Operations

Why Streamlining Your Effort Pays Off With Business Strategist Michelle Warner

Michelle Warner and I talk about how we both use opting-out as a tool to help our clients become more profitable and efficient.

Susan Boles
December 3, 2019
37
 MIN
Podcast

Opting out of business-as-usual practices  or deciding to buck your industry trend can be a really powerful point of differentiation for service businesses

When you opt-out of using corporate jargon or ridiculously complicated implementation processes, you can really stand out from the crowd.

And, making this choice can also be a really great tool for increasing your operational capacity behind the scenes.

By opting-out and choosing not to implement a cumbersome or overly complicated process, you free up your time. By choosing to not administrate the process and hire somebody to manage it for you, you save all that time, money and effort that you would have spent otherwise.

Today, I am having business strategist, Michelle Warner, back on the show to talk about how we both use opting-out as a tool to help our clients become more profitable and efficient.

We talk about how Michelle helps service providers, coaches, and course creators drill down and focus on what's important, as well as how they can stop spending time on unproductive distractions and start designing profitable businesses.

On today’s episode:

  • How Michelle uses an 80/20 framework to harnesses creative energy, turning it into something useful instead of something that can quickly derail us.
  • How Michelle helps clients move away from their startup phase and start optimizing as a company
  • The ways that doubling down on a single project has compounding effects and is uniquely beneficial to entrepreneurs  
  • All the ways that entrepreneurs are naturally creators and how they can look to the art world for guidance and inspiration
  • How you can take your financial metrics and turn them into qualitative choices for what you want your business to be.
  • How we can slow down and build our awareness in our business with tracking and mindfulness practices

Links

Episode Transcript

Michelle Warner (00:00):

If you're trying to deliver five different things, that means 20% of your time is on each of those. And so they're not going to be very efficient. You're going to be winging it all the time and just doing what needs to get done to do them relatively competently,

Susan Boles (00:16):

Instead of just accepting conventional ideas about how we're supposed to run our business, what if we just said no? What if we just opted out of the funnels, the frameworks of the industry standards and chose a better way of doing business? I'm Susan Boles, and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we talk unconventional strategies to increase your operational capacity. This month, we're jumping into talking about saying no and opting out of conventional wisdom or ways of operating that might be outdated, inefficient or just playing something you don't want to do. Choosing not to do something or deciding to buck your industry trend can be a powerful point of differentiation like a software or business consultant that doesn't use corporate jargon or have ridiculously complicated processes, but it can also be a great tool to use to increase your operational capacity behind the scenes.

Susan Boles (01:08):

Because by choosing not to implement a cumbersome or overly complicated process, you free up time because you don't have to administrate that process or hire somebody to manage it or buy a software to help make it easier. You can just opt out and not do it and save all that time, money and effort that you would have spent on it. Today, I'm talking to business designer, Michelle Warner, who helps service providers, coaches and course creators, design profitable businesses. Primarily, by helping them drill down and focus on what's important and stop spending time on unproductive distractions, i.e., shiny things syndrome.

Susan Boles (01:44):

We'll talk about how we both use opting out as a tool to help our clients become more profitable and efficient, but also about her 80/20 framework that harnesses that creative energy we all have as entrepreneurs and turns it into something useful instead of something that can quickly derail us. Now, let's jump in. All right, Michelle Warner, thanks so much for coming back to the show, I'm really excited to have you here. You're one of my favorite people don't talk about. So thank you for coming and taking the time to talk to us.

Michelle Warner (02:15):

Oh my gosh. I'm so excited to be back. I had a blast last time, so thank you for having me.

Susan Boles (02:20):

Awesome. So, you and I both help service business owners really focus in on what they should be doing in their business. We do a little bit of that in kind of different ways, but a lot of what that involves, I think on both of our ends is helping clients see what they shouldn't be spending time on and what they should be choosing not to do or choosing not to focus on. So, can you talk me through kind of how that happens for you with a typical client?

Michelle Warner (02:46):

Absolutely. So when I'm working with clients, I'm trying to design their business model to be as efficient as possible. People come to me wanting to grow and scale the same way they come to you. And I look at their product mixes, I look at their clients and we figure what makes sense and what doesn't. And inevitably, what I find is I call it the creator's dilemma or the entrepreneur's dilemma. And I think this is such a cruel thing that happens to us because as entrepreneurs, we're taught, listen to the customer, give the customer what they need, when you're creating, you're making money. And so when we think about making money, we think about creation and we think about responding to needs.

Michelle Warner (03:21):

And what that leads to is a gazillion products. All of these entrepreneurs come to me and they have all the things. And when I say, "What do you think you need to do to grow?" They can say, "Oh, I need to create four more products for five different other people." And that is the wrong thing. And I have so much empathy for them because it's also exactly what they're taught to do. And so my job is to take an entrepreneur who is past that starting stage, where you do need to experiment and kind of create all the things to figure out what you're good at, take them from that stage into more of an optimizing stage, almost out of the pure entrepreneurship vein and start optimizing as a company rather than as a startup.

Susan Boles (04:04):

Absolutely. And I think it can be really helpful to use someone like you or someone like me. I know in our work together where you've helped me, I like using you as my filter of I have all of these ideas and these are all great things and they could all be viable choices, but what should I be focusing on right now?

Michelle Warner (04:28):

Exactly.

Susan Boles (04:29):

The idea of like having an outside person, having an outside entity, somebody that you can bounce ideas off of that says, "Hey, that's a great idea. That's super cool, maybe not right now."

Michelle Warner (04:40):

Absolutely. Because there are so many, I rarely see bad ideas. I see bad ideas, but rarely that's the issue. There's a lot of good ideas. It's just wanting to have all the things at the same time. And I like saying you can have all the things just maybe not all at once. And let's find the foundation of what your things are so that you can really drill down on a foundation and let everything else grow from that.

Susan Boles (05:05):

In terms of financial impact, there's a lot to be said about focusing in and honing on on doing one thing very well, very efficiently, very streamlined because ultimately that ends up being more profitable in the long run. You can deliver services more profitably. You can deliver your course more profitably. And that is actually a direct result of focusing in on the one or two things that you do.

Michelle Warner (05:34):

Exactly. There's a couple benefits of having that strong foundational thing. There's the operation side that you're talking about. You just become better at it. If you're trying to deliver five different things, that means 20% of your time is on each of those. And so they're not going to be very efficient. You're going to be winging it all the time and just doing what needs to get done to do them relatively competently. Whereas, if you are giving, let's say 80% of your time to one thing, you're going to be great at it. You have time to tweak it. You have time to find all the little nuances, they're going to make you so great at it. The other side of it that a lot of people don't talk about, because this is going to get a little geeky, but I know you'll go there with-

Susan Boles (06:13):

I love geeky.

Michelle Warner (06:13):

Yeah. It is the compounding effects that you have when you're able to double down on something. When we look at finances, we hear about compounding interest and you should invest early because if you invest in your 20s, you'll have so much more money at retirement than you have if you start in your 40s because of this effect of just the constant double down. Well, guess what? If you're doubling down on one program, you're going to have those same compounding effects, mostly because of what we just talked about, that you're going to get so much better at it, that the results are just going to snowball, you wouldn't believe.

Michelle Warner (06:44):

And that is something that is uniquely beneficial to entrepreneurs, because if you're in a corporate job and you double down on something and you do a phenomenal job at it, maybe you're going to get a little bit of a raise, but you're not going to see the full effect of having doubled down on that thing. As an entrepreneur, you're taking it all home. If you really double down on something and you get that snowball effect, that is all yours, nobody's taken a slice of the pie away from you. And so as much as it's cruel to tell you to start cutting your babies and cutting your ideas, it's also so beneficial to you because entrepreneurs are in a very unique position to reap all the benefits of the compounding effect.

Susan Boles (07:31):

I love that. And it reminded me ... So, one of my absolute favorite books right now is Atomic Habits by James Clear. [crosstalk 00:07:42] It is so applicable to so many, it is my number one favorite change management book, which I think most people don't think about it like it's change management tool. It's a basic foundation of how you convince people to change. But the piece that it reminded me of is his like 1% calculation, where if you get 1% better at something every day, you do something one just 1% better, which really isn't that much better than it was before, a 1% increase. The compounding effects of how much better that is at the end of the year. Or at the end of five years is just astronomical, really doubling down and investing in doing really, really good work and making it just slightly better the next time you do it.

Michelle Warner (08:30):

Absolutely, I could not have said it better myself. That is what we're going for, whether it's a daily habit or it's your program. If you get 1% better that program every single day, that program is going to be better as opposed to one quarter of a percent better every day if your focus is split.

Susan Boles (08:47):

Absolutely. That makes sense. So you have a framework, I guess it's a framework, right?

Michelle Warner (08:55):

Absolutely.

Susan Boles (08:56):

As you call it, kind of the 80/20. So, can you tell me a little bit more about that, how it works and how you use it with your clients?

Michelle Warner (09:04):

Yeah. So this is a little bit of a spin. I think we've all heard the 80/20 principle about effort and results. But what I like to spin it into is, again, encouraging this compounding effect because we are going to have competing priorities. You know me, I like to work in the nuance and in the gray area, I think in entrepreneurship, we hear a lot of advice on either extreme. And one of the pieces of advice that makes me insane, even though I've kind of just said it is to focus on the one thing and you should only do one thing. Well, that's also not practical because we have creatives as entrepreneurs we're multi-passionate. So I just said, I have all the empathy in the world for creative entrepreneurs, especially who have all the ideas and all the creativity. It is hard to go from that world into a world where you are so focused and disciplined that you are only focused on one thing.

Michelle Warner (09:54):

So, what I have started to ask my entrepreneurs to do, and it works magnificently, as I say, "Give me 80%." So, I'm going to tell you what the foundation is. I'm going to tell you where I want you to compound everything. "Yes, in my perfect world, you're doing that 100% of the time, but you know what? Give me 80%." And then 20% go play. Because what I find is that cuts down on the rebellion and I'm here for it too. I like to rebel when I'm told to just focus on one thing, but if we can take 80% of your time and focus on the thing you need to be focusing on, and then let the energy of everything else dissipate in the other 20%, that's sustainable. You can keep up with that. And so I like doing that better than just saying, "No, the one thing you need to be focused on the one thing." And the other great part about 80 20 is it leaves open all of these possibilities.

Michelle Warner (10:41):

I told you that I believe you can have all the things, just maybe not all at the same time. So if you can be focusing on one thing, 80% of your time, the other stuff gets the other 20, but then it can switch. Once you've gotten your foundation pretty well nailed. It'll never be perfect, but you get it pretty well nailed. Then that can go over into the 20% time and you can bring another idea into the 80% time and build that baby. And then maybe the next cycle, you go back and bring your foundation course back into the 80% because now you're ready to really make it even more efficient and better. And so that comes into the 80%, then that's happened. And so then the next quarter, you bring in another idea and that gets you 80% of time. And I have just found that that framework allows people to frankly stay sane. It allows you to feel like all of your ideas are being nurtured, but it also gives you the effect of focusing.

Susan Boles (11:38):

I absolutely appreciate that. It's a direct combat to shiny things syndrome, sure that can be your idea, "Do this thing over here for 80%, play around with it for 20%." And I think it also allows for kind the natural evolution of business in that we do focus on the one thing and there is true benefit to focusing on the one thing, systematizing it, making it as good as it can possibly get. But also if we don't ever explore new ideas, our business can't evolve, we end up stuck in business 10 years ago because we can't react to the changes in the market or changes in how businesses are running or what kinds of courses people are taking or whether or not they're taking courses versus memberships and without that time to explore, I think if you were focusing 100% of your time on the exact thing, that's how businesses and organizations get into that. Well, that's the way we've always done it. That's how we're going to keep doing it, which is ultimately how you end up going out of business eventually.

Michelle Warner (12:45):

Exactly. And I probably shouldn't admit this live, but I'm just having a realization of where this framework probably came from for me. And it's, my background is in tech startups. And this is actually, and I don't know if they still do it, but this is how Google and Facebook and all those companies nurture their engineers. They've 20% of their time to just goof off. For every company, it's not actually 20%. It varies probably between 10 and 30%, but they all have their jobs. And then they have other time to just play, because that is how the company's innovated in the early days.

Michelle Warner (13:18):

And again, I'm not sure if that is all still in place, but I'm realizing that that was probably in the back of my head. And that is where this idea came from is you need ... I always talk about pressure valves. You need to release that pressure of all of the other ideas and give them space. You can't just let them live in your head building up steam as these things that have to be done sometime. And this thing is keeping me from doing that. And that's so unfair.

Susan Boles (13:43):

Yeah, that's so interesting that it came out of tech starters because, so my background is in higher education, which is the exact opposite of ... A state higher education institution is the direct opposite, if you could come up with something that is less like a startup, it would be higher education at a state institution.

Michelle Warner (14:04):

I can imagine.

Susan Boles (14:05):

Plus the higher ed, moves at the speed of a slug, and a lot of the organizations, I was always the person coming in and saying, "But why are we doing it this way? And do we still have to, is there a good reason," and always getting the answer? "Well, this is the way we've always done it." And so it's interesting that your perspective from the fast moving allows you to create the pressure valve. And I so value that pressure valve that you need to spend time innovating or looking at new practices or understanding how things are changing so that you can get out in front of it. But that needs to be held at the same time that you're holding focus on the thing that you're currently doing and doing it well. And focusing on putting out good work and doing the thing that you are doing right now very well at the same time that you're focusing on what could the future look like?

Michelle Warner (15:03):

I love that. And I love that analogy because you could run with that and say that if you didn't have this 20% of the time, if you did have the pure focus that people tell you you need to have, you're going to turn into a bureaucracy because you're going to lose all ability to think interestingly.

Susan Boles (15:19):

Yeah.

Michelle Warner (15:19):

At the same time if all you do is chase ideas, again, you're never going to get anywhere because you're just running around on this hamster wheel. That is not very useful. I always look to the art world for inspiration, for whatever reason. And I think about constraint. Give me a frame and let me do whatever I want to do within the frame. And that is much more effective than just telling me to go create something. And I feel like 80/20 is taking that as well. I actually thought my inspiration for 80/20 came from the art world, but now I'm realizing it probably came from the tech startup world. But I think you can meld all of those things of looking for a little bit of constraint in order to allow you to create because blank canvases are the most terrifying thing there is.

Susan Boles (16:02):

Absolutely. And I think as entrepreneurs, we all naturally are just creators. Like you said, anybody who owns a business, runs a business is by nature, think an artist and for some of us, and I know you and I have talked about this outside of this conversation, that business is our art. Designing businesses and structuring them in a way that makes sense, and that puzzle piece that is our art.

Michelle Warner (16:36):

Warhol being good at business is the most fascinating kind of art. My favorite quote.

Susan Boles (16:40):

I mean, but you need that. You need to have a way to constrain that instinct of, there is no entrepreneur that can't come up with a good idea. Once you've started one business, it's so hard to turn it off and not turn everything you see into a business opportunity. And I like that the framework allows for that natural instinct of the people that start businesses.

Michelle Warner (17:12):

Yeah. And I think if any entrepreneur, if any of us can do anything good for an entrepreneur, it is to help bring in the nuance, right? Because entrepreneurs, they're not black and white thinkers, but they get stuck at these two ends of extreme spectrums, if I'm not hustling, I'm dead. If I'm not creating, I'm dead. And like, no, there actually is a little bit of a middle ground and you can live within the nuance. And that's what 80/20 is all about is please go have all the ideas, please listen to what your customers say. And then also please think before you execute.

Susan Boles (17:49):

Or use a filter.

Michelle Warner (17:50):

Yes.

Susan Boles (17:53):

Like a good friend that can be like-

Michelle Warner (17:53):

Exactly.

Susan Boles (17:54):

... "Hey, great idea, not right now."

Michelle Warner (17:56):

Yeah. Put that one on the wall, come back to it.

Susan Boles (18:02):

So, talking around the conversation of what do we choose not to do? How we focus on the one thing, where do you see business owners kind of getting confused, getting in the weeds, what are they typically doing that they should be probably opting out of and aren't seeing that?

Michelle Warner (18:26):

I think this is a little bit of what we've been talking about, where they're operating on these extremes of, I can't stop, won't stop, need to continue doing these things. And I like telling entrepreneurs because a lot of us are into the wellness space, and a little bit into the will. And I say we always talk about how your body is talking to you. Are you listening to it? Well, your business is talking to you too. And when you're going full bore, you're just not listening to it. And so how can you be noticing things? How could you have any sort of system to notice things daily that are happening in your business and just taking in this information? Because the worst things that entrepreneurs do is just act without thinking. So actually, I literally have a journal that I fill out every night or most nights it's what are three things that went well today?

Michelle Warner (19:16):

What are three things that didn't go so well today? And what do they mean? And at the end of the week, I tally that up. And at the end of the month, I tally it up. And it's amazing the trends that you see when you have that level of awareness. We talk about mindfulness awareness. And when you bring that level of awareness into your business, you start seeing what you're doing wrong. And so what you're doing wrong at a metal level is you're not paying any attention. You're just chasing ideas. What you're doing wrong at an actionable level is not tracking anything. And therefore not being able to really understand how to iterate and make micro adjustments as you go. Because it's wonderful to say you're focused 80% of the time on creating your foundational course, well again, it is going to take you much longer to create that stuff if you are not aware on a daily basis of what's working and what's not.

Michelle Warner (20:10):

If you can make little micro adjustments as you go, you're going to get to your under results a lot faster than if you're only looking quarterly, because if you look quarterly, then you're like, "Oh crap, something happened two and a half months ago that I didn't even notice. And now I have to course correct after chasing that thing for two and a half months. So, I think just, again, slow down, think, bring some of that awareness that we're starting to bring into our mindfulness and our bodies, bringing that into our business.

Susan Boles (20:36):

I love that. You're right. We get a lot of information about taking mindfulness about our own personal self care and that kind of thing, but doing the same thing for your business, just awareness of how your business is feeling and where you are in your business? Are you enjoying the services that you're offering? I love that you're tracking it. You know what I mean? I love metrics. I love data. That's my favorite thing. I love that you turned basically qualitative data into something that you can pay attention to and see the trends and understand what signals, because your business gives signals. It shouts signals at you. And from my aspect, a lot of the time that ends up being financial signals of things not going well or that are going well. But I think that's just on the surface, we can take that analogy of your financial metrics and turn them into qualitative choices about is your business what you want it to be?

Michelle Warner (21:47):

Yeah. And I will give you the silliest, but really effective example of doing this because it takes just as long as it takes to do a gratitude journal. And a lot of people are doing gratitude journals right now. So, it's not like you have to pull all these numbers and know all the things. And here's an example that I know you'll relate to because I'll call you out on it. And I know you're benefiting from this thing as well. So, this spring I started pitching a bunch of podcasts and I was sending a lot of cold pitches, which I never really want to do, but I just was. And I started to notice through this process when I would send these cold pitches, I would always kind of look and see like, "Hmm, do I have some kind of connection? How can I make this less of a cold pitch?"

Michelle Warner (22:29):

And I started noticing, day by day, a couple of things that were working, because a lot of people weren't paying attention to me then, but the ones that were happened to have a couple of things in common. And I was like, "Huh, that's interesting." So, the next day when I sent out another batch of pitches, I would adjust for that. And all of a sudden I have this cold pitch podcast template that is getting me on like 80, 85% of shows that I pitch and that doesn't happen. You always don't even bother cold pitching because nobody will even respond to you. And I'm getting a lot of value out of it. And I got there in about five or six days and then I probably wouldn't have even gotten there at all if I hadn't been like, "Huh, that's interesting. What was different about this pitch then that pitch." And if I hadn't been paying attention to those patterns, I don't even know if I would have found the pitch that's working as well as it is. And if I had, it would have taken a couple of months, not five or six days.

Susan Boles (23:28):

Yeah. It's so interesting because on the marketing side, we always talk about listening to your customers, listening to the signals that your customers are giving you, but we very rarely apply that to our business or the things that we're in our businesses like sending a cold pitch email and looking for trends in success. We very rarely look for data, whether or not what you're doing is working, we got a lot of outside signals that say, "I have a six figure course, I'm so successful using my X, Y, Z program." And we assume that it's working, but we so rarely look for actual data or signals that help us make those really good, strong, solid database decisions.

Michelle Warner (24:22):

Yeah. And that's where when you're bringing just a little bit of awareness in every day, all of a sudden that stuff pops up and is very obvious.

Susan Boles (24:30):

Interesting.

Michelle Warner (24:30):

And uncomfortably obvious, I would say when you first started seeing actually like, "Oh, this has been available to me all along. Oops."

Susan Boles (24:36):

Then when you start scratching the surface of looking for signals or metrics or data about something, all of a sudden, it just slams you in the face everywhere, you see them everywhere.

Michelle Warner (24:49):

Yes, and you realize how valuable doing some of those things that aren't perfectly efficient are. I mean, you could argue, it's not perfectly efficient to write a journal entry every night. Well, it takes me two minutes and over the long course, it's really valuable.

Susan Boles (25:04):

Absolutely. I think there are good times and places to focus on efficiency, but that's not one of them.

Michelle Warner (25:15):

Exactly.

Susan Boles (25:17):

So for you personally, was there a particular operations or process or business model decision, something that you consciously chose to opt out of or approached relatively unconventionally that made a difference to how you run your business? What have you chosen to opt out in your own business?

Michelle Warner (25:37):

This is probably something that's more my own mindset problems than anything. But I think other people, I know other people have come up with this because we've talked about it, so I'm going to share it. And I pride myself, so the work I do is I design business models. So, you bring me your business that's not growing correctly. You don't know what to do. I tell you what to do. I figure out what's wrong. I get you back in alignment and growing again. And I take a lot of pride in the fact that everybody gets a custom business model because the entrepreneurs I work with are at that level where templates don't work. And for a long time in my mind, that meant that I started from scratch with absolutely everyone because it was going to be custom and it was going to be perfect for you.

Michelle Warner (26:19):

What I realized was that that was a massive waste of time. And I had to let go of this idea of what custom meant to me and what I mean by that is they are still very much custom solutions, but I finally allowed myself to dig in and understand what frameworks I was using to make decisions. So, this is another place where I'm just going to have all my beefs with the online world in this conversation, but-

Susan Boles (26:47):

That's okay.

Michelle Warner (26:47):

... I feel like-

Susan Boles (26:48):

We like that.

Michelle Warner (26:48):

Yeah, right. I feel like we love the word framework in the online space and it's become this idea that you have to have a marketable framework that tells people exactly what to do. So, when I was thinking about customers, I can't be any frameworks involved because that's not custom. And then I kind of told myself, "Michelle, calm down, go back to your 20 years of business building experience," and realize that I do use frameworks, but I use them as decision makers. And so I brought into my process, these frameworks, and now I share them with clients and explain to them how I'm making decisions in terms of what I'm telling you to do with your business and how to design it. But I'm not handing you a framework and slapping it in your face and saying, "Go do this."

Michelle Warner (27:34):

I'm saying, "Let's look at this framework together and let's make decisions based on it. And I want you to understand how I'm making this decision for you." And low and behold, what that has resulted in is wildly more efficient for me because I'm not starting from scratch with everyone and wildly better outcomes for my clients because they understand why I'm making the recommendations I'm making and what I'm doing. And they can execute it so much better because they understand where it's coming from and they have something to glam onto other than my recommendations. So, I opted out of the idea that, again, the extremes that it's either a list of 10 things to do or custom, I found my middle ground, that those don't have to be the only two options that it can be custom, but you can use frameworks to get to custom. So, again, I think that might be my mindset thing that people are probably listening, thinking, "I know you're crazy," but I think"

Susan Boles (28:33):

No, I had a similar-

Michelle Warner (28:34):

Yeah.

Susan Boles (28:35):

I mean, I had a similar journey too, and that I started out doing essentially custom software recommendations. And the more I did, the more I realized I was kind of recommending the same things that there are certain tools for specific industries like service businesses that just work better. And that it is a solution that is designed with the specific problems of that business owner and the specific challenges that they're facing. Under that kind of you're right, I don't like the word framework.

Michelle Warner (29:11):

Nobody likes the word framework because-

Susan Boles (29:13):

... people have a similar reaction.

Michelle Warner (29:14):

... it's over used.

Susan Boles (29:15):

... to process when I'm like, "Oh, let's put in a process." I'm like, "That just means have an order in which you do things. Have a clear idea of what you're going to do next." That's all the processes, but that it can be, like you said, a custom solution for the person or the business that you are fixing the problem for, but it doesn't. It all comes from the same place. Internally, we've created our own frameworks of how we choose the decisions and what we prioritize and what we are taking into account from our own depth of experience and turning that into something replicable, taking basically building, this is my new direction that I've gone down is the building a second brain kind of framework. As like constructing what is in your head out in the world.

Michelle Warner (30:13):

Oh, I like that. Yeah.

Susan Boles (30:16):

And it's a course from Forte Labs. They literally have a course called building a second brain, talking about how we process information and how we hold that essentially. So, being able to take what's in your head and put it out in the world in some format.

Michelle Warner (30:35):

Ooh, I need to go take that course.

Susan Boles (30:37):

Yeah, I'm signing up for it too.

Michelle Warner (30:40):

Yeah, there's always [crosstalk 00:30:40].

Susan Boles (30:41):

That it has gotten a lot of ... They're sort of, I think coming to be tangentially related to notion, which is a very big new, I'm not even going to call it a project management tool. It's a flexible information holding place that can be used for project management or used for wikis or, and they are, I think, working together on a new initiative. That's how I found it, but very interesting about frameworks kind of around how do you get what's in your head out of your head?

Michelle Warner (31:16):

That's fascinating to me because, speaking of inefficiency, I got my frameworks out of my head in the most inefficient way possible. So if you can, and I think a lot of people who work more on this custom side or those of us who have mastery and really work within the nuances versus working on something that's very tried and true. Here's the 10 steps you need to go do. It's hard to know how you do what you do. It's really hard because it is built up over experience. And I used to kind of laugh with prospects on sales calls and thank goodness they thought it was funny. But when I would explain how I would do what I would do to them, I would say, "Oh you know the dead kid, or the kid who sees dead people in the movies? I'm like, "I see your business."

Michelle Warner (31:56):

I just look at it and I know what you need to do. And I get a lot of referral business. So they already trusted me. And that was fine, but that is not the best way to sell your service. But I really didn't know how I did what I did. I got insane results for people. So I was very comfortable selling my services, but it took me a very long time, actually, a six month road trip where I really went inward and figured out, I'm like, "Oh wait, this is how I'm actually thinking through these things. So, if there are tools out there that can help get that on your brain faster bring them on.

Susan Boles (32:29):

Yeah, this is something I struggle with as well is how do you step outside of your brain, which it happens naturally I see software systems like you see business design, you just see it. It just is there naturally. And then trying to explain to somebody all the different ways that you're evaluating different pieces of it and tying it all together and trying to explain how that works when the reality is just how your brain works. Your brain happens to see the connections that other people don't necessarily see. But when you start trying to train clients on how to do that or talk them through your process, trying to explain what comes naturally is such a struggle.

Michelle Warner (33:16):

Absolutely, the cobbler never has any shoes. It's extremely difficult both to help your own business. And I really think that people who come with deep experience in having been done this for a long time and are teaching from it and analyzing from experience as opposed to a more traditional teacher route, it's a really big struggle, but also that's where the goods are.

Susan Boles (33:40):

Absolutely.

Michelle Warner (33:42):

Yeah, those of us who are great teachers are so wonderful to get people started on paths. But when you're really digging into a business that is ready to go to a next level, you need that nuance. And you need to bring that in, and the more we can do with those of us who operate in that space to help people understand how we do, not only are we going to be more successful, but we're just going to get better client outcomes because they can understand that they can be more independent going forward, which is definitely a goal of mine.

Susan Boles (34:10):

Absolutely. So, before we wrap up, is there anything that you think we should talk about that we haven't yet?

Michelle Warner (34:18):

Another thing, I don't think so. We've hit all of my highlights, especially in terms of bringing in the nuance and obviously, no, I don't think so.

Susan Boles (34:28):

Cool. Me neither. I loved this conversation though. This was awesome.

Michelle Warner (34:33):

Yeah. I love every time we do one of these, it's just awesome. We need to find more outlets for it.

Susan Boles (34:40):

We do. So where can our listeners find you if they want to connect, learn more assuming that they haven't already listened to episode three, which they should absolutely go listen to episode three when Michelle was on here the first time?

Michelle Warner (34:53):

Please do. Yeah, and come on over, I'm at themichellewarner.com and honestly, come say hi at Instagram. I'm @michelle.warner. And that is where I chat with everybody these days. Hit me up at my DMs, say hi to me, tell me about what you're going to focus on. I would love to get into a conversation and hear about your business.

Susan Boles (35:12):

Awesome. Thank you so much, Michelle.

Michelle Warner (35:15):

You are so very welcome. It's always a pleasure.

Susan Boles (35:20):

Maxed out. That's what I hear from entrepreneurs all the time. They've maxed out the hours they can work. They've maxed out the clients that can take on. They've maxed out the projects that they can complete. And all that adds up to feeling like they've maxed out the money that they can make too, and keep bumping up against the revenue ceiling. And it seems like the only way to break through is to do more. But of course they're maxed out. Does that sound familiar? You're listening to Break the Ceiling because you know or at least hope that there's a way to break through that doesn't involve working more hours, sacrificing quality or jeopardizing client satisfaction. And there is, when you're maxed out growing your business is as much about what you choose not to do as it is about what you've packed onto your to do list.

Susan Boles (36:06):

It's about opting out of more and more and more and building foundations that allow for growth. And that's exactly what I help entrepreneurs like you do as a CFO and growth advisor. It all starts with getting clear on your money and your foundational systems. I'll help you identify your profit centers, define processes that drive revenue and create automations that fuel your cash flow. I'd love to talk to you about how we can jumpstart your revenue growth by doing less. To get started, just shoot me an email at susan@scalespark.co. And from there we'll hop on the phone and see if you're a good fit for a custom growth blueprint. Again, reach out to susan@scalespark.co, I'd love to help you break through the ceiling.


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