So it’s just ChrisMimsVA, VA standing for virtual assistant. That was originally what I was going to do. And then I just kind of narrowed it right down into QuickBooks and bookkeeping. So it’s Chris Mims VA. So that’s Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. And that’s my website as well. So the best way to get in touch with me is my email which is shoot me an email, I can reply and it will have a Calendly link on there in the signature line so you can book a call with me. We can just talk about your books. I am happy, happy to talk to someone and if you are in the stages of setting up your business, I can give you a few tips and ideas to get you in the right direction. So you don’t have to waste a lot of time asking banks or asking an accountant because in the early stages, those things can cost a lot of time. And when you’re setting up a business, you don’t have a lot of time you are busting it.


Amalie Shaffer  29:23  

If your accounting is the hot mess express they should also get in touch with you and you’re happy to clean up their mess.


Chris Mims  29:35  

Happy to clean up books, and I am now connecting myself with these CPAs that are also online and I have a few of my preferred ones that I love to work with. And they are in the midst of growing their businesses as well. And they love me because I give them a clean set of books. So they reward my clients with a lower rate because they know they don’t have any hassle factor. So it does end up costing you less long term. And it saves you stress and heartache. And yeah, and the tension in the household when your spouse is like, “what do you mean your books aren’t done? We need to get our taxes done and I want my refund.” Yeah. So it all helps.


Amalie Shaffer  30:18  

Awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being on our team. You know, we really appreciate you and to everyone listening. We’ll drop the links in the show notes for you. And if you enjoyed this episode of the Systematic Excellence Podcast, leave us a review. And we will see you next time. Thank you so much. Bye.



Sonya Lee is passionate about helping teams achieve goals that might seem impossible to some. She focuses on customer behavior, psychology, user experience, design, branding, and many more things. Join us in this episode where she shares how her broad expertise, systems, and methods help companies fix internal problems to grow like never before!

Show Notes

Do you want to know the secret to what your clients really, really want? 

It really isn’t that big of a secret!

But you don’t have to worry about that anymore! We invited Sonya Lee, an expert in finding creative solutions to help businesses reach their potential, to talk about how she inspires teams to achieve goals they thought were unattainable.

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The ONE big business mistake you definitely need to avoid 

➡️ Why being disruptive is needed sometimes

➡️ Why you need to start working on your communication skills

➡️ Understanding what doing business is really about

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect With Sonya

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Janine: (00:00)

Hi, Sonya, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today?

Sonya: (00:03)

I’m really good. How are you?

Janine: (00:05)

I’m doing great. And I’m so appreciative of you being here. Thanks for coming on.

Sonya: (00:10)

Absolutely. I’m looking forward to this wonderful conversation.

Janine: (00:14)

Yeah, me too. Me too. Cause you have this amazing experience and I can hardly wait to hear you share your story. So as you know, our audience are businesses that where the business owner or the business leader may have had, or experienced trouble with the systems or something internal to their business has been slowing them down. And we’re looking for the kind of stories of how they got past that because it’s the real world stories that help us learn, I think, best than just talking about theory. Right?

Sonya: (00:48)


Janine: (00:49)

And I know you have an amazing story, so I’m gonna step back and let you just get started with it.

Sonya: (00:55)

Okay. So you want me to just start jumping into it?

Janine: (00:58)

You can, yeah, we can start with a little bit about your background.

Sonya: (01:01)

Okay, great. So my name is Sonya Lee. I am a brand strategist, but I’ve had a very colorful career as a creative director. As a web designer. I started a couple of tech companies and now I work with business owners to help them discover a brand and create messages that captivate their audience. So I want to talk about how I got started in my journey and where I went and how I ended up here, where I am today. So I actually, I’m going to cut to a very, very fun time in my life where I was working at Disney. And I was brought in to work with the team to help them launch. And it was really interesting, you know, kind of following the corporate environment. Everybody has their thing that they do. Everybody has a specific role and you stay within your comfort zone and you don’t necessarily go out of that. Now, what was really interesting is that Bob Iger had recently at that time gone to CES, which is a really big conference in Las Vegas. And now that the website was going to be launching in two to three weeks. Now, what he didn’t know was what we had shown him was actually a demo. And he didn’t realize that we had basically hodgepodged everything together. And there were still a whole lot of work that needed to be done. So being somebody who’s done several launches and helped, you know, put sites together through the marketing team, through the copy team, the creative team, everyone, technology, everyone needs to come together, but there was something in that structure that corporate environment where it was lacking.

Sonya: (02:42)

And so this is kind of my breakthrough story where I realized kind of looking and observing and seeing that something was not going to go well if things didn’t change. I think, you know what I mean? So I took it upon myself to kind of go and talk to all of these different departments and say, “Hey, what are you missing? What do you need in order to move forward?!” And they’re like, “I need this, this and this.” And I’m like, “okay.” I go over to the next department and say, “okay, I have these requirements and I’m going to get you this, what else do you need?” So I became that facilitator. Now my title at that time was not a director. I was not a VP. I was just a senior designer/art director at that time. So this was beyond my role. Now I took it upon myself to move myself into the development room, which we called the command center.

Sonya: (03:35)

And I sat with all the developers and ask them, “okay, what do you need right now? All right, let’s go, I’ll go get it.” You need me to go talk to the copywriter, I’ll go get it. You need something, you need a specification? I’ll go get it. You need something designed, I’m on it. And I became that person that really pulled everything together. So we ended up launching on time. It was really stressful. They started serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the office and we’d stay until 11, which is really crazy. But yeah, we launched on time. Now, the irony in all of this, having done a really, really amazing job and, you know, gotten the site launched on time was I got a slap on my wrist and I was written up for being disruptive, which is kind of strange considering I got the company to launch on time, you know, we did not lose millions of dollars.

Janine: (04:24)

And it’s interesting world how in the tech world being disruptive is a goal, right?

Sonya: (04:31)

It is, back then I wasn’t, but I am disruptive. I really, I truly was. So that, you know, when I got written up, I actually took that moment to ask myself, “Sonya, do you really deserve to be here? I think you’re worth more.” And so I ended up leaving and that became the beginning of my own business, a design agency where I worked ironically with Disney and also several other really big top corporations as well. So yeah, that’s kind of where I started in how I moved into what I kind of do today.

Janine: (05:11)

Okay. So if you were reviewing back with what the role you stepped into because of the lack you saw, what would you say was the biggest problem with communications?

Sonya: (05:23)

So they definitely didn’t have a problem with understanding the goal. The goal is there. The thing that was missing was the culture in order to help everyone understand that they can rely and trust on each other without having to go through normal channels. Right. Which is again, culture, but also what you said, communication, feeling confident that they could go to anybody within the company to get stuff done. And that wasn’t the norm.

Janine: (05:51)

That’s interesting. The only other little inside peek to Disney which has its reputation, right? It’s Disney. My dad was a building inspector when they were redoing the park. And that was amazing in that all the different layers of construction, you know, from drywall to paint to whatever it’s like, it was like clockwork getting stuff done in such a short period of time. It’s just fascinating to me to hear this project that went in behind the scenes, but it’s just, you know, that went the way it did like that. So how did you take those lessons learned in putting so as an agency yourself, a design agency, you still have many pieces that you have to coordinate and put together, right. So how did you apply the lessons you learned from that to what you’re doing today?

Sonya: (06:46)

I think this is really important for any entrepreneur and business owner is to understand that any business is not about you, it’s about the client, because guess who’s paying you? The client. So even as an employee, I had to remind myself that I’m not the superstar here. The company is the superstar. So my job is to make the company move forward. So in that point, when I realized that we had to launch under a really, really big deadline, I removed ego and said, you know, if I’m going to get into trouble, then I’m going to get into trouble, but I have to put my client at first. And so when I started my agency, the same concept came about. And again, the reason why I’ve done so well and I’ve been able to continue working with so many big companies is because I don’t put my ego into my client’s work.

Sonya: (07:36)

It’s not about me. It’s about their customers that I’m helping them attract. So I think that is something that’s continued to follow me through my entire career. And even as I began to, you know, so I ran my design agency for about 10 years, ended up going and starting two tech companies. And then after that, I returned to my roots, not as an agency, but as a branding, strategist and marketer. So again, building this business has been very much similar. So what I had to do, because now I’m building my own business. I am the client and I have to go get customers. I had to remove myself from my own ego, which is really, really hard. So kind of parlaying into this current experience. I think one of the hardest things about branding and creating a compelling story for your customers is to realize that you have to speak the language that your customers want to hear.

Sonya: (08:36)

You have to go and speak at what is important to them, right? So a lot of people think I can help you X, Y, and Z, but that’s speaking from, from ego, right? It’s not about what I can do for you. It’s what this system or this method can do for you. So in layman’s terms, right. Hopefully I’m not going too far, but in layman’s terms, you have to be able to speak to the frustrations of your customer, not what you think they need, but what they actually need right now. And that involves going and doing research, talking to them, figuring out what is truly wrong in their business, and then using that exact language to captivate and capture their attention.

Janine: (09:21)

Okay. And so are you a solo at this time or do you have a team behind you doing this?

Sonya: (09:28)

I work with a team, but for the most part, it is me.

Janine: (09:31)

Okay. So how do you, so when we’re talking about corporate culture, how do you help your team? Or how did you choose the people for your team that have that kind of adaptability?

Sonya: (09:44)

Yeah. So I have the three CS. These are the three CS that I use to hire anybody within my team. Okay. So the first one is ability to communicate. If you can’t talk and you can’t tell me what’s wrong, then that’s a no go. The second one is the ability to collaborate. If you don’t play nice with other people, guess what? This isn’t going to work. And then the last one is to commit. If you can’t commit to a project and you’re Willy nilly and you’re kind of flopping all over the place, that’s also a no go for me. So what I look for in people is a mixture of culture and talent. But when they meet three CS, then that is a really, really big deal for me because I’m looking for partners, not just employees. I think for any business owner, you don’t want to spend your time writing down every single thing that you want them to do. You want them to have the initiative, you want them to be self motivated and have kind of the instinct on what they need to do in order to move themselves forward. So I think for anyone who’s growing a team, those are the most important things that you should always, always, always remember.

Janine: (10:52)

Okay. That’s great. Cause I’ve talked to a lot of people who are really challenged by both hiring and then firing. How you do one leads to problems or not so many problems with that.

Sonya: (11:06)

The saying is to hire slow and fire quick.

Janine: (11:10)

What does that look like for you, for slow?

Sonya: (11:13)

It’s just taking the time to get to know someone as a person, not jumping into a situation where someone’s trying to please you, I do a slow interview process. We’ll give it a couple of weeks, have multiple conversations, let our guard down, go grab a drink. You know, I really want to know what you’re all about and how we can help each other grow. And that’s, again, as an employer, I also do the same thing. My ability is to communicate, collaborate, and commit, you know? So it goes both ways.

Janine: (11:45)

What are your feelings on when you’re speaking more to the character of the person? You look more for that and then much does their skillset weigh or, or how do you test that — this is in terms of how trainable they are when you have the person you would like to work with versus people who weigh heavily the skillset. And aren’t really looking at the personality and how they fit in.

Sonya: (12:10)

You know, I think the right person will always have the drive to learn and please to learn for themselves, to learn for the business and to please themselves and to please the business as well. So I would rather find someone who is hungry to learn, who might be mediocre and doesn’t have a huge ego about in themselves if you go for the expert and they think they know better and they don’t listen and they don’t collaborate, guess what? You’re going to sink all this time and money into something that might not even work. So I’d rather work with someone who has the, you know, the right capabilities to kind of grow with the company. Does that make sense? 

Janine: (12:51)

Oh, absolutely. So what happens in those situations where you feel like that’s what’s going on, but, and maybe that’s how they were progressing and working with you at first, but it seems like they have plateaued and not quite reached the level or kept up with the company?

Sonya: (13:09)

At that point, you know, we can do a couple of different things. Again, you’re drawing upon my experience, having run my tech companies and also my nonprofit is you want to be able to bring outside experts in house, right? So maybe it’s calling somebody within your network asking for expertise. There is such thing as an information meeting where you say, “Hey, we’re stuck on this. Can you help us?” There’s also where you can consult an expert and get guidance. So you don’t have to. I mean, it’s kind of expecting the perfect specimen of a human being to show up in your business and have all of the answers and the reality of it all is that that does not exist. The more you can leverage your network, rely on them for information and then create your own system, your own solutions, the stronger that becomes, because now you’ve truly owned it and you’ve learned it and inherited it.

Janine: (14:07)

Yeah. That’s wonderful. Yeah. Well, that’s, you know what I do with operations and systems coming from the military where it’s like, they’ve kind of had that down for 244 years, and yet it’s the human factor that you’re constantly dealing with. Even as the structure inside your business may have to change, to adapt to market conditions and what’s going on. So, and I think that business owners and leaders like yourself, you know, that’s the never ending thing. It’s the human factor.

Sonya: (14:35)

Yeah, definitely. And I think the same would would be with where I’m working with clients is I have to constantly remind themselves to not put their ego into any project. Branding is such a delicate thing because it is your messaging through and through, right? What you say, how you position yourself, how you execute and go out into the market and put your name out there really, really matters. Now, if you’re looking at it through the lens of yourself and not your customer, guess what, same problem. We’re not communicating properly. We’re not committing to them and we’re not collaborating. Right. So it’s so important to remove the ego from any situation, especially in a work environment and maybe even at home too, but to, to just kind of say, you know what, it’s not about me. And that’s hard. That’s hard for a lot of people.

Janine: (15:26)

It is. Yeah. So how would you recommend someone? If they struggled with it as a business owner and they know it’s something they need to do, what is something that can help them do that?

Sonya: (15:40)

Yeah. So I run an exercise called “journey mapping”. And what we do is we break down what’s going on within the customer’s life, right? So we break it down into what they’re thinking, feeling, doing, expecting, and then we track them through their buying cycle. Now what this does, what this exercise is all about is helping business owners understand what the customer is going through and creating that empathy, right? No customer randomly says, I’m going to pay you $10,000 today to do this, right. It has to solve a problem and you have to understand how your customer is feeling. So it’s interesting that, you know, using, so I teach business empathy. So using this framework, we help business owners understand from the customer’s perspective, what is going on, right? So we sit down and we’d go through every single thing that they’re doing, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, what their frustrations are, where they’re at, are they at home in their office?

Sonya: (16:40)

You know, are they out shopping and constantly thinking about it? And then you decide, okay, if they’re thinking about it and obsessing about this problem, while they’re doing grocery shopping, I guess I’m going to have to design my advertising on mobile because they’re constantly on the go, which is a completely different experience. If your customer is sitting at home, you know, working from home, that experience might be on the computer. In which case you would run, you know, browser ads. So all of this kind of goes back to creating empathy and the journey mapping exercise is part of my course as well. And that really is very powerful in helping business owners understand what’s going on.

Janine: (17:19)

That’s fantastic. Yeah. It’s so funny. You don’t think of putting together the doors, business and empathy, and yet that’s what they need to do, right, to attract their customers. That’s so funny. How often do you see a disjoint between the Sonya “this is who I am” and this is what I want to portray, but these are the market I’m trying to target, which totally will not connect with who I am. Right. How do you bridge that gap?

Sonya: (17:49)

You know, there’s a happy medium for everything. I had one client of mine who is very grungy, very punk, and she wanted to target high end corporate clients. And I said, you know, I love your look. I love your energy. It’s really great. But you have to look what your customers, you have to look like what your customers are looking for. So if they’re in a corporate environment and you look like that, guess what? You’re not going to be invited into their office. So is there something you can do? Put on a nice shirt, maybe earrings, if you don’t like wearing makeup, don’t wear makeup, but you have to look apart, right? This is your contribution to your brand and helping them step into your universe. So that took maybe a couple of weeks of going back and forth. “I don’t want to, Sonya, this doesn’t feel right.” And I’m like, “okay, well, if you don’t want to, let’s talk about the right audience that would be attracted to your current look.” Right. And she was like, “okay, I get it now.” And so it was really as simple as going and buying a blouse. That was it.

Janine: (18:58)

Yeah. Well then it’s interesting. I mean, how this all ties together to me, the connection between, you know, there’s your operations in your systems, but the connection to the leadership, the personality and there’s branding and leadership and how you lead your company. Your clients and your team, right. Who are going to follow your example or the kind of people who want to work with you, right?

Janine: (19:26)

That’s our time for this episode. I really appreciate you sharing these things. It’s wonderful. Thank you for coming on today.

Sonya: (19:34)

Oh, you are so welcome. This was amazing. Thank you so much.

Janine: (19:38)

Yeah. Before we go, can you tell me where our audience can find you?

Sonya: (19:42)

Absolutely. So if you guys are listening and you want to find out more, you can find me on my website It is S O N Y A L E E . I O. And you can also find me on LinkedIn or also Facebook. And again, just spell it, my name and that’s how you find me.

Janine: (20:01)

Okay. And we will also have these links in the show notes to make it super easy. So we’ve heard that too. Thanks so much, Sonya.

Sonya: (20:07)

Okay. You’re welcome.


Kevin Barber started Lean Labs to prove that using a market strategy rather than templates, focusing on great work rather than the size of the projects, and focusing on success stories rather than revenue will create more success than anything else. Join us for this episode where Kevin shared with us his journey and success story in the digital agency world, all with the help of a supportive team, efficient systems, and measurable results.

Show Notes

Kevin Barber, CEO of Lean Labs, was tired of designing and building websites that no one got to see because his clients had no marketing plan. He wanted to build results, not pretty things. So he drew a line in the sand: no more clients without their own marketing team. Today, he only accepts clients who want to deliver a brand experience that their customers will love. 


You don’t want to miss this episode where Kevin joined us to share how his systems help him manage a remote team with outstanding results and made his company grow exponentially!


These are the topics we discussed:

➡️ Best ways to achieve maximum efficiency 

➡️ The one method to keep your team motivated 

➡️ Why you need to start tracking your KPIs — and how to do it!

➡️ The only advice you need if you are growing your team


Connect with Kevin:


Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle


Connect with Amalie:


Connect with Janine:


Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.


Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 


Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:37)

All right. All right. Welcome to the podcast today. I’m so excited. I have Kevin Barber here with me today. He is the CEO of Lean Labs and, Kevin, I’m so glad you’re here. Would you go ahead and introduce yourself really quickly and then I really want to dive into the questions that I have for you today.


Kevin: (00:59)

Sure. So Amalie, thanks for having me on. And yeah, I’m Kevin Barber. I’m the head of growth of basically a digital agency called Lean Labs. We’re a remote team that serves high ticket brands with complex sales, with their digital marketing and sales systems.


Amalie: (01:15)

Awesome. And we’ll just quickly throw out, you’re also a HubSpot certified, you’re Inbound Certified and partner certified as well as Platinum Partner with HubSpot. Is that right?


Kevin: (01:30)

Yeah, that’s right. We became a HubSpot Partner in 2013. Basically the reason for that is we were a design agency prior to that where we did a little bit of marketing and frankly, over the years I got quite tired of designing and building websites and web apps for which there was no marketing plan. And I’m tired of making pretty things that no one gets to see. So, I was like, “we’re only going to take on clients who either have their own marketing team in house or have the abilities to hire a marketing team and we’re going to basically build results, not pretty things.” That was the change we made back then.


Amalie: (02:10)

Great. So how many, you have 12 people on your team, is that right?


Kevin 4: (02:13)

Yeah, that’s about right. I think one’s part-time, but yes.


Amalie: (02:17)

Okay. All right. So in regards to business operations, what do you think is the key to efficiency?


Kevin: (02:26)

Right. So there’s probably several keys to efficiency, but I can share with you one of the keys to our efficiency. Maybe that’ll be, I don’t know if I’m the master of efficiency, but I’ve learned a couple of things. So, one of the things that I think is a key to efficiency is understanding, having the entire team or organization understand what’s expected and then have a system by which you’re measuring results versus expectations. So I read this book one time and it said, “imagine if you were so good that people would pay you to watch you work?” And I was like, “well, you’d have to be really good for someone to watch you work.” And they’re like, “you know, we do it all the time in professional sports.” And it’s like, why do we do that? And they’re like, “mmm,  because people were performing at the top level.”


And the second, almost more important part is you’re keeping score. And if you weren’t keeping score, it wouldn’t be interesting and no tickets would be sold and no championships would be won. So the next week, Lean Labs had a scoreboard. And here’s our goal and here’s our individual scores. And we have MVP awards, most improved awards. We have team competitions between the two teams in our organization. Those people win lunches on the company. So I’m a pretty big fan of keeping score. So here’s the goal, here’s your progress to that goal, here’s how we’re working individually in our team. And then organizationally, and I have found that that has been a great alignment and motivating and frankly kind of a little whip cracking factor to help us all work on efficiency.


Amalie: (04:10)

Awesome. Can you tell me some of the things that you keep score? What are some of the things that you use as you know, like KPIs or key performance indicators and then where do you track it? Do you have some sort of system that you track it on? So, I guess those are two questions.


Kevin: (04:26)

Yeah, so first, our unit of measure for productivity is a point. And a point is a perfect hour. So all of our efforts, all of our projects and deliverables have efforts applied to them of how long it should take. If there’s no confusion, deliberation, unnecessary revision, it’s the perfect hour. So some things like five points, that means if there’s nothing that goes wrong with it, it’ll be done in five hours. But we’re in the creative realm, so something always is going to take more. So we know it’s never five real hours, but we log in and everyone has a goal based upon their role, how many points they put up each week. And then we track that. And the goal is to cut out as much waste as possible while delivering high-level results, get maximum points. So.


Amalie: (05:15)

Awesome. And are there things that help them stay on track or is there, when you say you cut things out, so what might that look like as far as cutting things out that aren’t helping the efficiency? What would something like that look like?


Kevin: (05:32)

Well, a couple of things that we did is we kind of broke down a 40 hour week and said, “Hey, here are some suggested maximums. Like try to limit these things to the maximum.” So admin overage time, have a maximum. Internal meeting time, have a maximum. Slack time, have a maximum. So we know where our likely distractions are coming from. And then the other thing is to try to, like Stephen Covey says, don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities. So we asked the team to figure out what’s the most important thing that you need to get done each day when we post that into an accountability room. And then we basically say, “now let’s go away and get that thing done.”


Amalie: (06:13)

Oh, I love that. I’m big on making appointments, like schedule appointments. If you want something done, you’ve got to schedule an appointment with yourself. Even if it’s, you have to treat it as though it’s a client, you know, a client meeting. But even if it’s just with yourself, I’m really big on that.


Kevin: (06:26)

I think every day is a mission and it’s like, “do we want to win the mission or do we want to kind of maybe think about the mission?” and you get to choose. So you know, choose wisely.


Amalie: (06:36)

Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. I always pick the three things. That’s my big thing is picking three and then executing on that. Right? Like the three things that I need to get done today and three things I need to get done this week. And then if I get those three things done, then I can move onto the next thing. But just because I think if you choose too many things, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So you really need to focus on what’s the priority, what needs to happen. And if it is a priority, it probably needs to go in your calendar. Right. With the time blocked off for it.


Kevin: (07:08)

Absolutely. We started off with weekly plans and we still do those weekly plans for the team of everything they want to get done each day. But then for the daily SLA, it’s without fail. This is the most important thing that has to get done. And we’re going to focus on that first.


Amalie: (07:22)

I love it. And what system did you say, so you use Slack, you said, and what other like communication tools do you use for that?


Kevin: (07:30)

So for keeping our scoreboard, it’s actually a slightly complicated excels, you know, Google sheet but for communicating around our plan for the week and plan for the day, we’re posting that in a channel in our Slack channel and our team style.


Amalie: (07:47)

Awesome. I like Slack cause then I can go back and find things if I need to.


Kevin: (07:52)

Right, right. And you know, someone called us like a Scrum process, which is kind of modeled after and we’ve tried every version of that; weekly meetings, daily meetings. Now we have a twice a week short meeting just to kind of plan for the week and then midweek checkup, just to kind of organizationally align. But I’m sure there are different models for different teams, whether or not they’re remote. One of our challenges is quite a few of our team members are in all different time zones, so it’s kind of hard to do at the start of the day. So yeah.


Amalie: (08:25)

And I think it’s important to designate what is the communication channel and what isn’t. So something I do when working with clients is we designate, okay Slack is for conversations, but if anything applies directly to a task, it needs to go in the project management tool, right? So you know exactly where the conversation is happening. So it’s not like you’re half talking about it and you know, Asana or Trello and then half talking about it in Slack and then trying to go back and find those things. It’s part of having a communication standard operating procedure in place. Otherwise, I think it does get confusing. So designating channels, you know, specific channels for certain things. And I think that’s super important. That’s great.


Kevin: (09:10)

Yeah, we’re probably not perfect at that. There are three places. Something could be a ticket. We have a ticketing system that replaces email. It could be in our Slack and it could be in a task and we’re probably not great at that. But one thing we put in as a rule that’s super helpful, which is if there’s back and forth, it’s likely to last more than five minutes, get off of Slack and get on the phone, actually communicate old rules so you can come to a resolution. Otherwise, 47 minutes later, nothing got done, you know, and everyone just been texting all day on Slack.


Amalie: (09:40)

That’s awesome. Okay. So my next question is, based on your experience of running your business and team, what advice would you give to some that’s just starting to build their team or maybe has one or two contractors and they’re bringing more people on? What advice would you give them?


Kevin: (09:58)

Yeah. So, this probably comes from someone with my type of makeup. And if you were to like, use like the Rocket Fuel metaphor, I’m more of the visionary type, although I don’t know if love, love that label. But you know, you put Amalie and I together, we start looking really smart cause you know, but for me, the most important thing when you’re building your team is to cash a vision for that team. That neat team needs to see the vision, not for the organization, but they need to see themselves in that vision. That makes sense. They need to see the vision for themselves and how they’re part of this larger mission. And I think that, if you Google Elon Musk vectors, there is this, you know, you’ll find a talk from one of the guys at HubSpot around what Elon Musk taught him about building teams.


And he basically said that having an efficient team is really just about aligning your vectors and, you know, they go on to the story about how, yeah, that’s typical Elon Musk, cause I have no idea what that means. And they’re like, “well a vector has magnitude and direction. So basically every person on your team has a certain amount of power and they’re going to apply that in a direction. And your job is to get all of that magnitude all going in the same direction.” So a common vision and a common purpose with a common culture. And when you can make that happen, then you’re going to be able to actually make progress. Cause if half your team’s going left and half of your team is going right, then that’s a lot of effort for a zeroed out, no progress movement. So, I think it’s a lot about casting that vision of where are we going on a macro, like five years, 10 years. I know people don’t like to think like that anymore, but I do. You know, and where are we going this year in order to make a major stride of that, where we’re going this quarter and what can we do today? I think that that is oftentimes missing. And people are just out there running around doing tasks without really understanding the why behind it.


Amalie: (12:08)

Yeah. The bigger picture. Right?


Kevin: (12:11)

Yeah. And how it builds their career and how this week is going to be a milestone week towards who they’re able to become in the process of completing this work. We probably focus on that more than most. Yeah.


Amalie: (12:24)

To add to that, I think having people understand their responsibilities, expectations, and responsibilities that is on them, you know, what are they responsible for? What are your expectations of them, so that way they can move forward and know exactly what they need to do and have all the resources to be able to do it or find them. Right. So understanding, “okay, here this is my piece. This is what I’m responsible for, but here’s how it fits into the bigger picture.” Right. So understanding that overall I think is also really important in establishing that with the team members.


Kevin: (13:01)

Yeah, and I’m a pretty big believer that every meeting is a sales meeting. Every external meeting with clients is either selling them or reselling them. And every internal meeting with your team members is they’re selling them when you’re hiring them, selling them when you’re inspiring them for the initial vision or selling them when you’re re-hiring and respiring them on a weekly, monthly basis. I believe that that’s critical, but that kind of comes from my bend of things. You know, one of the things we try to help people see is like the way that you obtain mastery in an organization is you plan like you’re going to be able to work forever. And if you’re going to work forever, then why not get really good at it so you can get really high paid at it. So what are we going to do that’s going to build our skills? And when people realize that the work that we’re doing isn’t just delivering tasks for clients in our case, but it’s actually, if we frame it white, we’re pushing ourselves every single week to develop ourselves into something more than I think you can get the best work out of people.


Amalie: (14:08)

Yeah. Would you recommend someone to have a team meeting to put out the overall mission and then individually clarify and make sure that each person knows what their responsibility is or how would you recommend someone sort of going about taking that first step? Like obviously they need to understand what the mission is first, right? And then they can communicate it, but once they know what their mission is, the CEO or the business owner, what would you say the first step should be?


Kevin: (14:38)

I think the first step is communicating the reason we’re here. Let’s say you take on a new client, take on a new project. Okay. This is the problem. This is where we’re being held back. This is the opportunity we see to overcome it. This is why we’re taking it on now. This is what success looks like. Short term, medium term, long term. These are the people that we’re counting on to deliver that for us. This is what done looks like for these things, you know, the things that we need to get accomplished. And then it’s basically saying, now how can we work on a plan that’s going to accomplish those things? You know? So for me it’s that sales piece of like selling while we’re here and what needs to get done and, and how that’s a win. That’s a win for the client. How it’s a win for us, it’s a win for our team members when we make this a success.


Amalie: (15:29)

Do you get input from your team? So when you say, “okay, here’s the new client project, here’s where we’re at and here’s where we need to go.” Do you get input from them or do you generally come up with the plan and then put it out to the team?


Kevin: (15:42)

Right. So we’re work in progress on that. If every idea came from me, we’re in trouble, right? Because then my idea bank is going to get to a negative balance. So what we tend to do is look back on work that we’ve done that’s related and similar and be like, “okay, let’s use past experience as a starting point of what are the main things that need to have happened and then what something we do.” If you look at lean or scrum processes, sometimes when you’re developing ideation, you know, basically your idea is that the question is, how might we double leads for this client? How might we drop the bounce rate of the homepage from 70% to 40%? How might we double the number of calls scheduled for salespeople next month? You know, and then we recreate those ideas in a kind of free filtering environment.


And then we go back after we’re done with that and throw some rocks at those ideas to kill off the weak ones. Sometimes in throwing the rocks is where you actually come up with the real idea. Like, “well, that wouldn’t work, but what about this?” and I do think that that’s best from two and involve, if not rely upon the people that are actually going to be doing the work to come up with the ideas. Cause then they’re completely bought into the scope from the beginning. They come up with the idea. So that’s the way I would propose doing it. You know, I probably have some growing to do, to grow my own ideas and they’re too often.


Amalie: (17:16)

Yeah, I think we’ve talked about that a time or two before.


Kevin: (17:19)

Yeah, we had sidebar conversations on that. 


Amalie: (17:22)

Yeah. Okay. So my next question is, what indicators might someone see or experience when they’re in need of more operational structure or what were some that maybe you saw when you started to make a change inside of your business?


Kevin: (17:41)

Right. So I think there’s a ton. Keep in mind this one here, this question of “how would we experience when we need more operational structure” that’s the one we’re living every day right now. So, for the owner or head of marketing that’s going to be the, “Oh, I’d love to go on vacation this summer, but that’s not gonna happen cause everything’s going to break.” Well that’s a giant billboard that says you need operational structure. If you feel like you have to be in every single meeting, you probably lack operational structure. If you have to ask somebody and distract them from their work to know where something’s at, you probably lack operational structure. If you can’t communicate deadlines without spending time looking at spreadsheets or talking to people or you know, looking at your time trackers to give a deadline for a project, you probably lack operational structure. If your team members don’t even know when something will be done or even worse when it will be started, you probably lack operational structure. So I think there’s a lot of signs now, the solutions to all of those we’re working out, but I think it’s when your sales go up, but your workload doubles with it, you probably lack operational structure. So, you know, I think there’s a lot of those types of signals. Most growing organizations are gonna probably always run into that at some level.


Amalie: (19:02)

Yeah. And so for you what was sort of the turning point for you? So you sorta said that you’re in the midst of it right now, so what was the turning point for you that was like, “you know what, I need to make some changes.” What did that look like for you personally? As the CEO.


Kevin: (19:26)

Yeah. So, I know exactly what it was for us. We set a five-year goal, we hit that goal and in the midst of a goal, I don’t like to miss on goals, by the way. So like goals are not like say someone says I want to lose 10 pounds and then lose nine and a half. And they’re like, “yeah!” I’m like… “failed.” So the goal is translated for me as minimum criteria for success. Like a hard line. Yeah. That’s the minimum that could possibly happen. So when I say goal, I mean this or Kevin is mad for a year. So with that mindset comes a whatever-it-takes attitude. So we hit our goal, we actually got ahead on several years of this five-year goal and beat it pretty well, pretty handily. And then that was the end of 2018.


The beginning of 2019 is like, “great, now I want my life back.” So, we ran ragged and a little bit, it’s like if you see like a football team that wins the game, but it was ugly. So like everyone needs a check into the hospital for IVs. So we were running a little bit like that or at least I was and that’s where I know that we have… it got us to where we are, but now shifting into an operational execution machine is what’s going to get us to the next level. So we’re going to have to retool for the next leg of the journey.


Amalie: (20:58)

That’s awesome. Well, Kevin, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Can you just tell us where people can find you, where it’s best to reach out or look you up, get some information, Facebook stalk you, that kind of thing.


Kevin: (21:11)

Yeah, absolutely. So you can look me up on LinkedIn under Kevin Barber. If you want to have a conversation, there’s a schedule link on our website, Lean Labs. You can also check us out on Twitter at Twitter, at Lean Labs as well.


Amalie: (21:24)

Awesome. Yeah, so we’ll get those links in the show notes then. And thanks again for joining me for this interview. I really appreciate it. This has been great. I think being able to hear, especially you coming from where you are and you’re sort of in the midst of this and getting more structure in place, it’s really great to hear the real world story and I think it’s awesome. So I really appreciate it. Take care and I’m sure I’ll talk to you soon. Okay.


Kevin: (21:54)

Yeah. Thanks for having me. Wouldn’t miss it.



Caleb Guilliams is not just a young entrepreneur with dreams in his head. Caleb is actually making them real and crushing it. We dive in with Caleb to find out how he is managing his team and keeping them motivated and focused on their mission of impacting a million people by 2025.

His company, Better Wealth, helps entrepreneurs change their financial thinking so they can have control over their money. Find out how his management tools, systems, and team leadership skills have helped him and his company thrive!

Show Notes

We are taught to put our money in 401k or an IRA account, give up TOTAL control and just hope our money grows, not really thinking about growth percentages, taxes, and all that additional stuff that comes along with it. We leave those problems for the future us to deal with.

And that’s exactly what Caleb Guilliams; a successful young entrepreneur that runs a company called Better Wealth. 

His mission? Challenge the status quo, work with people from all around the country to help them change their financial thinking; and most importantly, teach them how to have control over their money TODAY, not in 30 years’ time.

These are the topics we discussed:

➡️ Proven ways to grow your team quickly 

➡️ Using the best project management tools for your business

➡️ The struggle with having employees who are not a good fit (and how to deal with that)

➡️ Preparing for growth: how to expand your team

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect with Caleb Guilliams:

Better Wealth Podcast

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


The AND Asset



Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Janine: (00:36)

Welcome to today’s podcast. We are with Caleb Guilliams and he’s going to tell us a little bit about them and then we’re going to dive into discussing how he grew his team so quickly, how he manages it, talking about kind of the good, the bad, the ugly and of all those things. So go ahead Caleb if you want to tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you have a book out, so I’d love for you to drop that and if you would like drop the link and we can put that into the show notes as well. 

Caleb: (01:06)

Awesome. Awesome. First of all, thank you so much for having me on your show. I am and I’m already enjoying listening, and I’m excited to do what I’m going to learn just by being on the show with you guys. So thank you for your audience. I am 23 years old. I look like I’m 16 years old though, so if you, I don’t know if they’re going to be seeing my face or not, but I actually run a company called Better Wealth and we work with people all around the country and we help them rethink their thinking as it relates to their money. And so we are very big into challenging the status quo and helping entrepreneurs especially rethink the way that they think about their money. For instance, we are taught to give up total control, put our monies in 401k IRA accounts and hope it grows and not really think about the growth and the taxes and all that kind of stuff. And what we really teach our clients is how they can have more control today.

Not have to choose between someday in the future, now in the present. And we really do it in a creative way. I wrote a book called The AND Asset: The Secret Way To Save And Use Your Money At The Same Time. And we can drop the show link, it’s for those of you that are interested. And I got my start — I took over a bank’s investment department at 19 years old, traveled the country, learned from experts all over the world and in the US about how money really works. And I think they pitied me. At first they were like, “okay, we got to help this kid. He’s clueless.” And I’ve just had the pleasure of working with some amazing people and then now have an incredible team. And with that we’re able to serve a lot of people and I’m just really grateful for that opportunity.

Amalie: (02:43)

That’s awesome. That’s so great. And I just want to make sure I got the link right. It’s

Caleb: (02:50)

Yeah. So it’s A and D and an asset, a s s e Doing a free book. Just pay shipping and handling. So I want to get it into as many hands as possible. 

Amalie: (03:02)

Perfect. Well, we’ll put it in the show notes. That’s great. So tell us how many people do you have on your team right now, currently?

Caleb: (03:09)

So we currently have seven people on our team. I just hired an assistant two weeks ago now. And then we have a couple people in sales that I guess are not included in that. But we have a lot of people that love our message that are promoting, that are either affiliates or are based on full commission. But we have seven people on our team that are on payroll and helping us build from.

Amalie: (03:33)

Are they employees? So you said they’re on payroll, they’re employees. Awesome. And what positions do they fill? 

Caleb: (03:37)

So one of the things that I’ve realized is I believe we have total gold in our hands. If people understand the power of what we get to do as it relates to money, there’s going to be a line outside the door. Very few people are focused on the operation backend. So the very first person that was on the team and helped me cofound Better Wealth, his name’s Dan and he runs our operations. So anything, paperwork, operations, he actually manages. Now within that, because we do a lot of life insurance, we help people rethink their thinking as it relates to life insurance. And we over-fund and save it instead of using it for death benefit.

There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into it. If people need to take medical exams, they need to fill out paperwork. So we have someone that just manages that and works with our clients around the country. Then we have someone that does all of our, we’re building calculator systems and online forms. And then also runs our security because as an online company, we need to make sure that we’re compliant and secure. And then we also have, I have an assistant who helps me manage like my crazy life.

Amalie: (04:43)


Caleb: (04:45)

Pretty much, yeah, pretty much. I am doing so much more because she’s just like a professional babysitter, let’s just say I don’t pity her at all. And then we have three people in marketing. Cause I would say I’m really passionate as it relates to marketing.

And so we have someone that works as our CMO that manages the whole thing. We have someone in the Philippines that does all of our video editing and then we have someone that’s in charge of filming. So I have two cameras looking at me right now and, and if there’s any good content that comes out of me will most likely be shared on social media. And then we have a Better Wealth coach. Cause when people come in through our courses and want to learn more, I can only work with so many people. And so we’re building our coaching out as well. So that’s how our team looks. 

Amalie: (05:30)

Okay. And how many of those people report directly to you?

Caleb: (05:33)

I have CMO and COO reports to me. 

Amalie: (05:37)

Okay. And the CEO is Dan. And he was the first person you hired?

Caleb: (05:41)

He was the first person I hired and really is coming on as a cofounder. He’s really helped me build this from ever since I left the bank, he’s been a part of what we’re doing. 

Amalie: (05:50)

Awesome. And how do you manage all the moving pieces? So I know not you specifically. When I say you, I mean team. So do you have a project management tool? Do you have something? What does that look like? 

Caleb: (06:05)

Yeah, and this is where I want your guys’ feedback. We use Pipedrive for all of our client information and moving them through the system. And then we use Asana for all of our tasks. So anyone, people related, we keep Pipedrive and I’m trying to get on a hundred podcasts this year, trying to win stages, we’re doing a Dream 100 campaign.

Any relationship goes into Pipedrive, any task goes into Asana. 

Amalie: (06:32)

Awesome. Awesome. So let’s talk about something good about it, about how you guys do your system, what works best for you and then let’s kind of dive into some of the things that might not be working well. 

Caleb: (06:45)

Yeah. So I would say yeah. Being a new company, especially I’m an ENFJ, we could go into personality tests, like pretty much I get really excited and don’t follow. My follow through is awful. So really, I don’t know if it’s the CRM or if it’s me, you’re like staring at the issue.

Amalie: (07:05)

But I was going to say it’s usually a human factor. Right? 

Caleb: (07:10)

Right. So I would say our biggest, what’s working is we’re actually like “get it”. Having an assistant has changed the game because I’m automating a lot of things.

I don’t look at my email, I only look at my email twice a day. So she’s very much helping me take it, take advantage of those things where we’re playing offense, not just defense. Cause I would always dread like, I dunno if you’ve been in this situation where you dread opening up your email and you start starring because you don’t want to forget that email. Like yesterday I just responded to an email eight days ago, a really important email that I didn’t respond for eight days. That’s an issue. So we have some things working. The biggest thing is just how to get me out of my brain and into just being unemotional about follow up. And just recently, it’s interesting that you’re catching us right now. Just recently we’ve been, because of my assistant, we’ve been really, crushing follow up.

And so I did 30, I had 30 tasks in a Pipedrive alone today that I knocked out before the interview. And that feels good to know that they’re not only connected, but we’re following up. We already have a follow up sequence. And before that we didn’t have that. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but we’re still…

Amalie: (08:24)

How long did it take you to implement this follow up sequence and did your assistant help you? How did you get it set up? Did you communicate to her what you needed and then she did it or how did the follow up sequence get set up?

Caleb: (08:40)

I would say we’ve always had it set up for like the last year I just started using it. I don’t know. Is that common? Like people don’t read this.

Amalie: (08:40)

For sure. The reason I ask is that I think that for a lot of people, it takes some time to set up whatever the system is. It takes some time to set it up. But if you take the time to set it up, then once you move forward, you just have to kind of stop for a minute. The process in place, whatever that looks like. If it’s the follow up sequence, emails, templates, whatever you need, set that up and then you can move forward. But if you move forward without setting it up, you’re going to constantly kind of be hitting these like, road bumps, you know, and so it’s like the bumps in the road, you gotta get it set up first and then you can kind of smooth it out.

Caleb: (09:25)

So you want to know, a perfect analogy of that is actually compound interest. Most people never start, they’re like a car that’s super inefficient stopping and starting, stopping and starting. And when you make the right investment and you understand how money works and you do it right every single, every single year, exponentially, it gets better and better. And I can imagine if you do the right thing on the front end, that every year, every day after creating the right habits and systems, it just gets exponentially easier. I’ve found that already and we’ve only scratched the surface. 

Amalie: (10:01)

So if you were talking to someone that is in a position where they’re getting ready to start to build a team, what advice would you give them? Maybe they have, let’s say they have one or two people working, but they’re ready to expand to like five or six, seven. What advice would you give them? Just based on where you’re at right now? What advice would you give them?

Caleb: (10:24)

I would say… So a lot of people ask, okay, Caleb, like what? I was asked to speak at a big time company this week actually in Cincinnati because they’re super curious. They’re like “there’s not a lot of 23 year olds in our business, let alone like crushing it and having a team. So what are you doing?” This is what I would say is while I’m not low, I have my downfalls. For sure. One of the things that I value is people and I really, really, I don’t just say that, I really care about the people in our organization. So every single person on our team has taken a pay cut to come on board. And the reason they do that is we’ve painted the vision of what can be, we were on a mission to impact a million people by 2025 and I personally can’t do that and I need an amazing team, but the overflow that will come by impacting a million people, it’s just going to be incredible. So the reason why, the best piece of advice that I can give your audience is to really care for the people. Because if someone’s coming to you for money, they’re going to leave you for money or someone comes to you because they believe in what you believe, then then they’re going to get their blood, sweat and tears at work. But then they’re also going to be a lot more dedicated to the mission and that’s if we’ve done a lot of things, like there’s a lot of things that we can improve on. Well, one thing we’ve had dialed in is everyone is super engaged and, we’re all very mission focused and I think that really does come from the top and that’s something that I try to focus on is how to live that out and how to encourage people to make sure that they’re there knowing that they are contributing to our mission.

Amalie: (12:01)

That’s awesome. Yeah, we’ve actually, Janine and I’ve talked about that a couple of times through a few episodes, that getting buy in and getting from your team is so important. They have to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, how it fits into the big picture. And they have to believe in it. If they aren’t, then they’re just there doing a job or they’re just, they’re doing a task and it’s not really benefiting the whole of the team. Right. So it’s so important. So I’m so glad you said that cause Janine and I’ve talked about that multiple times on a few episodes here about how important it is to get buy in. And for them to understand how they fit into the big picture. That’s the biggest thing too, because when you have people working and doing different things, they’re not working by themselves just in this vertical space. Right? Like there’s so much that connects to other people and it’s important for them to all be on the same page.

Caleb: (12:52)

100%. Yep. Yeah. 

Janine: (12:54)

Especially in a lean environment like you’re working in, is that the importance in the leadership role of recognizing them for how important every little thing they do is…

Caleb: (13:04)

At 100%. I couldn’t agree more.

Amalie: (13:08)

Do you do any incentives for your employees? Cause you said they took pay cuts. So is there, you know, ways that you can help or you can reward people are time and money. So do you have any incentives that you’re able to do for them?

Caleb: (13:22)

Yeah, so I think the biggest thing is time wise there will never be, and so I should be careful, right? But like we are not going to…

Amalie: (13:29)

It’s recorded, so definitely.

Caleb: (13:30)

Right. They’re going to watch it. They’re going to pull this up and be like:

Amalie: (13:33)

“Hey,  Hey, I heard you say…”

Caleb: (13:35)

“You’re on this podcast and you promised $1 million to everyone”. No. So, here’s the deal. I hate the idea of micromanagement. And so no one on our team is micromanaged. If you, by the way, if you have to be micromanaged, you’re not going to thrive here. And so the big thing is we give people the time freedom. If someone has to go do something, how awful would it be to be at a place that you like you actually can’t go. So that’s the one thing in it.

So, but then there’s also people on my team that are working at 9:00 PM at night. So I would say the time frame is a big thing. And then yeah, I mean as everyone’s going to profit as we grow as a company and one of the things that we built in is we have a blueprint package. So when people want to take action and they want to go, we have a blueprint implementation package because I believe implementation is a real value. You can listen to this podcast, you can read books, but the true value is actually having someone come alongside you and helping you implement and get the results you want to get. And so we charge for that. And anyone on our team that helps get people in the door, we give them the lion’s share of that as just kind of a bonus.

And that’s a precursor of as we grow as a company, yes, everyone’s going to get paid more money as we grow. But that is an immediate money incentive and that’s obviously a win-win because we’re trying to get more revenue as a company. And then we’re also trying to build a community. People have raving fans. And so the time, freedom and incentive and then, I mean we’ve only been in business independently. I’d run the stuff at the bank but independently over two years. So we are going to develop as a team. 

Amalie: (15:11)

So like in a couple of years we’ll hit you up and see where you’re at. Cause then by then you’re going to have like department heads and then like people managing those people and you’re gonna have like a full out org chart. 

Caleb: (15:23)

How’s this? If, and if we have a private jet, I’ll fly you out and we can do an in person interview. How’s that?

Amalie: (15:30)

Awesome. Yep. And well then, we can make sure everything’s working smoothly and if you need any tips, we’ll help you with that. So I do want to ask one thing, have you had to fire anybody? 

Caleb: (15:43)


Amalie: (15:44)

Okay. How’d that go for you? 

Caleb: (15:46)

Not good cause I’m an ENFJ so it’s not good. I think here’s the deal. It was one of those things where it was not a good fit for that person and our company. 

Amalie: (15:58)

How long did you know it wasn’t a good fit before you decided to fire them? 

Caleb: (16:02)

Like three weeks in hiring them and they were on for about four months. I wouldn’t even call it firing. I would more call it like, “listen, this is not a good fit.”

Amalie: (16:16)

It’s not about you. It’s about me.

Caleb: (16:19)

It’s like the whole breakup. You know, it’s like… This is where we struggle because it’s I am such a feeler and if someone’s onboard and loves our mission, I believe that like you have the right person, you can always find a place. But the problem was this person was not proactive. And so when you’re in a startup, you can have the great feeling of wanting to make change, but if you’re not proactive and you’re not looking for how we can, it just wasn’t a good fit. Now, maybe when we have hundreds of employees and there’s a task oriented, you know, you show up at eight, you leave at five. Awesome. We’re still great friends and they’re in a better environment for them to thrive.

And so yeah, but definitely if you’re going to get fired, you probably want it. You’re definitely gonna feel like 1 million bucks going out the door right now with me because it goes back to I love people. 

Amalie: (17:22)

Yeah. Janine, what were you about to say? 

Janine: (17:24)

Oh, I was going to say what Amalie was really asking was how long did you agonize over the decision before you…

Amalie: (17:30)

And the reason I asked that is because I think you won in this situation because I think it is very important that you fire them before they quit because it sends the message to your team that you have their back, that you notice that there was a problem, someone wasn’t buying in, they weren’t doing what they needed to do. So you actually won in this situation. So it’s something that I’ve talked about, you need to fire before they can quit because if they quit, you’ve lost, right. You’ve lost that battle, but you actually won by firing them and showing to your team that you have their back and you remove the person that was essentially causing an issue or whatever. You know, maybe they weren’t disruptive, but essentially you were caused that. You got rid of the weak link and then that made your team stronger by them seeing that you did that.

Caleb: (18:19)

That’s a really interesting perspective. I’ve never thought about it that way. 

Amalie: (18:22)

Well, there you go. So think about it like that. So then you don’t feel bad that you broke up with them. Sorry Janine, what were you about to ask? Something I didn’t know.

Janine: (18:30)

Oh no, no. I was just…

Amalie: (18:34)

Ok. But yeah, so I think that’s great. So you brought the assistant on when, just recently, right? And that’s going well. Are there any prospective new hires other than that, are you guys kinda settling into?

Caleb: (18:47)

Yeah, I mean our, as our company grows, we have some part of marketing partnerships in the mix that’s going to be that could Tenex our company. And as that comes we’ll need people in admin to do the paperwork, but then also we’ll need more coaches because up until this point, I’ve done a lot of meetings with people and now that we’re getting a higher demand, I am no longer the person meeting with people.

So I think the toughest thing is, and this is probably as tough as PR people listening this can probably agree it’s not, I don’t want to make this come across the wrong way. But when you’ve gotten to where you are because you’re good in meetings and now you’re giving the most precious thing that’s helped you get to where you are to someone else. I’m not a control freak and I’m a control freak in that area. Right? So that’s the biggest challenge that I think we’re going to be facing is. It’s so important because I want the client experience to be amazing. And when we’re there meeting with me, I’m not going to say it’s amazing, but at least I can control it. And now when you give up that most important piece of your business to other people, we really need to focus as a company on training and we’ve already done, we’ve put together training and the guy that does our coaching now is incredible, but how do you hire for that? I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t hire for skill, you hire for people…

Amalie: (20:06)

And for personality. I also talked about that.

Caleb: (20:12)

And that’s, and by the way like that makes sense because that’s a cue for me is so important. I can train you, if you give me a week, I could train. Like this stuff’s not rocket science. I can train you on this stuff, but I can’t train you on how to ask a good question or be empathetic online.

Amalie: (20:28)

Yeah. For sure. I agree 110%. I think that you might bring someone in because they have a certain skill, but don’t be afraid to move them around in your company because they might fit in a better place. So I just want to recommend a book cause you were talking about getting yourself out of the business. It’s Clockwork. It’s a fantastic book. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it but it is fantastic and if you have read it, you might want to go back and revisit it. But I recommend it to everybody. It’s super, super fantastic and it has such good information about getting things set up so that you can go.

Caleb: (21:03)

Who wrote that? Because I actually have that on Audible.

Amalie: (21:07)

Mike Michalowicz. 

Caleb: (21:07)

Okay. What other books did he write? 

Amalie: (21:08)

“Profit First.” So make sure you read that. Yeah, it’s super good. And you know, for the people listening, “Clockwork”. Another great book that I’ll recommend that you mentioned cause you’re totally a visionary is “Rocket Fuel”. I have them sitting here because I actually referenced them all the time. Like when we do interviews and things like that and in different things. So “Rocket Fuel”, another great one, it talks about the difference between the visionary and the integrator. So you’re the visionary, obviously you’re the one that doesn’t follow through, but the integrator is the person that falls through your assistant. Sounds like she is the integrator for you, helping you get things done. So that’s awesome.

Janine: (21:46)

Yeah, I’d like to say that feeling you have that difficulty letting go is a really common experience and theme that we’ve come across in our interviews and the ones who have turned around to build their next business, they’re just like, “Nope, I need this person, this person, this person.” And there’s no hesitation the second time around. It’s just that first time that it’s a struggle. 

Caleb: (22:06)

Yeah, absolutely.

Amalie: (22:08)

All right. Well, thank you so much for being with us, Caleb. We really appreciate it. Let us know where people can find you really quickly. And so I have the link for the book, so we’ll put that in the show notes. Let us know where else we can find you.

Speaker 1: (22:23)

Yeah. So my first name, Caleb, my last name, G. U. I. L. L. I. A. M. S. you can follow me on social media, get a book. If you do get a book, make sure to let us know. And I’ll sign it and do kind of like, if we can help any of your audience, I would love that. I appreciate your guys’ questions and I love the work that you’re doing and I’m going to go get Clockwork. I have Clockwork. I’m actually gonna read it. A problem with me is I’ll buy books…

Amalie: (22:56)

Just have your assistant read it and give you the cliff notes or something. 

Caleb: (22:58)

Or find the podcast of that person. 

Amalie: (23:02)

There you go. They have one, “Run Like Clockwork.” That’s their podcast. It’s really good. Yeah. 

Caleb: (23:10)

That’s great guys. Yeah, I wish you guys well and thank you for having me on your show.

Amalie: (23:14)

Thank you so, so much. We really appreciate it.


Emily Baker is a bad-ass lawyer that focuses on online businesses with over 15 years of experience. She’s here to tell you which laws apply to your business, what you might be doing wrong when it comes to hiring contractors and employees and how to fix it. You definitely don’t want to miss this episode of the podcast!

Show Notes

The world is in a very strange and complicated place right now. Things are changing and we need to be ready to adapt, in every way — this includes businesses, and even more if they are online businesses. If you aren’t aware of the laws that affect your business – even before the coronavirus arrived – now is the time to do so.

We had Emily Baker, a bad-ass lawyer for online businesses, with us on this episode of the Systematic Excellence Podcast to discuss the laws in regards to hiring contractors versus employees and how to structure your business so you’re on the right side of the law.

These are the topics we covered:

➡️ Which laws might apply to your business

➡️ Main differences between an employee and a contractor relationships

➡️ What you need to know if you have a contractor living in California

➡️ The benefits of outsourcing

& many more things.

Listen now!

Connect with Emily Baker: 

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Emily: (01:24)

and I’m always like the “wa wa” I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but with what’s going on in the world right now, I am getting so many calls from businesses going, “gosh, hey, what if my business, my contractors are misclassified and they’re filing for unemployment.” I’m like, “yeah, so when we talked about changing this over before the world exploded, that would have been the time.” Yeah, so it is, it is such a relevant topic all the time to talk about in business and I’m so happy to be here and share this with your audience and I will try not to be wa-wa about it.

Amalie: (02:01)

No, it’s okay there. There’s lots of laws in this this topic.

Emily: (02:06)

Business is business, man. And there is, when it comes to law, there’s some things that are really fun and you can talk about, you know, money strategies and stuff. But when it comes to hiring, right, it’s something that people don’t think of until generally something goes wrong. Right now it’s coming up in conversation because the world is changing, right? But when you wait until something goes wrong in legal, it’s really hard for us to fix it, right?

Amalie: (02:31)

And so many people are starting to work remotely now they’re looking to figure out ways to make their business work. You know, whether it’s, you know, remotely or at home or letting people work virtually and trying to just figure out all of that. So there’s a lot going on. So I just want to start just kind of what’s one of the biggest mistakes that you see on online businesses? So I really want to focus on that cause most of our, most of our audience consists of online businesses. We do have some that are local in brick and mortar, but we focus a lot on online businesses. So what’s one of the biggest mistakes you see that they make when it comes to the contractor versus the employee relationship?

Emily: (03:10)

I think the biggest mistake is just lack of awareness that even though you’re in an online business, your business has to run the same way any other business runs. So when a lot of, especially a lot of my clients get into business accidentally, they start doing something and then they transition either a career or transition after a pregnancy and are like, Oh, I’m going to work from home. And then their business grows. And a business coach somewhere says, you need to hire a contractor. It’s the fastest way to grow your team and it’s how you’re going to get help. So just hire a VA or something to help you. And then they just followed that advice without looking into what the legal is behind employment arrangements and then end up down the road going, “I’m hearing all this scary stuff about California and AB five and what does that mean for my business if I’m not in California? What about if I am in California? What if my contractors are in California?” So the biggest thing is lack of awareness. And today is not meant to be a buzzkill. It’s meant so that if you are doing it wrong, you can make that choice. And like if you choose a business to roll the dice, I’m not going to come and smack you on the hand and tell you not to, but I want you to at least know that if you’re doing it wrong, you’re making that choice and that is a strategic option. You’re going, “okay, I don’t think this is going to be a problem for me. I don’t think I’m going to get caught. I don’t care if I get fined, whatever.” I think a lot of people are doing it wrong and don’t know that they’re doing it wrong and then go, “what do you mean? I’ve been doing this improperly.” And when States like California are coming with fairly large fines, it becomes unnerving for businesses that weren’t aware that the relationships they had created were in fact not proper.

Amalie: (04:54)

No, I think so. After reading your PDF, which we will share them because it was very helpful, was that if you’re in a different state then the contractor that you’ve hired that they both apply and it’s usually the more strict one that you need to follow. But they essentially both apply, which I thought was interesting. Because I’ve done lots of research around this because we help people build their virtual teams, we help manage those teams. We have teams of our own, you know, that kind of thing. So I thought that was really interesting piece that I didn’t realize. I mean I assumed that it would apply to one, but then realizing, so that if you do have a contractor in California, you really need to be aware of what’s going on there and, and the AB five and all of that because it’s all going to count for you and it’s going to apply to what you’re, to your business and the contractor that you hired.

Emily: (05:52)

So different States are doing… state by state runs their contractors differently. So California is the newest ABC state and that is the shorter three part test that they’re using to determine if someone’s a contractor or not. We’ll get into that in a minute and that got passed under AB five. The reason it was such a big deal is because the, the politicians in California that were behind this are very polarizing and very much like we’re going to get Uber and we’re going to get lift and Instacart, screw you and you can’t. All these people are employees and that fight has ramped up by a thousand. Now that they’re saying, see all of these contractors in California have no work because of coronavirus and they don’t have benefits and they don’t have healthcare. This is why you all suck and we are going to fight you all to the death on the contractors. Other States also have this rule. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut also apply this test, but New York’s considering it though I think they’re reconsidering because New York has benefited so much from bringing in travel nurses, and those are all contractors though. They would normally be employees, maybe five. Anyway, Oregon’s looking at it. Washington’s looking at it. The thing about employment law is that as an online business owner, you’re generally not versed in employment law in every state in the 50 States, right? The law that applies to you where you sit as a business owner is one thing you need to consider and know, but you also need to know which laws apply to your contractors, where they sit, because at the end of the day, your business is responsible for doing it right. Even where your contractors sit, unless your contractors are easily true contractors, when I as an online consultant and lawyer hire a web designer, I’m like, “Hey, I kind of needed to go like this. Can you do that? Great. Here’s my brand colors.” I’ll tell you if it looks pretty or not like, and I’ll try to kick it around and, but I’m not going to tell her how to do it or what the timeline is or what I’m going to pay her. I’m not calling up my web developer and saying, Hey, I’m gonna pay you 150 bucks. Can you do this website? She’s going to send me a proposal and say, this is how long it takes, this is how much I’m charging you for it. And then my company pays her company. Perfect contracting relationship. But if I hired a VA and said, Hey, I need you to go through like my Herro inquiries, my emails and customer service, check my social and make sure I don’t miss anything and I’m not on blast on Twitter. And then keep my to do list, organize and make sure I don’t miss any appointments and maybe schedule some travel and I’m gonna pay you $15 an hour and I need you to be available during these hours. I’m hiring an employee that’s not a contractor at that point. That is somebody that’s helping run my business.

Amalie: (08:37)

And the reason that that VA would be your employees cause you’ve now dictated when they need to be available. That was like one of the big things. It’s like when they’re available, telling them how to do it, when to do it and putting those kinds of restrictions around it. Even like where they have to do it, right. So do you have a contractor? Let’s say, you know, your neighbor is your virtual assistant. You’re like, “come over and you have to work from my house.” I mean that you can’t do, right?

Emily: (09:05)

No, you cannot. Well you can, I mean the, in the online space, there’s a perception that having employees is bad. In most States having employees isn’t the worst thing ever. Different States have lower taxes and having people, you can have employees in other States and having employees isn’t terrible. It just ramps up your paperwork a bit and then you’ve got to follow certain rules. But if you’re building a business to sustain and to thrive, if you’re looking towards, I want to be $1 million business, then paying an employee shouldn’t be terrifying. If you’re like, I am cool making like five K a month and I don’t really want to grow that much bigger than you need to look at the tasks that are proper contractor tasks. And for a lot of businesses that can be things like social media management, Pinterest management, you know, sometimes blog writing. Like, it’s easy for me to argue I am not a blogger. So somebody coming in to copyright my blogs is not somebody doing the same thing I do, where if I bring on a paralegal, it’s more like they’re helping me with the fundamental part of my business.

Amalie: (10:15)

And that makes them an employee, is that right? Right. If they’re doing something that you already do, then technically, that makes them, I mean there’s other check marks, right? So that PDF on…

Emily: (10:28)

They’re more likely an employee, right.

Amalie: (10:29)

But if they’re doing something outside, so if we hire someone to create our website, like neither of us are website designers, it’s just not something we do. Right? Or if we hire a copywriter to write our sales page, that’s not something either one of us do. So, and that’s not what our business about. Even if we do it, it’s not what we’re defining our business as.

Emily: (10:48)

Exactly. So the more that you’re bringing in, when you think of like your house, the more you’re bringing in proper contractors. You’re bringing in electrician, a plumber, people who don’t do the stuff you do. Those are proper contractors. So in the service provider, online space, people who don’t support your business in the day to day of your business. So if you are a social media manager, you as the social media manager are a contractor to your clients easily. But if you have a graphic designer working with you and somebody doing pins and then somebody else helping you manage social media, those might be your employees. Some States are in agency relationship works right now. Some States it doesn’t. So that gets really like you need to have somebody look at how you’re structuring your business. If you’re running an agency to make sure that you are not just misclassifying employees as contractors, but the more that they’re doing their own thing, they have other clients, they send you a proposal, they send you a contract, those are more properly contractors, somebody, a VA who works for you 15 hours week, every single week, and you’d give them instruction every week about what needs to be done, more likely an employee in every state. Not just in the ABC state. In every state.

Amalie: (12:03)

Gotcha. So one of the things that I know or have had conversations with people about, so bringing on an employee I think, can be overwhelming. But also, with contractors, there’s an understanding that there might not always be work available. And so if you’re bringing on an employee, how do you, how do you deal with that? So if it is a VA and you go down the checklist and you realize to know what this person’s really more of an employee than a contractor, but I’m scared that I’m not going to be able to have work for them, you know, because my income is it, you know, it changes, I don’t have a consistent income right now. I mean, how, what do you say to someone like that that’s in a situation? Cause like I said, I, I have had multiple conversations with business owners that are in that way and that same in that situation I just described and they’re just not sure. They’re like, “well, I mean, I don’t know if I’m gonna have work for them. “So then I’m going to have to, so what do you do? You have to lay them off or like, well, how do you handle that? Or what do you tell business owners that are in that situation?

Amalie: (13:04)

Emily: (13:06)

The first thing I would do is look at what other thing you can outsource. So if there’s something else that’s taking up a lot of your time that’s not general business management and that might be something like Pinterest graphics, that might be blog writing. If you can outsource contractor jobs to contractors to free up your own time, then that is the first step in doing that. If you are looking to hire on an employee, hiring and firing becomes much more particular and you can bring people on part time and say, I’m bringing you on as an employee five hours a week, five hours a month, whatever it is. But then you need to know if you terminate them, that has to be done properly. You have to do the proper paperwork for your state. And there’s, this is why you see a lot of us companies outsourcing VA’s to other countries because the rules aren’t the same if you use, VA’s in other countries. But I work with a lot of VA’s MBA agencies. I don’t see the downside of bringing on an employee as being so overwhelming. But if your business is not consistent where a VA is going to help you increase your revenue and increase your productivity and give you back some of your quality of life, then there are other things that should be outsourced first.

Amalie: (14:23)

Okay. So outsource the things that are going to be traditional contractor relationships prior to bringing on a VA that would be your employee until you have consistent income. Okay. So one of my other…

Emily: (14:37)

I love things like Fiverr. I mean if you can find somebody on Fiverr to handle the tasks that might take you 40 hours this month and you might never have to do again, that is the perfect thing to find someone to outsource. But people have to look at how they’re spending their time cause you’re either going to have to spend time or money and if the money’s inconsistent, then you need to find other ways to outsource on a project basis for things that are appropriately outsourced.

Amalie: (15:01)

So what if you don’t, what if you have the work but you don’t tell them when they need to get it done. You just give them I can’t think of a good example right now. I mean if it was, I guess if there’s not really, I’m just thinking is there a way, and look, I’m probably just trying to like get, is there a way to justify it? Not telling them cause you’re not telling the when to work or how, you know how they have to do it.

Janine: (15:29)

Here’s, here’s one that’s come up a lot in conversation around the, when they have to work is what about team meetings? That’s one of my every other criteria. But your team meeting is at a certain time, so you’re requiring them to be there.

Emily: (15:47)

So under, I’m going to give you kind of a breakdown of the two tests and we’ll take that example and we will talk it through because I think that’s really helpful. So in the California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, the three part test is part A is the worker free from control and direction of the hiring entity in the performance of the work both under the contract and in fact, so in that situation, performance of the work isn’t normally dictated by a meeting. So a check-in would probably not be the end of the world unless it becomes, you know, you’re doing five hours of meetings a week and then they’re also directing other people. And I’ve had contractors call me going, “I’m basically the head of marketing for this company”, but they’re “I’m a contractor, but I’m managing their marketing team” and I’m like, “you use the word managing describing it to me because you’re a manager, you’re an employee.” Part B does the worker perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entities business? That is the part that is really tough for general VA’s OBMs. And then in the context of gig workers, that’s, that’s the slice that’s killing Uber and Instacart and all of that. Uber’s arguing that they’re a platform, that they’re an app, they’re not a ride sharing service. California is not pleased.

Amalie: (17:10)

They’re not buying that.

Emily: (17:12)

Telford is not pleased with that argument. Now they’re like, “no, you’re a ride sharing service.” They’re like, “we’re a software platform and we provide a way for writers and drivers to connect. We’re like Etsy.” No, you’re not like Etsy. Leave Etsy alone. And then part C is, is the worker customarily engaged in an independently established trade occupation or business out of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entities. So this means if you are hiring someone to do social media management and they are also booking your travel, they’re more like an employee and you are more like that bad boss like, “Hey, could you just handle this too? And this too.” So if you’re giving them things outside of the scope, they are not a contractor because a, a seasoned contractor will be like, “that’s not what I do. That’s outside of my scope or I can do that, but you’re going to have to pay me, we’ll set up a new project and talk about that.”

Amalie: (18:09)

You’re not going to have the plumber come in. And then also ask that person to do your, your electrical work. Right?

Emily: (18:14)

Exactly. Exactly. So you’re not going to, you’re not going to hire someone to do web development and then be like, “can you also create a strategy for Instagram growth?” No! They’re going to find someone else to do that. So those are the under the three prong test. The federal government’s also considering this in the ProAct, which we, I was starting to get riled up about and then Corona happened. So the ProAct we will see what happens. I think it’s going to get backburnered for at least a year or two. But the federal government is also considering this. So if you’re listening to this going, I’m so glad I don’t live in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut. Don’t gloat too hard yet. This is the direction this is going. And I think with 10 million people filing for unemployment and then the government having to extend unemployment to independent contractors and gig workers, we’re going to see this pushed nationally, faster probably outside of the ProAct. This is, it’s like winter folks. This is coming. Right. Understand. Be ready. And you know what, for all the LLCs I am consulting with right now, most of them don’t have themselves on payroll as W2. And if they don’t, they can’t apply for a lot of the government aid that’s happening right now. So this is also going to push business owners to be like, yeah I didn’t. And a lot of business owners are like, “I want the LLC benefits in liability and some of the tax breaks. But I also don’t want to be double taxed on paying payroll taxes,” which is a valid consideration. But now if you’re an LLC and you don’t pay yourself W2 the paycheck protection program, the free money one, doesn’t count. So there are reasons to consider if you’re going to bring on an employee what that looks like. Employees can be five hours a month. Nothing says they have to be 40 hours a week. You can, you can structure an employee relationship within the law how you want. You can pay people more, you can give them more hours. You can say five hours a week as your baseline. If we’re really busy, I will ask you for more hours. And if you have that, you can say yes. So under the bigger test when we’re talking about time, there are questions in that test. It’s 21 factors. Does the company require reports and accounting for time? So are you requiring time tracking of your people? Does the company determine which order the services performed? Does the company pay the individual by the hour, the week or the month? Not the project. Does the company pay individuals business or travel expenses? So do you have somebody come with you if you’re a speaker and travel? Does the client have the ability to fire the individual cause with contractors, normally when you sign an agreement, it’s like I’m signing an agreement till the end of this project, unless these things happen. But if you’re doing it this open, like as you want, that’s an at will work situation. That’s not a contractor who you’re required to pay for the project. So it’s those kinds of things also does the individual work for more than one company at a time? So if you have an OBM and you’re their only client, they might be, they might be your employee. I’m sorry. They’re OBMs everywhere who are like “Emily, you ruined my world” and I, I get it.

Amalie: (21:44)

I know, but it’s better to be better to be on the right side of this. So yeah. I have another question. All right, so we doing hopefully, hopefully. So we do a lot of developing like standard operating procedures. And if we have someone– like we wouldn’t, I guess cause one of the lines was about training them. Do you have to train them on how to do it? But it’s not a matter of training them on how to do their skill. It’s training them how to like work inside the business. And like if we use a certain software or project management tool or something to, can you tell me what you think about that?

Emily: (22:31)

Well, I hate to say it depends. It, it gets harder the more somebody is like a project manager where because most contractors will use their own tools. So if the business is like, you need to do this within my software, it becomes harder to argue they’re contractor. Because again, with a web developer, I say I have a WordPress site. I don’t know how they make that stuff happen. Like I don’t, I don’t know how you make it do the things it does. All I’m telling you is the platform I use. You use whatever tools you want to work on that platform. Or I have a Shopify site and I need help with it, but I don’t tell you how to code it and what program to use to code it. So it becomes a harder with project management saying, I need you to do these things within this software and framework. But I do think SLPs are very, very valuable to a business. So if a contractor uses SLPs for proper guidance, a marketing person using a brand guide is an easy way to see an SOP is not telling them how to do their job. It’s giving them guidelines so that they can work with the brand. Same with giving a copywriter like “this is my brand voice,” that’s guidance. So if it is giving them the tools and telling them what they have to do, more like an employee; guidance on your brand and your business more like a contractor. And each state looks at these things differently court by court. And the way we have guidance on this is these things go to court and judges are like, this counts, this doesn’t. So it’s going to depend on the state where the contractor is, the state whose law applies in the contract because every contractor’s contract should have a jurisdiction clause. So look at your contractor agreements and figure out what state law applies to that relationship. And that’s what’s going to apply. So it can be, it can feel daunting.

Amalie: (24:23)

Gotcha. Gotcha.

Emily: (24:26)

And your contractor needs to provide very clear boundaries and needs to provide a contract versus you bringing them on, you giving them a contract, you telling them how much you’re paying, the contractor needs to set those things.

Amalie: (24:41)

Okay. So what is like, if it’s, we’re talking to someone that has, let’s say they have a VA, they have a social media manager and they have someone that does their blog writing. Let’s just say what’s the first step that they need to do? The first thing they need to do right now to figure out if they are in a shitty place. And I’m just kidding there.

Emily: (25:08)

If they’re classified in pro, if they’re misclassified. The first thing would be to look at the working relationship and I do have a guide. Grab the guide. It is guidelines to go through. It’s going to be in the show notes, get the guide, and go through the prongs for the state where you’re in and look at each relationship. Evaluate your VA, what do they do for me? How do I sign them? Work, do, do I pay them hourly? Do I make them track their time and tasks, then they’re more likely an employee. It gets a little easier with a copywriter, but know that you can treat a copywriter like an employee. Just the same way you can treat a VA like an employee, so you need to make sure that they are providing the contracts. They are providing the scope of work. They are providing their rates, not, “Hey, I need a blog writer. I need four blogs a month. These are the topics. This is the amount I need them done by this time every single day.” That’s more like a staff writer and so going through the guide and looking at each business relationship or I know nobody wants to do it. Everybody when they start a business want to pick brand colors and logoing and a URL and a website. Nobody wants to talk to a lawyer because they think we’re assholes. We’re not. We’re here to help. You’re not, we’re here to help, but sometimes we do rain on rain on the parade and say, “this is the right way to do it.” I know that that feels overwhelming. It’s, it’s linear and online business. There aren’t the same triggers to like pause and about it that there are with brick and mortars, right? So a brick and mortar, when you’re going to spend 5,000 or more a month on a lease of a location, you’re going to be asked for a crap ton of paperwork. And if you didn’t know you needed to have a business license for your location or a DBA filed with the state or insurance, those kinds of things, it’s all in the paperwork and you’re like, “Oh shit, I need to do all of this before I can do that with online business.” Unless you’ve found me and the guides that I have on business, there’s not a lot of barrier to entry. You’re like, “all right, well I’ve got an acuity account and I got a, you know, I’ve done this page Facebook business page. I maybe have a URL and I take money through Venmo. I have a business, right?” Well not the right way. Don’t take money through Venmo. So you, there aren’t those same stop gaps when you’re starting an online business that say, “Hey, you have to do these things.” So unless a business owner finds the people to tell them the true information, you can find business owners new in their online business, spinning around on email funnels and what is a trip wire and what does my logo look like versus what do I need to know to run a proper business? Cause they don’t always see it as a proper business. When they first start. They’re like, “well, I’m not really making that much money. Nobody will notice.” Guess what? They do. That’s not the test, right? The test is not, I’m not making enough money for anyone to notice. That’s not the test, right?

Amalie: (28:23)

So, if someone has a copywriter that is writing blogs. They’ve said, “okay, here’s what we’re doing. We need four blogs a month. Here’s the list of topics. Here’s this, here’s that.” And basically they’re, they’re essentially like a staff writer. Okay. So let’s say they’re in that situation, and they realize that is it, I don’t, I don’t know exactly how is it better to just figure out and bring the person on as employee and have them as employees? Or is it better to figure out a way to, to have them be a contractor? I mean, but I don’t even know how you would then change the relationship because I mean, then you’d have to be like, Hey, come up with those blog ideas on your own and I’ll approve them. Or, you know, like, I don’t know how you would even, is it better just to go down that route and just get them on as employees?

Emily: (29:12)

It’s hard to say better because it’s going to really depend on where the business is located, where that copywriter is located, and then if that copywriter is comfortable being on more of a project base, I think it’s, it’s okay to say, “Hey, these are the topics we’re working on. Please flush this out and give me some ideas.” I think there is, there are fine lines when it comes to copywriters. Some States, copywriters are just exempt. So final line. Yeah, so some States copywriters are just like “whatever, they’re copywriters like let the writers be free.” It’s like California, the freelance writers are limited right now to 35 submissions a year. So if you’ve got a, a copywriter in California that’s writing four or five blogs a bump, you can’t use them for the full year. So you’re seeing then you’re seeing media outlets like Vox media and even things like Upwork and Fiverr and rev saying if your address is in California, we won’t work with you anymore. So it’s, it’s meant to protect California freelancers. But now everyone in California is stuck at home and they’re like, “I’ll go, I’ll go transcribe for rev. Like I’ve done transcription work. “It’s kind of easy and fun if you like to type, um, and Rev’s like we have work on their website. It’s like we have work we’re taking on transcribers and if you put in a California address, they’re like, “I’m sorry, we’re not accepting contractors in your area.” So it’s causing a lot of problems now that everybody’s at home and looking for freelance work online. Because most of the online portals will not accept freelance workers with a California address. That is a long way to say in some States there are exceptions to the rule and those exceptions vary greatly from state to state. So if you are freaking out, know that if we got into all the exceptions, we would be here for an hour and 45 minutes. This is why you go to someone who knows the things and says, Emily Baker, all of the people, I’m happy to do it. These are all of the people that I work with in my business. Can we evaluate these working relationships and see either how to fix them? And that might be going to your contractor and saying, “Hey, I love you. I love working with you. We did that wrong. This is what I’m seeing and I want to protect you and I want to protect me and I want to keep working with you in this way. Can we, can you provide me with a proposal? Can you provide me with a contract? Can you tell me how you work versus me telling you how I want you to work with me.” So it’s really about making sure the contractor is again doing proper contract work. And if you think of the house example, it’s easier to see like, Oh yeah, if you’re hiring a plumber, they’re not coming to your house and you’re like “okay this is what I want you to fix. Cause that might not be the problem cause I don’t know. I want you to fix this. I’m going to pay you $15 an hour. I think it’ll only take you two hours. Cool, great. Just get it done.” Your plumber would be like, “peace. that’s not how that works.” And then you tell them you’re also going to need these parts and you’re going to do it this way. No, they’re going to be like, “I’ll evaluate the problem. I will tell you how much it will cost for me to fix your problem. And if that does not work with you, I will go away and you can find someone else.” That is very much how a proper contract relationship works. You can’t tell a copywriter, I have one of my, one of my good business friends is a copywriter. People are like, “Hey, I just need you to tweak a few things on these seven website pages so that shouldn’t take you very long.” And she’s like, “I can’t just tweak a few words in your copy. I have to evaluate all of your copy. You can’t tell me what needs to be tweaked. You’re hiring me to do the writing. I do the writing, the way I do the writing. So if that doesn’t work for you, you really just want someone to edit.”

Amalie: (33:01)

Right, exactly. And if you need an edit you might as well just do it yourself. So, okay.

Emily: (33:05)

I hope that helps. I know it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say sometimes it depends, but there’s more to this and, and even businesses that have been established for a while don’t always know that when you are, depending on the state, you’re in your contractor, you could be required to withhold payroll taxes from them in your state or in their state. You could be required to register your business. If you’re a business doing business in Texas and you have three contractors in California, you might need out doing business in California and needing to register your company in California and paying business taxes in California. Having contractors in certain States can trigger sales tax being applied to people buying things from you from those States. So it’s not just the contractor relationship and people are like, “how are you supposed to know that you’re not?” You’re supposed to know that you need to talk to an attorney and at least have a conversation with the CPA about making sure that you are paying people right. And where your contractors are located aren’t triggering other things for your business because unfortunately it can.

Amalie: (34:16)

Yeah. Got it. So, okay, one last question about, and then Janine, you can go, but what I would tell, okay, so in this situation, right now there’s a lot of businesses that have slowed down. And in an online business situation, you don’t want to necessarily fire the person if you’ve brought them on as an employee. But you can, you lay them off and just say, “look right now, like we just don’t have work,” but you know, and, and do something like that. Is there an option for that? If you know you have like, you know for a fact your summer months are slow and you’re like, “look, you know, I just know that I’m just not going to have that five hours a week” or whatever for the person. Can you do something like that? And as, as an employee.

Emily: (35:07)

So if you have W-2 employees right now, and we’re talking beginning of April, 2020 in the midst of a national pandemic world, global pandemic, and in the midst of most States being shut down, businesses being shut down, doors being closed, it is affecting online businesses. There are a number of options. If you have W-2 employees, the paycheck protection program is still alive and well. It is quickly running out of money, but now you can still apply for that and that will pay your payroll for two months at least to keep people on your payroll. If that program is not a right fit for your business, you can furlough your employees, meaning, “Hey, while this pandemic is happening, our business is really slow because I do something in a industry that requires either travel or weddings or just because all of your clients are freaked out and don’t want to spend any money because they don’t know how long their own businesses will be slow.” You can say, “I’m furloughing you until at least this month or I’m furloughing you until further notice. You have a job here. Once I’m able to be up and running, but I’m not up and running.” That allows the employee to file for unemployment. And right now, unemployment has been broadened by two different pieces of legislation. The FCRA and the cares act and it’s had money added to it. You get that extra 600 a month. So if you can’t sustain payroll, your two options are paycheck protection program or considering furloughs, which is a specific way of saying, I have your job, just not right now. So when we can do this again, please come back. And that way your employee doesn’t have to continue to prove that they’re looking for work under unemployment. Some States are suspending that requirement anyway cause they’re like, what’s the point of having you on unemployment saying you have to look for work when you can’t leave your house? And it’s really hard to look for work.

Amalie: (37:07)

What about outside of the coronavirus? Outside of that, just in normal climate.

Emily: (37:13)

You can furlough people in normal climates for load employees can’t always file for unemployment. But you can, you can also, depending on the way your employment contract is written, you might be able to just terminate people if the business can’t sustain it. But if you can’t sustain payroll, you go back to the first, one of the first things we talked about, which is look at what you can outsource to contractors properly. Look at what services you can use and then wait until your income is at least somewhat consistent to bring on an employee at a few hours. Cause when you bring on employees, you are bringing on payment of taxes for them. So it’s not just their hourly rate, it’s also the other stuff that goes with it.

Amalie: (37:56)

Okay. Janine, now you can ask a question.

Janine: (38:00)

Oh yeah, thank you. Thanks so much. I don’t actually have a list of questions because you’ve answered so many things and a lot of it depends. I understand it depends. I just think it’s, it’s awesome your comment about a business coach saying, Oh, “we’ll hire a VA or whatever.” It’s like there’s so much advice out there about hire that first DA or whatever, and there’s, and there’s a lot of disclaimers about law. I’m not an attorney and I’m not an accountant, but you should do this, this, and this that. I just, I think it’s really helpful to hear that you’re part of the team, right? Well, okay, but you’re not an employer or an employee but for a business person. You know, it’s like when you’re talking about “what does that trigger, when to do this?” It’s like when to talk to an attorney? So they have that basic understanding and I just think it’s important and make the point that well, I love the UC so our attorneys aren’t assholes and they are your friends and you’re hiring them to help you with your business. But also that that knowledge isn’t lost if it turns out that’s not the right time that you need that kind of thing. Now you know and you will have a really clear picture for you and your business and when is the time to do that and that is helpful because I think a lot of people just walk around in that fog or denial or they’re just busy focusing on what they’re doing, but they don’t think about it until something comes up.

Emily: (39:24)

And I use this phrase with my clients all the time, and I know you guys are down, but in law and sometimes in medicine as well, you can’t put the shit back in the horse. Like once it’s out, it’s out. Your best thing is to clean it up, cleaning up, hiring me to clean up the mess is way more expensive than hiring me for a 30 or 45 minute consultation to lay out a structure and a roadmap for your business as you grow. My goal is that most of my clients make more money than I do and true story. Most of my clients make more money than I do because it is my goal. Their businesses thrive and it is. What I want to do is have a business owner say I’m confident in the people that I’m working with. I’m confident that my business is right. I’m confident that my signature thing is protected, that my intellectual property is protected. I’m confident that if somebody comes at me sideways, I at least know who to ask for help and I’m confident that when I’m paying this little teeny amount of taxes, I’m not actually evading my taxes. That’s how business is run. Cause a lot of business owners in the online space don’t come from generational wealth. So some of the rich people moves that they’re able to make feels like money laundering to them and I’m like, “No, this is really cool business rich people shit.” You just don’t know about it because if you’re like me, my parents were employees their entire life. We don’t have a family business. My parents were never entrepreneurial. They worked, they got a pension and a retirement program and they retired. That is what they did and a lot of our parents did that. So you don’t know that you can have multiple LLCs and lend money back and forth. Could be money laundering, but it’s not. It’s using your income to generate wealth. There is so much you can do with a business when you set it up right and it gets really cool. Yes, you can pay your kids from your business and a lot of times you don’t pay taxes on this. Yes, you can rent out your own house and don’t pay taxes on it. That’s income to you. That’s not tax and it’s an expense to your business that’s beneficial. There is so much can do with your business when it’s set up right and if you set up the foundation right, you can get to like the next level rich people shit and do some really awesome stuff with your business that doesn’t just impact you but impacts your community. It impacts the people you want to help. I’ve seen so much good from entrepreneurs during coronavirus helping other businesses, reaching out, creating solutions and when you have the money to do that, it’s amazing. You’re like, you know Bethany Frankel’s like “I don’t care what you say. I’m getting a plane, I’m getting it handled. I’m just, I’m making things happen. The government’s moving too slow for me. Fix the problem.” She can do that because she has fucked tons of money. She has fucked tons of money cause she set up her businesses right way back at the beginning of, you know, real Housewives of New Jersey when she was selling shit at a Whole Foods, right into a business empire. You know she’s got a million lawyers and that’s not including the divorce ones and set her business up to the point that she can now do the good she wants to do in the world. She sees a problem. She’s like, “screw it. I’m getting a plane. I’ll just fix it. Puerto Rico, you need water. I’ve got you. I got you.” She just did it, but that’s what you can set your business up to be, even if it’s not on that scale, but you need the structure in place. You need to build the foundation. It’s not the fun stuff. Branding and websites and social media is really fun. Emails are fun for most of us, not everyone, but if you don’t have the foundation, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, your business will max out or you will burn out because you don’t know the direction you’re running in.

Amalie: (43:07)

Or you’re getting trouble and have to pay lots of money and fines.

Emily: (43:13)

I do get phone calls like “will I go to jail?” And I’m like, “this is going to be expensive, but you might not go to jail. It’s still going to be very expensive.”

Amalie: (43:23)

Emily, thank you so, so, so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it. This has been super helpful. Um, if you’re listening, make sure you subscribe, leave us a comment and we will see you next time. And Emily, thank you again so much.

Emily: (43:38)

Thank you so much. Thank you guys.


Carla White, a self-proclaimed Technical Spiritual Junkie, was the first woman ever to develop an iPhone app. After working with Microsoft for years, she realized she didn’t enjoy programming as much as she did designing interfaces. So one day she decided to create an app, in a time and place where nobody within miles knew how to do it — Ten years later, that app is still at the top of the charts… and the best part is that she did it all by herself. Find out how systems helped her build a business empire around the Gratitude app!

Show Notes

It’s hard to stay positive when you find yourself in a rut. 

Things go slow and you can’t seem to break the cycle.

This is what inspired Carla White, a self-proclaimed Technical Spiritual Junkie, to develop her first iPhone app — the first iOS app made by a woman — “Gratitude”, an app that makes it easy to document good things that happened to you during the day. Mind you, this was all before the app craze started. To this day, this app continues to be in the top of the charts, ten years later. Her success inspired her audiobook, “The Inside Secrets to an iPhone” and more so, changed her professional path to do what she loves.

Nowadays, she develops apps for big and small companies, creates courses for like-minded people, and helps them transform their personal and professional lives via her apps, public speaking, newsletters, seminars, and books.

In this episode, we discussed:

➡️ The #1 way to get reliable and responsible contractors 

➡️ Steps to successful recruiting

➡️ Best ways to manage big projects

➡️ What YOU need to do if you’re just starting out in the business

And a lot more. Check this episode out now!

Connect With Carla

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:36)

Welcome back to the podcast. I’m here with Janine and we have a special guest, Carla White. I’m so excited that she’s here today. Carla, would you let us know a little bit about yourself and what you have going on right now?

Carla: (00:50)

Yeah. Hey, thank you for having me. So I am, I call myself a technical spiritual junkie, kind of a mismatch of ancient wisdom meets new technology and I’m also the first woman to launch an iPhone app. 

Janine: (01:07)

Yes. That is so exciting. Yeah, it is pretty cool. 

Amalie: (01:12)

I have to, do you want to tell us about the app that you launched?

Carla (01:15)

Yeah. So the app that I launched over 10 years ago is Gratitude Journal. My Gratitude Journal, if you look it up, it’s got a little Buddha icon and it’s been in the top of the charts for 10 years and it’s just me, team of one, unless you include my dog, he’s in the company all day long. No funding, no marketing, nothing like that. So, no startup capital. And yeah, it’s been an amazing experience.

Janine: (01:49)

Awesome. I spent about five years in the tech startup world and that’s rare. That’s so rare. And I’m so happy to meet with you, it’s amazing. Yeah. I’m kind of a fan girl, but yeah.

Amalie: (02:01)

So what did you do with the app? What did you use the app for when you, you know, you did this, you created it, and then what did you do? 

Carla: (02:11)

Yeah, so to back up a little bit. I was a programmer with Microsoft and that was a really bad one, you know, super bad. And so I discovered that my true love is designing interfaces more than programming. So the front end rather than the back end. And with designing interfaces for NASA, now that might sound super cool and sexy, but it’s, you know, government, and projects go slow. And that’s when started keeping a gratitude journal myself with this, which is just a notebook where you write down things each day that are good. And it helped me turn my life around. So I thought, well, I’m going to make this into an app, which was crazy because nobody knew how to make apps and where I live in the middle of America, as far landlocked as you can get, there’s nobody who knows that, nobody within thousands of miles.

So, and the government facility that I worked at was like Area 51. There was no internet connection, nothing. So it was like going into a little bubble every day. So I’d get up early in the morning and I make this app and it was basically just a notes app, but I added a couple of little features to push it a little bit more towards a gratitude journal. You can rate your day. You can add a photo. I mean it was so simple back then cause you could barely do anything with those devices. 

Amalie: (03:45)

Awesome. Okay. So in your time, so tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now. 

Carla: (03:53)

Yeah. So what happened on after I created that app is I got a lot of emails from people asking me how to do that. And nice little Carla, I sat down and I wrote a reply to every single one.

And then after about the 20th line, I’m like, “okay, there’s a better way of doing that.” I created an ebook, it was called “The Inside Secrets to an iPhone.” And I put that for sale for 17 bucks or 30. I can’t even remember. And it went viral. And then on the heels of that I ended up starting an app agency. So I was making apps for other people, other businesses, really big businesses, major newspapers down to smaller businesses that are local, you know. And for the longest time I was doing that while having my own app out there and my own app grows and my list, my email list, and they tell me like, “you’re supposed to get a dollar for each email you have.” But I was getting the growing list email list and they got my app and then I never sold them anything after that.

I never did. Maybe I wrote him an email to say hi, I’m still here. And then I came across funnels and I realized how I can take them on a journey. And so that’s what I’m doing now is I create courses for these people that give my half, I create a community. I help them if they are what I call “soul preneurs.” So people that are kind of spiritual, maybe their Reiki master guru sort of people you have. I helped them build their online business and I also still make apps. So that’s a thing I’m doing on the side as well. 

Amalie: (05:54)

Awesome. So one of the big things that Janine and I wanted to talk to you about is, so in your experience while you’re doing this, you’ve worked with a lot of contractors, right? So tell us about, and people like our audience work with contractors and you know, getting started with a contractor and what kind of agreements do you have, what kind of nondisclosure agreements you have that, those kinds of things like screening, let’s dive into that a little bit. So let’s start with with screening, like Janine said, let’s start with that and talk about how do you screen a contractor before bringing them on? And then let’s roll to some of the other things around that topic, because I think it’s a really important topic to talk about.

Carla: (06:42)

Yeah. So a lot of the contractors that I bring in are all word of mouth. I never just put an application out there because it’s just, I did that in the past and it always bit me, it always came back and haunted me. Now if you, I wrote a book, well, the idea to iPhone, but “The Inside Secrets” book got republished as “Idea to iPhone” under violate and I have a big section in there about how to hire and what you need to go through in the hiring process and do not skip any of these steps. It’s bold and in parenthesis like exclamation points. And guess what Carla did when she went to hire: she skipped a little and that ended up, you know, losing thousands of dollars and having to redo stuff because you know, when you’re making a lot of other projects to other software, but especially with apps, it’s like building a house and if you build up a wall and you bring in another developer to change it out, well they’re going to have to practically demolish the whole house and start over.

So, going cheap is expensive in the long run. What I do is I ask him all sorts of technical questions. I don’t even know the answers to those technical questions, but if they don’t know the answers, then they are not ready to be hired. Another little thing I do is I’ll ask technical friends of mine, developers that are working at Starbucks or at Nike, you know, these are really seasoned developers, and I ask them to sit in on the interviews with me or question them as well. And just like them sitting in on the interview, you can gauge whether that person is a good fit.

Amalie: (08:44)

So one of the things I just did with a client, actually, I did her hiring process and I did put out an application and got responses and I did all the initial interviews and everything, but something did, was a practice project where we actually set something up and then she paid them, you know, gave them say, “listen, we approximate it’ll probably take you about, you know, two hours to do this and we’ll pay you this much to do it.” And they all, you know, they agreed to do it. But what was great is because she was looking for someone that’s really detailed oriented and so she was really quickly able to see who was going to be a good candidate for that and who wasn’t. So it’s something that I recommend for sure is giving them some sort of practice project and starting on a trial basis. So let’s just try 30 days, right? So maybe the first thing is just one project and then let’s do 30 days, see how it goes and then you know, moving from there. So is that something you would recommend as well?

Carla: (09:41)

Oh yeah, absolutely. I do all those things because you got to compare apples to apples. You’ve got to give them the exact same project. Everybody do this. It’s a little bit tricker trickier with code because even just setting up an app project is a couple of few days to do that. So you know, by the time you actually created anything, but what I do is I also ask them for sample code and I’m looking for certain things in that sample code. Are they documenting, what is this, you know, do they even have it? Other things I look for is do they have existing apps in the app store that they developed? And then I’ll talk to the app owner and make sure that they developed it because I’ve had other people who are creating apps. Say so-and-so told me he built your app is a true. And I’m like, no. So if they’re putting, an app in their portfolio…

Amalie: (10:35)

Do you ask people for references and then will you contact those references? Is that something that is part of your policy?

Carla: (10:45)

Oh, absolutely. I’ll contact those references, you know, here’s the thing, I’ve been contacted as a reference and I’ve been completely honest about my experience working with somebody. So you can’t always assume that they’re going to just give a glowing review.

Amalie: (11:03)

What about someone just starting out? So there’s a lot of people that might not have an app in but would be able to take on the job. Do you, how do you deal with someone like that who applies for a job or you get a reference from but it’s just starting out or what would you recommend someone that’s just starting out that just need that first “yes”?

Carla: (11:23)

Yeah, right. That was a lot of people that I met when I was starting the game because you know, nobody was developing apps. They all wanted to get in on it. And there were a few that I took on that were green but I looked at how much other development they had, you know, other, and it’s more of being able to code is a part of it or being able to design, it’s just a fraction of it, being able to manage a project as a fraction. The other larger part is can they communicate? do they give you updates? Do they use the tools that you use? I mean that communication part is so huge to the project ready. Cause if you’ve got a killer developer, but you don’t hear from him for weeks or her for weeks and you know you can’t update your client, everybody’s kind of feeling queasy. Everybody’s got skin in the game and yeah.

Janine: (12:20)

Carla, I had a designer who gave me almost 600 graphics all called untitled one. Oh, communication breakdown. 

Carla: (12:33)

Oh, no. Yeah. Right. How do they even label things? How organized are they? Do they have any SLPs themselves? Are you going to be training them on all that? You know, that’s huge.

Amalie: (12:47)

And I definitely think that that’s something that you need to know up front when you bring someone on is if they are newer and they don’t necessarily have standard operating procedures, that’s going to be some time that you need to spend with them teaching them. But most of the time I would think if you brought someone into your business, you would, you would teach them on how you run your business. “Okay, this is what we do, here’s our standard operating procedures, and you need to follow those,” you know, and have them in place that will help smooth the hiring process or onboarding process. So, okay. So I want to touch on agreements and let’s talk about the kinds of agreements that you have when you bring a contractor on. I’d love to hear how you, how you handle that with your business.

Carla: (13:30)

Yeah. You know, I outline everything they’re going to do. I have ever, when before I bring the contractor into the project, I have the design finalized. There is no changing the design unless it absolutely has to change. So we know exactly what the developer’s going to build. Now my contract for him is not legally, it’s straight up talk, like “this is the stuff you’re going to do. You’re going to call me once every two days, you’re gonna push the code”. How often they’re going to push the code, what we’re going to speak, what tools we’re gonna use. Everything is outlined in that contract, but it’s in English, not a legal lease. And at the end I put a little bit of a legal lease saying, okay, although this is really easy to read, this is as binding as a complicated legal contract because I feel like otherwise they’re not going to read it. I need to know that we’re both on the same page and that contract has helped me tremendously.

Amalie: (14:36)

That’s awesome. Yeah. Janine had you had experiences with when you were in the app development world with, with contracts and things like that as well? 

Janine: (14:52)

Well yeah, a little bit. I’ve used them. One of the common problems I saw are people kind of subcontracting, you know, online. They’re not doing the kind of vetting that Carla’s doing or simply not actually reading what the developer is offering. And so they think they’re getting a finished piece handed over to them when the developer’s like, “no, I’m going to publish this under my developer account and you’re actually going to have to pay me tens of thousands of dollars more if you want the whole thing.” I think, yeah, Carla is nodding. 

Carla: (15:23)

Yeah. There’s all these little pieces. And I learned all this because I have like 10, 12, 15 years with Microsoft. 

Janine: (15:32)

So Carla, how big of a project before you start breaking it into pieces between different developers so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket? 

Carla: (15:42)

I used to have a project manager and three developers. Now I strategically go for apps that where the features don’t require that. Okay. Because it’s just… nobody enjoys it. It’s not the clients that I want. It’s not the type of projects I want, the developers get burnt out, you know, lose that shiny object syndrome after about six months. So I like to keep out projects four to six months I suppose.

Amalie: (16:21)

I was going to ask you, so in your contracts, do you put milestones that when things will need to be due and then about, you said, so most of your contracts are anywhere from four to six months when you bring them on? 

Carla: (16:32)

Yes. Yeah. And if they go over, it’s normally because of the client. You know, we’re waiting weeks to hear a decision on the blue or the green. 

Amalie: (16:47)

Do you use any sort of project management tool to deal with the back and forth conversations or how do you deal with that? 

Carla: (16:56)

Unfortunately they’re kind of scattered because it has to cater to the easiest for everybody. But we use Trello to track everything. I used to use Asana, but now I’ve moved over to Trello. instant messenger has a lot of it. My developer, my main developer, he just is, I wish a Trello was part of instant messenger, but my client likes text messages so she’ll text all day long.

Amalie: (17:40)

So if someone was just sort of starting out and they need to start to hire contractors, whether they’re doing something a lot like you’re doing or maybe a slightly different, what advice would you give them? You know, if they’re in that position. 

Carla: (17:58)

Yeah. So if you, if I’m going to just talk about creating apps, not, you know, cause there’s different ways to hire a contractor, but if you’re, if you’re going to build an app, you have to really think about the design first. And a lot of people when they think about building an app, they just think, I gotta get a coder. I got to get a developer. And they don’t think about that design piece and how critical that is to the app success. And so, I kinda think of it as the 80 20 rule.

80% of your success comes from 20% of the project. And a lot of people are thinking about the marketing and the design, that’s where 80% of your success comes from. So make sure you have that design nailed, iterative design. So, if you need help with that design and finding designers, there’s a lot of really good younger kids who understand apps and flow much better now. And I’m sure you get a good deal on that. And there’s even websites where they’ve vetted the talent first. 

Amalie: (19:15)

Do you have any favorites?

Carla: (19:15)

You know, I haven’t used them, but I see, I hear that one that is recommended in a Mixergy podcast. I can’t even remember what it’s called now. 

Amalie: (19:28)

When you remember you can send it to us and we can put it in the show notes.

Carla: (19:30)

Yeah, yeah. So they, but you have to, I think you have to put a deposit in just to like, and you work with a project manager who basically finds the talent for you.

But now I have coached people, I’m making their apps and I’ve had students just go around to neighbors and loved ones and friends and say “look, I want to make an app. Do you know an app developer?” And word of mouth is, to me always the best start. And especially if it’s somebody that you know is good. So my app developers, I have certain criteria, like they have to have attended WWDC, which is Apple’s developer content contest. They’ve have to done certain and one certain contest, they have to speak fluent English, you know, because here’s the thing, you’ll see some stunning portfolios out there. But when you hire them, that’s just all shiny paint. It’s not the real deal. 

Janine: (20:35)

It’s really interesting using an event like the WWDC two screen. That’s great. They went there. That’s the start.

Carla: (20:46)

Yeah. Cause that’s a expensive event to get to and they don’t have to go every year but at least, you know, are investing in that. So, but you know, because I’ve been in the game for 10 years or so, I feel like I know so many seasoned app developers, you know the ones who wrote all the books and who are featured at all the speaking events and things like that. So when I’m in a pinch I just send them a message a lot of times and say, do you have anybody you recommend? It doesn’t always work out, but it is kind of my go to because I just haven’t had the luck going to Upwork and these other websites. Not as in the past few years.

Amalie: (21:30)

Well thank you so much for being with us today. Will you let us know where we can find you? So let our audience know where they can find you, where they can contact you if they are interested in reaching out.

Carla: (21:44)

Yeah. Yeah. So, if you want to get my book “Idea to iPhone” that’s or you can find it on Amazon and if you want to learn more about me and my apps and the courses I do, you can go to

Amalie: (22:04)

Awesome. Awesome. Well that’s great. Thank you again for being with us. We really appreciate it. And thank you for sharing your information with us. I think it was super helpful. And we will catch you guys on the next episode.

Carla: (22:19)

Awesome. Thank you.


Growth is amazing. It brings more opportunities, opens new doors, and overall it’s simply great for your business. But as you and your business start growing, you realize pretty quickly that this growth also brings challenges that you probably can’t overcome on your own without going crazy.

Truth is that finding that one person that has it all: personality, skills, willingness, and dependability, is very hard to find. But, sometimes, that magical person you need has been in your company all along.

Join us for this episode where Holly Homer, a writer, blogger, and public speaker for over 13 years shared her process to help you grow your team and hire within your own company effectively!

Show Notes

You don’t want to miss this episode of the Systematic Excellence Podcast where famous blogger, writer, and public speaker (and more!) Holly Homer shares her experience with hiring: the process she follows, where she found her team that’s been by her side for years, and how growing her team from within has worked so well for her.

Topics we covered on this episode:

➡️The one place to look for great talent that will make the hiring process super easy

➡️How to ensure your team and business continue to thrive

➡️How to get your foot in the door if you’re looking to get hired 

And a lot of other useful information! Join us now!

Connect with Holly Homer

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


Holly’s courses:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Janine: (00:05)

Hello. Welcome to the podcast today. This is Janine. We’ve got Amalie here. Hi Amalie. And our guest today is Holly Homer. How’s it going Holly?

Holly: (00:14)

Well, it’s going well. Thanks for having me.

Janine: (00:18)

Absolutely. It’s a pleasure to have you here. So Holly is amazing, she started out in blogging. She’s got a huge blog. She’s a social media and SEO mastermind. Has built out, her team is running two businesses, has physical products for audience, ran a virtual summit this year and is doing all kinds of amazing things. And our topic in this round of episodes is on hiring, and you’ve been growing your team and hiring within your team, which is from one position to another, which is a little different approach than we were really hoping you could share with us how that is going for you. What made you decide to do that and how you implemented it?

Holly: (01:03)

Yeah. Well I’ve had a team for a while. I’ve been blogging for 13 years. And, I realized pretty early on as far as when I started monetizing my blog that it was going to be really hard to do it all by myself besides the fact that other people are better at it than I am. So, that was a thing I learned pretty quickly is that in fact, I learned that when I wrote my first book and I realize that the book came along as kind of an opportunity because of the blog and the blog had opened the doors for the book. But then I was like, “how am I going to write a book when I have a blog to run?” And so I decided, you know, I’ll hire contributors and I’ll have them write out a whole summer worth of content and we’ll do that in the spring and then schedule that out over the summer.

And then over the summer when that’s publishing, I will go write the book. And so when I hired these contributors and I brought in all these posts and I was scheduling them, I was in some cases, I was cringing and thinking, “no, that’s not what I want on my blog.” And, but they were like “this is what I committed to do it.” And then at the end of the summer, I looked back and statistically those posts did better than my own posts. So “Holly, get over yourself, you don’t know what people want.” And so it was really cool because that just kind of opened the door for realizing that if I brought in more voices, I could attract a wider audience. And that was also the summer that we got a lot more traffic because there was more stuff on the blog and it was more variety than I could do on my own.

Holly: (02:55)

And so early on, I was hiring just contributors and then, because I didn’t know the ins and outs of hiring online, the people I was hiring, my assistant was in Turkey, a lot of the contributors were all across the country in the world and people I had never met in person, which is a little scary at first. I really looked at Penn of siloing people. So I would hire them for a project or a series of posts that had an ending to it. Or they were in a bubble where they couldn’t take down the whole side. And I was always trying to think, “I don’t destroy the kingdom in one swell even when one fail swoop.” But as I’ve grown, and as I’m joining the team and stuff like that is that if we have good people in place, a lot of times it’s easier for us to have them do multiple things because managing a lot of people is harder than a few good people.

So recently I needed a virtual assistant again. And so it was really funny because I just didn’t have the energy to go out and hire, cause last time I did it it took several weeks and quite a lot of my effort and we’re in the middle of a launch and all these other things. And I realized I needed it and then it was obvious that the person that was perfect for that position was in our team already and we had just completely overlooked it. I don’t know how that happened. 

Janine: (04:41)

I was going to ask what made you realize that? 

Holly: (04:47)

Yeah. So, I think it was the pain of the thing, I got to the point where I knew we needed that person, because that person is, I have an email address that been online for 13 years.

So I get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails a day. And that’s literally no joke. And here I was spending 30, 45 minutes, an hour a day, deleting and unsubscribing from things which was not a good use of my time. And as we were putting more things on my plate that were more important and trying to take things off that were less important, I was like, “Oh crap, I’m gonna have to go and find this person again,” but we didn’t have time. And so I think that I kept delaying, you know, putting that out there into the world. And I think often when we procrastinate on something we know is super, super important, it’s for a reason. And so here I was, you know, sitting around my house, knowing I was procrastinating for a reason and then it was like, “Oh, now I know the reason.”

My mind is telling me I don’t need to do that because that person is already on the team. And the fact that she’s already on the team, she’s been on the team for years by the way. And so she already knows how the inner workings of the team work. She knows the different people involved. One of the people that this person has to interact with a lot is my husband because he does all the financials and stuff on the business. And she was literally his favorite employee because she was always on time with her timesheet. She was always, I mean she had already gotten a gold star from him. And he kind of lurks in the shadows of the business normally. So it was kinda good to find someone that he was really comfortable with.

Amalie: (06:52)

What did she do before? And then what is she doing now?

Holly: (06:54)

So before she was, she started out as doing our social media. In fact she had started with another one of my companies that I had with a partner and my partner had brought her on and she did a really good job with the social media. So then when she needed more hours, I brought her into kind of my blog. She was a writer, she wrote books. And so, originally I had her writing content and so she’s been doing content, social media and kind of floating.

Amalie: (07:29)

And what’s she doing now?

Holly: (07:30)

And so now she’s my virtual assistant. Although, in this case, I’m going to call her a virtual manager because she’s having to manage me.

Janine: (07:44)

It’s so much more than just this thing. So I know the story here cause I got to see behind the scenes, but, we talked about your, you know, you brought up the concerns you had. Well first you have the job description for what you wanted because you’ve already had people in this position, but then you had concerns about approach. 

Holly: (08:06)

Yeah. You know, it was kind of funny because I know how important a virtual assistant or a virtual manager is in that position. And this goes back to when I was a physical therapist running a rehab clinic and you know, the most important person in that organization was the receptionist because you know, answers the phones, takes the complaints, gets the patients in, organizes the waiting room, and that is the lowest-paid employee in the entire place. And they are the absolute front line of what that patient or what that customer thinks about the business. And I feel this is almost the same situation here is, I’ll oftentimes, speaking on my behalf and reading my mind as far as decisions that need to be made as far as triaging where things are going and all this kind of stuff. And she’s literally the most important person in that company. But yet she’s going through emails. It’s not a glamorous position.

So I think that’s what I’ve always, I don’t want to be like, “I know you’re overqualified for this, but I would really love to put you in this position.”

Amalie: (09:36)

What were some of the skills that you saw she had? One of the things I advocate for is hiring people that their experience might not be in the thing you want to hire them for, but they have the personality for it. So someone that was a graphic designer might be really great at customer service and just because they don’t have any experience doing customer service doesn’t mean they won’t be great at it. So what were the things that you recognize from her skill-wise or personality-wise that made you think she’d be perfect for this position? 

Holly: (10:02)

So one of the things that just is at the top of her list of skills and she has a ton of skills, which makes her a really easy fit because I do a lot of stuff.

So a lot of times, you know, it’s good to know a lot of things. But the second, the most important thing to me was dependability. She is someone who shows, when others in her situation wouldn’t and just as completely dependable and, and I think one of the things that, yeah, and she has experienced, I’m not her only client, she has several clients and well some people would shy away from that. I actually think it’s kind of a benefit because I used to communicate like you would to a client where sometimes if someone comes in and just works for me and just writes a few blog posts or something like that, they don’t necessarily think of me as a client. And may, you know, they’re like, “Oh, I just do this for Holly” and don’t take it to the level of importance that I actually feel it is.

Amalie: (11:14)

Well, one of the things I was alluding to in my questions about concerns was, you had expressed a concern about if you offered this to her, would she feel like she couldn’t say no? 

Holly: (11:28)

Right. Yeah. And I do think that’s kind of a double edged sword because you want her to know that you put this importance on this job and think it’s a good fit. But then you don’t want, if she’s like, “ah, that’s not a good fit for me.” You don’t want it to be weird or awkward afterwards. So there’s always a little bit of that. And online it is challenging because I don’t think I’ve ever met her in real life. I mean now that I think about it, maybe many, many years ago, but it was before our relations, our working relationship was so, you know, you don’t always know everything that goes on with each other, you know, you only see what that person puts forward online.

Amalie: (12:19)

Did you hire someone to replace her in her other position now? 

Holly: (12:22)

So we didn’t. And that’s our next step, but it’s kind of a quarter one goal for next year. What we did end up doing is I’m shifting a few things amongst some other team members and to a certain extent we know that the whole team understands that there’s going to be something that may get left out for a little bit for the next few months as we are able to add to the team. 

Janine: (12:57)

Gotcha. That’s awesome. So hiring and being able to work from home and get hired is something that is near and dear to your heart. I know. Would you like to tell us about what you’re working on now? 

Holly: (13:10)

Yeah. So one of the things that, you know, so kids activities blog is my main blog and I’ve had a team, you know, since the book, which is probably six years and ever since that we’ve just had a really nice late, we publish two to three times a day, you know, seven days a week, 365 days a year kind of thing.

A lot of those aren’t necessarily new blog posts, but there may be, you know, blog posts we’ve published like last Christmas or the Christmas before for that season. And they just are refreshed or updated to make sure that they’re kind of up to date. But that takes a lot of work and, and scheduling. And so I have a really good team. I don’t know about five people. It’s not something I have to go back and count, but about five or six people that help with the blog and the social media and you know, Pinterest, all this, and everybody kind of has their role. And so when, you know, when I realized that, you know, just one of my passions is teaching people how to do this, you know, I started writing on my own blog at and all of a sudden I’m like, “why is this so hard?”

And then I’m like, “Oh, that’s because you’re doing everything and over on this machine of kids activities blog, you’re just there and everybody else is doing the hard work”. And I was like, “you know, my team for kids activities blog was pretty full.” So I was like, “I’ll go out and hire someone to help me with Holly Homer” and I went out and you know, we tried interns. We tried one of those companies where you get unlimited amounts of something for a certain amount of money. And, there was just one blockade after another. And you know, I reached out to see if there was anyone that was available that, you know, kind of from my sphere that I wouldn’t have to train.

Cause here again, it’s not like I had just a ton of time to train and there wasn’t. And I’m like, “how is it possible that there’s no one out there trained in what I need them to do, which is basically, you know, creating content from, you know, maybe one piece of content and multiplying it across social media and all that kind of stuff?” And I went to looking at VA trainings and stuff like that. And they have a lot of great trainings but not what I need them to do. And then I realized when I do some consulting for bloggers and they’re all in the similar situation, they were like, “the people that I’ve trained are doing well, but I need more people and there’s nobody out there training them to do SEO, to do this content multiplication to do the best practices of our scheduling social media and scheduling these things by looking at the analytics and making decisions on their own and not having to have there, someone looking over their shoulder, telling them exactly what to do.” And so I was like, “you know, if I’m going to set this training up for some more people that I bring in, why don’t I just set it up as an academy?”

So that’s when I started Virtual Manager Academy and then the more I talk to other entrepreneurs, other small businesses, that kind of hurt in the struggle. I feel like it’s kind of a, bloggers too, but, it’s kind of that one person shop. You need to bring someone in that can do multiple things. You don’t want to have to hire five people when you’re kind of, you need one person that can do multiple things for you. So I think this is a really nice fit because there’s people wanting to work from home and this is such a nice, kind of step into it. And then of course the opposite. People who like us who are desperate for the work. So I’m like, we got to get people in there and train so that I’m hiring the first few, I have a list of friends that are like, “ah, yeah, put me on that list.”

Janine: (17:38)

Well I think that’s a super important point cause you know, good, bad or indifferent. There’s, there are trainings out there but people don’t know how to then connect that to getting hired. Right. Or if their skills are good, bad or indifferent based on whatever kind of training they did. So, but for your friends, once you’ve hired yours, what kind of, well, actually for the other people that are starting out that you’re talking about, what advice would you give them about hiring their first team members? 

Holly: (18:09)

Yes. So, I do think, you know, one of the things I say when, when if it’s someone hiring for the first time, I would absolutely hire someone for a project bring them in, with a start and an end date with a completion kind of scenario. And then saying, “Hey, if this goes well, I may have more stuff more for you in the future.” Because I think one of the biggest problems we have at first when we haven’t dealt with people is the tip toeing around this wasn’t a good fit for me. And then being stuck with some of them long term because they feel bad about, you know, telling them that they can’t work. I mean, you know, we’re human.

Janine: (18:58)

Yeah. Yeah. The emotional side of that, it can be very challenging.

Holly: (19:03)

Well, and I think a lot of people who run their own business, they’re also like at first they have a really hard time letting go of things. And so quite honestly, a lot of times those first contractors fail. Not because the contractor was bad, but because the entrepreneur did not set them up to succeed. And so, you know, by giving them clear parameters for a project, I think that sets both sides up for some success. And then a nice conversation at the end of that to say, “Hey, that went well,” or “Hey, thank you so much. This project’s ending.”

Amalie: (19:45)

Yeah. That’s good. That keeps it. Yeah, I totally agree.

Janine: (19:50)

Well, I just had one more thing I was hoping you could talk about was, so on the other side of it, for that nucleus person with the skillset looking to get hired, and how that connects well displaying that skill or once hired, showing that first, here’s how, here’s the ROI, here’s how I show you what I’ve actually been able to do for you in this position. 

Holly: (20:14)

Yeah. So, originally, if you’re just getting started and you want to get your foot in the door, one of the best ways to do this is to reach out to someone who has a team already and volunteer to work for free. I will say probably three or four of the people that work for me right now, that’s what they did. They’re like, “Hey,” they may have heard me speak or something like that, and they’re like, “Hey, I want to work for you. You know, I’m willing, you know, whatever you want me to, you know, whatever it takes.”

 I just want to get in the door because the truth is they know I’m going to train them and they know that they’re going to get value beyond that. So I think that’s always a really good option. And, you might be surprised how few offers that we get. So you might like, “Oh, but she’s a big blogger with a big team, you know, and people must be falling all over.” I’m like, “no, literally, it’s probably been three people in the last seven years and they’re all on my team today.” Wow. Then in most cases you may work for free for a minute or two, but, you know, most people who are like, “Oh my gosh, this person is somebody that is really conscientious and is a real learner.”

You know, it’s going to be very quickly that you’d say, “Hey, I want to bring you on for some money so that you don’t go somewhere else and leave.” So I think that’s always a really good option. So then once you have, another option is a guest post. And what I need you to understand about if you want to guest post on a blog is that we get probably, I mean, I probably get 15 to 30 emails a day asking for people to guest post, but they’re from spammers. So they’re from people who want, SEO links and just kind of, under the table, not good things. And so what you need to do in that email to that blogger is say, “Hey, I’m not a spammer.” You know, explain your situation. “I’m somebody who wants to work for a blogger or be a blogger myself sometime. And one of the things I thought would be good is to get some experience guest posting and you know, here’s where I’ve written before or I’ve attached a sample post that you can use on your blog if you put my name on it or something like that.” So give them a reason to know to step out of the spam so that they understand that you’re not looking for a link, you’re looking for experience and to be helpful, in a win-win situation. So that works really well. So then once you have some content out there, you know, if you have guests posts on some other places, that’s another thing you could put in that email or in that request tech to work for someone is say, “Hey, here’s, you know, three places, I guess posts here, the links.” And it’s just, you know, when I go click on those and see, you know, reputable sites that have your content with nice pictures and a real positive article, then it makes your decision really easy because quite honestly we’re often looking for people, but it’s a big hassle to go out and find the right person. So if they kind of drop into your lap, you just figure it’s karma. Health karma, just drop into someone’s lap. 

Janine: (23:56)

But that’s just, that’s a great distinction for people who are trying to reach out and may not understand that something they have to do. That’s awesome. 

Holly: (24:03)

Yeah. I know it’s kind of across the board like algorithms, emails, all this kind of stuff is all we’re trying to do is get rid of the spammers. So you just have to raise your hand and be like, 

“I’m not a spammer.”

Janine: (24:22)

That’s awesome. Well that’s great. I mean both from the people who are looking for the skilled people and the people looking to put them together. You’re going to make a lot of people happy, I’m so excited about it. Can you tell our audience where they can find you? 

Holly: (24:41)

Yes. So you can obviously find me on Kidsactivitiesblog.comand then as well. And we will be getting information up today or tomorrow on both those sites as to how to find the Virtual Manager Academy information as well. 

Janine: (24:56)

And as soon as that’s locked in, we’ll add it to the show notes. 

Holly: (25:00)

Exactly. So it is all coming together in good time. It is. 

Janine: (25:06)

Well thanks so much for joining us. Thank you. This is really fun. Have a great day. Bye. See you next time.


You love your business, but you’re tired all the time, you’re doing everything yourself and you don’t have any free time left… You know you could use some help, but you don’t know where to start with your hiring process.

Job posting, interviewing, portfolios, test projects; hiring your first employee or contractor can be an intimidating process. 

Join us for this episode where we tell you all you need to know to choose your PERFECT team and how to avoid having it be a painful process. 

Show Notes

If you feel exhausted from running your business on your own…

If you think it’s too soon to hire people…

Or you are ready to hire, but you’re not sure where to start… then this is the perfect episode for you! 

Today, Amalie showed us the most effective way to hire in order to create the perfect team.

We know finding the right people might seem scary at first, but in reality, it means you’re getting things off your plate so you can work on your superpower. Not only that, but it also means your business is growing. It means good things are happening!

Topics we covered in this episode:

➡️ When’s the “right” time to start hiring?

➡️ How can delegating tasks help me reach my goal?

➡️ Skills vs Personality: which one should I choose?

➡️ What an efficient 90-day hiring plan should look like

➡️ Why you need this “Hire Your First Contractor Bundle”

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


Living the Laptop Life:

Hunt Wisely:

Micala Quinn:

Google Forms:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Amalie: (00:00)

All right. Welcome to another episode of the systematic excellence podcasts. I’m Amalie Shaffer and I’m here with Janine Suvak, say hi.


Janine: (00:10)

Hello. Hi everyone. 


Amalie: (00:12)

We’re really excited to be here today to discuss something that I have a lot to say a lot about, which, I mean, I generally have a lot to say about a lot of things, but we’re going to talk about the hiring process today. It’s something that I very much enjoy and help clients with, and it’s something we work with clients on to help them find their perfect team and you know, and so I’m really excited to talk about the topic today.


Janine: (00:41)

Yeah, hiring is always super fun. It can be intimidating, but it’s fun because it means you’re getting things off your plate and the right people doing the right job so you can work your superpower. It means your company’s growing. It’s all kinds of good stuff going on when you’re hiring people. 


Amalie: (00:57)

Yes, exactly. 


Janine: (00:58)

Yeah. So, today we’re going to do interview style. I’m going to interview Amalie. She’s our super expert on the hiring process. So only how do you know when you’re ready to hire someone? 


Amalie: (01:09)

Okay, so it’s funny, I was just on a podcast the other day with my friend Mallory and we were just talking about this and that. Generally speaking, people when they think they’re ready to hire is usually too late because they’re feeling the pain. So you want to hire someone before you feel the pain, but if you are feeling a pain, it’s okay and you can, you know, obviously you still want to hire if you’re feeling the pain. But to know when you’re ready is usually before you think you’re ready. So that might look like hiring and delegating. Just something small to start with. And then the role grows. So if you want to do it sort of, it’s almost doing it preemptively, but really it’s on time and you just start with little tasks, you know, little things first and then the role grows.


Janine: (02:00)

Hiring somebody seems, especially the first time seems like this big scary thing to do all by itself in relation to whatever it is you want to hire someone for. So what would be a couple examples of small tasks that you would hire for and what would that look like? 


Amalie: (02:06)

Okay, so you know, maybe bookkeeping and I don’t think bookkeeping is a small task. I don’t mean it like that. I mean taking one little thing off your plate. And so I mean obviously bookkeeping is a big part of your business, but unless you’re good at that, I think it’s something that you can take off your plate right away. Even, you know, some admin tasks, your inbox management, like email, inbox management, social media posting. And I want to, I don’t want to downplay the importance of those tasks, but I think what I’m trying to say is I want, I would start delegating just one thing at a time versus like offloading all of these things because that can feel really to do. And so just piece it one at a time and then allow the rule to grow. Does that make sense? 


Janine: (03:00)

So something that either I’m not necessarily very good at that someone else can do something you don’t like doing and I don’t like doing small road repeatable things.


Amalie:  (03:16)

Something that you already have a process for. That’s also a really good one. So if you have a process, something that you do, like you said, repeated in your business over and over and over again, that is really a great thing to offload because you already have a process that is designated for that specific task and it’ll make it easier to delegate. 


Janine: (03:36)

Do you find people find it difficult to task those because they have a process and they get comfortable doing it? 


Amalie: (03:34)

Not necessarily. I find that people have a hard time offloading because they want to control everything and they’re used to doing all the things themselves. And so trying to help someone understand how to do what they do, you can feel a little painful. So I don’t think it’s… and if it’s something that they enjoy doing or they’re good at doing, I think that they feel a little more protective over it. That’s why I start with things that either I’m not good at or the client’s not good at or something that they don’t like doing or I don’t like doing it.


Janine: (04:17)

So what about, so how do processes in place, they’re doing it themselves, but now bringing on someone else, they have to add to that process on how to check on it. Right? I mean control but verify. Yeah. Well, trust with verify or just quality control, right. You have that, you’ve explained it right, or that they’re doing it the way you want. 


Amalie: (04:38)

Yeah. And that takes time too. And building trust with the person, right? Like, you know, getting clients and hiring team members is a lot like dating and you know, you have to kind of go on the first date before you decide to get in a long-term relationship or marry the person. Right? So you got a date first, then you, you know, move in together, you know, like you gotta go through the progress, you know, the progression of the relationship. So it’s the same thing with clients and hiring team members. 


Janine: (05:03)

So we’re not going to hire Las Vegas style. 


Amalie: (05:05)

No, no. I mean, I don’t recommend it if that’s your thing, you know, that’s cool. But not mine. 


Janine: (05:10)

All right. So how do you, when you decide you’re ready to move forward with this, how do you go about making a job description? 


Amalie: (05:25)

So I compare it to writing an ad, right? Or like a sales page, because you don’t want to hold sales page, but my point is that you want to write it in a way that allows the person to qualify themselves and disqualify themselves, right? So you want it to say “this position is perfect for you if…” you know, whatever those things are, and then this is not for you if, right. So the person can, I can see it and say, “Oh, that might not be for me.” So that’s one thing, including any specific skills that you require or would prefer any systems you would prefer them to know. So, you know, if you’re looking for a copywriter, you would want them to have experience writing copy and is there a specific system that you want them to use? You know, if it’s a bookkeeper and you want them to use QuickBooks and they should have experience using QuickBooks.

Right. So again, those are the things I would include. You know, I would also include things about personality. So do you want someone that is detail-oriented or is it a customer service type of position where they A: need to enjoy talking to them clients and B: client facing, right. It depends on what the position is, but you want to include all those things in the job description because you want the people to be able to qualify themselves as reading it. 


Janine: (06:46)

What would you say you’re looking for? Relatively skills versus personality?


Amalie: (06:49)

I think it’s a mix of both. Honestly. One of the things that I like to point out is that everyone needs, a “yes” right? Or needs a win in the beginning. And when I first started out, and I’m sure you felt the same way too, is that we just needed someone to just take that bet on us.

Right? Like just give us that win, get us that opportunity. Even though I might not have all the experience in the world in this particular tasks or something like that, I just needed someone to say “yes” and give me the wind and let me prove that I’m able to do it right. So I think that if the person has the personality for a position, you know, I think of an example like this. Let’s say someone’s worked 10 years in doing design work. And they decide, “I really enjoy the design work, but I think I really would like to work in customer service because I really like talking to people.”  And they have the perfect personality for it, right? What says that you couldn’t just train that person on your process or on your systems, and just because they’ve done design work doesn’t mean they can’t be a customer service in a customer service role, right?

They might be perfect for the role. They might be better at it than someone that has 10 years experience in customer service because maybe those people are jaded and if you have a shitty attitude, right? Maybe they had too many nos or bad attitudes and you know, I’m just saying like, so I think there needs to be a balance of it. And I do think there are certain situations if you’re not willing to take the time to train someone or invest in their training, then maybe you look for someone that has those skills. But I would never completely shut out someone that doesn’t necessarily have the experience; but how’s the personality and the desire to learn and learn quickly? One of the things that I think I capitalize on the most was my ability to problem solve. I could figure it out. And I’m sure you’re the same way. Like I feel like it comes a lot from being in the military and having that, you know, that OJT, that on-the-job training, right? You just have to figure it out sometimes. Like we’d got the training, but a lot of it came from just figuring things out. And all I needed was someone to just say “yes” and let me just figure it out. So I think there’s a balance there.


Janine: (09:02)

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say a lot of that training is how to figure things out. But you touched on something, even though we’re talking about a first hire, you touched on something interesting for someone who has a team or a larger organization, the people who may have been in a position and getting jaded or bored. So what is, what are your thoughts on opening up the job within your organization first or at the same time?


Amalie: (09:26)

Oh, absolutely. I think that specially if you have someone that’s worked with you for a long time and they know your business and they want more responsibility or they want to take on a new role. Absolutely. I mean if they’ve already been dedicated to you for so long, why not? You know, why not help them move into a new position? A lot of times I think that the project manager or the integrator, that role can be filled by someone in the business that has the personality and the skill to be able to do it. They’ve just never done it before, but you can train them. That’s something that you and I do. Where we train people to be the integrator and the project manager. So, you know, that’s the way we work with clients where we bring people in or they bring us in to help train the person that may not have been in the project manager role, but has the skills to be able to do it. They just need some help and support and some coaching and that’s something we do. So absolutely looking internally, but I mean, if you’re just starting out and you don’t have anyone working with you, but that’d be a that you’ve had for like three years, that knows your business inside and out, they might be the perfect person to fill that next role that you want to hire for them. And then they can train the new person that they bring in to fill their spot. Right. If you move them up into a new position.


Janine: (10:47)

Absolutely. Okay, so we’re back to looking for that first person. Where do you post openings? Where do you put it? How do you put it out there?


Amalie: (10:55)

So I recommend on Facebook, in groups reaching out to people you know. Do you know anyone that would be interested in this position? Same thing with connecting with people to find clients. It’s the same way, you know, posting in groups, “Living the laptop life” is a great free group and they have a a work form and I’ll include, we can include these links in the show notes. “Hunt wisely” here’s another great one. Oh, I can’t remember the name of her group. Anyway, it’s a website again, both of these, I’m living the laptop life, so create your laptop life higher form, and Hunt Wisely. They both have databases of remote people that work remote, so freelancers, contractors, all of that. They have databases of those people so you can fill out the form, get connected with the right people.

My friend McKayla Quinn has a database of moms that work remotely. So getting in contact with those people. And again, I’ll share all those links. So finding things like that, looking at it’s I think, don’t quote me on that cause I can’t remember exactly, but that’s another one. Facebook groups connecting with people you already know that might know someone or have hired someone that would be a perfect fit. And then those ones “”, “Create your laptop life higher form from living the laptop life” and McKayla Quinn, I will get those links in there. But yeah, all of those are great resources to connect you with contractors and freelancers.


Janine: (12:15)

Okay, perfect. Now besides the description, where would you describe like an ad and the, this is for you if, and this is not for you, if, do you put anything, anything, any kind of steps that helps filter people out or challenges them to get to between from where they are to you? 


Amalie: (12:35)

Yeah, absolutely. So two things. One is an application form. Make it easy on yourself. Just hit up Google forms, make yourself a nice application, you know, and asking for, you know, references asking for their social media sites, their website, asking them questions about, you know, previous work experience. Like you know, working all of that out in an application is a great way to do an initial review before you start to interview people to see if there’s anyone you can take out immediately. So that’s the first one. And the second one is once you start to do the interviews, I recommend once you’ve done the first round. I recommend doing two rounds of interviews and after the first round doing some sort of test project.

And this might not be ideal for every situation. When I did the hiring process for our client, doing the test project was a really effective way to narrow down the people that I had done the first interview with to find out if they were detailed oriented. So that was something that was really, really important for the role that we are hiring for. Having that test project was key to determining who we were going to take for the second interview and then who we eventually hired. So it’s really important, and like I said, not every situation will require that. I think it’s a great way to okay, do the initial interview. That’s the initial, take anyone off the list that doesn’t quite fit, then narrow it down by a test project, then do a second interview, then decide to hire.


Janine: (14:09)

Now what happens if you’ve narrowed it down and you find yourself with two, three, a handful of excellent candidates?


Amalie: (14:12)

That’s where I think the test project comes in. Also a trial run. So, keeping everyone’s names, deciding one person. I would think, this is where I would kind of go into the long-term goals. So finding out is the person looking for a long-term relationship as far as working with you? Cause again, this is like dating. So as a person looking for a long-term relationship or are they just kind of like, “it fits for the moment, but I’ll probably move on later.” Most people, because they want the position, aren’t gonna openly say that, but I think you can probably gauge it from having a conversation with them during the interview. And there are times when you just come to the place. When I was talking to my friend Mallory on her podcast, she was saying that they were hiring for her business and they had it narrowed down to three people, but they were all perfect.

So ultimately it just comes down to making a decision about one person and then letting the other people know that it was close, and would they mind if you kept their information. So if the other person didn’t work out, you could contact them, maybe you could hire them for another role. That’s something that I did with my, one of my clients and she ended up hiring one of the other people that was in the running, but just for a different position and it actually worked out really, really well. 


Janine: (15:28)

That’s awesome. Something came to mind while we were talking. So we’re not giving out legal advice, right? But when you’re hiring for the first time, it’s important to know that there’s a difference between contractors 1099, designated by the IRS to employees. I don’t want to get into the details of that, but we should bring someone on for an episode who is an expert who can speak to that because there is a difference and you want to bring on employees.

Well, this is your specialty and you have new and exciting stuff out there to help people hire their first person. Before that, so let’s talk really quickly. So while we work together, tell what is going to be one of our first hires? One of our first hires when we worked well, that’s, to me, getting the roadwork off my shoulders. I don’t like the boring repeatable. I really like the problem solving and the working with the clients and coming up with the solutions for that. So any of the repeatable stuff, probably more in our marketing, like you’re saying, the social medium kind of thing. We actually have the bookkeeper. So the plan is in motion, but what do you personally want to do?


Amalie: (16:51)

I agree. We’re on the same page. What’s great is that we’ve set out a 90 day plan that within 90 days we’ll hire our first contractor to work with us. I think we have broken it down to decide who we’re going to hire. That’s going to happen the first 30 days. The second 30 days we’ll start looking for them. And then the last 30 days we’ll start training them in the position. And what’s really important and one of the things that we’re working on (so this is happening in real time) is we need to figure out what the tasks are and then we need to create the process for it, how to get it done, but also quality check it. That’s one of the things we’re working on in our 30 day.

You know, this 30 day sort of focus is getting those things done. So that way in the second 30 days we can start looking for that person and then start training them the last 30 days. So our goal is to have someone hired within 90 days. So that’s just a kind of inside look, you know, maybe that’ll help someone if they’re looking to hire. I do think it’s really important to have those established. If you bring someone on and you don’t have some sort of process established for the task that they’re doing, it is going to feel a lot more painful to bring that person on. Then what I have found that happens with a lot of people is then they ended up letting them go and they just go back to doing all the things themselves and that doesn’t move them forward in their business at all. Right? Because the goal of hiring a team is to move you out or move the CEO out of the business and allow the team to do those things. 

So I will talk about my package. So I have a package called “Hire Your First Contractor Bundle.” And inside of that bundle, and we’ll put the link, it’s a $27 bundle and it includes checklist for from how to decide who to hire the whole way through the hiring process. It includes SLPs for onboarding new team members. It includes an SOP for primary communication, invoicing, using Toggle for time tracking. So those are all SLPs that are included and they’re Swipe files. So you can change them to be customized for your process. And it includes Trello board, so the “Onboarding process Trello board” for new team members, and the “Interview process Trello board.”

And it includes a couple of other templates that are swipe files that you can make copies of and use in your own business. So that’s called “Hire Your First Contractor Bundle.” I’ll put the link to that, but one of the other things that we have, Janine and I do, is we help people build their teams. So it’s a done-for-you service. So we essentially took the-done-for-you service that I’d been doing prior to starting to work with Janine and put it into it a do-it-yourself version. That’s the higher first contractor bundle. But we also do the done-for-you service where we do the hiring process. Do everything up to the second interview and then after the second interview, once the person has been hired, we then do the onboarding for that as well.

So you can find information and book a call with us if you want the done-for-you hire service at and if you’re interested in the “Hire Your First Contractor Bundle”  go to So I know that’s long, and probably I should have a shortened link, but we’ll put it in the show notes, you can find it there. And thank you so much for being here, Janine. Thank you for interviewing me and we will see you next time on the Systematic Excellence Podcast.


Behind every traveler, there is a story. Traveling around the country — or even around the world — with a stable income is just a dream to many. But Nick and Monica Kicaj made it possible: they have found the perfect combination of systems and teamwork to sustain their online business while they enjoy the freedom of traveling wherever their hearts desire.

Join us for this episode where Monica Kicaj shared how you can start a profitable online business and travel the world at the same time with the help of systems, automation, and other tools that make managing your business 10x easier!

Show Notes

Can you really balance life, love, and a growing business… without a home base? Yes!

If you have the desire to travel, love feeling the excitement of waking up in a different place every week, and crave seeing every corner of the world, but also want to continue growing and scaling your online business, then this episode is 100% for you.

Hear how TravelBoss’ Monica & Nick Kicaj overcome the unique obstacles of business and love while traveling the world.

Topics we covered on this episode:

➡️ What a nomadic lifestyle looks like

➡️ How to level up your business game while on the road

➡️ Finding the balance between automation and authenticity in a business

➡️ What to expect when running a business with your romantic partner

Listen now!

Connect with Monica and Nick Kicaj:

Travel Boss365 Facebook Fanpage

Travel Boss Lifestyle Secrets Facebook Group

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 the information is still relevant but some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Intro: (00:02)

Go behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie, seasoned military veterans as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of our organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s boarding pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield every week Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned, successful solutions to real world business issues.


Janine: (00:38)

Hi, welcome to the podcast. I’m here with Monica Kicaj the Travel Boss and she lives the travel nomad life with her husband Nick. And they’re crushing it in their business, traveling all over the world. And it’s as amazing as it sounds, but with that comes some pretty unique challenges. And Monica, I really appreciate that you’re sharing an inside look at what the travel nomad life can really look like.


Monica: (01:05)

Yeah. So I can kind of just tell you a little bit about my business and then kind of some struggles along the way. So I originally got into online coaching, it’s been over a year and a half and that all happened through me traveling a whole lot. I actually had like this inspiring “fuck it moment”, and when I met my now husband then boyfriend he traveled to 47 countries or so at the age of 25 and I’d only been to one country. And I was like, “whoa, what? Okay.” So I felt like I was living in a box and we actually met through a travel club. And funny enough we met in Las Vegas. And that’s where my inspiring fuck-it moment happened where I was like, you know, I gotta do something before, I have babies and stuff, you know, before all that stuff happens that everybody tells me about. I got to do some crazy off the charts cause I’ve always been pretty low key and not very super risk takey. But I ended up having this whole plan to quit my job, quit my job in six months and then save for six months, quit my job and then traveled to Europe for three months backpacking, like by myself. I was like, I’m gonna do this. Didn’t know that my husband would come with me cause we were just dating, the very beginning of the stages of our relationship. He ended up coming out. We had, obviously I had the time of my life and intuition was just kind of firing off all over the place and ended up coming back. And then I ended up going back to my dental hygiene jobs. So I was a dental hygienist at the time and I was like, “dang I’m back at the same thing. I traveled the world, you know accomplished all that. But I’m like, man, just kind of went around in a circle and back.” So anyways, I worked and saved to then fly out to Australia finally to meet his family after like a year and a half. And that was really, really cool. Stayed out there for a month and a half. And when I came back from that trip, kind of got into this little slight depression. I think it was also because I’m from Wisconsin and it was the dead middle of the winter, like negative 40 degrees. So going from summer sunshine and rainbows and unicorns in Australia, to then, gosh, it was the worst. So that’s when I initially thought I’ve got to learn to find a way to monetize online so that I don’t have to come back if I don’t want to and I can still continue to travel and sustain myself while traveling. So I came back and I started scrolling on Facebook and asking the universe like, “please send me someone, something. I need to do this.” Because Nick, my husband, at the time was also working online and I saw him hustling and I’m like, “man, I wish I could do that. But I have to go back to dental hygiene,” which I love dental hygiene, shout out to my dental hygienist. But at the same time, it’s not like my fricking die hard, passionate life. So I finally found an online spiritual coach and not afraid to drop some f bombs.


Monica: (04:20)

So that’s what attracted me to her. She was spiritual and also feisty. Ended up doing her program that is designed for you to have no business experience whatsoever and then again, I was a dental hygienist and really never really had done sales. I’ve done network marketing, but that was about it and took her course and got my first client that paid me $2,000. Now that I say, “this can happen, this is awesome.” I’m a very go getter, imperfect action type of a person. But then from that, my husband and I decided to merge like our coaching programs actually together in September of last year. And he’s a transformational mindset coach. A Lot of business and income producing activities. You know, he’s crazy at organic sales and just sales in general and I’m a lot more intuitive. And so we ended up combining our coaching businesses.

Monica: (05:19)

And the whole struggles was between us learning to divide our strengths and owning them and being grateful for each other but then not overstepping each other’s stuff, that took a few months. There was a few, cause we’re two lions in a cage and we’re both go getters, but yeah, joining the Two Comma Club coaching has really helped us understand, “okay, what do we actually need to do to level up?” It’s obviously understanding each other’s strengths and that’s it, don’t play off of the stuff that we think we need to be good at. And so through that, funny story, my husband, back in December, we filed for his green card visa so that he can stay in the U S and not have to cause our whole long-distance relationship.


Monica: (06:23)

Sometimes we would, you know, have to be apart for up to three months or so. So we played long distance. So that was a big part of us deciding, “okay, we need to kind of go through with something more permanent” So that he doesn’t have to leave and we have this whole fricking thing. And so our lawyer actually that we went through is an immigration lawyer, ended up telling us, you know, the best ways for him to get or for us to like file for no, get married, then file for the visa and then for him to actually leave out of the U.S. by his date of expiration for his current visa. And we’re like, “that sucks.” I thought the whole point is, you know, he gets to stay in the U.S. and we get the work all that out.


Monica: (07:10)

So we ended up actually getting rid of our apartment and subleasing it, getting rid of our super minimalistic and ended up having this master plan to like go to Mexico and like live there for like maybe up to year I don’t freaking know. So a week though, right before our one way flight to Mexico. My intuition was like, “something’s wrong. I dunno.” And we should have probably gotten the second, third and fourth opinion on all this. But we ended up, last minute getting some opinions and they all across the board, all the lawyers said, that’s the worst advice I’ve ever heard, for you to leave. Because he’s has no guarantee that he’ll get let back in. So I’m like, “oh crap, this sucks.” So we had to change everything and restructured the next year or so for us to actually be completely free and be able to road trip the U.S. Instead and kind of play.


Monica: (08:08)

I mean, it’s a gigantic country. I’ve never even seen most of the U.S. and so that’s why we’ve been actually full time on the road building our businesses, house to house. Every week or so or probably somewhere different. We’ve been in like eight different states in the last six months. Yeah, it’s been super crazy. Yeah. So we ended up starting from Wisconsin, traveling down to the Florida all the way down to Miami, then shot across all the way to California. Stayed there for about a month, came to Vegas, Arizona, all over the place. And now we’re going to jet off to Dallas and then Denver and then back to Wisconsin. It’s crazy. So that’s probably been the biggest struggle is us just having creating an internal environment but then also the external environment to have focus. But I think it’s also helped us be able to adapt to everything and to, you know, deal with uncertainties a lot easier than a lot of people would be able to, cause we deal with uncertainty all the freaking time.


Monica: (09:13)

So, almost by design. Yeah.


Janine: (09:17)

So, how has your business gone over this period of time?


Monica: (09:22)

Yeah, so the first, I would say first two months we were slightly in a more stable environment for the first two months. We were kind of in one, for at least one month at a time. And we had, I think we’ve realized that at least if it’s over two weeks or so, we can get a lot of work done, focus and smash out a bunch of stuff that might even take us months just because we’re kind of on a time crunch. But then with all the little mini frickin rendezvous, I would say the last month or so, we’ve really been able to gather another plan because originally this whole like obviously plans change but decisions don’t. And we know that we need to do what’s also best for like our business at the same time.


Monica: (10:22)

And because our business is actually called Travel Boss, I think we obviously have that thing that we need to be all over the fricking place but what does it actually take to scale your business and all that. And it really does take having a space, waking up, having a routine and not having to transition and pack up all your things. That takes up so much time. So we’ve been able to manage close to a six figure income all while traveling full time.


Janine: (10:51)



Monica: (10:52)

So it’s been pretty crazy, again, from zero experience in business and sales. But it’s all due to, you know, investing in systems.


Janine: (11:00)

So what systems have the biggest impact on what you’re doing?


Monica: (11:08)

The biggest system…


Janine: (11:15)

Well, the reverse of that is what was the biggest problem that you overcame, holding you back or problem around the travel?


Monica: (11:28)

Well, actually I would say since we’re kind of heading into the automation of our business and learning ways of how to again, get that residual income coming in or get someone on a subscription, you know, membership or do one thing obviously once to get paid on it over and over and over again. It’s also kind of a double edge sword because, the whole organic nature of our business and like the whole authenticity of our business and being coaches, you know, you can’t answer that fine line of automating everything and then losing that personal touch. But then, you know, those systems are really fricking important. And so right now with using Clickfunnels as a software that has helped us out a lot, but I think we were also running into focusing only on Clickfunnels and automating and then forgetting about the organic stuff, you know, that we’re actually really, really good at. So it’s actually the balance, they’re both fantastic if you know how to do both. You can’t just do one or you know, one or the other. So I think that’s when we started realizing, oh, okay, while I’m building this and getting this on automation, again, forget about this all organic stuff. So I think that’s when we saw our income kind of take a dip when we’re like, oh, the shiny object of like, or this not shiny object, but this whole automation world opened up to us and being able to, you know, create advertisements and then, that whole funnel stuff. And then we realize, oh yeah, we should still probably be reaching out to people.


Monica: (13:22)

And, also staying consistently visible on our social media has been hard because we always kind of feel like we’re catching up and we’re also always readapting. So yeah, it’s definitely a work in progress. But, I would say yeah, once the light was switched, just went off and we’re like, “okay, my husband’s actually the income generating machine.” He’s the inviter, the attractive person. We like to say he’s the tagger and I’m the bagger. I’ll actually close the deals most of the time. But he’s very out there, outgoing, very engaging, and then I’m a lot more in depth and detailed and we’ll seal the deal. So. Yeah.


Janine: (14:10)

Sounds like you make a great team.


Monica: (14:12)

Yeah. Very Yin and Yang. We used to, like I said, butt heads, like everyone does, but now for the most part, we stay in each other’s lanes and realize that we’re a team. Hello. We’re on the same team. So whatever you’re good at and, it’s funny, I’m very creative and he’s again, very income producing. My brain works totally different. And so, yeah, we just learned to separate it. I’m in the design and the creating the content and building programs and I can create a course in an hour, and he can message 100 people a day, which I’m like drained if I talked to three people. So, yeah.


Janine: (14:59)

Oh that’s amazing. Well, it’s nice that, how you structure your roles and within your relationship to support what you’re doing with your business.


Monica: (15:08)

Yeah. Yeah. It’s come a long way. I’d say it took at least a solid three months for us to really get on the same page with like, “you don’t need to worry about that.” I worry about that and so on and so forth because, you literally don’t need to be doing this at the same time because you have, you know, like I’ve said we both liked to be in control, but we realized, ah, okay, our income actually doubles when we don’t start to play in each other’s sandboxes.


Janine: (15:38)

That’s awesome. So where can my audience find you guys?


Monica: (15:43)

Yeah, well, we have, obviously our own personal brands, but the one that we’re really building on right now would be our combined social media. So on Instagram you can find this at Travelboss365. So TravelBoss365 stands for just traveling full time for them. And then also Nick and Monica Kicaj, which would be K i c a j. It’s like from Ukraine or Poland or something like that. And on Facebook and where else and then, yeah, Nick and Monica Kicaj on Youtube as well. And those are our combined ones. We’ve people like us individually, but people like us even more together. And actually, man, you want to say hi? He’s crazy.


Janine: (16:41)

Thanks so much. Awesome. Well thanks again. I know you’re crazy busy and you’re about to head out to Dallas. I really appreciate you taking the time.


Amalie: (17:40)

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Janine and Systematic excellence at and you can find out more about me, Amalie, at


Janine: (17:50)

If you did enjoy this episode. Please subscribe, leave a review and share with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you on the next episode


Join us as we interview Aaron Stewart a student and master of business systems. With a Ph.D. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management earned studying entrepreneurs in their natural habitat, his practical experience runs the gamut of starting, growing, and selling all types and sizes of businesses to consulting for Fortune 100 companies. Here Aaron talks about how owning the right systems is the foundation of every prosperous company and how to develop systems on the fly. 

Show Notes

Running a business without systems is like trying to put a piece of furniture together without the instruction manual — it can be done but it will waste a lot of time.


We wholeheartedly believe that systems are critical for business owners. It’s thanks to them that businesses run more smoothly, require less micromanagement, and require less time from the business owner overall. So they can focus on the more important parts of their business…growing it!  


We had Aaron Stewart with us, an expert in business management and systems, sit down for an enlightening interview where we talked about everything you need to know to have a successful business:


➡️ The solution to your business problems

➡️ How entrepreneurs are shaping the future of their countries

➡️ How to stop being a time-waster with ONE simple change 

& much more


Listen now!


Connect with Aaron Stewart:


Our Website

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Connect with Amalie:


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Episode Transcript

Intro: (00:02)

Go Behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie, seasoned military veterans as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of an organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s boarding pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield every week, Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned in successful solutions to real world business issues.


Janine: (00:37)

Hello everyone, welcome to the podcast. Hi Amalie.


Amalie: (00:40)



Janine: (00:41)

Hi. Hello. Aaron, welcome to you. Thank you for coming on the podcast today. We really appreciate it.


Aaron: (00:48)

It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.


Janine: (00:49)

Awesome. Well let’s just roll right into you telling us a little background about yourself.


Aaron: (00:56)

Yeah, about me. So I was raised in an entrepreneurial family, so both my grandfather and father are entrepreneurs more in the kind of construction side of things. But they are always working hard and out there doing their own thing. So I myself thought, you know what, “I don’t want to do that”. So I took another route, which they freaked out about. I went to school. So I actually went and got an undergraduate degree at ULE, got a degree in economics, and then I went on to graduate school to a school called Thunderbird down in Arizona as part of the ASU business program now, it’s a degree in international business, essentially finance. And then I went out and got a corporate job. I worked for a subsidiary of Chevron for a while and I was over there, it was an American Gilsonite company was the name of the company and we had distributors in 56 different countries and I was put over the international side of sales. So I began traveling, six weeks on and then four weeks home. And I had to visit half of those distributors every year. So I was on the road. And, what was cool about that is that all these distributors were entrepreneurs. They were just out there busting it and trying to figure out how to sell our products and other products and so I got to see kind of up close and personal these entrepreneurs and what they were doing all around the world with different cultures and languages, and that was just unbelievably fascinating to me. So, I decided to go out on my own as a consultant after doing that for a little while, I moved to a different company and helped them expand internationally to 26 countries. You know what, I could just do this on my own. And so at that time I thought I would go out and just hit it big and be a big consultant and it didn’t totally work out that way. So I went, as I was starting my business, I went back to school and got a doctorate in organizations and management because I wanted to learn how to create systems and be a consultant with that sort of thing with big companies. I thought it’d be fun and, and when you approach companies in Europe, if you’ve got Dr in front of your name, you go up to a different level. So I wouldn’t have to go through middle management, I could talk to the decision makers. So I went and finished that and my dissertation was on entrepreneurial perception and how education affects that. And it had a positive correlation everywhere. But we found that it had the highest positive correlation in underdeveloped countries.


Janine: (03:23)



Aaron: (03:24)

So when we develop an underdeveloped countries, their entrepreneurial perception increases much more than say, developed countries. It’s positive everywhere, but much more so there. So then we got into this whole discussion of, “okay, so now that we’ve increased their perception, you know, what do we do? Is there any way to create a system to help them move towards entrepreneurship and working their way out of this poverty cycle that we find so many countries in? “Anyway so that’s kind of where I’ve been hanging out is researching sort of the way to get people from, you know, realizing that entrepreneurship is an opportunity to getting them up to where they’ve actually created a business and got up and going. And in the meantime, I’ve been assisting Fortune 100 companies and stuff, build systems for their own businesses and in the midst of all that had to build systems for our own business to manage those systems for the other businesses. So that’s kind of where I’ve been hanging out.


Janine: (04:19)

So all those places, that’s all, no big deal, right?


Aaron: (04:23)

Yeah. Yeah. It’s something. Anyway, that’s something, I don’t know what it is, but it’s something.


Janine: (04:29)

Yeah. Well, our audience, what we like to share with them are stories, actual real experiences with the kind of struggles businesses commonly have regardless of their industry with growth and internal structure and systems and how you faced that, how you recognize it was a problem, what you did about it and, and how that all worked out.


Aaron: (04:54)

Yeah. Well, one thing that came to mind is, one of the Fortune 100 companies that we took on was BNSF Railway. And it was a process where we developed, I developed a product where we could systematically deliver audio files to different places and have them worked on, processed, which was hard at the time. I know it’s unbelievably, disgustingly easy now, but back in the day and in the early, in the early 2000s, it was difficult. So we created a kind of a system to do that. And so we’d gone out and tried to pitch businesses on, basically take them from analog cassette tapes and making them digital so we could move these things around and more effectively help them process their files. And, so we approached them and said, “hey, you know, you gotta use these digital recorders.” Like, “yeah, we’re not comfortable with digital recorders. We want to keep these in our big cassette machines,” and we’re like, oh, my. Anyway, so they said, “but we love the idea, why don’t you digitize them for us?” So within a couple of weeks, all of a sudden we started receiving cassette tapes, just piles of them and now we had to figure out a way to digitize these things and create a system to keep it organized. So we had eight different stations, went out, got the equipment and then we had to quickly figure out a big whiteboard check when they came in, check when they came out, and then we put that onto an excel sheet and made — again, it was very difficult back then, we’ve made it available to everybody to go through and create this process where within about 10 days we had a pretty nice process of when cassettes came in, because we had to ship them back to them for storage when we got done and digitized them. So we had this real nice process set up eventually with the help of my wife and a couple of friends and some other relatives that came in and kind of helped us set it up. But it was a crazy time and it’s amazing because when you have a new project you sometimes don’t understand fully the scope of that and then it hits and you realize, “okay, we’re not capable of dealing with this unless we build a system and free ourselves up to really do you know what it’s going to take to do it.” And thats…


Amalie: (07:10)

What’s your first step when you are working either in your business or another business to start creating a system?


Aaron: (07:21)

Yeah. When you find that you’re doing something every single day and it’s taken up so much of your time that you’re not being creative, it’s time to create a system. It’s time to create a routine or something because entrepreneurs, we’re not business owners, we’re really about the vision and the creation and the keeping the thing going, the motivation and if we’re hung out in stuff that’s bogging us down from getting there, it’s that whole Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If we’re stuck down here, just terrified out of our minds. We can’t be at where the business really needs us to be. And so it’s really about using your creative mind to create a system to deal with the biggest problems and then move your way up until you feel comfortable. Like, okay, the system’s working, I can come in now and it only takes up a minimal amount of time to manage that. Then you’ve created enough systems. If you still feel panicked going into work and you can’t feel comfortable, enjoy what you do, then you don’t have enough systems in place.


Amalie: (08:23)

Yeah, so normally what I’ll say is most people already have systems because they do things over and over and over again, it’s just a matter of recording it and then taking a look at it and see if there’s anywhere that can be automated and then making sure that whatever is automated, you still record the whole thing, you know, whether it’s a video on Loom or it’s written down or something like that, you want to whatever that repeatable process is, you want to make sure that it’s in black and white somewhere or on a video that someone can do over and over again. But when you go into a business, what is the first step? So I get, we recognize when we need one, but what’s your first step in setting one up? So what was your first step in setting up, figuring out a system to set up for these cassettes?


Aaron: (09:11)

Yeah. Well, I mean the first, it’s usually first things first, right? The nightmare was a pile cassettes that we knew had to go back to the same place, right? So we had to make sure that they are organized when they came in. So that was the first step, making sure that we recorded when they came in, exactly where they came from. So we knew exactly where to put them out, so that kind of framed our system. And they came in from here and they need to go from there. And once we got that organized, then we could start processing, but until we knew where it had to go back, we couldn’t start processing these, because it could get lost in the mix. We’ve got eight different stations going and the cassettes weren’t always organized properly or written on properly. Like some of the cassettes were just blank, no writing on them, nothing, you know. And so I had to be careful we pulled them out that the envelope that they came in, the overnight envelope that they came in, which I mean the amount they were spending on shipping was ugh, it was all overnight back in the day. But so we would have to take the cassette out with and match that up, the address that it came from. Say, okay! This is the cassette, now we have to mark it with something, and we worked out with them that it was okay to mark upon these cassettes just to make sure that we kept them. So we had a little system for which day it came in, which division it was from, which person from that division. Boom. And then we put four letters and numbers on the cassette. So that would tie to that organization and then that could follow all the way through. And then it was gone. Those four letters became our identifiers and till it was gone. And then we can wipe that off the board and the next one would come in. So I think it’s the biggest nightmare. That’s where you start. And, I will say this too, when we create a system, I am always thinking about automation.


Amalie: (11:04)



Aaron: (11:04)

So if I have to do something over and over again, that’s probably my biggest time waster is I’m always looking to automate because I know if I can automate something, then I don’t have to waste any more time on it. I don’t have to train somebody else to do it. And I trust, I really trust servers now and they’re like the best employees.


Amalie: (11:32)

I do think there should be backup. So if for some reason the automation doesn’t work, have the backup plan needs to be somewhere, written down or you know, typed out to have that just in case it doesn’t work. So that way, you know, it’s not..


Aaron: (11:48)

Yeah. Absolutely. I mean there’s always a loop in there where there’s an audit loop. So if anywhere along the process it doesn’t happen, then you usually get a text or an email email and says, “hey, this thing didn’t work. It didn’t fire properly.” And that used to happen all the time. I mean, currently you can back up automations with another script.


Amalie: (12:10)



Aaron: (12:10)

To run it again if you need to. So there’s cool ways to backup automations that didn’t use to be in place. But yeah, always having everything down is, yeah. So we keep all that in Trello. It’s just easiest.


Amalie: (12:23)

Nice. I was gonna ask what tool you use, you use Trello. Nice.


Aaron: (12:27)

We do. Yeah. We use Trello quite a bit just to keep everything sort of straight and, not a lot moves in Trello right now because a lot of it’s automated. But if anywhere along the line there was a hole or something, then we could go into Trello and see what the process should have been.


Amalie: (12:42)



Janine: (12:43)

Well, I know, I know you were joking about wasting your time thinking about ways to… But I just want to make the point that it’s really, I think an investment in your time and part of that creative process that you’re referring to.


Aaron: (12:57)

Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, wasting times, probably, I would say it’s a hobby of mine. So I enjoy trying to figure out different ways to automate stuff. So yeah, I’m always dealing with running different scripts and seeing if different tools can communicate to each other. And if I can, you know, if I can move a graphic and make it published in a variety of different places, then I’ll always be messing with that kind of stuff. And that is the stuff that I usually do at night in bed while an episode of Friends is running and my wife is completely annoyed with me, but yeah, that’s the kind of stuff that I like to geek out about. Yeah.

Amalie: (13:33)



Janine: (13:35)

What would your recommendation be to someone who that’s not their hobby to geek out about but they need it?


Aaron: (13:42)

Well, I think that all of us as human beings have to look at how is it going to benefit us? And I think that there’s so many people out there that that want time, you know, want their time back and systems are a way to do that. I mean, it’s really about freeing yourself up and systems and routines or whatever you want to call them, they can be used on so many different levels to free your time up. So my morning routine is pretty set up and from the clothes I choose to when I eat breakfast to the whole thing, until I sit down. And I know we were talking earlier and you said, “hey, you know, can you…” and I said, “yeah, anytime after nine” because I know my routine takes till nine o’clock and so I’m not going to do anything before nine o’clock. I take some personal time, I do some stuff, I get my shower in and I get all that stuff done. And then at 9:00 am I know that everything’s complete. I know what my routine is and I know that I start right at 9:00 am but I get up at six so there’s three hours of just a series of routines that go on until I sit down and go to work that make my life completely simple. I’m not stressing about, I know I’m going to be at the desk at 9:00 am. I know that everything that needs to be done before I sit down will be done. I know my to do list and my tasks list, all that stuff will be situated and done. And then when I sit down, I’m free to think and create and do whatever I need to do because all of the stuff that I have to worry about until five, that has to be done today until 5:00pm is done. And that makes life different. And that frees up your day, I could leave right now and go play golf if I wanted or I could go do whatever I wanted because the routine and the system has taken care of everything that absolutely had to be done today.


Amalie: (15:26)



Aaron: (15:27)

It’s done.


Amalie: (15:27)



Aaron: (15:30)

So free up your mind, free up your time, free up your life. That’s the benefit and the beauty of systems and routines.


Janine: (15:37)

I bet. And that’s the dream really. That’s what people get started in this for. So you had the piles of cassettes showing up on your doorstep. What are you doing now? What are you working on?


Aaron: (15:48)

We still have clients from that initial business back there.


Amalie: (15:53)

Oh yeah. No more cassettes though, right? No more cassettes.


Aaron: (15:56)

No, no. It’s all digital now and it [inaudible] it. You never really see it or touch it or anything, but it was that, I will say it was putting a system together and helping them along because we helped them design from that point forward, they thought we were systems experts, so we helped them develop a bunch of different systems for a lot of different projects going forward and we helped them. They have union employees and when a union employee makes a mistake, you have to go through a series of events in order to even discipline them.


Janine: (16:28)



Aaron: (16:28)

And so we set up a big system and helped them, you know, from the moment an infraction occurs depending on the union, a bunch of different steps have to take place. And so we set up systems then that would help them. They would just put in the employee number and they would bring back what type of employee was, what union, and then we populate a series of steps and dates and timelines that had to be met in order for them to do what they needed to do to discipline this person or fire them or whatever it took. The whole process was then set up and then they were reminded all along the way. And once this, I guess this is like this is a good lesson, persistence. Once our system was in place and they were using it, they saved themselves $16 million the first year in fines and penalties from that year.


Amalie: (17:11)



Janine: (17:12)

Holy Cow!


Aaron: (17:13)

That’s where.


Amalie: (17:15)

Where where did the system live?


Aaron: (17:18)

This system actually lived on our servers and so they would log in but it would communicate with them via email. So I would alert them, we would tie it, we API’d into their systems. So we got their full database of who the employees were and then we built out based on what union they were part of a whole series of steps that had to take place. And we would give them a calendar like this is when it has to be that they can print out and stick on their desks or do whatever. But we’d also remind them with email and also alerts own within our own system. And we would alert their manager of all these deadlines that had to be met. So once you turn it on, they really didn’t miss any sort of deadlines from that point on, and yeah, they saved themselves millions of dollars. At the unions, if you don’t hit these deadlines, the unions have the right to penalize you and find you for not treating your employee fairly.


Amalie: (18:13)

So when you set up a system like this, do you draw it out first? Do you visually draw it out and create that plan and then turn it into something? So I generally, I like to draw things out, right? So if I need to write something like, okay, this needs to go here, there need to be arrows pointing to what and then I can take it and create the thing that I need to create. But I like to draw it out first, is that something that you do as well?


Aaron: (18:39)

Yeah, I do like to draw it out. I’ve got a, I think it’s a 15-foot long whiteboard that’s in the conference room. So yeah, I like to draw things out. I also like to do it and there’s a lot of different cool software. Like Omnigraffle is a cool piece of software that you can get.


Amalie: (18:56)

I use Lucidchart.


Aaron: (18:56)

What’s that?


Amalie: (18:59)

Lucidchart, have you ever used that?


Aaron: (19:01)

I’ve never used Lucidchart.


Amalie: (19:03)

Oh yeah, I use that. So what’s the one you use?


Aaron: (19:06)

Omnigraffle is what it’s called.


Amalie: (19:07)



Janine: (19:08)

Yeah, I’ve got that. I love it.


Amalie: (19:09)

I’ll check it out.


Aaron: (19:09)

Yeah. So I use that. I use that a lot. And actually when you draw it out like that- so they’ll tell you their problems and then when you draw it out like that and you give it back to them, they’ll freak out just because they can’t believe that you’ve been able to illustrate their process. And once you illustrate somebody else’s process, the holes are glaring. Like we’re looking at things going, “you guys are Fortunate 100 company doing what?” And so go through and schedule and say, “Hey, if we just took care of these things for you, this would solve so many of your problems.” And they’re like, “just, you know, do it.” And so that’s kind of where it came about. Systems are, systems that are hard for people to kind of put together. If you’re involved in your own business, sometimes you need an outside view to kind of say, “Hey, I’m looking at this and I’m seeing some problems here, why do you do things this way?” “Well, it’s because we’ve always done it that way.” That’s another good place to look. Something you’ve always done, but you don’t know why there could be a better system.


Amalie: (20:06)



Aaron: (20:06)



Amalie: (20:07)

Yeah. Absolutely I agree 110%. Just cause it’s always been done like that for a long time, doesn’t mean it should always be done like that. Yeah.


Aaron: (20:16)

Like one of the biggest lessons from the military.


Janine: (20:20)



Amalie: (20:21)

Yeah. It’s like the folklore, but maybe we should look at that and see if that is the way it should be done. Yeah.


Aaron: (20:30)

Right. Yeah. It’s been done this way all the time. Don’t question it, just go.


Janine: (20:35)

There’s also the corollary to that when someone comes up with that great idea, right? Is this better or just different?


Aaron: (20:43)



Janine: (20:44)

We get a lot of different.


Amalie: (20:46)

Because sometimes you don’t need to break what isn’t broke, or you don’t need to fix what isn’t broke, but if it is broke, you need to fix it. Right? If it is broken definitely fix it.


Aaron: (20:55)

Yeah, I think it’s just kind of a good rule of thumb. If you’ve done it for a long time the same exact way and you’re not exactly sure why it’s worth looking at.


Amalie: (21:04)

Review it, yeah.


Aaron: (21:04)

You may not be able to make it any better, but it’s worth looking at some.


Amalie: (21:09)

For sure. Yeah. Yup. Exactly. And just to add onto that, whoever owns the system, should be fully responsible for it. Meaning any updates that need to be done to it, improving it, catching if there are any issues. I think sometimes people, they create this system or this process or the standard operating procedure, they’ll hand it off, and then people will be going through it, but there’s no one person that owns it. And so if there’s an update to whatever software you’re using or the program or whatever, it just never gets updated because someone doesn’t own it. So there should always be an owner of the system and the process that will review it maybe quarterly or, or you know, even just twice a year would be fine. But owns it to the point that if changes need to be made, they will make it and you know that they’re responsible for it.


Aaron: (22:03)

I absolutely 100% agree, and any system, if you’re doing it for another company, there should only be one contact person.


Amalie: (22:13)

Yes. Yeah.


Aaron: (22:14)

For that kind of company. Right? So, you know, and that’s something we figured out. We had so many people like, “hey, we’d prefer it if it did this”, I’d be like, “okay, here you go.” And then another group, they’d be like, “why? We liked it the old way.” And so there should be just one person that makes sure that any system, when you’re changing a system, especially if you’re helping somebody else with their business, make sure that that one person is the one that gives you the approval and they…


Amalie: (22:37)

And other people can communicate with them. Yeah.


Aaron: (22:41)

Whoever owns the system. Yeah. You don’t want it to be changing the system mid-stream, unless you’ve got the approval from the one person that you’re responsible to.


Amalie: (22:50)

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome.


Janine: (22:53)

So in all those adventures, have you ever actually come across the infamous ‘they’?


Aaron: (22:59)

The infamous “they”?


Janine: (22:59)

‘They’ yeah!, We sent it over to ‘them’ and they take care of it.


Aaron: (23:05)

Oh Yeah. We were talking about that. Right. That’s always something that you have to be careful of. There’s a lot of, especially in a like a railroad type, a larger organization right. And when they pass the buck, the CYA, all that stuff. Yeah.


Amalie: (23:27)

Or the ‘we’, “we should really do this. We should…”


Janine: (23:31)



Aaron: (23:32)

What’s that?


Amalie: (23:32)

The ‘we’ should do this. The ‘We’ should definitely do this. The ‘we’, like who exactly?


Aaron: (23:41)

I’ll say when I say ‘we’, I mean you and let me know when it’s done.


Amalie: (23:45)

Yeah, yeah.


Janine: (23:47)

Yeah, absolutely, oh my gosh. This is so much fun. I know we could talk about this all day, but for this episode, we’re going to go ahead and wrap it up, but before we do, Aaron, can you tell our audience where they can find you?


Aaron: (24:01)

So anything entrepreneurial that I’m doing is, either find out on my podcast, or just finished up a really cool series on how to raise an entrepreneur on The Little Black Couch podcast, which was way fun. It’s been like a 10 year-long process I’ve been working on and my kids hate me because of it, and then I do the lives as Janine mentioned, and they’re both called The Little Black Couch, which is literally just a little black couch I’ve had in my office since I became an entrepreneur. I bought it from somebody down the hall. It’s always here, it’s sometimes a filing cabinet. Sometimes I take naps on it, pray for my livelihood on it. That’s why I named the podcast The Little Black Couch.


Amalie: (24:45)

I like it.


Aaron: (24:46)

That’s right.


Janine: (24:47)

And the couch is the employee of the month all the time right?


Aaron: (24:50)

He does a good job. He’s a little lippy but he does the job.


Janine: (24:55)

That’s awesome. All right, well thanks so much, Aaron.


Aaron: (24:58)

Thank you, thanks for having me. It’s fun talking. Thanks.


Amalie: (25:00)

Yeah, take it easy.


Amalie: (25:07)

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Janine and Systematic Excellence at and you can find out more about me, Amalie, at


Janine: (25:21)

If you did enjoy this episode. Please subscribe, leave a review and share with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see on the next episode.


Having a clear grasp of who we are makes it easier for us to overcome challenges and take advantage of potential opportunities. Our guest Joey Chandler is an expert at this: Joey helps people find out who they are, what their purpose is, and how to put both to good use.  

His main goal? 

Helping business leaders identify their purpose to establish a company culture where everyone thrives!

Show Notes

Has running your business lost some of its excitement?

Do you wish you still felt that spark you did when you first started your business?

Does it feel like your team isn’t buying into your mission? 

Joey Chandler discovered that once everyone in the company finds their own purpose, the company thrives. Join us in this episode where we talk about how having a great company culture is a key ingredient for growth! 

These are the topics we covered:

➡️ What are the 3 systems you consider and how they affect your work life 

➡️ How to rediscover that spark and harness it for growth

➡️ Why Millennials are changing the way businesses work

➡️ How great leaders deal with mistakes 

& many more things.


Listen now!


Connect with Joey Chandler:


Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle


Connect with Amalie:


Connect with Janine:


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Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 


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Episode Transcript

Janine: (00:36)

Well, Hi Joey.


Joey: (00:38)



Janine: (00:39)

Welcome to the podcast. It’s so nice to meet you and have you here.


Joey: (00:43)

Thank you very much for having me.


Janine: (00:45)

And we were just having a fantastic little chat and I feel like I wish I had recorded that as we got going. So as you know, our audience is, you know, there are entrepreneurs who are going from a team to a larger organization trying to make that transition and then small to mid side businesses where we’re looking at the internal factors that, that produced the external results for their businesses. And what I’d really love for you to share is, with us is a peak on the inside of your experience with, you know, challenges that have been met and overcome along those lines.


Joey: (01:24)

Yeah, I well thank you again, thank you so much for having me here. So I am, yeah, I’m a, I’m a purpose guy. So I help people identify their purpose and then put it to use. And where I spend a lot of time talking to people and to businesses about is what are the systems that they have in place that will help either facilitate their, their ability to experience and share their purpose or you know, get in the way of it. And, and, and as I was saying, if the, I look at systems for the, for the individual or the or the small team entrepreneurs, I look at systems and at three levels there’s the personal systems that we have in our lives, that’s how you manage your finances and your fitness and how you plan date nights and vacations with your, with your spouses. Those are all systems that you have. Then you have the systems in your business, which are the emails and the marketing and the CRMs and, and how you onboard new and hires. Those are all systems as well. And then there’s the larger cultural systems that are political, economic, sexisms and racisms, those are all systems that will impact your, your employees and your audience and your clients’ ability to experience and share their purpose. And so understanding each of those and kind of understanding the play, the role that they play it, it does a couple things. One, it gives people a very broad understanding of how they show up in the world. And then sometimes it also shows that that frustration you’re feeling at work, well that’s because you didn’t go running today or, or something of the sort or that fact that you got angry at your kid is because you’re not managing your, your schedule at work. And it starts to see that overlap because I just, I think that overlap happens a lot more than we think. And we’d like to think that everything is isolated and you know, I got my life here and my business life here and this life here and I just, the more I explore, there’s just more and more overlap.


Janine: (03:27)

What would you say is the most common difficulty you see in this area at this level?


Joey: (03:34)

Well, I think burnout is a, is a big one is, and, and what happens is, is you’re, you’re balancing that, that, that, that push and pull between trying to be the person that you want to be and, and then just getting all the stuff done, you know, getting..


Janine: (03:54)



Joey: (03:54)

And you’re like, “I know my business should, I should be doing this, this, and this, but I gotta take this call or I got to do this, or I just want to watch TV.” Something of that story. And its this constant pull. And the other thing that I think is the big one of the big challenges is that business these days is just getting more complex. There’s, there’s more things that we need to be aware of in terms of managing our business and how we appear out in the world. And the social side. I call this now the enough generation where you don’t get to be a little bit sexist or racist or anything like that anymore cause we get called out. And in the execs that I start that I talked to, they’re aware of that and they’re frankly a little concerned like they want, they want to do good, but they also are like, “I don’t know, cause we don’t get a lot of training in that.”


Janine: (04:47)

Do you think there’s a fear of being misunderstood that holds them back?


Joey: (04:53)

I think it’s a fear of, I don’t know if it’s being misunderstood. It’s a fear of not having practice. It’s a fear of not knowing what to say and not, not having enough experience of recovering from making mistakes. One of the things when you make mistakes, when you make mistakes over and over again and you are able to recover from them, you’re less afraid of making mistakes. It’s one reason successful people are successful. They’ve made more mistakes than the rest of us.


Janine: (05:26)

Sure, yeah!


Joey: (05:26)

And they’re able to recover faster. The same thing when you’re talking about dealing with the systems, the cultural systems. If you’ve engaged in looking at where you’ve been sexist or racist and you’ve been able to work through that, you’re not as worried about making that mistake again. You’re able to own it and to get through it faster. And that’s all just raising your awareness of the systems that are out there.


Janine: (05:54)

And how do these systems that are in the environment of the business, how are they affecting businesses abilities to operate today, do you think?


Joey: (06:04)

Yeah, I think it, it’s really hard. If you’re, say a mid size business, right? You’re maybe 20 to 40, you know, less than a hundred employees. You’ve got two things going on, right now, there’s a huge crunch for employees, for quality staff and there’s a big push for culture. Nowadays everybody’s talking about how culture eats everything. It’s the most important thing you can have and you can, and it, cause it allows you to want, attract the best people and retain the best people so that you can better serve your clients or achieve whatever mission that you’re out to achieve. And when you’re focused on that, that’s a difficult thing to do. Cause that’s a very broad thing. There’s a lot of different moving parts to really maintain the culture that are there. And there’s lot of systems that you’ve gotta be able to be aware of and need to understand how your marketing campaign is putting an image of your business out into the world. And you need to understand how your HR is supporting the employees that put that out there and all the sorts of just moving parts. And then there’s also just the then and then, so the exact story in that stage are trying to do that. But then there’s also just all the stuff they have to get done, you know, to run a business there’s that, at some point you just gotta get stuff done.


Janine: (07:21)

True. Absolutely!


Joey: (07:21)

And then you have all your personal, your person, the personal issues. There’s, you know, there’s rowing loneliness in our country, our country, we’re disconnected from our families and our friends more where we don’t have that, that foundation of people that, to really talk to and commiserate with and work through different issues. And so all of these different things just pull on people more and more and more. And it’s causing a lot of stress and exhaustion and frustration.


Janine: (07:51)

Do you think that the desire for the good environment in a business is partly driven from that loss of connection at home with friends and family. Are they looking to connect at work with people because they feel disconnected out in the world?


Joey: (08:10)

Yeah, but the reality is, is that we’re not that, I think that the average employee now is down to less than three or four years right at it at a particular company. And so if you’re coming into a company and you’re only going to be there for a few years, that means the people that around you are already on the way out. And so that, that, that sense of time and you know, when you put in time with somebody and you work through stuff, you just, that’s, that’s where friendships show up. But we’re, we’re doing that less and less and there’s more, there’s more, you know, remote workers and more contract workers and everyone’s economies. So we’re spending less and less time. So, I think people are coming in looking at and hoping for friends. One of, one of the big contributors to someone really enjoying the work is if they have a friend at work and not just, not like somebody likes to work with, but a real good friend that you want, you look forward to seeing. And that’s happening less and less. And so, I think the push to have a good company is actually a reflection of the society that we’re living in. No longer can people ignore environmental issues, no longer can people ignore these larger social issues the way we used to be able to do it. Now we have to take it on, otherwise we’re going to get called out for business.


Janine: (09:31)

So, yeah, that’s impressive to look at it from all those different layered views and to tie it all together. So if somebody, what would you say to the leadership of a company who was having the desire to be a company people want to work at within this complexity? What would you think is, say the number one thing they could start with?


Joey: (09:56)

Yeah, I think so number one is, is, that’s a great question and this is, this is the million dollar question.


Janine: (10:04)

Yes i know it’s a trick question right?


Joey: (10:04)

We’re going to solve it right now. They will retire. I think there’s a couple of ways to do this. I think first off, the leadership has to identify their own personal purposes. And this is what I’m talking about where you have either a founder team or maybe a founder with a couple of key executives. When they identify their purpose and who they are and what they’re about, the purpose of the company is most likely going to be a combination of those, those three or four or five people. And that will be the reflection of the company. And, and this the part I’m actually really excited about because what has, what normally people do is we then we figure out the purpose of the company and then we say, ‘okay, all employees get behind this purpose, we want you to rally behind it and see what it means to you and understand it’, and we’ll put a new language and new branding and all of that kind of stuff. And it works sort of. But the problem is, and this is something that’s come out of my work is with individuals is that you can’t live someone else’s purpose. And the example of this is, have you ever done this where you’ve gone to a seminar and you take the seminar and it’s super, super awesome and it’s great. And you, you know, you get the binder and you put, you get down to your car and take the binder and you put it behind the back of your seat in the back seat and you never look at it again?


Janine: (11:32)

Once or twice.


Joey: (11:33)

Once or twice. You may have heard about people doing that.


Janine: (11:35)

I may have heard about people who’ve done that. No, I’ve totally done that.


Joey: (11:39)

We all have.


Janine: (11:40)



Joey: (11:41)

And and as I’ll, cause I was, people were doing that to my work. I’m like, “what is going on?” And what I’ve come to realize is that that, that, that experience, what happens is the leader of the workshop leader, the seminar leader has developed something. They’ve understood something about their own purpose. They’ve seen something about themselves and what really works for them. And then they’ve created systems and processes and procedures to help them experience more of their purpose. And then they packaged it up and sold it and it works really well. And we, that’s why we get all excited, we go there, this is totally awesome. But it’s based on their purpose. It’s not based on our own. So there’s a disconnect between what they’re teaching and what we’re actually doing. And when we’re young that disconnect, we can kind of fight through that disconnect and we can put it in and we can put in all the moving parts. But as, well I say as I get a little bit older and that we get more resigned as a society and more cynical, that disconnect, is bigger and bigger. So now what’s happening is people are taking workshops and literally by the time you get up to the car, it’s like you’re back to where you normally where.


Janine: (12:49)

Its attention span problem is real, right?


Joey: (12:53)

Well, it’s attention span. It’s all sorts of things. But it’s also just, that’s not me. I’ve, you know, I’m not going to do it. And so when a company says, ‘Hey, this is our purpose’, and you know, people get behind it, the problem is it’s not the employees purpose. They may, they, they, it reflects in it. It may be a part of their purpose that may inspire them in a certain way, but over time it’s not their own purpose. So what I think a company ought to do is I help leaders identify their own purpose, create the purpose of the company, say this is what we are as a company. And then help each of the employees identify their own individual purpose and how their individual purpose is, can be best for or is fulfilled by helping their company fulfill the bigger purpose. That makes sense?


Janine: (13:44)

Absolutely. So, well put.


Joey: (13:47)

Yeah. And here’s the really cool part is cause purpose really takes practice. This is one this is for, I was working with all these exec’s and they would identify the purpose and they’d be all excited and like, ‘yes’. And what would happen is they’d go to work and the next day I get these phone calls where they weren’t in tears, but they were just distraught, really frustrated and it was happening over and over again. I’m like, okay, what?, You know as a systems guy, I’m like, you know, when you see something over and over again, you’re like, okay, there’s something going on. And what I started to realize is that people were figuring out their purpose and they were super excited, but then they were going back into their everyday life and their everyday life was not that there was something far less than their vision that they saw for their purpose. And they were getting really distraught and really frustrated. And, because what I realized is that we don’t have a lot of experience being ourselves. I think about…


Janine: (14:44)

We’re letting our environment drive our behavior and our thoughts?


Joey: (14:47)

Yeah. Just I’ve been thinking about how often, how many times have you been at a job, you know, at work where you really felt like you could be yourself fully?


Janine: (14:55)

Well, I was in the military, so that was a very different way of trying to be within yourself within the uniformity that’s required to get the mission done.


Joey: (15:06)

Right? Right. You’re, you’re almost not even allowed to be yourself. You’re allowed to be a, you know, a particular version of yourself. And that shows up over and over and over again. So if I just said to you, you know, ‘hey, I just want you to be yourself’, now you’ve done a lot of work. I can tell and you probably have a certain level of ability to do it. But I think a lot of people when we say like when the Brene Brown’s of the world say ‘be vulnerable, be authentic, be yourself’, we’re like, “I don’t even know what that means!” And so it takes practice to be yourself. It takes practice, to live your purpose. And when a company could identify their own, help their employees identify their purpose, that’s really powerful because the employee will go out and live their purpose with their family, with their friends. When they go grocery shopping, they will practice being the purpose. You will build up their purpose muscles so to speak. And then they come into work and they have that conversation with a key client or a key employee or you know, there’s, there’s a kind of some more tension involved. They will have practice being the purpose so much that they will be more grounded in it and they’ll be able to use it and have more facility with it. If the, if the client, if the company says, ‘Hey, we want you to be on, you know, we want you to really get behind our purpose’, there when they go to, you know, when they go, even no matter how much you pay them, when they go talk to their friends and family, they’re not going to be that purpose they’re going to go back to their own. And so they’re not going to get practice, as much practice being that thing. And so you’re going to have that disconnect and people aren’t going to be as quote ‘good’ with it.


Janine: (16:42)

Yeah. And I think people can detect.


Joey: (16:44)



Janine: (16:44)

The subtleties of if you’re really, you know, walking the walk and versus what you mean. You know, what you’re asking.


Joey: (16:53)

Yeah! Our, BS meters are so, you know they are wound so tight these days that you just, I mean, you’ve been on the phone like, this is funny, I get phone calls now from, you know, I’m sure you get cold calls, you know, telemarketers. So when people call me, I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s your purpose?’. We get into really funny conversations, but you can completely hear the difference when someone’s reading off a script as opposed to saying, ‘no, this is why I believe this is a great service for you. And you know, why I really believe in it’.


Janine: (17:24)



Joey: (17:24)

And it’s 100% different and it’s not as, it may not be as effective in the short term, but in the long term, I think it’s totally real. Because the cool part about if you take this approach and you really help employees learn how to be more effective by being themselves, then people come to work and they’re like, “this is a place where not only can I be myself, I’m encouraged to be myself”, and that that just doesn’t happen very much.


Janine: (17:51)

And that’ll in turn reflect in a better output for the business overall if everyone’s happy.


Joey: (17:57)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Janine: (18:00)

That’s fantastic.


Joey: (18:00)

Absolutely. Absolutely. But it’s a little scary. I have to, because what it requires is if, if I’m, you know, I’m Mr Boss and I’m saying, ‘hey, you know, our purpose is this, this and this’. What do you think people are going to see immediately when I say that?


Janine: (18:17)

I’m not sure.


Joey: (18:19)

All the places where I’m not that.


Janine: (18:22)

Oh, I gotcha.


Joey: (18:23)

Right. If I say we’re about, we’re about love and joy and we’re gonna create love and joy through the system and we’re going to have people be incredibly happy. The employees are going to be like, “well that’s awesome, but I am not having love or joy here, here and here.”


Janine: (18:36)



Joey: (18:37)



Janine: (18:38)



Joey: (18:38)

And so if I’m going to adopt this process, I’m going to adopt this where I really want you to be your very best. I have to be willing to hear feedback. I have to be willing to be open and to be vulnerable and to say, yeah, I did well here and I, I, you know, I stumbled here and I have to be willing to hear you say, ‘Hey, this really doesn’t work for me, this is getting the way of my ability to experience my purpose’. And that’s not easy.


Janine: (19:03)

And this is what you help business leaders with?


Joey: (19:06)

Yeah. Yeah. That’s why when they, and cause of the cool part is whether the, going back to the very beginning of why I say the first thing to do is help a leader figure out their own purpose. When you’re clear on your purpose, when you know who you are, you can take feedback and say, oh yeah, that was a mistake. I didn’t deliver on my purpose. I wasn’t, you know I, for whatever reason. And you, cause where I used to go is like, ‘oh I suck, I’m horrible’. You know, I would, I’ve managed 90 people at one point in a large retail sporting goods store and I had a really hard time because I just, I just want people to like me right? And so I was always trying to, and never really just saying, okay, here’s where I did well and here’s where I kind of messed up. I didn’t do a very good job of that. And now, and I’m saying that just as a waste of energy. So now we, especially in the modern day business leader, you have to be able to be listened to feedback. You have to be willing to be authentic and real because like you said, you’re the BS meters are so, so, you know, everyone’s just attuned to it. And so that’s why, but when you know your purpose, you’re able to just listen to that. You’d be a little more grounded in who you are. So that’s why the business leaders have to do it.


Janine: (20:20)

Thank you. Thank you so much Joey for sharing that. That’s amazing. Really appreciate that. And I know my audience is really happy to hear this. This is exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for. Thank you.


Joey: (20:32)

Oh good.


Janine: (20:33)

So, how can my audience find you?


Joey: (20:37)

Yeah, so I do, I do a couple of things. I do individual coaching and a group programs. I, I am, I have a, we do a Facebook group once a week. I do a live call with people in a zoom call and we just get on and it’s more, it’s not, it’s just simply talking about whatever’s coming up in the world for them and, and how they can live their purpose and, and that, and in that everything’s at which is my website. And you can, you can find all that. And so I do that with individuals and then for people who really want to, are looking at their, their culture, and I work mostly with companies in that 20 to 40 to you know less than a hundred people sort of range that if they’re looking at, I got all this stuff done and or got all the stuff to get done and I know I need to take on my culture, but I don’t know how, those are the people that I can help with.


Janine: (21:31)

I see, perfect. Well we’ll be sure to put the links in the show notes so they can get to you easy.


Joey: (21:37)

Thank you.


Janine: (21:37)

Again, thanks for coming on this episode.


Joey: (21:40)

No, this is wonderful. I really appreciate it and great work.


Amalie: (21:46)

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Janine and Amalie at


Inspired by her desire to chill and enjoy life to its fullest, Kim learned early in her entrepreneurial journey how to structure a business that supports her dream lifestyle. Discover how Kim went on offense when she recognized a threat to her business and responded by building another one that is growing bigger and faster than the first – with less risk …and how she helps others do it too.

Show Notes

Fulfillment comes in many different ways. For some, it’s all about perfecting their business. But for Kim, it’s about finding peace of mind and balance. Because what’s the point if you work your life away and don’t get to enjoy time with your family and friends? Is success worth it if you can’t share it with the ones you love? Enjoying life to the fullest is what inspired Kim to build her own business(es!). 

On this episode, we discuss how to start your own eCommerce and other online businesses without having to become a tech wizard. 

These are the topics we covered:


➡️ How to run an online company without a tech background

➡️ An important key factor you need to know when talking business

➡️ Different ways to get consistent revenue without investing a ton of money 


Listen now!


Connect with Kim Dang:


Our Website

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Connect with Amalie:


Connect with Janine:


Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.


Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 


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Episode Transcript

Intro:              00:02 Go Behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie, seasoned military veterans as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of an organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s boarding pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, and helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield every week. Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned in successful solutions to real world business issues.

Janine:             00:36 Hi Kim, Welcome to the podcast.

Kim:                00:39 Hello Janine. How are you?

Janine:             00:42 Great. It’s so nice to have you here. I know you’re doing a lot of great things with software and chrome extensions and I’d really love to hear more about your background.

Kim:                00:55 Sure. So yeah. I came to America when I was four and then my parents wanted me to go through the traditional route cause they’re super, super traditional Asian parents. They’re like “become a doctor.” Since then it was pretty much a struggle on “do I want to become a doctor?” I don’t know if I want to become a doctor, but I made it all the way through college and I had a pre-med major. And then I had some crisis, not midlife crisis, but like a crisis during college where I’m like, I don’t really want to become a doctor. And then I switched my major to business and then from there I did something that was kind of, I don’t know if a lot of people go through this, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So after college ended, I just chilled out with my ex boyfriend at the time for just, I’m not gonna do anything if I don’t know what to do. And he kind of enabled me. He was like, “you know what? You don’t have to do anything. I’m going to take care of you.” And it was one of those young loves, it feels like, ‘oh, he’ll take care of me forever’. And so he kind of enabled me to have a life where I didn’t have to work and I could buy whatever I want and I could just chill. I could just chill. And he just supported me until that relationship didn’t work out. And then I had to get a full time job and I remember the week where I had to get the full time job, I was like, “oh my God, I want to go back to being chilling” and saying “do people do this? Is this how it is in real life?”

And I think going from not working to showing up, having to show up for 40 hours was insane to me and the fact that I had to do it week after week and I only have two weeks of vacation time, I thought that was insane. So after work what I did was I just googled how to make money online, you know, like anyone else would. Right? And, and I found this five page PDF on how to drop ship. So I said, ‘okay, this is five pages. I’ll just follow it’. And I followed it. I started doing drop shipping. Then that led me to e-commerce. Long story kind of more condensed, I started having my own inventory. I saved up all my money for one year, moved to the desert by myself, started it, pick apart things from scratch. And then now fast forward, five years later, I have my own e-commerce company with staff and physical location and everything. But the reason why I got into software was around seven months ago, everyone around me started getting evicted and I was like, “what’s going on?” All these businesses around me. And then I realized, Oh wow, times are changing. So the marijuana, what is it, the whole movement of legalization actually enabled a lot of businesses to start, the marijuana businesses to start coming in and they can pay five times the rent, no problem for a lot of these warehouses, right, to do their own thing. And all the current existing people who are these little mom and pop stores trying to just make it work, no longer can make it work. They can’t pay. And so they started getting evicted. I’m like, ‘oh my God, what about me? What am I, what about me?’ And at that time, six months ago, I was still okay cause I’m like, alright, I’m still okay. I’m still fine. But it shook me to the core. It felt like if I have a business and it’s okay and its profitable, I’m still very vulnerable. So I need to figure something else out. And that’s when I looked into, creating software or having, having something that’s location independent that has low overhead cost that’s, I saw it as that. I’m like, “okay, this way maybe overhead cost is low, maybe I can be anywhere in the world it’s fine, no one’s going to evict me, you know I own it, it sounds great.” So, I flew to San Francisco where all the startups are at and I went and paid to be in a room with a guy who was super successful. He exited five companies, multimillion dollar came from Silicon Valley. And I asked him for advice and he, and I’m like, “what about this idea? What about that idea?” And he told me, ‘Kim, do you even have anyone following you? Do you, do you have anything like an audience?’ And I said, ‘I have a Facebook group of like 98 people’, and then he’s like ‘um’ he’s like ‘I think you need to first start some audience and then within that audience, figure out what is it that they need in terms of software and then build that for them and then sell it to them’. So, that got me into interviewing successful people to grow my little tiny Facebook group. So I grew it from 98 people to over a thousand in the span of like a couple months because I started interviewing people and their audience would get into my group. And then within that journey, everyone was saying, ‘oh, I have chrome extension, I have chrome extension’ the successful people. Like I talked to Spencer Meecham and he’s like, ‘oh yeah, I got a lot of opt-ins from chrome extensions.’ Like Marcus Campbell is like, ‘I sell chrome extensions’ and, and James Hurst, he’s like, ‘I have some chrome extensions of my own’. And I figured like, what’s up with all these chrome extensions? How come people are, they have their own. And then, so I looked into making one and I looked into a frustrated community where they wanted more features and they didn’t have… the owner, he had other things to do, which is fine, you know, that’s his life but he wasn’t serving his community. So there was a lot of frustration there. And I’m like, Oh, I’m frustrated myself with this tool. So I, what I did was I went in and I figured like, can I do this, can I make my own tool with features that I want? And I already have an existing audience that, that might go and get my tool. When I figured that out, I just hired some random person on Upwork and I’m like, ‘Hey, can you build, can you build a tool that does this and this and this?’ And he’s like, ‘yeah, sure’. So it cost me $380 to have that tool made. And I remember my Instagram story when I launched it, it was like I was recording myself. I’m like, I launched it. I emailed 25 people on my list. They’re like, I email 25 people and I got two purchases and it’s like $10, $7 a month. I had two people pay. So two people start paying me $7 a month. And I, that’s when I realized, wow, this is something that could work. I don’t have to buy more things to add more units. I don’t have to pay for a warehouse, I don’t have to pay for like a bunch of staff. And, and that’s when went on my journey with like creating more and more chrome extensions, duplicating it, creating a whole program and system that supports a safe space for people to have their own chrome extensions. Since then, some of my students who are successful have launched their own and have made like one guy within six weeks of launching, he’s making 4,000 monthly re ocurring. And another guy, he’s doing 3000 monthly re ocurring within one month of launching and all these people. And when I looked at those stats, I’m like, ‘oh my God’, this can change a life. Like, you know, this, this is something that I should take more seriously. So recently I’ve invested in a year long mastermind, at quite a high, high price. But I invested in myself to learn how to get my messaging better, to learn how to be able to deliver on a bigger scale. And when I entered that program, I started thinking differently. I started approaching everything differently. So now actually moving forward, I have like a live event, I have workshop days, I added a mindset mentor into my program so that, they have their mind in the right place in order to pursue the things that they want, which is in the end, it’s freedom, right? Everyone wants freedom. And how can I deliver this freedom in the least resistance way possible with something that people find scary, like technology and software, right? So my goal was to create this space where when you enter the program that your fears that have been holding you back, your fears of technology melts away and everything that has been holding you back goes away during the program so you can move forward and kind of like dominate. And there was, there’s a quote that I go by now, it’s like you don’t have to be smart because really, I don’t know how to code or anything. You just have to be ahead. That’s all. And in this world, crazy world we live in, we can hire people for a couple hundred dollars to make software that we own and then we can turn that around and charge people in the world. $10 here, $17 a month there or whatever, and have them pay you every single month and you only need a couple of couple of hundred users in the whole world to completely replace your mortgage or your car payment or whatever it is. That’s the crazy world we live in. So knowing that, I’m like I need to get my messaging correctly so I can actually communicate this to the world or to my, you know, my environment in a way where people who’ve been struggling so hard, they try so many things, it doesn’t work out to finally have something work out for them because more often than not, when I meet someone, they’re not already wealthy searching for other streams of income, which I have a program for that too. It’s called ChromeBoss Angel Investor program. But if they are suffering and they want to escape their boss, they want to get out of their nine to five, then this way is so little resistance and very high rewards if they actually do the work and you know, take my program. So that’s long story short. Not long story short. That is long story lon.

Janine:             12:05 It’s a great story. No, it’s a great story and that’s such an important point. I actually spent a little time in the mobile app development space, doing development which is actually as you, everything you described explains how I was doing it wrong, right? And most, I liked that kind of thing. But most people, you know, it’s scary and they don’t want to get into it, and so that’s wonderful what you’re doing to help them be able to do softwares. Absolutely. You don’t have to learn how to code, that’s such a huge message. So have you launched all of these programs, or was there one that you’re still putting into place you mentioned?

Kim:                12:46 Yeah, no, I’ve launched all these programs.

Janine:             12:48 Okay.

Kim:                12:49 What I mentioned to you, I have a guy that is part of the ChromeBoss Angel Investor program. He just like literally he showed me his projects that he’s working on. He just, he’s in the middle of closing a $850,000 purchase on a building. He has, he has all these random, he has a country club, not country club, like a restaurant that is country themed. He has a pest control business. He has two e-commerce stores that are free plus shipping. He has all these things. So he’s like, ‘Kim, I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I don’t want to go through your 997 course’, he’s like, ‘that’s not the level I’m at I want to invest in reliable, reoccurring stream of income’. And I said, ‘this is a reliable recurring stream of income’. You know, I met him actually at a conference, so it was face to face. We spent a couple of days together and he was like, this is something I want to invest in because the returns are really high for the amount that you put in. And he’s like, you know, I just paid $450,000 for a restaurant and it’s gonna pay up. It makes 450,000 a year in profit. But he paid, he paid a $450,000 chunk and he’s gonna wait two years until it actually breaks even and on his investment and then you know, and then after that, it’s pure profit for him. But he’s like, think of, think of how much capital I put into those businesses. So if I can put in less capital, but larger amount of cashflow coming back from that low overhead, because with a restaurant you need to pay for permits and you know, lease and employees, labor taxes, every, you know, all those things that revolve around that. Like a little tiny chrome extension that has like a few hundred users but making a month a good amount every single month and it grows all the time. You can easily, he’s like, I can flip this. I can go in, buy the property, have this, flip it. And he actually, he bought a e-commerce store a year ago for $20,000 and now he’s selling it less than a year later for 164,000. So think about that online digital property, there, they’re purchasing that steady flow of income. They’re purchasing that cashflow that comes in every month. That’s what they’re purchasing.

Janine:             15:29 Yeah. That, that’s a big space that I think has been under the radar for most people along you know, still actually

Kim:                15:36 Still.

Janine:             15:37 Still. Yeah yeah, I bet he’s happy that it doesn’t take two years to get those kinds of returns too, Huh?

Kim:                15:44 Oh yeah, yeah. So, yeah, I have these programs. I have Chromebox master class out already. It’s been around for not that long, five months, almost six months. And at the beginning I had nothing. I was like, this is a private Facebook group. If you want to get in pay $7. That’s how it started. I’m like, I’m going to document my journey. I’m going to put all this stuff that I’m doing in here. I’m going to record myself doing like random, you know, whatever stuff I’m doing, launching this, building that. And then $7 became 47 became a hundred, became 497 now it’s 997. And then now I have programs that are, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 that are more like ChromeBoss Elites and you know, the higher packages from where the successful students who are already doing really well every month, but what they’re, what, you know, every single time you grow you get new problems. Right. And before I thought it was like, ‘Oh, you know, here’s this course, they buy it and that’s it, all fine and dandy’, you know, like they have, they have something in the end, but then what happens is they’re like, ‘oh shit, how do I scale now?’ Like, Oh, what happens now? And so I am, you know, I have the programs that take them beyond what happens now. So yeah. That’s what I have.

Janine:             17:10 How long did, how long has this been going on for you?

Kim:                17:14 Not long, six, six months now.

Janine:             17:18 Six months, holy cow, that is on fire.

Kim:                17:21 Very little time, but.

Janine:             17:24 Now do you still have your e-commerce business?

Kim:                17:27 Oh yes, for sure. I’m not going to let that go. That issue automate it. I was technically free from my job for the past three years of my life. So what I did was I became a total desert rat. Like I, I was in the desert rock climbing all the time, every single day. Actually, every single day I would go rock climbing. I had a boyfriend, that he was an early investor in stocks and he started trading when he was seven years old cause that’s the environment he’s in. And so by the time that he was in his twenties, he’s like, I really don’t have to work. So he just goes and he rock climbs and I just joined him cause I’m like, well I don’t really have to work either. And so we had this four year relationship of like just, just chilling. And then in May it became boring and it became like empty because I felt like, oh wow, what’s my purpose and what am I doing? And then when, six months ago, that thing happened where people get, started getting evicted. I’m like, Oh, maybe, you know, this is a sign that I should get into something that won’t have me be so vulnerable, you know? And the relationship ended with him too. So it was kinda like, you know, I can go and go off in my path and see what happens.

Janine:             18:47 Okay. That’s, yeah. I’m sorry that was part of the motivator. But it’s funny how those things can come together to motivate you to take another direction, isn’t it?

Kim:                18:57 Yeah. No, I’m totally happy. I have a new boyfriend now.

Janine:             19:03 Yay.

Kim:                19:05 Very loving, kind. Nice. Yeah, an amazing person and things are going good so far. You know so…

Janine:             19:14 Let me ask this, so the e-commerce you you made that, that step, I run into a lot of people who get hung up on that getting caught up in their operations and they don’t, and they struggle with getting themselves out of it. So their business is running itself in the end like you have where you’re at that level where I don’t have to work it’s doing fantastic. How is it going with what you’re doing now and your, the time you have to do the other things in your life?

Kim:                19:42 I devote one hour to the other work and I think you can see the same trend in people who have different businesses. You’re like, how can they even do that? It’s because they spent the time and the energy creating the systems for it to run automatically. And a lot of times it is a fight with yourself to let go and not be perfect. I do have friends who are still very much involved in their business because they’re like perfectionists, and they really need to be there, and some of them are very successful, they own multimillion dollar companies, but they’re like complete workaholics, they barely hang out with friends, they don’t go on adventures and you know, whatever makes them happy, they’re happy. In my head I’m like, ‘oh, are you happy? Okay. If you’re happy, that’s fine’. But, but for me, the life I want to live is one that is more balanced, even if I make a little bit less I really don’t care if I make a little bit less, as long as I have more peace of mind and balance. So yeah, the, the trend I see is they focus on the systems, build the systems work hard to build it, then they let go and then they, they do other things, where they’re building systems for their next project and, and after a while it’s kind of like second nature. Like, okay, I got to hire this type of person, then I got to hire that type and through that process, the hiring process, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a big deal. And then they find someone who does their own hiring and then that makes it a lot easier if you find someone to do the hiring for you to continue the hiring process and to HR for you. So I don’t know what trends, I know you specialize in systems, but I don’t know what trends you see, but that’s the trend that I see from people who can free themselves. They have to like not be so addicted to what they’re doing and to be okay with 80% perfection than not 100%.

Janine:             21:55 Yeah, that’s, that’s the message. That’s the common theme with people who have successfully done that. Really.

Kim:                22:02 Yeah.

Janine:             22:04 Did you find it hard to let go, was it scary or was it strategic that you just knew because you started out chilling and that’s where you wanted to be next?

Kim:                22:13 Well the first business that I let go of, it was a struggle because it took my boyfriend yelling at me cause he was just chilling a lot. And I was a workaholic when we first met and he was like, ‘Kim, I’m going to take you away for a week, you’re not going to be able to have any kind of work done during that week and I’m going to force you to do it’. And in my head I’m like ‘Ugh, I don’t want to know what if things burned down when I’m gone’, and then he just forced me to do it and when he forced me, nothing happened. It was fine, all fine. And then, and then I took two weeks off and then I took a month off and then I took two months off. I took three months off and then I started taking more and more off, and then when I checked back the systems were like, the people were taking care of themselves, they were doings things, I go back to the, my physical, I go back to the warehouse and I’m like, wow, everything has changed. And they’re like, yeah, cause you haven’t been here for months. And I’m like, oh I see but that’s fine.

Janine:             23:17 That’s fine.

Kim:                23:17 We’re like we’re ok Kim we’re ok.

Janine:             23:17 Keep doing it, keep doing it right?

Kim:                23:23 It was funny! Yeah!

Janine:             23:28 Oh that’s [inaudible]

Kim:                23:28 You find that it’s hard, but you either need someone to push you out of it or you mentally do it yourself. But what I’ve found out is if you have someone to push you out of it, that makes it way easier. Yeah!

Janine:             23:42 Great. Yeah, that is awesome. That’s, that’s pretty common too. That, or the other thing I see is that family, right, they push themselves to that point of stress and overwhelm where it’s like they, they have to or they’re just not gonna survive it much longer.

Kim:                24:00 Oh yeah!

Janine:             24:01 Yeah, they’re kind of, anyway, that your story and your journey has, I’m glad that wasn’t yours because it’s nice that you’re so happy about it yay! And I really appreciate you sharing your story and your journey like that. It’s very special. Thank you.

Kim:                24:21 No problem. Yeah, I love, I love sharing it because I don’t know, I’m just, I’m very happy. Because every time I wake up, I see testimonials from not only my, the users and you know, the end user of the software I’ve created saying, ‘Kim, this, this is amazing’ to the students who go through my program and succeed and they’re making monthly recurring income. Every single month they message me, it’s not like one time they message me every single time their subscribers renew, they message me. They, they get reminded that they started off with my program, and if it wasn’t for me, it wouldn’t even be possible. They even say that like ‘if it wasn’t for you, this would not have happened’. And to me I’m like, oh my God, like that, you know, that hits me. I’m like all these messages on my phone. Like ‘thank you, thank you’. And I’m like, Oh my God, I am filled with so much love, you know, like on a daily basis. So, I want that for everyone that I meet. Every single person I meet, I’m like, when you create some kind of software, even if it’s small and you’re helping them, little group of people, they will thank you for it and you will attract so much appreciation into your life. You know, it’s hard to find a bad day, you know, versus like, Ugh, I have to work, I have to do this. I have to be that. It’s like you can live your life doing more things that you’re inspired by. Like instead of have to, you’re inspired by, [inaudible], I want to do this today. Or like I’m, how about that thing? Like you’re, you’re more inspired and you let that inspiration pull you in different places freely because your bills are being taken care of. You know, all these things are taken care of. So your mind is like free to wonder. And I think, I think a lot of the, a lot of my, not a lot of my friends, a lot of my friends who aren’t like already business owners or already killing it, my friends who are working every day yeah, they’re, it’s more like ‘have to’ a more ‘have to’ pathways. Like, I have to go to work, I have to pay this, I have to do this. And, and living your life with all, all these have to’s, it really like bogs you down mentally and physically. And so if I can create a space where they can live their life with that inspired by pathway, then, you know, that’s, that’s something that’s really fulfilling for me and I think everyone should get it.

Janine:             27:08 That is wonderful. Yes so I am sure there are people listening to this episode who would love to know how they can connect with you. Where can they find you?

Kim:                27:18 They can just go on and Dang is like, Dang it, you know, that’s my last name. And yeah, and they can read all about all the things. I have a Facebook group of 2,800 people. Again, I haven’t been doing this for that long. So 2800 a hundred digital marketers in my free Facebook group. I have, programs like ChromeBoss Masterclass where it’s what I’ve talked about. I take you through this journey and under 90 days you have a software that’s making you monthly reocurring income to, you know, at the very least pay your bills. But like, the sky’s the limit for software because as you know, giving an extra unit or giving someone access to what you already have isn’t so much more resources for you to give up or like you don’t have to buy all this inventory to get more, and give more with what you have. So it’s, it’s an interesting concept, especially with software. So I have that and I have all these other little ancillary things like masterclass days, which is $97 for like an hour and like all these other things, partnerships. But you can find everything on and I do still give a 15 minute complimentary discovery calls. I call them because now I feel, I let that be an option because I’m meeting all these interesting people in my life. I actually, let me tell you a funny story. Yesterday I got hung up on by a discovery call guy and it’s because I don’t know, this is why I invested in my year long mastermind that I’m involved in because I need to get my messaging right. But he called me and I treat it as like a one of those my probing discovery calls. So I was kind of like probing him. I’m like, where do you see yourself in one year? Like asking those questions and then he’s like, yeah, I make like 10, I make $10 million a year, blah, blah, blah. And I love my family. I have a great life and I just want to see how we can work together. And then I made the mistake of just following the script. I felt like I should’ve just like been like, okay, let’s see, how we could work together? If can even work together. Instead I continued following a script and, and then he hung up on me and I was like, hmm, lesson learned.

Janine:             30:03 That is the learning curve. That’s, I’m so sorry you got hung up on that that’s terrible.

Kim:                30:12 I felt like, wait, did I hang up on him? And then I saw that, you know, I didn’t, I’m still in the zoom call and I’m like, okay, and then I messaged him, I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m still here’. And then no message back and I’m like, yeah, you probably got like this, you know, bad impression of me off the get go. He had no idea who I was even he’s not a follower so…

Janine:             30:38 Yeah. Well I’m sure there’ll be many more wonderful relationships from the people who will reach out to you in the future, right?

Kim:                30:48 Yeah, no, I have developed an ability to communicate better going into this mastermind. So I’m like, Oh wow, this is kind of working, you know? And so if I know that I’m going to stumble along the way, but I feel like it’s an adventurous, its something exciting that, that I can step into..

Janine:             31:09 I’m finding the same thing with the podcasting right? It’s just a great reason to get to meet people and hear about what they’re doing and things like that where it’s like I wouldn’t, I’m not sure I would know how to just say walk [inaudible] oh, hey Kim what’s up? Right?

Kim:                31:26 Right! What do you want to talk about? I just want to talk to you. That makes it creepier. Like if you have no platform whatsoever, like I just want to spend time picking your brain and…

Janine:             31:37 Oh, I hate that phrase. Yeah.

Kim:                31:39 It’s like, hey, my time is kinda worth something right? Like you can’t just randomly pick my brain for no reason whatsoever right? But yeah, no, it’s, if you have a podcast that it makes you, that opens so many doors for you to just speak to random strangers and then have them be like, yes, yes, I am part of this.

Janine:             32:06 All right. Well, I think, yeah, that, that’s about the time that we had for that. Thank you so much. Thanks again for coming on this episode and sharing your story. Really appreciate it.

Kim:                32:19 Yeah, no, thanks for, I don’t know, giving me the opportunity to slowly get better at communicating my message. I think it’s just going to be a lot of practice over time and, I’m glad to get to share my story on your platform, but yeah, I would like to get to know you sometime. But we don’t have that time right now, so..

Janine:             32:48 We’ll totally stay in touch, right?

Kim:                32:49 Yes, yes. All right, cool.

Amalie:             32:57 We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Systematic Excellence at

Janine:             33:12 If you did enjoy this episode. Please subscribe, leave a review and share with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see on the next episode.


Employee churn is an expensive problem – businesses often spend huge amounts of money to find, hire and train new employees only to find they just aren’t the right fit. Join Amalie and Janine as they discuss screening tools and how to improve hiring practices…it’s simpler than you may think.

Show Notes

We can’t count the amount of times we have heard a business owner say, “it’s so hard to find good people to work with”.

We believe the problem isn’t always the people…it’s your hiring process.

The good news is that you can easily step up your hiring process with some simple changes to your hiring process to improve the chances of finding great employees and contractors. Hiring someone with perfect skills, education and work experience doesn’t mean they will be a good fit for your company, because being a great employee or contractor is much more than that.

On this episode we discuss ways to improve and streamline your hiring process for better results and less headaches.

These are the topics we covered:

➡️ Why psychological tests aren’t completely reliable

➡️ How one bad employee can create a bottleneck in your process

➡️ Why past experience isn’t the be all end all reason to hire someone

➡️ What to really look for when hiring

Listen now!

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Intro: 00:01 Go behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie, seasoned military veterans as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of our organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s boarding pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield every week Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned, successful solutions to real world business issues.

Janine: 00:37 Hey Amalie how’s it going?

Amalie: 00:39 Hi Janine.

Janine: 00:41 So here we are back again for a new episode and today I’m going to talk about, well not, we’re going to talk about something that’s near and dear to your heart Amalie. I know you really like to make sure that the right people are doing the right job in the right place. And so there was something in the news recently about United Airlines and they have part of their screening process for pilots involved, the Hogan test, which is a psychological profile, right? So anyway, there’s all kinds of psychological profiles. But you go in there, you know, do you hate your mother? You know, all those kind of crazy questions. But in the end, it was very challenging for pilots because most of the major airlines pretty much have, they have this very similar requirements of flying hours and qualifications and stuff. And then the interview process is the thing everybody sweats over, and there’s an entire industry around helping people prep for the interview and a subset of that, so a whole sub industry arose around helping people prep for the Hogan exam, which defeats the purpose of a psychological profile. But, but it was screening out a lot of people that were turning around and getting scooped up at other major airlines just fine. And what’s interesting about this is that, that Hogan test has been used for quite a few years now, but just recently it was in the news that United Airlines has started letting go of some pilots, that because of attitude problems basically, personality problems and they were the ones that had the big psychological screening in place. So, anyway, what I thought was interesting about that, that we could talk about was, you know, you can have a screening profile, but is it doing what you want? Is it looking for the things you need? And of course that’s a great big company, but for smaller business owners, what kind of things do you think they should be looking for in their people as they’re hiring or just dealing with things within their company?

Amalie: 02:50 Yeah, I definitely think that you know, the personality tests, the psychological tests, I think that they can play a part but I don’t think that it should be the only thing that you base where you place, the person or what job or how you decide on who on who to hire and who not to hire. I think that, you know, I think they’re, they’re good, but I also think that, you know, depending on the person’s mood that day or, you know, I don’t know so I don’t think it should be a 100% deciding factor but I mean I think you can use it to help make the decision, it could be one factor in deciding where you place the person or if you hire them or not hire them.

Janine: 03:50 Yeah. I’m curious as to what kind of avatar personality type they were going for that they thought made for this ideal pilot, when in fact it didn’t. And I know that’s interesting, you know, especially in that area when you’re looking for people. I mean, these people who go into that career field are very independent and leadership minded and things like that. And yet, from the point of aviation safety and when things go wrong, it’s so important that everyone both in the cockpit and the crew, be people who can work together, it can’t just be one person who that has the God complex problem where they’re never wrong and everyone else should just do what they say right? You can’t have that going on in a crisis, but I wonder what they were going for? I’ve seen this in the tech industry with startups where they’d go like ‘Oh, we need this rock star developer’ right? And so you have this super genius at whatever it is, the thing that they needed, but very often that super genius didn’t play well with others. And so as they were building a team, their teams have functioned very poorly because of the rockstar and the company would become dependent upon the one individual for actual production and outcomes, and then that would become the bottleneck.

Amalie: 05:15 Yeah, I mean I think it’s important to be clear on who, as far as their personality, what kinds of things they like doing and that they’re good at because, just because they don’t necessarily have a long history of doing something, a specific job or task or you know something like that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be a good fit for something else right? So, I think that a lot of times we get stuck in ‘okay, well you’ll have to have at least two years of experience’, but you know, for this particular position, but someone that doesn’t, any experience could be ideal for it. Or if you already have a team of people and let’s say you have a graphic designer right, that that’s really great, but you’re lacking someone in the customer service, so you need someone that, that that’s customer facing, customer service, getting contact with them, dealing with any customer issues. But this graphic designer’s really amazing at customer service, and if they are okay with it then moving them to that customer service position just because they don’t have that experience doesn’t mean they won’t excel at it, right? And recognizing within your own team if there’s things that need, you know, people that need to be moved into other positions because they’re better suited for it you know. And you know, when you’re hiring, and going through that process bringing new people on the team is asking them questions to figure out what they’re really great at. So I actually just went through a hiring process for one of my clients and she wants, she wanted someone that’s detail-oriented right! And she did say that she would like someone to have experience but it wasn’t necessary, it’s more important for them to have, be detail-oriented and have, you know, be able to manage a bunch of moving parts. So it’s, it’s a event management and so in the interview I asked specifically, you know, have you, what do you do? One of the questions was, sorry, I have them written down here so I’m just checking. I actually wrote them down cause I was going through the interviews just last week. How do you ensure quality when there is a tight deadline? And I said you know, have you ever had to sacrifice quality to meet a deadline? And then you know, were there any mistakes made? So I was having a conversation with them getting them to say and basically I wanted them, what I wanted to hear was that one, I mean whether it happened or didn’t happen let’s just say you know if they did but they communicated that, listen in this tight deadline, this is what I’m going to be able to deliver. If you want something different than this then you know we’re gonna have to manage the time or extended or whatever. You know, that’s what I was looking for. One of the other questions was I asked them to tell me about a time that they made a mistake, how they caught it you know and what they did to fix it. And one of the biggest things that you know, that I heard that I was like you know I gave it, you know, an up check where was ‘I took ownership of it’. And so going through this whole process and placing these people, not all of them have extensive event management experience, but from their responses from the initial interview of being detail oriented helps me to evaluate them on whether they would be a good fit for the position or not you know?

Janine: 09:17 Yeah were there any answers that stood out as immediate no-goes, this is not gonna work?

Amalie: 09:23 Yeah one, one kind of tried to blame it on the other person and immediately I was like that’s not going to work.

Janine: 09:33 Yeah that’s not taking ownership of it at all.

Amalie: 09:35 Yeah. So I know this sorta got away from what you were asking about, but my point is, is that even though some of those people didn’t have extensive experience in event management, the personality that just in the time you know they’re going to go through another interview but just the personality things that I noticed going through that initial interview have led me to be able to evaluate whether they’ll move on to the second interview or not. And I think that that’s important. So getting creative with your interview questions will help to you know, get the kind of answers that you want. Also having them do a test project, right, or a test task or something where you can test out how they work is also a really great way to see them in action right? And see how they do and I think that’s also really another way to see it. You know to see how they how they would do in that position.

Janine: 10:39 Yeah, that’s a great way to be able to do that. I know I was having a conversation at an event a couple of weeks ago with someone who was talking about how much they just hated firing people right, and they liked hiring people and that was great because all of a sudden things were getting done and it’s sort of alludes back to our last episode of, they would wait until they were swamped, hire some people, throw a whole bunch of stuff at them and just, and think they could walk away right, and then things wouldn’t get done and then it all went horribly wrong and then he’d fire people, and it was coming from that not looking at these things and making sure that they could do it.

Amalie: 11:25 Yeah.

Janine: 11:25 Yeah.

Amalie: 11:26 Yeah. So I think the moral of this story is that when you are placing people in positions to consider more than just you know the personality test or you know, what other, I know there’s a bunch of the different kinds of tests that people put out there but I mean you can use it as a deciding you know, one factor in the, you know the final decision. But think about how you can creatively ask questions in the interview process or have them do test projects in order to really see how they work and think about people on your team now and are they better fit for different position? You know, cause not everyone, just because they have experienced in this doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be good at something else.

Janine: 12:15 Yeah. And when they’re working that test program or project not just look at the outcome, but also the behavior around how they’re, they’re getting it done. Cause I think really, I mean to me in hiring people, really what you’re looking for is their character and their capabilities more than a specific item list skillset.

Amalie: 12:36 Yeah. I mean ultimately if someone’s going to take ownership of a task if they’re willing to take ownership of what they have to learn in order to do it, if they take ownership of any mistakes that they make made or make, if they take ownership of, you know the process and updating the process and noting the process right? If they take ownership of any of those things or all of those things, I would take a person that has no experience doing it and they have those qualities over someone that has 10 years experience doing it.

Janine: 13:10 Yeah.

Amalie: 13:10 I think if someone will take ownership of it and say, ‘I will learn this task, I will do this, I will own this’ I would take someone like that any day, because regardless if they have done it for 10 years or two years or never, they still have to learn your process. They still have to learn how you do things which is still a learning curve, which is still going to take time regardless of how long they’ve done it. But if someone takes ownership of ‘listen you bring me on I will learn how to do this, I will learn your process and I will learn how to do it’, you know, whatever those specific skills are that maybe they don’t have experience in, I’d take that person any day.

Janine: 13:45 Yeah absolutely, Absolutely. Well that’s super cool, you know we’re going to have to talk about how you let how and when you let people go now that we’ve been talking about how you keep people on.

Amalie: 13:58 Next time.

Janine: 13:59 Yeah, right on. All right well thanks on Amalie and thanks everyone for being here.

Amalie: 14:04 Bye.

Janine: 14:04 Bye.

Amalie: 14:11 We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about us at

Janine: 14:25 If you did enjoy this episode. Please subscribe, leave a review and share with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you on the next episode.


Tom faced his toughest negotiation when he realized his fiancée was not onboard with his dream of entrepreneurship and goal to retire at the age of 35. With his deadline approaching, find out how implementing the right systems took him from there to running three businesses with his wife… and how he was all wrong about what ‘retiring’ really means.

Show Notes

If your business is just getting started, you better be ready for a wild ride. 

People tend to believe starting a business means making $1 million in a couple of months, but that’s just not how it is for most people (unless you’re a…unicorn!)

Tom Sylvester figured out that things don’t always work out perfectly right away — it’s like a scientific process that requires testing and testing until you find the formula that works for you. After convincing his wife and aligning what they wanted their future to look like, they made their dreams happen.

Now that he has found success as a business owner, writer, coach, and public speaker, all while enjoying fatherhood, he realized this journey is far from over.

These are the topics we covered in this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast:

➡️ How to work together with your spouse to achieve goals

➡️ Systems he implemented to help his businesses thrive

➡️ Solutions to challenges most entrepreneurs face 

➡️ What ‘retiring’ really looks like to him

Listen and leave a review!

Connect with Tom Sylvester:

Systematic Excellence Consulting Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:


Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 so some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. The information is still relevant. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

Affiliate Disclaimer: The article, video, or audio may contain affiliate links. We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Although you won’t pay any more for any purchases you make, the commissions will enable us to continue to provide free content to readers and listeners.

Episode Transcript

Janine: 00:36 Hi Tom, welcome to the podcast.

Tom: 00:39 Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Janine: 00:41 Oh, I’m so happy to have you here. You have just an amazing background and experience and I’m just so excited to share it with the audience. How about let’s start with telling a little bit about yourself?

Tom: 00:53 Absolutely. So, I guess we’ll start with where we’re at today. So my wife and I have built three businesses, very different businesses. So, real estate investing. We have a wine and liquor store and we also have a coaching and consulting business for entrepreneurs. And through building those three businesses, we actually both were able to leave our jobs. So my wife was able to leave her job when our daughter was born in her late twenties. And then I was able to leave my job a little bit after our son was born in my early thirties. And so, you know, really there’s a lot of hard work and years to get to this point. But it’s amazing now because we get to really design our schedules. We’ve been able to build our businesses with teams and systems so that we’re not having to be tied into them, you know, day to day and,  you know, it’s really, you know, an amazing place to be. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell people that this started, you know, 12 or 13 years ago. And, it was a big challenge at the beginning. You know, my wife really didn’t want to become an entrepreneur. Our first business was real estate investing and she was really worried about that, like 3:00 AM call of the toilet not working. And so there was a lot of work to one, not only get her on board with this idea, but then two, as we built each business, go from where we’re doing 100% of the work to getting stuff off of our plate so that eventually we’re spending very little time actually running the businesses or actually being involved in them and spending more time on the strategy and the overall leadership of the business.

Janine: 02:28 Yeah, those are, there’s so many great points in there, especially the one about the time frame because there’s so much hype out there about this, some kind of instant gratification, right, that you’re going to launch this thing and make $1 million in a really short period of time and then it’s not really like that for most people.

Tom: 02:45 Yeah. I mean, you know, when people hear those stories, what they don’t hear is that the 12 years that person put in to be able to do that. So if you’re just getting started, realize that things aren’t going to work. But it’s all a scientific process. It’s like, “all right, here’s my hypothesis. I’m going to go test it. It’s probably not going to work or maybe pieces of it will.” And then I learned from that and I retest it. And the biggest benefit for people is the faster you can do those experiments, the faster you’re going to achieve success.

Janine: 03:14 Yeah, absolutely. Now let me, I have to ask. So how did you get your wife on board with it?

Tom: 03:20 Yeah, I’m going to tell you the answer and then I recommend nobody follow my advice!

Janine: 03:28 OK, alright.

Tom: 03:28 So, basically I kept trying to start businesses. She kept saying no, and I was so depressed one day that I heard this ad on the radio for a real estate investing course. And a couple of weeks later I had spent about $8,000 on two high interest credit cards, after we were already about $200,000 in debt about nine months before we got married. All of this without telling her. And so one, don’t do that!

Janine: 03:59 Yeah, do not do that.

Tom: 03:59 But two, when I told her we had to have, you know, a lot of really tough conversations. And what came out of that was that we got aligned on what we wanted the future to look like. And once we had that alignment, we could then work backwards to then say, all right, how do we make that happen?

Janine: 04:19 How, how long did the negotiations take?

Tom: 04:23 Yeah, that was probably a couple of months. But really the key was getting to that point where we said we both want the same outcome. And then once we were aligned on that, it was much easier to talk about how we get there and what path we’ll take.

Janine: 04:38 Yeah, I just, I had to ask that.

Tom: 04:40 Yeah. You know, it’s, I was gonna say it’s something that a lot of people don’t talk about because we as entrepreneurs or business owners, we usually get some insight or some inspiration and then we just want to go. And so often we forget to get our family, our friends, our spouse on board with that. And not only does it cause struggles in our personal life, but it also causes friction, and makes it more difficult to build our business when we’ve got this drag around us. So the better we can work on getting them on board and aligned, the easier it’s going to be to build that business.

Janine: 05:14 Absolutely. There’s, and then there’s the additional factor of even when everyone’s aligned, there’s that time factor during that heavy push that can still put a strain on it.

Tom: 05:24 Absolutely.

Janine: 05:25 So what have you, what would you say, given that you’ve done this several times and you’ve got the pattern down, what is the most common obstacle that you see people facing?

Tom: 05:38 You know, lack of clarity and I’d say lack of clarity in what they want their life to look like. You know, because a lot of people will build a business and then ultimately have a successful business, but it doesn’t make them happy or doesn’t support the life they want. Lack of clarity in their customer. So, most people don’t truly understand their customer deep enough and therefore can’t build a really good business to solve their problems. And a lot of struggles come out of not really understanding your customer. And, the third one I would say is lack of clarity around what the next problem is that they need to solve in their business. So, for example, when most people start a business, they go out and they’re like, “well, I need to come up with a name. I need to get business cards, I need a logo, I need a website.” None of those things are the first thing you should be doing in your business. The first thing you should be doing in your business is figuring out who am I going to serve with this business and what problems are they facing? So you really want to be clear on what is the next problem in front of me and then focus just on that and cut everything else out.

Janine: 06:47 That’s great because yeah, I know so many people start with all those basics that you said. And I have one very dear friend with a wonderful business now who they started with, oh, we want to start a business. We need a desk.

Tom: 07:03 Yup.

Janine: 07:03 So tell me a little more, let’s see in, in your journey, how did, this is a common problem that my audience hears and I really like to hear how different people have addressed this, as you’re digging in and you’re wearing all the hats and your business is starting to take off, how do you then back out of that and keep your business growing at the same time? Because it’s really the dream, the free time and the thriving business.

Tom: 07:33 Absolutely. So the challenge that a lot of people make is that they go to the extremes. So they’re either doing everything or they feel like they have to carve out all this time to put systems in place to build a standard operating procedure. And all of this. So they end up either neglecting their business while they try to do all that, or they just keep putting all of that off because they’re like, “I’m so busy building my business, I don’t have time for that.” So what we found to be the most effective way for people to do this is to do it small and consistently. And the process that we always recommend people do is you should have a weekly meeting and that weekly meeting serves a couple of purposes. It’s to reflect on the last week and you want to ask two questions, what went well? We want to celebrate the wins and acknowledge and understand what’s working because we want to do more of what’s working. And then we also want to ask, you know, what challenges did we face? And this is to one, acknowledge the challenges, but two, when we pick that top challenge, then as we go to plan the upcoming week, what we want to do is work on solving that top challenge. And so this is going to do a couple of things for you. One, whatever your biggest headache was, it’s gonna make it less of a headache in the next week. Or it might just eliminate the headache. Two, it’s going to allow you to consistently improve your business in small steps so that over time, every week it’s getting bigger and bigger, you got more momentum. And three, it’s going to allow you to consistently eliminate, automate or delegate things that you want to get off your plate. And that’s the best way to do it. Small incremental steps and you’re, you know, putting a process in place or delegating something that you don’t want to do. That is the biggest challenge you face. It’s the thing that you probably enjoy doing the least. And it’s the thing that is usually the least valuable because we all have a couple of things where we add the most value and only we can do and we want to be super clear on what those things are and consistently work on anything that’s taking us away from doing that and getting all the other stuff off our plate so that we can sit in our zone of genius.

Janine: 09:47 And it sounds like I was going to ask the question of what would you say to someone who’s already well down the path of putting it off, but it sounds like that’s just as an effective way to start implementing it.

Tom: 10:01 Absolutely start. Yeah, absolutely. Start now. And another thing for someone that’s put it off, something that worked really well for my wife. And we’re complete opposites by the way. So usually what works really well for me doesn’t work for her. So she was completely overwhelmed one day and we have giant white boards all over our office. And so I said, you know, just brain dump, take everything that’s in your mind, all the tasks you gotta do and put them on the board. And so she spent a half hour doing that and then we started grouping them and she started rating them, the things she enjoyed doing, the things that she didn’t enjoy doing. And we made a list of all the things that we needed to start getting off of her plate. And then just one by one we started doing that. And yeah, I mentioned it earlier, there’s three things you really want to focus on. The first is eliminating. So the easiest and quickest way to get our time and our money back is to eliminate things we don’t need. So there’s activities that you’re probably doing that if you got rid of one it will degrade from, you know what you’re doing in your business or your life, but will ultimately give you time back. So you want to get rid of those activities, then there’s things that you need to be doing, but they’re just being done inefficiently. And so those are the things that you want to automate. There’s tools, there’s Zapier, there’s all these things out there that will help you automate a process or a task that you’re doing. That’s the next step. And then finally, once you’ve eliminated everything you can, once you’ve automated everything you can now that’s where you want to delegate and you want to take the stuff that can’t be easily eliminated or automated and have somebody else do it, get it off of your plate.

Janine: 11:36 That’s awesome. Yeah. What do you think as far as delegating for someone who hasn’t done that yet? Maybe they have some systems, but they’re still by themselves and they need to take that seemingly big step. It’s a big step when it’s the first time you do it right? To bring on that person and delegate things. What would your recommendations be for that?

Tom: 12:02 Yeah, so a couple of things, you know, start small. So when we’re talking about delegating, it can be delegating a single project or a single task even. So, you know, the first time you go to do it, if it seems like a really big step, just take one thing. It might be, you know, the creation of a graphic or it might be something that you have to do already. Take that one thing and work on delegating that out to somebody. You’re going to learn a lot in that process. And then, what you’ll also be able to do is figure out if that’s a good person for you to work with. And if they do that first task really well, now you delegate something else to them and you keep adding responsibility, if they didn’t do that first task well, you learn from it, hey, why didn’t it work? What can I do better next time? And then either continue working with them because you’re working on improving them or you use that learning experience to go find somebody that would be a better person to delegate to. And just realize it does take some time. And when you’re delegating, one of the most important things is you want to find a person that you’re going to be able to work with. You know, a lot of people will initially focus on skill sets and trying to find the best person. In a lot of cases, you’re better off to find somebody that you can work in, that you can work with and really likes the vision you have for your business and what you’re doing. And they enjoy working with you and the business and they can always learn the skills. Especially like you said, if you already have some of those processes or procedures written out.

Janine: 13:32 Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s something that’s actually a point that’s near and dear to my heart, that skills can be taught, but you know, you have to be able to get along with them and they really have to believe in what you’re doing.

Tom: 13:43 Yeah. You know, and in a lot of cases if you’re going out to trying to find a skilled person, you might have to actually have them unlearn things to relearn how you want it done. So, we’ve had the most success with hiring when we found somebody that first really loved our business and really loved the customers we were serving. And then two we were able to work with and was willing to learn. So oftentimes the characteristics of that person are so much more important than the skill sets that they have.

Janine: 14:14 Yup. Okay. Now, as you’re helping, because you’re helping entrepreneurs with this process when they’ve gotten rid of the more rote things and the things they don’t like, when they start getting to those last couple things that they’re hanging onto and they feel like they’re the only one who can do it, how do you help get them past that?

Tom: 14:35 Yeah, so a lot of it is really just, you know, people, often will tell me that I don’t sugar coat things and I just tell them how it is. And a lot of times when somebody is playing that role, I’ll just jump right in and agree with them, you know? Because when you step into that role…

Janine: 14:52 That’s awesome.

Tom: 14:53 Yeah when you step into that role and I’m like, “Hey, you know what? You’re absolutely right. There is nobody else in the world that can and do that as good as you do. You are the best. You should just keep it.” And then they’re usually either going to agree, which they never do, or they’re like, “oh, that’s not the case. So, what can we do about that?” Right. And you know, and a lot of times too, it’s, it’s less about out pushing them to, to get it off their plate and more about just asking questions and letting them see what the couple paths are, you know? Okay. So let’s assume that you kept that on your plate. What does that look like going forward? What does that allow you to do and what does that potentially prevent you from doing? But you told me before that one of the things you want to do is take your family on a two week vacation. If you keep this, can you still go on the two week vacation or not? Right. So we, we walked down that path that they keep it and then we walked down another path. Okay, so now let’s assume that we were able to find that mystical person that you know, does do this better than you. What would change with that? Right? So what would help you, would that help you go on that two week vacation and what wouldn’t help you? What would this add on to your plate? Or what concerns would you have about doing that? And let’s get those on the table. And once we walked through those scenarios, now we just present them and say, which one works best for you?

Janine: 16:15 And then when you do that, okay, so now you’re having the conversation, but now they have to turn around and go do it. What is, what struggle do they have with that?

Tom: 16:27 Yeah. You know, different people have different struggles. Some people truly believe they’re the only one that can do it. Some people believe that if they give up control, they’re not gonna be able to run their business and a key customer might not get serviced the right way. So there’s a whole bunch of reasons why people may not want to give it up. First thing we had to do is figure it out. What is the true concern? Because once we understand the problem and not just the problem they tell you, but you want to, there’s a really cool activity called five why’s and you’re basically just going to keep asking why to make sure that the problem they raise up isn’t the symptom or, yeah, but actually the root cause because once we understand the root cause, now we can work to solve that. So one of the most common that I’ve seen business owners face is that they’re worried they’re going to lose control and things aren’t going to get done. So a lot of what we’ll do is walk through the process and say at what points do we need to check in to make sure that things are still on the right path? And what do you need to see to give you confidence? And so oftentimes we can set somebody up with a scorecard and with some performance indicators who then help them see that their business is still running. Or let’s say there’s a process and there’s a quality control piece that somebody has to do. There might be eight steps in the process and they need to just double check on step seven and step ten, but once we know the points where they feel they still need to be involved, we just work on getting all the rest of the pieces out. And once we do that, eventually over time we also can give them quality control pieces out as well once they have that scorecard and they’re confident that they have the right people doing things and they can see when things are off.

Janine: 18:09 That’s fantastic. So now with your first business to put this in, you know, real world context, how, how did that work for you the first time around?

Tom: 18:21 Yup. So our first business was real estate investing and specifically we were buying rundown properties, renovating them. And then renting them out to people to live in. And so at night I was doing research to find the properties. When we bought the first one, I was then spending my weekends out, tearing out drywall and painting and doing all of that stuff. So at first literally wore all the hats and then what I started doing was every time we would buy a property, I would say, what is the thing that I complained about the most? And let’s see if I can have somebody else do that. So for example, one of my least favorite activities was finishing drywall. So putting the mud on the wall and then sanding it and all of that stuff. So on the second property we said, you know what? We’re not going to do any of the drywall stuff we’re going to hire somebody else to do that. So we did the process of buying the property and putting the plan together the same way, except when we got to that point, instead of assuming I was going to do it, I started looking around for somebody else to do it and hire them in. And so we just kept repeating that process, a list of everything that needed to be done and then kept continuously taking the things that were either lower cost to delegate out and, or the things that I hated to do so that eventually we get to the point where we were buying properties and I never had to step foot in there because we had the right team and the right systems in place to do that. And I haven’t swung a hammer in years because we’ve now got people in place to do that for us. Right. So that’s the point we want to get to, but it’s all about doing one thing at a time. Every time you do it.

Janine: 20:05 And because you’re an entrepreneur, as soon as you got that all, pardon the pun, nailed down, start over and do it again.

Tom: 20:15 Uh huh.

Janine: 20:16 So tell me when, how did, yeah, tell me about how that happened.

Tom: 20:21 Yeah, so, you know, if you look from the outside, our businesses look very random. But for, on the inside, and at least the logic that works in my head was there was a clear goal I set to retire by 35 and then I worked backwards to figure out how I would make that happen. And I was always looking for opportunities that would help celebrate that. And so we actually bought real estate in 2007, 2008 when the market crashed. So I was very aware that, you know, I didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket with real estate. And so there was a wine and liquor store that was for sale, and so we went and looked at it. My father had actually had a wine and liquor store several years earlier, so I kind of knew the inner workings of the business. That store ended up not being a good investment, but I said, you know what, we’ve got a real estate business. Let’s go buy a building and we’ll just open our own store. And so, it was a ton of work, but, we did that about eight years ago. And then same type of thing. At first, my wife was during in the day, I was at my day job. At night we would swap, I would go and work the register and then we hired our first employee and then kept building it from there. So now we’ve got a team, we’re only physically there once every 90 days to do strategic planning with our team. And otherwise everything’s running and we’re, you know, not at the store.

Janine: 21:41 And then you decided to…

Tom: 21:47 And then

Janine: 21:48 Really this is the dream and I’m so enjoying hearing this whole journey.

Tom: 21:53 Yeah. And then the third one, you know, so I never had planned on working with entrepreneurs or having a consulting business, on my corporate career, I thought I was just going to work that job as a software developer and a project manager until I made enough money to retire. I ended up really getting, kind of jaded with the corporate politics. And so I shifted from working in a company into being a consultant. So this was really cool because I got to work with all these Fortune 500 companies. I got to travel all around the country. I got to work with so many great leaders, I got to see what worked and what didn’t work in all these businesses. But as we were having kids, I was like, “you know, I can’t be away from my family, four or five days a week. I’m literally in other cities more than I am at home.” And so my wife and I, we just had a conversation. We said, is this the life we’re trying to build? And the answer was no. And so we knew we had to make a change. And so I left the corporate consulting job, even though it was, you know, very well paying job. And around the same time we had people reaching out, really asking us questions, you know, hey, you know, how, how were you guys able to start, you know, not one business but two? And, how were you guys able to do it while you had a job? Tom, I now see that you’ve left your job, Ariana, you do the same thing. How are you guys able to do that and can you help us? And so that was when we realized that all these systems that we had put in place, not just for building our businesses, but also for planning our life and how we brand our life, were actually valuable to other people like us. And so it was at that point that we started working with entrepreneurs. We eventually started a podcast because we wanted to get the information out to more people. And then actually this year we have our first book coming out because the same type of thing we’re like how do we take what we’ve done and get it out to as many people as possible? And so that’s been kind of the progression that got us, you know, really to this point.

Janine: 23:50 That’s amazing. Now is your book out or is it yet to be released?

Tom: 23:54 It’s yet to be released. It’ll be out October 29th of this year. And actually something really cool with the book is my wife and I wrote it together. And you’re already probably getting a feeling that we’re very different people.

Janine: 24:07 Yes.

Tom: 24:07 So while we wrote the book, it’s a step by step guide of how to get clear on what you want out of your life. Get your finances in order, start your business, test it out, make those first sales, put systems in place so you can scale it. And then how to actually leave your job and make that transition from an employee to entrepreneur because there’s a lot of shifts, a lot of mental shifts that go on there. But what was really cool was we actually at the start of each section, we talked about a key part of our journey. And I would first tell it from my perspective and then she would tell it from her perspective.

Janine: 24:42 Oh that’s wonderful, yeah!

Tom: 24:42 And so from, yeah. So from a lot of the early people that read it, they’re like, “you know, this is really cool because I either now understand what my spouse was thinking more or I’ve got to go give this to them so they can understand my thought process and why I’m so passionate about building this business.”

Janine: 25:00 So what did that do for your relationship? Writing this book and seeing those things?

Tom: 25:03 You know, it was very interesting. One of the things we actually did last year, right before we started writing the book was we actually went to go see a marriage counselor. And, initially when we tell people this, they’re like, “oh my gosh, I didn’t realize things were so bad with you guys, blah, blah, blah.” And you know, one of the coolest things we get to tell people today is, “look, we didn’t go see a marriage counselor because our marriage was bad. We went and saw a marriage counselor because we realized our marriage could be better.” And it’s the same thing we tell business owners: “listen, if you want to be the best athlete, you go and invest in a coach and you put time and money in, right? If you want to build a business, you go and you buy books or you, you invest in a course or a coach. What about your marriage?” Right? That’s one of the most important things. So we actually started seeing a, a marriage counselor, you know, while we were writing the book, which was really good because it helped us improve a lot of our communication. It helped us see a lot of where we could actually improve individually. And then as we were writing the book together, which was just a crazy feat, it helped us do a better job of collaborating on something that was so personal and passionate for us, while being very different in our approaches to it.

Janine: 26:14 Oh that that’s amazing. And that’s going to be so, what a unique way of doing it. And definitely a missing piece. That’s the part that I always wonder when I meet couples, you know, depending on the reaction of the partner or the supporting spouse or you know, you can tell if they’re with it or not with it.

Tom: 26:34 Absolutely.

Janine: 26:35  Cause I love to see everybody be happy. Now given that, what I’d like to hear, what I’m wondering, so you had this really open discussion before you got married about your goals and that was to retire by the time you’re age 35. So what did retirement look like to you then? And what does it look like now?

Tom: 27:00 That is a phenomenal question. So when I set that goal, I didn’t really know what it looked like. I had no idea how I was going to get there. And, partway through my journey, I actually had a mentor and you know, he said, Tom, quit saying you’re going to retire. And I’m like, “Why? That’s the goal.” And he goes, listen, man, I know you, you’re not going to retire. You’re never going to stop starting businesses. You’re never going to stop helping people. He goes, ‘what you’re really looking for is options and you want to have the options to do what you want when you want and not have somebody else tell you what to do’. And I’m like, ‘exactly’. And he goes, ‘yeah, but that’s different than what most people think retirement is’. And you know, he was so spot on because even now, our quote on quote retirement isn’t us sitting on the beach or any of this stuff. Sure. We take vacations, but retirement to us is really about having options and being able to do the things you want to make you happy. And, when I first started, my entire focus was I, it was really selfish. It was like, “I want to build this life for our family.” And then we went through this thing and, and from working with entrepreneurs, we’ve seen this happen a lot. We’re first in this survival mode where we’re just trying to make enough money to take care of ourselves, right? Pay the rent, you know, put food on the table, have the stuff that we want, etcetera. And then when we, and we grind, right? We put in all this hard work to make it work. And when we finally achieve success, where we’ve taken care of ourselves, we almost get depressed or lost because that was such a strong driving factor for a long time. And now that that’s been taken care of, we almost kind of lose our purpose. And what we found for most people, and it’s so true for us as well, is you first focus on things and experiences. And then when you shift from survive to thrive, you focus on relationships and impact. And that’s really what it means to us now. And writing the book and everything we do now is about impact. We want to have relationships with all these amazing entrepreneurs and all these amazing people that we get to meet through our travels, through speaking through the people we get to work with and the lives we get to see change and impact is being able to help as many people as we can achieve their goals. And so that was a really big shift that I didn’t anticipate at the beginning. Like I said, I’d never planned on becoming a coach, but as we went through our journey and now, you know, being able to see, how much we can help other people change their lives and achieve success, that’s really been the focus now it’s just like, how can we do more of this? And you know, to be honest, it’s still selfish because every time we help a person and we see them succeed, there’s very few things that make me feel better than that.

Janine: 29:52 Ah, that’s not selfish at all. That’s just sharing the love, right?

Tom: 29:56 Absolutely!

Janine: 29:57 It is. So, I mean, and you’re just saying, now that you do coaching, but you’re coaching and you wrote a book. So you’re an author and oh, by the way, a podcast. What is the name of your podcast?

Tom: 30:10 It’s called Lifestyle Builders.

Janine: 30:12 Lifestyle Builders just like the book. Okay. And the next thing is?

Tom: 30:17 I think probably writing more books, you know? I have six in my head. And especially seeing, you know, what’s been so cool about the book is, the podcast is great because people can listen to us and they get to listen to us every week, but sometimes it’s disorganized. One week we might be talking about a relationship topic. The next week we’re talking about how to understand your financial reports, right? So it’s all over the place. But with the book, we get to take all of that and put it into a logical sequence and it’s pretty low cost, right? So instead of having someone having to pay $8,000 to get started in something, for 20 bucks, go and have all the same acknowledged experience.

Janine: 30:59 That’s great. That is clearly you practice what you preach and you have the strategy for getting your impact as broad out there as possible. That’s super impressive. So would you say you’ve achieved your goal of options?

Tom: 31:17 Absolutely. It’s funny. So I actually, I turned 35 this month.

Janine: 31:21 Oh happy birthday!

Tom: 31:21 And the book actually, thank you. And, the book actually comes out, we didn’t even plan this. It comes out the day after my wife turns 35 in October. And so that’s been a big discussion for people. Some people were like, “oh, you guys didn’t achieve it because you’re still working” and other people realize and recognize, they’re like, “oh my gosh, you guys have achieved it.”

Janine: 31:42 Yeah.

Tom: 31:43 And know for example our kids are home from school and so we do this cool thing called Friday family field trips where every Friday we just take the day off and we go and do something with our kids. So we run an amusement park or a museum or a zoo and that’s been one of the coolest things ever. So just be able to decide we want to do that and then go and do it.

Janine: 32:05 Yes. That is really, really precious. I can tell you I’m a combat veteran, so I spent a year away from my kids and I wouldn’t recommend anybody do anything that takes them away from their kids unless they absolutely have to. I mean, you really are living the dream.

Tom: 32:21 Absolutely. Well, you know, and, and thank you for your service. I mean, I was away from my kids, you know, while working and you know, we have a lot of friends that were vets as well and I just know the challenges with that, so thank you so much for that.

Janine: 32:32 Oh yeah. I just know that, you know, the time away from family is important to everybody and it’s a huge stressor, so what would your biggest piece of advice, wrapping this all up would be to someone listening going, ‘I want to be like you?’

Tom: 32:50 Well, first thing is I would say, don’t try to be like me. Try to be like yourself. Actually the tagline for our podcast is ‘your life, your business, your way’. And it’s very intentional that way because a lot of people will try and see what somebody else is doing and they’ll try to build that life and they’ll try to build that business. And what we found people are most successful with, is when they figure out what they want and then they use the principles that other people use to apply to their life and get there. But with that, the biggest thing that I would tell people is when you can get clear on what you want the future to look like and then you work backwards to figure out what are the intentional decisions on where you spend your resources, where are you spending your time, you spend your money, what you spend your energy and where are you spend your attention. Those intentional focuses and doing that every day is what gets you to success. A lot of people think it comes overnight or it’s a one time event. It really is every day making the right decisions to get you to where you want to be.

Janine: 33:55 That’s beautiful. So where can our audience find you? We’ve got the podcast Lifestyle Builders, we’ve got the book that’s coming out in October. How else can they find you?

Tom: 34:09 Yeah, so, everything we have going on is, on our website: But if people are looking specifically for the book, they can go to that website which is

Janine: 34:21 Okay. Can they preorder?

Tom: 34:23 Yes, they can. Yup. So up right now.

Janine: 34:26 I’ll be doing that next.

Tom: 34:29 There we go. Thank you.

Janine: 34:31 Thank you Tom. That was amazing thing so much for sharing all that.

Tom: 34:36 Absolutely. Thank you for having me on.


Dashin recognized from an early age how hard his mother worked to provide for their family… and the trap she was caught in. Determined to escape the vicious cycle and inspired by Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, Dashin shares his journey from Employee to Self-Employed to Business Owner. Still in his early 20’s and turning his focus to becoming an Investor, Dashin shares the personal development and transformation necessary to step up from one level to the next.

Show Notes

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long process that involves falling down seven times and standing up eight. Get out of your comfort zone. Try out new things. As Dashin Simmons says, “you have to break down before you break through.” 

Dashin Simmons is a business owner looking to take the next step as an investor, so he can enjoy more freedom of time. In other words: he doesn’t want to work for money if he can have money work for him.

These are the topics we covered in this episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast:

➡️ Differences between “self-employed” and “business owner”.

➡️ How systems can give you money and freedom of time.

➡️ Why it’s SO important to get out of your comfort zone if you want to grow.

 And so many more things!


Connect with Dashin Simmons:

Our Website

Hire Your First Contractor Bundle

Connect with Amalie:

Connect with Janine:

Note: This episode was recorded in July 2019 so some programs that were mentioned are no longer available. The information is still relevant. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Content Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article, video or audio are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article, video or audio. Systematic Excellence Consulting LLC disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article, video, or audio.

Disclaimer: Some of these links are for products and services offered by the podcast creators. 

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Episode Transcript

Intro:              00:02 Go behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie seasoned military veterans, as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of an organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s 40 pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield, every week Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned and successful solutions to real-world business issues.

Janine:             00:37 Hi Dashin welcome to the podcast, is great having you here.

Dashin:             00:42 Thank you. I appreciate you having me.

Janine:             00:44 Let’s start with, I know you’ve done some really phenomenal things in a very short period of time actually, and I’d love it if you could just share some of your background with the audience.

Dashin:             00:56 Yes. So, my name is Dashin Simmons. I’m originally from a small city called Sumter in South Carolina. Grew up a single child, you know, my mom worked a lot and that’s really where I got my work ethic from. The one thing that my mom had that I did not want was, she basically worked all the time and she never had any free time. She owns a business as well, but I kind of learned from her mistakes because she was putting in you know, 60, 70 hours a week. So, you know, I’ve always been interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. Yeah. I’ve done different things. I’ve thrown events and I’ve sold tee shirts. You know, I was the kid in school who sold CDs, so I was always doing something. And then recently over the past year and a half, approaching two years, I’ve been, I’ve built an agency that primarily focuses on chatbot solutions for our clients. So we use chatbots to automate tasks and to help businesses get more customers.

Janine:             02:11 Oh, that’s great.

Dashin:             02:12 Yeah that’s where I am now.

Janine:             02:16 Well, can you tell so yeah, what you describe with your mom, with your mother is something I hear about a lot. You know, it’s like that joke about entrepreneurs, right? Giving up the 40-hour job, 40-hour week job to get the 110 hour a week job. And yet there are people who make it to the other side and push past that to where they’re getting out of their own way and getting out of their operations and seeing both the money and the freedom of time.

Dashin:             02:45 Yeah. And I really learned that from, I’m sure you know who Robert Kiyosaki is.

Janine:             02:50 Yes.

Dashin:             02:51 Yeah, so that was first I read his book Rich Dad Poor Dad when I was eight years old.

Janine:             02:56 Oh nice.

Dashin:             02:57 That was the thing for me that really made me want to pursue this stuff even further. And then I read his other book, Cashflow Quadrant and it made me realize that, you know, there’s four quads, quadrants. There’s an employee, there’s someone who’s self employed who basically owns a job. There’s someone who owns a business where they actually own systems and then there’s investors. And I noticed that my mom was in the self employed category and she was not happy and she, you know, she would be burned out all the time. So, I really just tried my best to avoid that and that came through systems from me not exchanging my time directly to accomplish something, but having other people exchange their time and, and having things like chatbots and other technology to automate tasks for me.

Janine:             03:49 Okay. So that is wow. Starting at eight years old. That’s phenomenal. You’re super genius, right then. That is so cool. But so you were looking forward and being very intentional about getting systems integrated to your business growth. What was, cause I’ve run into, you know, a lot of people who they finally figure it out when they’re totally burned out and their life is falling apart. Right. So can you tell me about for yourself with your business, you know, that transition that you had from launch, you know, from, from your concept and getting it launched to when you were able to integrate that for yourself and not just own the job?

Dashin:             04:34 Yes. So, I had been doing this for about six months and things are really starting to pick off. I mean, pick up and take off. We were doing a lot of business, but it was just me and it was one other person and we were getting burned out and we were spending so much time on it that the money that we were making, it didn’t really make sense because if you’re spending, you know, a hundred hours a week on something and you know, you’re making, I don’t know, a thousand, 2000 per person and you’re spending all your time on that, then it really, it doesn’t make sense. It honestly makes more sense going to a job than having a business because I basically, became a slave to it and I completely had a breakdown where I just wanted to quit and I wanted to go back to a job and I couldn’t do it anymore. And then, I met a guy who was basically in the same business as me and he was doing what I was doing, but he was doing maybe 20 times as much as, as we were doing in revenue. And he helped me really start to implement those systems that I needed. The biggest thing for me was that I was doing a lot of tasks and I was doing tasks that weren’t always necessary. They weren’t actually pushing the needle forward. So through him, I really got that, that focus and that clarity of these are the one, two, three things that I should be focusing on and I need to now step away and find other people who are good at these things and have them do those things for me.

Janine:             06:07 Exactly. And so how did that feel? So again, so you get the advice and yet there’s often that feeling of trepidation of “can I really let go and hand this fully over to this other person?” How did that go for you?

Dashin:             06:26 Oh, it was tough in the beginning because I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so I always felt like someone else couldn’t do the thing that I was good at. But then I really had to put my ego to the side and understand that I’m not, you know, there’s a lot of people that could do what I could do. And do it as well as I could do it. So of course whenever you’re trying to change and whenever you’re trying to grow, your, your biggest enemy is yourself or your own brain. So for a while it really, it was hard for me to I guess let go in the beginning because I had so much control when I, and I had so much fear that something was just going to go wrong. So in the beginning, I just forced myself to do it and I, and I noticed that throughout my life now there’s always some thing that I’m met with that I have some fear about or that I know that I need to do. I just can’t get myself to do it. So through that experience it really showed me that when you’re trying to get to the next level, you always meet, you always kind of have a, I guess a breakdown before you break through.

Janine:             07:37 Yes.

Dashin:             07:39 And that just going through that really showed me that whenever I was met with something like that was the thing that I needed to do because every time I do it, it took me to the next level. It was just getting out of my comfort zone. So it wasn’t just about freeing up my time and things like that. It really gave me, perspective, on what I was doing and really showed me, hey, when you feel uncomfortable with something, that’s the thing that you should probably be doing.

Janine:             08:10 Yeah. So that’s so well put “the breakdown before you break through.” I love that.

Dashin:             08:16 Yeah.

Janine:             08:17 So what are, so what are you doing that, what is, what are you pushing towards now?

Dashin:             08:25 So my, the thing that I’m trying to overcome right now?

Janine:             08:29 Yeah, let’s go with that and then we’ll move on. Yeah.

Dashin:             08:34 Yeah. So right now, most of my, 90% of my business comes from referrals and just comes organically. So I know that thing that I’m trying to overcome right now is it’s starting to use paid traffic for my offers.

Janine:             08:49 Okay.

Dashin:             08:50 So thats that thing for me that’s kind of uncomfortable and it’s funny because I do it for other people. It’s just, you know, sometimes it’s hard to take our own advice.

Janine:             08:58 Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Dashin:             09:01 And that’s the thing that I’m struggling with right now that I’m, that I’m overcoming

Janine:             09:06 Now do you have a coach or a mentor or does your business partner help you with that? How do you grit your teeth and get through that?

Dashin:             09:17 How do I do what?

Janine:             09:19 How do you grit your teeth and push through that?

Dashin:             09:23 Cause I just, I just understand that it’s the thing that I had to do to get to the next level, I always, I reached kind of a plateau. So what I know it’s time for a change, when I look at our numbers and for three or four months our numbers are, are kind of the same, and then instantly I always just kind of know what that next thing is. I don’t know how, I guess this from, yeah. From, from different mentors and things like that that I have. I learned a lot from people like Jeff Bezos and Dan Pena and it’s really just, I guess just continuing to develop myself personally every day.

Janine:             10:08 Yeah,

Dashin:             10:09 That’s the thing that really, yeah, that’s the thing that really helps me push through, I guess.

Janine:             10:16 Yeah, that’s actually a lot that, I’m sorry to interrupt. I was just trying piling on with, you know, when, when I’m helping people with their operations and systems, it very often involves a lot of personal development on the leadership side in order for those things to work. Right?

Dashin:             10:33 Yeah, 100%. It’s funny cause I always, I call those things the unsexy cliches because when people… let’s say I’m, I’m trying to coach someone and we’re on the phone one-on-one, it’s never usually the tactics of, you have to do this thing or this is how you install a Facebook pixel, or this is how you do an ad. It’s usually those things, like 

here’s how you overcome procrastination. Here’s how you manage your time better. It’s those things that make all the difference. It’s not it has very little to do with, you know, that thing that you’re trying to overcome. It’s usually something that you have to overcome on a personal level. A big issue for a lot of people is charging enough money and that’s because they don’t really value themselves and value their work. And that’s not really, problem that’s on the outside. That’s something that’s in the inside that people have to overcome.

Janine:             11:25 It’s a common problem I think. And that’s why I’m really glad that you touched on that because I think people need to hear it, that they’re not alone in that and that you can do it.

Dashin:             11:38 Yeah 100%.

Janine:             11:40 So tell me, okay, so, and then as far as your business goes, what is your, your next step or your next goal?

Dashin:             11:50 My next goal is just increasing revenue and, and decreasing the amount of time that I spend in it.

Janine:             11:58 Okay. So…

Dashin:             11:59 Just trying to reach, some of them are my long term goals because I enjoyed doing this, but it’s not something that really aligns with what I want to do 30, 40 or 50 years ago. So I’m starting to transition into the things that, that I actually want to do. And I consider this just a stepping stone to get to the next thing.

Janine:             12:19 Yes. So you’re going, so you’re following that grid then, right? You’re going to own your systems and then move on over to investor.

Dashin:             12:28 Yeah, 100%

Janine:             12:29 That’s fantastic.

Dashin:             12:31 Because at first, I was an employee, then I became self-employed, then I became a business owner. So the most logical thing to do now is to leverage, time and leverage money so that I don’t have to work for money. I can have my money work for me.

Janine:             12:45 Yeah, we’re going to have to, you are gonna have to come back around and talk again when you’re there. Right. Cause I would love to see, hear the difference between what that looks to you, it looks like to you now versus when you there when you’re there and what it really looks like at that point. That would be super fun.

Dashin:             13:04 Yeah, for sure.

Janine:             13:05 Cool. Well, all right, well I really appreciate you sharing your story. Can you tell me, well tell me, tell my audience where they can find you.

Dashin:             13:16 They can just connect with me on Facebook so they can go to and if you need to connect with me, you can just shoot me a message.

Janine:             13:30 Okay, perfect. And we’ll be sure. I’ll be sure and have the link to you in the show notes so they can make it really easy. Thanks so much. Thanks for being here on the episode. I really appreciate you.

Dashin:             13:41 Yeah, for sure.

Amalie:             13:46 We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. You can find out more about Janine and Amalie at

Janine:             14:01 If you enjoyed this episode please subscribe, leave a review, and share with people you think may find it helpful. This goes a long way in helping us reach and serve as many people as possible. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see on the next episode.


Successfully managing a business is challenging enough, working with nonprofits, trade groups, and associations requires a whole different level of expertise to be successful. It is important to set the right tone to motivate your team members to work towards the end goal, and that’s exactly Joy Duling’s biggest strength. Joy, founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership, has extensive experience in strategic planning, team facilitation, change management and association operations. On this episode she will tell you all about managing and leading teams.

Show Notes

Managing associations and nonprofit organizations doesn’t have to be a headache every time. 

In this episode, we explore, with expert Joy Duling, everything related to dealing with unmotivated teams, missed deadlines, and even tasks that no one wants to be responsible for.

Joy is the founder and CEO of the Joy of Membership. Since 2005 Joy has served as a trusted advisor for hundreds of associations, trade groups, and membership based nonprofits, twice winning the unsung hero award from the National Association of Women Business Awards, Central Illinois Chapter. She is a national speaker on topics related to member engagement and organizational growth and was Executive Director of a membership-based nonprofit for nearly a decade which achieved annual revenue of $1M exclusively from membership contributions.  

We’ll talk about how to master managing small or large groups, the most efficient way to approach and organize people and actually accomplish goals by deadlines. 

You will learn:

  • How to effectively delegate your tasks to get them done in time
  • Planning your systems to get the most out of your team
  • How to operate and communicate better with small and large teams
  • Reporting progress to leaders, finding project management tools that work for everyone, and more!

Listen now!

Connect with Joy Duling:

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Episode Transcript

Intro:              00:02 Go behind the scenes with Janine and Amalie seasoned military veterans, as they talk about how to overcome the challenges of leadership, running teams, and coordinating all the moving parts of an organization to accomplish the mission, whether it’s 40 pirated vessels, saving lives in combat, helping CEOs lead their companies to victory on the business battlefield, every week Janine and Amalie share insights from their experiences, the leaders they work with, and their guests experts as they dive into lessons learned and successful solutions to real-world business issues.


Amalie:             00:37 All right. Welcome back to our podcast. Today we have a special guest, Joy Duling who is founder and CEO of the Joy of Membership. Since 2005 Joy has served as a trusted advisor for hundreds of associations, trade groups and membership based on profits twice winning the unsung hero award from the National Association of Women Business Awards, Central Illinois Chapter. She was Executive Director of a membership-based nonprofit for nearly a decade and is a national speaker on topics related to member engagement and organizational growth. Joy, we’re so glad that you’re here with us today. Thank you.


Joy:                01:16 Well thank you for the invitation. It’s a pleasure to be here.


Amalie:             01:20 Awesome. So today we’re going to talk about how to lead and get buy in from groups or people that aren’t your direct reports, but you need to lead them, get buy in from them and really get them to get things done. Right. So do you want to kind of tell us how you work with associations and then that’ll give some context around what we’re going to talk about?


Joy:                01:47 Oh, sure. So my clients tend to run associations, trade groups, kind of industry coalitions. And a lot of times they have a, a small staff, but they have big work that has to get done. So they’ll set up committees and boards and things like that to help them tackle, you know, organizational priorities and those people don’t report to them. So one of the things that I do in my role supporting the association is help them figure out how to, how to approach the work, how to organize the people, how to make sure that the committees are actually moving forward and getting work done. Because we’ve all been part of groups where, you know, the conversations just go in circles and you know, just feels like you’re working on the same stuff forever and ever and ever and not actually accomplishing anything. And that’s not what we want.


Amalie:             02:46 Right. So one of the things that we had talked about before was working laterally in an organization or as a CEO, being a member on a board and how to lead that group. You know, if you’re all sort of, you know, there’s, might not be an organizational chart or you know, some sort of leadership, but they do need someone to lead them, in order for the board to accomplish something. So what are the, you know, what are the skills required? What are some of the tactics or strategies you use when you’re in a situation like that?


Joy:                03:30 Well, I think that to some extent the skills are the same when you are dealing with people who report to you and people who don’t, I think that, there are leadership skills that translate to both of those situations. You have to be able to motivate people, you have to be able to communicate effectively. You have to understand, you know, what’s the totality of work that needs to be done and, you know, how can you break it up to, you know, help people make progress. So those skills are exactly the same, but there’s a big difference between you leading people who, you know, report to you because you’re their boss or you oversee their contract versus people who, you know, report to someone else in the organization or you know, they’re volunteers to be part of a community project or something like that. So, I think if you’re in a situation where you’re managing people like that, you don’t, you don’t have the same leverage. You can’t terminate these people or end their contract. So I feel like the skills that you bring to that situation have to be more deliberately executed. I think you have to recognize that it’s a unique situation and it’s almost an amplified version of what you need to be if you were working with someone who has to do what you say because you’re the boss. Does that make sense?


Amalie:             05:05 Yeah, for sure. And I think that you need a… I mean, I, I believe that you need buy in always, right. You know, from the bottom to the top. But I feel like, I think that it’s almost imperative to have the buy-in when you’re in a situation like that. Right. Because there, they don’t report to you directly, but nothing’s, but things won’t get done if you don’t have their complete buy in to whatever the committee is trying to, to accomplish. Janine, what do you think about, I mean we’ve probably in military situations worked with, I know I’ve worked with other people that, you know, other branches of military that weren’t direct reports to my, to who I reported to, but we still had to work together and lead the pack. Sort of. Do you have thoughts?


Janine:             05:58 Yeah, absolutely. That, you know, when you have two units working together or you have a team from one unit with a certain specialty assigned to another, that happens because they report to a different chain of command. We had, within my clinic, we had the nurses reported to one, had one chain of command and the doctors’ to another and that made for a very strange working environment. Sometimes it was less effective than it could be, but, yeah, Joy that the things you do exactly when people don’t necessarily have the accountability, you’re really relying on their, their integrity and their motivation and everything else. So yes, when you’re…


Amalie:             06:37 Self-motivated, right?


Janine:             06:39 Yes, I imagine. Yes, very self-motivated, very.


Joy:                06:44 This is also where I think that kind of creating a rallying cry for the group’s work is really powerful. So if you can find that, that common interest that all of the group members have, that’s super powerful. When we initially launch the nonprofit that I’d led for about 10 years at our very first planning retreat, we had about 75 stakeholders in the room and they represented, organizations from across, across 20 counties and you know, different types of organizations. And these people were all there kind of representing their employers. And one of the things that we did when everybody introduced themselves, instead of, you know, them saying their, you know, their name and their job and who they’re with, we actually had each person tell a personal story about the problem that we were trying to solve. We wanted them to, just bring something personal to the table. And we spent probably almost an hour of that meeting with everybody just telling their story. But it was such a powerful exercise. I mean, years later, people who were involved in that nonprofit pointed back to that experience at that very first planning meeting as being a thing that like solidified their involvement.


Amalie:             08:17 Yeah.


Joy:                08:18 So yeah, that rallying cry, that thing that everybody can relate to I think is essential. And even if you don’t have something like that, you know, maybe you think you have kind of a, you know, just a very ordinary feeling project and it’s not, you know, something super inspirational. You can still make it inspirational.You know, maybe you have to put together some sort of report that requires committee work. I like to create, you know, the cover for that report upfront, even before the work is done, just because that visual gives the group something to kind of latch onto. And then they can imagine filling that report with all of the information that they’re going to bring together and just gives them something to rally around. So if you can create that with the group, it makes big difference.


Amalie:             09:09 Yeah. And I definitely think the personal story, I think that that makes a difference. I mean, just in sales, you know, people connect with that. And so if they can hear and relate to someone else’s story, they’re gonna buy in and, and want to be motivated to accomplish whatever you know, is meant to be accomplished by the nonprofit or you know, the organization. So that’s great. Okay. So let’s say you were just starting out today with a brand new committee and you had to get them to some result, whatever that might be. What’s the first thing you would do with them?


Joy:                09:41 Okay, well first thing that I like to point out is that committee work is like water. It’s going to expand to fill whatever sort of container you have for it. So as much time as you’re willing to give a project, that’s how much time a group is going to take. So you have to create a smaller container and sometimes that means dividing the workup to create that…


Amalie:             10:08 Boundaries!


Joy:                10:09 Yes. So that’s the first thing you want to know when you’re starting a a new group. So, the second thing we’ve already talked about is that rallying cry and you know, creating that purpose for the group. I would want to pay attention to that as well. And then, you know, the third piece is understanding what the work is that that group actually has to get done. Now when I’m doing committee work, I like to have a result that is achievable within no more than three months. Cause let’s say a lot of these committees and with my clients, they’re working or you know, they’re coming together every couple of weeks, maybe once a month. I like to give them something that’s achievable within a, you know, limited block of time and three months feels about right to me. When people are coming together, you know, monthly or a couple of times a month. So, you know, we, we, we set what that end state is and figure out, okay, what are all of the tasks that need to happen in there? That’s what most groups do. And they stop there and, okay, this is the work we have to done this, our plan, this is what’s going to happen. Week one, week two, I like to take it another layer deeper and actually estimate the exact amount of time each task should take. So this isn’t just, okay, we’re going to make focus group calls in week three to set up the appointments. I like to say, okay, making those focus group calls, setting up those appointments, that’s a task, it’s going to take two hours because you know, we’ve all been in that situation where, you know, we have things on our to do list and it sits there because it feels like it’s much bigger than it is. And that sort of thing happens with committees too. You know, they have this little thing that ought to take no more than two hours, but they come back month after month to the check in meetings and they haven’t gotten to it yet and haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s like, “well, if you just sit down and do two hours or you know, 30 minutes or whatever the task would be done.” So….


Amalie:             12:18 I would even go far as far to say that that sort of breakdown needs to happen when you’re planning any kind of project because, and then I would even say that you need to apply what needs to happen on those calls, right? Those specifics so that way they know exactly what needs to happen, plan the call, know exactly what needs to be discussed, take note of it. Right. And yeah, for committees, that’s what we’re discussing now. But those, that kind of detail needs to be done for any project because just because you have a plan, right, listing out some tasks doesn’t mean there’s action going to be taken on it. Right. You need to take it to that next step and those minute details need to be added for sure. Sorry keep going.


Joy:                12:57 No, no, I completely agree. The other thing that doing that will help you see is whether in a particular week you, you know, realistically have too many tasks packed in there because you know, we’re talking about people who don’t report to you. They have other jobs, they have other responsibilities and you have to make sure that the totality of tasks that, you know, you’re imagining to happen in week three can actually happen in week three and you may have to spread it out. All of a sudden you look at it and go, oh, we have 10 hours worth of work, but your committee’s not going to give you 10 hours worth of work in a single week. So yeah, by taking it to that level, it really allows you to start, you know, putting the pieces together, how this work is going to get done within, you know, the 12 week period or you know, whatever you’ve set for the, you know, total project.


Amalie:             13:54 Yeah.


Joy:                13:55 But then, you know, you can see every week if you’re making progress and, it’ll give the committee some momentum. So, I mean those are the things I think are really important. You know, when you have a brand new group, and really are important for any group. But especially a brand new one when you’re walking in and trying to figure out, okay, how are we going to approach this?


Amalie:             14:15 Yeah. And I think it’s really important about ho