02:43 – Are you playing a small game?
05:03 – How one team came about
09:03 – What that team looks like today
10:03 – To those who need to make the leap
14:46 – If you want to know more…
16:18 – An easy first step
19:02 – Creating roles in your business
22:02 – How do you use your time?
See James present in detail on teambuilding at SuperFastBusiness Live
James: James Schramko here, and welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. I was on Facebook recently, and I was having a chat to a friend of mine Marlon Sanders, who was someone I paid attention to when I first came online over a decade ago. He thought it would be a great idea to fire up some audio equipment and record a little interview about teams and the number one mistake that people make when it comes to teams. So he recorded this interview and shared it on his Facebook page, and I thought it would be a great idea to share it with you as well. So join me as we tune into Marlon’s interview of me about the number one mistake that people make when it comes to teams. I hope you enjoy this.
Marlon: My guest today is James Schramko, who I know from actually a long, long time ago, because you’ve been on the game almost as long as I have, I believe. James today, today is a thought leader concerning how do you build a business that doesn’t depend on you? How do you surround yourself with talent and people that can support your purpose and your vision? James today is going to talk about the number one mistake that people make in team building. So James, welcome.
James: Hey, it’s so great to talk to you, Marlon. You know, the first time we met was actually in Los Angeles at Underground 4 in a line for coffee, which was a scarce resource at that time.
Marlon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right, right.
James: I recognized you from your hat. I’d already been listening to you. You were well and truly famous by the time I got myself to that event. I was just starting out. I think you’re understating your industry.
Marlon: Those were good times. Those were great times. A lot has changed since then. Your business has certainly exploded, and matured, and grown, and done all of these things. You’re helping some really major players with their team building. So let’s talk about it. What is the number one mistake? Where are people screwing up on their team building?
The number one mistake
James: I think the number one issue is they’re just slow to hire, and they’re hanging on to every task. There was this fabulous org chart that Rich Schefren put out many, many years ago. When I started out actually, it was like a manifesto. The org chart had every single job in the business had you written on it. That’s not a business. That’s just a job. Unfortunately, you can only sort of reach a certain level because you have about 180 hours per month to spend on activities. Beyond that, you might do 200, 300, 400, 500. You could be a hustler or a grinder. But you’ll eventually wear out.
The secret, of course, is to take on more responsibility and build up a little army to help you out – some soldiers and specialists to go out there, and you want to be more of a general and then have other people out there on the ground, and in the air, and in the water, wherever, helping you out in the business.
So you’ve got more of an impact, which is good for a few reasons. One, it means you can spend more time focusing on the things that you’re actually good at and perhaps world-level expert class at. It means that you’re not doing things you hate or you don’t want to do anymore. It also means that you can impact the lives of more people. So you’re actually putting income into people who you employ, contractors, or employees, you’re actually giving them more income so they can support their families. You’re also helping more customers because your business grows. This is really the critical step between a six-figure business and a seven-figure business, is that you have a team.
That’s why I think the number one mistake is people are just playing a small game when they could scale up and spread their genius or leverage it a little bit further by doing some of the fundamental things. I’ve got a few topics around this if we want to go into that.
Marlon: Well yeah, I think, one of my questions on this is when did you start building your team, and then what does your team look like today?
Building the team
James: So when I met you at Underground 4, I still had a job. By day, I was a general manager of a Mercedes-Benz dealership. I had 70-something people at that time. It sort of changed a little bit up and down as any business does. By night, I was an affiliate promoting a software product. I had pretty much one campaign that I was promoting, and it was just me.
I was there from 9:30 at night until three in the morning, typing out articles to put on EzineArticles, and answering support tickets for people who were claiming their bonus that I was offering. The contrast just could not have been any more dramatic. By day, all the systems were in place, everyone was doing their thing. We had the service department, the sales department, the finance department, the parts department, the accounting team, the marketing team. They were all running smoothly like a well-oiled machine. And at night, it was just me.
I actually would sit at work, in my office, with just a laptop on my desk, closed, because everything was running smoothly. And I’d look out into the showroom, and I used to actually vision, I thought, imagine if these people were working on my business. Imagine if this was my business, and I could have that guy over there doing support, and that lady over there doing some research, and that guy over there building the website. Imagine what I could do? That is exactly what I’ve built over time.
So my business, a few years later, and it took a little while, actually looked a lot like the dealership. We had over 60 people in our team. We were generating more profit than the entire Mercedes dealership was generating, in my own little business. We did that through leverage and using a few techniques, like having team in different locations and having an offer that was really compelling and very low overheads. We eliminated all the problems that we had in the car dealership, which was stock, land, and being stuck to a geographic pinpoint location. These things make it very difficult for traditional businesses. That’s why companies like Amazon are so powerful.
So yeah, my business now is actually, pretty refined version of where it’s come from. So after 10 years, the first two years or so, I did it all by myself – did everything, every role. The first hire was actually a support person to just fulfill bonus claims and to make sure that people who are trying to buy could buy and that people who bought got what they were promised.
The second hire was an article writer, who was actually a receptionist in my Mercedes dealership. I literally took the plan to play. You know, “Why are you doing this reception role as a temporary receptionist when you could just be sitting at home, in your tracksuit pants, writing articles for 10 US dollars per article?” And she said, “Tell me more about this.” I hired her to write 10 articles at a time and then hundreds of articles. It was such a relief to not have to be writing articles for EzineArticles.
My only bet was that if I spent a hundred dollars on 10 articles, I needed to sell two copies of the software I was promoting. And I knew that if I put them on my blog and I put them on to EzineArticles that I could actually make two sales. So that was when the trade-off came. It’s like, OK, if I can make a surplus, if I could actually sell more than two copies, I should hire more people to write articles.
And that was the critical shift, is realizing that I need to buy time and I need to buy talent. That gave me time back to work on the next steps. And you know, I went next step, after next step, after next step. Within a short time, I was able to quit my job, generate a seven-figure-a-year income and maintain that for the last eight and nine years.
Now, I got a little tiny team of nine, because I sold off my service business. One service business had 38 people, the other one had 10 or 11. So I actually had this pretty big team, and I sold those businesses.
The short version is in that last 10 years, I went from just me, to building out a 60-plus person army, to selling off two business units and keeping a core publishing team. These days, we have three main interests. We have coaching at a medium price point, we have coaching at a very high price point, and we have a publishing unit that works on a new business development that we’re having outside of the online marketing space.
The team are very powerful in their roles. I guess I could fill in some gaps on how you might go about getting to that point.
Marlon: You know I think let’s just talk about this because I want to keep it focused on the one mistake. So you’ve got the guy or the gal there who’s listening to this right now, and they haven’t taken the step, James. They’re not like you. They haven’t taken the first step, and they’re debating it in their mind. Should I, shouldn’t I, and what kind of person do I hire, can I even keep them busy? All of those types of questions. What do you say to the guy or the gal that needs to take that first step in team building?
The first step
James: Well, I went through the same thought process. My biggest concern was, after reading The 4-Hour Work Week, that if I hired someone, I don’t know if I could keep them busy. And then 60 people later, I realized that I could have an infinite amount of activity. So it comes down to what you’re having them do.
Firstly, you just need some foundational mindset ideas. The first thing is we think of Spiderman. Do you know what his mantra was? With great power comes great responsibility.
Marlon: Oh, that’s a good one.
James: Right. So if you flip that around, then it must also be true that with great responsibility comes great power. Is that true?
James: So if you want to start building a team or get contractors on board, you’re actually increasing your responsibility. You now are an employer, you possibly have tax implications if you’re in the same country. You’re responsible to help this person get paid on time. So increasing that responsibility actually increases your power as well.
You get more power in the marketplace. It’s like you’ve built this powerful machine. Once you’ve got that power it’s like where do you use it? So the next thing we think about is the conductor of the orchestra. That’s the role we want to start with. Instead of having to learn how to play the violin, or the piano, or the drums, or the trumpet, we can let go of that responsibility now, which is a tremendous relief.
So part of the reason someone’s sitting there thinking they’re not sure is they actually may think that they still need to be an expert at all these things. They might still think they have to be an expert at how to build a website, how to write sales copy, how to edit audio or video, how to get JV partners.
“You don’t have to be an expert.”
If they think they have to do any of those things then they’re mistaken, because the conductor of the orchestra, if you really break it down, it’s really just making sure that he waves that stick and combines the effort of everyone. And they have to know their instruments but he doesn’t have to know it as well.
Probably there’s a conductor who’s outraged by that statement. But from where I’m sitting, they’re just waving a little stick around and making the concert happen. So if you can absolve yourself of the need to actually know how to do everything, and one of my great friends has a fantastic saying around this, and I think it’s life-changing, you want to switch from HOW to WHO. Dean Jackson drums that point home. That is the flick of the switch that starts to enable growth because you let go of needing to know how to do this.
“You want to switch from HOW to WHO.”
So instead of saying, “How do I run Facebook ads?” Stop that. From now, it’s, “Who do I know who can run Facebook ads?” You can immediately progress when you let go of needing to know about that. In fact, I’ve got a saying – the chances are that if you don’t know how to do something, that you won’t be doing it.
I learned that pretty early on in business. When we sold a car, we used to have to cut up these rubber mats that would fit the car. There was like one size rubber mat that would fit every Mercedes-Benz. You’d had to cut it out according to the model that you sold. I didn’t get too good with the Stanley knife. I was able to do it, but I kind of pretended that I couldn’t, and I found any number of willing volunteers who would help me cut these mats so that I could just get on with selling another car, which was far more a high-yield activity than cutting rubber mats with a box-cutter knife.
“Four percent of the things you’re doing are getting you 64 percent of your results.”
So the next thing that we need to know is that only four percent of the things that you’re doing are getting you 64 percent of your results. So what that really means is all the things on your to-do lists, the things that you’ve put on a bit of scrap of paper, on your computer, on your whiteboard that are dogging you, and taking up your brain, and making you feel overloaded, and overwhelmed, and guilty, you could actually get rid of most of them, and it would make almost no difference to your outcome. Once you set those free, then that’s extremely liberating.
Marlon: I’m sure you have some first steps that people take if they want to either find out more about your thought leadership on this topic, take the next step and contact you and so forth. So for people that they really feel, ‘Wow, I need to know more about this or know more about James, what James is doing,’ how do they plug into what you’re doing?
Want to know more?
James: Well, this is the sort of stuff we talk about inside SuperFastBusiness. There’s a blog there. I talk about a lot of these topics at SuperFastBusiness.com, especially on my podcast. That is the first step.
Marlon: So and is your podcast at SuperFastBusiness.com?
James: It is, yes. SuperFastBusiness.com. I really appreciate you mentioning that because it’s such a critical step. There aren’t actually many people who are good at this particular thing. I actually didn’t realize how much in demand these ideas are until I did a survey on my list because I work closely with Ryan Levesque helping him with his business. His whole ASK methodology, he invited me to his workshop in Texas, it was a $10,000 workshop, which I helped him build.
I sat there for a few days listening to the segmentation, and I ran the deep-dive survey that he teaches about in his book. It starts at about chapter 12. This was such a massive challenge for my audience and it turns out for everyone’s audience. It was kind of blind to me because I’m so comfortable with it.
The first action step
But there is a little step, I’ll offer you a step right now, the first action step to start getting some progress here. This is just starting to sift and filter things. You’ve got three main options the way I see it, for activities that are on your to-do list. So if you were to pull out your to-do list that you’ve got or even if you don’t have one, I suggest you do a brain dump. Write down everything that is in your mind onto a whiteboard. Just purge it. I think I learned that technique from John Reese at least a decade ago, a brain dump.
You just want to think about which things are you going to delete altogether. That’s the first and easiest step is like what stuff is really just a pipe dream or so far away, we’re not even that interested. Just put a line through it or transfer it to a someday file, and it’s essential to have one of those because if you work in 12-week sprints or 90-day sprints, which you should, I expect you’ll get a much higher result than if you think annually, then push everything that’s not immediate to your someday pile, and later you can go back and get it.
That’s like a Woody Allen method because that’s how he comes up with his idea for a film each year. This guy makes a feature film once a year, which is just phenomenal and has done every single year. He keeps a little drawer full of scraps of papers with his ideas on it. And once a year, he tips them out on his bed, finds the idea he wants to work on, puts the rest back, and then just focuses on that for the next year.
So if you can delete or push something aside, that’s the easiest step. The next thing is you want to make a list of things that you’re going to delegate, which means someone other than you is going to have to do them. And then, whatever’s left is what you’re going to do. And really cap yourself with 180 hours a month. You could work out how long it’s going to take you to do those things. If it adds up to more than 180 hours a month, then you need to get real with yourself and say, ‘You know what, it won’t get done. Realistically, it won’t get done. So I’m going to have to either delete it or delegate it.’ That’s what I call a task transfer.
That process of task transfer, for me on a whiteboard, it’s simply, if there were two columns, or a piece of paper, if you drew a line down the middle, and everything you’re doing now is one the left-hand side of the column, the first step would be to put a line through the ones you don’t want to do anymore, and then the ones that you are not the world’s best at, or amazing at, or don’t want to do, just transfer them to the right-hand side of the page, and put them underneath someone else’s name. If you’ve got team member one, two or three on that right-hand side of the page, just reallocate, redistribute the task.
Because here’s this thing, a lot of people think that everything in a business is done by a role, but I actually would suggest, it’s a little bit more granular than that. A role is a collection of tasks. That’s a new way to think. If you just start to collect tasks, you can create roles for people that don’t exist in traditional hierarchies or in a regular business.
For example, if I might share with you a role that someone in my business does, and let’s see if this sounds typical. Are you ready?
Marlon: Yeah, we got about two minutes here, so let’s take this last tip and then, because I’m doing this on Facebook, so the people there have a limited attention span, but these tips are just gold.
James: I’m sure they’re still listening. There’s a girl in my business who does payroll, she does bookkeeping, she does my email broadcasts, she helps transcribe podcasts, and she also does illustrations. I don’t know what role that’s called, but that’s a collection of tasks.
Marlon: Yeah right. It’s a hybrid.
James: So in my business, people can just choose the tasks they like and collect them together and end up with whatever role it ends up being. There’s a lot of other things like there are three or four other fundamental things I talk about when I present to an audience. Like the first thing really, and the topic of this conversation is just get going a bit quicker, just break through that first resistance of, ‘Will I be able to keep them busy?’ Just think about it now.
“Break through that first resistance.”
You know the great thing is, you’ll never have to do a sh**ty job again if you don’t want because someone else is probably way better at it. And just simple stuff like updating your website, editing podcasts or videos, writing a sales copy, all of those things are probably going to be done better by someone else, specialists in those areas, and takes it off your plate.
If you can make that convert, if you can work with good offers, and do all the great sales and conversion stuff that no doubt you teach, Marlon, then you’re going to be able to grow a little bit quicker and have more impact.
Marlon: Well James, you’re obviously a thought leader on this, and you’re way ahead of where most other people are. You’ve shared some tips that are really gold. I know right now, there’s someone, there’s a guy or a gal listening to this that says, “Man, that’s what I need to do.” If this is for you, and you’re really resonating with what James just said, then you need to go to SuperFastBusiness.com and listen to some of James’s podcasts where I’m sure he goes and elaborates on these topics in more depth, and you’ll be able to connect up with his information there.
James, leave us with any other contact info or a last tip here. Kind of to summarize or close it out.
James: I think the main tip here is that you can buy time. That’s just a concept that is so powerful. If your time is finite, which I believe it is, unless someone’s got the time machine, and if you do, please get in touch; I think that you have a choice how you spend that time, and I’m really big on lifestyle design. I’ve crafted a lifestyle around the way that I want to live, when I go to sleep, when I wake up, who I work with, when I work. I want to surf every day. That’s an absolute must in my life.
If you are not currently feeling that you’ve got a finger on the pulse, that you’re doing things the way you want to do it, then just recognize that it’s your choice. And if you choose something different, then the way to get out of having to do the things that are bogging you down is please, just buy someone else’s time, have them come and help you out. And that frees up some time back for you. It does rely around a few other fundamentals like having a great business model about your own personal performance and selling and converting well. But once you’ve got those things in place, life can be pretty good.
It’s certainly nice to have the opportunity to chat with you, Marlon.
Marlon: Well, I appreciate you coming on, and those tips are gold. So folks, if you resonate with this, and you want to learn from a thought leader, you can go to SuperFastBusiness.com and listen to other podcasts that James has done. James, we appreciate you sharing these amazing tips about building a team. It’s obvious you’re a wealth of knowledge and a true thought leader on this. I appreciate your time today.
James: Thanks, Marlon!
Learn more about creating and managing a team at SuperFastBusiness Live 2017
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