Tatiana O’Hara is an agency and team operations coach but she doesn’t just help people create organizational charts or SOPs. She actually helps people recover from the grind: those patterns of overwork, perfectionism, over-delivery, and ongoing worry that if we don’t do it all ourselves, things will fall apart.
“Even with the concept of being booked and busy. We slowly start to link our value to our output, and we don’t even realize it. You get to a point where you can’t output anymore because you’re burnt out. But then we start to think we’re less valuable as people and as business owners.” – Tatiana O’Hara
Addiction to the grind is real, and it takes guidance to find recovery from it. So, join us by the Campfire Circle for an episode that will change your relationship with your business.
Learn to delegate to gain white space in your calendar, grow your thought leadership brand by having more time to show up, and build a business that you can step away from when you want to (because it can run without you.)
Highlights from the podcast episode:
[01:52] Tatiana’s journey from corporate to consultant and coach
I started in the corporate world right after college. I’ve always been in operations, even in the first jobs that I had. I’ve always really enjoyed learning and understanding how the business works on the back end. But I’ve always enjoyed the people aspect as well. I studied Hospitality Management, so, I was looking at operations through the lens of travel and tourism. I thought I wanted to get into the hotel business or that I wanted to get into restaurants, but I landed in grocery stores.
I was a district manager for Aldi grocery stores for about four, four and a half years. While I was there, I hired over 100 people, had to fire quite a few people, and led a lot of people through the stages of being entry-level associates all the way up to being assistant store managers. When I first came in, I was really struggling because I thought that because my stores were doing so badly, what they needed was for me to roll up my sleeves and get in there and do the work for them. So, I had to learn a couple of hard lessons about what true leadership is, micromanaging, and taking back responsibility. After getting good at my job, I was able to take my district from one of the bottom-performing to one of the top-performing ones. We decreased store turnover by about 30%, given that retail turnover is always astronomical, that was a huge win.
I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, I left my job, actually, three years ago today. I left my job initially to just coach in general. I thought I just wanted to coach people on how to start a business. Because I’d started a couple in my lifetime, I thought that’s what my purpose was. I quickly realized I didn’t love it, my heart wasn’t in it. And I realized over the course of about six months that what I really wanted to do was help people achieve true balance in their lives and to be able to step away from the business when they wanted to. The dots connected for me that the experience that I gained in corporate was going to be so valuable in the online space because there just aren’t a lot of people teaching this kind of stuff and weren’t a lot of people who knew it. Not all of us come from a corporate background or a leadership background. So, just being able to fill that gap and what I do now has been incredible.
[04:33] How to know if you’re a grindaholic
First, I just want to say that I think a lot of us step into this lifestyle unintentionally because it just kind of comes with the territory of entrepreneurship. We’re told that we have to do the whole bootstrap thing, that we have to grind it out, that we have to hustle, that we have to work really hard. And it’s not that those things aren’t true. Even when you have the best team ever, there are still going to be seasons when you have to “grind it out”. But that shouldn’t be your every day.
Even with the concept of being booked out and busy, we slowly start to link our value to our output, and we don’t even realize it. So, you get to a point where you can’t put out anymore because you’re burnt out. And then we start to think that we’re less valuable as people and as business owners.
So, I think some of the signs would be:
- Always feeling like you have to have a fully booked out roster of clients. Always having a waitlist, I think we’re told that having a waitlist is good because it means that people want our services and that we’re in demand. What that tells me is that we’re at capacity and that we can’t actually serve people and we’re having to turn people away.
- I think some other things would be, and this is something I’m still guilty of and that I still work through. But if you find white space on your calendar and you’re trying to then fill that white space with something, it may be a sign that we have not yet adjusted to the comfort of having free time, when we feel like we always have to be operating in this state of chaos.
- Finally, if you are somebody who already has team members, but you still feel like you’re experiencing this a little bit, that might look like not truly delegating what you need help with to your team, maybe you’re just giving them the surface level tasks, because that’s what’s easy, and that’s what you can trust them to do. When, in reality, you need support on a much deeper level. But we don’t know how to let go of the reins.
[07:49] Figuring out your zone of genius and what to delegate
I would say your zone of genius is most likely in the service that you deliver. If you’re a coach, your zone of genius is likely coaching. If you run some sort of agency, your zone of genius is likely the most prominent thing that your agency provides.
So, I think a part of figuring out what to delegate is looking at: ‘Where do I want to focus my time?’, ‘Where do I want to show up every day in my business?’, and then ‘what are all the tasks surrounding that’ and ‘how can I get all of these other things out of my plate, so that I can focus on being in that zone of genius.’ I also think that changes and refines as you grow older in your business. So, right now, you may say: ‘I’m actually really enjoying what I’m doing. I don’t really want to delegate that part. I just want someone to help me on the other things.’, but then later in life, you may find that you don’t even want to do the main thing that your business does, and maybe you want to hire a team of people to deliver that service for you so that you can then focus on starting another segment to the business or what have you.
So, I would say finding your zone of genius is probably going to be looking at that thing that you started the business to do. The thing that you love doing day in and day out, the thing that brings you joy and that doesn’t feel draining and depleting to you. But then also just keep an eye on that as you grow in your business because it could change and evolve, and some of the discomforts that we feel may be us not realizing that we’re in a place where we no longer want to be with our businesses.
To help you figure out the tasks you should and shouldn’t spend your time on, I will walk you through an exercise. It can be a little challenging if you’re not visualizing it, so you can grab this Task Matrix on my website to visually see it. But it’s essentially a four-quadrant document, it’s a version of an Eisenhower matrix.
Basically, you’re going to brain dump all of the things that you’re doing day-to-day in your business and you’re going to categorize each of your tasks into one of the four quadrants. The four quadrants are basically:
- The things that you like doing that you’re really good at
- The things that you like doing that you’re not good at
- The things that you don’t like doing that you’re good at
- The things that you hate that you’re also really bad at
Once you fill this in, it gives you a really nice visual, it’s a bird’s eye view of where you’re proportionately spending your time within the business. Such as ‘Am I mostly spending my time on things that I’m not good at?’, ‘Am I mostly spending my time on things that I don’t like doing?’. Then that can give you your initial framework for who you should hire and what you should actually have them do.
I’ve had this freebie for three years now and the reason why I wanted to create this was that so many people, whenever they’re ready to hire their first person, 10 times out of 10 they want to hire a VA, and that’s great. But sometimes, through this exercise, you may find that a VA might not be the best first hire for you, maybe where you really need support is in your marketing, or in your sales, or in your back-end systems, whatever the case may be.
The follow-up to that is whether it’s the VA, the social media person, or whomever you hire the Task Matrix is going to give you a blueprint of what to actually delegate to them because it’s all written down for you. So, instead of just hiring this person and then staring at each other wondering: ‘So, how are you going to help me?’, ‘What are you going to do?’. We can give them an exact blueprint and it just makes the working relationship so much more intentional. And it’s going to help you get a faster ROI on the relationship.
[13:16] Ways your team can support your visibility strategy
My visibility strategy is constantly changing because the brand is evolving. When I first started, everything was very much tied to me and what I do, and my results. But in 2023, I’m really working on separating the two brands so that Grindaholics Anonymous, my program, can live on its own. And then my personal brand can evolve into ‘Yes, Team’ stuff and business stuff, but also into what my life looks like because of the team that I have.
Now, the way our visibility strategy is pivoting is that we’re very, very heavy on highlighting our clients because I can tell you the program is great until I’m blue in the face, but I want you to see it from my clients. So, a couple of times a month, we try to go live with our clients to showcase them and showcase their results. We made a commitment about six or seven months ago to stop just sharing screenshots of wins because I don’t think that shows the full picture and now, we create full-page case studies on all of our clients. So, when you go to our website, you’re able to read dozens of case studies of our clients’ results.
I’ve also incorporated my team into my strategy a lot, too. If I’m going to be preaching “team, team, team”, I want you to see mine. So, my team makes reels sometimes, and I go live with my team members from time to time.
Earlier, you were saying, Tania, that you can’t delegate the visibility part. I totally agree as far as it comes to the face because if you’re going to be the face, you’re going to be the face. But my team has positioned me to be able to delegate so many elements of visibility, such as:
- Being able to coordinate things like this lovely podcast interview,
- Creating the outline for the content, so that I’m simply just showing up to fill it in,
- Creating a list of live topics, so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to go live about. Since it’s already kind of decided for me, I can just wing it from there,
- Mapping out a full launch campaign so that I can show up fully in my launch and be able to be present and connect with my audience versus having to be the thought behind it as well.
That’s a little bit of our strategy. It is sharing holistically, the whole brand, everything that’s happening behind the scenes. But then also incorporating my team into a lot of the ‘how’, so that it can take some of the weight off of me in that when I do show up, I can show up more fully versus the half higher version of me who just mapped out content for a month and had to show up and deliver it.
Recently, I got married and traveled on my honeymoon, and during that time my team took over our visibility strategy and it worked out perfectly. I have a team of about seven people if you count all of the extended contractors that I work with here and there. But there are three in my core team of people I work with every day. I have my tech VA, who also does our client relations stuff, I have my operations manager, and then I have my marketing coordinator, and I was going to be out for three weeks. So, I was like: ‘Okay, I have three team members, and I’m out for three weeks. What if I just have them do a team takeover and they each get their own week.’
The way that we did it was that on the Monday of the week, whoever was responsible for that week would make a post where they would give out some tips on a team-related topic. Then throughout the entire week, they are just driving some of those points home and creating more educational content around them. But then also a big pillar of my brand is a sense of humor. So, they made some funny reels, like dancing ones and things that I would never do. It was really nice, and people really enjoyed it.
I think I was afraid that engagement was going to tank because I was not there. But no, people really enjoy hearing from my team members. And I think that even creates more buy-in around my brand because people are seeing that I practice what I preach, that I really do delegate to my team, that I trust them fully, and that I’m not going to cease all operations, just because I’m out for three weeks. I want to show people that this is a machine that is going to keep running, even though I’m off in Mexico on my honeymoon.
[18:52] Using your lived experience to build a new business culture
If nothing else, I just want to be an example to other people that just because you’re running a virtual business and you have virtual team members, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create this incredible company culture that maybe you’ve personally never experienced. I think that was a big thing for me. I’ve come from a lot of toxic work environments, which is ultimately why I left the corporate world.
I knew that in my business I wanted to be able to create something that I had never seen before. I wanted to be able to give very generous amounts of paid time off, I wanted to be able to offer very competitive salaries, and I wanted them to have very flexible day-to-day schedules. Pretty much everyone on my team has kids. So, if one of them tells me that something’s going on with their kid and that they need the rest of the day, I really don’t care. I say ‘Go for it! Take care of your family because family comes first.’ But I know that I can trust them still and that I can assign a group of tasks, projects, or whatever, and it’s not only going to get done, but they’re also going to go above and beyond.
The fun that you see on social media is only a part of it. But I think we’re able to have that fun and it comes across as genuine from my team members because they truly love the environment that they work in. I have two full-time employees and they’ve both told me this is the best job they’ve ever had. And that’s the best compliment anybody could ever give me because that’s all I want to do.
When you are thinking about starting to build your team, it feels scary, it feels like you’re responsible for people’s livelihood and that you’re taking on a whole new level in your business. You may not know if you’re ready for it. But on the other side of that, when you release all of the negative of the ‘What if? What if? What if?’ and you step into the positive of what could happen, you get access to a level of support that you didn’t even know was possible. I could go on and on and on about it. Having incredible clients and getting client results has been an obvious benefit of being a business owner but being able to create the best job people have ever had? That just takes owning your business to a whole new level.
To build this new business culture, I use the phrase: ‘Let your past be your power’. And I am doing that, I’m creating something that I haven’t seen before. The way I’m able to do it is instead of trying to put my blinders on and just pretend these years of my life in corporate never happened, I’m digging really deep into those experiences. I’m thinking thoroughly about how I felt in certain situations, about when I did feel empowered, and when I did not feel empowered, and I’m using that to inform the way that I build my new culture.
For example, my job was very flexible, and you could kind of come and go as you please. Towards the end, I got really, really good at my job and I could be out of there by three o’clock every day, whereas some of my peers were staying until five-thirty, six o’clock. So, when my leader saw that I was leaving at three, they were scrutinizing me and coming to my stores all the time, and micromanaging me. You would think that leaving early was a reward because my stores looked so great, and my managers were doing so well that I didn’t have to pull 50-hour weeks anymore. But instead, it was something to put me under a microscope. So, I flip that, and I say ‘Okay, well, in my business, I want to reward people for being able to get off by three o’clock. I want to reward them for being so productive, and so efficient in the work that they do that they get to experience more of their personal lives.’ And I did that by creating a really flexible working schedule for my team members.
Another example would be our bonus structure. I wanted people to feel like they had a piece of the pie, not just that they just worked there. And not that when the company makes more money, they would continue to make the same amount. So that’s when fleshing out our bonus structure kind of came into play, even though we’re not done with it.
So, you have to take the experiences that you did have and ask yourself: ‘Do I want to duplicate this?’ If not, ‘How would I want to feel now? If I could go back in time and take this job again, how would I have wanted to feel?’ And then the second part is to ask your team members. When you’re going through the hiring process, ask them to map out their dream job for you, ask them ‘What is your dream company culture?’ And then you, as the leader, get to decide how you want to incorporate this into the culture that we’re building.
I think we run away from our old experiences because they were so bad or traumatic for us. But what we don’t realize is that those are our most powerful tools in building the right thing, because you literally have the blueprint of what not to do. So, don’t run away from those experiences, run into them. Now you’re on the outside of it you can dissect them for what they were and figure out how you want things to be different.
[28:33] Tatiana’s seven-step method to R.E.C.O.V.E.R. from the grind
Our process is called the R.E.C.O.V.E.R. Method. It’s a seven-step process, and ‘recover’ is an acronym.
The first R stands for Reconstructed Detox. That’s when you are detoxing your mindset from the grind; leaving what you thought you had to do to be successful behind, and really creating the vision that you have for your life and your business.
Then E is Examining Your Offers. Here we’re looking at the structure of the services that you deliver, making sure that they’re as efficient and streamlined as possible. We’re looking at your prices and your processes because you can’t really build a team on something that can’t grow past wherever you currently are.
Next is the C which is Charting the Organization. That’s creating your organization chart. We’re going to map out every person you need on the team to make the vision come to fruition because a lot of times we are just hiring impulsively, based on what we need right now. But then two years later, you look up and you have a very expensive team that’s not helping you get to the end goal.
Then the O is Organizing Your Hires. That’s teaching you our thorough, phenomenal hiring process.
The V is Validating Your Onboarding Needs. Here we’re mapping out your onboarding process to make sure that when your team members come in, they feel supported, and that it’s matching exactly what you told them they’d get in the interview process. We’re also talking about training. We teach you our proprietary training plan method, which will help your team members get to 100% in 90 days.
The final E is Engaging Your Team. And that’s really where we’re just teaching you day-to-day leadership. That’s where we’re teaching you how to have effective meetings, how to have really good tough conversations, how to help your team members flourish, and the day-to-day actions to make that happen.
Finally, the last R of the R.E.C.O.V.E.R. Method is Relapse Avoidance. I think this is probably the most important part of the framework because a lot of programs and frameworks are going to teach you how to get the result. But then sometimes, once you leave the program, you feel like you’re reverting back to your old ways, or like you forget how to function in the real world. Relapse avoidance is all about ‘What do I do when I feel like I want to start micromanaging again?’, ‘What do I do when I want to fire my whole team because I’m scared, and I just want to start doing it all by myself again?’ So, we’re teaching you the habits of how to get into the CEO seat but also how to stay there.
So, the R.E.C.O.V.E.R. Method is seven steps. It’s lengthy and it’s not your average three-step framework, because this is an all-around lifestyle change. We’re completely changing the way that you do business. We’re taking your focus away from the marketing and the sales and putting it inward towards how you actually want to run your business.
[32:44] Tatiana’s big dreamy vision for the future
I see a lot for the future of the community that I serve. I really want to support the brand and evolve past just team building. Because I think on the outside, when you’re just looking at it online, it can seem like: ‘Oh, hiring. Okay, I’ll come back to her when I need to hire.’
But more than anything, I just want to show people that you don’t have to choose between being a successful business owner and being a wife or being a mom or being a present friend, daughter, sister, whatever. So, I just want to expand the brand into helping people have access to whatever lifestyle they want, without having to compromise the success of their company.
I think that’s the short version of it, but it goes so much deeper. We want to expand into government and corporate opportunities as well, and that’s something we’re working on next year.
Resources from this episode:
Get Tatiana’s free Task Matrix to help you figure out the tasks you should and shouldn’t spend your time on if you want to scale your business. It will give you your initial framework for who you should hire and what you should actually have them do.
14 LinkedIn Content Prompts: Build your personal brand and thought leadership, show up for your target audience and grow your know-like-trust factor with your professional audience on LinkedIn.
Connect with Tatiana O’Hara:
LinkedIn: Tatiana O’Hara
Business Instagram: @grindaholicsanonymous
Connect with Tania Bhattacharyya:
LinkedIn: Tania Bhattacharyya