Ep. 58 I Hired My First Personal Assistant!

Oct 30, 2019

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Full Transcript:

Today I am super excited, I want to take you a little bit behind the scenes in my personal life. I just made a new hire. And it was so funny, because I just did this sort of with me and Alex discussing it, didn’t really talk about it much, and then I went live in my, or I actually just posted in my mastermind group that I hired a house manager, personal assistant, and my group went crazy and they were like, “We want to know all about this.”

And I was like, “Huh, alright well, I’ll tell you.” So I’m going to tell you all about what led me to hiring this position, what I did, all that good stuff.

So first of all, I can’t take any credit for any of this information, it is all information I borrowed from other people. So two people I want to give a shout out to, the first person is Stacy Martino. Stacy Martino, and her husband Paul Martino, they run relationshipdevelopment.org, they help keep families together and build relationships. And they are the ones that first introduced me to this concept of a house manager, and also gave me a lot of the original wording that I needed when I was looking for this position. Second people I want to give a shout out to are James Friell and Yada Golden, they are my dearest friends, and James is a business partner, and they hired a house manager and told me all about the marvels of this wonderful thing called, having help.

Even though Alex and I have had nannies for the past two years, we had a nanny, her name was Rosie, and then we had another nanny, and her name was Bailey. Both of them lasted about a year, this time we were going to do things a little bit differently. We knew that we needed someone who would be willing to do childcare, but ultimately the thing that I need most is to not be a hot mess. And it’s funny because in business I am not a hot mess. In business I really, I keep it together pretty well. I have a great team, I have an amazing assistant, Emily, and she’s more than just an assistant, she really runs so much in my business. I have, like I said, an amazing team.

But I have it all together, but pretty much in every other area of my life I’m a hot mess. If you guys were ever to come to my house and look at my closet, you would laugh hysterically. If you saw how exhausted I was at the end of the day, or the way my kids leave the house, or anything like that, you’d be like, “Well, clearly the way she does one thing is not the way she does everything.”

It’s funny, I see people say that all the time, “Oh how you do one thing is how you do everything.” And I was like, pretty sure that’s not true, because I am a hot mess in my closet with my clothes, but I am pretty damn organized in business. Anyway, this is a rabbit trail. But the point is when we went, we decided, “Okay, do we need to hire someone?” and at first, when the fall came and the kids went back to school, and William’s getting older, he’s in school 5 days a week now, part of us were like, “I don’t know if we need someone. We kind of got into a rhythm.”

And this is an important lesson right here if you’re a business owner. When things are calm, you sometimes don’t feel like you need to hire. You don’t need an extra team member. And maybe you don’t, maybe you can live without it. I know Alex and I certainly could have lived without it. But the problem is you’re not taking into account opportunity costs when you do that. Because yes, things are calm, yes, you’re able to handle. What we do is we wait usually until there’s a crisis. A crisis in business, a crisis in life, and we are being squeezed really hard and then we’re like, “Okay, I need to do something.” And typically, it’s urgent at that point. It’s urgent and that causes us to make mistakes, because we’re just trying to put out the fire instead of being forward thinking.

So the instinct this fall for Alex and I was to sort of be like, “I don’t know if we really need this?” and that would have been short sighted because number one, we know there are going to be stressful moments in the next year, and those stressful moments have taken a toll on our marriage from time to time, and that’s an understatement. And also, I’m not counting the opportunity costs of what’s going to happen if I buy my bandwidth back. So instead of stressing about the fact that the kids don’t have winter gear, or what am I going to wear on my photo shoot next Saturday, I now have someone who’s going to help me do all those things, which allows me more time to talk to you, to create courses, to build content, to be visible. That is opportunity costs.

So even though you may feel like everything is just kind of going along, you’re not considering the future potential of what would happen if you were to hire. So I hired a house manager, personal assistant. I decided to go that angle versus just a nanny because ultimately, if I could get my time back then I would want to spend more time with my kids, not less. So that’s where I said, “Okay, let’s do the personal assistant.”

So here’s what we did. We posted on Care.com, but I know that other people post on other places like Craigslist and Deed, there are agencies out there that will do it as well. And we created a job description that basically said, “You need to be very organized, you need to like cats, you must love kids because there will be a lot of them and they will be around, and supporting two parents as they run this very busy household.” So the job description includes, child care, meal prep, laundry, household, and then a lot of personal stuff. Things like helping book travel, helping pack and unpack, watching the house when we go away, making appointments, managing calendar, managing inbox.

And we decided to go ahead and hire full time, it’s pretty expensive, because you want someone who is committed to your family. And that means you don’t want them having a million other part time jobs, or not feeling like they get paid well, and all that kind of stuff. So we went ahead and said, “Alright, we are going to pay well, and we are going to pay full time, and that way we will find someone who really wants to make this their thing.”

So ultimately, I thought to myself, well if I don’t need it now, when will I need it? You know what I mean? When is the right time to invest in my sanity? And I’m pretty sure it’s worth it when you have 3 teenagers and a toddler, well, preschooler. So we went ahead and did that.

One of the things that I learned directly from Stacy was that if you are going to go on a site like Care.com to look for a house manager, nanny, personal assistant, etc, etc, it’s really important that you create a little bit of a barrier because you’ll just get inundated with requests, especially if you pay for like a prime listing. And if you do that, you’ll get 10 to 20 people a day interested in your private message inbox. So we just responded to everyone with the same email, or the same message back. We said, “Awesome, we’re looking forward to getting to know you, and having an interview. Before we do that, we’d like you to just do this one thing, it’ll just take 10 minutes.” We asked them to send us three pictures of various meals or organization or projects they did. We also asked them to email us sort of a description of how their friends would explain their personality, and that sort of thing.

So we did all of that, and what do you know, I would say 85% of the people who inquired about the position never sent us an email. And that’s very, very telling, because if somebody is not willing to send an email, not willing to take a few pictures, and write a little description about themselves, then they are not a good a fit. So we ended up whittling down probably 40 or 50 applications to about 5 interviews. So that was easy. And maybe there’ll be another podcast episode on this. I had someone ask me, “How did you know that the 5th interview was the right one?” I had done 4 other interviews, and it was more about figuring out who is not the right fit.

And there were 4 interviews that I had, and it’s like almost process of elimination, because I didn’t want to hear about someone who was unsure about whether they were committed for the long haul. Because I just don’t want a revolving door of people in my family. I didn’t want someone who wasn’t able to make eye contact with me, who wasn’t able to explain or articulate themselves or their feelings very well. So it was a process of elimination asking myself, if this person were to be around my kids 8 hours a day, even though I’m not hiring as a nanny, would this person make my child better, or keep them the same? Obviously you’d never, ever hire someone who’d make your child worse, but typically you’re not looking at people like that, you’re looking at people who would make your child be the same, keep your child the same, or better.

So when I got to the 5th interview, I had a gut reaction that said, “Yes.” This person cares, I was impressed with her email, with her photos, she was articulate, she was kind, she made eye contact, she definitely had an air of like wanting to do a really good job, that was also very obvious, and I asked her questions about her past, her life, her kids, all that kind of stuff, and that’s not a very official way to make a decision, but ultimately I went with my gut.

So that’s what I did, and I encourage any of you guys, business or personal, if you feel like, “Oh I don’t need to hire yet. Everything’s good.” Maybe it is, but I would encourage you to think about the opportunity costs and the pain involved of getting to that point of squeeze and having to make a rash decision, and how painful that one can be.

So I hope that’s helpful guys, talk to you soon.

Julie Chenell initials

Get in touch! I teach strategic business growth tacticss for everyday people.


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