Almost all of us grow up thinking that we can only ever achieve anything in life by doing more. The hustle culture is one great product of this. Day and night, we all work our life away, forgetting that the reason we do it is so we can enjoy life. But are we really enjoying and finding fulfillment in it? In this episode, Kim Sutton sits down with Crista Grasso to talk about how we can achieve more by actually doing less. Known as “The Business Optimizer,” Crista has the ability to quickly cut through the noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to grow and scale a business. She imparts her wisdom and expertise with us as she talks about what makes a lean business and how we can also apply it to our daily lives. Sometimes, doing more does not necessarily equate to having more. It helps to take a step back and assess which parts you can do more efficiently and productively. Lean out in this conversation.
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Lean Out: Achieve More By Doing Less With Crista Grasso
Unless you just stumbled upon this show by accident, that this is a positive productivity show, where I talk about productivity and automation and a whole lot more, anything entrepreneurship, the good, the bad, the ugly. How positive productivity is not perfect but it doesn’t need to be painful. We are going to be talking with Crista Grasso. One of the reasons why I’m excited about our conversation, Crista, is the topic of achieving more by doing less.
That has been a struggle for me for the last several years of the business. I would imagine that I’m not alone, that it has been even more difficult in the year of COVID because a lot of us have had to be creative. Have you seen that with your clients? We have to be creative to keep our income up but sometimes we tend to go out of our lane and think that we need to do more to achieve more when I know that’s not the case.
That was such a common pattern for so many people in 2020 in so many of my clients. In some cases, their business didn’t change that much due to COVID. Others had big impacts. The rest of their household around them changed. Their husbands or their kids were suddenly home. They were homeschooling, which they weren’t planning on doing. Even if their business itself didn’t shift, which in some cases it did but for those who are lucky enough where their business model lent itself pretty well to working in a fully remote world, it still meant that their household changed. There were a lot of things that they needed to pivot and they found themselves working a lot harder or sometimes not quite as productively as they had previously.
Do you have a camera in my house? Now that you say that, 2020 was actually the best year in my business because the quality of the clients’ investment that the clients made went up to their value. The services that they received went up. They were less of a micromanaging style, so respectful. They respected what I do. From that standpoint, I would call 2020 a productive year. I achieved more. However, just like you said, there was so much more going on. I feel like if 2020 clients had been combined with 2019, everybody out of the house, including my husband, it would have been a banner year.
Congratulations for having the year that you had especially during a year that was challenging for so many people.
I want to say on this just one more moment. I want to know how you’ve got into this. When I started my business, I thought that just because I could do something that I should and that I needed to say yes to everybody. I was still saying yes to everybody in 2019. Let me clarify. I was saying yes to everybody as long as they were in a specific industry but I wasn’t qualifying them in any way. It turned into an extremely stressful year because I was still saying yes. I realized I crashed at the end of 2019, that something needed a change.
I did a drastic change. I let go of my biggest client ever. I stepped up who I was going to work with and they had to meet qualifications. I want to hear how your journey came to be though before I keep on rambling here. I started the Positive Productivity Podcast in 2016, not knowing what it was and it’s taken these many years to figure out what positive productivity means to me. How did you get to where you are and being the expert on achieving more by doing less in everything else that you speak and work on?
Probably so many of us and I’m sure probably like you too, have a bit of a winding road. Some happy accidents that just kind of pulled things together in ways that I probably couldn’t have planned if I tried but I had initially gone to college and I was a Fine Art major. I always knew that I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and have my own business. I wasn’t fully sure what it was going to be. For a while, I thought it might be photography. While I was in school I said, “If I’m going to run a business for the rest of my life, I should learn a little bit about the business.”
I ended up actually graduating with a Business degree and, like so many people, I graduated with some lovely college loans. I had decided that I would work for a few years, pay that down while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my own business. The first job that I ended up getting was a morning customer of mine at a Starbucks I was managing, who had offered me an opportunity. He said, “I would love to have you come work for me but the only way that we can make this happen as quickly as I need is if you come in as a consultant.”
I fell into consulting. I didn’t even know what a consultant was or did but I said, “Sure.” It sounded like a great opportunity. The company that I was brought into and that I was consulting and was doing lean manufacturing. I fell into Lean and lean for anybody who’s not familiar with it is about eliminating waste and focusing on customer value, so you are focused on the things that make a difference and you are eliminating everything else. That just made so much sense to me. I completely fell in love with lean. I ended up liking consulting.
I did go on and I started my business. It was a jewelry business. It’s called Criscara. I ended up doing what so many business owners do when they first start. I worked way too hard. I’ve got myself to the point of almost burning out. I almost put myself out of business with insane amounts of debt. I went about my business, the hardest, most complex way possible. I had this epiphany moment one day where I was thinking, “Why is it that the businesses that I’m consulting with are all having these amazing, incredible results? Here I am in my own business struggling and I’m not following any of the things that I tell them to do. Why am I not doing this?”
It was one of those dumb moments that you have after the fact. When you are in it, you are busy, working hard and trying so hard to get traction and get things off the ground, find product-market fit, and do all those things that sometimes you don’t even see it. Once I had that realization, that just made all the difference in the world. I ended up applying what I do with the large businesses and helping them lean out.
Achieving more by doing less. Less of the things that aren’t adding value to their clients and aren’t adding profits to their business and more of the things that are. I took that and applied that to my own business. That was honestly how the Lean Out Method that I do was born. First was applying it to my own business and then working with a lot of other business owners and also helping them achieve more by doing less. It’s a very winding road but a lot of happy accidents had got me to what I do.
I went to art school myself and left with a whole fine stack of student loans. I didn’t realize right away that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Working in an office just wasn’t for me. Having my bathroom and lunch breaks timed? No, thanks. It was interesting how you were saying about being too close and not seeing the whole picture because that’s how I have been. I have no problem sharing the skills and the strategies with clients but when it comes to my own business, it’s like, “What’s going on here? Why?” It made me so frustrated for years. Why is it working for everybody else and not for me? I am also classically stubborn, like A plus, 4.0 GPA in stubbornness.
It takes me about eighteen times for somebody to recommend that I changed something before I will listen. I don’t want to be this way. The first seventeen times I might be a little bit offended that they are recommending that I do something different. At first, it feels like there’s a lack of faith in what I do but then I realize, “I see it now.” My friends and my husband have learned not to say, “I told you so,” but they are usually the ones who get me to step back and take a look at the big picture and then realize, “Maybe something can be different.” Can you talk more about Lean? I have always been intrigued but I have never understood.
Lean pretty much grew up in the manufacturing world. There’s something called the Toyota Production System, TPS. That was where lean had gotten its roots back in the early 1900s. It was like the 1920s and 1930s. If you think about manufacturing when you manufacture a product, in this case, it was Toyota so it was vehicles. You want those products to be consistent. You want to produce a consistent product. You don’t want two different people to buy a vehicle and one is completely different than the other one.
There’s a set expectation that it’s going to be the same level of quality. If you think about the whole manufacturing process itself, to build a car, think about how many different pieces, components and widgets go into actually building that vehicle. Plus, how many different people need to touch that from the time you have just an idea to rolling a car off the production line. If you think about all of that, it’s important that you are being as productive as possible, that you are eliminating all of your waste in the system because it’s expensive if you don’t. You also want that consistency in quality in the product itself. You want a product that’s meeting your customer demands. Lean was a way of doing all of that.
Over the years, when I talk about lean and I work with small businesses on lean, I work more with service-based businesses, coaches, consultants. Lean can apply beyond manufacturing. It’s where it got its roots but the concepts themselves are just so universally applicable that I think they are relevant for any business. Who doesn’t want to do more things that add value to their client and eliminate waste and things that don’t add value to their business? I think that’s true for everybody.
I have seen clients or I have heard clients tell me that they have spent $250,000 on courses and never opened up any of them. They have all these different pieces of software, a lot of them which overlap and they are paying monthly subscriptions for them or annual subscriptions. They were just holding on because they’ve got this great deal. They never touch it for a year and then the annual renewal comes up. They pay it again and they think, “I will use it this year.” It’s a never-ending cycle. They have team members who aren’t necessarily being productive. They are there. They might tinker in the business and they are getting a healthy invoice payment every couple of weeks, but they were not contributing to the big picture. Are these all factors that you would look at when helping a small business?
Those are so common. For those of you reading this, if you think about your business and you take an honest look at it, you probably have scenarios where those things are true. Usually, what I do with people if you think about getting lean and you think about achieving more by doing less, that all starts with clarity. You have to know what actually matters and what’s important to eliminate what isn’t. That’s the hardest piece for people sometimes, especially when they were overworked or overwhelmed. They were so busy in the weeds with a to-do list that should have its own ZIP code. They were just working that it can be hard to take a step back sometimes and get the clarity on what matters.
The very first thing that I do with people, Lean Out Method itself has four pillars and the first one is Context and the second is Clarity. Do we start with the Context with the vision of what do you see for your business? What do you want to be known for? Who do you want to work with? What’s the transformation or result that you want to be helping your clients get? Where do you see yourself in that?
You have to look at yourself as the business leader and also your lifestyle because most of us did not start a business to work 24/7 and hustle non-stop. It’s not why we went into business. Over the years, that just becomes the norm. You forget all those other things that were important to you. When we look at that vision, we always look very holistically and say, “When you look into the future, what is your business look like? What does your life look like? What are you doing? What’s your role in the company? What about your customers? Where are your customers in the future? What are they going to need from you?”
We start there and then we take a look at your business model. What I frequently see is people have a disconnect. They’ve got a business model that’s never going to take them to their vision or they have things really complex and that’s where you will find team members, tools, processes, systems, a whole lot of things in the business that are unnecessary, that are duplicative or that just simply aren’t generating the right results because they were not focused directionally where the business and the leader wants to go. I think that that’s so incredibly important as you need to know where you are going. You need to know why it’s important and you need to align your business model to that. When we get to clarity, we build a 90-day plan and look at what’s important now in the next 90 days. That context gives you that directional, long-term importance, as well as making sure that you’ve got a business model to support it.
How much does money muddy the waters though? Do you have to help clients get over income goals and look at purpose and mission and feel good heartfelt goals often? I found that money was driving a lot of my decisions early on.
It can and I think what happens is at some point in your business, you have a shift. In the beginning, you think about how much is this going to cost me. At some point in your business journey, you have a mindset shift and you start thinking in terms of return on investment, ROI. Do you start thinking of what is this going to give me? It’s a different shift. If you are still in a place where you are thinking, “What is this going to cost me,” then just focus on getting to the place where your mindset shifts and you are trying to think of what is this going to get me.
I feel like it’s such a big mindset shift because you have to invest in things for your business to grow in scale. That investment isn’t always financial. Sometimes it’s time, energy, focus, all of those other pieces. You do have to invest financially in your business for it to grow, too. if you are always concerned about what it’s costing me without thinking through the return on that investment, sometimes you are limiting yourself, your growth and you are limiting the results that you want before you even get there. I’m not sure if you see that as well but that’s something common that I see.
Early on, I would say for the first few years, I didn’t realize that sleep was even an investment. When I wasn’t sleeping, everything was sucky. It took me longer to get stuff done. I wasn’t making clear decisions. Investing in ourselves financially, I struggled with that for so long. How much is this going to cost me? I’m looking at how can I invest better to get better results? For the record and I love my production team but I’m looking at ways now to invest in podcast production that takes care of everything and make sure that it all gets marketed exactly how it needs to get marketed without me having to do it. We can look at cheap and easy or we can look at sometimes not even notably more expensive but a minimal more investment with a lot more results. I don’t think exponential is the word. Sometimes just a minor little step up in the amount that you are paying can produce overwhelmingly more results. Is that exponential?
Let’s go with exponential because I think it is true though. Sometimes we think that it needs to be these big, massive things that we do and these revolutionary things that we do in our business that are going to get us the results. It’s frequently much subtler than that. One of the other pillars of the Lean Out Method is Kaizen. That’s a lean concept and it means making small, continuous improvements and changes for the better. Sometimes, it’s those small pivots and continuous improvements that lead to exactly what you were talking about. You end up getting these big spurts of growth, this more exponential results that you get and it’s because you are focused on what’s working. You are focused on what matters and you are continually improving that instead of making these big, radical changes and doing things new all the time.
You just hit me where I needed to be hit. I’m going to tell my best business friend that you’ve got through what he has been telling me. My friend, Richie, has been saying, “I don’t understand why you are building this funnel because you have told me over and over again that you get all new clients through your conversation. How often do they come in through funnels, Kim?” That’s what he has been asking me and rarely he was like, “Why are you worrying about a funnel?” Why am I worrying about a funnel? He was like, “You need to be worried about getting them into the conversation.” It’s Kaizen exactly. I choked on my coffee when he said the word Kaizen. I needed to let you know that. For readers who have been around for a while, you may not realize that I have tattoos and I want Kaizen to be my next tattoo. I’m so worried that I’m going to get the symbol on my body and it’s going to mean something entirely different.
Has it independently verified before it gets done?
By multiple sources. I just, I’m going to get it fact-checked in twenty different ways. Going back to the Lean Method, why am I working harder instead of smarter to build mechanisms just because “everybody else” has them rather than improving what I know already works for me?
That’s so critical. That, to me, goes back to the business model again. What is the business model that works for you as a business leader? It naturally plays to your strengths that align with your clients and what they need from you and what their customer journey is going to look like that’s going to work well and for your industry. There are no two business models that are exactly alike. I think what we frequently do and might be the natural problem solvers in us but we take a look at our business and we see the thing that’s working.
We were like, “That’s working. We are going to ignore that. Let’s double down and try to fix the thing that’s not working or create something new because this other thing is already working.” You get far better results if you optimize what’s already working in your business. More often than not, you need to lean out and eliminate what isn’t working instead of doing what most people do, which has all of their energy on trying to fix something that’s giving them no results, instead of amplifying what is giving them results already.
What would be the first step that you would recommend for a new client to begin leaning out? Sometimes I spend too much time at my desk and I don’t mean to be so literal here but leaning out actually means getting out. What do you start by telling your clients to do?
It depends on their starting place. That being said, the one thing that’s pretty universal that I always do with everybody is what I mentioned about setting that vision. I have a next-level vision exercise that I go through with them that does look at what I consider to be the three facets of vision, which is the business, the business owner and their personal life and lifestyle, as well as the customer and the customer journey. We look at their business model and make sure that their business model is in alignment with that. The next thing that we do is build their strategic plan. We build their 90-day plan.
I think that’s critical. You have to do regular strategic planning in your business if you want to be productive and you want to make sure that you are working on the right things and the things that matter. You can’t be lean and focused on what matters most if you don’t consistently set the expectations around what matters most. I start there universally with everybody. We do next-level vision. We validate their business model and create their 90-day plan.
What’s in their 90-day plan can be very different. For some people, if they find their business model is out of alignment with what they want to do, maybe they no longer are in love with their business. They have lost that passion that they had for it because over time they did a lot of should-ing. This person has this, “I should add this to my business. Maybe I should do this. I should get on this new platform.” They end up making their business complex and not doing the things that fuel them and that they love. We unpack a lot of that. We will usually build a 90-day plan that has them leaning some things out while continuing to grow and double down on what’s working. They were continuing to hit or grow their revenue targets so they don’t impact that negatively while we are leaning out their business.
Crista, how much should-ing on yourself did you do?
I did a lot of it. In my jewelry business, at the time that I started that business, “The way that you grew a business,” is that you went to trade shows. You pre-produced all of your collections because people wanted to be able to buy instantly. What did I do? I invested tens of thousands of dollars in every trade show that I would go to. I would travel all around the US to be in the biggest trade shows and hanging next to the big brands. I pre-designed and pre-invested thousands and thousands of dollars into a product that nobody bought. I did it because “I should do it.” That’s just how you grow a jewelry brand back at the time that I was doing it.
It wasn’t how you grew a jewelry brand. I almost put myself out of business and a lot of other people that were alongside me at those shows that I’ve got to be close friends with and had amazing businesses and jewelry brands or fashion brands, they did put themselves out of business. I found a different way to do it. Had they found a different way to do it, they would still be in business. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are should-ing. You look around and you were like, “This is what you do. This is how you do it.” You assume it’s fact instead of validating, “Does this make sense and is there an easier way?”
I had an eCommerce shop from 2005 to 2010. I thought that more inventory would mean more sales. I wound up $100,000 in debt in the business. It’s several years later now. My credit score is finally starting to repair itself.
I hate to say it but that is common. That’s what happens to so many people because there is that perception. It’s one of those unwritten shoulds that isn’t unfortunately true.
I felt so guilty for the longest time. Now I’m realizing everything happens for a reason. Readers, take some words of wisdom out of this and understand that more doesn’t always mean more. I felt guilty because we couldn’t get a mortgage, a car loan, this and that. I’m talking about material stuff but it was making a huge impact on our family. Having to pay more for rent and get less space because I’ve got a family of seven. We didn’t want less space. We could have but I didn’t want to live in less space. I can’t share a room with all seven people. That doesn’t work for me. I felt guilty for a while because those decisions had led to financial hardship.
I’m thankful now. I’m realizing I don’t need more to have more. It sounded good on my brain. I realized that I get into the same routine over and over again. I’m going to go back to Richie again. I was creating a challenge a few years ago. Maybe you have seen this with your clients. I would love to see or hear how perhaps you have seen it or even experienced it in your own business that I had to have the whole challenge created. I think this is probably what you did with the jewelry business a little bit. I had to have the whole challenge created before I can start talking about it to people. Richie said, “What are they getting?” I said, “Every day they get something new.” He said, “What if you stayed three days ahead of them? You create as you go but you start talking about it now.” That’s a novel idea.
The same goes for courses. Many entrepreneurs that I worked with and probably the same as you, with coaches and consultants think that they have to have the whole course created before they start talking about it. There are founding member launches to use Stu McLaren’s verbiage. There are beta launches. There are live launches where you create as you go with the customers, the members who sign up. You don’t have to have everything created before you started. Sometimes, you are just like Crista said, “You are wasting time because, in the end, nobody wants it because you never even bothered asking.”
There is a concept in lean called the Minimum Viable Product, MVP. This is something that all entrepreneurs should be leveraging in their business. MVP is what’s the minimum number of features and functionality that someone would get value from and invest money in. You want to be getting feedback and you want to be getting the revenue as quickly as possible. The longer you spend pre-building something, the longer it’s going to take you to get it in front of your customer to actually get feedback and get revenue. This is all about generating revenue. More importantly, if you do it in a vacuum or if you are asking people questions but it’s not people who are investing in it, you sometimes end up going down and creating a whole lot of stuff that never gets used.
Talk about the opposite of lean. You are introducing a lot of waste, putting a ton of time and energy into something, if not, a ton of money into it, depending on who you have helping you to develop and build it. To your point, you want to do things more dynamically. You want to focus on MVP. I will give you an example of what I did because my natural tendency is very much to try to have everything right and figure it out in advance. It’s how I’m wired. I fight against myself a lot to not follow my natural tendency, to focus on MVP and do what I teach people to do. I had wanted to teach this masterclass. It was a five-day lean-out challenge that I was doing with people to help them lean out their physical and digital workspace, lean out their systems, their finances and ultimately, get back time in their day and money in their business.
What I did is I came up with a concept and I communicated that to people. I created a signup page. I had people register before I ever created any content. I came up with a structure that said, “Here’s five days and the five things I’m going to talk about,” and that was it. Every single day, that day, I created the content for that night’s class. I posted a worksheet out in my Facebook group an hour before the session went live because that’s was when I finished it. I have walked people through it, got feedback. I later turned that into an actual paid program. That was how I did it. I very much MVPed. I’ve got interested people. They have signed up, joined me and got a phenomenal experience. I created it just in time. The nice thing about that was each day’s content was more relevant because of the feedback and interaction I had the prior day than it would have been if I had gone and pre-created it all.
Readers, if Crista’s words just smacked you and inspired you to start creating something using the just-in-time method, I want to hear about it and I’m sure Crista does, too. Head on over to TheKimSutton.com/pp722 to leave a comment. Let us know what you are working on. Let us know where we can lead people to. Let other readers know what you are creating and where they can go sign up for, a sign-up page or even a PayPal link.
I always thought the challenges needed to be free. It wasn’t until after I created the Work Smarter Not Harder Challenge that I realized how many challenges have I signed up for that were free and never even opened up the introductory email. If I invested a little bit, I would take it seriously or invest more than a little bit. We don’t need to create stuff for free. Crista, what have you found when people pay even a small amount? Do they tend to get more out of it?
It helps you as a business owner too, even if you charged $27 or $37 for a five-day challenge or something. You know yourself. That challenge is probably worth $500 or $1,000. If you are doing that challenge with the goal of upselling people into a course, a coaching program, working with you privately or something along those lines, then absolutely. If you can charge a small amount for it, any amount, what it does is weeds out serious people.
It naturally leans out the people who aren’t going to follow through, take action and ultimately, aren’t going to end up working with you. Anybody willing to open up their wallet and invest any small amount is much more serious. They are showing a different level of commitment. They are saying, “I want to do this enough that I’m willing to pay something for it,” which means they are much more likely to show up.
I don’t know about you but especially if you do pay ads, the last thing on Earth is when you pay a small fortune to get a whole bunch of people to sign up for a training that you are doing and then you talk to crickets. There’s like nobody there and you are like, “Why did I invest in all of these people? Now they are on my mailing list. What do I do with them? Are they even interested in what I’m talking about?” That does help people show that they are a little bit more serious. They do tend to convert better in to whatever the upsell offer is that you have.
In the spirit of not positive productivity and not working smarter or harder, not doing less to achieve more, this Work Smarter Not Harder Challenge that I created was a 30-day challenge. I can’t even make it through a five-day challenge. It’s out there now. This was a prime example of not getting feedback before I created it. What do you need help with? I brain-dumped all over a piece of paper and started working. I was working in a vacuum. How do we un-stuck our vacuum? How do we get that sock out, so we are not working in the vacuum anymore? What’s the first step that you recommend?
To me, again, it all comes down to that clarity around what’s important right now. If you don’t already have your context set, start there. Otherwise, have that 90-day plan and what you are going to find is a couple of different things. There’s a technique that I developed called ChuCK. I highly recommended that you implement this. It’s super simple to do. CHuCK stands for Cut, Hold, Change, Keep. Once you have clarity on what’s actually important in the next 90 days and you know what your focus is, run the different things that you are doing through the cut, hold, change or keep.
There are a few different things that you want to consider. The first is the return on investment. Are you getting an ROI for the time, money or energy that you are investing in the thing that you are doing? If you are not getting it at all, then maybe you want to cut that. If nothing else, at least put it on hold. It’s probably not something that you want to keep in alignment. When you think about that context and where you are going, your vision and your business model, is it still aligned with where you want to take your business or is it something that you used to do that doesn’t serve your next level of business growth? If that’s the case and it’s not in alignment, then again, you probably want to cut it. You want to put it on hold or maybe want to change it so that it becomes more relevant and aligns a little bit more with where you want to take your business.
Fulfillment, is this something you still enjoy doing or do you dread it like your corporate friends’ dread Monday morning? If you are dreading it, you do not want to keep doing it. That is an absolute clear sign of something that you want to cut or want to change in such a way that you can either automate it or delegate it to somebody if you have a team. Investment, are you doing something now that’s going to pay off in the future? Maybe you are not seeing that immediate return on investment but things like SEO or relationship building or things of that nature that have a long tail that you know are the right things to be doing in your business but maybe you are not seeing an immediate return. Is it providing that investment?
You want to consider these questions all the time on everything that you are doing. I recommend people do it every 30 days. Super simple like literally take a piece of paper, put four boxes on it, cut, hold change, keep and go through and evaluate what you are doing. You can take it to the next level and look at your offers. You can work on your entire business through this. Start with the things that are on your to-do list and your activities.
For the longest time, I thought that fulfillment was eCommerce, filling orders, warehouses. I worked at American Honda for a little bit before I started my business. It was a parts distribution. That’s what I thought fulfillment meant. It never occurred to me after I started building funnels that the fulfillment came after the strategy, that I would go in and build. I became the sock in my vacuum because I was the only one that was actually building the stuff. I started to resent the building because that’s where all the stress and backlog came in. I love the strategy but I don’t need to be building it.
My 90-day vision and I want to know yours too, is to begin working on building the agency so that I am the strategist and the mentor. I work on developing the strategy and then it gets turned over to a team member, who is amazing at building the funnels who’s amazing with design and can build out the pages. Facebook messenger bots, whatever it is, they built it out but I don’t need to be the build-out person anymore. That will be the key to getting all of my nights and weekends back unless I’m traveling.
Just circle back to fulfillment, that’s also your key to having fulfillment in what you are doing. I always talk about that there are things that fuel you and drain you. I don’t know about you but if you are a vision person, probably the execution is draining to you or at least it is overtime. The vision stuff is fueling, too. You could do that all day long.
I could do that 24/7. I come up with ideas everywhere but I don’t want to be building them. I don’t know if you know, Crista, that I have chronic idea disorder. That’s what I call it. From the bathroom to the car, to take walks and to be in bed, on my exercise bike. I get ideas everywhere. If I had people that were building it instead of me, it could be the Kim empire but I get so wrapped up in being the fulfillment manager myself. No, I’m not fulfilled. I’m frustrated because everything is stuck.
I like that when you are not fulfilled, you are frustrated. I feel like that’s a nice little tagline there. It’s true. If your brilliance is those ideas, then you want to step into visionary leadership, have that team around you that is going to be able to go off and execute your brilliant ideas, get behind them, champion them and make them generate the results that you ultimately have in mind. Your challenge is simply going to be choosing which idea to do next.
You have totally kicked my butt for the next 90 days. I’m going to call it the fulfilled squared plan. You can take that. Go run with it. That’s not my idea. That’s yours. Fulfilled squared, I’m going to put that out on a Post-it. I realized that Post-its are sticky but my kids take Post-its off of things so I always have to back it up with tape That’s going to be on my laptop monitor. What do your next 90 days look like for you?
I have some big bold moves that I am making in my business in this next 90-day period of time that I’m quite excited about. Q1, my major focus was launching my podcast, which I did which was excellent. Going into Q2, I’m actually changing my ideal target market. I’m eliminating my primary revenue stream. I am re-imagining my own business model. I split my time. I worked quite a bit with these large, Fortune 50 corporate clients I have done that for many years. I also work with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners.
Over time, I have found that my fulfillment is in working with the entrepreneurs and small business owners and being a lot closer to the impact and the transformation in their business. I’m rounding out an engagement with my current corporate consulting client and I am not going to extend, renew or take on any more corporate consulting clients. In the next 90 days, my goal is to transition and re-imagine my business model, so that I can work with the target market that fuels me and who I want to work with and support.
I can only begin to understand what that must feel like. I told you I let my biggest client go at the end of 2019. They were providing 100% of my work and all of that was based on building funnels. In the spirit of total transparency, which positive productivity always is, in 2019, I worked with no less than 30 clients. In 2020, I worked with four clients. From 30 down to 4, let’s just use those numbers that might not be totally correct and my income was a third that it was in 2019. I was so much more fulfilled because I wasn’t working 24/7. It was worth it. I can understand the need for fulfillment. I have had clients recommend that I try corporate but I didn’t want to deal with the bureaucracy, the hierarchy and waiting for things to get approved.
Do you want this or don’t you want it? Yes? Good. Now we don’t have to go through eighteen steps to get approval from the Accounting Department. Speaking of accounting, I want to touch on that fast because this is something that I was thinking about as far as lean out. Accounting is not my thing at all. Both my parents were accountants. I can’t stand looking at numbers. I can hardly balance my checkbook. It has been recommended to me over and over again that I outsource my bookkeeping and everything, which I agree with. I should but not doing it has saved me and hold out. I know, readers, based upon what we have discussed already, you are thinking, “You should invest. That’s a good investment. You are doing things that you shouldn’t be.”
I need to say that it saved me so much money because I have seen all the extra stuff that I’m spending money on that I shouldn’t have. I have cut back on everything that I don’t need. I don’t mean just because I didn’t have money, I have cut back on it because I didn’t need it. I wasn’t using it. I signed up for it because it was in my inbox. Don’t sign up for things because you get them in your inbox. Make a wish list of what you think you might need for your goals for the next 90 days and then consider it.
That has been key to get my operating expenses back to where they needed to be because I was personally looking at my numbers. I’m very thankful for that. Ideally, I would have outsourced that already but if I had outsourced it, I don’t know that somebody would have brought to my attention that I had four different social media scheduling tools. They would have been balancing my books. Now, it’s fulfilled squared. I was going to say fulfilled cubed but it is. It’s fulfilled squared. Thank you. I like to say that episodes are like personal coaching sessions. I don’t ever want them to feel that way to the guests but you gave me a personal coaching session.
I hope for all of you to read, there are some things that you can take away, too. Make sure that the things you are doing on a day-to-day basis are actually in alignment with where you want to go.
Crista, for readers who want to get in touch with you, learn more about what you are doing and connect with you, where’s the best place for them to go?
My website is LeanOutMethod.com. You can find all of the things there. If you go to LeanOutPodcast.com, that’s where you can find my podcast. Otherwise, everything’s at LeanOutMethod.com.
Congratulations on your podcast, by the way.
Thank you. I’m excited to finally get that going. That has been on the list for a long time. I finally created the space for it.
I’m curious, are you using Reels at all to market your podcast?
I am not. I have not done going down the Reels channel yet. At some point, I will. I just hired a sales and marketing manager. She is phenomenal. She will be able to open me up to some of those things that will help optimize what I’m doing. Now, I use Instagram in its very most basic sense.
Full disclosure, I’m not using Reels to market my podcasts either. I made a toilet paper reel. A roll of toilet paper and had a message on it but I have heard that it’s a good way to get the word out. That will be something for me to outsource because again, I don’t want to be fulfilling my social media. That’s not fulfilling to me seriously. I could give I’m giving you a huge virtual hug right now because I can’t even express it. I told you I’m stubborn. This is the conversation that has been had seventeen times. You were just the eighteenth and you said it exactly how I needed to hear it so thank you, times 18,000.
You are welcome. Thank you to all the people who came seventeen times before they’ve got you ready.
I would love to know a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you have for the readers.
Based on everything that we talked about, I think one of the things that I will leave you with is to build off of everything. At this point, you’ve got your context. You know where you are going. You’ve got your clarity. You know what to be doing in the next 90 days. Leverage what I call strengths-based scheduling. As you look at your day, schedule to your strengths. Make sure that you are spending your time doing the things that are fulfilling to you and that you love. Build that team around you as we have been talking about so that they can take those other things off your plate and do what they love, which is complementary to what you do.
On top of that, as you structure your day and as you look at how you can work most productively, play to your strengths. If you are a morning person, do the most important things in the morning. Schedule focus blocks in the morning. If you were a night owl, do it then. Leverage strengths-based scheduling so that you are doing the things that you are uniquely skilled to do. You are doing them at the most important things at the times of day when you are at your personal best and you will see just a huge increase in productivity.
- Crista Grasso
- Lean Out Method
- Work Smarter Not Harder Challenge