Q&A With Theresa Loe: Build Your Dream Team

I recently chatted with a friend and fellow mastermind member, Theresa Loe and she is a team building and digital marketing coach for online entrepreneurs. She helps visionaries to find and build their own teams so they can scale their business while getting their life back…which you know I’m all about!

If you don’t know Theresa yet, I’m going to let her give you a little bit of her background, her story, just how she got into business because it’s a little different, a little more unusual than what I’ve heard! But it’s pretty incredible and I want her to share a little bit deeper.

Theresa: “Yeah, I do have kind of a different story, don’t I?! I started out as the co-executive producer for a television series on PBS and I did that job for 9 years and anyone who is in the online business knows that it’s really cool if you’re the CEO, if you have like a second in command or an integrator or a chief officer who makes everything happen for your vision. Well that is what a co-executive TV producer does. They make the vision of the show happen. So I did that for nine years and I actually appeared on the show because it was a gardening show and I happened to be a backyard homesteader, which is kind of unusual! I have backyard chickens, I live in Los Angeles, we grow our own food. So I started appearing on the show and I started getting a following.

I started a business where I teach people how to garden and how to can their food. As I started building my business and it took off like gangbusters, I realized very quickly that the mindset that I had for being the second in command of a business was very different than the CEO position! So I naturally have like, there’s different styles of leadership, and I naturally fall into what’s called the operational leadership. So I can look at something and I immediately go into, we’ll do this, this, this, and this, and these are the tasks that need to happen. Well, that’s a perfect integrator type, but for the CEO, you have to step into the visionary role and you have to let someone else do all those things that I had previously been doing. So I became obsessed with building my own team because I very quickly realized that I couldn’t do this all by myself.

I spent years trying to figure out what the magic formula was for having my own team and as I started coaching other people on how to start their own business, I realized that they had the same problem I did. All of them had come in from maybe having different personalities or different skill sets, but they didn’t understand the skill set of being the CEO. So I started training and teaching them how to do that. They would hire people and then hire me to train their integrator because I’m a natural integrator and I was doing this as part of my coaching one on one and very quickly I could not keep up with the demand. So I switched to starting to teach this to groups and create programs around it so that I could help more people because I had struggled myself with this problem and I found so many other people have this problem as well.”

This is just a huge problem in general because a lot of us start a business because we love what we’re doing. We don’t necessarily love business, we love the hobby or the action of whatever that is and all of a sudden you’re going, whoa, I have a business, but I don’t know how to run it! And then how do I have people jump in and help me? No one knows how to hire or interview or any of that. So it can be really scary. Now…I do want to stop and kind of pause to put some attention on you saying how you started a canning business and teaching people how to garden and it blew up. Let’s just make sure people heard that part!! If you’re reading this and thinking, oh, I don’t know if people want what I do or it’s not your typical business…but canning, I don’t see a lot of canning people! But I think they say the riches are in the niches, so make sure you are not second guessing yourself because look at what Theresa has built, which is pretty incredible!!

Theresa: “I would like to speak to that for just a moment because I was in that same boat, like, well I see people doing this for business, but would they do it with a hobby? Which gardening and canning food, all the artisan food crafts are really hobbies.

The thing is that if people are very passionate about their hobbies, there’s always, always someone who is interested in learning more. And it is so much easier to learn from someone online then have to get in your car and drive or fly to learn from someone who is a master. So definitely, no matter what the topic is, there is an audience for it!”

I love that! You had said you’re a natural integrator. So if somebody’s listening is thinking, I kind of sound like Theresa, I might be a natural integrator, how do they become the visionary? What are some things that you did to make sure that you were in the right role in your business?

Theresa: “Yeah, there’s a lot of mindset stuff to it. First of all, it’s about building trust with your team. So to back up a little bit, you have to have the right people on your team so that you can feel comfortable handing things off. If you’re a natural integrator type, letting go is really, really difficult. And so one of the ways to be able to let go is to be able to have the team or whoever you have, even if it’s one person, have them, have confidence in their job, have them have confidence in what they’re doing. That in turn gives you trust in what they’re doing!

So really the question is how do you build confidence in your team members? There’s actually a 4-step process. So it’s the same way that we build confidence. When you think about how, maybe you’re thinking of doing something that you’ve never done before, like Facebook live, maybe you’ve never done Facebook live, you’re petrified to push that button and your hands get sweaty, you get butterflies in your stomach and you start to think that you’re going to die when you push that button. It’s very common! Well, you have to remember it’s the same thing for your team when they come on, most of the time they don’t understand what we do. So we’re putting them in an environment where they have to have commitment which is the first step.

They have to have commitment that they believe in what we’re doing and that’s on us to sell them on the idea or the vision of what you’re doing with the company. But the very next step is that they have to step into courage to step out and do some of these things and know that they’re not going to get fired if they do it wrong. So they have to step into courage just like we have to step into courage when we push that Facebook live button!

Having an awareness of that means that yeah, you give them a little push that you’re going to do this, but you also give them the assurance that it’s okay if they make a mistake, that that’s going to be part of the process and that you’re okay with it. Then the third step that has to happen for them is that they have to step into capability. So they get up the courage to start doing some of these things. They start getting capable of doing it and it’s our job as the CEO to make sure that they have like the tools and the resources available to them to be capable of that task. And when they start doing the thing, they will get confidence because they are now capable of it. Once they feel that confidence, you start to feel trust in what they’re doing.

So it’s really for us to step into the CEO role. A lot of it is about building up that team and their abilities and making sure they have the resources so that they can do their job. That gives us the confidence in them and what they do and it’s a little bit easier to let go.”

Every one of those, you’re so right!! If they’re no confident, you will never be confident in them. So we have to make sure that they gain that confidence. So, is there a company or is there a type of business where you’ve looked at and said, oh yeah, you can do this on your own, you don’t need to build a team, you’re good??

Theresa: “No, there’s not!! I think in what I teach in to my students and to my clients is that there’s really 3 levels of entrepreneurship and it doesn’t matter what level you have or what level you’re in, you need help! So the first level is the building stage and that’s where we all start. You know, so many of us, we look to the people who are ahead of us and we’re like, ah, they probably never struggled with what I’m struggling. But the truth is we all struggle and even if you get to the next level, there’s different struggles. So at the very beginning when you’re building your struggling with not having enough money and so you start thinking, well, I’m just barely getting some money trickling in. I can’t afford help.

That’s like the first block you have to get over. You really can’t afford not to have help because even if you just free up like 5 hours a week with someone or just 2 hours a week and you make sure that you don’t use those 2  hours on something that you shouldn’t be doing, like a social media or graphics or something, but instead use it for bringing in more money so that you can have more hours that you can get help with. You have to be really strategic. So you start out really small but you still need help! So that’s the building stage.

The second stage is scaling and that’s usually where people have some money coming in, they have some helpers, but now they are starting to get afraid. You start having all the fears of having more people and having to manage. That’s the stage where you find yourself handing out tasks and then checking on those tasks and managing all the people and you’re not getting anywhere. You’re spending all your time managing. One of the tricks to that is that you never hand out tasks, you hand out responsibilities so that people can make decisions for themselves.

But the third stage is when you reach the impactful stage and that’s where you really are starting to have an impact on people because now you have this team behind you, supporting you and whether you just have a few people you can still have impact. Usually at that stage is when people make sure that they have someone like an integrator or second in command or chief manager to manage the team and look over everything so you can stay in your zone of genius. But all three stages need help!”

Oh 100% agree with you! Talking about staying in your zone of genius, just looking at what have I done today and what my team has done behind the scenes. I don’t even know what they’ve done, but I know, like you said, I know what they’re responsible for and I know what they need to complete, but I don’t know what the little details are and that’s exciting for me! One of the things that I did today was I prepped content that I’m going to record on Monday. So both of those things for me are things that I can’t delegate and then I did a coaching call with one of my mastermind clients and I’m interviewing you. And every part of my day has been something that, it’s my zone of genius, it’s where I need to stay so that my integrator and the other people on my team can really make sure all the little things that I shouldn’t be focusing on are getting done. So I love that you’re bringing this up to show people! Can we talk a little bit more about when you said you don’t delegate tasks you delegate responsibility?

Theresa: “Yes! Yes! So that is one of the biggest mistakes that people do and I did it too. Like I’m not saying you make mistakes and I don’t, the reason I know this is because I did it! So one of the things that I did when I did start hiring virtual assistants and helpers is I would say, oh, can you create this graphic? Or oh, can you create this PDF? And they would create it and come back and say, what do you need next? And I’m like, oh, okay, now I’ve got to try and find something else to do. And I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong until the light bulb moment that they needed to, first of all have a vision, they needed to know why were they doing that so that they could make the decisions of should it be blue or green or is this okay, is that okay? If they understand the bigger purpose than they can make decisions. That’s all, that’s how you create a self managed team is that they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Well, if you don’t create that self managed team, what happens is you say, well I could just do this myself faster and then you decided to let them go. Right? And then you’re in this never ending burnout stage because you’re doing everything. You can’t do that!

Theresa: “Yes! It’s so, so true. But to go back, you definitely need to be handing out responsibilities. So what does that look like? It means that instead of handing out the one task, they have a project that they’re working on and there’s several tasks that have to happen for it, and they understand how that project fits into the bigger picture. So I tell people that as the CEO, you have to think of yourself as the lighthouse so that everyone knows what the destination is. And there’s been experiments done where they take people, they’ll put them in a room and they’ll say, okay, I want you to walk in a straight line to that corner over there. And they start walking and they’ll put a chair in front of them and they’ll just walk around the chair and keep going to the corner because they know that’s their destination. They’ll take someone else into the room and they won’t say where to go. They’ll say, just walk in a straight line. They’ll start walking. You put a chair in front of them and they stop because all they know is they can’t turn left or right and they really don’t know where they’re going. So they stop.

That’s what happens if we don’t give them the lighthouse. If they don’t understand why they’re doing something, they won’t figure out the work arounds all by themselves and you need to almost pretend like I’m going on vacation in a week and I need to make sure that they can handle this and be able to make decisions. They need to know what we’re doing.”

I love that! So see the lighthouse, show them what it is, make sure they have that vision too! Now, when people first start hiring, because who doesn’t need to hire at some point or I even have a wishlist of my next hire even though I’m not hiring at this second. But what are some mistakes people make when they’re hiring?

Theresa: “Hmm…I think the biggest is that they hire for skills instead of characteristics. What I mean by that, and I did this too, is that, let’s say you’re a blogger and so you want to hire someone to help you with your blog. So you put the word out and you’re looking at everyone’s resume and just making sure that they are ninja skilled in WordPress. Well, that’s really not what you want to be looking for. You want to be looking instead for someone that has the characteristics that will mesh with you and your working style, but also for someone doing that job. So like they want to be detail oriented, they’re good at proofreading, they’re good at being resourceful, all of those are characteristics that might be important to you and in and instead not look so much at the skills.

I wouldn’t even mind hiring someone who has no skills in that area if they have the right personality and the right characteristics that I’m looking for. That’s super important in what we do because as you know, we change tools all the time! You know, you might be using Lead Pages today and something else tomorrow and that person, if they’re only skilled in that one area, is going to have to learn everything over anyway. So to me that’s the most important thing is to decide what characteristics this type of position needs and to hire for that first.”

I love that and I think looking at somebody, our next hire we were thinking we need somebody to help manage my calendar and just do like the tedious little things and help me stay organized and we were writing down all the characteristics! We said she needs to be so obsessed with organizing, it needs to be fun for her, she needs to have a clean car and a clean house. And why would that matter? Because if you really truly care about those types of things, that’s the kind of characteristics you’re going to have too. So I think it’s SO important to understand who is the right person we’re looking for, what would she have so we could teach her those steps. So I love that you’re bringing this up! Any other mistakes people are making??

Theresa: “Yeah, I think one of the other ones that a lot of people do is that they don’t slow down long enough to train and you kind of alluded to this that it’s such an easy fallback for us. So we’ll be sitting there going, okay, I could stop what I’m doing and show this person how to click these buttons and do it, but you know what, that would take me twice as long and we’re always strapped for time, so I’m just going to do it myself. That’s what we always say. I’m going to save time, but we’re actually not saving ourselves time because next week we’re going to have to do it again in the following week I’ll have to do it again.

So it’s a really simple thing that you just tell yourself, I will only do everything once or show everything once and I’ll record it. You just record yourself doing it and that way if you hire someone else, you still have a recording so someone else can come in. So that ties into the other mistake is not having processes and systems of all the big tasks that you do, like you know, podcast management, things like that. And if you have that, and I know you do that, it’s so easy. So like if one of my people goes on maternity leave or she’s out sick or she leaves, we’re not all of a sudden in a panic because no one can put the blog post out. Although you think that you’re wasting time by doing it, you only have to do at once and it will save you time in the long run!”

I love that we’re bringing this up because having that system in place, and I would love to get into systems a little bit, but having a system in place, not just for what you do but for what other people do because what you don’t have control of is if somebody just quits on you or they go on maternity leave or any of that could happen at any moment in time. So if you’ve been spending all your time and energy training somebody and you haven’t been recording or setting up those systems and then she leaves for whatever reason, or you fire her, now you’ve got to do it again. But I think people get so frustrated in the training part because they think, I’ve hired this girl, she’s going to come in and make my life so much easier and they don’t realize you have to show her or tell her what to do. I mean there’s some work here, she’s not just jumping in and being this magical unicorn, especially if you hired for the skill characteristics and not for the skill set. Let’s talk about just a quick couple of tips on training and then we’ll move into systems!

Theresa: “I’ll talk about when you’re looking at someone being an integrator because the integrator kind of has to be the knower of all things. So they’re the hardest one to train and you can apply this though to anyone that you bring on. So what I do and what I teach people to do is if you’re going to be bringing someone on with the hope that they will step into a bigger role of being like second in command or manager of all of your people, is that you let them either interview each person in your organization as to what they do for their job or what I do is I have them do the job once so that they fully understand it. So, for example, for my podcast, it’s a big process and so I had my integrator, when she first came on, I had her produce an episode from start to finish and I said, you know, here are all the instructions and you should be able to figure it out.

I expect you to try and figure it out on your own. But if you get stuck you can talk to the person who normally does the podcast. So it’s not me, she’s not interrupting me and she actually did get stuck a little bit and was able to work it out and she now fully understands what that job entails. So later, if she’s managing someone doing that job and she sees a problem, she understands what to do to fix it.”

This is so genius and I’m not doing this…wow, you just blew my mind! So your integrator could literally do everything if she had to. That makes sense because if she’s truly your right hand, which that’s what they are, they really should be just like that. So you’re exactly right and I love this idea!! If they’re managing somebody else, how do they really know? If they are doing it themselves or have done it before, they’ll say you don’t have to do it like that or this shouldn’t take this long because she knows what it actually does. What’s so amazing is you can tell if your systems are good because if she can’t figure out your systems are not built correctly.

Theresa: “Yes! That’s a really good point. So where she got stuck was where we had a gap in our instructions. So when it was discovered, I talked to the person who normally does my podcast, how did she do? I hadn’t thrown her completely in the deep end, she kind of had floaties on, right?! So like she wouldn’t drown because she had another person who was her backup. But I asked them, so how did she do and she said, well, there’s this one spot where she got stuck, but you know what, we didn’t explain in there what she was supposed to do. So it was like, oh, so that was her first job was to complete that process so that if someone else, was out or sick or whatever, and we had to put someone else in that job, they could start to finish, do it.”

Since we’re kind of naturally talking about systems that kind of led right into it, what are you using to store your systems? How do you create systems from scratch? I can share what we did a couple of years ago in my brick and mortar business, but it’s a lot of work so I’d love to hear what you do!

Theresa: “Yeah, so I use something called monday.com but it’s a a management software, very similar to Asana, but more visual but we also use Process Street for the really complicated things like our podcast process so that every episode has its own checklist that we just duplicate in Process Street.”

People have told me about Process Street and they’re shocked I’m not on it yet. But I think, do I really need it if we have our systems in Monday? But there are some things I could see get a little complicated. So I get that you’re saying you use both. So you do think it’s wise to have both of you have a big team with all these systems?

Theresa: “Now I do use both but that’s because I originally set the system up. I will say that my integrator really is starting to make monday.com be our sole source and that’s one of the things that I gave up control. I also told her if you discover that really your brain works better with Asana and that’s the tool you want to use, let’s discuss moving over. But so far she’s been happy with monday.com but she is making it more inclusive that it’s holding pretty much everything. We aren’t going to Process Street except for the really complicated things.”

I’m glad to hear you say that too because it has been working for us. So it’s nice to keep everything simplified versus adding in this and adding in that and going all over. Now, monday.com you do have to pay for it, it’s nothing crazy or anything, I think it’s like $500 a year or something like that, but there are free ones out there. So do you think people need to run out and by monday.com or could they go get one of the free softwares out there?

Theresa: “Oh, absolutely! There’s so many other things that they could use! I just tried all the different things and that one and I tell everybody, you have to pick what feels right to you if you’re the one setting it up or to your second in command if they’re setting it up. So for me, Monday.com was very visual, it’s very easy to set up. I felt like anyone on my team could make a board and it has been adding more and more bells and whistles to try and compete with Asana. So far it’s been what works for me but no, there are other ones out there!”

You did ask how do we create a process? So if it’s something that I’m currently doing that I shouldn’t be doing or don’t want to do anymore, I will record it, start to finish and I just hand it off to someone on my team and they create the task board. Now if it’s something really complicated like a launch or like we just had our meeting at the beginning of the year for our 2019 goals and we break them down. We had a meeting, we broke them down by quarters and then went through all the tasks that have to happen in the quarter for the different milestones that we had set up. So we did that as a group and my integrator kept it as a PDF.

She then went into Monday and created a whole board just from our meeting. So within an afternoon, within an hour, she had this whole very complicated but very awesome board and I was like, oh my gosh, I’d never done that before. I’d never had our goals mapped out quarter by quarter so that as we are going through each week, we are making sure that we’re all on task to be able to check things off and we are just like, we are cranking it, we’re crushing it now on the goals because we’re all looking at the board! That goes back to the vision thing. You know, everyone on the team understands why they’re doing what they’re doing and we’re trying to reach this goal. So it made it really easy to do it that way!”

I do think even if you are a solo entrepreneur, I do think a project management software system is something you need to do immediately. I had somebody recently in one of my coaching groups say to me, I had never gotten a project management system because it’s just me and I thought you had to have a team to do this. But no! I think this is a great place to start to really own your projects and to start to delegate them because you can start building your systems in there. So when you do hire somebody, you’ve got it! One last little question or topic…where do you think we should head next? Where’s your first hire? Is it somebody high level? Is it your right hand? Is it just an assistant? Where do you think somebody should start?

Theresa: “I think that for the most part, if they’re a beginning solopreneur that they really just need an assistant because there’s just a lot of miscellaneous stuff that needs to get done and an assistant doesn’t feel so scary because the last thing I want to do is say, oh, you need your wing man and that’s such a scary thing having never had anyone under you. It’s very hard to step right into that. But if you start with an assistant, you know, like you said, having the calendar, making sure that all the boxes are checked, that are happening and organizing, all of that can really free up your time.

The easiest way to figure out who to hire first is to look back over your last week or going forward pay attention to all the different things you’re doing. Write them down and you’ll start seeing that there’s some things on there you really shouldn’t be doing and that’s when you hire. Those are the first things that you hand off.”

Now, I was in business for quite a while before I had kind of a right hand and I was managing a lot of other employees and it didn’t dawn on me that I needed somebody to be this person to help me manage and do all of this. So if somebody is reading this right now with a large team, but they’re thinking, I don’t have this role integrator, she keeps talking about, what do you suggest for that person? Do they hire within, within the team? Do they, you know, maybe announce this and let everybody apply. What would you say to that?

Theresa: “Having someone as your wing man and I usually call them a wing man because there’s so many different terminologies for them. But what they are is someone who can take your vision and make sure that it’s happening. So looking over everything, making sure everyone’s on track. We talked about the CEO being the lighthouse, the wing man is kind of like the streetlight. You have a pathway to that lighthouse. Everyone’s on the path and they’re keeping it well lit and making sure that no one goes *squirrel!* and goes off into left field! But they are also making decisions that you before we’re making. So it’s really important that they be a match or a balance to you. It’s kind of like a marriage, so it’s not like just anyone can do it. What I tell people to do is you first have to.

If you are loving this conversation with Theresa, she has a free download for all of you to assess if you are ready for a new hire! Just go to teamuproadmap.com and you can find that assessment. You can also find her at theresaloe.com or livinghomegrown.com

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