Jeff Hunter Shares His Insights on How to Build Your Team and Not to Be a Slave to Your Own Business

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Are you the type of person who likes to be in control? Do you like to have everything planned out and under your thumb? If so, then stop reading this post. Seriously, go away. Because if you're not able to let go a little bit and delegate responsibility, then building a team is going to be incredibly difficult for you. In fact, it may even seem downright impossible. But don't worry, because Jeff Hunter is here to help. 

In this episode, Jeff shares his insights on how to build your team without becoming a slave to them. So whether you're just starting out or you've been in business for years, these tips will help you create the foundation for a successful team that can help take your business to the next level.

Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: Today I'm joined by my hat brother, as you'll see in just a moment, Jeff Hunter. Now if you're wondering where to start in the VA world and who you should hire or where you should hire, guess what? My guy, Jeff, he is the owner of VA Staffer and he says the place that you should start is by hiring your Executive Assistant first. In fact, VA Staffer, that's exactly what they do. He helps you find the perfect Executive Assistant. So listen in today as Jeff tells us about how they go about that process and why he believes that's so important but always remember, we are brought to you by Client Attraction Pros, your done for you solution for becoming a thought leader in your industry.

So, Jeff, welcome brother. 

Jeff Hunter: Thank you so much. Yeah, it's funny because we were both kind of hatless before and then we're like, dude, we're so used to not seeing each other, we're so used to seeing each other with hats. We're like, come on, man. We had to put the hats on. 

Atiba de Souza: Exactly. 

Jeff Hunter: You know, 

Atiba de Souza: Exactly, we gotta wear our hats.

Jeff Hunter: You know, one of the things that that's actually really valuable is, you know, and I think that here, obviously, we're going to be talking about building a team that's the point of your show. But as a business owner, we typically wear a lot of hats and you're the Superman over there. Right? Right now I got the Crypto Gaming Team hat on, which is one of my ventures. And what you don't know is I have a whole bunch, a whole slew of hats. I'm a Driven, I got my Driven hat. I got my CEO hat. I got my client hats. I got this one here. I mean, I got my Savage Marketer hat. I got my VA Staffer hat, which is what you introduced me on. And you know, in all reality, the only reason why, cause it's interesting because and I know that a lot of you guys are probably hearing me for the very first time, I wear a lot of hats. Right now I'm the founder of VA Staffer which is the virtual staffing agency that my boy invited me to come on and share some of my lessons, hiring and growing and building and scaling teams. I currently have over 150 people. Majority, a majority of them are in the Philippines. I've been doing virtual teams before it was I think the remote team is the buzzword. I currently am a contributor to entrepreneur.com. I write about, drum roll, virtual teams. 

Atiba de Souza: How about that? 

Jeff Hunter: Wow. I've taught, I'm actually faculty at digitalmarketer.com and I teach about, drum roll, virtual teams. So, you know, I'm a contributor to CEO world. I am a Google verified influencer. I was just at South by Southwest covering the event as media. The point is, is that, you know, I wouldn't be able to do any of that if it wasn't for having an awesome solid team that can run my business so that I can actually do what I want to do in life. And that's what this whole series that Atiba and I are going to be doing is to share with you guys a little bit of the insights on how you can build your team, how you can have reliability, accountability, and make progress with your team and not just have a stagnant, you know, culture but something that allows you the flexibility and growth to achieve amazing things and not be a slave to your own business.

Atiba de Souza: Yes, absolutely. So guys, I hope, I mean, just with his own introduction there, you guys got to see why Jeff's going to be a regular on this show, right? So when I first was introduced to Jeff, so, let me just explain this to you guys. I was in a room of maybe two, 3000 people and I was with someone and they pointed to him across the room and they said, that's Jeff Hunter. He's the man when it comes to building teams. Now, you guys have been listening to me for a while. You know, I, too have been building remote and virtual teams for quite some time. Jeff's been doing it even longer and better than me. Okay. I've built them for myself. He's built them for himself and others. So, uber qualified to share with us. And so Jeff, let me ask you this question, because as you said, we wear tons of hats as business owners. I mean, we wear everything from chief bottle washer to CEO hats, right? And in the process of building a team, part of that is taking off a hat and giving it to someone else. And I talked to a lot of business owners who, you know, they're in the early stages of building. Maybe they've hired one person, maybe they've hired two or three, but now they need to really start to hire some more people and they're having a real hard time understanding how to take the hats off and hand it to someone else. Do you have any practical advice for someone in that state? 

Jeff Hunter: Well, I think that it kind of goes back to a saying, which is, if you hire somebody who's really good, you only get hurt once. You know, it's usually because they cost more money if you don't get the joke.

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Jeff Hunter: But later down the road, you know, someone who isn't good will cost you a lot more time, money, headaches. So here's something that I will give you guys, which is the three core values that we actually hire people for at VA Staffer and I'm going to give you, I'm going to give you a hint. It's nothing you can teach. 

Atiba de Souza: I'm not surprised.

Jeff Hunter: Number one is adaptability. How fast is someone able to learn something and how good are they at figuring it out with very little instruction. So in our hiring process, in our recruitment process, we have a series of tests and those tests have just enough instructions.

To, to make people say, okay, it gives them clues on how to figure it out. Right? Like we're not telling them how to do something. We're telling them what they need to figure out. Right. So, so for example, one of the questions that we ask when we're hiring a virtual assistant to become an executive assistant is find 10 real estate agents in Los Angeles County, California. Right. And we don't tell them how or where, we just say find. Right. And then we provide them with a blank spreadsheet that they can fill in that has data points, like name, email, phone number, you know, things like that. So we're looking at their ability to figure things out. So we have a series of tests and this is before they even get to the interview process. So I think most of your headaches, one of the reoccurring themes that you're going to hear, and actually Atiba, this is new since we last spoke, I'm actually releasing a book. It's, 

Atiba de Souza: Are you? 

Jeff Hunter: Yeah, can you believe it? It's supposed to be out in April. It's going to be called Virtual Teams That Work: How to manage a remote team in the work from home economy. I, I didn't even think about, I didn't even think about plugging that.

Atiba de Souza: Well. Okay. So hold on. That's awesome. And guys, listen, we're going to, this episode may come out before that book, but we'll come back and edit this episode to drop the link down below for that episode. So you can get Jeff's new book as well. But go ahead, Jeff.

Jeff Hunter: There's also going to be some resources and stuff that you guys can download that's going to be included in the book. So anyway, but 

Atiba de Souza: It's awesome.

Jeff Hunter: Man, what a brain fart. So that's number one. All right. Is adaptability. Number two, and this is what most people really hope and dream, is work ethic, right? Like, are they reliable? Are they showing up to work? Are they on time? Do they, do they communicate effectively? You know, these things are, are key. I mean, you cannot grow and build a company without people that are showing up on time. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Jeff Hunter: And, and putting in the work. And here's the thing, this is why this is number three. You also can build and grow a company without people showing up to work that give a damn. So, so number three is actually, do they give a damn? All right now, number three is actually the hardest one because we go through cycles in life where we give a damn and we don't give a damn. So your job as a leader is to encourage people so that they give a damn. All right. And we call that word culture, right? We call that word culture. What's the culture that you're building in your business? One of the things that you recently, that you just mentioned earlier was about taking the hat on and taking it off and giving that, you're bestowing that responsibility to someone else. Right? So the only way you can do that is when you have those three things, your team has to be adaptable, they have to have strong work ethic and they have to give a damn. So there's a number of tests. It's obviously very easy to test somebody's work ethic. Do they show up? 

Atiba de Souza: Sure, yes. 

Jeff Hunter: Like, I would rather take someone who's at like 70% but reliable as hell and give a damn. I would rather, like, if there's one thing, like if all those three, the one that I would care the least about, and by the way, I care about all three, but the one that really the one that really has a little bit of flex is adaptability.

And I'll give an example of that. I feel, I almost feel a little guilty saying this, but Jacqueline, my own assistant. The first couple of weeks that she was my assistant, my project management team wanted to fire her.

The reason why is because she wasn't getting stuff fast. She was like 75%. You know, she was maybe 80% on a good day. And it was really hard because here's my team members have been here, my project, my project managers in my team, the leadership team they've been there for years. Some of them five, six, I think one of them has been with me for seven years. Right. 

Atiba de Souza: Wow. That's awesome. 

Jeff Hunter: We're practically family at this point. I've seen her have kids and everything, you know. So, but it's interesting because the other two are so strong. You have to have all three, but you have to have a hundred percent in at least two of them, you know? And what's interesting is Jacqueline, she shows up everyday on time. Okay. Usually early. She actually starts her shift by design, one hour before I even wake up that way when I reach over to my phone, like all of us crazy entrepreneurs do, the first thing we do when we wake up, the alarm goes off on our phone, we reach over, we grab our phone, we look at it and we die a little bit when we see our notifications. Right? Yeah. You know, you feel it. I call that, that notification anxiety, you know. So, 

Atiba de Souza: Yep, what went wrong while I slept?

Jeff Hunter: Exactly. So she's sorting through all my emails and stuff so that I can have a prioritized list before I even wake up, you know, like she's on every call. As a matter of fact, you're going to laugh. Well, you won't laugh. But I was just, I was just in South by Southwest. I was actually there covering the event for as, as press, which, by the way, if you don't know another little pat on the back, it's very hard to be press at South by Southwest.

Atiba de Souza: Yes, it is. I was going to ask you about that offline, but you know, since you brought it up.

Jeff Hunter: I'll give you the inside. But like for example, I can see right now if I share my screen, let me see if this will this, this will actually work. Let me see. Yeah. So, for those of you just listening in, I'm going to tell you what, what you can see here, but I can see that at 9:58 AM, you see that 9:58 AM, Jacqueline sends me a message about this interview and she goes, Yo! Here's the virtual studio link. Here's the couple of questions that he's going to ask and she's actually typing to me right now. We're talking. Her ears are burning. Her ears are burning right now. So, so you can see, she gives a damn, right? She's on top of her stuff. She literally sends me messages. You know, how can I help you? Look, she's telling me, Hey, look, I'm about to log off for the day. Anything else that you need I can help with? I said, I'm pretty good. You can also see, she reminded me at 9:43 that I had a podcast interview with you in 18 minutes, you know? And then she puts this whole to-do list for me. Here's what I was supposed to do and I even complained and I say, good God! My frigging to-do list is insane right now. Right. Cause I was, I was traveling so long, I'm playing catch-up. All right. 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. 

Jeff Hunter: So that's that work ethic and that's that give a damn. It, it would be you know, sometimes I'm, I'm weary about what I'm about to say, because sometimes it comes off cocky, but I know for a fact, the reason why I'm growing and I'm outpacing everyone I know in my field is because I have an incredible team. That actually gives a damn about me doing stuff, you know, and I will tell you this, this is why I think the, one of the very first positions you should hire for your business is an executive assistant for yourself.

Atiba de Souza: Okay.

Jeff Hunter: And the reason why is because it gives you a level of accountability that is unmatched. Unmatched because you have a person every day, who's saying, what are we going to do today?

Atiba de Souza: Yup. And did you do what you said you were going to do yesterday? 

Jeff Hunter: Exactly. That's why my to-do list looks so bad right now is because when I was traveling in Austin, Texas, I was putting off the to-do list. And now my to-do list has like 15 things and I'm dead, you know? 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah.

Jeff Hunter: And, and she's checking in on me. 

Atiba de Souza: We're in the same boat. Cause I'm in Florida and I'm going through the same thing. And my, Stephanie. Okay. Is doing the same thing to me everyday. So I'm with you. 

Jeff Hunter: And I actually feel bad for people that don't have that.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. 

Jeff Hunter: Like, I'm not that organized of a person. 

Atiba de Souza: No, we're entrepreneurs. We're idea people. We're, we're movers. We're not detailed and we forget all the crap that needs to get done.

Jeff Hunter: So I am in this position today because of a previous role that I had. And so another thing, and you know this, but but I don't talk about that often. In my past life, I used to be a Fortune 500 project manager. I worked for Phillips electronics. I was an IT project manager. I was one of the senior most project managers. I was a mentoring six project managers at any given time. I was on a daily day-to-day project management. I was managing anywhere from 50 to 65 projects at any time. Like at the same time, some of those projects were a week, some of them were a month, some of them are three months, some of them are three years like Oregon Health Science University, which took me two years. It was a $4.1 million project, you know. Providence Alaska. I did Providence Alaska, it's a hospital, I was a IT project manager for hospitals. So I am probably a little bit more organized than most entrepreneurs. And ironically, that's how I found out about how important it is to have an assistant, because I hired an assistant when I was a project manager and I became a top five project manager, 12 months after. Okay. Because I had that level of accountability. 

Atiba de Souza: Exactly. 

Jeff Hunter: And most people don't want to have that level of accountability. It's kind of like hiring a personal trainer, which I did yesterday, by the way. Shout out to my boy, Lionel. My boy, Lionel, who I just signed up. He's gonna, he's gonna whip me into shape. But a personal trainer as much like it is, is that accountability partner in life, an assistant is that accountability partner in life. Your financial accounting firm, your tax people, it's the same thing. It's all about accountability. It's all about moving the needle forward and, and you have to have that spirit of collaboration to push each other. 

Atiba de Souza: So, yeah. So I absolutely love your three things because you know, if anyone who's been listening to this channel for a while, know that I talk about this all the time, we hire for fit first, right? Yes, it's great if someone can do the job, but if they don't fit your culture, if they don't fit your environment, if they don't fit your people, it's not going to work out. So I love your three because that was exactly what you said. Like they've got to fit in here with you. They got to be a part of you. They've got to care to be here. Otherwise, eventually you're going to get frustrated with them, even if they're really, really good at doing the job. Right. 

Jeff Hunter: And by the way,

Atiba de Souza: Yeah 

Jeff Hunter: you know, the other thing is two, it goes back to number three of when I said about giving a damn. There's times when I don't give a damn and guess what my team can feel when I don't give a damn. It's toxic as hell. It's toxic as hell. And that's why sometimes. You know, and I, I kind of joke with my business partner, Trisha, so I have a creative director, Trisha. I think you actually met her. Yeah, you did. Trisha. Yeah. So yeah. So Trisha, she's the creative director of BrandedMedia, which we didn't even talk about. That's the branding agency completely, you know, I own three different companies. But it's, it's really interesting because when I, when I am, we, like I said, we all go through these cycles and I noticed one time, matter of fact, the person I told you, that's been with me for like seven years. She told me one time, she goes, well, you know, you haven't spent a lot of time on a certain aspect of the business, you know? And I haven't been present, you know, And she's been working with me long enough to where she knows that she can be frank with me and tell me the truth. You know, how she feels. And by the way, that's important too. Your team needs to be able to call you on your shit.

Atiba de Souza: We need to be able to communicate honestly, man. Like, it's got to go both ways. 

Jeff Hunter: It's very easy as the CEO and founder of your business to think that you're always right. And you actually don't want to have that culture instilled where everyone thinks you're always right. Because even today, we had an issue with an accounting problem with one of my partners and a payment was going to go out and they didn't agree with some of the accounting that I did. And my team created their own spreadsheet that was different than my spreadsheet. And, and you know, we had a talk about it. I have a call, there's another thing that I'll share with you, guys. Communicate with your people. Even if it's a 20-minute, 30-minute call. Everyday you should be talking to your people. I do a call everyday at nine o'clock in the morning. It's my all hands call for the leadership team. There's 11 people on my leadership team. I have my project manager who oversees the creative team, the web team, the person who does all the HR and recruitment her name's Isabelle. Jacqueline, my assistant. And I also have my sales team there, Julio and Nicole. And here's the cool part, they all have their own assistant. So I have Isabelle, so not only, so I have RS, she's my creative director or creative manager. She has an assistant named Franz and then Rodora has an assistant named Nina, and I'm not going to go into the whole family, you know, into the whole you know, into the, into the partridge family there. But the point is 

Atiba de Souza: the Hunter family

Jeff Hunter: Yeah, exactly. The point is, is that you gotta have, you gotta have very clear lines of communication with your team and even if it's just like a call just to say, Hey, look, what are the pressing issues? What's going on? Just to keep everybody on track, like, communicate with your team.

Atiba de Souza: Absolutely. And Jeff, let's put a pin in this right there. And let's actually pick up on our next time talking about communication, because I think that's one of the major things that I hear from business owners who are just starting to build their team, that they have a really hard time with. Either they don't communicate enough. They overcommunicate, which is also bad. Or they'd flat out don't know how to communicate, so they're miscommunicating in the things that they're saying, and they're, there's so much confusion in terms of what needs to be done and what's expected. So let's talk about that next time, because I know dude, you and I can go for like hours because you brought up so many gems today and I want to go back to all of them. And honestly we will, but on future episodes, right? Because you've got so much wealth. And so guys, I really hope that you guys got a lot of this today. And before we go, Jeff, I want you to give those three points again. And then also to tell us how can we find your agency. So someone who's ready to hire, they've made that decision, how can they find you? 

Jeff Hunter: Well, again. Well, I guess that's a three-part question because that's what we do. So when we recruit people to, so we're a, so vastaffer.com is where you find us. And we are a virtual assistant staffing agency and we focus primarily on executive assistants. So executive assistants are like what I was telling you about Jacqueline, who, she does my emails. She, she reminds me of my calls. She's doing the daily tasks. She's actually monitoring my inbox on multiple social media channels. My Instagram, my LinkedIn, stuff like that. She's responding to things, she's commenting on people's stuff. Now there's so much that she does. She even attends all my meeting minutes, all of my meetings, and she takes Meeting Minutes notes and she'll send them out to the client afterwards, follows up with them if they need to pay. So, that is what I said when I, earlier when I said that I would highly recommend the first hire in your business, be an executive assistant to hold you accountable. That's what we do. We hire executive assistants and we, we hire them based on those three things. Those three points one is what is their adaptability? How fast can they learn new things? And can they figure things out, right? Two, is do they have strong work ethic? Are they showing up? Are they reliable? Are they timely? Do they have good communication and thirdly, do they give a damn? So we at VA Staffer, we hire people that give a damn, timely, reliable and adaptable. So if you are interested in getting an executive assistant, you can just tell them that Atiba sent you at vastaffer.com. When you schedule a strategy call, which is free, by the way, you can go to the website and schedule the call to see if we're a good fit. You can just put Atiba's name in there or the name of the podcast, if you want.

Atiba de Souza: Build your team.

Jeff Hunter: Build your team. There you go, you can put Build Your Team in there. Build your team! And then my team will, my team will know exactly what you need, because the reason why we're doing the show is because you told me about the struggles that your listeners are having. And I said, man, you know, I think I might be able to help them out with that. Right. So I'm excited to do more episodes with you and to do some deep diving in the communication plan, our own recruitment process. We can also go into different tools. We can have a tool chat about different project management tools, communication tools. Then we can get into some real deep stuff later, which is like how we do performance incentives to keep people motivated, to keep working harder and earn more money because everybody at the end of the day likes to make more money.

Atiba de Souza: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Dude, we're going to have some fun together over the next several months. Guys, get used to seeing me and Jeff, my brother from another mother, another hat mother that is. Okay. And Jeff, thanks again for being here, buddy. And we'll talk real soon. 

Jeff Hunter: Thanks, bro. 

Atiba de Souza: All right. Bye everybody.

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