Read on for the full transcript of this episode:
Hi, I’m Lynn.
And I’m Amanda. Welcome to the pursuit of bad assery the podcast. We are back again with another incredible guest. Today we have with us Renee Hastings and she is the president and CEO of Executive Help Now, a virtual administrative assistance service.
And her team of VA’s provide administrative support and business consulting services to a small business owners and busy executives.
We definitely know what that’s like. Renee started her entrepreneurial journey in 1996. And against all odds, she holds a bachelor’s degree in business management.
And she’s a Dale Carnegie leadership training coach. And has held a certified administrative professional designation by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
It’s a big mouthful there. She’s recently seen on NBC’s KCRA News, three discussing the impact of the pandemic on business owners and virtual assistance.
Renee, welcome to the show.
Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.
It’s great to be here.
Oh, we’re so excited to have you. We’re always so excited to see everybody, but we really are big. Dot after international speaker.
We’re very excited to have you on your podcast host yourself. So we’re excited to have you. Awesome. Thank you so much.
It is truly an honor when I met Lynn. Gosh, it may have been almost a year ago now, Lynn, that we were on a panel together moving your business to the $1 million mark by the International Association of Women.
And from that initial contact of just getting to know you through that platform. I was like, this is a woman I need to stay in touch with.
This, I want her to be my friend. So we just stayed in touch and been so intentional about, you know, developing relationship and that sort of thing.
And I’m so glad my life is just so much better because of it. Yeah, Renee’s been a big fan of our books.
remember when the books came out and you’re like, yeah, you got to check these women out.
We love that.
I, yes, that panel discussion was great and I’m glad that you brought that up because let’s start there. You know, we have a lot of people in our audience who their businesses are anywhere from starting up all the way to high producing and party producing millions and you had some really good nuggets in that panel discussion about like really how to scale.
And I think it’s very fitting, regardless of what level you’re at. And I think it’s very fitting because of what you’re And obviously, Amanda and I are big believers.
have a team of VA’s that work with us. on our team. And so I’d love for you to talk about like some, first of all, what got you into the VA world, but also some of those nuggets of like how this can help you scale.
Sure. Sure. I’m happy to talk about my journey because it actually started from a very young age. When I was still just a youth from Wisconsin, our city had a summer youth employment program where they taught young people employable skills so that number one people off the streets in the summer.
But second of all, to help them to learn to be contributors to society. And it was through those programs where they placed me at different organizations and I was able to get a taste of what it’s like to help people and from an office.
So I started out setting up a library at a nonprofit and then I was actually an assistant to a business owner.
And her job was to help people find jobs. And my job was to enter all of their information into the computer system and receive their applications and that sort of thing.
And as I’m listening to the clickety-clack of the keyboard, I’m like, every time my fingers are clickety-clack and on this keyboard, somebody’s life is changing.
Somebody’s getting a job, somebody’s going to be able to take care of their families, and this is important work.
And so I think I was 13 when I had this epiphany that I can make a difference in somebody’s life by helping them and that sort of thing.
So fast forward, I started taking more business classes in school, know, signed up for DECA and learned a lot marketing and that sort of thing.
But my passion truly was in support of Supporting executives, supporting business owners and whatever their initiatives were, whatever their goals were for their company, partnering with them, and just being their right hand.
That really gave me a feeling of fulfillment. Like I was actually operating in purpose. This came so naturally and easily for me.
And I was like, this is what I want to do. And I said back then when I was just a kid, said, day I’m going to run an office or I’m going to own my own business.
And that’s even. To be aware, I got to the point of owning my own business. I started in 2015.
My kids had graduated from high school and I was an empty nester. And I was like, I’ve got all this time on my hands and all this experience and ability to support executives.
said, let me see if I can go get my own executives because I’m in corporate America at this point.
Let me go see if I can get my own executives and kind of work with them on the side.
While I still hang on to my 9 to 5, because I got to keep the bill straight, right? And so as I was working my 9 to 5, I did my business on the side.
It was one of those things I was like, I’m not really taking very seriously back then, but it’s just something I knew that I could do.
Well, in 2019, that all changed and I got introduced to a gentleman who needed an assistant. And we started working together.
And by 2020, when the pandemic came No one had been used to working virtually like we had been used to working virtually.
So from the very beginning, all the support that I provided personally was virtually. So whatever work needed to be done by an executive assistant in an office was the exact same thing I did from the comfort of my own couch or in my office as a house for other executives.
And it was just something that And that had become way of life for us as a business. Well, when the pandemic hit and everything got shut down and everyone went home and had to work from home, we were just doing business as usual because this is what we were used to doing.
This is what we had already done. But business had started by then just start picking up so much. I had to actually start getting some a virtual assistant for myself because I was not able to handle the volume and so scaling.
I recognized immediately the importance of bringing on extra team members in order to scale. If I was going to build the business and have more than just one or two clients, I had to have a team.
And so that’s where it started. It was back then in 2020. I brought on one of my first VAs and the team has just grown ever since.
And we’ve been able to scale and keep up with the volume as it has come in. And as more clients come in, we bring on more VAs on the team to match to them and their specific skillset and their specific need to match the skill set of the VAs that we bring on the team.
I love that. Actually, one of your taglines that I’ve seen is I love, which is life’s too short to schedule your own meetings, book your own travel and check your own email and my cats.
Yes, it is.
Yeah. It’s funny that never used to be something that would be, I mean, that used to be something you think.
I love your item. Only the very rich and she-shey and the top and the muckety mucks of the world are the ones who have virtual assistants, but now it’s just everybody can benefit and everybody can afford it to some extent.
not everybody, but it’s so much more accessible and easier to find and it’s so much more commonplace that there’s just such a need for it now.
Yes, absolutely. Anyone can have one, absolutely. everyone needs one. If they’re going to go to the next level and I firmly believe that with everything in me because you can’t do everything yourself.
You may be really great at what you’re doing and you may enjoy it, but if your business is going to reach the next level, you have to delegate those things that other people can do so that you can focus on the strategy and next steps for your business.
Absolutely. Amanda and I talk about this a lot and actually I don’t know if we’ve done I kind of talk about this independently, about like, you know, especially those that are starting businesses and eventually the productive work, eventually for the owner, for the top level individuals become busy work.
And that’s the type of work that you definitely want somebody else doing besides being proactive about assigning work to your VAs and your assistants that is going to help you scale.
So I love what you do because we’re big. We’re big about, well, I don’t know, actually, I’m going to take that back.
don’t know if we are both big about delegation. of us have gotten better than others.
I’m terrible at delegation. It’s not that I’m much better though.
I’m much better than I was. However, I grew up in a family, household where if you want it done right, you do it yourself.
And that, and I was unfortunately one of the first times I Ever as a newer entrepreneur, tried to delegate something and it just went horribly wrong.
And so I had that stigma, but the funny thing about the reason it went horribly wrong was not the VA’s fault.
It was actually my fault for not properly delegating and handing and making the tasks clear and attainable. And so it’s funny looking back at it now with my older, wiser eyes that most of the times that delegation just brutally failed, was actually my fault, not the VA’s fault.
Right, it’s super important to be so clear. thank you for your transparency and honesty and, you know, after reflection on, you know, looking back on how could this have been a better experience?
And that’s one of the things that we work with our clients on is setting up the VA for success.
So in order for there to be a mutually beneficial partnership, the VA has to be set up for success.
And that includes being very clear about what your desired outcome is. Being very clear about your deadline and is it a realistic deadline or is it a self-imposed deadline that would be nice if we hit it?
You know what mean? If there’s some flexibility in that, that’s good to know so that we can manage expectations and manage to what the desired outcome and deadline is.
And then being very clear about the, if there is creative freedom or if there is flexibility and how. How the work gets done being very clear about that or if there is something very specific that needs to be done in a particular way.
And, you know, in order for it to work, then we need to know that as well. So there’s so many different variables when it comes to delegating work, like how much you want to delegate at a time.
It’s very smart to start out very small with maybe one project that if it didn’t go particularly well, things would still continue very important to to function.
She’s a kind of feel it out so that you can gain a level of comfort and trust in your VA knowing that they’ve got your bag.
They’re able to accomplish the things that you need to have done in the way that it needs to be done in a very professional manner, timely manner, know, very thorough information or outputs or whatever that looks like.
And then once you get more and more comfortable with those small things, then you can add on more and have a level of peace about.
Handing off more tasks and duties for the VA to do and actually let him or her operate in their gifts that they have in their talents.
I love this and I think that there’s actually a lot of byproducts or indirect products or manifestation that kind of comes out of hiring a VA and having actually a company like yours because you’re truly a matchmaker and I love that and and whenever because I’ve had a VA.
It was funny when you were talking about you were doing virtual before COVID and I was like, yeah, you’re one of my people because I always say, I was doing Zoom before Zoom was cool before anybody else knew about it because I was international.
But it’s the same thing with VA’s is that I’ve had assistance for a very long time. And some of the things that that forces you to do, and especially with a company such as yours, is we get so much in the doing of the business that we don’t set up the SOPs, the structure, the foundation and the fundamentals.
And actually hiring a company such as yours and a service such as yours is people are almost forced into doing that.
And I don’t mean that in a negative way. mean that in a positive way because then there’s more of a structure and foundation.
And you’ve said this a few times to be able to help them grow and scale, but also sustain and be stable.
And I love them. And I do know, you know, because we We go back for years and change. Also with that is because you are such a matchmaker and you spend a lot of time in making sure it’s the right fit.
There’s something also that you’re teaching the client to really pay attention to strengths and weaknesses and understanding how to engage with even a virtual assistant.
There’s so many indirect positive things that come off of this. become a better leader. Obviously, they’re getting more shit done.
But they’re also learning systems in SOPs or having them be created through the VA. The leadership skills and the delegation skills.
It’s just an amazing, all around. It’s just so positive, especially They want it’s done properly. And the other part to that too, and I can remember having this conversation is people would be like, well, I don’t want to pay somebody if I can do it myself.
Yeah, but if you’re worth $300 an hour, if your time worth is $300 an hour, you can go out and make a sale.
And let’s say your sale is $5,000. Then once you want to be paying somebody else, you know, $25, $35 an hour, $50 an hour, $60 an hour, because Because you’re actually making money still.
Like, look at it from the bigger scale, not from just the what’s right in front of you, because people can’t conceptualize that a lot of times, but really you’re compounding your income.
As long as you’re still putting in the work and doing that work and going after that business, but you’re compounding your efforts and actually doubling down on your, your, your flow in.
Yes, absolutely. Because what it has, I love how you call it time. I’m worth value. Because, like you said, you’re worth $300 an hour.
Someone who’s making $300 an hour, going out, getting new business and helping to build the business and scale the business and grow the business, should not be spending that time, the value of that time, doing something that someone who makes much less can do and enjoys doing.
Most people don’t like checking their own email. They don’t like trying to track people down to schedule meetings and work with assistants and trying to juggle, you know, move things around and work through conflicts on the calendars.
most people who are busy executives don’t like it. But they find themselves doing it because they refuse to bring in someone else who loves it.
That needs to be changed. That needs to shift. Because when you do bring someone in who is And Joel is doing those kinds of things and it has mastered the art of doing those things because it is a very, as skill that is transferable across industries, but it’s because it is such a valuable transferable skill.
You want to tap in to their skits, their skills and their gifts so that you can focus on the more important, more substantial, business continuity type activities so that they can do the take those things off at your plate and you’re not spending your time value work on that.
Yes, and I think it’s really hard for a lot of people in the beginning who haven’t experienced the value of it to wrap their heads around it because oftentimes they’re still in that scarcity mindset like I’m not going to pay someone what I can do.
Like I get that, but I can make a wack. This person is going to be faster, it’s going to be more all the bells and whistles in the back end are going to be done, it’s going to be a better version.
mean, yeah, I can do it, but I’m not going to do it because my time is better spent somewhere else.
And when you’re trying to, well, when I’m trying to teach my newer clients that it’s time to hire someone to help them, there’s always that feel like, oh, I can barely afford to pay myself, like, how can I afford to pay someone?
Because you’re going to be using that time that you’ve saved. To go make more money because you’re big pitcher and you don’t need to spend 57 million hours on, you know, working to make a single flyer that you don’t really want to make, while that person could do it for you, and then you could take that flyer and go make money with it.
Right. with much better graphics.
And sanity, like we’re forgetting like the whole part of like, it saves you energy and sanity.
That’s exactly where I was going to go. I was going to say that some people like, If you think about it at your house, if you hire somebody to do your lawn, somebody got a landscaping artist comes and he cuts your grass, he edges your driveway and trends the hedges and does all of the things.
Well, but why do you hire them? You hire them because you’re tired and you need your weekend to rest.
That’s why. And because you can hand this off to someone else who can do it and they do a very good job of it because this is what they do, that makes sense.
Well, in the same way in the office, that makes sense to hand off the things that other people can do better, faster, quicker because it’s what they do.
So think of it that way and your time is much better spent getting rest, getting rejuvenated, resting, relaxing, just not doing anything.
How about that? How about just not doing anything? And pay someone to do the things that need to be done, whether it’s
You whatever that looks like, delegating even on those levels helps to contribute to your work-life balance, your peace of mind, your sanity, of that.
It’s so important to your self-care. And the more self-care becomes a priority, the more this will make sense for you to hire VA for your team.
I think it takes the amount of something that came to me when you were talking, is it really takes you out of the weeds of working in your…
gives you the ability to pull your head out of the forest, essentially. that way you can actually work on your business more proactively versus reactively, really, and just like keeping your head above water.
I love… And I love the analogy of the… Dard, the lawn. What are they called?
It’s so early here.
I can tell you live in the city where you don’t really have one of those.
Yeah. I don’t know that’s a glass.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
could do the lawn, but I want to. Right.
Self-care is so important and it just makes such a huge difference in the type of leader that you are.
When you can come back to your team after resting well on the weekend or whatever, then you usually Monday mornings, know, and people are like, refresh and rejuvenate because they’ve had time to rest.
Rest is so crucial and so important. Not just to you as a boss, but to your team members as well.
And so, so many companies, they’re That’s You know, cutting, trying to cut costs, they’re laying off people, they’re, you know, going through all of these things, but the work still has to get done.
And so when you think about, so some people have a VA for each executive and so those, or have some people have an executive assistant on site for each executive in some corporations.
Well, if you have to go through a layoff and you’re, you know, downsizing and you’re trying to, you know, make the numbers work in this economy that we’re working in, you can hire one VA to support an entire department.
And you don’t have all the expense of a building of office supplies, of coffee for the break room. You don’t have all of that because you, that VA is supporting your team remotely using their own paper, drinking their own coffee, know, and in their own space.
So that in itself is a And so, you’re not paying for something that you’re not using. That’s another hesitation that some business owners have.
They’re like, well, I’ve talked to these companies and they say you get these packages of hours and if you don’t use them, you lose them.
But I may not have enough work for them or I may not use them all. And I don’t want to waste money as like a gym membership or something like that.
I think I’ve had enough The conversation that passed about me in the gym is not a fit. And that is definitely a wasted money.
Well, that’s not the way our business is structured. It’s like you get billed again once all your hours are used.
And that really resonates with some business owners because they’re not paying for 40 hours and only using 20 hours and being billed for 40 hours.
Does that make sense? Absolutely. We’ve had both types where we pay a flat fee and then we’ve paid hourly.
And it, or even per project as well. So there’s a few different ways. I think that, yeah, it’s like finding the right fit for you.
So because we have a lot of people who are maybe newer entrepreneurs or, and I can remember guiding clients to this, I want to hear it from you.
Like, let’s say somebody doesn’t have their V yet and they’re looking to possibly bring on somebody. What are, because I can tell you, like, people are like, well, have all this to do.
But I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to delegate off. So what would you suggest? How do you, how do you walk through the potential client of like really discerning what they can give away or what they’re willing to give away to a VA and put on a VA’s plate?
Great question. So when part of the client onboarding process conversation looks like an assessment of what their current state is, what is their current state?
And and where do they want to be? What is keeping them from getting there? So, we have that conversation and of what that looks like.
And someone may say, well, I want to grow the business, but I can’t because I have to insert all the information into this program.
I have for time sheets to do payroll. I have to make sure I get all the reports and I have to, and it takes me time to do that.
And then, so with all of the things that have to be that done. It doesn’t free me up to be able to think about, even in my own head, what tone could even look like.
Because, like you said earlier, there were two in the weeds. So, we just document all of those things. What’s keeping you from reaching that next level.
And when we write down all of those tasks, we can identify is someone on the team able to do this particular thing.
Can someone else? On the team, enter these numbers for you. Is there someone on my team who can run these reports for you?
Is there someone on my team who can check your email to make sure you’re not missing anything, to make sure you get the reports in?
That sort of thing. When you’re freed up from doing those things that take so much time, you get all that time back to go and focus on the things that are most critical to the building of your business.
It’s a conversation that we have with the new entrepreneur or business owner or busy executive that’s what’s keeping you from reaching your full potential.
Let us take that off your plate.
I love that. So serve the list people. you were talking, was thinking of another client here in Bangkok or Southeast Asia.
It’s really common to have nannies and maids and everything so service oriented and accessible. Food is delivered at the drop of the door.
I’m for really expect groceries, all of that. one of my clients was talking about having a nanny and that she says, me having a nanny allows me to be the best mom that I can be, that allows me to be the mom that I want to be because I’m showing up like she’s doing like some of the small stuff with help.
And I think that that’s what a VA does as well. A good VA helps you be the business owner that you’re destined to be.
Because it just really they show up and they’re doing the things to let you shine. And just a couple weeks ago I spoke at the Southeast Asia, it was ASA, so admin and secretary association.
There were 300 people from all across secretaries and admins from all across Southeast Asia. And they were also saying the same thing.
We help. We’re the one who, and that’s what a VA does. They are that person for you. think that’s really powerful.
Absolutely. That’s what partnership is all about. We partner with our executives to not only anticipate their needs and figure those things out before they even know they need them.
But we just work with them through the things that they’re going through and know that as a partner of theirs, they know that they’re not alone in dealing with these things.
They have someone right next to them that they can hand things off to, that they can even share things with it.
They can’t share with anyone else in the company because they’re the boss and these are companies proprietary things and not everyone needs to know.
But as their VA, you become a You become their sounding board. You’re there with them for them to bounce ideas off of.
So it’s not like you’re just doing a doer, but you’re an actual partner in helping them find solutions to things.
do research. give them the information that they don’t already have readily available to them to help them make better decisions or to give them the backup.
So I think it’s important to say though, because I think a lot of people just assume like I think the old school version of a VA or of an assistant.
Oh, they’re just an assistant.
They’re just, they’re just another second. Like it’s their a P on nobody that’s important. I’ve had to differ because a good VA a good assistant is so important for growth and there are so
I mean, it’s not like, and it’s not necessarily that they were even a bad VA, it’s just they weren’t right fit.
Correct. What you needed. And when you find that person who is golden, you hold on to them because they absolutely up level your productivity and get you going where you need to go and it’s an incredible relationship when you find the right one and you work together well.
Yeah, I think we need to plug our lead VA Lizzie right now. Lizzie, you the pop.com.
Never leave us Lizzie.
I love it. I love it. Yes. And as an assistant, that is so critical. relationship between the executives and the assistant is like none other.
And the past when I was working in perfect, it’s like we had my executive was like my work husband and I was the work.
I think we had relationship with the spouses and helped remind them of birthdays and anniversaries and rock gifts and all kinds of things just to because we were a partner.
That’s what we did and our executives were our people and we looked out for them and they looked out for us and we protected their calendars and kept them, you know, even protected them from themselves sometimes because they would say, well, schedule this and schedule this and schedule this and schedule that and we look at the calendar and we’re like, schedule it weircer.
You are all booked, you need time to eat, you need time to take a break, know, bile breaks are important, blah, blah, whatever that could look like, but that relationship is so critical and it’s so valuable and it is so rewarding when you do find someone who that you guys are like a hand in glove together, you know, working together to make stuff happen.
Absolutely. if you could leave the audience with one Last nugget of information that they need to know about what it’s like to have a VA, what it’s like to hire one, why they might need one, what can you tell our audience?
I think I’ll end by sharing a real life story. And that is a real life client experience. We had a client who came to us who was a solopreneur, very successful business, maybe grossing at half million dollars a year.
So still, but doing it by herself, like bootstrap this business by herself to a half million dollars a year.
And she was doing everything herself. She was doing all the payroll, scheduling all the meetings, getting all the new sales, bringing on all the new clients, training all the people, showing them what to do.
She was doing every single thing herself. And then I reached out to her because we had a relationship from before.
She did. And before I started the business, and so I introduced myself, reintroduced myself to her and said, Hey, this is what I’m doing now.
We work together back here, you know, with this company. And now I’m on this virtual assistant service and, you know, let me know if you know anybody who needs anything.
And she said, I might need somebody. Let’s have a conversation. So we had a conversation. We decided to do business together and within a week of her handing over to us the things that needed to get done that were keeping her from.
I’m getting proper rest. She said, Oh, my gosh, I could just cry right now. I have been doing everything for so long.
All by myself, I did not realize how good life could be if I didn’t have to do everything myself.
I’m so glad that we’re doing business together. I’m so glad you’re able to take this off of my plate and I don’t have to worry about it.
And to get this job done. All I had to do was click a button. Whereas before, I was doing all the work.
And she just could not think of it enough. tears were welling up in her eyes as she was saying this to me, that she was finally seeing that her life did not have to be overwhelming.
She could have some freedom and joy and peace and fun with her business. She just let go of some things.
And she did, and now it’s amazing. And we’re doing great. And she’s doing great. That’s the most important thing.
She’s doing great. I love that. I love that. It’s really okay, everyone. Take a break and be a better person.
I say this when I should just say to myself, it’s really okay, Amanda. If you wanna take a break and take the day off, it’s really okay.
Okay, I promise, it’s okay.
That’s awesome. Yeah. So much for being on the show today. We… I want to hire you. I need six assistants and then you just work next week.
One first day of the week and then they can all call, take the day off.
Don’t worry, Lizzie, we’re not replacing you.
You’re not going anywhere.
Well, I can go read. I think all my contact details are going to be in the show notes. www.executivehealthnow.org is our website.
I’m on all the socials. on all the socials. We also have a freebie if somebody is kind of wondering, am I ready?
I don’t know if I’m ready for a VA. How do I know if I’m ready a VA. A handout, a guide to help them decide whether or not now is the right time for them to bring on a VIA.
I love that. don’t know. Yeah. Well, definitely be in the show notes. All of your information, all of your links will be linked in the show notes.
So if you are wondering where those are, they, and you’re listening somewhere randomly, and those are available on the pursuit of badassery.com slash podcast and you’ll be able to find all that information there with Renee’s picture.
Yeah. Thank you, Renee, so much.
Well, thank you, Lynn. Thank you, Amanda. This has been so fantastic. I truly appreciate all you all are doing with your pursuit of badassery books.
The original was a total page turner. not put it down. So good. And then the second one that you came out with, the pursuit of badassery and sales just is good.
I have that one on Audible and love it. And I’ve gone through it a couple times. So thank you all for everything.
You guys are going to help us business owners be our absolute best.
Thank you. We could do it without you guys.
That’s right. That’s right. So if you like this or if you know somebody who is sitting on the fence, getting a VA or could use some time and sanity back in their lives away from their business, go ahead and send them this podcast, send them the text message for the handout.
So Renee and just hit the subscribe button, share this, leave us a comment. You know the drill. We love hearing from you.
Absolutely. And as always, get after it.