I can vouch firsthand for the awesome course that today’s guest created: not because I took her course myself, but because of the impact her resources have had on my team! Natalie Gingrich has an inspiring story to share about her online course journey and why she is so passionate about all things operations. We’re talking legacy, certification, and so much more. Enjoy!
“Knowing the transformation I was able to make… all came back to a skill set. And I knew I could apply that.”
– Natalie Gingrich
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (0:39) David and I discuss our duo name and podcast roles
- (3:00) The theme of today’s episode
- (6:35) David’s business operations
- (7:47) An example of recent changes to my business workflow
- (10:15) Introducing Natalie and her take on operations
- (13:08) Thinking about systems and operations versus lead generation and funnels
- (15:26) Where Natalie focuses her business offerings and how she delivers her training
- (18:43) Trusting and hiring other people to teach
- (21:21) Thinking about how to bring in qualified trainers
- (24:51) How Natalie and her team have created growth while maintaining a personal feel
- (29:16) Why she offers certification
- (35:19) “How do I find somebody who does this?”
- (39:39) What I’m appreciating about having my own OBM
- (40:16) Why certification isn’t an issue for my courses
- (40:40) How Natalie facilitates her program
- (42:57) OBM vs. DOO
- (45:57) Natalie’s recommendations on structure
- (51:25) What if you don’t want to hire a long-term OBM?
- (53:44) Visionaries vs. implementers
- (55:55) My history with project management software
- (57:19) Full-time vs. part-time OBM’s
- (1:00:42) Natalie’s “why” story
- (1:09:18) Talking legacy
- (1:10:42) The difference between operations roles in business
- (1:13:30) Where to find Natalie’s resources online
- (1:14:33) Why David and I appreciate operations-minded people
- (1:16:00) Getting into the weeds on how Natalie runs her program
- (1:19:13) Bringing on more instructors and offering live training
- (1:22:02) High vs. low touch-point choices
- (1:23:58) The hiring process for virtual employees or contractors
- (1:29:31) Gauging people’s long-term compatibility with your business
- (1:30:59) The likeability factor
- (1:36:10) David’s story about personality types
- (1:39:52) The Wonderlic test and other types of verification
- (1:47:45) “Wounded boyfriend expectations”
- (1:50:44) The importance of documenting standard operating procedures
- (1:53:07) Wrapping up and teasing next week’s interview
That’s all for now, folks! See you on the next episode of The Online Course Show.
Offers and Tools:
Resources and Recommendations:
- By the Book podcast
- Happier podcast
- Fix This First
- Life as Paper “Favorite Things” printable
Jacques Hopkins 00:02
Regular people are taking their knowledge and content, packaging it up in an online course, and they're making a living doing it.
Jacques Hopkins 00:12
But not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way. And I'm here to help course creators actually succeed with online courses. Hi, I'm Jacques Hopkins, and this is The Online Course Show.
Jacques Hopkins 00:32
And off we go, welcome aboard glad you're with us. I am your host, Jacques Hopkins. And there's our co-host, what's going on Dr. K?
David Krohse 00:40
Oh, I'm just living the dream up here. How are you doing?
Jacques Hopkins 00:42
Doing well, you know, I was thinking about, you know, my relationship with you in this podcast. And I'm surprised. I thought of, like, a nickname for the two of us, like our tandem. And I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this before. Or maybe they have, and I just forgot, but we're Jacques and the Doc.
David Krohse 00:59
Jacques and the Doc. Nice. I like it.
Jacques Hopkins 01:02
You're not as impressed as I thought you would be.
David Krohse 01:05
No. It's good. It's clever. I like that. I read a book about podcasts and the lady has a podcast, it's By the Book. I don't know if you've ever heard of this one.
Jacques Hopkins 01:16
David Krohse 01:17
And so, By the Book, she and these two co-hosts read a self-help book, or a personal growth book, and then they try to live by that book for two weeks. And they do these experiments on their husbands and then they get together and report how things went. And they're both comedians, it's pretty funny. So, I listened to that. But she wrote a book on starting a podcast and she said, "When you have two hosts, it can be good to have the main host and then a foil." And the foil is the guy, or the other hosts that, like if the first person is really good at getting things done, then the foil is the one that's like, doesn't get anything done. So, I guess there's a podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. And so, Gretchen is like this super woman gets everything done, and then her sister is on there, and it's like, "Yeah, she knows it's a good idea, but she doesn't get things done as much." And I'm like, alright. So, I told my wife the other day, we were in the kitchen working on a project and I pulled a piece of foil and I said, "I learned that I'm this."
Jacques Hopkins 02:18
No. So, you're the A player, and I'm the total screw up. That's what this is, right?
David Krohse 02:22
Well, not majority of the time.
Jacques Hopkins 02:25
Well, I think a lot of aspects of life, that would be the case. But if we're just talking about online courses, then maybe we can switch roles for just that. And look, I want to talk a lot about operations here in this episode. And that goes along with that a little bit because and a lot of times in companies, online course businesses, you'll find that the two people, in successful ones, the two people most kind of at the top of the organization, you have kind of the higher-level visionary, and then the other person is more focused on the day to day more operations type activity. And to be honest with you, I don't think we spent enough time on this podcast, talking about the operations within an online course business. You know, we had Abbey Ashley on a few episodes ago, she talked about it a bit. And that's a huge component to her success. Jason Dion, a few episodes before that. Both of those are $2 million a year course creators, and both admittedly gave a lot of credit to operations there. And so, this episode is going to be all about operations. What do you think of, Mr. Doc, when you think of operations?
David Krohse 03:37
Oh, I mean, it's so important. Just, I mean, you have to have an organized business. And, yeah, it's just hard to do everything when you're a solopreneur. It's hard to put your focus in all the spots, and all of us have our things that we are best at. So, it's a shame when somebody who has a really great focus on being a visionary, or loves the marketing is spending tons of time on things like paperwork.
Jacques Hopkins 04:04
Yeah, yeah, I'm going to try to define it. Like, I don't want to do like Webster's dictionary definition, but if I had to define operations, and by the way, there's, you know, I like to keep this podcast pretty PG, just in case people want to listen around their kids or whatever. You know, I've got young kids, and I'm sensitive to that, for sure. But in my definition, it just happens to have a curse word in it. So, I'm going to replace that curse word with something I love. And I'll replace it with coffee. Okay? So, my definition is the day-to-day activities that get coffee done.
David Krohse 04:40
Jacques Hopkins 04:41
Okay. I mean, plain and simple. Like, that is what it is. And so, when I'm telling people like, what does a successful online course business looks like, a lot of times, I'll leave out the operations piece. I've shown this diagram to you and to the audience on video plenty of times, but in general, there's like four components to a successful online course business. So, you've got to have traffic. Right? You actually have people coming into your world. Then you've got to have a funnel because that's what really builds the relationship and rapport with leads and turns them into paying customers. Then you've got to have a course because we're talking about an online course business. You've got to have that deliverable, that experience, and in this case, it's a course. And then you've also got to have students access and testimonials. But within each piece, and then over on top of each piece is operations, we've got to actually get that coffee done, right? We got to execute on all those things. And if you're the only person in your business doing those things, then it takes you away from other things you could be doing.
Jacques Hopkins 05:46
And so, in today's episode, and in the conversation of the day, I spoke with Natalie Gingrich, who is an expert in operations, and she trains what's called Directors of Operations. And as you know, I've got a Director of Operations in my business as of the past four months. And Natalie trained her. Natalie trained Colleen. Colleen went through her program. And it was a great conversation. We got into the weeds, a little bit of operations, but because this is a topic that we don't talk about much this is one that's completely focused on operations, but also, the way Natalie runs her program is different than I've seen, as well. So that's kind of what we're getting into today. Now, my definition here, do you agree with my definition of operations?
David Krohse 06:34
Yeah, that sounds great.
Jacques Hopkins 06:35
So, you have... how many businesses do you have?
David Krohse 06:38
Well, essentially, I have my chiropractic practice, and then the online course is currently in side hustle status. So...
Jacques Hopkins 06:45
Right, so your online course business, that's just you, right? You don't have a team around that, correct? So, you do everything, including operations there.
David Krohse 06:55
Jacques Hopkins 06:55
But what about your in-person chiropractic business? I'm sure there's some operations going on there.
David Krohse 06:59
Right. Yes. And currently, it's primarily just me and one other employee. She's a superwoman, she's incredible. She's doing a little bit more than she should. But one of the things, I mean, being a manager, you just learn things as a manager or business owner that you don't anticipate. One of the things that I learned is that I experienced a ton of stress if somebody in my team is twiddling their thumbs. And I could not have known that. But sometimes I'd hire and then somebody's kind of killing time. And that I mean, like my blood pressure and my heart rate, I just felt it rise, because I was like, looking around, what can I have them do? I know how much I hate twiddling my thumbs and trying to look busy when I'm not. So yeah, we run a little bit lean. But the days go super-fast.
Jacques Hopkins 07:46
Very cool. Before we get into the conversation with Natalie, I wanted to give one example of some operational, like efficiencies that we've implemented recently, and kind of what it would have looked like before college, and before I had placed an importance on operations. So, right now we're working on some new initiatives in Piano In 21 Days. We're working on some new courses. One of those courses is called Jazz In 21 Days. It's a new full program meant for graduates of my first course that didn't want to start learning jazz as well, and blues piano. And so, we've got a video editor on the team. And before Colleen, before Asana, before I thought about any of this stuff, I just would have been like, "Hey Zoltan, here's the raw files. Here's the goal, like make it happen." And that kind of would have been it. But now, the way we're doing it is we have like 21 little tasks in Asana. And within... which is the project management software that we use. And then within each one, there's several like statuses or phases of the task, right? So, if Zoltan is currently working on it, like that's the status. If he's finished, and it needs my review, like he changes it to that status, and then the task automatically gets assigned to me instead of him. And then I can either approve it or request edits. Right? And if I click Request Edits, I put in my edits, and then it automatically assigns it back to him. So, you know, if I'm reviewing the first video, and he's editing the second video, then then I have edits on the first one, as soon as he's done editing the second video, he can jump back to the first one, and apply those edits. Whereas before, it just would have been a lot of confusion. It would have been very inefficient. But this is a very much more efficient way to do things. And I think it's better for everybody, right? It's better for me, it's better for Zoltan, it's better for my company, and it's better for my students as well.
David Krohse 09:50
Yeah, that sounds slick.
Jacques Hopkins 09:51
Yeah, it's good. And so, we've done that a lot of that type of stuff. I mean, getting these podcast episodes out, getting YouTube videos out, getting new courses out, and so on. And so, I've really been geeking out on operations lately, and it was fun to geek out on it with Natalie as well. So, without further ado, let's go ahead and play the full conversation between me and Natalie Gingrich.
Jacques Hopkins 10:15
Hi, Natalie, welcome to The Online Course Show.
Natalie Gingrich 10:17
Hello, hello, I'm super excited to be here and to get to connect with you.
Jacques Hopkins 10:21
Same here. So, we talk on this podcast a lot about funnels, and courses, and marketing, and automation, and all that. We rarely talk about operations. So, why don't we start there? Like, what is operations?
Natalie Gingrich 10:34
Such as sexy... It's such a sexy topic isn't it?
Jacques Hopkins 10:36
And I'm sure you've never gotten that question from people before either.
Natalie Gingrich 10:39
You know what, Jacques, in my own experiences, I would have never called this “Operations” until I had to do a lot of work and really refining and communicating. So of course, I get the question. And I am absolutely happy to share my learnings with you and your audience about that. We all have a collectively better understanding of what operations looks like and what it really is, but I'll tell you a little story as to how I kind of derived this. When we talk about business, there's two sides of business, you've got the front side, and you've got the back side. And that's about as granular as we kind of get before we start building these businesses. The front side is the marketing side, and that's everything before the sell. And then after the sell is where operations comes in. And so, the back of the business, or the backside of business, whatever it is, whatever technical term you want to use, that's the operational side. And so, I like to look at this as what does it take for your business to be able to deliver on the promises that you have sold?
Natalie Gingrich 11:39
So, we are looking at project management: How are we going to deliver the product? Fulfillment of the product. The financials: How do we keep the foundation of the business set up in a really strong way? And then oh, yeah, that whole team component where you need people to help you to deliver the products that you have promised and are working on. So, operations is really a big, generalized topic. But the specific disciplines underneath that: project management, human resources, which has like 19 different tentacles, but as a broad category, financials, and some reporting is underneath there, technology, and fulfillment. So, if you have ever thought about any of those, which I know if you're in business, you thought about all of them. But that's what operations looks like. And that's what it's comprised of.
Jacques Hopkins 12:27
So, I want to question one thing that you said. I like how you're talking about it frontside backside, and what you said was the backside was after the sale, and that's where the operations comes in. I'm confused at why operations doesn't come in pre-sale, or maybe I misunderstood something.
Natalie Gingrich 12:42
For the most part. I mean, you've got some underlying components, like technology. Technology usually falls underneath the operational side of business. But it's really I mean, you're going to see that in both the tech heavy and the front, but it's going to be more marketing, operational tech, right. So, we can get really, really nitpicky, but for like, really high level, the operations is really in the fulfillment. So, after the sell.
Jacques Hopkins 13:07
Okay, so I'm biased, obviously. And I've had an operations person in my business for only about three and a half months at this point. So, I'm new to it. But I feel like the majority of what we've done so far is more frontside. But maybe I'm just thinking of it that way because it's she's mostly done like setup stuff since I've never really had an operations person before.
Natalie Gingrich 13:27
So, systems, because you're probably thinking of systems processes. And so all of those are skill sets that fall under the discipline of project management. But a lot of the lead generation that we're going to do is one big, possibly complex system that we're going to set up or one process that we're going to execute on. So, I bet that's where you're coming from as to “Wait! How is this operations?” But the discipline of project management extends marketing to operations. So, whether it's setting up a process to hire somebody organizing your inbox, or creating a funnel, what does the project look like to create a funnel? You've got project management from front to back, but that person typically sits in the operational side.
Jacques Hopkins 14:11
Got it. So, why is it do you think that as online business owners, course creators, like why do we think way more about and discuss way more about the funnels and the marketing and things like that, and from what I've seen, I mean, operations is an operational efficiencies is more of an afterthought? Why do you think that is?
Natalie Gingrich 14:31
Because we're in business to make money, and marketing generates revenue. And even back to my corporate experience, you know, on the operational side, we're typically cost centers, right? So, it's harder to get a return on investment from the operational work. And let's face it, it's a lot less sexy, it's a lot less fun. The game of operations does not even compare to the game of marketing or winning a sell. So, I think naturally if you go into business, if you look at where your skill set as the leader of your business falls into, a lot of the people that I work with, and partner with are going to be heavier and natural on the marketing side. So of course, I mean, that's what you like, it's kind of like, you hang around the people that you like that you're going to do the kind of business or the kind of work in your business that you like, which is most of the time on the front side of business.
Jacques Hopkins 15:21
So, I do want to go kind of to your backstory eventually, but like, where is your business right now? Like, what is it that you and your business are doing for people today?
Natalie Gingrich 15:30
Yeah, so we run a certification program for people who are natural-born operators who have that project management skill set and are looking to up-level and serve online and remote businesses in a higher, stronger, better capacity. And so, we run a certification program for Directors of Operations. And it looks very much like an online course to the consumer.
Jacques Hopkins 15:53
So, it's prerecorded training, but it's also direct coaching as well, isn't it?
Natalie Gingrich 15:59
Sure. Yeah. So, I'm a giver. I'm a big connector. I'm a big relator. And so, I cannot even imagine doing a completely passive course. I know they exist; I've been a part of plenty of them. And I've tried it to be frank, I've tried that model. And where I seem to have the greatest value and the greatest return both personally and also financially to the to the students, is when I'm able to combine both that prerecorded with a strong heavy coaching component that can almost feel 1:1 but is absolutely not, because there's no way I could scale it that way. So, the way our format today is, we do not run an evergreen model, which is an opportunity that we possibly have. And lots of great marketers try to teach me to do that and try to, to coach me on doing that. And I'm being bullheaded about it because I love the idea of cohorts coming through because of the connection that they make. I target all females. And so, I mean, let's just face it, chicks like community. They like being in small communities. And that's been really, really helpful for us. But we launch six different times a year. And so, we have six cohorts coming through at each time, which of course brings more complexity to me. But the results are so much bigger than what I can see from an evergreen model. But from the layout or the format of the way that we deliver today. We have once a week, we have prerecorded content that comes out. We have a support session every week. And then we also have strategic advisory which I am specifically leading for each of the cohorts. And so lots and lots of touch points. We've got accountability coaches; we've got expert coaches. And it's just really important for me these women are, we typically are fact finders. And so, we have lots of questions. We suffer from perfectionism, it's a blessing and a curse. And so, having live support to be able to walk through to get hands on coaching has made a big, big difference in the outcome for these women.
Jacques Hopkins 18:04
I'm really glad that you're talking about your program because I definitely wanted to hit this conversation from two angles, because you are a course creator as well. So, I want to talk about that and how you run an online course business. But of course, dive into your knowledge and experience on operations itself, too. So, let's stick on your stay on your course. I completely agree with you about the not just prerecorded videos, my audience will know that I've hammered on that a lot lately. And mine's not really a group coaching program but there's a ton of interaction, right? I do. I go live once a week with my piano students. You can't see it here but there's my keyboard. I actually just went live with them right before this call to answer their questions. They can email me. One thing that I'm missing in my piano business that sounds like you definitely have is like other trainers, right? I have a team around me but nobody else on my team, like, plays or teaches piano? How did you get to a point where you could trust and hire other people to convey and help and coach your students on what originally was your I guess your ideas and concepts?
Natalie Gingrich 19:08
All of my coaches have come through my program. And so, you know, there is some risk to that, but it has lent me... I've tried people who are not in the program, and they were fine. They were fine. Average. And average doesn't work for me or you. And so, what it came back to is these people who had come to the program, they already had the knowledge. They already knew. They could speak for me. They really could complete my sentences because it wasn't like they had just come through the program. They had been through the program, you know, a year or two ago and had continued to follow me, listen to every podcast. They believe in the program. And so, when somebody was asking them questions, they weren't coming back to me to ask me, "So, how would you answer this?" And so, I really cultivated a group and it's a… I would look at it like they want to be asked to come into this program. They want to. They love it and they're able to support me in a completely different way.
Jacques Hopkins 20:02
So, if I'm actively trying to find like other piano teachers, other people that can come in and lead the weekly Q&A or be there for students, sounds like you'd recommend I start with my existing student base.
Natalie Gingrich 20:02
And so, the other thing that I loved, and I'm really passionate about is, I am one operator in the world, I have had the guts to create something and turn it into a certification. However, this doesn't mean that this is the only way to be an operator in an online business. So, I love pulling in discipline experts. I mean, I'm not a financial wizard. I do not have a background in accounting, but we teach the basics of financials and how to support somebody at a strategic level. And so, it makes all the difference in the world to have someone for me, even me to directionally be able to point someone to when they're having a financial question or something like that. And so, it's taken a lot of, I would say, pressure off of me to have all the answers and to do it right, and to direct them to somebody who's an expert who's got lots and lots of experience and being able to solve that question. And so, it gives them another perspective, and it also provides them an expertise in something I may or may not have. I pride myself in being a generalist. And so, having these specific functions, and support underneath me has been, it's been really helpful for me, and then also helpful for the student.
Natalie Gingrich 21:25
Absolutely. And it's another revenue stream for them. It's not, you know, it's, it's a small revenue stream, like, it doesn't have to be huge, but these are all people who have a passion for developing people. So, this is not their full-time gig, this is something that they are now, we are transitioning into that in the upcoming quarters, and to be able to have full time support in this capacity, but as I was growing this over the last two years, and adding this component to it, this was very fractional. I mean, we're talking like 12 hours a month. We're not talking about, you know, 12 hours a week, even so, you know, it was just another way of highlighting a star student who had an expertise, who also loved developing the brand that I have built. And so, it's really been a win-win.
Jacques Hopkins 22:12
When they're not full-time employees, they're 12 hours a month, in some cases, like you just pay them an hourly rate? Is that how it works?
Natalie Gingrich 22:19
Yeah. Actually, I'm a big flat fee person. So, we just charge one flat fee for the entire month and it makes it very easy logistically. I'm not a big hourly person. I'm not a fan of hourly work. I think that the commitment level looks very different for somebody who just has ownership over an outcome. We've moved into incentivizing these roles as well. So, if we've defined milestones, and what success looks like for our students, and instead of me as the leader of this business, feeling like I am the only person who's supporting at this place, and maybe small to some of your students who are listening to this right now, but I have 90 people going through a certification just a year and a half ago. I had 20 over the entire year. And so, it's big growth, and feels like big growth to me, but at the same time, I cannot be responsible for tracking, for following up, for knowing where these people are. And so now we've got these, you know, these leaders who take ownership of making sure that you complete XYZ, and I'm big on getting their investment back and so they're tracking how much of the investment that they have gotten back.
Natalie Gingrich 23:25
So, these three criteria that are very, very important to me that I know create a strong brand for a Director of Operations, if I've got an advocate inside the business who's following up with them, and who is ultimately incentivized for making sure that we do everything that we possibly can, if that's creating, if that's me going live, if that's me creating a PDF, like, those are so small, and if that's what helps them to get over the line, and to get their investment back or whatever the criteria may be, I want to incentivize the coach to do that. And so that's another thing that we added this year.
Jacques Hopkins 24:01
Do you think that most course creators could learn something from that, like, literally have people, whether it's yourself or somebody else, like, continue to follow up with people? Reach out, initiate that contact and be like, "Hey, I could tell you didn't log in for a month, what's happening with your piano lessons?" Like is that something that you recommend that more course creators do?
Natalie Gingrich 24:20
If you want to create... I'm really big into legacy and I believe that this work is my legacy. And so, if that's what I feel I'm called to do, it makes it really, really valuable to make sure that other people are finding value out of what I'm putting out there. So, I think that in my own experiences, that's been a big gap from the other courses that I have taken. It's just my little way of making it a little different and stronger for my students.
Jacques Hopkins 24:49
Really cool. I love that so much. So, you've experienced some pretty massive growth, it sounds like, in the past year and a half. You said, like, 20 people all of last year. Now this particular cohort, you have, like, 90 people?
Natalie Gingrich 24:59
Jacques Hopkins 25:00
That's insane growth. What do you attribute to that growth mostly?
Natalie Gingrich 25:04
A lot of mindset work, Jacques, to be really frank. A lot of mindset work. I used to tell myself that there was no way I could deliver such a great experience if I had multiple cohorts running at one time. And I had a coach who really, really challenged me and said, she really wanted me to go to the Evergreen route, to be honest, and at that time, I was like, "There's no way. I can't do it." And I still really, really emphatically believe that I cannot do an Evergreen model and I can't see it for myself yet, but what I was willing to try was to have multiple cohorts. But I knew I couldn't do multiple cohorts until I had this team of people to help me. And so, we started out with a support team, the real fractional, you know, 12 hours a month. And then the other thing that has led to my growth is just building internally my team to be able to support Natalie, the leader, not only from the student perspective, but how do we build this brand. Being able to add a Director of Marketing and, you know, an operator in the backside, which, I mean, mentally as a business owner, those are big, big blocks to overcome. The financial separation of those dollars that you've been bringing in, and also the moving into true leadership, not management, but leadership and leading. You know, something that I can be really proud of, and stand in great authenticity and integrity with.
Jacques Hopkins 26:23
So, are you still able to have, like, a direct relationship with all of the people coming through your program given that? I mean, everybody, like, you speak to everybody individually at some point?
Natalie Gingrich 26:34
All the time. Yeah, everybody has...
Jacques Hopkins 26:37
You think that would be able to... I mean, that can't scale.
Natalie Gingrich 26:39
Everybody has Voxer access to me, but not everybody uses it.
Jacques Hopkins 26:42
Natalie Gingrich 26:43
Jacques Hopkins 26:44
So, six cohorts a year right now, and 90 in this one. So... I can't do the math that quickly, but roughly 90 times six people going through it a year, and they all get Voxer access to you. That's amazing.
Natalie Gingrich 26:57
Yeah, they do.
Jacques Hopkins 26:58
Is that one of those things where it's like, people really don't abuse it? Take advantage of it that much?
Natalie Gingrich 27:04
I'm amazed by how much they... I feel like every single message starts with, "Hey, this is so and so. Just answer this whenever you have a free minute." I'm like, I'm not going to look at it, let's I have a free minute. Now, Jacques the stage of life that I am in, I've got teenage kids, they're very athletic, I spent a lot of time in a car, I live in rural Texas, I drive my kids at least three to four hours every single day. So, I spend a lot of time in a vehicle. And so Voxer is a very great medium for me to be able to have this connection. And I'm a massive people person. And so, it's... I'm a verbal processor, too. So, you know, I probably enabled them to be able to reach out to me, but it really never feels abused. And when it does, I have no problem telling. I have no problem being the leader who says like, "Hey, this is getting a little excessive, make sure you use your accountability coach." And you know, if you've got a pointed question that they can't answer, that's when you utilize me. So, I set that stage at the very beginning of our relationship. We just started another cohort just a few weeks ago. And that's in my introduction call. It's like you've got this opportunity. You've got ample support; you will find an answer in this community. Here's the first place you go, the second place you go, I'm the third place. But if it's ever an independent issue that somebody can't solve, you're going to get help. And I think that, you know, these are respectful people. They're, you know, I really don't find anyone taking massive advantage of it.
Jacques Hopkins 28:24
Well, my D.O.O speaks very, very highly of you, and I'm beginning to see why for sure. I mean, if you have those are the types of things you're offering within a program, and I think the wheels are probably spinning for a lot of listeners in terms of "Oh, you know, I've always wanted to have other coaches. Well, let me dive into my current student pool first." "Oh, I could offer Voxer support to my students." And by the way, for those listening, that's just like a kind of a walkie-talkie app. It's like a texting app, but you communicate via voice. It's very cool.
Natalie Gingrich 28:54
Yeah. And you can use this in different ways. Your accountability coaches could be the person that has Voxer access with individuals. It doesn't have to be you. It works, like I said, it works for me at this stage in my life, because I spend so much time being quote unquote, free. And you know, being able to have that plus it's something that just makes... it really fires me up.
Jacques Hopkins 29:15
The next question I have for you is I've had over a hundred successful course creators on the podcast, and it's very rare I come across somebody who not only has a course but like, part of what you get with that course is you're certified by the end, right? Why don't you just have a program where they learn to operate a business or be an operations manager? How do we get to that point of actually certifying people?
Natalie Gingrich 29:40
Yeah. So, when I first started down this path, I did do a course. It was very difficult for me to sell. And granted, I was immature as a business owner. And in this capacity and marketing is not my strong suit - to this day - very heavily in the backside of business and in the delivery part. So, I was challenged in the marketing space as far as getting this course into the hands of people, and there's plenty of things that we could do to dissect where the breakdown was, but what I really sat with, and I remember it was in November, I was speaking at a conference in California, and I was at the beach, like I can paint the picture, because the breakthrough literally happened at that moment. But I realized that I couldn't see and track the success. And I'm very connected to that. So, I couldn't see the people who were coming in, where they could be curious. They could be a lot of things. But were they really headed in the direction that I was teaching them? And so, I started to think like, how can I make sure that they are truly going to go down this path and that my brand doesn't get watered down? Because of course there are competitive products to what I have. And how do I ensure that? And so, I thought, first of all, I'll create an agency. And that was a miserable thought, for me, and it didn't work out very well. But how can I do this and amplify, multiply, and scale? What is working so well? And the two things that came up were I'll turn this into an agency, or I will turn this into a certification. Because the course wasn't really profitable. I had spent a lot of money in production, I spent a lot of money in marketing, and I was not having success in the conversion. And so, I had good content. And people would tell me, it's so good, it's changing my life. But the scale was not going to happen in the way that I wanted it to. And so, agency or certification were the two ways where I could really go all in on this and the certification has been completely transformational. From a marketing perspective, there's a scarcity, there's an exclusivity...
Jacques Hopkins 31:41
Natalie Gingrich 31:41
...in the certification. Yeah. Which has been, you know, helpful from a marketing perspective. From a delivery perspective and a success perspective, it's deep because I'm really, really connected. Nobody can hide here. If they're going to hide, I'm going to give them their money back, because I don't want them associated with me. At the end of the day, when I look at my competitors, when I look at just competitive products on the market, it's the brand. And so, I have been very intentional about making sure that this brand is not diluted. And I find that when you have people coming through, who can take your concepts and do whatever they want to with them, they can become watered down, which ultimately makes me nervous because I've got great IP inside of this program. And so that's where the certification came up. And so then with a certification, if you guys are considering a certification, I started at the content level. What is the certification going to be? Making sure it wasn't too broad, and it wasn't too narrow. And then next, what makes when I look at the product of becoming a Director of Operations, what really makes that person who is successful? And what are the criteria? What are the criteria that we can look for in this person? And so, there's a lot of impostor, by the way. Insert massive Imposter Syndrome at this point, because you're like, "Who are you, Natalie Nicole to be telling people that they are qualified, or not qualified to become a Director of Operations? But we did some work, and you know what? Our criteria have not changed from day one. It's still the same criteria. The hardest part for me as an empathic leader is telling people that they don't fit. And if you don't fit today, you don't like to get to go work on it and get more experience and come back two years later. Like, if you don't fit, you never fit. And there are just some things that we internally look at to qualify this. And, you know, we have an advisory board who helps me make that decision, because I'm way too connected to people. I feel like I'm really breaking your hearts whenever I tell them no. But really, we're allowing them to go deeper into other things if they are. And we can go deep into the criteria that we have come up with. But that's a really important part if you're thinking about doing this. What are the criteria that makes your most successful person successful? That's how we design a criteria.
Jacques Hopkins 31:43
Yeah, I mean, I definitely want to lean into this more. I'm talking to Natalie, the course creator right now and really getting a sense of where your passions lie around all this. You mentioned November. Are we talking November 2019, when this whole kind of epiphany happened or is it before that?
Natalie Gingrich 34:21
Jacques Hopkins 34:22
2018. So, at this point in time, November 2018, you had a course on becoming an operations person, but it was simply a course like nothing, no interaction at all?
Natalie Gingrich 34:34
With a Facebook group.
Jacques Hopkins 34:36
Facebook group, and then just a course hosted on like a Teachable or something.
Natalie Gingrich 34:40
Yes. And at that time, I had four Director of Operations clients that I was serving, so I really didn't have capacity and I didn't want it to be confusing to my clients either. And so, you know, I think as we pivot and as we grow and we do these little, you know, I was, I had four clients, I went down to three clients so that I could spend time developing the core. And then I had this course moving in the background, but I was still serving three clients like, I mean, come on. I'm a working woman, working wife, a working mother, like, I just couldn't do it all. And I was still serving three clients in a very large capacity. So, there wasn't a lot of hands-on training or support to this.
Jacques Hopkins 35:19
Well, I'm still confused on one thing, and that is I get the epiphany, you just wanted to serve people at a different level, you wanted far higher success rates, you wanted to know that these people going through your program are successful. So, why not just a group coaching program that looks a lot like yours does now? I'm missing the part why it has to be an actual certification.
Natalie Gingrich 35:41
I did the group program as well. We did go through the group program. The group program was attracting a lot of people that were my peers. A lot of people who were in that five figure a year earner bracket. And so, they were coming to me and I was able to walk them through, but most business owners are not operators, they are marketers who love and are passionate about their product or about getting the sell. And so, teaching them operations was unsexy. And so, you know, I love the group program, but it was also not the best use of me when I really, people would come through that program and say, "Okay, I've learned all about it. Now, how do I find somebody who..." This is getting to the root of your question, and I missed it, but how do I find somebody who can just do this in my business? Like we've grown my business enough to where I've got enough revenue coming in that I can actually pay somebody to do this. So how do I find somebody just like you because you're full. You've got this group program, you've got this course, now you've got two pretty much heavy, you know, part time clients, and how do we get Natalie into my business? And that was the confirmation that I was referring, and I was really burned, Jacques, because I was referring people who I thought I was seeing online, they were kind of having the same, you know, they were serving clients, like I was serving clients, but I don't really know them. I just saw "Oh, Betty Sue would be great for you I bet. She does the same thing I do. So, Jacques, can I introduce you to my friend Betty?" Betty would come in. You would trust her because I told you that Betty was good. And then Betty came in and maybe was not a great culture fit for you or didn't deliver on what she said. And then I just felt terrible that Betty did not work out for you. And so, I thought, "How can I really ensure that this person when I refer them to my friends or the people that are coming to me, how can I ensure that they're quality? What do I need to do?" I can't make Betty take a course. But if Betty wants to be in touch with people that I have access to - because I have no problem speaking to lots of lots of people, and building relationships in that way - how can I make sure that this is really a win-win for everybody? And that's exactly... I think that answers your question.
Jacques Hopkins 37:55
Yes, I get it now. I get it.
Natalie Gingrich 37:57
Yes, yes. So, there's been some very interesting legal things to go along with that. So, if you're going to go down this path, I would also caution you that I've had to separate Church and State legally to make sure that I didn't have a franchise, but that's getting very, very nerdy, but just to let you know that you want to, if you go down this route, and this all makes sense to you to having a good legal helping, in consultation has been invaluable to me.
Jacques Hopkins 38:25
So, when you're certifying people, you're basically giving them your personal stamp of approval. Like, "Hey, hey, business owners out there, like I approve of this person to be a D.O.O in your business. And there are certain things that you have to do in your program to make sure that you believe in that person and you're not if it's just a group coaching program, if it's just a program where there's no actual certification at the end, then then you're just not going to get that.
Natalie Gingrich 38:50
Yeah, the other thing was the protection of the IP. Right? Like, I have had to license some of my, you know, I've licensed now, we've licensed two different parts of the intellectual property, because I didn't want it to get lost in translation. And so, there's another, you know, layer of exclusivity, that has been very, very rich and helpful. But when business owners come to me, they now asked me for strategic mapping, and I'm assuming that you guys went through strategic mapping...
Jacques Hopkins 39:17
Natalie Gingrich 39:18
...in your own business, but that was transformational for my clients. I couldn't see it for myself but that could literally be its own standalone product. And you know, you live, and you learn, but giving that IP is a part of the certification has allowed them to create an independent business, if they wanted to, they could just do strategic mapping for a living.
Jacques Hopkins 39:38
Yeah. And that's one of one of the many great things about having a D.O.O on our team, is like, it's not somebody that I just give tasks to - "Here. We need to do this task. When you do this task." She's coming to me. It's like, "Okay, Jacques, now it's time to do our strategic planning." I'm like, what? What are you talking about? You know, she's coming to me with all these new things, and in a lot of ways, like the opposite relationship that I'm used to. And when she'll like call me out for not completing a certain task when I said I was it's like, for the first time in my business, I've been in business for eight years, like I've never had that. It's an amazing, like, new type of person in my business. It's really cool.
Jacques Hopkins 40:14
So, I get the certification thing now. That makes a lot of sense. I don't think it applies to say, my business, but I'm sure there are people listening that are getting it now too, could apply to them. Like for me, like I don't need to certify anybody in being able to play piano because nobody's coming looking for certified, like, they can play the Piano In 21 Days way. Like, that doesn't apply but I'm sure there are people listening, who it does.
Natalie Gingrich 40:39
Jacques Hopkins 40:39
So, let's get into a little bit more about how the program works- how you structure it. So, let's say I... it looks like you've got to apply. So, I apply. You accept me, I know I'm not a woman, but let's just say hypothetically. The program starts, like do I immediately get access to a library videos? Or is it like dripped out? Are there meetings once a week? Like how do you facilitate the actual program?
Natalie Gingrich 41:01
Ah, you're in my head. Because I struggle with this all the time, I want to make it just so perfect. And so, we're always revising. But as of now, as we're recording this, when someone signs up, they get the first two modules, which is actually Module Zero, which is kind of an Introduction Module, and then Module 1, which is the goal. That's the greatest Aha, and monetizable product that we're going to be talking about throughout the eight different modules that we go over. So, they get instant access to that. And then when we officially kick off because they may pay me now and the next cohort may not start for another four weeks or so. And so, once we start meeting, we drip every single week. They get new content, and our coaches for that particular discipline, if we're talking about project management this week, and that's the content that was dripped, our project management expert coach comes up and she supports that week in the content in the Facebook group. She leads what we call a Get It Done Session, which is like active accountability. So, we have homework assignments, with homework suggestions, I don't actually... I'm not grading homework; these are all adults. They're all leaders, if they're going to be leaders and other businesses, I'm not going to be doing that. But if they do that, if they do that, and they complete the suggested homework, they bring it. We do live reviews of the homework to see what they're doing, what their obstacles are, what questions they have. And that's what the expert coach does throughout the week. And then on Thursdays or Fridays, depending on the cohort, I show up and do a strategic advisory. So, for any question that was not answered, or came up through the accountability coaches, they aggregate all of that information, and that's what we talk about on Fridays.
Jacques Hopkins 42:42
What's the software stack that you're using to execute on all of that?
Natalie Gingrich 42:46
We use Thinkific for our course platform. And we do all, I mean, everything is through Zoom. And we have our Facebook group.
Jacques Hopkins 42:55
Cool, pretty simple. I like it. Alright, so I was first introduced to something called an Online Business Manager, OBM, about six months ago, way before I knew about you and D.O.Os clothes and all of that. So, I kind of started going down that path a little bit. What is the difference between an OBM and a D.O.O?
Natalie Gingrich 43:15
There's a lot. I'm going to start by saying there's a lot of overlapping skillsets. There's an incredible amount of overlapping skill sets. The difference is that a director is more of a strategic partner in your business, and the Online Business Manager is excellent for lots and lots and lots of businesses out there. So, if you as the business owner are not necessarily... you need somebody to be more of a project manager, and potentially an implementer, then you're probably looking at the Online Business Manager. If you're looking at someone to come in, and to really be kind of what you were just talking about, Jacques, about having that person who's a strategic partner, who's also a project manager and in charge of people, developing talent on your team, really specific when it comes to helping you, you know, grow and scale your team, a director, I mean, just even in the name business, you know, a manager versus a director, there is a lot more leadership. I specifically am looking at past leadership experiences to... that's part of our criteria. And so, I need to make sure that they are leaders, it's very, very difficult to quantify by the way. That has been a big challenge and a lot of... it's given me a lot to think about.
Natalie Gingrich 44:28
The other thing is in the online business management space, a lot of people come through the Virtual Assistant path, and so these people have been having a lot of experience in the implementation space. That is fantastic for a lot of businesses, but your Director of Operations is typically not going to be an implementer, they're going to be more of a strategist and potentially a project manager or people manager in your business. Whereas only OBM space you've got a lot of technical skill sets that are rising into the management layer of the business, and it tends to be very marketing heavy. I mean, in the certification, they do a lot of training in the marketing space, I don't touch marketing. I don't believe that it's fair to have somebody who is going to be overseeing both marketing and operations. There's a big, you know, there's a big division when it comes to strategy of marketing, and strategy of operations. So, I don't go into... I'm not going to be teaching funnels. We support funnels all day long from a project management perspective but we actually, we may not know, and this is a, this is a generalized statement. So, every person, every one's experience can be different. But from a DOO perspective, we're not going to be telling you how to set up a funnel. That knowledge is going to come from a strategist and that strategist may be you as the business owner, and it could be a consultant, it could be a director of marketing, whatever that looks like in your business. But the place where we as operators step out of isn't the marketing strategy.
Jacques Hopkins 45:57
So, the kind of overall organizational structure has vaguely come up a couple of times. So, I'm curious what you recommend as an overall structure, and I know that's going to greatly depend on the size of the business and the goals and whatnot. But is there? Is there a kind of a general answer? Would you like me to give a specific example of a type of company?
Natalie Gingrich 46:13
I teach about this, so I'm happy to share it with you guys. I've already talked about the front side and the back side of business being marketing in the front, operations in the back. Underneath there, there are four different layers, I'm totally going into teacher mode really quick. But there are four different layers of responsibilities that needs to happen. Before you tune me out, this does not mean that you need four different people on both the front and the back side of business that is not scalable, and I am all about the leanest team possible. So, in those four different layers, starting from the bottom, the most necessary are going to be the implementers. So, you may have a marketing implementer and you also need someone to implement processes, procedures, projects on the backside of business. Okay, so you have the implementer. Above that, you've got the management level. Above that you have strategy. And then at the very top, you've got vision. So as a business owner, just all of us, like, think back to when you first started this business and if that's where you are right now, and you are experiencing overwhelm, or you don't know what to do next, or you have so many questions, you feel like you need so much support. It's because you're trying to do both the front side and the back side of business, and also manage those four layers because as a solopreneur, that's what you're doing. You're managing front and back, top to bottom. And it gets extremely overwhelming and there's a lot of challenges. And so, the natural thing at that moment is, "Ah, I need help." Where do I need help? I get questions all the time, when I am working in the HR discipline of businesses, they'll come to me and they'll say, "I need to hire, I need to scale this team. And I have no idea where to go." This is the exact framework that those people pay lots of money to be able to determine. But if you just, looking at you, Jacques, you are strong in the marketing space. You've done a lot of development, and I'm assuming a lot of training and education, and getting better and better and refining that. And so, your natural ability is in the front side of business. It's not hard for you to show up on camera, it's not hard for you to record a podcast or to build relationships with your students, or with your potential students, or peers. So, you naturally slant yourself into marketing. So, you hold the vision right now. I'm assuming you hold the vision for both the marketing and the operations of the business. Underneath that, because you've done so much development, you also own the strategy. I don't know your... by the way, just P.S. I'm putting...
Jacques Hopkins 48:41
You're making great assumptions.
Natalie Gingrich 48:43
Jacques Hopkins 48:43
You're doing a great job.
Natalie Gingrich 48:45
Because I don't know the format of your business, but this, this will apply. And I think this can be helpful. The strategy of marketing is owned by you as the CEO, because that's where you have developed, that's where you feel natural, you say, this is the funnel, I am going to develop. But at that point in your business, you're like, I need a manager to make sure that this happens that nothing breaks, and that we're optimizing. And so that's the management layer. And so, you have chosen to get support in that management layer. And then underneath that is the implementation, and that's where we see lots and lots of contractors where we see maybe a funnel builder, a copywriter, a graphic designer, a... I mean those, we can go on and on and on. So that's on the marketing side. On the operation side, you still have the same things, but a lot of us in business, we hold both the vision, the strategy and even the management for a really long time because it's not sexy, it's scary. It's overwhelming. There's not a big return, I've heard it all. And we'll bring in maybe an implementer at the entry level to help us with, we call these people virtual assistants, operational assistants. You know, that's the titles that you see in that space that will help us do, hashtag, all the things or to help us get our calendar set up, or help us to do with, you know, email management or loading emails into ConvertKit or whatever, you know, tool you're going to be using. But I think that that framework really helps people with understanding that you're not going to have eight people on a team. That you as the leader of the business is going to likely hold vision and strategy, until it makes sense financially for you to bring somebody in. In your business, you have brought in somebody in the backside, and that operational strategic level, who is owning both strategy and management. And I believe everybody that's on your team needs to hold, I mean, to make it financially profitable for you, they need to hold more than one layer. I don't believe that we have big enough businesses to say that you're only going to do this, even if I bring in an implementer into my business, I want to be able to see capacity and development. I want to be able to see capacity and their desire to grow into that next layer of management. If I can't see them being managers in the business, I'm probably not going to hire that person. So, I believe just to kind of sum this up, I believe everybody in your business should have, should own two layers. But nobody should be responsible for three layers.
Jacques Hopkins 51:15
I got it. I mean, it makes a lot of sense and I can totally picture like a really pretty diagram with these layers and the front end and the back end, I'm sure that exists.
Natalie Gingrich 51:23
You guessed it.
Jacques Hopkins 51:24
I'm sure you made that. Yeah. So, like, I'm learning so much about this from you. Like, I know that I'm assuming most people come to you because they want to be a certified D.O.O., but if somebody's listening to this, they just want to learn more about how to operate their company, do you have resources for that type of person?
Natalie Gingrich 51:37
Yeah, we, I mean, we've got a ton of blogs out there. We've got lots and obviously I have a podcast called The Ops Authority. And there's a lot of great content out there that you can find. But if you're looking for somebody to come in and just do maybe you don't need an ongoing retainer, Director of Operations, I mean, we have over 160 certified Directors of Operations, and some of them really are passionate about organizational design, which we teach inside of the program. But if you're looking for a consultant to do that, it doesn't have to be me, we've got an army of women who can do that as well. So, we have a hiring forum on our website, TheOpsAuthority.com/hiring. So, if you're looking to hire any in any capacity, whether it's consulting, whether it's full time, you can always go there, and we're going to point you to the right, to a good resource.
Jacques Hopkins 52:24
Okay. So, if somebody's listening, and they feel, like, Director of Operations might be a good fit for them. Not sure about long term, like that's an okay thing to do? To have somebody come in for, say, three months, and just kind of optimize things and then part ways?
Natalie Gingrich 52:37
I mean, people, we build businesses just like you guys build businesses. So, we build businesses in lots of different ways. Sometimes people are just coming in in a project, or in a project consultancy way. Some are just consultants who just come in, give you strategy and walk out. Some come in in a retainer capacity. We get lots of people who like the retainer model because we are givers, we're servants, we enjoy being able to contribute to something and we're not visionaries. So, you're not going to find my people being big visionaries. We get great joy, from latching on to somebody else's vision. And we have felt really devalued for a long time. And I'm just giving you the mental state of the person, maybe not mental state, but the way that we think. We have felt like we couldn't be good business owners, because we really don't cast big visions. It's very, very difficult for us and so we naturally gravitate towards people who have big visions, because we get a ton of joy from making it happen. You guys get a ton of joy from dreaming, from finding that vision. And so that's where the partnership feels so, so good, and can be a huge growth vessel in a business.
Jacques Hopkins 53:45
Yeah, I had somebody on the podcast recently who had a far bigger business than me and he had a probably a smaller team than me, and I was kind of, all fair, we were chatting briefly about, it was like, "Have you heard about like, OBM or D.O.O.? You thought about something like that in your business?" And I was explaining to him this concept. His question was, he's like, "If that person is so great, and they do all those things, I don't understand why they wouldn't want to just run their own business?" Right? And I think you just hit the nail on the head with the response there. Like, that's exactly the type of thing they want to do. They're that type of person. They want to team up with a visionary.
Natalie Gingrich 54:18
Most of us are incapable of, I mean, we're incapable of having that big vision. And I do a lot of coaching around that. Like it's not bad. That's the way that we're wired.
Natalie Gingrich 54:28
And to be honest, a lot of females, I mean, that's why you see females in support spaces, and nursing, and teaching, and administration, I mean, you can look back, I mean, it's not it doesn't have to be a gender specific thing, but by and large, that's what you see. That's the way they, you know, that's the way that we're made. So, we're nurturers and that's part of it. The other thing is this profile of person is very risk averse. And as a business owner, there's a lot of risk that comes along with this. And so, you know, that may not be where they are at this stage in life. And the third thing I would say is, marketing is not... marketing takes a different type of person and a different mindset. And that's not your operator. Your operator loves checking boxes, creating a plan, upholding structure, creating structure, they get a lot of joy off of doing that. They do not enjoy getting on camera, they do not enjoy... they may not enjoy building face to face relationships. I mean, that's, it's just a different person. It's kind of like the whole concept of, you know, right brain versus left brain. It's really like when the whole Yin and Yang thing comes together. It's just, when you see it happen, and you experience it, it's unlike anything that you probably envisioned, because business, what grows, but at the same time, you as the leader, are able to step into what you truly enjoy, when you are matched and find the right counterpart to that.
Jacques Hopkins 54:28
Jacques Hopkins 55:56
About a year ago, I had two people in my team. And it was my Executive Assistant who's been with me for a very long time, and then my podcast editor. Today, the team is far bigger, but I was like, "Okay, I'm going to buckle up and I'm going to set up some project management software, we're going to get out of these spreadsheets. I'm going to set it up." I used ClickUp at the time, I started going through it. Started to... and look, I have a background in project management. Like I used to be a certified PMP, like, I have a background, and I hated it. Like, I could not figure things out. I was very like, repulsed by the activity of setting things up. And I just gave up on like, my spreadsheets are far better. We went back to the spreadsheets. And then Colleen came in and she's like, "I like Asana. Let's do Asana." And she set everything up, you know, over the course of several weeks. Now my entire business, all my spreadsheets, everything is now in Asana, the whole team, you know, eight of us, nine of us. And to your point, I was like, man, I told her the story about me trying to set up ClickUp. And I was like, I hated doing this but I'm so glad it's now done. She's like, "Jacques, you don't understand how much fun I've been having like, this has been the greatest thing ever. Like, I love every part of this." And I'm like, "You're crazy."
Natalie Gingrich 57:08
Jacques Hopkins 57:08
But you just explained exactly why somebody like that enjoys that. And thank goodness for those type of people. Thank goodness.
Natalie Gingrich 57:17
Jacques Hopkins 57:18
That's really cool. A few minutes ago, we were talking about short term versus long term, like you said, somebody can just kind of come in and set things up for you. What about full time versus part time? Do most of your certified D.O.O.s come in, and do part time work for people?
Natalie Gingrich 57:36
This is... I'm going to say something that when they listen to this, they're going to be like, "Err..." But I'm going to tell you, this is what happens. Remember I just got through telling you that we are not natural marketers, that that is a big challenge for my people.
Jacques Hopkins 57:47
Natalie Gingrich 57:48
But when they come to me, they're usually leaving corporate or changing careers or intentionally up-leveling who they're serving, and so they're going through a transformation anyway. I partner with them at the right time to give them the tools so that they build confidence, so that they can then sell these services. So, it is very normal when they're coming through my program that the person, actually at about 85% of the people who come through my program, want to be... and they want to own their own business, or build an agency, or do their own thing. And guess what? One year later, I could predict it, most people one year later come back to me, and say when you get full time roles, when people come to you and work full time roles, I want to be the person you reach out to. Because guess what, Jacques. It's freaking hard to own a business. And so, I think that it's a competing interest. It's like you trying to set up ClickUp, right? You're trying to be that project manager when your real gifts and skills are in a different part of the business. And so, you know, they go into it thinking one thing, but they typically come back around the other way, or they become course creators. And we support that vision as well. There are, you know, lots of different ways that we can become Directors of operations, but at the beginning, most of them are looking for... they're looking to run their own business, and what that means is that they want to serve several clients in a smaller capacity. A portion of them will fall in love with one of those clients and, not, not in that way, but they will be very, very connected to their mission, and the values of the leader in them will overlap so much that they want to go all in. And so, you know that naturally, that definitely happens. It happened to me; I actually took that same path. So, this is not a foreign concept to me. But I went all in with somebody for two straight years. I was fractionally with him for two years. And then the next two years I was full time in their business at the same time kind of creating my own thing on the side. But it's really, you just don't know, and it's looking, I holistically help them to understand where they are right now in their life and what they need. And so, we kind of have, like, an internal quiz where I help them to determine what kind of path you need to go down to serve you, your family, your financial needs and your legacy. What does that look like for you? And they can choose to take my advice or not. And most of them do. Some of them don't? And then at the same time, are you looking at full time, are you looking at part time? Are you looking at fractional? What is it? Because not everybody, not every female can work 40 hours a week or 20 hours, like we customize it to them.
Jacques Hopkins 1:00:31
So, you speak very passionately about all this. There's no question about that. You're obviously doing exactly like, what you're meant to be doing. But like, and your words like why is this so important to you? Like, what is the impact you're seeing? Even if you could bring up a specific example of somebody that you've helped like a success story from somebody you help. Like, why are you doing what you're doing?
Natalie Gingrich 1:00:52
Yeah, I'm going to give a backstory here. So, I spent 15 years in corporate and before corporate, I went to school for nursing and for business. And I know this is crazy, I'm going to tell you a real windy story, but I bet everybody on the line has a windy story. So, I went to school for nursing. And I went on, I got a graduate degree in a specific type of nursing. So, it, you know that I think this paints the picture of, you know, high achiever high dreams, definitely the first person to go to college in my family, grew up, you know, very mediocre to less, and was really looking for more and more and more. And so, I found that through education for a long time. And so, I was definitely over-educated and very in debt.
Natalie Gingrich 1:01:35
So, I went down the path of nursing, and then really did lots and lots of development after that. And we moved from state to state, Medicare, blah, blah, blah, like stuff you guys don't care about not being in the medical field, but when we moved from Colorado to Texas, there was some Medicare changes that didn't allow me to earn what I was earning, and to utilize the degree that I had just gone in massive debt for. So, we moved here and, or to Texas, I'm still in Texas, good old San Antonio. So, when we moved here, we had that change. And I was, I mean, I think I was young at the time. I still feel 27. So, I guess that works. But this is almost 20 years ago, and we were in this, you know, eighth largest city in the country. And I'm thinking how can I, as a nurse, how can I not get a job doing what I have spent all of this money on? And something at that point, that's where I really started doing a lot of deep search for what does success look like? Like, try to do everything I could at that time at the ripe age of 26. Like pulling back everything that had been told to me, which is, you know, nursing or something consistent, right? Like I came from not having a real consistent upbringing financially. And so, I was looking for that consistency. And that's what was filling the gap at the time. And I really wanted to shed those beliefs. And I did a lot of work to figure out what is next for me, because it wasn't nursing in the city of San Antonio, I knew that.
Natalie Gingrich 1:03:12
There were seven people in the eighth largest city in the country that did what I was wanting to do. And they were doing it for $14 an hour. And when you owed $178,000 in debt, the math is really easy to figure out there. So, I really... transformation... like that is where the growth and the development really started. And so, I started applying to all these jobs that were completely outside of healthcare. And in these massive, big corporations that were headquartered here in San Antonio, I knew I was going to be told no a million times. And I certainly was. And I ended up working at USAA, which is a big financial institution here in the state of Texas and throughout the United States, actually. And I got lucky enough, and I learned how to position myself and to sell the skills that I naturally had, because healthcare was not going to get me in the door at USAA. So, I started to sell the skills that I was really good at. And I had no idea what names to call those skills besides organized, besides methodical, besides logical, besides empathic, like those are, those are traits.
Natalie Gingrich 1:04:19
So, I started having conversations and I would get asked to come into interviews, and no I was going to not make a lot of them, but using those skills and being it I came into that organization through the HR discipline, and was really granted a lifetime of adventure and of challenges and I am grateful for that corporate experience. And just through my own success there was asked to, you know, I was in leadership, I was in the executive ranks there, moved over into project management. I never... Guys, I went to school for nursing, like why would I be a leader in the project management space of the sixth largest insurer in the United States, like it made no sense. But eventually I ended up going on to be asked to be the Chief of Staff for our CEO. And that's kind of where my path and where my big, another transformation happened. But I'm telling you this because I had children along this journey. At this point, were nine and six, and we were paying a pretty penny to have somebody else run them to their activities, to pick them up from daycare, because as you may imagine, being the Chief of Staff for a 37,000-person or employee company, you didn't work from eight to five. So, you know, there's a lot of mom guilt, if you would, and doing that. And so, the leader, the CEO was leaving, and the new CEO was bringing his new staff and I had opportunities all over this company, to go work for other people. And I was actively interviewing because I had no thought of ever leaving. And I had a big moment where it just, it was happenstance, and it was completely divine. But our babysitter at the time called me, was kind of breaking down because my kids are breaking down. And when I really took that call, I was ticked off. I was like, "Oh, my God, why is she calling me like I'm trying to do X, Y, and Z." I was very frustrated. And when I really took a breath, after I hung up that call, I really like this is getting emotional, but I just broke down because I'm like, this is not the Natalie that I really want. And I've got this great opportunity right now to step out of this rat race, and to be the mom to Zach and Emory, that my mother couldn't be because she was a single mother. So, I can do this differently. I've got great support from a well-earning, well-supportive husband, to be able to do this differently. And I just went on a quest for, under the guise of legacy. Like, what is a legacy life to me? And how am I going to do this differently? Can I do this inside of this building, and as an executive in this business? I had no doubt was going to be, you know, a female president in this company or a female senior vice president in this company. And as I looked at the, like, that, and that title, with having a legacy life, just... it did not compute to me. And that's not to say it can't happen for other people. But for me, it just, it couldn't.
Natalie Gingrich 1:07:14
And so, to answer your specific question, why do I do this? Why am I so passionate? I walked away from corporate on a hope and a prayer that I was going to be able to find something else and build something different. And still be in integrity with who I am. Not... I don't take away any of my corporate experiences., but through those skills that just... I wasn't trained in these skills, Jacques, like this is me being able to come in and to build success off of a skill set, and drive, work ethic, and ambition. All adjectives that allowed me to be successful inside of this company. I never called them operations, even inside of USAA. They would never have called... it was never called operations. But knowing the transformation that I was able to make across many different organizations inside of there, all came back to a skill set. I knew I could apply that. And of course, I had lots and lots of knowledge at this point, and lots of experiences, lots of learnings, lots of paid development, which is what corporate can be so great for that I was able to do this and recreate it for the small business owner, which was very accessible to me. Allowed me time freedom. Allowed me some of those things that I could not have, again, looking at legacy, legacy, legacy. And that's what drives everything. That's why I'm so passionate about the brand too. Like, making sure that when you come through this brand, it's not only that you're a Director of Operations, but you've come through The Ops Authority, I personally coached you to, you know, give you guidance. If Colleen has a problem, she's got me forever. Like, she has partnered with me to build a legacy.
Natalie Gingrich 1:08:47
And so, you can tell, very passionate. But that's the long story as to answer your short question of why it is that I show up and do this every single day and why I'm so passionate about something so nerdy is operations. It's a skill set that lots of us have and I believe that it is necessary to be able to grow and scale. And if we are going to live and be in a capitalistic world, I know that if you're going to generate more revenue, you're going to have to scale and you're not going to scale by yourself.
Jacques Hopkins 1:09:18
I mean, that's just that's really powerful. I really appreciate you sharing that story. And it just, I mean, we talked for an hour and then I got that story and it's like it just brings everything together so well I think. I really appreciate that. You mentioned the word legacy so many times and Fix This Next by Mike Michalowicz, I don't know if you've read it, but like he's got the Business Hierarchy of Needs, and I'm pretty sure the top one is legacy, and the first one is just like profit and sales like right money coming in, is kind of at the bottom and legacies at the top, and like when I got started, I was thinking about the money. Right? I wasn't thinking about the legacy when I got started and it's very interesting to hear for you that that's like one of the first things that really made the transition for you, is you've been thinking about legacy all along. Really cool.
Natalie Gingrich 1:10:06
Right? But I came into this as a very mature adult. My kids were already teenagers when I got into this and so legacy, I think just timing of it also kind of helps with... and it was so pivotal to me. I knew it was what was missing for me and so, you know, when you know what's missing, it's easy to, it's easier to fill that gap and it won't ever stop being my guiding light. So, legacy is a big deal to me.
Jacques Hopkins 1:10:31
Are you implying that I might not have been mature in my mid 20s?
Natalie Gingrich 1:10:33
I feel like you're a lot younger than me right now. So...
Jacques Hopkins 1:10:37
Well, we've already established you're 27. So, I don't know if that's true.
Natalie Gingrich 1:10:40
Jacques Hopkins 1:10:41
Okay, well, look, I'm going to clunkily transition to a much deeper question, because I really wanted to ask you this and get your opinion. It's nowhere near as deep, but please tell me what is the difference between D.O.O., COO, Operations Manager, and you've even used the word operator like, is there a difference between any of those?
Natalie Gingrich 1:11:00
The operator is, like, the top. It’s, like, the discipline of being an operator, kind of like you're a marketer, like there's a lot of different vessels of marketing, there's a lot of different components to being an operator. So, I use the term operator. And other people may use the word integrator, or, I mean, there's a lot of other things. But I think that those are the two I like the word operator. Plus, integrator is actually trademarked. So, I don't use that word. It definitely respects somebody who goes in, secures their intellectual property. So, operator is the large kind of discipline of operations. And then, remember the layers that I talked about: the implementer, the manager, the strategist, and the visionary? Those to me, this is Natalie, this is how I look at those. At the bottom layer, here, we have what I would call an Operations Assistant or a Virtual Assistant. The next layer to that is where your Operations Manager sits, or your business manager, your Online Business Manager. That's that layer. And then the layer, the strategy layer above that is where you'll start to see the terms Director of Operations, even Chief of Staff, integrator, that's where that level sits. At the visionary part of the operations discipline. That's where your COO comes into play. Most businesses that I talked to, most of the businesses that are your peers, don't need a COO. A COO is someone who's going to be very disciplined and have expertise, 15 plus years of experience, in both the HR and/or the financial discipline inside of operations. And so, most of our businesses don't need that because we're going to consult. We're going to have consultants or relationships to support those, but we don't need that one focus in our business because we just don't have enough resources to substantiate the financial need of doing that. So, I believe most of us are going to stop at that Director of Operations, integrator, and maybe even the Online Business Manager level of support. But I would say once you pass about 25 to $40 million in revenue, you may be looking at needing a Chief Operating Officer.
Jacques Hopkins 1:13:08
I'd venture to say there's probably not a lot of people in that particular demographic listening to this, but hey, somebody...
Natalie Gingrich 1:13:13
I don't talk to many of them.
Jacques Hopkins 1:13:16
Maybe if they listen to this podcast enough, they'll get there.
Natalie Gingrich 1:13:18
I like it.
Jacques Hopkins 1:13:19
You said, integrator is trademarked. I didn't realize that. I'm assuming by like the Rocket Fuel Traction guys.
Natalie Gingrich 1:13:25
Jacques Hopkins 1:13:25
Interesting. Well, Natalie, the 27-year-old, it's been quite a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me. Let's do some calls to action. Like, there's a variety of different ways you could offer value, continued value outside this podcast to people, so tell people where they should head to, to soak up some more of your content?
Natalie Gingrich 1:13:42
Yeah, definitely. Whether you're on the business owner side, or you're looking for a Director of Operations, or maybe you're listening, and you're thinking, you know what, what she's talking about is exactly what I do, and what I want to do, coming over to our podcast at The Ops Authority is a great place to learn a lot. Again, whether you're a business owner or an aspiring Director of Operations, we talk about both of those things over there. And then our website is I mean, we've been in business for five years, and we've never missed a blog, a week of a blog, so we've got lots and lots of content there too. So, I want to encourage you to come over to The Ops Authority, then you can find us on any of our social channels that you frequent at The Ops Authority.
Jacques Hopkins 1:14:20
Excellent. Natalie, thank you so much.
Natalie Gingrich 1:14:22
I loved it. Thank you so much for having me.
Jacques Hopkins 1:14:25
All right. That was Jacques and Natalie, now you're back with Jacques in the Doc. Am I overusing that already?
David Krohse 1:14:32
Jacques Hopkins 1:14:33
Alight, David, come on back, man. That was the full conversation. Thoughts? Give us the overall thoughts first.
David Krohse 1:14:39
Oh, man. I mean, it's just so great that there are people that view operations like it's a party. I mean...
Jacques Hopkins 1:14:44
David Krohse 1:14:45
I'm sure Colleen, Colleen is back there working on Asana, she's bobbing her head, listening to Miley Cyrus, like Party in the USA. She's like, "Woot woot!" and, yeah, I mean, that's not me, you know? You know, I was trying to think of some kind of a mullet reference, because you and I are like, "Yeah, the marketing! That's fun, that's exciting!" And, you know, these operations people, they're like business up front, parties in the back. You know? They're just, they're just having fun with it. But you know, it's kind of like in marriage. I mean, sometimes we wish our partners were like us could see the world through our point of view. But, you know, there's a quote that if two people married, were the same, one of them is redundant. You know, you want differences. And, and it's just so great that some people really enjoy organizing, checking boxes.
Jacques Hopkins 1:15:31
I'm glad that was like, that was your like, overall takeaway. It's like, I'm so glad that people are different, in general, that's what makes living in this world so much fun. And as far as running a business goes, I mean, you hit the nail on the head, it's like, the operations piece, not only is it an essential piece of the business, it's not like a necessary evil, because there are actually people that enjoy doing that, like, that's what they're passionate about. And thank goodness for those people because I've learned that I'm not one of them.
David Krohse 1:15:59
Jacques Hopkins 1:16:00
All right, let's, uh, let's get into the weeds a little bit now. There's a couple of directions we can take here from the conversation. One is just continuing to talk about operations. And then in a completely different direction is just how Natalie runs her program, right? It's not an online course, necessarily. It's an online program, I would say. So which direction do you want to go first? Just keep going operations or talk about how she runs her program?
David Krohse 1:16:24
We can jump straight into how she runs the program.
Jacques Hopkins 1:16:27
David Krohse 1:16:28
Jacques Hopkins 1:16:29
It's very interesting that I pressed on that when I was talking to her it's, like, but why a certification? I was like, but why a certification? Right? And at the end of the day, it came down to people are coming to her, into her business and her website, looking for operations people. And if she's going to recommend people, if she's going to say, these people are certified by The Ops Authority, then it's got to be like a world class program with all kinds of touch points and all kinds of interaction. And that's really cool. And it's good as a business owner knowing I can go to somebody like that if I need an operations person.
David Krohse 1:17:07
Right. Yeah, that quality element that from the people considering taking her course they're like this will let potential people that would hire me know that I'm competent. And then also, you know, you going to her, you say yes, she has done the quality control on these people to the extent possible. It's powerful.
Jacques Hopkins 1:17:27
Yeah. Well, I've gotten emails from my students before, it's like, "Hey, when I finish the course, am I going to get a certificate?" I'm like, not that's like, certificate and certification are exactly the same thing, but it's like, no, like, I wasn't planning on it. And I could, like one day, I could have like a certificate just if somebody wants to print it out and frame it. But like, I was telling Natalie, like, I don't need to certify people because nobody's looking for a certified Piano In 21 Days piano player, at least not that I'm aware of. But for the first time, I really understand why you would want to have an actual certification with your program. And I hope that listeners can take that away and think about their particular niche, and whether a certification would make sense for them.
David Krohse 1:18:10
Sure. Well, you use the service called PicSnippets, you could actually give people a point where when they feel like they've reached their goal, they could fill out their information, and you could send them through PicSnippets, a certification kind of thing and have some fun with that.
Jacques Hopkins 1:18:26
Yeah, there's no doubt. And you know, now that I'm on this new platform, that's WordPress-based, there is no limit to what I'm able to do. I've been geeking out so hard on BuddyBoss, and LearnDash, and then just all the WordPress plugins and possibilities. It's, you know, like we talked about in the platforms episode, like there's a lot of pros to being on WordPress, there's also a lot of cons as well, but so far so good, just because of the right people helping me to manage it. But yeah, I don't... that's certainly low on the priority list, but I wanted to make sure the audience heard that part about actual certifications. But then, as far as how she runs a program too like the fact that everybody kind of has a personal relationship with her and can send her a Voxer, anytime like that, that kind of blew me away.
David Krohse 1:19:11
Right. So, in that context, though, I mean, she was willing to give the Voxer access because she has a group of teachers, who will be the frontline of answering questions. So, when would you be at a point to bring on some of your former students as actual teachers? Or does that appeal to you at all?
Jacques Hopkins 1:19:29
Yeah, it really does. I think that's really cool. I mean, this thing is growing. And I am just one person. And the more in the weeds at the lower level, you know, runway level as opposed to 40,000 feet, the less you know, the company can grow and help more and more people. So, you know, we've talked about this before, but I'm basically the only person on the team right now that plays or teaches piano and that needs to change. And the more I talk to people like Natalie, other people I have had on this podcast who have other trainers on their team, the more I want to do that.
David Krohse 1:20:04
Okay, now your weekly Q&A is for your piano students, how well-attended are those currently? Like how many people show up for those? Just out of curiosity.
Jacques Hopkins 1:20:12
The people that show up live, it's usually about 30. Thirty to forty live, but a lot of people watch the replay. And it's funny, you know, my no offense at all, but my audience skews older and in general, there's more of a technology barrier, right? Just because they... Yeah, I don't want to be mean. Those are my people. You know, my parents are older. And I respect all ages for sure. But that just is what it is. And so, my point is that I'm constantly getting people commenting on the replay, thinking that it's live, or like, "Hey, Jacques, I can hear you." Like three days later they're like commenting, "Yeah, yep, I can hear you. It all sounds good." And they're like asking questions. And so now every time I go live, I'm very clear. "Hey, Hey, everybody. Like, if you see the red live at the top left, then we're live, you don't see that. It's probably the replay. And that's okay. Still watch it. But just know if I don't respond to your comments and questions that's probably why." Whatever, no matter what I say, every week that happens. "Hey, Jacques, I can hear you." Like four days later.
David Krohse 1:21:15
Well, if you get a really interesting one, you could put that aside and set it aside for if you go on a vacation this year, and you don't have a podcast episode, you can drop one of those in the podcast feed, it might be kind of interesting for the listeners, I don't know if they could let you know if that sounds like something that would be fun to hear how you do that.
Jacques Hopkins 1:21:31
Giving me more ideas to think about. No, it's, I mean, that's how I run my weekly Q&A. Usually, I just show up and see what people want to talk about. But I usually try to have something in my back pocket in case they're not as chattery that day, and they want to just hang out. I mean, the one right before Christmas, they didn't have a lot of questions or a lot of people on, so we played a little guessing game. And I would play a Christmas song. I was like, okay, so who can name with this is first. And you know that that was fun as I try to throw things in like that. Every now and then.
Jacques Hopkins 1:22:02
Very fun. Well, early in the conversation with Natalie, she did talk about how from her viewpoint operations was really post sale activities. And instantly, kind of the alarm bells went off. I think that that conversation for me, it highlights the beauty of an online course business, in the sense that again, you are encouraging current people listening to make Next Level Courses, which have a step higher touch. But if somebody listening still wants to just make the course, and then focus on the marketing, that is possible. And it just highlights, you know, a course business can... You got your course business down to a few hours a week. Now you're taking it to a higher touch point. But yeah, that was an interesting discussion.
Jacques Hopkins 1:22:50
Yeah, I was confused about it at first, but it's you know, online course business is very interesting, and it can be as high or low touchpoint after the sale as possible. And as you know, I'm getting more and more on the higher touchpoint side of things. But I know very successful people that are still, they have to do very little after the sale. And of course, that has to be even better in that case. But yeah, I think they're the I think there's operations within every level. I mean, you look at the four pieces I named earlier, you look at even like, student success and testimonials like, I need to have a better process in place for testimonials. I have one, thankfully, and everybody out there listening should have some sort of process, operational process for collecting and using testimonials as well. Right. So, we have a couple of touch points, 30 days, 90 days after somebody signs up for the course where we're actually asking for testimonials that's automated, where we need to get better is a better process on actually repurposing and using the testimonials that we're getting. And that's, I mean that's operations.
David Krohse 1:23:57
Definitely. Well. So, let's say that somebody out there is motivated to get this operations person. And we're talking about not, you know, not just a few hours a week person that edits the podcast. I mean, we're talking about a business partner, and so the thing that I kept questioning is like, I know how I hire people in person. But how in the world would I assess the quality of this person when it's all virtual? They live across the country, or they live in a different country and so I was wondering if we could dive a little bit deeper on how, basically what I look for in an employee, and how I figure that out through my hiring process, what are some of the specific steps, you know, for that person out there that's maybe never hired somebody and they say, I want to hire this ops person, how do I really get somebody great? I mean, we already said that Natalie is trying to do a certification where the only people that get certified are excellent, but you I would know that we still would have to do our own research and validate that person.
Jacques Hopkins 1:25:04
So, you've never hired anybody that wasn't local, basically.
David Krohse 1:25:08
Jacques Hopkins 1:25:09
So, the thought of hiring somebody remote in another state in another country is it's not as straightforward to you, is that what I'm getting?
David Krohse 1:25:18
Correct. Yes. Especially the more important the person, the more integral to the business, the more you pay them, the more that I would want to really make sure that I'm hiring the right person before I invest time and money into that person. And so, yeah, I'd love to dig into the things that I look for and what I do. So, are you game to chat about that a bit?
Jacques Hopkins 1:25:36
Yeah, let's do it. And you know, just for full context, I've never really hired somebody locally. Like, when I worked my job as an engineer for eight years, same company, like, I was certainly involved in the hiring process and have a little experience there. But as far as my online course business goes, which I've done full time, five years now, almost my entire team is remote. The only person is I've got an intern that goes here to LSU that helps me with a few things here and there. So, she's in-person, but everybody else in the team I've never even met in-person.
David Krohse 1:26:06
Wow. Yeah, that's kind of mind blowing for me with my experience.
Jacques Hopkins 1:26:11
Alright, so go ahead. What do you look for?
David Krohse 1:26:13
Yeah, so I mean, the biggest thing, the first thing is just are they dependable. So, I mean, it can be the nicest, most likeable person, but if they don't show up, when they said they were going to show up, and what we discussed, I mean, it's going to be over pretty quick. And then also just this concept of loyalty, or that I get them a certain amount of time, like, so, you know, kind of my first question is, well, I want to see their work history. I'd love to see that they worked for their past companies for longer than six months at a time. And then I would actually be calling and checking those work references and making sure that they did actually work at those places. And then in an in-person interview, I'm definitely asking them questions about like, so where are you headed in life? Where do you see yourself being in two years or five years down the road? What are your goals in a career? And I basically, I mean, I flat out asked him this, I'd say like, I'm going to try to make this your dream job, you know, I'm going to say thank you a lot. And then if you do a great job for me, it's like, how do I get you for? So how are you assessing that from a distance?
Jacques Hopkins 1:27:22
So, what you're saying is loyalty is probably the top thing you're looking for in somebody?
David Krohse 1:27:28
Well, yes, in the sense that if they're only going to work for me for six months, and they already know that I'd like them to tell me that, because that's going to be unacceptable. If they say, probably going to be two years. Now, if they seem really excellent, then we'll work with that.
Jacques Hopkins 1:27:41
Well, I mean, the way you assess that I don't see how it's much different remotely versus in person, like, I go through probably a similar process that you do, except that we're not physically shaking hands, or physically in the same room. But anytime I'm looking to hire somebody, we will get a pool of candidates, whether it's through Upwork, or, you know, going through OnlineBusinessManager.com to find an OBM, going through TheOpsAuthority.com to find a Director of Operations, or going through like GinaHorkey.com, or Abbey Ashley site to find like a Virtual Assistant, you get a pool of candidates, and then usually we'll narrow it down to say, a top three, just kind of on paper, right? Based on resumes, cover letters, things that they submitted to you. And then it's an interview process, right? And so, we do it, we do it on Zoom. And then from there, depending on what the job is, there might be like a trial task. You know, like when we recently hired this full-time transcriptionist, we gave, we had, we had interviews with the top three. And then there were two that really stood out. So, we took those two to the next level and gave them actual transcription tasks to see how they would do. And I can't remember if we paid them for that or not, sometimes it's appropriate to actually pay them to do the task. I guess it kind of depends on how long it lasts. And then after that, I usually like to have a trial period, right? It's like, okay, you seem good. But like, let's throw you into the fire and see how you really perform with real work. And we'll go from anywhere from like a month to three months and have them do a trial period, and let's evaluate each other. Let's see if this is a good fit long term. And so that's the process we go through in our virtual world over here.
David Krohse 1:29:30
Definitely. Now, do you ask people essentially, where they're headed and how long they see themselves working for you?
Jacques Hopkins 1:29:35
Yeah, for sure. I mean, those are the types of questions we do ask. We look back at their history, and then also like, "Hey, where do you want to be in a year? Where do you want to be in five years?" And growth is certainly one of the things we look for. We don't necessarily want somebody that's just going to be content in the exact same role forever. Right? We want people that are going to want to have training get better and grow within the company. And then the other big thing that we look for is just like buy-in, right? Because we are directly impacting other people's lives, whether it's with learning piano or with online courses. And if they want to be a part of something like that, where you can actually see the results. You know, unlike my job as an engineer, it's like, "Okay, I helped that company make more of that chemical. Okay, big whoop. Right?" There was one company I remember doing some work for. I was kind of a consultant. So, we work for a lot of companies. And one of the companies we worked for was this... it wasn't Monsanto, but it was like that where they do like an herbicide, which is, you know, I'm big into health and, like, eating organic and so that just did not jive with certain things that I believed in. So, it wasn't... I wasn't very passionate about it. But if you can come in and see that your work is helping to genuinely help people like that's, buy-in. And that's one of the things we're looking for.
David Krohse 1:30:58
Gotcha. Yeah. So, a second key characteristic for me is just this concept of being likable. I mean, when I first started hiring, I would have people only send in resumes. And after like a year or two, I just, I would get a stack of 100 resumes. And it was just so hard to sense. And so, in person, I started asking people, if at all possible, drop off your resume in person. And I give them the hours that I was working with patients. But even if I were with a patient, I'd come out, shake their hand and I will tell you that in a 30-second handshake and just thanking them for dropping it off, I would sense whether I liked the person. Whether they were somebody that I would potentially want to work with. And it honestly, it ruled out about probably 95% of people instantly. Is there an option when you ask people to send in their first resume to send in like a little video where you would actually... Do you do that currently?
Jacques Hopkins 1:31:49
There's, I mean, there's no limit to what the options are. You can do whatever you want. For me, I have asked for like videos before typically, that would be more on a second round because if you get a job that's very popular, you get 100 applications, well, a hundred videos, is a lot. But at the same time, that could be a way to weed down those 100 too I suppose. One thing that I've done similar to that, and when it looks when it's like a small job, like not a long term project that I'll just post on Upwork or something, I think I've shared this on the podcast before, but one thing I always like to do is in my post, is I say, "Hey, tell me your favorite color in your application." And I kind of bury as much as I can just because I like to see if people can follow instructions, but it also can help me see, you know, to your point like likeability, right? Because sometimes people will just be like, my favorite color is blue. And other times, they'll say, you know, sometimes it's silver, sometimes it's gray, just depending on the mood that I'm in this, like they'll add some personality on to that little piece. You know, for example, when I was looking for an OBM/D.O.O., one thing I put in my request for proposals was, hey, when you apply like, tell me how you take your coffee. How do you like your coffee? I like coffee a lot. We established that at the beginning with my censor word. But it was interesting when I got, I mean everybody that submitted told me how they liked their coffee if they even liked their coffee, but it's, you get to see their personality and some of their likability with questions like that.
David Krohse 1:33:24
Mm hmm. So, a couple other questions in this likability category, I would say asking what are you most passionate about? I mean, I'll be honest, I don't really want to work side by side with somebody whose spirit animal is a manatee. And so, you know, that's giving them the opportunity to say something they're passionate about. And I will just say that when somebody is onboarding, I like to be generous to my employees. And if I'm going to do a gift, I like it to be something that's relevant to them. So, if you think that you might hire the person, like, jot that down, that's going to be an idea for a gift that would resonate most with that person. Another one. I think I shared this at some point in the past, but my wife, she joined a hospital chain, and the hospital when she joined this floor, they had her fill out a little survey and they said how do you like to be thanked on this little survey about introducing her, getting to know her. And I just thought, man, she came home so excited. Again, she wrote down espresso beans, or no dark chocolate covered espresso beans, and kombucha. And she was so excited that this company would care enough to ask that question. That's valuable information you can make a note of and just kind of learn that person's love language. And then again, I mean, when you are hiring, you have to remember that you are actually selling the job too. So, I mean, sometimes when you're hiring for the first time, you might think this person is desperate to take your job. And it's like no you have a sales job to make them think, "Oh, this is an organization that really is going to value me."
Jacques Hopkins 1:34:56
Wait, wait, wait, I want to jump in here because I love that question that was asked of your wife about how you like to be thanked. And what that reminds me of is every beginning of the school year for my kids, my wife prints out this one-page kind of survey for the new teachers with 20 questions like, how do you like your coffee? Favorite restaurant in town? Like, things like that, that help with gift time. So, when it comes time to give them a birthday present, or a Christmas present for the teacher, you know, you're actually giving them something they like. I remember about a month ago, we were going to check the kids out from school early because we're going to do something. And my wife was like, you know, why don't we bring them - the teacher -some coffee? I'm sure they'd appreciate that. Well, guess what? We knew exactly how the teachers like their coffee. So, I went to the coffee shop across the street, got them exactly what they like, you know.
David Krohse 1:35:49
Oh, that's perfect.
Jacques Hopkins 1:35:51
Soy, one pump, sugar-free vanilla, like very specific. Boom. And so, we could totally do the same exact thing for our team and maybe get them to update it once a year. And the question, how do you like to be thanked, I think is a great one.
David Krohse 1:36:05
That's awesome. Yeah, put that in the show notes. I'd love to actually download that and take a look. That's awesome. Okay, so another one. Does a person's personality-type truly match the job needed? And I've been brainstorming this question. So, I've had such good continuity in my staff that I haven't gotten to hire somebody for a long time. But...
Jacques Hopkins 1:36:23
David Krohse 1:36:24
I'm excited about this interview question. I got to tell the backstory. So, I had this wise, wise, older lady come in. She's an attorney, but she has a group of rental properties. And I remember I asked her, I said, "Now have you had experiences getting bad tenants that destroyed your properties?" And she said, "No." And I said, "Well, how does that work?" And she said, "Well, I do something kind of funny." She said, "Anybody that comes in applies..." She said, "...I walk them to their car." And she said, "For somebody who's renting their car is their most valuable property." And she said, "I look inside. And quite frankly, if their car is kept really terribly," she's like, I think that is a sign of how they're going to keep my house. And if the car looks pretty good, then, you know, she said, there's an assumption that they're probably going to keep my household that way. And I just love thinking about that. I'm like, you know, there could be exceptions. I know, at one point there was a conversation of rent or renting properties in the ChooseFI Facebook group, and I suggested that. And all these moms, like, sent me, like, scathing messages about how they're so organized and dependable, but that their children make a mess in the car. I was like, "Alright, I'm not trying to start a fight here."
Jacques Hopkins 1:37:37
Well, it might have been also, you're just trying to find ways that you can one up me and things that I can't do virtually. Like, I can't go check people's cars.
David Krohse 1:37:45
Right. No, but I think... So in person next time I have somebody I think I will ask them like, "Hey, if I walk you to your car, at the end of this interview, you know, what would I observe and what would that say about you?" And I think that's kind of a test of congruence. You know, are they confident in who they are? You know, if you asked me that question, I'd be like, "Oh, you'd see like some dog hair and some bikes." I mean, I'm really active. You'd actually... I'd probably share something I'm passionate about. The question that you could ask, and this would pertain, especially to somebody that would be in this op’s role, is how do you manage your finances? So, do they have a plan? As somebody that loves operations, you would think that they would have enjoyed setting up a system to manage their personal finances and I think that could be a glimpse into whether they're an organized person, or if they really don't have an answer there, you'd be thinking, "Why would I let you organize my business?" What do you think? Is that a good question?
Jacques Hopkins 1:38:41
Yeah, no, it is, um, you know, it reminds me of I've always heard Dave Ramsey talked about how he, one thing he does in the interview process is "Asks to see their personal budget." Now, that's very on brand, because Dave Ramsey teaches personal finance, but his point is, I need to make sure that what I'm going to pay you fits in your personal budget. And if not, then this might not be a good fit because you're always going to be disgruntled about your pay, because it's just not congruent with your budget. Now, I know that's kind of a different level that you're talking about, because you're just talking about more of, hey, are they kind of organized and motivated to do important things like nitty gritty organizational things within their own personal life, because that could translate to the business. So, it could be getting on the verge of like, a little too personal, but I definitely see where you're going with it.
David Krohse 1:39:34
Well, yeah, I mean, I wouldn't be asking for actual numbers. It's like, what's the system that you put in place to manage your finances? You know, and if somebody has no answer, there is actually I would say, it's more highly likely that they're going to show up late. That their life is disorganized. So, now another one, just finding out if the person is capable of doing the job. Like you, we would always do a working interview and actually see them in the office. Have you ever put somebody through a test called the Wonderlic Test? Or have you heard of that?
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:05
Yeah, that's the football test, man. That's the one that all guys going into the NFL Draft get tested on. It's like a, up to a 50-point scale or something.
David Krohse 1:40:14
Correct. Yes. So, one of the groups that I'm in a membership for, they recommend the Wonderlic Test, and I was actually looking at a free version of that. Are you pretty good at standardized test?
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:25
David Krohse 1:40:26
Have you done it?
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:26
Yes. I mean, I've taken, like, the SAT. And then I went to get my MBA, I had to take I think it was called the GMAT.
David Krohse 1:40:36
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:36
But I don't think I've taken the Wonderlic before.
David Krohse 1:40:39
Nice. Now you're competitive, so what's your SAT score then?
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:44
Aww, man, I don't, I don't know. I don't want to say it.
David Krohse 1:40:46
You remember it! You remember it.
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:48
David Krohse 1:40:49
Oh, I got a 31. Did you do ACT?
Jacques Hopkins 1:40:51
Oh no. No. ACT was like the main one in the South here, and I only applied to schools in the South. So, where applied I needed the SAT.
David Krohse 1:41:03
Man. Well, I think, yeah, I got like, I got a higher score, so to speak on the SAT, but that's funny. We should each take the Wonderlic test before next week and see how we compare. But...
Jacques Hopkins 1:41:14
Okay, send me a link to the one you found.
David Krohse 1:41:17
Now what about checking efficiency? Because like you said that you had your current transcriptionist do that, but what about, like, how would you know how long it took them? So, I was thinking like, would you ever have them do a process while you're actually on a live Zoom call? To see their skills?
Jacques Hopkins 1:41:37
I don't know. I'm not sure but you know, that's not my job anymore.
David Krohse 1:41:41
Gotcha. Oh has... have you truly given Colleen the full responsibility to hire?
Jacques Hopkins 1:41:46
Well, I mean, I'm certainly involved in the hiring process, but now that we have, for example, the full-time transcriptionist on board like that's, he reports to Colleen, he doesn't report to me. So, I, you know, I'll ping him every now and then, by the way, hey, Marben, doing a great job on transcribing, man. I'm making it known that I'm here if he needs anything, but in general, like if he has any problems, if he has any questions like he goes to Colleen, not me. So, it's one of her jobs is to make sure that he's doing a good job and that he's being efficient. And so that's on her is not on me.
David Krohse 1:42:19
Gotcha. Well, I guess most specifically, we are talking about this higher level, like Online Business Manager-type person, and I'll tell you, if I were hiring somebody across the country, I would actually want to see some of their work live. And so, I think what I would do is like live on a Zoom call, or while I'm actually seeing how long it takes them, I would ask them to write out like a page or a couple paragraphs about why they want to work for me and what they, yeah, just why they want to work for me. And I'd want to see that they have the attention to detail, kind of like you're talking about, see that they can use grammar properly, I got to make sure I'm using grammar properly. I admit to that. And proper punctuation, but I would actually want to see that.
Jacques Hopkins 1:43:01
Well, I'm way bigger on the result versus how you got there, too, right. So that's why we do the sample tasks and whatnot, like I want to see what we ended up with and how you got there to me isn't as important.
David Krohse 1:43:14
But they could be having their spouse or their sister, like do all that.
Jacques Hopkins 1:43:18
Right. But what about... so that's why we do the sample task, but then also a trial period. So, I doubt that they would have their wife or sister working full-time for a month or 90 days in the trial period just to get the job.
David Krohse 1:43:30
Correct. But in an interview, the sooner that you can rule somebody in or rule them out, the better. So anyways, I mean, I agree you've got yourself covered there with the trial period. Now honest and strong character. I got to tell you, well, so you mentioned Dave Ramsey before, have you ever heard him say that he actually would go and meet with their spouse?
Jacques Hopkins 1:43:50
Yes, I have that written down right here, man. Yes.
David Krohse 1:43:54
He says he goes... when he's going to hire an important team member, he wants to go out to dinner with the candidate and their spouse, because he says if they're married too crazy, it is going to affect their work.
Jacques Hopkins 1:44:07
Yes, I have a couple of notes written under Dave Ramsey, because that's somebody I very much look up to and respect and have followed his stuff for a long time. But he's got some very interesting things to say about hiring. One is that, you know, asking to look at somebody's personal budget. He also... I've heard him talk about how there's like seven rounds of interviews, and then that meeting with the spouse is just one of those rounds.
David Krohse 1:44:30
So, I mean, I actually call references and I want to hear people actually, I mean, a number of people tell me that a person is solid. So, do you take those steps with pretty much every employee?
Jacques Hopkins 1:44:41
No, I'm not really, I've not really done that because, and this is just my intuition but it's like, I feel like references could be very biased, right? If I'm a job candidate, and I'm actually putting down references, they've got to be good whether they're fake or not. No?
David Krohse 1:44:57
No, because of the job history. I mean, you asked for their job history and you're supposed to be able to call. And when you call that manager, basically, if the employee was a great employee, the person on the other end of the line will always say, "Yeah, they're fantastic. I was so sad when they leave." If they say, I'm not able to answer any questions, that is like alarm bells going off "Run, run." So that's a huge warning sign. But yeah, I would want to call any former employees, any former employers that they list. And again, yeah, you're either going to hear resounding praise, or if they just won't answer the question, that's equivalent to "Yeah, you gotta watch out." And then some former employers will sit there and just say some things that it's like, "Whoa, I'm glad I knew that."
Jacques Hopkins 1:45:43
Cool. That's a good point, man. You're not talking about just like a references section on a resume, you're talking about, "Hey, let's look at the work history and do a little bit of stealth and actually talk to who they worked with."
David Krohse 1:45:55
Right. And all of this becomes more important, the more integral the person is to your company. But I mean, you are proposing and recommending that course creators hire somebody that is like their right-hand person. So that's where I'm like, you know, a deep dive into this stuff is good. So personally, I would actually do, potentially do a background check on people. So, this came up. This lady came in and applied, and I thought she was fantastic in person. I just thought, "Oh, I'm such a good judge of character. This lady is phenomenal." And I was ready to offer her this job. I think I did give her an offer. Well, I got an email from her. And she said, you know, I'd love to take this job. But my last job, I was making a couple dollars an hour more. She said, I talked to my sister about it and I was thinking that you could just pay me in cash and that way, it would be the equivalent of what I was making before. And so, I'm looking at this, like, what the heck, I actually sent my dad a message and sent it to him. I'm like, it sounds like she's encouraging me to do tax fraud here. I was like, is there any other way to interpret this? And my dad is like, no, it looks like that to me. Here in Iowa, we have something called Iowa Courts Online, and you can look up a person for free. And so, I looked her up and she had embezzlement charges.
Jacques Hopkins 1:47:11
David Krohse 1:47:12
It was just like; I would not have looked. And later on, I heard this other lady, it was kind of funny. She was recommended by this lady that I got to know, and they were in a Bible study together. And so, I didn't do the Iowa Courts Online check. She started working for me, and there were these signs of crazy starting to come out. And so, I did the Iowa Courts Online thing, and there was actual, like jail time. And I was just like, "Oh my gosh, like, so. So, doing that can be valuable.
Jacques Hopkins 1:47:43
There you go, man.
David Krohse 1:47:46
The last thing I would say is that in the hiring process, I actually do sit down with each candidate and spend just a little bit of time going over some things that I call the Wounded Boyfriend Expectations. So, I've hired a few employees, and I've had some amazing ones, but there were some where ultimately that relationship degraded. And we kind of left on bad terms. And so, I sit down here and just say, you know, these are some of the ways that things went wrong in the past. And again, I try to frame it as I'm going to try to be the best, best employer possible, I'm going to say thank you a lot, I'm going to try to make your job enjoyable. But here are some of the ways that things went wrong in the past, and can we be on the same page that this is going to work for you. So, in my office, there is a certain amount of scripting in the sense that if somebody says something at the front desk, if somebody says, I'm just going to wait and give you guys a call, you know, the person at the front desk has to be willing to say the script like, Okay, well, you know, I'd love to just put a time down for you. And then if something comes up, and you can't make it, you know, you're always welcome to give us a call. And if somebody, I've had people that said that using a script like that was badgering patients. And I'm like, "No, that's great customer service." So, I kind of have this section where I'm like, yeah, these are where things went wrong in the past. How can we prevent that in the future? You have anything similar to that where you can reflect back on past employees that didn't go quite right and learn from them? Or see where you can try to like head that off up front?
Jacques Hopkins 1:49:14
Well, I think for us, for me, the kind of trial period, what I was talking about earlier, is the big thing there. I like what you're saying in terms of actually telling people at the beginning like here's some of the past problems, here's some of the past breakdowns, and just trying to get ahead of it. But I don't have anything specific like that. It's more of the trial period we rely on. But, man, I appreciate you sharing all these things, because the biggest thing that I see or that you've said is like, you don't have to hire very often because your people are sticking around. And I think that speaks that really backs up all the things you're saying. It's like, "Hey, everybody, like listen to what David is saying, because it's clearly working." Like I think the morale is probably high. You've had people stick around for quite a long time. And so, you might know a thing or two, what you're doing as far as hiring and in keeping people around too. So, I appreciate you sharing all this with us.
David Krohse 1:50:08
Right. And just psychologically, that trial period, I mean, it has a huge value, but let's say somebody is in there in the trial period, and they're doing like a 6 out of 10. job. I mean, it's very hard to let somebody go. I mean, it's one of the hardest things you can ever do is tell somebody that they're not a good fit for your company. And so, a 6 out of 10 person can feel comfortable and you can say, "Well, I think it's, man, she's right on the line. He's right on the line of good enough." And like you say, getting the right people on the bus, the more that you can figure out up front the better.
Jacques Hopkins 1:50:43
Yes, exactly. So, operations and a lot of hiring and managing a team in this episode. David, anything else? Or is that going to do it here?
David Krohse 1:50:53
Well, yeah, I would have just one question. On this note of operations. One of the main things that it seems like Colleen is doing right now is probably standard operations. Actually, starting to create a book of that, or I guess I was just curious, is it mainly screenshot videos? Or is it text based? Or can you share a little bit about is that currently a part of what she's doing? And is it both?
Jacques Hopkins 1:51:19
What you're talking about as SOPs, right?
David Krohse 1:51:20
Jacques Hopkins 1:51:21
I'm sure you have SOPs in your business, Standard Operating Procedures and...
David Krohse 1:51:24
Right. And unfortunately, they're almost all text right now.
Jacques Hopkins 1:51:28
Yeah, exactly. So, videos, I think screencast videos, especially in an online business are really nice. And like a video plus text is even great. So, that is something that's on the to do list. It's not as high a priority. We have some of it already. And Emily and I worked on some of that before she came around, but she's definitely going to help us standardize that. And one of the reasons that's so important is if somebody goes on vacation for a month, or if somebody unexpectedly leaves, and is not a part of the team anymore. Somebody goes on maternity leave. So, somebody can step in and follow a process. Right? And so that is certainly on the list to get done at some point. And something that an operations person is like, that's one of the things that they do for you.
David Krohse 1:52:16
Nice. Are you still a Screencast-O-Matic guy?
Jacques Hopkins 1:52:18
I've switched to the dark side, my friend. I am a Loom guy now.
David Krohse 1:52:23
Oh. That is good news.
Jacques Hopkins 1:52:25
I think I posted this; I think I posted that in The Online Course Community Facebook group a couple months ago is like I switched to the dark side. It just seemed like Screencast-O-Matic, they weren't as actively developing the platform, and it started to get buggy, it would crash. And I was like, let me try Loom. Everybody's using Loom, and it's just a lot more seamless.
David Krohse 1:52:47
Jacques Hopkins 1:52:48
And so, I've been using it for the past couple of months. And, you know, to be honest with you, Bonjoro as you know, I love Bonjoro for sending quick videos to thank my customers, they have a new, like, screencast feature. So, I might try that out eventually, but I'm a Loom guy right now.
David Krohse 1:53:05
Jacques Hopkins 1:53:07
All right, David. Well, thanks for joining me here for another episode. 163. Man, you know who we're having on the podcast next week?
David Krohse 1:53:15
Jacques Hopkins 1:53:16
David Krohse 1:53:17
The Man. Phil.
Jacques Hopkins 1:53:18
I first reached out to him in 2018, but he is uh, he was, his wife, I almost said he was pregnant with twins. His wife was pregnant with twins. And then they had another baby shortly after that. And so, it's just been a struggle to get him on. But I finally was able to talk to Phil. Great experience. Pleasure to meet him. He's, I would say like the King of Udemy. He's been around a long time. Very, very prominent on Udemy. I've actually taken some of his courses before. He's got over a hundred courses to his name at this point. So very inspiring conversation. So, stay tuned next week for the conversation with Phil Ebiner. But this was Episode 163, so you can find all the show notes and links from today's episode by going to oc.show/163. And until next time, get out there and make some Next Level Courses with transformation and not just information. Take care everyone.
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