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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-038: “Yes and…” your way to career growth and a bright future

With Ms. Le-an Lacaba

ET-038: A conversation with Le-an Lai Lacaba

and your host Wayne Brown on March 14, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Le-an Lai Lacaba

Hello and welcome to episode 38 of the ET Project podcast. That means that this is the 38th influencer that I’ve had the pleasure to bring onto our show, and who has willingly shared their experiences, learnings and insights with all of us.

It’s special because in our business world of uncertainty, complexity, and chaotic change, being able to access multiple perspectives on a topic often means a difference between making a good decision and falling headlong towards looming disasters.

This week we’re beaming all the way from the historically significant Cebu city in the Philippines. Our guest is Ms. Le-an Lai Lacaba, the CEO and co-founder of 2xYou.

During the early stages of our conversation today, you’ll hear Le-an recount the details of an event that shaped her attitude to life and to business. It’s led to a yes and approach that has really presented a host of opportunities which have stretched her as well as made Le-an into the person she is today.

Can you believe that Le-an commenced work at the age of only 15, and she’s been working from home ever since. She published her first book at 18 and now has a series of five novels with another one due for release sometime later in this year.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we chat about getting started and working from home.

““…So I always recommend start with what you have. Like a lot of people when they say like, “Oh, I’m gonna work from home, and I’m gonna buy a new laptop and I’m gonna buy a new monitor, I’m gonna buy all of this, blah, blah, blah.” Start with what you have. Like, take stock and just list it out. Okay. What kind of laptop do you have? What skills do you have for either if you’re going to be an entrepreneur or you’re gonna be… Start getting a career online, take stock of all of it..…”

Today’s Guest: LE-AN LAI LACABA

Le-an Lai Lacaba is the CEO and Co-Founder of 2xYou, an outsourcing company that specializes in switching service-based entrepreneurs from owning a job to owning a business with a highly-trained, executive assistant who comes with a custom business operating system.

She became CEO at 20, and partnered up with her boss to start 2xYou Executive Services at 23 and aims to help 10,000 entrepreneurs grow remotely, and 1 Million Filipinos to work from home.

She also has a coaching brand on YouTube, where she trains Virtual Assistants on how to work from home. She is also an international speaker, and a content creation monster who has a blog, a YouTube channel, and an upcoming podcast.

Final words from Le-an:

“Just then iterating on that title banner of the ‘yes and’ like how powerful it is and kind of one of the motives that I have had for most of my 20s is that passion can take you anywhere. It comes from that ‘yes and’ any time that I’ve been passionate about something, I can find a way to make money out of it. Has taken me to the most amazing things that I, normal, and I quote normal as someone who’s just followed the path would never really go through.

My life, I can only tell you about this life because I kept following my passion. I kept following the things that I wanna do, even when it was very arbitrary. Even when it was weird, even when everyone told me, “Don’t do it.” I still kind of went through it because I followed that path and that passion and paved my own way.

And it feels really scary, and it still feels very scary until now. Like, “What if everything crashes and burns?” I’m like, “Nothing will ever be the same again.” But I have that, “No, remember the things that you’ve done for yourself and how far you’ve come, from that scared 18-year-old girl who was figuring things out, new city, no idea what the path was going to look like until almost 10 years later now of like, ‘Okay, this is the path I’ve created.

This is the path that I’ve made now to the next path that I will keep paving on for myself…”

0:00:03.0 Wayne Brown: Hello and welcome to episode 38 of the ET Project podcast. That means that this is the 38th influencer that I’ve had the pleasure to bring onto our show, and whom has willingly shared their experiences, learnings and insights with all of us. It’s special because in our business world of uncertainty, complexity, and chaotic change, being able to access multiple perspectives on a topic often means a difference between making a good decision and falling headlong towards looming disasters. Alright, let’s get started. I’m Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. This week we’re beaming all the way from the historically significant Cebu city in the Philippines. Our guest is Ms. Le-an Lai Lacaba, the CEO and co-founder of 2xYou. The company was awarded the coveted Stevie Awards in 2021 as Employer of the Year, and focuses on outsourcing in the areas of hiring, managing, and growing remote executive assistance for solopreneurs and small business owners.

0:01:16.6 WB: During the early stages of our conversation today, you’ll hear Le-an recount the details of an event that shaped her attitude to life and to business. It’s led to a yes and approach that has really presented a host of opportunities which have stretched her as well as made Le-an into the person she is today. Can you believe that Le-an commenced work at the age of only 15, and she’s been working from home ever since. She published her first book at 18 and now has a series of five novels with another one due for release sometime later in this year. She first became CEO at the tender young age of 20, and has since partnered with her boss at that time to start the 2xYou executive services at the ripe old age of 23. Le-an is on a mission to help 10,000 entrepreneurs grow remotely and one million Filipinos to work from home.

0:02:11.8 WB: And anyone that knows her, suspects she may just achieve that target in the not-too-distant future. Le-an is helping achieve her mission through multiple channels, and one of these is her coaching brand on YouTube called Virtual Ate. Ate means big sister in local language, and it’s where she trains virtual assistance on how to work from home. She’s also an international speaker and self-professed content creation monster. So team ET if you get inspired by listening to how others are crushing life and dream of doing similar one day then get ready as this is the episode that you’ve been waiting for. With that said, it’s time. So let’s launch into this episode titled, ‘Yes and Your Way to Career Growth and a Bright Future’.

0:03:00.0 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:12.7 WB: All right, team ET Welcome back for another week and it’s been a fantastic week, my end, and we’re going to be jumping around the place today because our guest, Le-an Lai Lacaba, is such a dynamic individual. She’s done so much with her young life, it’s just quite astounding and I’m really looking forward to our conversation. So Le-an, welcome to the ET project. It’s great to have you on.

0:03:41.4 Ms. Le-an Lai Lacaba: Thanks Wayne. Very happy to be here and excited to talk about, all the things that we’re gonna talk about today.

[laughter]

0:03:47.1 WB: So Le-an, you’re sitting in Cebu in the Philippines, if I’m correct?

0:03:51.9 ML: Yep. Yep.

0:03:53.3 WB: And we were just chatting before we hit the record button about the difference in temperature where you are and where I am. So it’s a little bit warm. I understand.

0:04:02.1 ML: I have my aircon all the way up to 20 just to keep my myself cool throughout the day.

0:04:07.3 WB: Perfect. So, I have had the honor or the pleasure to travel to Cebu. I wanna say it’s about five years back now with my family and we were on holiday, so it’s always great when you’re on holiday in locations like where you are, [laughter] Yeah. So I have full memories of where you’re sitting at the moment. So who are you and what would you like our listener base to know about you?

0:04:32.7 ML: I’m, the eldest of four, I always start with there because that tells a lot of my personality of being the eldest child, Asian child [laughter] also.

0:04:41.1 WB: Yes.

0:04:41.5 ML: So when I was 15, I was playing around the internet as a 15-year-old does, at… That was 2011. And I created my own first ever blog. I started earning… Google AdSense wasn’t even Google AdSense at that point. And then someone approached me like, “Hey, I like the way that you write. Can you go ahead and do ghost writing for me?” And most of my life, and this is probably going to be the title of my autobiography, is I’m a very much a ‘yes and’ person [laughter]

0:05:07.3 WB: Right?

0:05:08.0 ML: So I’m like, “Yes and I’ll figure it out how to do that or what ghost writing actually is.” [laughter] And that’s been most of the path of my life is then I started getting writing gigs. I did graphic gigs, I did no video editing. That was like, I just dabbled in almost anything when it came to consecration. Mostly by luck. I didn’t choose a lot of it. It was just like, “Hey, do you know how to do this?” I’m like, “Yes, and I’ll figure it out.” [laughter] And for most of that phase of my life, that’s a lot of what I did. Worked for magazines, worked for publications, and then when I was 18, I went through this very very very life-changing event that I… Until this day, affects everything else of what I do, is I went through a Category 5 typhoon, which was I think was, if I remember it, 290 kilometers per hour.

0:05:56.1 ML: Hitting, it was like… It’s now I think still the strongest to make landfall ever. And what that meant for me, was we had a storm search, which for a lot of people, including myself at that time didn’t know meant basically a mini tsunami coming into your house. And for us, I didn’t even know at that time, but our house was right. Right across the street was the ocean already. So water was coming into our house really fast. I made sure that my siblings were all upstairs and my grandmother, both my parents, my dad was working overseas. My mom was in a training in a different city out there. So as the eldest, I took a lot of responsibility of making sure people were safe, people were taken cared of. That meant going back to get groceries, and then all of a sudden the water was right up to my neck…

0:06:42.6 ML: So it was very much a, “Oh my God, I’m gonna die” [chuckle] moment of and even I like describing it that way of people usually have a… You see your life flash before your eyes and before you die. For me, it flashed forward and at that point in my life, I was a third year college student. I was about to go into my second semester. My mom and I had this path, the usual Asian path of either I was a lawyer an accountant or a doctor, I picked lawyer. And that was kind of the pathway that I was on. And I remember that feeling until this day, it’s almost 10 years now, of, “I hate that. I don’t want that for myself. That’s not the path for me.” And I made a vow. It was like… It was probably 30 seconds in real life, but it felt like it went on and on and on.

0:07:27.9 ML: And I made a vow to myself that if I survive this, I would choose the life outside of that path. And that’s essentially been, the journey that I’ve been on since then I’ve… Right after that I went ahead and figured out how to publish a book at 18 years old because no one was willing to publish a Filipino from a third world country who just survived a storm. Published… Figured out how to publish my own book, which then propelled me to getting hired by a book… A startup book-publishing company at that time, because they saw like, “Oh yeah, she published her own book. Yeah, she can figure out everything else in the company.” And then I used that as then a decision to move to Cebu because I was searching for… The place I was at was Tacloban, moved here when I was 18 years old to a shoebox smaller than a bathroom.

0:08:15.2 ML: It was just a room. We didn’t have a bathroom and I had to go inside. It was outside of the house. I had to go inside the house for the bathroom. But I did want that change because I was sadly going through a lot of, of course, the usual PTSD, depression, and anxiety after going through something traumatic as that, and essentially churning everything around. Then with that startup company, as they started opening other companies, they asked like, “Hey, who wants to be CEO? Who wants to be trained up to be CEO?” And of course, me being me, I raised my hand at 19 years old. I’m like, “Yes, and I’ll figure it out.” And then [laughter] then got trained up like a year later. I was handling operations, figuring out like, “This is how to hire people online.

0:08:52.8 ML: This is how we’re managing people online.” And then I got to the point where, because I just kind of kept systematizing and cleaning things up, I got to the point where at 22, if I remember right, I automated most of the business where people can run everything without me. Like I set them a path, “This is what you guys are doing, these are the books that we’re publishing the next couple of weeks.” And then I could actually take off. So then I was, at that point, I’m like, “I’m still really young. Let me see what else I can do.” So in between that time, I did different businesses. A lot of them failed catastrophe, some of them lasted like a year. 2xYou came as a course that me and my co-founder wanted to start up of how to hire a Virtual Assistant.

0:09:34.5 ML: We did speaking gigs. We spoke in Malaysia and Singapore, in a lot of different places here in the Philippines. One of the people who was there was like, “I like your course. Can you make this into service?” And of course, me being me, I said, “Yes, and I’ll figure out how to turn it a service.” And you know, three and a half years later, we’re kind of still growing, still building as we’ve kind of talked about pre-recording, a lot of things already are starting up, and it’s only the second day of March on my own. So it’s been a very interesting, “Ha”, kind of doing the ‘yes and’, but that’s a little bit about me. [laughter]

[laughter]

0:10:10.0 WB: We’re going to go a little bit deeper into some of those areas that you mentioned, but let’s start with the business or the company that you are currently a co-founder with, you call it 2xYou or two times you.

0:10:20.7 ML: 2xYou.

0:10:21.6 WB: 2xYou. And it’s essentially an outsourcing organization for small businesses, for solopreneurs looking for executive assistance. Is my understanding correct.

0:10:34.6 ML: My favorite way of saying it is we specialize in switching solopreneurs to business owners from owning a job to owning a business with a highly trained Executive Assistant. So that’s my favorite way of saying it. It’s just, I like the word switching from solopreneur to business owner.

0:10:48.1 WB: As you mentioned, you do a lot of system cleanups. You have a process, and the aim is not only to outsource, but also to help the organization, the business to get established and get the processes in place, etcetera. I guess at the moment your focus is within the Philippines only, or are you looking broader than that?

0:11:11.9 ML: For hiring or for clients?

0:11:14.1 WB: Yeah, for your client base.

0:11:16.6 ML: Oh, all of our clients are, none of them are from the Philippines. Most of our EAs are from the Philippines, but most of our clients are clients from the US, the UK, Australia. Now we’ve just gotten our first client from Dubai, which is an interesting market to be in. But growing in a lot of other ways.

0:11:32.0 WB: I love your mission, if that’s what you wanna call it, that you are looking to help 10,000 entrepreneurs grow remotely. Now that’s a big target in itself, but then the next part is 1 million Philippines to work from home. What is the obsession, if I can call it that, that you have with helping people to work from home?

0:11:54.0 ML: So for the Million Filipinos, so as I mentioned earlier in my story during that typhoon, both my parents weren’t there. My dad from all of my life, like literally before him and my mom got married, had been working overseas. Because in the Philippines is one of the ways that you can earn really big money. Our biggest export is people. For most of my life, I didn’t see my dad. I would only see him like twice a year. He would only be, six months on, and about two months off and then back again. And I was kind of a dad’s girl, very much so. I have all of my mom’s personality, but I stuck to my dad like glue as most his daughters would be. I remember that being… That feeling of like, “What if my dad could just find a job here, maybe something that he can do.” And then when I first started working online, I realized if my dad had this years ago, this would be the path that he could be on. He could be here with us, and that kind of became that drive of like, “I want to have less and less kids at that point…

0:12:52.4 ML: Who feel this way. I want to help a lot of people figure out how to work from home so then they can teach their kids, who can teach their kids, so on and so forth.” So that’s kind of where the million is. And for the 10,000 entrepreneurs that then kind of coincide with each other I was like, “Okay, how can I get a million Filipinos to work from home? Okay. I’m gonna help a lot of entrepreneurs be able to develop jobs where they don’t have to have their people, their team, just wherever they are.” They can hire here from Philippines. And also experiencing myself what it’s like to kind of be locked in to where your office is instead of being able to see the world or travel and work still. I kinda wanna help other people have that freedom of being able to step away from their business, whether they’re traveling or they’re just at home or taking a holiday. Having that freedom and building that to that point.

0:13:39.5 WB: And I guess the pandemic and the whole transgression or transition, if you like, with the technology is really aiding that mission that you have that it’s…

0:13:49.6 ML: Yeah. It’s accelerating it a bit. Yeah. [laughter]

0:13:52.9 WB: [chuckle] Which is an excellent coincidence. And [chuckle] if you had the crystal ball or the benefit of hindsight, you could say, “I planned it that way.” [laughter] But it worked out very nicely.

0:14:05.6 ML: “I thought that would happen.” Yeah. [laughter]

0:14:08.6 WB: [chuckle] You also mentioned that you published your first book at the age of 18. And when I was doing my research on who you are and what you do, I see you have a series of books, not just one. You have a series of five novels, they’re about love stories, if I’m correct.

0:14:27.4 ML: Yeah. Yeah.

0:14:29.5 WB: So do you have to be a romantic to write novels on love stories? Is that how you would describe yourself?

0:14:38.4 ML: It was basically a compilation of the stories I wrote since I was 16. That was kind of the gist of it. So it would be love stories from other people. Looking back at it, I knew that I loved it because whenever my dad was home, him and my mom were very sweet. They were very loving. And then of course then it would be months and months without it. So that’s how I filled in a little bit of the gap. Plus my dad will tell me stories, my mom will tell me stories. Eventually friends started like, “Hey,” that first love feel of like, “Oh my God, he texted me back.” Way before messenger and everything else. So that kinda inspired a lot of that writing. And for me, a lot of people read a lot of tragic stories or horror stories. I’ve read some of them. So then I kind of wanted to add a little joy and a little love in the world. So that’s kinda why I kinda kept writing. Since then, I haven’t yet published a new book. I’m writing a new book right now, but it’s non-fiction. But that was very, very much a… Basically a Kodak moment of where I was at at 18.

0:15:39.4 WB: And are you able to talk much about the new book that’s coming?

0:15:43.4 ML: Yeah. It’s essentially how to hire and manage a Virtual Assistant from scratch. I’m still debating about the title at the moment because… Go back and forth. But it’s essentially a bottled version of everything that I’ve learned in the last seven, eight years of hiring online and actually how to sit on it. And I put a lot of little nuggets of like, “Hey, you can think about it this way, if they fail, you can add this.” Or I’ve also added really good case studies from other assistants that we’ve had and stories of how they’ve failed and succeeded with their clients. So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about it.

0:16:15.9 WB: Yeah, I look forward to it. Do you have a deadline that you’re aiming for for the publication?

0:16:23.3 ML: Probably Q3 this year. That’s kind of the aim. We’ll see if I actually… [laughter]

0:16:28.5 WB: Well, good luck. Good luck. I’ll keep a watch out for it. I look forward to it. You’re not only writing novels, but as you mentioned, you started as a blogger almost. What I was really interested to observe with the titles, you have a brand or a branding approach. I don’t know how intentional it was, but with the novels it’s ‘Less Than Three’, with the blogs, it’s ‘Less Than Five’. What’s the background behind that?

0:16:56.8 ML: I’ve had kind of a marketing brain, even when I was really young. I think it kinda came from the like in writing and the learning like what SEO was along the way or how to unify things. So for the book, ‘Less Than Three’, it’s literally just the symbol of heart. That was kind of where that came from. The ‘Less Than Five’, it was a joke that someone made to me long ago and it kinda stuck. I’m 4’11”, so I’m literally less than 5 feet. [laughter] So that’s where that comes from. I’m like, “Oh, you should make lists of less than five because you’re less than 5 feet.” I’m like, “Hahaha. Oh, that’s actually a good idea.” So that’s kind of where a lot of that has come from. But other than that, I do like putting things into uniform so then people know like, “Oh, this is from Le-an, or this is from 2xYou, and so on and so forth.

0:17:44.4 WB: I think it’s a fantastic branding approach. But you also write about traveling, you do book reviews, you have a whole range of different areas that you focus on. How much of your time are you spending content creating?

0:18:00.6 ML: Well, that’s the magical thing of virtual assistance because I don’t do any of that anymore. I literally just record myself twice a week. 20 minutes becomes a YouTube video. Someone transcribes it into text, then becomes… An image that goes into my Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, everywhere else. It becomes like short videos that I can post on TikTok as a reel. So I don’t have to do much other than the 40 minutes I have to record every single week. But then other than that, I still enjoy. I will write really long texts on Facebook or LinkedIn, things like that. But it’s mostly been just out of that 40 minutes of recording.

0:18:38.0 WB: You have one topic you talk about that you can create, I think it’s 10 pieces of content from one video. Now, being a content creator myself, I’m really fascinated to hear what you’re talking about. So you mentioned some of those items then, but, so is there a specific list that you talk about?

0:18:58.6 ML: There is, and this is actually the speech that I just did in Thailand last week. [laughter] So it’s basically from the one, you know, from the 20 minutes that I record, it’s probably gonna be like 13 to 15, just because of course, cutting out the ums and the ahs and pausing in between firetrucks, running through [laughter] it’s, from the one video we create a teaser that goes, that’s basically becomes like three pieces of content that goes to, TikTok, Facebook reel, and then Instagram reel. We’ve now even added YouTube shorts into it since YouTube shorts is being pushed out right now. So that’s four pieces of content right off the bat. And then you create it into a carousel. So the carousel is the one where you swipe through on Instagram, like has a big title page, and it’s basically just tips from the video.

0:19:39.8 ML: That’s posted to Facebook, Instagram, and then LinkedIn as well. LinkedIn as a PDF so people can scroll it. From then we grab quotes, different quotes from the video, that then become, again, a more piece of content. It’s just like, I don’t think it’s even 10, I think it’s like 20 pieces of content every single week close to it just because we just repurpose what’s already in this one big video that has probably a ton of topics. So like a video on ‘Five Mistakes That People Usually Make When Hiring an Assistant’. First one I usually say is, people thinking that they can be a unicorn doing everything in yourself. So then that in itself can then be another blog article of like five different, five different things that you can, have your assistant do so they’re not a unicorn, things like that, where it becomes the perpetual content machine ongoing.

0:20:23.0 WB: I really under-utilize the content just listening to you. I’m really underutilizing my contents. [laughter] Thank you for the tips. Now you also have a YouTube channel. You do a coaching approach. I’m not sure what the right way to talk about that is.

0:20:41.3 ML: Ate. So Ate is like elder sister or elder woman. So that I’ve kind of really, that’s why I kinda start with like, “I’m the eldest of four.” That’s just because a lot of my own branding is around that. So, yeah, so I started that because my sisters was asking me, “Hey, Ate, how did you do this? How did you start working online? How did you figure out how to do PayPal?” Yeah, so that’s kind of a lot of my early videos was me answering my sisters’ questions, and then it evolved into this big, now YouTube and TikTok, everywhere else kind of brand.

0:21:13.7 WB: What’s your thinking at the moment? Where do you go from here?

0:21:17.9 ML: So for 2xYou, the vision that I’ve always had for it was that it would be kind of the, this is funny that I’m now thinking about it in this way as well, just now it’ll be kind of the Ate of the companies, and I have many companies underneath it. So one of the companies I’m actually currently developing is that repurposing company of how to create one big piece of content for our clients and then, you know, the assistants take care of the rest. We have ideas of bookkeeping company, you know, management company. So we have the EA be the one running their mini teams. So it’s kind of the idea that’s the next step that I wanna do for 2xYou eventually, I do have the pathway of getting to the point where I can sell 2xYou, and then start a new business and a new business and new business. It’s… My goal is essentially to create an empire, to get to that point where I’m getting, to the point of 10,000 entrepreneurs, having a remote business and a million Filipinos working from home.

0:22:08.8 WB: Do you have a timeframe in mind?

0:22:11.3 ML: It’s funny when it comes to timeframes because it never really hits, but we, because we always, what’s that, we always overestimate what we can do in three years and underestimate what we can do in a year. So that’s kind of the thing that I’ve always followed. But for me right now, 27, by the time I’m 30, I’m hoping, so hopefully selling 2xYou, so about three years to get there. And then starting off that new round of businesses afterwards.

0:22:38.0 WB: I really look forward to watching that. So back in 2021, the company is awarded Employer of the Year by Stevie Awards. Congratulations. What did that do for the business? Was that beneficial in some way?

0:22:54.9 ML: It kind of just became a stepping point. Like when we entered for it, at that point, we developed a really good onboarding process, training process for the EAs and that was kind of what we featured when we had that submission. And that kind of became like, “Oh now, we can, say this.” Like, we can put it on our Zoom backgrounds of like, “That’s an award that we now have.” And since then, it’s become just a good leverage for us of like, “Hey, this is… We know what we’re doing, 2xYou knows… We take care of our people. That’s why we became employee of the Year.” Not in any other kind of award. We focus a lot on this. We could do it for marketing, we could do for sales for a lot of the other awards, but we wanted to focus specific on this. So, you know that your assistant is taken care of.

0:23:38.5 WB: Jumping around here a lot, so I apologize. But you have a checklist online where you talk about helping people work from home and you cover three different specific categories I like, one was travel, one was digital, one was physical I think. Let’s say that I’m somebody, I want to take your advice, I want to start working from home. What would you suggest? How do I get started? What’s the approach?

0:24:06.4 ML: So I always recommend start with what you have. Like a lot of people when they say like, “Oh, I’m gonna work from home, and I’m gonna buy a new laptop and I’m gonna buy a new monitor, I’m gonna buy all of this, blah, blah, blah.” Start with what you have. Like, take into, just list it out. Okay. What can a laptop do you have? What skills do you have for either if you’re going to be an entrepreneur or you’re gonna be… Start getting a career online, take stock of all of it. Just kinda know what you have as assets and then grow from there. Because a lot of people underestimate the skills that they have and how important it is to other people. You know that imposter syndrome is always, right there on others. So when you take stock of what you have, then you can grow from there without having to, you know, do extra costs.

0:24:47.5 ML: It’s easier for you to believe like, “Oh, I can do this. Oh yeah, this is something that I can do for the long term.” And then you can start taking stock, “Okay, these are my skills, these are the couple of people that I wanna work with.” And then building other service with the product that you want. And then slowly kinda launching it, not having to take a big leap, but take small steps to get there and to keep proving to yourself mostly at that point, proving to yourself that this is something that you wanna do.

0:25:12.0 WB: Great advice. I’m sitting in my little office, having stepped away from the corporate world after 45 years, and listening to what you’re saying and thinking there’s probably some things that I did wrong as well. It would’ve been useful to have something like your checklist to guide me. What’s the best way that people can connect with you if they are thinking about this and they want some advice. So they want some guidance.

0:25:39.8 ML: So the best ways, definitely for just advice, general advice on how to work from home it’s probably my Instagram, for general advice on hiring or having a business online it’s my LinkedIn because my LinkedIn is like where that kind of thinking is and Instagram is usually like, “Oh this is what I do in my day kind of thinking.”

0:25:58.8 WB: So we should go connect with you via LinkedIn predominantly for the business side. Got it. And when you are thinking about planning your time, whether it’s for content creation, whether it’s for 2xYou, whether it’s for any of the other activities, how far ahead do you look? Are you very spontaneous? Are you very much the planning-type person? Somewhere in the middle? What’s your approach?

0:26:24.9 ML: I do a good mix of both. So I plan as far as I can and then I test, this was brought up by someone else. I was like how do you test out your business plans? Because I have a ton [laughter] and I usually plan it as much as I can. I table it and then when someone else brings it up, I’m like, “Okay, now we have a plan. Now other people other than me see it.” So then again, I can push through because of course we can never really push something to someone else. So that’s always been kind of how I do it, but it out. I write down like a 10-step process of how I want this to look like. I don’t really take action till then it’s relevant or something else is happening in the background that can support whatever it is I’m working on.

0:27:03.5 WB: I’m just visualizing. Do you have any tools that you would use? Like any software that you normally rely on when you’re starting something like that?

0:27:12.7 ML: I only run notion [laughter] like notion is almost everything about my life, both personal and business as a notion. And one of the things that we’ve developed in 2xYou is what I call the 2xYou business operating system, but literally it’s a business plan, but it’s more robust. Like I listed out all of the assets that you need in a business. All of the systems that you need to have in place, start opening procedures that you need to have in place so then you can run your business. But it’s very much overwhelming for someone who’s never had a business. So I always try to like scale back, “Okay, this is the only thing that you should be focusing on.” But I do have that, that’s kind of my handy dandy tool now. Anytime I’m like, “Hey, I have an idea for a business. Okay, let me run it through my own systems to make sure that it actually can work.”

0:27:52.9 WB: At what point would you recommend somebody would start to look for a Virtual Assistant. There’s always the balance. When you’re a solopreneur starting out you have the finance constraints, the time constraints. At what point would you find the tipping where you need to really come and talk with Le-an and say, “Help [laughter] We need a Virtual Assistant.”

0:28:17.8 ML: A good kind of flag, I guess, that you can look at when it comes to that destination is, so if you’re making money for at least six months, that’s kind of the magical tipping point because when you’ve only made money once because you sold a product and then you can’t sell it again, you can’t hire an assistant because this is an ongoing cost, when you’ve added for three months, it’s kind of okay, but then you have to make sure that you’re paying yourself. At six months, it’s kinda like, “Okay, we now have daily tasks. We have weekly things, we have monthly things we might have quarterly things that we do.” So then that’s where an assistant can go, is they can start taking over a lot of those repetitive tasks so they can run your business while you grow your business. So it’s kind of a good measurement. Some people do go like, “Okay, I’m having my business for a year before I started an assistant.” But I usually recommend by six months you’re probably doing the things you shouldn’t be doing in your business. So then that’s the time for you to have an assistant.

0:29:06.2 WB: Yeah, it’s the right time to catch it before it gets out of control and not too early so that there’s something there to build on.

0:29:14.2 ML: Yeah.

0:29:15.1 WB: How do the virtual assistants or the executive assistants handle working with clients in different time zones? I have a global team as well of freelancers that work with me. This is always the biggest challenge I find, what’s your thoughts around that?

0:29:33.7 ML: So for us, since we do have clients who are like 13 hours behind us or 16 hours behind and so and so forth it’s easier definitely to work with those of like in Australia or Dubai where the time difference is like three or five hours, but for me, honestly, like the way that we do this is one is we make sure that the client and the EA has set up a daily sync. So daily sync helps make sure that they’re on the right track every single day. Like it sounds tiring but it’s just 50 minutes of like, “What were things you had got done yesterday? What are things you’re focusing on today? And do you have any questions for me?” So those three questions right off the bat clears the way for your assistant to keep working while you sleep.

0:30:12.0 ML: That’s kind of the… Someone pointed this out the other day of like, “Basically my business runs 24 hours because I work in the day and then at night when my assistant’s up, then she works.” And so it’s like a complete cycle and for Australian and Dubai clients they’re able to just have that person with them throughout the whole day. So it really depends on what would work best for your business. But that’s kind of the main thing that we wanna try to always put on there is like having a sync, 15-minute sync of like knowing what they’re supposed to be doing is going to be important because then they start making decisions as you, because they see how you answer their questions, they see how you solve the problems that they bring forth, and then they’re getting to that point where the sync might be missed, but they know what they’re supposed to be doing because you guys built that relationship and that trust very early on and moving forward as well.

0:31:00.1 WB: I remember reading, excuse me, the Tim Ferriss’s ‘Four-Day Workweek’ book many years ago and thinking, “Wow, I wish that would be as easy as he made that sound.” And [laughter] what I find today is it is pretty much just as you said and it can be really beneficial having that time difference. Just as you had mentioned, it can be a 24-hour business. “I’m working now. And it’s almost like tag it’s your turn, you take over and then when I wake up again, it’s time to go.” So I can see that happening. Is there any particular activity or function that you’re seeing as part of trends today that the Executive Assistants are doing as an example social media management would be one area I can imagine is very popular, is there anything like that that stands out for the different tasks?

0:31:57.4 ML: So one thing that people underestimate is when they try to hire specialists as a Virtual Assistant versus having a true Admin Assistant for them where they were like, “Okay I’ll hire a Social Media Assistant, I’ll hire a Lead Generation Assistant.” Those are some of the examples. But when you have someone who can become… Essentially at 2xYou your second in command, that’s where a lot of the leverage and the power is because then they’re the ones talking to the Social Media Assistant. They’re the one who’s managing the Lead Generation Assistant because they start getting to know you and your business and not just one part of your business. They get to see all of it. They get to be the one managing you and…

0:32:32.6 ML: My own assistant. She has kind of slowly become that. I sadly one of my… The first assistant that I had for 2xYou, she went on and started her own business, which I was really happy for her. She was like, “Okay, I wanna take this path for my family.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll support you. Let me know if I need anything else.” Six months ago, I hired, my current assistant. She’s been my me. I’ve got to the point yesterday, it was so funny. It was just yesterday where I was answering emails and she was like, “What are you doing? I should be… “

[laughter]

0:33:06.1 ML: And it was like I screwed something up. It was, oh, it was basically someone was trying to schedule the meeting with me. So time zones of… The email said… I thought the email said 7:00 AM EST, and I was like, “Oh shoot, that’s gonna be 8:00 PM I have this, I have that.” So I replied back like, “Oh, that won’t work for me.” And then during my daily sync with my assistant, she’s like, “Why did you reply it? You could have left to me… She meant PM that will be AM for us.” And I’m like, “Oh”. So that was a very much like, “Oh, she’s smarter than me as me now. Okay. She can take care of things.”

[laughter]

0:33:39.4 ML: So it is that switch of, that’s why we called it 2xYou, because it’s doubling you, not just you in the business, but also how you decide, how you solve things. Because then they know how you think, how you develop things that they get to the point where in any business that you have, they will go through it with you.

0:33:56.5 ML: It doesn’t have to be that there’s focus on the one thing, but they’re getting you to the point where they’re kind of like, even if you leave the office for two weeks, which is still my goal, is to get to that point. Again, from automating everything else that my assistant could then like, “Oh,” even as you’re off, on Monday, she’ll have just a list of, “These were things that all went wrong. I solved it in this way. These are probably the two other things that we can’t solve ourselves. Can you just look at this one and then you can enjoy the rest of your day?” So that’s kind of the goal that I’m working towards with my assistant, Annie. But that’s kind of the magic of it, really.

0:34:28.7 WB: Yeah. And thank you. You just answered my next question was, what does 2xYou stand for. Now I understand. [laughter]

0:34:36.5 ML: Thank you.

0:34:38.0 WB: So I love the name now. I fully understand it. So the scenario that you just painted is of course, utopia for a lot of small business management people. And I imagined myself included, the challenge really is not so much with the Executive Assistant’s capability, it’s more with you as the manager being willing to let go and take the hands off approach and say, “Okay, I know you have the capability, but now I’ve got a relinquished control.” So I can imagine that’s a progressive approach, and you have to build the trust, you have to have the confidence, etcetera. Le-an, it’s a wonderful conversation at 4’11” inches. I would call you a pocket dynamo. Now, I don’t mean that disrespectfully.

[laughter]

0:35:34.6 ML: I’ve heard that before. So the first time someone was like, I’m a bite size. And then someone says, fun size, and then someone finally said, pocket size. I’m like, “I’ll accept pocket size versus fun size” [laughter]

0:35:48.1 WB: Look, I can sense there’s many great things on the horizon for you as well as for the company and those that work with you. So congratulations for the journey so far and what lies ahead. Any final closing comments that we haven’t touched on that you would like to make sure our listeners hear?

0:36:09.5 ML: Yes. Just then iterating on that title banner of the ‘yes and’ like how powerful it is and kind of one of the motives that I have had for most of my 20s is that passion can take you anywhere. It comes from that ‘yes and’ any time that I’ve been passionate about something, I can find a way to make money out of it. Has taken me to the most amazing things that I, normal, and I quote normal as someone who’s just followed the path would never really go through. My life, I can only tell you about this life because I kept following my passion. I kept following the things that I wanna do, even when it was very arbitrary. Even when it was weird, even when everyone told me, “Don’t do it.” I still kind of went through it because I followed that path and that passion and paved my own way.

0:36:52.6 ML: And it feels really scary and it still feels very scary until now. Like, “What if everything crashes and burns?” I’m like, “Nothing will ever be the same again.” But I have that, “No, remember the things that you’ve done for yourself and how far you’ve come, from that scared 18-year-old girl who was figuring things out, new city, no idea what the path was going to look like until almost 10 years later now of like, ‘Okay, this is the path I’ve created. This is the path that I’ve made now to the next path that I will keep paving on for myself.’”

0:37:23.9 WB: Le-an, thank you for being a guest on the ET project, wonderful, having the conversation. I look forward, I’m going to be watching for the book, and I look forward to seeing, how things unfold in the future for you.

0:37:36.9 ML: Thanks so much, Wayne.

[music]

0:37:39.7 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs @coaching4companies.com.

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