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025: Creating Time by Building Team

When polled, 57% of small business owners agreed with the statement that they feel like they don't have enough time to do everything they want to do. So, how do business owners get some of the work off their plates to make more time for the things that really matter?

One of the best ways to buy more time in your business is by bringing on a dedicated team that shares your vision. Author, speaker, and business coach Pamela Slim joined BOSSTalk host La’Vista Jones to discuss the ins and outs of building a team, including developing the right mindset, determining the best time to bring other people on, adjusting your leadership approach to account for others, and finding teammates who are a cultural fit, among other important considerations.

Meet Pamela Slim

La'Vista Jones 00:02

So welcome to another episode of Boss Talk. I am your host, La'Vista Jones. And today I am joined by my coach, my mentor, my very dear friend, and my guest, Pamela Slim.

La’Vista Jones 00:17

Welcome to the show.

Pamela Slim 00:20

I will also say your client, because I will very happily hire you and your company.

La'Vista Jones 00:29

Oh my gosh, yes. And client, Pamela Slim. Yes, absolutely. I cannot forget that actual role that you play, right.

La'Vista Jones 00:38

So, before we get too much further in, I want to just introduce you officially to the audience. So, Pamela is an award-winning author, speaker, business coach, who works with small business owners ready to scale their businesses and IP. She's the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, Body of Work, and the latest and greatest foundational resource in the marketplace right now – and I may be a little biased, but I think it's, like, pretty amazing – is The Widest Net. And Pam and her husband, Darrell, co-founded the K’eh Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona, and there they host scores of diverse community leaders and regular small business programming. And let me just say that, like, I am one of those community leaders and in fact, Boss Talk, the way that it was initially set up, it was actually birthed at K’eh.

Pamela Slim 01:42

We are very proud of that, to be part of that origin story, I will say.

La'Vista Jones 01:46

Yes. And so, not only is it my great pleasure to have you on the show, this really is kind of like a full-circle moment, right? Because Pam was the very first guest that I ever had, sitting on the turquoise couch there at K’eh doing Boss Talk live back in 2018 when I initially launched and was still facilitating those as live, in-person events. And so now you’re here, you know, as a guest in this newest iteration of the show, and it's just like, I don't know, it's just so cool to kind of see how it's evolved and you know, just having, like, your support with it, like, every different phase that it's gone through.

Pamela Slim 02:28

It's such a beautiful example of really starting with an idea testing, trying it. There was such beautiful growth in the in-person events, which was so wonderful to witness of what can happen when we're in person. We all know we went through a phase where we couldn't meet in person, but it just exemplifies taking a core idea and beginning to expand it. We know it's a podcast, it's soon to be a book, who knows, maybe it's a global licensed program somewhere. It's just really beautiful to watch it grow. It's a great example of strong IP that can begin to take different forms.

La'Vista Jones 03:06

Awww. Thank you, Pam.

Boss as Purpose

La'Vista Jones 03:09

And yeah, I'm so excited that you have really been part of it from the very, very beginning. And so, with that, you know, every guest that I have had on the podcast so far, I ask them how they personally define being a boss. And I would love to hear how you define it.

Pamela Slim 03:26

I define being a boss as being clear about the work that I am meant to do, attracting amazing, heart-centered, creative, interesting people around me to help me do that work, and then to do everything I can to both honor the work and honor the people who I am working with so that we can do great work together on behalf of our amazing clients. Because that is just a core part of what I do, with now what I deem the “architects of liberatory change,” working with people who are building the future that we need as the current one is burning down all around us. And so, I feel called as somebody to recognize the talent and bring it together. I couldn't do it myself. I wouldn't want to do it myself. And I take great joy in creating an environment where we can all do our best work.

La'Vista Jones 04:27

That's beautiful. That's beautiful. And so, you know now, but I think it's hilarious that it took so long for us to, like, share – for me to share with you, I guess – what BOSS actually means for me, being an acronym, especially since it was, like, birthed there in your space. BOSS stands for Battling Overwhelm with Systems and Self-care, which really is the work that I do in the marketplace. And I remember when I finally told Pam, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, see, it stands for this.’ And she was like, “What?!”

Pamela Slim 05:00

You know, I am the slowest learner on the planet, I will say that. But it's such a great example, too, of sometimes those who are closest to us, we don't stop and explain it because it makes even so much more sense to me. Like, I love the word “boss,” like “you're a boss,” but to know that it actually was an acronym for your work made so much sense.

It reminds me, if you remember Rob Lawrence who we did a podcast intensive with – shout out to Rob, because now here you have a podcast and I have a podcast – and he was mentioning in Tiny Marketing Actions, when he took the class, that he got more clear about how he described his business to his sister. And his sister was like, “Oh, you do that? With who?” And she's like, “Oh, I have somebody to refer to you.” She referred him a client, whereas before she had no idea what he did. So, tell your closest friends and family what you do. You may be surprised.

La'Vista Jones 05:57

Yes, you may be pleasantly surprised for sure. So

La'Vista Jones 06:00

with that,

La'Vista Jones 06:02

during each show, I get the pleasure of having candid conversations with other bosses like Pam that have faced and battled moments of overwhelm in their businesses and life, specifically by leveraging systems and practicing self-care. So, with that, Pam, are you ready to talk about how you are walking out your boss talk?

Pamela Slim 06:21

I am so ready. Let's just open up the entire closet and look at what is inside. Because there's a lot.

Optimizing Time Management by Building a Team

La'Vista Jones 06:29

Let's do it. Let's do it. So, I know that you have been a boss now for over 25 years. Like, you have been rocking out in the marketplace. And so, I know that you've got a lot of lessons learned that you could share with us. But for today's conversation, I really want to talk about the journey of letting shit go, right, like letting it go. Because I think that that is one of those hurdles that so many small business owners deal with. Like, you know, they are wearing all the hats in their business, and they don't let go of stuff that should not be on their plate anymore.

So, I want to start off, actually, with some research that that was done a while ago. So back in 2018, the results of a research project that you and our friend Susan Bayer did together at the Main Street Learning Lab was published. And with that research in mind, Pam, I want to ask you, how deeply do you relate to this following statement that: I don't have all the time to do everything that I want to do?

Pamela Slim 07:33

It is my life every day. I feel like I generally have about four more ideas in my head that I want to implement. And I notice myself, as I'm observing patterns and now concretely doing work in order to implement more systems, where I can literally be in the middle of, like, entering a task on Notion or in To-doist, and I will get an idea. And I will stop what I'm doing and click over to a new window and start to do it. And so now I'm beginning to notice that not only is there a lot to do... I feel like in the day to day, in general, the work I do with my clients is at a relatively reasonable level, but actually what's important is the things that are not getting done are often the things to grow the business, to be building the next stage of the business, which we all know what that is. But I am not allocating time, and I am still wasting a huge amount of time. Getting better every day, but in things that are not leading to really substantial change in growth in the business.

La'Vista Jones 08:38

Yeah. And so, I had the opportunity to read through that research and just kind of see some of those pain points that were identified. And to me, it was, I guess, not surprising that it was like, oh, like, I could just kind of feel like the angst behind the number that 57% of small business owners agreed with that statement that they don't have the time to do everything that they want to do. So, I know for a while you have worked as, you know, what we would call, like, a solopreneur. Like, you know, it's really just been you working with, you know, a contractor here or there for you know, small things or whatever. But as of recently – what would you say, like, the last like six months or so? – you've really started focusing on investing in building a team. And so, I'd love to hear from you why now was the right time to make that investment, money, relational equity, all of that, to actually start building a team around the work that you're doing.

Pamela Slim 09:42

There are a couple of different drivers. One of them is I spent about seven years in the research mode and the development of the model for The Widest Net, including writing the book but a lot of things around it. And when I finally – thank God I was able to finish it and get it to a stage of completion – I was really excited and ready to be sharing the ideas from the book in a more substantive way and not let the opportunity go through. I often talk about it like a colander where, when there aren't the offers in place, there isn't the support in place to take advantage of opportunities that come with a big marketing wave around a new book, they drain away often. They just leave. And that can be income in the business, that can be opportunities for exposure. And so, I feel so strongly about this book and about the method behind it, about the feeling behind it, about all the people behind it, it definitely has more of a mission-related feeling to me of wanting to get this work out into the world. So, in service to that, that is one driver of, like, now I have the book. There's no excuse. I'm not still working on something or trying to get a book deal or writing the book. The time is now.

The second thing ­– and it's funny, I was just interviewing on my podcast Jenny Blake, who just wrote a book called Free Time... she should totally be on your podcast. I know you're gonna love the conversation. We've known each other for years, back to when she still worked for Google. And she talks about the “burn it all down moment” or BIDM. And it's the place I have gotten recently where I feel like I am screaming inside my head. If I'm here in the office alone, I will literally scream. I am so tired of the amount of energy that I spend in order to, like, work around things, to not have a central place in which I can be organizing my business, and to also be doing things as a service provider that are no longer energizing or that I just know I am really not the best person to do. And so, it's like the internal screaming thermometer. You know they do this fundraising thing where you raise more money... I feel like it has started to go to the boiling point where I just feel like I cannot do it anymore. I must support myself and my mental health because it drains me.

I was mentioning to somebody: my daughter is the night owl. I am the early bird. So, I get up usually around five o'clock in the morning, really early. So, by the time I get home and after a full day of work, I'm getting really, really tired. She is just getting her energy going. And so, she'll be like, “Let's go on a drive and listen to music. Let's do this.” And I noticed that the main thing that I keep saying is, ‘I'm exhausted.’ Every night. I'm exhausted, I'm exhausted, I'm exhausted. And I just noticed, like, I don't want that to be the thing that she's remembering, and I don't want that to be the feeling that I have every day. And so, some of it we understand and working, you know, as a family that sometimes just work needs to happen. But I'm like, this doesn't really make sense. I don't need to be totally exhausted by the end of the day. Something is wrong in the way I'm packing it.

And I think the third component is, the more intentional that I've been... as you said, I have been working with folks as contractors in my business that have been huge, valuable folks – including you, the amazing work you do to support clients when we're doing client intensives and also the back end of the business. But I really realized that I wanted to have more connection. Tanika, who's amazing, who works in my business and in yours. Jeff, who does my scheduling. And then with Darren, who now I'm working with more deliberately in building the licensing and certification modes, Darren and I worked together for years when I was a management consultant in Silicon Valley 20 years ago. And so, now we're back working together. And it is so much more fun. It is so much more enjoyable. It's not only that, like, I have more free time, but I actually adore working with other people, working with a team. And as you know, we had our in-person team off-site a couple of months ago, and it was so much fun. And I felt weepy, I was so excited to have a group of people around where we could be really centering our efforts on building something that's really intentional, because I cannot do it alone. And I love to work with other people.

So, those three things are all parts of it. And just also, I have kids going into college. So, I need to make some more money. It's time for me to step on the gas in terms of accelerating my income, for sure.

Finding a Team that Shares Your Vision

La'Vista Jones 14:51

I love that. And one of the things that you said there at the end, right, like, I can't do it on my own. Like, I often say, like, vision it's not a solo journey. And you know, you are totally a visionary and what it is that you are doing and even just like, you know, you talking about, you know, getting the book out, getting The Widest Net out, and really starting to help other business owners leverage it and implement, you know, the ideas and the concepts in the book, like, it can't just be you doing all of the heavy lifting, right. Like, so, it's an honor to be able to come, like, beside you and be like, okay, like, this is how we're gonna get this out there, and this is how we're gonna get that out there. Because vision is not a solo gig. It's just not.

Pamela Slim 15:36

It's not. And part of what I love about our team that is very deliberate... My working name for the team, because I'm a Star Wars nerd, is the Rebel Alliance – which comes from Star Wars – which are all, like, independent freedom fighters that are intent on destroying the Empire, which, you know, I'm all about destroying empires. So, I love the idea that everybody's independent, that everybody has their own businesses that we can do, like, swarms in support of each other, and that just feels very liberatory to me. It's not so much that this is just my team for my business.

And I find sometimes business owners almost hide the fact that people don't work for them, that people who do work for them do it independently as opposed to being employees. And for me, I feel like we are modeling the new world of work, where everybody can have their strong brand, their business. We help each other grow personally and professionally, but then when we choose, we can gather together in support of a business mission. And I think that really is the work team of the future. It's not that I could not have employees in the future – that could be that case – but I just hope the vibe remains the same where everybody feels like their own projects and their own vision is something that's supported and celebrated by the whole team.

La'Vista Jones 16:55

Yeah, and you know, that's something that I feel like you, as the leader of the team, like, you have from the very beginning tried to kind of bake into the culture that, you know, we're creating, you know, as our rebel group. Because even during our retreat, one of the exercises that we did is, like, we each as individuals wrote down, like, goals and things that, like, we’re working on and we’re wanting to obtain, and we shared it with the entire group, right? And so that's like, one, we're kind of holding each other, like, accountable, like, you know, how is this going, how is that going. But we were also excited about the individual things that each of us, you know, had a desire to do or a passion behind and seeing how so many of those things, even as, like, individual contributors coming into it, tied into, like, the greater work that we're doing as a group. And it just kind of happened organically as we're all sitting there writing on our own individual index cards. So, it was really beautiful to actually see that, like, come together that way.

Pamela Slim 17:54

That was one of my favorite parts. For the beginning of the year, the words that I chose for the year were “grow together.” And I want it for our team for us to grow together as a team, for us to be growing together with our clients. And really, I was, with all the things we just talked about, of knowing that I do want to be scaling certain offerings, increasing income, if I'm only defining what my goal is for the year about increasing my own income, I was like, ‘But what about everybody else?” And so, when I put it in the context of “grow together,” we’re with our clients with each other. We're all about personal and professional growth. That's where I think we just create this really beautiful environment where people can be themselves, be vulnerable, and also do really excellent work together.

Getting Into the Mindset for Teambuilding

La'Vista Jones 18:40

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so, you know, with building a team, with identifying things that you need to let go of, and you start to delegate, like, there's some mind work, right, that I think that has to be done. And so, I'd love to know, what you feel like are the biggest mindset shifts that you've had to make as you have actually been building that support around you.

Pamela Slim 19:04

One mindset shift is that I can do everything myself, or more particularly, that I need to be overseeing and worried about certain parts of work. And it can seem something really simple, like scheduling. It's actually a pretty tender part of a business owner’s business process. Because for new clients – if there's a new client where we're trying to have a conversation or a potential partner – just because the task is being done by somebody else doesn't mean that from that person's perspective, they're not experiencing my brand through the kind of conversation they have. So, just the way that somebody might treat them. Jeff is the main person who ends up doing scheduling most days. Tanika also does that sometimes, but I realized that there are other people where we're clearly communicating about expectations and who are just by their nature, those that are going to be collaborative, that can really do work much better than I could. Not only as well as I could, but really much better than I could.

The other part that I think is an important mindset shift is... being such a big picture person, it is a blessing and a curse; I often think of everything in systems and layers and current, future, far future. And so, realizing that I need to be breaking down one thing at a time. We need to look at what are the steps that we can take in order to begin to make progress. For example, the project you helped me with, with 31 Marketplace, when we did more of a systems analysis about the client onboarding experience and we had to get everything out of my head, you created a beautiful flow chart. We did create the whole system, operationalize it in Dubsado, in this case. And that's a whole thing, that even though there are other parts that I was really craving to happen in my business, we needed to get that part done before moving on to the next place. And now we're implementing Notion and To-doist, which can take a while in order to design it, get everybody comfortable with using it.

And so, I am a very impatient person by nature. So, on some things, I have all the patience in the world. In other things, I just want them to be done. And so, it teaches me to have patience with the process and to go all the way through until something is completely resolved. As you know extremely well – because we've talked about it, it feels like, for decades. Okay, however long we've talked about it – it's the last 2% dilemma. For me, I can get 98% through a process or setting something up. And my nature, – by the wa