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At the beginning of every project, it’s easy to manage all of the things that need to get done. A small business is no problem when it’s just an idea.

Then the customers begin to show up. The taxes need to be filed. Inventory needs to be sorted, labeled, and shipped.

Before you know it, everything has started to slip through your fingers because someone told you that “wearing a lot of hats” was admirable.

As your brand grows, there will be more responsibilities and moving parts to attend to. Your time will be spread thin if you’re not careful. You need to focus on the things that really matter and will move your brand goals forward.

In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about how to manage your productivity levels and maintain balance, while also looking at a few ideas on how to scale your brand in a healthy way.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Productivity allows you to rest and be intentional with your time instead of just filling it with things.
  • Every brand is going to scale in different ways.
  • Your time is more important than your money.
  • As your business and your brand grows, you cannot do everything by yourself.
  • Train someone else to do what only you can do, because it’s going to pay dividends in the long run.
  • You don’t have to have employees before you start creating an archive of training materials for future employees.
  • Turn off notifications so you are in control of when you look at your devices.
  • If you can’t hire or delegate, bake automation into your schedule in a way that doesn’t burn you out.
  • Consuming isn’t bad and neither are notifications, but you have to ask yourself if they are helping you achieve your goals.
  • There’s no value-add to cross-platform social media posts, because you’re not paying attention to that audience.
  • An accountability partner is a great way to filter what reflects your brand and what doesn’t.
  • Scaling your productivity is all about matching your actions with your intended goals.
Show Notes
  • 05:50 Cory: Kyle and I are big on productivity. We love being productive. Culture fits into that, because we both live in the United States. I live in California and Kyle lives in Texas, so we both come from a western mindset, where productivity, efficiency, and production are some of our highest values. It’s a very western value to say, “How do we make sure that everything we’re doing gets done, amounts to all the things we want to get done, and gets done efficiently?” I think this episode will be helpful for people, especially as their brands and their businesses expand. Sometimes that can stretch us a little bit thin.
  • 06:52 Kyle: I like to think of productivity as moving in a different direction from what our culture typically moves in. The status quo in America is busywork, constantly being busy, having things to do, and always doing something. You’re considered lazy if you rest.

Productivity opens up your time—it allows you to rest and be intentional with your time instead of just filling it with things.

  • 07:40 Cory: Intentionality is huge. It means that all of the things you’re doing are being geared towards a specific purpose. Regarding a brand, as your goals unfold—whether your goal is to pull in $100 million a year, to have 35 distribution centers all over the world, or to stay small and continue to serve your customers and be relational and impactful in your community—your productivity has to push toward those goals. Sometimes, scaling may not be a good thing if it doesn’t match your goals. As time goes on, tasks get monotonous or more things come around, and you have to learn how to balance those things. You have to figure out how to manage all the things you need to manage to continue striving toward the goals of your brand.
  • 08:54 Kyle: The really important takeaway from this podcast as a whole is realizing that, over time, your task list will increase. As your brand grows and develops, you’ll have more things to do. That could be marketing more, maybe you’re taking on clients, or maybe you’re creating more products. Whatever it is, a lot of things will try to capture your time. Realize upfront that you need to be able to scale that, whether that means getting a system in place that works for you or cutting things out and delegating tasks to somebody else. I want this episode to help people before they get to a point where something is overwhelming.
  • 09:51 Cory: Every brand is going to scale in different ways. It has to. That’s the evolution of having a business or a brand. Even if your brand isn’t a business, there will still be things that need to change, evolve, mold, and move forward. Let’s say your brand is not a business, but you’re building a personal brand through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or one of those social platforms. You’re trying to get people to follow and pay attention to you. As time goes on, social platforms drop off. You need to figure out what’s current and where the attention is so you know where to go in order to be where the people are.
  • 10:35 How does that work? In a sense, you’re just moving your productivity in a different way, but because you have to learn how to use a different platform, you’re scaling yourself. If you want to grow your business, that’s the whole point of having employees. You don’t hire employees because you’re tired of having so much money. You hire an employee to do more work and be able to bring in more money so you can sustain yourself and achieve your goals. Everything we’re talking about is trying to help you achieve your goals, whatever they are, as a brand. You need to figure out what the things are that you need to do to make sure that, as you grow or hold steady, you’re not stagnating. Instead, you want to be moving forward.

When There’s Too Much to Do

  • 11:56 Kyle, what do you think the problem is when it comes to the need for scaling your productivity? What problem do brands run into that forces them to figure out what they’re doing with all of this?
  • 12:10 Kyle: In the beginning, when you first start your brand, it’s like anything you start. You’re going to have more time available. You’re promoting yourself, trying to get your name out there, making new connections, and those kinds of things. It’s the early days where you’re not in high demand yet, whatever that looks like for you. Whatever product or service your brand is selling isn’t in high demand yet, so you start to fill your time with things. You want to be busy, but you also need to get things done, like promoting your business and getting your name out there.
  • 12:57 Over time, the demand on your time will increase. The problem with not having scalable productivity is that you run into a wall. You think, “In the early days, it was easy for me to make some work and post it on Dribbble, Twitter, and Instagram every day. I also did a daily vlog, and I did blog posts three times a week.” You had that time because that time was available to you, and there weren’t a lot of people trying to get your time, a lot of products you were trying to keep up with, or a lot of clients coming to you. You’re going to hit a wall.

The problem with scaling a brand for productivity is that you eventually have too many tasks too complete because your time is not as readily available as it once was.

  • 14:06 Cory: It’s April. It’s tax season. I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends who have their own businesses sharing online about how they have all this paperwork they have to do for taxes. Because they’re doing their taxes, they’re not focusing on making money or achieving their goals. They have to do that busy work. In this particular case, it may be worth it for that person to hire a CPA or someone who does taxes. Go to H&R Block or your local tax person and give them all of your papers and say, “I’ll pay you $250 to make sure that I don’t have to worry about this.” You can spend the time you would be spending on your taxes actually making money, getting clients, selling products, or making more products. It’s an exchange of time and money. In a lot of cases, your time is more important than your money, because you can use your time to bring in more income.
  • 15:27 Kyle: The best universal example is email. In the beginning, you might get two emails a week. It’s really cool, because you’re hearing from people. One is an advertisement from some newsletter you signed up for that you can’t remember. It’s easy to go through and delete them, and it’s fun. You get to talk to people and have conversations. Six or eight months later, maybe longer, you’re getting 20 emails a day and you’re pulling your hair out. You’re frustrated because there are all of these emails. All of these people want to ask you questions and take your time, and you want to be intentional about it.
  • 16:09 You want to help everybody, but you can’t. It’s this mess. There wasn’t a system in place. You may not have 50 emails coming in every day right now, but you need to plan for that. A lot of people don’t plan for that ahead of time, so they run into a point where they have all these emails and they don’t know what to do. They promised their newsletter that they would respond to every single email, but they can’t do it, so they feel like they’re lying to everybody. That’s not a good place to be. Everyone can probably agree that email is definitely something that scales.

Use Better Tools & Systems

  • 16:53 Cory: It’s become this beast. When we first had email, the first day, I’m sure mine was something ridiculous like redoctober@juno.com. At first, email was exciting, new, and fresh. We wanted everyone to have our email, and now, we think, “Don’t give anybody your email!” It’s sacred. You’re more willing to give out your phone number than your email address, because you can turn on do not disturb mode. Email sits there and sits there. Yesterday, Garrett said that he’s scared of his email inbox right now because he goes in and gets overwhelmed and has extreme anxiety. He hasn’t gone through to manage it at all.
  • 17:45 I use Gmail, so I have filters in place, things coming in from different newsletters and different people. They filter into different folders, but yesterday, there were 18 in there, and that’s a lot for me. I like to keep it around zero or one, but there were 18, and they were all brand new. You know the badge on your phone, the number-counter? I’ve seen people in the five digits on their email app.
  • 18:24 Kyle: I have a little tip for people that need to clean up their inbox. I’ve had my fair share of doing exactly what I’ve said not to do, which is not planning to scale your email. This is embarrassing, but my business email, which is separate from my personal email, had about 500 emails sitting in my inbox. It was terrible. If you have a crazy inbox like that and you think, “I can never go through all of this. This is terrible,” one of the best things I’ve done is to go through my inbox and search at the top for a company I know sends me a lot of emails.
  • 19:32 Let’s say it’s Google, for example. Maybe you’re signed up for something with Google, and they constantly send you emails. Search for Google and you’ll only see their emails, so you can go through, check off the ones you don’t want, and delete them in bulk. Keep doing that with each thing, so it’s less emails at a time. It’s not this big list of random things interspersed. That’s a little tip to reduce your inbox if you’re feeling like Garrett is feeling.
  • 20:00 Cory: There’s another trick you can use. I use Gmail, because why would you not? Secondly, it has this great filtration system. If I get an email, I can select it and add a filter to anything related to that particular email. Gmail can detect if an email is from a particular mailing list, like Mailchimp, and it will grab that list and filter it. You can say, “Apply this filter to any other email you find, shove it into a folder, and mark it as read.” You can archive it or do whatever you want to do. There are a lot of apps for your phone or computer that can delay emails, so you can say, “I don’t want to deal with this right now.”
  • 20:47 You select them and say, “Put these back in my inbox on Friday at 5pm, when I have time to deal with it.” You can go in, and the act of clearing your inbox, even if it’s delayed by a day or a week or whatever, gives you a feeling of having it be clear. We’re talking a lot about email, and this isn’t all about email.

Scaling productivity is about learning how to use your tools better.

  • 21:21 That’s key to scaling your productivity. Learning how to use your tools better will give you an edge in your productivity, and you can accelerate to move forward towards your goals in a better way.
  • 21:38 Kyle: Here’s a great example of something Cory and I both learned to use for task lists, the program called Omnifocus. It’s nice because it’s an app you can either go really deep into, or you can keep it at a high level. There’s a significant advantage to going in and learning the deep level things with that app, when you have time to do that. In the early days of your brand, you may have ten things on your checklist, but learning how to imagine that your checklist is 200 things and manage the software that way upfront is going to help you when you get to the point where your really need that. That’s better than having 200 things on your checklist and feeling like you need to manage all those things while learning to use the software.
  • 22:41 It’s all about getting systems in place that can handle this in the future. Realize that in the future you will be very overwhelmed with things, regardless of the kind of brand you have. If it’s growing and scaling, the goal of owning a brand is to increase in some way, which comes with more people, businesses, clients, or customers knocking at your door. Realize that early on, even if you’re not thinking that way yet. Think of yourself as a bigger brand than you are, because when you become that bigger brand, you won’t be doing your brand or your customers a disservice by not being able to attend to the things you need to attend to.

Replicate Yourself

  • 23:44 Cory: I love the idea Kyle just brought up about getting these things in place before you need to, before it’s crunch time. This goes into one of our questions from Jeremiah, who asked, “While trying to scale up our business, we’ve taken on bigger projects. What is the best way to find a balance between mentoring employees who aren’t proficient enough to do the work alone and just doing all the work yourself to get it done faster or possibly on time?” That’s a really good question. This happens a lot. For example, I used to work for my church, and I was the creative designer, so I did all of the branding and graphics online and in print.
  • 24:34 There would be a lot of times where people would come to me and say, “Hey, Cory, can you show me how to change the font on this?” Or they would send me a photoshop file and say, “I don’t know how to make this look good,” and I would think, “Trying to explain this would take a half hour to 45 minutes. Or, I could do it in 45 seconds right now.” I would fix it, send it back, and say, “You’re good.” However, because I did that, they kept coming back to me asking me to fix the same problem again. I would just go fix it.
  • 25:14 I didn’t realize that all I was doing was wasting both of our time. As your business and your brand grows, you cannot do everything by yourself, so you have to be in the business of replicating yourself. The whole point of scaling is to replicate yourself, whether it’s in automation, delegation, or saying no and getting an accountability partner. It’s all about replicating yourself, so you can do the things you’re doing better. This is especially true when it comes to having an employee.
  • 25:56 You have a task that takes you 15 minutes to complete. You’re designing something, fixing something, or dealing with a problem. The process of explaining how to do this 15 minute task takes an hour. You could either spend the hour training your employee, or you could get the project done on time or in less time without teaching them. They won’t know how to do it next time, and they’ll keep coming to you, saying, “You didn’t show me how to do it last time, so I still don’t know how to do it. Could you do this for me?” In your mind, you think, “I have to get this done right and done right now, so I’ll just go do it.” You’ll have to do it again and again, and you’ll never be happy because of the time drain. It’s always going to be a time drain.

If you train someone else to do what only you can do, it’s going to pay dividends in the long run.

  • 27:00 If it takes 15 minutes to do that task and an hour to train someone to do it, it’s only going to take four times of them repeating that task to make that time back. In the other 45 minutes of them doing that job, you’re doing something else. You’re making money, making products, and bringing in the income. All you’re doing is scaling. Do not neglect training and teaching people to do what you do. That has to be part of it. Train in the down times if you have to, not in crunch mode. Don’t do it when you have a deadline, when you’re in the 11th hour and you need to send off the proofs or place the order. Don’t do it then. That’s not the time to do it.
  • 27:46 Train in the down times, in the lighter moments, at the very beginning of a project when you know what’s coming. Like Kyle said earlier, whether or not you see something coming down the line, train ahead of time. At seanwes, we record things. We use ScreenFlow, which captures our screens, so we record everything we do on our computers that only we know how to do, and then people can watch a video later. That’s replicating yourself in video form, teaching other people to do what you can do. Then, training isn’t on you in the future. If you hire a new employee, you just give them the video, and you don’t have to sit there and teach it again. Set up a screen capture software or a camcorder in your office while you’re training. Take a day and knock out all of the trainings so you can send someone some files, get them a Dropbox link, and they can watch those training files and learn while you continue to make money.
  • 29:17 Kyle: Neither Cory nor I are at the point where we’ve personally had employees, but that has been part of my future thinking. As I’ve mentioned before on this podcast, I would also like to own a coffee shop in the future, alongside the design business I’m running. There’s going to need to be some trust there, particularly with my employees in the coffeeshop, since most of my time will probably be dedicated to continuing to run my design business. The coffee shop is a side passion for me, but it’s not my main career choice. It’s worth investing in training. Maybe you should bring a video guy in for that first employee you hire, and while you’re training them, you make a video out of it.

Your training video doesn’t have to be a big production; it could be somebody with their iPhone for the first time.

  • 30:18 It just has to be enough where people understand what’s going on, and you can be present when someone else is learning, on top of teaching this other person to carry on your values and the way you approach things. That’s significant. From my observations of people who have employees, there’s a misunderstanding that if you’re going to train, you have to use really formal training material that has to be put together with these nice videos that you would see at bigger corporations. That’s not the case. You can just screen record something, explain it, and have all of your employees use that to train new employees in the future.
  • 31:09 Cory mentioned ScreenFlow, which is a fantastic app to use. Something else, which is mostly for quick things but can be helpful, is CloudApp—if you’re on a Mac. You can record quick screen captures with that, and it automatically uploads it and gives you a link. You can keep a link library of things that you can quickly share with people. Even doing that is a step forward. Listen to your audience, too. That’s a big part of scaling your brand as it grows. Listen to your audience to understand what they’re struggling with, and through teaching them, you can also teach future employees that may come on board. Don’t make a screen recording specifically to one person, but go through it as if you were training anybody. In the future, you can say, “I have a video about this that I made. Here it is.” You don’t have to have employees before you start creating an archive for future employees.
  • 32:24 Cory: Even when I worked at a retail store for AT&T, all of our training was done on the computer. We sat in a back room for hours. Even when we went out on the floor, in any of our down time, we were training and updating ourselves on devices. It was all in the computer, so someone didn’t have to stand there and explain things. They could continue working. It was all about being able to accomplish the things we wanted to accomplish and not have to fall back because we were hiring on more help or we were adding new things to our system.
  • 33:17 Kyle: I’ve seen a few companies that don’t do that who will hire an employee and they’ll go into this mentor-mode. That’s a good place to be. It’s great to mentor, especially early employees, and to say, “Here’s how we do things.” It’s like they’re passing the torch, saying, “You should be able to take what I’m doing and carry that on and be me from now on.” That’s a good expectation, but at the same time, I’ve seen brands lose that person for whatever reason. They move on and decide that it’s not for them, and suddenly all of that training you’ve done is gone. There’s nobody to take that torch on, and you have to start over with someone new, and it can be frustrating.
  • 34:07 It begins a cycle of blaming that person, creating a bad relationship with them, and it’s all because you didn’t plan ahead. You need to realize that even if you’re in a partnership with somebody, you need to treat it as if, at some point, you’ll be the only person in that brand. You’re the only one you can guarantee will stay with that brand. Other people might move on or decide to do other things, but if you’re really dedicated, you’re the one who is going to continue. You need to be training from you and you need to have things you can pass on to other people that isn’t contingent on someone staying with your brand or being loyal to your brand.

Don’t Let Your Device Control You

  • 35:06 Cory: Amanda in the chat says, “I turned on manual pull in my mail app when I was in Shanghai, since the internet access was limited. I haven’t turned it off, and I’ve been home for weeks. It reduces the anxiety from seeing the little red badge number decreasing throughout the day.” You need to do an Aaron Dowd here, not just Amanda, but everyone. Aaron taught me this, and it’s brilliant. He told me, “You need to drop every single notification on your phone.” Disable the badges and everything. You’re sitting there and you’re getting pinged all day long. If you have a smart phone, you’re sitting there and it goes, “Ping!” There’s an email. “Ping!” There’s a message. “Ping!” There’s a this or a that—a new Facebook, a new Instagram, a new like…
  • 35:51 Something is trying to get your attention, and you need to manage that. You need to be in control of your phone. Don’t let your device be in control—you need to be in control of your attention. I went through and I disabled almost all of my notifications. I left on messages and phone calls, but I also disabled sound. I created a sound clip that was completely silent and I added it to my phone as a ringtone. If I have the silent switch enabled, nothing happens. There’s no vibrate, no sound, nothing. When it’s up, it only vibrates. No sound. First off, that’s nice, because I’m not sitting on a bus, and all of a sudden Life is a Highway by Rascal Flats starts playing from my phone.

Turn off notifications so you are in control of when you look at your devices, especially email.

  • 36:56 I know people who set up automations on their computer where, if they’re on their email app outside of a specific half hour section in their morning, it will detect it and close the app. You only get 7:30am to 8am, and any other time of day that you try and look at it, the app will close it down. It’s brilliant. They want to be in control of their time. If you’re letting all of these other things control your attention, you’re not going to be scaling. You’re going to be stagnating. You need to get in front of all of that stuff. Figure out what’s best for you and experience the freedom of not having a little badge counter. All you’re doing is looking down and wondering whether you got a new notification for something.
  • 37:55 Kyle: I used to have Instagram notifications on. I’m sure a lot of people listening might have Instagram notifications on, and it could be any social media platform, but it was specifically Instagram for me. In the early days, I thought, “Somebody followed! Somebody commented! People are liking this image, and it’s cool to see that.” It wasn’t about the numbers. It was about seeing activity happening. Eventually, it got to the point where I had so many notifications. I didn’t realize how many notifications I was actually getting until I turned off all notifications for Instagram.
  • 38:36 The other night, I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning, I decided to open Instagram. I thought, “I wonder if anything has happened?” I sent Cory a screenshot of this, but I had five or six comments and 95 likes. For those numbers alone, I was thinking of the individual notifications. Can you imagine all night getting these notifications? Somebody liked your photo, somebody liked your photo, somebody liked your photo… That’s not to brag about how many likes I got, but it’s going to get that way. That’s what I’m trying to communicate to somebody who’s not at that point yet. If it’s early on in your brand, you have to realize that you will eventually get to that point. Those are overlooked distractions, but when you see them compiled that way, you realize just how distracted you actually were.
  • 39:49 Cory: People always rag on us because we mention them, but this has less to do with the brand and more to do with their findings. Apple released some data the other day that said that an iPhone user, on average, unlocks their phone 80 times a day. That’s a lot of times. Can we decrease that? Let’s decrease that number. What is all that doing? Is it intentional time that you’re using to achieve your goals, or are you being distracted? Are you consuming in a way that’s making you braindead?

Consuming isn’t bad and neither are notifications, but you have to ask yourself if they are helping you achieve your goals.

  • 40:53 Kyle: This is about looking into the future and thinking about what something would be like with what you might consider an unfathomable amount of that thing. For example, imagine having 200 emails a day. What would you do in that situation? How can you prepare for that ahead of time? I was recently in Louisiana, and there are certain areas there with a big potential for flooding. They build levies or walls to protect from the water coming through. You see those, and you think, “That wall is way too tall for that. The water is super low. What are they worried about?” As soon as the next hurricane comes in, it’s up to the top of the wall or even coming over.
  • 41:54 Then you realize that there’s a reason people put that in place before the storm came. If the storm came, it would flood everything, and there would be a lot of damage and a lot of repairs that would need to be made. It’s very much the same for your brand. If you don’t prepare ahead of time and the flood comes in, there’s a lot of repairing to do and a lot of time wasted not achieving your goals because you’re trying to patch all of these things that weren’t accounted for in the beginning.

Don’t Over-Automate Social Media Posts

  • 42:28 Cory: Amanda said, “We know social media can be a great way to engage with customers, but with so many popular platforms, even narrowing to two or three for your key audience can be time-consuming. What processes or tools do you use to minimize time spent composing and optimizing posts for various platforms? Sometimes cross-posting automation appears awkward, insincere, or doesn’t work well. For example, cross-posting to Tumblr from Instagram is difficult because users on Tumblr use spaces and tags, but Twitter and Instagram do not. Facebook and Twitter both have different standards for optimizing images, and some people find hashtags in Facebook posts distracting. Using something like Hootsuite may not be ideal, either.”
  • 43:15 We don’t have the time to go into how angry I get about automating social media posts across platforms. Let me be clear. I don’t have a problem with scheduling a social media post, as long as you’re not off at a beach somewhere while all this stuff is getting posted, and people trying to engage with you aren’t able to because they think you’re on the platform. For instance, if you have a YouTube video and you want it to go out at a certain time, that’s fine. Schedule a tweet to say, “Hey, new YouTube video is up,” but make sure you’re present for those things.
  • 43:59 When it comes to cross-platform automation, the other day, there was a tweet with an image from Instagram—with the caption cut off—of a screenshot from Snapchat telling me to go to their YouTube channel. It was so gross.
  • 44:43 Kyle: I’m potentially going to get a lot of flack for this, and to be honest, I’m not very concerned about it, because it’s just the truth. The way I experience these online sources, following different social media accounts, crossposting—automatically sharing to other social media platforms to have extended reach—is very lazy and very inconsiderate. You’re not taking the time to pay attention to that audience. When I see a cross post, say on Twitter from Instagram, I think, “They don’t care enough to come to Twitter and have an interaction, so why should I care about this?” I’m using harsh terms, but it’s lazy. If you can’t take the time to take the same image you used on Instagram, copy the description you just put on Instagram and shorten it to what it needs to be, you have some real time management issues. Maybe you don’t need to be on all of the platforms that you’re on.

There’s no value-add to cross-platform social media posts, because you’re not paying attention to that audience.

  • 46:15 I see that as so disrespectful to those audience members. They’re there following you, they’re interested, and they’re using their time to read your content or click on your links. You’re not taking the time to simply accommodate that platform, and that bugs me so bad. I have some minor issues with scheduling things, but I’d rather see people schedule things ahead of time than do this cross-platform nonsense.
  • 46:52 Cory: If you respect your own time, and that’s all we’re talking about here with scaling productivity, you need to be respecting the time of your audience and your customers. They’re the ones who are paying your bills. They’re giving you their attention, so you need to cultivate that and handle it well. My wife is about to have a baby next month, so my brain is in baby-mode. You have to cradle the time and attention of your customers like a baby. You can’t just be flailing it about. Take care of it, nurture it, and manage it well, so their experience with your brand is positive and makes a lasting impression.
  • 47:55 All of this stuff you’re trying to get out as fast as possible is communicating that your time is more important than your audience’s experience. That’s no good. People will latch onto that, and they’ll think, “I don’t want to be involved with this person. They don’t respect me enough to take care of what they post on social media.” As Amanda pointed out, the rules can be different on different platforms. Rules can change in a snap. Hashtags work differently all over the place. If you link it here, it doesn’t look right there. People use IFTTT—If This Then That—which is an app you can get on your phone to automate this stuff, but now you’re not seeing a Twitter link or an Instagram link or even your own.
  • 48:46 You’re seeing this random other link, and I don’t know where that goes. Think through what your audience is going to be experiencing and make that positive. Always make your customers’ experiences positive. That’s what you want.

If you want to build a lasting brand, every interaction with everything you put out needs to be positive.

  • 49:15 If it becomes negative, you need to spin it around to be positive. That’s your job. Your job is to create a space for people to interact with your brand in a positive way. We could go on and on about that.
  • 49:46 Kyle: If you agree with the sentiment that nobody wants to be treated like a number, that people want to be treated as people, the only motivation for cross-posting things all the time is to get 1,000 more eyes on something you’ve posted. You’re treating your entire audience like numbers.
  • 50:25 Cory: You know what we say, Kyle. The numbers don’t matter (Related: e014 The Numbers Don’t Matter).

Delegating or Hiring Isn’t Easy

  • 51:00 We already talked about email filters, delegation and hiring, and I know that some people are thinking, “I’m not in the place to delegate or hire.” Allison said, “What if you want to delegate, but you haven’t found anyone who can handle the job yet?” It depends on what you’re doing. In her case, she’s a musician and she’s talking about finding a booking agent or someone who can manage scheduling out shows and tours. If the solution in one way isn’t working, you can always scale your productivity in another way. If you can’t delegate or hire, figure out what’s going to make the thing you’re delegating or hiring for more productive or efficient.
  • 51:44 If it’s email, and you’re thinking, “I need to hire someone to take care of all of my emails,” maybe your time would be better spent hiring someone to quickly set up automation or learning how to do it yourself. That way, when people email you certain things, it gets filtered and you don’t see it in your inbox. You can schedule time at the end of your week or your day to go in and manage all of those things.

If you can’t hire or delegate, bake automation into your schedule in a way that doesn’t burn you out.

  • 52:20 Kyle: There are two ways you could hire somebody. Let’s use the booking agent as an example here. It seems like she might be looking for someone who’s already a booking agent, someone who has that skill, who is proficient with that, and who can come in and take her business in the right direction. Nobody fits the mold of the way she likes to do booking. You can do that—you can hire somebody that’s already skilled at that, or you can hire somebody who’s interested in doing that, who says, “That sounds awesome. That sounds like something I want to get into,” and you train them the way you do things.
  • 53:06 Train them to do it exactly the way you would like to do it. It’s more time investment, but in the end you’ll get a higher quality employee. You learn how to train new employees that come in to do that same thing, and if booking is an important thing for you, which is understandable, you have now created a training system for people who come in to handle your booking. There are different approaches to it. There’s nothing you can’t hire for, other than some small things. If you’re the personality of your brand, you can’t hire someone to suddenly be you. Maybe you speak your show notes, so you hire someone to take notes as you talk to them, and when you get to the show, you have show notes to use during the show. There are a lot of things you can hire for, so don’t limit yourself.
  • 54:24 Cory: Maybe you need to hire someone to do something else so you can spend time finding the booking agent. Maybe you’re spending three hours a day transcribing your songs or fixing the files on your computer. Maybe you just pay your sister $15 an hour and have her come in twice a week to arrange all the stuff, and you can spend that time to find a booking agent or whatever you need to do. There are large-scale versions of this as well. I have a friend who runs a business on the east coast, and he only has a few part time employees. He’s doing a ton of stuff, and they’re considering having all of their fulfillment done from a warehouse.
  • 55:15 This way, it wouldn’t all be done from their house, garage, or basement. It might cost slightly more, but it frees them up to do the things that matter, to make that process a better experience for customers by fulfilling orders faster. There are small versions and bigger versions of that.

Snippets & Automation

  • 55:48 Kyle and I both use a couple of apps on our Macs called TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro, and these are super powerful little apps. At seanwes, we have an online Community membership, and I get notified if somebody’s memberships expires or gets cancelled. As the Director of Member Success, my job is to make sure that everyone’s experience with the seanwes brand and with the Community is positive. I get notified of that, so if somebody cancels or their membership expires, I want to stay in touch with them and see if there is anything we need to improve on or if there are any questions we can answer.
  • 56:45 I have some snippets set up, where I can type in a quick “cancel 1,” “cancel 2,” or “cancel 3,” and in the email, it will automatically fill that in real quick so I don’t have to type out the entire email. I can have a little bit of automation there. I can also put that in Infusionsoft, so they get an automatic email, but I prefer it to come from me. That way, they don’t think, “This is just a machine.” I want it to feel like it’s coming from a person, but if I’m writing the same question or sentences over and over again, it’s okay to automate that. It’s still coming from me, but I’m saving a little bit of time doing some other things.
  • 57:30 Then, I can interact with them as they reply, and we can go back and forth. That’s been really powerful for me. You can have snippets for your website. If I type in “bcom,” it automatically changes that to BehindtheBrand.com, so I can quickly type four characters and it creates that entire url. I don’t have to enter in the whole website. With Keyboard Maestro, I need to do very specific things. I need to unhook my external drives, disable Dropbox syncing, open up Logic, open up Nicecast, open up my soundboard, open up Skype, and things like that. I can hit a couple of keys that I’ve set up to be a hotkey shortcut, and it does all of that automatically. I can go get a coffee or fill up my water, and when I come back, the podcast is ready to record. It takes care of all of that for me.
  • 58:41 Kyle: In TextExpander, I have snippets, which is where you choose a key word and it expands into whatever you put into the snippet. I have a snippet that, if you’re in Terminal, the Mac operating system’s back end will run a command to create a set of folders for a client project. I can name each of those. It gives me fill-in-the-blanks to name each folder. I have source files I’m working with, exports, notes I have with the client, and any of those things… There’s a whole web of folders for each client project, and it auto-generates all of those. I also have Keyboard Maestro set up to automatically open Terminal, enter that snippet, and run that command.
  • 59:50 It takes something like two seconds to create seven different folders, some of which are sub-folders of other folders, and it’s all there. It’s named what the client project is, and it’s ready to go. That saves a lot of time.
  • 1:00:10 Cory: How long did that take you to set up, Kyle?
  • 1:00:13 Kyle: It took a good 30 minutes to set up.
  • 1:00:18 Cory: 30 minutes. That’s it. How much time has that saved you?
  • 1:00:21 Kyle: A lot of time.
  • 1:00:25 Cory: It’s all about where your time is going and whether it’s helping you achieve your goals. Taking the time to learn a piece of software and set up snippets and automations like that is incredible. Maybe you’re fulfilling orders online, if you have an online store, something like ShipStation detects all of your orders and creates a packing slip. It’s a subscription, but everything in your eCommerce store is attached to this other service, and it takes care of everything for you. If you’re shipping internationally, it can take care of customs reports. It files all of that, so you go in and click, “Print,” you print out your shipping label, slap it on a package, and you’re good to go. You’re not logging into USPS, FedEx, DHL, or whatever you’re using. There are so many automating systems like that.

Having an Accountability Partner

  • 1:01:35 Kyle wrote down, “Get an accountability partner.” How does having an accountability partner help scale your productivity?
  • 1:01:44 Kyle: It’s really easy, when you own a brand, to have this Shiny Object Syndrome, where you think, “We could do this and this! We could start this thing!” At the beginning, you have a much greater margin of time, so you’re more prone to saying, “I can keep up with six social media accounts and four blog posts a week. That’s going to be pretty easy.” As things scale, you can’t do that anymore. Have an accountability partner that’s looking at it objectively from the outside of your brand and saying, “This isn’t going to work out for you in the future,” or, “This doesn’t reflect what I understand your brand to be projecting. Can you think through this?”
  • 1:02:31 You start to talk about it, and you realize that you shouldn’t do certain things even though they sound like a good idea. Maybe they’re not a good idea for your brand. This is somebody that’s going to come along side you. You’re both invested in each other’s brands in terms of wanting them to succeed and understanding what that brand is all about. Cory and I have a lot of this, where we talk to each other about what we should do and what feels right based on what our brand is all about and what our goals are for the future. Sometimes, that’s a no. You need to be open to hearing that no.

An accountability partner is a great way to filter what reflects your brand and what doesn’t.

  • 1:03:31 Cory: It’s also good to have an accountability partner who isn’t scared of hurting your feelings. I’m not saying that you should find someone who will slap you around, but you need an accountability partner who is kind and can deliver truth in the way you need to hear it. Being a good accountability partner means saying, “These are your goals. Let’s talk through them. Let’s figure out if what you’re doing right now is helping you achieve your goals.” A good accountability partner helps you see the things you need to do rather than telling you what to do. If they do that, it’s accusatory, and it doesn’t go anywhere.
  • 1:04:19 Maybe this is my personality coming through, because I’m more like that. I want to see people succeed. I don’t want to say, “Keep doing this. You haven’t been doing this. Why didn’t you do it this week?” Instead, say, “What are the things that prevented you from meeting your goals this week?” Then Kyle would say, “I had this, I had that. These things happened.” I would say, “These are your goals that you’ve told me, so by next week, what are you going to do to prevent these other things from happening so you can achieve your goals?”
  • 1:04:56 “I’m going to do this.” Then, the next week, I would say, “Last week, you said you were going to do these four things. How are you on doing those things?” You have a conversation instead of just pointing a finger and having it be unproductive.
  • 1:05:32 Kyle: Imagine a parent who isn’t afraid to let you fail and learn from things. That’s the approach. A parent is going to say, “You shouldn’t have done that. That wasn’t a good idea. You probably shouldn’t do that again. What’s going on? Are you okay? How can we help you?” Parents don’t typically say, “You should definitely take that risk and potentially fail.” You need someone who’s a friend, a good enough friend, to say, “That’s going to be a good risk. You should evaluate a couple of these things ahead of time,” offering objective advice while supporting you in taking risks, moving forward, and having goals.
  • 1:06:24 That’s the key, the sweet spot of having an accountability partner. They need to share your drive, because they need to understand it when you say, “I didn’t finish this goal this week, and that’s detrimental this week.” If the other person says, “I don’t finish all the time, and it’s fine,” that’s not the page you need to be on with that person. You need to have somebody who is trying to push themselves the same way you are.
  • 1:07:20 Cory: Scaling your productivity is all about matching your actions with your intended goals. If your actions don’t match your intended goals, then you may need to change something or add something that’s going to help you achieve your goals. That may be getting an app, hiring somebody, automating, organizing better, or something else. You have to figure out what’s going to be best for your goals. It may mean investing money now to make more later or investing time now so you can focus on other things later.