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Lacey Ring-Verbik from Imagine Virtual Assistant Services tells her story leaving the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom and then a successful entrepreneur of the virtual assistant world.

Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Lara Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now, here’s your host, Lara Jaye.

Lara Jaye:Welcome to The Zen Leader. I’m your host, Lara Jaye, international best-selling author, speaker, and spiritual mentor. Through my speaking, coaching programs, and radio show I help you courageously live life intentionally

My guest today in the studio is a good friend and coworker, and I’m so excited to have her with me today – Lacey Ring-Verbik. Lacy is the founder and CEO of Imagine Virtual Assistant Services. She is a Purdue University graduate and enjoys life on her little urban homestead in Indianapolis, Indiana, along with her son, daughter, and husband, Bob. She puts her 12 years of operational know-how to work for her clients every single day, weaving in other passion for outstanding customer care. She began her business almost 4 years ago, with the goal of creating a more flexible lifestyle. She has held the opportunity to mentor and cultivate other women seeking alternatives to the traditional 9 to 5 brick and mortar work model. Now a multi-VA team, Lacey’s focus has shifted from supporting solopreneurs with a proven system for getting their systems in order, and we are going to talk about all of this fun stuff today. Lacey, welcome to Florida.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Thank you so much. I am delighted to be here with you.

Lara:I am so excited to have you here with me in the studio. We are going to start with something fun. I love the name of your company – Imagine Virtual Assistant.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, thank you.

Lara:It is such fun. Tell me, what is a virtual assistant? What is a VA?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Great question. A great place to start. A VA is a professional outsourced service provider that offers marketing, administrative, or creative support services from a remote office.

Lara:So, you can be anywhere?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Anywhere. On the beach in Siesta Key.

Lara:And that’s what you were doing this morning, right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:It is. Indeed. Indeed. Indeed.

Lara:I know a couple weeks ago, you and I were on the phone. You were at the park with your kids. You know? This is how it should be. Right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I call it a freestyle lifestyle.

Lara:Freestyle. So, is it always that way?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Absolutely not. No. I wish.

Lara:You wish. Right.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:But it’s something I’ve worked pretty hard to grow in to, so I’m feeling very blessed right now in my career and in my work. I’m thrilled to be with you.

Lara:I’m glad you came down to play on Siesta Key with me and hang out with me this week.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I’m so grateful for having the opportunity.

Lara:We’re having so much fun. So, VA – virtual assistance. Does that mean you have clients from all over the country and you, yourself, physically, for the most part, are generally located in Indiana. Correct?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:That’s correct. Yes. I have clients in the United States as well as abroad. I have a few in Australia and I’ve had one in Great Britain, once before.

Lara:Nice.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. I am centrally located in Indianapolis, but I travel as much as possible. I recently, about a year ago, established a professional office outside of my home, and I also have a fully functioning home office, where I can have that flex time with kids and family.

Lara:And also work from Parker Beach. Whatever you have to do, right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. I take my computer everywhere.

Lara:That’s right. There’s pros and cons to that, isn’t there? We’re going to talk about all of that today. Right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Right.

Lara:So, virtual assistant. I still go back to that and sometimes people say, “What’s a VA?” and you said it’s outsourcing. Is it like hiring a secretary? How is it different?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, I would say there are three main differences. The first one would be that it’s location independent. I don’t have to be in a person’s physical office to support their business. As you mentioned, I was on the beach, playing this morning and working. The work can pretty much happen anywhere. So, location is a big one.

The second one, I would say, is the second difference would be constant overhead. When you work with an in-office assistant, you have to pay for equipment. You have to pay for time off. You have to pay for healthcare benefits. Those sorts of things. When you’re working with a VA, we are already business owners, so we take care of all of our own equipment. We are already businesses. You don’t pay us benefits. You don’t pay us holiday time off, things like that.

Lara:So it’s more like a consultant?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Yeah. You can relate it to a consultant.

Lara:Is it the W9 that you would fill out?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:It’s all 1099, W9, absolutely. Yep.

Lara:At the end of the year.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I’m a contractor for these businesses I support.

Lara:You’re a contractor for the business.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes.

Lara:If I hired you or somebody wanted to hire you and they needed you from 12-4 every Monday, or they had certain work that they wanted you to do, can they pick when you do the work or no? How does that work?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Great question. Well, there are VAs out there in this world who will work on certain timelines, in tight schedules. I choose to manage my time a little more open-ended, where the clients come to me and say, “I need to get this done.” We set up a timeline, we set up milestones, the deadline, those types of things. Then I accomplish the work on my terms. The work is done, generally, during business hours but whenever I get the work done is when it gets done and the client is well aware of that in advance.

I typically hold down an 8-4 or 9-5 kind of a “business day” in terms of phone calls, emails, correspondence, things like that. But I am often working on projects into the evening, when there’s quiet time or when I feel the most energetic or inspired. You know?

Lara:Sure. And you, yourself, have staff all over the world. Not just clients all over the world, but your staff is all over.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:That’s true. That’s true. I have a contractor who does a lot of wonderful support functions for us that is in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’d love to take a little business trip out there to see her.

Lara:Darn. We need to plan that, Lacey. Right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. Then probably my longest standing contractor is a social media manager and she’s actually in Australia, outside of Melbourne.

Lara:I think that needs to be a definite trip. We need to go visit her.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s been… the virtual nature of our work allows us to pretty much work with anyone, anywhere.

Lara:So, I’ve got to know. You’re sitting on the beach this morning. Don’t you feel guilty?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:[LAUGHTER]

Lara:Are you feeling guilty?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:No.

Lara:Okay.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:No. Actually, I was feeling extremely grateful and just really appreciating the abundance that I have that has allowed me to be here and take that walk on the beach at 9 a.m., without worry.

Lara:Take that walk and sit down and open your computer, answer some emails. Didn’t you find that just sitting there in that space, that creative space of God’s creation — the world, the ocean — in front of that, it was different than sitting in a closed room desk?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Oh, yes. I mean, from a creativity standpoint, I sat down and I wrote three pages of notes in the matter of a few moments. I was actually preparing for doing some preparation for the show, even. I found that I wrote so much more easily and so much more…

Lara:It just flowed, didn’t it? It just starts coming.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. So much more from the heart, so much more… it came so much more easily to me in that environment and I wrote so quickly. It was like a channel had been opened.

Lara:Nice.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Just being out in Mother Earth and being in nature.

Lara:Just being out there.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. I kept saying, “Wow! I am so grateful.” I noticed I said it a few times, to myself, how incredible it is that I can be here and do this now and then I have the opportunity to flex and travel.

Lara:And travel. I love writing on the beach and writing when I’m in the woods or hiking or whatever. I get so inspired in nature and it’s hard to describe that unless you’ve actually experienced it. It’s exciting for me to hear you talk about it like that, too. I know you took your flute out there. Tell me about that. [LAUGHTER]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I did. [LAUGHTER] So, I recently have taken up a hobby, I guess, of playing the Native American flute. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for 10 or 15 years and I’ve always sort of walked past the opportunity.

Lara:It took you 10 years to buy a flute.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:To buy a flute. It did.

Lara:It took that long to put yourself first and buy a flute.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:It did. They’re a relatively expensive little toy and so it took me a while to decide I was worth it, but I finally did invest in that, and it’s just an outlet for me and a way to express myself, and feel close to Mother Earth, and just be musical again. I was an instrumentalist in high school and even in to college and things like that. I was in Band and all those fun things, but then I sort of lost touch with music, instruments, and things. My daughter, who is 12 years old, has started to really enjoy music and is playing the clarinet, and I’m super proud of her.

Lara:Yay! Now you can play along with her.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. She sort of inspired me to get back to that. I love my flute. I caught a few strange looks this morning, but I went with it anyways.

Lara:Hey, that’s what Siesta is. There’s… you know what? [LAUGHTER] It’s all good. There’s everything on Siesta. You can experience it all. [00:10:00]

I love my morning walks. I was telling you the other day that sometimes people are writing, they’re jogging, they’re playing guitar. Everything along the way in the mornings and evenings at sunset. That’s what I love. It’s such a creative little spot, just getting out there. Do you find that refuels you for your business?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Absolutely. Yeah. Coming in to a day well prepared for is just one of the best things in life. To just get up in the morning and go straight to work is just so, so, so drying, so taxing. If I don’t take the time for me, by the end of the day, I’m shot. By 5 o’clock, I’m shot.

Lara:The energy drains you if you’re not filling yourself up first.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. So, I take a lot of time. I tend to focus on me for a little bit — an hour or two — in the morning and that really gets me in position to give and do my best for all of my clients.

Lara:We are going to talk more about what you do to take care of you and all of your services and everything, Lacey, as soon as we come back from break. We’ll be right back.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader. You can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com. With me here in the studio is Lacey Ring-Verbik from Imagine Virtual Assistant. Lacey, where can people find you on the web?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. Great question. My web address is www.imaginevas.comand we’d love to have you check it out.

Lara:Great. Lacey, let’s go back to… we talked about VA, what a VA is, and how it’s different from having a normal secretary or administrative, and there’s so many things that you do; not just answer phones or whatever, but you can answer phones for people and you can answer peoples’ emails, but tell me about some of your services because they’re amazing.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Thank you. I’d love to. There’s quite a long list, but I’ll highlight a few. Some of our more major services would be marketing campaign support and implementation. A lot of clients come to us and they have a strategy in place. They have this big marketing idea and they struggle to implement it, so we step in and provide support with setting up new systems, new tools, importing lists, exporting lists. Things like that. So, marketing campaign support is a big one.

Social media management is another one that has become very popular in recent years. We do a lot of that for our clients. We really enjoy that. I guess the next big one, I would say, is CRM set up.

Lara:What’s a CRM? A lot of people don’t know what that is.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Sure. Great question. A CRM is a customer relationship management tool. It’s typically a piece of software. There are many of them out there, from the very simple to the very robust, and we help our clients put that… it’s a big tool, so we help our clients collect their information, create some processes and systems around a CRM, then implement those tools. Those tools are most helpful for managing lists of prospects or current clients, previous clients. Things like that. It also, typically, has an email marketing component built in, so we help them create newsletters, templates, designs. Things like that, that they can use for selling, keeping in touch with their tribes. So, CRM is a big one. Probably two more here.

Basic graphic design. We have a lot of clients come to us with needs for imagery, graphics, things to use on social media, things to use on their website. We’ve been approached for ebooks, all sorts of marketing-related material that they need graphic design help with. So, we have a graphic designer contractor that works very closely with our team.

Lara:I know you also help people update websites. You do so many things. You helped, I know, a friend of mine with some video stuff.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. Yes.

Lara:That was a blast.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Our video animation software package that we use to create those intros and outros, and transitions, and logo stingers, and things like that have been really fun and it’s our big deal right now. Video in marketing is huge.

Lara:It is. We’ve got to have video out there, don’t we, for our businesses?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. We’re enjoying supporting our clients when they’re moving in that direction.

Lara:I love it. That’s so much fun. Who are some of your clients? What do they do?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Sure. Many of our clients… I kind of lump them in to one, big category and call them “Helping Professionals,” but many of our clients are coaches, many are authors, many are speakers. We work with a couple of lawyers. Let’s see… who else? We had a plumber. A plumber.

Lara:A plumber. Any insurance agents?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Not working with insurance agents right now.

Lara:So, anybody who needs support?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Really, the majority of the folks we’re serving are solopreneurs or they are very small, 5 folks or less, kind of businesses. Solopreneurs is probably the biggest one. I work with some licensed clinical social workers, some counselors, people working in the mental health field. Actually, our latest client is a financial advisor, so that’s a new area for us.

Lara:Your coaches are in all different fields. Again, not just local; they’re from all over the world, which I love. That’s why you’re a virtual assistant.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. Yes. It’s been a real adventure for us to start working with folks from all over the country and all over the world because we learn new things each and every time, and everyone has different cultural norms with regard to work.

Lara:I hadn’t even thought about that. Right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. We deal with folks with all sorts of different makes and models and backgrounds. It keeps us on our toes and it’s new and different every day.

Lara:Literally.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I love that.

Lara:So, systems. We need to talk about systems because that’s like the number one thing all of us business owners… like if we have our systems in place, then we can rock and roll and stay in our genius. I’m really super creative. I want to be organized when I’m really super creative. So to combine those two, can you get me a creative, organized system for my mess?

[LAUGHTER]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Can I help you implement a system that’s both creative and organized?

Lara:Yes. There you go. There you go.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I think so. I think so. What we’ve found with our clients is they generally are going through each and every day in their genius, doing exactly what they do, and they find that they are unable to make time, and capture all of the other components that are involved in running a business. The marketing stuff, the social media stuff – the social media is a huge one that these folks we’re serving just really can’t energetically get to that. Right? So, they have difficulty with social media. Probably the biggest one they struggle with – administrative. The paying the bills, the responding to emails. The simple things.

Lara:The simple things suck our energy and our life, and then we can’t, entrepreneurs, stay in their genius, so you can help support them. Do you build the systems for them or do you do the work for them? How does that work?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:We have a system that we use to help our clients and we generally will provide the structure and the outline and then we can be with them, sort of in a consultative role, to help them implement. So, yes, we do get involved, but we don’t do it for them. That would be taking away some of the value of a system. They have to know, understand, and own their own systems in order for them to move forward. We may not be their VA forever. They may not have the same brand forever. They may not even be in the same business in 5 years. So, the systems that we are helping our clients create are pick ‘em up and move ‘em systems. So, the client has to understand it, not just have us come in and do it for them.

Lara:I like that.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Our system is called the Pathfinder system and there are five steps. If you don’t mind, I’ll run through those five steps.

Lara:Go right ahead.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:The first step in the Pathfinder system is to take an inventory. So, to sit down and say, “Okay. Where do I have stacks of paper?”

Lara:Help!

Lacey Ring-Verbik:“Where do I have things that I haven’t seen in 5 years?” “Where are my fires?” Kind of just triage, maybe, is the right word.

Lara:Sure.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Where is everything? Okay? So, we take an inventory. Number Two is to lay out the path. We lay out the path forward, actually, is the way we typically talk about it. “Forward” is an important word because that’s where we’re going. We’re not just laying out a path and saying, “Okay, now it’s on paper.” We’re actually taking steps forward, on a path. [00:20:00]It’s a plan. I call it a “path,” but it’s a plan. Everybody needs a plan.

Lara:We do.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I find that clients have what they need to formulate this plan; they just need someone to come alongside them and support, and listen, and guide, and suggest. They know what they need to do, most of the time. It’s just a matter of somebody coming in to support and say, “Yeah, I’m with you. Let’s talk about it.”

Lara:Exactly.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Bounce ideas off, that sort of thing. Then Number Three step in our system is to schedule it. We help our clients lay out a plan, a yearlong, scheduled out, “We’re going to do this on this date. We’re going to move this forward on this date. This is the campaign we’re going to run this month or this holiday.” We schedule it all out and we do that together.

Then Step Four is to take action. Obviously. Action is always the most important part. Right?

Lara:The work part.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Right. The hard work part, but that’s Step Four. Then, of course, Step Five, we look back and we evaluate the action, all the work we’ve done, and we will celebrate, first of all. Then, also, maybe make some course corrections along the way. “What would I do differently if I did that again?” So, the evaluation piece is always huge.

Lara:And haven’t you found with each of your clients, everyone is different and works differently. Some more digitally, some more paper, and you have to… so, every single person needs something different.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. That may be a little bit of my genius, if I could be so bold.

Lara:Yes. Please.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Because I use both Microsoft and Mac computers. You don’t think about some of these details, but you’re right. Some people, paper calendars. Some people are Mac only. Some people are PC only. There is a lot of cloud-based tools and systems out there now that are kind of more specific to one operating system or another. There are a million different website platforms out there. If you know one, you may not know the other.

We have — I — over 4 years, have spent a lot of time understanding as many different systems, and as many different tools, and as many different software programs as possible so that when clients express a need, hopefully I already have a familiarity and I can just take that to the next level, based on their questions. But I learn software programs easily and I can shift around easily to a lot of those different kinds of things, so it helps me serve the clients with their variety of needs. That is part of what’s fun.

Lara:And you’re super organized, but I know you have that creative, fun, fiery redhead side, too, of you that can take it all.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, you know, I typically have to put my organizational skills to work in those conversations with clients, but a little fun and a little enthusiasm for the work, I find, goes a long way. Clients sort of get lost in their mess or in their situation and I can come in, throw a little energy on it.

Lara:Yay! Save the day!

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I put a little icing in there and, all the sudden, we have a cake. It’s wonderful to see and I love supporting my clients that way.

Lara:Awesome. We’re going to take a break and we’ll be right back with Lacey and The Zen Leader.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand you can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com. My guest today, Lacey with Imagine Virtual Assistant. Lacey, the website again is www.imaginevas.comIs that correct?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:That’s correct. www.imaginevas.com. Come and visit us.

Lara:Yay! We will, we will. One of the questions I’m sure you always get asked about is time management. How do I manage my time? Do you have any top tips or tools or anything that you can help?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Bestow upon you? Yeah! I would love to! My top tip for you today probably would be time blocking. This is a technique I use during my day to make the most of the hours and half an hours that I have to work with. As you know, many of us work 8 to 5 or 9 to 5, but we don’t actually get 8 hours’ work in. Right? I find that my day actually generally breaks down to 4 or 5 hours of actual work, if I consider an 8- or 9-hour day.

With those 4- or 5-hour days, I make the most of them by breaking them p in to time blocks. So, maybe a 30-minute time block or it may be an hour time block and I designate that time specifically for working on that project and I don’t do anything else.

Lara:So, you don’t answer emails or you don’t answer the phone.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I don’t answer my phone. I do not look at my emails.

Lara:What? You really do it?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I close the door. I completely shut myself off and I work on just that thing for that period of time. That time blocking technique is actually related to another piece of wisdom I stumbled across along the way, called the Pomodoro Method.

Lara:What’s that?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:  The Pomodoro Method is a philosophy that our minds can really only intensely focus for 25 minutes and then they have to take a 5-minute break. So, I block in half an hour blocks in my schedule and then I have a timer that… you can find timers online for the Pomodoro Method. It’s a timer. It’s a little software thing on your computer that you install. I start the timer and then the timer dings when 25 minutes is up. I get up, take a break, come back. So, I intensely focus for 25 minutes, get up, rest my brain, come back, and intensely focus for another 25 minutes.

I have so many clients that I’m constantly shifting from one thing to another and that’s actually terrible for productivity. Most experts would tell you that that’s terrible for productivity, so this Pomodoro Method helps me shut it off. Shut that one off. Okay. I did 25 minutes on that one. Now, moving on to the next one.

Lara:Move on to the next client.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes.

Lara:Who can be completely different and a completely different project.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. Yes. But that 5-minute break kind of gives me the change to reset my brain and I’m back at it. I find that I am 10 hours’ worth of productive in 5 hours using that method. So, that’s a big one that I would recommend. Having a workflow… that word is kind of a big buzz word right now.

Lara:What is a workflow?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Having a workflow, which means you have a process for taking in tasks, putting tasks in a queue or telling yourself when those tasks are going to be done, and then working through those tasks and completing them. Sort of on a first come, first serve basis. Right? So, workflow. There are a lot of workflow tools out there. My personal favorite is Trello. I use Trello to move task cards through my week and I identify a particular task that has a due date of Wednesday, and I put it on Wednesday, and then I move it to “done” as it’s done. Everybody has to have a different workflow system, and Trello does not work for everybody, but just having a workflow can be such a huge timesaver.

Lara:Nice. What is your biggest challenge your clients face when working with a VA?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Oh, boy. There’s a lot of those.

Lara:Do they have any challenges?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:The biggest one I would identify is delegation. People want to delegate. They know they need to, but they don’t know how. We work with our clients quite a bit, especially in the beginning, to help them understand what is the best way to communicate the information, what is the best frequency, what is the best time of day to deliver information to us.

We also listen to them talk about their routines and rituals. Are you an early bird? Do you work until 11 o’clock at night? What are expectations that you’ve had from previous support people? That sort of stuff. So, we work together with them to get them to a place of better delegation. Generally, it takes about 2 months for people to warm up to the idea that there is someone very capable on the other end of the line and all they have to do is let it go.

Lara:Ooh, that’s hard.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:But we can’t fix people who can’t let it go.

Lara:Right.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. We’ll be engaged with someone and they just find it too difficult to let things go. On the other hand, some clients, we start to work with them and they are expert delegators within 1 week. So, it’s a personality… it’s a part of their personality. Not everyone can do it. That’s probably the biggest challenge we face is figuring out their delegation style. [00:30:00]

Lara:Because all of them are different.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. And helping them do more with that, be better at that.

Lara:Well, and that helps you as they can hire you each month. Do they give you the projects ahead of time for the month? How does that work?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Oftentimes, our clients are on… we offer a retainer, which is a paid-in-advance commitment, monthly, with us for services. They will, many times, prepare — the good delegators — those projects in advance and then we simply work on those projects through the month, until completion.

Lara:So you know the month ahead, generally, what your jobs are.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Yeah.

Lara:How awesome.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Things crop up during the month as well.

Lara:Sure.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:We, of course, will handle that, handle things on the fly, but those folks… it takes a lot of planning in advance to delegate well. It takes a lot of planning in advance. That’s a commitment that someone who is considering working with a VA needs to know that upfront is it’s not going to be an immediate relief. It takes a little bit of time to properly train the person to come up with a delegated process that works between you and your support person, you and your VA. It’s usually about a month of onboarding and getting to know each other, and understanding systems.

Lara:It’s the same if they hire someone in.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:It is.

Lara:It’s the same.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Typically, actually, I find that virtual assistants can come onboard more quickly than even an in-house employee can.

Lara:And why do you say that? Why do you say it?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Because we are already doing many of the same practices for all these other clients, in different industries, and different capacities.

Lara:You’re already experts at all of these systems.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Right. There’s no learning curve on these systems. Whereas if you brought a new employee in to the mix, they only know what they did for their last employer and you’ve got a lot of teaching to do. VAs are already up to speed and that’s one of the things that makes us great.

Lara:Is this a new, emerging field, VAs?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Virtual assistance is really about 15 to 20 years old, as an industry. It’s an international industry. It’s very big in other parts of the world, believe it or not. I’m in the Midwest, in Indiana, so we’re sort of one of the last areas to really come around with this concept.

Lara:Indiana is always a little behind.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah.

Lara:We’re getting there!

[LAUGHTER]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. It’s not a new thing. It continues to evolve. It started out, I think, very misunderstood and now it’s becoming quite a bit more mainstream. People are talking about outsourcing. People are talking about virtual teams and location-independent lifestyles. Thanks to the Internet technology and things that we have, it’s all extremely possible and people are really beginning to get excited about it. There’s a lot of buzz.

Lara:One of my things is I want to be able to see the person. We can do that now with Facetime and Zoom, and Skype, and have meetings like that. It’s like, I want to be in-person with people.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. I couldn’t agree more and, actually, that’s one of the things that, if it came up in our conversation today, a recommendation for working with a virtual assistant, what I was going to give advice on is the number one thing you should do is stay in face-to-face contact with your virtual assistant – doing those Zoom calls. I call them “monthly check-in calls” with my clients. That is the number one relationship builder thing that you can do to keep your VA happy, first of all. To keep your VA informed. To keep you in a trusting place with that VA. Nothing is more important than that.

Yes, they’re virtual. Yes, they’re not in your office. They don’t have to be. It’s a beautiful thing, but you still need to have a relationship with them.

Lara:You do. They’re real people and they’re working for you and want to help you meet your goals.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Absolutely.

Lara:And that’s, I feel like, so important. We’re going to take a break right now and we’ll be right back with The Zen Leader.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand you can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com,and you can find my guest at www.imaginevas.com. Lacey, we’ve had a great time in the other segments talking about what you do. It’s so unique and amazing and I love it. But tell me – how did you get started in this?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Great, great questions. I had a 12.5-year corporate career with Marriott International. I was in Hospitality Sales and Marketing. While I absolutely loved that, it’s a very intense industry and I decided to start my family, and the 80 hours a week and all of that just really didn’t align.

Lara:Would that cause a problem, 80 hours? I don’t know why. [CHUCKLE]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yes. With what I was thinking I wanted from a family standpoint. So, as we started our family, I transitioned away from that and started actually working as a florist, which was a wonderful little joy job.

Lara:There you have it. You’re creative…

Lacey Ring-Verbik:As my family grew and then when my daughter was born, my son was born, and then I decided that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom and I did that for 3.5 years with my children and my son, who is the youngest. Then I kind of got the bug again, the work bug, the corporate bug. I decided to go back to Marriott International and I did. I worked in a remote administrative role, where I was actually supporting a remote team of 5 people and I was in a hotel office, but I was essentially virtual. That’s really what started it all was I kind of got bitten by the bug.

Lara:The virtual bug.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:The virtual bug that I don’t really have to be with these people in order to support them administratively and a lightbulb went off one day and I said, “You know what? I don’t have to do this for anybody else. I can do this for me.” And I did. So, that’s how I got started.

Lara:I love it. I love it. Were you working a lot of hours in that second stint at Marriott?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I was.

Lara:Time away from the kids. That’s hard.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, my kids were very small at that point and I realized that I didn’t want to be away from them as much as this was requiring me to be away from them, so I put an end to that and started my own business in the early part of 2013.

Lara:So, when you started this, were you actually thinking, “I’m going to be sitting on a beach, working”? Did you have that in the back of your mind yet?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I had hoped for that.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I had hoped for that and look what just happened.

Lara:I know. You never know.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:This week, I achieved my vision. But, honestly, I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work, and it surprised me with being even more hard work than I thought it was going to be. But it’s a blessing and it’s fun. It keeps me motivated. It keeps me busy. It turns out I’m one of those people that if I’m quiet, if I’m slow, I’m worthless. I’m better 100 miles per hour and just let things keep coming at me, and the more I’m doing, the happier I am.

Lara:I don’t think I’ve ever seen you at 80 miles an hour. You’re always at 100.

[LAUGHTER]

Lara:Just saying.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, thank you.

Lara:Yeah. It’s all good. Well, I love what you just brought up because people in the corporate world think, “I would so love to be an entrepreneur and have that freedom to be able to sit on the beach,” like you did this morning. And I do. Yesterday, you and I had an amazing day kayaking. I was taking phone calls. I don’t know if you saw me back there.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:No.

Lara:I was in the back. That’s when I stopped paddling. I’m in the back, taking a couple of business phone calls while you and I are out on our kayaking adventure, on Leo and I’m like, “This is the life. How amazing is this that we can do this, thanks to technology?”

At first, I was feeling really guilty and like I want to be present. That’s part of it. Okay? Then here comes all of the guilt. I’m trying to balance everything. I still need to have fun. My friend is in town. I want to go play. I got a couple of phone calls that were coming in or we can do emails while we are kayaking. So, there’s that part of it.

At the same time, we have some guilt on us. You’re away from your kids this week. You know? It’s hard. It’s hard leaving our kiddos. It’s hard running a business, especially a woman-owned business, being out there, trying to do it all. You know? So, are you perfect at balancing everything? Are you one of those?

[LAUGHTER]

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I wish! It’s funny but the tagline for my business is “Finding balance in business.” Balance really has been my mantra this whole time, from the very beginning. The reason I left my corporate career was balance. I wanted work/life balance. True work/life balance.

Lara:And you didn’t have control. You didn’t have control working for someone else.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:That’s correct. Yeah.

Lara:And now you do.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, I hate my boss some days.

[LAUGHTER]

Lara:Today you don’t. Right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Not today. Not today. But some days. You know? But the desire for balance [00:40:00]was what brought me here. I am proud to say that I do have more balance today than ever before. Helping my clients achieve that is probably one of my favorite things about my work.

But there’s never, ever a perfect balance. Never, ever will there be perfect balance and I’ve had to really grow into that understanding that balance is ever changing. Maybe I need more family time one month, maybe I need more business time one month. That’s all balance.

Lara:It is.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:And it’s never going to really go to zero. It’s never really going to get perfect. That’s been something that my Type A soul really had to let go of that.

Lara:You’ve had to let go of that.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:But balance is very personal, too. My balance is not your balance.

Lara:Exactly. Everybody needs a little different. I know a couple of weeks ago you and I were on the phone and you were at the playground with your kiddos. It’s summertime, they’re home. Normally you are in the office, working — 8 or 9 to 5, whatever, 9 to 4 — and kids are home now so now you’re full-time mommy and full-time working. I bet you’re amazing at it. We can only do so much and be so many things to so many people, but it’s hard, as women, because we’re still expected to still take care of the kids in the summer or when they’re home — which we want to, of course — but yet we’re running these full-time businesses. How hard is that for you?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:It’s very hard. There’s a lot of mom guilt that comes in to play. I also feel a little, honestly, guilty in front of my clients: “I may not be giving you quite as much time today as I might during other times of the year.” You know? I have to be gentle with myself, is what I’ve decided. I just have to say, “I did well. It’s good enough for today.”

Lara:I love that.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I’m gentle with myself because, otherwise, I would mentally not be well.

Lara:We could beat ourselves up all day long about that.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah.

Lara:We can just do the best we can in the moment, right?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. I try to just always come from a place of love with everybody. “I’m doing my best for you. I’m coming from a place of love. I hope you recognize that.” I hope my children recognize that. I’m really proud of the fact that my children seem to understand the lifestyle I’ve chosen and seem to understand that I am having success in running my own business. Occasionally, my little 8-year-old will say, “My mommy owns a business. She has lots of clients and she’s very busy.” He’ll tell people.

Lara:Oh, my gosh. That’s awesome.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:He’ll tell people that and it makes me so happy.

Lara:What an example that you’re setting for them.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, they have made sacrifices, being the children of an entrepreneur. I’ve made sacrifices for them. So, it goes both ways. But I am super grateful that they are seeing other options aside from just a corporate ball and chain kind of a job. I’m thrilled that I’m able to show them different types of lifestyles and show them the world more, and travel more, and do things that we want to do to open up their world, and open up their eyes because of the lifestyle.

Lara:And build those memories and those travel adventures, which I love that. Tell me… What do you do to take care of your own health?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I should do more.

Lara:Remember? Put you first? We all should. That’s always there.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Well, I do a lot of the same brilliant things that you do because you’ve helped me learn. But big ones probably would be whole foods and trying to find the best that’s out there in terms of whole food nutrition. We have chickens on our little homestead and we eat farm-fresh eggs, and that’s just a beautiful thing I think I do for myself. Yoga. All of the alternative therapies. The acupuncture, the massage, all those sorts of things are really important parts of my self-care routine.

Actually, it’s funny. I’ve got it right here on my wrist today, but I wear a Shungite bracelet every day at work. Shungite is a stone that absorbs EMFs, which are electromagnetic frequencies that come out of our devices, all of our fancy devices.

Lara:Which we’re surrounded by.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Right? Our phones, our computers, all the things we’re constantly carrying around with us. They can emit some damaging waves and signals, and I’m sitting with them all day long. They are tools for my work, but I wear Shungite to sort of hopefully filter some of those out and I find that keeps me clearer and just more mentally ready for work.

Lara:I love that.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:Yeah. So, Shungite. Yeah, it’s a little secret. Maybe.

Lara:I could talk to you all day long, Lacey. Unfortunately, we only have less than a minute left. But I want to… you said something the other day to me that was just brilliant about being in your own lane. What does that mean?

Lacey Ring-Verbik:What does that mean, be in your own lane? I have had to be very intentional about what it is I do, exactly, and who I do it for. People are constantly trying to derail me by saying, “Oh, you’d be great at sales.”

Lara:Same here.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:“Oh, you’d be great at this.” “Oh, you should go in this direction.” “You should do that.” And I have had to just focus on the visual of staying in my own lane.

Lara:And be amazing in your own lane.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:The goal is to be amazing in your lane and then if you decide in 5 or 10 years you want to shift lanes, you do that.

Lara:But it’s all about what you want and being in your lane, and being a genius in that lane.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:I’ll take it. Thank you.

Lara:Awesome. Awesome. You rock. Lacey, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you for joining me.

Lacey Ring-Verbik:My pleasure. Thank you.

Lara:Thank you, Lacey. For ongoing inspiration, of course, please find me at www.larajaye.com. Thank you for joining me. Have a great weekend.

 

END OF TRANSCRIPT [00:46:40]