Today we’re talking with another fabulous (& funny!) serial entrepreneur about her journey learning that to do it all, you need a helping hand (or two!).
Ashley Quinto Powell is a business owner, author, consultant, and mother of two. She is the founder of MyVARocks and author of Executive Motherhood: The Art of Having It All Without Doing It All.
In this episode, we discuss–
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Music. Welcome to all up in my lady business I am your host Mary nisi on this podcast all explore the fine line between having it together I'm losing your shit. Here I share my journey as an entrepreneur a mom a wife a DJ and randomly a beekeeper. I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram. My stories of resilience a little structure and a lot of resource Wellness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your. Music. Thanks so much for tuning in today I have Ashley Quinto Powell who is a Serial entrepreneur. And National speaker she is the author of executive motherhood the art of having it all without doing it all and the founder of the virtual assistant agency my VA rocks she spoken about motherhood Anita be org and the University of Chicago's polsky Center. Amongst many others she was a Madison Wisconsin with her husband and her children of which she has two of them. Ashley thank you so much for being on all up in my lady business I'm so excited to be here thank you so much for having me so Ashley why don't you give us a little bit of your background are you from Wisconsin originally were you born with a cheese head on your head. No I wasn't born with a cheese head on my head I was raised in Chicago like I was I'm a city girl is it was actually really really important to my identity that I was a city girl yeah and you know I don't I'm not even sure that I ordered sneakers particularly like I wasn't. I'm not sure why that makes me a city girl but I was like I hail a cab person I was a didn't have a driver's license person very specifically. Not from the suburbs it was for my town you're from Boys Town oh yeah yeah that's for your best where you were born and raised in Boys Town. I was well I'm we moved to we moved to Chicago when I was six but for the next glorious 20 years I lived in Boystown. That's so did you go to like CPS and no I went to Latin. Oh so we're a smarty pants well I'm not sure that I would say that I think I bucked the trend there right you're lucky to go to Latin yeah that's that's an amazing school when I was in Chicago there were only three private schools now there are an actual bajillion private schools and I can't imagine how difficult that would be to navigate we just looked at the three, it was an impossible thing to navigate which is why I am now Damien being living in the suburbs so basically you were from Chicago and how long were you here. I was there until I was I think 26 I had this cute little apartment on Addison it was like the world's cutest apartment if you smashed her face against the glass on one side you can see the lake and on the other side you could see Wrigley field but you know a sliver yeah I paid a lot Maggio. Yeah exactly you go to school here while I went to Denver and then to Paul so so yeah I went to, I mean I'd ever was a bad was a bad fit for me because I didn't I mean I'm a slightly different person now but like I wasn't into the outdoors or marijuana and if that isn't those two things don't line up like you're not just not a great fit for early 2000s Denver yeah and and so you would I'm also a blue demon. Amazing I went to DePaul as well I love you all so that you know it's the blue demon and not the Blue Demons mmm it's because it's a Catholic school there's only one there's only one devil. As far as they're concerned it's because the the DePaul basketball team just had a d and so they were the D men. That's right wait a minute gendered make it made it way to way to make it so that there's not the demon and the D woman. Now I was so when I went to DePaul so I would have classes that were taught by dissensions we have priests would be thing and they made it very clear like I would have like a Catholic priest teaching me a class I remember I took a class called the Bible as literature that was taught by a by a priest and they were very into being Catholic in Roots and tradition but like not in. They weren't they didn't we push the Catholicism down your throat I've many times forgot that it was even a religious school like it was but. The I remember there was a the priest was teaching the class music okay so Jesus is dead and gone it's just to do and I'm like isn't your entire life like based on the idea that Jesus is still. Kickin it and he's like yeah I mean you know I'm he basically implied to me that he was gay and that's the reason why he was a priest and I was like wow yeah. Like what like it was beat me but it wasn't like he was an out gay person basically like I'm gay I'm Catholic I didn't have any options so I became a priest and so even though I'm a priest I've got more diverse. You know I'm willing to accept that Buddhism and you know Muslim Islam and other things are just as valid as Christianity and I was like. Look at this it kind of opened up a different way of looking at. The clergy and also just kind of sad that he had to become a priest as a gay person because he did that's awful that's a lot of priests were where they just not out gay guys that needed a place to be. Pressure okay so we did her to Paul for. Business I yeah I just I had no idea what I wanted to do and I figured I really wanted to like make money so business and what did you do with it after you graduated, well when I was at DePaul I was working full time and going to school full time which I actually well maybe I was like 3/4 time but it was so good for me because instead of being. When I was in Denver I was at a in more of a traditional like I was a I was in a sorority I was the president of that sorority I was really involved in the social life and then when I was at DePaul I was focused on working and then that made the lessons from the business stuff really really relevant and really interesting what were you working what were you doing is for a job like was it a thing where you were like I'm retail or were you know I was a property manager I managed rental properties that's actually how I got into sales because this my family until I was 15 lived in one of their buildings we had this like great apartment on Roscoe and when I was in high school they hired me to show. The apartments and that building on Saturdays when they would have open houses and they couldn't find an adult like a real-life adult to do it because it was so boring you sat a you had to sit in a room and then wait for someone to show up for an open house and then enthusiastically show them the well for a high school student that's like perfect it may sound era did homework I was paid to do homework and then someone showed up and he was like oh my gosh here is someone who's going to think that I am twenty apartment your parents owned rental properties no no we lived in the rental property oh okay so you work for the company that owned the building yes okay so that was your first job like that because Akins you were it's amazing it just to think back in there being a time when like apartment rentals were so people are like there are so many of them that they get have like an open house and like someone may or may not show up and and you know you're begging people to move in now it's basically the same thing as like buying a house it's like there's like people trying to like yeah it's terrible anyway so you were you did that in high school and then you were then you continue to do that throughout College. Yeah I did that for eight years and I started as a part-time leasing assistant I think was my title and then I moved my way up to. Sales manager and property manager. And then it was a family-owned business but not my family they were lovely people but I was you know that was sort of I had like invented my path and then it was just very clear that. I was not there wasn't like. Add more things for me to conquer and an anyway my mom wanted to start a an online jewelry business by that time she and I had both bought into separate coops so we own departments that we sold. And then moved to Wisconsin we had a lake home in Lake Geneva so we I sold my little apartment she sold her bigger apartment. We moved to the lake house and started this little business together you and your mom did yeah my mom is like the coolest. Oh that's wonderful yeah and she wish you'd making her own jewelry or was she like Dropship like was she was no no we aren't we are a crafty people but we're not the make things and I said we're just not that that's just not at all no we were importing at she had a bunch of contacts in white. Asian manufacturing and so we bought. We bought gigantic Alabama like a lot jewelry would you buy them by the peace or would you buy Lots. We were by laughs and so then you would just repackage them as your brand and then sell them yeah yeah how old were you used to doing that 26. That's amazing so you and your mom going to B what was the company called. It's so low it's so mortifying is called Ashley's big secret actually if you look up now is exactly what you think it is and I have often thought you know like if we did go into sex toys mom and I we would have still be in business. It was it was right before people were really buying Fashion online and so to be like the whole state it was a it was a flop I lost so much money they came out of that whole experience with nothing but debt and my it had put my mom and I we were in couples therapy like it was really off wow but well but here's the thing it sounds I mean honestly debt and couples therapy with your mom sounds terrible but. I have to imagine that you learned so much from that experience. I totally I mean it did so it did the like mean positive is that it got me into Tech because I had built my job was to build the website and the back end and we have this really beautiful back-end inventory and and e-commerce system and. We were doing keeping in bundling before anybody else was really doing kidding bundling and that's where you know like you say oh I love this necklace well how then the website will suggest how about these earrings that match and will. When you came up like you you kind of create what year is this. It was it would have been 2007 I was this is very early on in life super early yeah so you wait so you created an algorithm that would. That would in suggest things once you chose something yeah. And you invented that I did not invent did you did you see that idea elsewhere and then replicated it or did yeah I was a I'm a big fan of using open source software this is open source software is like the best thing ever and actually the software development Farmers that I went on to work for in business development after closing my business. Always focused on starting with open source software it's such a it's such a good place to start and then what you do is you modify you have access wait so to a dingbat like myself that doesn't understand what open source. Coding is what is that can you give up a little Reader's Digest of what that means sure so there are huge huge libraries of hey here's some code that does a thing. If you want it you just copy and paste it you can modify it and what does that other things it can do. I mean well okay I'm real dumb when it comes to the stuff. No I you know all right so let's say you are trying to make a a nap. That has a carousel of photos in the middle all right. The code to make that Carousel is probably like slightly more complicated than you would want to come up with on your own and so you would just search on. You know one of the libraries and find okay this section is something that I can copy and paste and put it in my own code and it will have that and you can you know you can modify it and usually it's maintained beautifully. That's so so that you take it you take the Carousel and it's like but I want the border to be orange so you like type in code to make it Orange. And then you can type a code to make it so that it's got like the ability to have a gifts or boomerangs or whatever like yakin. Okay so okay alright so thank you for that so you can so there's libraries that exists of this open source code where you can just so you took open source code chunks, then modify and create your own website that had an algorithm built inside of it so that if you like this necklace you probably also will like these earrings correct wow. Okay it was really early I think Amy would have a hard time like hopping in to that now because I mean I would had nothing but time I had just put my job. Hey just sold my apartment it's like I think someone can do this. Yq No it should be me and anyway I feel like I'm a pretty smart person or you're a pretty smart person you could have figured it out too if you like you know sat down in a basement in Wisconsin with the computer and just started. Also fighting with your mom so so but I guess the other thing is like like it's interesting that you said is I've never heard of what you just said and it might just be showing my age more than anything but on the other side of it I just feel like women in Tech that's like. I like the idea of someone saying hey Mary you could take you could do I mean I can do anything because I can do anything like anybody can do anything is they put their minds to it but like there are things that like I mean in the episode we did was Jessica Hopper she was so we were talking about how it's hard to see like there's not many women in bands the time when we were coming up and it's like. Because we just didn't see a lot of women in bands representation matters so like did you find there like a real like the only girl amongst a bunch of guys or did you have a good bunch of girls that were also in decoding and Tech and stuff like how did how did I become like a thing you could figured you could do. You know I think hubris was how I figured out I could do it beautiful you were so alone you know like an honest with my. Got me into Tech that was like a that was a really good thing that came out of it but all of the learning was around how little I actually knew you know at some point. Someone should have said hey. Ashley and her mom so fun fact you don't have any retail experience also you don't know anything about merchandising or Tech. So maybe maybe thinking about it you should go with something you know. Instead of having to figure out literally everything I mean everything needed an experiment and so it was hard too we just I think we looking back we never would have been successful because everything was an experiment and everything was on this like hope and. And my confidence that it would be yeah absolute Moxie and we do like big jewelry it was still like big jewelry we got a lot both of us really get a lot of compliments on the, outlandish way we accessorize but. That was not those were not the things that translated into a business actually so you see this in startup all the time we are so excited to see young people who are like in college or right out of college updating existing Industries we think that that is so great but there's a real flaw in that you know we're allowing people who don't have. Industry experience to come in and be. So confident that what they're going to do is going to be helpful but they don't have they just don't have that knowledge that they need so you know now when I interact with startup Founders who are like young and have no experience and are so ready to make a huge impact like oh baby sweetheart I think you need I think you need to go work for somebody for 20 years and then I was totally traumatized by entrepreneurship the guy knew when I came out of that I got a job at a big IT consulting firm. After I closed my business and my main lesson. Was I will never work for someone else someone else will always have to guarantee that my paycheck shows up in my bank account every Friday you're going to be responsible for that I'm not going to be responsible for that person always work for someone else and and I did that for a long time I did that for 10 years. So basically when you came out to see when you guys close the thing you close the business yeah you were. Lots of debts you clearly repaired your relationship with your mom because you said she's the coolest yeah so couple so you will therapy is very effective. But you're good you're like everything's fine and then so you you just you just closed it. Yeah and then when you moved onto the big IT company was it like where they did they look at the website and your jewelry thing and be like oh she's clear knows what she's doing I'm gonna hire her how did you transition from. Owning the website to working at the IT company. Well I had I had sales experience for being a property manager and a sales manager and so really I was hired for sales and sales is you know. Young people can always get sales jobs because they pay absolutely nothing and and you can scramble your way forward and that's what I did I mean it was tough we were in the middle of a recession I was calling into Enterprise companies and saying hey would you like a very expensive. It consultant to work on your enterprise resource planning system surely the you know the big there like Aura Salesforce yeah yeah yeah at the time they you know they were like laying off their entire it departments and saying I don't understand why you're calling me because I clearly don't have any money and you're just barking up the wrong tree and that happens for every company that I called the. Consult I was really lucky to have landed in Consulting because temporary work, work forces do better in recessions so all of the Freelancers all of the all of the independent Consultants they always do better in a recession as companies are laying off permanent staff they still have to do the work so they will so and I say that because. Now so much of my network is is in Consulting and you know my my business is in Virtual assistants we represent a temporary Workforce and that can feel really. Risky or that can feel like you're sort of living on the edge but when a recession comes like it is our time because you know we're a contingent Workforce just does much better when the rest of the world is unstable. And so how did you get to the point where you work you created my VA rocks like what what how did that happen. Well I had gone through working for I worked for a very big Corporation and then I worked for eight or 10 years and then I worked for much much smaller firms and. The lesson in that was that they were really good people and they treated their employees. Really fairly and really really well and the thing about other people being in control of your paycheck is that they can always fuck it up. You're not the only one who can fuck it up like they can just decide on a whim that you're fired or they can decide on him like oh it's a mistake or oh we do. Actually thank you deserve this commission that you work so hard for you know there's like all sorts of stuff that can happen and. With some people are just our entrepreneurs and I'm one of those people you know I was like always I always had a little side hustle I always had as a kid even I had a dog walking business or I made Bank walking dogs in downtown Chicago as like an 8th grader. And and my last corporate job I was keeping a notebook of all of my business ideas and I was going back and forth from Chicago and I really thought you know I have the I have like a neat opportunity to see what's going on in Chicago and bring it to Madison and at some point I called my mom and I was like Mom I know what I'm going to do we're going to open up a nail salon. Tom and yeah and it's going to be it's going to be right on Madison's Capitol square and you know we'll do it it will be on a subscription basis because that was like just starting and for nails in Chicago and buy that type of course everyone has learned a lot of lessons and my mother would say like hey okay great idea truly a wonderful player but just because you know you don't have any like retail experience or really know anything about nails or is this is this post to Jewelry Company Josue postal wow so she's like you learned nothing you learned nothing from Arkansas. Like are you gonna go to beauty school because like nail tech school and learn how to put on some tips. No like my best idea I mean I'd like that you know that is now in Madison I'm thriving and doing really well but. No I had a notebook and of like business ideas and I first left left corporate to come on his co-founder of a wedding registry for art and then I was I was a. Both of my kids are in private school my husband stayed at home and I was the price I was the sole Breadwinner which is a perfect time by the way to be to go out of corporate and on your own yeah I consulted. A small software development firms just to like keep money coming in and and then I didn't actually love being the cro of a wedding registry and I did love Consulting, what is the r stand for a revenue. Okay it's okay Tech does all sorts of weird stuff so he may have Revenue officer yeah it's really cheap salesperson here to know the person who does your like go-to-market strategy and your build out your sales team. All right. If you've coasted through many c-suites yep it's almost like I'm like I'm a young man in a polo shirt. I mean it's almost like you're a man what does not feel like it's good we need to dive into that is that it's not even close. So you okay so you okay sorry you were talking so you're like I was gonna start a nail salon but then I pivoted yeah and the one that I really did leave my job over was a wedding registry for art and then I consulted and then in the middle of the. In the middle of the pandemic I could see a couple of things one. We were overburdening women with all of the administrating. School and holding full-time jobs and I would get on the like the Zoom just networking I would get on the zoom with these women and we were dying and we were literally dying there is there you know there is so much coming at us and we were responsible for so much and no one was saying this is not sustainable. We need to offer more help or you know instead instead people were like quitting and I think it's so important to keep women in the workforce and I have been thinking so much about how close we were really getting in February of 2020 we were like on the precipice of changing the way business operates because of how. Close to parody we were and then all of a sudden we were sliding back backwards so rapidly. Wait a minute what do you see you're saying in February 2020 what was happening the made you think that we were hitting parody. We were just getting super close we were like well and my metrics are a little wonky we now had more women than people named John on the list of Fortune 500 CEOs that was a big one for us because it's kind of a long time it was more people named John than women combined and we were we were really from my perspective we were changing the way business was getting done business with starting to be more empathetic business William more collaborative it was less I will Slaughter my competition. Just for the hell of it and more that we hope that there's enough more people had an abundance mindset even see that you even Silence with men in the way that they were operating and then we were sliding backwards so rapidly and I saw an opportunity in a business opportunity to scoop up talent that was going to drop out of the workforce because if it was me. If it was if it was me going from being a thriving business person who also has children. To a stay-at-home mom my brain would atrophy I would be miserable yeah I mean. I love my children I don't want to be home alone with them or they don't they don't want just me to interact you know the whole thing was. I don't know I mean I do believe I mean it's an interesting concept the I mean because you know you get like I personally like I love my child to pieces and I could not be a stay-at-home mom. I I couldn't do it and it's not it's not it's just I personally I love my kid but no one asks the man. What's you know they're never like must suck for you to go to work for 9 hours a day like no one even questions that I may not go to work and there's going to be and it's like and I'm seen as a bad person or something because I don't I don't know it's but along the same you know whatever it's kind of a Dusty argument at this point but but that's amazing that you recognize because I mean there were so many think pieces that we're going around three four months into the pandemic like labor is going to have a woman problem women are fleeing the workforce in droves and it's like we're not fleeing we're not this isn't a voluntary. Like we're not all like oh thank God there's a disease floating around so I can finally be home with my family all of them all the same time but like that's exactly what I wanted I mean I was I mean as much as like you know I mean it and there was there I do sort of look fondly back on the very beginning of the first couple of months pandemic we are all kind of home together and like you know closer I got to see what it was like for my son to be at school and I was able to catch things. That the teachers weren't catching that I was able to kind of get my son's autistic and I had to kind of you know it was a he got diagnosed around that time so like I wasn't really see like at school they're like he's doing really well and it's like what he's doing really well. In In the therapeutic environment he was in not necessarily in real world ways I was able to in there were good things that came out of that time but women leaving the workforce is not. The great thing and you know not having things in place to make it easier. To get through that was also problematic so you see women who are very highly capable losing the leaving their jobs because they have to and how did you manage to put your golden lasso around I guess that's the lasso of truth I guess. You know what I'm trying to say how did you figure out well so why what were you doing at the time when this like because you weren't you didn't started my VA rocks at this point had you no I hadn't but I was counseling businesses in an agency model so my Consulting has always been around when the founder is doing the sales and the work it's a there's a really good constraint and therefore me that it's a it tends to be like a very very expensive engagement with you know from my clients to their clients there's a high degree of trust. And the difficulty again of having to do all of the sales. And then turn around and do all of the work and what tends to happen is that those businesses are in these really ugly Feast famine Cycles or you know they'll always scrambling or it always feels like you're behind. That's just the challenge that I love to tackle and as part of that I had said so many times and all right I'm looking at your business and looking at everything you're doing and unless you want to work a hundred and 120 hours a week you need to find someone who can handle some of the stuff for you and so I was recommending that people hire va's and referring people to my va's and for a long period I would refer I would say like oh Mary you need a via how about you work Quest Crystal who's my VA she is great and you're going to love her and I'll set you up and then at some point inevitably Crystal would really get going with you and say my Ashley it has been so fun working with you now married with me full-time so I can't work with you anymore and I would get done for my virtual assistants and and so I had to keep this stable of referrals and I did that I did the stable of referrals thing for like a year including actually pre-pandemic and then we're these va's working for other people other half yeah that place for themselves or they just ended up being like essentially networking contacts and and I had. And Consulting is Staffing so I had sort of been in staffing firms and consulting firms and I thought on a whim I'll just figure out if this can be done and I was talking to this brilliant woman who was a client of mine on the Consulting side at the time and I said this is something that I'm thinking of doing here's how it might work yeah she's a her name is Amanda more Yugi she owns she's the Denver Tech CEO of the Year 2021 he's just a brilliant woman and she said I love it I'll be your first client and I was like that's great just like no really take my credit card information I want to be your first client and me being out there meeting you were going to find a VA for her. Yeah and without her saying that and being so enthusiastic I'm not sure it would have happened at all and so I put together my first couple of clients and and the rest is history. That was 20 20 that was 20 21 your business is less than a year old. Where we are a year and a half old we're just coming up on 18 my gosh you operate like a company that's been around for like 80 years they tell me my 80 years 80 or sounds gross I was eight you can keep got like eight solid years under your by having your tin anniversary or whatever reason that's very cool so so you're and a half you're only a year and a half into this so go clearly it's working clearly it's it's bad it's a solid model it's the right I think it's the right time and and there are you know there are things that play is just the things that I've been thinking about for. A decade in you know how we how we help women we've been sleeping like we looked at our moms who were told basically like you can have it all. You just also have to not neglect anything that you are responsible for for before so if you want to work awesome like we're totally totally in a big fan of that. You're still going to cook and you're still going to clean you're going to do all the laundry but like good luck like Yin and when you don't do all that stuff you're going to feel. Like you're being shamed and you're going to have guilt for not being able to pull off all of the all the household stuff and the problem there is I mean as woke and is like. Equitable is our husbands or our partners who want to thin my husband is he does a lot of stuff to do but like he was raised on a Model that my mother-in-law worked as well but I mean you know you it's my mom. My mom worked as well too but. It's like our mom's still did the Lion's Share of the cooking the cleaning Etc and so their children also saw that and we watched our mom's kind of struggle with. Trying to have it all and still do the things and then we're also trying to do it but we're doing it with weight loss time like I don't think that because my mom I have to care about shit my mother never had to carry about like. I had five brothers and sisters that were like babysitters so my mom never had to like worry about where I was if I was okay I was in Nebraska no I'm you know like and and you know it's like I if I can't not have a cleaning lady. I love cleaning I truly I realized I think I love cleaning do I love cleaning or does it just a thing I've always had to do you know like I like cleaning lady you know like I've taken my laundry I have somebody else do it cuz I don't have time to do it myself like there is just having it all like you said like you can have it all. But just like not all the same time right or you ask for help and I think the thing that so troubling for me and like watching gender in business is that we tend to look at very very high performing women so women with more than you know more of kids that I have I have to but it feels like 5 because they have big personalities but like people who actually have five children and are on boards and hold high-level positions and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways do we look at that. And we tend to say like oh you don't know how to say no that's your problem you need to learn how to say no and you need to you need to you know dial back what you're doing and oh are you making sure that you have time to spend with your children are you making sure that you have time for yourself we asked all of these things and we question. How she can possibly in good conscience. Spend this much time doing this much stuff and that is an absolutely the wrong question to be asking if you see if you see someone taking on a lot of tasks the ideal response to that is how can I help you see a woman during a lot of bags going into a building you opened the GD door you don't say like what's how silly of you to take one trip. Well yes but that I find but on the other side of that is when you offer that help we don't know how to accept the help either so it's almost like accepting the help is also has its own problems with in it like no I can handle it like I just doing a wedding last weekend and there was a mom that was like in the bathroom and she was like nursing one child while another kid was running around and she was trying to grab a drink and like went to go get it and give it to her so that's it I got it I got it it's like no you don't woman like just let me give you a drink it sucks that we are in a position where we feel like if we accept help were seen as failures if we ask for help were seen as failures you know the bumper sticker that says like you get the same 24 hours in the day that Beyonce has and it's like no no we don't I don't have the same amount of time bansi has like 3 nannies. Beyonce she started with zero Nanny it's like let's just so that that particular phrase used to really make me a Twitchy bad because that's a ridiculous thing to say but like frankly it is true we do all have the same 24 hours she is great at having three nannies but isn't that just being great at delegating isn't that just being great at acknowledging that if she is going to be Beyonce. She also cannot be vacuuming she also cannot be making sure that everyone has all of their snacks to Beyonce hmm. You marry me see I'm Ashley Quinto Powell like we don't have time to be doing this stuff because I've actually picked up a little you know it can be the same thing but we look at the Beyonce example in particular as being like outlandish. But I do my business on the idea that it's not outlandish you are doing a lot of stuff. You need someone who will open the door you need someone who will say Hey you looks like you have 17 stories worth of packages in your in your arms how about I take the top three stories of those back you know you're just so. So basically your balances help. First basically what you are you're laying loves to be who you are you are the help that can turn somebody into the Beyonce of their business. Yeah yeah absolutely that should be on your bumper sticker it should be my bumper sticker I think on both sides of the equation of a virtual assistants you have potentially a woman who needs to take a step back from the traditional Workforce and needs a way to stay vital and stay relevant and she becomes a VA for a woman who is trying to do a lot of things and is ready to ask for help that will make her who she is supposed to be and who will enable her to do all the things that she is supposed to do. So that's what so when your so. When you are looking so on the hiring side when you're trying to find the person who's going to be working for you like as one as of nerve EA's like. Is it a thing where it's just like a menu of options you've got one VA that can do this another V8 that can do that so you don't have could somebody have like multiple va's within your company working for them or is there one VA that takes the lead and then they kind of delegate down you need a really good relationship in a virtual assistant that you have to spend the time to get really close to someone and that person has to know how you like to communicate and how to get in front of you you know one of the first challenges that we faced with the client is that they tend to somebody has been. Pushing a business forward on their own for years and this is the first time they're asking for help it just always happens that at some point they say you know just this last time it's probably easier if I just do it myself it gets such a such a huge effort to like teach someone to do this I'll just continue doing this any disappear for a little bit and we can I mean at this point we can sense it and we know exactly what to do. We know that that is coming. Because that's how everybody has gotten where they're going so we're just I think we're just slightly better at solving for that moment that other folks and I think that's really the so you need that primary relationship in order to solve for that kind of issue and to be comfortable and you know it's a this is. The relationship between a client and a VA just has so much trust that you can have a whole stable of people but. Your primary the way that we haven't modeled as your primary VA can always bring in help and they can always bring in your they can always say like oh you know what we need for this is a graphic designer graphic designer would really make this PowerPoint presentation shine so we'll bring in the graphic designer for a little bit and we do a lot of trading in the background on project management I'm pretty good at reading people's minds. Okay I'm pretty good at like figuring out exactly what people need within seconds and that's a superpower that I think that people who do sales and I think entrepreneurs in general you're trying to solve for a problem and that's. Yeah you know and I feel like that would be the thing and it is the thing that's always been the hardest with when I haven't when I brought on like employees and support situations is like I assume everyone can read my mind. And that never happens like that's not it's not it's not a realistic ask and it's also not a realistic expectation and then it winds up creating friction so how do you deal with that kind of because I mean I'm assuming that all entrepreneurs are exactly like me yeah. I think a lot about the energy of as I'm making matches and we just happen to do it where I make the matches. I love putting people together like it is a network a the way that I network is always like oh Mary you know who you need to meet is my friend Jane and you two are going to hit it off and you're going to do some business together and it's going to be great so I really like to put people together but I think about you know the skills that like primary skills that need to match up but also the energy level needs to match up the the tolerance for risk should match up and I think mostly when something goes wrong it ends up being the tolerance for risk being mismatched and Kim okay so in that better sure sure okay so. If you are nervous and you are letting someone into your business for the first time. You want someone who is going to check in make sure things are okay I'll say like all right I'm just getting started on this project is this what you were thinking about okay how about now is this what you thought you were looking for okay what modifications should I make that's very comforting to you. If you have a low tolerance for risk but if your tolerance for risk for is higher that sort of interaction will really upset you you'll say they have no idea what they're doing they can't they can't do anything without direct intervention for me this is just not going to work and so in that case you need someone who is a VA who is very comfortable like doing it you know I don't like it they'll they'll use their best judgment and they'll do their best and then we'll come back later and say okay this wasn't quite right but we got something out and those two you know the VA that serves one can serve the other as it's really really subtle I would say also you know the pace that people move I move at a pretty fast pace so I can't have someone who's methodical working on my account methodical is definitely good. All VA is to probably have you know have some semblance of. Plotting along and making sure that things look right but I'm like seven steps ahead and annoyed that you're all the way back there making sure them like there were no typos there will be typos let's keep going. Will you fix those and post so then what when you're looking on the client side who's like the most ideal client to like. Take this because that's another side of this is like you've got the VA is that you're trying to place but then. Who's like who are your favorite types of clients like the kind of people that come to you and you that you really Thrive with having a VA. It's such a good question and put you know part of part of the equation for me is making sure that we have the clients that are doing interesting stuff to keep these incredible va's challenged and excited but I really look for folks who are doing impact driven work we have a what I would claim is a much higher percentage of companies focused on De I work then other than other firms like I mean we really I mean I wouldn't, be surprised if 30% of our clients were involved in PEI Consulting in some way that's diversity equity and inclusion for anybody who's unaware. Yep we have great clients you do that so that's like that's that's a good sign but really if somebody is overwhelmed and they can see possibilities. We've just gone through this great rebranding and we're getting a whole new website and all new stuff with Rachel K Albers who if you have not met her she is she is a marketing muckraker and she's a she's a feminist Troublemaker she is the best yeah no she's really awesome and one of the things that she helped me identify is that everybody all you know all of the VA Farms have colors that are blue and green and they're very calming they are very specifically focused on like listen you have a lot going on we will take it off your plate so you can take a deep breath and go on vacation and spend time with your children and all of that is wonderful stuff and it's definitely a goal my colors are orange and we're alike. No strap in like we are doing this so if our clients can see you know it's so much more than being overwhelmed it is seeing in the possibility we have gotten this far and now we just can't get farther my business can't grow until I have someone who can help but they see what's beyond it and our VA is are really great at they have great business Acumen they're empowered to be opinionated and to say hey all right, here I understand what your goals are for the quarter and I see other clients doing their email list like this what if we tried that or hey you have me organizing your Google drive but it's that's that's way different than the goal that you have of having me make a better customer onboarding experience for you so how about I switch gears and and that's the kind of help that those folks need it is much more proactive it is you know it just like all hands on deck we are rolling up our sleeves we are not waiting around for someone to tell us what to do and I think that's a really critical piece. Is it a lot of women that work for you like do you have any dudes I do have to say yeah I have some really great dudes and I so I guess my that was just a random question but I but what I wanted to do so it's like it's interesting to have to have a business that works VA is and this is like a because this could I mean everybody needs these like everybody could use a VA it's like having a therapist like everybody could use somebody else to kind of help them with these things and the idea of having a growth model built within it where you're empowering the va's to like. Actually make themselves an acid to this particular person they're not interchangeable it's not to this person's drafting your emails. And somebody else could be doing it too and so what's the growth model for the people who are working for you as well like what's they're not just going to stay. I mean what's the starting with the end in mind like where do you want them to go like being a year and a half into this business you've got you know a lot of head of you. Why you know I thought for sure that what would happen to my business is we would have a lot of turnover as it turns out we don't have very much turnover the people that we really like stay with us for a really long time but I'm having really open conversations about where you going and how do I get help you get there because to your point. People who are really excellent don't stay in the same seat for ever right there like always thinking about where they're going we do have some internal paths for growth and an advancement that were just starting to uncover and create for folks who want to build more of a career at my VA rocks. I'm having conversations about okay what is the other thing why are you meeting remote flexible work is it because you are caregiving we have a lot of caregivers so if that's the case great how do we support you in that but many times it's you know I have a business we have a couple of entrepreneurs whose businesses were going gangbusters and then all of a sudden flat lines right around 2020 and so they need something that will you know. Frankly it's a huge advantage that everybody can close their laptop at the end of the day and not think about the work that they do for us but it's very different from like a corporate all-encompassing you eat sleep and breathe the business problems we'd say all the time like listen we are not curing cancer so you know no one is no one's grandmother is going to be pulled off of life support because. We didn't do a thing in 30 seconds so for the most part unless they have specifically designed their lives this way we don't work on the weekends we don't work at night it would just it's a good thing to be able to close your laptop so they're pushing something forward I'm helping in whatever way that I can by making introductions or focusing on we have we have a graphic designer and a copywriter that I'm working pretty actively with to make sure that there. Folios are looking amazing and have some really great examples and some really good. Clients with big cash a so-so and I think that's that's really fun for me right like it's it should be fun for women, to help other women get where they're going and push their careers forward so that's kind of a that's a big part of it for us. It's so great that you exist like uh it's so great that this exists as a thing and I was looking at the little intake that we have you fill out and you put on your that your whole ass being a parent and a business owner which is obvi but that you have fast your health and your friendships and I don't think that that's unique to you I think that's an overall problem and I'm sure that that's it's interesting it's like it's like how you can't do your own brain surgeons can't do their own brain surgery like yeah. Your own your own shit kind of falls apart in the process and it's like I. I really do that pretty hard I have to assume that most people who are listening can also relate to that and I guess you know how like do you have a VA for your VA for your VA. I do ya like hey now I have a team of now I have a team of 2 and I have the case help me with my commitment to the Girl Scouts to my rotary club I have someone who hand writes my notes and I type them out right like it's still my sentiment but someone else goes in and like has stamps and cards and so I really I really dub delegate quite a lot but people you know I do a lot right like I have a couple businesses I wrote a book I'm like always like up to something interesting and so it's very common for someone to say like well that's pretty impressive that you're getting all of this done and I mean of course the real answer is probably somewhere in the middle but depending on my mood I will say like oh I have lots of help it's not that bad or one of my favorites is like oh I skip the gym. Like I don't watch TV and I skip the gym you would get a lime done to if that was the case for you and I think that you know again it's like somewhere in the middle that the truth really lies but yeah I'm the actual worst I have like it's a pandemic thing for me I was like doing so well and then also hurry hey like fat 40 year old should not go logrolling but I did not take any of that into consideration so I tore my ACL to logical choice you try you Toria still logrolling like like just going down a hill with your kids no no no law grilling is like this weird Wisconsin sport I'm not sure you can go to the Olympics for it but you can like get a sponsorship for it obviously that's not the kind of blog early but I'm Jacob it's a log covered in carpet in a lake and you hop up on one end this is your fuel Google it later and it will make slightly more sense but you hop up on the log and you try to get your opponent off by spinning it with your feet so you're like stepping really quickly like you're standing on it Like It's Scooby-Doo. Yeah here yeah like you're just act like like you're just standing on the Walking running or walking in One Direction. Yeah and you're trying to like get the other person unstable enough that they fall in the water and you're balancing. Yeah it's a it's a real in mean I don't know who came up with us they were drunk yeah obviously because I tore my ACL skiing which seems that's very good yes that less more fun than doing it logrolling it was not fun it was terrifying I'm back skiing again but it was a terrible anyway so you tore your ACL logrolling a sport that only happens in Wisconsin and when it when did you how long did you tear it. Last summer did you get a surgery no I'm not I'll have surgery I'll have surgery in the spring the. Options for surgery are so weird and at some point a doctor was telling me like you'll be fine you'll be fine you really don't need to have that repaired as long as you don't move side to side that's what my deck that's what my doctor said to me and I'm like we're going to do surgery and now immediately like I tore it on like the 30th of March and I had surgery on April 16th like I was gosh I yeah I wasn't gonna I mean I do what I have to stand forever with my job I can't write I can't just not be able to do lateral moves. An option for me no um but it seems like it sounds like you still managed to have fun though in spite of the fact that you. Tutorial for sure for sure but anyway my point was I'm like I was really active and now I'm not and that is that's a place that I am half-assing and then for a long time I felt like my. Friendships in particular fairly performative and it is really hard to be a successful woman because you have this, right you always have the facade and you always have the like yep I'm fine I'm doing great and there are very high across the board for women of a certain level it's really hard to find a safe place to be like oh actually the whole thing is a shitshow and I'm miserable today and that may be totally different tomorrow but the space to be able to say that I think I think that's a. You know I don't think I invented that to your point no and I do believe I mean all on that same point that's like usually it's an amazing point I think it's also it's why I feel like I have some of my more like meaningful relationships within my entrepreneur Community because the only people who can really understand your problems or other intrapreneurs like nobody like whenever I try to complain about work about the things I complain so is like wah wah wah aren't you lucky to have that as your problem like it's like it's like my problems are just my problems like I you've got problems that I like yeah it's like because we don't have a boss quote-unquote like because no one else is telling us like we have to do it. That somehow makes it better and it's like or makes it easier or cooler or fun or more nice and it's like well no I mean I have to find my I have to have with all the gumption, the gumption real self manifested and also I have 80 million buses. Is so many of I have more bosses the bosses I have more bosses than the one that you have. So you know it's like I have my Clans I have my my DJ's clients my DJ's are my bosses like that and they don't see it that way but I do. You know whether whether they want to believe it or not like I am. I'm nothing without my employees right so like you have to kind of think of it in a different way than you can't imagine until you've been in these shoes if that yeah absolutely I think. Payroll pressure I remember the main concern I have I have always had is that I won't be able to make payroll one week and that's been the case from the beginning and I remember having to have a conversation with my husband who you know he is very patient but he has a like he has a security going into that needs to be addressed every once in a while and at the time we had this discussion it was a new business. And I had promised him that I would not lose focus on my Consulting business and it would just be a side hustle and the conversation that I needed to have with him was so at some point I'm gonna possible that I will need to take money out of our house in order to make payroll and I need you to be prepared for that and luckily he is an actual real-life Saint because he said oh yeah I know I know I got ya I understand you have to do that no I've never had to do that. But you know better yeah yeah right you know and it's funny that you should say that because I mentioned that I wanted my podcast a long while back was that like. I have this Badge of Courage that I've always been able to make payroll like I've never not made payroll yeah I had like four or five different people who own businesses and they're like okay I'm really glad you said that because I've always been either there are like a mother like I'm really proud that I also have always made payroll or I always felt shitty whenever I couldn't make payroll yeah and I thought that it was just a me problem and it's like no this isn't normal thing that happens in all businesses I think but somehow we you and I managed to make it out without having but I mean that now does that mean I don't make mistakes on payroll. No I do sometimes make mistakes on payroll and like underpay are over pay or usually I'm underpaying I very rarely overpaid people but but if I do under pay them I mean I always correct it but I think it's actually a Badge of Courage for sure we've hit an hour we've got to we got to wrap things up here I feel like we've kind of been all over the place Mary I got like seven minutes you are the absolute coolest I am so honoured first of all to know you I mean it goes right right back at you. Thanks full disclosure I just recently hired one of Ashley's amazing va's so I'm not only a. Interviewer am also the customer I'm like the Men's Wearhouse here it has been amazing having you here there anything else you want a wedge in here before we did I do oh my goodness everybody should go on Amazon and buy my book or listen to the audiobook and it called its executive motherhood the art of having it all without doing it all and it you know we doing some like really serious feminist topics but I promise it is super funny and I refer to my husband's but all the time so is it a good butt. It's also good but it's the best but you want you want your husband have a good but my present also has a great great but yay for husbands and their excellent butts I think I think well I separately I think the spouse that you pick is so critical to your success and I will absolutely go on record as like if that's not a supportive person you're better off being alone like yeah. And I like really really lucked out because not only is he seriously handsome and willing to stay at home with our kids but he's a supportive, and so it's smart funny handsome human and he's got a pretty good squat game yeah you know for the butt. Right and you know they're it really is a talent to be to be working from home and to sexually harass your only co-worker as much as I do you know HR ain't got nothing on that. No heaven forbid we actually get an HR company oh maybe when your kids will grow up to be an HR person and they can you guys could be their first client. Let me just take a couple of dollars out of every hundred and put it towards a therapy towards of therapy fund excellent we'll all of Ashley's so it's my VA dot rocks and then we will have links to her book and all the ways you can find her and our show notes thank you so much Ashley Quinto Powell thank you so much for having me. Thanks for listening to all up in my lady business it is written by me Mary nisi. It is produced by Christina sorum Williams and Amelia Ruby with softer sounds. It is recorded at the toast and jam offices in Logan Square in Chicago. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in my lady business.com if you enjoyed this episode and you did Smash that subscribe button and if you're the kind of person that reviews things on the internet please rate and review us wherever you listen to us it really does help people find us. Follow us on all of your socials and don't forget whatever you do this week do it with your whole ass thanks for listening. Music.