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Episode 231: Outsourcing to Get Your Life Back and Your Consulting Business Flourishing—with Gina Cotner

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. So, on this episode, we're going to talk about cloning yourself through outsourcing.

And we're going to talk about who you might want to look at and how thoughtful you want to be about who you hire, what you outsource to them, and how it's actually going to not just make your business move forward faster, but also make your life better. So, I brought on someone who knows all about the different versions of this, Gina Kotner. And we're going to talk through all the details of how to outsource successfully so that ultimately you get what you want.

So, let's get started.

Hi, I want to welcome to my show today, Gina Kotner. Gina, welcome to the show.

Gina Cotner: Thanks, Deb. Thanks for having me.

Deb Zahn: You bet. Well, we are going to have fun talking about outsourcing today. But let's start off. Tell folks what you do.

Gina Cotner: Great. Well, I founded a firm about seven years ago called Athena Executive Services, and we're a part of this kind of vast, wild world of virtual assistants. We have a mighty team, basically, of virtual executive assistants scattered around the United States. And we pair them up with business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, all around general swamped and successful people.

Deb Zahn: I love the swamped and successful people.

Gina Cotner: Yes. I know, I know them well and used to be one of those.

Deb Zahn: So, let's start off. If there are consultants out in the world who have not yet known the joy of outsourcing and aren't yet convinced, why should they outsource?

Gina Cotner: Well, I think ultimately, it's what allows you to do what you're the very, very, very best at.

So, I think even if we have a quote unquote long, hard day at work, if we spend that day being used for what you might call our highest and best purpose, or what you're the most infinitely trained for, or what is your greatest self expression, it doesn't really occur like a long, hard day. But if you spend half that day on hold with the internet company and the other half of the day on hold with IRS, then you'd rather just chew off your right arm.

Deb Zahn: And that is not an exaggeration.

Gina Cotner: You can have the opportunity to start outsourcing things that are just not you. They're not what you were trained for. They're not what you love. They're not what light you up now. Can you get rid of everything tomorrow? Everything you don't want to do? Probably not, but you can start to offload the stuff that's really not what you're walking the planet for.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I love that and my experience has been that you can easily get into this death by a thousand paper cuts kind of situation where it's all the little things, but all the little things take up a bunch of time and then you turn around and you look at your pipeline of work and it's not full.

Why? Because you didn't have time to pay attention to it or you didn't get your client work done. Why? Cause you didn't have time to pay attention to it. So, I love this. I'm a huge fan of doing this. And I know that one of the things that tends to stop people is mindset. And, and letting go of the control, even if it's painful, letting go of the control.

So, what do you say to those? And, and I say this lovingly as one, one of those control freaks that are like, no, no, no, I couldn't possibly outsource. What would you say to them?

Gina Cotner: Yeah, good. Well, then you get to keep that for the rest of your life. That's right. It's really kind of a, it's a great question. It's a conundrum for people.

I can do it better. Why should I outsource it? Why should I pay to have somebody do something that then I also have to take now time to show them how to do? So, now I got to spend time and I got to spend money and they're probably not going to do it as good as me anyway. This is ridiculous. Except, here's a possibility, here's a possible way to consider it.

As long as you keep doing it, you get to keep it. Yeah. So, when you first, say, have a virtual assistant, or you outsource anything maybe, in the beginning, yeah, it's not instant relief. You are going to have to invest time, and you are going to have to invest money. But you're investing in who you're going to get to be, the kind of life you're going to get to have, say, three months from now, and what you invested in that first three weeks, say, in your virtual executive assistant.

You're not going to have to answer those questions again. So, yeah, in the beginning, they don't know whether you fly coach or first class, aisle, or window, United or Alaska. But I'll tell you, once they get trained in all that, then you go book that thing, please. Thank you. Yeah, so it is an investment in really who you get to be and again, it's correlated I think it's tied up with having a day of your life be spent the way you want it to be spent Which you're never going to get back, right?

I don't get yesterday back. So, however I spent it…well, I hope you like it because it ain't ever coming back.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: The other way I kind of look at it just from a mindset is I think we all want to be I call it like we want to be the surgeon. So, a surgeon is highly, highly, highly trained and highly, highly, highly paid to do what they are most trained to do and hopefully what they enjoy, or they at least get fulfillment satisfaction out of, right?

So, they drive their fancy-dancy car to the hospital, and they park next to all the other fancy-dancy cars. You can always tell where like the surgeon parking is and then if it's at all like the movies, right? They, they go to scrub in. Right, and they scrub in, and somebody puts them in all their gear, and they walk into a room that is fully ready, right? All the instruments, all the people, the patient, everybody's fully ready for them to perform what they're getting paid top dollar to do. They do their top dollar performance, they scrub out, somebody takes all that stuff off of them, they go talk to the family, they go get back in their fancy-dancy car.

And then they go do what? Go golf, go play pickleball, go watch your daughter's soccer game.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: You know, go do what you want to do. So, what are all those little things? I love your death by a thousand paper cuts. What are all those little things that are not the best use of you? And what if you just got rid of one, and then the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one?

There are just things now, I, I will never book my own travel. It's just such a time suck. Yeah. Because then I go, well, maybe what if I flew out on Tuesday? Well, what if I did have non, maybe I don't go nonstop, but what if I spent points? Maybe I'll do that part on points and then part on, but wait, I got to get two more trips in to get the certain status level that I need.

So, then maybe it would be worth it to do that.

Deb Zahn: Oh my gosh. That's exhausting.

Gina Cotner: And it's not that I don't enjoy it. I kind of, I don't mind doing it. But that is a stupid use of my time.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: Yeah. The other thing I would challenge folks is where they're like no one can do this better than me and my answer my question a follow up question is always are you sure?

Do you really know how to do all of those things extremely well? And what I found out when I started to outsource is, oh, oh yeah, there's people better at this than me. There are people who this rocks their world to set this up. They don't hate it the way I do it. And guess what? They're better than me.

So, thank goodness. I gave it to them.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, it's so true. It shocks you when you find out. Oh you, oh, oh, you like to do this? OK, good. And sometimes people are afraid to delegate especially if they have like a part-time executive assistant or a full-time executive assistant. They think oh god. I hate to give this away.

Gina Cotner: If I had to come up with one more thing around social media, like get the right picture with the right pixels to make a good post and the thing I was going to vomit. My VA loves that. She's just like, “Oh, my gosh!” She'll find the most amazing stuff. Yeah. I'm like, OK, have at it.

And then when people are doing stuff they love to do, you're like, Oh, here's, here's more. Let me give you, I'll give you more of that. That makes you so happy. OK. I got more where that came from.

Deb Zahn: Yeah because that's what they're on the planet to do. That's what makes that what's brings them joy. I love it.

So, mindset, I love that we started with mindset because that is. They're like the one of the roadblocks. And then the other is for folks to think about sort of, well, what do I actually need? So, you said virtual assistant, and you said executive assistant. When I used to be in corporate, I had an executive assistant, so I kind of got what that was.

Is there a difference between the two? And if so, how should folks be wrapping their head around it?

Gina Cotner: Yes and no. So, it's just, again, a completely unregulated world right now. Everybody calls everything something a little different. Yeah. So, I'll give you some generalities. So, there's virtual assistants, and I'm sure if you go out and you Google virtual assistants, you're going to get a variety of firms that are based in the Philippines is very common, might look like they're based in the US and might even be based in the US, but heavily staffed out of the Philippines.

Then you'll get a US-based agency, which is what we are. You've got big ones. You've got small ones. We're kind of a boutique little top-shelf version of one. You've got ones that specialize or will allow you to say, I want somebody to do more so my travel or more so my social media or more so my bookkeeping.

Yeah. Yeah. Then. You have a unicorn. I call them the unicorns. They're somebody who would be awesome for you. They have a high level of business acumen. Maybe they were in corporate America. Maybe they went and had children. Maybe they're ready to come back. They'd be perfect. They're working for themselves.

They're not going to charge you as much. They're sitting in Kansas City right now on their dining room table. And you got to find them. Yeah. So, now you got a whole tricky project called go find the solopreneurs that are out there. They've just hung out their shingle. They'll charge you probably half of what a US-based agency would charge you.

But you got to go do the grunt work to find them. So, that's kind of what's out there. Now, those are virtual assistants. There are now more and more people using the term that I've used ever since the beginning called virtual executive assistant. I use that term because I think there are certain business owners that want somebody.

OK. Need somebody with a higher level of business acumen, akin to what maybe somebody has outside their office on the 40th floor of the downtown high rise. Yeah. That's kind of protecting their calendar, protecting their inbox, more like a shoulder-to-shoulder business partner. How are we going to attack this week together?

How are we going to get after the goals of the quarter. I consider that more of an executive assistant versus an admin virtual assistant. And then there are firms…we're secret shopping the industry right now. So, I'm learning a lot more. We secret shop the industry about three or four years ago.

And I was like, I think times have changed. I think there's a lot of people, a lot of companies out there now too, where you can just pay by task, like open up this app and get tasks done. Yeah, so you can look at do I just need some tasks done or do I just need somebody to handle my invoices every month or do I want a shoulder-to-shoulder kind of accountability partner who's going to be like, all right, Deb, you know, you said you're going to do this thing by Friday.

I'm going to do this by Friday, and we're going to go rock it. And by the way, when are you ever going to get to Pilates?

Deb Zahn: Yeah. So, it's a lot available out there. Yeah. And the other version I've seen more recently is the, we can do anything shop, which I don't fully believe, but these are the folks who are like, we can do your podcast.

We can do your social media. We can do admin. We can write your newsletter. We can tune your piano. We can like, yeah, just for the dot, dot, dot. And it's supposed to be a one stop shop. And you can pick and choose people as, as you need them. I will say I haven't had luck with that, but I'm sure there are people who have, but so that's the other thing is like the continuum of strictly sort of task based admin up to, I think what you're talking about with the executive assistant, which is more in the line of thought partner 40th floor, which I know exactly what you mean.

And then there's the we-can-do-anything folks, but you don't necessarily get the thought partne. But you get all of these tasks done.

Gina Cotner: Yeah. Yeah. Some agencies will give you an account manager. I think they're not doing their farming out. Social media goes to this department. Bookkeeping goes to that department. Travel goes to that department. Yeah.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And you pay for that, that you're essentially paying for someone to be that traffic person for you. So, if there's all these different options out there, what do you suggest if you know a consultant is thinking like, yeah, I could really use this help.

I'm tired of wearing all these different hats, hats I shouldn't be wearing. How do I understand what it is I really need? Where do I place myself, in all those different options?

Gina Cotner: Yeah, I think today, whoever's listening today can just start making a log of what you want done. That's going to be really informative.

You might go, I don't even know where to start. I would start with what is repetitive. I think invoicing was the first thing I gave away. It's like if I have to send my own invoices one more time. I could work from home. I could work from while I'm on vacation. I could work from anywhere.

And that's probably true of a lot of your listeners. Right. So, and then there I was in Maui on a vacation, and everybody was snorkeling and I was on the line. Cause I can work from anywhere and I have freedom and now I'm sending invoices from freaking Maui. I'm like, never again, Gina Kotner, never again.

So, think, but like, that's have to happen twice a month and it happens twice a month in clockwork. OK. That was something that I realized, OK, if I wrote out that process or even a screen video, a video, my screenshots of how I would do it, the screenplay, I could probably have my VA do that. And my VA has done that for years now.

It's not rocket science, but yet I needed to get it into a process that I didn't have to go, well, I know when Mary sends her invoice, it's under the name of Mary, but her company is really ABC widgets. So, I know if this says ABC, like there's a lot that was in my head that I had to get out of my head systematized so that I could turn it over, but boy, was that worth every.

Like I said, social media, I hated doing it. So, what don’t you like doing, but you think it's got to get done. And what is lather, rinse, repeat? What are you doing all the time? When you prep to go talk to a potential client, what are you doing? Are you doing the same amount of research on them?

Are you going to the same places? What are you coming into that conversation prepared to address? Maybe there's a questionnaire that goes out to them every single time. There's maybe scheduling them. There's what is the lather, rinse, repeat that could be given away. I think that will start to inform what you're looking for.

Because you might go, I don't know, it's a bunch of one-off stuff. Or you might go, OK, I do need to really get some things systematized here. And then when you start to shop, you'll get educated.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, it was a spreadsheet I literally titled I Hate This. And so every time I was doing something repetitive or that made me mad that I had to pay off my master's degree, I would put it on the list.

And so by the time I was ready for my first hire, which was a virtual assistant, I had a pretty good list to say, what are kind of task stuff and what are kind of system stuff? And do I think that's the same person? And what do I, and I was able to go through it and say, what do I think would be the easiest ways to hand things off first?

And I would feel relief sooner. So, I was able to sort of apply some criteria to it and it made the world a better place as far as I'm concerned.

Gina Cotner: That's so great. And then there's all the personal stuff too. Yeah. So, it might be, you're going to keep all the little paper cuts in business, but you're going to give up.

You're going to turn over to somebody helping you plan spring break for the family of four. And where is grandma's 75th birthday going to be held and how are we going to get everybody invited? And when is mom getting her flowers for Mother’s Day? And where are we going for Christmas and ordering the vitamins and returning the thing?

I mean, it's. All the personal stuff and then your weekends shot so that could be the other thing is you might turn over a bunch of personal stuff so that Saturday actually looks like a Saturday.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I love that, and you touched upon how having to do like a video or set of right out. Like, here's how I do my invoices.

So. I love standard operating procedures. I'm one of those nerdy people who just thinks they're awesome. I don't want to implement them, but I want to have them. So, can you explain a little bit of like how, how you transfer things so that somebody would know, OK, here's the way she does it and that she wants it done?

Gina Cotner: Yeah, good. Well, I would do some thinking about how you want to train them. Now, you might say, “Boy, I don't have anything documented.” OK, well, I'd have them document it. So, I hire Allison, and Allison's my virtual assistant. And I say, Allison, I'm going to tell you how I do invoicing. And I need you to document it so it could be they do the documenting now what I had to confront was some housekeeping that just it needed to be done.

Anyway, I go into my Dropbox, and I picture myself in advance going. OK. I'm going to send Allison into Dropbox. I'm going to send her into this folder, and I open it up and I go. Oh, God. There's no way she's going to know what to do, right? Cause it's a mess because I kind of know, Oh yeah, those five are kind of old, and these are the newer ones. And those guys are outdated. How's she going to know that? So, it forced me to do a little bit of cleanup, like, OK, at least make some archive folders, Gina, and get out of the way, everything that your new VA doesn't need to see. And so it can be a little bit, you do the prep, you get ready, but then I wouldn't wait for it to get perfect.

Maybe get 30 percent of it in your head and then get on the phone with the VA. And you're also going to get to know this VA. Do you like how they are working with you right now? Is this working out well? Are they open to documenting processes for you? Or are they annoyed by this? OK, well, that might be a red flag.

Maybe you don't have the right VA, but let's say it goes well, right? You're training them.

Deb Zahn: They shadow you.

Gina Cotner: In the beginning of almost anything. And I have, this works for small stuff. It also works for creating your next. Maybe somebody who manages your entire sales process. I don't know. Yeah. But they shadow you, they watch you do stuff, they ask you questions.

And then I'd say they do that for a few cycles, and then the tables turn. OK, now Allison, you're accountable for the invoices going out on time. I know you're not an expert yet. I don't expect you to be perfect. I'm now going to shadow you. Yep. But you're accountable. So, I make people accountable way before they seem like they've earned it.

But that's so that they have to rise up. And I get to see, do they rise up? Now I know, behind the curtain, I'm always accountable. I'm going to go run around and make sure the invoices actually got out. I'm going to inspect. I'm going to look at the fine print, see if they did it right. But I leave them with, OK, this is your baby now.

What do you need from me? What questions do you have for me? And I kind of like stand back. And see how much they generate, how much they fill in the gap of what they know. And then what they can figure out on their own because a good VA is going to be like, yeah, I don't know all this, but that what, go to YouTube, like, is there anything you can't learn on YouTube by five o'clock?

Deb Zahn: So, but you hit upon something that's really important because where I've, where I've both have experienced and seen disappointment or surprise is someone who wants a VA that is good at tasks, but also figuring stuff out. And sometimes those are two different people. So, I've experienced VAs that if they have a standard operating procedure, or I say, this is how I want it, they do the SOP.

Gina Cotner: I, I fine tune it and I say, OK, now we got it. But if anything is off SOP, they can't handle it. And so that, I think you're bringing up something important, which is that goes back to understanding what you need because if you need someone who is really good at figuring things out when it's not a hundred percent known, that's a different VA than somebody who is just going to do this test, this test, this test.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: That's right. And you should pay less for one and more for the other. Once again, you get what you pay for. That's right. We are a top shelf, one of the more expensive products in the United States, but that's why because we are up already vetted and screened and found a bunch of people that because your technology may not be what.

You got to learn to love to learn stuff. Because I'm not going to to know Asana and this OK. We're going to go find you a perfect client who all they use is Asana and QuickBooks. No, I don't know the next client is going to use whatever really works for them. How good are you at figuring that out?

So, you are going to pay more for that. But if you do love writing your SOPs and you're going to do more of the heavy lifting, then don't you dare pay more, right? You've done the heavy lifting. So, now, I don't know, maybe a 6 an hour VA out of the Philippines is going to work for you. That's probably not going to work for you if you need client facing, email sending, representing you type assistance.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And, and the other thing is also them being able to ask questions and be willing to be coached. And I know that's part, some of what you talk about, how does that sort of ongoing development actually work?

Gina Cotner: If you just went out and found your own VA, I would start, and this is how we start. You are a coaching culture. If you do not like getting coached and if you don't like getting corrected, yeah, you should move along. If that's going to be a personal trauma for you, don't because I want my clients to be able to just say, please stop doing this. Do this. Oh, OK. Great. Thanks. I'll do that. And not have it be like a three-day conundrum.

Now if it's just you and your VA, I would just tell them that straight up. Listen, I'm going to coach you. I'm going to coach you a lot early on. It doesn't mean I don't like you. It's just that if you're in a ship, and I'm in Seattle right now, and I want to go to Tokyo, the bow of my ship has got to go in a particular direction.

And if the bow of that ship gets off by ten degrees, I'm going to end up in Singapore. That's right. So, you want to coach early and coach often. Now you might be the kind of boss that is like hesitant to do that. You're a little resident to do that. Don't be. Just swing out. They've never worked with you before.

They don't know that you're not used to doing that. So, swing out. And just do a lot of coaching and correcting in the beginning because then your ship, your partnership with them is going to go in the right direction. If you tolerate things being five degrees off in the beginning, and you try to course correct three months later, it's going to be a lot harder.

Yeah. And it just gets them real in their relationship with you. It gets them used to it. Oh, this is just what it's like to work with Deb's not that doesn't like me. She just tells me when it's not quite right.

Deb Zahn: OK, cool. That's right. Yeah. And I think the other thing to check, and this is sort of adjacent to coachable is, are they willing to be adaptive?

So, I've had conversations with VAs who have said, “Oh, well, you use Asana. I use Trello” or “I do all my communication through Slack.” I personally, I personally do not like Slack, and I do not want to use it. I find it a nuisance. And there are some agencies, there are some individual VAs who are like, “This is my system, and I expect you to fit in to how I do things” rather than being adaptive, which is, “Deb digs Asana. So, I'm going to do Asana. And nd guess what? She might change her mind later and do Trello, in which case I got to adapt.”

Gina Cotner: That's right. Absolutely. I think communication is a huge, when you go out to vet agencies or a VA, that's a huge one. My team uses Asana, they use Slack, and they should.

If I don't want to. I'm the CEO. Just text me. The most complex thing I use to keep track of all my tasks is a to-do list. Why? Because I turned over so much to other people and now, but I'm like empower them to run with it. But absolutely. You bring up such a good point.

How do you want to communicate with somebody, and do they have any objection to that?

Deb Zahn: That's right. Cause some are on the more rigid side. In which case, now you're adjusting as the CEO to someone else kind of defeats the purpose. So, how, if somebody were to hire a VA or executive assistant, like what's the reasonable expectation for handing tasks over and starting to feel some of that freedom that you're longing for?

Gina Cotner: Yeah. In terms of reasonable expectation, what do you mean? Quantity or what it might be? Time-wise. Oh, how long until you feel the Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like when, yeah.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. When, when do you have to go through the getting everybody up to speed and now you start to feel some relief? Like, what? What is that? Yeah.

Gina Cotner: For on average, yeah. I would say a month. Now, truthfully, some things are going to be done in a couple weeks. Right. If this person's never booked travel for somebody before, I don't know, but you could turn over all your travel stuff to somebody pretty quickly. And then the next time you go to book a trip, you'd be like, wow, this is pretty cool. I kind of like how this goes.

So, I think within the first 30 days, you start to feel like, oh, and you're getting in the groove of, OK, that thing you delegated isn't getting done today. That's OK. You have to chill for a minute. They're working on it, but you're not having to do it. You have to keep remembering.

You're not having to do it. They're going to get it done maybe in the next five days. Fine. You're over here busy working on higher and best use of you. So, it's the relief comes pretty quickly, but it's also while you're moving through a weird phase called: Is that done yet? Is that? Are they working on it? Is that done? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Right?

So, in the beginning, you might need them to tell you every day what they're working on because it's really kind of thrilling to be like, “Oh, I'm here being interviewed on a podcast, and my VA is resolving that invoicing issue at the same time. This is very exciting.”

Deb Zahn: That's right. Oh, goodness. Yes. Yes. Yes. You use the term cloning yourself when you reach it out to me, and I'm like yes to that because that's often how you feel is I need about three and a half of me if not more and then that gets to happen because multiple things can happen at the same time.

Gina Cotner: Exactly. Exactly, and then next week I don't have to explain as much about my travel, now I can spend a little more time explaining about the yacht trip I want to go on for my birthday or the pickleball tournament I want to be in or critical things like that.

Deb Zahn: Good VAs are executive assistants. Certainly when I had an executive assistant, she was very good at holding me accountable and managing up. She actually, she used to call me Etch-a-Sketch because she said if she'd say something to me and I moved my head, it would be gone. And so part of what she had to do is make sure that I stayed on track and did the pieces that I had to do.

And so what's your sort of advice for that? Because it's not all just dumping to somebody else. You're in a partnership now. So, what's, what's your role and how can they hold you accountable?

Gina Cotner: Yeah. If you want that partnership, I think that is the best use of an assistant, but you gotta unleash them. If you're not willing to have somebody hold you to account and you're going to be annoyed and offended, now don't do that.

But, I think what you said is the best use because then you really have a partner. And for, especially for people who are working solo, it's lonely. You don't get up tomorrow and do what you said, nobody knows, you can just stay in bed and eat bonbons. Yeah. But it's great to have a partner who will say, I would unleash them.

I would say, listen, I'm going to do a, B and C. And on Thursday, I need you to check in with me and see where I'm at with that. And you should know in my calendar, it says I'm going to yoga. I almost never get to yoga. And if you want to win, you need to have me get to yoga. Like I, I love giving me over to people and say, now you manage me and they love it.

Now. I love to be led. I'm a great leader, but I love being led. But people are afraid to leave me because of who I am, but I go, no, no, no. I tell my EA, this is your project. Now, now you tell me, when do I need to write the newsletter? OK. Thank you. What are some topics you think I should write on? Oh, OK.

Thank you. Now I work for her. And she loves it, but I had to really unleash her because that seems a little scary sometimes for your assistant to go hold you to account or kindly nudge you and go, Have you walked? Have you gone walking three times this week? How you doing with that? Did you get that proposal out to that person?

OK, what's stopping you? What can I take off your plate so that you'll go do that thing? I know you don't want to do it, but come on, let's do it. That's right.

Deb Zahn: And when you're a strong personality, which I haven't known you long, Gina, but I'm going to say you're a strong personality and I kind of am too. You then need a VA that is willing to either it's natural for them to do it or they're willing to push themselves to do it. So, I actually have told assistants I had, if I'm not getting you something, I actually want you to send me a text and say, “Dude, you're killing me.” And I want that. I'm in New York!

Gina Cotner: I'm that blunt. And I want you to have fun with it. Use terms like that. I will respond to those. I love things like that more than, “Hey, I was wondering if you could pause. I hate stuff like that. Yeah.

Deb Zahn: I want you to give me a kick in the pants. That's what I want. Yeah. And the best people that work with me were willing to do that.

Gina Cotner: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, good.

Deb Zahn: So, anything that folks, if they're thinking about getting the help flat out, avoid this, please don't do this or it's not going to work?

Gina Cotner: Yeah, definitely.

Deb Zahn: So, where can folks find you if they want to find out more about your top shelf agency?

Gina Cotner: Yeah, so we are just simply at, it'll tell you all about us. And if you click the buttons that are floating around that website that say if want to learn more, here, click here, who you're going to get connected with is a woman named Jennifer Tracy.

And she's our business development manager and she's sitting in Peoria, Illinois right now. And she will brainstorm with you too, so she'll just offer you, she'll offer you her calendar, you can talk to her for 15 minutes and say, I'm thinking A, B, and C, and she'll go, great, we can help you, or you know what, you, you don't need us yet. You might need us in a year, go consider this, so she's just a nice, fun person to brainstorm with, we're a pretty small.

We're still a pretty small firm. While we are high end, we're not big, big, big. So, she's happy to take people's calls. If you're looking for me personally, you can just go look me up on LinkedIn. I'm really responsive if you send me a direct message.

Deb Zahn: Fabulous. So, I have to ask you this last question because one of the things that your agency does for entrepreneurs, including consultants, is free up time.

So, they get to enjoy that, that thing called life that we were promised to have by becoming entrepreneurs. So, how, how do you bring that balance to your own life? However it is you think about that.

Gina Cotner: I started by putting those things you call life into your calendar. Yeah. So, you go put, for me, it's a certain amount of pickleball.

It's going to see my mom down in Palm Springs once a month. Don't try to squeeze those in. You go put those in first. Now it's tricky. You got to honor that. You got to really honor that. It says glass of wine with my girlfriend. That's really happening Thursday at four. So, put some of those things in your calendar and tell your VA.

It will force you to get the work quote unquote done. In the other hours of the day and at the end of the week, you'll be like, wow, I think I had a life. I went to yoga. And I saw my mom. OK, that was pretty balanced.

Deb Zahn: Love it. Love it. Love it. Yeah, because it's easy. I got other stuff.

Gina Cotner: Yeah, the next client the next client prospect will say they want to talk to you Thursday at four.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: You got to say, Oh, I'm so busy. How's next Monday at 10?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Gina Cotner: They don't need to know why none of their business sacred. Nope. Haven't. I'm having wine with my girlfriend.

Deb Zahn: Love it. Oh, that's beautiful. Well, Gina, I really appreciate no one knows the trials and tribulations you and I had to actually get on this podcast, like everything went wrong, but this was so worth it. I just love this. And my first. Outsourcing was for a VA and it changed my life.

And I got lucky. I got a unicorn. I got lucky, but they're few and far between. So, consider, consider other options, but thanks so much for joining.

Gina Cotner: Thanks, Deb.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up in a lot of other great content, and I don't want you to miss anything.

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