On this episode Josh speaks with Bonnie Fahy from LiveMoreFormula.com. They discuss when and how to hire virtual assistants.

From her humble beginnings as a balloon artist, Bonnie Fahy has grown to become the ultimate hiring guru, helping hundreds of overwhelmed business owners balance their dreams with a work lifestyle that suits them best.

She is uber-successful entrepreneur who used trial and error, coupled with a fortuitous experience in Las Vegas, to discover the secret to wealth isn’t rooted in what you can do, it’s rooted in what you can get other people to do for you.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • What is the most important thing when you hire a great team?
  • When is right time to hire someone?
  • How do you set up the criteria for who you’re looking for?
  • Are company values more important than job description?
  • Which countries work the best when hiring people to work with us from outside of US?


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                 Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast. Today, our guest is Bonnie Fahy. Bonnie is an expert on hiring, and how to build great teams, and I think appreciative inquiry because she talks about positive psychology. I’m not sure we’ll get to all of that but we’re going to start out with hiring today. First, we need to bring Bonnie on the broadcast. Here we go.

Hey, Bonnie. How are you today?

Bonnie:            Hey, I’m doing really well.

Josh:                 Thanks so much for joining us today.

I think hiring is probably one of the most important things that we can do. Why don’t we start there today?

Bonnie:            Sure. That sounds great.

Josh:                 What is the most important thing or things that you think people need to be thinking about in doing as they hire a great team?

Bonnie:            Well, I think that it begins with knowing when to hire a great team. Usually, the first question is, “Are you ready to hire someone or not?”

You’re laughing. Why are you laughing?

Josh:                 Because my belief is you should be hiring your team as soon as you have any work for somebody to do that’s less than what your hourly rate should be.

Bonnie:            That’s 100% right. Yeah, that’s 100% right because it’s an opportunity cost, right?

Josh:                 Yes.

Bonnie:            What a lot of people who haven’t been exposed to your wisdom yet, have yet to learn, is your time isn’t free. And so, like if you’re operating on a $40-an-hour level, or $25-an-hour level, or a $100-an-hour level, or $1000-an-hour level, if there’s someone who can take over your day-to-day tasks and they can it for $5 an hour or $15 an hour, you’re literally leaving tons of money on the table to the effect of like thousands of dollars per year when you’re doing that work in place of your hire dollar per hour work.

Josh:                 I’m going to bet that you would recommend that the first time you hire somebody, might be within the first two months you’re in business?

Bonnie:            That’s what I did and it helps me a whole lot. I think it’s a really good idea. I do understand certain people have different risk tolerances so I don’t tell anyone what they should do, but it’s something that I would personally recommend, if I was doing it all over again, yes.

Josh:                 Today, we live in what a lot of people refer to as the gig economy which means that when you’re hiring people, you’re not actually making them W2 employees. Using sites like Upwork or, actually, you probably have suggestions of where you think you should get remote help from, would make it easy that if you have work, you bring them on. And if you don’t have the work, you let them go. It’s not nearly as emotionally hard as hiring and firing somebody who’s sitting right next to you.

Bonnie:            Yeah, 100%. That’s one of the beautiful things about being in the gig economy is that you don’t have nearly as much complication as you would have 20 years ago where, if you’re hiring someone, you have to think about, “Well, what if they sue you after you fire them?” Or all these complications of medical benefits and all these different things. Like, that’s not accounted for in the gig economy. That is to the benefit of the person doing the hiring. It creates further complications for the freelancers but that’s something they need to educate themselves in and be prepared for as well. That’s really a benefit, for sure, is getting people on an on-demand basis and paying for them as you need them and having them return to the gig economy when it no longer makes sense for you guys to continue.

Josh:                 If I want to hire somebody or I think I need somebody, how do I go about setting up the criteria for who I’m looking for, what they’re going to do, and how they fit in?

Bonnie:            Yeah. It starts with doing a time inventory. You really want to look and see, ”What are the task that you’re doing on an ongoing basis? What’s really getting you away from your sales activities?” One really good rule to use is to think about any task you’re doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Those are usually the tasks that would be a good place to start with looking at, “Okay, well, can I hire those things out?” And if it’s not a part of what your core tasks are, then that’s usually a good place to start, i.e. if you’re a massage therapist, you’re not hiring out the massage therapy. If you’re a doctor, you’re not hiring out people seeing your patients. And if you’re a coach, you’re not hiring people to coach people for you.

Josh:                 If I’m going to hire somebody from the outside– most people, when they hire, tend to look at technical skills. They start at technical skills and they stop at technical skills. In my opinion, that’s a huge mistake.

Bonnie:            Yeah, for sure.

Josh:                 What else might people be looking at besides the technical skills or the things you have to know to be able to do the job?

Bonnie:            Well, it’s really interesting and perhaps we have some alignment in this, is there’s so many things that are so key to working together in teams that are intangible. And so, it has to do with the culture. How well do you guys fit together as a group? That tends to matter so much more than how someone can technically do the job or not. And yet, there’s no way to know that, usually, without actually working with someone.

And so, what I typically recommend is that people, in place of doing interviews upfront– what I recommend people do is they do interview projects. What the allows, both of you to do, is to know a lot of the intangibles. Do you communicate in a way that aligns? Do you have similar values? Do you vibe? More importantly than that, are they able to not only do the work but exceed your expectations? When you’re looking at it from that perspective, a lot of the issues that you might not know in the traditional hiring process – like the culture, like how you fit, until you’ve actually already hired them – a lot of that’s taken care of by doing some projects together upfront before you’ve made a decision, both of you, to work together.

Josh:                 I’m going to just go off in a little tangent here because I also consider myself an expert at hiring. We’ve been doing this same system for about almost 40 years now. Essentially, what we look for is– we call it the Can Do-Will Do Fit Factor method of hiring.

I think what you’re talking about, what we used to call the “ride with.” At least, on our vending company, we’d put a person out in the field, have them ride with one of our folks to see if they thought they would like what they were going to do and if the driver thought they would fit in with the company. Before we got there, we would do interviews. We would interview based on starting off first, what are the values that the person we’re trying to hire has? Are they compatible with our company values? Number one. Number two, we would look at “What do they have to be willing to do to be successful on the job?”

Those two pieces, I think, most companies ignore or don’t really know. The reason they do that is (a) they don’t know what their values are. That’s the first problem. The second thing is, they really don’t know what it is that people have to do to be successful in a particular job because they never think about it. In my experience, those two things are much more important in job success than the technical skills they bring to the party.

Bonnie:            100%.

The only thing that’s coming to mind around this is like, “Yes.” I feel like when you don’t do that step. When you don’t get really clear in that definition stage of what is it that someone needs to be able to do to operate the job and do a really stellar job? And then, who do they have to be as a person? What kind of personality type is going to really thrive in this role and who isn’t? And really get crystal clear on who you’re looking for. It’s really hard to write a great job ad that’s going to attract that person and is going to speak to that one person and have them raising up their hand being like “Me! Me! Me! Me! That’s me!” When you don’t know that, it’s not only impossible to identify them but it’s impossible for them to identify themselves in the job ad.

Josh:                 We just hired a new person in our office. I tried an experiment with my job ad this time. Now, I live in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington, Vermont has an unemployment rate of about 2.5%. It’s always been a really tight labor market. Instead of writing about what the job was, I wrote a short paragraph about what the job was. But then, I wrote five paragraphs about the values that we hold dear in our company. We had 115 applications for the job. All the finalists said the reason they were interested in the job was because of what I wrote about our values, not what the job was itself. I found that fascinating.

Bonnie:            I am so excited that you said that. It’s so funny that when you write about who you are, as an organization, it really attracts the A players. The reason I think this is, is because A players are people whose core identity is to exceed expectations and, typically, they’re coming from a place of purpose. And so, when you talk about what your purpose is and your organization, it really attracts people because, as I’m sure you already know really, really well at this point, money is not one of the best motivators. It’s actually a pretty weak motivator. And so, if you’re just putting the compensation and the tasks, it’s not going to create that emotional hook for the people who are going to really drive your organization to new heights. I just love that you shared that.

Josh:                 We actually call money “table stakes” because once someone’s earning X amount of dollars, I think money goes down to a number 8 or 9 on the list of things that people believe are important in a job.

Bonnie:            Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s not the most important thing at all.

Josh:                 Well, you need to have enough money. My first mentor, from North Carolina, had this wonderful saying, “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

Bonnie:            [laughs] Okay. Yeah.

Josh:                 There’s some truth to that. There’s also a flip side which is, in other words, if you don’t pay enough money, you’re not going to get a good enough person, no matter what you do. The flip side to that is, if you pay enough money, it doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get the right person by paying enough money.

Bonnie:            100%, right. If that were true, if you get what you pay for, which is true in terms of hiring, then every time we shelled out thousands of dollars for someone, they would always be an amazing candidate, but we know that that’s not true because I know everybody listening to this podcast has probably had the experience of paying a lot for a project, or a task, or a person and just feeling so sad and heartbroken at the result that that person produced. Certainly, you need to pay a fair range for that task and that position.

I guess, what I would add to it, in my own experience is, when it comes to hiring on an international basis there are some crazy differences where you can pay really well for that wage and that role, for that person’s local economy. That might be $5 an hour or it might be $10 an hour and that might be a multiple of what they would normally be getting paid. That person can be just as good, if not better, than someone who’s getting paid $40 an hour here or $20 an hour here. And so, that has been something that has shocked me and made me happy and sad because there’s been times where like I hired something out and I spent $10 an hour to get it done and I was like, “Oh, well, if I hire someone who pays $40 an hour, certainly, they’re going to be able to do it better than the $10-an-hour guy like internationally.” And I was like heartbroken to find out that the person who was $10 an hour internationally was so much better. It was sad for me to kind of discover that.

Josh:                 I have found the same thing.

Bonnie, tell me, I want to hire some people. I want to go in the international route. I want to hire some people who are outside the country because I think they can do a better job for less money. How do I do that?

Bonnie:            I think that it depends on each and every person. I think one of the best ways to be most successful with it is to have some systems and processes in place, and have people who are at maybe like a $5-an-hour level operating those systems and process, i.e. like let’s say, “Every single week you have to do a sales analysis on what’s going on with your sales.” That’s a great place for an international VA to step in with a system and process where they have screen cast videos where they know, “Okay, I have to go to this dashboard. Then, I have to go to this dashboard. Then, I have to add all the numbers here. And then, I put it into the spreadsheet.” That’s like a great place for you to start.

To get more specific, what you’re going to want to do is identify the repeatable tasks that need to get done in your business, create that list. And then, create some systems and processes so someone else can step in and take over some of those roles. And then, from there, you need to find the people. You can find them on all different websites. I would say that the hiring process you use is really, really important as I’m sure you know because you’re a master at creating really successful hiring funnels.

Josh:                 What type of places would I be going? I don’t know where to go to find a VA. You’re talking to somebody in our listeners – most of our listeners have never hired somebody from outside the country.

Bonnie:            Sure, yeah.

Josh:                 They’ve thought about it but where would you send them? What website would you send them to and why would they go to this particular website?

Bonnie:            Can I caveat this with something?

Josh:                 Sure.

Bonnie:            I can give them a list of websites. I’ll give the people the websites. I think the hiring process that they use is more important than the websites. Here are some places they can go and then we can talk about the hiring process that we have done. Places like onlinejobs.ph is a great place. Virtualstaff.ph is a great place. Going to the Facebook groups, posting there. What you really want to do is cast a wide net. You can go to websites like Freeeup.com. That can be another good resource. Those people are pre-vetted as I’m sure you know. Those are all good places.

What’s more important is that you create a compelling job advertisement that includes your values, that really has an intrinsic motivation in it. It’s clear and concise about what the role is. Then, you create questions that are going to prefilter in advance, to understand “Does this person have the skills for the job or not?” And I can get deeper into that. Basically, that comes down to asking candidates hypothetical questions about tricky situations that they might actually be in in the role and say, “Hey, like if we had a technical meltdown. It was 4:01. All of a sudden, the BeLive thingy crashed and the ZenCast thing crashed and we were interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk. What would you do to get everything back up and running like in five minutes? How would you make sure Gary Vee didn’t get pissed off and all the listeners at home were still happy and like attended to?” You know, that’s a tricky situation that would be stressful. Asking someone a question like that and seeing how they respond is going to test for the intangibles. “Are they a problem solver? Can they handle situations of stress without you?” because that’s really important.

Then, from there, once you’ve found your best people, you want to give them an interview project and see how do you guys fit together as a team. Do you work well together? Or, are you just two really wonderful people who are both really talented that just don’t fit well together? And that’s okay, too, but you don’t know that without doing an interview project.

Josh:                 The thing that keeps kind of wandering through my mind is, “What am I trying to get to be accomplished? And, more importantly, how do I get these people who are not sitting next to me, to feel part of my company?”

Bonnie:            Yeah. That’s such a good question. The reason I’m glad you’re asking this question is because most people never ask this question. That’s why their virtual hires fail because when we’re working with a remote team, it’s so different than face to face. If you never asked that question then, every six months, with your virtual team, you have turnover.

Here’s what you can do. (1) You’re going to want to make sure that you re-incorporate the elements that create trust, bonding, and connection, and, therefore, productivity in your organization. What I wouldn’t recommend is that you only text each other. You’re only communicating on Slack or on email. That’s a no-no.

Definitely, incorporate modalities like using apps that include voice messages like Voxer or creating videos for people like Jing or simply enough using Zoom or Skype and sharing your screen and talking face to face. What that’s going to allow you to do is it’s going to allow you to bond with someone. That bonding is really important because, as I’m sure you already know, words account for 10% of our communication. Our body language and our vocal tonality is the other 90%. And so, when you take that out of the communication, 90% of our communication is missing. Communication is what inspires trust. It’s what inspires people to glue together.

And then, also, I’m sure you would agree with this. This is like sharing what your mission is and how are they contributing to it. A lot of the girls that I work with, in the Philippines, they do some things that are little bit simple. I want them to know that even if they’re doing a simple task like research, that’s the basis of huge sales for us. I want them to know that that work matters and give them an idea of like how we’re changing lives with the tasks that they’re doing, so they feel like as much of a part of things as they are.

Josh:                 Bonnie, we have time for one more topic on the podcast today. You just mentioned something which I think is a hugely big deal in hiring people to work with us from outside the country which is, which countries work the best?

Bonnie:            Okay. The most popular country I feel like to hire out to is the Philippines. I don’t like it when people are country specific because I feel like there’s great people in every country. Some of my favorites for virtual assistance work, internationally, would be the Philippines. I also really like working with people in Romania and Serbia. Those kinds of countries for design and video editing. They are just– their sense of aesthetic and the art schools out there are just so top notch. And so, you can get really great people for less. When it comes to like writing, I always do that locally. I don’t believe in outsourcing writing. I think it’s not going to sound persuasive which is important. It just kind of depends on the task a bit.

Josh:                 My experience is exactly what you just said. The best creative people I bring on, who are virtuals, are in Eastern Europe.

Bonnie:            Yeah.

Josh:                 I have a Serbian video editor I’m in love with. She’s just great.

Now, when it comes to like just doing stuff, the Philippines are really good for that. My podcast editor actually is in North Carolina.

Bonnie:            Perfect, yeah.

Josh:                 What it really comes down to is finding the right person and then helping them feel that they’re part of your company even though they’re not in the company. I just think that that’s such an important thing.

Bonnie, unfortunately, we are out of time. How would people find you and what would you like them to do once they do find you?

Bonnie:            Sure. One of the best ways to find me is they can go to www.livemoreformula.com. That’s our one-hour masterclass. Sometimes it’s live. Sometimes there’s an automated version. That’s a really good place to connect. What that is it’s basically a one-hour in-depth training where we share with people how do you 5X your company by finding the very perfect person for the perfect price. It’s all based on hiring freelancers, both domestically and abroad.

Josh:                 Cool.

I also have an offer for you. I have a new program we’re just rolling out which we’re calling Cracking the Cash Flow Code. To get our infographic on what the five stages of cash are in your business – this is something you really need to take a look at because it’s such an important thing, below this podcast is a button. Just click on the button and you’ll get our infographic.

This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at the Sustainable Business. We’re with Bonnie Fahy. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@askjoshpatrick.com.

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: outsourcing, sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, Hiring, virtual assistants, opportunity cost, job description, bonnie fahy, international hiring

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