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When I was first getting started in business, I had Superhero Syndrome. I wanted to do it all myself, and I didn’t want to delegate because I was scared.
I was scared that other people wouldn’t care as much as me, wouldn’t care about the quality, and wouldn’t work as hard.
The thing is, you started a business because you want freedom.
I mean, you want money too, but what good is money when you work 18 hour days, hardly see your family and don’t have fun anymore?
You want money and freedom—and a business can give you that!
But right now, things look different:
- You’re exhausted.
- You have more work than one human can possibly do.
- You need help—desperately.
Somehow at the same time, you also can’t afford to hire help.
You don’t even know who your first hire should be—let alone where to look for this person.
Today’s episode will be touching on some of the things we discussed in the Hiring Bootcamp workshop.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Hire first to free up your time to do more of what has worked in the past.
- Delegate everything except voice and vision.
- The hardest things to give up are the things you like doing but know you shouldn’t be doing.
- If you want to hire, get six months of cash in the bank first.
- You can only work IN your business or ON your business—not both at the same time.
- The discipline and focus it takes to get to the point where you can hire is what will make you successful in the long run.
- You can’t grow without cash, you can’t get cash without discipline. Don’t try to grow too fast.
- Find out what motivates your employees and personalize their incentives.
- To challenge your team members without asking too much of them, align high challenge with high skill.
- If you love what you do, maybe you should be a right-hand to someone else. If you start a business, you will do very little of what got you into the game and instead spend most of your time running the business.
- To avoid micro-managing, create processes and trust the processes.
- Give responsibility to people who seek to acquire responsibility for everything in their life.
- Become a person who takes responsibility as an employer and you will attract people who want to be responsible.
- 01:23 Cory: Sean and I had a meeting yesterday, and we talked about some future goals.
- 01:26 Sean: You’ve got some goals.
- 01:28 Cory: I have a couple. It was a good talk.
- 01:34 Sean: We’ll come back to that. That’s a little open loop. Cory works here at seanwes, and today we’re talking about building a team. I think it’s going to be relevant. I’ll get your thoughts a little bit later in the show. What do you think about today’s topic, Ben—Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Build a Team?
- 01:54 Ben: That is something I would like to do, both things. I would like to stop feeling overwhelmed and I would love to build a team.
- 02:01 Sean: You would love to build a team? Why? Not everyone does.
- 02:08 Ben: I’m thinking of a team in a more theoretical sense. I like the idea of it. I have managed teams before in other areas, but not specifically for my business. Sean mentioned some challenges in the description, and I feel some of those same challenges. I care a lot about my work. I’m pretty particular about the way things are done. I also see the potential to be able to accomplish way more with a team than I’m currently able to do on my own. I can feel my limits. I think it’s that way for a lot of people.
- 03:12 Sean: I’m totally right there with you. I wasn’t always there, though. When I first started in business, I wanted to do everything myself, and I was proud of the fact that I could do it all myself. I didn’t really want to delegate because I was scared. I was scared that other people wouldn’t care as much as me, they wouldn’t care about the quality, they wouldn’t work as hard, and I lost sight of the reason I (and many people) started a business. That is, we want freedom.
- 03:46 We want freedom to do the kind of work we want, where we want, when we want. I didn’t really have freedom. I was stuck. I wasn’t stuck in the sense of not enjoying my work, but I had to do certain things. I was chained to the business, and I had to do things I didn’t like, wasn’t good at, or at times that I didn’t want to. It was all under this guise of being a solopreneur. I wore that badge with honor.
- 04:17 I was like, “Yeah, solopreneur! I’m a one-man shop. I can do it all.” Really, it was fear of delegating, perfectionism, not being willing to give things up to other people and feeling like they’re not going to care about the quality as much. Meanwhile, I didn’t have the kind of freedom I was looking for. A lot of people start a business because they want freedom, but their situation right now looks entirely different. They’re exhausted. They have more work than is humanly possible to do.
When you start to feel your limits and your dream is bigger than your limits, that’s when you ache for more people to help bring your dream to fruition.
- 04:54 Sean: They need help, desperately. The crazy part is that they have so much work that they can’t do it all themselves, but at the same time, they also can’t afford to hire help. What do you do in this situation? This was where I was totally paralyzed. I was like, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who I should hire.” I ended up hiring Cory. He’s the first of, now, eight of us on the team, and I don’t know that hiring him was the best first hire for me. It turned out great. Where we are now is great.
- 05:45 A lot of people think, “I need to hire someone to make money, someone who can make enough money to justify their salary,” but that’s not where you should be looking first. Right now, you have all kinds of bottlenecks, things that are holding you back. We’re talking about this, by the way, because I did this three day workshop at HiringBootcamp.com. It’s a new workshop.
- 06:08 Those of you listening live, those of you who are members, it’s now in the Vault. All three sessions are in there. It’s over five hours of training and something like 30,000 or 40,000 words all written out. It’s a tremendous resource. I’m very proud of this resource. We give it to the members for free. That’s available. Today, we’re looking at a higher level of the things we talked about in those three days of that workshop.
- 06:39 Today is more conversational. The first person I would hire is someone to free up your time and fix those bottlenecks. Where are the places where you are spending the most time getting the least results? Where are the bottlenecks? Where are you stuck? You know what you need to do to make money and survive as a business. When you look at the things you’ve done in the past, you can see things that have worked well.
- 07:06 For one reason or another, you’ve stopped doing them, or you don’t have the capacity to do more of those things because you are overloaded. We’re going to talk about delegating, when to hire, how to hire, and what you should do if you don’t have money, all of that stuff, in this show. Your first hire should free up your time.
- 07:34 Ben: Some people are listening to this, and they hear “bottlenecks” and “what’s working,” and they automatically go to, “Yeah, I know that this is a bottleneck. I know that this is working.” Some people are so overloaded that they don’t see it. They’re in the mess. One of the most important things you can do is to take a step back and take a periodic inventory of how you’re spending your time and what the results are from that time.
- 08:07 You need to get a good sense of that. You’re never going to be able to take that first step, and that’s going to paralyze you. You’re not going to know what to hand off to somebody. I’m saying that from experience. I’ve been, and in a lot of ways still am, in this place where I know that some things are working and some things are slowing me down, but I don’t have a firm grasp on what those things are. If somebody came to me today, I had the money to hire them, and everything was good, I would have no idea what to set that person on. You have to figure that out first.
First, hire someone who can free up your time.
Your first hire should allow you to do more of what you’ve done that works, because you’re not maximizing your capacity right now.
Get Your Money Right
- 08:44 Sean: This was the whole first session. The whole first session was about getting your money right. It was called Get Your Money Right, Find Your Business Model, and Figure Out What to Delegate. That was the entire first session. Figure out how you make your money. What is your business model? You can’t say, “My business model is houses.” That’s not a business model. There are so many things around houses!
- 09:28 Do you build them? Do you demolish them? Both of these things are things you can do for money. Do you repair them? Do you live in them? Do you flip them? What do you do? Do you rent them out? Do you clean them? Do you paint them? What is your business model? What is it that you do? What service do you provide and for whom? “I build houses for companies who sell them to residents. I build custom houses for residents.”
- 10:02 There are so many different variations of this. What is your business model? You’ve done things that have worked. You’ve made some money here and there, but you can’t just keep throwing things up at the wall. You have to figure out, “What is my business model? What am I going all in on? What has worked the best for me?” Get your money right.
- 10:30 I didn’t do this. We hired almost everyone on the team around producing high quality content—podcasts on the network, videos, and so on. We hire people around producing content. When we hired people around that, our business model wasn’t related to the content. The way we were making money was things like courses and the membership, but what everyone was doing wasn’t connected to that. That’s what caused us to be in a very difficult place financially.
- 11:08 We have to continue paying people who are doing things that don’t make us money. That’s great. It’s investing in the long term. It builds up the brand reputation. It positions us as a premium brand. People are getting a lot of value out of the content, but eventually, we need to make money. We need to pay the bills. We need to pay peoples’ salaries.
- 11:41 Ben: When I think about what your business model is and what’s working and conflating those two, I think less about the specific service that I offer as a way of making money from a client or a customer, and I’m thinking more about the things I do that go into getting customers’ attention, getting more traffic, and that kind of thing. Regardless of what industry you’re in, it’s not an exact science. There are some things you have to test and try out. I think more about those things.
- 12:21 You’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule. In business, there’s this idea that 20% of what you do yields 80% of the results, give or take. Try to figure out what falls into that 20%. Also, you need to consider with that, of what falls into that 20%, what are you really good at? What of that should you be the one focusing on? What should you be delegating?
- 12:58 Sean: That’s a really good thing to think about.
Figure out how you make money and then structure your team around facilitating that.
If you don’t have enough money to cover payroll consistently, it doesn’t matter how well you’ll do in the long run if you don’t make it that far.
- 13:05 Sean: What do you delegate? We touched on who your first hire should be. There are some objections to delegating and some struggles with that, which I’ll talk about. Here are three things I would ask yourself:
- What are the things you don’t like to do?
- What are the things you can’t do?
- What are the things you shouldn’t be doing?
- 13:28 Maybe you need to do some custom development on your website, and you don’t know how to code. The last one is the hard one, and I would add a little bit to that.
- 13:57 Ben: Can I give a practical example of that last one? If I’m producing content, doing content marketing for my business as a way of increasing my SEO and getting more attention, one of the things I really enjoy doing is throwing on some music and designing featured images for my post or whatever goes out. It’s a relaxing thing. I feel good as a creative, artistic type. I feel fulfilled by that. But it’s very time consuming.
- 14:35 It might increase the visibility of something. It definitely has some value, but it’s not nearly as effective as some other thing in my business that I could be spending time on. For me, that’s an example of that. While it is good for me to spend some time on that, if I did it the way I would like to do it and I poured all my time, focus, and energy into it to make it pixel perfect, I’m doing so at the expense of other things that are more effective right now in my business.
- 15:11 Sean: Probably the most difficult one for me is design—design or video. I really enjoy that. I like producing video. I like editing, telling the story. I did a vlog recently, which you can check out on the seanwes tv YouTube channel, about my Vegas trip. I don’t know if I’m going to keep doing this on all of my trips. Maybe. A lot of people start vlogs and they edit them themselves, and they realize that the editing is the bottleneck. They try and outsource or delegate to someone else.
- 15:51 Then it’s like they’re losing their voice. I figured, “I won’t even mess with it at all. I’ll just give it all to Cory and let Cory edit it.” I let him tell the story, and then there’s no transition there. That’s tough, because I enjoy editing, producing video, and designing. We’re building a website behind the scenes right now. It’s CommunityTalk.com. We’ve had the domain for a while, and this is the messaging system we have for our Community.
- 16:22 It’s like a community in a box, a hybrid between forums and real time chat that people actually like to use. It’s the glue to our membership, and we’ve had the domain CommunityTalk for a while. It just goes to a page on seanwes with a signup. We are building a whole new website, a stand alone website, at CommunityTalk.com, for our messaging system and a new show we’re producing called CommunityTalk.
- 16:53 There are people that are doing this without me. We have had meetings, we’ve talked about stuff, and they’re going and doing the work. I’m hands-off. That’s really tough. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at that.
- 17:21 The toughest things are the things you like but you shouldn’t be doing. If I designed that website and helped build it, that’s great. I might have fun, but there are so many things I can do that I can’t delegate to other people. Voice and vision are the two things you can’t delegate. That’s what you should be all about in your business. Everything else, you should delegate. I should be writing. I have so many things to write. Other people can’t necessarily write for me, in most cases.
- 17:57 Ben: It’s important to clarify the definition of voice. Sean, you said it just now—when you edit a video, that’s a form of voice.
- 18:11 Sean: Is it, though?
- 18:15 Ben: I would argue that, by a different definition, you could call that voice. It is an expression of your personal tastes and values.
- 18:34 Cory: If he’s talking in the video, is that what you mean? Or just video in general?
- 18:37 Ben: Video in general, like what you cut vs. what you keep in.
- 18:40 Sean: That’s more brand, though.
- 18:44 Ben: It can be. With a video, if you cut a certain part out that someone else might have kept in and that means something and is supposed to convey something, that can be a form of voice. I’m arguing that that’s a lesser form of voice than the writing and the speaking, the things that really can only come from you.
- 19:29 Sean: You have the best perspective of the future. You know where you want things to go, and that’s where you need to be.
The hardest things to give up are the things you shouldn’t be doing even though you like doing them.
Over the years, I have gotten better at delegating and giving things up to other people.
You can delegate the delivery of your voice in different mediums, but you should be overseeing the direction of your business.
Working in Your Business vs. Working on Your Business
- 19:36 Sean: Too many people are building a business around themselves instead of designing themselves out of the workings of their business. You can only work in your business or on your business, not both at the same time. You ideally want to get to a place where you have the presence of mind and the space to think about your business in terms of where it’s going in the future. That’s perspective, CEO mindset, and working on your business.
- 20:06 People are scared to get to that point, because they’re anxious to give up the details of the workings in the business, how things go down, what people do, the micro-decisions that are made. They’re scared to give those things up.
- 20:28 My recommendation is to think in terms of 90%. That’s your version of perfect. First of all, realize that if you were to do everything for your version of perfect, you wouldn’t have time for it all. There isn’t enough time in the day. The other thing is, if people can get to 90%, not only is that reasonable if you’re a perfectionist or you struggle with giving these things up, but over time, they’ll eventually surpass your definitions of perfect because they have focus.
- 21:04 They can give all their attention to that thing, whereas you’re split in your focus. That’s delegating, but how do you even get to the point of delegating something to someone else when you don’t have the money?
You’ll never get to a point where you’re working on your business instead of in your business unless you overcome your perfectionism and Superhero Syndrome.
Get to the Point Where You Can Hire
- 21:20 Ben: I was going to interrupt and say, “Okay, maybe I’m really eager to build the team and delegate things and I want to do that, but I feel so overwhelmed where I am right now and I don’t have the resources yet. How do I get them?”
- 21:43 Sean: Again, the first session of Hiring Bootcamp is two hours long. It’s all about this. It’s all about how to hire that first person when you don’t have the money, very practically, step by step, what you should do in what order. I’m going to try and give you a sense of that, but it’s very practical. Any question that comes to your mind, someone else asked it, I guarantee. The answer is in that session.
- 22:09 Until you have six months of someone’s salary in the bank, I wouldn’t start thinking about it. You need to prioritize cash. You’ll only understand this—and I speak from firsthand experience—when you get to a place where you don’t have that cash in the bank, that six months of everyone’s salary. It’s the worst place to be. You’re stuck in Scarcity Mindset, even when you know, “I shouldn’t be thinking in terms of scarcity.”
- 22:40 You can’t control the effects it has on you. It affects your thinking. That’s just what happens. You have to get that cash in the bank before you start hiring someone. You have to do it. How do you do it? To get six month’s income in the bank, do more of what works. Double down on the things that have worked and do more of them. I’ve said this a lot, but it’s something I had to learn the hard way. I didn’t do it in the beginning.
- 23:06 I wish I had. Double down, get disciplined. Make money. Don’t spend money. Save it and put it aside. Now, hire someone. The first hire is someone to free up your bottlenecks. Focus more of your time on doing those things. Right now, in the beginning, you’re going to want to do all these things that did well for you in the past and make money, but there are still things that you have to do to keep the business running. You’re not going to be able to maximize your time.
- 23:40 By the time you get to that point, you can start to be more strategic with your hires. It doesn’t just have to be someone freeing up your bottlenecks. It can be, “We really need someone in sales and marketing. We really need a designer.” That’s the short version.
- 23:55 Ben: When you put it that way, I think other people might feel this way too, but we want a shortcut. We want to know, “What’s the way around getting through this overwhelm? What’s the way around not having money and getting help?” We feel overwhelmed, but the lesson here is that until you can, for yourself, recognize the things that are working or not working and make those things that are working a priority—until you get to a place where you have that kind of health in your business by yourself, you’re not going to be able to do that with your employees.
- 24:44 The challenge of coming up with six months of salary for an employee before you even make a hire is almost like, “I have to pass this test first. If I can pass this test, then I can move forward with confidence, knowing that I can focus my employees on the right things and focus myself on the right things.” It’s a little bit of a let down, because I really want to hire somebody yesterday.
If you want to hire, the first thing you have to do is get cash in the bank.
Get someone to free up your bottlenecks, free up more of your time, and then do even more of what has worked.
- 25:17 Sean: It’s discipline.
- 25:28 It’s just discipline. I didn’t recognize it at first, because I thought it was all about the long game. It is all about the long game, but you have to understand how to get there. I thought, “I just have to think long term. All of my actions should be in the context of long term, and then I’m okay.” But you can’t ignore the short term. You have to earn the right to play the long game. The short term is your cash in the bank, your expenses, your payroll, and your salaries.
- 26:00 When you don’t have that money, everything else shuts down. You can’t think about the future. You have no idea how much that is costing you. It comes down to discipline.
- 26:20 You haven’t earned the right. The way you earn the right is by getting cash in the bank. Get that six month’s income in the bank, six month’s expenses in the bank. Get to the New Zero, as I call it in the Overlap book. There is some good stuff in that. You have to get the Overlap book. OverlapBook.com.
- 26:50 In the book, I have a whole chapter on the New Zero, getting cash in the bank. That’s really good. Definitely check that out. It comes down to discipline. You can’t grow without cash, you can’t get cash without discipline, and you’re trying to grow too fast. Your mind is too far in the future. You have to catch up.
- 27:42 If you don’t have the discipline to get that cash in the bank, you’re going to be in such a bad spot. You think it’s going to be great, because you’ll have all these employees you didn’t have any business hiring, but you’re just going to be stressed. I’m just speaking to myself. I’m learning a bunch of things as I go. With the first business I did, I hired one person and then I stopped for several years. I didn’t hire anyone else.
- 28:05 The business could have grown, but I didn’t hire because I was scared, so it stagnated. Then I over-corrected and hired six people in a year. That was too fast. I have figured out the sweet spot for myself now, it just cost me ten years.
- 28:22 Ben: The third bowl was just right.
The discipline and focus it takes to get to the point where you can hire is what will make you successful in the long run.
The reality is, you want to grow bigger faster than you have the right to.
Let reality align with your mindset, and then start taking actions toward the future.
Learn From Other’s Mistakes
- 28:24 Cory: The sweet spot for you, but also for everyone else listening to hear your mistakes.
- 28:31 Sean: Yeah. I didn’t follow the six month’s cash in the bank rule. We have paid the price.
- 28:42 Cory: But you paid the price for us, so now we can know what not to do.
- 28:46 Ben: Sean is intentionally making mistakes so you can learn from them as he talks about them.
- 28:50 Cory: What a trooper.
- 28:53 Sean: You can learn from them. Smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. I try to do that as much as possible, but sometimes we have to learn hard lessons ourselves.
- 29:02 Ben: Is it just smart people? Sometimes, I’m convinced that it’s not that I don’t want to learn from other people’s mistakes, but somehow I’m mentally incapable. Like, “No, I have to make that mistake myself. Otherwise, I can’t fully understand it.”
- 29:21 Sean: Maybe. I don’t know. That’s why I think Hiring Bootcamp is special. I tell you all the mistakes I made, the things that went wrong, and the things that went really well—from someone who has a team, including myself, of eight, who is several years removed but not too far from hiring his first employee. If you ask anyone who runs a company of 500 people, 50, people, or 100 people, their mindset is so far removed.
- 29:51 Everything is different. They’re making millions of dollars. It’s all about HR. It’s about all these different things that don’t relate to you as someone who has built something up enough to do so well that you are overwhelmed but can’t afford to hire someone. That’s what this workshop fixes at HiringBootcamp.com. I’m really excited, because I could only make this right now.
- 30:26 We are coming out of that bad place, that was as a result of those problems. Very soon, we will have 20 employees. 30 employees. 50 employees. 80 employees. 100 employees. I will be completely removed from this. I would not even be able to give you actionable, helpful advice on hiring your first employee. Yeah, I could give you some decent advice in five or ten years, some general advice that could help you, but I would not understand the struggles. I would not remember them. I wouldn’t be in that place, the place I am now and the place I have been for the past year or two.
- 31:12 Sean: If I just sit here and I think, “There are so many people with bigger companies than me, with more employees, who didn’t make these mistakes, who could teach this better than I could,” I would be robbing you of the unique insights I can provide as someone who was just recently in your shoes, who just came out of that. That’s incredibly valuable.
- 31:35 Ben: That’s why I feel more and more compelled to be a documentarian of my own journey. In many ways, I think a lot of people feel this way. We don’t feel quite qualified enough to speak with any authority. What authority do you need to tell the truth about what you’re experiencing right now, what you’re learning, and the mistakes that you’ve made? You have all the authority you need to speak on those things.
- 32:03 That’s where most of the value is when it comes to trying to figure out how I’m going to make this business work, how I’m going to go through this transition. It’s all those stories. Even if you’re someone who has trouble learning from other people’s mistakes, hearing about someone else’s experience helps you know what’s coming. Like, “Okay, I’m probably going to end up making that same mistake, but at least I can sense it coming. It’s not going to blindside me.”
I have spent the past year and a half fixing problems that I created by doing things without experience.
Teach what you know as you go.
Teach What You Know
- 32:35 Sean: It’s such a simple concept, but people need to be reminded.
- 32:46 People get caught up in their minds. They haven’t even been able to articulate this thought, this struggle. They haven’t even said these words I’m about to say, but I’m going to give them words for the feelings that they have felt, and it is going to make sense. You, the listener, you have felt like you need to be able to teach things that you don’t know, and you feel like an imposter. This is where you are.
- 33:16 Whenever you’ve had an inkling of a thought to teach on a subject, all you think about are the things you don’t know that you think you should be teaching on. That is the problem. Teach what you know. Don’t teach what you don’t know. When I say, “Teach what you know,” I’m not telling you to pretend to know things that you don’t and teach on them. It’s that simple. I don’t know if anyone else saw this on the DIY subreddit.
- 33:46 I love that subreddit. So many great photo albums, so many people showing how they built random stuff that I’ll never build, but it’s so fun to read. I love reading the stories. This guy built a pond on his ranch. He built a pond. He worked on this for years. He dug it out, brought in all these different things, was having to deal with the ecosystem, the algae, he made a waterfall, there was a pump, he had to have a liner—all this stuff. So much.
- 34:28 It’s the first pond he built. He felt like a newb. He read pond books, books on creating your own pond. This is absurd, right? To us, it’s hilarious. To everyone else, your little niche—hand lettering, wedding photography—you feel like it’s a big world and you’re a small fish, and everyone knows more than you and they’ve written the books. This guy’s like, “I’m reading books on building your pond, and I messed this and that up.” The other 3,000 of us that looked at his album are never going to build a pond.
- 35:05 He’s a pond god to us, and he’s sharing his journey. He’s like, “I made this mistake. I made that mistake. I messed up this. I shouldn’t have done that.” He was writing as if you were going to build your own pond. Like, “When you do this, make sure you use this kind of liner. If there’s ever a cut in it, what you do is this. Don’t rip up the whole thing. You can put a placeholder rock there, and it will look natural.” He was just instructing.
- 35:35 What does he know? He knows that when there’s a rip in the liner of the custom pond that you build on your ranch, you want to patch it this way. That’s a very specific thing, but it’s something that he knows. He’s not talking about how to build a pond twice as big somewhere other than a ranch, twice as deep, or four ponds near each other. This guy taught what he knew about building a pond, and that’s what I’m telling you to do.
- 36:02 Ben: I have a friend, and there’s this new trend now to build a swimming pool in your back yard, but it’s a natural swimming pool. Animals can live in the pool with you, and it’s not that blue, the regular chlorine blue pool water.
- 36:29 Sean: I know what you’re talking about. It’s more green, more brown.
- 36:32 Ben: Yeah, greenish-brown. You can’t see through it, except for where it’s really shallow. It’s pretty impressive. I’m kind of interested now. Can you send me that link later? One of these days, I would like to make a natural pond.
Teach what you know; don’t teach what you don’t know.
Take Care of Your Team
- 37:02 Sean: This is an interesting question from Scott. “How do you balance: 1) utilizing team members’ unique strengths and passions 2) delegating the tasks that need to get done?” Like, “Hey, we want you to focus on the areas that you’re really good at.” Meanwhile, there are all these tasks that have to get done. You have to do the tasks.
- 37:29 Sean: Sometimes, the things we have to do aren’t our favorite things to do, but why do they matter and where are we going? Why does the work we do matter? What does the future look like as a result of our business and the work that we do? What would the future look like without the work that we do? Why does what we do matter? You contextualize these tasks that may not be someone’s favorite thing to do, and they become not as bad.
- 38:04 Ben: You’ve done this for yourself. You’ve identified the bottlenecks, the things you can work on that are most effective in your business, and you’ve hired help to take care of those bottlenecks. Maybe part of your plan is to do the same thing for an employee who has a specific set of skills, who should be focused on one thing, but, for now, is having to deal with other tasks. Communicate and say, “Part of my plan in the next four months is to hire someone to take care of these things, but we can’t get there unless we take care of them for now.”
- 38:47 “Know that I would like to focus you solely on this one thing, but for now, I have to have you do these other things until we can get there.”
- 38:57 Sean: Scott also says, “What can I do to prevent my team members from burning out?” Sabbaticals. When I was thinking about this question, I was thinking about saying, “Sabbaticals! Just kidding. If you can’t do that, here’s what you should do…” No, actually, you should do sabbaticals. I’ve thought about this a lot, and that’s the best solution.
- 39:19 That’s why I believe that we’re going to change business, and sabbaticals are going to be mainstream. Everyone will do them in 30 years. I think it will take 30 years, because that’s a really big change, but most places will do them in 30 years. Sabbaticals are it.
- 39:46 Sean: That’s how you prevent burnout. Try all the other methods. Good luck. I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like they work that great. It didn’t work for me. Maybe that’s my personality. You work here, Cory. How do you feel about burnout, sabbaticals, feeling appreciated, and having time off?
- 40:11 Cory: Burnout is a real thing. It’s a great prevention to avoid that. That’s why you gave it to yourself in the beginning, Sean. You were like, “I’ve been doing this for years. I need a week off.” You gave it to yourself, and it totally prevented it. The way you’re supposed to take it, there are no obligations. It’s just freedom and space. You come back to work with these ideas, because you’ve given your mind rest. That’s what it needs.
- 40:50 It’s like sleeping every night. You need that. This is just a slightly bigger scale than that. It’s a slightly bigger scale than weekends. When you give yourself space and time to think and step away from something, that’s when you get clarity on how to approach it even better. It’s even like a relationship. Maybe you’re in an argument or something. You take a step back and you get some clarity. You’re like, “Okay, now I’ve got it.” If you’re constantly in something, like work, and you’re constantly working, you can’t have enough clarity.
- 41:24 That’s why mastermind groups are so great (Related: e313 How to Start a Mastermind Group). It’s stepping back, getting new ideas, and going back into it.
- 41:33 Sean: Ben, any thoughts?
- 41:34 Ben: I’m really struggling to do it for myself. I can compare that to what I’m feeling right now, which is overwhelmed, burned out.
- 42:06 That’s what you get when you have that rhythm in your life. When you’re taking that periodic sabbatical, you’re more effective when you do work. That’s the best I can say about it. Right now, I feel the opposite of what the sabbatical is supposed to help you feel when you’re working.
You have to do the things that have to be done, but let people know where you’re going.
Get seven weeks worth of work done in six weeks and then take off the seventh week—that’s how you prevent burnout.
It takes twice as much effort for you to do the same amount of work when you’re burned out as it does when you’re refreshed.
Prioritize Focus Over Time
- 42:30 Sean: I was reading something from James Clear, who is one of our speakers at seanwes conference this year. He was saying something to the effect of, “Don’t manage time, manage focus.” When are the areas, the times, and the periods where you’re able to get the most work done, where you have the most focus? Optimize around those. More people are trying to optimize around time.
- 42:56 They’re trying to manage time. “I can’t take a week off every seventh week! That’s too much time.” Meanwhile, the overwhelmed feeling and half-focused work they’re doing with the non-stop, never taking breaks method of doing things isn’t really focused. It’s not quality work and quality effort, but people prioritize the bulk time as automatically better than greater focus.
- 43:31 When we do work, it takes however much time we give it. Work expands to the time allotted. When you take seven weeks worth of work and you give yourself six weeks to do it, you get it done in six weeks. You force the focus. You can go even more micro than that. You can optimize your day. You can front-load your work in the morning. Realize that there will be things going on in the day and you won’t get as much work done, so optimize for your morning.
- 44:03 Even on a macro level, we’re optimizing for focus in six and seven week periods. That would be my long answer to how to prevent burnout—sabbaticals.
Align Challenge & Skill
- 44:19 Sean: “What do you do when you want your team to take your vision more seriously?” I have a great resource for you at seanwes.tv/188. It’s literally called How to Get a Team On Board With Your Mission and Vision, so check that out on seanwes tv. Scott says, “How do you challenge your team members without asking too much of them?” There’s this chart that we’ve talked about before. We talked about it in Hiring Bootcamp.
- 44:54 If you want people to be challenged without feeling overwhelmed or like you’re asking too much of them, if you really want to utilize them, give them a high challenge in an area where they have high skill. That, as you’ll see on the graphic, is where you’ll find flow. Flow is the optimal state. That’s where you want to be. That’s where you want your employees to be. The way you get there is by aligning that high challenge with high skill.
- 45:27 You have to know the people you’re working with to be able to do that. As much as possible, that’s where I would strive to get to.
- 45:35 Ben: I like that graphic.
To challenge your team members without asking too much of them, align high challenge with high skill.
Show Your Team You Appreciate Them
- 45:36 Sean: “What are some ways you can show your team how much you appreciate them?” We had a great Lambo Goal episode, another show we do on the seanwes network that’s currently on pause, but it still has a great archive, and I’ll share some highlights from that (Related: Lambo Goal e026 Activating Your Employee’s Hustle Incentive). Essentially, how do you show people you appreciate them?
- 45:54 Automatically, people think of money. Money might get people in the door, but it’s not going to keep them. It’s definitely a bandaid fix for a poor working environment or a lack of appreciation. For certain people, just telling them you appreciate them is bigger than money. Just verbalize it. There are a lot of ways to do this.
- 46:25 It really means a lot to certain people, especially words of affirmation people. Find out what motivates your employees and combine those incentives. This comes down to knowing people. I did a seanwes tv episode on How Do You Get Employees to Work as Hard as You? You don’t. This is your thing. No one is ever going to care as much as you.
- 46:52 No matter what, no matter how much you invest in them and get them on board, it’s still mostly yours. It’s still going to be mostly you that cares. Remember, you work for your team. As someone who employs other people, you work for them. They don’t work for you. You need to get to know them as unique, individual people and as humans to know what makes them tick, what they want, and what they want to accomplish.
- 47:23 How do they feel appreciated? What types of things? Do they like when they get a hug? Do they like it when you say, “I appreciate you?” Most people would say yes to all of these things. “Yeah, a pay raise, awesome. A bonus, awesome.” At some point, after they’ve gotten all of those things, some of them mean more.
Don’t forget the most obvious way to appreciate people—tell them you appreciate them.
Learn the language of each person that you employ, what makes them feel most appreciated.
Maybe You Should Be a Number Two
- 47:58 Sean: Sarah, “When you really know how to do something well and you even enjoy it, but it’s not what you should be focusing on, how do you let go?” Ask yourself if you want to forever be stuck in the business, if you want to be working in the business and not on the business. I will put out a disclaimer. I never did less design than when I ran a partnership web firm. 80% of that was business.
- 48:26 When you run a business and bring on a team, you’ll end up working on the business, not in the business. You have to understand that. If you love what you do, maybe you should be a number two. Gary Vaynerchuck has said this as well—the number two spot is the best spot. You get so many of the benefits without all of the crap. Everything comes down to you as the CEO. You’re responsible for all mistakes, all problems.
- 49:11 You put out the fires. That’s your job. You get all the garbage. Everything that goes wrong, every possible problem, flows up to you. The number two person is insulated from that, but they get a lot of the benefits. That’s not to say that it’s easy. Gary explained it like, “It’s the difference between being a firstborn kid and a parent.” You think you have responsibilities, but you have no idea what it’s like.
- 49:46 You’re responsible for making sure people have a house and food. It’s so different than being in charge of a few siblings. If you love what you do, maybe you should be a number two. If you start a business, if you start hiring people, there are two possible outcomes. One is, you build the business around yourself and reliance on yourself, so you can’t go on vacation, sleep in, take off weekends, or stop working 16 or 18 hours a day, because if you don’t do things, the business falls apart.
- 50:21 That’s not a great outcome, but it’s one of the possible outcomes. The other possible outcome is that you design yourself out of the business. You make a business that works without you that you advise, that you direct, steer, and lend your perspective to and your vision.
- 50:44 You’re no longer going to do the work. If you love designing and you start a design agency or a design firm and you’re the boss, you won’t do design. The only way this works is if you love business. I didn’t know that I loved business. I didn’t know any of these things that I’m telling you. I found them out, because I was like, “Things are going well. The next thing you’re supposed to do is run a business.”
- 51:08 Then I found myself not doing the things that got me into the game. At first, that was a little disheartening, but then I fell in love with business even more. I really liked it. That’s something that you need to be aware of. If that’s not something that you want, maybe you should be a number two.
- 51:26 Ben: Maybe another way to talk about it is that you may just not be the kind of person who builds a team. You can manage and take care of yourself, you can do well being a solopreneur, doing the thing that you love, but that’s the most you’re ever going to be able to handle on your own. If you ever want that to grow beyond you, you’ll have to step outside of that initial role and dive into the business side of things.
- 52:00 Otherwise, you’re just going to be frustrated and stuck. If you’re thinking about getting a team of people, it’s understood that you’re probably going to be stepping out of that role of being the designer and you’ll be focusing more on the business.
- 52:19 Sean: Voice and vision. What’s the message? Where are you going? That’s what you’re in charge of. Maybe the voice is literally your voice, and you talk to someone on your team who transcribes what you say. They edit it for grammar and put it in a newsletter that a designer designs and a marketer sends, but it’s your voice. It’s your vision of where you’re going.
If you design yourself out of your business, you’re no longer doing the thing that got you into the game.
Dealing With Micro-Management
- 52:45 Sean: This is an interesting one from Sarah. “As an employee, what’s the best way to handle a micro-managing manager?” It was extended from an earlier question she asked, which was, “What’s the best way to trust someone and avoid micro-managing when what they do is what you used to do and loved?” That’s really hard. I can speak directly to that, because I’m a designer. I’ve done design for many years, nearly a decade.
- 53:19 In 2015, I hired Kyle as our Visual Identity Director. He does design. He oversees that department, and I’ve had to delegate to him. I have had to give up certain things about design direction to him. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have input, but that’s his department. We’ve run into issues, where I’m trying to shortcut things. I’ll say, “I want to change this. I’m the boss and I’m a designer, so I’m just going to do it.” That presents other problems.
- 53:51 We’ve had to patch our processes because of that. What is our process? When we want to make a design decision, who’s in charge of that? What is the order of things? Who goes to who when, in what order? The answer to it is this.
- 54:10 This morning, I asked Cory if he did something. He was like, “Yes, I did it. I just want you to trust me.” I was like, “We don’t trust ourselves. We trust the process.” We make mistakes, but if we follow a process that works, there won’t be mistakes. Don’t trust yourself, trust the process. Come up with a good process. If you feel yourself trending towards micro-managing someone who does a thing you used to do that you loved to do, create a process to fix it.
- 54:43 Ben: That’s really interesting. From the other side of the question, being the employee, I wonder if the answer to that is to ask, “What is your process for doing that?” Really try to understand that. Then you focus the employer away from you and on the process.
- 55:07 Sean: That’s excellent. That’s so good. I would love that. That’s exactly what I would say to someone who works for me. How to be an ideal employee: if you feel like you’re being micro-managed, remind them of the goal, if it’s known and it has been communicated. Otherwise, ask questions. I wish more people would ask questions. Everyone assumes. I assume. I’m constantly auditing myself for assumptions. Everyone is constantly assuming. Ask questions. Ask stupid questions.
- 55:47 Ask dumb questions. Ask obvious questions. Get on the same page. Don’t assume anything. “Here’s the thing, boss. I want to accomplish the goals here because I want us to be successful. I want to make you look good. I want to take this off your plate. I want you to feel less stress.”
- 56:13 Then you’re going to put them on the defense. Focus on the goal. If you don’t know what the goal is, without a shadow of a doubt, it has been communicated, it’s printed into a poster, and you have at least three of them on the walls of your office. If you have two posters, you have to ask. If you have three posters, you get to not ask. Otherwise, assume you don’t know the goal and ask, “What is the goal? What are we trying to accomplish here?”
- 56:39 Focus on the results. Focus on where they want you to go, and then start to have a conversation about establishing a process for getting there in the most efficient manner. Don’t even talk about, “I really want to avoid you micro-managing me.” What is the goal? What is the most efficient way to get to the goal? How do we ensure we always follow the most efficient way? The answer is to create a process.
- 57:02 “Is there a process? Are we following it? If not, let’s start following it. If there isn’t a process, let’s create it. Who’s going to create it? I’ll help you create it.” Problem solved. If there are still problems after that, it could be a result of a toxic environment or a bad person, in which case, you want to get out.
Create processes and trust the processes.
Don’t ever say the word “micro-manage” to your boss.
What to Look for in a New Employee
- 57:31 Sean: “Are there red flags to look for when hunting for a new employee? If yes what are they?” I look for people who take responsibility.
- 57:44 Responsibility and excuses have one thing in common: you’ll find whichever one you’re looking for. You will always find an excuse for why something happened that’s not your fault, and you will always find a way to take responsibility. Always. You can always find a way to take responsibility for a problem, even one you think doesn’t have anything to do with you. I look for people who take responsibility.
- 58:06 They seek it. “You know what, boss? I could have prevented that. That’s on me. I’m going to implement a process and fix this from happening.” Not, “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it! So-and-so didn’t do a thing.” You didn’t check with them. You didn’t follow the process. We didn’t test it, whatever. Honestly, I think that’s the golden one. I can’t even think of anything else.
- 58:40 Sean: Almost everything else fixes itself because of the mindset that person has to have. That’s it.
- 58:49 Ben: A person who seeks responsibility is going to take responsibility for a mistake, and they’re also going to take the initiative to try and prevent that mistake in the future. It’s on them. In their mind, it’s on them. If something goes wrong and they didn’t have enough information, they aren’t going to complain or make an excuse that they didn’t have enough information. They’re going to say, “Next time, I need to make sure I ask for that.”
- 59:23 Cory: I wanted to talk a little bit on how if you find someone who seeks responsibility, you’re set. That’s if a problem does happen. Find someone who seeks responsibility and you’ll be set, someone who’s not an excuses type of person, but also someone who cares about not just everything in their department, but what they’re trying to serve. What is everything in their department doing for the greater cause? They care more about why.
- 59:55 “Why am I the video person? What is it doing? Where are these videos going? How is it really helping bring in sales?” They care about the bigger picture. A perfect example is my assistant director for a project I was just doing, a film project. Any time anything happened, I wasn’t even saying, “This is your fault,” but I was saying, “This thing happened,” and she would say, “If I did this… If I asked so-and-so what they were doing that day, we could have…” It was really awesome.
- 01:00:27 She was seeking responsibility, how she could have prevented it. It wasn’t even in her department, but she was like, “I could have done this. I could have done that.” Seeking responsibility is one thing, but she also went totally out of her department to do things that other people probably could have done, but she did it because she saw a hole. She was like, “This needs to be done,” so she did it.
- 01:00:58 That’s the golden employee right there.
- 01:01:04 Ben: It brings me back around to the idea of getting six months of income in the bank. There’s a temptation, when you’re in a place where you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t hire somebody, to use that as an excuse. “I’m not seeing the success I want in my business because I don’t have any help. I don’t have any help because I can’t afford it. I can’t afford it because I’m not as successful in my business as I want to be.” Around and around you go.
- 01:01:38 When you flip the switch and become a person who takes responsibility, you can’t look at those excuses anymore. You have to say, “There’s a reason why I’m not there yet, and the only way I’m going to get there is by me taking action.” Nobody is going to hand you six months of income for an employee. That has to be up to you. When you become a person who takes responsibility, you attract people who take responsibility. That’s an important part of the equation.
- 01:02:12 When you get to a place where you can afford to hire somebody, if you’re a person of integrity and responsibility, you’re going to more easily spot people who are that way, but you’ll also more easily attract them.
- 01:02:27 Sean: That’s a great point. If anyone is wondering, “Okay, where do I find those people?” You have to attract them. Be that person who takes responsibility. Are you that person? It starts to make sense. I imagine that there are people listening to this who are like, “This is refreshing. The work environments I’ve been a part of aren’t like this. I want to seek responsibility. I am that person.” They want to work at seanwes. We’re attracting them with this conversation, with this show. You have to do the same with your business.
- 01:03:14 Go to seanwes.com/conference. We’ve got a legendary speaker lineup. On today’s topic, Chris Lema is coming in, and he’s going to be speaking on team building, especially remote work and stuff. That’s going to be really good. Virtually all the speakers we have are like keynote speakers at other conferences. We have the best of the best, and it’s going to be insane. If you’re listening to this when it comes out, you have two weeks before the price increases $500: seanwes.com/conference.
I want to give responsibility to people who take it.
If someone seeks responsibility instead of excuses, you’ve found a good employee.
Hire someone who cares about more than just their department—they care about why their work matters, what it’s doing, and they seek responsibility.