How Taki Moore, Coach Marketing Expert and founder of the CoachMarketingMachine.com is leveraging his virtual teams to encourage everyone to work in their ‘genius’
How Taki Moore, Coach Marketing Expert and founder of the CoachMarketingMachine.com is leveraging his virtual teams to encourage everyone to work in their ‘genius’
In this episode, we hear from Taki Moore, one of Australia’s leading ‘coaches to coaches’ on the benefits of using virtual teams to grow your business and how, if done correctly, will allow you to play to your strengths and live in your ‘genius’.
This episode is packed full of useful tips and insights from Taki on how to leverage your virtual team to allow you to make more money, have more fun and help more people. Some of the areas he covers are:
- Why breaking down your tasks from the beginning allows you to find your ‘genius’ and delegate the tasks you don’t enjoy/ aren’t good at, in order to get ahead
- Why letting go of the belief “They can’t do it as well as I can”, can be very liberating
- The importance of not trying to get rid of tasks all at once, as this can be overwhelming
- Why it is important to be a strong team leader
- Why a sold ‘communication rhythm’ is important for the entire team and why you should stick to it
- The importance of viewing the remuneration of your team as an investment as opposed to an expense
Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group.
In this episode:
02:56 – Taki’s 60-sec elevator pitch
04:33 – It started with a book…
06:42 – Breaking down your tasks
09:00 – “But no one can do it as well as I can”
09:51 – Delegating to get ahead
11:51 – Finding your ‘genius’
14:29 – Allowing others to play in their genius
15:24 – The ‘Super VA’ myth
18:14 – A communication rhythm
20:34 – ‘Check-ins’ time frames
21:50 – Daily check-ins
23:16 – Weekly, monthly & quarterly check-ins
27:09 – The importance of sticking to your comms plan
29:51 – Create a meeting structure
30:51 – What Taki would do differently next time…
36:27 – Return on Investment
38:32 – Wrapping things up
Tools & resources mentioned in this episode:
Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni
Matt: Good morning everyone! Matt Malouf here for another exciting show of the Virtual Success Show and as always I’m joined by my co-host, Barbara Turley. Good morning Barbara!
Barbara: Morning Matt! How are you?
Matt: I’m excellent! How are you going?
Barbara: I’m good you know I have had an interesting week. I’ve sort of had an evolving week in my business and I wanted to share a quick quote that I saw this morning just sums up completely the week I’ve had. It was by Ben Chestnut who’s the CEO of Mail Chimp – ‘As it grows, your business will go through several stages and each stage requires a different kind of leader’ – and I’m definitely feeling that in my business this week. I’m sort of moving to another level and feeling that sense of needing to be a different kind of leader as I go forward.
Matt: Fantastic! What a great quote, as your business grows, you need to become a different kind of leader. That’s amazing, that’s great! We’ll make sure we get that posted as an attachment to this. I think it’ a really good start!
Barbara: I’ll organize that!
Matt: So Barbara, I’m super super excited about today’s podcast. I’ve got a dear friend and mentor of mine, Taki Moore joining us. Taki Moore was one of my very early business coach and mentors when I became a coach and we’ve been friends for many many years and we actually met in my former life as a personal trainer. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and Taki has been responsible for an amazing amount of learning that I’ve had over the years, both in the area of virtual assistants, he was responsible for introducing me to the world of virtual assistants, but together in helping me in growing my coaching business and also many life lessons. So I would love to introduce and welcome to the show Taki Moore from Coach Marketing Machine. Welcome, Taki!
Taki: Hey Matt, thank you so much for having me! Barbara great to be here! I think we first met when I was in much worse physical shape than I am right now and I remember having to do leg press’ and stuff like that with you Matt a long, long, long time ago. And look how far we’ve both come.
Matt: I was in much better physical condition back then too, Taki.
Taki: Well yeah, exactly, I’ve gone the other way. Looking at you business-wise and mentally, I think you’re in tip-top shape.
Matt: (laugh) Thank you. Barbara sorry, you were going to say?
Barbara: I was saying, how are your legs looking now Taki?
Taki: Pretty good, I’m crossfitting 3 to 4 times a week and down the beach twice a day so I’m pretty healthy and I’m kind of in love with life right now!
Barbara: Good, that’s nice!
Matt: Taki can you do your 60-second elevator pitch on who you are and your company, just so that everyone is super clear on that side before we get in to the depths of today’s show?
Taki’s 60-sec elevator pitch
Taki: Yeah! Totally can, which I’ll answer in 3 ways, who I help, what their problem is and how I help them. I help coaches and consultants, the problems that they have either number 1 – they don’t have enough clients and not making enough money; or number two – most of my work is spent with coaches who are already pretty successful, well above break even, you’re successful and trying to scale but get to the point where it’s getting a little bit hard so they kind of hit a plateau because the way that attract and convert and deliver is kind of holding them back. So my job is to help them get more clients, to get more leads, to turn their one-on-one coaching into a group coaching leverage program where they can you know make more money, have more fun, help more people. So that’s what I do.
Matt: Excellent, fantastic! And that’s actually where we started working together in a commercial sense was through the black belt program and we were mentioning, actually only this morning, that there were 12 of us in the room.
Taki: Totally and I was like, ‘this is so awesome, 12 people!’ and now I look back and go ‘Oh 12, that’s so small … I am always really proud of what I’m doing and I looked back and say, ‘Geez! I had no idea back then.’ And it’s just a good sign that you’re growing and learning and becoming more, it’s cool!
Matt: So Taki tell us about your beginning with virtual assistants and how that started and how’s its evolved over the years?
It started with a book…
Taki: So it started with a book, Tim Ferriss wrote a book called The Four Hour Work Week a few years ago and I read it and completely shifted my ideas about what was possible. One line in that just changed my world and it said, ‘Amazing things happen when you can…I think at the time he was living in Argentina, and he had his teams, employees and virtual teams in India and obviously he’s a U.S. guy… amazing things happen when you can get paid in Dollars, you live on Pesos and you pay your team in Rupees and that sentence just kind of shook me and I thought ‘oh my goodness’, because I was a bit stretched. I didn’t know, you know we were growing and I didn’t know how to handle the growth, but I also didn’t quite have enough money, I didn’t think, to hire somebody, you know, on Australian rates and all of a sudden this kind of new world of possibility opened up maybe and you know, maybe that’s the solution! And 2 weeks after I read that book, I hired Ash who’s been with me 7 and ½ years now so I guess that how long ago I read the book. And life changing, you know, at the time I didn’t know ‘can I afford it’ and that was followed by ‘Dude, I don’t think I can even keep this person busy’, followed by, ‘Holy crap! Can we hire a second one?’, because once you get some momentum around this stuff, its just incredibly liberating! So how it started was being inspired by The Four Hour Work Week and really wanting to, you know, I don’t think I probably would have leveraged it quite as proactively as this, but I wanted to play to my strengths and live in my genius, I probably would have said ‘I’m drowning on stuff that I’m not very good at and I hate’.
Matt: So from that point Taki, I think we started working together not long after that, what was inspiring when we first started working together in that context was that you were working on average about 12 hours a week, is that correct?
Taki: Yeah! That sound about right.
Matt: Yet your business was growing at an exponential rate?
Breaking down your tasks
Taki: Yeah! I think that sounds like a good thing. I think the thing is this, if you break down your tasks, like everything you do each day or each week or each month and you kind of grade them, obviously you can filter a couple of ways, you can filter by frequency you know what happens daily and weekly and monthly and quarterly and other. You can also rank things in a way that Dan Sullivan in Strategic Coach talks about which is every task falls into one of four buckets. It’s either the area of incompetence for you, so frankly you suck at it and you do a terrible job and it takes a long time, so it’s incompetence. There’s competence, like a bare pass. There’s excellence, which everyone kind of strives for, but excellence is you’ve got superior skill, people notice that you’re good at it but it’s learnt not natural and it doesn’t give you energy, right? And then fourth, I call genius, which is your superior skill, people notice that you’re great at it, you’re fascinated by it, you could happily do it and learn more about it forever and never get bored and it came sort of hard wide, factory installed so you didn’t have to learn it.
And so if you rank all your tasks into one of those four buckets, pretty soon you’ll probably realize like I did that I’m doing a whole bunch of stuff that I’m actually really crap at and don’t enjoy. And if you draw those four containers like rings on a bull’s eye, the genius in the middle and incompetence on the outside, then competence, excellence and genius then what we’re going to do is peel off, what I tried to do was kind of peel off layers from the outside and start on getting off the stuff that I’m just awful at.
So I think when I first hired Ash, I was, the two things that I was terrible at was email and I was phobic to voicemail and calendars. You know it’s kind of embarrassing, even right now like today I have read only access on my calendar, I’m not allowed to put anything in because I screw it up all the time and last year the one time that I did around the calendar, I triple booked myself at three different conferences to speak on the same day in three different countries, which is quite an achievement.
Matt: That’s special!
Taki: Yeah so if you kind of rank things – I am very special! I don’t recommend that to anyone, so I need all the help that I can get.
“But no one can do it as well as I can”
Barbara: Taki I’m interested there, I’m interested in your thoughts on you know you talked about the things you’re not very good at and the things you’re a genius zone. But one thing I’ve seen with a clients coming in to Virtual Angel Hub and particularly women, and I can say this because I’m a woman, but you know sometimes you know we run our own businesses, there are our baby, we do everything our way to our level of perfection and sometimes we’re doing a lot of things that we actually quite like and we’re very good at but it’s not bringing any revenue in so its stopping us from growing our business and to hand that over and I feel a lot of people really struggle there because they’re just bathing in the belief that nobody can do it as well as I can. And probably a VA, maybe can’t do it as you well as you can but that’s not the point if you want to grow a business. How do you deal with that?
Delegating to get ahead
Taki: Yeah, I think there’s two sides to it. So firstly, lets believe the assumption that they can’t do it as well as you can because I think that’s an assumption and it may be false. In my business, the guys who are doing my stuff are all based in the Philippines, a virtual team. Not only can they do it as well as me but they can do most of the things better than me. The only things where I’m clearly stronger is the things that kind of like language, they can’t talk like me as well I can talk like me because I’ve been talking like me since I was a kid. But let’s just say, you know, I believe in the assumption that they can’t do it as well as you. Maybe that’s true but you bring up the point, Barbara, that even though you can do it better than they can it’s not bringing in the bucks and frankly, if it’s taking a lot of time and it’s not bringing in the bucks and something else that I’m sure you could get just as excited about does bring in the bucks, if I had to choose like if I could say, ‘Hey Barbara I’m in control of your life, I can either have you spend 10 hours a week doing your manual labor grunt work, or 10 hours a week doing stuff that you’re great at, that you really like Barb, that people will pay you for and happily pay you for, I’d rather you have 10 hours doing that because I know that in 10 hours of you in your genius, you’ll make enough money to hire probably 5 to 10 people in areas of your incompetence or competence or even excellence.’ But I just say start with the activities which are incompetent because they are the easiest ones for people to get quick wins with so you’ll realize, ‘You know what, I don’t love that, I’m not very good at it’, and kind of move on from there. Does that make sense?
Barbara: Yeah, that’s good advice! For people to get started, I guess, to just start with the things that you hate doing or are crap at, you know get rid of those first, get some confidence and maybe hand over things as you grow.
Finding your ‘genius’
Taki: Later on as you get confidence about it, so if you think about that bull’s eye, that incompetence to competence to excellence to genius, there are two things in my world that I’m excellent at. One of, you know I don’t want this to come across as boasting, I’m probably in the top few people in the world at these two things, okay? But I don’t love them, and they don’t give me energy but over the years I’ve hung onto building my own slide decks and building the work books for my black belt events. My workbooks are stunning, my slides look incredible and I’m kind of known for having really good looking stuff. But I knew that there were excellent activities not genius activities. And so now, we were chatting just before we hit record, my workflow right now is at that I have a big fat role of brown paper that sits on the right hand side of my desk on the floor, I now sketch, take a photo, send it off to Mike, who happens to be better than me on both two things. It took a long time for me to let go of excellence but it was easy to get rid of incompetence and then competence and kind of work my way in so now I’m at the point where I only do the stuff that I’m loving. So I think that’s probably the …
Barbara: I like that strategy, that’s really a good advice because people try to get rid of everything all at the one time and then throw their hands in the air and say, ‘Oh it doesn’t work for me.’ but maybe just going in stages like that is better.
Taki: Yeah, exactly right!
Matt: Taki, Mike doing your slides and workbooks, is that his genius or excellence?
Taki: It’s probably his excellence, to be honest.
Taki: Yep, but this conversation is all about me so…
Matt: Yeah, yeah, but the reason I asked that question is because after, I think in handing those tasks over, we may hand over what we deem as incompetence, competence or excellence but it’s actually they’re genius.
Taki: Yeah, completely! Well Mike is world-class at it. He’s got a design eye and he’s got a, whether it’s hard wired or it’s kind of trained, he’s got a real knack for designing information and I think it’s just a ridiculous skill. Now, in his perfect world would he spend all his time doing these slides and workbooks? No he wouldn’t, he’s got other stuff that we’re working together, for him it’s excellence but frankly for me it’s being able to go one layer deeper so now I’m just in genius is worth it. And I’m happy to spend, you know Mike’s not a virtual assistant in the Philippines, he’s a guy in Melbourne and he costs a fortune and he’s worth every cent.
Allowing others to play in their genius
Matt: Yes, yeah! So I guess the point of the question is to show the listeners that as you start to let go of these things, what you’re actually doing is you’re letting go of your incompetence, competence and excellence to allow someone else to play in their genius. If you do it properly, often that’s what’s happening.
Taki: Yep! That’s exactly what happens. So when we hire VAs, they go through a screening process and a group interview and that usually take a Kolbe test, which is like a profile, and we’re looking for what could this person be amazing at and how are they naturally wired so what can they do, but what will they do, given every possible option and what are they drawn to. So I want my whole team to be playing to their strengths because there’s nothing more fun than going to work and getting to rock hard every day doing stuff that you, that juices you, you know!
The ‘Super VA’ myth
Barbara:: I love that you said that, Taki, actually because one of the things I’ve noticed as well and this is a common problem, I know Chris Docker talks about this as well with people who are hiring VAs, it’s that whole thing of the myth of the super VA and I know we seek clients a lot hiring one person and getting sort of shocked when they realize that this person can’t code a website, they can do a lot of things but they’re expecting them to do everything from video editing right through to web coding and they’re like, they get confused when they realize this person has limitations…
Taki: It’s hilarious because you need to hire someone in your home country to do everything. Like, ‘I want you to make my coffee, code my website, look after accounts, design this.’ Like you’d never in a million years assume that but for some reason we think that because they’re the person on the other side of the world that can, it’s ridiculous! I’ve totally fallen into that trap and I think when they’re getting started with a couple of options, who do you hire first. You can either hire, I guess the closest thing to the super VA if you know somebody who is a little bit all around who can just take a load often and like I certainly with Ash didn’t hire super strategically. I went to the company and said, ‘Here’s what I want and one of my requirements was that they use a MAC.’ And out of all of the candidates they have, they had one who had a MAC and I hired her. So I wasn’t super strategic with Ash, she turned out to be amazing and her role has shrunk down as has mine, you know. But it kind of started off with you ‘you look after as much of everything as you can’ and then we’ve kind of got, yeah as I’ve got hip to the fact that business is more fun when you do what you’re great at, I’ve tried to, we’ve tried to make that same for all of our team.
Barbara: It sounds to me though that you, it sounds to me that you worked quite a lot with her. So when she first started she was kind of a ‘jack of all trades’, doing everything, helping to take the load off you but as your business grows, you’re getting strategic about her position, her genius and then mentoring her, I would imagine, into the new set of roles as she grows with you, was that sort of how it happened?
Taki: I would like it to sound as strategic as that, I’m actually a really bad manager and so about a year and a half ago we made a good decision, my wife and I, that I ran, like if you imagine that our business is like a theatre, that I run that stage and she runs the theater, so everything that is client facing so the workshops, the events, the training, the marketing, the sales, that’s me and all of the behind the scenes including running the team is her and that way, now that they’re being lead properly rather than mislead as it would be if it was just me.
Barbara: I mean that’s the key point though, that they need to be led properly. So even rock stars and great people on your team need guidance and leadership and someone for this to work.
A communication rhythm
Taki: Yep and so they need, they need context on what the role is really about, they need clarity about here’s what we want to done and they need, frankly, you need a communication rhythm. A set of rhythms in your business, even if it’s just you and a VA, but like in a perfect world we’ve got some kind of quick daily check-in, like a daily huddle, we’ve got a weekly meeting, we’ve got a monthly strategic meeting, we’ve got quarterly off-site like our team are in Philippines, twice a year we fly to the Philippines and we spend four days together on an island and we get more done in those three of four days than we used to in six months.
Barbara: I like the communication rhythm thing because you know I’ve actually seen clients fall into the trap of sort of giving their VAs a task list and then not communicating with them maybe for 2 or 3 weeks and really, and then getting sort of annoyed and saying things are not working but really I’d love to know your view on that. I mean there’s one thing to empower people to work alone but there’s another thing to have no check-ins or no leadership there in terms of communication.
Taki: Yeah! Well most things left unattended don’t do well.
Barbara: That’s a good quote!
Taki: Yeah like if you leave your garden it’s going to go messy, I’ve got 6 kids and if I left them unattended, ‘Okay kids there’s breakfast over there and here’s Netflix, I’ll be back in 3 weeks.’ Yeah I might have one of them still alive when I get back. So if it doesn’t work with gardens or kids, the chance of it working with teams is pretty low and like, I completely did that. I was like ‘well I’ve hired you, so I don’t have to think about it, good luck’, it didn’t work so great. And so part of the reason for Karen rerunning the team is because she’s on it like white on ice. She does a really good job and now the team are getting the kind of frequency and interaction and speed of getting help. I used to be the biggest bottle neck in the business and most of the people listening to this probably are. If every decision has to come through you, then you are the bottle neck. So you want to get out of the way as quickly as you can.
Barbara: Yeah, that’s very good advice!
Matt: Taki, just on the communication rhythm you were talking about, the daily, weekly, etc. can you just give us, just going the next layer down on each of those? Give us the idea around the daily, that would be great.
‘Check-ins’ time frames
Taki: Yeah, cool! So, big believer in attribution – give credit where credits due – I first read about this in a book called The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish and there’s another book, if you want to learn how to do it really well, there’s a book called Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni, which I think is fantastic. If you imagine four timeframes, daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly – here are the four and then we will go as deep as we need, okay? So there’s daily, there’s a check-in, it’s a 10-minute stand up meeting. Weekly, there’s a tactical meeting, which we will talk about the agenda for in a second if you like. Monthly, there’s a strategic and then quarterly there’s an off-site or a planner, like my team in the Philippines, it costs, it’s a fair commitment of time and money to fly us all to an island and do stuff together but frankly it’s good fun! We could do the same virtually, in fact we do twice a year on an island, we call it tribal council – nobody gets voted off the island and so far everyone is still alive – and then in between, so 90 days after each of those we do a vibral counsel which is the same process done virtually. So we just start daily and we’ll go from there, yeah?
Matt: Yeah great!
Taki: Okay, so daily check-in – it’s just a way to kind of get everyone on the same page, calibrated and excited about what you’re doing and so it’s 10 minutes tops, it’s usually at a weird time of a day so like 10:10 or 11:11 or just some random time. It’s called stand up so ideally we’re standing up and not sitting down and energy would be better and we just go around the, around the group – even if just you and one assistant, I still recommend it and you answer 3 questions – what did you get done yesterday? What are you working on today? And where are you stuck?
Barbara: That’s fantastic! I’m taking that idea straightaway.
Taki: Yeah, it’s fantastic right? So we have the 6-week virtual assistant on-ramp program and in week 3 we, one of the things we do is we setup the internal rhythms and rituals and one of this is daily check-in and the rule is kind of got to be quick, right?! I first witnessed this at a clients’ office up in Brisbane, Rob Nixon and they had, I think, 17 or 18 staff, you know people on the team and they did this stand up and it was over in 10 minutes. And so if you can get 18 people through 3 questions in 10 minutes, that will give you a sense of kind of the cadence and pace that we want and if it starts to dribble, then it loses energy and it’s not the place to solve problems and if someone goes ‘I’m stuck on this’ and so you say ‘great, lets book in a time straight after this and we’ll fix it’.
Matt: And you’re on that each day?
Taki: No! I’m only on the monthly and the quarterly now.
Weekly, monthly & quarterly check-ins
Taki: I used to be, right now Karen does the daily’s and the weekly’s, I’m on the monthly and the quarterly and I’m in Slack which is our team chat app, which might be helpful to chat about as well at some stage. So daily check-in – there’s a weekly tactical meeting which is 3 big things on your plate right now, what does the scoreboard say? What are the numbers? How are we tracking? Let’s get an agenda together, what do we need to discuss? That either comes from what’s going on for you or what are you working on or score boards, so we get a list of things to discuss. Some of them are going to be really great topics that are going to be too big for the scope of this meeting like big decisions, like should we do this, or should we do that? A bit more strategically or if they do that we just park them on to the strategic list to talk about monthly, so we can deal with little tactical stuff each week, right? Then we’ll get into action plans, we’ll work through the agenda one by one and we’ll work on who does what by when. And then there’s a communication plan – who do we need to talk to? What do we need to say? And that might be talk to Taki, it could be talk to a supplier, it could be talk to clients, yeah so that’s the weekly tactical. Tuesdays is our meeting day so all of these things happen on Tuesdays. Anything that gets parked, it’s a really big topic, let’s talk about it separately, goes to the monthly meeting. We call it the monthly strategic – we use Zoom, it’s like Go-To meeting. We use Zoom so we can see everybody’s face and we do wins so what progress we made in the last month, which is good because you find out about stuff that you didn’t even know happened, that your team has done and most of the time so busy kind of working hard, chasing the next thing that we forget to pause and go wow, we’ve actually done really, really well. So we start of with what are the wins and why do they matter and then we go ok, so what’s not working right now? And anything that got parked as strategic topic will come and we’ll have a list of stuff that’s broken – I’m not a goal setter but I’m a big problem solver – so we just pick 2 topics and I spend an hour or an hour and a half ripping them apart, figuring out a plan and that’s the monthly strategic. And then the quarterly – we do tribal council, or vibal council, it has a bit of an agenda and there’s a fair bit to it but it’s kind of epic. Mostly evolves around swimming and eating tacos and stuff.
Matt: So Taki, I think you did a blog on your Coach Marketing Machine blog that I’ll connect everybody to that talks about your tribal council, so I’ll put that into the notes of the show and connect people with that.
Taki: That would be great, I think that would be helpful. There’s 5 or 6 things we do in there, so yeah, if you do check that out I would give you a really good snap shot of how to run a… I think you don’t have to go to an island to do it. At some stage, you know, meeting your virtual team face-to-face is amazing and it will change your world but we run the same thing twice a year as a one day virtual. I think actually probably doing it as two half-days is where we’ll go because one day is a lot of time to be talking to people at a computer, you know.
Barbara: Taki, I’m interested to know, this is something I’m guilty of this myself because, you know, the quote I sort of said at the beginning of this show about the leadership thing, I all of a sudden have a lot more people on my team in the last 5 months, it doubled and all of a sudden as you know when you’re managing more people and more people are reporting to you, it becomes a new challenge and I’ve been trying to put huddles in place and meetings. How non-negotiable are the meetings in your diary? Because obviously as business owners we get busy and the tendency is to go, ‘Oh let’s cancel that meeting and do it next week.’ What’s your view on being strict with yourself and that has to happen?
The importance of sticking to your comms plan
Taki: It’s an awesome question, so if my wife was standing here and you were talking to her because, you know, she runs the theater, remember, and I run the stage. It’s really funny, every Tuesday at about 11 o’clock, she seems to get this text from one of the guys in the team saying, ‘Is the weekly meeting on?’ and I sent him a voicemail on Tuesday going, ‘Please never ask this question ever again. Every time you ask we always tell you that its on, the meetings on. Never ask it again, just be there!’ so that’s done. So the meeting must, must, must, must, must, must happen and it’s important that meeting is led but you don’t have to be the person that leading the meeting, in fact it’s probably best if you’re not.
Barbara: But you have to be there? I think maybe not daily but I think—
Taki: I’m not there, I just want to be completely transparent. I hate meetings with a passion, I find them a complete waste of my time and I’m not interested. What I am interested in is moving things forward. I setup the structure and how I want the daily and weekly’s to run, the team run those and Karen and I are resources, like we come in the meeting but we don’t lead it, we’re just participants like everybody else. It’s really important that unless you’ve got somebody who’s like your 2IC, like your project manager person who can run it for you, I think you should totally be there.
Barbara: Yeah I think even for listeners that are just one person and their VA as well. I think it’s really important for people to realize that you as the business owner and the leader, and that’s something I’m really focusing on myself in my business right now, is that meeting has to happen and you can’t be the person to cancel it.
Taki: You can’t be the person to cancel but I also found, I can’t be the person to instigate it.
Barbara: Yeah, the structure has to be there but it has to go ahead.
Taki: Yeah completely! So I just have it like, we pick the time that worked for me and it was inconvenient for some of the people on the team but I had – this is when I was on the daily’s and the weekly’s so this is the time that’s going to work, ‘You’re going to put it in my diary, you’re going to get everybody in the meeting, a few minutes before hand you’re going to call my phone and I’m going to answer and I’m going to do the thing but I’m not, kind of like, I’m not going to drive!’ Exactly, because I can’t rely on myself to drive because frankly if there’s something else that I’d rather do that comes up, I do that instead or if the beach is good I’ll shoot down there and neither of those are great for the team.
Barbara: Yeah, that’s what I know! I fall into that trap as well and I know a lot of clients do too so it’s a New Year’s resolution of mine to just focus on making sure that the meeting happens. That’s really valuable information, thank you!
Create a meeting structure
Taki: I think the secret is to, you decide what you want, you make it up, you build a structure for it that makes it real and then you have somebody else in charge who – I’m quoting Dan Sullivan again – someone who makes it happen, makes it recur, right?
Barbara: And the key point there is that you set the structure though, it’s like creating systems in your business. It’s the same process, it’s another process for the meeting.
Taki: Yeah, exactly right!
Matt: So Taki I really could spend all day with you because this has been just so amazing. I’ve got one last question I’d love to ask.
Taki: Sure, by the way I’m not in a rush so do whatever you need to do, I want this to be great for your listeners.
Matt: Awesome! So knowing what you now know, it’s the question that obviously Brian Tracey asked – Zero-based thinking – knowing what you now know , you’ve been using VAs for 7 and ½ years, you had that pivotal moment after reading The Four Hour Work Week, if you were starting over again with the knowledge that you have, what would you do differently?
What Taki would do differently next time…
Taki: I’d probably do three things differently. The first thing I’d do is I would have hired my first person way sooner. The arguments against that are, ‘I don’t know if I can keep them busy’ and ‘I don’t have the cash’. Don’t have the cash is pretty easily handles by the fact that if they are overseas, like in the Philippines for example, or offshore, that the wages are completely different and even if you hire someone part-time like which I did with Ash, 20 hours a week, it was just a fear thing you know, so do it faster. Somebody once said ‘what if you can’t keep him busy?’, yeah but I’m paying $5 an hour, if they sit there for five hours twiddling their thumbs, it’s only 25 bucks it’s not that big deal, right? So that’s the first thing – hire faster.
Number two, I would have hired a project manager sooner and in our team there’s two people who play an important role that work with me directly, and they are called project managers. I have a project manager for my marketing and a project manager for making our black belt program better, right? So every quarter how it works is, every quarter I come up with three new projects that I want to do marketing wise and three new projects that I want to make the program better. I sit down with my project managers with a sheet which kind of maps out exactly what I want and how it’s going to look, what’s its stake if we get it right, what’s the cost if we get it wrong. And if we do it, and do it well, it looks like this. And I brief the project manager at the start of the quarter and then they go away that week and they turn it into a project plan that we will talk about the next Tuesday and I just feed the project’s weekly. So I would’ve hired a project manager sooner because it allows me to create. I think about my role a little bit like the first time 100m in a 4 x 100 meter sprint. My job is to pick up the baton, have an idea, run a hundred meters and give it to somebody else and then let go and having a project manager makes that work. So that’s the second thing I would change.
And the third thing I would probably do is work with a project-based team sooner. So, Barbara we spoke earlier about the myth of the super VA, I think the alternative to that is to have a one point of contact person who has a team of specialists around them, so the VA company that we use has a project manager called Harvey – it’s not their actual name but its what the service is called – email the task to Harvey and Harvey grabs it and then he or she has 5 teams around them that they can call on. So there’s people who do design, WordPress and tech, automation, Social Media, admin and the 6th team is media you know anything video, podcasts, audios etc. and so it allows you to get a ton of stuff done but still only having to manage one relationship which I think is really, really nice way to do it!
Matt: Love it, love it! That is gold, that is absolute gold! And just for the listeners you know just to reiterate, so number one – hire a person sooner and I think in one of the earlier shows Taki I talked about, and I can’t remember if it was you and I that had this discussion when I hired my first VA, but I’ll put little post-it note on my computer, anytime I’ve got a new staff member, which is ‘what could I get *enter name* to do now?’ and its just staring at me in my face, day in, day out. And if you’ve got that in front of you, all of a sudden as you’re getting into your workflow, this is staring at you day in, day out and before you know it, they’ll be full.
Taki: 100% before you know it, they’ll be full.
Matt: Yeah! Secondly I like the having a project manager and to reiterate your point ‘it’s like running a hundred meter relay’ and your role in that team is to you know, the firing gun goes off, you sprint that first 100 meters as fast as you can but then you’re handing the baton over.
Taki: Legitimately it is 400 meters, you know, the 100 meters is making it up. You know that’s my job and I’ll figure out what I want. The second hundred meters is with the project manager and if I make it up, they make it real, so their job is to take my idea and make it happen and they’ve got 90 days to do that. The third hundred meters is to make it recur and that’s usually, project people typically get bored with the doing the same repetitive jobs again, and again, and again, so you want someone who’s good at that. And so project manager invents the new thing and then pass it you know systemize it and pass to somebody else who can do the same task again and again and again and again and then the project manager comes back to you ready for the next hundred meters right? So it’s ‘Get up, make it real, make it recur and then the fourth piece is to make it better which is the team does a debrief about the systems, you know any time something breaks, and you know, how do we make this better?’
Matt: Love it, love it! And then the third point was to have these people, have a centre person that they can have specialists around them to get those pieces done.
Taki: Otherwise you end up having to manage five people and like, a) It costs more, and b) it’s a pain. You don’t have to pay for all of the five people full-time because you know you don’t have like a media editing or an automation job all the time but if you can pay the equivalent of one full-time staff who’s your project manager and team, and the team is shared amongst a few other people I think it’s kind of a great way to really get stuff done.
Return on Investment
Matt: Absolutely! One last thing I’m going to add to the conversation – in one of our earlier shows we talked about the mindset, the critical mindsets that must be adopted when bringing on virtual teams and what we talked about in that show, Taki, was just viewing the remuneration of your people as an investment as opposed to an expense. The reality is when you’ve got the right people and you leverage through them, the payback is 10x or more.
Taki: Yeah it is and I think for me I get paid two ways, the return on investment comes in two ways. The first return, the immediate one you’ll get no matter what is I never have to do that crappy job that I hated ever, ever, ever again, right? And that’s an immediate payoff, like if I never have to check another email, if I never have to look at something in my calendar, if I never have to book my own flights ever again, if I don’t have to negotiate with venues and Karen will give the calendar to people, get quotes to the places, book the venue, book all the AV, if I never have to do that, that is life changingly good! So that’s the first way I get paid, in the relief that comes from never having to do stuff that you’re incompetent at ever again. And the second way you get paid is if we can get an extra, like with my clients one of the very first exercises we do is this thing called the extra work day advantage, so how do we get you an extra one day a week to work on stuff that actually matters, right? And so if we can free up 10 hours a week from the stuff you hated doing so instead of having a drain, it’s giving you energy and instead of it be a drain, we can spend even if we spend, even if we flitter half of it away at the movies, right, and we used five hours a week on something that is high leverage that’s in your genius zone, that you’re great at and gives you energy and it brings in the bucks, dude five hours of you and your genius is worth 50 hours of you in incompetence and it will snowball really, really quickly!
Wrapping things up
Matt: Absolutely love it, absolutely love it! Well Barbara, was there anything before we wrap up the show, was there anything else, any other questions you have for Taki?
Barbara: No not at this stage, it has been absolutely fab! I’ve been taking lots of tips myself and I’m going to be implementing as soon as possible in my own business. Thank you so much for that Taki, lots of great insights!
Taki: Total pleasure! It was fun and keep up the good work.
Matt: Taki thank you so much. I highly recommend if you want to learn more about Taki and his teachings, coachmarketingmachine.com is where Taki regularly blogs, he’s also got a couple of podcasts, haven’t you Taki?
Taki: Yeah actually salesmarketingprofit.com is where unpack case study interviews of clients, stories of good works that clients are doing and there’s a new podcast about to start, tentative title, million dollar coaches, which is conversations with Adam my head coach and I and also interviews with clients and maybe the occasional mentor as well, so look out for that in the future but right now coachmarketingmachine.com is where to go and there are links everything else from there.
Matt: Okay fantastic! Taki thank you so much, been an absolute pleasure! I think the listeners got millions of dollars’ worth of value out of this show and mate we’ll have to catch up for a burger sooner or later.
Taki: I’d love to! That would be awesome.
Barbara: Thanks, Taki!
Taki: Thanks Barbara, ciao! See you guys.
Matt: Everyone just stay tuned for more and more shows of the Virtual Success Show. Please be sure to add any comments below or we’d love for you to share this podcast with others so that we can continue to build the Virtual Success Show community. Til next show Barbara, have a wonderful week and we’ll chat soon!
Barbara: Yeah! Thanks guys.
Taki: Thank you!
Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success.
Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space.