How can you systemize and then automate your business to replace yourself?
Jas Panesar is the creator of Panesar.net, a consulting company that systemizes and automates any business. I invited Jas here to teach me how to systemize Mixergy even further. He’ll help you systemize your processes so you can grow your business and you won’t even have to stand up your girlfriend or boyfriend to do it.
(In addition to the interview, Jas did this screencast to show you his system.)
Jas Panesar, Damaag
Andrew: Before we get started, this interview is sponsored by Fast Customer, you ever have to make a phone call, say, to your bank, but don’t want to have to wait on hold for half an hour until a real person gets on the phone, well with Fast Customer, you just do what I do. It’s right here on my iPhone and I’ve had it since it launched, you just type in the person you want to reach. In my case I’m going to go Citibank credit card support, they will call them, they will get a person on the phone and then they’ll connect me. I don’t have to press 1, or press 0, or do any of it, or wait on hold. I get to go back to work and they call me when the person’s available to talk to me. And I do this with AAA, if I needed to when I did a few weeks ago. I do this with Citibank, with tons of companies. Any company you want to reach just about is going to be in there. Go to Fastcustomer.com and get the app right now for your iPhone or android device and if you’re a company and you don’t want to keep you’re people on hold forever, and maybe you want some insight into their customer satisfaction, go to Fastcustomer.com and partner with them.
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Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner; I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. Home of the ambitious upstart. How do you systemize and automate your business to replace yourself? Jas Panesar is the founder of Damaag, a consulting company that turns ideas into products. I invited him here to Mixergy to talk about how we can systemize our businesses because I am frickin’ overwhelmed here at Mixergy and a little at a time I’ve started to systemize my process and then delegate to other people and the business has grown and I’ve become a little less overwhelmed and actually, you know what, today was an easy day because of some of the systems that I put together. Anyway, I invited Jas here to help me learn how to systemize even further and to help you guys systemize your businesses so that you can take it up. Jas, let me start this way, I just described my problem, just a little bit off it, of my overwhelm‚Ä¶
Andrew: Tell me what you’re life was like before you systemized and organized your business?
Jas: Well, I actually have words that aren’t mine, I happened to, while I was going through your new process, which is really nice, I had the chance to ask someone that I really impacted in a bad way in the last couple years, and you know, starting and running a business, my business, was chaotic. There’s no manual, there’s no degree. I lost count of how many times I stood up, or I bailed, you know on my girlfriend, friends, family, other obligations other than work. Basically, you know, I booked flights to go somewhere, or changing dates, I would just perpetually put things off. I thought I could go do it. This one time, I’ve gone to cities, or I had to go do something, and I would land and I wouldn’t really be there, I would just be working. And, it didn’t matter where I was.
Andrew: Let me ask you something, you would actually bail out on a girlfriend? You’d get someone to go out on a date with you, would you make it to the date before you had to rush out to work?
Jas: Sometimes, I mean, I have to ‘fess up, I’ve been in a long distance relationship for awhile, and it’s helped me figure out the things I need to figure out.
Jas: In that case, yeah, it was really chaotic because work was my life and I didn’t want it to be. I love what I do but I’m not, you know a work-a-holic. It’s kind of a really weird struggle that I think I’ve found, you know, I’ve really found my peace with over the last couple of years. It’s been really good, but back then, I wouldn’t spend time with my family, my friends, my siblings, and their probably all wondering, “What the heck?”. I really let down a lot of people in ways that meant a lot to me, not just them. Any of the stuff that I was trying to do, just in my work, to me, on my scale it was never really worth it, but you kind of keep trying to work your way out of it and do better, you know. The worst, Andrew, and I, is that, this is probably four years ago and I will never live this down, I can try to do anything I want in my life, I don’t know if I’ll ever, on my own forgive myself, is that I wasn’t even able to get to a call from my mom on my own birthday and, you know, I can’t even get into that.
Andrew: Oh, I can feel it. I identify with it because I’ve had similar situations. I’m talking about, like, going back, I remember I was at a dinner with my wife and my mother-in-law and I had to step out on my iPhone to send e-mails back and forth and I remember thinking, “This is fricking bullshit what I’m e-mailing back and forth for”.
Andrew: I’ve got to go back to a past guest and get a url, so we can post it on a friggin’ blog. I’ve got to go back to an upcoming guest and go back and forth and pick out a date on the calendar to book the friggin’ interview. It’s always little things that are so insignificant to my big picture view of my life and my business, that are distracting me from the things that, you know, in this case it was a dinner. In other cases, it’s just sitting back at my desk and thinking, “What do I want to do next, where do I go next”. I’ll tell you my after, in a minute, my after story. Tell me your after story. After you systemized, give me an example how your life was changed?
Jas: Well, I think the last two years, for sure, I’ve been in the most control of my life [??], everything’s just growing. Like I’m getting, you know they say it’s hard to walk in three directions at once, and I’m kind of doing it. This year I went to, I think, seventeen cities and I got more done, like I said, in all the years of my life in business, and, along the way, you know, because I was able to line up things and systemize and keep them working and moving. You know, I get e-mails from my customers saying, “Thanks for the excellent service, we’re so happy”. When stuff maybe does slip through, or something goes, maybe needs a little bit more attention, the fact that it can get attention without turning my life completely upside down anymore, that was the real test I had to pass last year. And the best thing for me is, you know, in the world that I work in, or work from, you know being paid in seven days or less is a pretty high thing, where people wait 30, 60. 90 days and I try to make sure that’s the litmus test of my life, am I doing a good job. ‘Cause if I’m not, I need to keep improving.
Andrew: You know what, that is spectacular. To be able to travel around with a free mind and still take care of your customers. I completely get that. I’ll give you a quick story for me, when you and I were setting up to do this interview, I saw an e-mail come in from a guest whose going to be doing an interview in the future, he self.
Andrew: He self-booked. All we do now is, we give guests a URL, they click on it and they can pick the date that they want from a calendar. They can give us their Skype name so that we know exactly where to call them. They give us their web address so that we know whoever blogs it, Ari, will know exactly what link to go in there. Boom! That part of our work is now systemized. It’s not perfect, we’re going to have to come back and fix it, but it’s systemized. I want to take that little success story and now stack it with others, and that’s why I invited you here. I want to just keep getting better and better and better at this stuff.
People who watch this know, I do these interviews for the same reason the person who is now listening to me while he’s walking his dog or working on programming, I want to use it the way you want to use it. So, Jas, we now convinced people, I’m sure, we spent five or six minutes here convincing people, or explaining to people why this is important. Now let’s tell them how to do it. What’s the first step that you recommend people. I see by the way that you’re looking at me a little funny, is the audio coming in OK? What’s going on, man?
Jas: I think it’s coming through OK, I’m just going to try turning it up.
Andrew: Turning up the volume, OK, great.
Jas: OK, there you go.
Andrew: Alright. Usually people need to lower the volume when I’m on but I’m glad that you want to hear more. So, we explained the problem, we showed what happens when the solution is implemented. I want to know how to get there, let’s bridge the gap between the before and after. What’s the first step that you recommend my listener, my precious, precious listener, takes? What’s the first tactic?
Jas: The first thing, that’s really important is to find out where you’re at. You know there is a lot of stuff we’ll spend reading, how do I apply this? This is really good, but how do I actually use it right now. And it’s implementing it. You know, we’re all trying to solve the same problems in our businesses. I think every business is trying to solve one questions over and over in different ways. Where is everything that? It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee, a customer, a manager or an owner, you want a different answer to that question. And so, if you look at your own business today, ask yourself, where are you today? Do you have people that manage systems and systems that manage details? Or, are people the system and the details. By that, what I mean is that, when a business is in it’s infancy, it’s people are the system and the details. Jas will do it with his coil notebook how he wants, and if you need anything that Jas worked on you have to go ask him. And, if he’s gone for lunch, or he’s away, good luck and you can try reading his notebook but you might get somewhere, you might not. You know, and then a business, when it moves into adolescence you start getting these ideas like well I’ll start systematizing. Make things centralized, let me book interviews from a website. That’s a huge leap forward because your centralizing a lot of what you are doing.
Andrew: Let’s slow it down here; let’s make sure we understand the value here. You’re saying the first step is to understand where we are today.
Andrew: When you say where we are today what do you mean? Am I writing down all the processes that I have in my company? Am I finding a way to document the way that I work today? What are you asking me to do?
Jas: Eventually, but I think the first thing is the [??] test I use, I walk in and say does everyone do the work of your business as well as you? What if you left tomorrow? What if someone else that’s critical left tomorrow?
What would it get done?
Andrew: What would not get done if Andrew or the CEO who’s listening to me right now did not show up tomorrow? That’s what we need to write down.
Andrew: Got it. OK. So when you did this, what did you write down?
Jas: Well I’m in the software space and software has all these moving targets, changing targets, you’re fighting interpretation all the time because you may have wanted one thing one way and we all interpreted to be something else. It’s this continual need to lock things down and make them very clear. And, you know, I lived on the phone. I could be eight hours a day on that phone. My phone would never stop ringing, my email never stopped.
Andrew: Yes, for example, when you’re on the phone and obviously if you weren’t there the phone couldn’t keep ringing, what specific thing wouldn’t get done on that phone? What specific task wouldn’t happen if Jazz wasn’t in the office for a day or two?
Jas: Well a detail would get missed so if there was a critical step that needed to be done or an update or a change or hey we got this all wrong or whatever, it would get missed. And whatever was already underway would get done and then we’d have to go back and forth. It just cost a lot more time, money, headache. It’s not fun. It’s not a good way to live or work.
Andrew: OK. Alright. In my business, if for some reason I didn’t show up tomorrow we wouldn’t know which guess to book because I’m still the last person who decides when a guest gets booked or not and that’s a problem. And there are a few other things. So your saying, whoever is listening, write down the things that would not get done if your not there. Next tactic is what?
Jas: The next tactic would be get it out of your head. Now you just take this problem, Andrew, for you and I’ll take it for myself too as that there’s these requests that come in from my customers or in your case you have to find topics, locate speakers, book them, for example. Where you have to really focus on making a list of what your typical day, week and month might look like. And make a list of those gaping holes that wont get done without you or someone else on your team and this is really a high level list. And the benefit to this is that if someone leaves, you know life happens, things come up that you know it really important to have that in place because,,,
Andrew: Wait I’m not sure that I’m following you. You’re saying if I’m taking a list of all the things that I do…
Andrew: that wouldn’t get done without me and someone leaves then there would be a problem, well, why is that a problem if I’m the person who’s doing this?
Jas: You have taken the time to transfer the intellectual capital of your business to someone. And so they’ve taken what you have done and tried to do it as well as you or maybe better because if you hire someone that’s better than you at something you’re actually relying on them more than what you have in yourself.
Andrew: I see, you’re saying there’s more of a problem than what’s just in my head. It collectively, everyone in the company, has stuff that’s only in their head. They only know how to do it. In this case maybe only one other person might know how to book a guest or one other person from my audience knows how to write sales pages or do AB tests.
Andrew: You want to get all those things down on paper. Two: and you want to, in fact, before we get to what you want to do with them, give me an example. I understand that what happened to you was you had an operations manager who, tell me about that.
Jas: Yeah this is actually a customer story of mine. As I’m going to try make names but
Andrew: This one of your customers who had an operation. OK, tell me about that.
Jas: This one of my customers that I worked at. I’ll give you an example of myself too. So I’m going to give a negative side of this and a positive side of this. There was an operations manager who ran a company and they had procedures, they had all this stuff they thought but when things got hairy, you know, when their like oh what about this scenario or that scenario, the procedure ended with go talk to this person or try these three things and go talk to this person. As the business grew and got more complicated, you almost always ended up going to the person because the procedures weren’t continually updated, that kind of thing. To kind of give a good analogy, if that company was a car, he drove the car and he designed all the parts on the car and my job was to help kind of build and service some of the parts. So I didn’t drive the car in anyway but I kind of had a feeling or understanding of how things kind of worked. So he kind of jumped for the car while it was on the highway and I had to make sure that the car didn’t crash, the company didn’t crash. Really I was in a position of, had to figure out things.
It really made it clear of, first of all you couldn’t function without this guy even though the real talent in the business was the founder, who was just an amazing creative talent, but he was, in a way from the logistics side, just as important. Depending on where you are in your business, if you’re starting out as just you, maybe it’s all you. Generally speaking, it’s probably not. As soon as you’re discussing leaning on someone, it starts to change a little bit.
Andrew: So what you’re telling me to do is be aware of what individuals have in their heads only, and then we’re going to take it to the next step. So far we’re being aware of a little too much. I want to start getting to actually taking some kind of action, but let me let you give the positive story, and then I’ll push on to what action I could take.
Jas: Sure. So this example I just gave, this business was a 5 to 10 year, million dollar business. It wasn’t small, but 20 to 40 employees, kind of thing. Now, in my world, I was a smaller consulting shop where we’re really hyper-motivated, do the work of several people kind of place. What was still happening was, everything was still in my head. If you called me and asked me any detail about anything, I have a pretty good memory and I could remember conversations, decisions, where to go look, oh there’s a document somewhere, but really it shouldn’t go through me. I shouldn’t be that system.
So I started working on a central space to start collecting and filling in those gaping holes, and collect all the information. Instead of me having to make this time to document things, I said, you know what, if I don’t bake it into the bread, if I don’t make it a part of my day to day process, I’m not going to get there, so I installed a case manager where I stopped using email. I just said, you now what, everything has to be indexed and organized right from the get go so I can search on it later. One item per email, gets a case number, and we’ll get more into the details of that later on, I hope, but basically, I have a search engine now that, the last five years of my life, every problem that I’ve solved, it’s organized.
Andrew: Let’s get into it now. I understand that this may be a little bit out the flow of the conversation, or out of the systemized way that we planned to teach this, but it’s interesting. You’re saying to me that you gave up email and you replaced it with a different process that would enable you to capture all the steps that you… actually, I don’t understand. Tell me.
Jas: OK. I’ve given up using, for the most part, an email client. If someone’s calling me just to chat, such as do this, do that, read this, fine. As soon as it requires any attention from me beyond 30 seconds or 1 minute that I can’t reply or do something, I forward it to my case manager as an email.
Andrew: Case manager. This is a person in the company.
Jas: No. It’s a piece of software. For me, I use FogBugz. It’s a project management and software tracking tool, but it’s kind of generalized. I went through a lot of attempts to build one myself, and tried out a lot of different ones, and this is the one that I have landed on. It’s turned my life-
Andrew: You’re using FogBugz and what are you doing? So, I’m a client of yours and I say, I’ve got this problem. What kind of problem would a client of yours have? I like specifics.
Jas: Let’s say you’ve called me and let’s say that I did the web schedule thing. You say, hey, you know what, these dates aren’t working, or people are getting double booked. Let’s say someone is getting double booked in your system. You’d send to me-
Andrew: You’re using me as an example instead of using one of your examples, that’s perfectly fine. Some people, by the way, in the audience, when we use me as an example, they get bothered. It’s a little too Andrew-centered. Believe me guys, I get just as bothered as you are, but I think sometimes putting the guest on the spot and saying you come up with your own example is a little too tough. Fine, we’ll use me as an example. I get an issue where a guest says, Andrew, you son of a b****, what are you doing, you double booked me on the same day as this other guy. I now have to deal with that. What I would ordinarily do is, actually, you tell me. What should I do? What’s the better thing to do?
Jas: Well, what you would send in, what I would get is an email saying just that. That, hey, this system you had, it was supposed to only do one, and it’s happening twice. My whole life’s a mess.
Andrew: Oh, I see, ’cause I would come to use as a client and I would say, Jas, I hired you, people are getting double booked. What would you tell me to do?
Jas: Well then what I would do is I would take the essence of your problem, your issue, or your feature request, and that’s really all businesses are, requests. Different kinds of requests, tracking the, scheduling them, making sure we understand them, doing them, and then saying we did them. That’s all people want to know, where is everything at. In your case, I would say, you’ve got this problem, here’s how you replicate it, here’s how you build it, it’s kind of borrowing it from the software world a bit but generalizing it for business in general.
Andrew: OK, fine. I’ve told you the problem, you’re sending to FogBugz. How are you doing it?
Jas: I forward the email, or, best of all, I have the customer say, hey, if I’m going to be slow by phone because I have to talk to you, type it up, send it to you, and get your approval, so it’s going to take a day before I can even start on this. If you send me an unclear email, it might take half a day to get going or actually figure something out. If you could send me a clear email with just one problem in one email to this address with the steps of how you had the problem, or if it’s a new feature, what do you want? I will promise that-
Andrew: OK, so instead of telling you over the phone what I want or what the problem is, you want just that one problem, don’t load it up with multiple problems in that single email, say, one single email, problem is, two guests are getting booked at the same slot. What would you do with that?
Jas: I would say give me an example of where it happened. I have to go see how we can make it happen again.
Andrew: How we can make it happen again, OK.
Jas: Right, I have to replicate it. At the end of the day saying, OK, here’s a problem, here we’ve caught lightning in a bottle, and let’s get this fixed. At that point, I have a scope of work from a business point of view, what we want to get done and when we’re going to get it done. It’s now one problem, it has a case number, and in my life, if it doesn’t have a case number, it doesn’t exist.
Andrew: OK, fine.
Jas: What happens then, it gets scheduled. I can hand it off to someone saying, here’s a problem, here’s who logged in, here’s where they logged in, here’s what they did, here’s what happened, here’s what should happen, here’s what it needs to be, here’s what needs to happen. I’m not needed anymore, unless there’s something that only I can fix.
Andrew: Got ya’. So now you’ve created a process which is so simple, so organized that you can pass that problem on to someone else.
Jas: The neat thing is I use FogBugz as my email program so if as, along the way, if I have to speak with Andrew or my customer about, hey, we were trying this and we found this other thing, or, hey, we think we have this working, go try it out, that whole communication about that one thing is just in that email chain, so in the future when a calendaring issues comes into my life of, oh, I built another calendar thing and it’s double booking too, I can say hey, wait a minute, I did this a couple of years ago, where is this. I’ll type it in and say oh yeah, and there was this little weird thing I had to do, and there was a bug, and I have to work around it. I solve problems, instead of revisiting and relearning, I just go look it up.
Andrew: Actually it’s feeling like a whole lot of work. I’m trying to think of my audience here. We’re telling them if there’s something in one person’s head, it’s a flaw in the system and needs to be systemized. I’m thinking, alright, sales page. They need to create sales pages on there website. There’s one person who’s brilliant at it. Maybe it’s the founder that’s the only person, maybe it’s a writer that he hired. That’s a problem, because if that person goes away, new sales pages can’t get created. Perfect, there’s a problem. If we now say to them, go sign up for FogBugz, and every time you have a problem like this where you can’t create a sales page, forward that problem to FogBugz, and then, have somebody solve it, we’ve basically told them nothing. They can’t do anything with that, can they?
Jas: Well I think that’s the overall process that I hope we get through with the future tactics. Systemizing your business and automating it are two different steps. Systemization is the process of collecting the details of your business in one place so you can organize them. You can say, what is this? What needs to be done on it? Then, take that systemized work, whether it’s a bug, or whether it’s, go do this task of writing this page, or go create a checklist of what to do. You do those all as cases, and you have this history you’re building of your business, so everything you’ve looked up, or everything you had to generally do as an effort, you track in there. Let’s say you have a scenario where you have to write a sales page. I would say, let’s make a case to say, how do we make sales pages.
Andrew: Got it. So now what I’ve done is, again, I’ve identified one of the problems or one of the tasks in my company that’s done by one person. I put it now in FogBugz.There are multiple buckets, or programs, you can use to collect that. You can use a to-do list, you can use Trello, which is Joel Spolsky’s new company. You can use just about anything. But you’re saying bucket it, and have it be it’s own item on a list somewhere so it’s easy to identify.
Jas: Yes. It’s really important to get it out of your head. Right off the top of your head right now, you can probably come up with 20, 50, 100 things. You just need to have some place where you can catch these individually somewhere, and I can add details to each of them as I remember them, and then I can go pick off the items and say, here’s ten things we’re going to document right now, because they’re all related. Get those down and work that way. That paradigm of one item per case has changed my life. There’s a lot out there about that, and I think Joel has written a lot about that. I definitely use FogBugz in a different way than, maybe, it was intended for.
Andrew: Fair enough. I could see using multiple programs for it. I’m thinking Evernote right now, because that’s what I happen to use. You just take that one problem, email it into Evernote, where it becomes its own note in Evernote. What is the next step, then? What do we do once we’ve got them all bucketed like that?
Jas: Right, so now, when we have all these things, we still have that same problem that we just had five minutes ago, that you and I were talking about, where, what do we do? Where do we start? And, so it’s not really about, it’s about getting away from this thing of like if you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel it’s like this is never going to end. I’ve got so much to do, everywhere I look I’, just buried in work, everything I look at there’s something that needs to be done. What I usually did, what I did in my own business and what I do with any business that I’ve worked with, is that I say, you know if cash flow is the blood-line of your company, you have to keep that moving and to keep it moving, everything that’s attached to you being able to send a bill, go upstream from that.
So then, right away you can see, how close is this to that stream of me being able to send a bill? I have an invoice, I got to put items on it, to put items on it I got to complete something, to complete something, I got to get a sign off. To get a sign off, I got to get, you know, a specification that they agreed to let me do. To get that specification, I have to have an initial discussion of the problem. And that really creates you kind of, I guess it would be your critical path maybe. What you do, this big list that you made, this big brain dump or this, get it all out, so it’s just in front of you. You can now pick those things and focus on them and rank them. If you can prioritize them, let’s say one to fifty on a sheet of paper. If you turn around that sheet of paper, you now have a time line of here’s what I’m going to do now, next week, the week after.
Andrew: OK, so all these things that people do individually within a company, maybe the guy is programming his web page, maybe he is creating a sales page, maybe we have another person who is buying ads, maybe it’s all the same person who is doing all those tasks, but these are tasks that we have now identified within a company. You’re saying, put them in buckets, each one individually, each step of those processes in a different bucket, is that right? OK.
Jas: Yes, it’s really.
A: Then prioritize them based on how close they are to putting money into the company’s bank account.
Jas: Yes, absolutely. If your business is about making money, and how you make money is to send out bills. Everything is tied to you sending out a bill. So, in my world, if I can’t send a bill, something that a customer hasn’t said, “Yea, you’ve finished this”, we could go back and forth on that bill forever. So, I have to make sure I get the OK, that “Yea, you’re done”. And, all the way up the stream. So, I get approvals at every step of the way, right in the case, as I go, in the communicate thing, are we good to go, are we good to go ahead, to the next step, to the next step, to the next step. So that by the time I’ve launched something, and I put that case number on the invoice, they can immediately search their e-mail to see case 123, here it is. They can do a search and see the entire conversation. They don’t have to ask me as much of, “What did this mean, what did that mean, what did you run into?”
Andrew: I’m not with you yet, I got to be honest. I’m not with you yet. I want to draw this out and I want to make sure that this is coming across really well and useful to the audience, but I’m not with you just yet. I want to make sure that this leads to something really powerful and what we have right now is, we have every item in a bucket. We have them organized based on how close they are to bringing cash into the business, I understand that. So far, I haven’t automated anything, what do I do now to automate each part of this process? Let’s take again the sales page, it’s a unique process that not everyone can do, maybe just the owner’s doing the sales page every day. He now has identified it and put it in its own bucket, what does he do with that? How does he make sure that if he gets hit by a truck and has to be in a hospital for a week, the sales pages keep getting made so that other people can, so that his customers can come in and buy?
Jas: Once you’ve defined the steps of how to make a sales page, or, anything?
Andrew: I see, then you’re saying, step those, put down steps for each one of those items.
Andrew: OK. So, if he is writing a sales page, it’s, what’s the first thing you do, you hit create a new page based on the template. What’s the second thing you do? Put a big fat image on the home page and the image comes from Photolia.com, so here’s the username and password of Photolia. Then what’s the next thing, you put a big headline on it and you describe how the headline is written and so on. You just processize that whole thing and now, I see, then you have a guidebook with each on of the tasks it in its own bucket, each bucket has its own set of steps for getting things done. Am I following you right or are you just nodding at me because I’m a pain in the butt and just keep pushing you?
Jas: Absolutely. No, that’s, the key is of what you just said, the most important part. That process, that procedure, those steps, they’re probably never done, you’re always going to be adding, excuse me, tweaking, and changing them and you have to accept that. So, when you have a starting point, you know, we’re pushing to this, how do we systemize, how do we automate, automate, automate. The thing is, that a lot of companies prematurely automate a problem they don’t understand.
Jas: So, if you don’t have a systemized business that can’t handle everything manually, so what I’m advocating for is, create something where you can document all of the requests in your business, service those requests, whether their your own, to document how you do something or whether you do something for your customer, keep doing it, keep developing the steps, procedures, what do we need to do weekly? What do we need to do monthly? Those are routines so once a week we want a — so in my world, I once a week scan everything. Has anything slipped through the cracks? Was there something I was supposed to get a reply that I didn’t or hasn’t? Very easy filters to build with [??] now, but before it used to be a pain. I did it manually or in excel. So, the key here is to really understand that you have to systematize your business with a common central place for all of the requests for your business. Then once that’s working the automation is kind of an expenditial . . .
Andrew: First, you document everything in a procedures manual, for the company, and then we talk about automating, right?
Andrew: Before we even get to automating, I’m looking here at the pre-interview notes you were saying, perfect until you’re sick of doing it. Give me an example of how you perfect something to the point of being sick of it, where I might give up five minutes into it.
Jas: OK. I have a customer where they have the process requests warranty kind of stuff.
Jas: When it comes in they at first they were doing everything kind of just using spread sheets and maybe some access but they needed a system to just handle how we do this here. We built that and then they started coming up and saying, ‘Well, this use to take me 20 hours and now it takes me three.’ I was like, ‘OK. That’s great. Let’s go celebrate.’
Six month’s later they’re like, ‘You know what? I can’t spend three hours running this report on ever single customer of mine. Write me a report that does it for all of my customers with one click.’ What that really meant to me was, anything that we built it’s really mature. The fact that we’re doing it manually and perfectly so many times, as soon as I see it as a waste of my time it means I understand it [??] . . .
Andrew: I’m sorry, the connection is getting a little funky here, let’s give it a second to catch up and then I’ll ask you – so you’re saying you just kept systematizing, kept systematizing, kept systematizing when you say keep systematizing, you’re doing what? You’re looking to see what doesn’t need to get done? You’re looking to see what could be made easier?
Jas: Yeah. So for me one of the biggest things is how I use [??] I’ve implemented categories. I’ve implemented ranks for what categories something’s in. What priority is it? When do we schedule it out? Do we have the approvals? Basically it’s to the point where a customer gives an OK by email. I switch the status at [??] it goes and creates my billing case in Fresh Books automatically, but I didn’t know when or where to do it. One of the big problems I had, I don’t know if, I guess we can throw it in right now, I failed for ten years trying to build the perfect system to run a consulting business. I scrapped one, maybe three, four, five times. I’d try to integrate different tools. What I realized is that I didn’t really have a [??] I had a [??] needing to understand what he’s doing problem and really how to help solve that problem.
So this is why I say, you have to systematize your own life because when we started a business you generally do it because you can do it better than someone else. You have generally, your way of doing things that are better than other ways of interviewing. I have my ways of solving problems. So our system is going to be, it should reflect and enhance our competitive advantage. If it doesn’t, if an off the shelf product can really help us that much, we probably need to innovate a bit more.
So you know by having that one central source and doing it over, and over, you’re done when everything’s tedious, repetitive, time consuming keep it moving, keep everything moving find . . .
Andrew: When things get repetitive that means stop systematizing?
Jas: Yes. Start automating
Andrew: I see. OK. Make it so that you understand the steps over and over, and when you do those steps over and over, and you get exhausted from doing each one of these little steps because it’s just mindless, at that point it’s become ready for automation because it’s so mindless.
Andrew: Got it. I see. OK. So now trying to think of an example for myself where I can use this, I don’t have a perfect example popping into mind, but I get what you’re saying. You systematize it now, it’s time to automate it. Tell me about automation. What do we need to know about that?
Jas: Well, when you have one source to track and see everything, it allows you to manage at a glance So by the time you’re pretty well systematized, you’ll be seeing these things like, ‘Oh, I have to go create something in three systems so it’s all synched up,’ or whatever. You want to be in the school of getting more done with less effort. You want to save tons of time, but by then, by the time you systematize, it’s probably not just you who’s involved and that’s really important to remember because if you want to remove yourself from the equation or make your business [??]. It’s really about how your business does things no matter who’s doing it and by the time you’re really ready to automate that’s probably going to be an issue. To me if I’m dealing with PayPal, PayPal is a person to because they do something for me. So, I really have to look at that relationship and say what task do they do, how do they do it.
In my case, if you want an example is that once I had a virtual assistant that scans my cases for me for X number of hours a week. There only job is to find the acceptations because I’ve found really good ways of finding the acceptations. I also have filters that are kind of set up where if I email something, so, my voice mails, my faxes, my software packages that I run or [??], it all goes to [??], one place for everything. My kitchen sink’s broken, I’ve got a sink. Great, I’ve got this central part of everything with little buckets in it. Now, it’s a matter of saying, ‘OK, well, let’s take one of these buckets and let’s automate that bucket.’
When an emergency comes in, how do we deal with it? Hey, we need a page going to someone automatic. We need this happening automatically. The customer needs to see this automatically and really figure out no salt your [??] comes with one little bucket at a time. Does that make sense?
Jas: OK. So, automating is really critical. If you prematurely automate anything, you’re going to fail because if you don’t understand your system and how it works it’s not going to handle all of your scenarios and you’re going to be doing stuff on the side or in your manual . . .
Andrew: Give me an example of something that you’ve automated before it was ready. Help me understand this by seeing it through one of your experiences. You automated something, you did it too soon and because of that you failed.
Jas: I’ll give you an example. I use to really suck at billing. My billing was like this where I did all of this work and it was tied to request and just getting it onto an invoice with all the details attached of here’s what I did on what time, what date. It was really detailed. I was trying to use different pieces of software to do it or write my own every time because I get so frustrated. I didn’t understand that my business doesn’t know how to track itself properly. I’m trying to get my business to do something that I’m not even focusing on figuring out. The only thing I was worried about was get my bill out at the end of the month.
My whole life revolved around that. When I started to actually see it like that I went back and said, OK, I’ve been trying to use excel sheets or this or that, just to trying to [cobble] it together. This isn’t really about [cobbling]. There’s triggers. There’s things that happens when something else happens. I had to figure out what that is. What I ended up doing, I build probably four web based systems for myself from scratch.
I’m really good at calendaring, and scheduling and ready project management things, but none of them worked. They would always fall apart. They would hold my entire business how it needed to be helped until I realized that it wasn’t about me, it was about my customers. By that what I mean is my customers needed a process to go through. They needed to know where everything was at. Based on that I knew what to do.
So, if they hadn’t approved the work, if they didn’t agree on what we had to do, we couldn’t talk about how we were going to build it. We couldn’t even talk about a blueprint. So, by creating these stages in my own world the software kind of designed itself. Then [Frog Bug] entered my life and I was like, ‘Oh, this is really easy.’ My personal process is agree on what you do, how you’re going to do it, plan when so, plan who and what’s needed, do it, test it, launch it, support it.
Every step of the way I will get the sign offs and if we don’t have an agreement, it doesn’t move forward. If it’s not moving forward, it gets flagged and triggers. This software is really nice, it’s simple, it just works and it’s something that I actually use. I feel there were probably a good seven or eight years for sure until the day I brought Block Bugs. I think it was one of the best purchases I made. I don’t work for them and talk to them very much anymore, but they just really unlocked a huge area of my life.
Andrew: All right. So, let me see if I’ve got this process down as you go through it. The first thing you say is start today with what you’ve got, put it all down on paper, all the little things that you do, put them into a separate bucket. The next thing you’d say is put down the steps involved in getting each one of those things done. Right?
Andrew: And then you take all of those buckets with all the steps in them you’ll essentially have a manual to your business. Then you start to. Actually, wait a minute. No, I said it wrong. Look at me trying to sum it up and I’ve got it all wrong here. I should systemize the way that I sum it up. Put it all down on a list, all the things that you do.
Andrew: Then sort that list. Then put the steps involved in each big item down, so that anyone can essentially do it. Then keep systemizing and documenting, and systemizing and documenting, until you get sick of doing it manually. At that point you take it and you automate it. You now have a system that’s just mindless, that you’re repeating over and over, and it’s time to automate it.
Andrew: OK. –
Jas: Sorry, go ahead.
Andrew: Alright. So that’s essentially the big idea here. But, when you talked to Jeremy, my pre-interviewer, you said there are even other tasks, there are even other ways to automate and systemize. Want to go through some of those right now? Let’s do it.
Andrew: What’s the first one that you want to bring up here? I’ve got the list here, and I know you’ve got the list in front of you, too.
Jas: It’s a long list. [laughs] I guess the first that I always want to do is remove myself from everything. I try to replace myself. So whether I’m working for someone, or myself, I want to make myself redundant and only do the things that I really add value for. Whether it’s understanding a problem, solving a problem, or figuring out how to grow or increase my sales, or those kinds of things, that’s my goal in my life. I want to work on my business, not in my business. I use just straight tactics, like, when my customers deal with me, and I deal with them, whether it’s a new relationship or an old relationship, I have to kind of educate them on, a lot of companies out there are trying to solve problems that aren’t technology problems; they have business problems. They will buy a computer, put it on their desk, and then will be, like, ‘Now what? This was supposed to make my life easier’.
We all got into business to have a better life and it doesn’t always work out like that in the beginning, until we understand ourselves. So keeping those two things in mind, I move forward and say, OK, well the business of doing our job. Everything that comes into your life, you have to organize it automatically. You must use a case manager of some kind. You know there’s a big debate whether you should use something free or not. To me anything that’s using up my time is costing me way more than what it costs. Get a project manager. Digitize everything you can. Get your voicemails coming to you as an .mp3, because guess what, when it’s a case number, you can just forward it to someone. Say, ‘Hey, I got a voicemail. Here’s the voicemail, click play’. There’s no interpretation. That’s one of the things I do. My faxes, if I still get faxes here and there, they come in as a .pdf, and email right into a case. That key thing is something I try to do in everything I do every day; how can I possibly link this to Fog Bugs. Because [??] –
Andrew: Why does it have to be a case, and not, say, email. I could have all of my pdf’s end up in email, and all of my voicemail end up as .mp3 and text messages in my email inbox. You’re saying, no, email isn’t the place to put it. You’re saying, put it as a case in a case manager. Why? I know that’s an important part of your process; I want to make sure I understand it.
Jas: Right. Right now, let’s say you want to go find out something you did a while back. Yeah, OK, we can lean on Gmail search, we can lean on our searches, but sometimes you have to go search first on your file system, through all of your faxes, and then through your emails, and maybe ‘Oh, do I have this voicemail still saved, or did I make notes of it in my notebook’. That whole idea of accessing the past, which we do non-stop, really has to stop. You know, I went from a lot of paper to very little paper, to the point now where I really, really push myself to do everything digitally, because if I create it in a digital form, I don’t have to spend the time typing it up, locating it. If it’s got a case number, it’s already got its little Dewey Decimal System; it’s already in my library. I can instantly find it and say, ‘Andrew, case 1-2-3-4’. I don’t have to say anything else, that’s everything you need. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this email and here’s the seven emails we [??]’. No, that case number, it has the entire design documentation- what we did, the problems we ran into. Usually when we find a problem we have one problem, not a bunch of problems. If you have everything really indexed, it’s the nicest thing you can do for yourself. It’s the best way to be a best-friend to future Andrew, future Jas. It’s by far –
Andrew: Jas, are you on a computer now that has access to Fog Bugs?
Andrew: Would you be able to do, like, a share computer screen, and share with me Fog Bugs?
Jas: I’ll have to start up Chrome, if that’s alright, though.
Andrew: Let’s hold off. In a moment we’ll do it. I want to make sure to go through everything that we’ve got here on the list –
Andrew: And then we’ll come back to that. I’d like to spend, maybe, five minutes or so just seeing one specific case, because I see this is really impactful for you, but I don’t yet see how I can use it or why it’s so impactful. Sometimes the visual will really help.
Let’s just continue talking and then we’ll come back to it, in a moment.
There’s another thing I was thinking here, you’re not the first person who says, ‘Andrew, document everything’. So I have to stop and listen to that. But I also think later on in my day, when I handle a issue with a customer, or when I, even before this interview, there’s a few thing I did, like asking you to put Skype on ‘Do not disturb’, or make sure the camera is positioned properly, all those things are there, I didn’t document them and I’m not going to document them in the future.
Doesn’t it feel like it’s too much work to document everything? To document the way that I do the interview, to document the way that I follow up with you, to document the way that I deal with one tiny issue with the customer. Isn’t that too much?
Jas: It is and it should be. Because what you do is not easy. But if you can get it out of your head, like my experience setting up this interview, it was great. I was just going, ‘Hey, I need this phone number, I need your Skype, make sure you’re plugged in, don’t run any programs, all the little things that you’ve learned and do in an interview, it’s like, ‘Man, this interview is going to be really interesting’. Because you solved all these problems and I was like, ‘I really liked this’.
I mean if you get to the point of having automated reminders of, ‘Please be here for a test’. ‘Please do this’. It is so critical, if you really want to be free of your business, you have to leave your intelligence in that business. You can’t be the system. You have to create the system. As soon as people are the system of a business, all they’re doing is being the computer. They’re not having the computer work for them. And so if you really want a system that manages the details, and you want other people to manage that system, yet you got to buy in and do it really small. When something comes in and say, how do I do this, take 5 minutes, just do a brain dump, it’s not going to be pretty, do it point form, login here, do this, do this, do this, do this, copy, pasted, I pasted right into my Wiki . I link the Wiki right into the case.
Now in the future, if anyone needs to know, how do I login to this server, or how do I run this test. They can go there, see all my screen shots, yeah, I can make it perfect, I can do training videos. But just the fact that they can get started, and figure, maybe stumble their way through it, just like I did the first time. That’s really, really important.
The why of systemizing is basically if you don’t systemize, people leave. They either get promoted or they quit. Same goes with you. So you’re guaranteed to go through this. When you go through this, it’s not going to be very smooth, even if you have everything documented. The more you have in place, the easier you can cross train. The easier you can say, ‘Hey, I need two people to do pre-interviews now’. ‘Hey, I need three people handling incoming request, because the volume is too high.’.
You can turn up the volume or turn it down of anything in your business like you need them to say, ‘Oh, I can put more effort where it’s needed’. We’re doing less busy work. Does that kind of help clear it up?
Andrew: It does. And I think now, I’m starting to see how I would see it in my own business.
So for example you come on here, and because I heard that ‘Oh, oh.’ sound, whatever that sound is, that Skype does, that tell me there was a chat message coming in while we’re getting ready to record this interview. I said, ‘Oh, yeah, got to tell Jas, go to do not disturb’. And then that made me think, ‘Oh, yeah, I should also make sure that the door is shut, that his programs are shut down’. I think that’s not the trigger for getting action done. Andrew, stop, write it all down in whatever system you want. Write it down. And then maybe an hour before the interview, send an email out, and that becomes a system. An hour before I send you a link, with this information, directly in my system. I do it over, and over and over again, until I’m fed up, and at that point, I automated. So that an hour before you come up, you bang, get an email saying, ‘looking forward to having you on, do this 5 things, so that you’ll look good, otherwise, you’ll look like crap.’. You do them and that’s the system. And I can do everything like that.
Jas: If I can get one other example, is right now, as we’re talking, I get something popped into my head. How do you capture that?
I’m in the middle of the interview, and I’m like, do I try to write it down, without looking away from the camera, do I try to write in?
Andrew: Yeah, I saw something was going on with you, and I couldn’t figure out what.
What was happening?
Jas: I have to get it out of my face. So the key is, one of the big reason I use FogBugz is when I have this random, sporadic thoughts, either I used to write them down in my notebook, and it is great. But I got to go back to my notebook, and I can’t read my writing sometimes, two days later, it’s got like a half life, and it’s done. It’s gone forever, and I can’t understand it.
For what I do now, is I send an email right to FogBugz, a one sentence, in the subject I say, make sure I do this. Or when I see something wrong like, ‘Oh, we didn’t test that properly, while I’m talking to someone I open up my phone and I start typing in the subject, I write a really descriptive searchable subject of what the problem is and what needs to be solved. Creating that search engine of your life, you’re going to use your own words to find that later on. If Andrew said, turn stuff off, that’s really good, I should use that all the time. I’ve had that problem too, you know, when I’m on a Skype call and there’s things beeping, and I was like, OK that’s cool. One of the things that I really use is my phone a lot to send one sentence emails straight to FogBugz, and they go into this long, big, huge, ugly pile that I go to every so often. Those brilliant insights that we have right at the moment that we can do nothing about it, that’s when you need to capture them. What I do for myself is I try to write stuff down as I go for everything I work on, or just write an email as I go. Instead of using something like Evernote, Evernote’s awesome for attaching and organizing lots of different media and documents, but what I found is that the search feature, for me, is really valuable. If I can search and organize my thoughts, and say, oh this is something for this project that came up, or I got to fix this bug or look into this feature, my thoughts go directly into the subject of an email. That’s like 100, 200 characters. I might write a little bit more, I might not, but I send it, and it’s indexed there. It’s piled away, making sure it’s not in my face all the time, and when I feel like sitting down and saying, oh, how can I improve this month? What did I screw up in my processes? What did I learn? Oh, OK, here’s seven things I need to do. Oh, great, let’s write the solution to these seven problems, grab these seven issues, these seven cases, assign them to someone and say, I need these done or added to the system, or added to the process. It’s kind of how I-
Andrew: I’d love to see it now. Is there one other thing you want to talk about before you show, ’cause I think we should do a show and tell and see how you use FogBugz? [tape interruption] OK. Jas and I are now back on Skype. He showed me FogBugz, he showed me how he would use it to organize his notes on an interview like this, and you can watch it by just downloading the video that he and I recorded, and it should be available either above this video or below this video. Somewhere on the post with this video you can click and see Jas’ desktop as he explains the process to you. Jas, how can people connect with you if they want to follow up, if they want to ask you more questions, if they want to maybe read some of your ideas on systemizing and business in general?
Jas: I have a humble blog that I run at PANESAR.net. Usually I put stuff there when it comes up in my life or someone needs it from me. I’m actually going through some of the systemization stuff with a couple of friends right now, because I just can’t tolerate them. What I know now, I don’t know everything, I’m going to be learning forever, but I know there’s a little bit of what I can do the them, and I’m just trying to put that out there. I’m on Twitter, JasPanesar. You can email me, it’s not that hard. I’m pretty accessible. This one thing systemization, it was kind of funny, I never really valued it because I thought it was just for me, but I’ve had to learn, in the last couple of months with some of the conversations I’ve had with friends, that I’m wrong. That we all learn things, and if we can all just help and share. I didn’t get where I am, and I won’t get where I’m going without help, and if any of this helps, and if something wasn’t clear, come find me. I’ll totally talk to you, I don’t mind.
Andrew: Cool, I’d love that. I’d love if the audience connected with you. So, you saw me, even in this interview, I got excited and wanted to do it but once we got started talking about some of the work involved with it, I said I don’t know if I have the time to sit and document everything. There’s that duality, that need to do it and the resistance to actually doing some of the work involved with it. When I saw you create a case in FogBugz, and you showed me your screen, and that happened in between this interview. I had to pause the recording of this interview.
You showed me your desktop and we recorded a separate video, and now we’re back, I think I’m starting to get it. I see that it can be a lot easier than I imagined. You just emailed yourself a set of notes and, bam, they were in your documentation. Didn’t have to be much more complicated than that. If you wanted to edit it, you showed me how you would go in and edit it and polished it up a little bit so that it could be more easily understood by someone else. I get it, I’m going to keep implementing, and unfortunately, I have to be honest with you Jas, I’m going to keep resisting it at the same time. As an entrepreneur I feel like, I should do whatever I want. I don’t have to stop and document. I don’t have to go back and read a document. I understand it, I’m still going to resist it, and hopefully the understanding will win over the resistance more often than vice versa.
Jas: Let me push back. It’s your job to teach other people why they should do things a certain way. You can teach the why and the how, but you have to do it. It’s so important. Keep testing what I said. Send emails. Talk smack. I don’t mind. For me, it only makes it better. If you help me find something, it’s going to help me and likewise. If you can set aside 10 minutes a day, 20 minutes a day at the beginning or the end of your day, like, rate your day. Did it suck? OK, what made it suck? Here’s all the things that suck. I use to create a blog page call it the Book of Bitching because that’s all it was. It was just venting.
It was really neat, a little list of all the things I had to fix in my life. And literally . . .
Andrew: I see. [If I rate] it sucks, you say why does it suck, how do I improve it and you go on . . .
Jas: Yeah, because hook up is free.
Andrew: . . . with this other stuff you’re doing. Right?
Jas: Totally. When we get overwhelmed that’s when we’re like, ‘Oh my God, I totally have to get organized before I start dealing with this.’ That’s the wrong time to do it, but that’s the best time to learn what you need to do. So, if you can just scribble it as you go, dictate as you go with your iPhone. Like, I use Dragon Dictate. I try taking voice mail memos. I’m always trying out different things. I find that if I’m too lazy to type, if I’m driving I can’t type, well, I just record.
I have a notebook, literally, it’s titled Dear Dumb Ass. That’s what it is. That’s how I address things to myself when I learn something so clearly that I don’t want to forget it. Why I have to do it that way? It has to be in my own words. It’s not going to be your words or my words for each other. We need to find our reasons. The rewards are there. It’s really us.
Andrew: Thank you for doing this interview. Thank you all for watching. I didn’t get a chance to even applaud Mixergy Premium, so, I’ll just say this, if you like this and you want a little more dept than just an interview, two people talking, Mixergy.com/premium. We do courses where I bring back entrepreneurs and they show their computer screens and they show how they would do certain things from start to finish. Things like how they would buy ads or how they would buy Google ads word and make sure they convert it to profit or how they would do Facebook ad buys cheaply or how they would blog. They show their computer.
Lori Roder did this, she showed her computer she said, ‘Here’s how I don’t go crazy by blogging. I have my audience create blog post for me. How I schedule it out and more importantly how blog post leads to an order. She showed her back end numbers and she showed the whole flow. If that’s they way that you learn and you want to have experienced entrepreneurs teach you what they do best, go to Mixergy.com/premium.
If you’re a premium member, you already have it all. You don’t need to email me and say is this included, is that included. If I do it, it’s included in your premium membership. If you’re not, I hope you go there and join up because I want to see you be a part of this and I want to help you learn from experienced entrepreneurs. Have them create the systems, give you systems, so that you can go and implement them and see the results in your business.
Thank you all for watching. Jas, thanks for doing the interview.
Jas: Thank you for having me.
Andrew: I want to send this to Joe for editing. He’s got a little bit of work ahead of him on this one, but it’s worth it.
Jas: Also, Matt, I keep drilling at this because I think there’s something that the clarity that you’re seeking of this, one thing I love about, I was going to cut you off and say I want [pitch] Mixergy because your stuff is the only stuff I had listened to. I’ve cut off pretty much all of my information, but I don’t know if you have a podcast. I didn’t know my iPhone was an iPod and I’ve been collecting stuff.
Andrew: A lot of people don’t.
Jas: No, I just, I like emails, right? That’s all I use it for. But what I really like about Mixergy is that the hour I put into watching any of your interviews, you have said so much about making it worthwhile that I know that it’s not going to be an hour wasted or like, ‘Man.” Everything I put down is because I needed at that time or I want to learn about it. I always learn about it, so, I’m honored and humble to give back to that knowledge because you’ve given so much to me personally, indirectly. We connected a little [??] and other than that I’ve been really consuming your stuff. If any of this helps in any way, I’m happy to put it out there. Oops, sorry. I can’t hear you.
Andrew: Joe, keep that part in the interview. I paused so that I wouldn’t interrupt you. I really appreciate what you just said there, Jas. Joe, keep it in the interview. Let’s let people out there hear that I’m really proud that you say that. It’s true. I do feel like sometimes I push too much in these interviews or pushed too much for [??] before the interview and I say who’s gives a rat’s ass. Who cares that we put in the work in the pre interview? Who cares that we go into such details? Am I going to bore people by going into too many details?
It makes me glad to know that there’s someone else on the planet, if it’s just even you, but it makes me glad to know that there’s someone else on the planet who says, ‘No. I want those kind of details. I actually get to use them. I get off on it and it’s interesting to me.’
Jas: No, it’s huge because you can spend a lot of time reading and not do anything with it. I mean you can read stuff that doesn’t apply where you can’t use it. The fact that you’re doing it for me and first of all you’re asking people that I don’t have access to and then you’re asking them these really kind of bold questions. So, I mean if you have anyone who knows what they’re doing, they’re never going to take it the wrong way. I mean they shouldn’t and I hope not. To me it’s just like, ‘Wow, he actually cares about wanting to know.’ That builds what you’re doing, the quality of what you’re doing. It helps me out to because I know that while I’m going to get a Mixergy interview, it’s going to be different than two guys talking or four guys talking on a podcast and, they might find it entertaining but…
Andrew: That bothers me too.
Andrew: You know what, I heard this one guy he was just kind of hanging out and he was bragging that he was hanging out, you know “it’s just a podcast, well relax” and I go, “well, dude, it might just be a podcast for you and your relaxed, I’m paying attention here. I want to actually get something done, and I don’t care that you guys are two guys who are having a good time, and that podcasting is about relaxing…
Andrew: That’s not what I come to podcasting for. I mean, that’s not what I came to their business podcast for. If I want to relax, I’ll find better ways to do it than to listen to two amateurs talk about how cool it is to be podcasting.
Jas: Yea, if we’re going to relax, we’ll relax at a restaurant or [??] not on Skype or whatever. And, ya no I totally…I think…
Andrew: You know what, I went on [??] …
Andrew: and I said this to [??] too. I said, “Guys, and I know you guys like to just chat, but I put together an agenda for how we can get the most value out of the time that we’re doing this interview.” They were interviewing me. And every time they went off on some chatty conversation, I said, “Let’s go back to the notes.” And I think I was frustrating them and their audience because I was too much about like, let’s get into tactics and useful information. So, I thought well, you know what, if their audience is frustrated by it, maybe my audience is too, and they’re not telling me. But…
Jas: Yeah, well, you know what, when you asked, you said…When I sent you a list, I wasn’t really expecting you to ask me, I was just saying, “Here’s what I know make sure they can cover at least that.” And you were like, “You’d be the perfect interviewee.” I’m like well, I know this shit, but when you said I’m like definitely I have vagueness and generalities, and I have a lot of specifics. But the best way I learn is, you know, literally, I get thrown down a well. And I have to learn the business, figure out what’s causing you all your pain. Ok, now I have to learn it and figure it out. So, my process has always been more people to people organic of, I’m going to go figure out how to systemize this. And sorry.
Andrew: You’re saying I got excited about you talking about systems. The reason I got excited about it is, there aren’t enough people who are willing to talk about it. The few people who talk about it are fans of Tim [SP]. And those guys get off on systems and automating and outsourcing. But beyond that world, there just aren’t enough people who get it. I’m looking for entrepreneurs who want to do interviews about systemizing. There aren’t many people who get excited about it enough to do an interview about it. Who get excited enough about it to talk proudly about the fact that they do it so that I can invite them here.
Andrew: Absolutely not. If I wanted to find someone who was an expert in Paper click advertising. I could find tons of them.
Andrew: They’re in my inbox all the time. Guys who teach it who want to come on and do an interview. If I wanted to find an interview about someone who does AB testing, landing page conversions, all very important stuff to business, those guys have blogs about it, those guys have business’ about it, those guys talk about it endlessly. Try to think of who blogs about systemizing. Try to think of who is known for setting up systems and processes for entrepreneurs. The only guy that comes to mind for me is Tim [Sp]. There aren’t a lot of people who do that.
Jas: There’s a couple…you know it’s interesting, if you asked me that question about who helped me learn, I would probably come up with a list of 10 books. You know, I took a little bit of Getting Things Done, I took a little bit of Timothy [SP], I took a little bit of [SP] Manager. But really, I had to learn to create my recipe. And that’s what no one teaches you, is that, we already have all the skills to systemize. We just have to find our recipe and that balance to say, you know what [SP] has it. Even if I screw it up and I miss it, it’s sitting there, waiting for me, in a nice messed up state that I can access. (laughs) And…
Andrew: In a nice messed up state that you can access, because you’ve got search. I don’t know if we included it on the video that we recorded for people, but the search is good. And that’s key.
Jas: It’s huge.
Andrew: To be able to narrow what you’re looking for in search. I have to tell you that what you’re doing, I think I could do in Evernote and keep it simple, but now you’ve made me want to go and check out [SP]. And I always thought of it as just a programmer…
Jas: Maybe I’m using the wrong thing. Maybe I need to look at Evernote again. Because, I looked at it a long time ago, when it first came out, and I was like, “This is cool for me personally, when I need to just dump something for myself.” But as soon as I needed to assign track, and I had all this other business and crap attached to it, I was like, you know what, I don’t know if Evernote can do that. And the cool thing with [??] is that it has it’s API, and I can make all that magic happen. But, really the cool thing that, I was like, “shoot, I can solve any business pro…” Like I have a non-profit, my condo board, I’m running with [SP]. Every problem that comes in, it’s a case. It gets assigned to the property manager. He deals with it. So when we say, “Oh, someone kicked in the front door. Wait, who did we call last time?” (Andrew: laugh) Here’s the whole conversation. You know, and… Or, “Where did we get those light bulbs from?” Or, “Hey, what light bulb did we use?” And we forgot the model number that we spent 2 weeks finding. Because it’s, you know, the LED bulb we wanted. It’s all here.
Andrew: And it’s on [??] so anyone else can know how to go and find the exact light bulb.
Jas: And maybe, I don’t know, maybe I’ll think about some more…
Andrew: I think Evernote is a much more Fisher Price-y version of that.
Andrew: But it does help. Like I will email myself…If I…Let’s see what it is, I might…If I had an issue with a light bulb, in the office here, what I would do, I’d just take a picture of the light bulb brand that I got, and I’d email it into Evernote, and in the future if I ever want to get a light bulb for the office that was the exact same one that I bought last time, I just do a quick search ‘light bulb”, maybe I’d search for “Mixergy” because the office is related to the office is related to the Mixergy notebook and then I’d have a picture of it and I’d also know the information about it.
Jas: Yes, see I think, the one thing I run into with pdf’s, images and that kind of stuff is that it’s not textual search all the time, so if you can track the conversation and it tracks everyone, let’s say you called it an LED bulb and I called it a high efficiency bulb, no matter what we type in, if that conversation is there, it’ll show up.
Andrew: Yes. That’s a much better system.
Jas: You know, it helps in that one area, there are complications you pay out. Like, there’s a trade-off, but, I don’t know, you know, you kind of got me thinking. After I talked to Jeremy, I was like, “Holy crap”, I’ve kind of come a long way with this. I’ve just kind of been reaping the rewards, you know, I can fly places and do stuff, but really, maybe I need to. I know, I have a couple of friends right now where they’ve stolen. I have a presentation that I do for new customers where I just say, “I’m going to learn everything there is to learn, I’m going to marry your business”. And that’s it, it’s going to run without you, it’s going to be McDonald’s by the time I’m done.
And, so, I have a slide that teaches them why requests are important, why you got to do this. But, it’s like, it’s a deck, right, a deck can be talking, it’s not an interview, it’s not organic, but I gave it to one of my friends, and this morning, he called me, he’s like, “We were just talking about the interview”. He’s like, “I never told you this, but that’s slide, that deck changed my life and you didn’t even explain it to me”. I’m like, “Are you serious, there’s like, ten words on a slide”. He was just, “I’ve never thought about breaking it up”. Maybe what you’re saying is pointing to a deeper problem, that people aren’t as systemized and they think everyone else is, but really no one’s systemized. What do you think about that?
Andrew: Yeah. I think most of us aren’t systemized. I think most people don’t value it, we think of systems as something that belongs in McDonald’s and in burger flipping operations, but everything can be organized and systemized.
Andrew: And the way, what I’m finding is, we had a mistake yesterday, where something was posted to the premium section of the site too early, and I didn’t know why.
Andrew: Well, we went back to the documentation that we created, and I’m only learning through these interviews to document, we had just screen captures of steps that needed to be done, and we looked at it and we saw, this step over here, says “select premium”, so when we hit publish it automatically goes to premium and we. Anyway, there was a mistake in one of the steps but we were able to identify exactly where the mistake was, delete that image and that step out of the process and that’s it. The problem will never be repeated again by anyone who follows the steps properly.
Jas: You know what, I totally forgot another important tool I use. Jing.com [http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html], have you ever heard of this?
Jas: OK. Jing is fucking amazing.
Andrew: Tell people, we’re still in the interview now, we’re now going over time in this interview. Tell people why that so amazing.
Jas: Oh, I’m swearing, oh well. It’s amazing, when someone calls you and goes, “This isn’t working, or this happened”, you’ll spend two or three hours just trying to figure out what do you mean it doesn’t work, what do you mean it’s not working? When I just say record a video of what’s happening, talk me through it, send me the video, that works really good. And the thing about it is.
Andrew: Jing is a screen capturing program, right? It’s a website, you use it to capture what you’re doing on the screen and talk it through.
Jas: Totally, well the best part of the Jing videos, that I love, is that I bought the pro one, but I still use the free one because it limits me to five minutes and it’s hard to pay attention, it’s like a game, I want to explain all of this in five minutes. But, the neat thing is, if I had to send someone instructions really quick, I load up Jing, talk my way through it. Click, click, click. When I’m done, I click upload to their screencasting, I don’t have to upload, manage, massage a video, create a link. They upload the link and the next thing I do is I go paste in an e-mail, into FogBugz or even my e-mail client, and they just get a nice shortened link to a video of me just telling them how to do something, or vice-versa.
Andrew: I should use that, I’ve been using Screenflow, and I love Screenflow, but I think when I need to show someone like a one minute video of how to add an extra calendar to Google calendar, that just takes, it takes too long to shoot into Screenflow, to export it and to find a place to put it online at Wistia and then to give people a link. You’re saying to just go to Jing and you can do the whole thing, one step.
Jas: You’ve actually given me an idea that I want to try now, instead of documenting something by typing, which is horrible, create a video, link it into your document and just send it away to a virtual assistant to get it transcribed so that it’s searchable. Why not? If you’re going to take two minutes over Skype, to teach me something, Jas, this is how you turn a Mixergy thing to premium, or this is how you launch a course, just record yourself doing it and send it away from transcription. I want to go do this, like in an hour.
Andrew: I haven’t done that. I do do the videos and show people how to do them. What I have done, though, was, because sometimes videos are hard to edit and they’re hard to scan, so I’ve asked someone else, I’ve asked Ari if she could take one of the videos that I did, that was like a two minute, how-to do something within Mixergy video
Andrew: I said, “Can you do it and do screen captures of each one of the steps, and put notes next to each one of them so that we have it in a scannable way so that we now have one Evernote document with each step. And anyone who wants to follow it can follow it step-by-step. If they’ve made a mistake they could look for where they’ve screwed up by just scrolling down the Evernote note.
Jas: One thing you run into is that, when that procedure changes, you literally have to redo all of it or part of it.
Jas: If that’s what you’re trying to do you really have to look into Adobe Captivate. What they do is, they take a screenshot, they record your mouse and you’re clicking on top of it separately, and you can export that as slides with notes, or a video that runs straight as a little Flash video. Or, you could record it in training demonstration mode, where it’s like, ‘Click here to do this’ and you’re clicking on this little demo video, learning how to do it. So, if I forget six months later how to upload a video, I just go take the little Andrew one minute course on how to upload a video. Literally, you’re just using the same screen capture tool but it just records your clicks a little bit differently like, you know, I show you HD does some of the mouse and key recording.
Jas: But, I found Adobe Captivate is probably one of their most underrated and unknown pieces of software that is…
Andrew: I didn’t even know about it.
Jas: Unbelievable, yeah. If you want to do a screen share of that separately I’ll totally take you through it. I’m in E-Learning, it’s one of the things I work on, so I’ve totally been spending a lot of time on that site.
Andrew: You know what actually, I do kind of wish, I don’t think we should record another screen capture because it’s going to be a pain in my butt to go and edit it, but I do wish that instead of doing this as an interview, maybe we should’ve done it the way that I do courses. Where, you just show your desktop. And, if there was anything you wanted to show, we just magnify your desktop so you can show it. And, if we’re just having a conversation about a topic, I could remove your desktop. Anyway, I think we’ve got a lot of value in this interview.
Jas: OK. Well, let’s…
Andrew: …the end. I kept it focused, it was chatting and conversational, but we still need to keep the focus, and I think we did.
Andrew: Let me do this, let me give out your website again, and hope that if someone listened all this way, that they got enough value out of it that they’ll do me the favor by telling you thank you for the favor that you did for them. So, what’s the website again? And I’ve got it here.
Jas: Go to my blog, www.panesar.net, and there’s a contact page there. I’ve got an e-mail address there, I’ve got my Twitter, I’ve got anything I’ve written there, babbled about life and what I’ve learned. You know what, based on what you said Andrew, I think that there’s a kick in the pants on you that I had a couple friends telling me, “You have to write this down,” and I think I’m going to maybe start doing it a little bit more…
Andrew: Yeah, you should.
Jas: …because when you asked me to do this I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal. It was just on something really obvious. The more I got into doing the pre-interview with you, that was like “Oh, this is actually problems that are being solved, and that’s a good thing.” So, yeah, thanks for your time. I’m so honored and happy to have shared anything I could with you.
Andrew: I appreciate you doing it, and again guys, thank you all for watching. Bye.
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