Our guest on today’s show is Liam Martin, co-founder of TimeDoctorstaff.com, and organizer of Running Remote. Liam is a serial entrepreneur and avid proponent for remote working who has appeared in publications such as Forbes, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. He is here today to speak to us about the benefits of having a virtual assistant, as well as to lay out some of his strategies for finding, screening, and managing his staff. You’ll hear just how indispensable Liam’s virtual assistant is to him as he gives many great examples of how she saved him from hotel room and flight schedule disasters.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

A big part of our conversation today is spent discussing the myriad applications that Liam recommends to help him run his businesses and interface with staff. He talks about apps related to payment, time management, instruction, business organization, communication, and a whole lot more. He also gets deeper into where to find the best virtual assistants for the best prices and the value of radical candor for optimal productivity. Liam’s mindset of total success coupled with his high-level experience makes him an incredible resource for knowledge, as he no doubt proves in the interview. So be sure to join us for this one.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The perks of having virtual assistants, such as streamlined travel and added 30% productivity.
  • What makes Liam’s relationship with his virtual assistant who he has had for ten years great.
  • Where to find a virtual assistant in terms of websites and also geographical locations.
  • Liam’s interview screening processes: Zoom calls and seeking people who take initiative.
  • The contract that Liam has with his assistants in terms of independent decision making.
  • Using incremental responsibility and 1Password to gain trust in new employees.
  • Liam has employees in 32 countries but recommends the Philippines for customer service.
  • The different prices for virtual assistants from the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and the US.
  • How to use a virtual assistant at first by delegating them time-sucking and dreaded tasks.
  • What to expect as far as the broadness of the skillset of an assistant.
  • Why Transferwise and Payoneer are better than Paypal: cost, efficiency, and reach.
  • Liam uses TimeDoctor to measure the overall productivity of a remote employee.
  • The many different apps that Liam uses to optimize his business.
  • Trello and Asana are Liam’s favorite time management apps.
  • Liam recommends Google Docs, Jing and Tainual for instructing assistants.
  • Tips for using a virtual system for the first time: scale what’s possible and persist.
  • The value of non-hierarchical direct critique for egalitarian organizations.
  • Mindset is the number one contributor to Liam’s success.
  • Liam charitably advocates for remote work through his Running Remote conference.
I can get 30% more things done per day just by adding a virtual assistant. — @vtamethodman Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Liam Martin on LinkedIn

Time Doctor

staff.com

Running Remote

Running Remote on YouTube

Vested Summit

Expedia

Upwork

Toptal

RemoteOK

We Work Remotely

1Password

LastPass

PayPal

Payoneer

Transferwise

Google Apps for Business

Slack

Skype

Zoom

Basecamp

Trello
Asana

Jing

Bitly

Trainual

Radical Candor

About Liam Martin

Liam is a serial entrepreneur who runs Time Doctor and Staff.com, one of the most popular time tracking and productivity software platforms in use by top brands today. He is also a co-organizer of the world’s largest remote work conference, Running Remote. Liam is an avid proponent of remote work and has been published in Forbes, Inc, Mashable, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat and many other publications specifically targeting the expansion of remote work. The mission statement that feeds all the products and services that Liam is involved with stem from empowering workers to work wherever they want, whenever they want. Liam has an undergraduate and graduate degree in Sociology from McGill University. He lives in Canada but travels 3-6 months out of the year due to his ability to work wherever and whenever he likes. He chooses a new place to travel a few times a year but usually spends time in Austin, Las Vegas, and Ubud each year and loves to encourage others to work remotely on his travels.

Full Transcript

EPISODE 405

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:00] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Real Estate Syndication Show. Whether you are a seasoned investor or building a new real estate business, this is the show for you. Whitney Sewell talks to top experts in the business. Our goal is to help you master real estate syndication.

And now your host, Whitney Sewell.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:00:24] WS: This is your daily Real Estate Syndication Show. I’m your host, Whitney Sewell. Today, our guest is Liam Martin. Thanks for being on the show, Liam.

[00:00:33] LM: Thanks for having me.

[00:00:34] WS: It’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Just today, I had questions about using virtual assistants and what that should look like and how I would hire somebody. I’ve used virtual assistants for a long time. I know the listeners are also thinking about using virtual assistants, also known as remote workers, and are looking to grow and scale their business. So we’ve got an expert on the show today in this topic. So I’m really looking forward to this.

But Liam is a serial entrepreneur who runs Time Doctor and staff.com, one of the most popular time tracking and productivity software platforms in use by top brands today. He’s also a co-organizer of the world’s largest remote work conference called Running Remote. He is an avid proponent for remote work and has been published in Forbes, Inc. Mashable, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, Huffington Post, VentureBeat, and many other publications, specifically targeting the expansion of remote work.

So, Liam, thank you again for your time being on the show. I’m really looking forward to this, because I know some of the listeners – I get questions all the time, I mean, personally, just about how I’ve used virtual assistance and how we’ve structured that, how we’ve hired people. So I’m really looking forward to getting your take. But give them a little bit more about your background, your focus on this remote work.

[00:01:51] LM: Sure. So, actually, virtual assistants for me have really run my life and have optimized my life in a way that I never really – It’s kind of something that I take for granted now. But then when I talk to people that don’t have virtual assistants, I don’t know how they function, to be honest with you.

So as an example, this meeting was basically set up by Vaishali who is in India, who reached out to you and basically got me on your show. All of those things are processed out and systematized. I was just in [inaudible 00:02:28] about three days ago for a conference called Vested Summit. My assistant booked all the flights. I actually had a somewhat disastrous change of plans, and she ended up within an hour reorganizing my flights, talking to lounges, setting up hotel rooms for me, all this kind of stuff. This all happens to me automatically, and it all happens to my phone.

So a lot of the times, as an example, about three weeks ago, I was in San Diego. I had missed my flight, because I was an idiot. At about 11:00 PM, I turned my phone off of silent mode. Within two minutes, I got a phone call from my assistant saying, “Are you at LAX right now, because it looks to me like your phone is in San Diego?” I said, “I’m in San Diego. Why would I be in LAX?” She said, “Because you’re supposed to be getting on a plane to LAX. You were supposed to go from San Diego to LAX at 8:30 to 10:30.” It’s like, “Oh, crap! Okay.” Then she’s like, “Listen. Don’t worry about it. I booked you a hotel room, and you’re leaving at 5:00 AM the next day.”

It’s just like those types of things that just sort of – that sync that you get in. I’ve been working with my virtual assistant for over 10 years. So I have a really good sync, and we know where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. She kind of knows. I kind of lovingly call her my mother, and that’s just one of those things that you can get when you have a virtual assistant, which is just seamless travel, seamless sync of communication. For anyone that’s in the real estate game, I mean, that’s just so critical when you’re going to be doing that real estate deal or meeting with a client or anything like this. It’s just, it completely – It probably arguably adds probably a 30% increase to my overall productivity per day. So I can get 30% more things done per day, just by adding a virtual assistant.

[00:04:39] WS: Just the stress level going down as well. Just like all of that stuff was taken care of for you. You didn’t have to like grab your laptop or your phone and get all of this stuff out and trying to figure out changing your flights, your hotel. It was just all done for you.

[00:04:52] LM: Yeah. I mean, I’ve had other instances like I was staying at a somewhat dodgy hotel in San Francisco, and I ended up finding bedbugs in my room that my assistant had booked. We have all of these processes and procedures like I will not fly before 10:00 AM, and if it’s longer than seven hours, I will pay for a business upgrade. We have all these if-then statements that build into how she books all my travel. But I had found bedbugs and I called her up and I said, “Hey! I think we got to get out of this room,” and she flipped out. Within 10 minutes, someone had been called up to my room from the concierge and said, “Well, you’ve been upgraded to the presidential suite.”

This was all through her, because she basically got on the phone and said, “We were booking it through, I believe, Expedia, and we book hundreds of nights per quarter through the company on Expedia.” They saw that we were like a complete – A triple platinum or whatever the heck you want to call it user.” She just said like, “I am going to give you a one-star review if you don’t move my client completely out of this place immediately and move them up to the presidential suite.” Not only that, she had all of my clothes dry-cleaned by another service that showed up maybe an hour later, because she was terrified that I would basically be bringing bedbugs back to my own house.

So that’s the kind of advantage that you can get when you just have a virtual assistant that not only has the ability to be able to make those decisions and is empowered to be able to make those decisions but also someone that just has that level of sync with you.

[00:06:32] WS: Okay. So 10 years. Is that common? I wanted to ask you that somebody will have the same virtual assistant or remote worker for that long.

[00:06:40] LM: Well, I don’t know. I know, for me, that’s something that I really like. I would say that the longer that you can be with someone that you really like, you should stick with them. Now, actually, my virtual assistant, there’s a terminology in the remote workspace called ‘digital nomadism’, which is someone that has no set address and travels the world. These people basically work from their laptops. So this is my virtual assistant now. So I think she’s in Kyoto in Japan right now. I don’t know where she’s going to go next. But she constantly travels the world. But she always knows, “Here’s my sync time with Liam. This is when he needs to get on this flight or he needs to do this meeting.” She just is always ahead of the curve and always understanding where I’m going to be next. Sometimes, she knows before I know.

[00:07:29] WS: That’s the great thing, if she knows before you know. So I know the listeners are – the common questions. There’s a few common questions and maybe some not so common that I’d love to get into. One thing is just hiring somebody that’s remote. I get the fear questions all the time. “Well, how do I hire them? I’ve never even met them in person.” Then I’d love to get into the tasks that we can give them and the expectations of their work and some other things. But initially, just give us some pointers on hiring somebody remotely. How do we find that person that we can trust to be that assistant?

[00:08:03] LM: So there’s a couple platforms that you can work from as a starting point. Upwork is the biggest one in the industry. That was a merger of oDesk and Elance, which used to be the two largest space basically, project work companies in the space. You’ll find a lot of virtual assistants on that platform. However, Upwork takes between 10 to 30% of an employee’s salary. So that’s how they make money. So you can basically go into their platform. You can find all these fantastic people. But then you pay 10 to 30% of that employee’s salary to Upwork. Basically, Upwork is the middleman inside of that process.

On the reverse side is Toptal. Toptal is one of the top kind of like almost remote headhunting agencies in the world, and they will actually just charge you a fee upfront to be able to find somebody fantastic. So if you want find a virtual assistant or a developer, anyone else, you can go to Toptal. They will tell you how much it will cost to be able to find a virtual assistant, as an example. Then they’re going to go through that process.

I personally really like two platforms that have – We do about 90% of our high-rank through these two platforms now, which is RemoteOK and We Work Remotely. So these are both job boards specifically for remote workers, and they already know, “Hey! This is working remotely.” Usually, they’ll have experience working remotely beforehand, so it’s very easy to be able to get up and going with somebody. Now, in terms of virtual assistant like areas to be able to hire, the Philippines is probably the best place right now. It’s an exact 12-hour flip from Eastern Standard Time. So if you’re in New York, as an example, your virtual assistant would be a 12-hour flip. If you can get them to work night shift, then they’re going to be on all of that time with you.

[00:09:56] WS: Take me through that hiring process a little bit though. Let’s say we find some people and then just the interview. Interviewing somebody that’s in another country, obviously we can’t meet them. Maybe some questions also that you would suggest we ask.

[00:10:10] LM: So Zoom and Skype. I have a perspective of always do a call on video, because you can see what’s happening with that person. If you’re going to be hiring someone in the Philippines, as an example, or India or any other developing country, do they have a stable Internet connection? If you go to speedtest.net. You have them go to speedtest.net, they run a speed test, and then they submit that URL to you. Then you’ll actually be able to know what their Internet connection speeds are, which is very useful.

Generally, if they don’t have five down and five up, they have below that amount, I would not generally work with them, because they can’t hold a stable Zoom call, as an example. Then I would just ask them questions like, “Have you done any type of VA work before? Can you tell me about those previous experiences?” If they don’t have any experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t hire them. But generally, I look for people that have very good attention to detail. So my assistant, as an example, she has all of these operational processes on what actions she should take based off of the feedback that I’ve provided in the past, and she basically came up with that documentation on her own. That’s what I mean by attention to detail.

I also – One other factor that I look at generally whenever I’m hiring anyone is I have a perspective of, “Don’t ask me what to do, tell me what you did.” That generally is applicable to everyone that I work with, but particularly people that are on a 12-hour time zone difference between me and them, because a lot of the times they’re going to be working without me actually directly interacting with them. It’s super important that they just make their own independent decisions without my input.

[00:11:59] WS: I like that. It’s important that you give them that reign little bit as well, that you’re not micromanaging to the point they feel like they’re bound for making those decisions.

[00:12:09] LM: Yeah. My assistant can make any decision below a thousand dollars independently. That’s what – Below a grand, you can make the decision. If you want to upgrade me for something, go ahead. If you want to buy something for me, if you think that this hotel room is going to be a little bit nicer than this other hotel room. She kind of knows based off of the interactions that I’ve had that maybe I really don’t want to buy this very expensive place for $250 a night, and I’d rather go to this other place for $160 a night. So she works those types of things out with me.

My co-founder, as an example, he likes much more expensive places than I do. I can’t spend that extra money. I just – It hurts me every single time I do. So she has different operational documents for me versus him.

[00:12:54] WS: So tell me though, because I get this question and I’ve wondered it myself. I’ve used VAs from all over the world for different tasks. My main assistants though, my executive assistants, have always been in the US. That’s just been my preference though. Because giving them access to email or giving them access to other accounts, I just wanted them in the US, so I could do a background check and things like that. While in other countries, I’ve been more task-specific with things that I needed them to do, whether it’s repetitive or maybe something they’re really good at.

So how did you manage giving them access to things even though they’re from another country and, at first, you really don’t know much about them?

[00:13:31] LM: So with any relationship, you have to build trust. We don’t just automatically give someone access to everything right off the top. So with anyone that I’m going to hire, whether a virtual assistant or a customer service person, a developer, whatever, we have one to three-month period in which they get access to certain pieces of technology but nothing that can really damage the business in a significant way. After that point, we start to give them various amounts of trust, and we add that into the organization.

One of the things that we do, which I think is – not many people do, but I think it’s something you should absolutely do, is we use 1 Password for everything. So that basically allows you to be able to send encrypted ciphers through Chrome, basically through a Chrome extension, so that your employees never actually see the password. They only see the encrypted cipher. So you can give them access to banking information, as an example. But at any point, if you want to pull that access, you simply pull their 1Password access, and then that removes them from all of their other logins that they have, because they didn’t know any of those passwords in the first place. That’s one thing that we implement, and it’s been very successful.

[00:14:50] WS: So the listener understands too, 1Password is a website just like LastPass. It’s not actually one password, but it’s a way to save all your passwords, and you can share it and it’s disguised so that person doesn’t see it.

[00:15:00] LM: Yeah. It’s about – I think it’s like one to two dollars per user per month. So the real magic is when you can basically set up a main account, and then you can give other users certain access to certain passwords and certain logins. Then you can also rescind that access if you want, and they never actually get access to the real password.

[00:15:22] WS: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I could not agree more. So what about specific countries or do you have assistance in Canada and the US or is it like strictly Philippines or other countries?

[00:15:33] LM: We have people everywhere. So we have employees in 32 different countries all over the world. The Philippines’ dollar per dollar is probably, in my opinion, one of the best places to be able to find virtual assistants, because they have such a wealth of knowledge in what’s called the business process outsourcing industry, which is basically front office customer service. So if you call like MasterCard or Visa, it’s usually a Filipino that’s answering. They’re running massive call centers from there. So they understand customer service very well, and they’re able to basically very easily adapt into the VA world.

Outside of that, we’ve had people in VA-type roles in Eastern Europe, Mauritius, off the coast of Africa is a fantastic spot to be able to find VA talent. We also look a lot in Costa Rica. We’ve hired people out of Columbia, out of Brazil, and also Middle America. That’s actually – You can get a really good virtual assistant for probably 35,000 to 40,000 US that’s absolutely amazing. A lot of times, you can find a stay-at-home mom, and they’re very happy to be able to be your virtual assistant. They know exactly what to do. They can be perfectly in sync with you. There’s no cultural differences. We can usually get those people for 40 grand, which is really great to optimize your own productivity.

[00:16:57] WS: What is the cost per hour that the listener should be thinking about when we’re looking at the Philippines versus Central America versus the US or any other countries?

[00:17:06] LM: So I would say the Philippines, you can find someone very cheap. That’s probably not going to be good for about $500 US. You can find someone that is probably going to be pretty good for about $1,000 US, around that price point.

[00:17:20] WS: Is that – What length of time? You say $1,000 or $500.

[00:17:22] LM: $1,000 a month. Yeah. So 1,000 a month. In Eastern Europe, you’re probably going to have to double that. However, the quality of person is probably also going to be higher. There are some other cultural things that you’re going to have to work out there. But generally, they’re – It’s pretty good. In Mauritius, probably around the same price point that you would see in Eastern Europe and in the United States. You can find people between 2 to 3 to maybe even $4,000 US per month that are going to be pretty good.

If you compare the US to the Philippines, as an example, you’re probably going to be able to save about half. So you really need to run that calculation in your mind. You might even want to test a couple VAs, US-based one and a Filipino-based one and say to yourself, “Well, is the US-based one twice as good as the Filipino one?” That’s kind of the calculation that I have in my mind. If you have a larger team, we would probably, a lot of the times, have like let’s say maybe one US-based person. Then that US-based person might get optimized by two Filipino people to be able to make that US-based person more productive.

All of our top-level people in the company, we all have virtual assistants. So we just say en masse like that’s an employee perk that you get, because we know that that makes, at least me, 30% more productive.

[00:18:48] WS: Can you give the listeners some examples of maybe how they could best use that assistant at first? They haven’t used one yet, but they’re – Because I encourage people all the time. I’m like, “You write down things you do all day. I know there’s things you could give to a remote worker or a virtual assistant, and it doesn’t even have to be sensitive stuff at first.” But what do you recommend people do at first, just to get kind of their feet wet in this process?

00:19:11] LM: So I would say, to your point, write down a list of your biggest time sucks. So what do you spend a lot of time doing that is not a very productive use of your time? Then cross-reference that with things that you hate to do, because the things that you hate to do are usually the ones that you want to kind of get off your plate as quickly as humanly possible.

So for me, email was at the very top of that list. So you create a very small document, operational process, operational document on how to answer emails. So if you ever email me, and you’ll probably see this, the signature is different. So it would either be Liam or it would be my assistant’s name on behalf of Liam Martin. You can actually set this up through Google Apps for Business where you literally can have a delegated email account. So your virtual assistant can look at all of your emails. Then I will show up, let’s say, at 9:00 AM, and three-quarters of the emails that I should’ve opened my assistant has already open and either deleted, responded to, or done something else with. Then I only have, let’s say, a hundred emails out of the 400 emails that I should be answering.

So that’s a major time suck for me. I mean, you can go down the list to basically just cross-reference it to whatever big time sucks and then what do I hate doing. If you can then just go through the list and start processing out all of those things that you hate to do that suck up your time.

[00:20:47] WS: Yes. So I had a guy today call me, and he’s an investor friend of mine. He’s got a separate business outside of real estate, and he’s looking to venture into hiring a virtual assistant, and he wants somebody that can do social media and be an assistant. I told him that really if you have an executive assistant, that may not be that person that’s like this expert in social media. That may need to be a separate virtual system. But I guess it could be the same person. But what is your thought on how many things should I expect this person to be really good at?

[00:21:17] LM: So that’s a interesting debate. I can give you an example. Like Vaishali works in our marketing team. So she’s not a virtual assistant. But she is really good at booking podcasts. So she’s booked 402 podcasts over the last two years that I’ve successfully been on, and we can tie back a very specific ROI to all the podcasts that I’ve done and the views and what that’s actually produced in terms of business for us. I don’t think I would trust Vaishali to be able to book my flights. I think that’s a different type of mindset. So I would say probably start with one person that can adapt to a lot of different situations. Eventually, that person would become your “chief of staff.”

By the way, if you really want to make your virtual assistant happy, call them a chief of staff. They love it, because it sounds very important and it sounds like you’re the president. But it’s just you gave them another name. So that chief of staff would then be able to manage the other people. So maybe you’ve got someone that focuses on social media and is really working on keeping all of your social media assets up and running. But if someone’s really good at doing social media, I wouldn’t necessarily trust them to book my flights. I think those are two different perspectives. But maybe they would be really good at batching my email, as an example. Or maybe doing email marketing or something like that. You really just kind of have to figure out your categories and then breakdown those categories and see what those VAs are interested in expanding out into.

[00:22:52] WS: I like that a lot. How do you pay them? Are you using PayPal? Are you using one of your systems? How does that work?

[00:23:00] LM: PayPal sucks. I mean, I can say very directly that PayPal sucks, because their fees are exorbitant, and a lot of the time, that money doesn’t actually end up in that person’s account, and it’s very difficult to be able to pull that money out. The two solutions that I like the most are Payoneer and Transferwise.

[00:23:23] WS: Say that first one again. How do you spell that?

[00:23:26] LM: Payoneer, P-A-Y-O-N-E-E-R, Payoneer. Then Transferwise is the other one. So Payoneer is really good for getting money into very difficult places, and Transferwise is by far the cheapest solution. I think it’s about 10% of the cost of PayPal, and you can get money moved into any possible account that you can think of in most of the developed and a pretty big chunk of the developing world. So those two solutions, much cheaper than PayPal, the money ends up in their account a lot more often, and it’s also not held up.

So this is something that a lot of people don’t recognize is that in developing countries, a lot of the times when you just have a whole bunch of cash that basically shows up in a random account, there’s the KYC process, know your customer, that is sometimes very difficult for people in developing countries. So PayPal is not very good at making sure that that money basically ends up where it should be.

[00:24:29] WS: So what kind of tools do you use to really manage these assistants and make sure they’re productive?

[00:24:36] LM: So a little biased on this one, but TimeDoctor is one of the tools that we use quite a bit. So I’m measuring this call right now, and then this is going back into all of the other podcasts tasked that I have, and I just know very clearly exactly how much time I’m spending, what websites and applications I’m accessing, all that kind of stuff. That’s TimeDoctor. That’s our tool. We kind of call it not just a time tracking tool but a time analytics tool, which measures the overall productivity of a remote employee.

Outside of that, I mean, we use tools like – I would say, if you just wanted to start at the very bottom, Google Apps for Business, to me, is one of the best dollars spent inside of your business. So it also gives you a calendar. It gives you a cloud documentation, cloud spreadsheets, Google drive cloud presentations. It’s a really good tool to be able to share documents virtually, which is really good for remote work. Communication, we usually use Slack. Skype is a really good free tool. Zoom is a really good paint tool. We use Basecamp for a lot of our long-form project management communication. I use Trello for a lot of very quick fast projects or Asana.

I mean, it really just boils down to what you like and how you want to deploy it. But I would say for anyone that’s starting at the very bottom, I would deploy Google Apps for Business and then Slack to be able to communicate with your customer whenever you want or with your VA whenever you want.

[00:26:15] WS: As far as that task management software, I know you mentioned Trello and Asana. Do you have a preference there?

[00:26:21] LM: It really depends on what you’re doing. I think Trello is really good for like quick and dirty. Asana is a little bit more of an advanced tool, because it has a lot more features. Both of those things integrate with Time Doctor. So I’m not really biased on either. All of those tasks basically push into Time Doctor as a desktop application. So I can basically put in a task on Asana, and then it will push to Time Doctor automatically, and my assistant would know, “Oh! Well, Liam needs me to work on working – He needs me to investigate what type of pillows I should get.”

This is actually something that I saw my business partner ask our assistant. He wanted like flight pillows, and he wanted her to figure out the best flight pillow. So she ended up going on these like five or six-hour investigation into these flight pillows and boiled it down to three and decided to send him all three to San Diego. Then he chose one, and he sent the other two back through Amazon. That’s the kind of just – They were great pillows, but it’s just sort of to put the mental thought process of those five to six hours of research is just something that you don’t want to do. It’s much better if you can outsource that process.

[00:27:42] WS: This has been great information, Liam. I’m very grateful for your time. I hope you have just a few more minutes, but I wanted to ask you as well. Just like the processes that you put in place and how you document these things or any kind of system that we haven’t talked about just to have on the backend to help assistants even know what to do and that is documented?

[00:28:02] LM: Very cheap/ free solution is Google Docs. So what I would do is put together a Google Doc. Usually, I restrict it to about one page. So that’s maybe four, five steps of like how to answer an email. That’s one of my emails. I would have some rules that I would breakdown and how you do it. Then I would also at the very top put in a video link. So I use a tool called Jing. There’s plenty of other tools out on the market, but Jing basically allows you to be able to create a five-minute screencast, and it also records your audio records your screen. Then that turns into a Bitly link once it’s uploaded. So I just put that Bitly link at the top, which is me explaining that process to whoever is going to basically consume that information. That’s very simple on the base level.

If you want to go a little bit more advanced, I would suggest that you check out a tool called Trainual, which is T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L.com. Trainual basically is a place where you put all of your different processes and procedures. It’s basically a manual. It’s a training manual, a Trainual together. That is a little bit more advanced. It’s a software that you actually pay for. But we’ve seen that be a massive tool in the rural workspace to be able to really get people on-boarded. It’s a lot more structured even for new employees on-boarding. So like, “How does the org chart work?  What is your job and what are all the procedures and processes connected to your job? What are all the procedures and processes of other departments and how do they connect to your job?” You can create that in Trainual very easily.

[00:29:49] WS: Nice. Some great websites there that I’ve never even heard of before. It sounds, yeah, it could really help me personally, and I know the listeners as well. Before we have to go, Liam, anything else that you want to leave for listeners with as far as jumping into using a virtual system for the first time and just doing it correctly?

[00:30:07] LM: I think you just need to jump in. So I always tell people that there are going to be explosions that happen, and you’re going to pay those costs because long-term you’re going to get to a state that I’m in, as an example, where like I don’t even know what’s happening, but I’m being moved to different places. All I have to do is like talk to really cool, interesting people like you, but sometimes I don’t even know how I got here. That’s the level that you want to be at, which is figure out what can’t be scaled, which is me talking to you, as an example, and then scale everything else outside of that.

So there are explosions that are going to happen. It’s going to be a difficult process. But if you continue to work at it and you’re working with people that are really aligned to your company vision and what you’re trying to accomplish as a company, it is absolutely going to work out for you. It’s just – There are going to be a couple of bumps on the road and just understand that those are going to happen. Move past them, and you’ll hopefully be at a point where you’re just in this perfect state of sync with your VA.

[00:31:17] WS: What’s a way that you’ve recently improved your business that we can apply to ours?

[00:31:22] LM: Boy! So one of the things that we started doing is we really started to implement 360 reviews, and that’s been something that’s been hugely beneficial to the organization. So a 360 review is basically not just talking to your manager but also talking to your coworkers and then also sometimes talking to the people that you manage. It gives you a very good idea of what’s going on with you.

So I’ve gotten a ton of fantastic feedback from my virtual assistant, as an example, that very anonymously has communicated, “Hey! You know what? If Liam could respond to his emails a little bit faster, I could get my job done.” These are the things that you need to be able to provide people the opportunity to critique you in an open and non-confrontational environment, and the 360 review process is really fantastic.

A book that I can suggest connected to that, the thesis of this book is you need to have direct feedback and you need to be very upfront with your critiques with people even if that person is your manager. So you report to them, because then that just creates a much more egalitarian organization. The name of the book is Radical Candor. So I’d Google that one, Radical Candor, amazing book on really understanding how to be candid in an organization and creating an environment in which you can be candid with people and you’re not going to get any kind of negative feedback from it.

[00:33:01] WS: Great advice. I love that. I know my assistant would say the same thing about email. No doubt about it. So what’s the number one thing that’s contributed to your success?

[00:33:09] LM: Mindset.

[00:33:10] WS: How did you develop that?

[00:33:12] LM: Going to succeed. You just hammer it into yourself morning, day, and night. I think that this is – particularly when you look at entrepreneurship, we’re all relatively intelligent. There are much smarter people on planet earth than me or you. There are much luckier people on planet earth than me or you. The difference is the ability to continue to grind out all of those details.

I mean, luck for me is just you’ve got the right training and the situation presents itself. That stems almost entirely from mindset and discipline. So get your mind right. Understand that there are always problems that are going to happen. If you continuously move in the right direction, you are eventually going to succeed. If you truly understand that, then you’re going to succeed, and it will just happen automatically. That sounds like a little kind of woo-woo, but I’ve realized that this is something that has been so critical to my success when I compare myself to other people that maybe didn’t necessarily have the same discipline. They were disciplined in other ways, but they didn’t have the mindset. They didn’t truly believe that they could actually accomplish what they kind of thought that they were going to accomplish, whereas I’ve always had that mindset. I think that’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs.

[00:34:31] WS: Before we have to go, how do you like to give back?

[00:34:31] LM: So that’s something that we’ve actually been thinking quite a lot about at the company. We give away 1% of our profits to charity, and we talk about pragmatic charity as much as humanly possible. So we really study where we can put those dollars to produce the maximum result. One of the things that we’ve actually realized is our mission statement is that we want to empower people to work wherever they want whenever they want.

So that’s actually why we started Running Remote, the conference on building and scaling remote teams, because we believe that if everyone on planet earth can have the ability to be able to work remotely, they are, number one, going to be a lot happier. But then they’ll be able to get access to people and resources that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get access to. So it sounds a little counterintuitive, but we really see Running Remote as kind of like charity or non-governmental organization and just something that we’re very passionate about that we want to get behind. We can’t cure cancer, but we can absolutely within the next 10 years hopefully have an extra billion people that at least have access to remote work.

[00:35:45] WS: Is that conference focused more on the business who’s looking to move to remote work or the actual remote workers themselves?

[00:35:52] LM: So this is almost entirely for the business owners. The employees, there are plenty of other conferences that you can go to. This is to have founders and business owners, companies that are what we call remote-first or people that are interested in actually moving to a remote-first model, which by the way is probably one of the best things you can possibly do for your business and basically giving them a crash course on how to do that.

[00:36:18] WS: Liam, amazing interview. I appreciate your time and just sharing your expertise, because I get these questions every week about how to use virtual assistants, because people know I’ve used them for a long time personally. I’ve learned a lot today from you and I’m grateful and I know the listeners are as well. I apologize to the listeners and you for going a little long, but it was well worth it, and you provided amazing feedback. I know you answered many of their questions. But tell them how they can get in touch with you and learn more about you.

[00:36:45] LM: So if you want to check out Time Doctor, go to timedoctor.com. If you want to check out Running Remote, go to runningremote.com. If you want to get in contact with me, I’ve shut off almost all forms of social media, because I found it a distraction. Save for one, which is YouTube. If you go to youtube.com/runningremote and you put in a comment anywhere, I will get back to you within four hours. It’s not my virtual assistant. It’s not somebody else. It’s me personally, because I actually think that that’s the most honest form of social media. So youtube.com/runningremote. Grab me on there, and I love to be able to have a conversation with you.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[00:37:23] WS: Don’t go yet. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. I would love it if you would go to iTunes right now and leave a rating and written review. I want to hear your feedback. It makes a big difference in getting the podcast out there. You can also go to the Real Estate Syndication Show on Facebook, so you can connect with me and we can also receive feedback and your questions there that you want me to answer on the show. Subscribe too, so you can get the latest episodes. Lastly, I want to keep you updated. So head over to lifebridgecapital.com and sign up for the newsletter. If you’re interested in partnering with me, sign up on the contact us page, so you can talk to me directly. Have a blessed day, and I will talk to you tomorrow.

[OUTRO]

[00:38:03] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to The Real Estate Syndication Show, brought to you by Life Bridge Capital. Life Bridge Capital works with investors nationwide to invest in real estate while also donating 50% of its profits to assist parents who are committing to adoption. Life Bridge Capital, making a difference one investor and one child at a time. Connect online at www.LifeBridgeCapital.com for free material and videos to further your success.

[END]

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the Real Estate Syndication Show Community:

Get Your Free Report on Apartment Investing

Real estate syndications are one of the most powerful, secure and most profitable investment vehicles open to successful folks like you today. Inside this free report, you’ll discover all of the many opportunities and we even walk you through a virtual acquisition so that you can see the true potential.

You have Successfully Subscribed!