“Rome wasn’t built in a day…that’s true. But, it also took a lot more than just one person to build it!”
- Chris Ducker, author of Virtual Freedom
You Ever Had Superhero Syndrome?
Years ago, I used to think I wanted to build a business that had exactly one employee – me.
I loved the idea of how simple that sounded and the freedom it would allow.
I also had no idea what I was talking about.
It didn’t take long after Live Your Legend started to grow for me to realized how naive that was, especially given the impact I wanted our revolution here to have on others.
From that point, I fought with the idea of hiring a “team” for well over a year, until it literally became impossible to keep up with everything. I was suffering from what my friend Chris Ducker calls “The Superhero Syndrome”. I thought I had to do everything myself. Like I was some magician that needed the help of no one. Kinda like how I felt in the above picture…
What a joke.
At first out of necessity, I slowly started to bring on more people. Then something amazing began to happen – so much more started to become possible. And I had a lot more time to think bigger (and travel with Chelsea).
Now I don’t know what I’d do without Liz, Cherilyn, Celina, Tim, Glen and the rest of our team.
But getting started was so damn hard. Where to start? What works? What doesn’t?
One of the resources I’ve turned to for scalable team building over the years is Chris Ducker. He’s a master at it – and he should be at this point, given that he’s been in the business since before most had heard the term virtual assistant. Today he runs a virtual staffing company with more than 250 employees in the Philippines which allows hundreds of solopreneurs to not only overcome their Superhero Syndrome, but significantly magnify their impact.
Given how huge of a sticking point this is for many of us working towards living our legends, I’m honored to have Chris here to share his specific process for getting started hiring your own team – and some of the brick walls to avoid.
He also just published his new book Virtual Freedom, which goes live today. Today’s article is the foundation of what he covers in the book, and it’s plenty to get you diving head first into building your team. And yet another reason to take your surroundings so damn seriously.
Take it away, Chris…
More Work You Love = Freedom
To change the world by doing meaningful work you love, you have to delegate the work that gets in the way. That’s how legends are born—legends lead high-performing teams that are capable of achieving far more than the leader could alone. From business leaders like Richard Branson to lifestyle designers like Tim Ferriss, and even to superheros like the The Avengers, the best become better when they surround themselves with a team. Scott’s introduction here about the LYL team is a perfect example.
That end goal may be obvious; less obvious is usually where to start.
Loads of entrepreneurs make the mistake of rushing to that end goal, fumbling the process as they go. Rushing only leads to more headaches and less freedom, not less headaches and more freedom. So, if you want to build a passionate team that cares about your work and is driven to help you do more of it, here’s what you need to know.
First, you need to devote quality time and attention to an exercise I call the 3 Lists of Freedom. This exercise is extraordinarily eye-opening because it reveals all that you really should be focusing on as well as every little thing you shouldn’t. Once you have those revelations in hand, you need to carefully recruit and interview candidates that can take on all the things you identified that are holding you back from doing more work that matters.
Let’s begin with the 3 Lists to Freedom. We’ll tackle the best interviewing questions and where to find people after that.
The 3 Lists to Freedom
Before you start putting together your three lists, let’s consider all of the activities you’ll need to incorporate…
First, take a moment to think about all of the activities your business and career need just to maintain itself—these are the day-to-day tasks such as customer service or configuring the next article in WordPress.
Next, consider all of the activities needed to grow your business; this might include content creation, for example.
Then, go through and highlight the items that you enjoy doing personally and that matter most to the impact you want to have in the world.
Once you’ve done that, now you’re ready to create your 3 Lists to Freedom.
List 1—Tasks You Don’t Like Doing
This is any task that makes you cringe, procrastinate, or interferes with your bigger mission. Anything can be on this list—except for selling. Selling needs to be one of your top priorities because it’s the lifeblood of any business and passion-driven career, and no one should know your product, service, or message better than you.
Do you routinely reply to reader e-mails perhaps answering the most basic of inquiries? Are you still laying out and formatting your own blog posts? Does this stuff drive you nuts? Does it sap your time and energy from doing more important work? Put those types of things on this list.
Australian-based James Schramko is one of the most popular web entrepreneurs operating online today. He is incredibly successful. James started working with virtual assistants to simply handle work that he didn’t want to do himself anymore. The result is SuperfastBusiness.com, an extremely systemized online offering with well over fifty (yes, you read that correctly) virtual assistants running his business for him around the clock.
List 2—Tasks You Don’t Know How to Do
Be honest with yourself. I remember trying to design and develop my first blog on my own using a premium theme. It took me eight hours of work, and I still wasn’t happy with it. Why? Because I’m not a bloody web developer, that’s why! Sit back and genuinely think hard about this one. Ask yourself questions such as:
Are there tasks you’re currently doing that could be completed faster by someone else?
Are there projects you’re handling that could be wrapped up in a better, more professional way?
Are you trying to cut costs by dabbling far outside your areas of expertise?
Business coach and podcaster Jaime Tardy built a team of virtual assistants to manage the web development and online marketing side of her business, EventualMillionaire.com. Why? Because she simply didn’t know how to do it herself and admitted that fact instead of trying to teach herself. The result: She makes more of a difference doing the work that she does specialize in, which grows her business and makes her feel fulfilled.
List 3—Tasks You Feel You Shouldn’t Be Doing
This is the list I want you to give the most thought to – the stuff you’re currently doing but know isn’t how you should be spending your time. It’s usually a huge eye-opener for entrepreneurs because it gets their internal wheels turning about how they’re currently running their businesses, growing their platforms, and extending their reach. More importantly, this list helps you see how you want to be running your business and expanding your influence in the future.
Some questions to ponder:
Which tasks should you simply never touch—meaning you could eliminate them from your schedule entirely, making way for more important tasks?
Which low-level tasks could be easily given to a virtual assistant as part-time work?
Which tasks are you handling that could be taken over by a professional who knows exactly what he or she is doing? These are tasks where the potential harm outweighs the cost savings of doing them yourself.
Which tasks are stopping you from really focusing on the strategic growth of your business?
Mediapreneur David Siteman Garland was bogged down handling every tiny detail in his online media business, TheRiseToTheTop.com. Realizing that he needed more time to focus on the most important things, such as building relationships and further monetizing his blog and online brand, he turned to virtual help. He gained countless hours back into his schedule and today has one of the most popular online TV shows for entrepreneurs.
Here’s an example of how your lists might look, as you start out with the exercise. Note: This is standard stuff and generic to entrepreneurs everywhere in today’s business and online world. Your lists should be focused on you and your specific needs as an individual motivated to make a unique difference with your body of work.
For me, I completely outsourced my incoming email inbox so that I could focus on creating more value for my readers as well as preserving my sanity. (Of course, I still answer the important emails from friends and influencers.) I also stopped trying to do the audio editing of my podcast—The New Business Podcast—myself and instead got a seasoned audio editor to take on that job for me. That has been a lifesaver, because I’m just not a good audio editor! And the research and logistical planning I need for programs like The New Business Bootcamp or my Tropical Think Tank event is largely delegated to driven team members who share my dedication to making those offerings wildly successful.
With these lists, you now have a foundation of tasks that are easily delegated that will continue to grow over time, as they do for most entrepreneurs today—not only that, but through the 3 Lists to Freedom exercise you’ve deepened your understanding of yourself, the type of impacts you want to have on the world around you, and the types of tasks you need to delegate so that you can achieve those aspirations. This is essential to your lasting success.
Now, with those tasks in mind, let’s discuss how to hire the people who are going to help revolutionize the way you live and work, granting you unparalleled freedom, energy, and opportunity to expand your sphere of influence and generate the caliber of results that you’re proud of. It all starts with knowing what questions to ask during an interview so that you are confidently building an A-team of talent that you can trust to do a good job, honor your standards, and stick around as you grow your business and live your legend.
10 Essential Questions for Prospective Virtual Assistants
Here are the ten questions that I continually use to help me secure good hires. You’d be wise to ask the same questions of your virtual assistant candidates.
1. Why did you leave your last job—or why do you want to leave your current job? This question allows you to see why your VA could potentially be leaving your team one day.
2. What did you like about your last job? This will let you know how the VA works best and what motivates him or her.
3. What do you know about me and my work? If you’ve given candidates your website and name, this is a good opportunity to see if they’ve done their homework on you. If you haven’t given them your website, perhaps they’ve been aggressive enough to Google you and find out about you anyway, which is a great quality.
4. What skills do you have that make you a perfect fit for this role on my team? Look at the details you identified previously about tasks you need to delegate and see if the candidate offers specific comments that reflect knowledge of what you’re looking for in a VA.
5. Do you have any other skills that were not on the job description that might be useful to me, my work, and my team? Your VA may have other skills that could enhance the role you’re looking to fill. Though this doesn’t happen as often as we might like, it’s obviously a bonus when it does occur.
6. Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do outside of work? The intent of this question is to establish rapport with the candidate as well as see if they have passions outside of their work, which can sometimes be indications of their passion for their work. VAs view their bosses—in this case, you—as an authority figure, but they also want to know that you view them as human beings. Their answers will also give you a little insight into their personalities. And you want personalities that align with your values and view of the world.
7. What have you done in the last twelve months to improve your skills? Back to business! Candidates should have had some sort of training in the last twelve months. I would recommend taking this question one step further and asking when and where the training took place.
8. How long would you expect to work for me if you got the job? The virtual way of working can sometimes be on and off for the virtual worker, so giving him or her a sense of security based on performance can buy instant loyalty. I typically tell the people I hire, “As long as you continue to do good work, you’ll have a job with me for as long as I’m in business.” I genuinely mean that, and it also goes a long way in establishing a sense of loyalty in my workers—which helps to bring out their best, which brings out my best. Win-win!
9. If I was to hire you today, what would make you an asset to the work I do and the impact I want to make? This is a very open-ended question that may feel like a repeat of early questions, but I look at it as the candidate’s chance to wrap everything up and sell me on why I should hire him or her. So just sit back, don’t say a word, and see how the candidate responds.
10. What do you expect to get paid for this role/project/job? Getting the money topic out into the open and onto the table at the end of the call is absolutely necessary for you to figure out whether or not you can afford the particular candidate. If your budget is close to his or her expected compensation figure, this is when you can negotiate.
Interview in real-time, face-to-face
Although a lot of entrepreneurs like the idea of sending these types of questions via e-mail or some other type of online portal, such as on the job-posting websites themselves, I sincerely suggest doing interviews in person. With software such as Skype and Google Hangouts at your disposal, in my mind you’re mad to not connect face-to-face (virtually, that is) when making such an incredibly important business decision.
More importantly, you should not just treat interviewing (and ultimately hiring) candidates as a business transaction; you should approach it as a forging of talent so that all may do more of the work they love than would be possible alone. Ideally, you’ll hire talent that isn’t only awesome at what they do but also that you enjoy working with.
Find Your Team, Magnify Your Impact
So, are you ready to start building your team?
Good! Below are a few of the top places to start recruiting for quality, experienced virtual team members. I recommend trying out a few different platforms so that you can assess for yourself the talent each has available and how well that talent may align with your particular team position(s).
That last one—VirtualStaffFinder.com—is near and dear to my heart because it’s one of my special creations. Having spent years in this industry, I felt I had a responsibility to help more entrepreneurs who are struggling with the same “Superhero Syndrome” that I was once afflicted with. That’s why I created VirtualStaffFinder.com. The best, most successful entrepreneurs in the world can’t do everything themselves. They may have super powers, but they’re not superheroes. Entrepreneurs need teams. I infuse that team mentality into all my work, including how I built and run Virtual Staff Finder.
The End of Suffering – Why Virtual Teams Should Matter to Everyone
I believe so much in virtual teams because my business and life were really suffering back in 2009. I was working 14-hour days, six days a week, spending very little time with my family and working “in” my business, instead of “on” it. Sure, I loved my 200+ employee business and the focus of building it, but I was tired. In every possible way.
Going into 2010, I put a one-year goal in place: to completely replace myself in my business as much as possible by the end of the year.
I achieved my goal 11 months later, all thanks to the power of virtual team building.
As a result, I no longer work more than 6-7 hours a day, and my work week no longer includes Friday. I’m more focused than ever, my businesses are more successful than ever, and I now get to spend lots of time with my wife and three amazing children—the legend I care about more than anything else in this world.
I’m merely one successful case study that’s a testament to the necessity and power of building passionate, high-performing teams. The common denominator among all entrepreneurs, companies, audiences, and living legends is that growth occurs when like minds join to advance like-minded causes. If your work matters, and you want it to matter more in the world, then figure out what caliber of help you need and go get it.
With the right team in your corner, you’ll be amazed at what’s possible.
Go be more.
About the Author
Chris Ducker is a successful entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his thought leadership about building businesses and lifestyles that thrive with virtual teams. His highly-anticipated book—Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business—comes out April 1. Learn more at VirtualFreedomBook.com.