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Scaling Your Team

#
67
Chris Do
Published
August 8, 2017

Chris Do answered a Pro Member's question about how he scaled his team and what advice he has.

Read Transcript
I may answer this other question, I know this is kind of working in reverse order. Bonnie asked this question about scaling your business. How do you do it? When did you know you're going to do it? So here's the thing. I know a lot of people think that it's only recently that I've been able to manage and work with a team, but it's almost since the very first days in 1995 when I started the company that I've been working with other people. Now here's how my mind works. I'm pretty quick. I'm a little lazy and I'm super like about optimization. My mind is really focused on optimization. So even in the early days, Bonnie, I just got work and I just gave it to somebody else. That's as fast as I can get a project, I just gave it to somebody else. And what I did in the early days was if they can only get there like 70% of the way there of what I would do, that's fine by me. I would coach and talk to them and work on the files myself to get that last 30 percent, and over time, my involvement would become less and less. And then I got better people as I was able to afford higher quality talent so that at some point the team that I employed. Are better than me. So I know that's a strange way to phrase things now when we're talking about photography or illustration. I get that that's quite difficult because it's really your eye and your sensibility that is able to do that. So then what I would think about is and I've seen many very successful photographers work this way. They're surrounded by assistants who do 90% of the work, and the last thing the photographer does is grab the camera and hit the shutter. Really, that's what happens. So I was in Asia. In China, I'm forgetting her name. Her name is Chen. If you look up Chapman's work, she's one of the biggest photographers in China, and she's having multiple shoots going on at the same time. That's how popular she is. She has a ginormous studio with multiple stages. And I watched her work. Basically, she has a couple of different assistants setting up the lighting and doing all that kind of stuff, getting the camera all ready in the flash and the strobe, and everything is set up. And they're doing tests and they show her. And then she walks in, I'm ready and then whatever talent comes in and then she's ready to rock and roll. And then as soon as she's done pushing this, she literally hands the camera off to somebody else. They pull out the memory cards they download. They sing, they test, ooh, somebody's mute themselves, please. Thank you. Right and then they're showing the client, so she's just sitting back and talking to the models of the client and everything is happening automatically for now. Luckily for her, she has a very distinctive style and a way of shooting that pretty much all her systems know exactly what she wants, and she might make a little tweak here and there, but that's how she's able to systematize this. So just about any creative profession, you can get people to do most of the work for you. If you have that kind of mentality and you have to have that desire that you want to grow and scale your business beyond yourself and you have to think about this and this is really important. I like the idea that when I go on vacation, the company moves forward. And we still make money. I like that idea that if I were to get really sick or if I'm in bed stuck or whatever reason, the company and the business can continue on for a period of time without me. That, to me, is a good insurance policy. All right. What you say was your most challenging aspect of that, but was it just pretty much natural for you? You say it was pretty natural for me, but I know what the most challenging part of it is for most of you. And the most challenging part is you. You don't want to let go. You think you're the best at everything and you just you're too impatient and you also have a mental hang up with that. It's just honest to charge 1,000 an hour while you pay somebody $28 an hour. You can't get over that. Luckily, I've not had that problem. You mean? I mean, if you guys buy an Apple computer and while Steve Jobs was alive, do you think Steve Jobs designed the computer? Do you think he put anything together? Do you think he touched the machine in the assembly line? There's very little that he did, except for to say, you know what? I know where we're developing like a tablet device, but I think that would work much better as a phone. Let's scrap the tablet. For now, let's build the phone. That's the genius of Steve jobs, because he has the objectivity, the 30,000 foot view, where he can look at something and say, you know what, I see better application. I'm not married to how long it took to make this and the energy and effort, and I can now see it and I can make that change like this. That's what you want to be able to do, because when you're stuck making the work, it's very hard for you to step away. You know, I know he spent so much time on it, but that's really not solving the problem. You can't. It's sunk, lost bias at work right there. You're so vested in that thing and the creation of that thing, you can't get out of it. And that's the problem. Sorry, I have a follow up. Yes, David, go ahead. How do you? So let's say you give your words to somebody else. How do you price that or how do you make it? Reasonable for them to work, I guess, because like right now, I'm basically at work as a web developer and I give my web development to somebody else, and it works fine by a split of 50-50 because I think that's what it should be. It's, in my opinion, right, because most of the work is done by somebody else. So how would pricing of that? What would be reasonable? OK why do you want to be reasonable? Because it's my friend. I guess that's why. OK, hold on a lot. If your friend asked to be paid a certain amount of money and they're happy to get that rate all day at night and not have to deal with the headaches of working with the client, are you being a good friend by paying them what they ask for? Yes or no? Yeah OK, so what we have to do is we have to get around this mentality about what is fair and what it means to be honest or to be a good friend to me. I don't even want to be friends with the people I work with. All I want to do is be a good job provider. And I'm pretty sure if I ask this group, I think there are 36 of you on this call. 30 five, if I ask all of you, whatever work that you want and whatever price you want to charge, if I gave you all that work as much as you can eat. Would I be the best friend in the world to you right now? Right? yeah, right. So has nothing to do with what I get paid. It's just that you get paid and we all are part of this mechanism. Think about it. An agency, an ad agency hires us to create a commercial for them. We submit a bit of a quarter million dollars, right, because we think that's a good price for this and we still make money and it's all good and we get to work on this wonderful project. I could care less if the agency goes and sells that same project to their client for $4 million. It makes no difference to me. The reason why I don't feel bad about that is I cannot command that price. I do not have access to that client. I need the agency to set all these things up in place, and for that, they should receive as much money as they can reasonably get. All I want to do is get paid what I thought was fair to me. Right that's a big difference. OK the price in which you quote the client should have no bearing on what it costs you to make. That's a big mindset change. I know a lot of you guys can get over that, and I understand whatever times and time and materials you put into the creation of your project should have little bearing on the actual price of the client. So then you're wondering, well, what's driving the price in the first place? What's driving the price is how much value the client perceives. That thing that you're doing is to them. And that's the big difference. OK, so believe it or not, I've submitted a bid for a million where the developer said, Chris, we'd be thrilled with getting a quarter million and I'm like, fine. But I think the client can afford a million. I'm going to ask for it. So you see, I'm going to get paid three times as much as the person who's doing almost 100% of the work. I have no issue with that. And if you guys tuned in last week, we talked about this. I have this friend in Asia and he's a graphic designer. He makes more money than the person who's doing all the work. And all he did was connect the client with the artist and he got him both what they wanted. OK, so the reason why I get paid more money than some of you is I know where the clients are. The reason why I can make money is because I know where the artists are. The artists don't know where the clients are, and the clients don't know where the artists are, and they don't want to manage them both ways, it works both ways. So all I'm able to do is connect these two parts together. The better I'm at, at figuring out where the high paying clients are and where I can get really high quality work done for not a lot of money. The more money I get to make, and that is a boon upon me, right? I get to reap those rewards because I spent decades looking for and curating and learning about who's good and who's not good and how much is a fair price. How much is not a fair price. And that's really what you should strive towards. I hope I answered that question, David. You did. Thank you. All right. So the minute you guys change that mindset, that mentality around price, you're going to be set free, man. The shackles will come off and you're going to run around naked in the forest and you're going to dance and this is going to be wonderful.

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