You know I'm here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people too. And one thing that comes with saving time is having other people do a lot of work for you, something that I experienced years into my business. I only wish I had done it sooner. Once I started to learn about what it was like to offload a lot of these things in my business that still had to be done but I didn't have joy for, or just knew I had to hand off, I started to get loads of time back. And if you're looking for loads of time back in your business or are thinking about getting support so that you can grow your business, well this is the episode for you.
We're talking with Shannon and Bryan Miles from Belaysolutions.com. They have a three-pronged approach to helping entrepreneurs get the support they need— featuring virtual assistants (VAs), bookkeepers, and web assistants.
Yes, there are experts out there who we can hire to take over some of the time-intensive tasks that we need to do, so that we can focus on what we want to do for our customers and clients. When you have a really great virtual assistant and you see how they're giving you relief in professional things and personal things, it's literally like that time when you were in Coach and you got to get up and go to First Class. And you're sitting in the First Class seat, and you're like, “Oh, I'm ruined forever.”
So much to talk about. So much good stuff.
Bryan and Shannon Miles
- Website: https://belaysolutions.com/
- Website: https://ownnotrun.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/belay_solutions/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belay_solutions/
- How to determine the right time to hire an executive assistant to support your business.
- How you can hand over control of aspects of your business and still maintain your high standards for your brand.
- What the qualities of a great virtual assistant are.
- How to take the first steps towards finding help.
- The most common tasks that entrepreneurs hand off to virtual assistants.
- Goals for handing off email inboxes to an assistant.
- How to equip an assistant for success.
- How you know you've found the right person to be your assistant.
- The best ways to keep everything running smoothly in your work with an assistant.
- How and when to let the wrong assistant go.
- Belay Solutions
- Money Magazine article on working together while married http://money.com/money/5662292/belay-bryan-shannon-miles/
- Bryan's book, “Virtual Culture” https://virtualculturebook.com/
- Shannon's book, “The Third Option” https://mythirdoption.com/
SPI 408 — How to Hire the Right Help and Get More Time Back (without Driving Yourself Crazy)
Bryan Miles Journal down all the things you'd like to offload. The things that don't give you passion, the things that you hate doing, and don't even worry about at that point prioritizing. Just get it out of your head and put it onto a sheet of paper, and that really becomes kind of the pile of things ultimately to start to hand off. And then from there, start to prioritize. What's mission critical...
Pat Flynn Let's face it, there's going to come a point in your entrepreneurial journey where you're going to need some help, and to start off, it might be unloading some of these things, like what our special guest today is talking about, related to just the functions of your business that you need to get off your plate so that you can do more of what you are good at, or so you can start marketing your product instead of just working in it the whole time. Or so that you can actually be happy again in your business. There are many different reasons why you might want to hire help of all different kinds, whether that's somebody to help you manage your email to somebody on your team to help you with web development or some other thing. But the most important thing is that you need to know what you're getting yourself into, what can you expect, how you communicate with this person, how do you get the most out of your help, how do you make sure this person is still happy, how do you make sure they're not going to leave, how do you make sure that they're going to do their work. There's so many questions. And these are a lot of the kinds of questions that I ask today's special guests Bryan and Shannon Miles.
They have a company called BELAY Solutions. They've been helping serve entrepreneurs like us with finding quality help and hired help, from executive assistants to bookkeepers and other kinds of things. And they're here today to give us the lowdown on if you're just starting out with building your team. Or maybe you just hired somebody, how do you best work with that person? How might you go even find that person? How do you know if they're right for you? How do you manage them and make sure you just don't drive yourself crazy doing so? All those things and more in today's episode. So this will be a great one. Here we go.
Announcer Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host—if he could take you out to dinner, he'd take you to Puesto in San Diego—Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn What's up everybody? Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. This is session 408. My name is Pat Flynn here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people too. And one thing that comes with saving time is having other people do a lot of work for you, something that I experienced years into my business. I only wish I had done it sooner, but once I started to learn about what it was like to offload a lot of these things in my business that still had to be done, I just didn't have joy for it. And actually there were a lot of things that I still had joy for that I knew I had to hand off. Once that started happening, I started to get loads of time back. And if you're looking for loads of time back in your business or you're getting support so that you can grow your business, well this is the episode for you.
Pat Again, we're talking with Shannon and Bryan Miles from Belaysolutions.com. B-E-L-A-Y Solutions.com. So much to talk about. So much good stuff here. Here we go.
Pat Shannon and Bryan, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for being here today.
Bryan Miles Thank you, Pat. We're super excited to be here.
Pat So Bryan, just first of all, thank you for you had helped me and a really good friend of ours Michael Hyatt have an amazing trip, giving us some rundowns of things that we could do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And that was fantastic. So just publicly, I just want to thank you for that. But also, thank you because on behalf of all entrepreneurs out there, we need help. We are struggling. We need support, and especially as our companies continue to grow, we can't possibly do everything on our own. And there are some very clear things that you offer support with. So your work to help us understand how to hire and find the perfect executive assistant and how to work with them is so great. So just thank you for that. How does one even get started with... Let's maybe ask you this: When would a person benefit from starting to think about hiring an executive assistant to help support them?
Bryan Yeah, that's an awesome question, Pat. And first, thank you for this opportunity. And we're thrilled that you had an opportunity to really enjoy a beautiful place like Wyoming. But as it relates to entrepreneurs, for us, I think one of the big things is when an entrepreneur really realizes that they're hitting the lid of their personal capacity. Meaning, there are just not enough hours in the day or they know that there's other things they need to be doing to kind of grow or scale their business at whatever size, and they're just hitting that lid. And that lid is really defined by or there's symptoms that kind of come alongside that. It's generally a person that's recognizing that they're hitting the lid of the personal capacity.
Pat That makes sense. And Shannon, maybe to ask you, what are the usual pushbacks on somebody? What are the demons in their heads saying when they know they need help, but then they don't go get the help, and then they get burnt out?
Shannon Miles Yeah. There's a couple. One is obviously money. Can I afford to bring somebody on my team right now? Can I project out my future growth in a way that I can justify the cost? And then the other objection is oftentimes, I'm a control freak. If I bring somebody else onboard, how do I know that it's going to be done to the quality and level that I would expect? Those are the two primary ones, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with because it's usually their dream, it's usually their baby that they are moving forward with and trying to build and grow. And it can be scary sometimes to turn over portions of that dream to somebody they don't know.
Pat And Shannon, how would you respond to somebody who says, "Well, I just can't give up control." What's your sort of counter to that so that they understand that this is the next logical best thing to do?
Shannon I would encourage them just to recognize that the level of control they want to exercise over the business will equal the level of growth they're able to obtain. So the more control they want to have over all of the aspects of their business, then the less fast, less likely their business is going to grow. So it's just a trade off. You just kind of have to decide if it's something that you want to see grow and expand beyond one individual, yourself, or if it's something that you just want to maintain control and be in every little detail and make sure that it's done perfectly.
Pat That makes complete sense no matter what kind of position you're hiring. I mean, I remember when I started out, I needed a voice-over person. Eventually I needed somebody to help me edit my podcast, and then I needed an executive assistant. So there's all kinds of people that you can hire, but that's definitely figuring out and understanding the time that you'll save. Also the time that you'll then have for other and more important things and things that only you can do is really the key. And that's what got me over that.
Pat Bryan, I know that your company Belay Solutions.com helps find a very particular type of person for help. How do you define that person? What kind of roles and responsibilities does that entail?
Bryan Well, at Belay Solutions.com, we have three different services. One is obviously virtual assistants. And we do virtual bookkeeping, and we also provide web support too. But specific to our virtual assistant services, we're looking for people who really know how to anticipate the needs and think critically on their feet for our clients. We have a pretty robust vetting process. We average about 2000 resumes a month that come into BELAY, and so for us our talent acquisition team is constantly trying to find the best people to represent us and represent our clients. And that's really where our secret sauce is too. We find some really amazing people. All of our folks are here based in the United States. So these are the types of people you'd be proud to have represent you in an administrative capacity.
Pat When I first started hiring VAs, this was back in 2013, and it was for a lot of repeated work that I was doing every day that I wanted to let go. And I started with working with VAs from the Philippines. And that was a really great experience. I mean, it was really nice time zone wise because I could sort of say, "Hey, do this." And I'd wake up in the morning, and it would be done. But one thing that you just said that really resonated with me was thinking sort of on their feet on behalf of the person who they're working for. That's something that I never had experience with working with an overseas VA. They did their jobs well and on time. But I never had somebody step up and almost offer their own sort of support in their own way or ways to make things more efficient. Is that the kind of person that you're helping to support with and find and connect is the person who almost feels like they're a part of the company?
Shannon Yeah. That's the ideal goal. There are different organizations like ones based in the Philippines, and even some in the States, that are very task driven. You give them a task, they complete the task hopefully on time, and with great attention to detail. But then there are companies like ours that offer a more relational, dedicated assigned resource that's really going to learn who you are as a leader, learn about the industry that you're in, the organization overall, interacting with other team members, to really be a second version of you in the organization so that you're able to expand your leadership and focus on those high payoff activities that are really where your time and genius is best spent. So it's somebody dedicated to your account that is extremely resourceful and can not only see, "Okay, there's a need," but, "Here's how I think I can help fill that need."
Pat Yeah, that's the special type of person. I mean, I had to essentially early this year or last year, I acquired the agency that was working for me because I wanted that sort of feeling from the people who were working for me. They almost felt like part owners of the company, if you will. They took ownership of their outcomes and whatnot. So I'm very curious. I have a lot of questions here for those who are just starting out. What might be my first steps, Bryan, related to: I'm overwhelmed, I'm at my capacity. I need help. Regardless of where I might get that help from, what are some things that I need to know about myself and my work first? How do I lay that out so I understand where to find people?
Bryan Yeah, that can be a very daunting feeling. We've seen it with so many of our clients when they first come onboard. One of the first things I like to share is just for that person to take 10 minutes outside of their ordinary life, like in a different coffee shop or not in their office or somewhere, and just journal down all the things you'd like to offload. The things that don't give you passion, the things that you hate doing, and don't even worry about at that point prioritizing. Just get it out of your head and put it onto a sheet of paper, and that really becomes kind of the pile of things ultimately to start to hand off. And then from there, start to prioritize. What's mission critical? What are the things that are going to give me immediate relief, and then what are those things that are nice to have? And then with our organization or with another organization, they'll work with you to start navigating the mission critical things and then work your way into those nice to haves.
Bryan For us, especially, in our organization, we have an account management layer that kind of oversees that ever before you even interact with your virtual assistant. So they'll guide you through that process. It's a pretty robust process. What you put into it is what you get out of it. But for us, that's what we see as one of the first things in learning how to like delegate and yield things up to other people to produce for you.
Pat Shannon, what are some of the most common things on that list that pile of things on a person's journal of things they want to offload? What are some of the things you're seeing people offload more than others?
Shannon The most common are email and calendar project management because they encompass so many back and forth things that a leader just gets bogged down with. I mean, email, if you have somebody truly manage your inbox, you can get to the point where you're only checking email a couple of times a day. And imagine as a leader how you can grow your organization when you're not having to be in your inbox more than 30 minutes. You're actually thinking critically about the business. So that's really popular and common.
Shannon I think another is, customer service is so important for a lot of the entrepreneurs that we work with. If you're not responsive to your customers' questions or concerns, then it's a bad reflection on your organization. The practical application of having a virtual assistant is not just email management but being responsive quickly to those client requests or inquires. So their requests don't seem to fall into a black hole.
Shannon And then the last thing that we're seeing more as the industry evolves—you know, we started Belay in 2010, so it's changed a lot in the last 10 years—we're actually seeing our client's assistants bring on BELAY assistants too. So maybe they have somebody full time either onsite in their organization or remote, as we are as a company. But their assistant has reached their capacity, and they want to grow. But they don't have any bandwidth. So we're even now seeing another layer of support in the organization where the leader's not having to take on another direct report. But their assistant is getting the help that they need.
Pat Bryan, can you wrap my head around handing off email? I'm going to talk more about this next week when I invite Jess on to talk about how we manage email, my own assistant, and she's amazing. And to make sure you subscribe to stay tuned for that one. But how might a person knowing that they're overloaded with email, but I know that some of the pushback with email is, well, then it's not me responding anymore. It's somebody else. Isn't that bad? Giving up email is so hard because that's your one-to-one connection often with your customers. Can you help wrap my head around how that can still be done gracefully and in a way that supports the business and maybe doesn't hurt me?
Bryan Yeah. I mean, it can be done not only gracefully but professionally as well. At Belay, we've identified six or seven different ways that you can kind of manage someone's email inbox. For me, our assistant Hope, she serves as air traffic control over my inbox. So on a given day, I probably get about 100 emails a day. But I'm really only replying to about 10 or 15 of those because as an owner in a business, as a CEO or a president, typically your job is... Your email inbox is more like a router. Your routing things to other people to produce or to filter out. So you just learn that behavior, and you give permissions to your assistant to reply on your behalf, to act like you.
Bryan For example, when I'm traveling and I've got 30 minutes in the car, I'll talk to Hope who's our assistant. And I'll say, "Hey, let's run down my email real quick." And I'll say, "Hey, reply like me, and then say this thing." She'll send it out and it's gone out of my inbox. Or she'll just say, "Hey, I've got this. I'm going to run with it." And it's not just an inbox too. It could be LinkedIn messages or social media DMs. There's a lot of things that they learn your voice, and then they... Maybe like something you need to read like a white paper, they can put that in a review folder for you to look at when you're on an airplane or some variation of that. But it's completely possible. It's just takes a little bit of time to understand the tone of the leader, and really the purpose behind email is to communicate responsiveness because when we don't respond, it communicates all the wrong messages. So we really work with our folks, our clients to get this down quick, especially if that's something where they need relief.
Pat Gotcha. Anything to add, Shannon, on email specifically and how even I as a leader can better equip the person I end up finding to support me?
Shannon Yeah. I mean, email can kind of be an intimate thing to envision turning over. But I think the more your organization grows, the more demands there are going to be on your time. And you really have to assign a value to your time as a leader, figure out what it actually costs for you to respond to every single message. And then it starts to become a little bit more palatable to say every message is important, but I don't have to be the one to respond to every message. And you can probably go through your inbox and distill down the types of emails you get into five categories. And maybe you handle one of them direct because that's personal for you, and you want it to be that intimate connection with your customer or whoever. That's fine. But then that still leaves another four categories that can be handled by somebody else.
Pat That makes sense. How might I as a leader... Bryan, I'll point this one to you. How might I as a leader better equip the assistant I hire for success sooner? Because I know it takes time. I don't want to have anybody expect that they could hire somebody and everything's going to be different and change tomorrow. It takes training. It takes work. It takes patience. But how might I become more efficient with communicating with the person as soon as I find them to get them up to speed if you will?
Bryan Pat, this is one of my favorite questions because it communicates the heart of the leader trying to really make this make sense for them and for their organization. The first thing is: one, tee them up for success. For example, gone are the days of the old school, "This is my secretary," or, "This is my gal that does things for me." A good client looks at their assistant like a work alongside partner. Meaning they serve as an extension of who you are as a leader. And the more that you can communicate that inside your organization and with partners and people that will be bumping up against this assistant, the better you tee them up for success. So for example, if Pat is doing something, if Jess does something on your behalf, then it says if Pat is doing something but Jess is the one doing it. And that's a huge deal when you're working with organizations or inside your team when you're trying to get things done. So really seeing them as an extension as who you are as a leader is like one of the best things you can do.
Bryan And then what we find a lot of leaders, they're learning how to delegate when they work with our organization. So really it comes down to their willingness to trust. And what we find is the quicker you can get to trust with somebody, and we call it kind of "the speed of trust." The sooner you can trust somebody because you're going to have to do it if you're going to do anything that's of meaning, then you're going to have to yield up trust. And the sooner you see that in that person, the quicker you extend that, the quicker your ability to be more efficient and scale administratively, it'll just happen. It's really cool to watch. But I'd say tee them up for success by letting them know that they are an extension of who you are, and you see them as your work alongside partner.
Pat Shannon, as you're hiring somebody or vetting different people to support you, and I know there's all kinds of different ways you can go about finding people, whether it's from your network or a solution like yours or other places out there. How do you know you got the one? This might be a very loaded question, but I'm curious to know from your perspective how do you know when that person who has filled out the application or is communicating with you that that's the right person to then dedicate that time and effort to, to then get them up to speed and have them become a part of the business with you? How do you know?
Shannon Yeah. So a light shines down from the heavens onto that person, and you just magically get it.
Pat Right. I wish.
Shannon Wouldn't that be great? It can be difficult to know initially, and I think sometimes we're waiting for the shoe to drop. Like, this is too good to be true; something's going to happen. But I'll speak for my experience at Belay. We've been doing this for a long time. So we've been able to figure out a lot of the soft skills, hard skills, personality matches, resources that would make for a good match. So some of it is working with an outside organization who does this all the time. If you're going out on your own and trying to find somebody, I genuinely think it's important to like who you work with, which sounds super basic. But you can tell sometimes if you're going to click with somebody or if it's just going to be an uphill battle. If you're constantly having miscommunications and things dropped, it's like I don't know if this is going to work long term or if I want to put the time and energy into trying to figure it out.
Shannon So I think you have to like who you're working with, and I think you also have to expect for there to be some mistakes and that that's not a reason to give up. You can coach and work through them. But I don't know. I've had a lot of assistants over the years, and I've always viewed an assistant for me as an opportunity for them in leadership development. So a lot of my assistants have gone on to do other things within the organization. So some of it too for me is just being able to see beyond that current role and think, "Are they a good fit for the company overall, and will they give me great support?" And then as the years go on, it may become obvious that they're ready to move on to something else and you groom them in that direction.
Bryan I'll add one thing to that too. I think it's also... I mean, there's a lot of people that are incredibly skilled and enjoy doing administrative work. I know that's almost impossible to believe. But they're out there, and there's a bunch of them. So what I find is, regardless of whether the task is a professional task or a personal task, it's just they have this can-do attitude because they actually like the work. And for me, that is just so refreshing. So I think if you're out there and you're looking for somebody and you come across somebody that's really gifted in this way and they've just got a very can-do attitude about it, they're signaling to you that that's somebody that you could potentially work with for a long time in the future.
Pat That was a big realization for me. I was like, wait, there's people who like to do this? Because I would never. And that's what I had to realize—that I am not a person who could ever do that, but they're also somebody who can never do what I do. But let's work together for a greater good.
Pat I think that was key. As you were working with a VA, Shannon, how do you or what are the things I can do as a leader to, number one, keep them happy, and number two, keep them working hard?
Shannon I think outlining very clear expectations right out the gate is so vitally important. It's really easy to miss an expectation that you didn't know was set in the first place. So the more you can help scope the work and be realistic about what can be accomplished, then the more likely they are going to be to knock it out of the park.
Shannon And then keeping them motivated, I think one of the things that is so rewarding for an amazing assistant is when they are delegated the responsibility to achieve something without being told how to get there every little step of the way. So what we say is delegate the result, not the task. And a great assistant will see that as a practical exercise of your trust in them. That you're bringing them into the why, you're telling them why this initiative is important, and giving them some freedom and flexibility to figure out how to get there while maintaining touchpoints and guiding and removing barriers for them along the way. I think that's how you keep a great assistant motivated as time goes on and work gets more complex.
Pat When you say set expectations, and I completely agree with that, how might I set that expectation? Can you give me a clear, specific example of how I might communicate something to a VA so that they know sort of what I want from them?
Shannon I think some of it goes back to the exercise Bryan outlined, where you're really thinking through the things that you need to offload as a leader, and then setting a prioritization to that list. So when you bring somebody on, an expectation to communicate is, "I'm drowning in email and being responsive to my clients and my prospects is very important to me. So the first thing I want to work with you on is getting my email down to a place where I'm only responding to 10% of them. And I expect it's going to take about three months for us to get there." So that's going to be your number one priority.
Pat Gotcha. But it's not so specific as, "I want you to answer 75 emails per day, give me a report at the end of the day."
Bryan You totally could do that, and I think that that... I mean, a lot of leaders do do that. I think for us, what we're looking for, especially with Hope our assistant, because we share an assistant today, and she's full time for us. But we're more interested in communicating, this is why this is important. And this is something that you can really contribute to help us as leaders in our organization, and so when we're not around, if you know the why, the W-H-Y, then you can fill in the blank with the what, when, and how when we're not around, when we're unavailable. So the more that we spend time communicating why this is important, then all it really is is a list of things that have to be accomplished. It's good to have a job description or a key result areas like we do for every role. But ultimately day to day, those tasks, why they need to be measured, can be summarized at the end of a week or on a calibration call with your assistant on a Monday and a Friday.
Bryan But ultimately I think a leaders are looking for someone they can really hand off things without having to kind of spoon feed the tasks.
Shannon And micromanage.
Bryan And micromanage them.
Pat We don't want to do that because then it kind of defeats the whole purpose of finding somebody to help us get time back. You could spend more time doing that, and I've had experience with that before. So that's fantastic. Thank you.
Pat In terms of, Bryan, communication, how am I communicating sort of technically with this person and perhaps how often is a good cadence to do it?
Bryan Yeah. It really depends on the leader, and it depends on the assistant and what makes sense for that organization. I don't think there's any standard way. We do know some best practices, and that's to calibrate on a Zoom call or if you have an assistant that's onsite, meeting with them like on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon and just making sure on the bookends of the week that things are getting accomplished. There's times when the leader owes the assistant things, and there's times when the assistant owes the leader things. Or they're stuck on something, and that's their opportunity to kind of calibrate. But then a lot of leaders like to do the ad hoc text, email, phone call thing when they're traveling or they're in between meetings or in between podcasts or whatever. So it's really up to the leader. But what we know for sure that really works is the calibration. And then, several leaders like to have a summary report at the end of the week saying, "Hey, this is what I accomplished. And here are the things I'm looking for from you going into next week." It really is leader dependent.
Pat That makes sense. Thank you. Shannon, let's say that I'm working with a VA and things have been going great for a while, but then I start noticing that maybe something is slipping through or falling through the cracks. How might I best communicate with my assistant to lightly—or not lightly—sort of just communicate, "Hey, we need to relook at this." How do we do that in a way that's not going to push them away or upset them? How do we handle that?
Shannon Those conversations are so important because when you're working with an assistant or anybody on your team, you're working with a person. And situations happen and things change. What once work flawlessly can sometimes feel a little clunky. So I think just knowing that when those misses happen, filling that gap with trust and assuming that there's a reason and being able to go to the assistant and say, "Hey, I noticed that you forgot to schedule this appointment that I asked you about. That's really unlike you. Why the miss? What can we do to not have that in the future?" And if you're talking every week, like Bryan mentioned, you can just make that open and honest feedback part of your standing agenda. So that maybe you're looking at things in the organization that can be improved, or maybe you're open handed and saying, "What can I do differently as a leader to make you successful?" So that feedback just becomes part of your vernacular. So then we have those misses and those sometimes uncomfortable conversations, it doesn't feel so out of left field.
Shannon We encourage those conversations to happen sooner rather than later so that it doesn't go unaddressed for a while, and then the issue just starts to fester around the person and not the actual issue itself. And then if it's not resolved, misses continue to happen, then I think you need to have the next layer of conversation to say, "What's going on overall? Is this still something that's working for you? Is it working? It's not working for me. So what do we need to do to either course correct or move on?" And some of it can be as simple as, they're just overwhelmed and they need help. And you need to take some things off of their plate. Some of it could be they've got personal challenges that are prohibiting them from doing an awesome job.
Pat Bryan, how then does one understand whether or not—this might be a tough question—to let somebody go? Obviously there's work to be upfront to hire the right person and to communicate with them properly so that things are off on the right foot. But I also know that, realistically, sometimes you're just going to have to make a decision to let somebody go. And I know that I've spoken with people who are afraid of hiring because they're afraid of letting go. And that's not okay because you need to hire people to support you and the business and your audience and your life and your family and all those things. But the worry about letting people go, having that stop you is kind of an interesting one. So how do you do that?
Bryan Yeah. I think first off letting somebody go or freeing their future is something that's I think incredibly hard. I think that it's necessary for a business, and I think it's also necessary for the health of the culture because we hear Dave Ramsey and entrepreneurship people, they talk about this all the time. If you have somebody that's underperforming and you just continue to let it go, what you're actually doing as a leader is you're sanctioning incompetence. And the problem with that is that everybody else in the organization knows it too. So you're setting up a standard that it's okay to slack or it's okay to miss deadlines or whatever that thing is. So, I think it's important that you're clearly documenting. You're giving the opportunity. Like Shannon said, you fill the gap of trust. I mean, heck, a lot of times it's not the person's performance. It's the leader. A leader said something, or they did something wrong, and they've led them down a path that's caused them to have problems. So sometimes the leader's got to take a look and say, "Hey, did I inadvertently create this problem in our business?"
Bryan So I think when the time comes if you feel like it's necessary, you got it documented, that person that you're about to let go, you just have to be honest and say, "We're about to have a hard conversation," and then do that. But it should never be a surprise to them, ever. If it's a surprise to them, the leader's the one that messed up.
Pat Anything to add to that, Shannon?
Shannon We've seen this done really well, where you can let somebody go and then see them in the grocery store and say, "Hey." You're amicable and able to move on. And we've seen it done really not well, even within our organization. And that is one of the hardest things I think a leader has to grapple with is, is the benefit worth that. And I would say in every situation when letting somebody go is done right or when there were definitely opportunities for improvement, you've learned as a leader in that process. That's a growing opportunity for you and oftentimes for the person you had to part ways with.
Shannon I just think that it is worth the risk, and we get asked all the time, "How do I know when it's time to bring somebody on?" It's usually sooner than you're ready. Sooner than you're comfortable in doing that. And I think it's because you really got to challenge yourself as a leader that it's going to be a growing opportunity for you when you bring somebody on and when you're letting them go.
Bryan Yeah. When someone says, "I'm afraid of letting people go," and they haven't yet made the hire. I mean, the truth is, entrepreneurs just need to understand that anything of size or scale takes people, not a singular person. It takes a team of people to go to that next level and to grow their organization. So, we're all around people all day long. It's important that we take good care of them. But at times you do have to make the hard call that's for the best benefit of everybody else that's going to remain there.
Pat I know when you have groups of people working together, especially so closely and on really important projects, oftentimes personalities can clash sometimes. And you as a leader have to know how to sort of put out fires or manage those conversations. How do you approach... I'm not saying this like it happened for me personally. I just know it's always going to happen when there's groups of people and just we're having these conversations so we know what to look out for just in case. And I appreciate you being here to help me sort of survey and ask these questions. But, how does one manage sort of quarrels that might happen within your team professionally as a leader?
Shannon When conflicts arise in our business, we encourage the team to look at whatever they're arguing about as the problem, not the person they're arguing with. So what we say is, you put the issue on one side of the table, and then the team gets on the other side of the table together and looks at the issue and let that become the problem, not the person on your team. Because one of the things that we encourage within our organization is that somebody is the contrarian. We don't want every idea just to be an awesome idea, and we should totally do that. We need to be like, "But have you thought about this, and let's look at it from this perspective." And even just somebody naturally being the contrarian can seem like tension or friction in the group. So we try to encourage the team not to view it that way, but it's a natural part of how we operate as a company.
Pat I like that.
Shannon Yeah. And it really helps it not be isolated around a person.
Bryan What Shannon's talking about, we have conflict norms in our business, and that's the first one. We actually called it this and we train it to welcome the contrarian. We have two more. One is the TSA rule, which is if you see something, you have to say something. Because it's vital to the success of our business to do that, which sometimes can create a little stress on folks. But if you see something, you need to say something. And then the final conflict norm that we have at Belay is that we hunt the elephant. So if we're in a meeting and there's a giant elephant that walks in the room, and sometimes that's me, they have permission to hunt me down and to say, "You know what, I'm sorry. Just because you're CEO doesn't mean that we necessarily agree with you." And we welcome that throughout the organization, and by basically saying, "Hey, there's an appropriate way to have conflict or conflict norms in our business that gives them handles to do that," so that it doesn't turn messy and people get all ticked off, and then you're dealing with a spiraling culture. Instead you're creating a healthy culture where debate is welcome.
Pat I love that. I think that's great. Again, that goes to sort of setting expectations, not just for deliverables but for culture within the company. To bring the conversation back to something positive, not that this stuff wasn't positive, but it's important to talk about. I know you've worked with many people and have provided services for many that we know, and people who have been on the show before, like Michael Hyatt. And he is at the top of his game, and he's got this amazing team as well. You've helped him provide solutions as well, and that's inspiring to me because I am a big fan of Michael, and he and I are good friends. We go fly fishing together. But can you speak to future thinking for those business owners and the audience right now thinking about hiring, what opens up for us as a result of having the right person and the team behind us to support our goals? What are some of the things that Michael has now been able to do as a result of freeing up his time and just other clients that you might've worked with?
Bryan I think Mike in particular, he can accelerate his business. Specifically for his organization, we served him multiple assistants. So it's not just a one and done or it's just one assistant. We have plenty of organizations across the country that deploy multiple assistants working inside their organization in different capacities. So I think when a person approaches something like this, this does not have to be a temporary solution or a bandaid over administration. This can be a long term play for how you resolve administration in your organization. So it can be something that you can grow into. Like Shannon said earlier, now we're seeing assistants that need help with assistants. So it's completely possible regardless of whether it's remote or somebody that you have that's onsite or you have a different provider that you find.
Shannon It's funny, Pat, we actually started working with Michael Hyatt in the summer of 2011. Like, shortly after we started our organization. And ironically Bryan and I were with our kids. I think my mom was on that trip too, in Jackson Hole. We were heading to Jackson. It's a magical place, and Michael tweets that he's looking for a virtual assistant. Does anybody know an organization to work with? And several of our clients were like, "Oh my gosh, we got to jump on this opportunity." But think about where he was at that stage. I mean, he was just building what we now know as this huge organization where he's helped so many leaders focus. This was way before the journal, way before his organization's grown as much as it has.
Pat I think this was when the Platform University or his book Platform was just coming out.
Shannon Yeah. And he had not been away from Thomas Nelson very long at that point. So from the beginning, he viewed having great, high quality help as essential to growing his business. It wasn't, "Well, let me build this business, and then I'll get help." It was, "I can't build this business until I get great help."
Bryan Yeah. And I think what happens too, and we jokingly say when people hire us for Belay, we want to ruin them for life, because it's that same thing. When you have a really great virtual assistant and you see how they're actually giving you relief in professional things and personal things, it's literally like that time when you were in coach and you got to get up and go to first class. And you're sitting in the first class seat, and you're like, "Oh, I'm ruined forever."
Pat It's kind of like when I went on the Disney Cruise. I can't do any other cruises.
Bryan Yeah. I mean, it's just your ruined. Mike wouldn't mind me saying this. Back in 2011 when we talked on the phone, he had just left Thomas Nelson. He was at a place where he needed really great help, and he knew what he had before in a different capacity as a leader. But now in kind of startup mode, entrepreneurial world, he needed that level of help as well. And I just think that it serves a really good example as he scaled up, that other people can do this too. Regardless of what size of organization you want to have or the dent you want to make in this world, it's certainly something that it's completely possible. And frankly the reason why we started our company was to help our clients climb higher, and that's the meaning behind our name too.
Pat That's really great. I love that. Shannon, where can people go to learn more about your services and what you have to offer there?
Shannon Yeah, they can check us out at BELAYSolutions.com and find out about the three core services that we use and some of our processes for how we vet clients, and match, and all that.
Pat Awesome. Both of you, Bryan, Shannon, thank you so much for coming on the show today and helping us out and role playing with me as a leader who I now have experience with assistants and teams and how important they are. But I wanted to do this for those who are listening who just, they know they need it, and they don't know where to start and have no idea what they're getting into. So thanks for painting that picture for us and equipping us with tools to be successful.
Bryan Thank you very much. We're certainly grateful for this opportunity, Pat.
Shannon Thanks for all you do to help entrepreneurs. It's amazing.
Pat Thank you.
Pat All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Bryan and Shannon Miles from BELAYSolutions.com. You can check them out. You can also check out all the resources and links mentioned at SmartPassiveIncome.com/session408. This conversation also just made me feel very grateful for the team that I've built and have found and for everybody onboard on TeamFlynn, just thank you for supporting. And I couldn't be and do what I need to do without you, especially Jess as well. Who, guess what? We're going to be talking with next week. Many of you already know Jess because you've interacted with her and communicated with her either at a live event that I've been at or via email. I hired Jess a long time ago to help me with email. She's grown into a much bigger role as my executive assistant and helping me with so many things. We're going to talk about what all those things are, how we sort of choreograph our work together, and how we communicate with each other, how we continually improve, and how she helps me offload a lot of things that I just don't want to do anymore. But also how she can also enjoy the process too. So that's going to be a great one too.
Pat So make sure you stick around, hit subscribe if you haven't already. Thanks again to Bryan and Shannon for coming on today to share their wisdom with us. And good luck to you, because hiring is amazing, but it's also difficult and hopefully this has helped you, even a little bit. And if you want to get more information from this show, again make sure next week—an interview with Jess. She's coming. We're going to rock your world. Hit subscribe if you haven't already, and as always, #TeamFlynnforthewin. Peace.
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