HireMyVA Podcast

HireMyVA Podcast 52- Interview with Navin Kulshreshtha

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Dave Braun
00:00:02
Hey, everyone. Welcome to the HireMyVA Team and Business Building Podcast, where we help you to reclaim your freedom through hiring and thriving with Virtual Assistants without breaking the bank. And that means without breaking your bank. I’m Dave Braun and I’m here with my partner, coach, friend, mentor, coach, bud, Larry Broughton. Larry…

Larry Broughton
00:00:21
David, how are you, my friend.

Dave Braun
00:00:23
I’m doing great. I am so excited because we’ve got a special guest for this episode of our podcast.

Larry Broughton
00:00:31
We do. But before we do that, Dave, I love you, man. I am so glad you’re in my life. I was thinking about this morning, as I’m doing my gratitude journal about those folks who just make an absolute impact on my life. I’m glad you’re my friend. I’m glad you’re my business partner. And I’m looking forward to seeing you tonight. How’s that?

Dave Braun
00:00:47
Right back at you, dude. I got my special—do I dare say it?

Larry Broughton
00:00:51
No, don’t say it.

Dave Braun
00:00:52
Okay.

Dave Braun
00:00:54
Yeah, if people heard what I’m fixing tonight for dinner, oh man. You’d wanna scream right through this and come over and all that. We got the mad rush out of my house.

Larry Broughton
00:01:04
That’s right.

Dave Braun
00:01:05
And there’s not enough food for everybody.

Larry Broughton
00:01:08
Yeah.

Dave Braun
00:01:09
All right.

Larry Broughton
00:01:09
Well, we got special guests. Let’s talk about that.

Dave Braun
00:01:12
Yeah. So his name is Navin Kulshreshtha and I think I pronounced that right but he’s coming on here in a second now. You guys are gonna enjoy the stuff he talks about. He’s a web designer and filmmaker from Orlando, Florida. That’s where he is at. And he is running his own business for about 15 years. The name of his company is Devi studios and he’s got a YouTube channel and he publishes a weekly tutorial. And one of the things that’s awesome about him is he’s got a couple of thousand subscribers. And even though he didn’t talk about this on the podcast, he’s actually monetizing his channel, and that’s very cool.

Larry Broughton
00:01:49
Yeah. It’s hard to do that until you get a thousand subscribers, but yes. But we gotta start somewhere, right? I loved this conversation for a bunch of reasons. He was just dropping some value bombs like out of the gate, you know, like things, like focus on results. You know, when you’re bringing team members on board, particularly VAs. The other thing is that I loved and some of this is just, Hey, TFTR, thanks for the reminder. When you start looking at people who have had success in business, you can start connecting the dots. And another thing that he said is to hire people who are better than you. One of the things that you and I talk about all the time is to hire people who are bolder and better than you. Bolder and brighter than you are. Another thing I thought that was gold is when you’re talking about integrity. You said it’s easier to find people who are competent than least to find people with integrity.

Dave Braun
00:02:42
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
00:02:43
That’s sad but true.

Dave Braun
00:02:45
It’s sad in the end and this is really true. It is.

Larry Broughton
00:02:49
I’ll listen. There are so many, but I guess the last one I would leave people with—but there are more than this. And I want you people to listen to this and just hear how he’s describing these things, is that when you’re hiring a VA, don’t hire 15 people right out the gate to fill and take up every piece of responsibility in role and function that you’re trying to provide in your business, but start small, identify one aspect of your business. If you’ve never hired a VA before, start with that, learn the process from there, hone the skills, develop the systems and then either expand that role or start adding VAs for other roles in your business. I thought that was gold.

Dave Braun
00:03:31
Yeah. You know, he’s been very successful too with just using part-time VAs for everything. He’s not even using full-time yet, which is definitely what we’re you recommend, but he’s doing very well. And you can tell by the way he communicates and you know how he values his team members, you know why he’s successful.

Larry Broughton
00:03:49
Yeah. But that’s just—we’re just scratching the surface. So grab a pen, grab your paper, and take notes on this one. But Dave, why don’t we just dive into the interview?

Dave Braun
00:04:00
All right, everybody here is our interview and talk and discussion with Navin. So, Larry, you wanna jump in and ask a couple of questions here?

Larry Broughton
00:04:12
We can get started here. Yeah. Hey, Navin, when did you start actually using the VAs though? I mean, you’re in a space where you could have people in-house or outsource somewhere else. How long have you been—

Navin Kulshreshtha
00:04:22
Yeah. You know that’s actually one of the good things about web design, is even in the early days, like in the beginning, I used to do everything myself. And at the time it was just like very small, simple, static websites, HTML, some graphics. So in the beginning I handled everything myself. Then of course the whole web design field started to evolve, get more complicated, more complex. Once you get into the WordPress space, it’s impossible to know everything. And so I do have, let’s say some— So probably within after five years, I started bringing in other people. One of the main reasons is that I didn’t have the skillset. I couldn’t do everything at a high level. And so of course I had my focus, which was more of like the front-end web design. So HTML, CSS, some graphic design, but a lot of the back end stuff like the PHP development, the programming, the database stuff, those were some of the first people I brought in, like serious technical programmers because it was just beyond me.

Larry Broughton
00:05:27
That’s interesting that you’re bringing— sounds like you were bringing in people who had skillsets that were beyond yours in some areas. Is that right? Yes. Because we’re here with a lot of folks that they’re afraid to do that. Now, that’s not just in the VA space, but so many leaders are afraid to bring on people who have experienced skillsets beyond them, for fear of well, part of its ego, I think. But part of it’s also, that they don’t know how to manage them. Was there ever a hurdle in your mind that you needed to get over to do that or what did that allow you to say, Hey, I don’t have experience in this space, I’m gonna bring somebody on who does.

Navin Kulshreshtha
00:06:07
Well, this is like an ongoing thing because ideally, in my mind, to properly manage somebody, I should know everything that they’re doing in their job and be able to look at their work and see everything that they’re doing. But of course, I can look at their code all day long and I’m not gonna understand everything that they’ve written. So I’ve stopped looking at it. Because I realize I’m not really gonna be able to understand what they’re doing. And so one of the ways around that is, of course, just focusing on results. I think that’s really important. Through like a testing process. So I am able to test, of course, the website, the functionality, the logic, the features of it. So I have to focus on that and honestly, that’s what the client is focused on too.

Navin Kulshreshtha
00:06:53
The client is not gonna be looking at their code at the end of the day. The client is gonna make sure that it performs the business goals and that it is efficient, it doesn’t slow down or bug down the website. And so I’ve had to let go of certain things. But then what I sometimes do is I’ll bring in another expert, like another programmer to look at each other’s code, and that kind of keeps things in check. Do you see what I mean? Because I’m not an expert, but if I get one expert to do it, then another expert to review it, at least on occasion, that helps keeps things on track.

Dave Braun
00:07:34
Yeah. What helped me a lot is if I do like a—all I have to do is a design review, and like spend a half an hour or whatever and say, Hey, just walk me through your code. Whether or not I understand it, the process of doing that, if they can explain it and go through it pretty decently, then it’s like, okay, that gives me some pretty good confidence that they’re doing a good job. Right?

Navin Kulshreshtha
00:07:55
Yeah. That can also be helpful or even just a meeting and turns up like, what is your approach? How are you going to tackle the solution or if I tackle this problem and then go through the process on a high level without digging too deep? And then of course on the back end, looking at the results and verifying that it’s working.

Dave Braun
00:08:16
Yeah. Awesome.

Larry Broughton
00:08:17
You know, we’ve got some clients, both in our HireMyVA Program and in our Victory Mentoring and Coaching Program, who get to a point where they’re absolutely frustrated, they’re pulling their hair out. And even at that point, they’re afraid to bring people on board. Then we’ve got other people who very quickly realized, Hey, I need to bring somebody on board. And it seems like it’s a rather smooth transition. Where did you fall on the continuum prior to that hiring that first VA? Were you that person who was just like absolutely overwhelmed? You had people breathing down your throat, you were missing deadlines, or was it a rather systematic approach and just, Hey, I’m gonna hire a VA and we’re gonna see how this thing goes.

Navin Kulshreshtha
00:09:01
You know, it’s definitely a process. Right from the start, I realized the power of being able to hire people who are better than I am. You know, hiring a graphic designer, who’s a better designer than I am. And then hiring a developer who’s a better developer than I am. So I always kind of subscribed to that philosophy. With me, it was more of a logistical thing. Even though I have a remote office and mainly a remote team, I do like working hands-on with people, being able to interact and collaborate in real-time as opposed to being in different time zones. So my biggest issue is just being able to stay connected with the people in a way where I can actually track and feel like I’m making progress. So right from the start, I was hiring people, but now I’m actually getting to the point where I do have deadlines and a task list that I can never get through. And I kind of have to reach another level with my hiring. You know.

Larry Broughton
01:10:05
How many VAs are you working with now?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:10:08
I have about, let me see. I have about five right now.

Larry Broughton
01:10:12
Okay.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:10:12
Yeah. Five.

Larry Broughton
01:10:13
What’s that process look like, just managing five VA who are all remote?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:10:22
Well, what I like to do is I like to have a weekly check-in with each one of them. I find that that helps a lot. Otherwise, it can be kind of a one-on-one, yeah one-on-one. And so that can help a lot. Some of them actually, three of them are based in the US. So that makes things a lot easier. And then two other people are actually in India right now. And so that makes it a little bit more challenging because typically we can only meet for an hour or two first thing in the morning. But I still meet with them regularly. I mean as far as communication goes, we typically use Skype or Zoom. And then in order to track, I’ve been using Trello, and then I’ve recently upgraded from Trello to another tool called ClickUp. That helps us manage tasks and projects and keep them moving along.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:11:16
And then when I need to send feedback to people and we can’t interact in real-time, I find that short little loom videos can be really, really helpful. So I’ll just record. I used to try to write things down and take screenshots and I still do that. So, I still do screenshots and looms, but writing took too long. I could just do like a little two-minute video, two and a half minute video, send it off to them and they understand it a lot better than written documentation. So it’s definitely, it’s working. I don’t think the process is as efficient if all five of us were in the same space at the same time. I think it would be more productive and efficient, but with all of the Virtual tools, it definitely works.

Larry Broughton
01:12:05
Well, certainly trade-offs for sure. One of the things I love about doing loom videos is that all of a sudden— Now it’s memorialized. And that loom video can be used for whoever the specific VA or team member was that you had created it for, but for the next one or for an additional one who’s on board.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:12:24
Yeah. It can be used as company documentation.

Larry Broughton
01:12:28
That’s right.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:12:28
And then in between, like the fixed meetings, we meet as needed and so it is possible for me to meet if we’re in the middle of a project or a deadline, It is possible for us to meet every single day. And sometimes we do that. We’ll meet for like 30 minutes an hour every single day. And then I find that we can make pretty rapid progress on a specific project. So I like at least having that option of being able to meet you in real-time, at least once a day, if necessary, but typically it’s once or twice a week.

Larry Broughton
01:13:00
Hey, how did you have to find or attract these VAs? You said you’ve got some in the US, some are in India. What was that hiring process like for you?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:13:11
I’ve used several websites over the years. And so back in several years ago there was a website called eLabs. You may have heard of that one before. And then I think several companies merged and created a company now called Upwork. And so I have essentially posted on Upwork and I created a detailed job description. Of course you can always look at people’s reviews and that always helps reviews and portfolios. Then an interview process where you actually sit face to face with somebody, then typically give them a small project to build trust. And just to see how—because there are people who sometimes do really good interviews, but they’re not the best workers and of course, vice versa too. And so of course it’s an imperfect process. So like a small project to build trust and then a slightly larger project and then a larger project and then hopefully a long-term productive relationship.

Larry Broughton
01:14:17
We love that approach. We, we recommend that highly as well, start with a small project first, get to know each other because also, they may interview well, they may have absolutely the skills that you’re looking for, but you guys may not like each other. The communication style or whatever it is that just—

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:14:33
Yeah. The chemistry.

Larry Broughton
01:14:35
The chemistry. Right. That’s a good way to put it.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:14:38
And honestly, one thing that I do is I don’t even spend much time in the interview. I can usually tell within 15 minutes, if there’s a connection, if I like the way they communicate, they talk, they present themselves, they can put a sentence together. And then I like to skip just into the small project. I’m like, Hey, listen, I think this could work out, I’m gonna give you a small project. And we’ll meet again at the end of the week. And I find that small project, and then in communicating with them in that small project is far more valuable than the interview where we’re just talking.

Larry Broughton
01:15:09
Yeah.

Dave Braun
01:15:09
Yeah. That’s good. Now, don’t you have a combination of people that are working for you full-time as well as contractors?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:15:19
No, right now I just have part-time people, but I am thinking about bringing, I think I’m getting to the point now, like maybe this year where I’d be able to bring on a full-time VA.

Dave Braun
01:15:30
Okay. And how have you found working with folks part-time versus potentially full-time or just as a contractor? How would you contrast the pluses and minuses of those three areas?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:15:46
Well, when you have part-time people, I think it can be a little bit scattered because you’re not really, you don’t really know what else they have going on. And so they could get a big project all of a sudden and be unavailable for five days a week.

Larry Broughton
01:16:01
Big project from somebody else.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:16:02
From somebody else. Right, from somebody else. So, I’m not really aware of their schedule. And so it’s kind of a hit-and-miss approach. it’s like, Hey, I just got this big project, do you have time? And then she’ll be like, no, I don’t have time for two weeks. And I was like, okay, well now what do I do?

Larry Broughton
01:16:21
Yeah. It’s like subcontractors when you’re building a house. And it’s a construction market.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:16:28
Yeah, exactly.

Larry Broughton
01:16:29
Dave, you know about that when you’re doing your renovation.

Dave Braun
01:16:32
Well, oh yeah.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:16:33
You know, I live in Florida. So after a hurricane, you can’t get a roofer to come out to your house.

Larry Broughton
01:16:38
There you go. Right.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:16:39
You know, you’re lucky if you can find a tarp at Home Depot until you can get an actual contractor. So it’s kind of a, it’s the same idea. So I find it to be a little bit scatter shop. So what I like to do is at least have a consistent relationship with my part-time people, and let them know, I’ll be able to give you somewhere between 5 and 10 hours every week. And then I try to stick to that.

Dave Braun
01:17:03
Okay. So you kinda guarantee some hours for them, so to speak.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:17:07
Yeah. So that way it’s consistent every week. And so that way I don’t disappear for a month or two months or three months and then just show up and expect them to do a bunch of work immediately. We kind of have this established rhythm. You could say,

Dave Braun
01:17:22
Do you find any of those folks that are part-time, do they kind of prefer staying part-time or do they, are they like just working a couple of part-time gigs? Because that’s what they do, but they’d really like to have full-time.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:17:36
You know, the people that I work with, prefer the part-time because they do have other clients. And so they themselves like to have the freedom of being able to choose and have other projects going on. But it is possible that if I ever offered them a stable full-time position, they would be open to that. They would probably be open to that if I was able to give them a good enough offer,

Dave Braun
01:18:10
Would you kind of test the waters in that for some of your part-time folks? Because you’re thinking about going full-time right with some of—

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:18:20
It’s possible. I might. You know, if I decided to go full-time with somebody that would have to fulfill like the roles of two or three people right now. And so that can get a little bit tricky, you know, because I also do, like video production and digital marketing. So one of my contractors is a video editor and I specifically have him doing video editing while another one is like a content writer for blogs and social media while another person is like more of a technical WordPress web development person. But if I could find one person who could do all of those, well then, of course, it’d be good for both of us.

Dave Braun
01:19:01
That’s true. So you’re kind of looking at hiring for not as much time. So to speak, you’re looking at hiring for roles in your business. So you have the different roles and you’re like, well I need five hours here or 10 hours here or whatever. And then as your business grows, then you’ll elevate some of those folks to more of a full-time.

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:19:22
Sure. And then what I’m thinking right now is that if I could combine the web content with the web development type position, that would be kind of a natural fit. So that way they could just take all of the website stuff, and that could probably be the first full-time role that I offer at my company.

Larry Broughton
01:19:40
Navin, do you have team members— we call ’em team members, employees who are actually in person with you besides your VAs, or is your entire workforce Virtual?

Navin Kulshreshtha
01:19:56
Right now, It’s all Virtual. But a few years ago I actually moved to Orlando about five years ago, before I lived in Seattle. So in Seattle, I had in person, like part-time team members who would come into the office and we would work, and we had a fixed schedule. And they were still part-time, but it was like, three days a week. In the office, in person.

Larry Broughton
02:20:18
What we have found over the years with the VAs that we hire and some of our clients is that we encourage folks to try as much as possible to treat their Virtual assistants, their VAs as if they’re actually real-life team members. They share the same core values, that they know your vision and mission. Have you found that to be important? Have you even tried it or have you said, Hey, they’re a VA? I mean, that works for some people as well.

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:20:53
I think it’s actually a very good way to do things. Just to just see them as an extended part of your team, your vision, their essential members. I haven’t gotten so far as the values and the mission and stuff like that. But I think it could help a lot in the alignment of things. I think in terms of the tools that we use and the type of work that we do and our standards of quality. There’s definitely a kind of consistency across the entire company. But I do like the process of creating a brand vision and values and I’m actually going through the process of that.

Larry Broughton
02:21:29
I like that. I also like that, your idea is that, Hey, you’re expecting the same standards from somebody in India or a Virtual person in Wyoming, wherever your VAs are, as if it’s somebody who’s actually in your office. I think it’s a classic mistake that some employers have, is that they have a lower expectation for someone who’s working virtually at least it’s done, kinda thing. And I would just encourage folks, you gotta maintain standards because anything—there used to be a commercial, a car commercial if I remember correctly, where it said: “Quality is job one”. Was that Ford? That shows people walking through and they’d sign the tire or they’d signed the fender that they specifically worked on. Like I’m proud of his fender that I worked on. I think that’s kind of the approach that we need to take with any piece of work that we do. Whether creating a PDF or they’re writing some code.

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:22:30
I agree. I think taking pride in your work is a really important value. And it’s great when it’s kind of shared across an entire organization.

Larry Broughton
02:22:41
Yeah. Well, listen, VAs can certainly—they’re a lot of help for people, but if you don’t manage them appropriately, they can undermine your success as well. We gotta remember to remind folks.

Dave Braun
02:22:52
Yeah. They can be a drain, for sure. Right?

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:22:54
It’s true. Because I mean, if you have to micromanage somebody and give them two detailed instructions or go back and look at their work three or four times, you might as well just do it yourself or find somebody that you can just trust and hand things off to. So there are lots of challenges too. And I’ve been through many people before I kind of arrived at some of the long-term people that I’m working on. I’ve been through many, many people that didn’t work out and created headaches.

Larry Broughton
02:23:19
Such a great point. You used one of the keywords that we like to kind of glam onto really quickly is the trust issue. And it’s encouraging to hear that you didn’t hire one person and they’ve been with you forever because it was sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, right out of the gate. We oftentimes are gonna have some misfires, hire the wrong people, learn from it. But are there specific things you do besides the initial, doing small projects and a little bit larger projects to build trust with your VAs?

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:23:53
Well, yeah. I mean, I do like to observe people, sometimes it’s hard to manage people when they’re remote. You don’t know exactly what they’re doing and how much time they’re spending on tasks and you know, things like that. And so something I always look out for would be integrity and consistency. That’s really important. Not just competence, it’s actually easier to find people with competence than it is to find people with integrity.

Larry Broughton
02:24:21
Oh, that’s such a great reminder.

Dave Braun
02:24:23
Great point. Yeah. That is really important.

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:24:26
And so competence is just a baseline, but I mean, it does take time to figure out, is this somebody, who has integrity, who takes pride in their work? And it can only be determined over time by observing them, watching to see if their words and actions are consistent. If they deliver on the promises, even if it’s like a small promise like I’ll email that to you by the end of today, but if I get it two days later or if I have to remind them the following day, that’s like a little issue. A little, but little issues are often a sign of larger issues to come.

Larry Broughton
02:25:06
One of the things I have to remind folks like I have a hotel company as well. And I mean, I have to remind supervisors and managers in my organization. I think it’s from Proverbs is like, it’s hard for me to trust you with big things if I can’t trust you with the small things. So if you’re gonna miss this deadline, it says with me, how do I know that you’re not missing deadlines with clients, which brings up the question that we get pretty regularly a few times a month. Do your VAs communicate directly with your clients or are you the buffer between them? Is everything funneled through you?

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:25:42
No. A couple of them do. So my web content person, and I specifically hire of them knowing that they will interact directly with clients. Most of my team members do not, but when I specifically hire a person, then it’s a different process of what I’m looking for. They have to have a very good telephone manner. Sure. They have to have a very good zoom manner or video conference, their emails have to be very courteous and professional and to the point and they just have to reflect kind of the brand of my company and communication is very important for client satisfaction. Again, doesn’t matter how competent you are if you’re not able to communicate properly. And so there are a couple of positions that our client-facing, and so then, not only do I look for competence and integrity, but they have to have just very good polished professional communication skills. And then I feel more comfortable with them emailing clients directly for content images, calling them up and staying in touch with clients and just getting things done.

Larry Broughton
02:26:50
Yeah. I think during the whole hiring process, this is one of the times where we can kind of figure some of this stuff out. And I remember several years ago, hiring looking for, for a VA and we are doing, might have been Skype, I think zoom wasn’t around at that point, but there were two different experiences when we were going through the hiring process. One is, the person looked like Sloth, just the way they sat, they leaned back and it’s like they didn’t even care. When you go to an interview, typically face to face, your hair is done, you’re wearing something that’s nice, you’re prepared. This person literally looked like they had just gotten up and like they could care less, great resume. And the other one was the background was a mess, dirty laundry in the back, animals running around. And I had to think, well, gosh, these people were gonna be client-facing. And I had to think if this is the best they got now, how are they gonna represent me and my company well, moving forward? And so I wanna encourage viewers and listeners to this that we’re not just hiring for competence. We’re not just hiring for integrity. You’re also hiring for — these people are gonna be a representation of who you are. All of this stuff comes into the picture during the hiring process.

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:28:19
Definitely. And it’s hard to find people that you can just trust implicitly and who connect and that you don’t even have to, you know, of course you have to have minimal supervision, but you just trust that everything is going smoothly with them.

Larry Broughton
02:28:32
I’m glad that you said that because I can think of— they’ve one client in particular, who’s frustrated that they’ve tried to hire a couple of people and they’re not perfect. So number one, there are no perfect VA’s out there, but number two, it’s hard to find them. So when you do find them, you need to do what you can to hang on to them, which means you might have to pay a little bit more. You treat them a little better. Because I’m glad to hear that—well, I wish it were easier. I wish that everybody we hired worked, but it is rare to find someone who’s kind of close to a complete package, right?

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:29:10
It is. Yeah. And then, like you said that once you do find that person and if they click and if they connect, then you do whatever you can to retain them.

Larry Broughton
02:29:17
Yeah.

Dave Braun
02:29:18
And it’s one of the things that I love about our course and community, especially our courses, we’ve got a lot of ways to shortcut to get through. I don’t know how to say the riff-raff to kind of make sure that the people that you talk to before you even talk to them, you’ve got a really good idea of their written skills, how they’re gonna present themselves in a video. All of that kind of stuff. Assuming that’s what you want. But you know, nothing ever is perfect and you don’t know them really until you start working with them. You can shortcut a lot of it, but you can’t do all of it. Right?

Navin Kulshreshtha
02:29:56
No. And anyone who’s client-facing, a lot of those soft skills become important. Spelling, grammar, punctuation in their emails, their email is professional. The little things that we didn’t think were important, but actually they are.

Dave Braun
03:30:11
Yeah. And I think there’s a balance also of how much you can teach versus how much is innate, internal with them. Like, I know Larry talks a lot about, and we have this in our course about, motivation, integrity, and capacity. Motivation to want to improve and the capacity to improve. And some folks will be able to make the adjustments and some won’t. Yeah. So it’s important, I think, as we are bringing people on our team to know the difference. And you’ve been doing this for a long time and you probably have a pretty good idea. You can get a pretty good idea pretty quick if these are the right folks for you.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:30:54
I pretty much can. I normally schedule the initial interview for like 30 minutes, but usually, within 15 minutes, I’m ready to either go on the small task or get off the call.

Dave Braun
03:31:06
So—

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:31:07
You kinda build up at that.

Dave Braun
03:31:09
Let me ask you that question. I mean, I’ve had that before too. And sometimes it’s not even, it’s like five minutes. It’s like, Hey, introduce myself, talk to you, ask the first question, their answer is basically Yes or No. I’m like, no.

Larry Broughton
03:31:24
You’re asking open-ended questions.

Dave Braun
03:31:26
Yeah. When you ask open-ended questions and they can’t, they just say yes or no kind of thing. Still, I mean, how do you—I don’t have a good answer to this. How do you get off of a half an hour call without feeling like you don’t want them to think that you’re rude? How do you exit sooner rather than later?

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:31:46
You know, the good thing is that even if it does go to like 20 minutes or 25 minutes, that’s okay. But typically at the end, I’ll ask some short questions and then I’ll basically say, okay, thank you for your time, and I will let you know. So it’s just kind of a very, you know, try not to be too abrupt, but just like a nice soft professional ending and then get off the call.

Larry Broughton
03:32:15
Dave, can I answer that question?

Dave Braun
03:32:17
Yeah. Go for it, Larry.

Larry Broughton
03:32:20
I’ve had this happen before. I bring it up with them, it’s like a getting to know you process. So if you ask two or three of these open-ended questions to give you a yes or no, then I would just say, Hey, you know, I’m trying to ask you some open-ended questions, and really I’m just getting you yes or no. Do you find interviews difficult to do? Tell me about that. Go on the journey. I think a mistake that a lot of folks do when they’re interviewing people is that they have these set interview questions that they have to hit. And when they aren’t checking the box, they don’t know what to do. We’re just trying to get to know somebody. And the questions that we have is pre-programmed, okay I think this is the path it’s gonna go. But I have no problem with calling people out.

Larry Broughton
03:33:05
One of the questions I asked years ago, I used to have a—when I’m hiring general managers and above in our organization. I have this process where I go, it’s like, Hey, we’re hiring you to be our vice president of operations. You’ve worked with rockstar vice presidents of operations in the past. And you’ve worked with some real bad ones, probably. Give me what you think are the top 10 qualities, characteristics, or skillsets for a rockstar director of operations. What do you think the top 10 are? And we write ’em down. And then I have them rank themselves on a 1 to 10 from it. And I always give the caveat. A ten is you have zero peers. You are the absolute best in the industry. That’s a ten and number one is I didn’t even know what that word means.

Larry Broughton
03:33:54
So I’m kind of guiding them a little bit. So if they give themselves a 10, they better be a 10. Well, this guy gave himself a ten and everything and I pushed him on it. I kept saying, really, if I walked out there right now, I couldn’t find one person who’s better than you on this. And that whole conversation, just how he took feedback and how he took a little bit of pushing really opened up my eyes to this person. So interviews are not just meant to be these written questions. But really, to get information from them, how do they respond to critiques or criticism. Better to find out in the interview process than the first time when they’re dealing with a client.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:34:32
Yeah. That’s actually a really good point. And you know, sometimes people are nervous when they come into the situation they’re nervous, they’re intimidated. And so we should at least give them a chance, at least ask them three times, the information that you’re trying to get.

Larry Broughton
03:34:48
Great point. Ask them three times. And trying to get ’em to relax.

Dave Braun
03:34:52
That’s one of the things we have in our interview guidelines it’s like, all right, everybody take a deep breath and this is gonna be fun or we’re gonna try to have some fun. Like you said, Larry, just a conversation, just put both of you at ease. Because especially—a lot of our clients that we use, it’s gonna be their first time in hiring a Virtual Assistant. So when they get on an interview and I remember this myself, getting on an interview, the first time is like, I’m as nervous as they are, it was like, what do I, this is weird.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:35:28
And so a lot of times the first five minutes, I don’t ask any tough questions, just smart, simple, try to keep it lighthearted. And interviewing is also a skill, you know? You’re trying to assess somebody like how they actually are in a short period of time. And that does require both of you to be kind of relaxed and comfortable.

Larry Broughton
03:35:50
Do you have a tidbit of advice for someone who has never had a VA before, but they are considering it?

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:35:57
I would say start small.

Larry Broughton
03:35:57
Any Nuggets?

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:35:58
Start small. So maybe take one aspect of your business that is causing you headaches that you would most like to outsource. Maybe it’s something like bookkeeping. If a small business person is kind of trying to keep up with their own books and they’re kind of getting lost in the tedium of the reconciliation, like this and that, maybe take one aspect of your business. And then find a person, maybe a part-time person who can do that and then work on your systems and your processes to assign and track and verify the work. And then once you’re comfortable with that, you could either increase that person’s workload or find another aspect of your business that you think you can possibly outsource.

speaker 3
03:36:45
Yeah. Very cool.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:36:47
So I, I would recommend that for anyone trying out a new venture if you’re just starting small and then refining and practicing, working on your skills, and then growing from there.

Larry Broughton
03:36:58
Yeah. I like that. Start small, start with one aspect of your business. Because if you’ve never managed remotely before and all of a sudden you come in and you hire 15 people who are gonna take over every piece of your business.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:37:15
Yeah. It can be a little bit overwhelming. And a lot of this is having the proper systems in place and it’ll take some tweaking and refining and experimentation before you’re fully happy with the full process.

Larry Broughton
03:37:28
What’s the longest tenure VA that you’ve got right now?

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:37:34
Let’s see, I’ve been working with one person for probably at least eight years now, eight or nine years.

Larry Broughton
03:37:41
And what do you do to what we call thrive? What do you do to you get somebody on board? Do you have specific systems task? Anything that helps people once they’re in the organization to grow with you or to ensure the longevity. It would be great, boy, if we had people that were around us for eight or ten years.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:38:05
Well, I think part of it is just respecting them as professionals, not like really treating them as let’s say employees or underlings, but more like partners. So they’re partners, I want them to succeed and of course, my success is tied into their success. And so part of that is compensation, making sure that they’re fairly compensated for their work and that if the project goes over time, I pay them more ar if our estimates were off and that it took double the work or triple the work, I make sure that they’re fairly compensated for their work. And then another part of it is giving them the necessary resources, whether it’s training. Sometimes I’ll sit down with somebody and train them. And so there are a lot of things that you can do aside from compensation to make people really enjoy working with you and wanting to continue working with you. So I think seeing them as partners, as opposed to, let’s say, contractors or workers, just seeing them as business partners shifts the mentality.

Larry Broughton
03:39:19
Yeah. Over the years I’ve realized that—I don’t think people put enough emphasis on our desires to become better at what we do. And so given that, then there aren’t enough business owners who value training their team members enough. Everyone wants to go home at night and feel like I’m a better professional today than I was yesterday.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:39:41
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
03:39:41
Thank you, Dave, thanks Navine for training me on this so that I can become better. That’s just not valued enough. I don’t think.

Navin Kulshreshtha
03:39:49
I agree. So professional development and giving them a space where they can actually grow and develop as professionals. Flexibility. And you know, when you have part-time VAs, it’s kind of given that there is a certain amount of flexibility. And they appreciate the flexibility of not being bound to things. And so if they have, like, one of my VAs right now is moving, she’s moving from one state to another and she’s pulling her hair out, and very stressed out. So I said, don’t worry about it, there’s nothing urgent. I can take care of the stuff that’s going on here. So I know that she’ll need a week or two to get settled. And I said, don’t worry about it. Just get back in touch once you’re settled. And so she appreciates little things like that. I respect her time. She said she had a previous boss that used to tell extra constantly after hours on weekends and then demand work in an unreasonable manner. So, demanding work to be done immediately when it’s not really that urgent, demanding after-hours work, weekend work when it’s not actually required. And so I don’t do that. You know, I like people to take their weekends off, you know, go spend time with your family.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:41:03
Yeah. And so respecting their time and their boundaries.

Larry Broughton
04:41:07
Yeah. This kind of goes back to the interview process. That’s one of the questions I like to ask candidates as well, as tell me about a boss or supervisor or someone you’ve worked for in the past where there were problems, where it just didn’t work out, where you wished it could have gone better. Tell me Don, I don’t need to know the person’s name. I don’t need to know what role it was in. But tell me about that experience. Tell me about someone you’ve worked with that’s been great and you love it. What happened there? Because then, we’re getting the nuggets of information that we need. Because if I am that person who I micromanage and I’m calling it at all hours and I’m just not gonna change. And I know this is not the person for me. I hope that makes sense.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:41:53
You know, they’re good experiences or bad experiences.

Larry Broughton
04:41:58
Yeah. And encouraged honesty by the way.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:42:02
Yeah. And so that has been kind of—that’s worked very well. And then also just respecting their skills and their talents and kind of appreciating what they bring to the table.

Larry Broughton
04:42:15
It’s funny, you know, just the verbal acknowledgment, Hey, we couldn’t do as an organization, what we do without you. Thank you for the talent that you’re bringing. Dave, is really good with that with, with his team. So I totally agree, people need words of encouragement. Surely it helps, is what I say. Surely, it helps.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:42:37
People like having an impact about more than compensation, it’s about development and also having an impact on the company, but then also on clients. People like it when their work makes a difference in other people’s lives, it’s actually fulfilling.

Larry Broughton
04:42:54
Yeah.

Dave Braun
04:42:56
When we do surveys and get client feedback, both the goods and the bads, we always celebrate and we always use that as a team not to improve, but also because we do a good job. We always look at that and it really is encouraging because my team knows exactly how much of an impact that they do make on the clients. And they do.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:43:19
And I know, Dave that you’re overall a very positive and uplifting person. And so that also helps when people are working in an environment that’s positive and uplifting. It makes a world of difference than when you’re in a toxic negative environment every day. Doesn’t matter how much money you’re making, if you’re in a toxic environment, it brings you down.

Dave Braun
04:43:42
Oh yeah, for sure. Well Navine, do you have any questions or any other thoughts for us? Because we should probably bring this to a close, but it’s been awesome. Do you have any other thoughts or anything for us, and then ask us the last question or two, and then we’ll let you give yourself a plug.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:44:00
I do. So I know that one of the things that you guys specialize in is finding VAs from the Philippines, part-time or full-time. And so, let’s say you wanted to have like a daily meeting with someone in the Philippines and then your work schedule doesn’t really correlate with their work schedule. Because I know Dave, I think you might even have like daily meetings with some of your VAs. So how does that work in terms of the time zone?

Dave Braun
04:44:29
Yeah. That’s a really good question. So, the way we normally do that is we establish from the get-go. So when we hire somebody, we say, Hey, I need a minimum overlap time a day. If that’s what you want if that’s the way you want. So we establish it from the get-go. You gotta work from like right now, this is daylight say savings time. So like, I usually say 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, that’s one option. And so 2:00 PM our time is 5:00 AM their time. The other option would be 8:00 AM our time to 11:00 AM our time, which is, I don’t know, 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM. So it ends up being what their option is, what they would want to do. So you establish that upfront and say, Hey, I need a minimum overlap. Now, you couldn’t have been saying, I just need an overlap for two days a week.

Dave Braun
04:45:24
It kind of depends. So we have actually recently switched, we’re doing our overlap from 2-5 every day and we were doing daily meetings. We aren’t at this point, I think we’re probably gonna go, we may do that again. Certain things that you do like that they can kind of wear off in their effectiveness. They can become a little bit of a burden. It’s like, oh my gosh, we’re meeting it today again. And again, I think, Larry, you can chime in on this. But I think from my experience, a lot of times it’s good to have a daily meeting if you’ve got some really important project to do, unless, you’re all just working the same time anyway. And then you all get together and communicate during those times.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:46:14
And so right now you’re not doing the daily meetings? Your time would be 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, which would be 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM in the Philippines, but not every day?

Dave Braun
04:46:22
Yeah. And I could reinstitute that, but it was getting to be to where— maybe it was probably my problem in running it because I let them go on too long and we would start delving in the problems and solving them as opposed to saying, go do your stuff and then come back on and solve them, or talk to me later if you need some help.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:46:51
Okay. And so I guess on their end, they just have to accept that they’ll be getting up early on those days.

Larry Broughton
04:46:58
Well, some people like that.

Dave Braun
04:47:00
Yeah.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:47:01
Some people may—

Larry Broughton
04:47:01
Like, they may have another gig or they may have family obligations. So I think during the interview process, or even when you’re doing the job posting, you say, this is what we’re looking for. You know, like we got a VA who likes to work at night.

Dave Braun
04:47:15
Right,

Larry Broughton
04:47:15
Right. Work, the overnight shift.

Dave Braun
04:47:17
Yeah, or they like to work at night or at least you tell ’em that I need this amount of overlap. And it does help. And even though you don’t meet every day, if you have that overlapping, you know, that’s there, you know that, okay, now I can go in my project management, I can go text them, not text them, but slack ’em or whatever. And we can get on a quick call and, and resolve some stuff.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:47:42
Okay.

Dave Braun
04:47:43
The other thing too, it’s man, it’s such a balance Navine. There are times when like right now, we’ve shifted a little bit and Daph, used to work at night, but now she’s starting at 2:00 PM. Brian is now starting at about 11:00 AM my time. And what I’m finding kind of refreshing on that is I’ve got that morning time where they’re not bugging me for anything.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:48:11
Yeah. I like to keep my mornings free. That’s when I kinda like to do my own deep work.

Dave Braun
04:48:15
Yeah, go ahead, Larry.

Larry Broughton
04:48:18
We’re building these businesses to create freedom for ourselves.

Dave Braun
04:48:22
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
04:48:23
And so I think we need to set the VAs up, how we hire them, how we communicate with them on what’s gonna work best for us. There are some business owners, some of us aren’t better morning people or evening people or whatever it is, but you gotta do a little bit of analysis on yourself, stare at your neighbor a little bit and say, okay, what’s gonna work best for me. And then go out and hire people. The great thing is there are a billion people out there who are potential candidates when you start looking around the world to fill these positions.

Dave Braun
04:48:51
And it’s hard to really know yourself and what you like until you go into the process and start working with a VA or two. And even then you find that, ah, I need to switch things up a little bit. You know, for yourself. So I mean, it’s a constant adjustment, at least for those of us who like to feel like we are productive constantly and playing at the top of our game all the time. And so there’s this constant adjustment.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:49:21
Okay.

Dave Braun
04:49:22
Did that answer your question at all?

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:49:23
It does. I think, first of all, you need to have self knowledge, understand what works for you, be upfront about it and then find somebody who may matches that criteria.

Dave Braun
04:49:33
Yeah.

Navin Kulshreshtha
04:49:34
I guess it gets tricky, if later on, you need to change things up, then hopefully it works for them as well.

Dave Braun
04:49:40
And the other thing you have to be aware of is that, if they have to get up at 5:00 AM and they are not mourning people, you won’t be getting the best of them when they are overlapping. So your, daily meetings or whatever would end up being—it just might be like a review. You’re not gonna solve any tough problems or anything during that time.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:50:03
Right. And then maybe it’s not a daily. Maybe you’re like, well, we need to meet at least once a week at this time or maybe we need to meet two or three times a week. That’s a little bit more tolerable.

Dave Braun
05:50:13
Yeah. You could do like a Monday and Thursday or something like that and try it out. See what works best for you. Like Larry said, see what works best for you, Navine.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:50:21
Yeah. Well, thanks. That’s actually very helpful. I appreciate it.

Larry Broughton
05:50:24
Well, we appreciate you coming on here and sharing your experience.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:50:29
A pleasure.

Larry Broughton
05:50:30
Is there a way someplace people can follow you online, website, or people would like your services? How can people follow you?

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:50:38
Yeah. My website is Devistudios.com. So it’s D-E-V-I and then studios.com. So I do web design, video production, digital marketing, and I have clients actually all over the country.

Larry Broughton
05:50:51
Great. Well, we’ll put that in the show notes, for sure. Any social media you wanna plug? If not, then no big deal.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:50:57
On YouTube, I am known as the web guru. Yeah, the web Guus. That’s where I post my tutorial video. So I’m almost up to 2000 subscribers.

Larry Broughton
05:51:06
Nice. Congratulations on that. That’s good.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:51:09
So it’s growing slowly, slowly and steadily.

Larry Broughton
05:51:12
All right. Well, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. Appreciate your insight. You had some great nuggets in here, man.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:51:18
Yeah. Well, thanks a lot guys. Anytime.

Dave Braun
05:51:20
Awesome, Navine. Appreciate you being on.

Navin Kulshreshtha
05:51:22
Yeah. Take care.

Dave Braun
05:51:24
Well, thank you everybody for joining us today. Remember building a team is the way to reclaim your freedom as Navine has done and is doing. But we are here to help you guys, this conversation was awesome. I hope you got some tidbits out of it. I know I did, but three things that we’d love for you to do, and we’d really appreciate it. Number one, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already done so. Number two, give us a rating. Preferably five stars, and then number three, go to Hiremyva.com for more information on our amazing course and community. Because remember, even without experience, you’ll learn how to prepare for hire and thrive with Virtual assistants. Larry and I have helped a lot of folks and we’d love to help you too. So just go to Hiremyva.com for more information.

Larry Broughton
05:52:11
That’s right. Hey, do yourself a favor. Do the world a favor, go do something significant today, my friends. Make sure and get down there and join the community. Share your experiences. And with that, I’ll just say this, God bless you. God keep you. God hold you. Now, go do something significant today. Go get ’em.

Dave Braun
05:52:27
All right. Bye, everybody.

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